Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Thursday Poem (Halloween)

It’s coming down the tracks
and I hear the loud howl getting louder,
the same way I hear you
when you finally work up the nerve
to make your own ghostly sound.

It’s coming down the pike
with all the roaring rush coming closer,
the same way you sound
coming home on your own, all candy chatter,
but needing me to pull your tights off

It’s coming.

Someday you won’t hold my hand on the street,
or grab my thigh when the scary music blares,
or ask me if you can have more.
Someday you won’t tell me how very, very sad it is
to pack the costumes away,
or how you wish this night could last forever,
or how you think I am the nicest, most scariest of them all.
Someday you might feel those things,
but you probably won’t tell me.

It's rushing through the trees
and I feel the shaking shift down to my toes.
In the same way I know that
winter is coming afterall,
I know you are changing too:

before my eyes, like magic,
in all your October costumes –

wipe off the make-up and you’re gone.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

This One -- For M

Promise to deliver more pith post Halloween, but for now, number 2 (not in order) of the Top Ten Greatest Songs...
M knows how important a good song is, and dammit, so do you.
Vote for your faves below and I'll consider it for the Top Ten.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sweet Halloween

Saturday, October 27, 2007

This is for You

With love.

Beautiful music is the elixir for anything that ails. And this is one of my favorites. So, I guess, this is for you and you and you too.

Friday, October 26, 2007


I am totally burned the fuck out.

Partly from staying up late two nights in a row (alone) to watch a game I usually care little about. Partly because I am over-volunteered and under-supported with That Man gone now, day 10, or something like that. Partly because one of my closest friends confirmed that my oldest daughter has been bitchy and mean lately. Partly because another friend is suffering and I can’t help. Partly because I spent the evening hours dressed in a lab coat entertaining other people’s children while my own ran around having fun I wasn’t privy too, relying on other moms to hold their hands in Haunted Houses. Partly because I think my best friend from college thinks (because of this blog) that I am a miserable, always cranky wench of a mother.

There are so many parts to the burn out. (But isn’t that always how it goes?)

The good news is I only have one obligation this weekend (a game to coach and I swear, I swear I don’t care if we lose… again) and my mom is coming on Sunday. Also, in the last couple of days, me and the kids have hit a happy stride and That Man and I are talking more than we have in a while; it’s a miracle what the phone, and distance, can do sometimes. And Jury Duty is over. And tomorrow is not a school day and I can hit the snooze button and not feel bad about it.

It’s October in Boston and the Red Sox are winning which means that right now, this is the best place to be. Add Elvis doing Sweet Caroline?

Burn out be damned!

Thursday Poem (Haiku Sox Version # 2)

It is way too late
But I write baseball haiku
To say go Red Sox

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Another Thursday Poem (Haiku Sox Style)

Oh my fucking God
I never knew I cared so:
It's only a game!

(For Major Bedhead --

Thursday Poem (Haiku Sox Version)

National anthem:
Take me out to the ballgame
Ringing in my ears

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jury Doody

It was a painful seven hours.

One might think being without kids in a quiet room for an unlimited time might be a good thing. It’s not so much; at least it wasn’t so much for me.

In a crowded room of a cross-section of people hearing the dire and depressing tales of criminals and supremely unhappy people, one really gets the message: count your fucking blessings.

Count 'em. Right now.

Your life is good.

Monday, October 22, 2007

More Teachable Moments (Not)

Early evening. Unseasonably warm night. Sitting on steps outside, breathing fresh air, sipping ice cold beer and recouping from the day at Jury Duty (more on that later). Giant Three Year Old bursts outside, animated and excited.

He: Mom! Mom! The moon!

Me: I know, I see it. Say hi!


Me: He sees you. He’s seeing you! Say hi.

He: But he doesn’t have a face.

(Wait? Not everyone sees the face in the moon?)

Me: Sure there’s a face. See the two eyes and his mouth. See it?

(Thoughtful silence while looking at the moon.)

He (sheepishly): Hi moon.


He: But, he’s – he’s not talking to me.

Me: Well, he’s too far away. Maybe he is talking to you and we just can’t hear him. But he can see you and you can see him. So it’s good to say hi.

He: Maybe he’s sleeping.

Me: Well, maybe.

He: Why is he sleeping?

Me: Well, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know if he’s sleeping. Maybe he’s awake and not talking. Just say hi moon! Goodnight Moon!

(B & R clamor outside. Simultaneous chatter about who-knows-what, all urgent and extreme.)


(Back inside to clear plates, pick up noodles off the floor, explain long a’s and long o’s, negotiate bedtime vs. TV time. etc.)

(Then, later...)

He: Is he snoring?

Me: What? Who? What? Who’s snoring? You mean the moon?

He: Is he snoring? LIKE YOU.

Me: I don’t hear it.

(He pokes head outside.)


Me: Nooooo, K, nooooo. Not niiiiice.


Me (plaintively): But, but, it's the mooooon. We like the moon.

(Deep breath.)


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday Poem

It Goes Like This:

I put on my bare feet
to dance better:

the music and the writing
the music and the writing
the music and the writing
the music and the writing
the music and the writing
the music and the writing
the music and the writing:

I feel all the crumbs of the day,
everything I was meant to brush away,


A good song,
a lyric,
a string of pretty words;


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Soccer Mom Seeks Advice

Try-outs for the Under 10 soccer travel teams happen this weekend. I’ll be there to help out -- half out of volunteer guilt and half out of complete interest. How good is good, I wonder? How competitive is competitive?

I’m of the parenting philosophy that disdains the “everyone gets a medal” theory. I have no problem with straight-forward winner/loser competition. Most kids are remarkably resilient and hopefully, getting a part in the play or making the team is not the end all be all but just one of a bunch of things kids do for fun.

(Which I hope includes dodgeball -- kick ass, knock-em-out dodgeball.)

So, anyhoo, my own daughter is desperate to try out. And this is a conundrum.

She is on the younger side of U-10, just barely eight years old and she is a feather-weight to boot. She sometimes still runs like a chicken flapping its wings. She trips a lot. Over nothing. Sometimes she tries to kick a ball and just misses it: I mean, totally misses it. She hassles me every moment of practice -- wants me to be the mom when I am there to be the coach.

On the flip side, she’s pretty fast, knows where to be on the field, understands some of the (dare I say) physics of the game, can be fierce and feisty, and mostly, really, really wants to be good.

But she's not quite yet "travel" team material. (I think.)

I explained the odds of making a team to her (there are four travel teams from our town; what’s up with that? There was ONE when I was a kid) with salt shakers on the kitchen counter: 1 out of 3. Understanding that, knowing that, she still wants to go for it.

So, should I put that kid out there for something she might not be prepared for and catch her when she fails, if she does, which odds are, she will? Should I shake off her desire to try-out with pat little Mommy excuses that she might not buy anyway?

And what’s with all this anxiety I so obviously have (and she doesn’t seem to): am I afraid that I might be the sad one if she doesn’t make it? And what if she does make it: it means dragging my kids in way more directions way too many days (and nights) of the week, and wait, shoudn't I be opposed to that?

The try-outs are putting all my loud mouth “thoughts” (rants?) on raising kids to the test (see MOMiifesto).

To try-out or not to try-out? That is the question.

Your “answers” go below.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ode to Teachable Moments

Late afternoon. SUBURBS.
My three children, discussing a group of foreign women:

B: They are not Spanish! They are Pork-e-gese.

R: They are wha? Por --? They are… what? Chinese?

B: No! Pork-e-gese.

R: Oh. Well, they sure are from another world!

B: Yep.

(Sword slashing for effect.)

R: Maybe that’s why they are brown.

Me: No! Wait! They are many people of all kinds of colors who are from this world, I mean, American -- people who were born here. All kinds of people, you know?

Silence. Awaiting meaningful teachable moment. More silence.

B: Well anyway, all I smell right now is grass. I think I might fart.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Halloween Thought Number Two

This video has encouraged me to dress my kids as speed bumps for Halloween. Or maybe ghosts, in extra long sheets without eye-holes. In the interest of safety, this woman has turned her child into a character from "Eyes Wide Shut" or the "Davinci Code" or worse. But the look on her concerned face with regard to the mask is mine almost every day with regard to everything -- "huh? somethings just not right here.."
My mother sent me out for Halloween when I was 8 or 9 (in the 70s) as a scarecrow with a blunt edged stick strapped over my shoulders that held up fake, straw stuffed arms. Pretty sure I either blinded or knocked out a kid or two every time I turned around. But man, I looked hot and got some serious chow that year. Thanks mom!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Halloween Thought Number One

In Target, the pumpkin pot-holder met all the criteria for purchase: so cute (with emphasis), useful (I need it!), and cheap (how can this possibly affect the bottom line). I swooped it up triumphantly, if not a little smugly, and took it home to hang on the handle of my sleek stainless steel oven.


Its’ toothless grin leers back at me every day, all orange and taunting, as if to remind me: yes, this IS the woman you have become.

A woman with holiday-themed pot-holders.

What’s next? A Christmas sweater that lights up and sings carols? Cookies baked from scratch? Permission slips returned the next day with “An Apple for Your Teacher” sticker smacked on it?

It’s a good thing I consider Halloween pretty much a National Holiday or else I might have grabbed that stinkin’ pumpkin and stuck both our heads in the oven.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

On Whining

I once knew a woman who halted her kids’ bratty chat with the simple phrase: “I don’t speak Whinese.” Sadly, this one liner never worked in my house. My kids would mostly look at me with this “what kind of nonsense are you sputtering now” kind of look, and go right back to whining. Ignoring them when they talk that way has worked, which I guess is the more literal form of “I don’t speak Whinese.”

As in, “Huh? Wha? Are you talking to me?”

I’m not sure exactly what the topic on the radio was today – maybe it was Britney Spears or something about how marriage can be hazardous to your health – but for about an hour or so, the banter seemed to center around our “whining” culture. There was a constant train of conversation about how we as modern Americans have become so weak in our ways, so entitled, so… whiny. (I was ready to agree even before I started watching Ken Burns’ “The War,” but I am completely down with the idea now… to a degree.)

At some point in the radio show, a mom of three junior high school boys with the crabby husband who was spending all their money called in say her a marriage was affecting her health. I listened when she explained that after so many years working outside the home, she had recently decided to work from the home (mostly to watch her boys and the father-in-law who was living with her family) and that now, she was suffering from high blood pressure and panic attacks. I listened to this woman, who described how her husband would rage at their financial problems (mostly caused by him), and how she worried she wasn’t cut out for the job she seemed to be assigned. All I could think was, damn, I hope this woman has some friends and also, how brave to share her problems with everyone ON THE RADIO.

The host responded in the way that she usually does, mildly catty, mostly benign and repetitive, but then, unhalted by her, caller after caller proceeded to destroy this woman, this “whiner.” One said, “Why did she have three kids if she didn’t want to stay home with them?” with no regard to her financial situation or her own desires. The next, unmarried and older, couldn’t understand why married women could bitch so much – her mother, who raised her in the ‘50s, never complained after all, not ever ever, never, not once.

Maybe she didn’t. Maybe she never read Betty Friedan either.

Do we "modern" women whine more now than the women, the wives and mothers who came before us? Maybe. Or maybe it’s just that we have a louder voice and the confidence to use it. Is burning your bra “whiny”? Or something else entirely?

Let’s be clear to ourselves and the culture around us: there is a big difference between whining and complaining.

Whining is a negative, desperate lament, which at the root implies -- why me, woe is me, oh poor me – as if that lament could change an outcome. (It shouldn’t.) A complaint is an aggressive acknowledgment of something wrong, or a wrongdoing, or of a problem that needs attention. Generally speaking, complaints get action. (And they should.)

Look at it this way: children who whine never get cookies. Children who complain about earaches get the care they need and deserve.

People whine when they are powerless and can do little else to reach an end result.

People complain to point out a problem, to spark debate, to force change.

I complain all the time. I complain about my kids, about That Man, about my kids’ schools, about speeding on our street, about our community in general, and about all the other (much bigger) problems in the world. I complain all over the place: here, in this virtual space (what a relief!), and with my friends and family when the shit comes up, and even to the powers that be in my town and my state and even my country.

Sometimes complaints rebound in helpful advice from another who knows better or more. Sometimes complaints create pacts and plans and petitions, and lo and behold, you get Stop Signs. And sometimes complaints change laws (think: the 19th Amendment) or governments (think: the future).

Women DO complain more now than they did in the 50s, that’s for damn sure, and I am proud of that, and I am grateful for that.

I wish I had a cell phone with batteries that always worked because I would have called into that radio show to defend that woman, who though probably reaching out in the wrong direction, was reaching out nonetheless. She was expressing a legitimate complaint and she needed and deserved some help, or at least, a friend.

When you feel the urge to whine coming on (which hell knows, I have had), please think of this man, Professor Randy Rausch, whose words are such a beautiful testament to “no whining allowed” and also, “what really matters.” And I bring some of his words to you, in this link, courtesy of Margaret, who by the way knows her way around a complaint and the difference between that and a whine.

And if you want more of what he says, make a complaint here, and you know, see what happens.