Blooming

bloom

When I moved into my new house in LA, I wanted a yard full of poppies in springtime. A small thing, sure, but I could see it, and it was going to be glorious. Rows of sunset orange, tangerine, cream and dusty green. I bought seeds, put them in the fresh, damp ground — I expected them to grow.

As spring arrived, and the whole of California it seemed was bathed in that orange glow, my backyard filled up with green stalks. Rows and rows of green. Not a single blossom anywhere. I would walk outside, combing the —what really just looked like weeds at this point — green for the smallest sign of color.

And I was disappointed. I really wanted those flowers to bloom and they weren’t. Every time I saw a poppy on the roadside, or in my neighbor’s yard, it was a small reminder that my flowers might never bloom. It was hard to be happy for the rest of California when my yard was still poppy-free, and my expectations were totally dashed.

But, I didn’t pull up the green, even if it wasn’t what I hoped it would be. One day, maybe, there would be poppies in this garden, maybe I would get to see it, or maybe I would have moved on to some other house, some other garden, some other field of wildflowers waiting to bloom. One day, I would get my little sunset garden.

Sunday afternoon, while I was doing homework at the kitchen table with my son, my eyes traveled to the backyard, to all that wild green, and they caught on something.

Bright, vibrant, wide open, bathing in sunlight. A few perfect poppy flowers.

popp

When I look closely now, I see a multitude of blooms waiting to open up, promising me flowers for days, more than I even expected.

Expectations can create a false sense of urgency, they can push your patience into panic, your faith into fear. They can make you feel like everyone around you is getting the fields of wildflowers you hoped for, while you are getting green stalks of flowerless weeds. But patience pays off in time. Not pulling up the flowers you planted because they aren’t blooming yet, pays off, too.

Waiting for that warm Sunday, when the sun touches the garden just right, and the first little flower opens up, pays off in spades.

 

Never Beaten

Last night, around 10:15 pm, I fell coming down from my third floor loft.

stairs

Footing lost, my back skidded along the edge of the stairs, my fingers grappled for something to hold, to stop the sudden motion, finding nothing. Propelled forward toward the floor, disorientation clouded my mind for a few precious moments.

My teeth slammed, hard — smack — into the wood floor and a shock of sharp pain reverberated through my face.

In the minutes after I couldn’t let go of my face, I could quite feel what was broken, what was in place. Was I shattered? Did I still have all my teeth?

My alarmed husband stood over me, his face a mirror of my own fears. I let go of my cheek and asked him if it was broken. He reached out to touch, but pulled back, examining instead with his eyes. Nothing yet, not even blood. Could I move my jaw? I could. I could talk and I wanted ice and as I began to shake, shock giving way to the pain, I began to cry.

This is the second time I have fallen in my home. The first time I busted the skin on my scalp, bruising and aching for days — but the harm was minimal, superficial. At least externally. For one whole day and into the night I faced down a longterm fear of dying from something meaningless, something stupidly mundane, accidental. You know…you hit your head, you feel fine — it’s just a bump, nothing major. Hours later you slip away, a coma and then a death. When I went to bed that night, all rationale said I was fine.

But when fear is involved, the mind becomes an unpredictable menace. I had to close my eyes anyway and trust that I would be able to open them again.

Last night, as I lay on the couch with an ice pack pressed to my already swollen cheek, I realized with sudden elation that I was no longer afraid of that death — that accidental one. I smiled — and then I winced — to realize I had overcome that hurdle, however small or strange, however ultimately insignificant. By grace, though not so gracefully, that monster had been squashed.

Then I went to sleep and dreamed about my ladder. The one I climb almost everyday to reach my writing nook. I was balancing against the stairs like I always do, unafraid, unencumbered, and then I looked down and there standing on the stair below me was a goblin. Small and brownish gray, with dangling wrinkly ears and wide jewel-like eyes. He wasn’t yet aware that I could see him as he slipped nearer my feet. I snatched him into my hand and squeezed, holding him tight to peer in his eyes. Non-plussed, he began to smirk. I squeezed harder.

Our lives are like ladders, or stairs, we ascend, we descend, and often we stumble and slip, we get tired of climbing, we settle for whatever level we are able to reach and pat ourselves square on the back. And on these ladders, there are traps. Little monsters made by self-doubt, by expectations, creatures of malice assisting in our certain demise.

Ten days into 2015 and already I’ve stumbled, I’ve fallen.

When I began this year, I was already weary. Worn out from the weight of last year’s shackles, ready to be free but still captive in some ways. There was a little monster lurking in the early hours of the new year, waiting to trip me up, hoping to mess me up.

This is not something I take lightly, the notion that I could fall so easily and that one day, I might just stay down. I might be defeated. So when I tell you this story, I am also telling myself. I am reminding myself that I can get back up, blubbering mess that I may be, and I can climb the stairs again. I am also telling you to keep climbing, even when you fall, even when you are weary. To snatch the little monsters and hold them tight, watch them squirm.

I could have been badly wounded. As it is, I am bruised and battered, swollen and aching. But not broken, not beaten.

Never beaten.

Hope Has (Super Mega) Power!

cast

Power Rangers — my son can tell you everything about them. He will dissect personality strengths and weaknesses, episodic character arcs with thoughtfulness rarely displayed in five year old boys. But ask him about the Pink Ranger and he will blush, and smile, and then maybe if your timing is right he’ll show you his Pink Ranger toy(s).

I thought his crush was cute, a passing interest to be replaced quickly, until it became this real, big thing, and earlier in the summer I knew he had fallen. Hard. It was the end of one of our epic days (when likely all I could think about was getting him to bed so I could go have an appropriately massive glass of wine and lose myself in an episode of House Hunters International). He looked up at me with his giant crystal-blue eyes and said: “I want the Pink Ranger to be my girlfriend, Mommy.”

“What does that mean?”

(Ohmygosh you’re killing me with cuteness don’t grow up this fast howwhyhow???)

“That I take her on a date, and show her all my toys and give her a kiss on the cheek.”

(Biting down on a gasp of sadness as my heart breaks and I realize I am no longer the center of his universe and really that has been happening for a long time who am I kidding?)

“That sounds great, I’m sure she would love it.”

He peers up at me, his expression drawn. “I want to meet her, Mommy.”

That night he prayed to meet the Pink Ranger, and every night after he prayed to meet the Pink Ranger, and I thought Shit is this like a Santa thing? Because I can’t exactly order up the actress who plays the Pink Ranger on Amazon and have her overnighted. And so every night I tried to let him down gently that the likelihood of meeting her was slim, negligible, (and San Diego Comic Con had passed, much to my sadness, and I wasn’t seeing anything else come up when I googled ) and he shouldn’t get his heart set.

And somewhere in there I followed the Yellow Ranger on Twitter.

And I spend a lot of time on Twitter. I mean, if I’m not saying it with a hashtag then it just may not even be really happening.

A couple weeks ago the Yellow Ranger (played fantastically by actress Ciara Hanna) Tweeted about the VIP lunch at Nick Suites Hotel in Orlando, FL and for a moment I didn’t even know if I wanted to click on the link. Because even if it was what it sounded like, it was crazy to imagine we could take him on short notice to Florida in the middle of the school year. That sort of thing, it just wasn’t realistic.

Realistic — I am at constant odds with my realistic side. The same side that organizes my days by half hour increments, looks for reasons to not believe an agent will love the book I wrote and offer representation, and downplays exciting moments because my own joy may boil over and burn me in the ass.

Realistic can’t let go of fear because fear is a blanket to hide under. It tells you not to hope, and when you hope, not to hold onto it. Realistic is well-skilled at reasoning away childlike faith.

I am no longer a child, and sometimes that can make Realistic’s voice louder (screeching, unrelenting). But I am a fangirl, a writer of fantasy for young adults, a girl crafting a screenplay about Comic Con and fandoms, and so maybe that makes me more willing to recognize magic at work in the world.

Realistic blinks away tears, but Dreamer ugly cries into a box of chocolates and snots all over Realistic’s buttoned up sweater. She’s more dramatic, and sometimes she wins out.

So I clicked the link. I said yes to a chance at unrealistic. Then I had to let myself believe that Sam’s well of prayers had finally overflowed, and within that well were the resources to get him to Florida.

His answered prayed quickly became mine.

Sitting in Studio Nick, watching Sam wait — quiet and thoughtful, the Sam Way — it hit me that his dream was coming true. That in a few minutes he would meet the Pink Ranger, and that meant prayers were really heard, and wow I didn’t realize just how badly I needed that affirmed right now. And my heart did a spasm and my eyes brimmed with water, and I let them just do it and didn’t try to pretend they weren’t.

And when Realistic jumped in with a sledgehammer to batter my new hope, I kindly redirected her toward all the fear mongering on the internet and all the trolling on Goodreads and to everyone making someone feel small and their dreams feel meaningless, and she didn’t really like keeping that company so she retired to the bar.

Instead, I met the Rangers with him, and the little girl who watched Mighty Morphin Power Rangers when she was eight years old — she was excited too. She got her poster signed and took a picture with the Yellow Ranger, and chatted like her stomach wasn’t doing somersaults, and when the Pink Ranger asked Sam to be her boyfriend that Fangirl was a Mom loving, and a Girl longing, and a Woman living, and she believed.

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And Sam? He beamed. He bloomed. He got slimed. My little boy who doesn’t like heights and can’t stand water in his eyes, stood under the slime bucket with a giant smile on his face, a testament to the power of a single dream come true.

slime