Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dear Friends Who's Faces I Can't Pick In A Line Up, or Picket's Version of the Christmas Letter

Merry Happy,

The good news is that we are nearly done with this heinous year.

My kids did nothing remarkably awesome. They shot some soccer balls into little goals but truth is, they never know where their backpacks are so that sucks for them and me. One of 'em learned early "Frosty the Snowman" on the recorder, but her mother has deemed the recorder "icky" and I dare anyone to argue that it is not in fact the most awful instrument ever.

I'd prefer a six-string in the New Year.

My husband got unemployed in February and since then, I moved in my very imaginative mind to at least three other cities. Turns out, we'll likely stay put. I'm not sure if I am happy or sad about that.

And I "wrote" a book. I use those quotations because for me and Carolyn: well, there's more books to write... and this one was easy.

This sucky year? Damn. We held it together, us Pickets, even as others became undone in ways I never expected: the "best" marriages collapsed, husbands realized their sexuality, and love showed itself as a drug.

And our own world changed, too -- duh -- but we carried on.

Our kids grow up, but we can't stop the funny:

Anyhoo, how are you?

With Great Love,

Ms Picket

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Son? He's In A Van Down By the River

The GFYO has plotted a path for his future.

For months, he's been talking about where he will live when he doesn't live here. I figure this is classic five year old psycho-social development stuff and I bet there is even a book for it. I mostly despise books like that, FYI, because they just make me feel awful.

Anyhoo, the GFYO is transfixed on his personal vision of the future and his Van. We ask him if he means a trailer or a camper and every time, we get nothing. The Kid describes an Airstream to the GFYO, wishing and hoping his kid was that cool... But nope.

The GFYO wants a Van.

I say, like Scooby?
NO! he says.
Like what then? I say.

He says his van will have a fridge and a bed and...

You can't see this whole picture or make sense of it, but it is, in fact, THE VAN.

There is the steering wheel (picture right) and the table in the middle -- "for eating stuff and playin' games" -- and then to the right of the table are the bunk beds. Bunk beds. He put bunk beds in His Van because apparently?

When the GFYO lives down by the river in his wikkid cool Van, he's gonna need a place for his Mommy and his Dad.

I am so proud.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Did Not In Fact Run Off With CarolynOnline...

However, while trying to cure her calf-muscle cramp on the sidewalk in front of a chic drinking establishment, we created this kind of partner-yoga-stretch meets the-Wonder Twins-activating-their-powers move that I'm sure had the fair citizens of Atlanta wishing we would, um, move along people. Did you know you could get a seriously painful charlie horse while perched on a bar stool? You can, and now I've warned you.

We did not read any parts of The Book out loud (god forbid) at the The Big Book Party but we did get all rockstarry signing the inside flaps. I think I wrote "YO!" on every one which is totally absurd as I have never in fact said that word out loud, ever. At least I signed my real name and not Kate Gosselin. Which I considered doing.

It was a ridiculously rainy night and Atlanta is a seriously spread out city so I would have been impressed if even one person showed up. But lots and lots of 'em did, including two who were celebrating birthdays (that very day) and another on crutches. All Hail The Atlantans! And my Yankee apologies in advance since now ya'll will have to pretend to read and/or like The Book....


It was a sunny day two and I attended a school chorus performance where in true comedic form, Carolyn's daughter Tempel nearly fainted. (She was fine and it was kinda funny.) We ate lunch at a Real Restaurant like ladies who do that kind of thing. We sat in the sun for a few hours and plotted a new garden in the backyard -- like ladies who do that kind of thing. I spent some good time digging deep into Parker's art collection including a four page "I will not be disrespectful to my parents"x100 punishment that when asked "why'd you have to do that?," I was nearly blinded by the twinkle in her eye. "You know, just 'causa a stuff, " Parker said.

(Note to CarolynOnline's readers: you seriously can't make this shit up and dudes, she doesn't have to.)

We ditched home and hearth (and dinner-making and homework-helping) that night for a solo bar hop dignified night out, in which I enjoyed pimiento cheese at a place that served "marrow in a pot." It turns out that she and I have not in fact discussed every.single.thing in great detail via email -- which was not surprising but equally excellent -- and we plotted Next Steps where all fine people do such things: belly-up to shiny mahogany in front of frothy, frosty mugs.

Scott is a gracious host even though he barely got a word in edgewise and had to play taxi driver and fast food buyer. Also: it turns out I like dogs after all!

I came home to Three Short Drunk People all hugs and kisses and my mom's homemade bolognese sauce simmering on the stove. I launched into homework help and permission slips and my calendar and the emails I had avoided and sooner than I'd hoped, the whole Hotlanta Hoedown seemed a sweet and distant dream. But I was happy, not happier -- just happy: I can't explain it like I want to, but there is a difference.

Guns re-loaded with the taste of my first corn-dog and a tour of a city I completely loved with a friend I never expected to make or keep so close (yo!), I zip up to face the Massachusetts cold and the countdown to Christmas. Which includes my dad's arrival (yup) and school conferences and teacher gifts and bottles of juice and paper plates I need to deliver...somewhere...

I'll be the one in the half-assed pony tail, the one who jets off for the one-city book tour at the craziest time of year, the messy girl in jeans who sends ranty PTO messages, the mom who forgets where she hid the presents, the one with the biggest smile on her wind-chapped face. That one. That's me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Watch out NeNe! Another Crazy Blonde is Coming to ATL!

That's right, you heard me. Hide your cheap beer...

I am writing from inside my home for the next three hours and since I am tapping away on my phone, with one finger no less, I am clearly intimidating my fellow passengers with my wikkid coolness. No matter: CarolynOnline's kids will like me (I travel with goodies).

Already got a call from one of my kids' schools. Something about a tree branch and a bump to the head. Other than that, I am sure everything is shipshape at home. There's plenty of waffles for instance and I was nice enough to leave three bins of Christmas Miraclabelia for my mom to sort out. Ho ho ho.

So yeah three days in Dixie with Carolyn and our book and her kids and Scott and maybe a Housewife or two. I'll show 'em how we Yankees do it, as long as no one pulls off my wig.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Slowing Down

In the very latest part of August, my friend's daughter was struck in a crosswalk by a car. She was fifteen years old and on her way to a friend's house in the light of 7pm. Her mother was in an airplane with her sister on the way to college. They were greeted by police at the gate. Her father and stepmother were summoned at their home: your child has been in a terrible accident.

Allie died on one of our Small Town streets or maybe in a helicopter on the way to the hospital. Doesn't matter. She died. She was beautiful and on her way to Varsity soccer and 10th grade. She was fifteen.

The driver who hit Allie was an 18 year old boy from a neighboring town with an awful driving record and awesome sports stats. No charges have been filed.

Since then, the Small Town has been a fury of goodness (within days two great women had bumper stickers printed-- SLOW DOWN FOR ALLIE) and also inane destruction (the Small Town newspaper's comment site blew-up with vitriol and blame and hurt).

When Allie's dad asked me to write something for the Small Town paper, I knew what he was after: he is a dad who wants justice for his daughter. His anger is more than palpable -- it comes through his typically friendly smile. I hear it in his voice. I see how his eyes can't wink or twinkle. He will, her mother will never be the same, but -- I couldn't do what he wanted.

I can't fix anything for him.

I wrote for him, like he asked me to do, but I wrote what only my heart could tell -- and it's probably not what he wanted.

I hope it resonates with him and maybe you too:

It’s a funny thing to feel so happy and so sad for a small town. While we celebrate the historical and well deserved win by our hometown football team, we can’t forget the young woman who did not attend the rallies or the games.

“SLOW DOWN” the bumper stickers say.

It’s an oval reminder of Allie’s families’ loss and ours too.

I saw the sticker twice as I maneuvered my way through traffic on the Pike over Thanksgiving. I wondered if it mattered as much to the other drivers on that speedy road as it did to me.

“Slow down,” I say to myself every time I see it in our small town. Slow down, I think, and then I wonder: am I really… slowing down?

Things speed up this time of year. We rush and hurry and stress out. We fill our calendars or worry that our calendars aren’t filled enough. We hustle catalogs in and out of the house and stack their torn pages on tables that are already thigh-high with school flyers. We wrestle tangled lights and swear -- we swear to wind them up better next time.

Mostly, we charge through three sweet weeks we will never have again.

In our effort to please and make joyous, we run a race this time of year, and sadly, it’s a race too many of us run all year long.

In an effort to “help” our kids. we run them from activity to practice to tutoring to play dates. Our mothers? Most of them just shoved us outdoors. My mother-in-law locked the doors until dinner was served. I adore her.

Some of us? Most of us?

All we do is run. And run and run.

To what? From what?


What a gift we have been given!

Not only should we practice safe and careful measures in our daily lives behind the wheel (and expect the same of others) (hang up that stupid phone!), but each time we see that sticker, we should remember all the tiny moments we take for granted – on the way to something else.

All happy children will tell you: it was never the things under the tree, but the time spent around it.

Need proof? Ask Allie’s family.