Friday, December 21, 2007

Listening

I'm listening.

I'm listening to Pavarotti's "Panis Angelicus" right now. One of the only songs that can make me weep. Not that I need provocation right now. I'm PMSing something fierce.

I'm listening to life and what it's trying to tell me, what with Grandma's serious rage against the dying of the light, my recent layoff from my job, my engagement (!), my friendships that have endured, my friendships that have rekindled, my friendships that have been lost forever.

I'm listening to my gut tell me I need to eat less cheese.

I'm listening to my children cough. Sneeze. Laugh. Cry. Say "I love you 300 times more than the world, Mommy!"

I'm listening to the wind. The neighbor's windchimes. Mine aren't making a sound.

I'm listening to two neighborhood kids have a snowball fight outside at 9:42PM.

I'm listening to you, even though you might think I'm not.

I'm listening to my dog run in her sleep.

I'm listening to the silence of the abandoned, 350-year old house next door to mine. It has much to say.

I'm listening to the snow crunch under someone's foot outside, and I'm happy that I no longer hate winter. I don't know what's happened to me this year. Maybe I'm happy again for the first time since high school, when I skied every weekend and loved being cold. I don't know. But I no longer dread it, and that's a wonderful thing.

I'm listening to the snow crunch under someone's foot outside, and even though I'm happy that I no longer hate winter, I still want to run away. To Rome. I want to run away to Rome. With my children. I want to turn the clock back two and a half years to my trip there and change nothing except the status of my return ticket. And my company. Instead of flying alone, I'd take them with me. And never come back.

Well, never say never.


Christmas is in four days. I'm going to church with the kids on Christmas Eve. It will be the first time I've set foot in church in a long time.


I'm listening to Pavarotti.





xo

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I could write about my family.

But instead, at least for now, I'll just go see this, which seems to have hit the nail on the head:


(from today's NYT)

December 5, 2007

THEATER REVIEW | 'AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY'
Mama Doesn’t Feel Well, but Everyone Else Will Feel Much Worse
By CHARLES ISHERWOOD

All happy families are alike, Tolstoy told us, and each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. But I’d bet the farm that no family has ever been as unhappy in as many ways — and to such sensationally entertaining effect — as the Westons of “August: Osage County,” the new play by Tracy Letts that blazed open last night at the Imperial Theater.

A fraught, densely plotted saga of an Oklahoma clan in a state of near-apocalyptic meltdown, “August” is probably the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years. Oh, forget probably: It is, flat-out, no asterisks and without qualifications, the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years. Fiercely funny and bitingly sad, this turbo-charged tragicomedy — which spans three acts and more than three blissful hours — doesn’t just jump-start the fall theater season, recently stalled when the stagehands went on strike. “August” throws it instantaneously into high gear.

Mr. Letts, hitherto best known as the author of the crafty, blood-soaked genre pieces “Killer Joe” and “Bug,” somehow finds fresh sources of insight, humor and anguish in seemingly worn-to-the-stump material: the dysfunctional dynamics of the American family. In “August: Osage County” can be heard echoes of other classic dramas about the strangling grip of blood ties — from Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” to Sam Shepard’s “Buried Child” — but Mr. Letts infuses his dark drama with potent energies derived from two more populist forms of American entertainment. The play has the zip and zingy humor of classic television situation comedy and the absorbing narrative propulsion of a juicy soap opera, too.

In other words, this isn’t theater-that’s-good-for-you theater. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, to quote an immortal line from a beloved sitcom.) It’s theater that continually keeps you hooked with shocks, surprises and delights, although it has a moving, heart-sore core. Watching it is like sitting at home on a rainy night, greedily devouring two, three, four episodes of your favorite series in a row on DVR or DVD. You will leave the Imperial Theater emotionally wrung out and exhausted from laughing, but you may still find yourself hungry for more.

“August” was first staged over the summer at the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago. That production, with a terrific cast superbly directed by Anna D. Shapiro, has been imported virtually wholesale for the Broadway run. Among the many pleasures the show affords is the chance to see actors largely unknown in New York — perhaps, most vitally, Deanna Dunagan, who plays an evil mom to end them all — take the city by storm with the harsh humor, ferocity and keen feeling of their performances.

Ms. Dunagan is Violet Weston, the razor-tongued matriarch of a family from Pawhuska, near Tulsa. Early on in the play, Violet’s husband of more than 30 years, a poet and former professor, mysteriously — or perhaps not so mysteriously — walks off into a sultry summer night, never to be heard from again. (The exhausted paterfamilias, Beverly, played with lovely wit and rue by the playwright’s father, Dennis Letts, opens the play with a lyrical dirge assessing the state of his marriage: “My wife takes pills, and I drink,” he says. “That’s the bargain we’ve struck.”)

The couple’s three adult daughters are called back to the family homestead, husbands or boyfriends in tow, to comfort Mother in her time of need, and try to get to the bottom of Dad’s disappearance. (Todd Rosenthal designed the tiered, haunted-house set, artfully strewn with shadows by the lighting designer Ann G. Wrightson.) All three offspring exhibit clear indications of past, present or future emotional damage.

The mousy Ivy (Sally Murphy), who lives nearby and resents the responsibility she’s had to take for watching over the horror of her parents’ latter years, has never married, although she is secretly carrying on a love affair with her mousy first cousin, belittlingly known to the family as Little Charles (Ian Barford). Barbara (Amy Morton), the oldest and strongest of the daughters, well armored in savage humor, returns from Colorado with her newly estranged husband, Bill Fordham (Jeff Perry), and their sardonic, pot-smoking teenage daughter, Jean (Madeleine Martin). The youngest Weston girl, Karen (Mariann Mayberry), arrives later, from Florida, spouting self-help platitudes about her recently rehabilitated love life, and accompanied by her oily businessman fiancĂ©, Steve (Brian Kerwin).

Surrounded though Violet is by her extended family — which also includes her abrasive sister, Mattie Fae (a howlingly funny Rondi Reed), and Mattie Fae’s henpecked husband, Charlie (Francis Guinan) — she does not really seem to be a woman in great need of succor and support. Yes, she’s got cancer of the mouth. And a serious addiction to downers. She is often self-medicated to the point of incoherence, and prone to childish hysterics when crossed.

But Violet also possesses a spirit of aggression that a pro linebacker would envy, and a sixth sense for finding and exploiting the sore spots and secret hurts of everyone around her. For Violet, a child of poverty, neglect and abuse, the will to endure is inextricably tied up with the desire to fight and the need to wound. She can keep the blood in her own veins flowing only by drawing blood from others. (The play could almost be called “My Mother the Vampire.”)

And so, needlessly, pointlessly and endlessly, Violet sets about psychologically flaying her nearest and dearest, one by one, taking impotent revenge for the miseries of her life by picking at the scabs of everyone else’s.

The results are as harrowing as they are hilarious. Ms. Dunagan is simply magnificent in this fabulously meaty role. Such is the mesmerizing power of her performance that as Violet’s snake eyes scan the horizon for a fresh victim, claw-hand dragging a Winston to her grimly set mouth, you may actually find yourself sinking in your seat, irrationally praying that she doesn’t pick on you. (I was cowering myself.)

The cast does not have a weak link, and the other major female roles, in particular, are rewarding and perfectly played. (Only Ms. Martin and Mr. Kerwin, both excellent, are new to the production.) Ms. Murphy’s sad-eyed Ivy has a plaintive tenderness that occasionally flares up into a defensive assertion of the justice of her needs. Ms. Mayberry makes Karen’s drawly, long-winded narcissism oddly touching — you sense she’s still recovering from a lifetime of being talked over or ignored.

Ms. Reed flaps and squawks hilariously as the vulgar Mattie Fae, who shares with her sister a brazen heedlessness of other people’s feelings. Perhaps finest of all is Ms. Morton’s Barbara, who gradually — and frightfully — begins to metamorphose before our eyes into a boozing, brutalizing mirror image of her mother.

Alcoholism, drug addiction, adultery, sexual misbehavior: The list of pathologies afflicting one or another of the Weston family is seemingly endless, and in some ways wearily familiar. But Mr. Letts’s antic recombination of soapy staples is so pop-artfully orchestrated that you never see the next curveball coming, and the play is so quotably funny I’d have a hard time winnowing favorite lines to a dozen. (Much of the “Greatest Generation” speech would definitely make the list.)

I’ll leave you with one that neatly expresses the bleak spirit of the play, which nevertheless manages to provide great pleasure by delving into deep wells of cruelty and pain. Recalling a night of youthful high spirits in sad contrast to the gruesome present, Barbara seeks to wise up her daughter to the decay of hope and happiness that often comes with the passage of time.

“Thank God we can’t tell the future,” she observes, “or we’d never get out of bed.”

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

By Tracy Letts; directed by Anna D. Shapiro; sets by Todd Rosenthal; costumes by Ana Kuzmanic; lighting by Ann G. Wrightson; sound by Richard Woodbury; music by David Singer; dramaturg, Edward Sobel. A Steppenwolf Theater Company production, presented by Jeffrey Richards, Jean Doumanian, Steve Traxler, Jerry Frankel, Ostar Productions, Jennifer Manocherian, the Weinstein Company, Debra Black/Daryl Roth, Ronald and Marc Frankel/Barbara Freitag and Rick Steiner/Staton Bell Group. At the Imperial Theater, 249 West 45th Street; (212) 239-6200. Through March 9. Running time: 3 hours 10 minutes.

WITH: Ian Barford (Little Charles), Deanna Dunagan (Violet Weston), Kimberly Guerrero (Johnna Monevata), Francis Guinan (Charlie Aiken), Brian Kerwin (Steve Heidebrecht), Dennis Letts (Beverly Weston), Madeleine Martin (Jean Fordham), Mariann Mayberry (Karen Weston), Amy Morton (Barbara Fordham), Sally Murphy (Ivy Weston), Jeff Perry (Bill Fordham), Rondi Reed (Mattie Fae Aiken) and Troy West (Sheriff Deon Gilbeau).



xo

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Vagina by Any Other Name...

Sean is almost six. About a year ago, as he became much more keenly and innocently interested in the physical differences between girls and boys, he said,

"So boys have penises and girls have girl penises?"

"Well, girl parts are called 'vaginas'", I told him. He nodded, thinking.

A few days later he said something about penises again while talking to his brother. "And girls have hamginas."

Tonight, though, we moved a step beyond:

Me: "Nolan, do you need to go potty before you go to bed?"

Nolan: "No! Ninjas don't have peepees!"

Sean: "You mean Ninjas do have penises, Nolan. They just don't need to pee, right?"

Nolan: "Yeah! And I'm a Ninja!" [insert a three-year-old's martial arts sound effects here]

Sean: "See, Mommy? Boy Ninjas have penises, and girl Ninjas have highnesses."


Exactly.

xo

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

God is Probably an Old Lady

Most mornings find me zipping up to the curb outside the kids' school and hustling my children out of the car for another day of three R's and snacks aplenty. Occasionally Ian helps out with this part of the daily routine, which is a sweet relief from the usual morning rush. But frenzied schedules notwithstanding, I enjoy bringing the kids to school, sending them off with hugs and kisses and watching them run, hand-in-hand-across the schoolyard, their bouncing backpacks larger than their little bodies.

And I am always amused by the flock of parents on their way to--or, in some cases, from--work, dropping off their children with the same breathless, hurried affection. There we are--always rushing to get here and there. And yet not one of leaves until our children are out of sight, no matter how late we may be for whatever dullness the grown-up world holds for us. We don't turn around and walk toward our cars until we know our children are being escorted to their classrooms safely inside the building. Guarding the nest. Always.

Last week was no different from any other. One morning in particular I was dressed to the nines for a meeting and, not surprisingly, running late. I sped up to the curb, threw the car in park, and shepherded the kids on their way. As Sean dropped his lunchbox under the car and Nolan struggled to keep his backpack on his bird-sized shoulders, an old woman walked by us. She had the sweetest smile on her face and a church bulletin in her hand. Clearly, she was on her way home from the regular weekday morning mass, and she seemed amused by all the children and parents spilling into the street and sidewalk as the last bell rang.

In an instant, I assumed this woman with her sweetly smile to be full of wisdom and love--the kind of elderly person who has all the answers. What else could an old, kindly, church-going lady be, if not an experienced mother, grandmother, and salty sage?

I slammed the car door. "Wait for your brother!!!" I shouted after Sean as he tore off down the sidewalk.

"Seany, wait for me!!!" Nolan desperately cried, chasing down his brother while the backpack he carried threated to pull him ass-first onto the concrete.

The old woman shook her head and smiled at me. I looked at her plaintively.

"I don't know how you get two children ready and out the door every day. And yourself, too!" she said smiling, looking me in the eye as she shuffled past.

I was surprised to hear this comment, since a few seconds earlier I had mentally written her character to be full of answers. In her infinite wisdom, she was supposed to tell me how to do things, not ask me how I do them.

I looked her right back in the eye and laughed with her. Nolan was still chasing after his brother.

"You know," I said to her, "neither do I."

"Heh heh heh," she giggled and carried on her easy pace.

I watched her walk away for a moment, then turned and sped off toward the schoolyard, my heels a little too loud beneath my feet.

xo

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wins and Losses

The Red Sox are poised to sweep the Series. This makes me happy for my grandmother, a lifelong Sox fan who has spent this fall staying up to the end of every game. She even stayed up to watch the entire Yanks-Indians playoff game I went to a few weeks ago.

"You know, I don't think I'd ever watched a Yankees game from beginning to end before in my life," she laughed.

I guess when you've been diagnosed with advanced liver cancer, you don't complain that it's getting late and time to turn in.

Tomorrow night we'll cut out of Sean's "fall ball" game early to head over to Grandma's house. It's my sister's birthday, and the whole extended family will be there for lasagne and cake. I'll probably be the videographer again, like I was at the last birthday party we had at her house. Unlike my mother who cries and leaves the room, overcome with emotion and making a scene, I'd rather hide behind the camera and privately witness Grandma's joy in these moments with us. If I cry, I cry. No one needs to see it.

For now, I'll head off to the grocery store with the kids. Today is a prime chili-makin' day. I need some serious food for my soul. Chili and homemade corn bread is calling me.

And the other item on today's agenda (besides kicking around with the kids) is burning the soundtrack to the Darjeeling Limited, which I downloaded last night. A long time ago, my friend Tyler said he went to a Ray Davies concert and many of the fans were weeping when Davies played certain Kinks songs.

I grew up listening to the Kinks, and I know most of their music pretty well. But listening to "Strangers" from the soundtrack this morning, I got it. I know where those fans are coming from. It's not just about the music. It never is. It's always about the story you bring to the lyrics to make them your own. Somehow, with their heartbreakingly sweet chords, the Kinks always cut to bone.

xo

Friday, October 26, 2007

Outside, Looking In

[Disclaimer: This is my third blog today. Read at your own risk.]

***






The kids and I went to our old neighborhood tonight for dinner. We stopped by our friends' house. They are former neighbors of ours from across the street, and their six-year-old son played with my boys every single day of their lives. They were the ones who watched Nolan when Sean was rushed to the hospital after his second allergic reaction to nuts. They were the ones who made us meals and brought over bottles of wine after our children were born. They were the ones we had frequent impromptu dinners with in the backyard, while the kids ran around and the parents compared notes on life. They were the ones who enjoyed the best of it with us. They were also the ones who had no idea they were enjoying the last of those days with us, too.

Selling the house was as difficult as it was easy, emotionally. But that was several months ago. The kids and I have settled into a real rhythm in our new place. They love their new school, their new house, their new neighborhood. It seemed like a pretty safe time to agree to an invitation to go back to our old stomping grounds. When I told the kids they were going, they *freaked*.

"To Travis' blue house!?" Nolan shrieked.

"It's about time!" said Sean. "You always kept saying we'd go, but we never did!"

True.

"Is our house going to be across the street?" Nolan asked.

"Yes, our old house will be across the street."

"Maybe we should say hi to it," Sean said, thoughtfully. "Maybe it will recognize us and say hi back."

"I think it will, sweetie."

We arrived at their house, and the kids briefly took note of the toys on the front porch of our old house, where their scooters and tricycles had always been parked, like some idyllic snapshot of Americana. "Gee, those toys look fun to play with," Sean said.

"They do, but we're here to see Travis," I said.

At the mere mention of his name, the kids bolted from the car, running up the front porch. Sean and Travis actually got caught in the front door, trying to hug each other amidst two dogs, me, Nolan, and Travis' mom.

The kids played for a few hours. We ate pizza, salad, dessert. We enjoyed some wine and cookies and played Mouse Trap! with the kids. Then, suddenly, Sean said he wanted to go home. This was highly unexpected. Nolan, the little echo, said the same. Sean put on his coat.

It was getting late, at least for Nolan, so I agreed it was time to leave, and we said our thank yous and goodbyes and gave hugs and kisses, and walked back outside to the car.

It was dark by then. Our old house, which had been dark when when we arrived at Travis', was now fully lit. And you could see the inside completely.

The kids stared across the street. I did, too. Sean said, "I wish we could just go across the street instead of having to get into our car."

"Yeah, I wish we could go across the street," said the echo.

"Get in the car," I said.

We all piled in. I buckled up the kids, who were quieter than usual. Then I buckled in myself and put the keys in the ignition. But before I started the engine, I turned to my left and looked. Without checking in my rearview mirror, I knew the kids were looking at the same thing that had grabbed my attention.

Inside our old house was a family of three, sitting around the dining room table, eating dinner. All the curtains were drawn back, and you could easily see big parts of the house. The once dramatic red dining room was now, well, white. The formerly yellow living room with warm oak trim was now, well, white. The formerly white fireplace, painted over because the brick underneath was so ungodly ugly was now, well, an ungodly ugly bare brick. The original woodwork, most of which had never been painted since the house was built in 1920, was covered in white paint. Sure, the house seemed brighter inside. But it seemed sterile, too. No life. Nothing cozy going on there. No eclectic artwork or interesting focal points. It looked as if there wasn't a single picture on the walls. With all the lights ablaze, I could see upstairs into Nolan's nursery. It was still the same shade of periwinkle that I had always loved. The walls in there were bare, too. But the room seemed empty. Almost as empty as the front porch, which seemed lacking, void of the antique rocker and table I had always kept out there. It seemed in need of some flowers, too. I always kept the steps lined with potted plants. Now, two sad little evergreens about six inches in height drooped on the bottom stairs. They seemed lonely.

I missed my house.

And I was pretty sure my house missed all of us.

The rain fell on my car. The kids and I sat in darkness, transfixed. Suddenly, I snapped out of it, threw the car in drive, and pulled away.

"Bye house!" said Sean.

"Bye house!" said the echo.

There was an eerie silence in the car after that. After a while Sean broke it, his voice cracking. "I wish we didn't have to drive all the way home. I wish we were just going across the street." He was wiping tears away.

"Do you miss the house?"

"Yes!" he started to choke out sobs.

"I miss the house, too!" said the little echo, tears streaming down his face as well.

"Well, I miss it, too, guys. It's okay to miss it!" I reached back to grab Sean's hand. Nolan reached for it and the three of us held hands while I drove. The kids were sobbing. I was, too.

"Go ahead. Tell me what you miss," I said.

"I miss our room!" said Sean. "I miss being able to go upstairs!"

"I miss going upstairs, too!" said the echo.

"I miss our yard, and our flowers," I said. "It's okay to miss these things, guys. It's okay." We held hands for several blocks, and the kids sniffled and whimpered, watching all the old houses that once seemed so familiar fade beside our car into the darkness.

I had to get myself together so I could safely drive us home. Today had been a long day, anyway, but it was suddenly unbearably long.

I pulled away my hand from the boys and fixed my eyes on the road. After a few minutes of listening to the kids sniffle, I said, "You know, even though we miss the house, at least you have a blue room in our new house."

"Yeah," said Sean. "Not some baby girl yellow color like our old room."

"And in our new house we have Timmy," I reminded them. "We didn't have a turtle in our old house. And we didn't get to see the water every day, like we do from our new house."

"Yeah", said Sean. "We see the water every day. We smell it, too."

"Yeah, the water," said the echo.

Ten minutes later, as we drove past the sea wall, Nolan remarked,

"Where are the boats?"

"Away. They're stored away until it's summer again," I said.

"Oh."

"Yeah, they go away for a while," said Sean. "Then they come back for a while. And then they go away again."

Exactly.

xo

Flight

A repost from today's Daily Om:


October 26, 2007

Without A Net
Living Life With Trust


As we create the life of our dreams, we often reach a crossroads where the choices seem to involve the risk of facing the unknown versus the safety and comfort of all that we have come to trust. We may feel like a tightrope walker, carefully teetering along the narrow path to our goals, sometimes feeling that we are doing so without a net. Knowing we have some backup may help us work up the courage to take those first steps, until we are secure in knowing that we have the skills to work without one. But when we live our lives from a place of balance and trust in the universe, we may not see our source of support, but we can know that it is there.

If we refuse to act only if we can see the safety net, we may be allowing the net to become a trap as it creates a barrier between us and the freedom to pursue our goals. Change is inherent in life, so even what we have learned to trust can surprise us at any moment. Remove fear from the equation and then, without even wondering what is going on below, we can devote our full attention to the dream that awaits us.

We attract support into our lives when we are willing to make those first tentative steps, trusting that the universe will provide exactly what we need. In that process we can decide that whatever comes from our actions is only for our highest and best experience of growth. It may come in the form of a soft landing, an unexpected rescue or an eye-opening experience gleaned only from the process of falling. So rather than allowing our lives to be dictated by fear of the unknown, or trying to avoid falling, we can appreciate that sometimes we experience life fully when we are willing to trust and fall. And in doing so, we may just find that we have the wings to fly.

When we believe that there is a reason for everything, we are stepping out with the safety net of the universe, and we know we will make the best from whatever comes our way



***

Word. - xo

Testing Limits

A couple of weeks ago I went to see The Darjeeling Limited, the latest film by Wes Anderson. I'm a huge Wes Anderson fan. I love his work and know his movies the way diehard Star Wars fans know and love the work of George Lucas. But Wes Anderson is no George Lucas: Anderson's movies are more substantial.

The movie was excellent, another story dense with character studies and tactile visuals. I had waited so long for that movie to come out, and I so adore Wes Anderson's ability to relay emotion with a camera and a good soundtrack, that I burst into tears when the movie started. The Kinks played while Adrien Brody ran for a train in slow motion. Tears poured from my eyes. There is something seriously wrong with me.

There are so many movies I need to catch up on, at home and in the theater. I don't get much free time to myself, but I think the next time I do--in a week or so--I'm going to see The Darjeeling Limited again. I want to go alone, though. This is a big deal: I don't see movies alone. I've only done it once, when I went to see State and Main (great movie!) alone in Seattle. The next day we had a 6.8 earthquake in the city. Because of that earthquake, I was reminded that life is short, and consequently I made some pretty big decisions that would forever change my life.

But I never again went alone to a movie. For a while, I used to fear something cataclysmic would happen if I did. A crazy superstition, I know.

I'm not saying I don't believe in that now. But I guess I no longer fear it. In fact, I'm all for inviting it.



xo

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Big Thoughts, Little Men, and Digging Deep

Monday night Sean, Nolan and I returned home from Sean's "Fall Ball" little league game under the lights. We piled outta the car and stood in the driveway, staring up at the sky. The moon was stunning. It was a little more than a half moon, ablaze against the evening clouds and encircled by what looked like a rainbow of light. Crazy.

Nolan shrieked, "The moon is following us!!"

To which Sean replied, "The moon spends its whole life following everyone on earth."

Indeed. With the moon and sun always there, how could anyone ever feel lonely?

Last night, while eating dinner, Sean mused, "What if the whole world just went away, and we just lived in Candy Land?"

"That sounds pretty awesome. But what about the trees?" I asked.

"They'd be candy trees!"

"What about the ocean?"

"It would be Princess Frostine!"

"Would you miss our world," I asked.

"No! I would just eat candy all the time!"

Then he munched away on his dinner, lost in thought. Nolan was busy talking to the turtle, and Sean suddenly turned to me, his eyes full of tears,

"Actually, I think I would miss our world. So I think I would sometimes get stuck on the licorice spot so I could slide back into it, whenever I was missing it."

"It's always good to have a back-up plan, honey. I think that's a good one," I said.

"Yeah. The getting stuck is a good plan sometimes."

***

Sunday I spent the afternoon planting bulbs in Grandma's garden. My Aunt Kate and I weeded out the dead annuals, raked, and I dug sixty holes for sixty bulbs. My mom hung out for a while, but she was too overcome with emotion watching Grandma watch me as I planted, so she left. But if there are perfect moments in time--and there are--that was one of them. It was a glorious October day. Grandma was feeling pretty well that afternoon, and so she spent a while in the garden with me, talking about the different plants that are her favorite, as well as pointing out the ones that never did as well as she had expected. "Well, you just never know," she said. "Some years those bloom, and others they don't. I guess I'm just always surprised."

We stood under a glowing arc created by the neighbor's maple that reaches over the fence to drop some of its leaves, like a special favor. Grandma remarked that Sean was so cute playing in the leaves last week, and I resolved at that moment to appreciate each moment and each person as much as she does.

It felt so wonderful to get dirty in the garden. I didn't realize until that afternoon how much I missed the rhythm of gardening, which I did haphazardly but with lots of enthusiasm at my old house, which I sold this summer. I take a lot of comfort from the smell of the earth, watching worms wriggle and slither, listening to the birds and ripping roots from the ground in order to plant new ones. It had been almost a year since I had done that, with the exception of a few small plants I threw into the ground at my new place when I first moved in. But it's not the same. I don't own that home. The cycles of the seasons are different for me, as a result.

Planting the bulbs with Kate was cathartic. Grandma is looking forward to them bloom in the spring, and I know she will be there to see them do just that, regardless. Standing in Grandma's yard, I was brought back to a time when I was young and innocent and thought nothing about my world was strange, nor would it change. For a time, I wanted to hold on to it all. I considered my mother's offer of buying the house from the estate when Grandma dies. But now, no. It's time to let go. It's time to move on. It's time to give up the ghosts in those walls. It would be a beautiful thing to live there, in some ways. But no one can take Grandma's place. And I don't want to be the one to change the landscape or the layout of the one shelter that has been constant in my family for five decades.

I stopped by Grandma's at lunch yesterday to check on the bulbs and to visit with Grandma. She walked into the kitchen, surprised and happy to see me. Her coloring was great, and she seemed strong.

"Did you see that moon last night?" she asked.

"I did!" I answered, and relayed Sean and Nolan's comments about it to her. She laughed. Then she said that she and my aunt were planning to go to Ikea for a few things. She asked if I needed anything.

No. I don't need anything. Just knowing that Grandma, my children and I were all standing under the light of the same moon is enough.



xo

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Day Off

I have the slowest-moving cold ever. Just when I think I'm better, I push it and I'm knocked back down on my ass again. Last night I was in bed at 8:45. I slept until 6:30.

At least I didn't have to work yesterday. The kids were off from school, and I took the day to be with them. Feeling better, I made a big lunch and my grandmother, mother and brother came over for the afternoon. It was a gorgeous day, and it was so nice to see Grandma out of her house, sitting on my deck in the sunlight, enjoying a meal. She ate her entire lunch, which is a big deal these days. And she was even up for a cup of chai, another surprise. Later, she and my mom went down to Lighthouse, where they walked around the flower beds and butterfly gardens, while my brother and I played baseball with my little guys.

After they left, Sean decided we were going to have a scavenger hunt, pretending to be ninja turtles and going to "ninja island". We ran next door and used the property of an abandoned historic house as our "island", where we found all the things on Sean's list--an acorn, a feather, a rock, and something purple (flowers, in a neglected, overgrown memorial garden). The kids loved traipsing around our secret hideaway. The sun was bright, the sky was clear, the air was perfect.

This morning, Sean took my hand to look out the back door toward the east. "Look, mom! Want to see the prettiest pink sky ever?"

"Wow. What a sunrise."

"It's beautiful, isn't it?"


My little guy...



It was nice to see that sunrise this morning, especially since it went down so early last night.

Summer goes by quickly.

But Autumn is even shorter.

xo

Thursday, October 11, 2007

From Today's NYT

I read this today and I have to share it. It made me cry, because even though these days are far off with my children, they're still inevitable:




October 11, 2007

Cyberfamilias

You Virtually Had to Be There
By MICHELLE SLATALLA

EVER since she went off to college I’ve come to think of my daughter as Virtual Zoe. In many ways, there’s not that much difference between my glimpses of her now and the brief physical sightings in the years after she earned her driver’s license.

But these days, I never know where she will turn up. It could be in the form of an e-mail message — “Check out this sweet car I saw for sale on Craigslist” — or when I’m trying to work and an instant message pops up: Oh, come on, it’s sooooo cheappppp (for a car). Or she might write a blog post about her most recent purchase, a long-handled “claw” that extends her arm reach by nearly three feet so she can grab her phone without getting off her bed or (if later than noon) the common-room couch.

She still exhibits the same sense of humor, the same late-night hours and presumably the same baggy gray sweat pants.

Or does she? It’s the last part — wondering about what I can’t see — that has been the hardest for me since she went away. I try to ignore the longing, but sometimes it sneaks up when I’m doing the most ordinary thing like folding laundry. I begin to wonder: Is that all I get? I put 18 years of hard work into this person, and now she disappears?

As her mother, I needed to lay eyes on her. It was still a long time until Thanksgiving break. Last week I asked her in an e-mail message, “Can we video chat tonight?”

It was a big step, because I’ve always thought of video chats as something enjoyed mainly by connoisseurs of pornography and my husband (not to my knowledge a connoisseur of pornography). More than a decade ago, he brought home a program called CU-SeeMe, and we crowded around his Powerbook as if it were the first color television in town, transmitting herky-jerky images.

I know that video chats have become much more common because practically every time I walk into the kitchen these days, I inadvertently appear in the background of a broadcast and prompt my 10-year-old daughter, Clementine, to say to her laptop, “Don’t worry, my mom isn’t angry, she always looks like that.” But I had yet to experience the magic myself.

At the appointed hour, we phoned Zoe, knowing that she could reach her computer without leaving her seat (“My claw has suction cups to help grip things,” she reassured us). Clementine fired up the iChat connection.

Would Zoe look the same? Did she still write on her hand in indelible Sharpie all the things she didn’t want to forget? Did her stuffed zebra still lie on her pillow, with a paw thrown across his rheumy plastic eyes to block the sunlight?

We all crowded around the screen.

Blackness.

“It says there was a communication error,” Clem said.

We tried again. And again. But we couldn’t conjure Zoe onscreen. My husband looked up the error codes on Google. Zoe changed her iChat bandwidth preferences and, after that didn’t work, her Quicktime preferences.

Only I was not experienced enough with video chats to remain calm. But I felt the familiar despondency of the technology neophyte creep over me. I said into the phone, “At least tell us, are you wearing the sweat pants?”

“Hang on,” Zoe said. Then she actually got off her bed and walked to the dorm’s common room — where she said the signal was stronger — and tried to evict her dorm mates. “You guys, I have to video chat in here with my parents,” she said, adding: “Shut up. It’s not creepy.”

Still nothing.

As a last resort, we decided to abandon iChat for Skype. She started to download the video conferencing program, but unfortunately at a speed roughly equivalent to the Dark Ages. “It says it’s going to take me 2 hours and 24 minutes,” she said, yawning.

Despairing, we gave up.

At 7:30 a.m. Pacific time the next day, the phone rang. It was Zoe, calling at the crack of 10:30 a.m. Eastern time.

“You guys, try Skype again,” she said.

And just like that, there was Virtual Zoe, incarnate. Same hair, same glasses, same smile. At 30 frames a second, my husband claimed.

“Zoe!” I said.

“Mom!” she said. “Is that my shirt you’re wearing?”

“No,” I lied, realizing too late that in my zeal to see her, I had forgotten to consider the full implications of her seeing me.

“It is, and she’s been wearing it constantly,” said Ella, my 16-year-old daughter, elbowing me aside to start gossiping with her older sister.

“You’re wearing one of my sweaters, Ella,” Zoe said.

“Want to talk to the dogs?” Ella asked, deftly angling the laptop to show Sticky, our eight-pound Papillon. The little dog dragged across the floor a nine-pound bone that she had stolen from Otto, our Labrador retriever.

“Look at Little Man,” Zoe kvelled. “Sticky, if you had a claw like me, you wouldn’t have to drag things.”

“Show us your claw,” Clem said to Zoe.

Zoe held it up. “Look, I’m holding a water bottle,” she said. “Want to see it pick up a shoe?”

My husband, squinting at Virtual Zoe, said, “Hold up your arm and show us what you wrote on your hand.”

The hand said, “Claire’s birthday,” “Return Nip/Tuck” and “Go to library” (crossed out).

I asked, “Can you angle the computer so we can see what’s on the floor in your room?”

But instead, without warning the picture started to break up. Now it looked like a transmission from outer space, with jerky slow-motion images of Zoe floating across the screen.

“Goodbye, Angels,” Zoe said, and from very far away we saw the claw wave erratically as her voice faded out.

Finished 14:29, the screen displayed.

It was the fastest 14 minutes 29 seconds I could remember.

I missed her already.

My cellphone rang.

“Can you stop wearing my shirt?” Zoe asked.

“If I remember,” I said.

“Write it on your hand,” she recommended.

E-mail: Slatalla@nytimes.com



xo

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Alternative Birthing Methods

I went to bed before last night's game was over. Because, well, I knew it was over even if it wasn't over, no matter what Yogi Berra says. I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised this morning with a reversal of fortune. But I'm not stupid. Hopeful, maybe. Stupid? No. Not as a rule, anyway.

I collapsed into a deep sleep last night, and I had some pretty wild dreams, including me being pregnant and told by the doctors they would have to deliver the baby early--like, several months early--to perform some life-saving procedure on it. I went into the hospital and was being induced, which is weird, and I remember seeing the bag of pitocin hooked up to my arm. Then it turned into a cathater full of piss. Weird. They should have done a C-section anyway! But I was being induced, regardless. I remember feeling totally ambivalent about this baby. I didn't really want it, I don't think.

Then I heard a baby cry. All that ambivalence went out the window. My baby! My baby was crying! But wait--I didn't have the baby.

Some guy, laying in a bed in a grassy field across the hall from my hospital room, had the baby instead.

The doctors gathered around. The baby was perfect. It was a boy. He was perfect in every way, and he was so small. Turns out he didn't seem to need his procedure. But since he was premature, the doctors said he might have to be "put back inside". And even though I didn't have him, he was somehow going to be stuffed back inside my body. All the while, the doctors held on to him, I kept asking to hold him--I felt, in my dream, a physical, primal need to hold him. And I was still hooked up to the bag of piss-pitocin.

Bizarre.

I don't know who the guy was who had my baby. He was totally forgotten about as soon as the baby popped out.

Weird.

xo

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Postseason Odds

I'm watching the Yanks play Cleveland right now. Hmmm...let's see....words that rhyme with Yank: stank, sank, wank, spank, tank...

They're losing 11-3. That's kind of impressive.

***

I suppose I could go on at length about my family right now and all the bullshit that my mother and her siblings unleash on each other on a pretty regular basis, especially now that Grandma--their mother--is dying. Want to see a bunch of grown people turn into infants? Throw them into their mother's house all at the same time. Within minutes they'll be fighting for attention from a woman who deserves peace, quiet, and tea.

I suppose I could also go on at length about the big and little moments in my life as a divorced woman, as a divorced mom, and how the effects of that trickle down into every other relationship I have in my life. But I'm tired of thinking about it, much less writing about it.

I could probably even write about my hopes and plans for the next year, the next two years, the next ten years...the rest of my life. But I'm all done counting on things. That's not to say I don't have an idea where I'd like to go and a plan for how I might do that. But I can't count on anything except the fact that I will never be able to predict how things will turn out, no matter how much control I exercise with my own decisions and actions. Those equal and opposing reactions? Yeah, I have no control over those.

I also have no control over what other people think and feel--about anything, let alone me. And so, at the end of most days when I tuck in the kids and retire to the livingroom, alone, for some yoga or downtime with the dog, I'm grateful for the friends I have in my life. For the people who I have been privileged to know and love. For the people I've been blessed to have love me back. For my family. For all the guys I've known, too. And when it comes to men, well, all I can really say is that I know less every day. Here I am, clueless. And yet I'm trying to raise two boys to become men.

In the end, I know this: I'm trying really hard these days not put up a huge wall in my life. I think a little wall is okay, one that can be easily jumped. But the big wall can get built pretty quickly, and I'm keenly aware of the bricks and mortar in my hands. It's easy to want to put up a barrier between myself and the rest of the world some days. Well, some days more than others, anyway. Like yesterday, when I decided on the following logic in my pea brain: If something isn't yours to begin with, then you can't lose them. And if you can't lose them, you can't miss them. If I follow that logic, one of the biggest hurts in my life should be anesthetized.

And, naturally, that logic dictates that life would be a lot better if I can't lose people.

Hence the bricks. And mortar.

I'm not a mason, though. I don't even descend from masons, as far as I know. I descend from writers and drinkers. Holy crap. I'm fucked!

Still, though, my ancestry doesn't dictate my destiny. After all, despite my genetic predisposition toward negative thought and depression, I'm not a Red Sox fan. ;o)

But as a baseball fan, I can proudly abuse sports metaphors and safely say that while it hurts to lose, you know that one season is just one season. Hell, one at-bat is just one at-bat! There's always your next turn at the plate. And there's always next season. And someone's always gonna win a game and someone's always gonna lose a game. Or a division. Or a series. But it's still just a game. And if you're not enjoying it, that's your fault.

xo

Monday, October 1, 2007

Friday Night in the ER

Never assume that first responders know where they're going.

Friday night Sean managed to stuff a huge plastic sword down his brother's throat, and then Nolan fell, resulting in him gagging and vomiting up immense amounts of blood. Three times. I called 911.

As I gave my location, I emphasized that I lived on XYZ Avenue, not XYZ Street, the latter of which was on the other side of town. The operator repeated the address, I repeated it back to her, and she repeated it to me again.

I hung up, unlockedd and opened the front door, and then sat on the floor with Nolan in my lap. Sean cried that his brother was going the hospital and never coming home--and that it was all his fault. I tried to calm down Nolan, reassure Sean that I knew he didn't mean to hurt his brother, and remain calm myself as my pint-sized three-year-old continued to vomit up pure blood. I had no idea how severe or minor his injury was, but it sure didn't look so good. Thank God I don't get woozy. My living room looked like a crime scene.

After a few minutes, Engine 16 showed up, followed by an NHFD rescue truck. Nolan had finally stopped vomiting, and Sean was in hiding. The firemen paraded into the house, followed by neighbors running from the homes into mine. One of the firemen coaxed Sean out from behind the couch.

"Hey, buddy," he said, as Sean popped up like a shy prairie dog. "Can you show us what you stuck in your brother's mouth?"

Sean pulled out the 18-inch plastic sword from behind his back. The eyebrows on every guy in my living room -- were there six? eight? -- raised up to the ceiling. The fireman cleared his throat. "Okay, buddy. Can you show us how far down his throat it went?"

Sean moved his hand along the sword, stopping after about five or six inches.

The Lt. or Cpt. or whomever was in charge turned to me. "Ready to go?"

"Yep."

"AMR went to XYZ Street, not Avenue," piped up one of the firemen, after saying something into his radio.


Beautiful. The fucking ambulance was on the other side of town. Glad this wasn't a life or death situation. Hope those EMTs enjoyed their Big Macs on their ride to the wrong house.


"Looks like you're going to get a transport in the truck," said another to Sean. "We'll need his carseat for the ride," he said to me.

I tossed him my keys. "The car is in the back," I said.

The kids and I went to the rescue truck, while my neighbors were on my porch and in my living room, offering all kinds of help. I asked if they would simply make sure Cee Cee got back into the house safely--she was running around the firetruck outside and trying to play with all the firemen at this point. Then I called Ian and Keith. Ian booked off work after I called and met us down at the hospital to take Sean home. Keith took off for the hospital, where he stayed with me and Nolan.

But back to the ride. I sat on the stretcher with Nolan on my lap, both of us loosely belted and Nolan covered in red vomit. The fireman who retrieved Sean's booster seat jumped into the truck.

"Man, you've got some good neighbors," he said. I figured he was referring to the party of helpful, concerned people on my front porch.

"We're lucky," I said.

"I'll say. One of your neighbors just yelled at me, 'Hey, what are you doing back there? Can I help you with something?' while I was going through your car. He thought I was breaking into it while you were busy dealing with an emergency!"

That would be Ed. I love Ed.

After a bumpy ride to YNHH's pediatric ER (Nolan frequently interrupted his silence to say, "Whoa.") Nolan was assessed, monitored, x-rayed, and in every way, shape and form checked out. Diagnosis: Lacerated throat, perilously close to the artery. The cut clotted on its own. No swelling or pockets of blood to be found. Soft foods for the next 48 hours. We were discharged around 10:45 PM. And not a moment too soon. Trauma calls had started coming in over the exam room's radio. If there is one thing I didn't want to be around, it was trauma in a pediatric unit.

We arrived home. Keith kissed Nolan goodbye and drove off. I carried my little guy inside and fixed him a tall glass of milk. He sat on the couch next to Ian and watched as the Yanks blew their lead, while Sean slept soundly in his room. Within minutes, Nolan was passed out in his own bed beside him.

The sword has been put far away.

Nolan's shirt has been washed and removed of stains.

The floor has been mopped.

Sean is no longer traumatized by the fear that he killed his brother--a very real, big fear of his that night.

And I never, ever, ever want to see that much blood come out of either one of my children again.

Ever again.

Saturday afternoon we attended Sean's little league awards dinner, where Sean received his first trophy, won a raffle prize (so did Mom!), and Nolan housed three huge meatballs and a bunch of ziti.

The kid is okay.

Sean's been hugging Nolan a lot more the past few days, too. We all have.



The End.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Scattered

First, I want to say that Nissan has used the Clash's "Pressure Drop" in an ad campaign.

OY!

***

The kids love Avatar. I'm a sucker for it, too, having first started watching it a couple of years ago. Sean is way into all the philosophical aspects of the stories; Nolan likes to imitate all the warrior stances--complete with sound effects. If you haven't checked it out, start watching it. It's a great show about a kid who learns to master the elements--earth, water, fire, and air--in order to save the world. Yet he doesn't want the responsibility. It's refreshing to watch. And it beats most of the crap on television. (Except Reno 911. And Rescue Me. And the Yankees...)

***

My thoughts aren't very cohesive these days. I have so much on my mind, the only thing that seems to settle it is to a) add to it with more thoughts, or, b) tune out completely.

So, anyway...

This morning I was in a pretty thick fog, having had no coffee at home and only having had one sip of a large house from Fuel before pulling into the parking lot at work. There, waiting for me--or waiting for someone from our organization, were news crews. Fully made-up reporters and badly dressed cameramen with tripods. They were all reporting on the end of the Habitat Bike Challenge (HBC), an annual cross-country bike ride organized by Yale students that has raised money for our organization for the past 13 years. Two years ago, Ramie Speight was killed while riding. Last year another student who was scheduled to go on the ride was killed while riding to Yale Crew practice up Rte. 34 in New Haven. And this year Dan Lewis was hit while riding and has been in a coma since early July. Consequently, the Habitat Board of Directors and the HBC Board of Directors agreed to end the charity ride. And the reporters are all over it. Not a single camera was on the New Haven Green when the riders left on their journey last May. But they're all over us now. Gross.

It's sad to see HBC end, but what alternative do we have? No one said the ride was without risk. But COME ON!! I cannot imagine saying goodbye to another group of students next year, wondering who won't come back. The ride nets nearly $300K a year for our organization, but I would give it all back to have Dan Lewis wake up. Or to have Ramie or Alex back. I cannot in good conscience accept this money along with the risk. Our first responsibility is to the students. There are better means to the ends we seek. With that, the HBC board and our staff are working together to find an alternative charity sponsorship for the students to organize. One with less risk.

Reporters. No coffee. It wasn't even 9AM.

Other news: Grandma is still coasting before the crest of the hill on her great ride. I'm enjoying every moment I can with her, and I spent a few hours by her side last night, crocheting a baby blanket, watching the Yankees blow it, and talking to Grandma about which bulbs she would like planted in her yard. I want to plant bulbs that will bloom in the spring. They will compliment the other perennnials in her garden. I want to do this. I need to do this. And no matter what happens between now and next spring, she'll be with me to see them poke through the thaw and open up to the light.

Grandma's illness has highlighted a major fear of mine, too: That we will lose all peace in our family when we lose her. Like it or not, she is the peacekeeper. And rather than step up to the plate and learn how to compromise and work together, my mother and her three siblings are fighting as much as ever. It's detestful. It makes me want to vomit. And they are looking to me---ME!!!???!!---to mediate and help them keep the peace. Unknowingly, they contact me individually, appealing to me to help them negotiate this or that with each other. I'm amazed. I'm appalled. I'm exhausted. I call them all on it, too. I won't play the game. I listen. I talk. I listen a whole lot more. Then I tell them that I already know about this fight or that. That so-and-so told me. And here's what I think. And go be a grown-up.

I'm definitely turning all ringers off my phones on Sunday.

I'm not up to the task of peacekeeper. And yet, I feel as if I have no choice. I want to run from the responsibility. There are four siblings. Four elements, for sure.

I'm no Avatar.

But I will get dirty in the garden.

xo

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Half Moon

I hesitated to write any more about Grandma in this space, out of respect for her and my family. But the truth is that roughly five people, myself included, read anything I write here. And what I have to say pours outta my head from the well of my heart. So, here we go:

***

The kids and I drove home from a visit to Grandma's late today, the last day of summer. We cruised past the airport, which is the main divide between her neighborhood in 'Staven and mine in the Cove. As we drove, Sean looked out the window into the twilight.

"Is that a half moon, Mom?"

I glanced up. The moon hovered over the runways. "Yep, honey. Sure is."

"Is it coming or going?"

"Good question. I don't know."

And what do I know, anyway? Grandma is not long for this world. The only thing I seem to know, philosophically, is that we should be grateful for any moment we have to say "hello", or "I love you", or "Goodbye" to the people who grace our lives. Grandma, with all of her poise, ease, and spirituality, has more grace than most.

Tonight I am very, very sad. And for once, I'm going to allow myself to feel it, rather than rush through it with self-imposed distractions. Why should I numb myself to these days? They might be the most beautiful ones yet.



xo

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Everyone's Hero

Last night was rough. Without getting into all the gorey details, I'll sum it up by saying that the kids got the rare treat of seeing me cry. A lot. (Hey, it happens. I'm not made of steel.) Sitting cross-legged on my bedroom floor, tear-soaked faced in my hands, I suddenly felt Sean's little hand rubbing my shoulder.

"Just breathe, Mommy. Like this: In. Out. You can do it," he said. "It's easy."

Be still my heart. The kid is amazing. And he's only five.

Tonight we watched Everyone's Hero, an animated kids movie about Babe Ruth and his stolen bat. The kids LOVE this movie, and we all snuggled on the couch together and took it in before the kids decided to battle with "swords"--a plastic golf club for Nolan and two items of clothing for Sean, which he wielded with Ninja-like skill.

At one point, Nolan got Sean good twice in a row, and Sean doubled over in pain, crying, "OW! Nolan! OW!" He began to cry, and said, "You fight really good!" Then he jumped back up, wiped away his tears and, "And I fight really good, too!!!" And he was on the offense, mercilessly swinging two pieces of a pyjama set. It was then Nolan's turn to whimper, before they both rolled around on the floor, beating the hell out of each other and laughing.

Last week at the kids' school orientation (for parents), Nolan's preK teacher--a wonderful, warm mother of two grown-ups--reminded us parents of young children that, "There will be good days, and there will be bad days. Really good days. And really bad days. But if you spend too much time looking at the bad days, you'll miss the good ones."

Word.

xo

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"A Lot of Boredom Broken Up by a Few Moments of Terror"

Watching the "Bad Girls" special on Cops right now with Ian. Hilarious and depressing. One cop began a segment by saying, in part, that his job as a police officer is largely "a lot of boredom broken up by a few moments of terror."

Just a thought.

***

Today was a mellow day after a fun night checking out Dave Gagne's photos at the Hope Gallery. His show is an amazing "retrospective" (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA) of New Haven's hardcore years, mainly the early 90s. Not only did everyone in the pics look thinner and younger and less tattooed than now, but everyone just looked so innocent. Even if they weren't, they looked it. And then there were the photos of friends who have died.

There is so much I can say about that show, about seeing so many friends last night--in photos, in person. It was somewhat overwhelming. I'm not sure how to articulate what it meant to me, except that it was really important. Afterward, Courtney, Hoss, Renee, Summer and I headed down to Firehouse 12 for a while. Ian headed off to work. After a few hours, exhausted from two very difficult weeks at work, to say nothing of the emotional rollercoaster of my grandmother's inoperable, untreatable, and very sudden and recent cancer, I collapsed into bed. For the earlier part of today, I felt as if I had the flu. I was simply exhausted. From life.

I was dragging. I don't normally "drag".

Late this afternoon, after a long walk with Cee Cee to get my blood moving, I brought the kids to the birthday party of a friend of theirs from our old neighborhood. He was also a friend from their old school, and Sean was THRILLED to see him again. It was a delight to see Sean and his friends David, Niko, and Sebby run circles around each other. Sean and Niko were attached at the hip for the duration of the party. Niko hugged Sean and wouldn't let go when it was time to say goodbye. It broke my heart. His mom and I have always gotten along well, and Niko and Sean had plenty of playtime outside of school in the past, so we'll be getting them together again soon. But Niko is now attending the school Sean would have gone to had we stayed in our old neighborhood. And for the second time in 24 hours, too many memories flooded my heart.

Now? "Cops". Nothing better to clear the head than some serious white trash drama.

Happy Saturday.

xo

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lost and Found

I've officially lost four friends in my life. Two weren't my friends to begin with, and the other two were very close girlfriends of mine with whom I had some bizarre "falling outs"--each of them resulting in me saying, "Hey, if you wanna go crazy and lose your shit, you go do that. My door is still open."

The first time this happened was after I became engaged nine years ago, and a close girlfriend, whom I'll refer to as "L", pulled away from me in a major way. This isn't unusual. Friendships often transition when one or both friends go through a major life change, such as a marriage, birth, divorce, etc.

But this was particularly messy and ugly, for no substantial reason. My engagement coincided with her nervous breakdown. I was powerless in helping her through what she was going through, and she lashed out at everyone in her path. Defensively, I stepped aside, heartbroken, with the door to our friendship wide open.

Seven years later, I ran into L at a market downtown while on a lunchbreak from my previous job. We were both married, although I was soon to be divorced. And we were both mothers. People eyed us as we hugged and kissed and cried in front of a freezer full of ice cream. Bygones went by, and we're close again.

The other friendship I lost happened after my marriage imploded two years ago. A girlfriend to whom I'll refer as "E" became extremely judgemental of me, painfully so. She and I had become friends a few years earlier as the result of our children's friendship, and, like me, she was Catholic. The difference is that she was a recent convert to the faith. I, on the other hand, was raised Catholic and was (and am) therefore a lapsed, jaded, and cynical Catholic. So it should not have surprised me that the ugly transgressions that were the main catalyst of my marriage's failure were of less concern to her than my imminent divorce. She would not accept that I would get divorced. She saw it as the most awful thing I could do to my relationship with God. As if, by getting divorced (after two separations and nearly a year of counseling) I would be a failure as a person, as a mother and, more importantly as far as she was concerned, as a Catholic.

The timing was the kicker. Although she had always been a little zealous, her own marriage was drowning alongside mine. Quickly. But rather than sypmathize with me, she was mean and critical. I did my best to tell myself that she was projecting her own insecurities, blah blah blah. But it still hurt. A LOT. After all, her two sons and my two sons were good friends. And I was the godmother to her youngest. I defended myself, but allowed distance between us with the door to a friendship wide open. "When you're done losing your shit, E," I said, "I'm still here for you."

Last week, I ran into E's husband at my children's school. As fate would choose it, he and E had enrolled my godson in the same class as Nolan, my youngest. And, as time played out, they are now going through a divorce. Her husband is a great guy, and we laughed about the moment I would see E again. It was inevitable. He anticipated drama and a scene. I anticipated nothing but love.

So today, when I finished blowing bye-bye kisses to Nolan and turned away from the door, I was filled with love when E was walking toward me, her young son's hand in hers. I ran toward her with open arms and we hugged for a long time.

"I was such an ass," she said. "I'm so sorry."

"What does any of it matter? I'm just so happy to see you."

We parted with the promise to talk at length soon.

Tonight I will head out with Renee and a number of the New Haven Girl Crew members to celebrate Renee's birthday, which is today. We'll talk shop and eat dessert and drink coffee or tea or wine and enjoy each other's company. And I will once again be overcome with how much I love having lived in this area my whole life thus far. I have been able to watch friendships evolve, pretty much die, and be reborn--to say nothing of the lifelong friendships that have been consistent through my blessed life. The cycles of our friendships, much like the cycles of our relationships with members of our family--indeed, perhaps moreso--help us learn so much. That is, if we're open to the lesson. And to be open to the lesson, you've got to keep your doors open.

That's not to say you should keep every door open. There are plenty of doors that should be shut, out of respect for yourself, depending on the circumstances.

But I prefer to keep my doors open whenever possible. And if I do happen to close one, just knock. It's probably unlocked.

xo

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Baby Love

Sean and Nolan have it all figured out. They both love babies, and they've decided that
a) I need to have a baby; and,
b) Maybe I should get married, too.

"And wear a black skirt on your married day!" said Nolan.

I don't know if either one of those items are in my future. Ever. But I do love babies. The kids know it, too. Whenever we hang out with Jane--and Noah and Luella--I can't get enough of that baby! I ask to hold Luella. I snuggle and sniff her and kiss her and dance around with her. I have a lot of love to give. A LOT. Too much. If only I had less love and more patience.

Friday night, Ian joined the kids and I as we met up with Jane, Evan, Noah and Luella for an exhibit of pirate-themed art at Beinecke. Unfortunatley for the kids, most of the exhibit was in lighted, glass boxes much higher than their small stature, and the exhibit was pretty much geared toward grown-ups. So the kids instead wreaked havoc, running around the rare book and manuscript library screaming and yelling, playing Hulk Smash!, and complaining that there were no pirates. "Sure there are honey," I said to Sean as I downed my glass of wine, while Jane went to get her second from the bar. "Right over there"--I gestured with my empty glass.

The bartenders were dressed as pirates.

Sorry, kids! There's really no exhibit! It was just an excuse for the moms to go drink for free on a Friday night!

After the exhibit---that is, after Nolan pitched such a fit that I carried him kicking and screaming down a flight of stairs, smelling boozy while wearing my heels--we all headed to Clark's for dinner. The three boys sat at the counter, sipping raspberry sodas and eating dinner, much to the delight of passersby who stopped to smile and point at the three American Kids, seemingly alone in a timeless city diner. After I scarfed down my BLT, I asked Jane if I could feed Luella, who was downing some yummy Gerber mush.

Man, I forgot how much fun it was to feed little baby birds.

Saturday morning, Keith picked up the kids early for a day in NY and I met Jane and her kids down at the Wooster Farmers Market, then headed over to Fuel where I enjoyed more babystealing and cuddling time. It was a treat, to say the least. Nevemrind how much I love just hanging out with Jane.

I'm in no position to have a baby right now, economically or emotionally, to say nothing of the rest... But I do LOVE babies. And so, when the kids saw a Huggies commercial on TV tonight, featuring a mom and her baby and older daughter, Sean said,

"Mom, you need a baby. Trust me."

It kind of broke my heart. Because it's true. I do need a baby...

...much more than a baby needs me. At least right now.


***

Last night was an evening spent eating talapia and swordfish and homemade cilantro and basil pesto on the deck and the sitting around a firepit and watching the Yanks (and Pettitte! Swoon!) kick KC's ass. It was a good night.

Today I went for a long bike ride and hung out with the dog and potted mums for fall and did a lot of yoga.

Tonight the kids are finally home, overtired, fed, bathed, and ready for a few stories and bed.

It's Sunday.

Tomorrow's Monday.

One foot in front of the other.

xo

I was going to write something.

But frankly, I'm not very inspired.





Happy Sunday.



xo

Friday, September 7, 2007

Everyone Remembers Eleanor

But she lived in her own house, apart from FDR. And she had many lovers. As did FDR.

I can claim no ties to FDR--nor any Roosevelt. However, my great, great-grandfather was a roughneck for Teddy Roosevelt. He was a powerful lawyer up in Massachusetts a century ago, a couple of decades after my great, great, great-grandparents owned all the horses for the Worcester Fire Department and Public Works.

There were some quietly powerful people in my family. They blended in with, and sometimes doubed as, writers and teachers and firemen and poliecemen and (featherweight) boxers and others from my sprawling, gnarly tree. Time for me to take a trip to the Worcester and Springfield and Boston historial societies and do some digging.

In the meantime, I'll go to Rhinebeck:

From today's New York Times:

September 7, 2007
At the Home of F.D.R.’s Secret Friend
By BARBARA IRELAND

ON a secluded bluff in Rhinebeck, N.Y., in one of the most beautiful spots overlooking the Hudson River, a 35-room Queen Anne mansion with a five-story turret is getting final touches on its first paint job since 1910. On one side, its rambling porch shines in bright maroon and green. On the other, where the painters and the grant money still haven’t penetrated, it looks like a crumbling wreck.

This is Wilderstein, a stepchild among the Hudson River mansions, one of the last to be restored and despite its beauty one of the least visited — partly because its owner, Margaret Suckley (usually called Daisy), stayed on so long, cheerfully dispensing tea to strangers and far outlasting her family’s fortune. She died there in 1991, a few months before her hundredth birthday. But on a Wilderstein tour it is Daisy herself who will tell you, in a video made in the 1980s as her house deteriorated around her, that the previous paint went on in 1910. “It was good paint,” she says, laughing.

In the same video, Miss Suckley (rhymes with BOOK-ly) also talks, almost in passing, about the last days in the life of a neighbor and sixth cousin who lived downriver in another mansion: Franklin D. Roosevelt. She was one of the four women with Roosevelt in his Georgia house when he died in 1945, yet she leaves the impression that she was little more than his dog walker. It is far short of the truth.

Until a suitcase of papers was found under Ms. Suckley’s bed in her turret room at Wilderstein after her death — including handwritten letters from Roosevelt with distinctly romantic overtones — the depth of their relationship was a deeply buried secret. Oddly, despite the publication of the letters, Daisy’s diaries and her letters to him in an absorbing 1995 book put together by Geoffrey C. Ward (also author with Ken Burns of “The Civil War” and the scriptwriter for Mr. Burns’s series on World War II beginning Sept. 23 on public television), very few people seem to know the story now.

It comes into play not only at Wilderstein, but also at Top Cottage, Roosevelt’s private hideaway three miles above his estate in Hyde Park — built on a woodland height that he and Daisy referred to clandestinely in the 1930s as “Our Hill.” Tour both places in the same day, and the resonance can run deep. But you may have to do your homework first.

On two recent tours of Wilderstein, guides had much to say about the landscaping by Calvert Vaux and the lavish interiors designed by Joseph Burr Tiffany, a cousin of Louis Comfort Tiffany, but little about Roosevelt beyond the unexciting fact that Daisy gave him his Scottish terrier, Fala. Although Mr. Ward’s book “Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship Between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley” was on sale in the gift shop, no one brought up what it reveals.

You may find out a bit more on one of the National Park Service tours given since 2001 at Top Cottage, the last of the Roosevelt sites in Hyde Park to be restored and opened to the public. Or you may not. Every tour there is different, said Kevin Oldenburg, a National Park Service ranger who was leading one in May.

Top Cottage tours are refreshingly informal. Visitors walk freely through the simple rooms and can even try out the furniture, all reproductions made with the help of photographs. They sit on the same bluestone porch where Roosevelt discussed war strategy with Winston Churchill. But the content of the tours varies. One day last August two guides showed a copy of “Closest Companion” and carefully explained Daisy’s role in Roosevelt’s life and in the plans for Top Cottage. On Mr. Oldenburg’s tour last month, when there was no response to his question “Has anyone heard of Daisy Suckley?” he said merely that she was a distant cousin who had helped Roosevelt find the site for the cottage.

In the video at Wilderstein, Daisy is quick to laugh, unassuming, direct and clear in her recollections. She has a plain, unaffected charm evident even to an Eleanor Roosevelt loyalist disappointed to learn of yet another “other woman” in the Roosevelt marriage. (Best known of the others is Lucy Mercer, whose affair with Roosevelt a few years before he contracted polio had so hurt Eleanor, her children hinted — according to Doris Kearns Goodwin’s account in her book “No Ordinary Time” — that divorce was avoided only with an agreement for separate bedrooms.)

All through the war years, Daisy stayed for long visits at the White House, keeping the president company on quiet evenings. At Hyde Park, he took her on long drives in the car he operated with hand controls. The only two published photographs of him in his wheelchair were taken by Daisy — both at Top Cottage. Yet she seems to have been routinely dismissed, even by the historians who trooped to see her at Wilderstein long after Roosevelt’s death, as the dowdy cousin who worked on the family papers.

Daisy was no beauty, and after the last vestiges of the Suckley fortune, originally built on trade and shipping, were lost in the Depression, she was too poor to dress well. But she was also playing, as she put it in her diary, “my part of prim spinster,” and Roosevelt laughed about it with her. The degree of their intimacy is unknown, and Roosevelt’s apparent instructions to Daisy to burn at least some of his letters have resulted in gaps. But in 1935, something clearly happened between them on “Our Hill” — something, Mr. Ward wrote, “that neither of them ever forgot.”

“There is no reason why I should not tell you that I miss you very much — It was a week ago yesterday — ” Roosevelt wrote her immediately afterward from Boulder Dam, where he had gone for a dedication ceremony. He called her “M. M.,” for “my Margaret,” and “C. P.,” for “a certain person” whom he had to “bite my tongue” to keep from talking about. “I have longed to have you with me,” he wrote from a cruise to Panama.

Before long they were writing back and forth about Our Hill as the perfect setting for a cottage. “I think a one-story fieldstone two room house ... one with very thick walls to protect us ...,” he wrote her in October 1935. “Do you mind — then — if I tell you fairy stories till it gets very late?”

Daisy responded excitedly, with detailed plans — her sketch of a larger structure that looks something like the real Top Cottage is reproduced in a book about the cottage restoration published by the project architects in 2001. Daisy even began assembling books for “O.L.” — the cottage’s library.

The bubble seems to have burst when Roosevelt gently shifted the plans. “What an excellent idea,” she wrote in late 1937, her tone suddenly restrained, “for you to have a ‘Retreat’ on the top of your wooded hill.”

Top Cottage was built in 1938, and it was Roosevelt’s alone. He designed it to resemble the Dutch colonial architecture he admired and to accommodate his wheelchair — it is one of the first accessible structures designed by a disabled person — and it gave Roosevelt a freedom of movement he enjoyed nowhere else. He used it as a quiet retreat and to entertain foreign dignitaries. Mr. Oldenburg, speaking as his tour group sat on wicker chairs on the Top Cottage porch, described the famous party there in 1939 in which the Roosevelts served hot dogs to the king and queen of England.

Daisy, often a guest at the cottage, was there that day, Mr. Ward noted in “Closest Companion.”

THE friendship lost its romantic edge but never its intimacy. With her, Roosevelt told Daisy, he could escape the demands of other people’s expectations and just relax. She quotes him: “I’m either Exhibit A, or left completely alone” (and, of course, he was largely immobilized by his paralysis). In 1944 he was still writing, at a time when they were apart, “I wish so you were here.”

“He told me once,” she wrote in her diary soon after his death, “that there was no one else with whom he could be so completely himself.”

And he could be honest. He wrote Daisy from the ship where he first met Churchill: “He is a tremendously vital person & in many ways is an English Mayor La Guardia! Don’t say I said so!” He told her about his plans for a new postwar peace organization, later named the United Nations. “He would like to be chairman,” she wrote in her diary. In a long letter from Casablanca in 1943, he reported, “De Gaulle a headache — said yesterday that he was Jeanne d’Arc & today that he is Georges Clemenceau!”

After Roosevelt died, his daughter, Anna, and a friend came upon a cache of Daisy’s letters, hidden in the box from his stamp collection that Roosevelt took everywhere with him. There is no indication that Anna read the letters or understood their significance, but she offered to let Daisy have them back, and Daisy accepted carefully. She supposed, she wrote to Anna, it had been “just easier” for him “to toss them into the stamp box rather than bother to tear them up & drop them into the waste-paper basket!” And so her letters to Roosevelt, along with his to her, found their way to the suitcase in the turret bedroom.

A weakness of the tour at Wilderstein is that it does not include climbing up into the turret, or even going beyond the first floor — though further restoration might someday make that possible. Surely every visitor would like to see Daisy’s room, with its majestic view of the Hudson and the convenient hiding place under the bed.

VISITOR INFORMATION

Tours of Wilderstein Historic Site (330 Morton Road, Rhinebeck, N.Y.; 845-876-4818; www.wilderstein.org) are given from noon to 3:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday from May through October and cost $10 for adults. To reach the house from the New York State Thruway, take Exit 19 (Kingston), cross the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge over the Hudson River and drive south on Route 9 into Rhinebeck. Go straight at the stoplight in the center of the village and then take the first right, Mill Road. Drive 2.2 miles and turn right onto Morton Road. The Wilderstein entrance is a quarter-mile on the left.




xo

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

If you go a million miles away I'll track you down now...

Had this in my head all day and listened to it on the iPod when I went for my lunchtime stroll.

Seeing as today was Sean's first day of school, I had to post this when I found it--a bunch of five year olds rocking out to a great song:





Happy Tuesday.

xo

White Rabbit

Back at work today with a heaping, stinking pile of work on my desk. It's all for the greater good. Seriously. But it's a motherload, and it will continue to be a motherload until the end of the year. And we're understaffed! Yipee!

Sean began kindergarten today, and I bawled my eyes out in the car after watching him walk through the school doors with his posse of new friends. My little big man is growing up. My firstborn. The kid who made me a mama is off to gradeschool, and ain't nothin' gonna be the same. College can't be far behind.

As a consolation prize for returning to work after vacation and sending my kid off to school, a mystery package arrived for me at the office today. I shot the shit with the UPS guy while signing for it. He's a huge Yankees fan, and we always talk shop for a minute or two when I'm wielding the stylus. After he left, I opened the box and found, much to my surprise and delight!, a gift from Ian:





Be still my heart! It was the one I had my eye on, too! And the guy didn't even know that. But I guess I'm easy to peg, what with my bunnylove an' all.

I rocked my new watch all day today. White. Looks good with this tan.

The tan won't last forever. Soon enough I'll be pale again. My hands will once again be milky white and look good with short nails coated in red polish. But it's too early for that yet. For now, they're still a sunny bronze. It's an even color. There isn't even a tanline on my ring finger, like some hidden committment beneath a tight band. In fact, I don't wear any rings these days. Not one.

xo

Monday, September 3, 2007

School Nights are Here Again

Day 5 in a row at the beach. I am BROWN. Not a bad way to end summer--and my (second) summer vacation. The kids and I went all of 1.75 blocks to Lighthouse today with Ian. It was windy as hell and absolutely gorgeous. A few hours later we were home again, and Ian surprisingly spent most of the day here. As I pressed tiny polo shirts for Sean's first week of school, I heard Ian and Sean in the backyard crackin' bats and arguing about fair and foul balls. I was happy for many moments today, and that was one of them.

Interesting, too, how my children are with the men in their lives. Their father, although he will always be their father, is not a constant physical presence in their day-to-day routine, unlike me. So how they vibe off other guys, like Ian or Craig or my cousins Derek and Mark, is kind of fascinating to me. It's also pretty beautiful to see them develop close ties with other grown-up "dudes". Yes, Dad does lots with them. (For example, after touring many skateparks with Dad, Sean now drops in pretty fearlessly and can hold his own on the half-pipe, keeping momentum like the best of them.) But their relationships with other guys bring out different traits of their personalities, and I don't know if that would have happened if I hadn't divorced. That is a major silver lining of a sometimes rough situation. It's one of the many ways in which I think they're going to continue growing as amazing guys.

Mom gets to see a different side to these boys, too. And today at the beach, Nolan smothered me with his adorable affection that I savor. "I love you, Mommy!" he giggled. "I love you, too, Noly." "No, Mommy! I love YOU!" "No, I love YOU!" And on, and on. The difference this time was that he did this in front of Ian, who has never seen anything other than Nolan the Warrior. Sean is often openly affectionate, but not Nolan. This was a treat. And maybe it's one of the ways my boys help some of those big guys grow and learn, just like the big guys help the boys figure it all out.

For the most part, I was pretty content today. I'm happy for the routine that the school year will bring us. I cannot believe Sean is starting kindergarten tomorrow. It's not at the school I thought he'd go to when he was born. It's not with the friends he had for so long in our incubated neighborhood in Westville. It's not anything I had thought it would be. In fact, NOTHING is how I thought it would be. And that's okay. That's been the best part. It's been painful as fuck sometimes, but I think the most growing I ever did was when I was honest with myself, despite the outcome. Once I was honest with myself, I could trust the situation and my ability to handle whatever came my way. And could I ever handle it! I never knew I was so strong.

And I never knew I could be so happy with myself and my decisions. I trust myself more than anything. I rely on no one else for that, or for happiness--although I am blessed with lots of happiness because of so many great people in my life. But I'm out of the fishbowl of my marriage. And no amount of money or promises in the world could make me go back to that. Fortunately, Keith and I came out of it all with two incredible children and a solid friendship--much more than many intact marriages have ever been blessed with.

So here I am tonight, in a new place with just me and two boys who are passed out in bed. The dog is by my feet. The turtle is bumping around in his tank. Crickets are singing and I can hear sailboat masts clanging in the harbor. I'm sad summer's over, but I'm glad, too. It's time to get back to a bigger routine. Today was a good day. It was a long day, too. Just a moment-to-moment lazy Labor Day, complete with hot dogs (of course, this is me, Sean and Nolan we're talking about) on the grill for dinner. A nice way to end the season.

I don't know what life has in store for me for fall or winter. I don't know where I'll be a year from now. Or two years from now. I think I know, but how can I know for sure? I've always thought I had it all figured out. The truth is, I don't want to know. That would take all the fun out of it.

Surprise me.

xo

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Flooded

Fingers still crossed for Grandma.

Beach today with Renee. It was a treat for the two of us to hang out in the sand and get some color on our asses. Then we actually had a sand fight, like two silly little kids. Nothing like heavy wet sand all over--and in--your bikini bottom to make you feel sexy.

Shoddy sleep lately full of strange dreams. I mean really strange dreams. Burning buildings. High-rises under construction. Lots of scaffolding. Stripped cars by the side of the road. Alleys. Broken concrete and collapsed balconies and bent wrought-iron gates. I don't typically dream like this. I think it just means I need to run more. I need to sweat some things off my mind. There's no other way. I suppose some basic Psych 101 analysis of it all could mean that I feel like a foundation of something is giving way (Grandma? My family?)--or being rebuilt. Or changed. Or something. I don't know. It's definitely weird.

So this, here, is something you've got to watch. Dana Carvey is a genius, and I miss his stand-up. This is old. Really old. And the quality sucks. But it's from one of his best routines. I needed this tonight. So do you.

Jimmy Stewart and Katherine Hepburn

Tomorrow is officially the last day of summer vacation. I have a washer and dryer full of school clothes for the kids. And I have backpacks with requisite punk rocks buttons to pin on them.

Time to fold.

xo

Saturday, September 1, 2007

It's Hidden in the Wisdom in the Back of Your Tooth

I'm tired. Really tired. I have to shower and get all prettied up for a wedding tonight. I want to go. But I'd also like to go back to the beach and sit there until the sun goes down.

I'm feeling the end of summer. I hate this feeling. For me, it's the same feeling I used to have in high school around dinnertime on a Sunday night: Dread. Pure dread of Monday morning's Latin and Algebra exams. But instead of dreading tests, I now dread nine months without summer. Other seasons have their high points, their upsides. But summer? What's to argue about that? I'm in my element from May until September. Then my world tilts off its axis a little bit.

This morning I stopped by Grandma's with a bunch of stuff from the Wooster Square Farmers Market. It was good to see her. Her coloring is a little better; the biopsy, which was unsuccessful this past week, will be done Tuesday. Fingers crossed. Lots of prayers.

Then I walked down to Lighthouse and enjoyed a couple of hours alone in the sand today, the sun warming my skin. The breeze was beautiful.

And right now there is an amazing breeze skipping off the water and pouring into the big windows of my living room. What a gift it is to live in this place right now.

Alrighty. Time to shower for tonight's bash at the Yale Graduate Club. But first, I'll share this with you, since it's stuck in my head:



Denial Twist



xo

Friday, August 31, 2007

Great and Small

First off, about ten minutes after I arrived in Boston, the Boston Tea Party Museum burned down. I mean, there ain't nothing left to the thing:





I have lots of pics from Boston, but this one, although not technically the best, is my favorite. The kids loved checking out the yachts in the Harbor outside our hotel. Sean threw his arm around his brother and was saying, "I think it would be easy for us to live here, Mom."





Here's Noly, at the Children's Museum. Big Papi was part of some tribute to stellar black athletes in Boston.





And here's Seany, climbing the rock wall:





I have more. I'll post them little by little.

***

Some of the things my kids have said this week:

Sean, in response to my wise-ass comment that I know everything: "You don't know everything. Only God knows everything."

This is interesting, because I don't really talk about God. I'm very spiritual, and the kids are actually going to Catholic School (!), something I swore I'd never do. But things change. So off they go. And before school has even started, we had this conversation.

"You're right. I just know almost everything."

"God knows everything because he sees everything, but no one can see him. And the only person who knows everything is Yoda."

"Even though we can't see God, what do you think he looks like?"

"Babe Ruth."

***

Walking out of school after orientation the other day, Nolan stopped in his tracks by the big Jesus statue near the front door and said, loud enough for every church-going, good Catholic there to hear:

"Who is THAT?"

"That's Jesus, honey."

"Jesus? Is he stuck?"

My kids are going to be the terror of uniformed education in the Cove.

***

Nolan jumped on my bed yesterday morning with Spider-Man on the brain and said,

"You're Mary Jane, Mom! You're the girl next door!"

Haha.

***

Happy Friday. Another beach day.

xo

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Morning Ramble

Nolan's new alterego is Peter Parker. Not Spider-Man, but Peter Parker as he becomes Spider-Man. He's been busy drawing his Spider-Man costume with crayons. Pretty adorable.

"Peter Parker has blue eyes, Mommy!"

Yeah, Mommy knows. Mommy's got a thing for Tobey Maguire.

Nolan now runs all over the house shooting webs at everything. "I GOT YOU IN MY WEB, MOMMY!"

He is also literally trying to climb the walls.

***

Everyone once in a while, I get this stuck in my head:



One of my favorite love stories, which is sayin' a lot...



***

I have lots of photos from our trip to Beantown. I may post a few here at some point. Right now, it's time to make some sandwiches and rock the bikini. It's a beach day for me and the boys.

xo

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Return

I'm home. I'm back from Beantown, aka Red Sox Hell. As Sean put it today, walking past Red Sox merch kiosk #6,379,

"Jeez, this town HATES the Yankees."

Yep.

Sean actually took some serious ribbing around Boston, since he proudly wore his Yanks hat. He's little, and he did a good job holding his own ground. I was surprised how many grown-ups teased him about it, but it was all in good fun.

Nolan, who only three and therefore easily influenced, asked for, and received, a Sox t-shirt today. But the kid is a baseball fan above all else. He loves the Yanks. He likes Boston. He wore a Mets hat all around town, too.

Most people didn't seem to care much about Nolan's hat, excepting one pan handler who asked, incredulously, as we walked through the North End to some Eyetalian joint for dinner last night,

"The METS?"

He even stopped jingling his paper cup for a few seconds to stare at the little kid in the orange hat.

Baseball aside--is that possible in Boston?--we had an excellent time away from New Haven for a few days. The kids absolutely loved being in a hotel, and a posh one at that. My decision to book our stay at the Boston Harbor Hotel was a good one. The service was amazing, the room was gorgeous, and the view was just beautiful. The kids loved looking at the "pirate ships" ten stories down. Ferries. Yachts. Sailboats. Hot air balloons. And planes landing across the Harbor at Logan Airport. When Sean ran through the room our first night there, he raced to the window and said, "IT'S A MIRACLE! I think we should LIVE in a hotel, Mom! Don't you?"

I could handle that.

We hit the Aquarium. Sean dug the sting rays and sharks. Nolan loved the penguins, to whom he referred as his "little buddies." I was happy to see the sea dragons again. Ethereal creatures. They amaze me.

We also hit the Children's Museum, Quincy Market, some of the Freedom Trail (more by proxy than anything else), and Newbury Street, where I bought a bunch of stuff, including--but not limited to--MAC make-up, some sexy lingerie, and some new Pumas to kick around in. The kids had a blast at Newbury Comics, where they couldn't decide what to buy. Transformers? Star Wars stuff? Decisions, decisions! Then we hit the Pour House for lunch. Good times.

We did lots of other things, big and small. I had a killer massage from what turned out to be, through divine providence, a woman who was voted Boston's best massage therapist several years in a row. She was also cited by Allure magazine as being one of the best massage therapists in the COUNTRY. My appointment with her was no more than a case of who was available to see me last-minute. What a treat. She's got amazing hands, raised three kids by herself, and knows her baseball. She found knots I didn't know existed on places I didn't know were connected to my body. Then she told me she thought I wasn't a day over 20, and therefore she couldn't believe I was a mother of two. This was AFTER she saw my naked ass. Man, she sure knows how to work that 20% tip. She earned it. Not to mention that I almost needed to be wheeled out of there when my session was over. Bliss=a massage by Myrtha at the Boston Harbor Hotel. People drive hours for an appointment with her. Now I know why. You should find out for yourself.

As we packed up the car today and headed back home, I was sad to leave Boston. It's not my favorite city--that honor is reserved for New York. But it is a GREAT city, home of my McAncestors, and I was so happy I chose to take the boys there for a few days. They deserved it. So did I. And while there is so much more for us to do in Boston, we can save it all for next time. And the time after that. The kids are great little travelers. They go with the flow. They can stay up late, like they did last night, chasing each other around a green while we listened to an impromptu choir performance. My little guys are a delight. They exhaust me, too, sometimes. But they are a delight, above all.

And Pettitte pitched a sweet game last night, which the kids fell asleep watching with bellies full of ice cream.

Now, I'm home. I'm off the rest of the week and have plans to be at the beach every sunny second between now and Tuesday, when the kids start school. I'm looking forward to more much-needed alone time with the kids. I have a lot on my mind about Grandma, among other big and small matters of the heart. Time with the kids firmly roots me in the present and helps me achieve new awareness about things without really trying. And this week was a bonus: A few days out of town, no chores, and a killer massage has been good for me. And the kids. Our little family needed that.


Happy Wednesday. Go Yanks!

xo