Monday, June 11, 2012

Home is where I want to be. But I guess I'm already there.


             Today I went back inside this picture for a few minutes.

"The stranger who comes home does not make himself at home but makes home  itself strange."
 -- Rainer Maria Rilke

  I have many dreams about the homes I have lived in. 

  In dreams the architecture and design is far more exaggerated and fetching. But they are my homes I lived in. Often I am in the process of welcoming someone else to live there and and ushering my self to move on. You can all message me your take on that.
  Although I have lived in 5 homes. 2 as a child growing up. Houses occupy a lot of my dreams.
Sometimes I am walking in a bright positive space. Sometimes I am closing a dark door I am afraid to go in.

When I was 3 I vividly remember my parents saying "We're moving houses". 
I took this very literally (as I often still tend to do). By that my vision was that we were going to be moving the house we currently lived in, by pushing it in either direction a few feet closer to our neighbors homes. I was not excited. Yawn. But when my brain finally fired up I was very excited about our new adventure!! I still dream about that first home in detail as well...but this story is more about where I spent the next 30 years of my life in and out. 

11714 Interlaaken Drive SW Tacoma WA 98498

Almost an acre. A rambler. A backyard that we terraced. A huge hill full of blackberry thickets & mosquitoes. A pasture on the other side where many horses grazed. We had our front yard. We fenced it when my father brought home a horse. He road the horse from our house down the streets of Lakewood to the park at Western State Hospital.

So here is a compression of the life there:
Christmas in the living room and family room listening to Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams on the turntable. 

Donna Summer and Micheal Jackson Thriller dance routines with my brother and friends.

The best place in the world for the 4th of July. My dad would light a cannon and you could see the fireworks from the Weyerhaeuser's house on the lake.

My wonderful neighbors Mariko and Gary Kim who had the an amazing garden with Japanese Pears trees,   a koi pond with a fountain, a greenhouse, and a karaoke room they added on. You know I wanted to bust out in that karaoke room.

There were two small cabins abandoned on another parcel of property, and I would tell my friends, "come on you gotta see this" I did a lot of trespassing. Luckily the man that owned the property was very kind. Sam Brown would be out in his barn and he would sing songs with me from "South Pacific".

My parents did not bat an eye if I wanted to grab the biggest pair of gardening sheers (Think "Mommy Dearest") and declare that my brother and I were gonna cut a path through the blackberries to the top of the hill where later had a fort for playing war.

The friendships:I had lots of slumber parties and party parties. We snuck out and met boys at the and of the long driveway. 

We smoked More cigarettes and blew them out the window and somehow thought no one would smell it. 

We would come home from underage parties and say "I just had a sip of cooler", " No, someone next to me was smoking all night long"

 We would make mix tapes and sing in harmony to everything from the Beatles, the Bangles, Led Zeppelin, The Cure and U2.

When I came home from my first year of college, with some things to straighten up and fly right, my dad and I would sit on the back porch swing and chain smoke Marlboro lights and discuss EVERYTHING about being alive. Best therapy ever.

Clay and I got married in the front yard. On the cheap. Saved every penny, 3000. in 1999. As you can imagine I was the DJ micro-manager.
Here's the list: Earth Wind and Fire "September" , Beach Boys" God Only Knows" first dance. 'Moon River" and "What a wonderful world" walking down the aisle. "Come on Eileen", 'Bizarre Love Triangle" and conga line to Paul Simon "Late in the Evening".

My folks sold the home in 2005. Wyatt was 3 months old. Didn't really say goodbye to the house. Not even my room. I did spend several hours covering the graffiti that each person who visited my house added to the inside of my closet. My folks moved in August 2005. In November dad died the day after Thanksgiving. He was on borrowed time in many ways, though still too young. He got my mother settled and secure and I think that's when your body sometimes releases itself.

I have driven through Lakewood MANY times and drove down the driveway, looked at the house, and briskly backed it up and hightailed it out before any of the neighbors saw me. 
 I once had a man come to our home that was built in 1918. He drove up with his great-grandaughter, and was close to 90. He was born inside our home on the main floor bedroom and the large basement was a voting and polling station at some point in Tacoma's electoral history. 

So today I decided to follow through like that kind old man, and knock on the door I unlocked for several decades.

I have only met the man who lives there once. He is a quieter, kind man. When he opened the door I said I am Rosie's daughter, Holly Burton...(insert apologies and impositions), can I come my house????

He warned me that he was a "bachelor" . Understatement. I do not say that to be catty . It is his home. But it was surreal to see his belongings in what was a true scrapbook of all the backgrounds I knew for 30 years. 
 All the wallpapers coloring the rooms, the very ones we put up when I was 4 or 5. The powder room had the Asian print wall I loved and the tacky plastic mirror that I brought home from college still above the sink. That was a bit of a trip.

 A piano right where mine used to sit. 
 Then there was the hallway. We had a hallway akin to the Shining's Overlook Hotel. Without the creepy little girls coming towards me. But when I stared down it, I did feel like I was drawn into a portal. My room was the last door on the left at the end of the hall. I wanted to ask to go in there. No.
I saw the backyard one last time. There was a wild rabbit and the owners impressive vegetable garden that has tented to keep the deer out. The nature of the landscape was the best thing to take away. The interior was a bit on the run down side. Not Grey Gardens, but it was not my home anymore. So why am I writing so much about this? When I was there, I felt neutral. Only a little tinge when I yearned to walk down the hall to my room. It made me appreciate the liberty I once had to come home and run down that hallway every day. Long  hallways are also great for 4th birthday somersaults, cracked heads on furniture and not crying until your mom freaks out at all the blood all over you. 

 It was time to go. I have already lived there. 
Count yourself lucky if your parents still occupy the same home you grew up in. It gives you roots and anchors to share with your children. A hub for Christmas trees and Easter Egg hunts. 

At least now I know you need not hang your whole heart on a visit to the past to be the land of Oz, Kansas,or the wardrobe that leads you to Narnia. 
I am home right now. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's time to make my boys a mix tape.

I have a lot of moments where the past intersects with the present in completely opposite ways.

Music, is so much more that the radio, where all I hear is Sleep Country commercials and "Black Hole Sun"

Music is so much more than a means to name drop the cool groups you listen to.

It's part of my DNA, and in someways, OK many ways, I am a bit autistic about music.

But that's a good thing!!!

I don't mean this to be boastful, braggy, or without modesty. I started playing by ear when I was 3. Soon piano lessons followed, and as it turned out I could carry a tune vocally as well. That's from my mother. She is a lovely soprano.I had a lot of fun singing at weddings and being the acolyte who led the church hymnals after a night of partays and sneaking out. So if you've known me a long time, you know most of brain storage is shelved with music. I can remember keys in the songs of life,up in my head, and often as a kid ,I would run to the piano to verify that it was indeed the same note. If you're going to have music in your head all day, it's a bonus when it's in the right key.

Now I ask you this:

Do you ever have those moments where you're with your 5 year old, or your 7 year old and you think you've entered the Twilight Zone of, "I can't believe I'm pushing my offspring around in a grocery cart listening to INXS "The One Thing" and I can't believe that this is what they are playing at the grocery store!!! Don't read me wrong. Total upgrade!!! I went to Trader Joes and rocked out to Billy Idol "Don't need a Gun" and The Kinks "Come Dancing" while my kids screamed for Pirate Booty and candy. The Kinks made the melt downs less annoying.

I've worked for the same company long enough to see a "Before": muzak and excessive piano renditions of "Satin Doll" And an "After" tasteful interludes of piano standards that we love and treasure ,co-mingling with Radiohead,"Let Down", a magical piece from OK Computer that was the highlight of my afternoon while getting coffee. This morning was an expception, the AM playlist (prior to store opening) was some sort of Time/LIFE Soft Sounds Mix (Micheal McDonald "What a Fool Believes"....I like that tune, and Air Supply "Lost in Love"...whatever.

I have to giggle sometimes when I'm doing my job, matching a foundation shade and listening to Led Zeppelin "D'yer Maker". I wanna belt out like Robert Plant, and I am thinking how many bottles of Bartles & James got drank up to this as a teenager, while some kids parents were out of town for the weekend. I just roll with it, when I'm talking about anti aging and "Boys Don't Cry" strums up... it's a bit surreal. But I love it!

My boys need mix tapes. Not a laptop that shuffles. Not a playlist where I have dragged the mouse and put songs in a certain order and there it sits on a screen. I will go to my dad's old pawnshop. Where I always got my gear as a kid. Our friend bought it from my brother after my dad died. Cassettes, or cd's to cassette. Whatever. I think it's still possible. I can't believe that I don't even know if something I did quite compulsively is still operational, without too much hassle! The hassle doesn't bother me.

I just want Wyatt & Charlie to experience how you can find music and keep music like you keep books. I will decorate them all colorfully and put some tunes together. I have not a clue if they will like the mix.

Wyatt, he's a mystery. Very little in the way of revelations about songs that make him smile. I do know that he likes "Heroes & Villains" by The Beach Boys. As well as "Boggis, Bunce & Bean", but if you start to sing along the auditory clamor is too much and he basically tells me to STFU.

Charlie, well he's my musical theatre fella. He could end up like his mom and spend many years in local productions of "Oliver", "A Christmas Carol" and "South Pacific". He doesn't mind if I sing to him.

A few years back I bought them "Maurice Sendak's Really Rosie". I had so many fun times listening to this. I had a grand time revisiting "Chicken Soup With Rice"! They were non plussed. Although, if you ever read the book "Pierre: A Cautionary Tale" you would almost think that kid was somewhere on the spectrum.

Tonight as we were driving home from Tacoma, all 4 us in the Ford, I had a hankering to listen to a few songs by The Verve: "Sonnet" & "The Drugs Don't Work". I remember being 22,23, I was Clay's girlfriend and this was the shit! That's a whole nother mix tape.

2011, here we are, on our way home, kids strapped in car seats, yelling about various sensory related pet peeves (all 4 of us), and I'm almost 37! I could end this by saying it's a bittersweet symphony, but I have heard it too many times. So have you.

I'll end this by saying that this: If my kids can figure out how to hold my phone hostage, and beat the angry birds out of it, they can learn how to press record and play.

Clay will show them how to make some RAD cover art ,with TMBG classics, saturated heavily on the playlist. But I will certainly be there to ensure a confusing blend of Hall n' Oates "Kiss on my List" and The Cure "Six Different Ways". Essentials every 6 year old should have in their tape recorder.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

All that energy has to go somewhere

I have not picked up the computer pen for a while. This entry is a carry over from the last, and then we'll find something else to discuss.
Mortality. I don't like it.

When I was 5, I was stunned, saddened and hyperventilating with tears to learn from the neighbor boy that "we're all gonna die someday ya know". I was sitting on my back porch, sunshine in bloom, and BTW, you're gonna die. I remember even then thinking at 5, "I have no control over this." Sure as we grow up we learn about prevention, health, wellness, being present, not worrying about death and on and on...

I have looked death in the eyes many times. Grandparents that passed too soon. A beautiful cousin that had a tragic end, at our neighbors house on the 4th of July. She was 9. My brother's close friend hit by a car in 5th grade and buried with GI Joe and a fishing pole, as tokens from my brother. I had a stillborn in 2006 that I am grateful that I was able to deliver naturally, knowing his fate. To feel Henry coming through my body and out into the world, alive for less than a minute, was a feeling I can still feel today.

Then there is Dad. Gone too soon. Too young. Day after Thanksgiving. Last time I saw him alive. November 24th, 2005. Dad had trouble with his speech for years after his 2001 stroke.In his last words to me he was stammering, stuttered, holding my hand and gently asking me to stay a little longer.In hindsight it was a peaceful request spoken like none other from him.I was the retail asshole, with impatient urgency and anxiousness about next days workload, who was like "Dude, I gotta be at work at 6am, duh, Black Friday." I felt guilty but never thought for a moment that this was our last goodbye.
Prior to his stroke dad was robust with wit, honesty, insight. He still had it in him, he just couldn't keep up with the fast paced conversations. I remember asking him what his thoughts were on 9/11 shortly after. He didn't have much to say. But my mother later confided that he cried and cried as he watched the coverage. This brought me much closure to learn. To not have him to discuss 9/11 with, was a loss all it's own. I wanted to listen to his perspective, insight and how the world could change as a result. Bob Burton was my go to on all things from Carl Sagan, the galaxy, is there a God, politics, Nixon,Carter, Reagan,Clinton, democrats, republicans, not aligning with a political party. He was my touchstone every night as we both smoked Marlboro lights on the back swing. No not healthy for either of us. But I was 18, in rehab, and he was helping me to stay motivated to find a new path.

He was so proud when I went to start working at Nordstrom. My father, kicked out of high school, finished with a GED and went to Bates where he studied mechanical engineering. He was gifted. He loved that I was going to work for a company where it was not about your pedigree of degrees. He challenged me to read "In Search of Excellence" and I still have that book he gave to me along with his first copy of "I Gave Them A Sword" (Nixon/Frost). When I had been accepted to WWU, but was sucking ass in Chemistry and risking a late graduation despite my overall GPA, he worked with me to PASS. He could figure out mathematical problems that were on scale with "Good Will Hunting" . Like Will Hunting, it wasn't his upbringing that gave him those gifts. My dad, nor his 3 other brothers, lived a charmed life. Theirs was a youth spent, with parents who either punished them, or left them to their own devices, to fend for themselves. I know that if Bob was here, he would be such an advocate for Wyatt, and he would bring out the best in Wyatt's wiring. They would likely be building a car together (Dad rebuilt 3 of them).

I've always felt that my dad was right by me at all times, after his passing. I have had some spiritual conversations with people who have told me about the older man they see as my spirit guide, they see a cane, and a description of his ring, in detail, and they tell me his light is so strong with me.This has happened on more than one occasion. Starting back a few years ago. First time with a woman I was putting makeup on, she nailed it. They have brought personal messages that only I would understand. Last time , I learned that my father is at a place where he feels he can step away from me a little bit, because he has great work to focus his efforts on. Whether I've lost you at this point and your thinking "geeze Holly, enough with the Sylvia Brown crap", there is something to be said for learning that when your soul leaves your body your are still purposeful and find new paths and new roles.

My dad was not religious, not exactly spiritual, had more questions than answers about one God. So I never really got that insurance policy from him," you're goin' to heaven, fear not death." But I don't fear that all we'll ever be is fertilizer after this life is over. So when my life is over 105...I hope that I am doing what I imagine my dad doing now, flying over rooftops of all the people he loves, dropping in like Santa Claus down the chimney, or Mary Poppins with her bag of magic, and bringing them gifts of light and peace.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tears on the Stairmaster

This day a little wacky. A little off. I need to underscore this with 3 letters that I think we all blame for havocing up the day: P.M.S. I think I got a little miffed by copious returns where they then wanted a sample of the product that they returned.
I was distracted but determined to make the day better where I could. When I left work, it was time for pricey gas. Brought my cash in to the clerk. Asked for 30 on the pump and um, 2 scratch tickets. Feelin' entitled to luck. "Can I see ID?",she asks. "ID?!" I look at her puzzled and slightly irritated. "Fo reals?". She nods at me with all the authority of the Washington State Gambling Commission behind her. "Um, OK." I trot back to the car WTF'ing my way back and forth. I so did not need a delay. Got my 2 bucks worth and told myself, "I am so gonna win after that shit." After sitting in the heinousness of 167,(where people cut you off, only to go 10 under the speed limit) I phoned home to let the Rosie know I needed to go get tie one on at the Y. At this point, I was about to melt. Like Warren G, I needed to regulate.
Workouts for me = Madonna-thon. Its all about hitting the random shuffle on web radio, skipping the Spice Girls songs they toss in and getting into the groove. My favorite workout songs consist of the following:

1. Madonna - Jump
2. Madonna - Get Together
3. Madonna - Holiday
4. Madonna - Hung Up
5. Madonna - Sorry
6. Annie -Heartbeat
7. George Michael - Freedom 90 (that's a whole nother future topic of happiness)
8. Gwen Stefani - Hollaback Girl (that's right get your pom poms out, gettin' everybody riled up!!!)
9. Fergie - Here I Come
10. Lady Gaga - Just Dance

So I am in a good Madonna rotation. I have not dropped my phone, fallen off the bike, or called it quits prematurely. When, what's this? Madonna slow ballad. Oh nooooooo! Not gonna jack up my stride. I glanced over to see what was on the menu. Rut ro... I can't skip this song. Call me a magical thinker but it would be dissing the dearly departed.

"Don't cry for me Argentina" was beginning to play. This. Was. Dad's. Favorite. Song (gulp).

Growing up, I was instructed, persuaded, begged, and bribed to play this song on the piano and sing it for my dad. He loved Evita. He loved Andrew Lloyd Webber. And he actually was quite fond of Madonna's rendition. I cant tell you how many times I played that song. It was my meal ticket back home on weekends home from college. Often after dinner Dad would say " You know what song I want to hear". I would protest. He would almost grovel. There was this gentle nature about Dad when he would ask. I knew that hearing this song made him very happy. The truth is, I did not want to play it, because it made me too sappy and sentimental to see my dad so happy.To know that this sweet song went straight to his heart was almost more than I could see without wanting to lose it every time I played it for him. This was the song that my dad would have wanted me to sing when he died. But I did not have the balls to honor this unspoken request.

So here I pushed, pedaled and prayed that I would become elliptically challeneged and fall off the in a puddle of snotty tears. I continued to listen to the song. Eyes wet. Stretching my head up to roll back the tears I knew I could no longer fight.

Ironically the sweet chorus would ask of me, "Don't cry for me Argentina. The truth is I never left you."

I was done trying to be put together. I listened to the words "And as for fortune and as for fame...I never invited them in. Though they seemed to the world all I desired. They are illusions. They're not the solutions they promised to be. The answer was here all along."

I pressed on. I pedaled harder. I smiled a little. Dad just put another gentle request out there to remind me that the truth is he never left me.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The spectrum

I was standing at the cash register fiddling around with something. I heard this shameless scream. I looked over to my right. Saw a older kid with his mom, hovered around a little boy that they were trying to soothe and make happy. I know this scene far too well. Screaming like your being chased by a monster. Arms flailing. Fear. Its what my son was doing several times earlier today. This is every day. The little boy was older than Wyatt. But the look on his face. It could have been Wyatt. Being a mom of an autistic child, I can tell the difference between the child that is sullen and snotty and the child that looks like they have just seen a ghost. I brought the little boy a toy reindeer to play with. His hands needed something to keep him busy. The lights, the piano the tinny noise of the shoppers. That's a lot for a kiddo with autism to regulate and absorb. He spotted the toy the way Wyatt does. Just a slight sliver of a glance and autism has locked you in on something else. If its the right something else, it will soothe. It will pacify. Mom can shop for a few moments. Big loving brother can take a deep breath and gear up for the next unprovoked meltdown. The boy, his name Alex, lit up. He said "ooh" and smiled. Calmed himself. Wiped his tears. Alex looked sad. He was trying to put himself back together as best he could. Almost as if he knew that he did not want to be this way and did not know how to stop himself. His cheeks red. Mom said "say thank you". He looked at me, painfully and only for a moment, said "thank you" then had to look away. His brother was 13. He said "I don't think you are going to get that toy back". I told him I kind of thought it might go down like that. Mom got to shop a little. Alex was at peace. Something tangible to focus in his hands. An object that would stay predictable and safe. When they were leaving, the older brother came to tell me thank you for my help. The family was possibly Cambodian. Mom said in broken English "he has some autism." I told her my son did too. Alex came to say goodbye. I held my hand up to give 5. He gave me 5 back the way Wyatt does. Repeatedly. With Focus. Open, flexed fingers. Giving everything he had to make a connection.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Resolution #1: The Garage

Not one to waste any time (OK, actually I waste a lot of time) The garage is killing me! Post move garage. Post move disheveled, unorganized, unsorted. My garage could be featured on "Hoarders". Well, maybe that's pushing it. After all, I have not amassed large sums of 10 year old fecal matter in there. Maybe if I start storing kitty poo in there I can be deemed worthy of a professional organizer AND a therapist coming to my home.

As soon as Wyatt's eyes shut, I sprung into action! Like a mad mother! Racing against the hands of sleep! Knowing that too soon, morning will come. Know that my kids will not take kindly to a Martha Stewart style organizing session ( I was kinda trying to channel her while sorting shit). Knowing, above all else, that soon enough I will say "fuck it!" I will lose my gumption. Organizing your house after moving , during the holidays, when you work retail and you have 2 kids, and a type B husband is honestly not worth the Xanax. I have given myself some wiggle room, more forgiveness and less urgency.

While we are on the topic of organization, my mother just called to wish me happy new year and give me street by street directions to the location of where she spent her evening. O Rosie!

So here is one thing I realize when attempt projects like this: I have major guilt over things left undone, unhung, unsorted unfinished. I feel horrible when I look at Wyatt's art projects that were proudly hung in his old room. Each of them displayed with a clothespin on a line of rope. I have to get that up tonight. I look at copious amounts of scrapbooking supplies that I never have time to create with and I feel like I just wasted copious amounts of moola. Please tell me I am not the only one with this need to collect stickers at the age of 35! Please tell me I am not the only one who loves candles the way Hoarders peeps love their dead cats!

Like many women,I am fulfilled by the desire to do things, imagine, create ideas and possibilities.Sometimes, when you are a working mom, daydreaming about order, getting pictures into albums, really clean bathrooms, folded and PUT AWAY laundry is all you got. Gotta that love mommy porn ;)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

"The way I'm starting this"

"The way I see it..."Just saying that makes me want to start singing Joni Mitchell "Free Man in Paris". I love to sing. I recently moved into a home with amazing acoustics. I have loved nothing more that singing carols and songs from "Mary Poppins" in this great space. My son Wyatt, not so impressed. Cringes. Skin crawls. He starts to sizzle. Wyatt is 4, almost 5. He was diagnosed with autism when he was almost 3. Sound is something he wants to be in control of. He has no qualms about the screaming and Linda Blair-esque screeching that he makes when provoked. This does not hurt ears. But mommy singing "Amazing Grace" is a blood boiler for Wyatt. And you know what? I get it. Wyatt's sensory aversions, repetitions, soothe-seeking behaviors have taught me all about my own. In many ways, the apple has not fallen that far from the tree. On the great side of things, Wyatt and I both have a wicked memory for words. In me it has meant that I was a great understudy as a kid with an ongoing inherent memory for music. In Wyatt it has meant that he has every book down cold. Knows every turn that needs to be taken on the road and ALWAYS remembers where he left off in any activity he did at some random place a month ago. Just don't turn left when the pattern has been right. So, the way I see it, this is a great place to talk about my life. I'm not just gonna be discussing autism, ad nauseum. There is more to Wyatt and there is more to be said about my life and our lives. But for right now this is where it started. Day one. I just turned 35. I love getting older, for what I might learn. But I will tell you this much. I DO NOT want to die! No! Nopers. Not for me. I will be good if I live to be 105. Then I can call it quits. I know this is quite immature. It likely stems from the tragic day that I learned that we all die. I was 6. It was a blow. My next door neighbor kid said "we're all gonna die someday." To which I replied "NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" I ran to my dad to fact check this. Not believing some 9 year old. I'm sure my dad was not overjoyed that the mortality lesson got checked off the list so early in the game of life. Since then I have had been humbled several times over by the length and quality of a life. Part of who I am now is shaped by a gone to soon death of my dad and my second child Henry. He came 3 months early, took a breath in and then life ended. So the way I see it, I want to be as unrealistically optimistic about how much life I squeeze and suck up. I don't believe that quality always should trump quantity. For me, I will always find a way to make my life positive, better, shiny and new each day. If I get a lemon, I'm gonna put some sugar on it.