Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sundays in My City: Free Therapy Edition

Most Sundays, you'll find me joining the party with Unknown Mami, showing you my corner of the world.

Unknown Mami

I have a deep-seated desire to be a travel writer. I mean, come on, who wouldn't want to be a travel writer?  Yet, since nobody has thrown money at me to have fun and eat well, (Universe: Consider this a strongly-worded hint!), this forum gives me an opportunity to pretend. 

Also, Unknown Mami pretty much kicks ass.

Doing this weekly journey has been, as is so often the case, an opportunity for grace.

When we moved to Maryland back in 2002, I spent the first two years here in a depressive haze. I didn't like my job, I was lonely, and I felt uprooted. Looking for a place to channel my unhappiness, I decided that it was all Maryland's fault. The East Coast sucked. My new home sucked. The weather sucked. The only thing that could ever make me happy ever again would be returning to the big blue skies of my Arizona homeland.

Moving is hard. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

I learned a lot about blooming where you're planted and finding good people to hold you up. I discovered that it's not the color of the sky, as much as the people under your roof. (Also, regular exercise, I found, is essential for my mental health).

I also realized that Gandhi knew what he was talking about when he said,"Nothing is constant but change." If I was to return to Arizona, it would not be the home I remembered. People move, circumstances change. Even rocks and boulders shift over time.

Upon reflection, I now understand that I was missing not so much the comfort of a place as the comfort of my own skin.

It wasn't Maryland's fault.

I needed to re-learn how to trust my voice, and, without fear, sing my beautiful song.

So. The grace in Sundays in My City is that I am more present in my surroundings. Because I blamed Maryland for so long, I never noticed the beauty and the life and the exuberance of this land. I started to listen to the voices in the Tobacco Barns, and appreciate the watery playground of The Chesapeake. I used my camera more. My eyes were opened.

So, Unknown Mami, I thank you for hosting this weekly virtual tour. It's helped more than you know.

And, because I should show some pictures, here are some images my brother captured during our trip to the U.S. Capital last week. He's the artist of the family, and he inspires me. (And, incidentally, all of these pictures were taken with his iPhone.)
(I had to throw this one of the National Museum of the American Indian in as well. I want to marry this building).

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Fragments: Cupcake FAIL

It feels like FOREVER since I've settled down at the ol' Friday Fragments feedbag. Thanks, as always to Mrs. 4444 for hosting!

Mommy's Idea
What in the name of all that is dunked in Old Bay and served with longnecks happened here?
Oh, right. The snow. The Snow-Snow-Snowtorious Clusterfall of 2010 has started to melt, unearthing the broken branches, fallen trees, and dearly departed mailboxes left in its snowy wake.

I can't even show you the pictures of my shrubberies and cactus. It's too painful.

Owen had his birthday on Sunday, and we did a family party this year. I don't know what it is about my children and the passage of another year, but I always suffer the delusion that I am a cast member of Ace of Cakes and consequently attempt to create adorable homemade cakes for my children.

It's never pretty. For an instant self-esteem boost, read about Joel's first birthday cake.

Owen wanted me to make cupcakes that looked like sheep. "Just like in the picture, Mom!" he declared, brandishing a Mommy and Me cookbook.

Those cookbooks always make me suspicious. They are often penned by women named "Sandi" who have rock-hard abs and unnaturally bright eyes.

So, with my mother's help, we made the cupcakes.

It went as well as you could imagine.

My mother is crafty and made cute, baa-ing little things:

Mine were rocking the "Serial Killer Chic" look: 


I gave up and decided that I would make Sea Anemone Cupcakes instead. 


Just wait until late July!  When Joel turns two, you'll see the next installment of Cake Wrecks: Home Edition, courtesy of yours truly. 
At Owen's school, the birthday boy gets to wear a birthday crown. 

He didn't take this off until eight PM. And then, still, VERY GRUDGINGLY. With extreme grudge, one could argue. 

Ummmmmmmm....boys are weird. 

And that's all she wrote! Happy Friday, everybody!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sacred Songs

There are songs that move the mountains and stars, and capture a moment forever.


Paul and I are laying side by side on the desert sand. We're in sleeping bags, along the banks of a reservoir. (This is called "beach camping" when you live in Arizona).  The sky is a black stretched canvas, and the stars watch us as we rest.

I hold Paul's hand, as I  have for the last eight months. With his hand in mine, I feel an overwhelming sense of rightness and serenity. I hear from a neighboring campsite the unmistakable tone of Bruce Springsteen: "She'll let you in her house/If you come knockin' late at night."

My eyes fill with happy tears and I know--I just know---that I will spend the rest of my life with this man.

I know that the rest of the song is about boundaries and barriers, but the part that remains sacred is how I let Paul into my house, and how it is complete because of him.


I met my friend for coffee. On Saturday morning, she and her husband are traveling to China to pick up their son. They loved him before they knew him, and they will meet him for the first time and take him home.

He's five. He's beautiful. When I look at the pictures of this young man, I can't wait to see him smile, or climb on the playground, or roughhouse with his brother and sister. I can't wait to see him run to my friend when he needs a hug.

Soon he will be in his forever home.

As I drove away from the coffee shop, a song popped in my head, the same song that ran through my head in the days following both Owen and Joel's respective births.

Neutral Milk Hotel sings: 
What a beautiful face I have found in this place
That is circling all round the sun
What a beautiful dream that could flash on the screen
In a blink of an eye and be gone from me
Soft and sweet, let me hold it close and keep it here with me

I send love and good wishes to my friend as she departs to finds her beautiful face in China.

And I'm reminded again of my own beautiful dreams. Soft and sweet, I hold them close, and keep them here with me.

What are the sacred songs that capture a moment for you?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Who says I don't listen?

The Purse:

Made from gum wrappers. BEAST, I tell you. 

Pester and Bitch

My mother bought me a purse. It is, to steal a line from Michelle's kids, BEAST. It is sick. It is supa dupa fly. It is so cool that  a security guard in the District of Colombia stopped hating her job long enough to smile and say, "Girl, I love your purse."

The purse is made out of gum wrappers. Really. Since I swing my purses around like ninja stars, it was already starting to tear a bit.

My mother said, "You need to carry your purse like this," and she placed it over my shoulder and pressed my arm down beside it to keep it still.

I puffed out some air and said, "Mom, why does it have a handle if you're not supposed to use it?"

"You are supposed to use it, but you're not supposed to swing it around like a monkey."

And, with a flip of a switch, I reverted to thirteen. "Mom, I'm going to carry my purse however you like, and you just need to deal."

My brother, who had witnessed this entire exchange, grumbled, "You two. Pester and bitch. Bitch and pester." He walked away towards my father, who was wisely avoiding the entire conversation.

I walked along, swinging my purse defiantly, and called ahead to Tom, "And just who is the bitch in this equation?"

Mom smugly retorted, "Do you really want to know the answer to that question?"

On an earlier outing, my brother and father ate some chicken that up and decided to Go Rogue, resulting in massive food poisoning. The fact that our septic system still works is a marvel of modern technology.

I was also ill. Although I briefly wondered if I was the only person in the history of the world to get pregnant with an IUD, I think the more likely culprit was a Key Lime Martini.

So. To set the scene, my brother and father are sharing a bed, taking turns punishing the throne. I'm upstairs, attempting to die when I'm not dry-heaving into a plastic trash can. My mother is wrangling the boys with Paul.


Somewhere in all of this, my mother determines, as she does for pretty much any occasion, that more shopping is the answer to our problems. She drives to the grocery store and buys five or six gallons of Gatorade, a gross of saltines, and enough Ginger Ale to fill a small swimming pool.

I wake up the next morning, stagger downstairs, and look at my kitchen. Every, and I mean, EVERY  available surface is covered with crap. There's a filthy fish tank (Owen's birthday gift), bottles of Ginger Ale, three cell phones, a box of Kleenex, and about fifteen half-drunk cups of liquid.

You must understand, I'm a bit anal-retentive about my clean counter-tops and uncluttered views. It makes me panic. Truly, my heart races and I grow angry LIKE HULK SMASH.

So, I turn to my mother, who had spent the night cleaning vomit and poop IN MY HOME because, lest we forget, I was TOO HUNGOVER to help, and say, "God, Mom, you're such a hoarder."

Bravo, me. Was I the bitch or the pest in that round? Do I really want to know the answer to that question?

We're all watching the Olympics. My mother looks at me, looks away. She steals another quick glance, looks away.

Unable to contain herself, she asks, "Honey, are you ever going to comb your hair? Just a thought."

"I'm almost thirty-five! I can comb my hair or not! It's my choice!" I screech.

I daresay Mom was the pest in that round. I declare my actions not bitchy, but entirely reasonable and justified.

Before bed, my mother says, for no obvious reason, "Well, I don't think there's anything wrong with you."

Thanks, Mom. Thanks a lot. I didn't either. (Apparently others do.)

As everybody was packing up, I felt a dull ache, already missing her, already regretting my inability to suck it up and be nice, already feeling part of my very soul flying away.

The goddess Demeter raged when when her daughter Persephone was whisked away to Hades, and stopped all growth. The Greeks explained Winter this way. I feel that my mother's love for me is a fierce and powerful as Demeter's and when we are separated, I feel colder, less complete.

When we're together, it's often in short, intense spurts. Unfortunately, we tend to play the pester and bitch game, and I don't know why we fall into these patterns. I wish I could say in words what I say in writing---that I love her, and I learn from her, and I'm grateful for her.

Instead, I'll just do this:

I cannot forget my mother,
She is my bridge.

~ Renita Weems

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Poking the Bear

Snapshots of a whirlwind family trip, Day One

Scene: Tour of the U.S. Capital
Characters: Mom, Dad, Brother (henceforth referred to as Tom), Me, Most Uptight Tour Guide of All Time (henceforth referred to as MUTGOAT)

We're standing in a statuary hall. MUTGOAT is guiding our tour group along. "Let's go, people. Let's go!" He flicks his hand impatiently.  I moo softly to myself as we are herded to the appropriate standing point.

"This is the hall of statues," MUTGOAT barks. "People complain that there are only men in here but there are three women on this statue right here." He dismissively gestures at a marble bust. "These women helped bring the vote to women. Who are they? Anybody? Anybody! C'mon now? Anybody!"

He is a peculiar mix of the Drill Sargent from Full Metal Jacket and Mr. Hand from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I'm not sure if he's going to say "Aloha," or ask me about my major malfunction.

I strongly suspect he is a former high school history teacher, lean and impatient from years of cracking adolescent skulls. He is angry--very angry---about the pathetic knowledge base of this, his schulmpy, panty-waisted tour group.

Forever a teacher's pet, I squeak, "Stanton?"

"What DID YOU SAY?" he yells, as the crowd parts. I believe somebody even points my direction, perhaps to deflect his wrath.

"Stanton?" I repeat, searching for a rogue asteroid to rescue me from this interregation.

MUTGOAT sighs, "Yes, Stanton. Everybody knows that one," The you assholes is implied, but present nevertheless. "Who are the other two? Anybody? C'mon."

Somebody mumbles, "Cady," and receives an eye roll as a reward. After a terrifying silence he finally says, "Lucretia Mott's the third one. It's kinda like the Three Tenors. People only name one, and it's usually the wrong one. Moving on. Let's GO, people!"

With that fuckyouverymuch, we head off to the Old Senate Chamber. He has us walk in by ourselves. A woman guarding the ancient antiquities says, alarmed, "Where's your guide?"

Tom replies, "He told us to go in ourselves."

The woman clenches her jaw and says, "You are supposed to be with a guide. You must have MUTGOAT." She relaxes her tightened fists and says, "He doesn't like to go into this room because there are too many ghosts in here." Warming to the idea, she adds,  "When you see him, ask him why he's afraid of ghosts."

A man standing next to us shudders and states, "I'M not asking him."

My brother just smiles.

As MUTGOAT herds us into yet another hall of statuary he says, "You can ask questions when I'm done talking, but not before." After shaming us for not knowing the year of Marbury vs. Madison, he says, "Any questions?"

Tom says, "Sir, are you afraid of ghosts?"

The crowd gasps. MUTGOAT sneers. The silence feels like an ice pick to the eardrum. He says nothing, contempt oozing over the group like lava.

Tom, undaunted, presses, "The woman in there said you were afraid of ghosts?"

Now it's MUTGOAT's turn to clench his jaw. He tries to think of something clever to say, but finally, all he can do is mumble, "Baaaaaaaaaaah." He swallows a bit, clears his throat and says, "Moving on, people!"

As we continue our tour, I mumble to Tom, "You just had to poke the bear, didn't you."

Tom smiles and says, "Always."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Long Goodbye

I'm back.

I'm like that guest that doesn't take hints. You've loaded the dishwasher, yawned broadly, and yet, here I am, asking if anybody wants to open another bottle, or maybe play a game of Scrabble.

What can I say? I like you guys. I like writing my thoughts, I like hearing yours. I miss you when I don't post.

Yet, my parents are coming from Colorado tonight. They are meeting my brother at the airport. He's coming from Seattle. Then, they are all coming to my house.

It's the first time I've seen my brother since 2006. He's never met Joel. He hasn't seen Owen since he was ten months old.

I'm content, like a sunflower, reaching towards the warmth.

We're taking Owen to the Kennedy Center to see a violin "Teddy Bear Concert" for his birthday. We're having a family party. We're going to make cupcakes that look like sheep and pigs.

So yes, there will be blogging fodder. Plenty of it.

I'm also going to be in full-blown hostess mode. Lots of cooking, lots of loading the dishwasher, lots of laughter.

(Possibly the occasional need to hide in the bathroom).

Again, fodder galore.

And so, I'm coming back on just to say goodbye again. I'll be reading your thoughts...attempting to comment when I can. But trust me, I'm reading.

(In the bathroom).


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Week In Haiku, Part Two

It happened again,
A tornado hit the house.
The storm known as Joel.

Tomorrow they come,
My brother and my parents
My heart is so full.

I also got work
Reading a dissertation.
It rains and it pours.

I am the genuis
That skinned my knee, for alas
The treadmill was on.

These haikus are shit
Nobody would say I am
Maya Angelou.

Sourdough starter
Sits waiting on my counter--
Hostile, expectant.

This blog will go dark
While I get my life ordered,
I will see you soon.

Lost Haiku of the Week: 
Richard (Guyliner)
Your awesome has gone away,
Kick Smoke Monster's Ass.

Finally, a few of last week's incredibly awesome entries:

Screw Valentine's Day.
If he won't give it to you,
Give it to yourself.
(sd, and AMEN, sister!) 

My husband watches
Basketball. I guess I'll wash
The fucking dishes.
(Ms. Moon, and a crowd favorite for sure).

Join the fun! The pattern is 5-7-5 syllables.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Art Lessons

How does this happen? How? HOW?




Owen will be four on the 21st. An age that doesn't seem quite real to me.

Of course, I say this every year.

But, seriously...where did it go? His face is thinner, and he is losing his toddler belly.

He writes his own name and  spells out words. In an act of almost unbearable cuteness, he "reads" books to his brother---"Listen, Joel. 'Let the wild rumpus start!' Look at those monsters swinging on vines. Look at those monsters dancing around. That's silly, Joely!"

He makes play-dates behind my back--"I asked Nathan's mommy if we could take him home with us today." He has real friends now, not the random offspring of my friends.

He's putting his toe into the world of being a kid, as opposed to a toddler. We go to Panera Bread, and he holds the five dollar bill in his little fist, and solemnly tells the employee that he wants a "kid grilled cheese and a kid Valentine's cookie." He takes the liberty of putting the change in the box for Haitian relief, after I told him the money went to kids without homes or toys.

Suddenly, inexplicably, he desires privacy. He takes his clothing and gets dressed in the laundry room, a comforting place for him, surrounded by his dearest friends...the washer, dryer,  and recycling bin. "Don't let Joel BOTHER me!" he announces, "I. Need. Privacy."

I ask him:

"Who's in charge, Owen?"

"Joely," he replies, laughing to himself.

"Who's in charge, Owen?" I repeat, a bit sternly.

"You are, Mommy. You and Daddy...and Joely."

I also ask him, after he has done his brother wrong:

"What is your job, Owen?"

He knows the answer, "To take care of Joel."

"Why?"  I prompt.

"Because he loves me and I love him!"

My job is taking care of this boy, and I feel like I'm painting a masterpiece in my sleep. I rub the fog of day-to-day living away and gaze, astonished, at the work of art I see before me. 

Then, with humility, I realize that I didn't paint it at all. The colors, the textures, the images, and the passion are Owen's work, not mine. I'm just like anybody else, taking it all in.

I watch in grateful, holy silence.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sundays in My City: Defiantly Joyful

I remarked to some friends, after viewing the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, that "Canada seemed to be like an entire nation of Minnesota---nice, polite people, very cold, with an abundance of elk and  rounded 'Os."  My friend from Toronto quickly pointed out that it is, in fact, warmer in Vancouver than it is here in Maryland.

She's right, of course. How American of me to make gross generalizations about a diverse group of people.

I must admit, I didn't watch the entire program, but I thought the presentation of the various First Nation tribes of Canada was a such a class act on behalf of the organizers. It has not been a easy ride for the First Nation tribes, although certainly a bit easier than the Native Americans here in the USA. If I remember my history correctly, many Native Americans attempted to cross into Canada because they were murdered with far less frequency then in the United States.

Thanks to Sarah Vowell, and her stunning essay, "What I See When I Look at a Twenty Dollar Bill," I have a better understanding of man's inhumanity to man regarding my country and its policies regarding the original inhabitants. It's shameful.

Yet, as I sat in my living room, watching the First Nation tribes, I saw nothing but pride and joy. They wore their traditional clothing and their dance said, "We're here. We endure. We're alive and we're proud."

This old girl got a little emotional, I must admit.

The human spirit is a powerful thing. We, again and again, get knocked down, and we get up again. Although these are the lyrics of the timeless Chumbawamba classic, "Tubthumping," the sentiment remains true. People are resilient, and watching people be defiantly joyful is one of the holiest acts I know.

The National Museum of the American Indian, right on the National Mall, celebrates this pride. It's an absolutely gorgeous building, and it attempts to tell the numerous stories in a respectful and honest fashion. It's almost too much, because it's like trying to do the Museum of Europe, all in one building---so many different languages, traditions, geography, values, and beliefs. It's simply impossible to give anything beyond a basic overview.

What it does do, however, is send a clear statement: Despite it all, we're still here. Despite the Trail of Tears and the bloodshed and the systemic genocide, we're still here. Our light still shines.

Not only is the National Museum of the American Indian spiritually uplifting, it has the best food court on the National Mall. Do not go to the McDonald's in the Air and Space Museum. Do not buy a hot dog from a sidewalk kiosk. Walk to the National Museum of the American Indian, and be prepared for a culinary nirvana.

The Mitsitam Cafe is a food court that serves dishes inspired by Native Foods. For example, from the Northwest Coast menu, one can dine upon Cedar Planked Fire-Roasted Juniper Salmon. Or, if one prefers the South American menu, as I did on my last visit, one can have a Chicken Tamale with Peanut Sauce with Guava Flan for dessert.

This is for the same price as one would pay for a Sabarro Pizza or a Happy Meal.

And, if you have a four-year old boy, The Mitsitam Cafe has something that is perhaps the most awe-inspiring marvel on this earth:

Yes. Holy Flaming Shitballs, yes. 

There is a tray machine, where you can watch your tray disappear. It moves! It involves machinery!

No, I am not toying with you. This marvel actually exists, and oh, is it ever glorious! 

It took a team of horses to tear Owen away. 

There is joy to be found---in an ancient dance, or in a modern food court.  Seek it, and it will be found. 

And, please---Join Unknown Mami to share your city each Sunday! 

Unknown Mami

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Channeling Joan Crawford

On most days, I make passing references to my sons' future therapy bills, and laugh.

Most of the time, it's my weak attempt at humor.

But then, there are days like this.

I've been living a full 24 hours every sixty minutes, and during each "day" I feed Joel, clean up his booster seat, load the dishwasher, drink a sip of coffee, read aloud the book about the bulldozer again, search for the missing sippy cup, tell Owen to turn the TV off, tell Joel to stop eating toilet paper rolls, tell Owen to stop riding his brother like a mechanical bull, look frantically out the window to see if the snow has melted, and then I go into the kitchen, where Joel is madly gesticulating at the refrigerator, simply famished.

It's been getting old, and I'm getting testy.

I decided  to go the bathroom with my smart phone to read blogs, hoping for a moment's peace. After all, "Mommy needs privacy." While I was in there, Owen opened the refridgerator and gave half a bag of shredded cheese to Joel and kept the other half for himself.

By the time I came out of the bathroom, my entire kitchen looked like a nacho bar.

The yelling and finger pointed that followed wasn't pretty. As I was doing it, I felt like Joan Crawford, and yet I couldn't stop myself.  I even said, "No shredded cheese EVAH-ER!"

I need thearpy.

We're fine now. I apoligized to Owen for not controlling my temper. He forgave me, because he always forgives me.

But this is the fear that keeps me up at three AM:

When will he stop forgiving me?

What am I teaching him about anger?

And, since everybody says that I look like Cynthia Nixon, will she play me in film based on Owen's tell-all memoir?
"I told you no shredded cheese! Now I'll have to cut you." 

These are serious questions, and I ask, in the spirit of the sisterhood---How do you control your temper? Not just with kids, but with anybody?

After all, I really don't want to be portrayed by Miranda. 

(Besides, I think I look like Beyonce). 


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Life In Haiku

Continuing a trend from last week....

The snow gently falls
My ass continues to grow
Snowbound gluttony.

I bought an orchid
It stretches like an old man,
Glorious release.

I missed the deadline
For Owen's soccer sign-up
Mother of the year.

Just read Stones to Schools
Education can curtail
The stain of lost hope.

The rules of TV
Are off the table for now.
An orgy of crap.

Hanging from the roof,
This instrument of carnage.
Holy effing shit.

Finally...the Lost haiku of the week:

Perhaps it is time,
For Jack to go far away,
Crazy Claire is back.

Do you have anything you wish to share in a 5-7-5 syllable pattern? Please do! There were lots of good ones from last week, but these two are my favorites:

Housewives are you real?
So many fights between all,
Bring it next season.

Haikus are easy
But sometimes they don't make sense

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Jerk Doppelgangers and Housekeeping

I was talking about Napolean Dynamite with Daffy yesterday, and it made me laugh because I thought of the many doppelgangers of my brother-in-law. Stay with me, I'll explain.
My husband is on the left in the white shirt. My brother-in-law, D, is in the gray shirt. They are being silly men, posing with great pride before their arsenal of fireworks. This is before they set fire to D's backyard. No joke.

D is a dead ringer for virtually any jerk in any film. (And yes, before you say it, I know that he and Paul look really, really similar. No, they aren't twins. Anyway, we're talking about my brother-in-law here, people. Focus, please!)

Don't believe me? D looks like:
Johnny from The Karate Kid

Don from Napoleon Dynamite (see, I told you I would get to it!) 

Steff from Pretty in Pink

It's safe to say my brother-in-law corners the doppelganger market on blond, jerk-face villains.

It must be said that the real life D is a great father, a caring husband, whip-smart, and an outstanding long-distance runner.  I love him. 
But, if you're looking for somebody to play a blond jerk, drop me a line. I can find one for you toot sweet. 

Yesterday, thanks to LB, I met the milestone of 100 followers.

Thank you everybody. Thank you so, so much.

I've always wanted to stage dive, at least once in my life. I've never done it in real life, but I feel like through blogging, I've stepped off the stage, and you, dear reader, carry me along. Each voice, comment, joke, and insight lifts me up and helps me see the world more clearly. Your perspective has power.

It's important. You're important. And so, again, I thank you.

I've started a "button" page on my blog, so I'm slowly but surely adding your buttons. If I've missed you or you would like to be added, please drop me a line.

Also, let me talk about awards. I suck at them with a degree of suckitude that surpasses the laws of time and space.

I'm the black hole of blogging awards.

It doesn't mean I don't appreciate them. I do. But, I'll be should give them to people who have learned their manners and write thank-you notes in an appropriate fashion.

I believe that these amazing bloggers have, at some point, given me a blogging award. I'm truly grateful and humbly suggest that you check out their little corner of the Virtual World. If you didn't give me an award, you're awesome anyway. If you did give me an award and I missed you, then you're awesome and I am a Talking Turd (please let me know so I can make amends):

Corrie @ Just Because My Pickle Talks Doesn't Make Me an Idiot

My Life in Purple (Please send her some extra love, due to a recent heartbreaking loss).
Eyegirl @ Life as Eye See It
Traci @ 38 and Growing (Also mourning a loss...)
Cat @ Young Old Crone
Stephanie@ Laughing Stars
SamiJoe@ Peek Thru Our Window
Stacy @ Stacy's Random Thoughts

Monday, February 8, 2010

Memoir Monday: Valentine FAIL

You may have heard that it snowed a little out here.

It's true. Perhaps, as my friend Kim suggested, clergy workers used their direct line to The Divine to get out of work two weekends in a row.

I'm not sure I'm buying that, but I do know that we had two feet of the stuff, and another storm is coming this Tuesday night.

Luckily, we are prepared:

So, what does one do with two housebound toddlers? 

This took about five minutes. (Also, FYI. Sponge Bob toothpaste + swallowing=vomit.) 

Now what? 

How about we take a page from Mrs. 4444 and make adorable Valentine's Day Cards? We'll do what her kids did and SPELL OUT "I Love You," using their bodies!

That would be as adorable as a basket of fluffy kittens singing Kum-Bah-Ya. 

This was an epic FAIL. 

"I" is adequate, although Owen looks like he's doing "Light as a Feather/Stiff as a Board." 

On to "L." I decided to bring Joel in to assist: 

Except for the jar of Butt Paste in the frame, Joel missing the top of his head, and Owen looking constipated, this is a treasure.  It totally looks like a "L." Right? RIGHT? 

I tried to use Joel again to make an "E." 

I must say that Joel totally isn't getting my Artistic Vision. Away with him!

I used my older trained monkey to make a series of yogic poses/semaphore codes to approximate various letters of the alphabet.  Can you tell what's the Y, O, V, and U?

Paul couldn't either.

They say never work with kids or animals.

Off to plan B...



*Picture of
other child 
to prevent 
future therapy. 

So, there's that. Another Martha Stewart moment, courtesy of yours truly. To distract you, here are some more pictures of snow. 
Did I mention that we lost power for three hours yesterday? 

Join Travis for other memoirs on Memoir Monday.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Starts with a TMI, but it gets better....

I'll start right off with the TMI and get it out of the way:

This morning, I was sitting on the throne, re-enacting "I Didn't Know That I Was Pregnant," (except that I gave birth to a turd, not a surprise baby).

I wiped, as you do, and gave a little peek. Nothing. I wiped again. Nothing.

Ninja shits. They're stealthy. They come, do their dirty work,  and leave no evidence.

Talk about a Friday Fragment:
Mommy's Idea

(Thanks Mrs. 4444 for hosting. And....sorry).

Speaking of grossness, I love getting a big chunk of earwax out of Joel's ears. It's so satisfying. It's also horrifying how quickly the stuff builds up. Earwax is like my Blog Reader. You've gotta keep that stuff under control, or it's a big ol' mess.

I heard Owen rummaging around the kitchen in the wee hours of the morning. I pulled myself out of bed, and saw him with a block of Colby cheese and a corkscrew. "I'm shredding cheese, mom!"

I was glad he had the corkscrew out. Mommy needed some special grape juice that morning.

I haven't left the house today, and I probably won't until at least Sunday, because we're being hit by yet another snowstorm. I'm not wearing a bra (which doesn't make a difference to the girls---they're petite), and I have yet to take a shower.

However, I am wearing lipstick. I always wear lipstick.

I have a song I sing to the boys, "I love my little Owen/Joely boy/He is his mommy's pride and joy/I love my little Owen/Joely boy." Then, I squeeze them twice. My mother sang this song to me, except she didn't call me a boy.

That would just be weird.

Owen also expressed himself musically this morning, singing, "Happy Merry Valentines Day!" Then, he complemented himself, "That's a great song, Owen!"

Indeed it is, Buddy.

Happy Friday, everybody!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My someday is today

When I was a senior in high school, I was sitting in Mrs. W's classroom after school. She was helping me edit an essay for a scholarship contest. I was writing about, of all things, Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead.

I've learned a few things since then. Namely, that being adamantly, defiantly selfish is not always the best way to go through life. Sorry, Ayn Rand. (Actually, she wouldn't be concerned about my thoughts at all, because she values her individual self above all else, blah blah blah...)

Anyway, Mrs. W was helping me edit my words (something about decrying the collectivist hordes), and she put down her pen and said, "Nancy, you're a really good writer. Maybe you'll be published in The New Yorker someday."

Those words have carried me along, almost twenty years later. I wrap myself in her words like a baby cocooned in a sling. I listen to the heartbeat of these words, and I am content.

For all I know, Mrs. W said this to lots of students. Who cares? She saw a future in me.

I haven't been published in The New Yorker. I taught public school, had a few babies, and the most writing I do these days is right in front of you. But, I still have a future, and I still have those words.

When I was teaching, I took a page from Mrs. W and always tried to link genuine talent to a future: "You're really interested in drama. Maybe I'll see you on Broadway someday." "You're so good at fixing things. Maybe you'll own a business someday." "Your photography is awesome. Maybe I'll see your work in a magazine someday."

I find myself doing this with the boys: "Owen, maybe you'll be a plumber someday." "Joel, maybe you'll work in the circus someday." "Boys, maybe you will be a tag-team wrestling duo someday."

Mothers dream.

So, as I opened my New Yorker magazine yesterday, I looked at the letters to the editor section. There was a letter advocating health care reform from an economic perspective. The author was a former student---an amazingly gifted young man. I was his sixth grade English teacher; he is now a senior in high school.

And he, that student, has in fact been published in The New Yorker. His "someday" is today.

I imagine many encouraging statement drifted into his brain, fragrant and everlasting, over the years. What a gift!

What a reminder to make those encouraging statements every day....and to trust the wisdom behind the words.

So, I remember Mrs. W's words, and I smile. Someday, her words will be true.

(PS--This is my 400th post. This is significant somehow.) 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I can't imagine why anybody finds blogging nerdy...

I thought I killed comments yesterday with my boo-hooish/Sylvia Plath post. That was just the warm-up, bitches!

Today, I'm going to write about a TV show. And, to really send away the cool folks, I am going to write about it in haiku form.That's right. Mutha-Truckin-Haiku.

Why? Because it's my blog, my outlet, and because I am the BIGGEST NERD EVER.

So, without further ado...I bring you my reflections on the Season Premiere of haiku form. This may, I shit you not, be a weekly feature.


Benjamin Linus,
Your eyes bulged like large marbles,
At Locke's bad-ass-ness.


Boone came back from dead,
I watched and thought to myself,
"Who cares about him?"


Why is Fu Manchu
The bad-ass of The Temple?
Sailor on Black Rock?


Juliet was cool,
Kate is a pain in the ass.
Sawyer--stay away!


This show is absurd
Four toe statue is submerged,
And yet I still watch


The smoke monster is
The body-snatcher of show
At last an answer.


Sayid is deceased
But wait! Here he comes! The New
Jacob 2.0


I will miss Dharma
Especially the jumpsuits,
Namaste to you.


Instead of the show,
I should solve the oil crisis,
Or take a shower.


If you are reading,
Then, you too see the allure,
Welcome to the cult.

(Join in and write a haiku about your favorite television program. If this takes off, I'll highlight some each week!)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My little loaf

As I was driving the kids home today, I thought back to a time, many years ago, when Paul bought me a "spa day," for my birthday. This was back when I was young and wrinkle-free, and didn't really need it.

I was slathered with sea salt and wrapped in a foil burrito, and I was left in a dark room to marinate in the warm goodness. I listened to the New Age-y music and felt so warm and heavy, just enveloped in deliciousness.

As I was driving the boys home, more than anything, I wanted to feel that way again. It's been snowy and cold here, and it is supposed to stay cold and snow some more.

It's times like this that I long for a place of warmth, a place where I can close my eyes, rest, and just hibernate for awhile.

In the meantime, I make myself busy with projects. I made bread:
There's satisfaction in tasks like this, although if I'm going to take this Pollan-inspired hysteria along for the long haul, I may choose to invest in a bread machine. 

While kneading, I thought of Sylvia Plath. I adore Sylvia. I feel bad that she married such a crumb of a man, and I wish things didn't end so terribly for her. I admire her work ethic, and her relentless need to create. 

It's her verses about motherhood and pregnancy that touch my soul most profoundly. As I re-read her words, I'm reminded of how much I love my boys, and how much my mother loves me, and how, in the midst of this wintery blanket, I am still cherished. I am still beautiful.

I will rise, like a loaf of bread. 


Clownlike, happiest on your hands,
Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled,
Gilled like a fish. A common-sense
Thumbs-down on the dodo's mode.
Wrapped up in yourself like a spool,
Trawling your dark as owls do.
Mute as a turnip from the Fourth
Of July to All Fool's Day,
O high-riser, my little loaf.

Vague as fog and looked for like mail.
Farther off than Australia.
Bent-backed Atlas, our travelled prawn.
Snug as a bud and at home
Like a sprat in a pickle jug.
A creel of eels, all ripples.
Jumpy as a Mexican bean.
Right, like a well-done sum.
A clean slate, with your own face on.