Tag Archives: writing

burned tortillas

I drop my son off at preschool three mornings a week at 9:00,
and after circle time I sprint for the car
get home by 9:20
and work feverishly till 11:50,
when i dash back to preschool for pickup.
at home I make his lunch while he plays or watches a show

not infrequently, i burn something while trying to multitask
sending off the last few professional emails in broken bursts
while sweeping up the mud from rubber boots and eight large dog paws
opening the mail
filing bills
talking about his day
and confirming childcare swaps via text message

the acrid smell of a too-hot skillet eddies in from the kitchen
snapping me back to the primary task at hand
and i rush in to tend to lunch two minutes too late

stand over the sink cracking crispy bubbles of burned tortilla
off his quesadilla with a wooden spoon
quietly cursing myself for doing too many things at once
while he breaks down into tears over the news
that I have to work at the restaurant tonight
(as i do every Wednesday)
and I watch myself trying to handle his separation anxiety
wondering if i’m making it worse
and if my networking emails were coherent
and if i moved the laundry into the dryer

i wonder if he associates the acrid smell of burned tortillas
with the heat of his anger
or the bitterness of his disappointment
over things not being easier
I certainly do



Filed under motherhood, Ordinary, work

on a sunny saturday morning at the end of september

i wake up ready to write
after a rare Friday night off work
dinner out with my loving husband
and a reading by Cheryl Strayed,
a writer I respect and admire
the words are at my fingertips
and i know if i sit down, i will create

but everything seems to conspire to keep me from my writing desk
kiddo needing breakfast
the broken seal on the toilet
the mouse that refuses to leave or be killed
the overripe plums that are attracting fruit flies
the kale and chard that need planting
the laundry that needs doing after the boy peed on the bathroom floor
the chickpeas that are done soaking, and need cooking
the garden tools that are overdue @ the tool library
the diaper explosion that presents itself at the hardware store
the little old Korean man who did not show up to work today
and thus, could not fill my empty print cartridge
and these are only some of the things
I lose my patience
gather it
and lose it again

Callum is sitting in one of his emptied out toybins,
eating peanut butter pretzels
i kneel down to apologize for yelling
and kiss his forehead
when i walk away
i taste salt

it may have come from the pretzels,
onto his sweet, two year old hands,
which he then brushed across his forehead
or it may have come from the tears of rage
i shed earlier
reading a friend’s news about breast cancer.

but then i think about the way she told us,
fearless and funny as hell, like she always is
promising plenty of profanity and the kind of fierceness
that only a mother can bring to a fight

and i gather
and put my hands to work again.
harvest acorn squash
write about the 1992 World Uranium Hearings
move the laundry to the dryer

put away
pick up
Amy said the other night
and its true.

i take comfort, always
in the solidarity of mothers

acorn squash harvest and a lone Blue Hubbard


Filed under basic goodness, Food, Garden, love, motherhood, Ordinary, winter garden, writing


there is some work behind it:
the movement of an idea
from its origin point
in the mountains

it is no accident,
the way the words echo off the walls of the paragraphs
the way the momentum flows through the canyons of the chapters
building toward
the sea

where everyone can stand on the shores
and let their preconceptions
be washed over
by the tide

at least that’s what you’re hoping

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Filed under writing

good ancestors and revenge fantasies

the baby finally goes down,
tiny bananna-hands curled against sweet yam cheeks
skin glowing with the rare-as-of-late may sunlight spilling in through the orange curtains
i slip out
perc espresso

and sit here at the red table
trying to empty my head
and be still
so I can write with efficacy
about Big Picture Things

a frame fell off the wall in the early hours of the morning
and an old black and white image drifted to the floor
after the crash
now i sit here staring at it
my great-grandmother Minnie, and her parents, Louis and Hannah
my great-great grandfather has his arms crossed
and a quizzical look on his narrow, handsome face
his wife looks gentle, and tired
and his daughter stands behind them both
with a white hat
and dark curls
and a face squared with resolve
over her scalloped lace collar
ankles crossed
in the shadows underneath the gilded bench her parents are sitting on

I think: these are good Ancestors.
Beautiful, Resourceful, Gentle, Resolved
And I’d better get to work before the babe wakes up.

good ancestors. Louis, Minnie, and Hannah

decide to make calzones for dinner before my husband leaves town for a conference
and I reach back through time,
to pull homemade pizza dough and sauce out of the freezer
that I made and placed there earlier in the winter
the freezer crystals sting my fingers
which are covered with cuts, lately.

put my good writing song
on repeat
think about making my sister a mix for her travels in Europe
but the cd drive isn’t working
And I’d better get to work before the nap ends

I scoop small mushy lumps of softly browning banana off the floor
and rub my fingers across the roughness on the table
where his sticky fingers spread fruit and yams an hour ago
and I neglected to wipe the table before it dried
because he was rubbing his eyes
with his food-covered hands
and i was focused on

Everyone is celebrating because we’ve been told Osama bin Laden is dead
which apparently entitles us
to feel like Americans in the Right again
…a feeling that went stale years ago
no wonder people are excited.
they think it means justice
or the end of something
but to me
it is just one more
revenge fantasy
my friends retaliate against the frat party
peppering the internet with Martin Luther King
darkness cannot drive out darkness
and even though we’re accused of misquoting
I cling to those words

I try to engage with a dilemma in the manuscript:
writing about “common sense” in a way devoid of academic pretension
ha. ha. ha.
I land here instead

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Filed under 11 September 2001, basic goodness, coexistence, motherhood, Ordinary, poetry, politrix

First entry in a new journal

[lovely readers… a note of explanation. Those among you who are not mothers may be getting seriously burned out on my parade of pregnancy and motherhood-themed postings. This is not, as far as I know, going to turn into a “mommy blog.”  These are just the subjects which have preoccupied this overeducated waitress as of late. So bear with me, and we’ll see what emerges. Yr guess is as good as mine. xoxo… Sarah ]

First entry in a new journal, from August 12 2010

I have grand intentions for these pretty little blankbooks, eloquent and sparsely worded haiku-like meditations on motherhood, written in small, neat lettering.  Bought 2 of these small journals in  Boulder CO on our July roadtrip cause I’d filled up my latest fat little blackbook journal and I always do like to write on the road. Thought I ought to switch to something that squished a little more efficiently in the diaper bag.

Of course, the first time I go to write in the new journal, I can’t seem to prop it up properly (the trick of being a right-handed writer while breastfeeding on the right side, it turns out.)  When I switch him to the left side and finally get the journal propped up right on the arm of the couch I discover the pen I grabbed before I sat down is broken. Ha. I’m trying to write by holding the broken pieces together with an extra finger when he starts to flail and cry and while I’m burping him and kissing his sweet head and sighing over both hands being preoccupied and thus unavailable for writing, I realize I’m getting a lesson in precisely what I’d been planning on writing about. the Surrender of motherhood, the ways in which I am still fundamentally myself but also the ways in which i am utterly at the beck and call of another human being 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for months and months to come.  And of course, there will be lovely hours when he and his poppa get lost in making noises at each other and having adventures without me but this dairy queen will still feel the (very real physical) pangs of motherhood if too much time goes by apart from that small boy.

Get him down in his cradle and tiptoe away.  He nestles on his side with his tiny hands clasped beneath his chin, and I sit down with a fresh pen and start to laugh at myself, noting the inarticulate chicken scratches I’d managed with my broken pen and preoccupied arms.   Most of the entries in these journals will be sloppy, broken thoughts, written in sprawling handwriting interspersed with grocery lists and to-do lists and the same old mundane observations about the weather and the dogs.

So be it. I decide to make the grand gesture of taking stock of my life at the outset of the new journal.  I am 29 years old. My son is one month old. Ryan and I have been together for five years and five months. Which is randomly auspicious, as R’s always been big on the number five. We have two giant, beautiful dogs, a dear house, a giant messy thriving garden, dear friends, very little money, lots of music and way too many books. And a mangled dead rat on the front porch that gives me a writhing full-body grimace every time I think about it. I’ve told Ryan I want to confront my fear of said dead rat by being the one to remove it from our welcome mat, and he’s obliged. So it stays there.  Because I am absolutely horrified by it.  But someone is stopping by tonight who will most likely use the front door, so I’ve got to confront it.  So much for grand gestures taking stock of the state of my life. Chaotic mind, motherhood, and a dead rat. glorious.

Callum at 4 weeks, bluegrass festival in Lyons CO


Filed under motherhood, Ordinary