Sunday, June 29, 2008

Devil's Hopyard

Camping connects you to the great outdoors. It also connects you to everyone sharing the campground. Last night, after a day of trail hiking and river wading, hot dogs and s'mores, I lay still and hot in my quiet tent. The boys and Ian were sound asleep while I remained awake, listening to fellow campers talking by their fire pits while two little girls were catching fireflies with their father. The air was still, and fragments of every conversation seemed to hang in the humidity.

My boys had an amazing time yesterday and even early this morning, when they were up at the crack of dawn, ready to pee on some trees and hike some more trails. To see Sean leaping from stone to stone in the river, and to watch Nolan fearlessly run down unknown paths in the woods--those were the greatest gifts of the weekend.

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Tree

Every June for six years, around Father's Day, I enjoyed the heady jasmine scent of the flowers on the basswood tree outside my former home in Westville. The scent was a pleasant surprise, since so much about the basswood is, frankly, annoying. There are different varietals of the tree, and although I don't know the exact type "mine" was, it could be best described as "shedding". Three seasons out of the year the tree shed something: copper-colored, dusty remnants of blooms through spring and summer; and in the fall, leaves. Just yellow and brown leaves. There was nothing brilliant about the foliage. It just kind of turned tired and hit the ground.

I don't miss my compulsive need to sweep the front walk. It ranks up there in the top 10 of things I don't miss about living in my old house. But I do miss the scent of the flowers in mid-June. I have very clear memories associated with it: teaching Sean to ride his tricycle up and down the sidewalk; chalk-drawing with the boys; watering my impatiens that I planted each spring in rows that flanked the walkway to my door; chatting with neighbors; sitting on my front stoop reading the paper with a glass of water, while my two babies slept soundly in their stroller after a warm June walk; moving into my house as a pregnant newlywed; moving out of it as a determined, divorced mother of two. All of it under the watchful eye of the graceless tree that smelled so good.

I had never known the fragrant basswood prior to moving to my old house. Maybe I had just never noticed it before. I thought it was some kind of special tree, some magical wood. I later found out that New Haven had planted many of them long ago to replace the dying and dead elms that had given the city its nickname, The Elm City. Still, the one in front of my house was special, at least to me. It was the only one on the block with that fragrance. The rest were a different type of basswood, and they didn't shed as much.

Living in my old house has suddenly become a distant memory. How quickly it went from a time of intense happiness--and eventually acute pain--to something that simply "was". It was a good and happy home for a while, a nurturing place that offered comfort and solace. When that changed and could not be fixed, it was time to let it go and let another family take over. I don't miss it, really.

But I missed the scent of my tree, mostly because I never thought I'd smell it again. I hadn't thought of it, until a few weeks ago when I was walking Cee Cee in the early morning. It was a muggy start to a June day, the birds chirped away and Cee Cee sniffed at everything in our path. We were rounding a corner and a block from home when suddenly, I smelled it: My basswood tree. I looked up. Sure enough, there it was. How lovely, I thought. Someone else has one! I can come here to smell it! I stopped, breathed deeply. Sighing, I continued on my walk with Cee Cee, the scent still clinging to my nose--or so I thought. I paused, and looked down the last three blocks of the street: "my" basswood lined both sides of the street, up and down, all around. The entire street was filled with the scent, and the sidewalk was beginning to be covered with tiny fallen blooms to prove it.

What a silly thing to think I'd never smell that tree again. My one tree back in my old neighborhood wasn't all that special, in the end. It was just all alone, doing its best to fill up our corner of the world with something beautiful. Now, in my new place, I've found a grove of sorts. Strength in numbers. Dozens of trees to sweeten the neighborhood air in June. I was able to enjoy it for days on end. And now that the blooms are fully dried and the scent is gone, I'm happy they're not falling on my sidewalk, desperately needing to be swept away.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Gun Wavin' New Haven: Know Your Rights (All Three of Them)

There's got to be a better way. The US Supreme Court upheld our right to own handguns yesterday. I don't want to see rights eroded; I also don't want to see them abused. Many handgun owners are responsible. Many are not.

There's got to be a better way. Maybe we can own handguns, but not be allowed to carry them. Maybe we can own them, but only shoot them at ranges, for sport. I don't know. I haven't given it enough thought. But the fact is that I am not comfortable living in a society without the right to own handguns when our police forces will certainly always carry them. And what's the point in making them illegal when psychotic suburban white kids hell-bent on shooting up their classes are always going to find a way to do it, just like the hothead city kid will shoot at a gang rival and his friends sitting on their stoop on a summer night? Maybe outlawing guns will reduce this kind of crime. Maybe. I'm not convinced.

I'm not convinced because it's NOT JUST GUNS that produce the problems that lead to this kind of violence. The recipe is full of classic ingredients: inequality; disadvantage; disenfranchisement; isolation; anger; repression; rage; poor education; etc etc etc. And in some cases, just full-blown crazies find a way to hurt others.

I do not envy the Supreme Court Justices. But they have been appointed to their seats on the bench in the hopes that they, more than anyone, will instill and maintain laws and values in this country that will support a healthy, free society. I'm not so sure yesterday's decision fulfilled that goal.

So here is a story from last night in New Haven, only blocks from Ian's house:

Three Shot On Winthrop
by Melissa Bailey June 26, 2008 7:41 PM

Bishop Kenny Peeples’ nephews, ages six and nine, had front-row seats at the latest burst of gunfire on Winthrop Avenue Thursday.

Peeples said his nephews were standing outside 310 Winthrop Ave. at 5 p.m. Thursday when a car pulled up.

A gunman let out a spray of bullets, hitting three people: a 17-year-old woman and two men, ages 17 and 27. All were being treated for non-life threatening wounds at Yale-New Haven Hospital, according to Capt. Peter Reichard.

Peeples said the nephews’ mother cried out to the gunman to save her boys. “They’re just kids,” she protested. The boys were spared.

“By the grace of God, they weren’t hit,” Peeples said. “They’re shook up, but they’re OK.”

Tammy Brunson wasn’t so lucky. She rushed to the scene after learning that her 17-year-old niece had been shot in the face. Brunson said the niece lives with her sister at 310 Winthrop Ave. The home is near the intersection of Chapel Street in the Edgewood part of town.

“They just moved in here three weeks ago,” Brunson said. She believed her niece was an innocent victim caught in the crossfire of a gang-related beef.

“She was shot in the face for no reason,” Brunson said, fuming.

The pain hit close to home for her: Brunson’s 19-year-old son was the victim of a shooting in March, just a few blocks down, at Winthrop and Percival. He was struck by a bullet in the rear. It shattered his leg. “Now he has to walk like a baby,” said Brunson. She teemed with anger as she awaited news from her sister’s family, who could be seen poking their heads out of the home. They had been instructed not to leave the house until police were done checking the scene.

Police put down markers in the street next to shell casings and were photographing where the bullets had pierced the second story of a house. A crowd of neighbors waited behind police tape to get back onto a porch.

Reichard said police did not know whether the victims were the intended targets of the shootings. Here’s what police believed happened, as preliminary details were worked out Thursday evening:

At about 5 p.m., a car pulled up to 310 Winthrop Ave. The car was a blue Scion. A person in the front passenger seat let out a spray of bullets.

One bullet hit a 17-year-old woman in the cheek. Another hit a 17-year-old man in the ankle. They had been standing outside the house on the sidewalk. The woman ran into the driveway for cover. The man ran and sat on a nearby porch.

Police later found a 27-year-old man at 499 Elm St. He had been shot in the groin. Police believe he was shot at that same scene.

Three bullets struck a three-family home at 312 Winthrop Ave. Eight shell casings were found at the scene, though there may have been more shots fired.

Neighbors believed the trouble started two doors down, at 304/306 Winthrop.

“That house is a drug house,” said a grandmother with curly braids who declined to give her name. She said the home (pictured) has been a problem for all 11 years that she has lived on the street. Every day, the house draws a crowd of young people, hanging out, up to no good, she said.

Reichard said police didn’t know whether the gunman had intended to hit that house or not. He did confirm that police have “a lot of info” about drug sales going on at 304/306 Winthrop. Recent arrests have been made at that address for narcotics charges, he said.

The woman said gunfire happens “almost every day” in the area of Winthrop Avenue. “Until that house is cleared out,” she said, “it’s going to be that way.”

Sing it:

This is a public service announcement
With guitar
Know your rights all three of them

Number 1
You have the right not to be killed
Murder is a crime!
Unless it was done by a
Policeman or aristocrat
Know your rights

And number 2
You have the right to food money
Providing of course you
Dont mind a little
Investigation, humiliation
And if you cross your fingers

Know your rights
These are your rights

Know these rights

Number 3
You have the right to free
Speech as long as youre not
Dumb enough to actually try it.

Know your rights
These are your rights
All three of em
It has been suggested
In some quarters that this is not enough!

Get off the streets
Get off the streets
You dont have a home to go to

Finally then I will read you your rights

You have the right to remain silent
You are warned that anything you say
Can and will be taken down
And used as evidence against you

Listen to this

Happy Friday!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Sunday Swoon

Good morning! I have no plans today ('cept for walking the dog and hitting the store for a minute...). An open day feels mighty fine.

Here's a lil' something to kick-start your Sunday.

Time to eat strawberries.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Just Yesterday

Sean grabbed a piece of paper this morning and wrote on it, carefully and deliberately, with green and yellow crayon:
Goodbye Spring! Hello Summer!

A boy after my own heart, for sure.

Summer is definitely here. How it happened is a mystery to me. Just yesterday I was unpacking boxes and moving into my new place with the kids, leaving our old home and much of that life behind us. Just yesterday I was sitting in the small kindergarten chairs at parent orientation at the start of the schoolyear, talking to the parents of Sean's new classmates and marveling that my first-born was growing so quickly. Just yesterday was Halloween, the big costume parade with hundreds of people marching by the Seawall. Just yesterday was Ian's proposal, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Sean's sixth birthday, February vacation, a new job, the start of the baseball season, a trip to Yankee Stadium, a trip to Shea Stadium, the first day at the beach...Just yesterday.

I don't know where it went. This past year blew by more quickly than any I have ever known. Nolan's birthday party was already a month ago...

...when Nolan and his posse got together for some serious light saber battles. Now he's going into his last year of Pre-K.

And then yesterday was Sean's last day of school...

...and he had a few hours left in class with his best buddy and his favorite girl before the last bell rang for the year and they walked out the door as new first graders.

Last night, we capped off Sean's monumental day with a big night of bowling. Today, after their little league game, the boys and I went strawberry picking with Nolan's best buddy and his mom at Jones Farm in Shelton. I have more strawberries than I know what to do with. I don't believe that actually classifies as a "problem".

I'm sitting on my couch, warm, barefoot, and happy to be in the skin of my favorite season, looking forward to what's next, but really loving the now. Yeah, yeah. We've all heard it before, but it's true: Every day gives us, again and again, only this moment. And yesterday was ... just yesterday. Blow it a sincere kiss goodbye and hug what you have left of the daylight or stars.

Happy Summer!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I did.

Will you?


Effie, Part 2

My Aunt Anne flipped open the phone book and found Effie's listing yesterday. After a couple of rings, Effie answered. Anne identified herself as Paul's daughter.

"Paul was my baby!" Effie exclaimed.

They chatted for a long time, and Effie shared many stories about her days with my grandfather, his mother Eleanor and step-father, Dr. McGuire. They hung up with a plan to get together soon, and it is our hope the whole family will come together to meet her.

Effie had worked for Eleanor at the family's summer house (eventually lost in the hurricane of '38), and then traveled to Springfield to care for my grandfather, before moving back to New Haven upon Eleanor's marriage to Dr. McGuire. Effie then worked as Dr. McGuire's office manager, as the article stated.

Effie's role in my grandfather's life was not limited to that of his nanny. She was a close family friend. His friendship with her inspired my grandfather to go to Chicago in the '40s and work in what eventually became the Civil Rights movement. Upon his return to New England, he met and married my grandmother.

After Dr. McGuire died, Eleanor went into a deep depression, and the formerly straight-edge lady of good upbringing drank herself to death in the Douglas Orr home on Forest Road they had built in the 20s. She died a despondent woman, heartbroken over the death of her husband and deeply attached to the house she was forced to sell, because Dr. McGuire had left her penniless.

"You know in those days people didn't go after their patients for money, and Dr. McGuire would never charge," Grandma said. "Effie always scolded him, 'You should make your patients pay you!' But he rarely did." Most of his patients were the children of the depression, and of war brides--and war widows.

The closing of the house happened just a week or so after Eleanor's death, and the new owner--another doctor--naturally wanted to move in as soon as possible. At this point, my grandmother and grandfather lived in East Haven with their four children, of which my mom is the oldest.

"I remember we would get a sitter every night, and your grandfather and I would pick up Effie, and the three of us would go to the house to clean it out. Every night for weeks we did that," Grandma said. "Effie was right there with us, going through all of Eleanor and Dr. McGuire's things. It was emotional for all of us."

Grandma and Effie exchanged Christmas cards for years, but more than a decade or so ago, they stopped. "I don't know why," Grandma said. "We just stopped, that's all."

Just months ago we were talking about Effie, and Grandma naturally assumed she was no longer alive. To say she is delighted that Effie is alive is an understatment. This is important to Grandma, especially in light of her illness and all the things with which she is trying to find closure and understanding. In fact, this simple thing is big for all of us. Effie has long been a part of the family lore. To meet her is to find a real link to our history, something human and tangiable and beautiful. It's something more precious than the antique rugs, old silverware, or the 100-year-old wicker rockers salvaged from the long-gone beach house and enjoyed to this day on Grandma's porch.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Grandma just called, breathless and hopeful that I could get as many copies possible of yesterday's newspaper. Tuesday's Register featured a story about my Grandfather's nanny. This woman is still alive at 100. I'm going to find her and meet her. This simple, little story means so much to me. We McGuires (really O'Sullivans) so typically identify with our dysfunction. It's important to remember the good hearts we've had along the way.

Read on:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Centenarian recalls early days
NEW HAVEN — Effie Gertrude Anthony, a lifelong city resident, celebrated her 100th birthday June 8, at a brunch held at the Top of the Park Restaurant in the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale.

Anthony was born June 4, 1908. Her mother was attended by a midwife, on Eaton Street, which became South West Drive and is now known as Frances Hunter Boulevard, according to a nephew, Jim Brooks of New York City. She was raised by Mary Jane and Charles Waters, her adoptive parents. Mary Jane Waters, who had no biological children, provided a safe haven for five children whom she raised without support from any outside source. In addition to Anthony, they were Bill, Fred, Gertrude and Dolores.

Anthony is the widow of Frank Anthony and Walter Coleman.

She is a graduate of Winchester Elementary School, now Wexler Grant, the former Dixwell Avenue School and Ivy Street School. She graduated from Hillhouse High School in 1925. High school graduation was not common in 1925, especially for a black woman, according to Brooks.

Upon graduating high school, she solicited and felt she had gained employment as a live-in domestic, the only work she could find. Upon reporting to work, at the seaside summer home of a prominent local retailer, she was advised that his wife had not realized that Anthony was black, and she was not comfortable with Anthony sleeping in the same room with her son, Brooks said.

“I wonder if she thought the black would rub off,” Anthony is quoted as saying. The wage for the job was $4 a week. In tears, carrying a battered cardboard suitcase, she began walking down the road toward home. She had not walked far, before being stopped by Eleanor O’Sullivan, who would become the wife of Dr. William McGuire, a prominent New Haven pediatrician. O’Sullivan inquired as to what was wrong; Anthony told her. O’Sullivan asked if Anthony would accept a job with her; she had a young son, Paul. Anthony accepted.

That encounter was the beginning of a new career for Anthony, who became McGuire’s office manager. When the doctor died, Anthony went to work at Yale-New Haven Hospital, where she became a division secretary.

Anthony has lived most of her life within blocks of the house where she was born. However, she has traveled to Hawaii, the Caribbean, England and continental Europe.

In recognition of her birthday, Anthony received accolades from all over the nation. Gov. M. Jodi Rell declared June 8 to be Effie G. Anthony Day in the state. Congratulations were received from President and Laura Bush, U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, Mayor John DeStefano Jr., the General Assembly, the Board of Aldermen, and Marna P. Borgstrom, CEO of Yale-New Haven Hospital, where Anthony formerly worked.

At 100, Anthony remains active and remarkably cognizant, said Brooks. She teased Brooks, “Oh, I am not that good, and I hope you don’t think you’re going to get paid for saying I am.”


Happy Wednesday.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Today is a good day. Today I went for my annual "girl doctor" checkup, and while waiting alone in a robe, bare feet dangling off the bed in the examination room, I could hear the midwife in the next room talking to the patient.

"There's the heartbeat," I heard her say, her voice muffled through the wall.

And there it was, clear as day, the rapid heartbeat of a tiny baby in his mother's tummy. What a beautiful sound.

The door opened. The doctor who delivered Sean and Nolan came in to see me. "I know you're seeing someone else today, but when I saw your name on the chart I had to come in here. How are you?" he said breathlessly. I hugged and kissed him. Gosh, he's cute. Heide and I have had many conversations about our cute Ob-Gyns. I make no apologies for loving this guy. He rescued Sean (and me) from what could have been a disasterous situation, and he delivered both Sean and Nolan safely.

He congratulated me on my engagement. "So, more kids planned or what?" he asked.

I hemmed and hawwed, unsure. I'm already 35, I whined. I wasn't sure if I wanted a third c-seciton either.

He waved it off. "You're healthy, and 35 is young around here. You'll be fine for a third C. Go for it."

"Easy for you to say," I kidded him. "Your wife was the one who gave birth to your four kids."

"That's true," he smiled. "But you can do it. You're healthier than half of the people I see walk in here. So you can do it--if you want to."

Well, maybe. Not just yet, though.

Ah, June. Every summer I get sentimental about my very first memory of being three years old in my grandmother's back yard, holding a sparkler at a huge family party for the country's bicentennial. There were always tons of people around. Being born to a teenage mom in a house full of her younger siblings, I was raised by wolves on rock and roll. I wouldn't trade my experience for anything, no matter how rough around the edges it was.

I guess the best things in life aren't always planned, right? ;o)

Who raised me? These people:

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Ian owns a couple of motorcycles. The old "vintage" Ducati is more my speed. It's classic, understated, chrome, sexy, black. It's also a single-seater, so I can't hop on the back and go for a ride with Ian. But it doesn't matter right now, anyway. Even though his other bike, a BMW, has plenty of room for me to snuggle on the back, I won't ride. Not now. Not with two little kids who need their mother, the only parent who is really present on a daily basis in their lives.

I trust Ian. I'm not afraid to ride with him any more than I was afraid to learn from him how to shoot a gun. I trust him completely. He's a skilled rider with a couple of decades worth of experience. It's the other drivers I'm not so sure about. So maybe later, when the kids are grown, I'll finally climb on back like I want to. I love riding motorcycles. My uncle used to own an old Triumph, and I was lucky enough to ride around Manhattan (especially Chinatown!) on the back of that thing. What a blast. And like my Uncle Danny, Ian is smart: He knows his machine, he maintains it well, he wears a helmet, and he isn't cocky behind the handlebars. Still...not yet. Not yet for me.

So I listen a little enviously as bikes rip and croon up and down Lighthouse Rd, not far from my house. I watch a little wistfully as girls wrap their arms around their boys, cruising by the Seawall or up Coe Ave toward the 'Staven town beach. Some nights are just made for riding. For now, I'll take the dog for a long walk at dusk instead, wishing for that elusive stretch of road where no one gets hurt.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Gettin' My Goy On

Just in that kinda mood, I guess. Or maybe I just miss the songs that played during my first-job-in-high school days selling cigarettes for under two bucks a pack and Aqua Net hairspray by the case at Metcalf's in 'Staven.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, June 9, 2008

On a Dime

The kids are watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Not the greatest Indy movie, but it's better than half the other things they could be watching right now, right? On a hot night with cold sandwiches and ice cream for dinner, the only option is quiet time with a movie. Anything else requires effort.

This requires effort, too, though, as the kids try to make sense of who straddles the line as a good guy and a bad guy in the movie. Most characters are transparent enough, but some are harder to read. Some seem to play for Team Indy. But in the end, they only have their own interests at heart.

I wish I could tell the kids it was all fiction, but when it comes to matters of character and relationships, you can only really know yourself. There is nothing quite like the sting of discovering people aren't quite what you believed them to be.

It's hot. I'm glad. This is the only weather in which I feel alive. While those closest to me sweat and complain, I make no apologies for my contentment.

I had a crappy end to an otherwise okay day. Tomorrow's a new one.


Despite the heat it'll be alright

I could have driven 90 minutes to RI beaches yesterday, but why waste gas? I've got a beach two blocks from my house, so I hit it with that Ian guy, and together we people watched and soaked up rays. Ian met me there, since I can handle more time in the sun than he can, and when he arrived I was smack in the middle of the beach on my blanket and taking in the sights of all kinds of fun people: Muslim women in full dress, covered head to toe; 200lb Latinas in bikinis (celebrate that body, girl!); 100% white trash with coverup tats and cut-off jean shorts to wear in the water. Then there were the rest of us, of varying shapes and sizes and colors, there to bare some skin and test the waters. Be. You. Tea. Full. A fantastic day in the heat and sun.

We walked home mid-afternoon, in time for that post-beach beer on the front porch while we watched the loooooooooooooong line of traffic backed up more more than a 1/2 mile from the beach entrance. Then the skies turned black and opened with a torrential downpour. Suddnely all the cars were then stuck going the other direction. Ian and I laughed at the sight as we closed windows and turned on lights around my house. The wind was wild and the lightning was all around us. The dog was unphased, happily squeaking one of her toys while trees lashed outside. I felt for anyone out on a boat who found themselves stuck in that storm--and after reading this morning's news, I was sad to hear that someone was actually killed by lighting while seeking shelter at Hammonasset State Park in Madison. Talk about your time being up.

Ian and I are officially easing into the zone of what-comes-next, with discussions about wedding invitations, guest lists, and other planning as of late. It's fun, and it's not stressful (except for the costs involved). The wedding is early enough next year that we need to hash out some more details now. We've got the place, the caterer and the photographer. Everything else will come together as it needs to. And I've had so much fun looking at dresses. I'm NOT going for anything that smacks of traditional bridal wear. I'm not going for the second-marriage "champagne" dress, either. Nope. First of all, I look terrible in that color. Second of all, I want something strappy and snappy, with a little color and class. Something smart and timeless, something fun to wear. My options are endless. And I won't have to dye shoes to match.

It's Monday. I don't have much to say except things right now feel great. I've hit this stride where I'm feeling really good in the moment, not too rushed about the next steps I'll be taking, but having fun planning and preparing all the same. Inhale. Exhale. Branford Fest is next weekend. I'll have fun with the kids at that. And I think I see a mango roll from Dozo in my future.

Happy Monday.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Row Your Boat Gently

"Sweet dreams of robots and cookies tonight, guys," I said as I tucked the kids into bed last night with hugs and kisses. A couple of hours later, I was in bed, too.

I drifted off and dreamed that my grandmother, who is currently living with cancer rather than dying from it, was rowing a boat and I was in the back of it, rowing along with her. Our little boat seemed to drift and glide with only a little guidance from our oars. We pulled the paddles in many times and let ourselves be pulled along with the current, which seemed to go up and down over hills, like a slow water roller coaster. In a clearing, I saw what looked like ships coming toward us. But upon closer inspection, they weren't ships at all.

"Grandma, look!" I exclaimed. "Cupcakes!"

Three enormous, Titanic-sized cupcakes were coasting down the river--which was really the ocean, because it was a dream. They were white fluffy cupcakes with sprinkles on top, and they sailed through a lifting fog. Behind them were three bowls of ice cream. I could see cherries on top.

Suddenly I realized I had left the boat and was struggling to swim. My body was tired and I felt like I was going to sleep. I didn't want to bother Grandma with this news, but I decided to say something in case I drowned.

"I'm sinking," I said calmly.

"Well then get back in the boat!" she said, moving an oar to make room for me to climb in.

I woke up to a bird cheep-cheeping outside my window. The fog in my little neighborhood by the water is thick this morning.

I have had many dreams with Grandma in them throughout my life, including one in black and white several years ago in which we were reporters together at the Worcester Telegram (she was a writer there after college), huddled together under a desk during a tornado that ripped through town (something she experienced in 1953 while working at the paper). But last night's dream was something special, since my children had fun at her house yesterday after their half-day of school. They love going to their great-grandmother's house. They love her yard and listening to her play the piano. They love her. We all do.

I can't wait to tell Grandma about this dream. She'll get a kick out of it.

I'm 35, and I dream of floating sweets. That's AWESOME. Kind of funny that I dreamt about gliding across the water, too, since I posted that Bad Brains song yesterday. Ha.

Happy Saturday. We're headed off to a foggy little league game.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Stars and Stripes Forever

Obama clinched the nomination, and I am stoked. I voted for him in the primary, and I will vote for him in the general election. It is high time this country took direction from a strong Democrat. I've fucking had it with the Bush administration. And I'm not too keen on having another Clinton "back" in office. Regardless, my vote for Obama in the primary was not a vote against anyone. It was a vote for the right candidate. I am as excited for this opportunity to elect a black man to the presidency as I am terrified for his safety. There are a lot of ignorant people out there. If two white boys named Kennedy can be taken down, you can be sure secret service is going to be tight around Obama.

My cousin Joey graduates Army boot camp in a few weeks and will likely ship off sometime this summer. I don't need to tell you where he's going. You know. The thing is, Joey will likely vote for McCain. I can't do that. No...wait. I don't say can't. I WON'T do that. That's better.

Last night the Kindergarten through eighth grade classes held a Spring concert at the kids' school. The auditorium was packed and hot, full of parents and grandparents fanning themselves with pink programs. Halfway through the concert, the principal called a neighborhood kid and newly graduated Marine to the stage. He ships off in a few weeks, and everyone applauded. And since it's a Catholic school and the pastor of the church is used to ripping out random prayers on demand, the Marine received a special blessing, asking for his safety and the protection of him and all the other soldiers. In full uniform, the Marine took off his cap and bowed his head for the blessing.

It was a somber moment on an otherwise vibrant, warm June night. More than 4,000 soldiers have been killed in Iraq, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died, and there is no end in sight to this mess. Gas is four and a half bucks a gallon. Why am I voting for Obama? Because if politicians are politicians no matter how you slice it, I'm at least casting a vote for the one who claims to represent change rather than one who leads a platform committed to the status quo.

After the blessing, the concert resumed, including renditions of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", "Yakkity Yak", and "Georgia". Then the Kindergarteners marched out, a tan and sweaty bunch festooned in red, white and blue sashes and hats, clicking their drumsticks together and stepping in unison to "Stars and Stripes Forever". Sean was so proud to be part of the concert last night. This is a kid who sings "You're a Grand Old Flag" at the top of his lungs in bed at night. A kid who builds jetpacks out of discarded cracker boxes and who has declared he wants to join the Air Force when he graduates high school. He's only six years old.

Maybe the war will be over by then.

This weekend I'll be watching baseball, going to the beach and eating ice cream with the kids. [Side note: I will not be partaking in the Joba Chamberlain canonization, however. Why the Yankees hail him as the Second Coming is beyond me. It's ridiculous. He's just a pitcher. And their worship of him is an insult to other talented players--not to mention it smacks of the way they hailed Clemens, who was never a favorite of mine.]

I am proud to be an American, despite the fact that housing is still pretty unaffordable, and the cost of gas and food continues to skyrocket. I am proud to live in country that can have its Michael Moores and Obamas as well as its Strom Thurmonds and Ronald Reagans. I am proud to live in a country that allows me--a woman--to vote for a black man to lead this country. I will always love to travel, and if I'm lucky enough I'll have an apartment in Rome some day. But I will always be a proud American, committed to my right to vote in the hopes that my own boys will never come home in body bags. But if Sean wants to grow up and join the Air Force, flying planes and working as an engineer, who am I to argue? He is an American as much as me.

For now, though, he is just six and his brother is only four. And we have a summer of hot dogs and popsicles and skateboarding and baseball ahead of us. What is more American than that?


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

When Things Fall Through

Never underestimate the effect that a simple, innocent comment can have on another person.

Last week, while emailing back and forth with an off-site coworker regarding contracts and other fun stuff, we wished each other well for the weekend and I commented that I was long overdue for a glass of wine on my deck.

She replied that ever since her accident, she's not big fan of the deck.

"What accident?" I asked.

She returned: "Oh, was in August 2005, I was having the deck flooring replaced, they opened a nest of carpenter ants, they were getting into the house so I went out on the deck and put my foot on one of the open beams, and fell through to the concrete patio below, 12-15ft, smashed into the french doors, dislocated my shoulder, did nerve damage and broke both arms, my nose and had a big cut over my right eye. My right arm was paralyzed.....I was out for 6 months, have some disability in my right arm still, but there are people who have it much worst that I do. I'm always in pain, and the arm still goes numb at times. I could be you see I'm still a bit afraid of the deck:)"

I think I'll just have some iced tea and sit on the grass.


In other news, Ian and I took the boys to Shea Stadium on Saturday to watch the Mets play the Dodgers, now under the guidance of former Yanks manager Joe Torre. I can say this about Shea: If you want to see the Yankees play, go to Yankee Stadium. If you want to see the Red Sox play, go to Fenway. But if you want to see a professional baseball game, go to Shea.

Like Yankee Stadium, Shea is in its last season. That was partly the impetus that drove us to the game. Still, I was so pleasantly surprised by the whole experience. The Mets are a great team with a long, storied history and a loyal fanbase. And it is affordable to see them play. We had excellent seats a few rows back from the field. The beer was actually good and cold, and the crowd was full of families and friendly people, including the pretty tanked guys behind us who bought us beer and fries and even gave Sean a new Mets hat.

I'll skip my tirade about parking at Shea, though. That's a blog for another day.

Our drive home through thunderstorms was entertaining, and the kids got to bed late--and woke up early Sunday, which was Nolan's actual birthday. What a spectacular, beautiful day. We spent the day playing outside in the sun, and that night we enjoyed a cookout with the kids' dad and Ian's family at my house. Nolan is 4. I cannot believe it.

As for the rest: The summer's pretty much here, with 90 degree temps and sunny skies forecasted for this weekend. Ian and I are still keeping our eye on the housing market, and in the process I've revisited some stats of my hometown--East Haven, or 'Staven as it's really known. Turns out Henry Winkler lived there when he was at Yale Drama School. The leather-jacket wearin', A-O talkin' Fonz lived in 'Staven. Why am I surprised?

There is something to be said for that town and everyone who lives in it. When an entire state looks down on you, you can't really fail anyone. There's some measure of security and comfort in that.

Happy Tuesday.