Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Three Years

Three years seems like such a long time, but while some hours are longer than others, the days fly by into weeks and months like the whitecaps rolling in off the ocean, and soon where you started is but a speck on the horizon. And yet, every morning that horizon serves its intended purpose, welcoming the sunrise and parting sea from sky as it will all the days to come.

Three years ago today we wed. And so much fun we've had since then, degrees and homes and jobs and dogs and Jack and twice as much family as ever before and all this is still just a drop in the bucket of happiness that awaits the decades to come. At twenty years, will we remember what three felt like? Maybe, maybe not. But I guarantee I'll remember h-hour, d-day. Who could forget that smile?

Three years ago, we passed a little poem out among our friends and family. Legend has it that Robert Frost penned this gem, The Master Speed, for his daughter's wedding.1 And yes, we shamelessly stole it for our own wedding programs' epigraph. And I'll steal it again, year after year. Because, and this will always be the truth: we may not be as fast as we once were, in days of yore / but we are still together, wing to wing and oar to oar.

The Master Speed by Robert Frost

No speed of wind or water rushing by
But you have speed far greater. You can climb
Back up a stream of radiance to the sky,
And back through history up the stream of time.
And you were given this swiftness, not for haste
Nor chiefly that you may go where you will,
But in the rush of everything to waste,
That you may have the power of standing still—
Off any still or moving thing you say.
Two such as you with such a master speed
Cannot be parted nor be swept away
From one another once you are agreed
That life is only life forevermore
Together wing to wing and oar to oar.

I love you, Kim. Happy Anniversary.

1. "The Master Speed," an epithalamium celebrating the marriage of Frost's daughter Irma to John Cone in 1926, was first published in the Yale Review in 1936 and appeared in A Further Range later that same year. See Nancy Tuten and John Zubizarreta, The Robert Frost Encyclopedia (Greenwood, 2000). An interesting explication of this poem can be found here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

One Giant Step for a Small Man

Jack has some serious ants in his pants about starting to walk. I think he has figured it out in his mind and knows what to do, he just can't control his legs because his Jedi force is still weak. But anytime he gets the chance, he pulls up on whatever he can grab and does the little two-step shuffle. He has resigned to a little inchworm-type crawl when he has to get something (like a cell phone) that lies just outside his reach. But I think as soon as he gets his sea legs, he's going to take off running.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


when Dad wasn't paying attention, I had my way with a dog chew toy. Its actually not that much different from my toys, but a little saltier..
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Smith Mountain Lake

What a wonderful trip we had this weekend with my coworkers at the annual Moses Cone Family Medicine Residency Retreat. There were so many more babies this year than ever before and Jackson had a great time playing with other small people. His only complaint was the humidity. It made his hair frizzy....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gut check

Everybody needs a gut check once in awhile. I have them periodically. I'll narrowly miss running off the road because of some giant pothole I saw at the last minute, barely escape having my noggin cooked by an insanely close bolt of lightning, or come home to my neighborhood filled with sirens and flashing lights only to realize it's the house next door. It's just good practice to have those kind of days once in awhile and it only reiterates my assertion that there is someone looking out for us. As long as we pay close enough attention, they can show us the path to the happiest existence possible, even if it is only by comparison.

Since my last "be thankful, dammit" moment when the lightning almost took me out about a month ago, my level of anxiety has started to rise again. The job hunt has begun and I hear this tiny tick-tock, only the "tock" is going up in tone as if being pinched by a question mark. I am feeling the pressure of uncertainty again and I do not like it. It's to the point where, after a particularly anxiety-provoking meeting today and then news on the economic legal climate in Greensboro when I got home, well...I was starting to regress into my 2 year old temper tantrum-throwing self.

Fortunately, though, I happened to be paying attention today. My best friend is a photographer and just helped put together an exhibit of cancer patients for the new Cancer Center at UNC. And as I flipped through the amazing pictures, I started to reflect on the other parts of my day. The 19 year old that broke down in tears when her world suddenly changed with the positive pregnancy test I had to tell her about. Or the 64 year old Vietnam vet that sat speechless in my office when I told him he has diabetes. Or the 46 year old smoker who is living in a house with her husband, his ex-wife, and 9 other half-related pot-smoking relatives who saw me today after her heart attack to talk about how, no matter how hard she tries, she will never be able to stop smoking because none of the other 11 people in her house want to quit either. Oh, and, she doesn't have insurance to pay the hospital bills or subsequent care she'll need following her heart attack. Then there was the very sweet but morbidly obese 3 year old accompanied by his morbidly obese 17 year old mother who kept saying "You better talk to the doctor or she's gonna stick you" despite my best efforts to assure the fear-stricken child that no matter what he did, I would most certainly not punish him with a needle.

My husband is tall, dark, handsome, healthy, successful, and madly in love with me. My son is adorable, developing normally, and loves to sit on my hip and chew on my shirt while I wander around the house(even if he currently uses "ma ma" to voice his displeasure). I have a home and a job and a family that I love and that loves me. I do not have cancer, or 11 smokey roommates, or a morbidly obese teenage mother that threatens me daily with physical harm. All in all, my life is pretty darn amazing and that was just the reminder I needed to eat my giant slice of yellow cake without frosting while watching my glutinous tv shows in peace.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Labor of Love

It's official. The Pokeberry and Milkweed National Forest is gone. We destroyed it in a matter of a few hours. See, for my mothers birthday, I figured what better gift than a few hours of our time to help her with various odds and ends around the house. This was a terrible miscalculation on my part.

We showed up Saturday morning to find her with a two-page list in hand. It read something like this.

1) Wash conversion van inside and out. The pinestraw is making it hard to drive.
2) Weed the yard. All of it.
3) Hang all three 100+ pound mirrors to an approximate height of 10 feet.
4) Carry the remnants of a giant armoire to the street for pick up.
5) Solve world hunger.
6) Fix health care.

Five and six were a cinch in comparison.

I wish we took before and after pictures, but probably couldn't see the forest for the trees. Pokeberries, that is.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Jackson "Birdman" Shaw's First Book Review

"A resounding literary success..."

"Piercing prose and scintillating satire."

"Two Thumbs Up!"

"So darn good it almost knocked me over."

The Boys of Company C

The 6th of September marked the 100th day of battlespace control of Hemland Valley by MEB-Afghanistan. Larry Nicholls' boys are firing it up, but I imagine that despite the change in urban density from Iraq, the population will be more of a challenge despite the increased free-fire areas.

Hunting Taliban in Unexpected Ways
September 03, 2009
Marine Corps News|

For the Marines of Company C, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, hunting the Taliban takes patience and flexibility. Even on days when they don’t get what they expect, being seen and speaking with the locals is a small victory.

On Aug. 25, 2009, the Marines from 1st Platoon began their day with the intent of looking for a fight. A patrol, like any of the countless ones they’ve undertaken since their arrival here, but based on a guess that insurgents might try to ambush them. With that knowledge, the Marines prepared themselves to hit back.

A few days earlier, the Taliban had critically injured a child while trying to emplace a hasty IED for them during a similar morning patrol. This day, despite their expectations, the Taliban didn’t show themselves where the Marines expected them, and probably for a good reason.

“They shot themselves in the foot in that village,” said 1st Platoon commander 1st Lt. Patrick O’Shea. “I think if they were to show up there, the villagers would kill them.”

In this war, where the main focus is the wellbeing of the local people, these young men, whose average age is 23, have a difficult job that is not usually associated with the hard-hitting Corps. Tactical restraint is the name of the game.

Complete article here. Fire it up, Marines.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In the moment

I'm not sure a person can truly appreciate what they have until it's gone, at least not in the fullest sense. I say that because I see the misty wistful look in the eyes of older mothers who comment at grocery stores or church or at family gatherings at how sweet my little one is and how much I should enjoy this time with him. I can almost recite what they will say before I hear their words because it is such a common theme. Because of that, I've had a keen sense of time since January 28th when Jackson polished up my world into a shiny amazing new life. Even in the middle of the night when none of us have slept in days, I still have a faint grasp, however sleepily tethered it is, that this too will be a moment I will want to come back to in the years ahead.

But tonight, while lying side by side on the floor in the late afternoon sun, making Jackson belly laugh by rubbing noses and letting him hug my head with his arms and legs in pure glee, I had almost an out of body experience. I felt my "older mother" coming out, the one that will watch him drive off to college rocking gently back and forth as if I can still bundle him up and keep him safely in my arms. I watched us play the most innocent and loving of games. I watched us enjoy the eye contact that unconditional love can make and roll around in our simple rolls as mother and child. And I said a prayer that I will never, ever, in all my days on this earth, forget this moment and how it feels to make my son happy just by being his mother and being close by.

I do believe we are all blessed with amazing gifts but some of us are also blessed with the ability to appreciate them in the moment, before they are just memories in our hearts. I am so thankful that I have at least some sense of how rich our young lives are and I hope that, even in the hard times that are most assuredly ahead, we will continue to find the joy in the present.

Rachel Garrison of Tamara Lackey Photography, who is by far the most talented artist I have ever known, has a fantastic job. She captures these such moments on film for families to enjoy for lifetimes beyond themselves. She has managed to chronicle our sweet little family's joy in the most unpretentious and honest of images that we treasure dearly. These are the moments we will cherish forever.

May you have countless moments daily when you can *almost* appreciate how good you've got it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009