04 November 2013


My brother-in-law was here over the weekend. He comes to the Island and visits us faithfully -- whether we've remembered to invite him or not. 

I've felt a connection to David since I met him over 17 years ago; he was Cole's age back then. These days he's a charming young man treasured by each of us, with his winning smile, genuine interest, willingness to hang, and his uncanny ability to clear out both refrigerator and pantry prior to his departure. I'm often amazed by how seamlessly my brother-in-law fits into the fabric of our foursome. He often leaves me pondering, considering and grinning long after he's gone.  

As much as I adore my brother in law, it's actually not him that I sat down to write about, however. It's the little guy David noticed and remarked about on several occasions while he was here this weekend. 

"Wow, he's gotten a lot bigger, hasn't he?!...That fish hasn't stopped swimming since I got here... I think I want to get a goldfish too..." 

It's Orange. I've been thinking about our fish.

You see, Orange is no ordinary goldfish. He (we think he's a he) is a Fair fish. He swims. He does a little shimmy when we come near his bowl, and he endures. This fish is a remarkable fish. 

In August of 2012, at the tail end of a magical (long) day at the Island Country Fair, Cole persuaded us to make one more stop on our way out. "I want to win a fish," he smiled. Bright eyes, dimples... done. 

For $5, Cole received 20 ping-pong balls. The game was simple: just toss one of said balls into a far away fish bowl full of water. "Sink one, and you're a winner!" the tired guy in a blue shirt explained. Easy enough; both Cole and Maya had done it the year before (and neither of their fishes lived through the weekend). 

But nineteen attempts later, Cole was empty handed. With utter faith, he passed the last ball to his dad. And like the fairy tale ending of the biggest game of the year -- SPLISH and the crowd (Maya, Cole and I) goes WILD!! -- Paul sunk it. He won us a fishy!

I had no idea at the end of that hot summer day that the teeny-tiny goldfish Cole brought home in a plastic bag would still be with us 15 months later. I had no idea how much this little fish would stir my thoughts and make me marvel. And I certainly had no idea that I could fall in love with a Fair fish.  

I shared this with David, and like David does, he listened intently -- as if gushing over a goldfish is perfectly normal. 

"This fish is so awesome," David said. 

"You have no idea," I responded, then I got out my process journal and read... 

9/12/2013. The process, cont'd...

Orange jumped out of his fish tank this morning.

Paul was up early -- while it was still dark -- to go fishing, ironically.

In the dim of the kitchen to get breakfast, he noticed the empty tank and later found Orange motionless on the kitchen floor. ON. THE. KITCHEN. FLOOR.

"Orange jumped out of his tank, and he is no longer with us," Paul came into our bedroom and said. 

Should we flush him? Should we have a ceremony? 

"Will you please just pick him up," I begged. 

So Paul gets a napkin, picks up our dead fish off the floor and drops him back into his bowl. And Orange starts swimming! Slowly. Upside-down at first, then nose to the bottom of the bowl, then all around. 

He suddenly looks too big for his little bowl. 

So this morning, I'm wondering what to make of that -- Jumping out of the home that once fit. Landing with a thud on the ground. Floundering and flopping around in the dark until you can no longer breathe. Then out of no where, someone decides not to discard your limp, lifeless body. Not Yet. He places you back where you began, and then you breathe once more. You swim. 

Clearly it's time for a bigger bowl...

Seven weeks later, our fish keeps swimming. And it appears he has doubled in size since he died. Our fish is living his simple life in a new home that suits him better. He is taking up space, and he is thriving. Sometimes I swear he's smiling (OK, not really, but still). 

How long had he been on the ground, I've wondered more than once. Why were both Paul and I up so early that morning? I'm not sure it matters. 

What matters to me is that I freaking love this fish! He too fits into the fabric of my family flawlessly. I feel encouraged by his presence, his resilience and his simple, happy life. I've learned far more than I ever imagined was possible from a fish my kid won at a fair.

And seven weeks later, while I'm busy processing, pondering, learning from, obsessing about and marveling over the life, death and resurrection of our goldfish, I hear the happy lapping and splashing from the big bowl back behind me, and I can't help smiling. 


Oh, and I experienced my first ever mammogram today! 
That was... memorable. 

14 October 2013

28 August 2013

free at last (!!!!)

Tonight -- on this monumental new day, 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his dream, 150 years post-Emancipation Proclamation and 15 years after I signed a promissory note commiting to repay over $36,000 in undergraduate student loans + interest -- I had the distinct honor... no, pleasure... no PRIVILEGE to submit a $154.41 payment to Aunt Sallie Mae. 

Do you know what this means?!?! 

It means (picture a smile on my face), Loan Balance: $0 

Because it feels SO good to write it, to see it, to hear it, to taste it, to feel it, to consider and to digest it, I think that bears repeating.  

LOAN... BALANCE... ZEROOooooooooohhhhh, oh, oh, oh my goodness!!

thank you...

thank you...

so long... and thank you!!

19 August 2013

thirty years

Still sad after saying goodbye to my dad and step mom following our magical weekend together, I received the BEST email from my sister this morning!

06 August 2013


Spent a perfect afternoon with myself and a book
at the MOHAI and Lake Union Park. 
I'm a fan! 

02 August 2013

day 1462

"Part of me wonders if our stories aren't being stolen by the easy life." - Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

I wonder. 

It's a Friday afternoon; low clouds and soggy skies have lingered all day. I'm flying solo on my chair with my blanket and my heater (in August) and a laptop in my lap and a new book nearby. How long has it been since it's rained and I've melted like this in my chair? This summer has been amazing, but I feel thankful for today.

I met two clients this morning. Each woman is growing stronger. Each is standing taller. Feet grounded. Shoulders back. Head high. 

In a coffee shop around the corner, I met up with a third woman -- a new contact. The two of us, an unlikely pair with mutual interests. The two of us in the field, as she put it. For two hours I shared time and tea with this woman whom I didn't know before today. Disparate lives intertwined, swimming in the deep end of the pool, she said and smiled at me with warm brown eyes behind stylish glasses. She flipped long hair away from her face and a tattoo peeked out at me from the sides of her neck; she held my hands. 

"It is willingness to be seen," she quoted a teacher from her past. 

"Dance?" I asked. 

"No, life."

I returned a book to the library after we parted -- a week overdue. It was worth holding onto Meg Wolitzer lovely, rainbow covered story for a bit longer to begin and to finish. Curled beneath my blanket, I witnessed six lives intersected and was drawn into their stories. She wrote a great book. 

I had lunch in this chair and sat with my daughter in this chair and met with my sister from this chair. I asked questions, took notes and left our conversation with action items and marching orders from this chair. A fourth woman. A fifth. 

" Mom, when will you be done?" Maya whined somewhere in the middle.

I was planning to get up and go with her when the phone call ended, but she and Paul just left to run errands and to pick up her brother. So instead, I've been granted more time to settle in and cozy up in one of my favorite places to be: in this chair. And this Island. And this life. 

How differently I feel than when we arrived. It's been four years and one day. IT'S BEEN FOUR YEARS AND ONE DAY?!

To be stripped and undone. To reconsider and reassemble. To say yes, to say no. To get up from the lap of my chair and lift my eyes once again. To draw in and feel my feet beneath me. To fall down, to try again, to grow stronger and to dance. To hold my head up, to ask for help and then to receive it. To see and to be seen. To live another day and then tell someone about it. It hasn't been easy, but it's getting easier. 

And the stories, I am finding, they are everywhere. 

28 July 2013

on siblings

In Mansfield Park, Jane Austen wrote, "Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply... " 

And nearly a century later on this Sunday afternoon, as I'm thinking about the utter enjoyment of spending five days on this Island with my first companions, I feel thankful these two have become my friends. 

worth keeping

11 February 2013


Oh, I almost forgot -- on behalf of the parents of prepubescent kiddos worldwide, I'd personally like to thank Macklemore for an on-going lesson in *f* bombs.

06 January 2013

day 15

I'm SO over Christmas break.