Category Archives: Beginnings

Genesis (a short story)

In the beginning, it’s awkward, as so many things are. You don’t know where you’re allowed to sit, where you’re expected to sleep, what there is to eat. You don’t even know what to call him. He seems to assume you know his name, and it apparently doesn’t occur to him to ask yours. Not that you would even know the answer.

He shows you around, touching you carefully as though you’re new-blown glass. He doesn’t seem to know what to do with you. (But you don’t know what to do with yourself.) He tries to make small talk with you, but it’s one-sided. You want to ask him about everything around you, but you don’t want to pester him. When you do ask him a question, he gives a long-winded answer that leaves you feeling…annoyed. If he knows more than I do, it’s because he’s older and more experienced, you think, not because he’s smarter.

Although…maybe he is smarter. You want to ask him what he thinks.

You’re perching carefully on a large mossy rock, watching the fish jump in the river, when he calls to you, “Eve!” For a moment you don’t move, and then you realize he’s talking to you, using a name you haven’t heard him use for any of the plants or animals he’s shown you. He calls again—“Eve?”—and you stand up tentatively and take a step toward him.

“Can you bring me some figs?” he asks, from where he’s stretched out on the grass. You look around, until he points to the correct tree. You gather a handful and bring them to him, then watch him pop each one into his mouth. He makes an irritating “mm…ah!” sound after each one, but doesn’t offer you any.

“Thanks, Eve,” he says as an afterthought. You’re not sure what the appropriate response is, so you just smile. Later, you think maybe you should have thanked him back?

As the sun starts going down, and a barely perceptible coolness settles over the garden, an untoward rumbling sounds comes from your midsection, followed by a vaguely uncomfortable feeling of emptiness. Your male companion apparently notices the noise, and he asks, “Are you hungry?”

“Hungry…” you say. “Yes, I think so.”

He seems confused. “Well, then eat something.” He gestures around you. “Eat whatever you like.”

Suddenly the choice seems too large for you. “Oh, I don’t even know what…” He takes your hand and leads you from tree to bush to vine, giving you the names again that he gave you that morning. “Mandarins…grapes…olives…dates…figs…” he says, and you repeat each one, determined this time to remember. At each stop he also picks a fruit and puts it in your mouth, so you can savor each different taste, and use the flavor to help remember which is which. After one complete pass through the garden, you’ve tasted dozens of morsels from his fingers, and no longer feel hungry.

Soon, it’s full dark, the only light coming from a high clear full moon. The birds have completely stopped singing. You hear a hooting noise from somewhere in the wilds of the garden, outside of your clearing. Your mind feels less sharp than it had in the daylight, and you have an urge to lie down. You look around for an appropriate place, but it seems that your male companion has claimed the biggest, softest stretch of grass. He’s on it now, propped on his elbows, legs sprawled out. He’s watching you.

“You can come lie down with me, if you want,” he says. You don’t want to hesitate and hurt his feelings, so you step carefully over to him and stretch out, using your arm as a pillow. For a moment, all is quiet, except for the myriad night noises that reach you, most from sources you can’t yet name, although the sound of the river is familiar.

You can hear him breathing shallowly.

You are simultaneously exhausted and alert. Today seemed so long and so full, and all you want is to be momentarily unaware of it again. You have lived a lifetime in twelve hours. You feel as if you could close your eyes and drift away, tethered to this garden but in a different place somehow.

At the same time, you are highly aware of him so close to you. He doesn’t seem tired and ready to drift off. But what could he possibly want from you? In the dark?

He shifts position and then you feel his hand on your stomach. You hold your breath, but he leaves it there, as if it’s an accident. Then he says quietly, “Do you think that you’re—that I’m—that we’re both here for a reason?”

“I don’t know why I’m here,” you say.

“Well, you’re here for me,” he says. “You’re here because I was lonely.”

“But I don’t even know your name,” you admit.

“I’m Adam,” he says, surprised. “Didn’t anyone tell you? I’m Adam. You’re Eve.” A pause, and then his hand slides higher up your stomach, and your muscles tense. “We belong together.”

“What are you doing?” you ask. He’s quiet for a moment.

“I’m not sure,” he says. “I just wanted to touch you. I felt like I should touch you. So I did. Is that all right?”

“I suppose so,” you say automatically. Then, “Actually no, I’d rather you didn’t right now.” When he doesn’t respond, you add, “I mean, I just learned your name.”

“I understand,” he says, and his hand is gone, replaced by the cool feeling of nighttime on your skin. Your initial sense of relief is replaced by longing.

You don’t sleep much that night. In the moonlight you can see Adam’s profile, as he snores quietly next to you. You think about his words: You’re here for me. We belong together. And if you can’t figure out why else you’re here, isn’t that as good a reason as any? You think of the animals he showed you today—they all come in pairs. A goose and a gander, a doe and a buck, a lion and a lioness. An Adam and an Eve?

As the sky is lightening, you finally fall asleep. You sleep lightly, not really dreaming. When you feel Adam get up, you’re fully awake again, but with a newfound sense of peace.

When you get up, he’s sitting cross-legged near the river, absent-mindedly plucking a handful at a time and sprinkling it into the water. As you watch, two ducks float into view, followed by a trio of ducklings. You feel a pleasant tug inside you at the sight of the small family.

You walk to Adam’s side and sit down. He smiles at you and pulls some more grass. You slide your hand into his free hand, and lace your fingers through his, and without a moment’s hesitation he squeezes back. You’re still not sure what the future holds, but for now, you feel content. You lay your head on his shoulder and you both watch the ducks until they’re gone.

 

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Filed under Beginnings, Fiction, Love, Writing

Here We Lent Again

Happy Ash Wednesday! It’s time to frantically figure out what to give up for Lent this year!

I actually started thinking about this a couple weeks ago, when I noticed at work that someone had brought in some Mardi Gras-themed pastries from a board meeting. But it’s nowhere near Mardi Gras! I thought. Then I looked at a calendar. But it’s not quite — well there’s still a little time — I mean, who even likes King Cake? Well, the colors ARE nice.

In the past I’ve given up Facebook, and arguing with Drew. Last year I gave up chocolate, and although that was an appropriately difficult thing for me to give up, I didn’t want to just repeat something from last year. So, after some hurried thought (and finishing some Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch last night), I think I’m going to give up ice cream.

What are you giving up this year? (Or, as I know some people do, are you taking on something additional during Lent?)

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Filed under Beginnings, Food, Holidays, Humor, Nonfiction, Religion

For Another Ten

Drew and I recently celebrated 10 years of dating. It was a couple weeks ago, so I’m a little behind here, but 10 years is significant enough that I’m giving myself a pass.

Here are some fun facts about when we got together back in 2005:

We were about to start rehearsals for Into the Woods, but we cast the show before Christmas break. So just for the record, I didn’t cast him because he was my boyfriend. I cast him because he was awesome.

Erin actually knew that we both liked each other at least a week before we admitted it to each other. She chose not to say anything because we had both told her in confidence. That’s some crazy loyalty there.

We were at a party where we discovered our mutual interest. This party took place in the house that we later moved into for my final year of school.

Incidentally, I wasn’t originally planning on going to that party. I only went because my friend Josh stood me up. It turned out he had an emergency appendectomy that night. Thanks, Josh’s burst appendix!

Even if I hadn’t gone to THAT party, I still think our dating was inevitable. We had been inching toward it for weeks. It was going to happen.

For instance, a few weeks earlier, we’d gone to the movies together to see The Phantom of the Opera. But I don’t think either of us knew whether or not it was a date. I mean, I was running late, which I would have tried not to do, obviously, if I knew it was a date. And I presume if it was a date, he would have picked me up, and maybe we wouldn’t have gone to a matinee.

We accidentally introduced our parents to each other after just a couple weeks. They just both happened to have come to this show we were both working on, on the same night. Oops!

The Last 5 Years came a little later, so it doesn’t really fit into my theme here, but I’m still inspired by the fact that the movie version is coming out today. It’s bringing back a lot of memories and feelings from those early years.

I have never in my life been more sure about any choice I’ve ever made. Then, now…always.

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Filed under Beginnings, Drew, Love, Memoir

My love affair with Ira Levin

One of the other things keeping me busy lately has been a writing class I’m taking – the first course of an online master program in creative writing. It happened kind of out of the blue. A friend of mine mentioned how she was finally going to bite the bullet and get her masters, because her husband had found this program that was entirely online and fully accredited. I looked it up and it looked good, so now she and I are both students at Southern New Hampshire University.

Go Penmen!

So I just finished my first class today. I submitted my final paper this afternoon (before crashing and taking a 3-hour nap…yikes). This class was the basic intro class on Rhetorical Grammar – so lots of talk about voice, rhythm, diction, cohesion, adverbials/adjectivals, punctuation, nominals, and other exciting concepts. I actually really enjoyed the class, and I think that was due in part to a cool, accessible professor.

It was probably also partly because we were able to choose the author we would be focusing on throughout the term. So while some people were applying voice/rhythm/diction/etc to HP Lovecraft or Shakespeare, I went and picked Ira Levin, one of my all-time favorite writers.

A major upside to writing about Levin is that his books are generally pretty short, so it was relatively easy to read through Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives about 3 times each over the last couple months, as well as reading Veronica’s Room and the endings of Sliver and Son of Rosemary. (I still can’t believe this is scholarly.)

If you’re going to write a 16-page paper with 12 different sources, this isn’t a bad stack of books to be working with.

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I get a week off before the next term starts, and I’ll be taking a literary theory class (which terrifies me) and a creative writing class (which thrills me). I plan on using this week to watch all the Best Picture nominations we have left, to read something besides Ira Levin, and to sleep as much as possible.

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tbt: Moving to New York (2006)

We moved from Davis to New York EIGHT YEARS AGO. It’s backwards to do the tbt post of “moving back home” before the tbt post of “moving out there,” but that’s the way it happened. (By about three weeks.)

It’s a little Dear Diary, but here’s what I posted on my LiveJournal eight years ago today.

==

We started out this morning before even false dawn.

Drew and I woke up before the alarm, but neither of us is sure from what. We made it all the way out into the car (about 4:40 am) before I realized I couldn’t find my wallet. Half an hour (and 2 frantic calls to my parents, and 2 frantic calls to Erin’s parents) later, we discovered it had somehow gotten into the bag of stuff for Erin. By 5:20 we were on our way to Oakland. The security was not bad, my carry-on was randomly searched and it was discovered (drumroll, please) that I was carrying a contraband stuffed dolphin apparently belonging to the security guard’s daughter. After asking me some rough questions (“You have my daughter’s dolphin, what are you doing with that?”), he softened up and I found out she was 3 years old and collected plush marine life.

We boarded the plane; the flight was uneventful; Bravo (in its first big act of betrayal against me) showed a marathon of people playing poker, rather than the Project Runway marathon I’d hoped for. (JetBlue gives everyone little TV screens and like 30 channels, or something. Nice, but there was really nothing on. Maybe because it was stupid o’clock in the morning.)

We landed; we got a cab; it cost us $50; we made it to our apartment. I am so not afraid of living here. Honestly, it seems like the people are faking the Jewish thing. Because EVERYONE is so stereotypically “Jewish” looking. And they speak Yiddish to each other. I love it. There’s a little market on the corner (a couple blocks down) that will probably be good for quick stuff, and we went to Target tonight to get some things we thought were missing…and it turned out everyone was just really thirsty, so we got a lot to drink.

The apartment is SMALL. I was expecting this, but not necessarily the fragrance of…we think it’s authentic Jewish cooking. Mixed with the smell of small apartment. I’ll go through room by room.

The KITCHEN is really the foyer: you enter the apartment through it. There is a fridge, a stove, a microwave, and a surprisingly deep sink. I don’t think we’ll use too many dishes, though. I think it’s gonna be paper plates and paper towels for us.

The LIVING ROOM is not bad. The couch, I feel, is comfortable (although I haven’t yet tried the pull-out bed). The overhead light is very white, not yellow, which is nice. There are 2 fairly large windows covered in horizontal blinds. There is a nearly empty shelf to put things on.

The BEDROOM is also not bad. The bed is firmer than I’m used to (and I think Drew is going to hate it). The window is covered in lacy white curtains, which seem like a recent afterthought. There is an A/C unit in the window that doesn’t seem to be cooling everything off much. There are shelves and a full-length mirror, which are both nice, and in one of the two small closets we discovered a rack of pull-out wire drawers, which will be very nice when we decide to unpack.

Let me not forget to mention, the BEDROOM has no door.

The BATHROOM is through the bedroom. It’s nice, albeit small. The floor is black and white checkered (yay!) and the shower is actually pretty nice (it has good pressure, and it gets nice and hot and nice and cold, depending on what you want). The toilet flushes like a railroad train…by which I mostly mean “loudly.” There’s a window that opens. Oh, also there’s a shaving mirror in the shower, and I was absolutely fascinated by making my hair into different shapes while it was all shampoo-y. Something I haven’t done since I was in baths.

So we brought our stuff here, and feeling slightly disheartened (mostly by the smell, I think), the 3 of us called our homes and left messages saying we were safe. Then we set off to buy Metro cards (30-days, unlimited rides, $76) and explore. By request of Joe (and because there was a sign suggesting we were close), we went to Coney Island…which I think is cool, that we went to Coney Island. We ate Nathan’s hot dogs and watched a guy shoot paint balls at a “freak,” which was less interesting and more disturbing than I was expecting it to be. Then we came home and I discovered the merits of the shower, and then we went out again, to discover Target and perhaps a BofA ATM (which we never did). We bought food and drinks at Target and then explored the subway some more.

And we came back from Target and that’s been our day, pretty much. The end.

PS. We want cable and a router so more than one of us can be on the internet at once.

==

Little did I know then, am I right? And I think this post was kind of falsely cheerful. I realized later how hard all three of us were trying, because flying in to JFK and driving to Brooklyn is not exactly the prettiest, most culture-filled and exciting part of New York City. Especially in August. I’m glad we stuck it out, moved up in Long Island, and made it our own.

I’m reliving August of 2006 on my LiveJournal now, while I whisper “Long Island” with a Long Island accent (hard G) under my breath. Miss you, New York!

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Filed under Beginnings, Dreams, Drew, Memoir, Nonfiction, Sentiment, Travel

#tbt: Moving back to California

Five years ago, Drew and I packed up most of our New York stuff, and drove back to California.

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Thank God Jared was staying in the apartment, so there was a lot of stuff we could just leave – like our bed, couches, rugs, etc.

We basically packed all night while watching Roseanne. In the morning, Joe came over to help us load up the van.

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Also thank God we casually said, “Yeah, let’s upgrade to the largest size van you have.” We needed every square inch of space.

It took us three nights to get home, driving pretty much all the time. We were also doing Atkins at the time, so we weren’t even really stopping to eat very much…I’m not sure how we passed the time. I remember at some point we started playing Lingo out loud, and for awhile we listened to Rent…

I also took a lot of pictures out the passenger side window, so there’s a lot of semi-blurry landscape with window reflections. This was pre-smartphone.

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(I’m pretty sure Drew took that picture.)

When we got to Nevada, we wanted to drive through to Reno so we could crash with Molly. But Nevada is insanely wide, and neither of us could keep our eyes open. So our final night on the road was spent in Elko, Nevada.

The next day, I drove us across the state line into California, and later Drew and I realized that whenever we’re in a car together, he may say “Do you want to drive?” to be nice, but I generally never do, and he generally always wants to. So now we don’t worry about taking turns to be nice to each other. A good lesson for our impending marriage.

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It’s been FIVE YEARS since we came back. New York is drifting further and further away from us. But it’s still an indisputable part of our lives and of our relationship. I think a reunion may be in order.

 

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Filed under Beginnings, Being a girl, cars, Drew, Endings, Humor, Love, Memoir, Nature, Nonfiction, Sentiment, Travel

First day of daycare

This is a huge milestone. The moment we’ve been leading up to for (at least) the last year.

Some background: I went back to work (4 days a week) just before B turned 3 months old. And since then, he’s been watched primarily by Drew’s parents, which has been one of those things that we are afraid we are taking for granted, but we try to remember to be grateful every day. So let me just say on the record, I am so thankful for Drew’s parents for taking on the majority of weekday childcare, and also for my parents for making the trek down here so frequently to babysit.

I couldn’t imagine leaving B with a daycare provider when he was 3 months old. I know people do it, and I admire that, but we are lucky and didn’t have to. I’m so happy we had family who could watch him. As he got older, it was an issue of finding somewhere we could take him that we could trust and afford and where we would feel comfortable leaving our most precious possession. It also became harder, as the months went by, to give up our free family daycare.

But we knew that he would probably really like to be around other kids more often, and he could learn a lot from them. We’re always impressed with what our friends’ kids seem to pick up from daycare, and it seemed like we were kind of missing out on that. Our pediatrician has stressed the importance of playdates, especially since B isn’t in daycare, and we understand how important socialization is at this age.

A couple weeks ago, we met with a woman (we’ll call her Alicia) who does in-home daycare for 3s and under, and we really like her. She comes highly recommended by members of Drew’s family, which makes me feel good. She has 4 other kids right now, who come on various days of the week, although one is about to “graduate” to preschool. Another one is 6 months old. Two of the kids are just right around B’s age, and when we went to meet her, he had a great time playing with them.

We decided to do two days a week, and today is the first of those days. All morning I kept telling him how lucky he is, that he gets to go play with other kids today, and he’s going to have so much fun. I dropped him off at 8am, and he walked right into the house and then started running around the living room, climbing on the couch, and talking to the girl who was already there. He seemed happy and totally not shy. I passed off all of his stuff to Alicia, gave him hugs and kisses goodbye, and then she took both kids to go find some toys in the other room, and I left.

Honestly, I have to say I did better than I expected. I hope he is also doing well. Every parent knows this is a rough day. We just have to get through the first few days of a new thing, and then everything will be great. Still, if you want to send me good vibes today, it’d be much appreciated…haha.

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Filed under Baby, Beginnings, Children, Drew, Memoir, Nonfiction