Marriage, divorce and what lasts forever

Relationships: Some are poems (short, gorgeous, carved onto tombstones) and others are novels (long, complex, taught forever).

This morning, Andy and I drove to court together, stood before a judge together, and answered a series of questions we’d rehearsed earlier with our shared attorney.

It felt strange to answer simply “yes” to questions so complex: Are there irreconcilable differences in your marriage? Are you satisfied with the distribution of property? Do you approve of the plan for co-parenting your daughter?

But it was, in ways, a familiar moment. Continue reading


Tradition is conceived without planning

One of our family traditions is to tailgate before Auburn games. Food is themed according to who Auburn is playing. (Hot dogs when we play Georgia; pork bbq for Arkansas.) This just started at some point and has endured. (From left: my cousin, Lacy Sibley; me, with a bottle of champagne; my sister-in-law, Elaine Stivender.)

We had “Multimedia Night” tonight. We gave it a name so we’d remember to do it again in the future. Lily sat in my lap, her long legs folded mantis-style atop mine, folded in the Indian style. Two short torsos. Four long arms. Through blue eyes (hers) and hazel (mine), we watched music videos from Neko Case and Amos Lee. We looked at Facebook photos of my dad’s work in India, of her aunt and uncle’s vacation to Hawaii. We “liked”. We commented. We read blog posts aloud; she wanted to hear the ones I have written about her. We mixed “roots rock” and “slow blues” on Garage Band, a program she gets instinctively and I merely appreciate.We laughed a lot. When I said, “I love you, Pea,” she said, “I was just about to say the same thing.”

Continue reading

Gift of time

This morning I woke up an hour earlier than usual and gave myself time to:

  • Watch the sun rise. The sky is dark, then it’s gray, then it’s yellow, then it’s blue. Warm under a blanket, from my porch.
  • Start dinner. Split peas are soaking and ready for soup when I’m home from work.
  • Drink my own coffee. Not Starbucks. Not my coworker’s.
  • Walk around my garden. Take pictures of the blooms that weren’t there last night, but have magically appeared this morning.
  • Listen to music. Slow, soft. Sam Cooke, romantic Elvis. No need for anything drilling to get me going.
  • Write. In my journal. This post.

I can rarely buy time for myself in the mornings, but it’s such a gift when I do. How about you? What would you do with 60 minutes of extra solitude?

Are you militantly happy?

Is your Twitter timeline dominated by sunshine, emoticons and exclamation points? Do you apologize for crying – even at funerals, even to your therapist? Do you get pissy with your Jack Johnson Pandora station when it inexplicably plays Counting Crows?

Guilty, guilty, guilty!

I’m guilty of this, too: “Why is Mama mad at me for being upset?”

My daughter, Lily, and a team of friends performed at an improv competition this weekend for smart, creative elementary school students. They argued publicly at the beginning of the skit, broke a rule involving the set, and ran out of time to finish.

The kids expressed varying levels of disappointment in their performance, with my daughter hoisting the weight of the blame upon her own shoulders. As she hid behind a corner sobbing, refusing to listen to the pep talk given by her father / team manager, the other kids recovered communally. The boys on the team chased each other around the hallway. The girls consoled each other calmly. I tried dragging Lily into the fold to soak up the positive energy flowing from her teammates, but she was convinced she alone was to blame for all that went awry. The more reluctant she was to join them, the more determined I was to make her.

“I’m going to give you five more minutes to tell me what Daddy and I can do help you be happy,” I demanded. “You want to be happy, right?” Continue reading

Smile and the world smiles with you

What’s he thinking? Will he major in Engineering or Business? (He will DEFINITELY go to Auburn.) Did his parents make him wear that bow tie or did he dress himself that day?

I’m guessing my dad is about 6 in this photo, which would date it around 1955. Where did families go for portraits in Birmingham in those days? Now we snap them anywhere – photos, video; with any device – phones, cameras, our desktop computers; and post them all over the place. We can even stream them in real time if we want.

What hasn’t changed: You shouldn’t just smile (curl your lip, arch an eyebrow) for the camera. You should smile for all the times you think no one notices. Continue reading

Early spring: Enjoy what blooms today

Three lessons from my garden this morning:

1. Appreciate the past, for it makes the present possible.

Fresh yarrow pokes above last summer’s wilted foliage.

This particular hydrangea blooms from old wood, which I’ve learned not to remove.

Several clusters of pyracantha berries remain from the fall as daffodils bloom in the early spring. I love the contrast in colors.

2. Have faith that today will yield a lush tomorrow.

Shoots, reeds and  leaves will be tulips, irises and lilies in no time.

Pink climbing roses will fill this corner.

My name will be covered in wisteria. The quince will be covered in apricot-colored blossoms. Peonies will need stakes.

3. Above all: Enjoy the delicate present!

Hellebores blooms face the ground. You have to photograph them from very close, looking upward.

Crocus is only here for a little moment, but it’s here before anything else.

I have 399 more on the way, but this tulip has the privilege of being the first.