More Words from the Wonderland Dictionary

Posted on 2/26/2007 12:28:00 PM
Almost as soon as I posted the last made up words entry, people reminded me of a whole plethora of other words, which we accept as real and use in our regular vocabulary. Here are some of them:

pales - (pāls) - n.
1. sweatpants - "It's cold in here; I think I'll put on my pales."
Alternate usages:

pink pales = pink sweatpants
heart pales = pink sweatpants with hearts on them
Show her a pair of jeans and ask what they are: "Pants"
Show her a pair of shorts and ask what they are: "Pants"
Show her a pair of pajama bottoms and ask what they are: "Pants"
Show her a pair of sweatpants and ask what they are: "Pales"


alyssera - (all-is-er-ra) - n.

1. a collection of carefully arranged items, for example, give The Dormouse a handful of change and she will place each penny on the table separately and then scoot them all together until they are touching and formed into some random sort of malignant cell formation, then she will exclaim, "Look momma, I made a beautiful alyssera!" "Of course you did dear."

roum - (rom) - v.

1. to turn the crank on something: "Hey Daddy, can I roum it for you?"

chock - (chok) - v.

1. to break up food
2. to stir eggs with a wire wisk: "...and now I need a wisk, so I can chock it up."

parmilial - (pər-mĭl'yəl) - adj.
1. apparently a combination of the words "familiar" and "familial"
2. something we have seen before and have done together
Are we going to our parmilial church today, Momma, or a drifferent church?

There are also phrases:

"In class, we said to Milio, "Bad, bad, hamburger, Milio!"
"Why were you calling Milio a hamburger?"
"Because he's tasty."


This one acutally disturbs me quite a bit.

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Culpability

Posted on 2/25/2007 06:26:00 AM
The other day, The KingofHearts took The Dormouse to the store with him while I stayed back doing important lazy pregnant woman things, like lying on the couch. (Hey! It's a lotta work!)

When he got back he said, "We need to watch less television in front of her." But what he really meant was You need to watch less television in front of her.

Then he related a story to me about how she'd announced from the back seat of the car out of the blue: "When you kill someone, blood squirts out of their neck. But not if you hit them in the head, then nothing happens."

I try very hard not to watch my CSIs and Mediums while The Dormouse is around watching. When she was smaller, she paid absolutely no attention to television whatsoever so it was easy. If the TV was on, whether it was CNN or Baby Einstein, she wasn't the slightest bit interested. I was very proud of myself, being the television addict that I am, that I was raising a child that didn't care much for TV. While I cannot give up my own television habit, I'd like to think I can teach my children a better way, you know?

But then about a year ago, everything changed. She discovered The Disney Channel and cartoons and that was the end. I can easily minimize my television addiction because I manage to do lots of things while watching: clean the house, get dressed, read, blog, work... But The Dormouse, like her father, is physically unable to accomplish even the smallest of tasks while the television is on. Her mouth hangs open and all other ongoing events in the world blur and fade away from existence. She has trouble doing even something simple like putting on her socks with the TV as companion and we often have to turn it off just to get her to finish the sock-putting-on-exercise, then turn it back on when she's done if it's something she was watching. While KoH is also patently unable to do anything besides drool while the television is on, he's not as into the shows as I am and can easily go without it much longer than I'm willing. So this exposure to violence this early in life is clearly my fault right?

The other night, KoH had his little collection of friends over for pizza. I was feeling my nightly exhaustion and chose six pm as my bedtime (don't judge me!), so he had The Dormouse in the room with them while they were sitting around talking. I woke up for a bit... long enough to overhear the following conversation from the other room:

One dude: "He could feel it in his entrails."

Other dude: "He felt it in his 'entrails'? Is that the right word?"

Other dude: "No... I'd say when you feel something, you feel it in your 'bowels'. Not in your 'entrails'."

Other dude: "Aren't they the same thing?"

Other dude: "When they're inside your body, they're 'bowels'. When they're outside your body, they're 'entrails'."

This is the kind of important stuff they discuss. I shook my head to myself from the other room and went back to sleep. When everyone left, KoH put The Dormouse to bed and I didn't think anything else of it until the next morning when I was fixing breakfast before taking her to preschool. While eating her cereal, she gave me this lecture:

"Mom, I have a bowl inside of me."

"What?"

"A bowl. I have bowls inside of me."

"I don't get it."

"But I don't have trails inside of me... Trails are outside of your body."

I no longer think the problem is that our daughter sees too much of my television programming.


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This came out of the blue yesterday as we were cleaning up her room.

"I picked you, Momma."

"What?"

"I picked you to be my Momma."

"When did you pick me?"

"A long time ago last Saturday. I just did."

"Who told you that? Did someone tell you that at church?"

*exasperated* "No, Momma. I picked you to be my Momma and I picked Daddy to be my Daddy."

"Well, honey, that's sweet. Thank you for picking me. I think I probably picked you to be my daughter too."

"You made a good choice Momma."

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Bridge to Normalcy

Posted on 2/22/2007 10:36:00 AM
I feel like I haven't been around this blog lately. I've been posting some stuff on and off for the last few days, but it's been a combination of things I wrote ages ago and never got around to finishing or things like the 100 Things list, that don't really require any thought or emotional attachment. Suffice it to say, I haven't really been present.

Last week kinda sucked for everyone I know. The Monday before last, I found out that my Dad has prostate cancer and was having a prostatectomy within the week (I'll spare you the link to prostate cancer and all the wonderful pictures - I'm sure interested parties can find it on their own). I spent my time planning and then aborting a trip back home to be with him as he got out of the hospital. Turns out it was a good thing, too, because I was planning to leave Wednesday and a snowstorm on Tuesday night cancelled flights here for days... I wouldn't have been able to get there anyway. He had the surgery last week and is home today - despite a few nurses' attempt to starve him into staying another few hours. Let's hear it for managed care medicine - who can't even remember to bring patients their meals and then wonder why they faint after walking them all over the hospital. My brother was able to get him home from the hospital safely. So far everything looks promising; the doctor pronounced the operation "successful". He still has a long way to go in the way of follow up and tests, I imagine, but despite my love/hate relationship (or perhaps it's better described as a hate/hate relationship) with modern medicine and doctors, I'm grateful that they are finding and dealing with these kinds of things so much earlier than they used to and that chances are good that he'll recover fully.

Monday was also the day that Monica got the results of Marielle's hearing test. You can read about it here and here if you haven't been hanging around her weblog lately. My mind has totally been preoccupied with thoughts of people I love - and how powerless we all are to do anything to help sometimes. I know this sucks for them. I know how when some damn doctor tells you there's one tiny thing about your child that isn't perfect, it's like a knife in your heart. So I can only imagine what they are going through now. I guess the good thing is all the resources they have to draw on... things that, living in any other place, in any other time, they would not have access to. A friend of mine is hearing impaired and has been since childhood. Because there weren't mandatory hearing tests for children back then, they didn't even figure out that hearing was an issue for him until he was almost four. They just labeled him as "retarded" until it dawned on someone that he didn't startle when they turned the vacuum cleaner on next to him. He missed a critical window of language development time and had a devil of a time learning it later. So there's one way Mari is already ahead of the game. She has parents who were willing to take the time to schedule a test in a town two hours away when they couldn't get an appointment in under four months in one of the areas in the country with the most doctors and medical services. I know my friend and I know that she will face this in the same put-your-back-into-it way she looks at everything she confronts in life - and she will do it with a sense of humor.

Monday was also the day I figured out that I'm pregnant. (Like how I hid that tidbit way down in the middle of a post? I like to make people work for their information.) While I can fully admit with the brain part of me that this is a good thing, this news strikes fear into my heart more intense than if I knew that Armageddon was beginning tomorrow. My previous history has not been good with these things and I don't know why I was so unprepared for how scared I would be (again!), not just to have a baby with something wrong, but also to have a baby that doesn't have anything wrong. I'm having a little trouble getting used to the idea and all the logistics: TWO! How am I going to take care of TWO?!? What am I going to tell my boss? Do I have to tell my boss? Maybe she won't notice. The timing of this couldn't be worse - If I were planning, the baby would come well before October or well after. Not right smack in the middle as it looks like it going to be. But then what if the baby comes months early like my first? That would be worse. What will I do about my conference? I've already missed two conferences for babies, now it looks like I'm planning this. Hey, maybe that's not such a bad plan - wonder if I can have a baby next November too? What am I going to do for day care? Who's going to pay for all this? Where's the baby going to sleep, in a drawer? Can we build a closet outside the house for the baby's stuff? Every last inch inside the house is already being used.

Nothing is seeming to line up in nice neat little rows and I'm left feeling like a teenage girl who got knocked up in the back seat of a Chevy. I know I'll get to a point where I'm excited but right now, fear has just got the better of me. I'm chalking it all up to hormones at this point.

And just to stave off the inevitable question, no this baby isn't an "accident", but it is a bit of a surprise. We weren't trying not to have a baby, but were weren't actively trying either. We've hemmed and hawed on the subject of Another for years now and had decided that it was pretty much soon or never. But with The Dormouse it took a good eight, nine months after I stopped taking birth control, and it's only been a few weeks this time, so I wasn't even thinking this direction yet.

So anyway, the events of last week have all come together to create a veritable trifecta of ennui.

This Monday, The KingofHearts and I both had the day off for Presidents' Day, so on Sunday afternoon we told The Dormouse that maybe we'd take her to see Bridge to Terabithia the next day. She's seen the previews for it and has been asking to go for weeks, so this excited her to no end. In fact, she woke up at three am on Monday morning and climbed into bed with me.

"Can we go to see Terabithia now, Momma? You said we could go today."

"Sweetie, it's three in the morning, go back to sleep. We'll see it later."

Then at five, there was a repeat performance.

"How about now, Momma? Terabithia now? It's morning and you said we could go in the morning."

"No baby, there aren't even any movies playing at five in the morning... we have to wait until later today."

Over breakfast, KoH made the mistake of telling her "Not now" which she took to mean "Never" and had a meltdown.

Finally, we found an 11:30 showing and headed out.

When I was eight, I read Bridge to Teribithia. It was a Newbery award winner and I read all those books back then. My mother worked in our school library and the head librarian was always recommending books for me to read when I hung out there after school. I didn't really remember much of the story, just the basics, but I remember bawling my bloody eyes out at the end. I've never forgotten that book or how it affected me. The previews made the movie seem so different from the book, that I'd already accepted that somewhere in the screenplay there was probably a disclaimer saying "Any character in this movie bearing resemblance to characters in the book upon which it is based is unintentional and purely coincidental." Not so. The movie was, in fact, a very good representation of the book. They stayed true to the story and even large parts of the dialog were pretty much lifted from the book. I was very impressed. Turns out, the author's son had a hand in the screenplay.

I just found out yesterday from a colleague that the basic facts of the book are based on the true story of the author's son and his friend and it all happened right around the Takoma Park, Maryland area. The creek was based on Sligo Creek in Silver Spring. I'm glad I didn't know that when we went to see the movie because there in the movie theatre my hormone-addled, emotionally exhausted brain turned into that eight year old kid again and I cried all through the second half. I cried because I knew what was going to happen and then I cried again when it happened. And then I cried after it happened. And just for good measure, I cried through the credits.

I'm not a weepy person normally and I seldom cry at movies - I don't know why this one affected me so. I guess catharsis ain't just a river in Egypt... or... wait... that's not how that's supposed to go. Aw, who cares... I'm gonna have a baby.


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This Brings a Whole New Meaning to That Def Leppard Song

Posted on 2/20/2007 12:09:00 PM
The other day, I received the following in an email from Monica with the subject "Lamest Affair Attempt Ever". I've always been a big Evelyn Glennie fan, but I don't really know if I can ever watch her play again without thinking of this:

LOVE BYTES THE MAESTRO

Washington's world-renowned conductor, Leonard Slatkin, is receiving some very unwelcome attention for R-rated e-mails he exchanged with famed virtuoso deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie.

A recent article in London's Mail on Sunday tabloid, based on information provided by Glennie's aggrieved ex-husband, claimed that in 1999 the married Slatkin carried on a "passionate affair" with Glennie. At the time, Slatkin was conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra as well as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra.

The article reports that ex-hubby Greg Malcangi discovered the incriminating e-mails on his then-wife's laptop. "One e-mail said, 'The thought of my modem inside your laptop turns my mainframe on.' It was pretty tacky," he said. In another case, Slatkin e-mailed Glennie: "Will we have to be on line to make love? I'll nibble on your bits and byte." Glennie's reply: "I need your special touch all over me." We'll discreetly draw a veil over the rest.

Slatkin was out of the country and apparently unreachable. But soprano Linda Hohenfeld, his wife of 18 years, told us she was aware of the e-mails before the Mail on Sunday printed them. "In fact they took place back in the 20th century," she said, insisting that "there was never any affair." She added: "Don't people flirt on their computers? I know they flirt at cocktail parties. . . . As gossip goes, this is nothing."

Reprinted from Jewish World Review.

I beg to differ. As gossip goes, this is sad.

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Alice's Stone

Posted on 2/19/2007 06:26:00 AM
For as long as we've lived in this house, I've been in pursuit of a big rock to put in the yard. Not just a regular rock, mind you, but a large, too-heavy-to-lift stone that looks like it was chipped from the top of one of the Sierra Nevadas and would be impossible to move and mow around. I am constantly on the hunt for said rock and have been since even before we owned our own place.

It can't be just any rock, mind you. There are a few requirements: It must be large, it's better if it's not granite, having moss on it is a plus, and it must - how should I say - "speak to me". Other than that, I'm pretty easy. My husband understands and accepts this, much as he understands and accepts many of the weird things about me. He humors me.

Sometimes, when we drive around town, we see other homes with giant rocks as landscaping and I feel pangs of unbelievable jealousy over the rock they have that I do not. These are homes with actual landscaping and not just a postage stamp sized, fenced yard like we have and I'm fully aware of the fact that a big rock in my working-class, urban neighborhood would look completely out of place.


We've been on the lookout for my rock for years and have only a handful of times found worthy candidates. For one reason or another, there's always been a reason why we couldn't collect the rock I selected and bring it home. A couple of times, my rock was on private property and between the options of not getting my rock and not getting arrested, we chose the latter. Once when we were in West Virginia on a weekend trip, I saw the perfect rock by the side of the road in the mountains and insisted we stop the car. We determined that we had neither the space nor the tools to lift it into the trunk and finally, reluctantly, I left it there and went on our way, swearing the whole time that I'd remember this random, remote spot in the mountains and we'd come back for it. We didn't, of course - I don't even remember the road it was on. But if we'd been driving the pickup that weekend, there would be a rock in my yard and we wouldn't be having this discussion now.

I can't quite explain why I've always wanted this and why, no matter where we travel, somewhere in the back of my mind, I'm always scanning the scenery at the side of the road for "my rock". I'd like to be able to give a good reason why this is so important to me: it would make me feel closer to nature, I grew up in the Rockies and it reminds me of my childhood, I love the Frank Lloyd Wright concept of architecture as being a part of the terrain on which it's built, I'm an amateur landscaper... but the truth is, I don't really know why I want the rock. I just do.

Part of it has to do with this poem by W. S. Merwin I read when I was eighteen:


Tergvinder's Stone
W. S. Merwin

One time my friend Tergvinder brought a large round boulder into his living room. He rolled it up the steps with the help of some two-by-fours, and when he got it out into the middle of the room, where some people have coffee tables (though he had never had one there himself) he left it. He said that was where it belonged.

It is really a plain-looking stone. Not as large as Plymouth Rock by a great deal, but then it does not have all the claims of a big shaky promotion campaign to support. That was one of the things Tergvinder said about it. He made no claims at all for it, he said. It was other people who called it Tergvinder's Stone. All he said was that according to him it belonged there.

His dog took to peeing on it, which created a problem (Tergvinder had not moved the carpet before he got the stone to where he said it belonged). Their tomcat took to squirting it too. His wife fell over it quite often at first and it did not help their already strained marriage. Tergvinder said there was nothing to be done about it. It was in the order of things. That was a phrase he seldom employed, and never when he conceived that there was any room left for doubt.

He confided in me that he often woke in the middle of the night, troubled by the ancient, nameless ills of the planet, and got up quietly not to wake his wife, and walked through the house naked, without turning on any lights. He said that at such times he found himself listening, listening, aware of how some shapes in the darkness emitted low sounds like breathing, as they never did by day. He said he had become aware of a hole in the darkness in the middle of the living room, and out of that hole a breathing, a mournful dissatisfied sound of an absence waiting for what belonged to it, for something it had never seen and could not conceive of, but without which it could not rest. It was a sound, Tergvinder said, that touched him with fellow-feeling, and he had undertaken - oh, without saying anything to anybody - to assuage, if he could, that wordless longing that seemed always on the verge of despair. How to do it was another matter, and for months he had circled the problem, night and day, without apparently coming any closer to a solution. Then one day he had seen the stone. It had been there all the time at the bottom of his drive, he said, and he had never really seen it. Never recognized it for what it was. The nearer to the house he had got it, the more certain he had become. The stone had rolled into its present place like a lost loved one falling into arms that has long ached for it.

Tergvinder says that now on nights when he walks through the dark house he comes and stands in the living room doorway and listens to the peace in the middle of the floor. He knows it size, its weight, the touch of it, something of what is thought of it. He knows that it is peace. As he listens, some hint of that peace touched him too. Often, after a while, he steps down into the living room and goes and kneels beside the stone and they converse for house in silence - a silence broken only by the sound of his own breathing.

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The Long Hundred

Posted on 2/16/2007 07:13:00 AM In:

100 Things That May or May Not Help You Understand This Weblog

Ah, the 100 Things About Me Post. Another completely unoriginal idea, but I've been searching for a way to sum up me and what this blog is all about and "This is a blog about nothing" seemed too much like a Seinfeld ripoff.

  1. My name is not Alice, but I think of myself as her.

  2. It goes back to when I moved to DC and I felt like I'd stepped through the looking glass into another world.

  3. I am fascinated with the Lewis Carroll books.

  4. I think he is one of the first great children's authors.

  5. I try very hard not to believe the rumors that he was a pedophile.

  6. But mostly I like the music from the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland.

  7. I started this blog because my friend Monica started one and it seemed like a good way to get some journal writing done.

  8. In second grade, I started playing the violin because my friend, Cheryl, wanted to play the violin and begged me to do it with her.

  9. I am such a sheep.

  10. Cheryl quit the violin after four months and I went to college on a music scholarship.

  11. So there.

  12. I am both a WAHM and a WOHM, depending on the day of the week.

  13. I was a big fan of WHAM! in high school, but that has nothing to do with my work schedule.

  14. To most, it appears I have one child, but I really have three. One who lives with me, one stepchild who lives with his mother and one who is no longer living.

  15. I manage to complicate even the simplest of questions.

  16. I talk about my stepson seldom in this blog because I want to respect his privacy.

  17. He is a wonderful kid.

  18. In the ten years we've been married, my husband has had almost as many jobs as I have had my whole life.

  19. We met on July 4th when I was basically on a date with another guy.

  20. The other guy was a jerk.

  21. I didn't get married until I was almost 30.

  22. People at church were worried that I was going to "waste away without a husband".

  23. They said this to my face.

  24. I call my husband The KingofHearts in this blog because that is one of the only truly male characters in Alice in Wonderland.

  25. He is bothered by this, as he feels the King of Hearts was an emasculated weakling.

  26. I prefer to think that in my version of Wonderland, the King grows a pair and runs off with Alice.

  27. He should be glad he didn't end up as The Mad Hatter.

  28. He tells people that KoH, my abbreviation for the KingofHearts, is the symbol for potassium hydroxide because he thinks that "sounds better".

  29. He is a Big Geek sometimes.

  30. I am a Big Geek of a different kind.

  31. In college when my friends and I would hang out in the local bar, it was not uncommon to find us doing the melodic dictation for the band that was playing or quizzing each other by saying: "do 120 beats per minute"

  32. It's a conducting thing.

  33. My daughter is The Dormouse because that's the smallest character in Alice in Wonderland.

  34. She is not, and has never been, as "quiet as a dormouse".

  35. When I was a kid, my IQ was tested and I was placed in a "gifted and talented" program.

  36. I almost failed the fourth grade because of all the instruction I missed when I was pulled out of my regular class to go to the "gifted and talented" program.

  37. My 4th grade teacher was not a fan of anything that took kids out of his class.

  38. I do not now, nor have I ever felt, "gifted and talented".

  39. But I did get to go on some cool field trips.

  40. I do not know what my IQ is; I do not want to know.

  41. My parents' divorce was final less than a week before my wedding.

  42. I joke with my mother that I come from a "broken home".

  43. I watch a lotta television.

  44. Mostly gory procedural crime dramas like CSI or medical shows like ER.

  45. The gorier the better.

  46. In another life I could have been a forensic investigator, a criminal profiler or a physician.

  47. I even took a class on crime scene investigation.

  48. My husband and I have been known to argue in front of company about the formula to determine how long a body has been dead.

  49. We are not good dinner company.

  50. Unless you want to know the formula for differential temperature equalization.

  51. Then you should invite us over.

  52. I grew up in the desert.

  53. When I look out the window and see that it is sunny outside, I assume it must be warm.

  54. Even in January.

  55. Conversely, I was born near the Canadian border in the middle of one of the worst snowstorms in years.

  56. I do not believe one inch of snow should bring the District to a standstill.

  57. But I'll happily stay home when we have "snow days".

  58. I am a trained Music Therapist.

  59. But I do not work clinically these days.

  60. My first major in college was Psychology.

  61. I wanted to major in Photography, but didn't because it was too expensive.

  62. In my Psych 101 class, we trained the professor to lecture from only the left side of the room by getting the entire class to yawn and stop paying attention to him when he stood on the right side of the room.

  63. We told ourselves it was a "Pavlovian Experiment" and not just a "Mean Thing To Do".

  64. I do not believe he ever noticed.

  65. I minored in music performance back then.

  66. During my sophomore year in college, my mentor in music from the time I was in elementary school was imprisoned for molesting some of his students.

  67. I was totally crushed and never really trusted a teacher again.

  68. I am probably lucky that I was never really in a situation where I was ever alone with him.

  69. When I was a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian.

  70. I have had an endless stream of pets in my life: mice, fish, birds, cats, dogs, snakes, salamanders, hamsters, rats, guinea pigs...

  71. Once, when my neighbor's pet goat got out of their yard, I was able to coax it back in when no one else could.

  72. They told me I had a "way with animals".

  73. I was very impressed by this and was convinced I was the American James Herriott.

  74. This is the same neighbor who paraded around the state with a deformed cat that hopped around like a rabbit.

  75. He called it the "cabbit" and told people that it was the product of mating a cat to a rabbit.

  76. He was convinced he was going to make a million dollars charging admission to see the "cabbit".

  77. He did not end up on the Fortune 500 List, that much I know.

  78. My best friend who lived next door to me when I was a kid had a pet hen named "Cluck".

  79. I now believe there were a lot of "farm animals cannot be kept in urban areas" ordinances broken in my neighborhood.

  80. My husband claims I am "somewhat anti-social".

  81. I prefer to think that I'm "just not user friendly".

  82. I like people fine when I don't have to deal with their stupidity.

  83. This is seldom.

  84. I lived in South America for two years while I served a mission for my church.

  85. I learned to speak two languages there.

  86. A big part of what I did was give immunizations, and teach people about health and wellness, how to be self-sufficient or how to play the piano.

  87. It was a lot like the Peace Corps, except with proselyting.

  88. My Spanish mostly comes in handy now when I want to yell at men on the street who don't think I know what they are saying about me.

  89. When I was in South America, I learned to love Avocado Milk Shakes.

  90. They're better than they sound.

  91. I am addicted to Diet Coke.

  92. I have few other vices, so I let this one slide.

  93. I also like ice cream.

  94. But every time I eat any combination of sugar and milk, I cough uncontrollably.

  95. And yet, I continue to eat it.

  96. This is a source of confusion to my husband.

  97. I talk a lot about my daughter in this blog.

  98. Mostly it's because I want to remember my experiences and the funny things she says and I know I will forget to write them down anywhere else. I hope one day I'll be able to give this stuff to her.

  99. More than that, I hope that she'll care to read any of it.
  100. I hate how numbered lists come out on my template too close to the left edge, but I am too lazy to fix it. I figure I've got better things to spend my time on... like the CSI that's on tape from last night.

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Child Labor

Posted on 2/15/2007 06:45:00 AM
Due to an unfortunate set of circumstances last week, my working-at-home days had to be rescheduled and I brought The Dormouse into the office with me. She's always great fun in the office and it makes me long for the days when she was an infant and I brought her to work with me every day.

After my maternity leave, she still wasn't gaining weight and I was feeling very, Very, VERY uncomfortable with the thought of leaving my six-week-old with anyone who wasn't family was untenable, not to mention the ridiculous cost of decent (not good, just decent, mind you) day care in this area, so I went to my boss one day with tears in my eyes and basically begged her to let me bring The Dormouse to work with me for a month and see how it worked out. One thing my boss is very good about is trying to allow those of us with families to find a way to continue to work and be a parent in the way that we want and so she agreed to try it out.

I ended up bringing her to work with me in one fashion or another until she was over a year old and started becoming more mobile. Then fears of a lawsuit after my child had pulled the copy machine down on her head or gotten tetanus from a staple embedded in the carpet got the better of my employer and my boss asked me to work out some other situation. Personally, I felt that if something happened to her while in the office, she was still under my care and therefore it was my responsibility, but everyone had been more than understanding in letting me bring her to work this long, so I bit my tongue and looked for something else. That's when I worked out the "work at the office, work at home", arrangement we have now.

It was a very interesting experience, having a child at work with you, and other than the times when I was talking on the phone and she started to cry and I was forced to fess up to the person on the other end of the receiver and feel completely unprofessional it turned out to be much better than I thought. More often than not the person on the phone responded incredibly positively and was impressed at the forward-thinking management style of the business. Without attempting to sound humble, I am a master of multi-tasking and a big part of my job already required me to keep multiple balls in the air at the same time. This was simply one more... and one that kept my head in my office and not constantly worried that someone wasn't feeding my child enough or that formula was, as some magazine articles inferred, actually poison and in not being able to continue nursing her, I'd doomed her to a life of being ugly, unloved and two feet smaller than the other kids in her age group. I loved being able to have her with me without being forced to quit and still have the income to pay for some of those "extras"... like a mortgage in a crappy neighborhood, food, water, and heat.

But something else I hadn't anticipated happened. It totally changed the office environment. And not in a "hey would you close the door so I don't have to listen to that screaming kid" sort of way. We'd all been having some issues with s-t-r-e-s-s up until that point and having her around made things so different. People were happy to come in to work in the morning and stop by my office for a good morning cuddle. When someone needed a break from working at their desk, they entertained themselves - and The Dormouse - by riding her around the office for a minute or two on the hand truck. If someone had had a bad conference call or a difficult meeting, they'd come in for a "baby fix", take my child and go sit and their desk with her for a few minutes before returning to work happier, and with more perspective on life in general. People brought little toys for her to play with... all the chochky loot they'd bring home from a conference which would normally clutter up people's desks became my daughter's playthings. During that year, I enjoying working at my job and with my coworkers than I ever have before or since. And many of them have said the same thing to me.

My child took her first steps in that office - from one co-worker's arms to another's. She said her first word to a coworker while lying in the bassinet behind my back while I answered an email. I got support, encouragement and mom tips through all of our nursing/sleeping/weight gain issues. Every new hurdle I came to when I needed advice or just someone to commiserate with, I talked to the other moms in the office who'd been though it before. They were incredibly understanding and non-judgmental. I can't fully describe the gratitude I have for having had that time with my daughter, time that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to have, but also the time with my coworkers and friends. I doubt that without that option having been granted to me, I would have continued on in this job. And I know that not only did it make my life easier, but it helped others' too.

Now, The Dormouse is in preschool a few days a week and I telecommute on the days she's not. But every once in awhile, I'll have to physically be in the office for one reason or another and since I don't have family or... you know... friends that like me enough to watch her for me, so I'll bring her with me for the few hours I have to be in the office. But when I walk through that door with her tiny hand in mine in the morning, it becomes old home week. She runs from office to office, giving out kisses and showing off whatever special outfit and toy she's chosen for the day. People get up from their desks and exclaim, "Good morning" as they reach down to hug her. And we go out somewhere to lunch with her if our plan is to stay around that long.

Last week, we passed the security guard in the building on our way out to lunch and a squeal erupted from this big, burly man that sounded like an old woman had seen a mouse:

"Oooooooooh! Aren't. You. Cute! Here's a dollar." and he whipped a dollar bill out of his pocket faster than a pickpocket on his best day. It was already in my kid's hand and she was skipping away singing about her 'golden ticket' as I tried to tell him he did not need to pay my child for simply looking cute.

"But... I don't have any candy", he apologized, "I had to give her something."

This left me thinking that maybe the last three years of trying to hold down a job and feel like a decent parent at the same time had been wasted and all I really had to do was stand her out on a street corner, dressed up in a nice outfit with a sign saying "Pay me, I'm cute." and a hat upturned next to her. I guess I would have missed out on all the conference kitch as toys though.

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Martha Stewart, Eat Your Heart Out

Posted on 2/14/2007 03:42:00 AM
I don't know how it happened, but after my daughter was born, I found myself subscribed to at least half a dozen parenting magazines that I never asked for or even knew existed. I swear I did not sign up for any of their free trials, agree to review a product and get a complimentary subscription, nor did I look a little too long at one of the kids in the neighborhood who just "had" to earn enough points to win the moon bounce shoes in the contest for the school fundraiser. Somehow, the universe simply knew that there was a new child in our house and suddenly, these magazines began appearing.

For the most part, I've found them useless. What new mother gets enough sleep to be able to concentrate long enough to read through a four page article on how to get your child to sleep longer? I perfunctorily flipped through each month's issues, page by page, as if it were my duty, staring blankly at the pictures on the page and barely seeing them, much less making sense of that jumble of strangly shaped symbols that my husband informed me was language. Never did a single thing in any of the issues I, I'm going to go with "read" here, jump out and provide me with some brilliant gem that made my life as a mother easier, that I didn't already know via the fabulous sense of "common", or that even was worth the time I took to look through the pages.

Except one: Family Fun Magazine. I don't know where this came from, I've never heard anyone talk about it, and I've never seen it advertised anywhere. I honestly don't know how it started coming to the door, but this magazine is great. It's completely devoid of long articles on post partum depression, parenting techniques through the decades, and developmental milestones that will freak you out if your child hasn't achieved at exactly the prescribed time. Instead, all it has is fun crafts, activities and outings to do with kids. I love it! And the best part is they have a website with all the crafts and activities archived, so I don't feel like I have to save a year's worth of magazines in order to use that idea for a jack-o-lantern next Halloween. If I still worked with kids in my job, I would definitely keep up a subscription to Family Fun and use every single idea in there to advance the curriculum. So now, as these complimentary subscriptions and catalogs are starting to dry up three years later, I have renewed a subscription to this one and this one only.

Last year, I found out two days before Valentines Day that I'd need to be getting a Valentine Card for each kid in The Dormouse's class for their Valentine party.

Not only am I over prepared for Valentines Day this year, I am early! And crafty!

Below please find pictures of the best Project To Do With a Three Year Old and Also Knock Out Nineteen Required Valentines For a Preschool Class ever. And, as an added benefit, it's a way to get rid of all those worn down and broken pieces of crayons lying around the house. Who wouldn't love it? If you want professionally written instructions and pictures that actually chronicle the progression of the project more than the break down of my camera, I suggest you click here.

First, round up all the spare and broken crayons in the house and remove the papers.

Next, (and I'm missing the picture here, thanks to a now broken camera, but you get the idea) break up all the crayons into half-inch or smaller pieces.

Find an appropriately shaped cookie or candy mold and spray with cooking oil. Place broken crayon pieces in each mold to fill the space.

Place in a 225 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes or until all the crayons just melt. If you leave it in there too long the colors will all mix together and your crayons will all come out looking brown - not so much the Valentine color of choice. Let them cool completely in the mold.


Silicone molds work really well to get the crayons out because you can turn them inside out as such... but here's a tip: do not look at the unmelted crayons in the oven and think Oh they only need one more minute or so; I'll check on them in a second and then not turn on the kitchen timer thinking you will remember and don't need it. Because you will not remember. You will forget and after twenty minutes in the oven unattended, silicone melts too. Betcha didn't know that. Or maybe it's just the cheap $2.00 silicone molds that I picked up at Target.

Finished heart crayons look something like this.

Then you just need to do something with them.

(I know, again, sucky picture... even before the camera broke, it seems the focus was going.) Here's another good time to remember that crayons are made of wax and will melt if you're taking your time using a hot glue gun to attach them to cards, so either find some other form of stick to stick them (I had also tried double sided foam tape, but it didn't stick for me), or learn to work quickly if you don't want a giant hole in the back of each crayon and wax all over your living room floor. I'm just sayin'.

Happy Valentine's Day from Alice, The KingofHearts, and The Dormouse!


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Cupid's Arrow Misses its Mark

Posted on 2/13/2007 12:04:00 AM
When I was a kid, Valentines Day was a kids' holiday. Now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure that all holidays are kids' holidays when viewed through the eyes of a kid, but I digress.

The tradition was for each of us in our elementary school classroom to create a Special Valentine's Day Mailbox. Anyone else looking at it would call it by its more scientific name - a bag. We'd each decorate our own, making sure to include our name prominently somewhere in the decorating process and then tape it to our desks first thing in the morning after we arrived at school. We'd bring cards for (you had to bring one for each person in the class; it was required by rules of fairness and decorum) and wait with baited breath for the big moment of the day when the teacher declared it "Time". Then with all the enthusiasm of little league-ers lining up to shake hands with the winning team after a baseball game, we'd file in an orderly fashion around the desks in the room and drop the appropriate card in the appropriate mailbox for each kid in the class.

You'd have to be pretty darn organized before even getting to school, because what you wrote on each one was extremely important. If you were too brief and simply signed your name, others were offended. They had to be individually addressed and most importantly, you had to pick the right one of the four designs Snoopy's Big Box of Valentine Cards to match the person to whom you would be giving it. The best picture went to your favorite people; the picture you didn't like was reserved for class bully and the kid who turned his eyelids inside out.


But you couldn't go overboard either, because one misstep, one too many XOs or i's dotted with a heart, or worse yet... inadvertently signing the card "Love," because you were used to doing that when you wrote a letter to Grandma, would have you hearing chants pairing your name with a boy's "sitting in a tree..." for the next three weeks.

Even as a kid, I always hated store bought kids' Valentines Day cards for some reason. You know those boxes of little kid valentines that aren't so much greeting cards, as a piece of paper not even as big as an index card with some silly pun on them? Yeah. They were just so boring and pathetic. Now, the only times I ever buy them is when they're completely inappropriate and therefore must be supported. One year, I simply had to purchase the World Wrestler's Federation kids' Valentine cards because it was too good to pass up. I sent them to everyone I know.

I am not known for my romantic tendencies; I think that's been well-established among those close to me. As a matter of fact, I have a whole history of inappropriate Valentines' Day cards and gifts. When KingofHearts and I were still dating, I gave him the completely romantic gift that every guy wants to receive from his girlfriend: Pez.

One year, shortly before Valentines' Day, we were watching When Harry Met Sally, and we got to the famous orgasm scene, where Sally is piling cold cuts onto her sandwich while Harry talks about how no one has ever "faked it" with him and she stops building her sandwich tower long enough to prove to him that he probably wouldn't have known if a woman had... then begins eating her sandwich. Sitting there in the beat of silence after, while the stunned cafe-goers in the scene stare at Sally before Rob Reiner's mother utters the immortal phrase, "I'll have what she's having", I happened to look over at my husband to see his mouth hanging open with an amusing look of ecstasy on his face. In that moment, he turned into Homer Simpson, looked at me longingly and said, "I wish I had some cold cuts." That Valentines' Day? He got a bag of sliced meats.

One year, I handmade cards that said, "If you were Victor Yushenko on a binge of dioxin, I'd still love you." I sent those to my friends and family, most of whom did not think it was funny and probably just threw them away with the junk mail.

One year, after trying desperately to find some appropriate Valentine's Day gift for my husband, I gave up and gave him a rock. I wrote the word "LUV" on it and declared it a "Luuuuuv Rock". He still keeps it in his drawer.

I'm not romantic, but I am memorable.

Valentines' Day is a crappy adult holiday, in my opinion. Way too much pressure. And we seem to instill it in the youngest of society. Last night as I was watching something taped on the VCR (yes... there are still people out there who have not bowed down to the TiVO gods) and was speeding through the commercials, The Dormouse, began frantically grabbing at the remote control: "Stop! Stop now, momma, I want to see the Perfect Gift!" Curious, I wound it back to what she was trying to see: it turned out to be a jewelry commercial that declared diamonds, "the perfect gift". So not only had see seen this commercial and been affected by it enough to remember it (and there's not a lot of television she watches that doesn't come from the Disney Channel, which doesn't have these kinds of ads), but she also recognized it as it flew by at triple speed.

I think this Valentines Day, I'll leave it to the kids... unless I can order these and give them to my beloved.

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Needing Some Work on the Spatial Relations Thing

Posted on 2/11/2007 03:04:00 PM
Steps on the bathroom scale and watches until numbers show up:

"Mom! Hey mom! I lost 43 thousand, 8, 9, 11 feet tall!!!"

"Excuse me?"

"I'm 57 and 11 gallons... 9, 10...."

"Well, isn't that impressive?"

"That means... I'm tall, tall, tall, taller! I don't need a car seat anymore!"

"I'm not sure that's what that means."

"Do you think I'll need a longer bed?"

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It's Always Better with Ice Cream

Posted on 2/10/2007 11:44:00 AM
I played thousands of concerts when I was a kid: school orchestras, music camps, pit orchestras for operas and musicals, regional and state festivals, street fares, community orchestras, you name it. I played the violin, viola, percussion, and even a few concerts on the double bass. I always got a huge kick out of the concert experience as a musician. Preparing for the "big night", dressing up in concert blacks or whatever other appropriate garb there might have been, taking special care to ensure whatever I was wearing would allow me to life my left arm and that the neckline wouldn't interfere with my shoulder pad...

Pit orchestras were my favorite because it didn't matter what you wore - no one would see you. Only the conductor need take special care that the back of his head looked presentable, but other than that, you're below stage and the only people who even get a glimpse are the looky-loos who come by during intermission and peer down, Neitzche-like, into the abyss. We always high-tailed it out of there during intermission and hung out backstage anyway, so all they saw was empty chairs and cases.

One of my favorite pit orchestra experiences was when we were playing, Fiddler On the Roof when I was a senior in high school. There were a LOT of rehearsals for that one and the stage crew was not musician-friendly. We were bored out of our minds while they wasted hours of our time deciding whether the Fiddler should be upstage-right or downstage-left of Tevye. At one point, the brass players fashioned a large shark fin out of cardboard that had been left in the pit and "swam" the shark across the edge of the stage to amuse the actors while the bass players played the beginning of the theme from Jaws.

In that same show, the stage crew had a real thing about food and drink in the theatre. They were so anal about it, they wouldn't even let the woodwind players bring in water for their reeds. Do you know what a dry reed sounds like when played on? Imagine: injured duck sounds. There you go. So the wind players had to smuggle water in in small film canisters to use during rehearsal and even then, if the stage manager caught them, he'd pitch a fit. So on the last performance of the last day, in a fit of rebellion reserved only for teenagers, we brought a toaster oven smuggled in a french horn case to the show. Each section was responsible for bringing an different ingredient and while we played our best John Williams stylings, during dialog and rests, we assembled tiny individual pizzas and cooked them in the toaster oven during the performance. No one was ever the wiser as far as I know, but I'll bet a number of audience-goers wondered why when the Tsar's henchmen broke up the wedding in Act II there was the unmistakable odor of pizza wafting from pre-Revolutionary Russia.

My parents, who only appreciated classical music insomuch as it was something I was into, would never miss an event I played in if it was in their control. I can't imagine the things they suffered through in those years: badly played Bartok, endless renditions of Can-Can, seventeen kids they didn't know in a recital just so they could listen to me - scheduled third from the end, of course. They were saints, Saints, I tell you. They sat through it all and clapped wildly (probably after being nudged awake by someone nearby)... because it meant something to me.

After every concert or event, my family and I, and whatever friends who were either there attending or playing alongside me would all pile into the car and traipse off to Swenson's for ice cream. (Does anyone remember Swenson's?) Some days, I wish I could have all the money back that was spent on ice cream during those years... it'd probably pay off my husband's student loans. A lot of my friends didn't have parents who were so supportive of their stupid interests, which is probably why they were having ice cream with me and mine after each concert. I understand now that I was very lucky.

Now, I'm an adult (at least technically speaking). I still love to play and even though it takes a lot of time I don't feel like I have, I ensure that I make time to do something musical as much as possible. I love making music with a group of people. I've never been the solo-istic type... didn't major in performance in college because the spotlight didn't appeal to me. What I always really dug was putting people together and creating something greater than the sum of its parts.

Mozart: "Sire, only opera can do this. In a play if more than one person speaks at the same time, it's just noise, no one can understand a word. But with opera, with music... with music you can have twenty individuals all talking at the same time, and it's not noise, it's a perfect harmony!"
So that's why I continue to be involved in music - even though I'm not a full time musician today. But the concert experience has changed somewhat for me. My parents do not live in the area, so they seldom come to see me play anymore. My husband used to come to most of my concerts and play the part of long-suffering relative, but now that we have a three-year-old child who has a bedtime around the moment most concerts begin, he usually stays home with her and I head off in my blackest best by myself. I no longer have close friends playing alongside me, in fact, most of my fellow musicians in this orchestra are strangers. They show up to rehearsal, play, and leave. They aren't the friendliest bunch and only seem to talk to one another if they know each other from elsewhere.

For each concert, the musicians in this group each get an allotment of comp and discount tickets which we may give out to whomever we wish. When I first started playing with this group, I would buy them all and give the tickets to friends, people at church, etc... thinking it was a nice thing to do. In most cases, I paid for the tickets myself and gave them away as gifts. I figured I'd give my $5 a ticket to help the orchestra and maybe we'd fill a few more seats, plus someone I know might like to have a night out. I think with the exception of my husband and a couple of musician friends (who are obligated to come when they say they will), every person I ever offered to get tickets for who said, "Yes! I'd love to come." and I left the tickets that I paid for out of my own pocket at Will Call for them, has ended up not showing for one reason or another. Later when I mention it to them, it's usually some lame excuse: "Oh, I just couldn't make it... sorry." Thanks, and can I have my $5 back?

So like I said, it's different now. There's no camaraderie, no accolades afterward, and no Swenson's. It's quite anti-climactic and sometimes I wonder why I even continue to put in the practice and rehearsal time required when the concerts are really for no one I know. I don't want to sound like a whiner, and fully realize this makes me exactly that.

I was thinking about this at our dress rehearsal the other night and wondering what the point was, when I remembered that quote from Amadeus above. Here's the reason I still go to every concert: because the fact that this many different people can come together from this many different lives and places and still create something as wonderful and cohesive as a Beethoven symphony, still floors me. I love music. I love how it touches everyone in some way. How while there have been a lot of cultures discovered that haven't had a written language, archaeologists have yet never found a culture that they think did not have some form of music and dance. I love that I can look into my CD cabinet and see Al Jolson, next to Howard Jones, next to Joseph Joachim, next to Robert Johnson. I still love to play, no matter what I'm playing or where in the orchestra I'm seated, and frankly, I could do without the concert altogether and get the same rush from just the dress rehearsal.

But I still miss the ice cream.

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Lowered Expectations

Posted on 2/09/2007 06:01:00 PM In:
"Momma, when I'm bigger can I drive a car?"

"Sure baby, but you'll have to wait a long time before that happens."

"Will I be able to do other things when I'm a grown up?"

"Yeah honey, you'll be able to anything you want when you grow up. You could be a fireman, you could drive a truck, or be a teacher.... You could be a therapist, like momma..."

"I don't want to do that."

"Or you could be an engineer, like daddy..."

"I don't want to do that either."

"Well, what do you want to do?"

"I want to be a flagpole."

"Um... what?"

"I want to be a flagpole."

"What do you mean, 'a flagpole'?"

"I want to hold a flag up in the air and watch it wave back and forth in the wind."

"Yep, that's a flagpole."
"Told ya."

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The Earl of Sandwich Would Be Pleased

Posted on 2/08/2007 07:54:00 AM

"You see if I wanted to get to know Joey,
I'd talk about something that interests him,
like... sandwiches... or my underwear."


"I'm listening."

-Friends

This exchange was heard in the house the other day:

Daddy: "You're a nut."

Dormouse: "Oh yeah? Well, you're sandwich-y."

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Inappropriate Songs (volume 10)

Posted on 2/07/2007 10:48:00 AM In:
Too excited for words at the prospect of having one inch of snow on the ground this morning, we were treated to this impromptu improvisation at the top of her lungs in the car on the way to preschool this morning:

"Oh it's snowing!
Oh it's snowing!
Look all around and see the sparkly snow.
It's so beautiful, I want to eat it all
But not the dirty snow, because that's yuk.

It's snowing,
oh, it's snowing...."

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Training the Garbage Men

Posted on 2/07/2007 06:46:00 AM
I'm basically an early riser, so getting up before the garbage men is generally not a problem for me. But getting the garbage out to the curb for some reason is. Garbage days are Monday and Thursday. So every Sunday and Wednesday night as I come home from wherever I've been and pass the trash cans in the driveway on my way in, the thought crosses my mind, Hey, you should totally take the trash cans to the curb now because you will forget in the morning. But then the overconfident, lazy part of my brain retorts with, You get up at 5:00 in the blessed am, for criminey's sake, I think you can beat garbage collection and get it out before the guys come at 7:00.

Ain't necessarily so.

I'll get up in the morning and remember, but then I never quite get dressed and make it to the curb before I hear the familiar groan of the collection truck begin turning the corner and lumbering down the street.

A few days ago, as I was sipping a cup of peppermint tea and standing in the living room picture window in my bathrobe (a real treat for the neighbors), I noticed the garbage truck coming up the street. Oh well, I'm NOT going to race to get dressed and try and beat them, and I'm not going out there in my bathrobe... so I guess the garbage can wait until next Thursday. So I just stood there and watched them.

The guy walking alongside the truck looked at the trashcan-less curb and then glanced up at the house and saw me in the window. He looked at me and then looked back at the garbage (which is not more than four feet from the curb but inside the confines of our yard and therefore past the line of demarcation that the garbage collectors will cross) and shot me back a questioning glance. I simply shrugged my shoulders and raised my palm to face the ceiling. He laughed, shook his head and then walked back into my driveway and pulled the garbage bags out of the trash cans and put them on the truck.


I'm not sure what I've done to gain the garbage collectors' favor, but in the past two weeks, every time we've forgotten to take the trash cans to the curb, they've come into the yard and taken the bags themselves. And even when we haven't placed the garbage in easily transported, tied up bags, but rather dumped all our garbage directly into the trash can, the dude still comes into the yard, unhooks the bungee cord that keeps the trash cans from blowing away on windy days and upends the trash into the truck then puts the can back.

I wonder if, with a little bit of work, I could train them to clean my house?

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What is Real?

Posted on 2/06/2007 09:43:00 AM
While watching Bear in the Big Blue House:

The Dormouse: "Luna is not a pretend moon."

Me: "Huh?"

KingofHearts: "Yes. We had this discussion the other day. Luna, the puppet, is a real moon because she talks. The moon outside? That's the pretend moon."

Someone's been reading too much Velveteen Rabbit, it seems.

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Crazy for Feelin' So Snubbed

Posted on 2/05/2007 12:31:00 PM
Another chapter in the ongoing Who Gets to Rock Her Competition:

"Who's going to rock you tonight?"

"Mommy's going to rock me."


"Are you sure? Mommy might like to have a break and I might like to rock you."

"No... mommy!"

"But you said last night that Daddy could rock you tonight."

"No... mommy!"

"Why can't Daddy rock you?"

"Because Mommy is sweet."

offended "Well, what's Daddy then?"

"Daddy... well, Daddy... you're a little bit crazy..." patronizing afterthought: "but good."

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Why People Love to Sit Next to Us in Church

Posted on 2/04/2007 03:32:00 PM
Dude at church teaching the Sunday School lesson today: "I mean, it's not like we can each just snap our fingers and become perfect, right?"

Me whispering to KingofHearts: "Hmmm.... worked for me."

KoH whispers back: "Snap again."

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Out With the Trash

Posted on 2/03/2007 12:05:00 AM
Colleague: "The cleaning people didn't pick up the boxes I left for the trash yesteday."

Me: "Perhaps that's because they didn't know it was supposed to be trash."

Colleague: "But I left a note on the pile saying it was trash; I even wrote it in Spanish."

Me: "No, you left a note on the pile that says, 'basbra'. The Spanish word for trash is 'basura'. So that'd be my guess as to why they didn't take it."

Colleague: "Oh... well what's 'basbra' mean then?"

Me: "In Spanish, nothing. If it were me, I'd think it was someone's last name or something to that effect... you know like 'these are Jim Basbra's boxes, don't take them.' ...and they didn't."

Colleague: "Wait, isn't that the name of the elephant in the kids' books?"

Me: "That was Babar."

Colleague: "Oh. I guess they wouldn't have picked up the boxes if I'd written Babar on them either."

Me: "Probably not."

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Poetry Corner

Posted on 2/02/2007 04:09:00 PM
Apparently, it's poetry reading Friday. On Rush Hour in DC already posted my all time favorite poem, Ogden Nash's "The Tale of Custard the Dragon", so I won't reprint that here.

When I was a freshman in college, I was allowed to take any honors English course I wanted in lieu of freshman English. I was registering only a couple of weeks before the semester began and most of the "good" courses were taken, but I was desperate to find something that wouldn't require me to diagram sentences and study verb conjugation. I took the only one available; something I knew nothing about - Contemporary American Poetry - and discovered a life long love that I never thought I would have had before that moment: Wallace Stevens, William Stafford, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Robert Lowell, W. S. Merwin, Alan Ginsberg...

I can't remember the professor's name that I had for that class but if I could today, I would write him a letter and thank him for helping me to appreciate something that my people could never abide: poetry that thinks beyond the rhyme.

So, in celebration of the supernatural powers that animals have on special days that are half-way between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, here are my three favorite "adult" poems of all time. I learned to love them because of that professor and that course:


Keeping Things Whole
Mark Strand

In a field
I am the absence of field.
This is
Always the case.
Where ever I am,
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.



Traveling Through the Dark
William Stafford

Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.

By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.

My fingers touching her side brought me the reason -
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.

The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.

I thought hard for us all - my only swerving -,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.


Answerers
William Stafford

There are songs too wide for sound. There are quiet
places where something stopped a long time
ago and the days began to open
their mouths toward nothing but the sky. We live
in place of the many who stir only
if we listen, only because the living
live and call out. I am ready
as all of us are who wake at night:
we become rooms for whatever almost
is. It speaks in us, trying. And even if
only by a note like this, we answer.

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Sass

Posted on 2/02/2007 08:28:00 AM
"My dress has a scratch in it"

"We call that a 'run' honey."

"No we don't. We call it a 'scratch'!"

*under my breath but a bit too loud, obviously* "Uh... okay because you know so much about the English language at three."

"No... you don't know anything... Just. Like. Me."

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One Ring to Find Them

Posted on 2/01/2007 06:30:00 AM
OK InterWeb, I apologize for constantly harping on this orchestra thing (harping, orchestra... heh heh, I make me laugh), but I love the guest conductor for this concert more than Diet Coke! He is all kinds of amusement. My only regret is that as a violinist, I gotsa lotta notes to play, so I couldn't write down all the funny things he said during the rehearsal last night and by the end, I'd forgotten most of the quotable quotes. (Oh, to be a percussionist or a low brass player and have hundreds of bars of rests to count thorugh and nothing to do until I play those three bars of repeated sixteenth notes in the middle of the last movement... wait... maybe not.)

Here are a few that I do remember:

"Now this whole concerto is very difficult to work out with the pianist and it's hard to keep together because the emphasis is not always on the downbeat. So my advice to you is to watch closely, count like mad and try very, very hard not to listen to the soloist."

"This piece is supposed to be champagne... and you're playing it like it's Bach Beer."

"You know, sometimes with these rental parts, you see markings the previous orchestra put in that make no sense at all. And you're like 'How did they play it like that? That's not how it's meant to be done!' It's like the last group that used this was an orchestra of tomcats!"

...and my favorite:

"I don't know how many people here know the story of this opera, but here's the thing about Wagner: Wagner loved to celebrate the untrained genius... because that's what he thought he was, you see? So throughout all of Wagner's works, you find this theme. Even Siegfried... because you know... Siegfried was a... a... you know a..."

violinist in the back of the section, "A doofus?"

"Yes!! A doofus!"

Siegfried Doofus Idyll


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Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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