Saturday, September 10, 2011

The World Trade Center Remembered

For anyone who happened to grow up in New York and later settled in the D.C. metropolitan area (and there are many others beside myself), September 11th packs a double whammy. The images of the burning towers, the obscene hole gaping from the side of the Pentagon, and the enormous smoldering crater in Shanksville, PA are everywhere this weekend. The power of these images is indisputable, and difficult to erase. For my children, they have become the ultimate symbol of the deeds of evil men, replacing those images from my own childhood of the Holocaust and town lynchings.

Fortunately having grown up in New York, I had visited the World Trade Center many times and have many happy memories of the buildings prior to 9/11. Still, I was surprised to find one such memory surface the other night, while watching the nightly news, when my daughter commented that she hadn’t known that there was a subway that ran underneath the WTC.

My former sister-in-law, like nearly everyone who has worked in the financial markets in New York, had at one time, worked in the World Trade Center. Having worked in Manhattan for nearly 30 years she has seen and experienced her share of the bizarre. One day, as was her routine, she left her office at rush hour and headed to the subway located at 5 WTC. The human traffic on the platform was moving at a considerably slower pace than usual. My sister-in-law (let’s just drop the ‘former’ for style purposes) who stands about 5’3 in heels was unable to see over the heads of the other commuters and was therefore incapable of determining the exact cause of the bottle neck. She inched her way along with the rest of the exhausted people trying to get home, until she finally came upon the problem – in fact she nearly tripped over it. Moving slowly along the platform was a tiny, elderly woman. She was well dressed and did not appear to be homeless or suffering from dementia. Attached to the woman’s hand was a leash. Curious to see what kind of dog was being dragged through the WTC subway at rush hour, my sister-in-law looked down to find at the end of the leash, not a dog, but an enormous, white rabbit.


The image was certainly bizarre, but what struck my sister-in-law as being even more remarkable was the fact that everyone on the platform gave her the space that she and her four legged friend required. No one bothered the woman with a dirty look, an unkind word or an offer to shove her onto the track. Commuters simply went around her in the same way that they would have gone around a broken piece of machinery or a large crack in the pavement. For someone who grew up reading A LOT of Beatrix Potter, this is a powerful image – stunning!

And so for now I’ve chosen to keep this image of the World Trade Center front and center in my mind, for it truly is a thing of beauty. A mass of tired, stressed out New Yorkers, schlepping along the subway platform, ties askew, briefcases weighing heavily in their hands, blisters no doubt forming on the back of the feet from their high heels, patiently moving around an elderly woman and her rabbit.

I’ll continue to pray for those souls lost on September 11th and I’ll thank God (anyone’s God) for the people on that train platform who exhibited such beautiful peace and grace at the end of hard day.

This is how I will remember the World Trade Center.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sadie's Greatest Day - Sort of a 4th of July Story (while it doesn't take place on the 4th, it does relate to firecrackers)

The life of Sadie the M80 came to an abrupt end at around 8:15 pm, when she exploded in front of the Heckman’s home, creating a spectacular noise and nearly causing Judge O'Hara to be cited for indecent exposure. At the time of the explosion, I was in the kitchen, foraging through the freezer for a Popsicle. Uh-oh, I thought to myself, upon hearing the noise. The “boom” set off an eruption of barking from the elderly schnauzer across the street.

I‘d never actually seen his reaction, but the sound of it was well known by the neighbors who lived near the O’Hara home. As Drew O'Hara would tell it, the sound of firecrackers would elicit such excitement and anxiety in Rudi that he would run directly to the dining room, where he would race frantically around the dining table, barking and defecating for 20 minutes. This in turn would send Drew’s father, Judge O’Hara racing out into the streets searching for the perpetrators of the crime. As Rudi became older, the O’Hara’s had to give him sedatives during the summer months, as there was concern that he would eventually fall dead at the sound of a car backfiring.

The noise created by the M80 seemed unbelievably loud for a firecracker, and sent me scurrying to the windows in hopes of seeing the explosion’s devastation. To my disappointment, there was no sign of an explosion, nor the culprit or culprits who set off the bomb.

The day had begun like any ordinary summer day on Long Island. Having eaten a bowl of Captain Crunch, and performed my morning ablutions to my mother’s satisfaction, the two of us hopped into the family’s station wagon and headed off to Manorhaven. Manorhaven was a public swimming pool which was located in the town next to ours. My friend Suzanne and her mother were going to meet us there and we would spend the afternoon hopefully wearing ourselves out swimming, while our mothers, stretched out on lounges, read Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, and exchanged neighborhood gossip.

After roughly two hours in the pool, Suzanne and I were summoned from the water by our mothers. We stood before them, water dripping from the ends of our hair and skin, while displaying blue, oxygen-deprived lips. Upon the receipt of $2 each, we were sent to the snack bar, located outside of the enclosed pool, on a small strip of beach which was part of the Long Island Sound. Once there, we were expected to take a break, get a snack, and let the blood in our bodies resume its normal circulation.

Suzanne and I sat at a picnic table eating our French fries while watching the kids on the beach play in the sand. We wrapped ourselves in our towels, which constantly slid off of our shoulders. This made eating French fries somewhat of a challenge.

Standing in line at the snack bar, were two boys from our neighborhood, Bobby Mallory and Michael Flynn.

“Did you guys go to the market across the street and get cherries?” Suzanne asked excitedly. Having just graduated from the 8th grade, Bobby and Michael were old enough to cross Manorhaven Boulevard on their own. At ten years old, Susanne and I were not yet allowed to go across the street, where there sat a small fruit stand, known for its’ incredibly tart, black cherries.

Bobby lifted his gaze from the contents of the bag and looked at Suzanne. “Uh, yeah.”

“Oh my God, those cherries are sooooo good! My mom always takes me over there to get a bag for the ride home.” She said gushing, her skinny legs swinging back and forth under the picnic table bench.

Both boys stared at her for a moment and then went back to perusing their bag. Once their order was up, they proceeded to take their trays, towels, and paper bag down to the beach. Unfortunately, the bag had become wet, while brushing up against Bobby’s towel and a small tear had appeared on its side.

When we realized that they were not going to respond to Suzanne’s comment, I held up my hand and looked at my fingernails, which still contained a slight trace of blue. “Are my lips still blue?” I asked.

Suzanne leaned in and scrutinized the color of my mouth. “No, they’re good. How are mine?”

I nodded, “they’re good.”

“Let’s go back to the pool,” Suzanne stood up and wrapped her Pink Panther towel around her shoulders.

As I was getting up from the table, I noticed what looked like a fat, red battery with a short string attached to it, lying under the table.

“What’s that?” asked Suzanne.

“I don’t know it was under the table.” I handed it to Suzanne for her inspection. She held it up and turned it around.

“It’s a firecracker.”

“Really, I’ve never seen a firecracker this big. All of the ones that I’ve seen look like birthday candles.” I said taking the firecracker back. “Is it a cherry bomb?”

Suzanne shook her head, reaching around and pulling her towel back onto her shoulders “No, a cherry bomb looks like a cherry. I think that’s an M80.”

“Oh.” I nodded, pretending I knew exactly what she was talking about. “What’s an M80?” I asked.

“It’s like a bomb I think. They’re really loud, and illegal. You can go to jail if you get caught with one. It must be Sadie’s.”

“Who’s Sadie,” I asked.

“I don’t know, but she wrote her name on it.”

When we got home from the pool, I was surprised to see my neighbor Mary Ann home from camp. When she saw me getting out of the car, she came running over, waving a package of bubble gum cards. The cards that Mary Ann held in her hands were not just any “run of the mill” bubble gum cards. They didn’t depict the faces and stats of baseball or football players. Instead, each card reflected the packaging of a well-known product, with the illustration and product name slightly skewed – so Purina Cat Chow was changed to Putrid Cat Chow, showing three cats passed out in front of a food dish which was full of fish skeletons, etc. At the time, Wacky Packages were highly sought after and collected by kids all over the country, making them difficult to find.

The two of us sat on my front steps, absentmindedly swatting at mosquitoes while we looked at Mary Ann’s cards.

“Plus I‘ve got three more packages that I haven’t opened yet,” she said, blowing an enormous pink bubble.

“Wow, can I have one?” I asked, holding on to the “Crust” toothpaste card.
“Nope - mine! “

“Please, you have two other packs. Come on, I’ll trade you.”
Mary Ann looked dubious. “Trade what?”

I thought for a moment and then remembered Sadie the M80 lying at the bottom of my pool bag.

“Okay, I have something to trade, but if you don’t want to trade for it, you can’t tell anyone that I have it.” Mary Ann’s curiosity had clearly been piqued by my added warning.

“OK,” she said suspiciously.

“Swear.”

Mary Ann nodded impatiently. “Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” She sped through the pledge, showing little sincerity, while crossing her heart with the requisite X.

“OK. I’ll trade you this for a package of the cards.” I said, presenting to her the oversized firecracker.

Her eyes grew wide “Holy shit! Where did you get that?”

I shook my head. “Unh-uh, can’t tell. Do you want to trade?“

“Yeah, I’ll give you all three packages of Wackys for that.” Mary Ann was clearly impressed by my offering.

“Okay, go get ‘em.” I felt very pleased with myself, certain that I had bested a 13 year old.

The exchange having been made, Mary Ann pocketed the M80 and went home for her piano lesson.

While Mary Ann’s nimble fingers were making their way across the ivories, her younger brother Tom’s, had been busy rummaging through her desk, when he stumbled upon the M80. He took it out and turning it around in his hand, whistled to himself.

When Mary Ann had finished her lesson, she returned to her room only to find Tom sitting on her bed grinning from ear to ear while waving the firecracker at her.

“Tom what are you doing in here, and give me that please.”

“Nope, not a chance!” he said bouncing up and down on his sister’s bed.

“Tom, that thing is dangerous, now hand it over.”

“I’m not handing anything over. This is mine now.”

Mary Anne moved forward in an attempt to snatch the firecracker from her brother. She was no match for Tom, who easily flipped backward over the mattress, landing on his feet on the other side of the bed.

Mary Ann crossed her arms, “Fine then I’ll tell mom.”

“Go ahead, and I’ll tell her about how you got that hickie on your neck . . . that you’re trying to hide with your collar . . . it’s a little warm for a collared shirt, don’t you think?” He asked raising his eyebrows.

“You little shit! You are dead!”

“Nah I don’t think so.”

Not wanting her mother to know anything about a hickie which may or may not have been healing on her neck, Mary Ann gave in. And so the M80 passed hands from sister to brother, and young Tom knew exactly what he was going to do with it. He flew down the stairs and out the door, the shoelaces on his untied pro-keds whipping along, all the way to the Marshall’s house.

Taffy Marshall was a college dropout who spent his days living at home with his mother, smoking pot and playing the drums. Marshall was also known . . . for raising snakes.

Tom skidded to a stop on the front steps, rapped on the door and waited. A few seconds later, Taffy appeared wearing a pair of cut-offs and an Emerson, Lake and Palmer t-shirt, an unlit cigarette hanging from his mouth. “What’s up Doc?”

Out of breath, Tom managed to huff out his request. “Hey Taffy, I want to buy a snake, but I don’t have any money, I have something better.”

Taffy took the cigarette out of his mouth and scowled at Tom “Something better than cash?”

Tom pulled the M80 out of the pocket of his camp shorts and held it up for Taffy to see.

“Whoa, not bad!” said Taffy, admiring the firecracker. “Who’s Sadie?”

Tom shrugged “I don’t know.”

Taffy studied the firecracker closely, “Okay young man, come on in and pick out a snake. They’re up in my room.” Taffy dropped the M80 on the table by the front door, and the two of them went upstairs so that Tom could pick out a snake.

A few moments later, Mrs. Marshall arrived home from work and was on her way inside when she noticed Bobby Mallory crossing the lawn with a box in his hands. Bobby had been in a bad mood, ever since he discovered that the M80 he had purchased that day, was gone – probably having fallen out of a hole in its bag.

“Is that for me?” She asked nodding at the box of Amway SA-8 Laundry detergent.

“Yep, my mom asked me to bring it over to you.” He answered.

“Come on in and I’ll give you a check to give to your mom.”

So Bobby followed Mrs. Marshall into the house and waited in the front hall for her to return with a check. As he waited, he noticed the M80 lying on the table. He leaned over and grabbed the firecracker. He turned it over in his hand and nearly choked when he read the name on it.

“Oh man, this is just too fucking much!” he thought to himself, quickly sliding it into his navy and orange striped sweat sock. Mrs. Marshall returned with a check and Bobby was on his way.

Astounded by his luck, Bobby was anxious to set off the M80 but knew that for maximum results, he’d have to wait until about 8:00 pm when everyone was home and had finished their dinner. Having finished his own meal, he sat down in the den with his father, and watched Howard Cosell eviscerate the efforts put forth by the New York Yankees. Once the news was over, he got up and told his father that he was going over to Michael Flynn’s house to play pool.

Bobby went outside, hopped on his Schwinn and rode down the street to his friend’s house. The two boys headed downstairs to the basement where they proceeded to play pool for about 20 minutes, at which point, they decided that the time had come.

Instead of going back upstairs and out the front door, they used the outside cellar stairs so as to leave in secret.

They cut through the Anderson’s back yard, avoiding the carp pond and its swarms of mosquitoes. As they approached the house, they ducked down and ran very carefully so as not to attract the attention of Mr. Anderson who was sitting on his jalousie porch, watching an episode of “The Odd Couple.”

Once the boys reached the side of the house, they waited, making sure that no one was in the street or surrounding yards and driveways, who could see them.
As they looked around, Bobby ran his hand down his sock to reassure himself that he bomb was there. “Shit” said Bobby. “I don’t have it? It must have fallen out of my sock when were running through the yard.”

Michael rolled his eyes. “Well we have to go back then and find it.”

The two boys crouched down again and ran as fast as they could, back the way they came, keeping their eyes on the ground. Unfortunately, in their absence, the Anderson’s had let their beagle out into the back yard. Daisy had been quietly patrolling the yard for squirrels, when sensing intruders, looked up and started a frenzy of barking. The boys, intent on finding the firecracker and remaining unseen, didn’t see her until it was too late. With no other choice, Bobby and Michael broke into a full sprint through the yard and the bushes that separated the houses. Just before they were to make a 90 degree turn at the Weavers house, Michael spotted the M80 in the grass, reached down, grabbed it and dashed out onto the street.

Having managed to cross the street without getting hit by a car, the boys sat down on the edge of Mrs. Taylor’s lawn and waited until they had caught their breath. Mrs. Taylor was an elderly widow who was subjected to endless rounds of Ding Dong Ditch once the weather became warm.

“Should we set it off at the pit?” asked Michael. The pit was an empty lot that had become a hang-out for neighborhood kids.

Bobby thought for a moment and shook his head. “No, ‘cause once we set if off, we’ll have to climb back up the hill. It’ll take too long for us to get out, and by then, we’ll be caught.”

“Why not just set it off here? We can light it and then just run back the way we came.”

“No, because once it goes off, everyone will look out their windows and see us running.”

“We’re fast. Come on, let’s just light it and run. No one will see us.”

Bobby sighed and said “Okay. Right here you think?”

Michael looked up and down the quiet street, nodded and said, ”It’s quiet, it’ll be cool.”

“Alright, which way are we running?”

Michael looked around the street and said “We should cross the street, go back through the Weavers, and around the side of the Anderson’s. No wait - Daisy’s probably still out.” He thought for a few seconds. “Okay, I know. We’ll cross the street, turn down Bellows Lane, and go through the Schnitzers. They’re always away in the summer.”

Bobby nodded and said “Okay, ready?” He took a matchbook from his pocket, tore off a match, and with a shaky hand, held it to the M80. When he heard the sound of the fuse hiss, he hurled the bomb as far down the street as he could, watching for a second as it landed in front of the Heckman’s house.

The two boys took off in the opposite direction. They had rounded the corner of Bellows Lane and were heading for the Schnitzer’s driveway, when they heard the explosion. They didn’t stop, but instead tore past the garage, dodged the Weber grill set out on the patio, took the stone steps two at a time, and charged through the trees dividing the Schnitzer’s house from the Smiths. They broke through the Ryan’s yard, ending up on Inness Place, just in time to see Judge O’Hara running down his front steps, wearing a Lacoste shirt, his boxer shorts and a pair of black Gucci loafers. Fortunately for the boys, the Judge turned left and was headed in the opposite direction, having no idea that the perpetrators he sought stood just a few yards behind him, standing paralyzed with fear.

And so it was, that after a few minutes, with a line of neighborhood children sitting on the edge of our lawn watching, the police arrived to investigate reports that firecrackers had been set off in the street. What they found, was Judge O’Hara standing outside his house in an agitated state wearing his boxer shorts. Saved by his reputation, and the corroborated accounts of many neighbors, he was ultimately spared the citation, and more importantly, Rudi the Schnauzer lived to see another summer come and go.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

An Unfortunate Error in Judgement

In retrospect, the Gunderson’s corn field was probably not the best place to hide that ear of corn, Tim thought to himself as he trudged down the dirt road which divided the field in two. He could always go back to the farm, put a leash around Becky’s neck and drag her into the search. Becky was the Gunderson’s three legged goat, known throughout the community for her ability to sniff out missing objects.

If Tim went back to the farm and got caught throwing the collar around Becky, the Gunderson’s would become suspicious as to why he needed their goat so late in the day. While Becky’s tracking talent was well known, she was notorious for her drinking problem, and the Gunderson’s had already accumulated fines of over $325 in the last year alone, due to damages committed by Becky while under the influence.
Bored townies would occasionally knock on the Gunderson’s door, offering to take Becky for a “walk,” and would then claim ignorance the following day when presented with evidence of Becky’s drunken shenanigans.

There was also the task of providing Becky with a scent to follow. How on Earth was he going to recreate that scent? The corn wasn’t a problem – it was what was hidden inside the ear that was going to be tricky. The Sun was starting to go down, and the day seemed endless, there was no telling how long it would take Tim to find what he was looking for.

Tim looked at the rows of corn lining the dirt road, and knew that without Becky, the search would be fruitless. He turned and headed back to the farm. Mr. Gunderson’s truck was parked outside of the barn, and Tim could see Mrs. Gunderson standing at the kitchen sink washing the dinner dishes. He walked as quietly as he could into the barn. Becky was lying down in her pen eating a mixture of straw and the day’s leftovers. Tim slipped the collar around her neck and led her from the barn.

He could hear the sound of cars out on the main road, as he and Becky trod carefully toward town. Once on the main street, cars honked as they saw Becky walking along side of the road, her three legged gait recognizable to all.

When they reached the 7-eleven, Tim flicked the leash around a bicycle rack, went inside the store and made his purchase. The cashier, an older man named Andy, watched as Tim held the paper a few inches in front of Becky’s nose. Becky took a step toward the paper and followed Tim as he proceeded to lead her back the way they’d come.

Once they’d returned to the corn field, Tim came to a stop where he was certain that he’d hid the ear of corn. He took the lottery ticket away from Becky’s nose, slid it into his pocket and watched the goat go to work.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Don't Even Know You Anymore

Jack was certain the image was a sign. He was so sure in fact, that upon discovering it, he understood it's meaning at once and so, picked up the phone and called his fiancee imploring her to come to meet him on Rock Creek Parkway between the Kennedy Center and the Potomac River.

“What time is it?” she had asked, sounding as though she were still asleep.

“It’s 6:15. It doesn’t matter, I just need for you to come down here and see this. I know you’ll understand once you get here.”

“Are you alone?” she asked, a note of concern showing in her voice.

“Yes, just hurry up and get down here.”

“Jack honey, what are you doing down in front of the Kennedy Center at 6:15 on a Sunday morning?”

“Do you love me?” he asked.

“Of course I love you. Oh fine,I have to get dressed and put my contacts in and brush my teeth and my hair, and then I’ll be there. Can I even get a cab this early? Honestly Jack, this better be good."

Jack had been feeling more and more constrained since the engagement had been announced. Now with just 6 weeks until the wedding, he felt the need to get out of his apartment and loosen up. He had gone out the night before by himself and headed down to the Mall to clear his head.

He had walked from Capitol Hill to Foggy Bottom and had at taken off his flip flops. As he watched the sun rise on the river, he had crossed his legs in an attempt to get into a yoga position, when he noticed the image. It began at the base of his heel and traced its way to the ball of his foot.

“Okay Jack, I’m here. Where’s the sign?” and looking down at his feet said “Honey, where are your shoes?”, her expression somewhere between concern and disgust.

"It’s here," he said turning his back to her. He took a step forward and appeared to be walking away, but instead of taking a second step, he stood, the ball of his foot firmly planted on the street, while his heel was raised. The bottom of his foot was nearly black with dirt and filth.

“Here, this is the sign.”

“Your dirty foot is the sign? Jack honey you got me up at 6:00 on a Sunday morning to show me your foot?”

“Not just my foot, look closely. See him there?”

“Who’s there Jack, who?”

Jack dropped his arms in frustration. He shook his head and said “I can’t marry you. If you cant’ see him, then I just can’t marry you."

“Jack what are you talking about? See who?”

“Oh for Gods, sake Dina! He’s right there, plain as day.”

“Jack honey I’m going to ask one more time, and then I’m going home. Who do you see?"

Jack shook his head in disappointment. “It’s E.T.”

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday Night Reflection

I'm 48 years old, the married mother of a 19 year old and 16 year old, and the owner of a 10 year old West Highland White Terrier. I was going to say the master of a 10 year old West Highland blah blah, but as I'm a female, I guess technically, I'm his mistress - but, I don't know . . . that just doesn't sound right. If I'm going to be a mistress, can't it at least be for someone like Daniel Craig, at least a human . . . never mind.

So having grown to the ripe old age of 48, I find myself with a serious addiction to Facebook. I had a grip on it until a few weeks ago, when a group was formed by people who had grown up in my hometown of Manhasset, NY. After college, I remained in Virginia and haven't been back to Manhasset in about 25 years, so I find the posts fascinating. They're written by people that I grew up with, some I know, some I know of and others that I don't know at all. The posts are mainly recollections of the town we grew up in, our teachers, the places where we hung out, etc.

Now that summer has arrived, my 19 year old is home from college. This evening, after he came home from work and had eaten his dinner, he looked at my husband who was watching television and at me, completely engrossed in facebook and asked "Is this what you all do on Saturday nights?" To which I responded "Yes, I told you we don't do anything." He shook his head in disgust and said "God, that's so depressing!" Fortunately for him, his cell phone soon rang, and he was given a reprieve from one of his friends, who suggested that they do nothing at his house. Fine, whatever.

19 is a tough age. You're too young to go to bars (hopefully), you're not making enough money to support a consistent weekend movie habit. You're too old to hang out at the mall (shouldn't be doing that anyway, but oh well). And you certainly don't want to stay home on a Saturday night watching your mother get excited as she reminisces about her youth with people she may or may not know.

When I was 19, the drinking age in New York was 18 for everything. We started going to bars when we were 16. I had a fake ID that said I was 25. I didn't look 25 until I was 35. But before achieving the age of being two years younger than the legal drinking age, my friends and I would go to the neighboring town of Roslyn where we could buy Pink Champale at the 7-eleven. We would chase it down with a few bags of peanut m&ms. Honestly it makes my teeth itch just thinking about it. We'd pile into my friends VW Rabbit, listen to Billy Joel and drink pink champale while driving around Long lsland. It was a wonder that more of us weren't killed. Today, I shudder at the thought of it, but back then . . . just another weekend.

When I went off to college, things were very different. The drinking age in Virginia was 18 for beer and wine, and 21 for hard liquor (pshaw, as if!). If we wanted hard liquor, we'd have to take a cab over the Key bridge into Georgetown to Dixie Liquor which was situated at the foot of the bridge, right next to the Exorcist stairs - nice! On the weekends (which officially began on Thursday nights) we'd spend what seemed like hours getting ready. Hair would need to be curled, makeup applied, and outfits changed numerous times before we were ready to go anywhere. When we were finally ready, we'd all pile into a cab and head into Georgetown. Thursday nights would find us at E.J. O'Reilly's Pub located in an alley behind 18th & L Streets, NW. Friday night was the Chinese Disco on Pennsylvania Avenue - during the week, a simple Chinese restaurant called the Day Lilly, but on Friday nights at 10 pm, it became known as the Chinese Disco, a drunken, preppy dance hall - Lacoste and Lilly Pulitzer were well represented. There was always a line for the ladies room that snaked all the way up the steps, where it usually ended on the dance floor. Saturday night was the 3rd Edition in Georgetown. If by Sunday, you had any money left, you might go to Chadwicks, also in Georgetown, and the very brave would head up to Pendletons on Monday night for the older Capitol Hill crowd.

Having earned my rest, I'm now content to spend my weekend evenings either hanging out on facebook, or lying flat on the couch reading a good book. As for my 19 year old - he's got another 18 months before he's old enough to hit the bars. In the meantime, he'll have to be content hanging out at his friends house, probably on facebook, talking with people he grew up with, and waiting for 11:30 to roll around when Saturday Night Live comes on.


The Chinese Disco

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Tale of Addiction

Chumley Chilla was staring intently at his Chinchilla facebook page, when his mother called him downstairs for dinner. Chumley was not feeling all that hungry as he had been to Taco Bell for lunch that day and had consumed a Burrito Bowl Supreme, which he washed down with a large Dr. Pepper.
“Chumley! Dinner is on the table and we are ready to eat. All that we are lacking is your presence,” called out Chumley’s father, Chico Chilla.
Chumley, not wanting to leave his beloved facebook, sighed and answered, “I’ll be down in a minute.” He was about to get up from his desk, when he was distracted by a post on his facebook from Nilla Chilla. It said “Yo Chilla’s, I’m about to go H.A.M. on this Banana Nutella Slurpachino yo!”
Chumley looked longingly at the picture that had been downloaded from Nilla Chilla’s cell phone and felt his stomach growl.
“Chumley, we’re waiting,” shouted his mother, who was clearly becoming more and more agitated as the seconds ticked by. She stood on the landing, biting a flea which had found a home on her shoulder.
“Okay, okay, I’m coming, calm down.” Chumley struggled to tear his gaze from the large, frothy concoction that Nilla must have by now ingested, and was no doubt at this very moment, licking his whiskers and patting his extended belly.
Chumley left his room, and made his way downstairs to the dinner table. When he sat down and saw the food on his plate, the growling in his stomach ceased.
“Eat up Chum,” said his father.
Chumley stared at the pot roast, mashed potatoes and string beans lying on his plate. He bared his little yellow chinchilla teeth, and pushed his plate away, scratching his ear with his hind leg. “God! Don’t we have anything else to eat?”
His parents stared at him dumbfounded. “What’s wrong with the food on your plate?” asked his father, scowling. “Your mother has floured, salted, peppered and cooked the roast perfectly. She has boiled, drained and beaten the potatoes to a light and fluffy consistency and she has cooked those fresh string beans to perfection. What objections could you possibly have to this dinner?”

Chumley’s mother Tilla Chilla chirped in, “Chumley, you love pot roast! I prepared this roast especially for you in celebration of your recent score of a B- on your algebra quiz! What’s the matter with you? Are you unwell, are you on drugs, or are you perhaps in love? ”
Chumley’s older brother Chauncey looked up from his plate, cleaned his paws, leaned over and patted his brother’s growing tummy, smiled and said, “Chumley only eats junk food.”
“What in the name of Our Heavenly Chinchilla are you talking about Chauncey?” shouted his parents simultaneously.
“How can he only eat junk food? We send him off to school every day with a sandwich, a piece of fruit and a snack. Where is he getting junk food?” Mrs. Chilla raised her paws to her mouth, and began pulling on her whiskers in distress.
Chauncey looked up from his pot roast. “Killa”
“What?“ asked his father.
“Chilla”
“What?” asked his parents, together this time.
“Killa Chilla” replied Chauncey.
“Who’s Killa Chilla?” asked his father
“Killa is the Chilla who sells Chumley his junk food.”
Mr. Chilla was becoming impatient with his son - so much so that he accidentally ejected a small chilla poop onto the surface of his chair. “Again, I will ask you, who is this Killa Chilla?, he asked as he flicked the small dark object onto the floor”
“Eugene Chinchilla, he’s a senior. Ever since he failed composition, he goes by the name Killa Chilla and he runs a junk food stand out of his locker. He can get you anything - even nachos, and . . . they stay hot.”
Mrs. Chilla scowled at her older son and huffed at her younger one.

The next day, the Chilla’s put Chumley on junk food lockdown. They revoked his allowance and hid all of the family’s loose change. And being the conscientious parents they were, they called the parents of his friends informing them of the illicit lunchtime activities going on in their children’s school. Assured that the parents of Chumley’s friends would join them in their allowance embargo, the Chilla’s were confident that their efforts had not been in vain.
Chumley however, was far from happy and knew his friends would share in his disappointment. Chumley was not going to be satisfied with a tuna fish sandwich and an apple for lunch. He was going to have to find a way to get his junk food on.
He enlisted the help of his friends Terrence and Bowbray.
“Now the way I see it” said Bowbray, “we’ve got to come up with a plan to make Killa give us the junk.”
“It’s got to be really clever,” agreed Chumley
“Right,” said Terrence, “So clever that Killa’ll never figure it out.”
“Who’s Kalil?“ asked Chumley and Bowbray together.
“What?”
“Kalil, you just said Kalil would never figure it out,” explained Bowbray.
Chumley shook his head. “Never mind about Kalil.”
The chinchilla boys agreed that a clever plan was needed. So, they set about coming up with a really clever plan to scam Killa Chilla out of his junk food.
“I have a great idea,” said Bowbray. “We go to Killa and tell him that we left our money at home, but that if he lets us have the food today, we’ll bring him the money tomorrow.”
“You mean establish a line of credit?” Said Terrence
Bowbray looked at Terrence and then at Chumley. “Uh . . . yeah,” he answered.
The next day, the three boys met in the hallway and prepared to execute their plan to score some junk food from Killa Chilla.
They put on their parents sunglasses which they had also obtained through a clever plan, and proceeded down the hallway toward Killa Chilla’s locker.
They stood in line with other students waiting their turn. When they got to the head of the line and faced Killa, Chumley said, his voice chirping from anxiety. “Um Killa, we want to get some food, but we forgot our money at home. Would it be okay if we got the food today but then paid you for it tomorrow?”
Killa’s whiskers twitched as he looked the three chinchilla’s up and down. His purple bandana was tied in a doo rag style, and a cross hung from his right ear. His forepaws had been plucked clean of fur, and a tattoo of June Carter Cash adorned the bare spot. He looked down from his stool at the three young chillas and said “You mean like credit?”
Chumley and Bowbray looked at Terrence who nodded and answered “Yes.”
Killa shrugged and said “Okay.”
“The greedy chinchillas placed their orders of Burrito Bowls, Taco Grandes, Gorditas and sodas.” They took their junk food and made their way outside to the bleachers to eat their ill-gotten gain.
Feeling very pleased with themselves, and rather full of stomach, they went along to their afternoon classes.
The next day, the chinchilla boys all brought their lunches and were on their way to the cafeteria when out of nowhere appeared Nilla, Pilla, and Zilla Chillas. The three older chillas surrounded the boys and prevented them from entering the cafeteria.
“Well, well, well” said Pilla Chilla. “What’chu chilla boys doin’ headin’ for the cafĂ©? I b’lieve y’all were supposed to head over to the locker of Mista Killa Chilla. Think y’all have some lolly to exchange yo.”
The three chinchillas looked at one another and stammered and chirped until Terrence Chilla finally found his voice and spoke up. “Actually, we were going to bring Killa the money we owe him today, but ran afoul of our parents this morning and were unable to procure the necessary funds to pay Mr. Chilla.”
Nilla wrinkled his nose and said “Yo Chilla, I don’t care if you messed your trou, Killa just wants to be paid yo.”
Chumley was getting panicky, when he remembered a gift card he had at home in his underwear drawer, hidden underneath his Power Ranger briefs (the blue ones with red trim). “Nilla, tell Killa, to meet us after school tomorrow and we’ll settle our debt with him.”
“Okay, but ya’ll best not be messin’ wit me or Killa” responded Nilla.
The three chinchillas were shaking when Nilla and his posse left them.
“Now what are we . . . “ Bowbray began to say, but as chinchilla’s have very short attention spans, he instead looked down at the brown paper bag in his paws and said, “Oh, it’s lunch time.”
The other two chinchillas nodded in agreement and so, Nilla,Pilla,Zilla and Killa along with their threats, were forgotten.
Fortunately for the chilla boys, Chumley had not forgotten entirely about the dire straits they were in, and came up with a plan of his own.
The next day, when school had ended, Killa found a note taped to his locker. It said “Killa, if you want your payment for our food, you have to meet us at Johnny Rockets – now, respectfully yours, the chilla boys.” Being the simple-minded chinchilla that he was (after all, he had failed remedial composition), Killa grabbed his backpack and his agenda (in a valiant attempt to pass composition this semester) and walked across the street to Johnny Rockets.
When he arrived, the hostess seated him at a table with the three chinchilla boys who were patiently waiting for him.
Across the table from where the boys were sitting, was a large platter. Upon the platter sat a cheeseburger, French fries, and cole slaw, and standing alone in front of it all, was a tall chocolate milkshake with one straw.
“What’s this?” asked Killa.
Chumley looked very sad as he said “This was paid for with my Johnny Rockets gift card that my grandmother gave me for Christmas and told me to use only for a special occasion. I hope you like your meal. Please don’t beat us up. Our parents won’t let us eat junk food anymore, and they cut off our allowances and now we have to eat tuna fish and ham sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly.”
Killa looked at the three chilla boys and said “You know junk food is really bad for you. You shouldn’t eat it more than once a month.” Killa put a French fry in his mouth and unwrapped the straw, popping it into his shake.
“Well if it’s so bad, why are you . . . “ Bowbray started to ask, but was cut off by Chumley.
“Thank you Killa, we’ll remember that in the future. I really hope that you like your meal. Are we square now?” Asked Chumley.
Killa sat back and stared at the three chilla boys. He scratched his tattoo of June Carter Cash, and thought for a moment. Then he nodded and said “Yeah, we’re good now.”
The three chilla boys who were visibly relieved, began to get up from the table, when Killa stopped them.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Where you boys think you goin? You not opposed to leave the table til everybody’s finished they meal. You all jes sit right back down where you were. We’re going to have scintillating dinner conversation now.”
And so the three chilla boys learned some very important lessons that day. Junk food is very bad for you and there is sound reasoning for why chinchilla parents don’t want their adolescent chinchillas eating it, never spend money that you don’t have, never use your grandmother’s Johnny Rockets gift card to pay a debt (it’s bad enough that Dan Snyder owns the chain), and lastly that scintillating dinner conversation is very important or the development of strong minds and tight families!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Tale of the Teenage Boy Cats or The Dangerous Allure of Slurpees

Once upon a time, there lived in nice house on a nice street in a nice town, two teenage boy cats. Their names were Damon and Clooney, and they were very difficult teenage boy cats. Every day before they left for school, they went through their middle-aged mother’s wallet and took money that didn’t belong to them so that they could go to 7-Eleven during their lunch break and buy Slurpees. It should be noted that by engaging in this activity, they broke not one, but two rules, as not only is stealing wrong, but leaving the grounds of their high school was a privilege given only to seniors.
When their middle-aged mother would confront them after school, they would both deny having taken the money and would point their paws (claws retracted) at each other. One morning, Damon and Clooney went about their usual morning routine of eating Captain Crunch cereal and washing it down with lemon lime club soda. Just prior to leaving, they indulged themselves in routing through their mother’s purse, from which they pocketed her cash. When lunchtime came, they scampered off to the local 7-Eleven and purchased the unholy concoction of Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew and Orange Gatorade mixed Slurpees. They exited the store, and proceeded to suck the drink as they walked back to school, fat and happy little teenage boy cats.
While Damon and Clooney were engaging in their illicit behavior, their mother was at the mall searching for new bras, which happened to be on sale at Macy’s. This was a chore that she would do once every two years – stretching it out as long as possible (quite literally) as the task was a tiresome one. Approximately two hours later, having exhausted herself by trying on a dozen Maidenform, Warner’s, Bali and Playtex medium to full –figured models, she selected four (two white, one black and one ivory) and made her purchase, paying for her new undergarments with her Macy’s card. She made her way to the parking garage and proceeded to exit the mall. At least that was the middle-aged mother cats’ intentions. Unfortunately, after handing the parking attendant her parking ticket and opening her wallet to extract her cash, she discovered much to her annoyance, that her two teenage boy cats had once again . . . cleaned her out. The middle-aged mother cat of two teenage boy cats projected a doleful expression toward the attendant and apologized for having to use a credit card to exit the garage, in turn causing a loud and irritating honking of horns and inconvenient backing up of vehicles. It was at that moment, that deep in her heart, she experienced a mixture of middle-aged mother cat rage, resentment, disappointment and hopelessness directed toward her teenage boy cats. These teenage boy cats have pilfered from me for the last time, she thought to herself. Had she known that at that very moment, Damon and Clooney were leaning back in their chairs in the middle of Chemistry I and Major Women Writers of the 19th Century respectfully, belching loudly and creating a commotion of their own, she may have gone straight to the school , instead of going home.
Upon their arrival home that afternoon, Damon and Clooney were informed of the consequences of their selfish act, and were told that they would be grounded for the next two weeks. The two cats looked at one another and sniggered. Their mother cat told them to go upstairs and do their homework and not to bother her until supper time. Supper was a dismal affair, as the mother cat has spent the afternoon stewing over her teenage boy cats’ misdeeds and did not feel like preparing a nice dinner. Instead they were given bowls of cereal with no milk, and sadly, no lemon lime club soda to wash the dry mess down with. Shortly after they retired for the night, and certain that their mother was asleep, Damon and Clooney decided to sneak out of the house, go to 7-eleven and use their own money (they did after all have part-time jobs) to purchase a more satisfying dinner. Once out the window, the cats were on their way and celebrated by singing an insipid little ditty about a less than virtuous young lady cat and her personal attributes. Just as they were finishing up the chorus, they were shocked to discover that bags had been placed over their heads, their paws had been tied behind their backs, and they were being goose-stepped away. Judging from the absence of the aroma of 99 cent big bites, it was clear that they were not headed in the direction of 7-eleven.
After a quick car ride, Damon and Clooney found themselves in a room full of comfy chairs, large feathers and numerous squeaky toys. For a moment they thought they’d died and gone to cat heaven. That was until they heard a deep growl coming from behind them. They turned to see a large grey Mastiff dog wearing a blue and green Pasha’s hat.
“What the . . .” started Damon.
“Silence!” roared the large grey Mastiff dog. The large dog stood up on all four legs, towering over the two teenage boy cats. Damon and Clooney sank as close to the floor as they could go and put their ears back. Clooney tried desperately to stifle the hair that was quickly rising along his back, but was unsuccessful.
The large dog walked slowly around the two cats, sniffing and nudging them occasionally with his nose. As he walked, the cats became aware of a clacking sound coming from his blue and green Pasha’s hat. Upon closer attention, the sound was revealed to be caused by a fringe of cat teeth hanging from the hats layers, which would bang together as the large dog moved about.
“What do you want from us?” asked Damon nervously, resisting the urge to wash his face with his paws.
“We have some money for 99 cent Big Bites,” said Clooney, hopefully.
The large dog leaned in close to the cats’ faces and scoffed, “I have my own money for 99 cent Big Bites.” His voice became a growl “I choose not to indulge in them.” He sat down again, inspected his toe nails for a moment and then crossed his paws. “Besides,” he said in a matter of fact tone, “they’re bad for you, you know?”
The two cats looked around the room, eyeing the many cat toys just inches away from them. Clooney, sensing a caring side to the beast, sat up and asked “Where’d you get that squirrel on a string over there?”
The large dog looked at the squirrel on a string, and yawned. Clooney took a step toward the toy, but thought better of it, when he heard a low growl emanating from the large grey dog.
“Are you going to tell us what you want from us?” asked and impatient Damon, his ADHD clearly getting the best of him and cancelling out any common sense that may have been lurking in his small teenage boy cat brain.
The large dog swung his large head toward the cat, letting loose a long strand of thick drool which slapped Damon across the face. Damon flattened himself against the floor again.
“What I want from you two, is to watch you play.”
The two teenage cats looked at one another and shrugged. “Mmm ok,” said Clooney, who again set forth toward the squirrel on a string.
“Not with that!” snapped the large dog. The two cats looked at each other again. Damon asked “What do you want us to play with?”
The large dog sat up taller, glared at the two cats and said “I want you to play . . . Patty Cake.”
“Seriously?” asked Clooney, tearing his head away from the treasure that lay before him.
“Seriously,” answered the dog.
And so the two teenage boy cats were placed upon a desk where there sat two computer monitors depicting the images of boy cats whom Damon and Clooney could only presume were previous victims of the large grey Mastiff dog.
“Commence play” growled the large dog, and so the two cats took deep breaths and proceeded to play Patty Cake. When they had finished, the dog said “Again!” The cats looked at one another, sighed and continued their game. Somewhere into the sixth hour, they began to tire of the activity. With sore paws and back muscles at their breaking point, they even forgot the pattern. At this, they became short tempered, frequently called one another “Dude,” and eventually resorted to fisticuffs. They did however manage to pull themselves together and resumed their play. This went on for nine and one quarter hours, until there was a rap on the door.
“Enter!” bellowed the dog. The door opened to reveal the middle-aged mother cat, holding her car keys and wallet protectively.
“Thank you,” she said to the large grey mastiff dog. The large dog bowed and replied “Certainly. I haven’t fed them, but I have kept them busy.”
And so the middle-aged mother cat left the home of the large grey Mastiff dog Pasha, with her two errant teenage boy cats in tow. When they returned to their home, they were grateful for having not been eaten by the large dog, and they vowed to their middle-aged mother cat to never take money from her again.

Below is a video confiscated from the home of the large grey Mastiff dog’s Room of Penance for Wayward Teenage Cats. WARNING – this video may be painful to watch.

Written by Lisa Emig, May 12, 2011
Not to be reprinted without permission of the author.



Friday, May 6, 2011

The Demon Sheep A Cautionary Tale

Once upon a time, on a small farm in Greenwich, Connecticut, there lived a group of teenage sheep. Chelsea, Kelsey, Courtney, Amanda, Brittany, Morgan, Lauren, Campbell and Sally liked to hang out together after sheep high school, and talk about things that mattered to teenage girl sheep. The prettiest of the teenage sheep was named Morgan. All of the other girl sheep liked to sit next to her in hopes of becoming her best friend, and always made certain that their hooves and bottoms were clean of sheep dip before approaching her. The sheep had been together since they were born and some of them even shared the same mother (their paternal lineage was never discussed).

As the sheep grew up, they looked very much the same, and the farmer needed to mark them with a tag in order to tell one from the other. Morgan on the other hand seemed to stand out from the other sheep, as her fleece was just a bit whiter and softer. Whenever the sheep were put out to pasture for their sheep exercise, they would jump around and pose seductively for the herd of teenage boy sheep that lived on the other side of the fence. Lauren and Amanda even smoked the occasional sheep cigarette.

One day while out exercising, the teenage boy sheep began to take notice of Sally. Sally was a little fuller in the hips than Morgan, and her fleece had more of wheat color to it. It was however, very fluffy and soft. One teenage boy sheep named Dylan approached the fence and called out “Hey, tan sheep! You want to go bowling on Friday?” To which Morgan responded, “Who are you calling tan sheep? My fleece is as white as snow!” Dylan wrinkled his nose finished chewing a blade of grass, coughed up some of the grass and said “Yeah, you’re fleece is white, so you should have figured out that I wasn’t talking to you Snowy.” Morgan looked taken aback; in fact she took a few steps back, and passed a small amount of wind. She shook her head and said “Well then who are you speaking to?” The other teenage girl sheep looked around the herd nervously, inspecting the shade of their own fleece. Dylan, whose mouth was once again full of grass, took his time chewing, and when he was done, pointed with his nose in the direction of Sally, who was trying desperately to lose the attentions of a determined fly buzzing around her ears. The other sheep in the herd looked at Sally and then at Morgan and then at Dylan and then at the grass in front of them. Some of them even pawed the ground embarrassed.

“Tan sheep! I asked if you want to go bowling Friday night.” Dylan managed to get out while repeatedly hacking up balls of wet grass.

Sally looked at Dylan and then at Morgan, and then at the grass in front of her. “Um . . . “she began but before she could get out a proper sheep answer, she looked back at Morgan who was flaring her sheep nostrils in a furious fashion. “Uh, no thank you. I’m not allowed to go bowling with teenage boy sheep yet.”

Dylan looked up from his regurgitated ball of grass and responded “Meh!”

This proved to be a very bad turn of events for Sally, as Morgan became irrationally jealous of her fellow sheep whose fleece was wheat colored. That night after the teenage girl sheep had had their dinner and were finished watching The Vampire Diaries, Morgan began to send text messages to her fellow herd sisters. “Sally’s a hoe,” said one message sent to Courtney. “Don’t talk to Sally; she’ll steel everyone’s’ teenage sheep boyfriends,” she sent to Chelsea. “Sally’s a devil sheep” read Campbell read on her cell phone. And so it transpired, that over the next few days, Sally was omitted from the group. She felt terrible about this, but mostly just felt lonely. The farmer noticed that the other sheep wouldn’t go near Sally and he worried that she was inflicted with some kind of dangerous teenage girl sheep disease. He called the vet out to his farm and showed him how the other sheep were treating Sally. “What do you think it is Doc?” He asked nervously. The vet climbed over the fence and approached Sally. Sally was so happy to have someone pay attention to her, that she gladly ambled over to the vet and allowed him to pat her. He looked in her ears, he checked her eyes, opened her mouth and inspected her teeth, ran his hands down her legs. When he was finished with the inspection, he looked at the farmer and said “Nothing wrong with this sheep, in fact, she’s the most beautiful sheep I’ve ever seen. Problem is the other sheep know it. These teenage girl sheep are tricky. I imagine that there is one in the herd who is intimidating the others into shunning this one. The sheep until now had been moving slowly together toward the vet, the farmer and Sally. When they heard this, they stopped immediately and began to wander aimlessly in different directions, with Morgan running the farthest away. The vet watched the sheep for a moment and said to the Farmer “There’s your leader, that one out under the tree. If it were my sheep, I’d give her a taste of her own medicine.” The farmer thanked the vet profusely for his advice and set about thinking of an appropriate punishment for Morgan.

The next day when the farmer called the sheep for their breakfast, they all appeared except for Morgan. The girl sheep were halfway through their breakfast of Eggo Waffles and Sunny Delight, when the door to the pen opened and in walked what appeared to be a demon of sorts. “Damn!” said Brittany scooting as far away from the demon sheep as she could get. The other sheep followed suit. The demon sheep seemed to have a bit of difficulty maneuvering the pen, but clearly had set a path for the other sheep. As soon as it would get within a few feet of the herd, they would shift to another corner of the pen. This went on for most of the morning, until the demon sheep gave up, found a corner and laid down. The other sheep found a corner in the opposite side of the pen and laid down in a heap together. They didn’t close their eyes however; instead they lay watching the demon sheep. A little while later the farmer came into the pen and approached the demon sheep. He bent down and removed what appeared to be the face of the demon. The rest of the herd gasped as they recognized the familiar fluffy white face of Morgan. “Now, let that be a lesson to you! No more ostracizing the pretty sheep. You have to play with everyone, or I’ll make you wear the mask and I’ll take away your Starbucks gift card. And that goes for the rest of you!”

Eventually the herd gathered enough courage to approach Morgan to see if in fact it was her. By the end of the day, Morgan had apologized to Sally for excluding her and starting hurtful and unimaginative rumors about her character. The teenage sheep eventually grew into adult female sheep, married, produced lambs of their own and proceeded to bully their lamb’s teachers and more gifted friends.

And that is the legend of the demon sheep.

If you'd like to see Morgan in her demon sheep mask, by all means, click on the link below - I must warn you though, it is not a pretty and may not be appropriate for teenage girl sheep).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Time to Paint the Toenails

Ah May Day! A day where we say goodbye to winter, welcome spring, and more importantly, paint our toe nails. I have an acquaintance who celebrates May Day by shaving her legs (sorry about that, and no, I won't divulge her name). I'm pretty sure that my son, who is a freshman in college, celebrated May Day last night, by going to a party and drinking beverages that he shouldn't. My 16 year old daughter is still sleeping, so I'm not certain as to what her May Day celebration will be comprised of. I'm going to guess that it will involve taking notes for her AP History class and pleading to go to the mall. My husband ironically, has to work today, so he will not be celebrating at all.

As for me, I've already done my part by painting my toenails. Having rifled through my daughter's selection of nail polish, I settled on n.y.c. brand's Fuschia Shock Creme (this isn't as bad as it sounds, and if you wear it with, a fuschia-colored Lacoste shirt and jeans, it will do).

Saturday, April 30, 2011

So this is my Saturday morning. Paul's working, Abby's at a sleepover, Nick's at College (for 6 more days), Buster's sleeping in the laundry basket, and I'm trying to flesh out a teenage psychopath with mother issues for my novel.

10 Questions for Bradford Morrow

ou’ve written books for children, novels, and poetry. What is your favorite genre to write in?

I’ve written quite a few essays and short stories, as well—I have a collection of stories coming out this fall, The Uninnocent—but far and away my favorite form is the novel. The nice thing about writing a short story, children’s book, or an essay (haven’t written a poem in years) is that it can be accomplished in a relatively brief period of time. Novels, at least my novels, take years, and so there’s a marathon element involved. That said, the novel is such a large, inviting, empathetic, generous, embracing art form that I find myself deeply drawn to it as a medium of expression. A writer’s largest and tiniest thoughts fit into its frame. As a reader, also, I’m far more given to reading novels than any other literary form (though I read poetry and nonfiction nearly every day, as well).

Is there a genre that you haven’t tackled yet that you’d like to?

I always thought it would be wonderful to write or even direct films. To work in solitude for a period of time and then emerge to collaborate with actors and other artists, and see the vision spring to life has always seemed like a dream job to me. On the other hand, I’m very aware that filmmaking—precisely because it is collaborative—often involves decisions made by committee. As a novelist, for better or worse, I have artistic control over the final text. And that’s one aspect of being a writer, a “solo artist” if you will, that I really like.

All of your novels deal with the importance of family. How has your own family influenced your writing?

Family is so crucial to me as a novelist because it’s central to our lives in the best and worst ways. Family, home, is where our journeys begin, but it is also the place we long to escape. It’s where we find profound love and nurturing, but also at times deep anger and resentment. Home is where we feel safest, but most vulnerable as well. Family and friendships that are as tight as blood family—this is the most complex emotional and spiritual locus of them all. So I naturally gravitate to family as a Pandora’s box that holds every kind of human desire and fear.

Many of your characters are strong, determined women searching for their places in the world. Who are your role models for these women?

I was raised in a family whose women were storytellers. There wasn’t much of a library in my childhood house, some Modern Library titles and a smattering of college chemistry stuff, but I grew up hearing plenty of oral narratives being spun. My grandmother Hoffmann, who was a dirt-poor farm girl when she grew up in Red Cloud, Nebraska, was the most memorable bard in the family and the epitome of a strong, determined woman. She was a real survivor, and made a great impression on me. (Oddly, the paternal side of my family was made up of taciturn men, quiet and mostly gentle types.) Our matriarch’s stories mostly centered on family history, family agreements, family discord—another possible reason I’m drawn as a writer to focus on families, be they broken, loving, or otherwise. That said, I think that my models for the women in my novels who are searching for a place in the world are finally a composite of any number of women (and men) I’ve met in my life. I rarely if ever model a character on an individual I know, however, and imagine that the characters in my books are all ultimately fragments of myself, and represent my own search for identity.

Your scenes in the outdoors are so fully described that nature is almost a character in the book. Where does that knowledge and respect come from?

Growing up along the front range of the Rockies, I spent a lot of my youth in the mountains and down in New Mexico and elsewhere in the Southwest, so nature was just a fundamental part of my life. My aunt and uncle had a very isolated ranch near Steamboat Springs, and I spent a lot of summers in the heart of high forests there, camping and fishing. Having lived for the past thirty years in New York City, I still get off into the woods or back out to the Southwest as often as I can. The names and nature, if you will, of trees, flowers, birds, clouds—I can’t explain exactly why these things are so important to me, talismanic really, but they are. Nature is fundamentally magical and metamorphic, and I think you’re right in saying that it invariably becomes so central a player in my narratives that it achieves the status of becoming a character, interactive with human characters, subtle and powerful.

I mention in my review that your writing is so fluid and calm that I often felt sedated while reading it. It made it very easy for me to relate to the confusion and doubt that Cassandra was experiencing. Was your intention to cast something of a spell over your readers, or did it happen by accident?

No, I can’t honestly say that I deliberately set about casting a spell or creating an atmosphere of calm, though I have heard other writers comment on this as being an important part of how The Diviner’s Tale works. I’m very aware that conventional mysteries unfold often with more overt and strenuous action. There is a lot of action in the book, obviously, but her voice enveloped me while I was writing, and I imagine that sensuous skein of voice envelops the willing reader as well.

You are a teacher, an editor and a writer. If you had to choose one of these professions over the other, which one would it be?

They all have a crucial place in my life. I adore my students and editing Conjunctions is honestly one of the best jobs in the world. My first love is writing, though.

Do you plan on writing a sequel to The Diviner’s Tale?

I have to finish my new novel, The Prague Sonata, first and then I’ll think about it. Of all my narrators, Cassandra is certainly one of my favorites and I would love to travel with her again if the right story rose to mind.

The Diviner’s Tale is a literary novel with a murder mystery tucked inside it. Do you have any plans on writing a more traditional detective story?

I wouldn’t know how to write a traditional detective story. It’s too much in my nature to break the rules of genre, stretch it into fresh forms. And whatever it is about my writing that makes it “literary” isn’t something I could suppress or change even if I wanted to.

Who are your favorite authors?

Among those of the past century or so I’d include Thomas Hardy, W.B. Yeats, Virginia Woolf, Willa Cather, Samuel Beckett, Thomas Bernhard, and more recently William Gaddis, John Fowles, Angela Carter, Cormac McCarthy, David Foster Wallace. This is a difficult question for me to answer, though, because I’ve published over a thousand writers in Conjunctions and on Web Conjunctions and since I only accept work I feel very strongly about, all those writers could also be considered among my favorites.

Music and Writing - Do or Don't

I grew up in home that was always filled with music. My father, an artist, would work on illustrations in the basement while listening to classical music on WQXR. My brothers would be listening to Jethro Tull in their room, and my mother would have Cole Porter playing in the dining room. As a result, I listen to music all day long, and pride myself on my ability to multi-task without finding the sound of music (my apologies to the Von Trapps) a distraction. I’ve actually sat in my living room, watching a basketball game while the Metropolitan Opera’s live broadcast plays in the background. The Tar Heels hit another 3-pointer, and Angela Gheorghiu just finished the Vissi d’Arte from Tosca.

My day job, or the one my husband refers to as “the grown-up job” often requires me to write. While the writing is primarily geared toward fundraising and doesn’t necessarily require excitement and intrigue, the fact remains that the letters don’t write themselves. If there is such a thing as a fundraising muse, it has not been frightened away by Beethoven. The notes pour out of the radio, and I tap merrily away on my keyboard composing lovely fundraising prose.

Creative writing however, is another story entirely. I cannot listen to music and produce fiction simultaneously. Recently, I needed to do some editing on a project and was unable to summon even the slightest bit of enthusiasm for the task at hand. I needed to write some background material for a character, and in desperation, decided to see if the chore could be dealt with while listening to something other than the sound of the keys on the keyboard. I made the mistake of diving right into the contemporary stuff and popped in a Rolling Stones CD. It was difficult to concentrate with Mick Jagger for company, but I was determined to give it a good try, so I struggled on.

After about 20 minutes of stray thoughts, I managed to type the following “Having grown up in New York, his family connections enabled him to see the girls go by dressed in their summer clothes . . .” Well, it almost worked, but not quite. Ok I thought to myself, contemporary music isn’t going to work. In fact, anything with lyrics would be out of the question. I turned instead to something classical, hoping that it might do the trick. I browsed through my collection of CD’s and settled on Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” This is a massive piece of music that contains a lot of color and strength as well as vulnerability. I’ve always found it to be a great motivator – at least when faced with a room in need of vacuuming or a sink full of dishes. Excitedly, I sat in front of the computer and listened to every note, waiting for the words to flow. Imagine my disappointment when they not only failed to flow, they didn’t even manage a trickle. This proved to be just as well, as I needed to put the writing (or lack of) on hold while I left to pick up one of my kids.

I got into the car, slid a Police CD into the disc drive, and bingo, there it was. I arrived home happy, peppy and ready to write. I sat down, turned off the speakers on the computer, and within 28 minutes managed to flesh out a well respected, beautifully imbalanced psychopath. Music is an inspiration, but like everything else in life, it needs a proper time and place.

Do you write with music? Or is it a distraction?

Review of Marcus Sakey's The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes

A few pages into Marcus Sakey’s latest crime novel The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes and I felt as though I was running blindfolded at full speed through a dark hallway while being pursued by dangerous individuals. This feeling is similar to the one experienced by Daniel Hayes, the novel’s protagonist. The story begins with a man staggering from the surf, alone, naked and freezing on a deserted Maine beach at night. Not exactly the best of circumstances in which to find oneself, but add on the fact that he doesn’t remember who he is or why he’s there, and you have the makings of a fast-paced, nail-biting thriller.

After Daniel struggles from the surf and realizes his predicament, he staggers off the beach and finds a car parked nearby. Inside he finds clothing that fits and which is somewhat familiar to him. He also finds an envelope with cash, a gun, a Rolex and the car’s registration listing the owner as Daniel Hayes of Malibu, California. With no other leads to his identity, Daniel makes his way back to his home on the West Coast. During his weeklong trek, he is pursued by police in other states, and he becomes aware that he is wanted in connection with a crime. Unable to remember the security code to his house, he breaks in and, once inside, searches for clues to his identity. Having tripped the alarm, he is aware that his time is short, and as the police close in, Daniel flees with his laptop. After changing his appearance and checking into a seedy hotel, Daniel heads for the internet in hopes of discovering why he is being sought by the police. He quickly learns that his wife, Laney Thayer, a television actress has been killed in a car crash on the Pacific Coast Highway, and Daniel is wanted for questioning.

Throughout the novel, Marcus Sakey weaves themes of identity, trust, and the lengths one will go to in order to preserve one’s life. As soon as Daniel sneaks into his home, he finds that he has only his instincts to guide him, and must put his trust in people that he believes he knows, yet can’t remember. At one point Daniel accuses an actor, who was his wife Laney’s friend and colleague, of having an affair with her, only to be told by the actor that he is gay.

Sakey’s third person narrative allows the reader insight into the character’s thoughts and motives. Daniel is a likeable character, although you don’t know whether that opinion will change if and when he gets his memory back. Early on the reader is introduced to Bennett, a blackmailer looking for a diamond necklace which Daniel’s wife Laney had promised him. Bennett is portrayed as a smooth, controlled killer, determined to get the payoff that is owed to him. He’s as menacing holding an ice cream cone as he is holding a gun. While Bennett pursues Daniel, he, in turn, is being followed by a young woman named Belinda Nichols. The reader doesn’t know whether Belinda is following Bennett to kill him, or because she hopes he will lead her to Daniel. The most colorful character in the novel is Sophie Ziegler, Daniel’s attorney. Sophie is something of a noir throwback to those women who inhabit the novels of Raymond Chandler. She talks tough, has a heart of gold, and can handle anything thrown her way. You love her, and only wish she appeared more often during the story. Although the detecting in Sakey’s book is done primarily by Daniel, there is a detective assigned to the case. Detective Roger Waters (yes, there is a Pink Floyd reference) has just a small part, and like Sophie Ziegler, I wished he had more time on the pages.

Sakey delivers just what the reader wants in a crime drama – a story that hooks you from the first page, complete with believable characters, a busy, modern-day setting that spans from a beach in Maine to a busy Hollywood movie lot, and enough twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat when it ends 387 pages later.

Review of Robert Browne's The Paradise Prophecy

Author Robert Browne has said “I write thrillers with a twist for people who love a good roller coaster ride.” In his latest book, The Paradise Prophecy, he has succeeded in doing just that. The Paradise Prophecy is a fast-paced thriller, based on John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. It is the story of two people sent on a search for a serial killer, who might be an angel.

Sebastian “Batty” LaLaurie is a professor of Religious Studies and Rhetoric at Trinity Baptist College in Harrison, Louisiana. Batty, suffering from nightmares, has turned to drink in the two years since his wife’s death. Having expressed his disillusionment with God during one of his lectures, he is placed on leave from the University. Bernadette Callahan is an agent for The Section (a special branch of the State Department) who is sent to Brazil to investigate the death of Gabriela Zuada, a charismatic Christian singer. Ignoring the local detective’s superstitions that Zuada died at the hand of the devil, Callahan is convinced that she is looking for a serial killer with leanings toward the occult. As Batty is an expert in Religious Studies and the Occult, Callahan is put in contact with him, and quickly learns that Batty is more than just an expert on the “other side,” but a survivor of it. Also present in the story is Michael, the Archangel. Michael’s job has been to patrol the earth, keeping the fallen angels from bringing about complete destruction. Michael is no cherub. In fact, he packs a gun and a knife and uses them effectively when needed. Michael’s biggest foe is the fallen angel Belial, a shape shifter who is determined to deliver Earth to her master.

If you’re familiar with the book of Genesis, or have read Milton’s Paradise Lost, you know that they both refer to the story of Lucifer’s expulsion from heaven and his revenge upon Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Browne’s, The Paradise Prophecy, finds those other angels who were expelled along with Lucifer, living on Earth where for centuries they have been working to create a Hell for Satan. When he is first introduced to Agent Callahan, Batty is naturally curious as to why he has been brought in to assist with the investigation. After being shown a quote from Paradise Lost, and a picture of Zuada (whom he recognizes from his nightmare) Batty is so rattled that he convinces Agent Callahan to take him to the crime scene. Upon entering the room where Zuada died, Batty is shocked, as he has seen another death very similar to this one – namely, his wife’s. And so begins the mystery, as more victims are found and Agent Callahan and Batty are sent to Istanbul `and ultimately Los Angeles for the final showdown between the Archangel Michael and the fallen angels.

Browne lays out the classic themes of good vs. evil, and sin vs. redemption in a taut, nail biter. He keeps the story and character development moving quickly through the words and actions of Batty and Callahan. From the start, Callahan is convinced that the murders are being committed by a human, but as the action develops, she begins to change her views from that of a hardened skeptic to a believer as she witnesses the underworld first hand. Batty also undergoes a transformation as he is forced to sober up and face his demons (literally and figuratively). During the course of the novel, Batty and Callahan develop trust and a comfortable rapport with one another, but continue to create enough opposition to remain interesting. The Paradise Prophecy is a great read for anyone who enjoys suspense and the supernatural.

Copyright and Writers

If you are a writer using the Internet as a platform for your work, it’s a good idea to have some knowledge of copyright law. I recently made my entry into the blogosphere this year on two different blog sites. One site I use mainly for random thoughts, pictures and anything else that ricochets through my mind. The other site is a more creative endeavor where I actually organize my ideas, write them out in an orderly fashion, rearrange them and then put them back the way they were.

Last November, I waded a bit deeper into the blog pool by participating in the annual National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) contest. This is an exercise where one agrees to spend the month of November writing a novel. If you succeed in writing 50,000 words (no, it can’t be the same word written 50,000 times) you win. During the course of the month, I proceeded to hurl out words diligently each day. Finally having sufficiently fretted and edited to exhaustion, I pressed the submit button. Wee! Off went my novel, my baby, my shame, out into that bold frontier known as cyberspace. So relieved was I to have completed the task, that I forgot to scramble the text before I sent it. “Uh-oh” said the little voice inside my head. After a few seconds of panic, I shook it off, secure in the knowledge that if need be, I could provide enough incriminating evidence to prove that I was in fact the perpetrator of the crime.

I returned to dabbling on my little blogs, and all was well until a few weeks ago, when a friend who has a website received a cease and desist email from a publishing company. She had posted pictures on her site that had been published in a magazine, and even though she makes no money from this site, the publisher requested that they be taken down, or face the legal consequences. She immediately complied and advised anyone else who may have re-posted the pictures to please do the same. This incident created some debate amongst the website’s friends and followers, and gave me pause for thought.

I decided to do some research to find out what my rights are regarding intellectual property. I researched many websites including the U.S. copyright office (oddly enough, this seems to be the source that most other sites have copied and pasted into their own blogs). What I discovered is that while our writing is automatically protected the moment we put words to paper, that protection might not be enough. If you are going to post something that you care about, have spent time on, or caused your naturally ash blonde hair to whiten, the first thing you should do is establish ownership of the work by dating it with your name and a warning that it cannot be copied without your permission.

Other sites suggest implementing the “poor man’s copyright.” This involves printing out your work, dating it and mailing it to a lawyer or another trusted party, to hold onto in case it becomes necessary to sue. It should be noted that this method may not hold up in court, however, it will provide your attorney with a hearty chuckle.

If you discover that your work has been copied, (you can do this by using plagiarism detection sites such as Google Alerts) contact the individual who did so and explain to them that they did so without your permission and ask that they take it down. If they don’t comply, the next step is to send them a cease and desist letter, and if that goes unnoticed, you need to contact the website host and inform them of the violation.

So, what it comes down to is that if you think you may have written the next “Gone with the Wind,” go ahead and spend the $35 to have your work copyrighted. If on the other hand you don’t mind sharing your views on important topics such as “Should Tarantino have Directed the Last Installment of the Twilight series?” then by all means hit that post button and hit it often.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A lovely Day in Virginia

Today is going to be FABULOUS! It's going to be 85 degrees here in Northern Virginia tomorrow it will be 65 degrees - I'm so sorry sinuses, I wish I could make it better). My normally blue car is covered with a blanket of sticky, yellow pollen. It sort of resembles a tennis ball except for the fact that it rained a little during the night, so instead of one solid shade of Dunlop yellow, I have little rivers of blue protruding through the yellow muck.

Shall we discuss the state of my hair? Why not! I may have mentioned in an earlier blog that my hair is in a transitional stage, so on a good hair day, it borders somewhere between the style of an awkward 4th grader with static, and Keith Partridge. Today however, it closely resembles that of Tippy Hedren after her unfortunate encounter with . . . well, you know what I mean.

It is 9 am, and my sinuses are already making small noises of complaint. Alright, I have to get to work now. Tune in tomorrow when the temperature drops another 20!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Should Write

I got up early this morning, so that I could get a jump on some editing while the house was still quiet. I walked the dog, had my coffee and Cheerios, and read The Washington Post. From there I went on to the paper's inserts ie. checking out the coupons (Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil - 75 cents off 2!).

Might as well check my email and facebook - oh and Twitter. That led to checking my phone messages. One from my son who's away at college. "Did you get those Nantucket Red khakis? I want to wear them on Easter." My son has learned that I will buy him almost anything if he claims that he'll wear it to Mass). And no, I had not purchased said trousers for him. Hmm, I thought to myself, I could sneak out of the house now, before my daughter wakes up and wants to come with me.

If I bring her along, it means we will spend most of our time feeling our way through the darkness of Abercrombie, while being simultaneously bombarded with excruciatingly loud music and overwhelmingly strong cologne/perfume/body enhancing aromas DUDE! It's very similar to being in a giant MRI - one where you're permitted to walk around. No, I knew I had to go it alone, and so I did. I sneaked out of the house and went to Pentagon City.

It was a successful trip - Nantucket Red trousers purchased as well as Clinique #4 Pink Blush blush . . . oh, and Slate eye liner - because if I purchased the eyeliner, I would get the free (?) gift which consisted of blush that is the wrong color, three shades of eye shadow (which I don't wear) and yet another cosmetic bag to add to the 16 other ones I have stacked up in my linen closet (honestly, there must be something that can be done with these colorful cosmetic bags - they appear to be waterproof on the inside - perhaps sew them all together and make tents with them? No? O.K., never mind).

I looked at my watch - 11:30. I need to get home and write! So, after arriving home and making my once a month heart attack-inducing grilled cheese, fried egg and bacon sandwich, I headed for the computer. As I sat down, one of the wires from the speakers became wrapped around my chair. My husband, who works for the Container Store had brought home a cable zipper a few weeks ago, and naturally I decided that this was the time to get my cables in order. My daughter who was still sulking around because I had snuck out, was enlisted in this task. She has learned that when I flatter her in to helping with a task that I'm too stupid to execute on my own, eventually she will be left holding the bag. Therefore, she approached with caution. She quickly determined that this was too great a task for her, and begged off. "Besides, someone needs to drive me to work" (she is a lifeguard, it is an important job that requires her to sit in a chair high above the pool, while simultaneously twirling her whistle - it is a job she was born to do). Back to the cable zipper. Eventually my husband, who had seen a video demonstrating how to install the zipper, took care of the unsightly cables. I should write.

This floor is sooooo dusty. I should vacuum. I did vacuum. I made a deal with my husband that if he would dust the bedroom and put all of those non-essential items away, I would write the pool announcement for the community newsletter (in addition to working for the Container Store, my husband is also the Chairman of the Pool Committee - it is a job he was born to do.)

It is now 6:15 pm. I should write.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Review of Bradford Morrow's The Diviner's Tale

Check out my review of Bradford Morrow's latest novel http://bestdamncreativewritingblog.com/2011/04/04/review-the-diviners-tale-by-bradford-morrow/

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Blech!

So, this has been quite a day. After reading the paper, I went online to check on the following: Email, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Water For Elephants website.

Not much new there. Proceeded to walk Terrier, ate Cheerios, drank coffee. Went online to check (see above). Made beds, folded laundry, loaded dishwasher. Went online to check (again). Ate lunch. Warned 18 year old son about the hazards of drinking in public (this as usual, proved to be a waste of time, as he knows everyting already - “I’m a lifeguard, I’m going to play college football, and have awesome hair” - hmmm).

Drove husband to work. Called daughter to see if she was ready to be picked up at friend’s house post-sleepover. “Not yet, we can’t leave Rose home alone and she is having a meltdown because she can’t find her seal. I’ll call you when we know what we’re doing.” Fine - go to the library and look for Metropolitan Opera’s recording of Das Rheingold (1989 James Morris, Siegfried Jerusalem, Christa Ludwig etc.) - no, don’t have. Ended up borrowing The French Connection - will watch later.

Came home and went online to check (go ahead and guess). Daughter called, “Ok, can you pick us up and drop us off at Guapos?” she asked in her best Mommy, I love you sooooooooooo much voice. “Yep, I’ll be there in a few”. Pick up teenage daughter and friend and drop off at said restauant. Resist the urge to drive by son’s friend’s going away party to check on alcoholic beveridge/females presence (as per football and awesome hairness). Went home instead and went online to check (you got it).

Daughter called to say “We’ll be finishing lunch in a few minutes. Can you pick us up and take us to Baskin and Robbins because some of Sue’s friends are there and want to hang out?” She asks hopefully. “Ugh! Can’t you walk to Baskin and Robbins? I’m a little tired of driving.” She and her friend decide to walk. Now, I’m feeling like a bad parent. I wonder if Sue is allowed to walk to Baskin and Robbins - hmmmm.

I’ll finish up later, right now I need to go check (is there really any point?)

ADHD, Legos and Condoms

I have two hours to myself this evening, and so I am sitting here thinking about the fact that my son is leaving for college in two weeks. To quote Jerry Garcia, “what a long strange trip it’s been.” If you’re a parent, you may have some idea of what I’m writing about. If you’re not a parent, but think you might be one one day, take note - raising kids is one heck of a ride.

Nick was diagonosed with ADHD and put on medication when he was in the third grade - couldn’t sit still, couldn’t stop talking, couldn’t focus on what was being taught in the classroom if his life depended on it (hmm, where could he possibly have gotten that from?). 6th through 10th grade remains a blurred nightmare of testing, meetings, more tests, more meetings, accommodations holy mother of blah blah blah. We’d just get the classroom issues solved, when a sports issue would surface. We’d get the sports issue solved when Nick would begin to backslide in his studies. We’d get the studies back on track, and he’d suffer a sports injury, sidelining him for the remainder of the season (oh the humanity!). And then, just when we’d gotten all of Nick’s ducks in a row, a nasty case of social anxiety reared it’s ugly head (“let’s put him Zoloft,” said the Doctor. “Now, we’ll have to monitor him closely, as some teens have become suicidal while on this medication.”) Gosh, that sounds like a swell idea Doc!

Keep in mind that this is just what my son was going through. We have a daughter who is three years younger, who I swear must have raised herself for 6 years (why she doesn’t hate us, I’ll never understand - unless she’s planning on doing us in in our sleep … no, she’ll wait until we get her braces off, so I have time).

When Nick was going into his junior year, we transfered him to our neighborhood, public school. He went from 10+ years (nursery school included) at a small, catholic school, (where everyone knew everything about everyone else - believe me, we all knew way too much), to a public school with the highest percentage rate of kids living below the poverty level in our state. Needless to say, my Zoloft dosage was quickly increased. Fear, anxiety, hopelessness, helplessness, paranoia, and embarassment coursed through every cell in my body. He’ll join a gang, he’ll take drugs, he’ll get someone pregnant, he’ll flunk out, he’ll kill someone, he’ll be killed, or worse - maimed (not that beautiful face - oh my baby!) While all of these thoughts were swirling and brewing in my head, my son was … thriving! No kidding, he just, dare I say it … blossomed (I know, not the best choice of words to describe a boy - he did take autoshop though, and can seriously rock an oil change.) For the first time in his life, he went out and pursued all of the activities that he was too afraid to pursue in the past.

He now appears to be ready for college - we shall see soon enough (she said, through gritted teeth). So when he goes off in two weeks, I’ll cross my fingers, say a prayer (and perhaps slip a few of his legos into his bag - my husband will probably be secretly slipping condoms in there - but aaahhh, whatever), and hope for the best.

If you’re still a kid (and still reading this - I’m impressed, and possibly concerned), hang in there. Life really does get better, smoother, easier, at least for awhile (until you become a parent HA!) If you’re a parent, same goes for you as well. Teething, tantrums and terrible twos eventually turn into adolescence, acne, and possible anxiety (scratch that, most definitely anxiety). But it’s ok.

Alright, that’s enough. Have a great weekend.

Father and Son

My son is leaving for college in 10 days, and all that he and my husband do, is fight. Well not really fight – more like bicker.

My husband, who upon finishing dinner, had retired to the living room to read the paper. Looking up at my son he said, “Please go shave.”

My son, who was looking at his chin in the mirror replied, “I’ll shave when I get to school.”

“That doesn’t make sense. I don’t want you going off to school looking like that. Your Mother and I didn’t raise scruffy-looking kids.” Where upon my son retrieves his college football directory and opens to page 1. “There! See, a beard,” he began turning the pages . “And oooooh look … dreadlocks”. He settles on page 5. “Oooooooooh and this one has both a beard and dreadlocks. And this one - has no hair at all,” he says, pointing to a picture of an offensive lineman, who could have played Magwich in a local theater production of Great Expectations.

My husband looked out from the side of the newspaper. “I don’t care, they’re not my kids. Go shave”!

“No.”

“Why not,” asked my husband, obviously trying a new tact.

“Because, the longer the whiskers get, the darker they get. Right, Mom?”

Oh Lord, I think, please stop me from laughing. “No,” I reply, while trying to hear what Lester Holt has to say about gay marriage in California.

My son looks at me for a moment and then says “Well, once they get long enough, I’m going to dye them darker.” He has put down the football directory and has shifted to lifting a pair of rather intimidating looking, 30 lb. hand weights.

At this point, my husband has abandoned any hope of reading the paper in peace and says “YOU ARE NOT DYING YOUR WHISKERS!”

No longer able to contain myself, I start to laugh. Both my husband and son turn and look at me with disgusted expressions. “Well, I’m getting a Mohawk when I get to school,” putting down the weights and flexing in front of the mirror.

My husband looks heavenward and says “That’s going to look pretty silly with your Vineyard Vines belts, and rep ties and pink polo shirts.”

“I’ll make it work”, he says, snapping his fingers in a “Z” formation.

My husband shakes his head – “Go clean your bathroom.”

Today I Shall Rant

Today I must rant (if you to are having a bad day, then you may want to just skip today’s installment - I won’t be offended, and I certainly won’t rant about you). Here are some things that I find irritating: parents who bring cowbells to high school athletic events and shake them when their team scores a goal. Seriously are you Will Ferrell? No? Then for God’s sake, put that thing away (you’re making more noise than a two year old with a pot and a wooden spoon, high on sweet potatoes), plus, you just look foolish.

Also on my list - people who tailgate. A word here - I drive fast, so if you’re riding my bumper, you’re over the line. You need to take a moment to slow down and ask yourself - Do I really want to tangle with a middle-aged woman who looks like Doris Day but talks like Samuel L. Jackson? “Bitch, don’t make me put my foot up your ass” (Gosh I sure talk tough, sitting here ranting at my computer in the safety of my office). Which leads me to - bloggers who talk big, but in reality, manage nothing more than an evil eye stare when confronted (ahem, please ignore that woman behind the curtain, typing madly at her keyboard.)

Also on today’s list, any and all weathermen or weatherwoman (I knooooow, the weather is out of their control), those who stand in long lines at the deli, but don’t know what they want when they get to the counter, calories, blisters, my ipod, Mila Jojovich when she has her arm around Christoph Waltz (what did the nuns used to say at junior high dances? Oh yeah, let’s keep a space for Jesus), tea partiers, Lindsay Lohan, Dina Lohan, Michael Lohan, migraines, migraine medicine … Well, that got out of control rather quickly.

So now, I will take a deep breath, a long pull on my Deer Park, thank God for my family, friends (both in person and on tumblr), long-suffering co-worker Bernadette, job, health, dog, Christoph Waltz, Quentin Tarantino, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Excedrin, the coaching staff at Brigewater college’s football team, my daughter’s hysterically funny, vampire-like smile (braces on for the next two years, followed by permanent implants), her fantastic attitude about her hysterically funny, vampire-like smile, the writers for GLee, Modern Family, 30 Rock, Alex Baldwin and his wonderfully out of shape mid-life self, Brian William’s and Bob Seiffert’s flawless tie selection, and oh gosh, I could go on and on, but work calls. For anyone still reading, thanks, and go out and have a great day, but for God’s sake, if you’re at the deli, decide what you want before you get to the counter - Peace.