Miscellanea in the pool on a Sunday…

My children throw everything in the swimming pool.

I wish they wouldn’t, but it seems to be part of their play. Sometimes they’re out there for hours in the afternoons after school, talking to themselves, stripping bark off the old stumps in the backyard, peeling papayas and sweeping black dirt into the pool.

I knew Sierra was going to do this when I saw the broom, but I couldn’t bear to break the spell until the last minute, and then it was too late. Garden soil drifted through the chlorinated blue to the bottom, where it rested like spilled ink. She looked up, startled, when I called her (Sierra, dirt does not go in the pool! But why not? I’m making mud balls!) and then, finally, as if it were the only other option, she came inside to play a computer game. 

Another day, a Sunday, I was drawn outside by a family of papayas huddled together on a boogie board, a scene that clearly needed to be Instagrammed. I was distracted by a sliced papaya floating in the pool and, deeper down, a shipwrecked lawn ornament in the shape of a hummingbird. 

In my daughters’ minds, I know, each random piece had a story, a reason for being in the pool. What does it say about me that, instead of fishing them out like a responsible adult, I photographed them?

miscellanea

This is what I saw.

Miscellanea in the pool.

I can play this game too, I thought. But, since I don’t know their stories, I’ll make up my own.*

(*Note: Each story is exactly 50 words long. Because 1. I was never gonna get around to publishing this blog otherwise. Wish I had more time to write… and 2. Conveniently enough, they now fit pretty perfectly into this week’s WordPress creative writing challenge.)

I.

The boy next door had a papaya tree. She sneaked over there sometimes. They’d shake the tree, cut the fruit, then– juice dripping, sticky hands–share it, sitting in the shade. They didn’t talk. Or mostly he talked. They’d sit side by side, then she’d come home. Momma never knew.

II.

Aunt Sophie had a hummingbird hatpin. He found it in the room at the end of the hall with the junk boxes and that weird book about Münchausen syndrome by proxy.

“William! Where are you?”

“…Coming!”

He covered the book; clicked the light.

The hatpin he put in his pocket.

III.

She walked along the perimeter of the pond, and the wind through the saw palmettos made a satisfying sound, like dried bones. The sun, trapped inside the water, was boiling. She’d left his body in a ditch up the road, and she wasn’t going back. Yeah, she felt lighter already…

————

And that, my friends, is how writers play. :)

How do you play?

© Jaime Greenberg and discovered in play, 2014


Impressions

On one of those early spring days that feel already like summer—high sunlight and the faint smell of rain on dirt whispering their promises—you find yourself wandering.

You’re holding a stolen gardenia flower, which you breathe in every few steps, eyes closed, not so much smelling but remembering. You barely even slow down to glide around a dead ??? lying smack in the center of the sidewalk. No head, ribcage and spine like a too-many-legged spider, shaped all wrong for a cat… raccoon maybe? One time on a walk like this—not so far from here, actually—you found a purple dildo lying spent on the sidewalk. You didn’t slow down then either. But you did pull out your phone and take a picture.

You’re walking because you’re in search of something, but you can’t quite put your finger on what it might be… You decide you’ll know it when you see it. It is, obviously, not a dildo or a dead cat.

You leave the sidewalk when you reach the canal, walking along the grass for a while next to its onyx-smooth surface. A purple-blue flower called “kiss me and I’ll tell you” makes you smile, makes you wish you weren’t alone so you could share the joke. You jump as a heron, nearly as tall as you, breaks cover on the opposite bank, cutting across your path.

"kiss me and I'll tell you"

“kiss me and I’ll tell you”

This is when you finally do stop. There’s a single cabbage palm next to the canal, and in the new quiet of your mind, the wind blowing through it sounds like a rainstorm. You breathe. Laugh.

The sun is starting to set. You pull “kiss me and I’ll tell you” up by the roots and take it home to plant in your garden, in the dark.

© Jaime Greenberg and discovered in play, 2013


Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found: Sophie Blackall

Fort Mason, San Francisco, photo by Jaime Greenberg

Fort Mason, San Francisco, photo by Jaime Greenberg

San Francisco, Sunday morning, February 24, 2013

I had an hour to myself, and instead of visiting the glass dildo store next to our hotel, I stayed in the room. I was reading about fernet branca on my phone and marking a map of the city, when I noticed you on this blog. I don’t know you at all, but I totally feel you. Missed Connections, I think I might be in love…

Missed Connections: Love, Lost & Found: Sophie Blackall: Amazon.com: Books.
(That would be illustrator Sophie Blackall’s wistful, hopeful book/blog about love at first sight, what if and almost-could-have-been, as told by real-life strangers in Craigslist’s Missed Connections section.)

Sophie Blackall we shared a bear suit

Saturday, October 17, 2009 – m4w – We shared a bear suit at an apartment party on Saturday night. I asked for your number and you gave it to me, but somehow I don’t have an area code written down. I had a great time talking with you, and I don’t trust Chance enough to wait until I see you in the elevators…

Sophie Blackall my dreamy neighbor

Thursday, October 14, 2010 – My dreamy neighbor who plays obscenely loud music – w4m (Greenpoint) Sometimes when you have played music late into the night or come home in the wee hours and turn it on, I knock on our shared wall or scold you the next day, but all along I am thinking how dreamy you are and how I just want to make love to you.

Sophie Blackall throat tattoo

Friday, January 22, 2010 -Train – Hey, guy that got on at 1st Ave dressed all in black with the throat tattoo. Thanx for existing.

Beautiful. Funny. Sometimes truly heartbreaking. But, definitely, highly recommended.

© Jaime Greenberg and discovered in play, 2013


Ode to Magic

Magic fairy

Magic fairy

I recently read a blog in which the writer, a mother imagining the world through her five-year-old son’s eyes, was lamenting the loss of magic in her own adult Christmas experience. She wondered, specifically about Santa, but really about life in general, “Do I let him believe in magic knowing how fast it could, and one day will get ripped away? …do I encourage it?”

My short answer to her is, yes, of course you should. But I suspect she doesn’t really need me to tell her what to do.

My long answer is this…

I’m an adult; I know ‘the truth’ about Santa—but I still believe in magic. I know magic exists; it’s real. I can feel it inside me as surely as I feel my own bones. And most importantly, I know it when I see it

You see, the tricky thing about magic is it’s everywhere and all-the-time, but you kinda have to know where to look for it. It’s not always in the form you’d expect. (Well of course it’s not—I can hear my eight-year-old daughter, an ardent Harry Potter fan, whispering in my ear as I type this—it’s magic!)

———-

One early summer day my friend Jonathan came over to visit and brought his seven-year-old nephew to play with my daughters. We ended up at the neighborhood park where we ran into a bunch of kids, all about that same age. As the shadows grew longer and the light began to shift, Jonathan announced to all of us (because he’s just amazingly cool like this), “The sun is starting to go down. C’mon let’s find a good spot to watch the sunset!” We all followed him to the highest spot on the playground, where the kids continued to run around, slaloming through lines of trees while we waited for the sun to set.

Wow. A magic moment.

Wow. A magic moment.

After a long time, it was the blue-haired kid in the hockey jersey who noticed it. Peering through the trees at the melting sky, his eyes suddenly got wide. “Look!” he shouted. “Everybody look! I see a rainbow!” He turned to me. “See? See it!? It’s right there. There’s a rainbow in the sunset!”

I squinted. I couldn’t see the rainbow. But the boy, there was something different about him. As he stood still for just a second beside a low wall on the periphery of the playground, the air tingled with a tiny spark of something… wonder, possibility, ideas taking shape… Yes, just-there: magic! Everything stopped and I felt it. For a second, the whole world was drenched in it.

Maybe I’m cheating here a little bit. I’m describing a child’s experience. Everything is new to children, and everybody knows magic is how children see the world. But the very best magic is transformative, for everyone involved. When I talk about the boy discovering a rainbow in the sunset, I’m really not telling the whole story. What I really mean to say is, watching the boy’s face, as he stood still for just a second beside a low wall on the periphery of the playground—I felt a change in me.

———-

Years ago my husband and I took a trip to Italy. While in Rome I decided we needed to visit the famous catacombs outside the city. On the car ride there I was excited; I couldn’t stop thinking about what we might find, “Do you think we’ll see bones? Will there be bodies? Maybe skulls? Do you think we could touch them?” Brett had no idea, but he knows me well enough to understand I was about to be majorly freaked out by whatever we were about to see– and also well enough to understand there was no use in talking me out of it.

Rainbow in a spider web.

Rainbow in a spiderweb.

Inside the catacombs, deep underground, our guide– a Catholic priest from Ireland– led us through the burial chambers of early Christian martyrs and popes, past the peculiar sad effigy of Cecilia, patron saint of music, through shoulder-width earthen tunnels lined on both sides with body-sized niches. No bodies anymore in this burial chamber, but that didn’t lessen the emotional impact. The energy inside the empty tombs was intense. The farther we walked into the underground dark, the tighter my chest got, the more I had to fight the urge to shove past our small group of tourists and escape.

Finally our tour wound around one last passageway and I could see stairs and sunlight. I couldn’t handle the psychic energy of the place anymore– or maybe my imagination was running wild. I rushed for the stairs, pulling Brett along with me, “Let’s go, let’s go,” I said. “I have to get out of here now. Let’s go.” Our guide stopped us, puzzled. He was in the process of herding our group into a tiny cave of a room to the right of the stairs. I knew there was absolutely no way I was going in there. “My wife needs to get out of here,” Brett explained. “She’s claustrophobic.”

This wasn’t the exact truth, and although I’m not hugely religious to speak of, I felt bad lying to a priest. The priest stepped forward and looked into my eyes. “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said. “God bless you.” He reached gently towards me and I stepped back, reluctant to have a stranger touch me. He pressed on, and slowly he drew the sign of the cross on my forehead, right at the spot where my third eye might be. Ohhhhhhh! I could feel the energy as he laid his hands on me. Coming from somewhere outside of him, it coursed through him, pulsing and focusing through his fingers and into my body. “Be well,” he said.

I was well. Truthfully I was euphoric. I don’t know when in my life I’ve ever felt such a deep sense of peace and well-being. And power. Where did that come from, I wondered? For days afterward, maybe weeks, I could still feel the imprint of the cross on my forehead. “It’s like magic!” I said. “Or a miracle, that’s almost the same thing right.?” My husband, a martial arts student, always practical, said, “It’s ch’i.

———-

So, I’m an adult. You can take this to mean that I don’t believe in Santa Claus or (probably not) fairies, or even boy wizards (sigh). And I don’t, at least not in the same ways I did when I was a child. But that doesn’t mean my sense of wonder has just totally disapparated. There is too much undiscovered, unexplored and unexplained in the world for me to give up that easily.

After all, there is a certain truth that lies behind belief in magic—that feeling of possibilities and wonder and everyday amazement—and I don’t ever want to let that go.

© Jaime Greenberg and discovered in play, 2012


A mommy vacation

Originally published on Sunflower Creative Arts’ blog, Aug. 2012

I was taking a shower the other night, my five-year-old giggling next to me, drawing “naked bummies” on the fogged up glass door. It was adorable. But still, the thought occurred to me: wouldn’t it be great if I could be taking this shower alone?

Some days, I find myself having this thought a lot… in the grocery store, in the bathroom, sitting in my kitchen in the morning with a cold cup of coffee while the girls argue over who gets to wear the black headband with the flower and feathers (they think I should referee), the kitten screams to be fed and the puppy tries to jump in my lap.

Some days I just want them to leave me alone.

This is not how I’d imagined it would be…

Usually life's a party...

Usually life’s a party…

Before she was born, when Suzie, my oldest, was just the size of an apple seed tumbling around inside my body, I was overwhelmed with the idea of our beautiful connectedness. No matter where I went, I was never lonely; I was never alone. I always had a friend, a partner in crime. She and I were connected to each other in the most intimate way two people can be, closer than lovers. It was like nothing I’d ever felt before. It was magical.

In the hours after Suzie was born I felt strangely empty. Physically, yes, but emotionally too. It seemed unnatural to have her so far away, outside my body. At the same time, though, I was happy to finally have my body back to myself. In the naive early moments of first-time motherhood, I planned how my life would soon go back to normal routine. This feeling lasted only until I snuggled my baby to my breast; she latched on and I realized: birth is only a beginning.

Fast forward nearly eight years later: I have my husband, two daughters, a puppy, a kitten, my friends, my work… I am surrounded by love on all sides and sometimes under the delicious weight of all that… I just want to get away. Alone.

Time for myself.

Time for myself.

It’s not really the privacy I crave. (Although expecting privacy in the bathroom is demanding precious little, if you ask me.) What I desperately want is time to just be me–whoever that happens to be these days, underneath all those layers and years of mommy-hood and taking-care-of-other-people-hood. The only way I can do that is to take time for myself, a mini vacation, if you will–even if “vacation only means a quick run around the block or an hour alone to write down my thoughts.

That’s easier said than done. I have this idea in my head that a ‘good’ mom never wants (needs) a vacation from her children. A ‘good’ mom should have unlimited energy to devote to her kids, and failure to muster that energy is nothing short of selfish. But that’s just crazy.

I can’t do this mom job as well as I want to if I don’t ever get any down time. And both my kids are old enough now that they don’t need my constant attention. In fact it’s healthy for them to see me set boundaries. I’m raising two strong women, future mothers perhaps, and for their sakes and mine I need to live that example.

So I make it a priority to spend time alone–just me. Time with my husband and friends is important too, but my alone time is different, and it’s sacred to me. It isn’t always easy. In fact, it usually requires major effort and schedule coordination, including the help of my husband and friends. But it’s more than worth it. My personal sanity is more than worth it.

As I’m finishing up my shower, Suzie shows up on the other side of the glass to have a casual conversation with her sister and to laugh at the bummies. Right now, in this moment, I’m happy to include them in my personal time. Why not? We are all still beautifully connected, even as we each try to find our own way.

© Jaime Greenberg, 2012


Where are all the kids?

Originally appeared on KaBOOM!’s Play Today blog (1st place winner, Parents & Play contest)
Published February 2012

When my husband and I found our new neighborhood, it was love at first sight. It was exactly what we’d been looking for: family-friendly and filled with more at-your-fingertips nature and open play spaces than we typically see here in South Florida, where zero lot line heavily-landscaped communities are the norm.

Our neighborhood has a total of five—count them five!—parks. Four are open spaces, intersected by sidewalk trails. The fifth holds a sand-filled playground—with monkey bars, slides, tunnels and the most incredible swings.

My daughters and I spend a lot of time at the playground park. One evening just at sunset, as we were swinging together, my 7-year-old turned to me and said, “mommy, where are all the other kids?”

That’s a good question. Despite ubiquitous “Caution children at play“ signs sprinkled throughout our neighborhood, we very rarely see any children playing outside.

One day, though, it was different.

A couple of months ago, an unexpected flash flood filled our low-lying parks with water, turning them into ponds in a matter of minutes. The transformation was magical.

I rushed my daughters out the door with me to check it out. At our favorite park (now pond) spiders swam for their lives and wood ducks glided across the sidewalk that used to be our scooter trail.

It took a few minutes, but soon I heard it all around me: the unmistakable, joyful sound of children playing. Slowly, kids of all ages were streaming from their houses to check out this new world.

We saw a group of teenagers floating across a submerged valley on a paddle board. On the other side, boys were riding their bicycles into the water, daring each other to go farther. One boy glided in pedal-deep before giving up and turning around.

My daughters and I crossed the street and waded into calf-high water. The seams of the sidewalk bubbled and percolated like a fish tank, “Something’s breathing in there!” my 4-year-old said, her eyes wide with wonder.

It seemed like everyone was full of wonder that day. But soon enough the floodwaters receded. The ponds turned back into parks again and all the kids went home. The spell was broken. Sadly, I haven’t seen that many kids just playing outside in my neighborhood since.

We have amazing play spaces in my community, but it literally took an act of nature to get kids outside. It’s enough to make a parent ask: what kind of magic would it take to keep that playfulness alive on a daily basis?

But, really, it has nothing to do with magic. It has to do with us: the whole community of adults in our children’s lives.

Maybe this is the best way to tackle the play deficit: at its root. When we adults remember play–the wonder and magic in everyday experiences–maybe we’ll realize what’s being denied to our children, and we’ll be outraged enough to shake things up and finally, for real, do something about it.

© Jaime Greenberg, 2012


Just part of life

A recent post I wrote for Sunflower Creative Arts’ blog. Not about play, really. But definitely about discovery. It’s certainly the truest thing I’ve written in a long time.

Originally posted on Sunflower Creative Arts’ blog, January 2012

Last month Sierra told me she wanted to visit a “graveyard.”

My first thought was ‘she’s been watching too much Scooby-Doo.’ I said, “sure we can do that,” but visiting a cemetery is never going to be at the top of my to-do list. So I put it off.

But then she asked me again. And again.

Then she told me she really needed to go see it, so she could compare it to a dream she’d had. Her dream had involved skeletons and zombies, but I sensed there was something bigger going on.

“Okay,” I said. “We’ll go.”

“Yay!” She looked at me pointedly, “Don’t forget, mommy. Pinkie promise.”

remembering: putting stones on a grave

We linked our pinkie fingers together. Then she added, sort of as an afterthought. “Can we go to a graveyard where we can read Grandaddy’s name on a stone?”

Right…

Two years ago, at Christmastime, Sierra’s great-grandfather (my Grandaddy) died. He was 89. Sierra was two.

Suzie and Sierra adored Grandaddy. The three of them made each other laugh. They watched Tom & Jerry cartoons together, propped up in his bed. The girls put on elaborate singing and dancing shows for him. He was their friend.

When I told Sierra Grandaddy was dead, she cried. But she was only two years old. She knew something sad had happened to him, but she didn’t have any real concept of what that was. For a long time, despite my explaining otherwise, she thought he might still be in the hospital, where he’d spent the last month of his life. Sometimes when we’d call my mom on the phone, Sierra would ask, “Is Grandaddy there with you?”

When she was a little older, she started thinking more about the idea of death itself.

“Mommy, I don’t want to be dead because I would miss you. And I would be so hungry.” (Sierra, age 3, Oct. 2010)
Until they have an experience with it, young children aren’t sure what death is. They really have no concept of ‘forever’ and how something alive can simply stop being… anything. I always remember this children’s definition of death that Susan teaches in her parenting classes, “when a body is dead it stops moving, doesn’t eat, doesn’t poop, doesn’t sleep anymore.”

on a bench in the cemetery

I suppose it really is as simple as that. Death is a biological process. My girls and I talk about death in this context a lot. “Things die,” I tell them as we pile brown leaves and apple cores into the composter. “But look, all these dead plants (and dead animals and dead people too) decay and mix together and then they become soil. So new life can grow.” This little daily miracle is one of the most profound lessons I know.

And so are the dead millipedes and dead lizards we sometimes find in our house and on our patio. Or the dead mouse that Suzie’s Seedlings teacher once brought in for the children to see and touch. A small chance to see what death looks like. It’s not so scary when you can talk about it, easier to understand when you can hold it in your hands.

And yet… it’s not quite that simple. There is death and then there is mourning. There is grief, letting go. Trying to make sense of the fact that someone you once loved, laughed with, watched cartoons with, no longer exists. But Sierra’s not quite at that point yet. Right now she’s a scientist, trying to understand the mechanics of bodies and what happens when they die.

So last week, my mom and I took her to two different cemeteries. The first one was mostly mausoleums, some of them grand marble and stained glass “estates.” Sierra was fascinated by these houses for dead people. But she wanted to see gravestones, so we took her to another cemetery. This one, an expansive green field dotted with monuments and flowers. A labyrinthine banyan shaded graves at one corner. Sierra explored the whole area for a while, looking at markers and asking questions, until she was satisfied.

Back in the car, she was still thinking. “Could I see what a person’s body looks like before it becomes a skeleton?” she asked.

I was surprised. “You want to see a dead body?”

“Yes.”

I wasn’t sure what to say. My mom said, “People see dead bodies at funerals. That’s a special ceremony families and friends have when people die.”

“Oh,” said Sierra. “Could we go to a funeral?”

“…um, yeah…” I said. My mom didn’t say anything.

After a few moments, Sierra broke the silence. “Why are you being so quiet when I said that?”

“Well, I’m just thinking…” I told her. “People usually don’t go to funerals unless they know the person who died. And I love all the people I know. I don’t want anybody I know to die…”

“But all people die, mommy. That’s just part of life.”

Which is, of course, true. I’m glad she knows that. As an adult, I’m still trying to process my own feelings about death. But maybe, with Sierra, I’m doing something right.

© Jaime Greenberg, 2012


In the Dark

Sometimes it’s easy to forget, in sunny South Florida where it’s still t-shirt weather in November, that the days are getting shorter. But even here in paradise we’re not exempt from the greater laws of nature, whether we notice them or not.

I was out running the other night at about 6:00, when I suddenly realized: it was dark. The street lights weren’t on yet, and the only illumination on my tree-lined street was the faint white glow of the sun already over the horizon and the occasional flashing of headlights as cars sped past. I slowed down, turned off my iPod and listened.

Beneath the whooshing of cars was another layer of sound: crickets and wind gently shaking oak leaves, something tiny moving in the hedges. And beneath those little sounds, silence. I realized I could barely see anything with my eyes anymore, so I closed them and took a deep breath– smelled the down-low scent of ferns and wet earth, and higher up, just a suggestion of someone’s dinner floating past me on the breeze. I smiled.

I love the dark. It’s one of my favorite places to be. A secret, safe, exciting place. A creative place, full of possibility. A place to really feel alive.

There’s disagreement as to exactly how many senses we humans have (some say as many as 30), but it should be clear to anyone who’s ever made the effort to use them all–it’s definitely more than five. At no time is this fact more apparent to me than when I’m in a dark place.

Darkness reminds me of my first photography class in college: loading black and white film rolls into processing tanks in a pitch-black bathroom next to the darkroom. I did it all by feel, closing my eyes (even less necessary here than during the night run in my neighborhood), then unspooling the film from the safety of its canister–stretching it all the way to the floor before winding it back up into the tank. In this dark room I was acutely aware of my body in space; I could feel the very contours and limits of it. But at the same time I felt more than my body–it was as if my extra senses stretched out before me, and I could see the room and its contents even more vividly than if the light had been on.

me, in the dark

There’s a reason most meditation takes place with eyes closed. Not being able to see with your eyes sends you deep inside yourself–and outside the limits of your ‘self’ at the same time.

Darkness is where we go to dream, to imagine and to create. In fact, many of my favorite in-the-dark memories are tinged with a magical quality (did that really happen or did I dream it?):

On a beach in Trinidad, under a sky filled with the light of what seemed like every single star in the universe, I didn’t really see, but felt, a leatherback sea turtle climb out of the crashing waves, dig a hole and lay her eggs. Her soft, sturdy head felt, absurdly, like the leather recliner in the house my grandparents lived in when I was a child…

Late one night, jet-lagged and sleepless in Rome, Italy, I stepped onto my balcony to listen to a lone guitar player sitting under a light on the deserted street, playing for nobody (or maybe for me)…     

It’s easy to underestimate the sheer volume of visual stimulation we encounter every day–phone and computer and TV screens, billboards, the general rush and blur of life. When you cut this out, even just a little bit, the world comes into a different kind of focus.

Like the intimate vulnerability, the easy camaraderie, people share when they’re together in the dark: around a campfire, at a coffee shop at 5:00 am, on a train at midnight headed back home. At times like this it feels like we’re all in it together, this collective dream.

Sometimes at night, after my children are asleep, I go out to the backyard and lie in my hammock. Each night is dark, of course, but always different. One night clouds move restlessly across the sky. The half-moon looks like a melon with the top chopped off, and the sound of the wind moves through the trees like the ocean, just out of sight. The next night the sky is clear and quiet: no wind, only crickets. Connect-the-dot stars cast an invisible net across the moon.

I find my eyes are closed but my imagination is open. My senses are alive.

© Jaime Greenberg and discovered in play, 2011


Sometimes it’s easy to be myself…

…sometimes I find it’s better to be somebody else.*

When my older daughter was about three or so, she’d wake up and get dressed in either one of two outfits: a tutu or a princess dress. Whichever outfit she chose, she’d wear all day, wherever we went.

Grocery store trips took forever because every nice grandma-type lady would stop us to say, “Oh how beautiful! Did you have ballet class today, sweetie?”

Of course Suzie would look blankly at the nice ladies, “No,” she’d say, and then after they left, “Why did they ask me that mommy?”

Exactly. I understood Suzie’s confusion. After all, why did she need a reason to get dressed up in her favorite costume? She was just expressing who she was on that particular day. Wasn’t that reason enough?

Watching her get dressed in the morning, I confess I was always a tiny bit envious. Wouldn’t it be cool, I thought, if I (as an adult) could express myself like that? How much fun would it be if I could wear a costume whenever I wanted!?

I think that’s one of the reasons Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I suspect it’s probably the only day of the whole entire year when I actually could wear a tutu to Whole Foods and not look like a complete nutcase (Well, maybe. At least people would understand why I was dressed up).

Speaking of tutus… my family and I went to a Halloween costume party Friday night as the vampire cast of The Nutcracker.

(clockwise from left) vampire Herr Drosselmeyer, vampire Sugar Plum Fairy, vampire Rat Queen, vampire Clara and (of course) vampire Nutcracker

We were pretty proud of our theme; if nothing else it cracked the four of us up every time we talked about it. My husband and I died laughing each time we looked at each other in our costumes.

Besides having fun with my family, I discovered that I also enjoyed the time off from being ‘Jaime’ for a little while. I’d been in a really rotten mood for about a week and I just couldn’t snap out of it. Truth be told, I was getting more than a little tired of being inside my own head.

Enter vampire Sugar Plum Fairy. For a few hours I got to be her—proper, sweet, beautiful ballerina on the outside/wild, sexy, scary vampire (complete with fangs!) on the inside. (For those of you who know me very well, I invite you not to analyze that costume description too closely!)

People reacted differently to vampire Sugar Plum Fairy than they would to Jaime. I scared more than a few small children with my ‘surprise’ fangs, and even one grown man. Yeah, it was a good night.

By the time the night was over and I took off the tutu and the fangs, I was feeling much happier than I had in days. Even better, I was ready to be Jaime again–and, finally, ready to take myself and my ‘problems’ much less seriously.

Reason number 8 million why I love my husband... he actually went along with this! :)

It’s a shame we adults don’t get more opportunities like this to just play at being someone else for a little while. Sometimes it’s good to take a break, to force yourself into a different perspective, a different outlook on life. You never know what (or who!) you might discover.

*(Note to self: I seriously need to stop my obsessive quoting of DMB songs…  ah, but sometimes it’s just so appropriate! Plus it all fits so nicely into my grand theory on the meanings of life, love and happiness…)

© Jaime Greenberg and discovered in play, 2011