Monday, January 19, 2015

Better to Dance

Death should not look like this. It should be solemn and serious. It should be awkwardly hugging and deep and sad: it should not look like the way we made it.

Death, two deaths actually... this family took the word "celebration of lives" to heart. We took that celebration and decided to mean it, to live it, to have it for sure. My brother in law -- his parents died, both of them and just three days apart, and it should have been so gut wrenchingly sad but it wasn't.

It wasn't.

His parents left sisters and a brother behind, and even my parents, who were their friends as teenagers and years after that, which is all the days I remember them best. They left five grandchildren with memories kinder than even those gone days and probably more lasting.

A heart could break, thinking about it. But none did.

Instead, we danced to the music of three generations -- everyone there, all together: the old Yale boys harmonizing with the younger ones until the younger ones turned up the Ipod and showed how they roll. Dancing, guitars in tune, even really bad singers singing and we rocked on. We rocked on. Stories were told, neighbors took photos, love was had all around and I don't think a tear was shed outside the church.

I saw Mr. W, who lived across the street from me as a kid, and who (because the world in waspy Connecticut works this way) was also my brother in law's dad's first boss on Madison Avenue, which means, yeah, I grew up with the real Mad Men. (And yes: my sister married the child of her parents' teenage friends and also happened to live across the street from her future father in law's boss, who would become his lifelong friend as well.) (Writing that down made me tired.)

I was younger than Mr. W's kids and he liked football so he'd invite me to watch the Sunday games with him at his house.

"Can Big D come over?" he would shout across the street.

Mr. W and I had some really happy, lazy times together watching football on their leather couch.
I learned almost everything about that game (number 33, Tony Dorsett!) and truly, really the whole idea of sports from him. I muddled through childhood and tweendom during those days and years on his couch and I swear he helped me be what I wanted to be as much as my own father did.

At the funeral, Mr. W looked exactly the same and I kind of melted into his arms when I saw him.
I missed them most when Mr.W said, "He was my best friend but I don't think I was his. Everyone was his best friend."

In the morning, with a very busted elbow from an amazing dancing injury with a nephew who wore a bow tie and who will never know what crappy, pathetic mourning looks like, I found myself suddenly silent the way one does after a big event and a bigger night. Alone in the bathroom, as if caught in a shell from the ocean, I could hear only laughing, only hearty ridiculous laughing ringing in my head, just rattling there. It was loud and awesome and I have decided that it was like a little jack hammer making space for emotion, like a miner making room and getting gold.

So here I am, slightly damaged, bruised, and what do I know that I didn't before?

I know that if someone mattered, they will always matter. I know that it's a good idea to show up and be kind. I know that being arms open is better than arms closed and I know how hard that can be some times. I know that kindness and kinship and true real love crosses all kinds of distances and boundaries and that if I allow it, I'll be happier and better.

I do know that despite the risks, it's way better to dance wildly than cry.
Yup. It's way better to dance.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

So Anyway

How many years ago did I stop speaking here?
And why?

It's been a while and for a lot of solid reasons. Kids getting older, the world of bloggers getting closer (and weirder), and then there was the whole thing of writing for other people. Anyway, anyhow, I missed this. Well, I miss at least the way that this was meant to be: a daily tell, a therapeutic wee story, just that. Nothing more.

I remember when some other writers would tell me that the teenage years would come with a vengeance. I miss those voices now as of course it turns out they were right. I miss the notes from strangers whose lives I followed and cared about. I miss that naked, anonymous camaraderie.

I need it now.

Anyway, putting the pen to paper. Yo.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Take the Ride?

Let me begin by saying that this was a roller coaster kind of a day -- well, if a roller coaster only went downhill. For miles. For endless screaming miles. Into wet rain and then lava. And mud. Today was like a roller coaster into mud, very muddy, grumpy, bitchy, horrible muddy mud.

It started out with me finally scoring the new Iphone because I must tell that girl Siri to do my bidding. I'm not yet sure what kind of bidding I will have her do because Apple has yet to invent an actual assistant/housekeeper/cook/driver but if I can get her to say "I love you Picket" at least once a day, I'll be happy. I held it in my hand, all the possibility of me and she, and I was at the top of the tracks, butterfly-tummied happy with  the horizon unbroken (and well organized) in front of me.

Within 20 minutes, I got the second speeding ticket of my entire life. A big fat speeding ticket -- $240. In one of those sneaky bullshit traps where the speed limit drops 20mph JUST BECAUSE OF A TUNNEL. Me and my fellow felons waited there while they ran our numbers. I rolled up the window because well I WAS SITTING IN A TUNNEL and I then I rolled it down because I thought that might look suspicious. I can't explain this, but even though I haven't come close to committing a crime (in about 20 years), I kept thinking he would find a warrant out for me or something. It's sort of the same way I feel when I walk into a church: I'm just waiting for the bolt.

I make it home but not in time to see my daughter's classroom play because I am crawling at a speedy 15 miles per hour which pisses me off to no end because I believe my bladder is shrinking at the same rate that my ass is expanding. And I am pretty sure that cop is following me. But beside my need to pee, I am supposed to be at the "play" to take pictures for a friend who already knew she couldn't make it. So I'm bummed. And bursting.

Once home, I start the rushed process of syncing the phone and getting Siri to make something for me for lunch and before I can exhale, R comes through the door and I realize my minutes of brilliant thinking are numbered. She has another school project. The GFYO and his playdate are soon MIA so phone calls happen and I speed off to find them and sure enough, there they are examining rocks or poop or something not 20 yards from our house. Waste of gas.

Playdate? Oh crap. It dawns on me that B has a game today about FOREVER away and that means we need to get in the car in about 45 minutes. I write a desperate email for a ride, but B is a now a no show too. Something buzzes. Buzzes again. Buzzes. WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT? I think, checking the oven, the car, the smoke detector until I realize it's the new phone with it's new tone.

She's at school, working at Homework Club and I remind her of the game and that she should come home and that I am trying to score her a ride because her brother has a friend over and --

"Did you get the phone?" she texts.

"Yeah. And a speeding ticket."

She instantly forgets about the "come home" part and the "game part" and is probably blabbing all over Homework Club about her criminal mom, and sure enough, before I hang up the back pack I just tripped over, I am hustling to her school to race her home so the other soccer mom can give her a lift. I am livid and lecture her about time management and obligations and not being the only person in this family and I hit the brake because I am pretty sure I am gunning it and god knows, can you imagine? B is apologetic. She changes in the car, only needs her uniform shirt. She is very fast, I think, when she wants to be.

We wait. We wait. We wait.

Phone rings and naturally that terrifies me because it is a new ringtone and I lurch like I've been tasered and bash my knee on the coffee table, the funny bone part of my knee. "Answer it," I half moan to B, half wail.

"Uh huh," she says, "OK. OK. Yeah, no, no problem. Yeah, here she is."

Doctors appointments, homework club, a new winter soccer schedule and me and that other lovely mom decide that FOREVER is too far away today and after all and what not and good grief and after ten more seconds of commiseration, we decide everything is alright after all: it's just one game. We'll do better next time.

It is not alright for B. She races up the stairs the way twelve year old girls do, punctuating each step with a syllable meant to scar me for life -- "soc - cer - is - the - thing - I - love - the - most - mom - m - m - m" and then she slams her door which I have decided is a language girls are born fluent in. I understand it, that's for sure, and frankly, I kind of regret the lack of doors in my open downstairs.

Thankfully, the GFYO, the playdate and R have run away to the playground and are surely finding dead birds or something gross or whacking each other in the heads with hockey sticks. It's all good. I sit down on the couch with the phone I have suddenly come to resent and I try to change the ringtones to cheer me up.

"Mom?!!" whimpers a voice from upstairs. "Mom?"

Sure enough, B has locked herself in her room with that excellent slam. I debate whether to get there right away or let her sweat it out and I half-smile for the first time since I signed my money away at the Apple store.

I let her out. We talk about the play I missed. She acts out the funniest parts for me and just as the day begins to dip into the black of our new clock, the playdate and R come in. "You need to look at Kipp," says R. "Like now," she says.

He's slugging through the dusk and the backyard, his hand to his forehead, a bloody-less zombie. Giant egg on his forehead. Blue, black, green and I hand him an ice pack, relieved the thing is lurching out and not inward, check his eyeballs, and he says, "Can Playdate stay for dinner?"

R asks if she can go the mall to get her teeth whitened.

B asks Siri, "Who's your mama, Siri?"

I pull the giant, padded bar over my lap. I slam it in. I pull my hair back into a pony tail, because away we go. I bought the ticket. I'm gonna take this goddamn ride, but don't judge me if I am not whipping my arms up in joy all the time. I mean. C'mon. Sometimes this ride blows.

You wanna go again? I do. I will.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Overheard on Halloween

I have an axe in my candy bowl and play spooky music out the window.
I wear a mask and hide in wait. With beer.
(Beer's for me, duh.) (Or anyone brave enough to ask.) ( Holla Beth!)

Anyhoo, here's a snippet of Halloween in Small Town, which is perhaps one of the few in MA that enjoyed it without snow:

"I am a grown-up dressed up to look like a kid because I am a grown up who wants candy but actually I am a kid. Do you like my mustache?"
(Yes. No. Yes? No, omigod! Kid, you're confusing me.)

"MOMMA! Dis yady as an axe!"
It's okay, say his parents. (I take the mask off -- I'm just a mom, I say.)
"I don cahr!"
It's okay, really! say his parents.
"I dohn wan dat yady's cahndy!" (I give some to his sister.)
"I'll take his."

"Are you B's mom?" (Yeah. Look at you! What are you?)
"Pretty Little Liars" (Five minute conversation ensues about whodunnit.)

"Love the music." (Do you rock? I say)
"Wuddayouthink?"  (Take two, kid.)

"It's just me!" (No it isn't.)
"No it is, it's me!" (No. It is not you.)
"IT'S ME  -- YOU KNOW ME!" (No I don't -- you're too scary.)
Rips mask off.
"It's me!" (Oooo, now I know you.)
"You're funny, I think."  (You think?)
"Can I have some candy?" (No.)  

It's been a long time since I laughed so much.You should laugh too...

(PS: the kid got the candy.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

An Open Letter To Toilet Paper

Dear Toilet Paper,

It is obvious you despise me.

You are never around when I need you! But when my kids do, or my husband?
Good god, man, I coming running with you.
We race off together and shove you through the crack in the door.

I always felt like we were a team.

Lately, not so much.
I think you are saving your succulent tissue for other bathrooms, because hell bells! You are never in mine.

I call to my kids, to my husband, to the random dog walker on the street: "BRING ME SOME TOILET PAPER!"

I thought you would do some kind of inanimate magic like stuff and roll yourself to the lazy Short Drunk People or The Kid, or even me. But no.

But no...

You're too busy sopping up the mess that the GFYO left from a spilt cranberry on the rug because goddammit, I forgot to get paper towel.

Alright, okay. I can wait until someone misses me enough.
I'll try to do a better job of making sure you are where you need to be. Just like the paper towels.

In the meantime, can you quit it with those gross cartoon bears?
No one needs to think about tissue stuck to ass.
And those women who keep talking about being "clean in the bathroom?"


Just tell me that you're on sale, alright?

Meanwhile, I'll be drip drying in the loo.
Which is also disgusting.




Saturday, October 15, 2011

I'm Missing It

When my kids were little, I was never alone.

Despite the obvious fact that they were with me all the time, there was also this "thing" that happened: all the other grown-up people who were with their kids wanted to hang out. With me.

I miss those days.
Our baby group days.

My kid, she was kinda aggressive. She was the giant toddler who would roll over the mini toddler to get to the blocks. I think she tried to wrestle one kid to the ground once; I remember pulling her off, apologizing. I think I brought beer once. They never kicked me out.

"She is just bigger than the rest," they said.
"Holy fucking hell," I said.
"My other kid is really sweet and nice and oh shit I have to go pick her up..."

Then I was pregnant. Again.
Baby groups die when you get pregnant. No one likes an unknown.

Plus -- you have another baby, and it's a miracle if anyone gets fed other than him.
Baby groups?
Yeah, right: forget it.

I miss 'em though, the baby groups. It seems like lately my life is just the Three Short Drunks and no others. I manage more paperwork for them than I ever did as publicist. I drive carpools, but I wave to the parents/my friends from the car. The kids sit in the back mostly and I play DJ.

"Does your mom know this song?" I say.

Is she happy, I think. Does she wish I came to the door rather than my kid? Does she want to talk, or is she as tired as I am? Does she want to make a play date -- with me?

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I miss the days when I was knee knee deep in poopy diapers and strollers I couldn't fold and worries about crawling and sitting up and reading and "socialization." It was easier than to talk about parenting. It was easier than to group up in the morning before naps.

I miss the days when we would get together to figure it all out.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


-- I think that the man in the blue car with the OCD wants me to bash his window in

-- I think the Big Gut guy might die when I'm around
-- I want to save somebody!

-- I am pretty sure my bed is the best place to be
-- (I can't leave it.)

-- I should call.
-- I should call or email or send a fucking smoke signal.
-- I have nothing to say.
-- I say too much.

-- I wonder if I was meant to be a mother.
-- my kids wish I wasn't theirs.
-- my husband wishes he married for mommy.

-- I look at the Small Town through the bright light of an October day from the barrel of my car's front window and I see the buildings like my old buildings, like my facade of childhood, and I think I can reach through the window and just touch it
-- when I drive down these streets in October, I see our station wagons and my soccer uniform
-- I can see my mother

-- I wonder if deja vu can be a constant kind of thing

-- I write
-- I write for no purpose other than writing

-- You will decide which is which