25 September 2012

Your guess is as good as mine

So here we are again.


On Sunday, my house was inundated with student filmmakers. We knew the daughter's production schedule would ratchet up this year--the conservatory director gives everyone a rundown of what the whole four years looks like so we know the commitment.  For this class, as her screenplay was chosen for a group filming project, she's director.

And her film requires a residential interior scene.

(Does this remind anyone else of the time I had a thousand people looking in my refrigerator for the son's male refrigerator blindness project? Yeah, me too.)

I'll give the kids a great deal of credit: they were organized and they knew what they wanted and needed to accomplish. They had the room dressed, lit and ready to go. Of course, we were having a mini-heatwave, so I kept turning the air conditioning down to account for the heat generated by the lights.

Nothing caught fire.

The parent who owned the big lights was here supervising as well, so I just kept out of the way, listening to the daughter call, "Action!" Which made me smile.

And all went well until I suddenly heard cries of, "Mrs. S.!" "MOMMY!" "L.'s mom!"

I have not been called "L.'s mom" since the daughter was in fifth grade.

I went to investigate the problem.

"We need to make CH cry," the daughter told me. Their actress, one of the daughter's closest friends, sat amidst the blankets on the son's former bed looking at me expectantly. As was the rest of the film crew.

"Okay...?" I asked, slightly puzzled.

"So...!" the daughter said impatiently, gesturing emphatically with both hands.

Clearly, I was meant to make some sort of magic. I thought for a moment.

Within minutes, CH had tears streaming decoratively down her face.

Later, the other parent emerged to get a bottle of water. We chatted for a few moments about how well the our filmmaking team was doing in getting their scene down and how wonderfully motivated everyone was.

"We all have our jobs, and they are getting done," he said serenely.

"Even when we have to make them cry," I said with a small smile.

"And you do it well!" he laughed.

Saline solution is a wonderful thing.

Go listen to some good music: "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" from the album A Rush of Blood to the Head by Coldplay. Yeah, ok, maybe not the most entertaining post in the universe. But this is my life at the moment. And I could have done the heart attack version of my drive home tonight. THAT would be entertaining.

19 September 2012

You let your mind out somewhere down the road

A text with my morning coffee:

The son: I have to work the Saturday you're here. If I can figure out a way to trade the hours, I will.

Me: No no no. Not if it's a hassle and you risk losing hours (and dollars). I wouldn't ask that of you. No worries, I can entertain myself.

The son: I don't want to punish you for making the effort to come out and see me!

Me: Don't stress about it. I'll go sit in a bar and pick up spies until you're done. The we can go have dinner! (without the spies)

The son: 'Pick up spies'? Please. What spy would be good enough for your discerning tastes? They're all greasy and shifty-looking. You wouldn't like them at all.

Me: Or! I'll shoot up to Philly after Saturday lunch, see Rush, and be back in time for Sunday brunch!

While unlikely, it would be far better than spies.

Go listen to some good music: "Don't Bring Me Down" from the album Discovery by Electric Light Orchestra.

12 September 2012

Fallen empires

My horoscope warned me this morning that I must always remember that I don't live in a vacuum. It's something that I remind myself of quite frequently, especially as I write here. Everything has repercussions and I am conscious of my responsibility to myself, my subject matter and my audience. Not that I am able to gauge every action and reaction and consequence, and occasionally, I'm taken by surprise at how some things are taken. Fortunately, it's always been benign; who knew that posting a photo of an old pair of Birkenstocks would take the web by storm.

Would that others thought as carefully of their actions.

I was reading the news over my morning coffee, which was how I learned of the killing of Christopher Stevens, US Ambassador to Libya; Sean Smith of the State Department; and two other US diplomats in Benghazi.

From what I've read of him today, Stevens wasn't interested in living in a vacuum and made a point of getting out onto the streets of the places where he served in the diplomatic service. He appears to have been well-regarded by the Libyans, many of whom were photographed today holding up signs apologizing for his death and proclaiming him a friend.

It is heartbreaking that the work of fools--and I'm not speaking here of just the terrorists who were directly involved in the attack, but also of the terrorists who fomented it--can bring down good work. Stupid, thoughtless fools with stupid, thoughtless agendas.

We all have agendas. We raise our children with our agendas, something that was brought home to me today, when the son forwarded me a polite email he'd received from his college that noted information about his ethnicity was missing from his file.

"THIS," he wrote me.

Yes, that. That which I taught him and his sister: certainly we are all different and that's fine, but at the end of the list and the end of the differences, we are all human and that is, ultimately, the only label that matters. To say otherwise? Vacuum.

So, that. And that a man had to stand on a Libyan street today holding a sign that read "Sorry People of America this is not the behavior of our Islam and Prophet."

But also that the life, perhaps more than the death, of another man moved him to do so.

Go listen to some good music: "Fallen Empires" from the album Fallen Empires by Snow Patrol. There but for the grace of God.

11 September 2012

A kiss on the wind and we'll make the land

Sometimes, it looks as though you are reading my mind, that we are tuned to the same frequency, that our desires align. We search one another's actions in so far as possible, but more, we search one another's words, looking for subtext, seeking clues, willing useful information to appear.

I've struggled all these years with the place where reality and illusion intersect. What is and what I want, trying to believe that they are the same thing. But I'm far too rational to accept that at face value. I ask: what have I projected on what is? Where have I created a complicated mosaic that completes the picture I like when a very simple and less desirable outcome might be the truth? For a moment, I convince myself of the miracle and run toward it with all my heart until my unbelievably reasonable (and absolutely no fun) brain pulls me up short and asks, "Pardon me, but are you insane?"

So I amass evidence with the idea of convincing myself that no, I am not insane, and yes, this is what is going on, and yes, I should be heading that direction full tilt...

And reason rolls its eyes at me.

Meanwhile, you are watching all of this out of context, so you probably imagine that I am a madwoman or at the least, very fickle. At which point, you roll your eyes at me.

And I'm sad.

On and on it goes.

It's my fault, I'm the first to admit. I lack confidence when it comes to challenging my rational brain's suggestion that it's all far too improbable. I think of all the times I could have done something different, and lost my nerve because, well, wouldn't it all be a miracle? Or a lot of wishful thinking. But when I look at, on the face of it, your face on it, reason says that yes, there is no rational explanation that excludes the miracle.

(Yes, you can read that again. I'll wait.)

Miracles, real miracles, aren't magical, I think. They don't arise from fate or some mysterious being. When you think about it, they stem from choice. They only look magical because sometimes they seem so improbable or they arise from circumstances that weren't immediately obvious. But do we see them as improbable only because we missed or misread the probability? We made a choice to be in the same place at the same time because we liked the same thing. We are tuned to the same frequency and our desires align. So really it's no wonder.

Well, it is a wonder. It's a miracle!

Most assuredly, I am not the thing miracles are made of. But it's possible I am someone miracles are made for. Improbability only exists because I said it did.

At which point, I can almost believe.

And if you meet me half way...

Go listen to some good music: "Jig of Life" from the album Hounds of Love by Kate Bush. Yes, this very much has a point, and was written for a particular situation, though it has plenty of applications. Also, I started having an irrational amount of fun with it. As a musical note, I listened to this album incessantly when it came out, and it brought joy and hope to an otherwise rather dark time in my life. Funny how that happens.

10 September 2012

A missing part of me

I will be back on the East Coast for a weekend near the middle of next month, and I was poking around on Google to see what was going on, what I might do for additional amusement. I have a precious Friday morning all to myself before I am launched into more parental stuff. There are museums, my favorite cheese shop...

It caught my eye immediately: Master class with Suzanne Farrell Ballet. Intermediate and advanced adult students.

What wouldn't I give?

I have an old and comfortable pair of toe shoes that I couldn't quite bear to get rid of when I gave up pointe ten years ago after an ankle injury. They are a small reminder. Even as a young child, I wanted to take ballet, and like the piano lessons I also coveted, was never allowed to do so. So, when I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant at 16, I immediately went to the local ballet school and signed up for classes to supplement the lessons in modern dance I'd wangled my way into at my high school. It didn't matter how tired I was; it didn't matter how many hours I'd already danced that day, how much homework I had, I never missed one of my 7pm classes.

Tenacity granted me pointe shoes.

For a moment, I allowed myself the possibility of taking that class. It's an opportunity that I would have sacrificed a good deal for. I'd watched Suzanne Farrell for years, studying her technique through the auspices of PBS' Live at Lincoln Center. To be able to take a class with her company...I could feel the smooth wood of a barre under my hand, hear an upright piano pound out beats to the tune of Mozart.

I smiled at the thought, and a little regretfully, closed the window.

No more barres. Just another bar in my cage.

This is the place where tenacity does not win the day.

Still, half a day to myself. Time that is mine. Time for a small adventure. And perhaps that is where tenacity does win.

Go listen to some good music: "The Anarchist" from the album Clockwork Angels by Rush. I was bemused to discover that some people believe I have fallen into the Slough of Despond where my...inability...is concerned. True, I am not happy about it. True, I force feed myself perspective, and you might not believe the lengths I've gone in this regard. But mostly? Where what I can and can't do comes into play, I live in an ecstasy of rage. No acceptance, no bargaining, no peace. Just sheer rage.

02 September 2012


Me: "I assume you haven't eaten breakfast."

The spouse, peering blearily at his computer, reading glasses perched on the end of his nose: "You assume correctly."

I begin to assemble ingredients, heat the waffle iron and start stirring things together.

The spouse, reading from a pop-up window on his screen: "Fantasy football player M: 'I am so messed up. What day is it? Did I miss the draft?'"

Me: "A little early to be messed up on a Sunday morning."

The spouse: "He's always messed up."

Me, primly: "Would you like a can of beer with those waffles?"

The spouse: "GAH!"

Me: "If you tell them I am making you beer and waffles for breakfast in honor of draft day, I guarantee they will all want to come over."

The spouse snorts. A moment later, he laughs out loud.

The spouse, reading from his screen: "Neighbor J: 'Can I come over?'"

Me, waving my spatula merrily: "Told you!"

The spouse, reading from his screen: "Neighbor B: 'Solid. I like her style.'"

Me: "I wonder if I should take a tray over to Neighbor J. A waffle and a can of Coors."

The spouse: "DO IT!"

Me, musingly: "Of course, P (his wife and my friend) probably wouldn't appreciate it."

The spouse, reading from his screen: "Neighbor B: 'We are all out of Squirrel Juice.'"

I have a refrigerator full of Squirrel Juice (Coors Light) that I've been trying to get the spouse to dispose of but I held my peace. Better than having them all crowded in my kitchen next year.


3 c. whole wheat flour
4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. orange juice
1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/3 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs

Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, orange juice, applesauce, oil and eggs. Pour milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (there will still be some lumps). Cook waffles according to the directions that came with the waffle iron.

Makes about a dozen standard-size waffles. Leftovers can be frozen for later use.

The base for this recipe is the King Arthur whole wheat waffle recipe. I doubled their proportions and made a few changes including reducing the salt, adding cinnamon and substituting applesauce for half the oil, which makes a slightly more cake-like waffle that I prefer, though it is still quite light, with a pleasantly crunchy outside.

Go listen to some good music: "Fantasy" from the album Greatest Hits by Earth, Wind & Fire.