Just an assortment of things, almost all beautiful:

  • Since I won’t be here on Oliver’s third birthday because I’ll be in Bali that day, I spent a few hours with him yesterday. I had some kind of seriously awful gut thing going on so it wasn’t as long as I’d have liked, but it was so wonderful being with him. He and I went to one of the neighborhood parks, the one on the elementary school grounds where he will be going in just a couple of weeks. He played on the equipment, we blew bubbles even though it was too breezy to make chasing them much fun, he ate lunch, and he ran around. I watched him wandering around, running, talking to himself the way he does, and my heart ached so hard. Oliver has something going on — the current educational diagnosis is in the autism neighborhood — but most difficult is his pretty profound speech delay. So I watched that beautiful, darling boy running around, in his own world, and I cried pretty hard because I so want to know him. I so want to share things with him, know what he thinks without guessing, hear his wonderings and his wants and his needs and his funny. At the moment that’s not how it is to be with Oliver, but I know it will be one of these days. I don’t think he feels lonely; he seems keenly aware of how much he is loved. One fun thing to do with Oliver is to look at the phone together. We had the camera on and turned to selfie mode, and he was grinning as he held down the button for dozens of long bursts. He caught the really beautiful shot I included here. See the delight on his face?
  • My dear, dear friend Becci (hi darling Becci!) sent me a Crazy Zauberball. I have always wanted one, and somehow she chose a colorway that I always wanted, too. The other day I opened my mailbox, expecting the usual day’s allotment of junk mail, and instead there was a nicely wrapped box, fit snugly into the mailbox with my name facing outward. I had no idea what it might be, even when I saw Becci’s name and address in the top right corner. I literally ran into the house and unwrapped it (even more nicely presented inside the outer brown wrapper, with a “just because” note) and when I pulled out the ball I jumped up as if I’d been electrocuted. It was the last thing I expected, and I instantly started crying with all the joy — the joy of having a friend who would do such a thing (and just because), the joy of her thoughtfulness and knowing, the pleasure of the long-wanted yarn, and the delight of finding just the right project for it. I decided on a project that others have made with the yarn, a scarf called Baktus, because it looks amazing and it’s a simple knit—I want to make it on my upcoming trip. In the way these things work, forever more I’ll feel all the love and joy when I wear it, remembering Becci, remembering making it in Indonesia. That’s one thing I love about knitting, it holds the space for all of that.
  • I can’t properly talk about how humiliated I feel over having that hangover on Tuesday. I feel such shame about it. I’m 58, I have so many ways to manage upset, and I drank enough to have a hangover? It’s hard to talk about it but I feel like I must — maybe this is some kind of self-flagellation, maybe I shouldn’t, but shame and humiliation is exactly what I feel. I mentioned that feeling to Nancy, and she looked puzzled, which puzzled me. Shouldn’t I feel shame? I talk relatively often about AA, which I only know about because of my husband; I know that they believe self-loathing doesn’t get you anywhere, and certainly not to the same place that self-compassion will take you. I’m trying that, trying to have compassion for myself that evening, acceptance of myself and what I did. I don’t think I’ll ever do that again; I sure learned a lot, including the fact that a hangover can be a really terrible mood, which I didn’t know. I’m sorry I did that — I say that out loud, and to myself. It’s funny; I even find this beautiful, even though it’s such a dreadful feeling. But it’s beautiful to stumble along, fall down and get up, bruise yourself, heal yourself, and be helped along by others. I think that’s really beautiful.
  • We just lost Derek Walcott, a poet whose words have meant a lot to me over the years. I first encountered him in 2001, when I knew a poet who loved him. I’m sorry this is in a jpg instead of text, but I can’t find it copy-able and I don’t want to type it all out. This poem relates so beautifully to the end of my last bullet point:

  • Tonight I will sit with the women in my book club to talk about this month’s book, which I didn’t like at all I’m sad to say (The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood, review here). But I will love being with the women, who share my political world view and who are SMART, screamingly smart, and compassionate. We meet at Joyce’s house tonight — she picked the book — and she’s making us a vegetable pie and salad, and I’m bringing Topo Chico and dark chocolate, and I look forward to the communion with all my heart. For now, though, I pack for Indonesia. Happy Sunday, everyone.

4 thoughts on “potluck”

  1. Hi right back at ya, sweetie pie! The best part of surprising someone is finding out how much they were surprised and how much they loved the surprise. It warms my heart to see how happy you are with the Crazy Zauberball and what a cool thing you are going to knit with it. That’s one thing I love about knitting as well…..the memories. I’m glad it’s going to be something you can take on your trip and that I will be hanging around your neck from time to time. 😉 My sister has a grandson who is on the spectrum and school did him a world of good. He also didn’t talk much at all around Oliver’s age but now, at 12, talks his head off and plays the drums. He’s a special little boy with a big, easy heart and I imagine that darling Oliver will be the same. And then…..tell me what you didn’t like about The Heart Goes Last. It scared the hell out of me…I didn’t really like it myself but I was compelled to keep turning the pages. I want to know what you think. Lastly….enjoy your trip. Every last bit of it. Enjoy your knitting. Enjoy the love that is sent your way every day. xoxoxoxo

    1. I’m so glad to hear about your sister’s grandson — I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of hearing Oliver talk his head off, and if I ever have even a moment of wishing for that I’ll slap my own damn face. After losing Gracie, I think we all appreciate every single bit of experience, and are much less likely to be frustrated by the small annoyances because we know how precious it is to have them.

      Here’s my GoodReads review of the Atwood book, and then I’ll say a little more:

      The only other Atwood book I’ve read was The Handmaid’s Tale, and as this book got started (once the characters move to Consilience), I thought it was going to be another twisting turning exploration of a horrible future, or something. But it was ridiculous, and it just became increasingly ridiculous all the way through to the Elvis and Marilyn bots. It just left me with so many questions:

      1) WHY did I waste all that time reading it? (the answer: book club, I wanted to be able to discuss the whole terrible thing)
      2) WHY did she choose to make her primary characters such simple-minded idiots?
      3) Why even bother with the organ transplant bit when it was just glancingly mentioned?
      4) WHY did Atwood write such a crappy book? She clearly knows how to write books.
      5) WHY didn’t any of her editors cut the book? It was so bloated and boggy, and clearly too long, and would’ve at least been improved by cutting it, even if it couldn’t have been turned into a good book.

      I don’t want to waste any more time on this book so this is a short review, primarily written to remind myself of it in case I’m ever tempted to read it again. DON’T DO IT, ME.

      At book club last night, we all just felt like she threw too many things at the wall and didn’t do anything with any of them, which was frustrating because there were so many different books inside this one. But like you, I just couldn’t stop turning pages (even if it came to be because I kept thinking surely she was going to pull it all together, surely). Joyce, who picked the book and adores Atwood, suggested we read The Blind Assassin, which I’m going to do.

      Anyway. Love you to bits, darling Becci, and I hope you are showered with love today. I’m boosting a blast your way from Austin. xoxoxoxox

  2. Thank you for sharing these beautiful things, and for being a person who finds beauty amidst what might be otherwise difficult things in life. Thank you for sharing your shame – I think that shame is such a corrosive emotion, but never more than when it’s locked up inside, eating away and doing harm. As you say, we all fall down – we do. You are not alone down there when you stumble, and you’re not alone when you get up and say, that was something to learn from. And so much better to say that than to lock it away where you can’t learn from it because it’s too shameful to see it!

    Oliver is beautiful – that picture of the two of you is something to treasure. I, too, have faith that one day he’ll be talking and telling you his thoughts and experiences. My faith is based on my college students; we see more and more of them who are on the spectrum. Their perspectives are always something I appreciate in my classes, and I know that someday that’ll be Oliver.

    1. Jocelyn, your comment was such a gift to me — a gift of grace, and compassion, and reaching out, and I thank you for every word. And for the view of Oliver from the future we hope for him. Thank you. <3

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