Wednesday, December 21, 2011
My best friend's mom has been ill; she's nearing the end of her days. I thought that might be it, but really, I've been so grateful for the extra time I've had to share some smiles with her, hold her hand, be together. So that's not it.
I thought it might be that this'll be my last Christmas with Lucy as an elementary school student. (Yes, I'm that neurotic.) But I feel lucky to have had all these Christmases with her. Any more are just icing. With sprinkles. Dipped in sugar. And bacon. (Everything is better with bacon.) So that can't be it.
It could be that, like Lucy, the twins are getting older and more mature. The other day Sam handed me a baggie with his tooth in it and said, "Tell the Tooth Fairy I could grab the dollar out of his wallet instead of making him go all the way upstairs, if he'd like." (Of course, you don't get paid if you don't believe, so the Tooth Fairy told him to forget it.) But these guys are getting to be more fun every day. That's definitely not it.
We're dealing with the usual array of maladies and melodramas, but what's new about that?
We have the added sadness this year that we're saying goodbye to some close friends who are leaving the state just as the holidays approach. I won't say that hasn't bothered me, but I feel I'm doing a spectacular job of suppressing it! And in any case, we've had some great laughs together in the last few weeks, and some good wine, and a few tears, and it's all just made me feel more and more sure that we'll be friends for a long time to come, no matter the distance.
As I've looked back on it, this year has been a most full and wonderful year with new experiences, adventures, a few scares - just to keep it exciting - and nothing but love and more love with family and friends.
So I realize, of course, there is a shadow passing over me. A kind, generous, loving, and benevolent shadow, watching over me, caring for me, attending to all my needs, especially when I'm at my most desperate and most low. I am weak and my shadow provides shelter so I may rest and regain strength. I am at fault and my shadow allows me space to grow into my better self. I am faithful and my shadow rewards me with all that I need and more than I could hope for. Indeed, there is a shadow passing over me. And I thank Him.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
I don’t subscribe to a particular church, by choice. I am strong in my faith, knowledgeable in my faith, and true to my faith. I am so – usually – quietly, privately. I appreciate that some may rejoice in the community of faith that comes from church. I have no problem with that; it’s just not for me. I’m hoping the good Lord forgives as wantonly as I may need Him to, especially considering that period in the 80s when I may have tripped over some of the rules a little more frequently than others.
That said, I have a problem with how the concepts of faith, morality and church get mangled in our (global) society.
This is a link circulating right now on Facebook about a ‘church’ in Kentucky that has banned interracial marriage.
This is a link to an article about how one legislative body is wrangling with the issue of religious ceremonies for same-sex marriages.
And here’s a (disgusting) post from someone on a church forum trying to parse numbers in order to minimize the depravity of the Catholic church’s handling of abuse cases.
And then there’s the Bible. Here's Luke 20:45-47…
20:45 As all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 20:46 “Beware of the experts in the law. They like walking around in long robes, and they love elaborate greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 20:47 They devour widows’ property, and as a show make long prayers. They will receive a more severe punishment."
And 1 Corinthians:12-14…
12 For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body – though many – are one body, so too is Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not a single member, but many.
I’m afraid the folks who’re using the Lord’s name to foster fear, discriminate and injure – and do so with brag and bravado about their own holiness - really don’t get it. We best all hope for His great mercy.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The sad truth is I haven't been here because I can't write anymore. I know, I know. But it's true. In the mad dash to race myself from 1987 where my hair has remained all these years to 2012 where my wild, unrequited success in business resides I've had to cast off some of my old ways. I’m obsessed with word count. Gone are the long meandering observations on the plight of a, let's say, candidate Perry, for instance, a man who's just about begged for my attention.
In my more prolific blogging days I might have had a word or two on the comical, uh, historic nature of this man's candidacy. Here's a guy who's never lost an election, and he's got the intellect of blank paper. How’s that possible? He's as bright as a bobbing boat oar. Nobody saw it? He's as clever as a box of hair. It's got to be some kind of record, right? (Don't say 'no'. It'll make me cry.)
This guy throws together big ideas like 'Ponzi scheme' and 'Social Security' like a toddler getting dressed in the dark using old Halloween costumes and the contents of a pajama drawer. "It's a Disney-Princess-Cat-Captain! Like it?!" Uh, yeah, but wouldn't elect it to the highest office in the land.
I suppose he's better than his hysterically smiling debate companion, the gal who's married to the gayest straight guy I've ever seen. How many of you have joined the office pool on when he gets outed? I'm in for $20. In the meantime I'm fascinated by the popularity of a candidate - don't be like that - 7% of the population is a good number of people if you're having them over for dinner - who dissects information to relieve it of any facts or sense before she spews it in front of cameras. It's absolutely riveting.
As is the candidate who prefaces his statements with something along the lines of 'I don't have the facts on this….' Maybe he’s worried about word count too. Doesn’t want to muddy the waters with extra info that’ll use up his characters. It's refreshing, I suppose. Kind of like your child's teacher telling you 'I can't prove it but I'm pretty sure your son is a goat with a mild cognitive disorder and a faulty digestive system. You may want to look into trade schools.' I'm supposed to overlook this candidate's blatant disregard for evidence to back up his outlandish statements because (ssshhhh) he's black. Also he knows how to make pizza. I'm not convinced on the former, but I have to say I've thrown a little extra acceptance his way on the pizza thing. I am part Italian, after all.
In place of these boorish rants are trite little mentions of articles, along with a hashtag - which between you and me is a pound sign and some typographically incoherent blather that some techno idiot made up to abbreviate an intelligible (if not intelligent) word or phrase- and a link to someone else's drivel. In my quest for a technologically current identity in business, I've foresaken my own drivel for someone else's. That's progress for you. Or ‘thts prgrss 4u’.
Worse than the choice to spend my time tweeting (why doesn't anyone else find being forced to say that the modern equivalent to shoving one's iphone-addicted self into the ill-fitting clothes of the emperor--the ones woven with the 'invisible' thread? it's ludicrous and hilarious! am i the only one getting that?) is the fact that the tweeting itself is rendering me incapable of stringing together more than 160-characters worth of sensible thought. And yes, you read that right, I said 160. Even in my revised, twitter-speak state I still manage to be verbose and require editing.
The mechanism I previously employed to carry out a thought from inception to print.. uh.. post.. involved long rambling essays, pared over time, carefully crafted to evoke emotion, imagery, finality. Draft upon draft. Rewrite, revision. Coffee. Lots of coffee.
The mechanism I use to tweet involves finding someone else's semi-relevant blurb, acting like I care about it, and then repeating it with my own three words of scintillating commentary. I'm good, but I'll confess, I'm not that good.
I get the general idea of Twitter - to pare down your thoughts to their simplest form - to express a thought quickly, succinctly and still be intelligent and relevant - to connect with others who get you. I get the idea, but I have to be honest, it ain't me. I'm a lingerer, verbally speaking. A languisher. A loller. I love 'L' words, don’t you?. And 'S' words and 'Q' words. I love them all! Isn't squishy a great word? And SCREAM! You can't scream on Twitter. You can't even intone. You can only snark and demur.
I get the whole revolution thing and the global connectivity thing, yada yada yada. Alex Baldwin is entertaining. Steve Martin, oddly, isn’t. The guy impersonating Rahm was vulgar and tedious after a while. He’s famous for being a pottie mouth on Twitter. Is that how we get famous now?
I’ll never make it. I’m doing what I need to do for work and I’m doing what I can to adjust but a part of me wants to shove 70 big fat NOs into the teenie 140-character box and find a fresh blank blog page and just WRITE A MILLION WORDS.
What’s my word count right now?
Monday, September 26, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
We don't see each other enough any more for reasons too many to share here, and most of them completely innocent at this point. (That's right, I said innocent. They never proved anything.) So once a year we pull ourselves together for a little picnic and enjoy the closeness that you just don't get anywhere else but with your family, no matter how often you do or don't see one another. I particularly enjoy it because it's the one day out of the year when I'm still considered young enough to be a whippersnapper!
It's also predictable. Too much food, lots of trips to the bathroom. And talking. We'll be talking about three things, invariably: how big all the kids have gotten, the Bears and the weather. Since you won't be there and I have to tell someone - allow me to share a little of what I expect on just one of these topics.
It's my luck that it's going to rain on the one day a year we have a family picnic. As such, at least 5 paunchy Italians will be spending the afternoon having this conversation: 'Well, Jo, remember when we were kids it never rained like this here?' 'Oh I know. We never had this rain. We had rain. But not like this.' 'Yeah - Russ - you remember that time it rained at Vicki-boy's party? That was a good rain.' 'No, I don't remember.' 'Yes, you do. You were there. Aunt Gray was wearing an orange blouse.' 'I don't remember.' Yes you do, Russ. You were there. You were five. Or was it Charlene?' ((Char)) 'It wasn't me.' The conversation will loop from there and will include at least 20 minutes on how modern rain is a pox on society and is probably owed to television or the crap we eat.
It'll go along swimmingly unless someone from one of the generations beneath them complains about the rain. Then the conversation will take on an entirely different tone. 'You're complaining about the rain? Hah! In our day, this woulda been nothin'!' 'Yeah. In our day we had picnics in the snow!' 'We didn't care about a little rain. Ma coulda baked a cake in the rain. Without an oven! And we'da had a great time!' 'Yeah, Char, you remember that time we made mud pies and Dad got mad that we tracked mud in the house?' 'No, I don't remember.' 'Yes you do, you were there.' 'No, I don't think so.' 'Of course you do. We made mud pies. Then Dad got mad. You remember?' 'No.' 'You had lost a tooth! If ma hadn't a come out Dad was gonna give it to us... or was it Connie?' 'It wasn't Connie.' This part of the conversation will loop incessantly around Connie, her brother Henry, and how children today are so flimsy even the slightest breeze could knock them over.
I can't wait.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
In this case, most assuredly a blessing of epic proportions.
I'm just saying.
Also, I was kind of hoping one of my kids would be a quiet one, kinda balance out the overage of volume at the parental level. Not the case, so far, and I'm no longer brave enough to test the averages. Look what happened last time!
The family I designed in my head had less of me in it, and these two simply did not get that memo. They repeat my temper, my tantrums and my willingness to speak my mind at the most inopportune moments. If the payoff here is that they also repeat some of my talents, it's diluted for me by the fact that they're way more talented than I am and they have some of their dad's talents, plus their own! It's a bit gauche to be so multi-talented, don't you think?
And now, they're so gorgeous? Really? We couldn't dial it down a notch by having some one or the other be a bit plain? No? Everyone's got to be fabulous in every department? In Sam's case, so far, this has only proven to be mildly annoying as little girls are becoming reticent at this age to demonstrate their admiration. Boys, on the other hand, have no trouble making every possible move a 10- or 11-year old can make to get Sara's attention. Gladly, one of her talents is oblivion. But when that turns... lookout!
So they're lively, articulate, interesting, good-looking and talented, charming.... Uh. So where are the cameras? I'm on, right? Hmmm?
Fine, I'll play along. But when the show's over I get to keep them right? I'm a little attached.
In the meantime, these two little peanuts who fit in one basket when I brought them home, who sat side by side in matching high chairs and wore coordinating overalls when they were toddlers, and learned to dance to daddy's incessant playing of 'Can't Touch This' by MC Hammer, who nearly killed me during the potty training decade (it FELT like a decade), and finish each other's sentences, and are fine to be in separate classrooms--so long as they can see one another on demand--still, who once fit together in a dresser drawer for purposes of hide 'n go seek--that is until the dresser caved in and nearly killed me (I've nearly died several times while parenting; kids are fine), who bicker and berate one another constantly but can't get comfort from anyone the way they can from each other, these two who have no idea really how unique they are in the world, my babies who will always be my babies no matter how big they get, and who love me double as twins are wont to do, and who I love, adore and treasure more than I can say, Sam and Sara are making the double digits look good. I can only hope for more and more, especially the hugs and kisses and snuggles and love, love love. Although, to be fair, I will say it's all been way more than I bargained for.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Tears to sniffles to half-smiles. And if that didn't get them, a few boys doused the coach. If you didn't know it already, a soaking wet coach can urge the belly-laugh out of even the most morose little boy.
So on a night when the season's spent wishes could have easily turned brothers away from one another we savored just a few more minutes together. We lingered over ice cream at a nearby shop, laughing, telling stories, and in the favorite words of my good friend Charlie Sheen, winning. Because yes, there are winners and losers in every contest, and our boys lost that baseball game.
But there are bigger things than baseball. (Very, very few, but there are.) And in every respect when it comes to some of those bigger things - honor, brotherhood, fairness, loyalty - our boys are remarkable champions.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
I Love My Aunt Josie by Carmen Rodriguez
I love my aunt because she's so bright and cheery. As an adult, I've grown to know when the smile is a little forced and the laugh is a little weary. But I've also grown to admire, greatly, how often she's willing to set aside whatever ails her so she can be happy. What a gift!
I love my aunt because she married and stayed married even though being married is not the easiest thing in the world. When I was little, and long before I was married, I thought maybe she was just married to someone who drove her nuts. Now, as a married person myself, I realize all people who are married drive each other nuts and the trick is to love each other anyway. She and my uncle have weathered a million storms together and should be proud and joyful that they've arrived at this place together.
I love my aunt because she was a devoted mother to my three cousins, Michael, Debbie and Jeff, and because no matter what the three of them cooked up - and there were some doozies over the years - she handled all of it with good grace and humor and strength. She has been an even better grandmother and, now, great-grandmother.
There's a certain positivity about her, a phenomenal resiliance, which I try hard to emulate but can never quite match.
When people talk about a person who is a force to be reckoned with, I reckon they're talking about my aunt. Wary the soul who faces her when she is irate and weary the traveler who treads where she forbids trespass. In our family there's much dither about whether or not we're Italian or Sicilian. When my aunt is on a path, there's no question.
She has been a caretaker to all our family since she was born, and long since an old soul. She has been counselor, aide, nurse, kitchen consultant and gardener-in-chief for all of us and has willingly carried each of us when we were falling, at whatever hour, no matter what else she had in her arms. And she never let you feel you were being carried, you just knew you were being held.
It may be my greatest sin that when my aunt was gravely ill some years ago I did not hold her. I barely called. When the worst of it had passed, I tried to apologize but it was lame and I didn't say then what I'll intimate now. I couldn't go. I was afraid. Bone-deep, I was afraid. My aunt had never been weak a day in my life. I couldn't even wrap my mind around the idea that she might be sick or pale or frail. So I stayed away like a child scrunching eyes shut hoping that if I couldn't see the hurt it couldn't see me either.
Ultimately, my aunt prevailed. Silly sickness. It had no idea what it was up against. I'm certain it was her own will, her own positive soul blessed by a good and forgiving God, that brought her through all of that. She never said a word about how I wasn't there to comfort her, never missed a beat in showing good cheer and great faith during the whole thing and now. I love her for that, too.
She continues to be a force, a go-getter and a rummage sale fanatic. She is always a great help to me at 7 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning when I forget what I need to do with the turkey and she is a tireless dance partner at family weddings. She's always looking for a laugh and ready to share a story. She's fun and smart and makes me feel good even when I don't mean to.
She really has got everything and so all I can add is this: Humbled by my own lacking in your shadow, I am always grateful to have you in my life. I think you're a phenomenal woman, genuine and deserving and good. I think you're a great cook, which matters, because your soul speaks through your food and it is awesome. I think you're beautiful inside and out and I hope you know it. I love your garden, soft and alive and secreting scent and color. It reminds me of you. You have been a good mom, it's not easy, and your love for your children and grand children shows every day, all the time. Your dogged pursuit of good cheer and the smile in every situation is a life lesson I've carried with me all of my days, and it's served me well, so I thank you.
I love you, Aunt Jo, and I wish you every happiness on your birthday and always.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
And Other Attributes of a Great Dad
Thursday, June 2, 2011
I'll tell you which one.
And speaking of standards, we might still have some if we stopped making every idiot's idiotic move news. Men are cheating on their wives and/or sending lewd photos of themselves in an attempt to lure some hapless gal into an affair? Folks, that's not news. It's not new, either. I don't care what Arnold does with his free time, what I care about is what he does with MY time. I don't care how Anthony handles his wiener, I care how he handles MY... uh, wait.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
And here's why, as my husband so eloquently put it to me this morning when he got back from his last rehearsal:
The full performance is complex, rousing, impressive. When the audience hears it, they hear this full sound, this resonance and depth and intricacy. And they attribute all of that to each one of us on the stage. But really, each one of us is just doing one little part. We're concentrating on getting our one little part right and then when it's all put together it sounds so amazing! The end result is a real thrill! He was so flushed when he told me I just had to smile.
One little part. Everyone together. Thrilling. Think about that.
Friday, May 6, 2011
And I am humbled.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Other thoughts raced through my mind, of course. She had her mouth set like my grandmother, Lena. She was so fair - I was expecting a baby with a mop of black hair and dark skin like her daddy. She was breathing - thank God - so sweetly, and gave off some kind of newness perfume I'd never experienced before. (Later, the perfume turned on me in a vicious, ugly way... who knew diaper contents could be so toxic?) She was tiny, precious, delicious. I had none of the post-partum distance that others have experienced - I absolutely adored her immediately and wanted always to be touching her, holding her, taking her in.
I haven't lost any of that after thirteen years. In all my thoughts and deeds throughout every day my heart aches to be with her, see her, laugh with her and love her as much as I possibly can. So as to discourage you from any thoughts that I might be a complete loon, I should say that these feelings have learned to comfortably co-exist with thoughts of complete exhaustion, impatience, fury, disbelief and fret as my little treasure inches closer and closer to having my mouth and temperament. Who ordered that? Also, she's now got a killer figure that has not escaped the notice of most neighborhood boys, thereby rendering her father a sputtering curmudgeon and placing me in the precarious position of buffering contact between them, especially on the subject of the park and a certain young man with intentions Tony can smell from a mile away. I digress.
Since the moment I laid eyes on my Lucy, through all her trials (I DON'T YIKE PEEZ - in full 3-year-old-tantrum) and joys (I got 112 on that math test!! [[yick]]) the prevailing thought in my mind has been
Because it's not possible that I could have such a beauty as a child, that I might have earned the privilege of parenting someone who makes me look so good when really, truly, I'm a mess and totally undeserving. It's not possible that she might be so healthy, in every way bright, sociable, warm, funny, creative - that kind of amazing belongs to other people who know what they're doing. It couldn't be true that the clumsy, uncalculated path I took to becoming an adult led me to become the lifelong mentor to this magical person - what could I possibly offer that she doesn't already possess naturally in spades? She's so smart. She's so charming. So gorgeous. It's just inconceivable, isn't it?
(Are you repeating the line in your head from The Princess Bride about that word not meaning what I think it means?)
And yet, if ever a prayer has been answered, mine was. If ever a dream came true, mine did. If ever the impossible has happened, she is. As inconceivable as she might be, my lovely Lucy reminds me every day that, with God, all things indeed are possible and even the least worthy among us is treated with treasure and precious love. And for that, I am eternally grateful.