Z is for Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz

Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz: Dr. Seuss character at the end of the ABCs book.

Lilah and I snuggle together on her bed, her head nestled on my chest. Every night she chooses two books to read before bed. Tonight we start with Dr. Seuss’s ABC. It’s a book I’ve read a hundred times to three different children.

Big A, little a. What begins with A?

“Alligator!” says Lilah, pointing to an extremely long torso-ed reptile painted across pages four and five. A smug looking Aunt Annie is riding on his back holding the reins.

We move on to B for barber, baby, bubbles and bumblebee, then C for camel on the ceiling. The creatures and personalities in Dr. Seuss’s ABC are relatively run of the mill. They are silly yes, engaging in ridiculous, often imaginary scenarios, for sure, but not entirely surprising. Except for the dreamed of duckdog, the fluffy Fiffer-feffer-feff which is clearly some species of bird and the Queen of Quincy’s quacker-oo of a duck, Seuss’s alphabetical zoo is quite ordinary.

Until you get to Z.

Big Z, little z. What begins with Z? I do. I am a Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz as you can plainly see.

The Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz gazes sweetly from the page with its bright yellow eyes, a shock of fuchsia hair, a long snout, a fuzzy pink and white checkerboard of a body and a long swishy tail. Light-hearted rhymes about elephants and goats, hungry horses and lazy lions don’t really prepare you to meet this entirely new species of creature, the Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz. It is here, on the book’s final page that the ordinary gives way to the extraordinary.

IMG_1755A month ago when I started this practice of writing everyday, I worried. I wasn’t sure I could actually write something coherent or halfway meaningful day after day for an entire month. I worried I’d run out of things to write about. I worried I wouldn’t find the time or space in my harried stay-at-home life to get the job done.

I’m no going to lie: all of my worst fears about writing daily came true. I stressed, I failed, I started over. Some days I couldn’t find time until late into the night after everyone else in my house had gone to bed and all I wanted to do was sleep. I blew off meetings and making dinner, grocery shopping and the gym, countless emails, voice mails and invitations. But I kept going. Then, around the middle of the month, I sensed a shift. I stopped wondering if I’d really be able to post that day because, yes, no matter what else was going on, I definitely would post that day and the next and the next.

I learned to trust myself.

Before I wrote one word today, I made lunches for all three girls, warmed up the weekend’s extra French toast for breakfast, helped the toddler choose between a flowered skirt or a pair of shorts and reconstructed the intricate harness on her car seat because I’d had to dismantle it to wash after she’d peed in it the day before. I took the dog for a walk, made a Facebook post for a client, dropped off Lilah at preschool, took myself for a walk with a dear friend, got my teeth cleaned, took my mom out for an early Mother’s Day lunch and stopped for gas before picking up my girls from school.

Typical day. Ordinary tasks.

Yet inspiration is everywhere. It’s in the song on the radio and in the toy box. It’s in the middle of the road and it’s at Disneyland. It’s at the far end of a telescope and in the pages of my child’s favorite book. It is in a handwritten note and in a quickly dashed off text. It is in the gift of knowing I will begin again and again.

The extraordinary is happening. Everyday.

This is my final post for the April 2014 A to Z Challenge. Writing everyday has been exhausting and invigorating and I hope I will continue to write as often as possible. Thank you to everyone for reading and sharing your thoughts. You can find writing by other bloggers who took on the #atozchallenge at Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

R is for Romance Novel

romance novel: a prose narrative depicting heroic or marvelous deeds, pageantry and romantic exploits, usually in a historical or imaginary setting.

romance1Row upon row of romance novels lined the walls in my high school boyfriend’s basement. After school we’d come through the door, say hi to his mom, then bounce down the stairs with the excuse of doing homework but really we just wanted to make out. We’d curl up on the old, velvet couch to kiss under the smoldering gazes of buxom damsels and dashing buccaneers.

My boyfriend’s mom, Mrs. B, was always reading one of those romance novels with their wafer-thin pages and spines that cracked when you opened them. My boyfriend’s parents had been high school sweethearts. At 21, they married under a heart-shaped canopy of white roses on a humid mid-west summer day. Thirty years later there had to be 200 thumbed through romance novels stashed away in the basement. At the time I didn’t understand the fascination. Why would anyone want to read about love when they could experience it themselves with its sweaty palms, fluttering hearts and constant, delicious aching?

Fourteen years of marriage and three kids later, everyday life with its deadlines and carpools, meetings and bills has elbowed romance out of the way. I can hardly remember what it feels like to be under new love’s spell where every beat of your heart is like the thump of a big drum. Every love song playing on the radio is about you. Every time the phone rings your breath catches. You write a love poem on a piece of notebook paper, folding it again and again until it’s a small thick square that fits quietly into a back pocket or the palm of a hand.

I yearn for the jolt of seeing Josh coming my way, smiling just for me. The charge was undeniable, stealing my appetite, making me want more all the time. We married high on love, believing it would always be that intense. Time, of course, changes everything. Love slips and slides, rushes and retreats, booms and abates. The birth of each of our girls brought me a different, newfound love for my husband. A miscarriage, professional challenges, the frustrations of parenthood – these experiences shaped a new, deeper love between us. Still, I miss the crazy fervor of our beginning, the simplicity of it, its rawness and how we never questioned it.

Maybe that’s where romance novels come in. They offer up the most uncomplicated kinds of love: first love, love at first sight, love despite the odds, overpowering love, undeniable love. The closest I’ve ever come to reading a romance novel is when I devoured the Twilight series. Yes, the story is aimed at teens, but really it’s a classic tale of first love anyone can identify with: innocent girl meets wrong boy, serious romantic tension ensues, danger threatens to tear them apart, odds are overcome, girl dies then comes back to life, girl and boy exist together forever. It’s Romeo and Juliet vampire style.

While the first kiss between the two was the scene that kept me turning the pages, it turns out my favorite scenes in the book are scattered throughout. They are the ones where the vampire boy is full of restraint, worried he might tear her throat out if he follows his desire. Instead of kissing her, he pulls her close, holding the shivering body of his eternal true love in his strong arms. The girl’s cheek rests against his cold, hard chest, her warm breath floating up into a canopy of fir trees.

Those scenes are real love scenes. When Josh holds me closely, I can’t turn my face to look up at him. That’s when I give in, close my eyes and listen to his heart beat. I let myself be exactly where I am, my cheek nestled into the dip just below the front of his shoulder. Neither one wants to break away first. This is what it means to love and be loved.

There are still moments when my heart skips for him, but I’ve traded in new love’s constant jitters for the profound connection that true love builds over time. For days on end of reckless passion and wild abandon, I’m heading for the nearest romance novel. I wonder which one Mrs. B would recommend?

I’m participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge during the month of April using the very broad theme of LOVE to carry me through the alphabet. Check out writing by other bloggers taking on the #atozchallenge at @AprilA2Z.

Best Bookmark. Ever.

Even my girls are in on The Crush — look what Ruby brought home for her mama:

bookmark

A most excellent use of a Barnes & Noble gift card, don’t you think? I have a feeling I’m going to be reading a lot this summer.

Currently Reading: The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

Thoughts: Nothing too contemplative here, which is not my typical book choice so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s an historical romance involving a very rich American girl who, under the hand of her snobby, controlling mother, travels to Europe in the mid-1890s in search of a titled husband. I’m 40 pages in and am throughly enjoying both the story and the writing, as well as my bookmark.