Dumpling Skins and the Rigor Mortis Game

Or, a day in the life.

I love how my life is just so random and unexpected.  I genuinely enjoy weirdness.  The other night I was making potstickers because I hadn’t made them in awhile.  If there’s one thing I can thank my parents for, it’s how to make dumpling sauce.  Soy sauce and rice vinegar, maybe some sesame oil and a leetle bit of sugar.  Rowan loves them–but only the skins.  Doesn’t want any fillings, just dumpling skins dipped in dumpling sauce.  And now Nova is doing it too, probably because she copies what her sister does.  So they methodically went through all the dumplings, squeezed out the fillings, and ate the skins until no more were left.  Crazy kids.

Afterwards, Rowan and I were play wrestling, like we often do.  I was hugging her and she was hitting me and struggling to get away.

“You’re dead,” she told me.


“So you have to let go of me now.”

“No,” I giggled, “I’m in rigor mortis now.  You can’t undo my hug, because I’m dead. Even in death, I hug you.”

“What?” she asked, “What’s rigor mortis?”

So I told her.  Half an hour later, I’m walking to the bathroom and walk by the bedroom, where Rowan is hugging Nova solidly without moving.  Nova was trying to get away, and I hear Rowan say, “Nova!  It’s the rigor mortis game.  You can’t get out of my hug. I’m dead.”

I wonder sometimes when the school is going to call me.

Later on, after we read stories and turned off the light, I cuddled them in the dark for awhile.  Rowan and I will have great conversations.  We were talking about humans and attractiveness.  How is something we distinguish among ourselves, and if an alien species came to earth, we’d all look kind of the same to them.  I told her that I’m not sure if I’ve ever met anyone I would really consider ugly.  We’re all sort of humanish.  Granted, there are markers for reproductive health, such as symmetry of the face and hip to waist ratio.  But usually what we consider “ugly” is just deviation from what we expect, and what we consider as “beauty” is an average.  There are disfigurements, such as burns or scars – but that mostly makes me sad because it is physical evidence of suffering.  It’s not ugliness.

“In any case,” I told her, “I have a hypothesis that the average human today is more attractive than an average human of 500 years ago.”

“What’s a hypothesis?” Rowan asked. “Is that like a theory?”

“A bit,” I said.  “It’s a baby theory.  I don’t have any data to support my conclusions.  If I did, then it would be a theory.”

“So why do you think humans are more beautiful now?” she asked.

“Because first, we eat better food and have better nutrition.  We eat better than medieval kings and queens did.  Second, we have better skin and have medicine for things like acne.  There aren’t a lot of people with things like smallpox scarring anymore.  And we have better teeth.  We brush our teeth and know more about dental hygiene.   So, we’re getting better looking, generally, as we get healthier.”

She finally got to sleep and I was thinking about Charlemagne.  He was supposed to be extremely tall, at 6 feet. I remember as a kid being really confused about that, because my dad was practically six feet, and he didn’t seem abnormally tall or anything.  What a difference 1,200 years makes.  If I went back in time, I would be giantess.

And then, despite all that, I dreamed about work.

This is still on my bucket list


I’ve seen an article on this before, but the New York Times printed an article on how you can fall in love with anyone.  I have to admit, I’m intrigued.  For maximum effect, you should ask each other questions first, and that makes sense.  It’s all about priming yourself to bring down your boundaries.  I can’t recall ever doing the staring-into-each-other’s-eyes for four minutes with any man.  Four minutes is a long time.  But, I actually have done this with Rowan.

For a long, long time–since I’ve been a child–I’ve been obsessed by eyes (okay, and skulls too).  Growing up painfully introverted, eyes were a sign of judgement, disapproval, or ridicule–and I feared them.  Now, as an adult, I like to paint and draw them, and I like science macro pictures of them in all their filament glory.  But looking directly into someone’s eyes for a prolonged amount of time is a vulnerability.  It can be hard to go that deep if you’re afraid to be seen.  I may find it hard to do with adults, but I don’t worry about it with my girls.

A while back, Rowan had a school concert.  One of those things where I ended up losing half a day, because it was 2.5 hours longs and they had a dental appointment afterward.  As soon as she entered the auditorium, she looked for me.  I’m always near the front, and difficult to miss, so she found me.  That whole concert, she had her eyes locked on mine and I could not stop from tearing up.

It wasn’t about the songs, it wasn’t about the audience–it was about us.  For me, having kids breaks all those walls apart.  There is a vulnerability and a raw power to a child’s love.  I know that Rowan sees me, sees me as I truly am, and yet still loves me.  That may change as she grows older, and I accept that.  But still, to sit in semi-darkness, with her full gaze boring into me, I realize that I have forgotten that this is what is real.  I don’t know quite how to describe it.  I don’t believe that she belongs to me–she belongs to herself.  I am her steward.  But she is my daughter and we are bound together in this life.  It is beautiful to be bound so.

If there is one responsibility I have to her, it is to teach her to love.  I consider these years as setting the blueprint.  To feel what it is to be loved, so that in the future if there is a “love” that robs her of her dignity, of her respect and of herself, she will be able to tell that it is a fake love.  Love requires work and effort, but it should not require that she diminish herself.  I always tell her the truth, even all the complicated bits–and I assume she can handle it.  She will need to someday.  I love loving her, and it’s great that it is so easy to do so.  It may not always be that way, but right now, I enjoy this part of my life.

What’s interesting is that I can fully jump into this for her, but it can be harder to do it for me.  I remember talking to my doctor when I was so unhappy and considering divorce.  She pointed out that kids observe everything–that my staying in something where I was miserable was teaching them that this was normal.  Would I want them to be going through this?  And having made the choice to end it, I made sure that when the divorce was happening that the kids could see how adults would handle something so painful with integrity.

But now that chapter is done.  I am blessed with great friends and family who truly love me.  If my world was crashing down at 3:00 am and I needed help, there is more than one person I could call.  The love I have in those areas is stable and wonderful.  The great thing about love is that when you have it in one area of your life, when you feel that stability and acceptance, then it is easier to take risks with your heart.  Because like most anyone, I would very much like to be in a romantic love relationship.  I would like to experience love again, I would like to be seen again, I would like to connect to someone in that deep way.  And for that to happen, that means being open to possibility.  Knowing that you can’t always direct the flow of things, but you can be vulnerable, without walls–knowing that nothing in the future is set, but that every moment can still be enjoyed.