Saturday, December 26, 2009

Dear Nick


Dear Nickolas,

Yesterday you turned 13. For weeks now I have been preoccupied with this birthday which seems to effect me over any previous birthday any of us have had.

Scenes from the day you were born flash though my memory as you blow out 13 candles with your super cool floppy haircut and devil may care half smile. Your braces cannot even detract from the effortless cool you carry. I won't gross you out with details but there was blood and screaming and your father had to leave the room when things reached... when they got bad. When you finally arrived, you did not scream and cry as you should have. You barely gave us a whimper and I knew, innately that SOMETHING WAS WRONG. It was just like that too, a big meaningless sentence. No one spoke to me as you were poked and prodded and then finally cried, soft but alive. I cried too. I was not allowed to hold you but they let me see you, briefly. Already they were sticking needles in your tiny arms and a plastic tent over your head to keep you breathing. Ask me what terror feels like.

A moment later you were gone and the anesthesiologist spoke as your Daddy walked back into the room, pale and shaky. (Later he would tell me he had gotten sick in the hallway from the stress and the fear and seeing so much blood)

"You must be starving, I'll get you a meal."

"That would be nice." I replied.

8 hours later I woke up. It was Christmas afternoon and a Doctor was there, telling me things that I couldn't wrap my head around. Water in your lungs, transient tachypnea of the newborn , birth stress, oxygen levels, MRI, CPR.. too many big words and mismatches initials. All I heard, all I could understand was that my son, who I had not yet held, was dying.

For two days I sat in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit pumping breast milk for you (don't be grossed out, really) and talking to you. I made you promises.

The impossible.
"If you just be strong I will take you to the park every day for the rest of your life."

And the important.
"I'll never let you go, never leave you."

You heard me, I think. I'd like to think you did because you came back to us. The hood was removed, needles extracted until one day as I sat in my room, still recovering from blood loss and my own injuries, your Daddy walked in the room and gave me the best gift of my life.

You.

It was the first time I had ever held you in my arms. You were six days old.

Today you are a teenager but you are still, sometimes, that cute 3 year old who fell asleep on his wooden ride on airplane because you couldn't bear to part with it. It was pink and second hand but you did not care. It was an 'arghpaned!' and nothing else mattered.

When you were 5 I gave you a bucket of homemade bubbles and left you in the yard while I got your baby brother down for a nap. When I came back, no less then five minutes later, you were soaked in soapy water, bare ass naked and running around with the bubble wand gleefully. You invented happiness.

I watched you Christmas eve with the mug you did not want. When you smiled and said it would hold lots of hot cocoa I had to refrain from reaching over and hugging you. You always see the bright side. Did you get that from me? Or is that all your own?

Last night you heard me tell Pepe that you were the 'great event' in my life that made me wake up. Having you, nearly losing you and then getting you all over again was exactly what I needed then. I needed to understand the value of life. Of my own life. Every day since then has been a journey to be better then I was before, a better mother, a better friend, a better human being. Thank you.

Lastly I want to tell you I am sorry for how much responsibility you bear. I wish you felt more carefree and had less to worry about. Our lives have not been easy, I know. But I hope one day, Nick, you will look back and be grateful for your childhood, for it's hardships and struggles and shining moments of unrivaled joy because those will be the things that make you into the wonderful man you are so close to being.

Love,
Mom

Friday, December 25, 2009

A heartbeat away


Images snagged from Peter.

Last night from the window of Vega Yoga I watched an apartment building on Lyman St burn. 15 families lived there and countless families have lived there in the past. It was heartbreaking to watch. My thoughts, as they always do in such situations, turned to the after effects of this fire. Homelessness, tragedy, loss. No one died in the fire but it looks as though everyone lost all their belongings.

Two days before Christmas.

It was a low income building and it is not lost on me that I have lived in a similar building, I know first hand what Christmas is like in those places. I know how much it hurts to lose hard earned Christmas gifts, things you have scrimped and saved for. I know what it is like to eat ramen noodles 3 days a week to buy some trivial but coveted gift for a child. To lose that feels like all your insides have suddenly burst into flames and then melted, the world tilts a little and you feel overcome with an urge to cry and stomp your feet and shout “It’s not fair!”

It is not fair.

I called the Red Cross but they were unable to offer any way to help those particular families. You can send them money or drop off clothing but it all goes into a pool for disaster relief which is great and all but I would really like to do something for the Lyman St families.

This Christmas is a tough one for us but nothing at all compared to how tough it could be or has been. One Christmas we were robbed. Once there were only a few dollar store gifts and once there was only a paper tree. In comparison this is a wonderful Christmas for my children and me. We are together; we are warm and well fed and happy.

Christmas eve we will be with wonderful new friends who have come to mean so much to us. Christmas Day we will be with people we are not related too but have been my family in every way that matters since I was an angry and confused 14 year old girl who needed someone to look past my outrage and my mother and see the girl I really was. People who, without fail, love us.

I will keep in mind, every moment, those 15 families who just lost everything at the end of a year that was full of growth and laughter for us. Keeping them in mind will remind me (as if I need reminding) that we are all only a moment away from poverty and devastation.

More Photos from amazing local photographers and dear friends.

http://seethebrick.blogspot.com

http://www.flickr.com/photos/29133656@N03/sets/72157623058930366/show/

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Naked girls.


It seems like last week that Nick was still shorter then me. Actually it very well could have been last week, he grows so.. fast. Sometimes I look over at him at home and my heart flutters in a sort pf panicked way. Every inch is another pull away from my own youth and from his youth.

People keep commenting on how pretty soon he won’t want to talk to me anymore but to those people I thumb my nose. I am pretty sure Nick will always feel comfortable talking to me. Not every child becomes a surly angry teen. I have already laid the groundwork with my children for openness, even when it makes us uncomfortable or angry. My boys know I am always ready to listen.. even when I don’t want too. Even when it is about girls.

The boys are sharing a birthday party this weekend and I ordered a Sponge Bob cake for them.

Nick: You got me a Sponge Bob cake for my 13th birthday?

Me, happily: Yes, you like Sponge Bob.

Nick stares at me, waiting.

I sigh.

Me: Well, what did you want? A cake with swimsuit models on it?

And he grinned.

Friday, November 27, 2009

ThanksGiving 09




Last year the boys and I made a small turkey dinner and hung out in our jammies all day. I think at some point I napped and then I worked on a paper about how Little Red Riding Hood is actually a cautionary tale about dating the wrong kind of men. . It was a dull, dreary day for us and this year I decided not to repeat it. I wanted to take what could have been the worst Thanksgiving for us in years and make it the best ever. I refused to focus on what we have lost and do not have and instead told the boys this year we would focus entirely on how much we do have. Once we did that we realized we have so much.

All three of us are healthy. We have no significant health issues.

We have a roof over our heads, a wood floor under our feet and warm things to wear in the cold.

We all have access to education, books, music and culture.

And we have wonderful friends.

So we invited those friends, all of them, to come by and have a meal or a drink or just to say hello. And they came, in pairs and alone, in a hurry and taking their time. With breads and brussels sprouts and delicious pies. They came with hugs and smiles and easy laughter. A generous friend washed my dishes! Nick made a pumpkin cheesecake and Zak showed off his Soccer winnings over and over again.

When I finally got to bed last night it was well after midnight and I was exhausted, I’d cooked for 6 hours and talked for 6 more! I left the kitchen a disaster but its okay, it was worth it. I think we will do this every year on Thanksgiving.

We are making our own definition of family.

Other small things I am thankful for this year. Besides the obvious…

Yellow high lighters

Drawing classes at night

The confidence to be photographs in yoga poses.

Pumpkin Spice coffee

Splenda

Hampshire tailors

Meeting old friends and making them new again

Wooden spoons

Having windows in my office

Etsy

5 o’clock working committee meetings.

And my unfailing ability to pick myself up, dust myself off and get the hell on with the business of every day.

What, besides the obvious family, friends etc are YOU thankful for?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Eleven.


Dear Zak,

Today you turn eleven. I wish you wouldn’t. I wish I could keep you small and sweet forever. Today you are eleven and filled with your own ideas and thoughts opinions that differ from my own. It is a bittersweet discovery to find you are becoming your own person and that person is not a reflection of my own thoughts and ideals. I could not be prouder of you for it.

You were a small baby, seven pounds seven ounces but you were perfect. Unlike your older brothers journey into this world there was no blood, no machinery, nothing was sliced or diced. You simply arrived when you were ready and without a fuss.

‘I’m here now.” You seemed to say. “The rest of your life can begin just as soon as you get me a blanket.” Your father cut the cord after it stopped pulsing, when you no longer needed it. His hand shook and I would be a liar if I did not admit I was nervous. You hardly cried for the two days we were in the hospital and I took all the credit for that. You were the perfect newborn baby. Karma loves a good joke. Two months later you began to cry and I do not think you stopped until you were four. You tested my patience repeatedly but still you were my baby, my youngest and likely last, child.

Your brother loved you immediately. Countless times I found him by your basket, by the swing, by the crib talking to you, soothing you, showing you his toys and how cool they were and promising that one day you could play with them too.

You have always been headstrong. You refused to wear underwear for a year. The next year it was a refusal of socks. And then in kindergarten you insisted on wearing the same pants every day for a month. You drove me crazy and you still do but I see myself in you and better still, I see such strength.

Everywhere we go people flock to you. You’re a modern day Prince Charming, handsome and thoughtful. You ask people how they are, you smile at them and pay attention. You take in interest in what other people like and do. These are invaluable traits. Every day you ask how my day was. You still want to hold my hand and you will sit with me no matter who sees.

Today you turn eleven. On the day you were born I loved you more then I could fathom and as impossible as it may seem.. I love you eleven times more today then I did then. With every smile, every giggle, every question and every moment I love you even more.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nogs, please!


My baby turns eleven in a few days. I feel my youth shrivel up just a tiny bit when I say that. Since both of my children have birthdays in the next 31 days and Christmas is coming as well, they share a birthday gift. Last year they got a Wii, this year.. well I have no idea yet. They will have a big pizza party together too.

I still try to recognize each childs birthday separately and this year Zaks falls on the day before Thanksgiving. So yesterday we had this brief conversation in the kitchen.

Zak: “Are we doing anything on my birthday?”

Me: “We will have a cake on Thanksgiving but the night before will be really busy, do you mind if we don't?”

Zak: “Ok but can we have eggnog on my birthday?”

Me: “Sure.. really?”

Zak: “Yea! Can you make it? With eggs from the farm? Can you get nogs? Are they expensive?”

........

Me: “Of course I will get you nogs, I will hunt them down and pay whatever I have too because I love you.”

Nick: scoffs from the next room.

Me: “You shush!”

Zak: “AWESOME!”

Parenting means never missing an opportunity to remind your kid why you are the best mother ever.

To that note.. is anyone there?

Friday, November 20, 2009

The bard and the wooden spoon.


I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows
Quite overcanopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with elgantine.
A Midsummer’s Night Dream


I took the boys to see a Shakespeare show at the Holyoke Public Library the other night. You should have been there! It was incredible. One guy stands up there doing different monologues and sonnets but with these great, amusing little explanations about them. I did not expect my boys to hang out for long but, to my surprise (and swollen parental pride) they did.

At one point the actor paused and asked Nick how old he was. Nick blushed, being the only kid there.

"Uh.. 12?" He replied nervously.

"PERFECT!" The man boomed, making us all jump and chuckle. "Because that is exactly how old Romeo was in this next scene!"

He went on to explain how the balcony scene, where Romeo only sees Juliet, is not really a love scene at all. Romeo does not love Juliet then, he is simply admiring her in a fantastical, hormonal, adolescent way. He is enthralled with her eleven year old beauty and see's her as not a person at all but a piece of fine art, to be cherished and looked upon. Really.. the scene is funny, because Romeo is a bit of a goof in it.

ROMEO [Coming forward.]:
But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou her maid art far more fair than she.
Be not her maid, since she is envious.
Her vestal livery is but sick and green,
And none but fools do wear it. Cast it off.
It is my lady! O, it is my love!
O, that she knew she were!
She speaks, yet she says nothing.
What of that? Her eye discourses; I will answer it.
I am too bold; 'tis not to me she speaks.
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars
As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
See how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!



It was the best introduction to Shakespeare my children could have gotten.

Afterwards they went up to the man and spoke to him briefly. They got some recommendations for which plays they might like and discussed the speeches they liked best. I was disgustingly proud of my boys that night.

Onto the wooden spoon. Before the show began I was speaking with some "Friends" and I remarked, yet again, how I think we need dishes and cups that can be washed. The amount of waste we create at our events with paper plates and plastic single use cups is, to me, excessive and unacceptable. They did not disagree, people rarely do. It would also save us money and who isn’t in favor of that?

I mentioned some of the things I do. I have a set of dishes at work. Plate, bowl, cup, 2 coffee mugs, a set of chopsticks, fork, knife and spoon as well as a cloth napkin. In my purse I often keep a set of utensils made of bamboo for take out occasions. As always, someone was impressed and wished they too could be so dedicated.

And there it is. The great farce.

I am not so dedicated! I still buy Dunkin' Donuts coffee in polystyrene cups and I still buy store bread in plastic bags. Sometimes I forget my bags and use plastic, sometimes I forget my fork and use the disposable one. I am, by no means, environmentally perfect. I am simply working towards a goal. Every now and again I will add something to my list of things I do to save the world and now and again I will forget to do them here and there.

I oppose big box stores but I went down to Ikea last month.

I 'eat locally' but I buy strawberries in February.

I buy used clothing but have a shiny new cell phone.

I started using chemical free, organic make up but.. it comes shipped from Sweden.

For me being environmentally friendly is all about compromises. Sometimes I make them, sometimes the world does.

I can be a hypocrite but only in the eyes of others. People assume since I talk about being green I must be 110 percent green. But I am much more of a pretty sage color with flecks of gold.

I am perfectly imperfect.

I hope no one ever feels like they must be Deep Dark 100 Percent Greenie Green in order to make a difference. Every little tiny change does make a difference and don’t you let anyone ever tell you different.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The one who loves you



When you're all alone and blue
No one to tell your troubles to
Remember me, I'm the one who loves you

When this world has turned you down
And not a true friend can be found
Remember me, I'm the one who loves you

And through all kinds of weather
You'll find I'll never change
Through the sunshine and the shadows
I'll always be the same

We're together right or wrong
Where you go I'll tag along
Remember me, I'm the one who loves you

And through all kinds of weather
You'll find I'll never change
Through the sunshine and the shadows
I'll always be the same

We're together right or wrong
Where you go I'll tag along
Remember me, I'm the one who loves you
Remember me, I'm the one who loves you
-Dean Martin

Friday, November 13, 2009

The littlest things



The littlest things make us happy. No, really. It’s not about your fancy car or your stylish shoes. It’s not about your Mcmansion or your prestigious degree. Right now, in this moment.. none of it matters. Because none of it makes you smile.

What does make us smile are the littlest things.

Last night my youngest son asked to stay at the Laundromat with me ‘to keep me company’.

“I’m just going to read, I really won’t want to talk or play.” I told him, somewhat annoyed.

“I know, It’s ok, I brought a book!” He held up a book I bought him at the school book fair and said he would never read. There he was, wanting to just sit next to me and read it. And read it he did. I never read much of my own book because he kept stopping to tell me about the amazing adventure in his own story.

That made me smile.

This morning I got an e-mail from Terri. She is a really good friend who I hardly know at all but once gave me a phone number that changed my entire life and saved me from years of personal struggle. Yay for Terri, right? Yesterday I returned the favor with a phone number to share a few words of encouragement. She wrote back to tell me how much I inspired her which in turn, inspires me to work harder and do better.

That made me smile.

One of my bosses brought me back a coffee and left it on my desk as a thank you for ..showing up every day I guess? Who knows.. but it made me smile.

List of little things that make me smile

The above picture of my kitchen window.

Lots of compliments on my new curtains!

The comforting knowledge that life goes on.

Knee high socks worn to bed.

Catching a friend in her office by accident and wasting a good 40 minutes chatting.

Shopping for a party dress. (I got one and I love it!)

Being asked how my day was.

Being told I need to get shiny-ed up.

A random offer of “Happy Friday!”

2 o’clock green tea.

Frank Sinatra.

NPR coming in all day long

Jazz after dark

And blog comments!

So I urge you, today, and tomorrow, to pay attention to the little things. Notice when a stranger smiles at you and smile at the stranger who frowns. Our actions are like ripples in a still, clear pond. They create change, no matter how small. Notice all the little things today and tell me what makes you smile?

Friday, November 6, 2009

In response...


My friend (may I call you my friend, William?) William writes a blog called Will for Words. I most recall him from the fifth grade, when he used to wear very high waisted pants and horizontal striped shirts and had really neat hair, perfectly feathered every day. I do not think he liked me very much then but I forgive him his gross lack of judgment.. I was kind of a mess that year.

William recently wrote a reactionary blog about relationships and parenting and other things that made me want to call him up and start talking and explaining and sighing. Instead.. I wrote down all the things his blog made me think and with his permission I am reprinting his post along with my interjections, here.

Over the last few days the posts, real and virtual, of various friends has left me thinking. From many different backgrounds and widely varying circumstances we come, but one thread connects us all. We all are divorced. We all have children we happily devote our lives to. And to a person, not one of us has found the new relationship that we have sought and expected since taking our first new steps out into the world, newly single.

I’m not pessimistic by nature, but after almost as many years divorced as I was married, my perspective has evolved somewhat. My own experience has showed me that either the person I’m with may have trouble understanding their role (or lack thereof) in my children’s lives, or I may not be willing to give enough of myself to them. See, to give yourself to another person, another adult, at least in my mind, means you have to hold something in reserve from your children. They can’t have everything you have to give if you’re giving it to someone else. I’m not referring to some kind of codependent relationship between parents and children, either. All of the people I know—myself included—have healthy, well-developed personalities and independent aspects to the self, separate from their role and self-image as parents and caregivers to their children (don’t try the Dr. Phil junk here, I’ve got a degree in this—literally).


I disagree with the idea that to give yourself to another person is too with hold something from your children. Sadly, I am coming to realize I may be in the minority here.. and everywhere. I left my husband in 2000. Nearly 10 years ago. While our divorce took 6 years to be finalized I have been single for nearly 10 years. I dated here and there but I did not dip my toe into the pool of commitment because I thought, like William and many others do, that to do so was to take something away from my children.

In the past year I have come to realize that I was wrong and, in fact, was not only wrong but my romantic avoidance was more harmful to my children then beneficial. I did not give my children ‘my all’ because I was not the best person I could have been. I was lonely, I lacked support, I had no one to turn to at the end of the day and say “You will never guess what happened today”. I probably, by default, leaned on my children to be that person far too often. Anyone who has met my oldest son can see that he is a mature responsible young man and while that is a great thing.. sometimes I wonder if he has missed out. By focusing too much on them.. did I rob them of their chance to see a healthy relationship? Did I steal away a more carefree childhood? What family dynamic will they have as Fathers when they have no examples to draw from. From the men who have been in their lives and mine they have known divorce, deceit and disappointment. Is this really what is best?

For the record.. I do believe kids need a father figure and I am aware my children mostly lack one and that too has to play a part in my romantic life. Everyone is potentially their role model.

Sometimes it’s not you, though. Sometimes it’s them. In that case I find friends with partners (and I use that term loosely, in some cases) who are unwilling or unable to act in an adult manner becoming of a parent. It’s not always their fault. Being a parent is no easy task, and many people (most?) are ill-equipped for it. If you happen to be in a relationship with a partner who has children, you even lack the benefit of having been there from the beginning. It’s a hard road to walk. Of course, some of you just make crappy choices in partners and it is their fault. But let’s not cast aspersions.


With this I do agree. Have you ever been told what a great parent you are? You smile and blush but inside you feel like a fraud. You know you shouted at your kids over breakfast and you secretly wished for a moment that you were not there, not a parent, not responsible for the dishes, the homework, the bills. Parents have such a hard time being less then perfect but.. does perfect parenting really benefit our children? Are we setting up impossible examples? Why is it wrong to want to get the hell out of dodge now and then? Why is it so wrong to want adult companionship and to want to share your life and your children with a partner? Why can’t we just forgive ourselves for our choices? Why do we punish ourselves and then say it's good for our children? Since when are unhappy, sad parents good for anyone?

As a parent dating is a whole new ball game. It is no longer enough for a guy to be cute and charming. I need to know facts. I need to know if he has a good job, if he is reliable, if he is short tempered, if he likes Saturday morning soccer games and is he patient. Because I have kids that I need to think of. Parents do not get to date for fun like you do before kids.

I think.. I think it is best to be friends with as many people as you can and hope that somewhere among all of your wonderful friends who you already like.. someone clicks. I think I’d like to take the dating equation out of the picture actually. Lets all just.. go about friending and then see if one day someone gives you goose bumps when they walk into a room and you have one of those little moments of.. “oh! Look at the potato masher! I think my hand will fit just right around it’s handle!”


What does all this boil down to? Well, apart from my rambling and inability to structure a clear thought here, it leaves me with the question “is it possible?” Is it possible to start again? Really? I want to believe it is, I really do. I think deep down I do believe it. But I can’t believe it is as easy or as natural or—let’s be honest—as likely as conventional wisdom would have us believe. The Brady Bunch gave everyone of my generation some thoroughly silly ideas about marrying families, and the only time it becomes really clear just how silly that was, is when you look at how twisted all the cast members were and are.


It is possible. People do it all the time but we have to be ready to admit how hard it is and will be. We have to be prepared for the anger, hurt and jealously of our ex’s and our children and.. most damaging, ourselves. You have to be willing to work for it. On the same token we must be more careful, we must consider the repercussions of our actions before we make decisions that will hurt someone and in these situations someone will always get hurt. You have to be ready to be there to hold them and love anthem and work though the hurt together.

I still believe in the fantasy of starting over (at least in my personal relationships) with someone new, reaping the benefit of my knowledge, perspective and experience gleaned from years of work, triumph and failure. At least I want to. But more and more I find myself asking questions about what else I will have to give up, what more sacrifice will be needed to keep the ship afloat and on course. Is there really another chance on the horizon? Or has that opportunity passed me by? Has it passed us all by? I don’t envision a life of solitude and melancholy, and I’m not preparing myself to start a new career as a hermit (right now). I am, however, questioning the dream I have been sold about how second chances will largely resemble first chances but with fewer painful lessons to learn this time around.


We all have those fears. For me personally I was afraid that I would be unable to share myself with another adult after 9 years of carefully not sharing. Even the thimble full of relationships I did have I kept at arms length. While none of what I have written here is directly about my most recent failed attempt at romantic happiness .. I must admit I am glad it happened. I am really glad I went though that (and happily surprised to find myself using a past tense already!) because now I know.. I can share. Now I know that I didn’t lose the ability to care deeply for another adult and still love my children. Now I know that my emotional happiness only added to their lives and took nothing, at all, away from them. Now.. I know.

With any luck, time and fate will prove my fears largely unfounded, and we’ll all find ourselves standing around a lavishly appointed kitchen in expensive clothing, a perfect ethnically diverse group reflecting the precise demographics of the nation, sipping wine and trading bon mots as we cook dinner for our trendy adults-night-in, drowning in our own witty reparté, just like a wine commercial. But at the moment I’m having a little trouble seeing how we’re all supposed to get there.


In my version there is a board game of questionable age and stacks of dusty books and my own clothing, at least, is charmingly second hand but sweet and there will be at least one good natured political argument which will be quickly remedied by another glass of wine and the offering of a well frosted cupcake.

Friday, October 23, 2009

All mashed up


“At the temple, there is a poem called "Loss" carved into the stone. It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out…You cannot read loss, only feel it." — Arthur Golden (Memoirs of a Geisha) ...

Loss is a tiny word. It is often lightly used. Today I feel a loss heavily, heavier then I think I can handle. I know I will handle it because that’s what you do. You pick up the broken shards, quietly wrap them in a soft blue cloth and tuck them away for when you are older and wiser and can look back and chuckle at yourself. Even though you think that day will never come.

This is the kind of loss that will ripple into every inch of my life. It will affect me at work and at home. It will change the dynamic with some of my friends, it has hurt my children.

I lost a potato masher. He had a better one so when I was making my annual winter applesauce I tossed my newer cruddy one and replaced it with his older but better one. I remember how I felt when I used it. A little bit sneaky because I had not asked and it was not mine. Content.. because I was sharing my space, my life and my kitchen utensils with someone I loved.

Turns out that the potato masher will never be mine. I am not allowed to use it to make applesauce or mashed turnips. The sweet potato pie at my small sad thanksgiving table will be from a box this year. I won’t be buying a new masher. It won’t be the same. There is a measuring cup too, that I will miss and several paintings I was rather fond of. The slightly spicy yet commercial scent of edge shave gel in the shower.

I will miss the word we. I had not realized how tired I was of the word I.

The whole thing, in reality, was very brief. Kind of like a flash fire. Two flammable objects meet, touch and then explode. Then someone else, who has no place being there, douses one of them with water and all you have left is a little tiny sad fire with no potato masher.

Suddenly I am reminded of the value of things. How precarious my college education is and how quickly I will lose it. Suddenly I am confronted with the very real possibility of being in a situation that causes poverty again. Suddenly I have to worry about heating oil versus food again. I preach a lot about poverty and how we are all one paycheck away from being there. It is easy for me to prattle on about the injustices heaped upon the poor when I am no longer one of them. Today I have to accept I may slide back there again.. more quickly then I can deal with.

I am also reminded of how strong I can be and have been in the past. I am reminded of other mistakes I have made and how I crawled up out of those too. I will take this and learn from it. I will wallow over my loss and I will cry and vent and I will mourn. Every time I see a potato masher I will feel my cheeks get hot with fresh hurt. I will keep my head held high, even if I am walking in a swamp. I will throw myself back into work and school. I will concentrate on the causes that have meaning for me. I will make dates with my friends and I will probably drink too much wine. Eventually I will look at another potato masher and smile and think.. “Gosh it would be nice to make applesauce with that masher there.”

But it will never be the same

Friday, September 11, 2009

Banned Books

No matter who you are, no matter where you live, and no matter how many people are chasing you, what you don't read is often as important as what you do read."
— Lemony Snicket


I was recently talking a handsome man about books, something more people should make a habit out of, specifically banned books. We were looking at the lesser known artwork of Dr. Seuss, which is creepy. It's not creepy because of the subject matter really but creepy because it is Dr. Seuss art depicting rape, pool playing and covered faces. Something about a covered face really makes me squirmy. This one is pretty tame, I didn't want to shock people.

I had a point, I promise.

Books. I mentioned the banned Dr. Seuss book and he confessed (much to his chagrin) that he did not know about it but I could not recall the name of it.

It was The Lorax and was not banned everywhere and is no longer banned anywhere, I believe but once upon a time.. someone thought The Lorax was evil. Can guess who or why?


Children's writer/illustrator Theodor Seuss Geisel, most known by his pen name Dr. Seuss, created an imaginary cast of characters in his book The Lorax. It was written in 1971 on the heels of forest industry bad press on environmental issues unfolding in the United States' Pacific Northwest dealing with the Northern spotted owl and the health of coastal redwoods and Douglas firs. It influenced children's (and parents) environmental perceptions for decades.


At the end of September is Banned Books Week. The banning of any books offends me no matter the subject.

List of banned books by governments

An unofficial list of banned books, not complete. I made the ones I have read .. red. How many have you read? How many WILL you read?

Books Banned at One Time or Another in the United States

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Blubber by Judy Blume
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Christine by Stephen King

Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Cujo by Stephen King
Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Decameron by Boccaccio
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Forever by Judy Blume
Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Have to Go by Robert Munsch
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Impressions edited by Jack Booth
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
It's Okay if You Don't Love Me by Norma Klein
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My House by Nikki Giovanni
My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
Night Chills by Dean Koontz
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women's Health Collective
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Separate Peace by John Knowles
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Bastard by John Jakes
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Devil's Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (I read this in High School BECAUSE they banned it)The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
The Living Bible by William C. Bower
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches by Roald Dahl

The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
Then Again, Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols by Edna Barth

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Recycled Rambling


Little guys fall allergies are kicking his butt. He just fell asleep at 7:30.

The kids downstairs are firing guns. At least it sounds like they are.

One of my cats keeps trying to eat my hair.

Big guy took off to see the PawSox game and will be gone until tomorrow.

I did not go to Yoga so I could wait for a text and now realize I should have gone to yoga.

I like eating ice cream in the sun even if I can only eat a tiny bit and I feel groggy for an hour afterwards.

I could trade a bath tub for high ceilings.

I can learn how to install shelving.

I need new winter shoes.

I spend to much time on FaceBook.

Kimmy A was an awesome friend to have growing up. I wish we had not grown apart. I wish I had worked harder to keep her.. grounded.

Chip clips are over rated. Yea I did say it!

Pumpkin beer is also over rated.

Librarians are awesome.

You should blog more.

I should enjoy this down time while i have it.

Good Night Blogosphere.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Day of School

It wasn’t so long ago that I was in middle school, was it? I remember it like it was last week. My keds that I drew little hearts and flowers on, side ponytails and extra large bangs, day glo socks that matched my shirt perfectly. I remember passing notes, folding them up into tiny perfect footballs. I remember pegged jeans tucked into those awesome day glo socks. Off the shoulder shirts (so daring!). I remember school dances at Peck Junior High. I remember hot dogs at Nicks Nest. I remember Community field, my first kiss, Chamura pool with April and Kimmy. I remember the triangle, the stream, the bridge, Old Jarvis, the back way to HCC. I took sewing in grade 7.. which I gloriously failed (Who knew pillows were so dang hard!) I remember 1988 like it was last week.

Today I dropped my oldest off for his first day of grade 7. I never saw a more handsome seventh grader, have you? Of course you haven’t.



Thanks kid, for the clothesline. Thanks for finding my key, thanks for grabbing my coffee mug but most of all.. thanks for kissing me goodbye even though all your friends could see.


I also dropped off my little guy for fifth grade. On the first day of my fifth grade Ms. Laliberty, at Sullivan School, said to us.. “I don’t want to hear that you can’t remember your times tables and then see you turn around and sing the Top 40!” That woman was terrifying. Seriously. I sucked at math.. but knew all the lyrics to all the top 40 songs. My little guy is just the same as I was. But infinitely more adorable, you agree of course.



He got a wonderful teacher this year and even though I often want to switch schools for him, I won’t now that he has her. I know she ‘fits’ his personality well. For my little guy having a teacher who ‘gets’ him is important, if he feels uncomfortable he cannot learn.

In grade 5 I hit puberty.. I hit it exceptionally hard to tell the truth. I hope his launch into the world of body hair and funky odors is much less horrifying then mine was. I hope the girls are nice to him. I hope he doesn’t get picked on. I hope that when he does get picked on he stands up for himself. I hope he gets at least one really good friend in his class this year.

I hope that my shouting at the office staff this morning doesn’t get held against my kids. I know I probably shouldn’t have done that but you know.. Motherhood happens

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nice things


Nice things.

Heard.

"Thank you, for being you."

"That bracelet is really.. you."
(This may not have been nice but I am taking it that way)

"I'm sorry Mom."

"Hi! How are you?" And they really wanted to know.

Said.

"I missed you." And I did, I really did.

"I have a quarter." To the woman who was short to pay for her milk in the line before me.

"I'm sorry too."

"You look so pretty today."

Promises.

To little guy.
I promise to focus more on how incredible you are and less on how much you are not like me. I tend to forget that what I see as imperfections are really the best parts of you that I have yet to understand. You are amazing, even when I don’t see.. maybe mostly when I do not see. I promise to spend more time and energy fostering your love of history and teaching you more about maps.


To big guy.
I promise to explain more. I have reasons for what I say, I always mean well, I always think (or at least hope) I am making the right choice. You did not come with instructions and sometimes you are smarter then I am. Thank you for trying so hard to understand. I will always return the favor.


To me.
I promise to shut up and enjoy it more. All of it. Them, him, you. I promise to worry less and breath more. I promise to say yes more. I promise to share more. I promise to write more poems and maybe let you see them. I promise to let others make mistakes without my attempts to stop them because I know, I know.. you need to make them yourself to understand why I so badly want to stop you.

I promise to be more fancy.. and less fancy all at once.

I promise to walk from my house to downtown at least once in the next seven days. When I get down there, I promise to buy whoever I've dragged with me an ice cream and then sit in the park and listen to all the nice things they have heard and said.

And most of all, in this moment... I promise to let it happen, I promise to hold your hand, I promise not to ask too many 'what if' questions. I promise to love you, all of you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I haven't forgotten


Someone mentioned my Gramma today. You have to say it that way too, Gramma. There is no n or d in her name. I miss her. I miss her in all the corny ways people miss each other in pretty songs and Meg Ryan movies. Except that there is no happy ending. She died in 2001, I think. I found out in 2006. We had fallen out of touch because she could no longer read my letters and I had children, a marriage, a divorce, a job and a million other things that really, in hindsight, were never as important as picking up the phone would have been. I found out because my letter was returned. Her house had been bulldozed. I would have sold my soul to have bought that rickety little house on the lake.

But I know she forgives me, because Gramma always forgives.

Her house smelled of my late grandfather’s pipe and it was filled with his wooden mallard ducks. The Lincoln logs were his and given to my father who never understood just how magical they were. They were my link to my Grandfather who loved me like sunshine in his pocket. I was too little to get much when he died, I don’t remember it. But I do remember driving back to Mass from Florida when I was 5 and suddenly feeling the weight of his loss. I was so inconsolable and so unable to find five year old words to tell my pissed off mother what was wrong that she pulled over and got out of the car and walked away for a while. I really don’t blame her.

My Gramma used to read readers digest magazine, or rather we would all read it to her. After I was 5 and we left New York for good I only saw her every few years but every time I did it was like we had been together all along. I’d read to her from readers digest and she would bake cookies even though she could barely see. Her kitchen was and is, the seat of my heart. If I ever have a daughter I'd want to name her Pauline for my Gramma.

I don’t even know how she died and I know there is someone I could ask but what if I don’t want to know? I want to think she died peacefully in her bed, surrounded by the millions of photographs she kept and her jewelry that, no matter how plastic and cheesy, I always thought was so glamorous and fine. I don’t know what happens to a person’s soul when you die. My son thinks your soul gets recycled. But I want to believe that somewhere, in new bodies or ethereal space.. My Gramma and Grampa are sitting somewhere in a little lopsided house on the lake, her in the kitchen reading a readers digest and he in that mallard duck nook smoking a pipe. And somewhere nearby is all my three year old happy, saved up in a pocket just for them.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happy Birthday

Birthdays are weird. The subject of them is stressful. They are not my favorite. Last year on my birthday I argued with my children about how old I was. I thought I was 33, a little quick math revealed I was mistaken, I was only 32. That’s how much I normally pay attention to my own birthday.

The boys both have holiday birthdays and that too, is stressful. Those birthdays are fun, I enjoy them even if they do make me a little sad. We have big parties at pizza places without absolutely any organization. No silly games or set times. People come and go and drop off cards and kisses. I like things like that.

I.. do not have birthday parties. I recall my fifth birthday party, in our backyard. My cousins were there and my mother’s boyfriend got really drunk and loud and I got a Holly Hobby sewing kit with a doll. Best. Birthday. Ever.

When I turned 11 I had a Mexican party. I wore a red dress and red shoes my mother had bought special and our neighbor Kim came and smoked over the cake and then I didn’t want to eat any. My friend Letty ate 4 large bowls of popcorn and then threw up in the white plastic terrarium. She had never had popcorn before. Yea.

When I was 16, in a bout of guilt over some nameless thing, my mother again threw me a party. I used to have a picture of that party, I was wearing a plaid ruffled shirt with a v neck and laces like a corset(shut up that shirt was AWESOME) and blue jeans tucked into my socks. My Aunt D and I were sipping soda and laughing really hard in that picture. I wish I still had it.

And that was it. When I turned 21 I had a six month old baby and a husband I didn’t like very much. He went to work before I woke up that day and came home after I was asleep. The baby and I had thrush. It was one of the most miserable days of my life.

Today is my birthday again and I am thirty three, roughly, and with a little luck, one third of my life is over. I didn’t do so bad. I have some giant gaping holes where I did the wrong thing.. but when set beside all the right things I did, they do not look so bad. My children took their ‘life savings’ and bought me a book about wraps, you know.. sandwiches without crusts? and pretty silver earrings I wouldn’t have bought myself. Most of my relatives, no matter how much space we have let fall between us, paused to say happy birthday. At work I got a card and a balloon and a gift too corny to mention. They bought a cake and everyone sang. Suddenly I like my birthday. I have friends and family and co-workers that for all their strange little twitches and sigh worthy moments.. I would not trade for anything.

The day is only half over but I do not think, in any way, it could possibly get any better.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wicked proud


Last night the big kid sat on the couch, took up the whole couch with his sprawl actually, and turned on the TV. I was sitting at the kitchen table and watching a squirrel crack his head on a gravestone. We could hear all the other kids outside shrieking and laughing and catcalling. I was suddenly filled with a sense of.. time and how fast it passes.

My oldest son, you know the one who think he is the smartest thing to ever walk this earth? He used to called pharmacy’s..

Para-Mack-e’s

The little one once walked into the kitchen and declared that he knew where babies come from. I asked him, cautiously, where…

“From Virginia!”

When they were very little I once dropped the cordless phone into a pot of boiling spaghetti after a long and very bad day. I sat down on the floor with my back against the cabinet and cried. The older kid came over, crawled into my lap and promised to make everything okay again. And by doing that.. he did.

How did he go from sitting in my lap to rudely occupying the entire couch with his impossibly long limbs? How come they both comb their own hair now? When did they start not only liking Monty Python but actually getting the jokes? Why are we watching old black and white horror movies and I am the only one jumping at the scary bits?

Excuse me Mr. Time but I think you stole ten years of my life. Where did you put it?! I want some of it back. I want to take more pictures. I want to go outside more, I want to buy more ice cream cones and chase more rainbows. Because suddenly I am sitting in the kitchen alone and no one, at all, wants to color with me.

I am not sure I know these two miniature men. They sleep with their doors shut. They demand male products like green soap and deodorant that promises to make women love you. They shake new peoples hands without my prompting anymore and they check the mail on their own. They only kiss me if I ask. They blush if I touch them in public. They have come to realize my knowledge of everything great and good is woefully inferior to theirs and they make their own mac and cheese.

I am becoming obsolete.. Except that I can drive and I control the cash flow.

Now and then I catch a glimpse of them that slows down time, puts things back where I want them. Last night I heard them talking about me and what they got me for my birthday. They wanted to reuse an old gift bag because.. in the words of the little guy…

“That will make her wicked proud!”

and I am.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul


There is a library in Thebes with an inscription over the door that reads “Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul.” Every time I walk into the Holyoke Public Library I try to remember that. I want to remind myself that I am bringing my children to a real, live, tangible wonderland. We always go in the back door and take the elevator up to the first floor. We walk gingerly over the glass floor and then boisterously say hello to whoever is behind the desk. Thank goodness for understanding Librarians. We drop off whatever we are returning, perhaps renew a few longer reads and then I let my kids loose on Jason, the Gatekeeper of the Children’s section. Jason Lefebvre has been there as long as we have been frequenting the HPL and has become an extension of our personal community. My kids share with him their latest favorite books and movies, accomplishments at school and have even volunteered their time reshelving books with him. These are experiences I do not think we could have anywhere else. I have lived in other towns and frequented other Library’s but HPL will always be my favorite.

Perhaps that will help you understand why I was so shocked and disturbed by the recent sensationalized media coverage seen on CBS 3. Something terrible did happen last December at the Holyoke Library, while it was extremely unfortunate the offense was reported and the perpetrator caught....] The offense was discovered on a Friday and was reported on Monday morning. I agree it should have been reported immediately and, I agree it was a terrible crime but no one was harmed by this delay and I refuse to allow irresponsible reporting to incite me or my family to hysteria. The man in question was swiftly identified and apprehended. He has had his day in court and the Holyoke Police Department and Court System have made swift work of the matter and the people of Holyoke are grateful that this man will not be able to actually harm a child. I hope Library patrons and Holyoke Citizens keep in mind that computers and the internet have been freely used in Libraries across the country for at least a decade and the accessing of such illegal photographs is a national problem.

This was an isolated incident and I have been to the Library as a concerned parent, I have discussed my concerns with staff there. Unlike the news story recently aired, I actually asked about what measures are being taken to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. From what I understand, the Library is working on revamping the infrastructure of the computers' security and on training staff on how to respond to such an event in the future. I would like to mention as well that any Library patron found to be abusing the libraries free internet will not be welcomed back again. While this incident was unfortunate it was, I really must repeat, isolated.

The vicious and shameful reporting we have seen only serves to hurt the children of Holyoke whose parents may now be wary of the library. Parents will be frightened to allow their children there. A public Library is one of the greatest resources of any city or town and so irresponsibly try to damage or smear or inflict harm on its reputation is simply criminal.

Where else can our children go, at no cost, to be entertained, to fall in love with literature, to borrow movies, music and quite simply, absorb culture? My own children have grown as thoughtful human beings thanks, in large part, to the library. From the Holyoke Public Library I have learned about local events, my children learned how to play chess, I learned to cook Indian food, I studied anything that sparked my interest, my children learned to love the humor of Lewis Carroll, Lemony Snicket and to fall into the world of Spiderwick. We all became Harry Potter fans and experts on how to use the search feature on the computers. My children joined a book club, took water color painting and learned the dewey decimal system. I've listened to local writers and speakers and once spent an hour with the children’s Librarian as he happily helped me find all the books on my class list of about a hundred titles. I can assure you that very few librarians would be so helpful and unrushed.

I am a single working parent in Holyoke, I am active in various local groups, it is important to me to expose my children to all kinds of events and culture and literature. I am also a part time student at HCC. For all of those parts of our every day lives the Library has been an invaluable resource. I would hate to see another family lose the same opportunities due to the manipulative fear mongering and sensationalist reporting of the news media. This Holyoke family will not stand for it.


Thank you,
Just Another Holyoke Mom

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dear Jerk,


Dear Stop and Shop Parking Lot guy,

I'm totally not a prude and I am a terrible feminist. I actually grinned when you whistled at me from your truck even if I didn't look back. There was probably a little extra swagger in my step too. I worked pretty hard to look like I do, I don't mind that being noticed.

What I do freaking mind was your persistence. I did not look back, you did not see that I grinned. Do you have any women in your family? Would you want some dirty guy who couldn't be bothered to wash his hands after work to be checking out any of them and calling them a sexy bitch in a public parking lot?

I kept walking. That's a clue. I always park really far away because I like the long walk.. but thanks to you next time I will think twice. That walk never seemed so long. I am not yours to objectify and really, until you brush your goddamn teeth you really shouldn't open your mouth. I think your polluting, seriously.

As I started my car I saw a woman get in your truck. Was that your wife? Was that your toddler she was dragging by the arm as he screamed for more candy? Did you forget to buy her the bottom half of that dress? I am really sure there was supposed to be some kind of skirt. I wanted to go and tell her what a pig you are. How disrespectful you are to women. And when I imagined you interrupting me (probably telling me to shut the fuck up you stupid bitch, cause that kind of abuse is all over your face) from her enlightenment, I imagined putting my palm up and in your face without even looking at you. But.. she probably already knows, doesn't she?

I heard your mirror move, by the way, you should use some WD-40 for that before you go parking lot stalking again. You left a nasty taste in my mouth. It tasted like oil and grease and dirty sand. You made me feel.. out of place and uncomfortable in the worst kind of way. You made me feel like it was my fault.

I hope one day someone's husband sees you do that crap and kicks the last of your teeth in. I hope it's caught on a cell phone and posted to You Tube and I hope I see it so I can play it over and over again while I drink wine and eat popcorn.

Signed,
Pink Sweater.

And while I was not wearing a short skirt I was strongly reminded of this poem.

My Short Skirt
(from The Vagina Monologues)

My short skirt
is not an invitation
a provocation
an indication
that I want it
or give it
or that I hook

My short skirt
is not begging for it
it does not want you
to rip it off me
or pull it down.

My short skirt
is not a legal reason
for raping me
although it has been before
it will not hold up
in the new court.

My short skirt, believe it or not
has nothing to do with you.

My short skirt
is about discovering
the power of my lower calves
about cool autumn air traveling
up my inner thighs
about allowing everything I see
or pass or feel to live inside.

My short skirt is not proof
that I am stupid
or undecided
or a malleable little girl.

My short skirt is my defiance
I will not let you make me afraid
My short skirt is not showing off
this is who I am
before you made me cover it
or tone it down.
Get used to it.

My short skirt is happiness
I can feel myself on the ground.
I am here. I am hot.

My short skirt is a liberation
flag in the women’s army
I declare these streets, any streets
my vagina’s country.

My short skirt
is turquoise water
with swimming colored fish
a summery festival
in the starry dark
a bird calling
a train arriving in a foreign town
my short skirt is a wild spin
a full breath
a tango dip
my short skirt is
initiation
appreciation
excitation.

But mainly my short skirt
and everything under it
is Mine.
Mine.
Mine.

—Eve Ensler, 2001

Friday, July 3, 2009

Why do you Love Holyoke?


Nice things I heard lately.

"You have some talents there!"

"I washed your Yoga pants Mom"

"That sandwich was really good!"

"You should write more."

So I am writing more. I should write more, I like writing. I feel somewhat uncomfortable being very personal here which is weird right? Because on Face Book I once had a status that included my bra size.

I deleted it, stop looking.

My life in Holyoke is.. not like my life was in any other town I ever lived in. Nor like it was in New York, or Florida. In Holyoke I feel connected. I feel like I could go outside and put my palm on the pavement and feel the pulse of Holyoke. Holyoke has a personality, she has a flirty smile. She has strong reassuring hands. Apparently she has a gender.

Not so long ago I was out with a friend and someone mentioned Holyoke. My spine straightened and I turned slightly towards the speaker and began to extol the virtues of Holyoke. My companion laughed and said "Look how she just lit up." That guy will never know how much that sentence meant to me. I like to have my passions noticed. And I am passionate about Holyoke.

I tried to leave Holyoke once, I moved to a 'better' town with a 'better' school system. I had affluent friends (though I have major issues with the idea of affluence in America as our poorest family on welfare is still richer then the richest African farm worker, but anyway) and my kids got good grades. One day.. I realized that there were no minority children in either of my kids classes. They had no exposure to other languages or culture.

Dear God, I was raising Wonder Bread boys!

Luckily this realization coincided with the loss of my job and a small mental breakdown.. I had a lot of realizations at the same time and then had three TERRIBLE weeks that involved a house fire, a liar, a thief, my ex husbands couch, a Chicopee school and finally.. a crappy apartment in Holyoke.

Where else could I have gone? I was jobless and had made myself friendless. I lacked direction, I lacked self esteem. But Holyoke didn't care, Holyoke welcomed me with open arms. Holyoke schools didn't care about the brand of clothing my kids wore or what I drove. My children began to learn Spanish! They went to birthday parties and ate unidentifiable foods. They tasted REAL beans and rice.. they learned to relax.

And slowly.. I did too. While I was looking for a work, a very long, slow, depressing year, I began to post on masslive and I met people like VanDog and HiesRN. My kids found scouting and soccer.. and I found the very thing I had been lacking all along.

Community.

I eventually found work, 40 minutes away but worth the daily drive. I began to work on myself, my health (After a nasty health scare and a little surgery) and my.. at the risk of sounding dramatic, my soul.

Over the last 2 years I have made some wonderful amazing friends in Holyoke.. there are simply too many list and I am too frightened to leave anyone out. You all know who you are. We have eaten together, walked together, had wine together. With some of you I have begun my Yoga journey (thank you!) and with some of you I feel the desire to understand photography grow. We have discussed local politics, libraries and public schools. You have shaken hands with my children and made us all grin a little more.

That's what Holyoke means to me. A family of acceptance. A community desperately reaching out to everyone. A welcoming fold. A gentle wing.

Tomorrow when I go outside I will put my hand to the ground and close my eyes and remember all of that and I will smile. Ask me again why I love Holyoke and I will tell you the truth.

Because Holyoke loves me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dear Mike

Here is a copy of your post to me at Masslive..

I try to stay away from getting into arguements... goes with my positive energy v negative energy theory, but once again I have a little time to kill so may I please ask a few basic questions:
1. Is it the law that you can only sit in Holyoke and criticize people, or can anyone do it from anywhere?

"You sat your oversized McDonalds eating a$$ right next to him and THEN proceeded to yank your snotty smelly kid in the 2 inches of space between you and my polite son."

2. Just how much do you enjoy being poor?

http://plasticrevolution.blogspot.com/2008/12/being-poor.html

3. Exactly how long can one leave Holyoke and stay away before they are legally banned from returning?

4. Who do you think will be the last person left in Holyoke with a real job?

5. How many more buildings do you want to see boarded up in downtown?

6. How many buildings would you like to see un-boarded?

7. How many jobs do you want at minimum wage to satisfy the requirements of getting more welfare into that city?

8. Who works for who? Do you work for the state or does the state work for you?

"A new study shows a sales tax hike would save state jobs at the expense of the private sector."

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/05/massachusetts_sales_tax_hike_a.html

1st paragraph says it all...

"A 25 percent increase in the state sales tax would wipe out around 12,000 jobs in the private sector but save more than 6,000 jobs in state and local government, according to a new study."

9. How many heroin dealers are you willing to tolerate?

10. How many prostitutes are you willing to tolerate?

11. How many more jobs do you think raising the tax rates even higher will create?

12. How many do you think it will destroy and drive out of town permanately?

13. When was the last time you really felt safe walking downtown?

Now let me make this perfectly clear, I have done more for Holyoke in the last 6 months than the Mayor or City Council has done in the last 6 years and you don't have a clue as to what it is I have done. Now Thursday I will be meeting the Tony Hawk foundation to convince them to donate funds and design a skate park for your boys.

Final question... should I cancel the meeting? (I recommend you ask your boys first before answering.)

Enjoy your day.

Mike McCarthy


Here are my replies.

Dude.. I have a job. So here is my brief reply.. by the way.. this was extremely rude and abrasive, you know that right?

1. Is it the law that you can only sit in Holyoke and criticize people, or can anyone do it from anywhere? This question makes no sense. That woman was a snotty bitch to my kid.. who was polite.
2. Just how much do you enjoy being poor?
Why are you linking to my posts and.. who told you I was poor, right now, today? And when I was poor.. it was NEVER your business.. pointing that out will only endear you to the right wing nuts you proclaim to hate so much. I’d back that up with one of your posts but I am not as motivated to cruelty as you are today. Thanks for the happy memories.
3. Exactly how long can one leave Holyoke and stay away before they are legally banned from returning?
47 and one third minutes. Duh.
4. Who do you think will be the last person left in Holyoke with a real job?
The mayor.
5. How many more buildings do you want to see boarded up in downtown?
Eleventy two
6. How many buildings would you like to see un-boarded?
I’d like to watch all of them, cause I have that much time.
7. How many jobs do you want at minimum wage to satisfy the requirements of getting more welfare into that city?
What is this question about and how the heck is it relevant to me? Or anyone? Since you have not SEEN the welfare situation here in like 20 years I don’t see how you can talk it all down.
8. Who works for who? Do you work for the state or does the state work for you?
Delete Delete
9. How many heroin dealers are you willing to tolerate?
4 per square mile.
10. How many prostitutes are you willing to tolerate?
Well they keep the menfolk outta trouble so..
11. How many more jobs do you think raising the tax rates even higher will create?
You like numbers too much.
12. How many do you think it will destroy and drive out of town permanently?
Everyone but me and then I can be the Queen and WIN. Ha!
13. When was the last time you really felt safe walking downtown?
This morning, seriously. And last night and tonight. Keep it up Kiddo I used to live on High Street. I picked up bullet casings in my parking lot. I am not ascared of the big bad 4 block city.

Lastly.. My kids aren’t big Tony Hawk fans since I keep them from most of the mainstream media. They could tell you about Poe or Hawkings though. If you want to impress them you won’t do it with your MTV knock off crud.

You have done more then the MAYOR? WOW! Holy shit that’s impressive yes it is! thank god for you Mike, I guess I can stop all *I* have done for Holyoke now that you are here to save the freaking DAY.
I will enjoy my day IN Holyoke,

Me!

PS.. this is how seriously I take this kind of attack.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Moving

Were moving! So here are some really stupid pictures that make me laugh. Consider a sense of humor test.



Monday, March 23, 2009

So rude.


Dear rude woman,

Sometimes I wish I had raised my kids differently. When you said excuse me to my son as he and his friends sat on the curb at the parade he politely squished over against his friend to let you get by. But you didn’t go by.. You sat your oversized McDonalds eating ass right next to him and THEN proceeded to yank your snotty smelly kid in the 2 inches of space between you and my polite son. He still didn’t say anything, he just moved over more, squishing himself against his friend. When his friend’s mother pointed out that “He was sitting there.” You said.. and I quote.. “Well you ain’t moving my fucking kid.” Classy.
“Ain’t’ is not a proper word and using the f word just shows your gross lack of intelligent vocabulary.
My kid, the polite kid, got up and stood. His friends did too and you moved right into the space. Then you proceeded to try and stop the marchers to take photos of them with your kid. Lady.. It is not –your- parade, it is our parade.. stop screwing it up.
Then.. then! You told your kids to dump out the drinks they did not like and throw their cups on the ground.. now the sidewalk. Where people were sitting, was wet. Nice job. And covered in your McDonalds trash. I really hope you are not from Holyoke.
People like you make me wish I had raised my kid to be a little bit ruder. You know.. kind of like you and your kids. Good job.

Signed,
Mother with manners.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Just saying..



I borrowed this from a newsletter I get. I'm not screaming my opinion, just sharing something to think about. Can any of us really stand to be spoon fed political propaganda?

A global warming science update, which can be summarized in seven short words – It is much worse than we thought.
Public opinion, which finds that a record 41% of the American people think the threat of global warming is being exaggerated.
• Economist Nicholas Stern believes that without urgent action, we could be committing ourselves to a planetary increase of four to six degrees Centigrade.
• Even at a more modest four degree rise, Stern predicts that 85% of the Amazon rainforest will be destroyed, leading to catastrophic shortages of fresh water and mass failures of food harvests. As many as half of all species on Earth may become extinct.
• A 2009 peer-reviewed study published in Science concludes that the planetary effects of Antarctic ice melt could lead to wildly uneven sea level increases. In the Northern hemisphere sea level increases as high as 21 feet may threaten New York, London, and Tokyo with total inundation -- creating tens of millions of refugees.

Denial and Deceit -- The Opposition
You'd think this terrifying wave of discoveries would galvanize all of us to take drastic action today.
Instead, we are witnessing an unprecedented propaganda blitz by polluters and global warming deniers to stop legislation and confuse the public. Consider these few highlights of what they're up to:
• They are spending hundreds of millions of dollars in lobbying, political contributions alone -- with hundreds of millions more in paid ads.
• The number of lobbyists working to block global warming action has increased 300% in recent years, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
• They've landed an army of talking heads on the political talk shows to drive the debate among the Beltway crowd. Their message is as simple as it is false. A cap on global warming pollution is a "hidden energy tax" (which it is not) and that "we can't afford to act in the current economic crisis" (which is not true).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tech. Dif.



One sick kid
Two essays on the effects of early slavery on todays economy
One story for 7 year olds
Two midterms that I have no time to study for
One fire in the attic
Two essays comparing poems for children and creative elasticity in childrens toys
One large bottle of Tylenol PM
Two dollars in my pocket

Me: Does my hair look like I brushed it?
Kid 1: You brush your hair?

Boss: So I took your advice and broke up with my girlfriend instead of cheating on her.
Me: Good for you! I think.. how did that go?
Boss: Well, I broke up with her via text message.
Me: ................

Me: I am have Thai pasta for lunch, 150 calories.
Erin: I can't eat pasta.
Me: This is GOOD for you pasta, it's rice noodles.. look.
-I took photos of my lunch with my phone and e-mailed them to her-
Erin: I don't know who is dorkier, you for sending me pics of your lunch or me for downloading them.
Me: -busy eating my pasta-

I stopped taking my iron pills and have been feeling like a truck ran me over.. I still have the Mi Plaza and Mt Tom pics to post but I can't find the stupid cable for my camera. My laptop has a sim card slot though so as soon as I get a chance I will try and upload them that way. I am dreading the parade.. I hope it isn't cold out.

Monday, March 9, 2009

While you wait...

I have two posts in the works.. Mi Plaza and Mt Tom.. but for now I just have this..



The Armory
Sargeant & Pine Streets
Holyoke Mass.
Circa 1900


Birds Eye View of
High Street, Holyoke Mass.
Mount Holyoke in Distance
Circa 1910



The Nonotuck
Holyoke Mass.
Circa 1910

Friday, March 6, 2009

Things I would like to know..


1. Why are all the lights along High St missing the delay between red for one street and green for the next? Why?!

2. Why did the Holyoke School Dept close down Lawrence to ‘save money’ and then not move there but still pay to heat and light the entire building? Hmm?

3. Why did Lisa Lavoie have mens jeans and greasy hair on her ‘perp walk’ into the Holyoke Police Department? Doesn’t West Virginia have showers? Are her clothes being saved as evidence? Does she actually dress like that? … that would explain a lot though, wouldn’t it?

4. Why doesn’t the McDonalds downtown pick up its freaking trash? And smile when I drive though. I love your new Mochas. You are single handedly destroying my illusions of being a health food nut. At least smile as I pay you to crush my dreams.

5. Why did the shop guy just hand me a dirty invoice? They have soap over there, I know because I bought it for them. Can no one take a hint?

6. On a happier note Kashi has instant oatmeal that is not overly sweetened and has 9 grams of protein a serving! Yay! And my boys will be taking a Yoga class Saturday morning with me, I kind of want to just watch and take pictures of them in Warrior pose, then frame them for their adorableness. Mike, don’t tell them I blogged about that!

7. Sunday is supposed to be delicious outside, I hope it won’t be too muddy to go walk around Mt Tom! Anyone want to come?

p.s. The best play ever a few posts back was West Side Story. I need to hunt down a new copy on Ebay.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Teaching kids about taxes!




My son is on the Gold Star System. He gets gold stars for brushing his teeth and cleaning his toys up... And every week we take 25 % of his gold stars to teach him about taxes.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Four Degrees Hotter

Boys came to work with me today, snow day. Thank god for having a big enough office that they don’t have to sit near each other and actually co-exist for 8 hours.



So I am reading this article about Global Warming.. I know it is a phrase I do not like but in this case it is actually what they are talking about. What will happen when the earth’s average temp climbs 4 degrees. It doesn’t sound like much, but you have to stop and think… At 32 degrees your freeze pop freezes. At 33 degrees you have kool aid in a tube.

The difference of one degree might as well be the difference of 100 degrees.

If the average temp rises 4 degrees New Orleans will no longer exist, Brazil will be a desert..

ALLIGATORS basking off the English coast; a vast Brazilian desert; the mythical lost cities of Saigon, New Orleans, Venice and Mumbai; and 90 per cent of humanity vanished. Welcome to the world warmed by 4 °C.


I know the article says 4C, I use Degrees because I was mceducated in ‘merican schools where we only spent 5 hours on the metric system and Celsius.

Now, I am not an alarmist and I don’t actually think that recycling and avoiding plastic will stop Climate Change. It is too late now, this is real, it’s happening. Some of us will still be alive to see this. All we can do now is try not to make it worse… use less, buy less, burn less. No one is asking you to turn into an environmentalist nut right this minute.. but bring your own bags once in a while, notice how much trash you create, maybe try a little compost project just for fun.

What we need to do now is prepare for the future.

On a more local note, it has been really uplifting lately to hear so much about Holyoke and our efforts to be a little greener, after all Holyoke has the potential to be the Greenest City in the state. Wouldn’t it be nice to be known for something other then crime, poverty and culture divides?
 
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