Wednesday, April 24, 2013

First things first: a note about routines & the ADD brain

I used to frustrate my mother to no end as a teenager.  That's what teenagers do, right?  No, I didn't drink or smoke or do drugs (although most of my friends did, so go figure).  I didn't date bad boys (although I desperately wanted to).  In fact, I didn't really date at all.  My machinations were much tamer.  I was disorganized, sometimes on purpose just to frustrate the ever-living crap out of my mom.  Little did I (or my mom) know it was the ADD leaking out.

My mother was fastidious.  By this I don't mean that she spent hours on her hair making it look just so, with make-up tastefully applied and earrings that matched the necklace that matched the ring that looked perfect with the knotted scarf around her neck.  That would be my mother-in-law.  Not that there's anything wrong with that kind of detail, but I don't even use a comb.  No, my mother was clean and neat, but the detail work went into the house.  The chairs were never out of place, the floors were either vacuumed daily or scrubbed - scrubbed by hand on her knees! - daily.  The bathrooms sparkled and smelled faintly of bleach.  We never had dishes in the sink unless you count those two seconds before I could pick up the dish towel and dry them.  Mom also was tightly regimented with our schedule.   We knew what was for dinner depending on the night: Saturday was spaghetti with a cheesy tomato sauce, Sunday was macaroni, tuna, and sliced tomatoes.  (Yes, we ate vegetables, these are just the two examples I recall the best.)  She was dogmatic about being punctual.

Enter me.  I arrived as a baby 11 years after the last child so guess what?  I wasn't so fond of her routine.  Every morning starting in middle school when I had to ride the city bus downtown to school, mom would holler down the stairs for me to hurry up.  Sometimes my alarm went off, she yelled down at me, and I answered that I was already up; however, I would still be lying under the covers - with the light on so she wouldn't suspect I was subverting her dominant paradigm - secretly having snoozed the clock for 10 more minutes.  I also languished at the mirror singing Rod Stewart to my reflection while I applied two coats of eye liner.  This made her furious.  One of my bus drivers told me that I would be late to my own wedding (I wasn't!).

As an adult, a mom with two small kids, I now have to - HAVE TO - rely on routines to keep me moving in a forward motion.  That thing I hated as a teenager, that predictable, complacent routine that slowly led to misery then death is what I do every day now.  And it isn't just to keep my kids in line or getting them to school on time.  I keep a routine - and it's loose, let me tell you - because otherwise I'd never make it out of bed.

When you think routine, you're probably thinking back to grade school: first, we get out of bed, then we brush our teeth, next we go to the bathroom, etc. etc.  When I say routine, I break it down into even smaller actions: the order that I take my daily medicine, the order that I put my kids' breakfasts on plates, the order that I put on deodorant and hair products and moisturizer.  Yes, I'm completely serious.  If I do things out of order, just to mix it up a bit, I loose track of what I was doing, and will inevitably forget something resulting in terrible b.o. haunting me at a school function later that afternoon.  Or that could just be the hippy deodorant that I use.

This is ADD at its finest, my friends.  The good news is: I realize this and make use of routines to keep me sane.  The funny news is: I should have listened to my mom all along.  But we all know that now, as adults.  Mom, no matter how inflexible and scowly-faced she might have been, was usually right.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My small secret revealed

After a week of Bev pestering me about a baby shower, let me set the record straight.  No, my big news isn't that I am pregnant.  And ha ha, Bev.

And just to prove it, here's the big news:  my blog post about not wanting to be pregnant ever again has been published by the incredibly awesome Offbeat Families (which you should really peruse around for an entire day)!

You can't see it, but I appreciate that my post is nestled between ads for maternity clothing

Ta Da.

Now you may go back to Googling photos of dogs with reading glasses.

This one looks like my dog Charlie, only drunker.

This one isn't wearing glasses, but that would've made it funnier.

Dog photos courtesy of Buzzfeed:

Friday, April 19, 2013

Pretty music

In light of the horrifying events that continue to develop in Boston, I feel the need to send my love to Boston and my friends who are in lockdown there: Lee & her family, Sandi, Jennifer, Marina & family.  I send you my love and anxiously await news that you and everyone in that gorgeous city, and in the town of Watertown, are safe and able to go about your normal lives again.

In response to such anxiety, I also want to share with you a moment of kindness and inspiration.

Two things you need to know:
1.  My husband and I love live music and have gone to countless shows around the country, together and separately.  Our first date was a Patty Griffin concert.  He proposed to me at a Lucy Kaplasky show (Ms. Kaplansky announced it from the stage).  I have gone to big shows in various degrees of pregnant - Austin City Limits with morning sickness, Yo La Tengo a week before my son was born, and front row of The Decemberists postpartum, leaking breast milk (that's the show where Colin Melloy, lead singer, flirted with me!).

2. We share our love of music, both live and recorded, with our two kids.  Our daughter listened to The Ramones in utero and we've made both kids lullaby and mixed cds, loaded up old iPods and handed them over to the kids.  We take the kids to outdoor shows on the riverfront and last summer our daughter got to see one of her favorite musicians, Neko Case, at the Forecastle Festival!

So, now you're caught up.

Yesterday, Dawn Landes, a Louisville-born singer/songwriter now based in Brooklyn, visited with the president of the university where my husband works, and the president had asked Rick (the husband officially has a name) to attend the meeting.  I can't divulge the purpose of the meeting, but I can say that Rick must have told Dawn that his daughter would love to come to her show, but since it was at a bar, we couldn't take her.  Here's where I came in.  I was outside, planting petunias when my phone barked (which is what it does for texts because I'm strange).  Text from Rick:

That's right, the incredibly kind Ms. Landes invited our family to the sound check she was doing with one of mine and my daughter's favorite bands, HEM!  Since we couldn't bring the kids to the show, she invited us to listen early.

When we arrived at Headliners, HEM was just finishing their sound check, but Dawn saw us come in and asked if the band would play one more song.  Here's where it starts to get thrilling for me.  She asked my daughter what song she'd like the band to play.  My daughter froze.  Mind completely blank.  So, I jumped in: "Not California."  And that gorgeous band played my favorite song of theirs, for an audience of four, my family.

But wait, that's not the end.

After HEM finished playing, the lead singer Sally Ellyson smiled at us and quickly came off the stage to meet us, starting with the kids.  She was incredibly kind and gracious and funny.  She asked my kids a ton of questions about what they liked to do, if they played instruments, and asked my daughter to show her a dance move.  She told us about her son and her baby girl and chit chatted with us like we were old acquaintances.  It was lovely.

Dawn had her sound check next with HEM guitarist Steve Curtis and it was delicate, intricate, and beautiful.

(This video is weird and wonderful, but what I really wanted to post was the live version she recorded in Black Cab Sessions with my friend Ray Rizzo playing a small notebook or passport as percussion.  Here's a link to that video -  motherscratchin' Blogger couldn't find it -

Thank you Dawn and Sally and the rest of the band who are profoundly talented and kind.  It was wonderful to finally meet you after over ten years of loving your music.

Here's to the success of your albums and the rest of your tour and for making a sad week a whole lot brighter.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fetch me my writin' shed

Before I begin this post in earnest, allow me to first say thank you to Jamie over at Being Positive with a Depressive Soul.  Jamie kindly awarded me my second Liebster Blog Award, which I consider a bloggy hug of friendship.  So big thank yous to Jamie.  Now go check out her blog! 
Thank you, Jamie!  You rock.
For past blog awards I have duly answered the 5, 11, 423 personal questions as instructed by the award rules, then passed the torch to the 5, 11, 423 bloggers I most adore.  I'm a rule follower by nature and I like to please.  This time, however, I'm going to be a rebel and humbly accept the award and ignore everything else.  Look at my Latest Distractions for the blogs I consistently read and love.  Surely you no longer care if I prefer AT&T or Verizon, The Black Keys or The White Stripes (neither is the answer to both, in case you're curious), and we can just move on to more interesting things.

I believe I promised to keep you apprised of my progress with Shiny Object School.  (See this post for more info.)  To be perfectly honest, I haven't done much!  This is the self-directed wing of Sarah Yost's program and, if I may be frank, people with ADD don't do so great with self-direction.  That said, I did the first week of work before trailing off and intend to get back on track pronto.  Here's what I needed to do:
  • Brainstorm a project that I'd like to accomplish by writing down a page worth of ideas.
  • Narrow down the list to my top 3-5 ideas.
  • Follow a list of prompts to choose the project I would select for the six week program.
  • Make initial goals, baby steps to get the ball rolling.
If you follow my Pinterest boards because a.) you're bored, b.) you have as rich of a fantasy life as me, or c.) you believe it offers you a window into my brooding soul (in which case you may need to seek the help of a good therapist), you know that I have a board devoted entirely to "That Writing Studio I Want."  This board of chock full of photos of dainty cottages and repurposed sheds, train cars and gypsy caravans.  I want me a writing studio because right now I use the dining room table or the porch swing in nicer weather.  Both are perfectly fine writing spaces, however the reality of such writing spaces is impermanence and distraction.  The dining room table is really a space for homework and family meals.  The porch swing is open to the elements and does not have a working electrical outlet nearby.  I need a space where I can spread out my books and papers, plug in the laptop, and be inspired.  It need not be a big space, nor an expensive space, but like Virginia Woolf minus the suicidal tendencies, I crave a room of my own.  So, this is my Shiny Object project.
To die for, right? (found at Small Garden Love)

When I told my husband that this is what I chose, he immediately went into "we can't afford that" mode.  He's right.  We can't.  But if he keeps saying, "Just publish that best seller already," and expecting that to happen at the dining room table, I think he's sorely mistaken.  Or that's just a weak excuse to have a cozy cottage in my backyard where I charge admission in venti lattes.  What I am proposing isn't crazy.  I want to transform our existing ramshackle garage into a studio/storage space; one half would be my little creativity shack and a wall would divide the space so that we could also store the lawn mower.  I contacted my husband's best friend who is a carpenter and all around knowledgeable guy, who also just happened to take a week-long course on building backyard studios, and asked for advise.  This is how far I have gotten.  He gave me a list of things to consider and do, I became overwhelmed and distracted, and here I am two weeks later having little to show you but my embarrassed face.

Tomorrow is a new day.  I plan to dust off the to-do list and get back in the proverbial saddle.  If any of you lovely writing readers have endeavored to build a backyard studio, would you be willing to share advice?  Or, if you are not a writer or a contractor, but know of a good local (local is key, people) contractor who is fair, available (I know, Stephanie, your man rocks, but he also has a full-time gig.), and willing to be paid in venti lattes, please send me a message.

Lastly, some housekeeping:
1. Go follow my friend Kate's blog over at Nested.  She is giving away fun prizes!
2. Go check out my friend Anna's blog over at The Silent Isle.  She is looking for guest posts.
3. Check back for some exciting news that I will be sharing. That is all I'm going to say. 
4. If you have been following me for a while you know that when I hit a certain number of readers, I share an embarrassing drawing that I created as an anguished fan-girl teenager.  I'm running low on these pictures, so I would like to propose that when I reach 100 followers, I will draw a new picture of an 80s band or musician, draw a name from my hatful of followers, and send a signed copy to you!  How's that for incentive?  What do you need to do?  Leave me a comment with the band or musician name you would like me to draw!  I already have a request for Aimee Mann (who I lurve) and will resort to drawing her if I don't receive other requests.

Let the submissions begin!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Thirteen Ways of Looking At A Louse

A boy and a girl go to the doctor for their annual wellness exams.
A boy and a girl are well.
A mother mentions the boy's dandruff.
The mother leaves the doctor with the boy, the girl, a Web MD print off about lice, and panic.

The drugstore has shelves and shelves of shampoos, conditioner, serums, and dyes.
The drugstore has a colorful display of combs and brushes and hair elastics and headbands.
The mother cannot find the lice treatment and must ask the pharmacist.
They are located on the bottom shelf near the foot creams.
There are only five products, most made from poison.

It is the last day of spring break.
The mother and her son and daughter spend all morning and much of the afternoon
in the upstairs bathroom.
She is dousing and combing.
And combing.
And combing.
Her phone buzzes with advice.  Neighbor's bring plastic bags of treatments and metal combs.
Still, she can't see the lice.

The father comes home early to go to a LEGO festival.
(The doctor gave permission.)
The family finds reprieve from the panic in tiny, plastic bricks
pushed together to look like a life-sized Darth Vader.
The boys sees his best friend and the mother runs behind him,
whispering, "No hugs! No hugs!"
Four hours later, the mother is still itching.

The mother has had two people check her scalp.
She pulled off every bed linen, stuffed every stuffed animal in the washing machine.
Washed everything in hot water, heavy load.
All towels and washcloths.
Heavy load.
There are no sheets or pillows on her bed at midnight.
She doesn't sleep well, especially when the boy crawls into bed next to her
and shares her pillow.
Heavy load.

The bathroom windowsill is full.
One box of RID, opened.
Two applicator bottles, 8 ounces.
Two bottles of Cetaphil, one generic.
Five metal combs, one with a magnifying glass.
Two plastic combs, useless.
One bottle of isopropyl alcohol, 90%.
One spray bottle of bathroom cleanser.
One box of RID, unopened.
One box of Nit Rid, organic with eucalyptus.

One mother and one father bribe one son.
One Y-Wing Fighter, 458 piece LEGO set equals one buzz cut.
The boy weeps while the mother cuts off his thick, silky hair.
"My beautiful hair," he says.
The mother stifles her own tears, feeling like Delilah. 

Cetaphil is a dermatologist recommended, gentle cleanser and moisturizer brand.
Two children sit patiently after having poison scrubbed into their heads,
Then combed relentlessly for two days,
Then given haircuts - ridiculously short in the boy's case.
Now their heads are covered in Cetaphil lotion.
They will have their hair blown dry with this lotion coating their hair.
E How claims Cetaphil and heat smother lice and make nits easy to remove.
The mother looks up from the hair dryer and notices:
One bottle of lotion, one bottle of cleanser.
E How claims Cetaphil CLEANSER kills lice.
She wipes the lotion off her hands, puts towels on their pillows, and decides not to tell the kids.

A boy with a buzz cut is vainer than imagined.
He will tell everyone that he has lice -
the neighbors, his parents' friends who walk by with babies in strollers.
He plans to tell his entire class at share time tomorrow.
But he won't look in the mirror.

The girl reads three graphic novels while getting her hair combed.
She will stop to text her best friend.
Spring has sprung outside the window.
She never complains.

The mother can't tell if the kids have lice.
She thinks she has scraped their heads dry and all she combs is dandruff.
And now eczema from the poison she poured on their heads.
She is doubting her sanity.
She has bought heavy strength reading glasses to see bugs she doesn't want to see.
The glasses make her seasick.  The bugs just make her sick.

The family has vermin.
The lice and a pet rat, acquired on Thursday.
The girl sneezed and sneezed and sneezed after handling the rat the first night.
Two Claritins did the trick.
After her brother's bath and before bed, she is combed through.
Her hair looks healthy and vermin-free.
She picks up the rat and plays, giggling.
(The mother protested, but the girl sulked and the mother is a pushover.)
After the rat settles back in her cage, after the boy follows the dad to his bed for books,
while the mother is cleaning up the bathroom for the tenth time this weekend,
and checking the laundry,
the girl shows the mother her arms.
She is covered in welts.
The family has vermin.

This is the moment the mother has anticipated.
This is the moment the family returns the children to school.
This is the moment the mother walks the children directly to the nurse's office.
This is the moment the mother watches and waits as the school nurse combs long toothpicks
through her children's hair.
This is the moment her son is declared nit-free and she walks him to class where his teacher says,
"Nice haircut!"
This is the moment, the long moment because the daughter has long hair, that the daughter is also  declared nit-free and given a note to go to class a few minutes late.
This is the moment the mother walks out of the school, smiling, side by side another parent who she doesn't know and who doesn't know her story.
"Have a good one."
"You do the same."

With apologies to Wallace Stevens.

Interesting fact: Wallace Stevens was 44 (my age) when he published his first poetry collection.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

You are my blog award, my only blog award . . .

I'm just rousing from my chocolate egg induced coma, just having my second cup of coffee.  The house is quiet because the kids are at their grandparents.  All is calm, all is bright.  So, I'm not fully prepared to respond to the delightful news that my hilarious virtual friend, Bev over at Black Ink Paperie, (also known as my bloggy muse) nominated me for a Sunshine Award.  This amuses me on two counts: 1. I'm known more for my snark than my sunshine and 2.) so is Bev.

Here's a little about the award:
“The Sunshine Award is an award given by bloggers to other bloggers. The receivers of the Sunshine Award are bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogsphere.”

And now for the part that my friend Kristina loves: I have to share 7 facts about myself.  No offense, Bev, but I kinda hate this part.  I am truly honored that I bring sunshine to your already bright and sunny life, but I share quite a lot of warts with y'all.  Some bloggers (one of whom I plan to nominate) play loose with these rules and I appreciate that kind of rebel mindset.  I, however, will try to play fair and keep it brief.

1.  I was so set on loving the underdog as a kid that I had a crush on Anson Williams from Happy Days.  For those of you too young to recognize that name, does "Potsi" mean anything to you?

2. I have never owned a bikini in my adult (or teenage) life, but I did used to go to the pool (as a teenager) in shorts and a baggy t-shirt.

3. My love for funny men knows no bounds.  I'm looking at you Paul Rudd.

4. The first occupation I considered fit for me as a child was Queen.  Second choice: Ballerina.  Third choice: Waitress.  At least I achieved one of them.

5. I've officially become an old fogey because for the first time in my life I'm casting aspersions on language.  As a writer, I should be open to neologisms, but no.  I want to strangle tiny animals when I read LOL.  I don't mean to offend my gentle readership who brandish their texts, emails, facebook status/comments/messages, tweets, and blogs with LOLs, but can we agree that this abbreviation is freakin' overused?!  Is everything laugh-out-loud worthy?  I find that most funny things deserve a chortle at best.  So, please, for my sanity, send me a giggle every now and then.  Or even better, don't comment with what you are physically doing at the time.  I don't need the constant affirmation.  I'm secure with my funny.  And while you're at it, get off my lawn!

6. My late mother was a bargain hunter.  Whenever she would go clothes shopping, she had to lay out her purchases and marvel at them.  Anyone who was home at the time was invited to marvel alongside her.  When my siblings came home from college for breaks, they too were invited to marvel.  I now do this to my family.

7. My bubbie used to let me help her bake when I was little.  By help, of course, I mean that she would pour powdered sugar onto a paper towel and allow me to lap it up like a diabetic hound.  

Is that enough for you?  Hope so.  It's all you're getting. 

Now onto to nominations.  Since Bev nominated several that I planned to nominate, I - oh hell, I'm going to nominate them anyway.  They can just deal with the adoration:

Kate at Nested
AshleyRose at My Year of Star Trek
Anna at The Silent Isle
Julie at A Thought Grows
Laura at Slouching Towards Mediocrity
Kristin at The Lazy Fair

Go check out these smart and funny women!