Tag: my son

remembered lightness


there are things i want to write,
but i distract myself
with the to do lists,
with productivity,
with letting worthiness
be defined by accomplishment.
i do that rather than
come here and write
because i don’t have
an outline,
no rough draft
i don’t know the ending.
i can’t write a neat, tidy
essay that would net me an A+.

i no longer want to be the
girl who is defined
by how she theels
others see and interpret
her –
i don’t.

is that possible?


when i ask that she not put
certain things on facebook,
is that protecting her?
in a way.
and yet when i soften my eyes
on the word “protection”
the “yes” doesn’t come
as quickly
and as surely.

people will respond
to our words
as they will respond to
our words,
be they on facebook,
on a blog,
in a book,
or over a cup of
hot chocolate.

they will respond
through a filter
of their experience.
they will respond
via a mirror
of what they are
dealing with
in their own
at the moment.

does that diminish me?
does that define me?


if i own my own life,
and if i allow you to own yours,
isn’t that a gift
to both of us?


i look at the pictures of
kipp’s girlfriend.
i look at the pictures i snapped
that day in july
of the two of them
trekking up the falls
i look at the pictures
and my body
what it was feeling
as i snapped those photos,
the question remains:
can i rip off the bolts
and kick the slats out of the
can i release my heart
to romp freely in the lightness as it once did?
can i simply love her
without concern for
if i’ll ever see her again
if she’ll remain in kipp’s future
if she’ll love me in return?
can i just love her
i instantly love her?

she has a beautiful smile,
a long, beautiful neck
that scarves
fight over.
she is generous
and quick
with her laugh
and her smile.
she’s intelligent
in so many
important ways
that don’t have
anything at all to do
with her master’s degree.

can i love her without
crafting words
to explain
and justify?


when i defend myself,
is that protection-with-a-capital-p?
or am i not
once again
more concerned with
how another
will see me
more than i’m
with owning my own life?
doesn’t defending myself
make (and keep) me small?
and when i make (and keep) myself small,
doesn’t that make (and keep)
everybody else
and the world in general



She’s coming next week,
the new girlfriend,
and though i’m eager to meet Her,
i worry i’ll embarrass
my son
when She sees
an overweight,
out of shape
redhead from a bottle.
a woman who has
pretty teeth
(thanks, mom)
but too many chins
and a face that
resembles her
daddy’s side of the family.

i know nothing about Her
save her name.
that’s unusual,
but He tells me He wants
me to meet Her
with fresh eyes.

does She like to read
and if so, what?
does she paint?

does She
laugh easily and often?

does She enjoy long
philosophical talks
that go into the
dark:thirty hours?

does She cheat at canasta?
shop off the list?

will She be territorial?
will i feel the need to
ask Her permission to
spend time with my son alone?

will He make apologies
dressed as
on their way back to colorado?
there was a time
when i lived to
embarrass Him,
but He’s not in
high school any more.

i remember the first
time i took my husband
to my grandparents’ house.
it was as though i were
visiting for the first time, too.
seeing the concrete block steps,
the small, rickety handrail.
the rusty screen door,
the mesh full of holes that
allowed flies to traipse
in and out of that kitchen
at will.
the gold ceramic fish
with three different-sized
bubbles that decorated
the single bathroom.

it was the first time i noticed
that their feather bed
with the vinyl-covered headboard
was in their den,
the room that housed
not only their bed
but two rocking chairs, a space heater,
grandmother’s treadle sewing machine,
the dresser,
home of necessary toiletries
and fabric scraps,
the telephone on the wall,
and the television
that all but dialed itself
to live atlanta wrestling
every saturday night.

it was the first time i saw
that the combination
was illuminated by a
single bare bulb
hanging down from the ceiling.

i wasn’t at all embarrassed,
just surprised that
i’d never really
seen these things before.
that the place where i’d spent so much
of my life
was new to me
on that day.

my slug


except for when i’m really tired, it seems like just yesterday when i first met him.

today is my son’s birthday. kipp is his name; slug is my pet name for him. slug, from the book atlas shrugged by ayn rand – the hottest coal that keeps the fire roaring to keep the train’s engine moving. yep, he is my slug.

he is a true renaissance man – one who loves hiking and skydiving and reading and snowboarding and playing guitar. he’s a wicked good actor and writer, and if you mapped his various areas of intelligence, his brain would light up like our neighbor’s house at christmas.

he makes halloween costumes you just wouldn’t believe and just recently, his idea for a startup company took first place at startup weekend. he’s kind and articulate, and he usually smiles (which is great cause those braces weren’t cheap).

unlike his mama, he’s hardly a picky eater, and unlike his dad, he enjoys post-movie conversations of deconstruction and philosophy. like his dad, he likes fine art and georgia tech, and like his mama, he likes handmade journals and stories. like both of us, laughter is his religion.

he is handy with a camera, and hopefully he’ll pick it up again one day soon and start taking more pictures because he has a way of seeing that stops me dead in my tracks. like the time we rode under telephone wires . . . he looked up at the kudzu creeping and skipping its way across, and said simply “nature’s reclamation.”

wallace stevens was once his favorite poet, now he’s going through a billy collins phase. he’s a good companion to his dog, even letting otto have a pet roomba (the robotic vaccuum cleaner) because he knows border collies just need to herd things.

he is my son, and i frequently wonder what i did in a former life that landed me fortunate enough to be his mother.

happy birthday, kipp.

i love you.

diving in, part 1


my children can swim
thanks to my checkbook
and the efforts of one intrepid swimming teacher named mr. bob
who taught swimming lessons
in a lake.

a lake with a diving board.

students who arrived on time were ferried across the lake in a fishing boat.

students who arrived late
were walked to the other side by their mother –
one heavy screaming child attached firmly
and completely
to each leg.
(we were only late that one time.)

mr. bob explained
then showed
the would-be swimmers what to do.
“put your face in the water,” he’d say
before putting his own face in the water and blowing bubbles.
some did as they were told,
and they heard mr. bob clapping when they emerged.
others didn’t,
so mr. bob pushed their cute little heads under.
(that was the only time i used the binoculars.)
then, at the end of every hour-long lesson,
he put his sopping wet students back in the boat
and ferried them back to the other side of the lake
where with great fanfare,
he issued blue ribbons
he’d carefully cut
then embellished
with positive, encouraging, supportive words
he’d written in glitter glue.

finally it was the lesson
they’d been waiting for:
time to go off the diving board.
mr. bob ferried the boat to
the other side,
then ordered his students
to climb
one at a time
through the 2.25 clouds
to the tippy top of the diving board.
then he said simply,
some did as they were told,
and they heard great applause when they emerged.
others didn’t,
so mr. bob pushed them off.
and they emerged with a smile
to the sound of applause.

that afternoon the backseat was filled
with laughter and glee
and other sounds of
confidence gained from meeting a challenge head on.
“let’s go to yea yea’s pool,” they directed
from the backseat,
and so we went straight to my parents’ house
where they dragged the grandparents outside
to watch their new amazing feat.

daughter moxie sashayed to the end of the board
and jumped right off,
emerging with a smile to the sound of much applause.
son slug marched to the end of the board
and stopped.
he flat-out stopped.
he stood there shivering for a few minutes,
looking down at the water,
envisioning himself leaving the board,
entering the water,
and emerging with a smile
to the sound of great applause
and the full body feeling
of downright satisfaction.
but he just couldn’t coax his body to play it out.
so, finally,
with an full body sigh,
he looked across the pool at me, shrugged his shoulders, and said,
“mom, i guess you’re just gonna’ have to push me.”

to be continued tomorrow . . .

denver or bust (aka: best road trip)

okay, so it was last year not this year, and it was a bigass yellow truck and not a car, but it was still the best road trip i’ve had in a while: summer of 2008 when we moved my boy from california to colorado. it wins Most Fabulous Trip because we were moving my boy closer to me! okay, listen. i was out the day they taught geography, so let’s just go with colorado is closer to me than southern california and leave it at that.

hubbie and i drove the bigass yellow truck (i think it was a 148-footer, but i’m not a numbers girl, so don’t quote me on that) while kipp and his former girlfriend led in his car. it was a gorgeous trip – mountains of every hue and description. here’s the view from the passenger’s seat doing as we moved along at (roughly) the speed limit:

we start with the los angeles mountains (look familiar, emma?)


and move to a hint of green:


then a splash of red:



some stripes to keep things interesting:


some just plain fun:


and finally:


grandchild rode with us. i forget his its name. starts with a “z” i think.


or maybe it’s a her-it since she/it (don’t say that out loud) does like to shop and try on pinks:


here we have grandchild playing buddha:


and i’ll leave you (you’re welcome) with:


the stories are mine, but credit for the kindling goes to gwen bell and her best of 2009 blog challenge.

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the wind tunnel as life’s little book of big lessons


this is my boy, kipp. he could collect toy trains or comic books or baseball cards, but nooooo. his hobby is jumping out of airplanes, and the weekend before thanksgiving, i got to see him compete in the national skydiving championship.

i’ll get to the conference part in a minute, but first, let me introduce you to my son:

when he was 11 years old, kipp was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. he could’ve tucked himself into a nice safe cocoon where he remained comfortable, but instead he pursued acting and snowboarding and running themed marathons (like the time he ran through the mud carrying a huge boombox) and eventually skydiving. which is not to say that he runs around constantly pushing the limits and behaving recklessly. no, he’s quite the balanced guy – one helluva writer who’s also holding down a full-time job, raising a dog he rescued from the pound, participating in some open mic nights, snowboarding during the season . . . and skydiving every chance he gets.

i’ll get to the conference part in a minute, right after i show you a few snapshots of my boy at the recent championship:

here he is right after his chute opened. his dad argued that some other guy was kipp (his dad also mistakenly goo-goo’ed over somebody else’s baby in the nursery after our daughter was born, but we’ll talk about that another time).


and this is kipp righting himself in preparation for the landing:


and finally we see kipp – well, we see his chute anyway – safely on the ground:


i’ll tell you about the conference, but first you need to know that kipp’s team, relativity, came in 2nd at that national championship.

okay, now proud mama is ready to tell you about the best conference of 2009 . . . which isn’t exactly a conference but i’m going with it anyway. if you squint, i promise it comes close to qualifying because: (1) there were several people there, (2) i only knew one of them (2 if you count kipp’s former girlfriend, but let’s not), and (3) i learned something new. (not something you’d call a marketable skill, but still, i learned something. something important.)

kipp practices for skydiving competitions during weekly sessions in the indoor wind tunnel, and one day last year, (this is as good a time as any to mention that i just don’t track linear, chronological time that well) he took me along. i watched the 5-minute training video, suited up, double-knotted my shoes, and took my place in line (last).

before we started, the instructor went over the hand signals one more time. this, he said slightly curling 2 fingers, means bend your legs slowly. and this, he said straightening out those same 2 fingers, means straighten out your legs just a little. this, he said putting a finger to each corner of his mouth, means smile, and this, he said displaying the hawaiian sign for hang loose, means relax.

as it turns out, falling into the tunnel is my specialty. once inside the tunnel, however, things went ugly fast. some of the air churned by the unbelievably huge and loud (even with earplugs) jet engines went right up my nose and, well, you know how when you forget that you’re not a fish and inhale while under water and feel like you’re gonna’ drown any minute now? it’s not just a water thing. it can happen with air, too, i’m here to tell you. i felt like i was going to drown and just like in the movies, my life whizzed by before my eyes.

okay, well, not my ENTIRE life, but i did vividly remember that one time when i went swimming at lake spivey with my friend joyce and nearly drowned because i jumped off the concrete block wall (don’t ask why a lake had a wall – just don’t ask) a little further to the deep side than i should have been. ordinarily i would have just waded in like i normally did, but you see joyce knew everything about everything (just like her mother did) and she was best at everything (just like her mother was) and she knew everybody who was anybody (just like her mother did) so naturally i could NOT tell them that i didn’t know how to do anything more at a lake than walk in ankle-deep water.

i was drowning in jet-propelled air this time, though, and right about then is when i realized that while i could read their signals, we hadn’t begun to talk about mine. i began motioning furiously to the exit door, and the instructor just smiled and gave me the relax sign. eventually, when i pulled away and just started to swim (i’m embarrassed to tell you that i did – i swam through the air) towards the exit door, the instructor picked up on where i was headed and helped me get there.

my boy and his friends were kinda’ concerned about me, but honestly, my early exit meant more flying time for them, so their concern didn’t exactly eat up a lot of clock. i gave myself a good talking to and knew – i just knew – i couldn’t quit. i might never have this opportunity again, so i had to shake it off, take myself in hand, get back in there, and fly.

and when it was my turn again, i did – get back in there, i mean – and i swear, it was a near-exact repeat. fall in: check. air goes up nose: check. panic sets in: big time check. again i started with my own wild, obviously indecipherable hand signals, and again the instructor gave me his signal to relax. every time i’d manage to get myself oriented towards the exit door, he’d grab a grip on my suit and spin me back around. with my eyes, i pleaded with the guy in the control booth to GET ME OUT, but he just smiled and turned up the air. finally i realized that i was, in fact, going to be in that tunnel until my time was up, and so, i reasoned, i and i alone was responsible for how i spent my time there.

relax, i told myself, and i relaxed. breathe, i told myself, and i breathed. look around, i told myself, and i looked around. shoot, i think i even smiled a bit. i focused on what my body was doing and feeling and marveled at how the slightest movement – just a quarter turn of one hand, for example, changed my direction or altitude.


when my 2 minutes were up (yes, it sounded like it was a lot longer, didn’t it?), was when i was just getting comfortable.

i’ve thought a lot about that conference. about how short my time was there, about how i spoke my own language that not everybody understood, about how my slightest movement was powerful enough to affect big changes . . . about how if i’d’ve been given a face guard to provide full-face protection, things might’ve turned out much, much differently.


the story is mine, but credit for the kindling goes to gwen bell and her best of 2009 blog challenge.

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Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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