Archive for the 'Misty Water Colored Memories…' Category



Books are our friends. A small sign with this adage hung over the blackboard in my favorite class (College Prep English. High school) and saw me through the usual suspects (To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye) as well as extracurricular reading (Kristen Lavransdatter, Les Miserables). School was a safe haven of order and schedule and relatively easy success. As with so many other kids in my situation, books and school and for awhile religion, were a triumvirate of powerful support that carried me away from all the present troubles.

As we make ready for Talky and Tempest to enter Kindergarten next week, I’m reminded (over and over and over) that my love of reading, of school, of pencils and papers and lunchboxes and chalkboards is the religion I hope they carry with them as they grow older.

We visited their Kindergarten a few days ago and met the other kids and the teacher (for the second time). Seeing the little desks and sweet decorations and reading corner was like gazing into a secret hobby hole, where my first babies will be kept safe and learn to read and write. And gratitude and excitement don’t even begin to cover it…



What I Write is Mine, Isn’t it? Blogging and Identity


Hello my name is Rachael and I used to write at CrankMama. I started CrankMama on a lark in August 2006, wanting an outlet for all my naughty dark lusty and sassy mama thoughts. I was dying for somewhere to express the millions of ways I was not, could not ever be Donna Reed, could not ever *not* swear around my kids, cook a reasonably tasty meal, stay at home without meaningful work, give up a fabulous sex life, leave aside 100% of my own ego for my children. I was drowning in spiritual suburbia, and CrankMama was my express train to midtown Manhattan with a pocket full of cash and a brain full of daring.

My computer, anthropomorphized and worshipped, cuddled more than my husband, was my instrument of adventurous warfare on vanilla mommyhood everywhere. My solution for sleepless worry, my nascent feminism and amorous curiosities found an outlet.

As it grew bigger, I became known (albeit only to a few) as CrankMama, which was perfectly fine with me, and this persona of a sassy, shit-kicking potty-mouthed mama developed, at once more than and less than me.

But here’s the rub (and the clumsy hard, repetitive kind without lube), like many women writers, I lacked confidence in my abilities as a writer. I was comfortable “only” being a blogger because it seemed so much less risky than claiming to be a writer (if you say you’re a writer and they ask where and you say “a blog” you just sit there waiting for the laughter). I was chicken. I was shucking and jiving the sisterhood I claimed to defend.

Read more over at BlogRhet

And for those that are interested, I signed up at Feedburner so now have a feed




I’ll be 39 in a few days. What is there to say about 39 except ‘Thank God it’s not 40.’ How unoriginal. I’m not sure how much Man Candy will be necessary to see me through, but for some reason it does feel better than 35. And if you’re “only as old as the boys that you feel” than I’m not a spit over 35. So THERE.

And turns out since teens today are such chubs, I actually only feel embarrassed sashaying around the pool in my swim gear because of the octogenarian fitness freaks with 6 pack abs.

I think I’ll have some chips.

Meanwhile, I made my reservation for Blogher finally and plans are shaping up (I have a roomie and plans for drinks and to reconnect with some grad school pals). You going??


Thanksgiving Past

I met David when I was 19 and a Sophomore at Whitman College in Eastern Washington State.  Back then, Walla Walla wasn’t the hip gathering place for vintners that it is today.  An exciting weekend involved walking downtown for a bad hamburger at the Red Apple with M (the one who reminded me of this story, for which I’ll pinch her later).

David was a transfer student, a musician, and an avid cyclist –the wheat fields around Walla Walla were stunning and unpopulated and ideal for riding.  He was, to my 19 year old eye, gorgeous.  Gorgeous.  Semi-hippie, long-ish hair, and smart smart smart.  He charmed me with poetry, feminist theory (ack!), and his deepening love for me.   I held back, arguing that my position of important authority (I was a Sophomore living in a Freshman dorm serving as an academic advisor), precluded any romantic entanglement.  That this piqued his interest and determination should have set off numerous alarm bells.  But alas, part of that first freefall into love is the open-heartedness and trusting ignorance of innocence. 

I remember going home with him for Thanksgiving to meet his parents. His was a lovely house full of books and classical music in an old section of town with grand trees and lush lawns and old but well-maintained sports cars.  His family was welcoming and intelligent and they didn’t seem to mind at all when David and I went upstairs and disappeared for a few hours to "talk about our relationship."  I remember the talking well…

That evening after dinner, I looked over at him and realized I was in love.  It was dark outside and we walked along a quiet road, and I watched his face as he moved in and out of streetlamp light.  In and out of shadows, he would turn to me then away as we discussed books we loved, life at college, and other unnumerable things.  His loveliness was like a golden thread weaving us together and my heart, not easily lost, was released then to him.  Fully and openly.

A few weeks later, after he realized that his two month pursuit of me had finally reaped the reward of my returned affection, he began acting strangely and withdrawing.  And because you know how this ends, I’ll skip the harrowing slow decline.

David broke my heart.

I headed home that Summer after Sophomore year, wrecked, broken, and disconsolate.  I missed many days of my overachieving internship, cut my hair short, sobbed and sobbed to my parents, called friends, slept and slept.  By August, I managed to recover enough to start running again.  I started making lists of things to do each day…. reasons to get out of bed.  One day it was to see a new gallery down from my office.  Another day it was to eat a candy bar.  Little by little, I returned to myself and to the world I remembered before David.

As Junior year began and my new gig for Whitman’s women’s dormitory commenced, I saw him across campus.  As the electric shock coursed through my body and I steeled myself for that first meeting, I realized if I could put one foot in front of the other and keep walking, I’d get on…and get over.

And I did.


Sonnet for Your Thoughts…

Ah.. the Sonnets. A perfect end to a wild day… We met with the Soul Enacter, and as with so many of life’s kookiest people, he ended up quite lovely and sharp and insight (incite)ful. Though, honestly, why couldn’t my “issue’ have a better name than “Chaos”?? How about “butterfly” or “gypsy” or “Clarissa”?

Sonnet XXIX (which is # 823.456, I think)

When in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes,
I alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur’d like him, like him with friends

Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hyms at heaven’s gate;

For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings

That then I scorn to change my state with kings.




Songs to Live by…

Remember that silly Ally McBeal TV show from the 90s? In one episode, Ally’s therapist asks her to identify her personal theme song. Well, she picks one and it puts a spring in her step and a sparkle in her eye and inspired me to do the same thing. At the time, I was also a single career girl in my 20s, equally confused and misdirected (though with a bit more junk in the trunk). As such, I proudly picked Pat Benetar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” a song which trumpets a woman’s toughness despite the usual disappointments (heartache, fear, insecurity). Here I was, trying to be tough in a world where commitment and stability and integrity seemed as elusive as a good paying job as a social worker. So I’d walk along and sing “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and dare the world to bring it. Bring it on. I was tough, rough, and ready. Or so I thought.

Three years later I was pregnant with twins with a boyfriend of five months. The twins and I were a family. A family who eventually started over without the man, with the love and support of my wonderful family. Since then I’ve learned that one should never beg the universe to bring it on. That’s just foolhardy hubris.

On the other hand, all of the posturing gave way (through a crucible of sleepless nights, and a million ear infections) to something deeper and tougher than a dare. If I had a song to choose today, it would be something more like the classical music I played growing up. A dreamy piece I used to play called “The Syrinx” by Claude Debussy. It’s haunting and gorgeous and melodious. And you never know, after listening, how it will turn out. When you play the piece you are asking rather than telling the universe to reveal its beauty. The challenge and toughness is all underneath. A river of strength greater than any youthful dare.


Do These Kids Make Me Look Free?

Not long ago, I was wandering around a beautiful fall-leaf filled campus wondering about the meaning of life and training to be a junior political theorist.  In my self-absorbed angst, I had no idea that someday I’d look back fondly at the carefree days of college and long for a time when an emotional crisis involved getting a C on an Astronomy Exam, and hard work meant cooking and cleaning for a small dinner party.

From where I sit today, surrounded by dirty carpets, small sharp loud toys, smelly dishes, chatty kids, and baggy clothes, those days seem halcyon and delightful.  I had my whole life ahead of me, and the world, if not my oyster, was certainly rife with possibility.  I could go wherever I wanted, study esoteric french feminist theory, practice vegan-ism, run every day, spend my days however I chose.

Yet I never experienced this freedom as happiness.  As a lover of structure, those carefree days were haunting and terrifying.   I flailed under the weight of all of those choices and so made a host of bad ones —  changing jobs and house mates and life philosophies every other week, trying out fad diets and freewheeling intellectual inquiry, experimenting with drugs, and bad boyfriends and everything in between. I was totally lost.  Not "happy and free" lost.  Lost lost.

More than a dozen years later, I’m no longer free.  I have obligations and bills and schedules and people.  I am the cornerstone and the foundation of happiness for three small girls.  I have a marriage to honor, friendships to support, girlfriends to encourage.   Life is hard and tiring and relentless. I am beleaguered and bedeviled and exhausted and cranky. 

Yet I’ve never felt so important and so integral to the functioning of things.  Like a conscripted CEO, I’m pulled into all the emotional turmoil and household chaos and expected to smooth it all out.   As the expectant faces of my family turn toward me, I become the directed strong woman I always dreamed I’d be.