Wednesday, December 05, 2007

it's no out there

It's cold. I have coffee. The kids have a snow day because, as my son so astutely observed, "it's no out there." He apparently indiscriminantly doesn't have an "s" at the beginning of his words, which is unfortunate, since his name is Sam.

He also is having issues with "r" in the middle of words, which means that Percy, one of his favorite trains on the island of Sodor, becomes "Pussy." Which is hysterically funny that a two year old is running around saying "I like Pussy, Mommy." To which his grandfather replied, "well, at least he's starting early." Well, there's an image I didn't need. But given the indiscriminate "s" dropping, "Pussy" actually sounds more like "Puthy." Really, it's amazing we understand the little guy at all.

My house is sticky. Every single surface I touch seems to pull back. I'm not a dirty person. I might be a slightly messy person (in that I can't control the clutter that is EMANATING from every room and closet in my abode), but I've never stood for being a dirty person. But I moved the coffee maker this morning and... ewww. Grey stuff that didn't easily wipe up, even with Lysol and repeated scrubbing. I handed my son a cup of yogurt out of the fridge this morning and on the bottom of the cup... eeewww. I closed the silverware drawer after retrieving a spoon to stir my coffee and my hand grazed the underside of the counter... eeewww. I wipe the counters about twelve times a day. Guess it's time to give the fridge interior a scrub down. Just what I wanted to do on a "no day." Add it to the list. And I won't even begin about the crumbs. Maybe I need to find a cleaner.

Or maybe I need to buck up and do it myself. We'll see about that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

novel madness

I'm drafting a novel, as part of NaNoWriMo, and so I have been ignoring my blog.

I did, however, find this little gem in my inbox this morning, grace a Garrison Keillor:

Voltaire said, "Let us read and let us dance — two amusements that will never do any harm to the world."

Amen to that.

Happy Thanksgiving, and write on!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

randomness

So the video link in the last entry isn't working. I tried uploading twice. A file format problem? I don't know. It doesn't even come up on my computer when I'm on my own blog, which isn't good. Maybe it's a way of telling me not to post vids of the kids on the blog.

Finished the 1st draft of Vidui, the one act I'm submitting to the Cincinnati Fringe Festival on or around Dec. 7. Hoorah.

Decided (stupidly?) to undertake the insanity of writing a novel in honor of National Novel Writing Month. There is a nifty web site here where you can create a page to monitor your progress, chat with other insane asylum escapees who have decided to devote way too much time to idle whitter, and generally stew about being a writer in the world. Today I wrote 1,088 words. I started today; I'm 6 days behind everyone else. And to my chagrin, I found out that I can't use my WIP as part of the 50,000 word count to "win." So I've embarked on a new story. It should be an interesting ride. Like I don't have enough to do right now.

My son just came up to me and said, "Mommy, I want a pretzel. Come on!" and pulled at my sleeve. He is holding part of a banana in his hand. "Hey mom, I'm very funny," he says, trying to pull me away from the computer. "Get up, mom!"

Okay, I'm taking the hint!

Friday, November 02, 2007

my little'un sings a song for you

My lovely daughter has been bitten by the performance bug. Wonder where she gets that from? :)
video

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ten Ways to Anger a Knitter

This was written by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee in her book (based on her blog) Yarn Harlot. I decided I had to post it on my blog because I think DH has read this and is covertly doing all of these things at once.

1. Constantly refer to her work as a "cute hobby."

2. When the knitter shows you a Shetland shawl she knit from handspun yarn that took 264 hours of her life to produce and will be an heirloom that her great-great grandchildren will be wrapped in on the days of their birth, say, "I saw one just like this at Wal-Mart!"

3. On every journey you take with your knitter, make a point of driving by yarn shops but make sure you don't have time to stop. (This works especially well if there is a sale on.)

4. Shrink something.

5. Tell her that you don't know why she knits socks, that it seems silly when they are only $10 for five pairs and they're just as good.

6. Tell the knitter that you are sorry, but you really can't feel a difference between cashmere and acrylic.

7. Tell her that you aren't the sort of person who could learn to knit, since you can't "just sit there for hours."

8. Quietly take one out of every set of four double-pointed needles that she has and put them down the side of the couch. (You can't convince me that you aren't doing this already.)

9. If you are a child, grown faster than your knitter can knit. Requesting intricate sweaters and then refusing to wear them is also highly effective.

10. Try to ban knitting during TV time, because the clicking of the needles annoys you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What I Like and Don't Like About Writing

In class, we had a fastwrite prompt to respond to Philip Schultz's poem "What I Like and Don't Like"

Here's my fastwrite:

When I Write

I like being able to take of my shoes
And nurse a cup of coffee
That's not so strong that a spoon
Stands at attention within its bounds.

I like indistinguishable background noise but I also like silence.
I like classical music and even-keeled jazz.
I don't like lyrics because they pull focus,
And I don't like strong coffee because then I can't sit still.

I like being at home at my desk by the picture window overlooking the pond.

I like this style of pen.

I don't like the phone
But I can't bring myself to silence it.

I like to pace around the kitchen
Or empty the dishwasher
While the words germinate.
I like wandering into the dining room
And feeling the curved chairs
While thoughts percolate.

Padding in pajamas and slippers
Owning my own time.

I like deciding when to eat lunch
Even if it's 3 p.m.

I don't like rigidity,
Or when the computer freezes up.
I don't like spam but
I also don't like when the whole day drifts by
Without a single email from
family or friend.

I like smelling tomato sauce bubbling on the stove
As I aim to sum up my final line.

I hate the sound of my printer--
Too distracting.
I don't like TV during the day.

I like getting out,
Going for a run,
Tricking my mind into
Subconscious problem solving
By outrunning my thoughts.

I like browsing and meandering store aisles
Imagining what I would buy
With my imaginary advance.

Mostly, I like
Being alone with my thoughts--
the quiet that embraces me
as the pen scratches along.

Elie Wiesel

I heard Elie Wiesel speak a couple of nights ago at the Dayton Literary Peace Prize award presentation. As I expected, he was incredible. Very life-affirming.

He said that despite writing about hatred and those who hate, he never wants to perpetuate hate with his writing. He also said he naively believed, when first writing his book Night (which took ten years to write!), that writing it would usher in peace. He doesn't think he has yet succeeded because there are still human rights violations being committed around the world.

His mission now, Wiesel said, and he thinks this is the mission of all writers, is to bear witness and tell the stories because in the end, all that is left is the story. It is up to each of us to bear witness and write the story.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Thursday

It's Thursday, and I'm feeling "blah." Maybe because it is the end of vacation (we leave for Dayton tomorrow after having spent almost 10 days in Bonita Springs, FL) or maybe it is because I just found out that my summerlong work stint is coming to a close. Seems that the woman who supervises me and gives me assignments (and does so only because the one who decided to bring me in in the first place "voluntarily resigned" last month) spoke with her supervisor, who said that given the recent hiring of a new employee who functions both as copywriter and as proofreader, I should no longer plan on coming in "on a regular basis." I should instead view my work as an "as needed" basis.

I knew this moment was coming. The work isn't really what I care about so much--I mean, really, finding multiple synonyms for "beautiful" and "luxurious" isn't exactly brain surgery. It was having a purpose outside of the four walls of my home, away from my kids and my spouse. It was roaming the office cube farm and saying "hi" to co-workers and talking with grownups. It was only two days a week, and it might continue occasionally, but I can no longer "count on" this experience twice a week. Oh and the money was good. So that makes me a little sad.

I have already contacted an agency that is submitting my name for an editing/proofing job in Clifton (about an hour from my house), that's 10-20 hours a week but the time is flexible. The pay is a lot less (presumably because I'm sharing pay with the agency) and the subject matter is technical, but it's money and it's getting out of the house. It's not a "creative environment" and since my skills don't "exactly" match up, I'm not sure they'll even want me for it.

I need to breathe and go with the flow, and remember that being out of work for a couple weeks isn't devastating. I've been trying to find more time and energy to run and write for me, and this "pause" should give me that.

Gotta finish packing. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Marc's right--I get too attached.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I miss you already

I found out this morning that on Wednesday, my theatre director (and one of my favorite teachers, mentors, and, in later life, friends) died. She had stage IV breast cancer and finally succumbed. Ironically, she retired about two years ago, and upon retirement, finally sought a doctor's opinion about aches she had had in her back, which was when they found the cancer. After chemo, radiation and a mastectomy, I guess they decided there was nothing left to do. The last time I saw here, several months ago in Kroger near where we used to live, she looked happy but tired. She had had her surgery already and was wearing a baseball cap to cover her lack of hair. I asked how things were going and she said that she was still fighting, that she had to get the results of her latest round of treatment. I guess that's when she found out her prognosis. The notice from the Sycamore Theatre Arts Group Boosters said that donations can be made to Hospice of Cleveland, so I'm guessing she returned home to her family for help and comfort in her final months.

In her memory, I am posting the words I wrote for her and gave to her on the occasion of her retirement. I loved her very much, admired her immensely, and I'm beyond sad that she is gone. My only comfort is that she isn't suffering any more, and David, one of her students who was two years ahead of me and was also very close to her, and who died two years ago from pneumonia, is in heaven with her, and they are doing pretty spectacular theatre together.

Things my theatre director taught me…

About theatre

Duct tape can fix almost anything.

Be nice to lighting, sound and tech people. They’re the ones that make you look and sound good.

If you believe it, it will happen… including 45 second scene changes. (Peter Pan 1988)

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Just make sure you really want to know the answer.

Wheatpaste is gloppy and stinky but it can work wonders.

A can of nails and a spotlight can provide hours of entertainment.

A little healthy competition is a good thing.

Write down your blocking the first time it’s given. There won’t be a second time. And your director will get really mad if you don’t write it down the first time. (Into the Woods 1991)

Always have a pencil during rehearsals and notes. Always.

It is possible to handle nine costume changes during a 90 minute show, even when one of them is a camel. (Joseph… Dreamcoat 1990)

Little Red Ridinghood isn’t always sarcastic. (Into the Woods 1991)

There’s no such thing as too much hairspray. There is such a thing as too much blush and too much blue eyeshadow.

Smile, even if you don’t feel like it. Fake it ‘til you make it. (Touring Company)

Selling more ads will get you a bigger, glossy program.

It takes a team effort to get anything worthwhile accomplished.

Most of the time, what you do backstage matters a heck of a lot more than what you do on stage.


About Life

Self-esteem isn’t a constant. It goes up and down every day, sometimes numerous times within the day. The trick is finding a space between the ups and downs.

A little fear can inspire a healthy level of respect that lasts.

When in doubt, open your eyes really wide and do the “potty dance.” You’ll get a laugh every time.




It’s hard to choose just one memory from my years in the theatre program at SHS to write about, but there is one that keeps coming back, even though it has nothing to do with the craft of theatre. It is a “life lesson” that I learned from you during a particularly rough time in my high school life, and one that I’ve never forgotten and, in fact, often returned to when I needed clarity in my choices.

I came into the Little Theatre right before acting class, after having just gotten a paper back in English with a grade that I wasn’t happy about. The paper was the final incident in a whole host of things that had gone wrong for me that week, that month and that year. I threw my books across the table and they landed on the floor, causing an abrupt break in the lunchtime conversations being held at various points on stage and off. Instead of yelling at me or telling me to calm down or sending me to the office, you took me to your office and gave me a piece of paper. You told me to write down everything that was bothering me, even if class started while I was still working. Then you shut the door.

The list I made went down one side of the page and halfway down the back. When you came back in to check how I was doing, you gave me a second assignment. To split the list in two—listing on one side all the things I had control over changing, and on the other all the things that were out of my control. Then you went out again. I poured over the list, trying to decide what I could change and what I truly could not, and gradually beginning to understand the wordless message you were sending me.

You took the list and I tried to immerse myself back in class, back into my life.

Several months later, near graduation, you handed me a sealed envelope. You either wrote on it or said to me “it’s important to know the difference. Remember that.” I opened the envelope and found my list, the words I had written at the breaking point. The several months intervening had allowed me to gain perspective and to look at my life through different eyes. Some of the problems seemed petty; others were still very real. But I never forgot the lesson.

So many times since then, I have made mental, if not physical, lists. So many times your advice has helped me regain my footing in a world that continued to challenge me. Now that things are steady, and have been for some time, I don’t need to do as much listing. I know more by instinct and I can just say “that’s out of my control and that’s okay.”

So I pass the message along—to students when I was teaching, to friends who are struggling with problems in their lives, and eventually, to my children when they are faced with multiple challenges.

And from the bottom of my heart, I thank you. I thank you for your wisdom and your guidance. I think you for helping me learn to help myself when I could and seek help when I could not. I thank you for having patience. I thank you for teaching me so much—about theatre, about working with people and about life. The gifts you have given me are invaluable.

Enjoy your retirement. You’ve earned every moment of it. And if you ever for one moment doubt the impact you have had on any of your students’ lives, remember me and my list. I know that I will never forget.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Reckoning

I.

I step out from beside my mother’s grave
And watch the sun fade to black
Take a swig from the amber liquid
And lay my head down
Where I imagine her shoulder to be
Six feet below.

I don’t care if crows don’t come
I don’t care
If I have dirt in my hair
Earth beneath my nails
If I’m confined to solitary longing
Over a period of centuries.

The sobs that have choked me
For a decade or more
Release,
Surprising me.

I thought I was over this.

July is past.

I’m a grownup now.


II.

The words echo:
“You never stop missing your mother.”
And how can you?
When her eyes look out
From beneath your own
Chocolate pools in an olive face
That’s never seen a sunburn.

The amber soothes and calms
Slides down my throat
Where the sobs have gathered.

There is nothing on this August day
That has brought her to mind.
No photos or laughter
Handwriting or words
Nothing like what used to startle me
Make me catch my breath,
Surprised by the vanity of emotion
As it tumbled through my body.

And yet, her she is, insistent.
I know I pale in comparison,
The chocolate eyes not quite as warm
The larger hands, so much rougher
The broken nails an embarrassment--
They never see polish.
I am a failure in my figure
A failure in my choice of profession
Although I doubt that she would see it so.
Her thoughts, imagined, and
His, oh so real, mingle in my psyche.


III.

I lie down upon her grave
And think how long she has been gone
Lying motionless in the cold, hard earth
Even if her soul has transcended the space below.

I lie down that I may rise again
Renewed
The tiniest note from her phoenix song
Coursing through my veins
Telling me it’s too soon to give up
To give in
To give over.

I embrace the sadness like a mantle
Wrap it around me
And realize that it is only by slowing down
Removing myself from the wheels of everyday life
That I have let the emotion creep its way
Back in.
On tenterhooks it enters my body
Flows in
And out again.
I give it space
And an embrace
Before setting it free.
It falls around me like rain
Before it seeps into the cold, dark earth
Mingling with
The beloved bones that sleep below.

I lie down so that I might rise up
Snippets of her phoenix song in my blood
Knowing that, in my heart of hearts,
I am not a failure.
She would never have thought so,
Despite what others think.

I rise up
Pick up my pen
Begin again.



16 aug 07
awj

Friday, July 27, 2007

checking in

passing the stone, saying my name, saying that things have been crazy since i started back to work a couple days a week and i'm trying to manage house, children, laundry, cleaning, putting food on table, proofreading and editing, the occasional run or yoga class, and getting to bed before midnight on a regular basis. so i have not been writing. as such. i have been writing some--comments like

"make gutters match"
"drop shadow needed"
"should be 7.5 pt instead of 8 pt."
"^,"
"rewrite HL per history"

and, my personal favorite of the week (not exact, since I don't recall the exact wording)

Give your bedroom a renaissance with the luxury linens in our new Medici collection.

Gotta love that.

hope all my readers (all 3 of you) are well!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Poker at the table

Right now, my daughter is making a cheese rainbow.

For the uninitiated, or for those who are envisioning multicolored cheese molded into a half-moon, mounted on a plate or other medium, you are not in a four year-old’s mind. My daughter’s cheese rainbow involves taking a piece of string cheese, bending it into an arc and shoving it violently over the top of her sippy cup, and repeating, “Look Mommy, a cheese rainbow!” over and over again until I respond with some sort of positive affirmation along the lines of “Wow, dear, that’s really neat. Now eat your cheese!”

I used to love to eat meals. I used to love to take my time, unfold the napkin, savor each bite of delectability that I had taken time to prepare, whether it was as simple as spaghetti and meatballs, or as complicated as lasagna florentine or eggplant parmigiana. But all of that changed when my children outgrew babyfood purees and started having actual opinions on what they put in their mouths.

Now, each meal with my daughter starts like a hand of poker. We each have foods in mind that we want her to eat, and the pot just grows and grows until one of us is caught bluffing and gives in. A typical conversation as dinner is served:

“Sydney, eat your meatballs please.” Substitute any form of protein other than deli-sliced corned beef, peanut butter or the infernal string cheese for meatballs and you could have any meal at any time in our house.

“No! I don’t want to eat my meatballs. I don’t like meatballs!”

After a moment of silence, she allows, “I’ll eat the rice.” Or pasta, or bread, or peas or corn or potatoes. Anything which has a noticeable carb content.

“That’s fine, you may eat the rice too. But I need to you eat some of the meat.”

“But I don’t like the meatballs.”

“You haven’t even tried it yet. You at least have to try it.”

“Meatball! Mmm!” my son, who is nearly two, interjects, shoveling food in his mouth indiscriminately and missing his target most of the time.

“If I try it and I don’t like it, can I have something else? Like buttery noodles?”

Buttery noodles are kids’ nirvana. Not that I don’t agree—when I don’t feel well, there is nothing more comforting than buttered, salted noodles.

And so the bargaining begins. She opens with the low stakes of food switching, and I study her face to see if she is bluffing. And then I raise her.

“You have to try three bites. If you don’t like it, then we’ll discuss other options.”

She calls and moves a forkful of meatball to mouth. Barely allowing it to touch her tastebuds, she immediately screws her face up in disgust and allows the half-chewed meat to fall out of her mouth.

“Use your napkin, please!” I intone from across the table, making a mad dash to catch the falling meat before it hits her clothes. I miss by a long shot and she smiles, a tell that she doesn’t yet know she has.

Round one is over. She raises again. “Now can I have something else?”

I study her, wondering how much she is prepared to gamble to get out of eating the meatballs. “Like what?”

“Buttery noodles!”

I have to master my own smile for a moment, since I now know I have won this round. “You have rice in your bowl. Buttery noodles and rice are the same food group,” I explain patiently. “If you don’t want meatballs, then you need to have some other kind of protein.”

“Like cheese?” She calls.

I envision her cholesterol levels. “You had cheese at lunch,” I raise.

“But I like cheese!” she whines. Another tell. I almost have her. When I am unmoved by the whine, she raises. “What about peanut butter? That’s protein, right?”

I study her carefully and weigh my options. If I am to get her to eat any sort of protein with dinner at all, it is going to have to be corned beef or peanut butter. The meatballs are clearly off the table. Now I just have to decide how much I want to take from her this time. I can raise and say “Meatballs or nothing—dinner’s over,” forcing her to show her cards and effectively ending the hand. If I opt to do that, however, I will be at a distinct disadvantage for the second hand, which comes right before bedtime and opens with her plaintive, “I’m hungry.”

I decide to call and save myself from a second hand in an hour or two. “Peanut butter or corned beef?”

“Peanut butter,” she smiles, showing her cards at last. She thinks she has won the hand. “On bread,” she adds, wondering how far she can push her alleged victory.

“Aha! Bread is the same food group as rice,” I say, a note of triumph creeping into my voice. I pull out my ace in the hole.

“You can have peanut butter—with carrots!”

Her face falls when she realizes she has been beaten. She accepts her defeat with minimal grouching and I turn at last to my plate of cold rice and luke-warm meatballs, wondering when I will once again be able to enjoy a meal.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

This cleansing sh*t is for the birds

Over the weekend I undertook my first “cleanse,” a homeopathic concept of cleaning out one’s intestinal tract so as to minimize toxins and promote better health. I had heard of cleansing before, and was encouraged to try it by a well-meaning woman on a weekend writing retreat.

Seventy-four dollars later, I am feeling wholly… duped. Based on Ann Louise Gittleman’s The Living Beauty Detox Diet, I trotted off to the homeopathic section of my local organic grocery store and purchased organic, unsweetened cranberry juice, dandelion root tea, two bottles of “First Cleanse,” Barlean’s Greens (a superfood mix of a whole lotta stuff that I wouldn’t otherwise eat), and flaxseed oil. I was supposed to also buy something called “Super G.I. Cleanse” but it wasn’t available and I was too wiped to search out regular Metamucil.

Friday morning, I dutifully woke up and drank 2 glasses of filtered water. I also consumed the recommended “Living Beauty Elixir,” which amounted to 8 oz. unsweetened cranberry juice and three horsepills of Barlean’s Greens. Barlean’s actually came in powder form, but the pills form was enough to turn my stomach on its own.

A word about cranberry juice: this is not your kid’s Ocean Spray. This is an entirely different kind of cranberry. Think intense. Think almost syrup-like consistency. Think bitter. Now think of mixing a fiber powder into this and attempting to drink it.

According to the sample menu plan, in addition to the water, the elixir and the greens, I was also supposed to consume a cup of dandelion root tea. It took some getting used to—-roasted dandelion roots aren’t exactly what I would put in my tea cup, given the choice—-but I got through two cups a day. Dandelion root is meant to cleanse your liver, which is the organ of the season, according to psycho nutritionist Gittleman. Each season had its own organ. Gittleman walks you through a little quiz to determine what season is your “season” for cleansing. I ended up with winter, which doesn’t surprise me, since I basically shut down and hibernate from two weeks before the holidays until way after Puxatawney Phil makes his predictions. But after assigning me a season, Gittleman stated that cleansing is good in any season. And as I wanted to detox, I decided to follow Spring. Hence the dandelion root tea.

Feeling more fully saturated than I had in a very long time, I took a break before dealing with breakfast. Like most low-carb diets (and I hadn’t realized this was low-carb until I was $74 in the hole), breakfast is all about eggs. Unlike most low-carb diets, however, there was nary a slice of cheese in sight. Apparently dairy is one of the major allergens in the world, and Gittleman advises no dairy during the cleansing phase of spring. Once you decide to “maintain” your cleansed state however (which can be three days to two weeks into the cleanse, depending on your level of toxicity, which is determined based on the test you took), you can add one to two cups of whole or goat’s milk yogurt, or one to two cups of whole milk or 2% cottage cheese per day. Whole milk yogurt! Unsweetened, no less!

Breakfast on Friday consisted of two scrambled eggs, sliced cucumber and sliced tomato. That was it. No toast. No cheese. No vegetarian sausage. But because of the onslaught of liquids prior to breakfast, I was actually very full.

Feeling very awake, since I hadn’t had any carbs to cloud my thinking (which I do, sadly, believe is a by-product of most carbs for me personally), I was ready to go, ready to play outside and garden and chase cars around the house with Sam.

Thirty minutes later, I was intensely hungry and I had a splitting headache. I had also peed twice, which was probably why. Psycho Gittleman said that at mid-morning, I could have two glasses of water. It helped—-a little. But I was looking forward to lunch.

I shouldn’t have bothered. Based on the guidelines in the book, lunch was mixed greens with tomato and cucumber, with six oz of canned tuna and dressing of flaxseed oil and lemon juice. No liquids with lunch, but mid-afternoon, I could have 1 ½ cups of strawberries along with two glasses of water. I decided to take my chance and have my mid-afternoon snack with my lunch.

Fruit, by the way, is limited to two servings per day, and is seasonal in nature. Meaning, if I followed her to the letter (which I wasn’t doing, even after just six hours of being on program), I couldn’t have watermelon or blueberries until after June 22, since those were summer fruits. I also had to relegate any consumption of bread to winter, when sprouted bagels (what the hell is a sprouted bagel?) and rye bread were allowed on the maintenance part of the winter cleanse.

My headache went away and I guzzled extra water to keep it at bay. I looked forward to dinner, but wondered what I would eat, as Marc and I were to go out by ourselves for the first time in months.

I scanned the menu at Encore. We sat in silence as we both tried to find something to eat. Marc said “nothing’s jumping out at me,” and I agreed, but for different reasons. The pasta dishes loomed large, but pasta wasn’t allowed until Autumn, and it had to be spelt pasta, which sounded nastier than it probably was. I love whole wheat pasta and prefer it to white. But I was clueless about spelt in general.

I opted for a chicken and brie salad, rationalizing that my entire caloric intake for the day was probably hovering at about 700, so one slice of brie cheese wouldn’t hurt me. Ditto for a slice of white bread dipped in oil as we were waiting for our dinners to arrive. I dutifully ordered water, even though diet soda looked more appetizing than it ever had before.

Before retiring for the evening, I had my second dose of Living Beauty elixir, two glasses of water, First Cleanse and dandelion root tea. For the first time in thirty years, I wondered if I would make it through the night without wetting my bed.

I woke up Saturday morning and gingerly stepped on the scale. I was 2 lbs. lighter! Gittleman was a miracle worker! I felt cleansed! I felt light, fluid and happy. But I was starving and my head was beginning to throb.

I repeated most of Friday’s menu on Saturday, allowing myself tortilla chips at dinner before consuming chicken fajitas (without tortillas) which definitely were not prepared with flaxseed oil. I added chocolate to the menu in the evening and wasn’t surprised to see an extra ½ lb. on the scale Sunday morning.

By Sunday evening, I didn’t want to see another green pill. After a dinner of a tofu hot dog (not allowed, but seriously, how bad could it be?) and spinach cooked in flaxseed oil and garlic (note to self—-don’t cook with flaxseed oil), I was ravenous and went for anything whole grain I could find. I capped off my night with a sugar-free pudding cup and another mug of the infernal dandelion root tea.

This morning, I decided my cleanse was over. I learned a few interesting things while following Gittleman’s proscribed routine—-that dairy products in some way contribute to my seasonal allergy symptoms, that I need to drink more water and cut back on diet soda, that I need to eat more fresh, non-starchy vegetables rather than loading up on fruit, and that carbs, whole-grain or not, do tend to make me tired. But I will not be “cleansing” any more this spring. Or summer. Or autumn or winter. I am a testament to “everything in moderation.” I am returning to Weight Watchers Core program humbled and grateful for my whole grain pasta, watermelon and diet soda.

I just wish I could return the dandelion tea.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Shoes

A poem for CG but not about her.

His tiny feet
In tiny shoes
Make tentative steps
Across the kitchen floor

He wonders at his upright freedom
Delights in the newness
Catches himself before he falls

And when he falls
Which he does, often—
The shoes are stiff,
In need of play—
He stops
Rights himself
And starts again

Determined to take on
His new grown-up responsibility with pride.

“Shoes!” he exclaims
As his fingers wiggle through sleeves
And his feet find their way through
the long pant legs
He makes a pass at the tiny white boot
Holds it between his palms
Turns it over to examine it on all sides

“Woo-woo!” he says
Pointing to the tiny train embroidered
on the outside heel.
He knows these shoes are his.
The steps are his to take
The path is his to walk
The world is his to explore
Upright
Proud
Alive.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Buff enough to fly?

En route from Seattle to Cincinnati
27 March 07

Ranting about airline travel has become the standard among even casual, leisure travelers. Long after the dust on the 9/11 horror finally cleared, we are still removing belts and shoes, folding jackets into neat squares, removing laptops from their cases, and silently praying that loose pocket change doesn’t inadvertently set off World War III.

On my most recent flight, to Seattle to visit my brother, sister-in-law and new nephew (so adorable, oh my God), I had a long moment of leisure time alone, waiting to clear security, to reflect upon our current state of screening. Long because the lines vaguely reminded me of Disney World attractions pre-Fast Pass, and leisurely because for the first time in nearly four years, I was traveling without my children.

Clearing security with two small children is an exercise in patience, stealth and timing. My first trial at doing so was without my husband’s aid, when my children were five months and three years old. The pass through security involved a double stroller weighing 31 lbs. that had to be x-rayed on the belt, a Baby Bjorn carrier that also had to be x-rayed on the belt (which I did not know until I had just settled the baby in it), a diaper bag, three winter coats and a rogue tube of lip balm that didn’t make it.

That security check ended in tears—mine, not my children’s—as I learned while standing in holey socks on a cold, linoleum floor, cradling the baby, tethering my elder child to my body and wondering how in the hell I was going to manage both of them while removing the stroller from the belt, opening it and loading all of our paraphernalia on the stroller without dropping my daughter’s blankey or my son’s paci, that I had indeed been singled out to undergo additional security screening. Because I didn’t look hassled enough, I guess. Or maybe they thought my bulging, post-partum tummy was concealing explosives. Or maybe I was just that lucky.

I digress. Today’s pass through the TSA security line and detector was minimally invasive. With 20 people left to pass before me, I removed my sandwich-sized clear, plastic ziploc bag containing lipstick, lip balm, lotion and hand sanitizer from its home in my black sling shoulder bag. With 10 people to go, I undid my belt and pulled it free from its loops. I immediately felt my jeans sag several inches, which threatened to reveal a plumber’s crack usually reserved for my husband’s unfortunate eyes. With five people to go, I slipped off my shoes and held them next to my belt. When my turn at the table arrived, I placed my bag on the table, binned my shoes, belt and fleece jacket, ensured I had my ID and boarding card out and available for inspection, and waited for the TSA employee to wave me through the metal detector.

I grinned self-assuredly, as the woman before me was sent back to the table to remove her belt, and the one before her was not allowed through until she removed some 20 pieces of jewelry that adorned her appendages. Not me, and not this time, I sighed, walking through the detector and watching a woman and her husband struggle with a baby, a stroller, a toddler and two carry-ons. Today, for once, I brought my security A-game. I had met the metal detectors head on, and for the first time in four years, I emerged victorious.

I did have a moment to reflect, however, as I was threading my belt back through its loops, and sinking my feet into my loafers, putting the ziploc bag back into my backpack and the jacket around my waist, that in this crazy, fear-induced, strip poker-like TSA reign, we as passengers are down to our final hand. We are already removing coats, sweatshirts, shoes and belts. Will jeans be the next to go? Will we all have to adopt FAA-approved, spandex flight suits for air travel in the future? The bonus, I guess, could be built-in climate control. But I wouldn’t want to see 75% of today’s current travelers in spandex—myself included.

I already feel as though I lose my shirt every time I purchase a ticket departing from CVG, one of the country’s most expensive places from which to fly (damn you, Delta monopoly). But I don’t want to lose my literal shirt as well. I already think twice about the socks I wear to the airport (double layer, no holes so as to ensure minimum exposure to the thousands of feet who trod the security line trail of tears before me). If measures continue to be put in place and our security level is raised to iridescent pink or some equally alarming color, will I have to schedule extra crunches at the gym?

If I lose my shirt, I know I’ll never be buff enough to fly.

Spring Break?

I now understand why parents don’t like spring break. It is no break for the parents; rather, it is a time for parents to try to figure out what the hell to do with their children to keep them from killing each other, or from being murdered by the very creatures who brought them into being. What sadistic twit came up with the phrase “spring break?” Spring torture seems more appropriate.

My house is in shambles. I have just given up and given into the clutter, crumbs and various articles of clothing that litter each room of the house. I will do laundry when they are back in school, back to work, back out of my space. Markers have taken up permanent residence on my floor, popcorn crumbs litter the only carpeted area of the downstairs—it must have a magnetic force field around it for snack food—and books and toys lie strewn about like yesterday’s newspaper.

Then there is the “I’m bored” phase that every parents remembers oh so well, because she or he muttered it ALL THE TIME when they themselves were on spring break. “Mom, I’m bored, there’s nothing to do.” If it were warmer than 30 freaking degrees outside, I could send the munchkins out to play, away from the tv, my computer and the pantry. But alas, our late winter has decided to bleed into spring. What say you, Al Gore?

Not that my children are old enough to understand the word “boredom.” Actions speak volumes for them. Endless sitting, zoned in front of the television, waiting for a new episode of Wonder Pets that the programmers at Noggin promised long ago. Walking (or crawling) to and from the pantry, looking for something besides matzah and kosher for Passover tam-tams. Crawling up and down the stairs for exercise, wondering when it will be warm enough to cut loose outside. And that’s just me.

I have tried suggesting activities or play zones, and have done my fair share of “programming” for them, setting up playdates and museum trips, only to be foiled by illness or an irrational fear of the Easter Bunny that might, gasp, look at you in the mall, and therefore constitutes an immediate exit. I even had the coping mechanism of “girls night out” but the joy of drinking wine with new friends was shadowed by the inevitable 7 a.m. shake-awake asking for milk, ‘cackers’ and ‘what are we going to do today?’

School resumes Thursday, and brings with it a litany of activities—physical therapy for one, ballet for the other, a workout for me, and the opening of a two week-long film festival for my husband which spells nothing but A-B-S-E-N-C-E from the nest for many nights in a row.

There is never a happy, built-in balance, is there? So I sit in half-lotus amid the popcorn kernals and crumbled matzah squares, staking out my piece of dirty rug. I breathe and release, breathe and release, as I have been taught to do. I let the mess pass through me. I feel it rain around my body, which is coated in silicone, so as not to absorb the crumbs or petty issues of life in the trenches. And if I try really hard, I can almost feel the sun on my face.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Thrill of Mondays

Wrote this for class yesterday and small group enjoyed it, so I thought I'd post.

My Day So Far


3:46 a.m. Awoke to Sam screaming

7:28 a.m. Awoke to Berenstain Bears on PBS, while simultaneously being smothered by two children. Sam gave a happy “Hi!” over and over until I answered him.
7:32 a.m. Rearranged children on bed, put head under covers and tried to go back to sleep.
8:00 a.m. Awoke to Curious George’s mayhem. Grudgingly decided to get up and start the day.
8:03 a.m. Completed 3 Sun Salutations to get my blood flowing.
8:07 a.m. Got stuck in a forward fold.
8:10 a.m. collected two sets of jeans, undershirts, shirts, and socks, one pair of Tinkerbell underwear, and a diaper. Passed them to husband on way to shower.
8:11 a.m. Stepped on scale. Regretted attendance at two pizza birthday parties this weekend.

LEARNING: Never weigh self after ingesting mass quantities of pizza and cake.


8:20 Emerged from shower to fits of giggles. Syd dressed, Sam in diaper and undershirt, happily cooing “Shoe! Shoe!” Husband no where to be seen.
8:30 Finished dressing self, including shoes. Moved to bed to finish dressing Sam. Nagged children to turn off TV and go downstairs for breakfast.
8:35 Distributed breakfast, packed lunch for three, put double stroller in car, got canopy for double stroller from basement, checked diaper bag for wallet, cell phone and keys.
9:10 Put children in van.
9:15 Filled up tank. Bought 99 cent cup of disgusting coffee from gas station.
9:23 Started drive to Museum Center.

LEARNING: Never buy coffee alternative at gas station.


10:04 Arrived at Museum Center. Pulled out Dayton Museum membership card. Was told parking was still $4.50. No credit cards.
10:05 Opened wallet to find $2. No, $2.50. Promised to bring lot attendant other $2.
10:07 Gestured frantically to friend waiting for us in parking lot for additional $2.
10:08 Dug in map pocket and found additional $2 in change.

LEARNING: Never go to Museum Center without cash.


10:15 Entered Museum Center. Was smugly told Dayton membership is not reciprocated. Resisted urge to blow a raspberry in clerk’s face.
10:20 Entered Children’s Museum on friend’s membership.
10:22-11:30 Chased, climbed, pretended and played. Watched Sam go down same slide 50 times. In a row. Shouting “wee!” the entire time.

LEARNING: Pay for upgraded museum membership at the beginning of the season.


11:35 Distributed lunches.
11:37-12:15 Was nagged for chocolate “special treat” by child. While munching carrots, pretzels, yogurt, cheese and pear.
12:20 Attempted to enter History Museum to see trains.
12:21 Was told Dayton membership is only reciprocal with Natural History Museum.
12:25 Exited Museum Center with older child whining for chocolate special treat and for trains.

LEARNING: Always pack chocolate.
LEARNING: Museum reciprocity bites the weenie.


12:45 Sam fell asleep in car.
12:57 Arrived at allergist for shots. Woke Sam, hauled both kids across parking lot, upstairs and into waiting room.
1:00 Watched Syd chase Sam around waiting room, narrowly avoiding another client’s feet.
1:05 Shots administered. Ouch.
1:15 Hauled children through rain back to van.
1:25 “Sold” double stroller with broken canopy to friend expecting second child. Friend said she will pay me later.
1:35 Left friend’s house.

LEARNING: Rain sucks.
LEARNING: Avoid taking children to allergist, particularly when raining.


1:45 Both children fell asleep.
2:02 Pulled off highway and headed home.
2:03 Fought mind-numbing combination of rain and fatigue.
2:04 Nodded.
2:05 Nodded. Reminded self that home and a rest were coming.
2:10 Pulled into intersection to turn left on arrow. Arrow disappeared while in intersection. Started to turn. Gold SUV came towards me. Tapped bumpers.
2:11 Swore, inwardly and outwardly. Fortunately, children still sleeping.
2:12 Reached for cell.
2:13 Teen driver pulled alongside and said “There’s no damage to your car. Is there damage to mine?”
2:14 Craned neck out of window to assess.
2:15 Opted to pull into gas station to check.
2:17 Teen assessed car. “There’s hardly no damage to my car. And I’m late to get a bridesmaid’s dress. And it was slippery. So don’t worry about it, okay?”
2:18 Teen hugged me.
2:19 Set off for home.

LEARNING: Fender benders in small towns are better than fender benders in big cities.


2:25 Arrived home.
2:26 Brought in mail. Ate piece of chocolate cake before getting children out of car.
2:27 Simultaneously regretted and enjoyed chocolate cake experience.
2:28 Brought bag, lunchbag, coats and children in from car.
2:30 Turned on DVD for Sydney.
2:32 Collapsed on couch.

LEARNING: Chocolate cake and buttercream icing can cure almost anything.


--awj
19 march 07

Update on Sam

Surgery went well, and anaesthesia, thank God, was fine. He has recovered, and now we are focusing on the walking!

Thanks, CG, for reminding me to update :)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

reschedule

Sam's surgery has been moved up to tomorrow, because there was room on the schedule.
Lots of happy thoughts, energy and prayers tomorrow at 9:45 am!

Then and Now



Hey... long time, no write.




I managed a poem in class yesterday during our fast write time. Here is the picture that prompted the poem:

It's me and my brother in Georgia in 1987.

And here is the poem, tentatively called "Then and Now"

Then I was 14
And in love with being misunderstood
I would sit for hours
In my room
Listening to sad pop songs
Mooning over a boy
Conjugating French verbs
Doodling on my shoes
Wearing safety pins on my knees.

Now I am 33
And in love with my children.
I sit for minutes
During naptime
Pondering their presents and futures
Listening to not-so-gentle snores and off-key singing
Washing dishes
Making dinner
Doodling on school handouts while on hold
Wearing drool-stained sweaters.

Then I hated family
And all things relative, I was
Counting the minutes until I could leave to be with my friends,
Playing the piano under protest
Sneaking dessert after dinner.

Now I dislike some family
And a few things relative; I
Count the minutes until bedtime when I can leave off the mommy-mantle
Play Candyland more than once only under protest
Sneak dessert after dinner.

Then I had no idea
Of my mother’s limited time
Of my father’s limited words
Of my brother’s unlimited genius.

Now I have vague ideas
Of my own limited time
Of my husband’s verbal deficiencies
Of my children’s boundless curiosity.

Then I would have given anything
For boys to notice me
To be thin and pretty
To get the solos in the choir concerts
To always have a date for the dance.

Now I would give anything
To see my mom again
To be happy in my skin
To have time to sing solos for someone other than myself
And
Now that I have the date
To find the time to dance.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ears, Nose and Throat

The saga of Sam continues.

One of the tubes in his ears is working its way out. There is fluid that has collected behind it and the fluid is not draining. After two recent ear infections (or one that never cleared, despite antibiotics), when we went to the doctor for an ear check prior to our trip to Florida, the nurse practicioner referred us back to the ENT (otolaryngologist--fun word) to decide what to do about the tube.

We saw the ENT today. After examining his ears and gathering anecdotal data on Sam's snoring (loud), breathing (loud and through the mouth) and sleeping (waking up several times a night), the ENT decided that Sam needs to have a new tube put in his left ear. And, excitement of all excitement, he needs to have his adenoids removed. And his tonsils removed. And he isn't yet two. Apparently, all of these things can constrict his airway, resulting in the snorting, snoring and general restlessness he experiences every day, as well as the frequent ear infections.

Unless there is a cancellation in February, his surgery is scheduled for April 4. Someone informed me today that that is the Reds' opening day. I am thinking of it as Sam's opening day. He will have to stay overnight in the hospital at least one night and the recovery period is about 10-14 days if I am lucky. Poor little dude. I hope this doesn't completely change his personality--he is such a laid back kid. But I guess they're not dealing with any neurology, and I've probably been watching too much Grey's Anatomy (best show ever--omg do you believe that Ellis woke up finally?).

As if this is not enough, my lovely 18 month old little boy is not yet walking, so we are beginning the process of physical therapy. Scary terms are being thrown about, like "developmental delay." I am hopeful that with early intervention, he will "catch up" and be fine by the time he is three (or when he goes to school). He is meeting most other milestones, but the walking just isn't happening. We can't quite figure out why. He had xrays of his hips and spine, to see if there was a physiological problem, and the xrays didn't show anything. He will cruise and will take awkward steps holding hands with an adult. He just won't do any of it on his own. I know he will probably walk when he is ready, but most kids are running at this age.

So we are starting PT and we are meeting with a neurologist in March to make sure that his lack of walking isn't caused by a neurological problem.

Other than that and a sinus infection (me) and not sleeping (any of us), life here is peachy keen. I'm headed to Seattle in March to visit my soon to be born nephew, Baby Boy Wacksman, and I can't wait!

It's freaking cold here too, but at least we didn't have any tornadoes. We also have weather above zero, which is a bonus.

And I'm back to writing class Monday--hoo-rah!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

sunday bloody sunday

I'm getting tired of the bedtime fights with dd. It's enough already.

Hectic weekend. I miss my writing class and my small group! We were supposed to get together over the break, but it looks like we are all lacking in time and motivation. Incidentally, I realized that that was a major theme in my own writing as well (or lack of writing). But I'm working on it for the year. Not in a resolutionary way, but in a "let's just hit it" way.

DS is making strides in walking--he's not quite there yet, but he is getting there. He will walk if I hold one of his hands. I'm trying to be patient with him. I know he will do it when he is ready. But he's 17 mos and he should be doing this by now. I know some kids don't walk until they're two. Maybe he'll be a genius in other, non-large motor ways.

I have a knitting date with a friend tomorrow night--yeay! I can't wait to get out and knit in public. I've never done that socially before, so it should be interesting.

Today was my grandfather's yahrtzeit. I miss him. He would have been 101, had he lived this long. He had a great spirit. I hear his voice saying "he's such a mahzik" about my brother. I'll have to look up what that one means, but I think it's akin to my grandma calling him "little pish-shone" (which I think loosely translates to 'little pisher.') Or my mom calling him "shtunk." All this Yiddish that I don't know! They all mean Jeremy to me, except Sam is starting to earn the name "shtunk" as well--when he does something smart or cute.

I'm reading AL Franken's "The Truth (with Jokes)" and it is slow going. Or maybe it is again lack of time. I also got Pynchon's new one out of the library, but it is a hefty tome and I will probably have to give it back before I finish (or at this rate, start) it.

I made some MK sales, so I'm happy about that. Whoo-hoo. Go me.

I have some journaling to post at some point, as well as a poem. Maybe later this week.

If you are keeping score, all four of us are healthy, but I know that as I type this, the germs are well, germinating, and getting ready for their next viral strike. But for today (and yesterday) we are healthy.

Friday, January 05, 2007

happy happy joy joy

All four of us slept through the night in our own, respective beds. It's been a long time coming, and I don't necessarily expect a repeat performance anytime soon, but hoorah, hoorah for sleeping through the night!

Yoga this morning, Shepherd's Pie to make this afternoon, and then a meeting at school. Oh the fun. I know you are all jealous.

Been filling in the gaps in Maya's Story, trying to get it in some sort of order before class starts at the end of the month.

Kiddos starting swimming lessons this week. That was fun. The pool was nice and warm though (and no peeing, despite what you are thinking, it was a heated pool).

Has anyone ever owned a share in a CSA (community supported agriculture)? I've been reading up, and as we are so close to farms around here, I am thinking about joining to expand my repertoire of vegetables, and to get organic produce. Just curious....

Fighting the doldrums.... sunshine to us all.