Monday, March 14, 2011

Falling in love with Life.. the final chapter.

I'm on the verge of embracing this sleepless place I call night...

     I've tried to come here and write often lately, but there are just too many things to say. This unfortunately translates to my saying nothing at all. I had 5 separate drafts going when I came here tonight, all of which were just senseless ramblings that waxed and waned between narcissistic and self deprecating. I'm hoping I have something of value this time around.
    It's so fantastically quiet in my house right now. My eyelids are heavy, but no matter how hard I try, sleep eludes me. My mind won't shut off tonight, so I thought that since it's been a while since I shared, I would just come here and lay it all out. My thoughts are everywhere; I have a feeling this post will reflect that. I will make every effort to organize things. Here goes!

Let's call this first part "Awake"

     Waking up in my own skin is starting to really feel good again; comfortable and yet so completely foreign all at once. I think I've finally pinpointed why this is. I am learning to be the person I want to be; the one I imagined actually being rather than the one I was. I was never meant to live in Barrington. This becomes increasingly more obvious as time in the Bay Area passes by. I lived in a place I loved... it just didn't love me back and in that I got lost. For 11 years I just kinda went with the flow. I had a lot of kids, I cooked and cleaned and baked. I sang karaoke. I kept up with the Jones'. And with every passing year, the young girl who wanted to be an actress, and the headstrong young woman who fell in love with a drummer that opened her eyes to live music and the Sunset Strip just kinda went dormant. Barrington is a wonderful town if you can fit in. Money is important, being liberal is frowned upon, cultural diversity in non-existent. But it's safe, the schools are wonderful, and for 11 years I watched people form friendships and a sense of community that I would have loved to have been a part of. When Mark left, that desire only magnified and so the last 2 years of being alone found me craving the southern California climate, both the physical and social, so much that I was hell bent on not moving up here to San Francisco at all. This decision of mine was tearing us apart. Mark wanted his family back. I wanted my life back. How would we ever find both?

This part is called "Alameda"

     The plan for a while was to move back to southern California, Redondo Beach specifically, and to rent a small and affordable apartment so that Mark had money for his own life and airfare every weekend. I know this sounds insane, but after seeing each other every couple of months for a weekend here and there for two fucking years, every weekend sounded pretty damn good. Mark is also a bit of a work-a-holic, so this felt like it could make sense. All I knew was that at 38 I didn't want to restart my life again. I just wanted to go home to my friends, to my sick mother, to something that could make me happy, something that felt familiar. Of course Mark and I argued about this often. Looking back, I was being incredibly selfish, but I will give myself this one. Remember folks, I told you I was feeling sorry for myself, an innately selfish place to be. It became quite obvious after a while that to make Mark live without his kids one day longer than he was required to would be the most evil thing I could have ever done to a man who gives me everything he has. And so, as we women do, I let go of the dream to go home and tried to wrap my joy around the fact that I was going to be in California at all. In April of last year I came to NorCal for the first time to visit as well as to finish my childbirth education training... and I fell in love. Mark and I had a little vacation. This was all paid for by the good graces of his company for the purposes of our finding a home and was included in his relocation package. Hotel, car, spending money, all paid for. A friend of mine offered to babysit (can you imagine? Talk about brave) and my mother graciously paid for her to do so as well as paying for my childbirth education classes. I think everyone close to me in my life started to rally around Mark and I finally putting our family back together. It was an amazing weekend. 

Our hotel in Los Gatos

The beautiful drive from the South Bay to SF

A dramatic change in scenery as people become packed in like lemmings

The streets of SF

The White Swan hotel in SF- lovely

Pregnant me :)

     San Francisco was a beautiful city with so much to do. It actually overwhelmed me the first time I got here and I sat on the edge of our hotel room bed and cried. Not because I loved it, but because it terrified me. I felt so small. How would I ever find home? How would I ever be a part of a community in a place so large?

     It was on the plane ride home when I met a woman who would change the course of everything in my life. She was very nice, articulate, had a few kids and a husband who worked in the financial district. She was beautiful and said "fuck" a few times during our conversation; I liked her. She was going to Chicago on for business and when I asked her where she lived she said "Alameda." I probed her for more. It sounded great. 

     As you all know by now, Alameda is an island just on the other side of the bay. This meant a very short commute for Mark. It is also home to the largest same sex family community in the country. This meant it was liberal. It also had its own school district with many achievement awards. This meant a good education for my kids. Could such a place exist? That evening, I found our home on craigslist. Mark was out to see it the following weekend and the gears that were already in motion for our move sped up by about 1000 times. I would be leaving Barrington in less than 3 weeks. But was Alameda going to be all that I hoped it would?

     This last weekend I went to a birthday party for a child at our local park. As soon as I arrived I was handed a glass of red wine and immediately welcomed into many conversations, being introduced by the people I already know as "The Smiths, you know, with the 8 kids." No one blinked, scoffed or said an ill word. I am growing into my community. I am involved in a halau (hula school) girl scouts, cub scouts and now baseball, and though I don't have tight friendships yet, I have a lot of acquaintances who all seem to genuinely like me. They are democrats in their 30's and 40's who drink a little, swear a little and raise awesome kids. I also have a community of nite-lifers to sing karaoke with, shop at the farmer's market and occasionally grab dinner out somewhere with. At the party on Saturday I met a man whose son plays baseball with Declan and as we got to talking, I said something I never thought I would: "It is an absolute privilege to live here." I haven't felt that way in a very long time. Am I really finding me again and could it be that I'm actually finding a better version?
     My therapist asked me this week after another hour of me basically telling her stories about my life "Why are you here, Dia? What do you get out of this?" I know what she means. She sees me as this really exuberant and happy person with an immensely chaotic yet captivating life. She went on to tell me that she hopes I'm not there solely to entertain her. Well, I can tell you that I am not. But I think I have decided why I love going there so much. She opens my eyes to who I am at my core; how uniquely special and individual I am; how completely plain and normal I am. It's like when Simba looks down in that pool of water and Mufasa tells him from the giant lion cloud in the sky "Remember who you are. You are my son and the one true king. You must take your place in the circle of life." Ok- I'm fairly certain you could Google that shit right there and find out that I did that from memory.. verbatim. This I am not proud of. So my therapist is my Mufasa and she's reminding me to take my place in the circle of life. Best. Analogy. Ever. So what does that mean?

We'll call this part "The Circle of Life"

     I'm going to start with music. I love music. And I'm quite certain that a lot of you will say "me too", but for me it seems a little more intense than for others; like a gateway to my soul or a direct line to God's office phone. Maybe you all feel that too. I'm not gonna get all Charlie Sheen here and act like I'm better than the rest of you. How rad is that breakdown by the way? Of all the things I like watching celebrities do, career suicide is my favorite. But I digress. Back to the music. I think I mentioned this a while back. Music, songs, even U2 seemed to disappear the day Mark moved to California; as if he packed it all in his suitcase with him and took it on the plane. But United must have fucked up and lost his bag somewhere because I know that music disappeared during those two years for him as well. Hm. I just thought of this. Maybe Mark and I sort of are the music in each other's lives. Maybe that's why it's now back? That's actually a lovely and inspiring thought to me. So if we're still in my completely insane Lion King analogy then the circle of life, for me, is finding myself; the authentic self that resides in us all. If I could match the woman I am to the girl I wanted to be but forgot along the way, the circle would feel complete. Ok this is going to sound arrogant, but I'm not holding back here because I have always been honest with you all. The reason why people find me either interesting or exhausting (sometimes both) is because I have a lot of things that make up my authentic core: actress, mother, writer, philosopher, wife, friend, cook, baseball fan, childbirth educator, soccer mom, comedian, liberal, cougar (oh yes- latest victim is Nick Jonas and I have absolutely no pride whatsoever in revealing this to you. It's borderline Mary Kay Laterno.) And I will go with you all right here that many people are multi-faceted. I just think a lot of my facets are somewhat at odds with each other so seeing the juxtaposition is often what makes you either love me or hate me. So for a long while I have only been a handful of the things that really make up my core, and part of that, I think, is because I just didn't know how to be all of them at once anymore. Do you know why I don't have a career yet? Ok, aside from the fact that only neurosurgery could possibly take care of my day care bill.. it's because I want to do so many things that I end up doing nothing at all. I have started 2 novels, I am certified in childbirth education, doula work and as a lactation specialist. I've wanted to try stand up, and for most of my life I wanted to be an actress. I've also entertained a number of other ideas from going into medicine to pursuing an astronomy doctorate and working for JPL. It's like there's just so much of the world to explore that I get overwhelmed and hide. But Dutch, my therapist, is teaching me how to remember who I am. How? By letting me see myself through her eyes. When I talk to her I can see the me she is seeing and even though I'm still a little bit stuck in the mental place that had me feeling like shit for 2 solid years, the more I talk to her and the more I see what she sees, the further out of it and into my new self I become. So 3 really small things happened simultaneously.

We'll call this part "3 really small things that happened simultaneously"

     I found the actress again. And not in the traditional sense. I didn't audition for a play or make a Youtube video. I started seeing films again. Not just any old films, either. I literally saw every one of the Oscar nominations as well as some extra documentaries and other indie projects in between. Berkeley is a pretty damn fantastic part of the world for a wanna-be avant-garde hippie such as myself. It's funny. There was a small piece of me feeling a bit out of place as we began doing this, but the more I have reconnected with that artist/actress inside, the more I remember her. But she is different now; grown up. No longer in need of starring in her own T.V. show, she is content to watch thoughtful, awe inspiring films and to discuss them over Thai food afterward with her beautiful husband. The second small thing that happened actually happened on my way to one of these outings with Mark. As I was driving to the Shattuck Cinemas to see a screening of some new film being offered up to Sundance this year, a song I'd never heard by the Fleet Foxes came on the radio. And 2 separate lines really caught my attention. The first was this:

I was raised up believin'
I was somehow unique
like a snowflake, distinct among snowflakes
unique in each way you can see.

And now after some thinkin'
I'd say I'd rather be
a functioning cog in some great machinery
servin' some thing beyond me

     Then the third thing happened: I found the philosopher again. I think I have always wanted so much to be unique and different that the thought never once occurred to me to absolutely love the idea of being part of the greater picture. This may shock some of you, but I happen to really feel strongly about God and the Universe; energy and metaphysics. Being a part of the greater picture actually suits me just fine. I think this reminded me that God is there; here on this journey with me. It was awesome. The second line that moved me, to the point of tears, was this:

If I know only one thing
It's that everything that I see
of the world outside is so inconceivable
often, I barely can speak

Yeah, I'm tongue tied and dizzy
and I can't keep it to myself
what good is it to sing Helplessness Blues?
Why should I wait for anyone else?

     How easily we forget.

     So I think I may be ready to stop singing the Helplessness Blues. Because life fucking rocks. I have something to offer, and the Universe is equally giving to me. There is a long way to go in this process of reconnecting with my authentic self, but that's all part of the journey, isn't it? One that should only end the moment we actually become part of the greater picture... and maybe it doesn't even stop then.

    There is much more to talk about including a post I have been planning for a while answering my favorite (and least favorite) questions about raising a large family, but for now I think this is a fitting end to the "Falling in love with life" posts. Because I'm finally really here.

Let's just call this last part "Sleep"


And in case you want to hear it- 



  1. as remarkably different as our journeys have been, i shake my head each time you write at how similar they really are, and thus, how similar you and i are.... :-)

  2. 4 people have said similar things to me. I think its a big part of why I continue to write this. It's striking a nerve. We are ALL going through this.