Tuesday, June 30, 2009

y.m., y.m., ymca. c.a., c.a., camp.

the duke of fun left for summer camp this morning.

the same summer camp the lord of the ring went to for 9 years. the same one the duke's been going to since he was 9. in one of the most beautiful places on this big hunk of green and blue rock. yes, i am totally jealous. yes, i am totally thrilled.

can i just say that i love summer camp? summer camp for the duke, and starting next year for wingman, is not only TOTALLY AWESOME, but it's also my own personal backup to insure my kids aren't assholes.

just so we're clear, my kids are not assholes. but i maintain that things can change. and puberty and young adulthood can do a number on even the coolest kid in the world. you just never know, so having all the backup you can get is a good idea.

i also maintain that, given my experience, no serious camp person can be 100% asshole. it's nearly impossible. it just doesn't happen.

you understand, this is an informal and non scientific finding at best, but i'm sticking by it.

so the first year he went i remember crying after he left and holding my breath until he came home.

cut to four years later to this morning when i sent him off with a hug and a kiss and told him to have fun. not a teardrop in sight.


as a parent you can see your kids growing and changing and evolving, and you forget that you do too. that it isn't a one way street.

the first few years he was obviously much younger. you worry so much about so much. and not that i don't worry as he gets older, i just have passed some of that responsibility on to him. he is becoming his own person, moving about in the world without needing me to approve or disapprove of his every action.

the instructions get fewer each year. now he knows he needs to drink lots of water and apply sunscreen more than once a day. i don't have to tell him that anymore. now he knows that his bunk mates will ALWAYS knock off his ever present and much beloved yankee's hat. it's a given. and he knows that all he has to say is "dude, that's not cool," and it usually stops.

now I KNOW not to even mention how much i would love for him to send me one measly letter from camp. because I KNOW it's not going to happen. see, i'm learning too. (though i did pack self addressed stamped envelopes and paper just. in. case. shocking, i know.)

this year i sent him off with the same thing i sent him off with last year, a well packed bag and the following

"all you really have in life is your good name. and once you mess with that or tarnish it it can be very difficult for people to move beyond that. so you need to make good choices to stay safe and to maintain credibility."

he's in a new group this year. with actual teenagers. real live living breathing teenagers. which prompted a new piece of advice and the following conversation

"individually boys your age are pretty cool, same with girls your age. but remember how we talked about when kids get together they give up their own brains in favor of a group brain?"

"yeah, especially girls."

"well, let's not be so gender specific, but yes. so if all these kids are sharing a brain maybe some of the choices the group makes aren't so well thought out, you know what i mean? one brain to share doesn't allow for a lot of thought."

"yeah, i don't have to go along with what some other kid or kids are doing. i still have to think for myself."

"right. you ask yourself, is this a good choice? what would my parents think about this choice?"

"yeah, plus i don't want to be somebody's sidekick."

"well, if it's a real cool kid who makes good choices then that wouldn't be so bad, right? to be his sidekick?"

"but, mama? that's just called being a friend."


just so you don't think i've given wingman away or anything, he's still here and i will share with you the following conversation from yesterday to prove it.

we were sitting on the porch playing a united states of america geography game. he asked me the following question

"what is the capitol of connecticut?"

"oh, i know this. hmm, i know it's NOT new canaan."

"quick! think of whitey ford!"

"who in the world is whitey ford? and how does this help me!"

"mama, he's a famous baseball player."

"oh, who does he play for?"

"MAMA he's DEAD!"

for eight years old he sure has irritated sighing down to the letter. i CANNOT imagine for the life of me where he gets it.

"why are we talking about him then? how does this help me!"

"mama, the capitol of connecticut is hartford. get it? ford? as in whitey ford? i figured THAT was a really big clue. geeze."

right. sure. good lord.

wingman could write a book with what i don't know. you know, about all the really important pressing issues of our time. he could call it things my mother should know and just doesn't.

i bet i know who he could get to co-author that book.


Monday, June 29, 2009

if it sounds like a lot of drinking was involved, it's because there was.

okay, i just want to say that i highly recommend three days in a hotel room by yourself. i recommend drinking too much with your friends and sleeping too little. i recommend going for the shoes just because they're awesome. i recommend embracing every moment.

i do not recommend forgetting to put something in your body other than what comes in a glass. or sitting by the pool in 107 degrees.

the short version is that the reunion weekend was a smashing success. from the start to the finish i couldn't have had a better time.

the long version is a bit wordier. more convoluted. a reconciling with the past with an eye towards the future. i don't understand how i live so far from my friends. i am amazed at how much my heart expands when i'm with them. and i am ecstatically pleased to report the acquisition of some "new" friends. people i've known more than half my life but only just now "met."

i was also amazed to learn that everything i felt in high school is what everyone else was feeling too. which is weird because i'm a smart girl. but it was definitely an eye opening, well duh! moment or two or seven to get that.

and i guess i'm happy to know i can still learn from the people around me. be surprised by how life turns out. to know i wasn't alone in feeling the out of body experience that was adolescence.

how any of us gets out alive i will never know. actually, that's not true. i do know. my friends saved me. meeting them then made all the difference in the world. with so many arms to hold you aloft it's easy to make it through the mire.

what really amazed me though was how lonesome so many people admitted to being in high school. even those with so many friends around and those with the apparent trappings of high school "success." at the core we were all just silly mortals. i wish i knew that then. i'm glad to know that now.

and what i really enjoyed was the time to be me. rather to remember that deep down inside i'm still the girl i always was. am. no i didn't dance on any speakers, but i got to decide when and where for the whole time there with no thought to anyone else.

and while i don't think i'd care for that lifestyle for more than a few days, it was really great for the time. i think that as parents and partners we tend to over time soften up that core "us." blend it with the family core. which is what i've always wanted all my life and appreciate the most about the life i have. but if who i was got me to where i am today, i want to embrace her and let her know i know she's still there.

and along with that, i am appreciative of the wisdom and experience i have to fully embrace those moments that come when you are hanging out for a big chunk of time with a group of people. that when someone reached out to me i was able to reach back. that i was able to clutch the hand that grabbed mine. to respond to the well timed embrace. to listen to the words that sometimes came with tears. to say i know, i get it, i understand.

and it's the same as it was then. because while we've grown and acquired all the things that certify us as actual adult human beings, we all just want the same things we wanted then.

to be seen, to be understood, to be loved.

now lest you think it was all tearful hand holding and introspection, it wasn't. thank god, right?

okay, so there are some stories i could tell you, but because the interwebs are becoming an increasingly small place for me i won't. because whether people recognize themselves in print or just assume, it's murky. sorry. maybe over a little whiskey by a bonfire one evening in person, but not here.

i will say this, i don't recommend going up to a greek orthodox father in full collar and everything standing with his wife and opening with an overly enthusiastic

"oh my god, hi! i think of you almost every day!"

yeah. not so much with the smooth. his wife had a look on her face that is nearly indescribable. which as you can imagine is a very difficult thing for me to admit to. as generally this is my forte. but i truly can't describe it.

in my defense, and yes i have one, i do think of him often. but only because the duke has been learning academic/classical greek for years and wingman starts in the fall. and i think of him because one of the elements to the curriculum is ecclesiastical. and since he's the only greek orthodox father i "know" he pops into my head.

i explained this, of course. but, yeah. the whole package deal was a little much for them.

i also don't recommend grabbing someone too tightly and badgering them with repeated "oh my god why didn't know each other in high school! you're so awesome!"

i was told this could be construed as creepy or needy. i thought it rather endearing. go figure.

i did stop shy of the alternative to that which is "oh my god why didn't we date in high school!"

now i can agree that THAT might be a bit awkward.

and i will admit to taking sadistic pleasure in seeing the girl who bullied me in junior high and who continued to be a bitch in high school weeping more than once during the evening. and still not know how to dance. or dress.

it was beautiful. so there. i said it.

there were some mishaps to the evening, as there generally are with me. i narrowly missed having a three foot tall, ultra heavy stone standing ashtray take out my leg. as in i was chatting with someone, heard something fall behind me, only to say "huh, what was that noise?" and then look behind me and see this huge thing a fraction of an inch from my heel. oy.

that might have put a damper on an otherwise fabulous evening.

i also had an entire glass of beer fully spilled onto my chest and down into the front of my dress. oh, my the look on his face was priceless. i think he thought i was going to take my shoe off and beat him with it right then and there.

but i wasn't angry, just momentarily stunned. i did find my words when he took his napkin as if he was going to mop it up himself. a natural reaction, sure, but i quickly assured him i was okay and yes, i'll be mopping it up myself thankyouverymuch.

it was 7000 degrees in that place if it was anything. i think i lost weight just standing there. and the food was not bad, but it wasn't good either. regardless, everyone was raving about it. oh, this is so good, they were all saying. and i was like, do you people never eat out? really? but one of the waiters was supah cute so i kept up the pretense of taking food from him just to keep him coming back.

hey, this girl had no date. you've got to take what you can get.

and it was good just to be out in the street too late at night. slightly tipsy and surrounded by friends. knowing you're better off going to bed, but letting things happen as they will. flirting with the pretty girls, enjoying the charms of the boys. how quickly a group can fall into a pattern.

we forget this in our day to day. that life offers so much more than we are usually exposed to, used to experiencing. and sometimes it's good to not over think it. because when i'm nearing the end of my days here i don't think i'll be lying in bed wishing i had gone home earlier.

so that's done. one more boxed checked off in the grand list of life experiences. only this time the build up wasn't a precursor to a let down.

and as i left and was being driven to the airport i actually "forgot" to be freaked out in the car, so consumed with thought and a comfortable sleepiness. i can't say i even much noticed the traffic around us. as you know, this doesn't happen. ever.

and the time going home just flew. the wait in the airport the plane ride the shuttle ride. i was home before i knew it.

and i'm glad to be home, to kiss the lord of the ring, to hug my boybarians, to fight for bed space with the cats. but i still feel like went by too quickly. which is funny because i remember having the exact same thought the last few days before high school graduation.

more often than not all of life just goes by too quickly. especially the good stuff. so when you get the chance, fully embrace it when it's in front of you.

you'll be glad you did.


Monday, June 22, 2009

the day i married the most beautiful girl in the world.

the goddess mother and le petit prince
winter 2004

11 years ago, a lifetime it seems, i joined the goddess mother and her beloved in holy matrimony.

or, you know, as holy of matrimony as this fully ordained by mail order minister can.

the day of the wedding started off fine. i had been staying in my hometown for nearly a week. i was with the duke, who had just turned 1. i had made it through a wedding shower, a bachelorette party, and various wedding preparations and was still standing.

and now, in the hotel room i was putting the final touches on the ceremony while trying to keep a 1 year old out of trouble. hotel room? seems fairly benign, right? but you'd be surprised how much trouble a kid who's too young to be interested in television can get into in a hotel room.

plus, i was using a laptop. this was 11 years ago. using a laptop was new and uncharted territory for me. shit, i still have problems, but i think that's just me. oh, i know it's just me.

okay, so i was waiting for the lord of the ring to arrive from the airport and take over duke duties so i could 1.) finish the ceremony (largely written for months, but there are those details) 2.) get hair and make-up done, 3.) and deal with any other fires that came my way.

he arrived and things were going smoothly and well. i managed to be on time for hair and make-up, although, as you know by now with me and being in public, that was not without its troubles.

the make-up "artist" was a woman of certain age who believed that the more make-up the better. fine. i tried to tell her i wanted it simple, enough to show up in photos, but not too bold or bright.

the first thing she said to me after i said that was

"ugh. you young girls and your eyebrows! why there is so much shame in grooming your eyebrows i don't know! i just don't have time to do anything about them today! ugh. what a distraction. and don't even get me started on your upper lip! there is JUST NOT TIME!"

i do often wonder what it's like not to be me.

my hair was another matter. to make a long story short, don't barter house cleaning for a cut and color job. especially AFTER you've already fulfilled your end of the bargain. this being the late 90s, what i wanted to be lisa loeb like chunky light highlights on my dark hair ended up being very bottle blond, frosted almost. it was not pretty.

needless to say, i ended up with bold and bright make-up and the hair didn't fare much better.

no doubt probably in an attempt to distract from the circus side show going on on my face.

in short, in every photo i looked older than i was, and brittle, and very much like someone who spent too many hours each day snorting coke, but was still able to get a hot meal on the table before passing out.

but i'm getting ahead of myself.

so i get hair and make-up out of the way and head back to the hotel. and because the lord of the ring is the shit, the duke has been napped and changed and bathed and dressed. they are both ready to go. right on schedule.

so i get dressed and grab the disk for the ceremony and we head to kinko's to print it out before continuing on to the church.

and this is where the best laid plans of the silly mortal go awry. there is simply nothing on the disk. i know i copied the ceremony to the disk, but it won't print out. sorry, they say. it looks like it's a faulty disk, they say. and by now i'm standing in the middle of kinko's with a show stopping performance begging them to fix what they cannot, to make something be there that isn't.


and now, now we are running late. the church is outside of town and we are downtown. there is no time to do anything else. we have to go.

so i'm in the passenger's seat trying not to freak out. what the hell am i going to do? i've had the bulk of the ceremony in my head for months, sure. but that's not enough. because it's only the bulk, not all of it! and this wasn't my first wedding, so i knew from experience that i tend to get nervous at the beginning, and i NEED a written back up to help get me through until i get comfortable.

we're driving down the road and i shout

"turn here!"

"where are we going?"

"just turn here and go straight! turn right at the next light!"

bless his heart. then and now the lord of the ring knows to just go with it. meaning me. more often than not you will hear him say, "hey, i'm just here to drive."

"turn in here!"

"ernie's liquors? what are we doing here?"

ernie's liquors is the neighborhood liquor store. my old neighborhood liquor store. i went in there with my father when i was a child. and on this day it was going to represent my salvation.

okay, so i'm not saying when the shit hits the fan you should drink. though i hear that works sometimes. what i am saying is when you are sitting in the front seat of the car, freaking out, nearly throwing up with fear, and you are late to an event where a whole hell of a lot of people are waiting for you, well, you do what you can.

i raced in the liquor store, grabbed a bottle of jagermeister and then ran up to the counter. i was now nearly 15 minutes? 30 minutes? late. and there was a line.

a line? this place is the size of a shoebox! but sure enough there were three people in front of me.

i tried breathing through the first customer. in and out. i can do this, i said. but had absolutely no luck. by now i was sweaty and about to go ballistic. so by the second customer i decided to take matters into my own hands.

"i am so sorry but i am late for a wedding and i'm the minister!! please please let me go ahead of you!!"

they didn't buy it. at least the customer already at the counter didn't. he took one look at my clinging dress, (i was wearing a robe over it for the ceremony) my strappy heels, my garish hair and make-up, and the bottle of jager in my hands and i don't think he was thinking "minister."

he was probably thinking something, but i can just about bet it didn't have anything to do with weddings or god.

thankfully the guy in front of me let me cut. he even shouted good luck as i ran out the door.

"i'm riding in the back! please drive fast, but not so fast that we get a ticket. but kinda fast!"

and again, to his credit, the lord of the ring didn't say one. measly. word. about me sitting in the back chugging jagermeister and muttering to myself and jotting down notes on a scrap of paper while on the way to a wedding we were by now very late for. a wedding where *I* was the one person who had to be on my game. not. one. word.

thankfully, the duke was asleep and so i had some quiet in the back seat. you know, to drink and freak out. it's better with quiet.

by the time we arrived at the church i don't know how late we actually were. 30 minutes? 45?

the goddess mother's parents had those bright but thin smiles on their faces i had seen so many times in our youth. especially whenever i was present. they had only recently begun to understand and accept me as i was, then their daughter had to go and tell them i was conducting her wedding ceremony. in their home church. oy.

and here i was, fucking it up just as they had probably suspected i would.

thankfully, the goddess mother, although peeved i'm sure, was all business and was more forgiving and waved off all my explanations.

"let's just get started."

so we did. i mopped up all my sweat, checked for lipstick on my teeth, and threw on my robe.

can i just interject something here about the lipstick? it was still fully present and looked great despite all the back seat chugging. regardless of her chair side manner, that make-up artist sure knew her lipstick and i was right then and there grateful for her piling it on as she had.

i was introduced and made it up to the podium without falling or throwing up. which i counted as a personal triumph. and then i started the ceremony off without a hitch.

it was going beautifully.

i was missing only one thing.

the bride and groom.


sigh. big deep breath and i said

"i'm sorry. i am SO nervous. you know what, i'm going to start over."

and then i laughed. and they all laughed.

and then i started over.

and i don't know what happened or how i did it, but i nailed it. with no notes, a belly full of jagermeister, and so totally nervous i could have started laughing or crying and never stop, i did it. the whole thing was perfect and went off without a further hitch.

because when i saw the goddess mother walking towards her beloved it just clicked. and everything i felt about her, had felt for so much of my life, all of that deep love and respect and admiration just materialized on my tongue. i was graced by her grace, and that carried me. and the relationship she asked me to make official was right. right there in front of me and inside of me was just love. and that love translated into words that made it out of my mouth and made sense.

it was beautiful.

afterward, people approached me to tell me how beautiful they thought it was, too. and the goddess mother's parents were thrilled and it signaled what was and is a whole new chapter in our relationship. and now they are as grateful for my presence in her life as i have always been for her presence in mine.

it's never occurred to me to do things the way they "should" be done. and while i look back on it now i think, yeah, perhaps that wasn't the wisest course. think of what could have happened. etc. etc. etc. it could have definitely become a cautionary tale. because lord knows i'm REALLY good at creating those.

but at the time, everything i chose to do all seemed to make sense. and in the end, it did.

because i suppose in the end it's about trusting what's in your heart and just going from there. and because when you love somebody you can make anything make sense.

i am happy to report the goddess mother and her beloved are still married. with two beautiful children who are their spitting image.

and even happier to report that she is still my very best friend and i still think she is the most beautiful girl in the world.


Friday, June 19, 2009

one more baseball post. and then i'm done. i swear.

so the duke's team is finished for the season. after losing their first game in the playoffs they came back to win their next two. then lost. and now they're out.

but before we depart from this chapter in baseball history i want to toot the duke's horn one last time.

he was on third headed for home, trying to beat the ball.

the catcher was in front of the plate in anticipation of catching the the ball.

so the duke had no choice but to plow into him to get to the plate. so he does. plows right into the kid. they both fall.

they are in a pile at home plate, the ball hits the catcher and bounces behind him. but what's this? the duke is not actually at home plate. only near home plate. he will be tagged out if he doesn't get there quick. so he crawls OVER the catcher to tag home!!!

yay!!! we're all cheering and going crazy!!!

then we notice that the catcher isn't moving. hasn't moved since the duke plowed into him.

and we realize that the duke has totally knocked him down. as in he can't get up.

can i just say right now that the duke is like the smallest kid on the team? well, there's a shorter kid but he's more of a natural bad ass. the duke? not so much. i've been known to joke (out of his earshot) that he hasn't grown since he was 9.

so here's this kid at home. can't get up. because my kid knocked him down.

and we're all kinda watching and i notice the duke has just noticed what happened. he's still lying at home plate relishing his win when he looks over and sees the catcher.

and bless his heart he crawls over from home plate to where the catcher is, starts patting his back, and leans in to see if he's okay.

oh my god i love that kid.

he sits there with him a few moments more, hand on his back, talking to him, while the coaches assess the situation. and then he got up and went back to his dugout. i could tell from his face he felt really bad.

i jumped up and ran down to the dugout where his team was congratulating him and saying don't worry about that, that's baseball. his coaches telling him that's what you do when the plate is blocked. you plow through. he'll be okay. blah blah blah.

and i could tell from his face he still felt bad.

don't worry about it, i told him. that's what happens, you didn't mean it.

meanwhile, the catcher is getting up, bawling, he seems really hurt. even with all the catcher's gear, the duke has really done a number on this kid. it's actually a little hard to believe. i mean, the duke did this? they have him walk around to see if he's okay. he seems to be. he wants to stay in the game.

the duke seems a little better.

everyone breathes a sigh of relief. i retreat back to the bleachers, thinking about how awesome the duke is. compassionate, caring, etc., not like other boys who might have just jumped up and went to the dugout. blah blah blah all proud smugness swirling in my head.

it's only later i find out from the lord of the ring that the duke was heard saying, more than once i might add

"i'm sorry he got hurt, but man! that felt awesome!"

so i guess let's add a little bit of a bad ass to the compassionate, caring, etc. list.

i gave birth to boys. and as much as i want them to have compassion and emotional depth, i too have to honor their absolute love of the physical. and how fantastic it must feel to knock someone out at home plate.

the presidents of the united states of america sang it best

"I'm a boy, I want to poke and destroy!"



Wednesday, June 17, 2009

your moment(s) of zen.

(sorry for the hiatus for your moment(s) of zen. but it's back! yay! enjoy!)

as parents it's sort of a built in thing to watch your Ps and Qs. you know, lest the children pick up on your more unsavory habits.

i am really good at this sometimes, and sometimes my mouth gets the better of me. or just broadcasts the worst.

in short, i can swear like a sailor. and sometimes i do. oh it's just your standard fare. nothing too outrageous. it's not like i'm The Rooster or anything (david sedaris' brother, paul) but still, i'm a mom and moms "shouldn't" swear around their kids.

i love that word, shouldn't. it's SO encapsulating of all the things we "could" (and do) lie awake and fret about in the wee hours. if you want to cut a mom off at the knees, throw out a well timed "shouldn't." ka-POW!

anyhow, so i swear and the boybarians know they aren't allowed to.

i own the hypocrisy, i get it, i try, i fall short.

what i tell them is that they haven't yet earned the right to swear. that when they grow up and get older and gain life experience then they have earned the right to say whatever they want. in the meantime, they have more creative and imaginative language to learn. because swearing, while it can be colorful, is lazy. plus, it's incumbent upon them to please exercise restraint as their young brains take in the world around them.* **

*see above re: hypocrisy.

** this does not apply to swear words in other languages. which are perfectly acceptable. except if we're ever in the country of origin.

but that does not mean that they aren't taking it all in. and i can appreciate that, and if a situation calls for a well timed swear word, then so be it. you fall off your bike, dump your entire bowl of cereal on the floor, bend your favorite baseball card on accident, i can see the situation where it would be appropriate.

but still, they really don't. not with the good stuff anyway.

case in point. a few weeks ago the duke was grousing about something that really was bugging him, some outside injustice or some slight, i can't even remember. and he said to me

"excuse me for this, mama, but that's really STUPID if you ask me!"

i know. what i have to put up with, right?

but stupid is a swear word and i'll tell you why. because it's unkind. and it's overused and misused. and moreover because it's too. damned. easy. to. use.

same goes for shut up. especially, shut up.

anything that can just fly off your tongue with no thought whatsoever should be a swear word.

that's why i use the word fuck all the time. i really don't mean to. but it's like it's just perched on the tip of my tongue and it just waits there to take the leap. sometime it doesn't even wait. it just leaps.

just like words that describe people's physical characteristics unfavorably are swear words, too. it's just too easy to put someone down based on their looks. to form that kind of judgment right away. and we learn it as kids and it's awfully hard to stop even as we get older and "know better."

awhile ago the duke asked me what "retarded" meant. and i told him what it was and how and why kids use it.

"oh, i can see that. it's from a piano term, ritardando, meaning slow down. it's italian."

ever the wordsmith.

but did he "get" why it was bad?

"but can you see how it would be hurtful, right? whether or not a child is really differently-abled or it's just a put down, you can see how it's not a kind word. right?"

and rolling his eyes (which SHOULD be a swear word) he said

"of course, mama. it's MEAN. i would NEVER say that and would be upset if my friends called someone that. but it's just too bad they have to mess up a nice word."


it is in this spirit that i bring you today's moment(s) of zen.

it's about 10 minutes but worth it. please do not listen to this if you don't like swearing, LOTS of swearing, are around kids, or are at work.

(as a caveat i tried to get david sedaris reading this but couldn't find it.)


Monday, June 15, 2009

it just keeps getting better and better.

the other day i was sitting in the yard chatting on the phone when an unfamiliar truck drove up the driveway and parked in front of my house.

now, when you live out in the "country" and people just drive up and park right in your driveway they are treated with suspicion. which is weird because how else would they get to your house? but i suppose it's because the driveways are long and the houses set back that it seems a violation. and plus people who move out to the middle of nowhere do it because they don't want people just showing up in their driveway.

anyhow so i walk over and there's this guy i've never seen before getting out of his truck.

"hi. can i help you?"

he gestures to his papers and asks if i'm my husband.

and right away i know who he is. he is "the guy" who drives around and tacks up foreclosure notices on your property.

so i'm on the phone and i'm wishing him gone and as polite as i can i say

"i'll take those."

"can't let you do that."

"do you need my husband? or a signature?"

(BTW what is this 1960? what am i? chopped liver? while i appreciate my husband being on the frontline of all the financial bullshit, this house and all its attendant problems are half mine. oh yeah, that's right. i like the gender lines that are drawn when it comes to trash day and dead bats, but i can pull my betty friedan out at the drop of a hat. it's a talent.)


"i'm standing right here, can you please just hand them to me?"

"i have to tack them to the house."

"listen, my kids are going to come out any moment. as you can imagine this would be a difficult and awkward situation for us all. can you just hand them to me? please?"

"no. i have to tack them to the house and take a picture."

"okay, i understand. can you please be quick. before my kids come out?"


that's right. we haven't told the boybarians. because it isn't time yet. because i'm still holding out for the miracle. and because difficult words find their own time frame. they come out when they're ready. i have trust in that.

so he goes and tacks up the notice and takes a few pictures and then starts back to his truck.

"all done."

"thanks for being quick. i appreciate it."

and because he must encounter hostile and hysterical homeowners every single day and this was obviously different from that, or because he was just a nice guy, or nosy, he came closer and leaned into me as if we were in a crowded room and he had to be discreet. he asked, quietly, not unkindly,

"what is it? just behind in your payments? bad loan?"

and i realized that he was just being friendly. that he was using this opportunity to let the homeowner open up to him if need be. that perhaps he saw himself as a kind of anonymous shoulder to cry on, a knowing and experienced shoulder. you know, because he's "in the business." i've seen it all, i could imagine him saying as he encouraged me to tell him my own tale of woe.

and i thought it was sweet. he's just doing his job, most likely low paying, definitely thankless, and here he is taking the time to talk to me. to give me a chance to talk if i need to, to maybe make sure i'm okay.

and in that split second i was glad i wasn't the hysterical and hostile homeowner. that despite it all, i maintain some composure and semblance of manners. because i will tell you what, even though you know what it looks like it's still a shock when it happens. again. and again. the notices on the house (there's never just one), the signing for the certified nasty grams, again and again. and every person who you sign the little slip of paper for knows, they see these all day every day. everyone trying to keep up the 30 seconds of banter, pretending what's happening isn't.

every piece of paper making things just a bit more of a hurdle. and you never know how you'll respond. you never know if it's all just going to fall apart right then and there and you'll end up going bat shit crazy on the messenger. i haven't, i probably won't, i hope i won't, but you never know.

and while i certainly wasn't going to open up to this stranger about what i'm facing (i just do that on the interwebs ;) ) i appreciated his concern and my own ability to be standing there not losing it on him. because he's just doing his job.

then i realized that he was fully checking out my chest. i can't say that he was salivating, and i can't say that he wasn't.

as i was waxing prophetic in my mind about life and the silly mortal's place in it, he was fully and openly enjoying a bird's eye view of the girls. and because it was a warm day and i was wearing the kind of tank top a young lady might wear should she hope to get some sun on her upper torso IN THE PRIVACY OF HER OWN YARD, and he was shorter than me, and then by leaning in, well, you can imagine the view he got.

"OKAY. so we're done here?"

"uh, yep."

"all right sir, you have a nice day then."

"oh, yeah, you too."

and he got into his truck and drove away with a big smile.

i'll tell you what, i want my house out of all of this. but if i come out of this with more grace than i came into it, well you know what? that would be a gift.

and if by grace i mean giving the man who's job it is to further drive the nail in the foreclosure process politeness, and respect, AND a full unadulterated view of my boobs to take with him, then so be it.

hey, grace comes in all forms. it's not mine to judge.

oh, and the papers he tacked up?

they were the notice of auction for the big red house.

and the date?

september 11, 2009.

and if that's not enough to convince you that this is the universe displaying hilarity in its finest, i just don't know what is.


Friday, June 12, 2009

baseball and more baseball.

on wednesday the duke's baseball team assisted the little league's challenger division in a game.

the challenger division is for kids of all ages who are mentally and/or physically challenged and want to play baseball. the little league pairs the two challenger teams up with two majors teams for each game. two majors players assist one of the challenger players in fielding, batting, and running the bases.

the duke has been talking about this for awhile and was looking forward to it. he wondered if he would be paired with our friend maggie, who has autism and is non verbal.

sure enough he and another teammate got to assist maggie. who is very very physically capable. so when you say "assist" maggie you are essentially saying "reigning" her in! always.

maggie, in short, is a pistol. i have seen this firsthand a number of times and it didn't stop on the ball field. so first things first her mother armed the duke and his teammate with bags of skittles and warned them to be quick about it.

the duke found out exactly what this meant when maggie kicked him hard in the shin when he was a little too slow on the skittles distribution. he got the message after that.

this was even before the game. during the game they were in the outfield. a place in which maggie's mother assured me the ball never goes. but that didn't stop maggie from getting into the action. every time the ball was hit maggie went running from the outfield to the infield all the way across to home plate and back. she didn't go for the ball. she was just running to run AND to kick up as much dirt as she could on the way in and out. and as she went running you saw two boys with bags of skittles in hand running after her trying to keep up and steer her back in.

and because they didn't spray down the infield before hand that was a LOT of dirt every time.

before each ball was hit i saw the duke lean in to maggie and say something, gesturing to the infield, and then very deliberately planted his feet and got his glove at the ready. he was trying to show her what to do. he was trying. he was patient and i never saw him lose his composure. and every time he did this.

and every time maggie went running from the outfield to the infield all the way across to home plate, kicking up as much dirt as she could there and back. and you saw two boys with skittles in hand running after her, trying to keep up.

and when the duke went and got her a bottle of water and asked her if she wanted some she dumped it on his head. and he said

"well that was refreshing."

so all of this went on for three solid innings and then it was done. and it was great fun to watch. you never saw a group of kids have a better game. every ball that was hit, base rounded, home plate crossed was reason for a rousing cheer.

there just wasn't all the usual crap that can go on with baseball. none of the coaches shouting or players hanging their heads, none of the parents getting nervous about their child's performance. no pacing. just a bunch of kids getting to play baseball and a bunch of parents enjoying watching them do it. and it was really nice to see.

after the game the duke said how much he enjoyed the game. he brushed off being kicked in the shin, covered in dirt from the infield ramblings, or having water dumped on him. he just had fun.

and then the next morning he brought it up again and wondered if he'd be able to participate in another game.

every baby is a mystery. you really never know who you're going to get when you give birth. who they're going to grow up to be. and when it's bull's eye obvious you got one of the good ones, well, it's pretty darned awesome.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

i just hope i don't have to squeeze into one of those super suits.

so i was coming out of the back room where we have a second bathroom and shower.

i closed the door, and of course in this house since we're here all. the. time. together. like. a. pack. of. bored. rabid. wolves, when anything remotely interesting happens, or anything at all happens, a crowd gathers and there's commentary. so wingman says

"why'd you shut the door?"

"papa's going to take a shower and he needs privacy. did you want to go in there?"


"well, he's naked so wait until he's done."

"um, that's a pleasant thought."

"there's nothing wrong with being naked."

"did you see him naked?"

"yeah. it's nothing i haven't seen before you know."

"oh, mama. that is a little too much information."

the snark doesn't fall far from the tree.

we need to get out more.

before we all go crazy.

before i eat my young.

before we go full on grey gardens. and the documentary crews arrive. and i pull the curtain down from the rod and pin it in a jaunty manner around my body and proclaim it "pretty."

in other news i got a book delivered to me as a gift yesterday. the UPS man drove up and hopped out and since he's new he confirmed the name.

"uh, X.L.C. Super. Mom?"

and sure enough, i kid you not, on the label, where the name goes, above the address, it read Xlc Super Mom.

and i said,

"oh yes. that's me"



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

big phones and other things.

so my new phone came.

it's really big. and the screen is big. and the buttons are really really big.

in short, it is an old person's phone. the lord of the ring got me an old person's phone. which is what i asked for. exactly. but...

the duke says it looks like a big over sized car from the 50s. naturally.

the thing that saves it is the ringtone. which is pretty funky for an old person's phone.

and there is a secret part of me that likes to believe that only my phone came with that ringtone. that no one else's old person phone rings like that.

i believe it could happen.

in other news the duke played his last regular season game last night and they WON! oh my god they WON! against the team tied for the #1 spot! and by a healthy margin too! needless to say it was a great way to finish the season for the team in the very last spot in the league.

and i haven't seen the duke on the bench in weeks and weeks. :)

in other other news we're in the home stretch for school. we only do latin and math for june. well, for the duke it's latin, greek, french, and math. and while it's a shorter, fairly easy schedule i am sure ready for a FULL ON break. and i sure as hell know the boybarians are ready for a break, too.

but it's kinda funny because then we finish school for our time off and we're all elated and then by the second day we're all looking at each other like "now what?"

and then before you know it it's time to buy new school supplies and get back into the swing of things. and my kids are just as excited as kids who attend school outside of the home to get new school supplies. i think that part's universal. and i think they approach the start of the new year with the same mixture of excitement and dread, too.

but before all that we've got to get through all of this. not just school but the house and the beginning of the rest of our lives. june 2009 is turning out to be a very interesting month here at the big red house. so many balls in the air, so much going on. every day has the potential to hand deliver us a miracle and that's the feeling we wake up with and go to sleep with.

and it's exciting and it's scary and there's just not a damn thing we can do but sit and wait and know that it's gonna be what it is.

in the meantime there are kids to feed, and make to do chores, and ferry to baseball, and educate. there are still dishes and laundry to do, beds to make, a house to clean. the weeds still grow. the cats still need to get fed. the lawn mowed.

it's amazing how in the face of such an intense and BIG life happening that life just continues.

and i guess it's comforting. because it means that no matter what happens life will continue.

so i'll be patient. i am patient.

(though i don't mind telling you all i really am more than a little curious to see what it's about to look like)


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

what is the five year blog anniversary? paper? wood? liquor?

today i have been blogging for 5 years.

i'm not sure what that means other than for 5 years on a semi regular basis i have come to this computer and written something. so that's good. right? i mean i always wrote before, but it wasn't very semi regularly and included a lot of really. bad. poetry.

anyway, to mark this auspicious occasion i will throw out 5 things you don't know about me. or maybe you do, but have tried to forget. or don't think they're very interesting. or just don't really care.

1. when i was a young teenager i applied for and was invited to participate in the "miss teenage california" pageant. which is just hilarious in and of itself, BUT more so when you figure that i am the least photogenic person i know (application included a photograph) and was not particularly beauty pageant material. by any stretch of the imagination. while i didn't have a horse face or anything like that, i was not what you might consider a raving beauty nor did i have really any talent whatsoever. in anything. or really even any control over my limbs.

2. i am missing a sinus cavity in my skull. where there should be a cavity there is just bone. which makes my head heavier than it should be.

3. i was once cavity searched on the border of texas and mexico for suspected drug smuggling.

4. i have done things in public that are illegal to do in public.

5. once i saved my own life.

so thanks for reading and hopefully my level of self absorption will continue to rise and keep the good times rolling.


Monday, June 08, 2009

stress dreams are made of this.

i have always been a very active dreamer. i think i've mentioned that before. my dreams are so real that i often wake up completely exhausted. in fact, i cannot remember more than a handful of times in my life waking up actually refreshed and rested.

and when i've been stressed in the past, for years i always had the same dream. it was the last week of high school math class and i hadn't gone to class or done any homework the whole year. everyone else had. everyone else was prepared for the review and the final. everyone else but me.

good lord i'd awake from that scared shitless. it would take me a minute or two to remember that i wasn't in math class anymore. that it was just a dream. and then i'd realize that i must be too stressed to know i'm stressed because i had the math class dream.

ah the good old days when you don't even know you're stressed. you have to have a dream to tell you you are. it's not just as simple as finding yourself stark raving mad screaming at the top of your lungs in the middle of the kitchen or, you know, drinking a case of wine alone while watching the real housewives of new jersey. things like that.

the math class dream really signaled to me that i was missing something. that there was something i wasn't doing or facing or dealing with. the source of the stress was some sort of avoidance. definitely a theme for my younger years.

so eventually the math class dream turned into the phone dream. i need to use a phone, quick, and i can't dial the number right, or the buttons don't work, or i can't remember the last few digits, etc. etc. etc.

when i'd have this dream, and therefore knew i was stressed, it was a signal that there was something i wasn't saying, something i couldn't say, or wouldn't. there was a miscommunication somewhere, deliberate or no. and this miscommunication was causing the stress. definitely a theme for my less than younger years.

well i haven't had either dream for awhile. i really did quit having the math dream years ago, and i can't remember the last time i had the phone dream.

until last night. last night i got mugged. IN MY DREAM i got mugged. okay breathe out. better now?

okay, so i got mugged. fully knocked to the ground, cheek sliding on the gritty pavement, hard to breathe. and the guy who did it had a wide dark face, grayish stubble, not so fresh breath. and he was fully on top of me and he was heavy. and it felt really weird. awkward even. i remember thinking, this feels really awkward. the sudden closeness of an aggressive stranger.

he grabbed my purse before i could even say take my purse. because it was going through my mind that isn't that what you do? you don't hold tight, you don't hold on. you say take it, because you know nothing is worth the struggle or worse that would ensue. so i'm laying on the pavement and i'm thinking this as he's grabbing my purse.

and then he grabs my cell phone out of my hand. and i say

"you can have that. but the battery is wonky and it doesn't work very well."

who says wonky when they're getting mugged?

and this is actually true in my real life. my phone is totally on the fritz. it's not the battery it's the phone. and i am due for a new free one. but i'm a luddite when it comes to cell phones. i don't need to play music or take pictures or text or check out a menu from the local chinese. i don't even activate my voicemail. i just want to call and be called.

and yes, there are people in my life who think i am a total arse for that but i don't care.

so all the phones are so fancy! good lord there was one i was offered that you could drive over with a truck and it would still work. the reviews were all sniffy like "but the screen was a little small and the music sound quality was just okay. " did they miss the part about being able to DRIVE OVER IT WITH A TRUCK! i can't even be a little bit sweaty and use my cell phone or it cuts out!

it left me wondering if people really do have to much time on their hands.

anyway, so i just told the lord of the ring to choose for me. and he did and we'll see what i get.

so where was i? oh yeah. the dream.

so i'm on the ground and the guy flips open my phone and he's pushing buttons and it's not working. and i'm wondering why he's doing this? he's mugging me. he already took my purse, why is he testing my phone? why doesn't he grab it and run? check it out later when he's safe? will this end up on some dumb criminal show? it better because that's pretty dumb!

so he tosses my phone aside and with my purse in his hand goes running off. and i'm thinking of the things i'll miss in my purse and also slightly chagrined at things he might find. what will he think of all the feminine products? will he wonder why i have "active" tampons when it was apparent while he was on top of me that i was fairly soft around the middle and pretty curvy. will he think, she's fooling herself with the "active" part? will he see my used floss and be grossed out? will he wonder why i have half a pistachio shell in my change purse? will he be mad that i carry so little cash?

even while getting mugged i'm still worried about what it will look like. always the middle child, always the cancer girl. oy. i'm thinking i might need a dream for THAT.

so i pick myself up and stumble over to where my phone landed. i pick it up and this is where the dream gets fuzzy. because i don't know if called 911 or the lord of the ring or a friend. i don't know who i called because i called all of those numbers and they all worked. the phone worked. on first dial. and all the numbers answered.

so my "stress" dream? the one that tells me i'm stressed, really stressed and don't know it? the phone worked. sure i got mugged and that wasn't fun, but the phone worked. i dialed the phone and the numbers worked.

and yeah i got knocked to the ground and that wasn't fun either, but i let go of the purse. instantly. did not try to hold on to it. i didn't make an already messy, painful situation more messy and painful.

so my stress dream turned out to be less about showing me how stressed i am and don't know it, and more about how i really am doing everything i can. that life is going pretty wonky lately and all my attitudes and platitudes are actually working.

that i am doing this. and i must be on the right track. and that feels pretty good.

i still woke up feeling like i got run over by a truck. but maybe if i ever got to have a night of sleep that didn't involve cats spooning me or sneaking out and bringing in dead things, bats that wait until 3:30 to really party right outside my window, or boybarians across the hall who bicker and bitch at each other in their sleep and loudly i might add, then maybe i would wake up feeling rested and refreshed.

i'll keep you posted.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

how to have a good cry.

you take a girl. a girl who is strong (well trying), but who gets tired. and you pair her with a long day, too much traffic, too much heat, the wrong clothes for the weather, and she's hungry. and she's thirsty.

you stick her at yet one more ball game. surrounded by people she just cannot understand. even on a good day. people who make no sense. their smiles are as bright as their teeth, their cars, their shiny shiny shoes.

and she wants to be present. she wants to be able to respond to the vapid bullshit with the same smile she can always whip out at a moment's notice. she really doesn't want to be falling to pieces right here right now.

but she's been keeping a lot of balls in the air and she's tired. and she's hot. and she's. just. done.

so she decides to come undone.

and as fast as she can before the flood crashes she gets to her truck. and she crawls all the way to the way back. and it's hot and airless and uncomfortable. but coming undone doesn't need to be pretty. it just is.

and the tears come as fast as they ever had. if she could be on her knees she would because it's that kind of cry. as much a prayer as anything.

and in between the gasps for breath and the wails and the tears she says everything she's been holding inside OUT LOUD. she says it all. she says the words she's been forming but has been scared to say all this time. she does not beg and she does not make false promises. she does say please.

and the heat becomes comforting. the enclosed space keeps her safe. she is thankful for the tinted windows that give her privacy.

and everything that is just comes out. in tears and wails and lots and lots of snot.

of course she doesn't have a tissue. she forgot to fill her water bottle. she forgot to eat. she forgot to dress for the weather. why in the hell should she hope to have a tissue.

who remembers the little things when you're just dealing with the big.

the body remembers.

and it rebels. and it says STOP. and it makes it very clear that you can only do the big work of living if you care for the body that allows you to do it. it doesn't require much, nor will it put up with being fucked with or neglected for long.

then, eventually, as with any other storm, the worst passes over. the tears lessen and the cries quiet. lots of sniffling. lots of snot. but the worst is over.

and she decides it's first things first. or the body does. at this point she's given it all over to paring it all the way down. and now it's first. things. first.

she's still on the front lines for slaying the dragon, will still keep those balls in the air, but before all that she needs to take care of what she can. the dragon can wait, now it's time to eat.

a few crumpled dollars in exchange for the best cheeseburger she could ever imagine. a water fountain that fits her water bottle. a napkin to wipe her mouth, and the last of her tears.

and she's good. better. over it and ready to move forward. ever forward stronger than before.

it's amazing how we can stand up for so long, how we can be so strong, stronger than we imagine. a rock in the face of life's huge adversities. we even surprise ourselves.

and then to get undone by the little things. too much sun, jeans on a hot day, a lack of food.

and then to get totally reduced in order to build back up again.

and it's really amazing what a good cry and a little beef and cheese can do.

the journey of a thousand miles starts with the step before the single step. take care of yourself and then you can take care of the world.


Monday, June 01, 2009

reason #58473009 and #58473010 why i shouldn't leave the house.

so you'd think i'd have learned my lesson by now. but for some reason i still keep leaving the house with the understanding that i'm just a normal person living a normal life.

i guess the rest of the world didn't ever get that memo.

so on saturday evening we were treated to pizza and beer with friends. it was a funky little joint in a funky little town right on the water. man but it was a beautiful evening and just the place to enjoy it.

i got up to use the restroom like a normal person would. with the idea that i could just go and use the restroom and return without incident.

now being a funky joint there's just the one restroom sitting at the end of a very short very small hall. needless to say, when you wait for the restroom to be free you then have to do sort of a shuffle dance around the person coming out of the door while you try to go in. there is simply nowhere else to wait because before the hall you have to squeeze past the line for the espresso butted up against the line for the pizza.

so i waited in the hall, the door opened and this little kid who couldn't have been more than four comes bursting out all noise and chaos, with his dad right behind him. the kid then put his fingers up like a gun, pointed them at me, and yelled

"pow! pow! pow! die! die! you're dead!"

and then he pulled his foot back and let it loose and kicked me right in the shin!

then his dad said in a very tired bored voice

"hey buddy, watch that foot."

then they did the shuffle around me and left.

this all happened in about 15 seconds. probably less.

all right so maybe the dad didn't see his kid kick me. though we were all right there so i don't know how he missed it, but to be fair maybe he really didn't see the contact.

but did he not hear and see the gun thing? because i have boys and i get the "exuberance," and i get the weapons fascination, but really? in a restaurant? towards a complete stranger? and there's nothing you have to say about that?

to be fair, i kinda checked the child out the rest of the time we were there to see if there were some obvious developmental issues at work. because one can never know what challenges kids are facing, and how that affects their behavior. i think this world would be a better place if we all just took some time to see what we're looking at. snap judgments don't do anybody any favors.

that being said, the kid was just a little shit and his dad was an ineffective, disengaged parent at best.

and my shin still hurts.


the next day some kind of universal shift happened, planets aligned, and hell froze over long enough for the lord of the ring and i to go for a walk together. alone. sans boybarians. i know. i'm still recovering from the shock.

so we're getting out of the car and there's a car parked directly in front of us. nose to nose but with a little barrier in between. all in all our cars were maybe 4 feet from each other.

so as i'm climbing out of the car two little kids run up to the barrier while their mother futzes with a stroller. all of a sudden the mother shouts

"hey! kids come back here and DON'T TALK TO STRANGERS!!"

and then she gives me a very pointed look.

um, can i say besides the lord of the ring and me, there were no other people in this parking lot so i was confused as to who she was freaking out about. i even looked behind me because she surely wasn't talking to me! i'm not a stranger. i am like the baby whisperer. kids love me. i'm not all creepy and weird. even if i don't like you OR your kid i'm still pleasant and kind. and i never approach a child or talk to a child without talking to the parent first.

and all i was doing was getting out of the car.

well, of course they heard their mother and gave me a worried look and ran back to her.


so somewhere between the ineffective, disengaged parent and the freaky, shouty, paranoid parent there lies this sillymortalmama. who knows that parenting is hard. and who knows that as a parent the potential is there to be either one of those parents at any given moment.

(and who is extremely thankful that by some luck of the draw i've been able to be slightly better balanced than the average silly mortal)

that being said, i should just stay home from now on.

you know, before i get really hurt. or arrested.

in other news, wingman's baseball season came to a close saturday with another win. his team took top place in his whole division!!! yay wingman!

the duke's team can't buy a win, and in fact they are last in their whole division. BUT i am really enjoying watching them play. they really are a great team and bring a lot to every game.

further, the duke made it off the bench and now plays nearly the WHOLE game every time. he even got to pitch in one game! we're told he is really admired by his coaches as a stellar teammate, and an all around great kid to coach. he listens to what they say and he doesn't talk back. he's eager and willing to learn and to put himself out there.

and i didn't do a damn thing. i didn't make excuses or get all mama bear or interfere. he did this on his own. he figured it out and did it.

so as far as i'm concerned he's having a very winning season.

and i couldn't be prouder.