the state we're in

I've never taken heat stroke or homesickness very seriously.

But a week or so ago, Claire was bawling behind me in her bike trailer. And I pedaled away—dizzy, nauseous, the works. One of us was probably going to pass out before we got home, so I found a place to stop: a cafe/bakery where people park their BMW's and pop in for drinks, professional-looking omelettes, and designer cupcakes.

the trail where i often ride my bike with a little girl in tow.

I went inside, hot, sweaty, carrying a sobbing toddler in a princess swimsuit (the only clothes she agreed to wear that day). Since anything birthday-related makes her happy, I ordered a cupcake and the tallest glass of water in the place.

Did I want the red velvet or the ooey gooey? I told the cashier I didn't care.

Which color did I want? I didn't care.

Did I want a box or a plate? "I don't care. The baby doesn't care. Just give me a cupcake and water."

Does heat exhaustion make you louder than normal?

I refilled my glass six times before we left. When we got home, I went inside and lay on the floor until my hands stopped shaking.

even when hiking, the princess swimsuit is her outfit of choice. sigh.
We were fine—after all, cupcakes were involved.

But the whole adventure felt worse than it should have since it happened on the way back from a play group where the kids pushed my daughter out, no matter how many times she blew kisses and said, "Hi, friends." A play group where I tried to connect with other moms, but just had a series of awkward conversations (which is not rare for me, but bums me out anyway).

So I wrote a blog post that I didn't publish. I sounded whiny and tired, without realizing that the problem wasn't heat stroke or play groups or feeling like a sweaty hobo in a fancy bakery.

The problem was that everything here is always new right now.

And for one minute, I just needed the familiar, the comfortable, the worn-in. (*)

Thank goodness Christopher's brother decided to get married. Best excuse for a road trip ever, no matter how short.

We hadn't even seen anyone yet when we arrived on a stretch of I-15 that I've driven at least a thousand times. Is it odd that a certain turn in a road could feel like home? Because it did. Plus, the weather was cool enough to wear my favorite sweater.

no sign of heat stroke here.
We're back in AZ. Today's temp should hit 103. The little one and I are going out on the bike again. And I have a feeling there will be no heat stroke or homesick stories to tell this time.

(Update: No heat stroke stories to speak of. It was hot, but wonderful. Claire played with a girl her age who shared her Elmo and gave her a hug. And I talked to an amazing mom about the emotional and mental space that creativity requires.)

*I don't doubt that this place will become the familiar one soon.

Christopher started a new hobby that I'm not allowed to tell you about yet.

And I discovered a poet (!) who lives across the street.

cute claire

Claire had some difficulty adjusting to AZ.  Our first week here, she decided to not sleep in her bed.

Claire generally refuses to wear clothes, including diapers.  She is much happier if she gets to pick the outfit.  I think you'll agree, we have a stylish baby:

11 days in arizona: a report

Shame on me. No pictures? Well, my hard drive croaked.

I feel like a hard-drive crash is something that only happens in theory, not in real life. Turns out, it's real. So go back up your photos. Right now. Then come back for my hearty hello from sunny Arizona.

Back already? Hello!

If you ever move to Phoenix in April, you may notice...

  • Arizonans seem to measure their time here in summers... Game of Thrones characters measure their lives in winters. "This will be my 5th year here. Get ready. Summer is coming..." 
  • Warm weather means more people exercise?
So many people around here look like they're fresh off the best, most active summer of their life. Toned. Sunglassed. Wearing footwear they can run in. Maybe this is only partly true. Either way, I'm waking from a winter hibernation I didn't realize I was in.

Christopher's fabulous stepmom took me on a 5-mile hike, which feels like a good place to start.
  • The Apple Store rocks.
I'm sure this is true of Apple stores in general, anywhere in the country. But I hold a special place in my heart for this particular Apple store, where I was told that in a month, my laptop will be considered "vintage."

I'm especially grateful for a certain subdued, detail-oriented genius who spent two hours and all his genius tricks saving nearly every last picture of my baby girl that I thought I'd lost. (Rock on, Type 2's. If you and I have ever talked about Energy Profiling, you may know what I mean.)
  • People show up when you need them. 
By the end of last week, Claire's whining had become insufferable. She needs friends—or she loses it. And I could only draw so many pictures of the friends she left behind and use silly voices to pretend they were talking to her.

We'd already seen random kids at the park down the street about six times, but yesterday, I got her dressed and told her that this was the day we would meet some real friends. And some woman invited us to a massive play group where we moms sat on blankets and talked about summer (it's coming...) and they put me on their mom-group email list.

When the two of us came home after play group today, my baby was singing to herself again.

So far, so good. I'll let you know when summer arrives.

what to ask me when i'm old (or after we're done moving)

Storyteller genius, Donald Davis, says not to ask old people what they remember about their childhoods.

Instead, he says you should ask about their childhood home. Or their third grade classroom. Or the hard church pew they sat on every Sunday. In other words, if you want to retrieve a memory, access the location where it's stored. Open the door and go inside the space where it happened.

Since we've been married, we've gathered a whole collection of spaces.

And here we go again. Arizona. For a good job. To the place we will be when we make that final student loan payment before the end of the year. I will experience that victory in a sunny spot on the globe.

You wouldn't know it from all our gypsying, but we really hate moving. We had a sweet babysitting swap with some friends in the neighborhood. My sweetie girl has a crush on one of the boys in nursery. When we first boxed up my books last week, I cried.

And maybe I'm making too much of this, but I've been thinking about how we simultaneously live in the spaces by which we access those memories later. By leaving that space, we have to accept that another chapter in our lives has closed—those moments are now memories, and not the present. Time keeps moving and so do we. 

I know which memories happened in this familiar space, but I haven't yet seen which ones happen in the new one. We always seem to fall in love where we're living, though, so I'm hopeful and excited. Each move, we're just as reluctant to leave as the last.

So here's to fabulous memories in new spaces. And here are some of my favorite images of the one we've just left—where things have been so happy, sometimes hard, and altogether wonderful. If some young whippersnapper ever asks me about that basement apartment I lived in down the street from the bakery, I'll say it was one of my favorites.


Utah Hates Me

We're moving out of Utah.  Utah is not happy with us.

I need to appear on Ghost Hunters, because the vengeful spirit of the pioneers is after me.

As soon as we decided to move, there was a snowstorm.  It was as if Utah was a jealous girlfriend who couldn't handle the breakup.  But her tantrum only made us more certain that we had made the right decision.

Now, there's brownish yellow water dripping from our bathroom ceiling.  We called the lady who manages the place.  She said they'd take care of it in the morning.  Then she laughed, and said "have fun cleaning that up."  Her indulgence in shadenfreude made me think she's one of those people who'd be happy working for the IRS, in telemarketing, or for Hitler.

The brown water is dripping onto our toilet.  We have some fans set up, a bucket, and some towels on the floor.

I needed to use the toilet.  So I grabbed a towel, and was considering using it as a hood to protect me from the drips as I did my business.  But then I decided to fix the problem ghetto MacGuyver style.

With some plastic wrap and some scotch tape, I've redirected the drips so that they all converge onto one spot, into a bucket, instead of on my head.

I can now go do my business without having to get dressed in brown-water beachwear.

Take that, ghosts.

The only other plumbing I've done is in Super Mario.

bringing out the hermit in me

Last month, we pulled my desk out into our entryway to make me a tiny office amongst the bikes, the shoe rack, and our little wannabe lemon tree. It's actually a huge upgrade from my former office—which used to be the bathroom.

I'm writing in there. Finishing another draft of this novel has become a rollercoaster of panic and delight. Some days, I'm certain it won't turn into anything better than compost. Other days, I'm pretty sure I'm onto something beautiful.

My current deadline has turned me into a bit of a hermit everywhere in my life, including our little blog. (I've actually composed a few blog posts in my mind—how I worried about looking ridiculous playing peek-a-boo through my tinted car window at the gas station until I looked over at the next pump and saw a guy doing the same thing with his kid while his car was filling up—but none of them get written. Just the book. And stuff for work.)

And I realized this: I don't know how you creative people balance dream-chasing endeavors with the reality of motherhood and work and needing to shower. Thoughts? Suggestions?

Nobody's abandoned showering around here (promise), but if you come to my house, you'll see how much I've let other things slide. I like to think it's because I'm always reading books to my little girl, instead of doing chores. And while that's true some mornings, it does not entirely account for the state of my kitchen.

This has become my mantra these days: I have plenty of time to accomplish everything I need and truly want to do.

It's true. I say it if I start feeling overwhelmed, and often, I get a little clarity on what to focus on and what's not worth my time. No surprise that vacuuming often falls off the list. It never makes it into my "truly want" category. But if there's not time for it these days, does that mean I don't technically need to do it either? I'll be a hermit a bit longer, so maybe nobody will notice.

Especially not this girl, whose "truly want" list includes eating cookies on the carpet...