Friday, November 30, 2012


David Bowie sings one of my all-time favorite tunes.
Changes is Bowie's wise exploration down the road of growing older.
He wrote it at the time his wife was pregnant with their son, so he had big changes
going on in his life.  What I didn't realize, when looking up info on the song, was just how much controversy there is about the chorus lyrics. WOW.
Huge, lengthy articles, blogs, research discussing whether Bowie sings "Face the strain" or "Face the strange" or "Face the stranger".
Some of the remarks are down-right volatile!

All 3 interpretations work for me.  When change surrounds you, encompasses you,
It most certainly can be a strain or strange or an actual stranger, i.e. the messenger.
There is no dispute about one thing, though, and that is that Bowie says, "Face it".
Every day, each of us, faces 'the strain' of change. At times, it's painful.
It's an ache that might be so deep and personal that even our closest allies are unaware
of what's really happening.
We face it quietly and we get through it.
I face 'the strange' a lot.  In fact, I deliberately throw rocks at it's window;
wanting 'it' to come out and play with me.
And as for 'the stranger', I've faced them too. Often times, with an open heart because
many who I've encountered, have witnessed much more in their lifetimes than I have.
Therefore, I have a lot to learn from them.  But sometimes, I face a stranger and if I'm a bit worked up, I've been known to offer them the universal sign for "naff off!"
Sing it any way you like.  Ch-ch-ch-Changes...

Change happens to be in the air just about everywhere you look;
the autumn breeze, crisp and new.
The leaves turning from frog-greens to brittle crimsons and browns.
The way hearts turn the corner, only to find their summer joys have slipped away...
Change, unavoidable as it can be, can also be embraced, coveted and often times,
held in highest regard.

Change is in the air at Sweet Pea's house too.
Babies change from week to week. I didn't know that.
Two weeks ago, she was awkwardly "scoot-crawling" and yesterday she was full-on,
straight-up crawling like a wind-up robot.

Just last week, "boob milk" was her only entree.
This week, the menu's changed.
Oatmeal and organic sweet potatoes have been added and she can't get enough. She devours them like she's been on a hunger strike for a month.

SHE LOVES THEM YAMS!  And you can't shove the BPA-free plastic spoon in her mouth fast enough.
She loves them so much, I'm changing her name from Sweet Pea to Sweet Potato for the sake of this blog.

There's modification at the 'changing table' as well. Sweet Potato does not feel she needs to be there, therefore, fights, struggles and flip-flops more than Mitt Romney.  Changing her diaper is reminiscent of an alligator handler grappling with a gnarly beast.

But in all seriousness, (that is if seriousness in fact exists in me)
I felt myself changing this week too. Perhaps it was because we were by ourselves.
(The Cousin was at home with a little bug.) Whatever it was, Sweet Potato and I bonded
like two hogs in mud.
Meaning, there were times, when the swear words that usually dance around in my head were completely absent. Or maybe I'm adapting, adjusting, changing, letting go! Dunno.
But face it folks:
One is easier than two.
Hell, zero is where I'm at, but at least with one, you don't break a sweat or find yourself cramming your face with Hostess GMO products as much.

Another change in this little tot's life...
She's starting to understand the significance of the two-letter word "N O."
And I'll tell you why.
This child loves to approach, grab, tug on, conquer and eat various objects that could cause
damage to her person and cost me my job.
The main items of interest are cable cords, lamp plugs, heater grates and the ficus plant.
Yesterday, she insisted on going for these things numerous times.
She was the most persistent with the lamp cord.
She's made her way to it, then proceeded to do the "split-second-grab-pull-and-eat" motion before I could scoop her up.
Since I come from a long line of enablers, I'm not taken seriously.
I'd look into her baby blues and say, in a firm but pushover manner, "N O."
I'd then move the lil buckeroo all the way across the room, and give her plenty of cute, interesting baby toys to distract her... You guessed it!  Back she'd go for the damn lamp cord.
About the 3rd or 4th time, she'd stop, in route, look back over her shoulder at me,
and smile this kinda "ha ha ha" smile.
I'd say, "N O" and I'll be damned if the little shit kept going.
I call this her "I think it's funny to hear you say, 'No' and then do it anyway" crawl.
                             After I redirected her one too many times, she alerted me of her
                                                            undeniable unhappiness.

This crying thing really messes with our day and my mood.  So in an attempt to take a cheery photo together, I couldn't seem to set the camera and auto-timer up successfully.

But actually, here's some too...

Now, I wouldn't go as far as to say that this kid is totally changing me.
But maybe partially.

Change appears in so many forms; a career move, a box of Clairol, weight gain or loss, the weather...
But more importantly, such things like a closed heart opening, an unexpected
admission of wrong-doing, an unforeseen apology.
These are the precious ones; the ones that matter.

The weather changed today, and with it, my mind-space.
Winds from the North, sounding as fierce as Sweet Potato's cry, and then the rains, powerfully deliberate.
When it downpours with such a venegence, I tend to go inside myself.
My thoughts touch the tipped corners of melancholy and reflection,
and I'm usually best left alone.

But you see, I'm not a girl who easily adapts to change. 
It's taken me 19 years to actually believe that I'm an insulin diabetic, and even then,
I still leave the house without snacks in my satchel.
When the doctor diagnosed me in '94, I told him he was "f@*#ing wrong".
Then I drove to Winchell's and bought a baker's dozen.
Stubborn about change?
Obviously, my lack of knowledge, combined with my extreme stuborness, convinced me that I was far more intelligent than my doctor.

This little girl; this future leader of America, is changing too. She's eating sweet potatoes.
She's babbling in a language all her own.
She's  pulling herself up; standing under the "big" table and feeling so proud of it!
Now that's cool.

But even if we could stop change, would we want to? Now that's something to ponder.

Here's some wisdom on the subject:

“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.” 
~ Libba Bray, The Sweet Far Thing

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. 
Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ~Lao Tzu

“The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”  ~ John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

"Peace out."~tpg

Thursday, November 15, 2012

50 Shades of Determination

The other day a friend asked me, “Aren’t you afraid you’ll get fired writing
about those two babies the way you do in your blog?”
…BIG PAUSE. (followed by) HMMM… (followed by) BIG IDEA
You know, yesterday was actually so damn full of “Disney sweet happy” that
I really have nothing to blog about.  Good moods were had by all, pretty much for 9 hours straight, give or take a couple minor flare-ups.  It was weird.
As if every single care of theirs just melted away when I turned on Pandora and Toddler Radio.  We sang, clapped and danced into the afternoon to such hits like
Raffi’s “Down by the Bay” and Jewel’s version of “And the Green Grass Grows All Around”  and "Play Day" from her album The Merry Goes ‘Round. 
I never realized Jewel was a toddler phenomenon. Who knew?
Yesterday we had a play day! 
Sweet Pea, The Cousin and I got down.  The Cousin loves to dance.
Sweet Pea not so much. 
Sweet Pea’s thing is to stand up, though she’s not yet 7 months. 
Her determination is amazing and quite frankly, I wish some of us grown-ups had even a fraction of it.
Here’s an example:
She spots my backpack on the couch.  Yet, she has the attached pen of The Cousin’s  
toddler-type Etch A Sketch in her right hand and it’s clinched between her lil fingers 
like a jaw-grip. 
The same exact grip she had on my earring the first time we met, hence, I’m earring-less on Wednesdays.
Anyway, so she sees my bag and begins her infamous scoot-crawl toward it, using only 
her left hand on the carpet, as the right is gripping the pen and dragging the Etch A Sketch.  
She reaches the couch, balances herself with her left hand and presses her forehead into the couch cushion, using it for hand-like leverage to stand up.
And she f*#@king succeeds!  And the thing about Sweet Pea is; if you move her away from something she wants; be it, plastic bags, a knife on a counter, cleaning supplies…well, if it’s what she wants, she returns to it again and again. She’s determined and she doesn’t forget! This perturbs The Cousin because Sweet Pea usually wants what The Cousin is playing with.  Sound familiar?
I will climb these bars.

I will figure out how this damn thing opens.

I admire her 50 shades of determination.  It's 100% concentrated persistence and that's what it takes to make changes, to move mountains, to attain goals. What happened to yours and mine? 
Sweet Pea will make the unattainable attainable even though the baby books say she shouldn't be there yet.  She goes full-steam ahead, even though she crashes and burns.  Head bonking is not a deterrent.  She gets right back up.  The Cousin and I are amazed quite frankly.  
This little girl is something else. And I'm not just sayin that to keep my employment.  I look at her and I not only think determined, I think fearless.  
And again I wonder, what happened to mine?  

The Cousin exhibits determination as well, but not as much.  On Halloween, she was clearly determined not wear the sheep costume. Picture #1 indicates the start of her tool of choice: 
the tantrum.
Picture #2 is the full-on foot kicking and pounding of hands on the floor.  But she finally gave in and grandma was delighted.  I predict Sweet Pea won't give in when she hits the big age of 18 months.  Tough luck for grandma with that one.
Picture # 1

Picture # 2

I think it's good to reflect on our lives and the times that stand out with regard to our own personal persistence and determination. The times when we were over taken by huge jolts of both and we reached whatever goal we had our sights set on.  And then with that, came the most wonderful feeling of basking in the satisfaction of our own accomplishment.  
The best ones were of course the quiet ones; the ones we never told a soul. The ones we didn't need an award or recognition of any kind.  The ones where we felt contentment inside ourselves simply because we knew we had it in us.
Maybe we still do.
You can do it!

Life is good.

This song will give y'all a "jump start!" Perhaps offer up just the right amount of determination you might need to get going today!  Make something happen or at the very least, 
have a play day! 
Crank up the volume! ~tpg

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Word Up: The Cousin

I got the phone call at 7:45 a.m. on the day after the election…
"You only have one today. Sweet Pea is sick, so you only have The Cousin.”

SWEET JESUS! Truly a bonus morning! An Obama win!  A Yes on Prop 30! Todd Akin taking 
a legitimate loss! Same-Marriage wins in 4 states!  
But nothing, NOTHING spelled J O Y like the words “You only have one.”
It’s like don’t wake me up from this luscious dream I’m having.  Just tiptoe around the bed, PLEASE!

The Cousin calls me “Bau lee lee” and I hear her calling my name from the back of the apartment 
as soon as I arrive.  She comes out wearing pink tights and a fresh little “onesy" with tiny grey elephants on it.  She has severe “bed head.”  She doesn’t want to brush her teeth. 
She only wants to play with Bau lee lee.  I dig that.  
This morning, I put on a sad face and say to her, “Your cousin, Sweet Pea, is sick today.  
She isn’t coming over.” 
Inside, of course, I’m dancing so hard there's marks on the hardwood, but I’m way more mature than to let it show.

After the mom takes off, we begin our day with our morning beverages of choice and PBS’s  
Curious George, followed by Super Readers and Sesame Street. 
(Thank God Big Bird will continue to be partially federally funded.)

Today’s activity or “word up” in Elmo language is: E X E R C I S E.
We toss our bottles, get down off the couch and stand in the center of the room. 
First word up: S W I N G.  
We each extend our arms out, lock fingers of both hands together just like Pablo “The Panda” at bat and swing! 
1 2 3 4 strong, big girl swings and we’re good to go for the next word up:
B O U N C E.  We squat down at the knees and plunge upward like Blake Sheldon’s index finger…
1 2 3 4 5 times. WHEW! This feels great!  
Final word up: D A N C E.
And boy can The Cousin get down!  We dance way into the commercials, then take our boogie into the kitchen for our bowl of applesauce with cinnamon.

Life was going down a bump-free road until "the explosion" which The Cousin’s mom conveniently forgot to tell me had been happening for the last few days.
So, we're in the living room putting together an opposites puzzle, when B O O M!
Our eyes meet in a sort of emotionally troubled way, and without warning, 
some sort of wheat-colored flood starts seeping out of her elephant “onesy”.  I’m appalled.  
I scoop her up under her armpits and whisk her to the changing table.  
The smell is indescribable. 

She looks terrified and, of course, I begin recalling child development courses I took years ago.
They repeatedly talked about not making a big deal about excessive poop; not making the child feel bad or like something grotesque and horrific is actually coming out of their body.  
I begin saying things to The Cousin like, “It’s okay. It’s just poop. No biggie.” and “Everybody poops.” 
But with my tee shirt up over my nose, I start singing the A B C song.
She knows that song, damn it, but she’s not joining in.
There’s shit everywhere; down her legs, up her back, on the changing table, on my hands, 
and it’s rancid smelling.  It’s way worse than Sweet Pea’s. 
I start wiping with as many Wet-Ones as I can pull out of the package.  
“Word up for me?” T R A U M A T I Z E D. 
Soon I realize, we gotta get to the tub…
And a bathtub makes everything alright, doesn't it ladies? 

                      The Cousin seems to adjust quite well in the tub. I seem to need a cocktail.

Sometimes in life, you know, you just make-do; roll with the punches...make Citrus Martinis from lemons and all that stuff. I recall my mom saying that and it's true.  Whatever your profession or  "calling" in life...whatever obstacles you face, you just fake it til you make.
You just make-do. Word Up: A T T I T U D E and more so, I M P R O V I S E.

I remember, 5 years ago, when the trailer park was my personal little piece of heaven, 
we took a vacation with some pals to Mexico.  We ended up driving our little Chevy S-1 over 
to their house, which is situated in a very nice "low-crime" neighborhood.  We parked the truck there for the duration of our trip.  That was our first error in a trip, that would unforeseeably, host an endless string of comical errors.
But what we didn't expect was to find our truck's tailgate gone when we returned.
It was a clean job. No scratches on the truck. No dints or paint chips. Just a perfect steal.
Anyway, my partner was pissed but resourceful. She made-do.
You see there was a new prefab going in at 29, and when the workers were nowhere to be found, she, her jigsaw in hand, cut up a piece of 29's trailer siding to exact measurements, which made for easy sliding into the grooves of our pickup. 
That damn thing's held up for 5 years now! It does have some chips, as prefab siding is made of cheap, toxic shit, and we sometimes live in fear that, with the right amount of wind gust, 
that mutha might catch and fly up. But you know what? SO WHAT! It's not a big deal unless you're the guy behind us. We miss so much of life when we focus on the big deals.
Just like "Holy Shit! shit" isn't a big deal.  N I K E word up: Just do it! 
The important thing is taking action. Moving forward. Whether it's using our resources to make something useful. Whether it's handling an explosion whose point of origin is a diaper. Or whether it's just taking steps to make it through a difficult can do it!
Word up: F O R T I T U D E!