Saturday, March 31, 2007

Deepest Darkest

Deepest darkest read the prompt at Sunday Scribblings. I knew the answer to the question even before I finished reading it.

For as long as I can remember, my deepest darkest fear was that I was not worthy of love. My grandmother used to say that there was a lid for every pot but growing up I often felt that wasn't true for me. I hoped that there was lid for me but I didn't quite believe that there would be. As an adult I came to feel that my deepest darkest fear was really a manifestation of figuring out who I am and being okay with being gay. Years of therapy were helpful in this regard. And for the nine years that I was with Lisa I was persuaded that my fear was unfounded.

For nine years I felt worthy of love and then suddenly, again, I feel unworthy. I am a lid without a pot. Or a pot without a lid. I keep wondering if I am somehow a broken person. The rational part of me tells me that I'm human, but not broken. I have family and friends who love me; my son loves me. I am not alone in this world, not by a long shot. But I have never quite loved another person as I loved Lisa. And thus I have never quite hurt like I have hurt since she left. And though I know that I should, I can't quite dismiss the fear that she was right to leave me; that I wasn't worthy of being loved by her. And so my deepest darkest fear has returned like an old and unwelcome acquaintance in the deepest darkest parts of my thoughts.

I fought off the demon once before and I like to think that I can fight it off again. Really, I have no choice. But sometimes I still feel like that 10 year old who let herself into the quiet empty house after school. She worried that no one could love her. And 30 years later I worry too.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Buh Bye

The Justice Department assures us that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has "no intention of resigning" but I don't see how that resolve can last. Yesterday, his former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, testified to the Judiciary Committee in the Senate. Sampson was forced to resign because of his own unsavory behavior in the firings. And when he spoke with the Senate yesterday, Sampson dropped a dime on Gonzales, saying that the AG had been involved in discussions of the firing of the U.S. attorneys and that some of the firings had been politically motivated.

Gonzales has previously denied that he had been involved in long-term discussions of the firings. Sampson said that Gonzales had been involved for two years. And Sampson said there was no question that some of the firings were politically motivated and that Gonzales knew that.

Frankly, I've surprised that Gonzales has lasted as long as he has. Certainly the Bushies can see what kind of liability he's become. I predict that he doesn't survive the next week.

Buh bye. And good riddance, if I may be so bold.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Real Life Conversations that Reflect Poorly on Me

The scene: Morning commute to school. In New Jersey, which I believe pretty much says it all.

JT: Mama?

Me: Yes?

JT: I saw you show your middle finger to that car.

Me: Ummmmmmmmmmmmm.

JT: I think that you should have to give a quarter to the bowl for when we use curse words. You have to put a lot of money in there. I haven't had to put in any.

Me: Yes sir.

I Believe that the Word is Unbelievable

So my ex and I have exchanged words over the last 24 hours and as is most often the case when that happens, unkind things were said. Regrettable, but a fact of life when you have no respect for one another. But my favorite part of the exchange is when she told me that one day she wants to be able to come and watch JT in the school play or when he plays on a sports team. She wants to be there for those moments of his life.

This is the part that is unbelievable. She hated school events when she was actually living in the house with him and often didn't attend. When she did attend, she complained about it. Last year, when the kindergarten organized a Mother's Day Tea, she was busy chatting up her new girlfriend at the company "retreat." And now I'm supposed to believe that she longs to attend the school play?

Got one word for that: unbelievable.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My Days in the Kitty Sex Trade Are Over

They are over because this afternoon I took he who must be neutered to be well......unmanned is the phrase that comes to mind. I feel a little bad about Tiger having to spend the night away from home but Lucy is very happy to be released from the smooth moves Tiger brought to the love shack.

Though she has occasionally plaintively wailed for Tiger, I can confidently say that we're all looking forward to a full night of sleep here at Sassafras House.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Kitty Porn

My personal hell continued this morning with yowling cat love at 5 am. They are like teenagers in the spring, those two.

48 hours until one of them is very sorry to have crossed me.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Cat-blogging, NC-17 Edition

At 4 am this morning I awakened to the unpleasant sound of my kitty Tiger (age 8 months) trying to have his way with Lucy (also 8 months AND his sister). At the foot of my bed. I flipped on the lights and made all manner of noise suggesting this was wrong, wrong, oh-so-wrong.

Then I separated the offending parties and tried to get back to sleep, all the time having nightmares of 3 headed kittens being born at my house.

When daylight arrived, I called the vet. Tiger will be sans testicles by Thursday afternoon.

My life is so glamorous.

Update: My friend sb reports that I won't have 3 headed kittens. She suggests that I'll have "1-headed kittens, a little bit slow, who let mice chase them and will be savants at banjo playing."

Because that's a much more comforting scenario.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


That's the name of the nail polish my ten toes are currently sporting. I might call it fuschia. Maybe mulberry? Dark pink with a touch of red? But I basically bought the bottle because the name of the color was wicked. I love to read the names of nail polish, lipstick, and paint, especially the names that provide no earthly clue to the color. I once painted my bathroom in a color called enchanted cottage. Who doesn't want to grab their morning shower in an enchanted cottage? I own a lipstick called sweet mocha and I sometimes wonder what it would look like if it was just mocha or just sweet. Why is it called sweet mocha? I'm currently visiting a skirt claiming to be the color nutmeg. I think that it might go well with a t-shirt I visit colored wild orchid.

But for now, it's just wicked and me. I've been called a lot of things, but never wicked. Though as of this afternoon, my toes are wicked and the world had better get out of my freakin' way.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

In the Kitchen

As a girl and a young woman, I would not have characterized myself as a particularly creative person. Now, as an adult, I think that I am more creative, and certainly more willing to take creative risks. And, though it might seem like an odd development, I think that my willingness to be creative is from learning to cook and being willing to take risks in the kitchen.

I first learned to cook from my mother and my paternal grandmother. Later on, when I was in my 20s I learned more from my friend Kyle and her mother, Betty. By the time I was 25, I was a confident cook, willing to take risks and trust my judgment. I began to develop a list of things that I could cook well ---- specialties of my kitchen. I began to collect cookbooks and I was willing to try new things. Now, at the age of 39, I am a confident cook. I often use recipes and still love to read cookbooks and cooking magazines (Cooking Light and Cook's Country are my favorites). Lately, I've developed a growing list of food blogs to regularly read, including Simply Recipes, Homesick Texan, and Smittenkitchen. But just as often, I use my own desires as start for finding just the right taste.

I cook for the joy of the process and for the pleasure of feeding others. I love to sit down at the table with my family and friends. One of my greatest pleasures in life is a good meal prepared by my hands. I think that a great deal of my enjoyment is because I like to feed the people whom I love. I've begun to share my kitchen with my sonand to teach him the pleasure of cooking for others (that's him helping me make cookies while wearing his pirate costume. It feels like I am sharing a tradition and a process that will last him a lifetime.

All of this means that by design, my kitchen and my dining room are the center of my home, and the place where I most often express my creative energies.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Icy and Hot

For reasons that I don't fully understand.......and may never understand...... two of the freshman boys in my 6th period course came to class stinking of Icy Hot, which they explained was on their necks and arms. They spent the entire class period twitching from the agony of it while one of their classmates periodically inquired "Icy and hot?"

And, of course, now my classroom smells like a Senior Citizens hang out.

The Thoughts in my Head

Over the last 10 months I have had cause to doubt most everything that I thought I knew. And I have come to doubt much of what I once believed about Lisa. But I have never doubted that she loved J.T. From the moment he was born, her love for him was a palpable presence in our lives. I can still see clearly the expression on her face when she would talk about J.T. and tell a story about him. There were times when I could see around her the joy and love she had for him. So I don't doubt there was love there and, at least when I knew her, there was an abundance of it. It was the one thing I was most proud to share with her. And I still miss sharing our love for J.T..

I have no idea what she thinks or feels now. And I have largely given up trying to understand what she was thinking when she left. But she left J.T. and I for a new relationship and I often think of that. What must it feel like to be the woman who helped another woman to walk out on her child? Does Liz feel secure because Lisa left her child? Does she feel bad? Does she feel scared? Does she know what she cost J.T.? Does she care? Does she even think about it?

As I recall, Liz's own parents were divorced. Were the circumstance similar to the ones in which she and Lisa have thrust J.T.? Did she hurt because of what her parents did? Was it so long ago that she doesn't remember? Here again the answers are elusive.

I am trying to make peace with all of these unanswered questions.

I do know this. Yesterday J.T. proudly announced to me that there is going to be a first grade play and he will be in it. He asked if I would come to watch the performance and I promptly said yes. Then I asked him, "should we invite somebody else?" I was thinking of Lisa, of course.

He paused to think and then he answered, "Maybe D and his Mommy and his Tama might come to watch me?"

"I'm sure they will if they can," I told him. Part of me rejoiced in this moment because my son clearly knows that he is loved. He knows whom he can count on. But part of me was really sad. Lisa may never know what she's lost. And J.T. may not think about it all the time. But I know what she's given up and I know what he lost when she left. And ten months later, I'm still so very sad for them both.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Kitten Confidential

The goal: break the spirit of the big girl so that the little boy can stay home all day to play with us while the alleged "grown up" sobs quietly in the corner, but still regularly refills the kitty chow bowl.

Phase I: Sleep deprivation and general mayhem

8 pm
When she opens the door to the attic playroom, run up there and hide. Prove difficult to capture.

9 pm
When the big one gives up the hunt and goes to bed, stroll downstairs and nonchalantly flick your tail in her face while she's reading a book.

1:30 am
Tip over jewelry box on the radiator and bat earrings around on the floor.

3 am
Lie down on pillow of the big one; bat her ponytail until she pathetically begs you to stop.

5 am
Claw at bedding of big one, creating fear that a sharp claw will get her.

6:10 am
Lie in warm flannel nest recently vacated by the girl when she gets in the shower.

6:25 am
Tiger: Tip over the cow creamer, spilling half and half all over the counter and the floor.

Lucy: Distract the girl from impending creamer disaster by clawing at package of chicken on the counter.

6:30 am
While the girl cleans up the cream, claw open the chicken package and feast on raw poultry. Yummy.

6:50 am
Just when girl feels she has things under control and goes to wake up the little boy, hop in the sink and flip her the kitty middle finger when she returns to the kitchen.

7 am
Declare victory for kittens everywhere.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Vernal Equinox, Jersey Style

The boy and I moved to New Jersey in 2002, when JT was just two years old. For better or for worse, he is a Jersey kid. He knows all about traffic, he can't say the word button (one should pronounce the t....), he thinks that a Dunkin Donuts is on every corner in America, and he loves a little treat from Rita's Italian Ice. On the first day of spring, you can get a free Italian ice and that's what JT and I did today. Sure, it was just 45 degrees and we waited in the outside line wearing coats and mittens. But those ices (mango for me and root beer for JT) tasted just like summer is right around the corner.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Trying Not to Sweat the Small Stuff

There is a never ending monotony to life as a single mama. When a partner is around, there's always the off-chance that she'll wash that load of laundry or sweep the floor. But when you are on your own, it's a different story. That last load of laundry? It isn't going to wash itself. And those floors won't sweep themselves. A self-cleaning toilet would be a magical thing but until that happens, that's my chore as well.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by it all and I want to throw in the towel. Instead, tonight I threw the towel in the washer while I worked out and dusted while supper was cooking. Afterward, I cleaned the kitchen and the bathrooms and swept the floors. I was on a roll and then JT came downstairs and asked, "can we eat some ice cream and play cards?"

There is more dusting to be done and some trash to be taken out, not to mention an assortment of crayons, rubber bands and pencils to be fished out from underneath the radiator. And if I put my mind to it, there are a zillion other tasks that I need to finish. But instead I scooped up the ice cream (with chocolate sauce!) and decided not to sweat the small stuff.

Of course, I lost the card game. But I still feel like I came out a winner.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Nomination Scrabble: Chris Dodd

Note: This is the second in my series assesssing the prospects of various Democrat and Republican candidates for securing their party's nomination.

Connecticut's senior Senator, Democrat Christopher Dodd, likes to joke that he is the only presidential candidate who receives mail from both the AARP and diaper services. He's right that he's the only candidate in this position. At the age of 62, Dodd is a very proud father of a toddler and an infant. The way that he has talked about becoming a parent is one of the reasons that I like him so much.

Dodd served in the Peace Corp in the 1960s and after two years in the Dominican Republic he served in the Army National Guard. Those are his Vietnam War credentials and they measure up nicely with other Democrats in the pool. Dodd was first elected to Congress in 1974 and he advanced to the Senate in 1980. He's been there ever since, which makes him a Washington insider. But the other Democrats in the mix are also Washington insiders, albeit being "inside" for a shorter period.

In Congress Dodd has long been active on foreign affairs, healthcare for the poor, and job opportunities programs. He' a man with an admirable and impressive track record on children's issues, ranging from healthcare to childhood nutrition, to daycare, and pushing for Head Start expansion. His record is pure gold in this area and far surpasses any of the other Democrats in the mix, including Clinton. He's long been fiscally responsible, a desirable match-up with any of the GOP candidates who might claim this mantle (do Republicans care about a balanced budget anymore?).

I like Chris Dodd. I respect Chris Dodd. Dodd is solid and experienced and his judgment is sound. I think that he is a terrific leader and I would be thrilled to cast a presidential ballot for him in November 2008. But it ain't gonna happen. For starters, members of Congress, who often vote strategically to accomplish complicated political goals, have a notoriously difficult time explaining this to the average Joe and Josephine Voter, and Dodd's been in Congress for more than 30 years. This will be a challenge, and no one wants to be labeled as a waffler. Second, he's going to have a hard time raising money in the juggernaut that is presidential campaign financing in a terrifically front-loaded primary. He can't match the star power of either Obama or Hilary and it will hurt him. He doesn't have their name recognition, either, and so crowd power won't make up for lack of zillions of dollars. He's articulate and thoughtful in his rhetoric but he doesn't ooze charisma and is nothing close to a media darling like Obama. Connecticut, Dodd's home state, doesn't confer any significant political advantages. He's a well-respected Democrat from the most Democratic part of the nation. Big deal.

What Chris Dodd has is vice presidential credentials. He would mesh well with current front-runners Obama or Clinton. They are colleagues in the Senate now and by all accounts have respect for one another. He wouldn't bring a strategic advantage to a Clinton-Dodd ticket, since their states are next-door neighbors. But in 1992 another candidate named Clinton chose the senator from the state-next-door for his ticket and that worked out just fine. He would bring regional balance to an Obama-Dodd ticket, and some significant experience that Obama lacks. I think that an option on Blair House is Dodd's best prospect for 2008. And I take some consolation that we seem to be living in an era when vice presidential influence is on the rise. That makes Dodd an eminently desirable candidate.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Inspiration

Part of the beauty of teaching is that you get to do things over again. A successful lesson can be repeated the next year; a failed lesson can be revised for greater success the next time around. I've always loved that challenge. In the last few years, I've felt inspired to help my students to see history from the point of view of real people. It's easy to make people excited about the lives of people like Jane Addams or George Washington, but I want them to see a fuller kind of history in the lives of the rest of us.

To that end, I use a collection of historical letters that are available online at the Gilder Lehrman Institute. My students read them and we talk about the ways that the letters reflect the experiences of real people in history. I like them to see that history isn't a series of distant events or might-have-beens, but rather real events that happened to real people. And the documents are intended to serve as an inspiration to let their imaginations take flight. After we read them, I ask the class to imagine themselves as a figure in history and then write a letter to loved ones reflecting on their experience with a moment in time.

This afternoon I read the letters my current U.S. History class wrote as they imagined themselves caught up in the Civil War. I've done this assignment before but this year's class really excelled. I read letters by imaginary nurses in field hospitals, average soldiers struggling with the horror of battles like Shiloh or Gettysburg, and wives left home to tend the farms and raise children. And in the work of my students I see imagination, a real knowledge, and a growing understanding of what the Civil War really meant to Americans who lived through the experience.

We'll do a similar assignment when we study World War I and I can't wait to see what they will be inspired to write. Their work makes me excited to do what I do, an inspiration of its very own.

Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth

At 6:35 am this morning my phone rang. That can only mean one thing: snow day. Though I don't want to complain and a snow day is always welcome, I had already showered, dressed, made my bed, drank two cups of coffee, made the lunches, and was unloading the dishwasher when the call came.

A more perfect storm would have found me in bed when the call came.

Though, since I am making this post from bed, I know that I really shouldn't complain.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Real Life Conversations at School

At my school, seniors may be exempt from final exams if they have an A in the fourth quarter. Faculty may tinker with this formula, and I mess with it by requiring that all work in the fourth quarter be submitted on time (this in addition to having an A average). So, with the fourth quarter just a few weeks away I was explaining this situation to my 3rd period class, a group with a few notorious late-work submitters. And the following conversation happened:

J: "Wait.....can we get some kind of repercussion?"

K: "J, repercussions are BAD."

My work here is complete.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Kitty Middle Finger

I read somewhere that cats don't like to walk on tin foil and my cat-owning friends have confirmed this fact. So I decided I would leave a few sheets of tin foil on my kitchen counter and the cats would stay away. Life would be happier.

But, as the photo indicates, the cats pretty much gave me the kitty middle finger.

It's patently clear who is in command at my house.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

New Desks!

I returned from spring break to find my classroom filled with new desks. This has made me unaccountably joyful, as I will no longer have to warn teenage boys that the desk will in fact break if they continue to sit on it that way. My old desks had the broken spirits of desks worn down by years of teenage abuse. On occasion, they tossed a 16 year old on his bootie, always entertaining for the class, though not always conducive to learning. The new desks are nice and shiny and quite durable. The students feel that I am unreasonably happy about them, guarding them like a mama watching over her flock of chicks. I am most happy that there is no basket underneath them, which I have foolishly persuaded myself means that no one will leave their books, jackets, or purses behind in my class. And I won't miss the sound of metal grinding against metal, because the desk has been rocked backward one too many times.

Clearly, I am a hopeless idealist.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Tiny (Shopping) Miracle

When Lisa walked out last summer, I pitched the perfume that she had bought for me. I assume that the reasons for the perfume pitching are abundantly obvious. I promptly picked out a new scent, a leafy green bottle of something called Beleaf (pun intended, I believe). I liked it because it was something new that I had had chosen, not something new and horrible that had been foisted upon me.

I still like it and I dropped by The Body Shop this afternoon to pick up a new bottle and was confronted by the fact that it has been discontinued. Horrors. Then the clerk said she had a few bottles at the low, low price of $2. I bought all three.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

In Praise of the Elliptical Trainer

This week I have been reading A Walk in the Woods, one of my favorite Bill Bryson books. It's his book about the Appalachian Trail, written after he hiked portions of it in 1996. I love the book first and foremost for his reflections on the American notions of wilderness. Plus the book is startlingly funny....such that I sometimes have to set it down because I'm laughing so hard. Bryson first takes to the trail with a friend and neither of them are the least bit physically prepared for the journey. I like that they persevere anyway. It speaks volumes to me.

For most of my 39 years I have had a love-hate relationship with my own body, with emphasis on the hate. When Lisa and I were first together she made me feel great about my body, though she soon commenced with the criticism and was sometimes worse than the previous record-holder in body criticism, my mother. I got into pretty good shape to be pregnant and was a vigilant pregnant woman, gaining less than 20 pounds. And pregnancy and delivery was really the first time that I liked my body ---- I could do this? It felt empowering. Subsequently, I got more interested in working out, no longer for the benefit of how I looked but finally for the way that being strong made me feel.

So now I am a junkie, running nearly every day on my elliptical trainer. Burning calories and building muscle and keeping my blood pressure low, low, low. I like the challenge of running faster or at a harder pace. I like the hot sweaty feel of pushing myself to do more. I like that all that running means that I can bike for miles, pulling my boy behind me. I like that I can keep pace with my lightening quick 7-year-old son. I like that people are surprised at how fit I am (because for all my working out, I am no scrawny girl and I still like butter on my bread). I like the fact that working out has given me a much healthier relationship with food.

I've always liked to joke that my body is built for comfort and not for speed and that's still largely true. But when speed ---- or perseverance ---- is called for, I can deliver. And I like that.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Live from Orlando

So I am standing in line at airport security with half of the world and we are all or us taking off our belts, removing our jewelry and shoes, unpacking our bags and confessing that yes, we do have more than three ounces of Purell in our bags. And then, clad in our socks, and holding up our pants, we walk through metal detectors like cattle to the slaughter. On the other side we reassemble ourselves.

And I find myself thinking that we are the nation who freed the world from the tyranny of the Nazis and then put a man on the moon. Great accomplishments. But now we've sunk to this lame and irrational behavior at airports. What could we possibly get from this behavior?

I mean other than feeling like the fools that we have become.

Dream Journey

My whole life, I have been an active daydreamer. Most often, my daydreams have featured my future. I dreamt about having a child and being a parent long before he was actually born; I can remember walking through the woods years ago in Nashville dreaming about having a house of my own. I think that I have always planned and prepared for my future through daydreams.

In the years that Lisa and I were together, I daydreamed about our future: places we would go together, things that we would do. I had a very active daydream about running a bed and breakfast that was sometimes a daily visit for me. I had planned a trip to England for Lisa's 40th birthday. When Lisa first left, I frantically tried to close off the pain by retreating to my daydreams only to find that they hurt as well. For years I had been spinning daydreams about a future for she and I but there was no us anymore, and no future to go with it. And so what was once a familiar place to take comfort was now just new area of pain in my life. My daydream factory was suddenly shut down.

I quit daydreaming about the future because it hurt so much and because for the first time in years I had no idea what the future might bring. And, frankly, I was so busy trying to manage the here and now that I couldn't really envision the future. I wasn't even sure that I wanted a future.

But this week I realized that very slowly my daydreaming life is coming back. For the last few weeks, I've daydreamed about my upcoming vacation in Florida. I've also daydreamed about camping in the Cape this summer. It's not far into the future, but it is a future, which feels like a huge step forward.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Monkey Boy

From the time that he was a tiny babine, I've always thought that JT looked like a monkey. He had dark hair and dark eyes and he browned right up his very first summer. But for his chubby cheeks, he was always a slim and lithe baby. And as my baby became a boy, he still looked like a monkey to me. He jumps about and swings from the monkey bars at the park down the street. And if it looks like a monkey and sounds like a get the idea.

Maybe because I called him monkey boy or maybe for some other reason, he's always liked monkeys. One of his favorite baby stuffies was a tiny monkey and a few years ago he made a stuffed monkey at Build-A-Bear that he continues to adore. So when he saw a beguiling brown monkey at Animal Kingdom, I knew that it was coming home with us. JT carefully counted out his saved dollars and the monkey promptly joined our family.

As we packed up tonight, there was some debate: should the new monkey go in the suitcase or would it be safer for him to travel on the plane with us? As if there were any choice, I thought to myself, as JT and the new monkey lie next to in another in bed, looking remarkably alike. Then JT made the final call: both the monkey boy and the boy's monkey will be sitting next to Mama on the plane ride home tomorrow.

He's 7 and I feel that these moments of his childhood are fleeting. When I get frustrated or when I'm tired of being the on-call single Mama, I remind myself that his life is flying by. Soon stuffed monkeys and pirate toys will be flung aside for video games, cell phones, and the trappings of adolescence. I don't want to wonder where the time went without knowing that I made the most of that time. I want to be a Mama of quality and quantity of time. So tomorrow I'll have a little boy and a monkey by my side. And I'll be happier for it.

Ingredients for a Perfect Day

One baseball game - Yankees v. Braves (Yankees win, 5-3)
Ice cream sundaes for supper
Pirate costume ----- with tattoos
Splash Mountain with your Mama - at night
Staying up really, really late ---- past midnight
Miss Amy
A ride on Peter Pan ----- the story that began this obsession so many years ago

And when it's all said and done your little boy will announce that it was "the night of a lifetime."


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Go Fetch

Today's Spring Break adventure featured an extensive game of Mama fetch. The deal is that JT is utterly fascinated by my ability to skim along underwater and fetch the diving rings. It's a skill I honed during the hot summer days of my childhoood in California. And, along with the flip-flop induced giant space between our big toe and the junior toes that follow, this shared talent is how I know my sister is actually my sister and not some smart-mouthed imposter. Who knew that it would be this skill that convinces JT that I'm worth having around on a daily basis? But it is and I was happy to oblige. So we played Mama fetch this afternoon. The warm sun added a few freckles to our matching noses and there was plenty of laughter.

Summer vacation is soon, yes?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Fun, Mama Style

One of the hardest things about being the only full-time parent in the house is that you are so busy getting the chores done that fun runs the risk of becoming just another chore. I don't want JT to grow up thinking that the only way that I showed him my love and affection was by getting the laundry done. I have fond memories of fun things that I shared with my parents and so I very much want him to have happy memories of fun times with me.

So I banked some fun today at Animal Kingdom. We rode the Mt. Everest ride 3 times, I consented to yet another stuffed animal to join the herd at our home, and I took photos of the snake he had painted on his face. We had a really great day. And we'll both have memories of the fun we can have together.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Pool Shark

Yes, the pun is intended. I am my father's daughter, you know.

We've had a lovely afternoon playing and relaxing.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


On our first day of vacation, we headed off to the Disney/MGM theme park in Orlando. By the middle of the day, JT was ready for a break and so while the rest of our party went off to ride the Muppets ride, he and I went to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground. There I had a seat and a cool bottle of water while JT ran around among the giant paperclips and spider webs. The playground was swarming with kids.

I have the sort of kid who knows his way about and so while I sat in our pre-arranged spot, he ran around, checking in every few minutes to tell me about something cool that he had done. I people-watched as I waited. There was a mom who had lost her child and was looking pretty frantically about the playground. The nice Disney people were on the case and within about 15 minutes she had found her boy. He looked to be about 4 and was as happy to find her as she was to find him. While the other kids ran about, they just stood amidst the chaos, holding one another. Glad to have found one another; glad to be together again. They looked perfect with one another, no longer frantic and separate but now peaceful and whole.

As I watched this all unfold, I was wondering what I would do if I lost track of JT. It's never happened and so I don't really know. But the very thought just leaves me cold with fear. Since Lisa left, despite my anger at her, I've sometimes felt sorry for her because she doesn't get to see JT every day. She has a new life that gives her 5 hours a week to make that connection that was once a part of her daily life. And mad as I am at her, I sometimes have felt sad on her behalf. I know that I couldn't stand to live that way. And I used to believe that she felt the same way.

But as I watched that other mama and her boy this afternoon, I realized that Lisa made this choice for herself. She knew exactly what it would mean when she left me; that she would lose her daily connection with JT. And she left anyway.

So she doesn't really deserve my sadness, because this is the life she chose for herself. But I also realized this afternoon that one day my son will be a grown man, hopefully with a child of his own to love. And he will know the overwhelming feelings that being a parent brings. He'll feel that sense of awe and joy that you feel when you watch your child. He'll take pride in his child's accomplishments, both little (he weighs 10 pounds – finally!) and big (he can read!). He'll feel that love so deep it creates a well of strength that you never knew you had. When that happens to him, he will also know exactly what it was that Lisa was giving up when she left.

And I hope by then he is no longer hurt by the choice that she made. I hope by then that I will have shown him what a terrific and wonderful person he is. I hope by then that the love he has been shown by so many other wonderful adults in his world will have made up for what he lost when she left. I hope by then that he also knows that her choice was her loss.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Superstition – Sunday Scribblings

I'm not sure that I would call myself a superstitious girl, though I am cautious. I wouldn't step on a crack (for fear I'd break my mother's back) and if I spill salt, I toss some over my shoulder. My life hasn't really been governed by these practices. On the other hand, since I am a cautious person, I have had a life-long tendency to develop patterns and to stick with them. I even find comfort in these patterns. So I used the same ink pen to take every final exam I ever took at UCLA. I have a calming mantra that I repeat to myself in nervous moments. And the pattern goes further than that: for nearly every year of my life since I was a little girl, I have bought a new pair of Keds sneakers in the spring. There are other things as well, but I think that you get the idea.

I wouldn't say that I resist change, because I don't think that's the case. But I have always sought continuity in the midst of change and change that I didn't create or didn't want makes me very anxious. Sometimes it makes me feel utterly powerless. So the upheaval in my life last summer was unwelcome and hard for me. Because it was unexpected I hadn't had the opportunity to gird myself for what was coming. And in the aftermath, I decided that as I approach the age of 40, I need to do a better job of rolling with the punches, or at least being prepared to roll with the punches when they come my way.

So I have broken with some of my traditions. It makes me a little nervous to do so. But it also feels freeing in an unexpected way. I still got some new sneakers this spring, but they aren't Keds. I got some K-Swiss this year. It may not look all that different but it feels new to me. And when I look at my feet while I'm walking around in Florida next week I will hopefully be reminded that changes, even the unexpected ones, can be good.

My Enchanted March

In preparation for my upcoming vacation I have been re-reading Elizabeth von Arnim's 1922 book The Enchanted April. The novel is the story of four women who leave dreary wet London in April for a stay at medieval Italian castle cloaked in wisteria and sunshine. The story is indeed enchanting, as the castle and the holiday prove quite perfect.

I'm not headed to San Salvatore but I am leaving cold wet New Jersey for a week in Orlando, Florida with some friends. The promise of a warm pool and hot tub, weather that demands sandals, and a trip to Disneyworld is pretty enchanting right now. JT is excited well beyond belief, and he told his first grade teacher that he didn't think he could fit in any homework because he would be "too busy in the pool, the hot tub, on the roller coasters, and stuff like that."

I'm tired and worn out from the demands of single mamahood. And I still miss parts of my old life. But this upcoming week will be a chance to renew and relax and a reminder that my new life is coming along nicely.

PS: If you haven't read the book, go right out and pick up a copy. It will make you anticipate the coming spring with that much more happiness, knowing that you'll soon be feeling the warm sun.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

Yes, that's the emotion I feel when I pop downstairs to the basement to toss the load of laundry I just washed into the dryer and I open the dryer to find that it's empty. Yippee! Now I can dry my freshly washed load of clothes without having to fold another load.

It's a slice of housewife heaven.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


For some reason there is a tent in my classroom. It's in a bag and is a two family hexagonal tent. Looks nice. Might be good as an extra tent in Cape Cod this summer. But I have no earthly idea why it's in my classroom, nor do I know who left it here.