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Friday, May 11, 2012

So Very Tiny.

Tonight, Josh had taken Oliver to his crib and was sitting on the floral couch while I read and ate peanut butter fudge cookies in the big green chair.

Josh said, "You are a tiny mouse sitting on a book, eating cookies and cheese."
I answered, "But what if I'm cold?"
"I will give you a tiny shawl. I will put it on your shoulders and stroke your head, and I will give you a bottle cap full of Dr. Pepper."

This filled me with such a delicious sense of joy and safety. Then, I remembered sitting on a bench with my grandmother. I don't know where we were or exactly how small I was. But I must have been discussing my obsession with smallness. Independently or with my prompting, she began to tell me how she would care for me if I were Thumbelina-sized. I think I asked countless specific questions to keep this going. The only specific part I remember is her saying that she would carry me in a box, which she would line with velvet to keep it soft. My then-imagining of a green velvet-lined chamber and the coziness inside yet beyond the muffled sounds of the world is still so vivid in my mind.

I Dream of Genie only captured my attention because of the cushioned and peach-tinted bottle room. Thumbelina's walnut bed and tiny dresses were dreamy. I loved the tiny sparkle of the tiny ring the nervous mouse carried in one The Rescuers movie.

I began a collection of those tiny porcelain animals one used to find on little mirrored shelves in Hallmark stores. I only had three: a fawn with a chipped ear, a Siamese kitten, and a yellow duckling. I remember the smoothness of their painted heads under the pad of my right index finger. 

Of course, the American Girl Collection provided endless wonder: a detailed deviled egg, a nib pen as long as a needle, a pencil box, palm-sized wire-rimmed glasses, miniature pennies.....

My mother bought a Robin Woods doll with thick black curls and painted blue eyes. She sewed a gauzy, pale blue princess gown with white glimmer trim and a royal blue velvet cape with silver trim and lining. She had numbered the packages that Christmas morning. The package held a wooden box she had painted with scrolls and a keyhole and lined with plush silky silver. The accompanying gold key was almost as exciting as the silver and opal rhinestone tiara inside the treasure box. That day, my uncle gave me a set of tiny books. I remember one was an old-fashioned alphabet book; reading it was a thrill.

Someone...maybe one of my grandfather's (not the one belonging to the grandmother) girlfriends...bought me a package of bitsy colored pencils smaller than matchsticks. I was so overcome with joyous delirium that I would, at random, squeal, "I love my tiny little pencils!"

I had a set of mottled blue metal dishes: plates, bowls in which I could barely fit a bit of my fingertip, teacups. I imagined whole stories around the tiny meals.

One Christmas, I tore at the paper around a large, lumpy shape and uncovered my mother's dollhouse: white with blue shutters, a doorknob I could barely grasp, and three stories of wonders. I endlessly studied the thin velvety carpets, the wooden ice box, the black water pump, the little hard-ribboned presents I could never unwrap, the hair-fine candy canes on the Christmas tree, the cushioned burgundy velvet sofa, the brass bed with pink coverlet, pink plush blanket, and lace-edged sheet, the wardrobe with modest white nightgown, the tiny candles and tinier candle snuff, the canopied green bed, the chip of soap on the pedestal sink, the narrow claw foot tub, the delectably fragile roll-top desk, and the Goldfish-sized books with real blank pages that fluttered out if I wasn't gentle enough. I wondered what invisible words could have filled those pages.

Now, I sometimes buy mini gel pens, and I gaze longingly at Madame Alexander trunk sets with their little worlds of selective luxury. I wonder how a designer can choose just three or four outfits and a literal handful of accessories to build the doll's life portrait inside that gold-hinged trunk. My Madame Alexander Anne Shirley doll sits above our kitchen cabinets in her tiny-snap boots and cardigan with unfathomable small blue buttons.

So, mouse reference aside, I wanted to start asking Josh a thousand questions, testing his ability to imagine and wrap me in the cozy glee of tininess. He does always say, "Out in the world and at work, you have to be big and brave. But here, you can be small."

The family Easter basket Mom made for Josh, Oliver, and me this year contained a special gift for Oliver to enjoy when he's a little older: a set of itty bitty colored pencils.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Letter to Myself.

I found this post draft with only my name and the images. I think I started it before Oliver was born. Even though I didn't find an actual letter, these images show me what I wanted to send to myself. I'll try to write the letter now; it may help my current or future self.


You are so lucky. You may be dealing right now with struggles and pains I can't even imagine. A year ago,  five years ago, I couldn't have imagined the times of disappointment, depression, and fear that were coming. But I couldn't have imagined the joy, life-changing and moment-changing, either. I hope that you are seeing the joy. If you can't see the beauty right now, don't assume that you won't start to see it again.

Hold tightly to your family. Hug too tightly and too long. Gaze. Hold hands. Read aloud. Speak those silly and inconsequential thoughts. Guard against isolation for you and for the ones you love. Showing love can be scary. I know you want to seem strong, independent, and interesting. You are all of that. Loving only makes you more so. Blush. Hold. Ask. Tell. Remember that if you want or need something, and it isn't happening spontaneously, asking for it and getting it is just as good.

Someone has known you and liked you and told you so. You have had a child. You have kissed baby feet that you made. You have taken family naps in a green and purple bed. Lucky. Lucky. Lucky. That doesn't mean you shouldn't seek more joy. It means you should. Seek and accept. Make an effort toward sweetness every hour, even if it's simply noticing the color of sticky note at work. 

You always have something to look forward to. You always have something to read, something to learn, something to admire. Notice. Ask for the help you need. Live where you are. Do something you'll remember. Write somewhere new. Read love letters. Remember to scribble those sweetest words wherever you can. And if someone says something kind to you, listen.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Baby Signs.

*Stepping over a bouncer and swing to get to the bathroom.

*Baby Bee wash on the counter.

*A blue booger sucker and a tiny hat in my purse.

*A plush turtle on my nightstand.

*A preemie outfit in my dresser drawer.

*Milky towels on the floor.

*Commonplace statements such as "Well, he's covered in urine."

*A plastic tub hanging from the wall above the shower.

*Arms vibrating from constant back-patting.

*Strange plastic devices (pump parts) in the sink.

*Dye- and fragrance-free laundry detergent and dryer sheets.

*Paddington bear on the dresser.

*Wipes and a swing manual on Josh's nightstand.

*1 3/4 shelves on my bookshelf stuffed with books, diapers, swim diapers, Diaper Genie refills, manuals, and coupons.

*Monitor on the window sill.

*Nursing bra on the doorknob.

*Small fleecy and duck-covered items on the laundry.

*So very much laundry.

*Dismayed talk of weight limits.

*Toy frog in the freezer.

*One whole cabinet shelf full of small boxes, jars, and tubs of squishy foods.

*A blue bunny and blue octopus on the bed.

*Our lonely night time gazes at the wall our room shares with the other bedroom.

Professional Fairy Attire: Funky Dots.

I tried on this skirt just for fun. I was so excited over the discovery that I like full skirts, and of course, I like polka dots. But this skirt is far funkier than anything I'd normally wear. But once I tried it on...

I was wild for it. I also never tuck in my shirts, but I tried it, and I like how it makes this outfit look like a dress. I kept the shoes and top simple and avoided jewelry in case the skirt was a bit much.

The reverse pleats make the shape more interesting. I'll be a little less concerned about funky pieces that attract my attention from now on, especially since I got compliments from several people...including my boss. Maybe I'll wear patent T-straps next time!

Top: The Limited
Skirt: The Limited
Shoes: Nine West

Professional Fairy Attire: Candy Stripes and Rainy Dots.

Thank goodness dressy capris exist. I definitely had a tired start on this day.

I wore this purple and lavender stripe shirt on Easter as well.

Gloomy weather bothers me. I get sluggish, sleepy, and generally bummed. A couple of months ago, I was thinking about how I didn't have a real rain jacket. I only had a slightly ratty white windbreaker my uncle bought me as payment for babysitting...ten or more years ago. My mom used to have a beautiful rain coat (silky chocolate, I think) and fancy patent black rain boots. Apparently (I don't remember this clearly), I took the coat to Europe and lost it (I was thirteen and traveling with my grandparents). Maybe I've avoided buying a raincoat as penance. Anyway, I came across this black polka dot rain jacket...fifty percent off. Gloomy days became a bit more pleasant (and thank goodness, since the weather has been in a bad mood).

And it's reversible. If I need to be less cheeky, I can turn the jacket inside out and wear solid black. I know. It's awesome.

Capris: The Limited
Shirt: New York and Company
Shoes: X Appeal
Rain Jacket: The Limited

Professional Fairy Attire: Raspberry Rose.

I had all-day registration on this day, so I wanted to be comfortable. I also needed a break from fanciness after all my work events. Dressing somewhat casually but still appropriately can be tough. Heels dress up anything, but I wasn't up for heels. Necklaces can also help, so I went with that.

Black and pink is, for me, one of those fantastic color combinations. I love the sass and sophistication of it. My faux suede rosebud flats are so fun. Yet again, I'm wearing that great cap sleeve tee from The Limited. This color helped me stay awake during the long day.

This necklace picked up the shirt's color and fit perfectly in the scoop neck. Pink necklaces are not easy to find! I like that the pink in the necklace is subtle enough to work with a more conservative outfit.

The cheeriness of this outfit helped, but what really got me through the day was the memory of the wet kisses Oliver gave me before I left.

Crops: The Limited
Top: The Limited
Necklace: New York and Company
Flats: Target

Professional Fairy Attire: Classic with a Bit of Teal.

I wore this for a brief literary magazine presentation I gave to all the faculty, staff, and administration at my school. Of course, I wanted to look professional (but creative), but I also needed to feel confident. A boxy suit didn't fit the occasion.

This skirt and jacket are from The Limited's Forever Black collection. Many mix-and-matchable pants, crops, capris, skirts, and jackets come in this shade, and the store claims that it will always sell the shade. I love the uniqueness of this suit: the short-sleeved jacket and full, fun skirt.

I love this teal button-down, and I love the shawl collar. It has the classiness of an Oxford shirt without the awkwardness of creased, crushed, or crooked collar points. The gathers also mask wrinkles. The color brightened the black suit.

I've worn this jacket several times since the warmer weather arrived. Even three-quarter sleeve jackets can be miserable in North Carolina, but now, I can be breezy and dressy at once.

My presentation went well, and I did feel that great combination of professional and serious with young, pretty, and creative.

Skirt: The Limited
Shirt: The Limited
Jacket: The Limited
Shoes: Nine West