Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wanna Get Away?

I had a funny memory I want to write down before it ends up in the overly crowded land of lost memories.

It was summer. Will had just turned two that March. We were living in stifling, suffocatingly hot Baltimore, where a pool is a lifeline in the summer. We opted for survival and joined a swanky pool club where happy children abounded, where rafts, slides, snack bars and happy moms and dads were aplenty. Life was good at the pool club. Really really goood.

We had gone to Target to buy ourselves one of those little blow up contraptions that we could put Will inside to keep him afloat - we called it his boat. When he saw us blowing it up, he clapped his hands and squeeled in delight. To watch us blowing up his own personal raft was better than anything this kid had ever seen in his short life. He was amazed at how it grew from a flat pancake into a big puffy boat for him to sit in. "My boat blows up! It's a blow-up boat!" he shrieked over and over again. The growth! The language! He even loved the alliteration of it all.

Will and I were holding hands walking by the side of the pool to get a drink at the snack bar when a woman passed us going the other direction. She was carrying a couple of cheeseburgers, some french fries and an extra large soda. She had a nice big fuchsia painted smile, her nails were gleaming red, a Bal'more updoo of a hairstyle sat atop her head like a crown, quite a bit of sweat dripped down her enormous cleavage, and a large skirty-type bright blue bathing suit was trying its hardest to do its job of covering her various parts. She had to say it...let herself go a bit, and was easily pushing 350. Big girl with an especially impressive backside. Huge.

She zeroed in on Will, waddling right up to him with unrelenting focus. "Oh, isn't he cute? And how old are you, little guy?" She couldn't have been any sweeter, really. She bent right down to Will and smiled at him, balancing her mid morning snack in her hands.

Will looked at his wet toes and squeezed my hand a bit harder. "He can be a little shy," I lied. "Will, say hello to the nice lady please. Tell her how old you are."

He looked her straight in the mascara laden eyes and said in his biggest boy voice, without the slightest lack of clarity...

"You have a blow-up bottom!"

Wanna get away?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I'm On To You

Revlon, Clairol, Cover Girl: you're ALL guilty of it. I've busted up your plan, so you might as well just come clean now so we don't need to bother with any big court case. I'm feisty like that. All I need from you is an admission of guilt, you smarmy bastards.

It's so OBVIOUS what you're doing! Duh. How'd you think you could get away with these shenanigans, anyway? What'd you take me for?!?

Let's start with the cover-up meant to hide the under eye bags, shall we? Sure you make it LOOK like it will match my skin tone and everything, but it so clearly turns to ash grey when applied. I mean, HELLO? Why else would I have bags big enough for a week of laundry under my eyes even AFTER applying your product? Yeah, you, Mr. Executive. I'm on to your plan to make me keep buying more and more cover up. I actually thought it was black mascara under my eyes, but then I realized it was PERMANENT!

And, yeah...that makeup remover that cost a week of groceries? It won't even remove the dark grey stain your company PAINTED on there! I scrub and scrub and still it's there. What'd you do, mix black sharpie in with your makeup? A less determined soul might have actually believed it was her own AGING causing these ugly under eye bags. But not me - I know it's your evil ways making me look this haggered and...old.

And yes, I'm going to insist that we talk about the hair color too. You can run, honey, but there's no hiding from the likes of ME. You put that beautiful blond bimbo with the winning smile on the cover of the box just to taunt me, don't you? Well, willing to stop at nothing, I INSPECTED that product of yours. I practically SAW the grey-growing seeds you put in there. They obviously grow grey hairs at an alarming rate. The ones that flock to the temple area of my scalp, but are spreading across the back.

What? You can't possibly think I'm stupid enough to believe these grey hairs are the product of my LIFESTYLE or something? That's right. You're soooo busted.

Now in case you thought your face firming cream / wrinkle reducer was safe from scrutiny, think again. I'm OUTING you, suckah. That stuff grows wrinkles faster than a bag of fertilizer grows grass. Sure I may have bought more and more of it over the years in an attempt to slow the resemblance of my face to an unironed ashen colored pillowcase, but now I realize that you are actually CAUSING this! Let me ask you: just how can you sleep at night?

Push-up bras? Slimfast? I recommend you start packing your bags, cause you're next on my list. You guys are on THIN ICE.

The Visitor

Somehow, I was alone in the old creaky house. There was a fire in the fireplace and I was curled up on the couch with my laptop. I was just knocking on blogland's door to ask for a playdate when I heard a harsh three knocks at my own door. The dog snapped to attention and went psychotic, howling and snarling and scratching at the door with his teeth barred. He knew something I didn't.

As I roused myself from my warm nest and started padding my way toward the entryway, a shiver made its way up my spine. I shushed the dog harshly and flipped on the porch light. I could feel the cold February air making its way through the gap between door and frame before I even turned the handle. The wind was whipping out there, desperate for the warmth of people's homes.

The dog had changed his tune to a low growl, straight from his soul. He was staring at the door making a sound his ancestors of thousands of years ago had taught him.

"Hush up," I hissed at him. "That's just rude."

I opened the door a crack and the wind found its destination. The light was playing tricks on my eyes though, since I had been looking at the fire and my computer screen, and I couldn't see anybody standing on the stoop. It was 6:30, so it was fully dark. I shook my head a bit and gave a strong blink to try and see clearly.

No one. Empty stoop. The dog quieted down a bit, but he began wildly sniffing the air inside the house.

I opened the door all the way - man was it freezing out there - and leaned out. Wind had apparently told all his friends there was a party at my house, and the whole crew was coming in now, looking for a place to sit down, asking what I had to drink.

"Hello? Helloooo?" Emptiness.

It dawned on me right then that it was too late. I had let him in with the wind. I hadn't seen the signs. He was here and I had let him in. Damn it. It was done. How stupid can I be?

I closed the door with big, but futile hopes that he had not liked what he'd seen and had let himself out. How naive I'd been. I hate that about myself. Yup. Definitely him.

The chill in my house was one of many signs that he was an uninvited guest, making himself comfortable. He'd sit down next to me shortly, and he won't leave until spring. He's an intruder who likes to find me during February and settle right in. Cozy up with me. He'll follow me around telling me all the things he doesn't like about me.

In the past, I've practically offered him coffee and chocolate. Not this time, guy. Keep it short.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Chimney Sweep

Someone left the damn flu open again, and all the heat is flying right up the chimney and out into the open air. This heat doesn't just accidentally stumble on the opening in the hearth either; it is actually sucked out with a great invisible force like a riptide. The heat goes up and out until it mingles with the frigid winter air making hardly a ripple before it disperses. It's gone.

I think the flu handle is broken or something because I can't close it. I can't keep the ideas in. I can't even find the ideas because they're flying out the open flu at warp speed, and they're dissembling as they go. Just as I think I catch sight of one sparkling like a dew drop, full of promise, floating in the air, off it flies leaving only the wispiest hint of itself in its wake. It was only the ghost of an idea.

Every once in a while, I'll grab one of the bastards on its way by me and I'll squeeze my hand tightly so I don't lose it. I'll try to calm it down so it doesn't make a mad fleeing dash, and then when I'm as sure as I can be that it's going to cooperate, I breathe in a calming breath, exhale, and then start begging. Yes, before I open my fingers to see what I've got, I do some pleading. I explain to my prisoner (whatever it may be) that I'm not as mad as I sound. I don't hate you for being illusive, I just find it frustrating. I need you, I say. You're there and I know it, you're keeping me warm in your way, but I can't focus until I've crystallized you and let you go myself. You can't just fly away before I let you, you see. All I want to do is keep you so I can write you down. When ideas like you get away, I tell my fist, it's just ... unsettling. So stay with me, idea, and I'll write you down and then set you free. Please.

I arch my thumb, just barely, so I can peek into the dark space in my hand. This could be a good one. My pointer finger follows suit, slowly. Am I trembling? Is this idea that powerful?

I relax the rest of my hand. Please don't fly toward the flu, I whisper.


If I had it at all, it's gone now.

Friday, February 6, 2009

25 Things

1. I have a terrible sense of direction. Really twisted. I once got on the highway in Burlington, VT to go to Marblehead, MA. I went north. Why does that sign say "Bienvenue a Canada"?

2. As a result of #1, I get a little worried in big box stores like IKEA. I have no idea how to get out of those places.

3. There is a piece of me that likes danger. I used to hang out on the railroad tressle and wait for the train to pass.

4. I love to write. I have a blog that makes me happy.

5. Music has great power over me. It actually takes me places.

6. I'm a little weird about wild animals. I feel extraordinarilly lucky - chosen even?- when I catch a glimse of a moose or a coyote.

7. For all the things I doubt in myself, surviving without everyday comforts is not one of them.

8. Apparently, it's a little difficult for me to divulge 25 random things about me. It feels a little indulgent to me right now. Actually. I recommend that you go do something else with your time.

9. I never ever worked hard in school - not one little bit - until I got to graduate school.

10. When Chloe was born, I felt as though I had known her my whole life. I'd just been waiting for her to show up.

11. When Will was born, I knew immediately that he was exactly what we all needed. He completed our family with great presence.

12. Peter is the perfect fit for me. Absolutely perfect. He makes me madder than hell sometimes, and even then I know we're the perfect fit.

13. As a unit, we have done a lot of searching for Home. For now, we are there. And it's really really good for the soul.

14. I love to play the guitar and sing, but I approach it the way I approach lots of things in my life - todo o nada.

15. I feel a sense of dread almost every time the phone rings. I'd really like for this to pass.

16. Over the past couple of years, I've grown to love the pre-dawn hours. I take the dog for walks and luxuriate in the quiet.

17. Is that grass over there really greener? Cause I'm pretty certain it looks like it is from where I'm standing.

18. My kids never saw an iron until they were at least 5 years old. "Is that a funny telephone, Mommy?"

19. I will die a blonde, dammit.

20. I like 5th graders a lot. I like reading and writing a lot. I teach reading and writing to fifth graders. I like my job a lot.

21. The sound of the electric pencil sharpener is the sound I will hear if I happen to end up in hell.

22. Sometimes when I'm gardening I get so lost in my thoughts, I actually drool.

23. I want to write a book. Even if it's just for me.

24. The shear luck of ending up with the family I've got can drop me to the floor. It's astounding to me.

25. I'd rather have sea glass than jewels.