musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the month “January, 2012”


Long ago and far away, I attended a tiny precocious college in the Berkshire Hills with a now cult followed musician named Mike Doughty. The place was small enough that everyone really did know everyone. He and I ran in a variety of Venn Diagram multiple cross-sectioning circles of creative people.

Everyone did. It couldn’t be helped. The place has a magical sense of anything is possible – you could be the next Great American Writer, Rock Star, Actor, World Changer, Scientific Nobel Winner, etc. Many came out of that school and are doing exactly that.

Many of us aspired to be all of the above. The sheer weight of that amazing sense of possibility and responsibility could be crushing at times, and many souls were lost, if not forever, for a while.

One great tale of that road of possibility has recently been published. Mike Doughty wrote it. It’s a necessary tale of what it takes some of us to go through to reach the possibility and make it real, prices we pay along the way to reach it, and to find out what that goal really means, and did we reach for the right one?

(Click book cover for amazon link)

Yes, it is a sordid tale, exactingly laid out. But the drugs and what became of him on them is not what this is really about. It’s where he is now, how he can see where he was and how it informs who he is now, much happier, even while the voices of self-loathing and doubt accompany him today. His relationship to those voices has changed.

This is a story of a man whose heart is in his hand, bloody and pumping, offered to you. It’s a story of possibility gone utterly wrong in the band in which he achieved his (first run) cult following, that ultimately became his personal demise. There were rumors among those of us who knew him ten years earlier, that he had died. Thank whatever you want that he didn’t. It is a story of redemption and self-compassion.

I read it in under twenty-four hours, even in the midst of my usual mayhem, because it is incredibly conversational, like one of those old all night conversations in dorm rooms way back when.

I think you would agree, even if you don’t know him the shimmer that I did once upon a time. It’s a good read. As with many of my recommendations, in reading it, you may see a few things about yourself in his words.

This is not your usual glorified seedy side rock star memoir. Though much of that is found inside.

Go on, give it a try. You know you want to.

PS: The music he is putting out now reminds me a lot of what he was doing back at that little enclave school. His sense of pure creativity has returned. Click on his name in the first paragraph to see his website or purchase  his latest CD, Yes, and Also Yes by clicking the title here.

Addendum! Latest CD, The Question Jar Show comes out Tuesday!

white noise

Last night, I took my son Mr. Cynic to see an arena show with three bands.

His favorite, ADTR played second, and I have to say, I enjoyed them immensely, too. He wrote their set list on his arm – in Sharpie.

Today is his Spanish V exam.

Dear Spanish Teacher,

These are not cheats, I promise.


K’s mom.

The opening band, The Menzingers, were right about my speed, a fun old school power punk band, reminded me of New Model Army, with whom I hung out backstage a couple of times, when they were finally let back into the US. Pesky political songs had them banned from the Reagan Era until early Clinton years.

Reminiscence of an old punk aside, last night’s show was great, and each band got louder than the last until we arrived at Rise Against, the headliner,  which made my ears blow out completely. I regretted not making a better effort to locate ear plugs before the show. So did Mr. Cynic. We left before the encore, even while we enjoyed them – we just would have enjoyed them more with better planning.

In the aftermath, I tell you this tale because I have some time this morning to write or edit, and I am struggling a little with it.

While my ears are not bleeding, or ringing really, my head is full of white noise from the damage to my eardrums.

It’s a bit distracting.

My hearing took quite a beating from the many shows I attended from my teens through my 30s, mostly outdoor festivals or smaller club shows where I was pressed against the stage and speakers. That’s how I saw NMA. In Europe, they are rather like U2, arena-filling, but stateside, not so much, since they were banned.

So if I say huh a lot, and ask for repeats, there’s a good reason for it.

Life is good. Crank it up.

to kiss or not to kiss

Toots declared a while back that she no longer likes kisses and has eschewed them for quite some time now.

Last night that changed for about half an hour or so. She accepted kisses on her forehead and cheek, and even leaned into them and leaned in for more. Many kisses were given, then she started giving them back. It was a regular kissfest.

And then she didn’t want any more of our bad breath germs and passed mine to Daddy and Daddy’s to me, which involved more giving of kisses, but no more receiving of them on her part. She didn’t keep any for herself.

Three and a half year old logic and sense of hygiene are so malleable.




etsy addict

Hi, my name is Cathy. I am an addict.

An Etsy addict.

I usually peruse longingly over many handcrafted items I would like to buy, some by friends, some I just dangerously stumble upon. My friends’ goods are my Gateway drug.

One thing about having a part time job is I can give myself a little treat. And I do mean little, it is part time after all, and my dog needed to go to the vet again. She’s on the mend, though. Anyway, today’s little treats came from


A very affordable, colorful and inspirational place to find Artsy Doodles.  Aimee’s art is very lively, funky and sweet.  Perfect little mantras to get you through your day. A few doodles sing coffee’s praises.

The Happy Shack

A very colorful and happy place to find handmade jewelry and fun photography. Kelly’s jewelry has kick and her photos have spunk.

They blog, too, and can be found at Artsyville and Artful Happiness. When I’m having a cranky or down day, Aimee and Kelly always perk up my mood. And if I am happy when I read their blogs, I giggle and grin and usually find, it is just what I needed then, too.

Go check them out!

editing hump

This morning I had every intention of zipping along through a few hours of editing the final pages of my manuscript. My mayhem dictated a bit otherwise.

1. Honey woke up late, and I didn’t feel like getting out of bed either, even though I heard the boys stirring downstairs. So we got off to a later start than usual. And then Toots slept in a bit and didn’t want to wake, and for about the third time in six years of living together, I woke up Grandma, who I knew had an earlier exercise class on Tuesdays, to ask her if she would take Toots with her so I could edit. And, by the way, Toots only wanted Grandma to get her out of bed this morning, too.

2. I was getting into the shower when the last family members to leave for the day were already out the door – that put me about an hour into the precious writing time.

3. I experienced a few technical difficulties which caused much smoke to emit from my ears and unsavory language to disembark from my mouth. Good thing I was home alone, but that did not prevent me from calling my tech support, Honey, at work to fume and swear in his general direction. Poor guy was working on a big project at work. Like he needed my vitriole in his ear at that moment, too. Thanks for putting up with me Hon, even though you didn’t really help and I ended up figuring out ‘go arounds’ myself.

4. I figured out ‘go arounds’ myself. Even re: stuff I didn’t bring up to my dear spouse.

5. I opened the Document.

6. I stared at it, knowing full well what I needed to do to it, and I stared at the critiqued copy which was telling me what to do with it, but apparently I did not have my listening ears on.

7. I called a fellow writing friend who thankfully was home sick from work up in Boston (how selfish of me, I know, but I did wish him to feel better, and he did help a lot with giving me a better perspective of why I was using a device that I was at the moment struggling to edit)

8. I listened to a couple of songs on youtube. those youngsters today are making some good music. Please check out bands: A Day To Remember, Rise Against and Snow Patrol. Be forewarned, these are my rocknroller teen’s current favorite bands. The song he did in yesterday’s post is from the band A Day To Remember.

8.5 I whined on Facebook.

9. I kicked myself in the figurative butt and started typing.

10. I ended up pretty happy with what I got, and called my Boston writing friend again to confirm, and he gave me one more good piece of advice: put it dialogue instead of the main character’s thoughts. Actually, I think I screamed it over him as he said it, but it would have taken me longer to get to the realization if I hadn’t called Mr. Snuffles.

11. I saved it, in two places (always back up, lesson learned a long time ago when I was writing my thesis and my hard drive crashed taking my thesis with it, and I had 3 days and nights to hobble it all back together from old notes while hallucinating from sleep deprivation) and then

12. Grandma walked back in the door with Toots.

So I will finish the last few pages another time, maybe when Toots goes down for nap. Or tomorrow morning before I go to work…

I guess, I’m saying (and I have to thank the same friend in Boston for this one, too)
“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.” ~ Doris Lessing 

proud mom

One of the many things on my overbooked schedule this weekend was Mr. Cynic’s performance with two other friends at his school talent show. Here’s the video the lead guitarist’s mother took.


The balance could have been a little better, there were sound tech difficulties the whole night. But they still rocked the house. My kid is the singing rhythm guitarist.



Captain Comic is not inclined to do schoolwork or homework. Lots of negotiations arise around doing homework at school or doing schoolwork at home. This is not to say he won’t work exceedingly hard at drawing a new comic idea, think hard about planning a new movie idea, or read incessantly about whatever catches his fancy. This month, it seems to be cryptozoology.

Friday night of the long weekend, I came home from work after usual dinner time, and declared, “If you do not do this work Mrs. T emailed me about, you will lose TV all weekend.” There was a little preliminary discussion before I said that, but it came rather quickly because I was burnt out and trying to figure out the best way to thwart arguments between him and the rest of the family all weekend while I was booked elsewhere.

Capt. Comic: (volume on 11, per Spinal Tap) MOM! You can’t do that! That is cruel and unusual punishment! And Besides – It’s a long weekend, I have Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon (counting out on his fingers like an old school marm), SUNDAY morning, oh wait, Sunday afternoon, and all day Monday to do my homework.

Mom: Or you can do your work first, and will be able to relax the rest of the weekend while I work and have a million other things scheduled.

Capt. Comic: (begins litany again, but louder) BUT MOM – I don’t think you REALIZE what I AM TELLING YOU –

Mom: Oh yes I do, but what I am telling you, is you can get the work you need to do done first, and then you will have the rest of the weekend to do what you want.

Captain Comic: BUT-

Mom: NOW or time out and no tv all weekend.

Capt. Comic: GRRRRR….(Stomp, stomp, stomp away and returns with Algebra work) FINE, but I can do my Science Project tomorrow, AFTER video games.

Mom: We’ll see.

Captain Comic: You can’t  do that!

Mom: Let’s focus on your Math work now.

Capt. Comic: GGRRRR.

We settled into a semi-argumentative figuring out of Interest equation solutions, and word problems – oh joy for both of us – I am averse to formulas and he is averse to word problems.  After a couple of them, Captain Comic paused. threw down his pen  (Never did convince him that it would be better to use a pencil for this) and exclaimed, with resignation and incredulity:

Mom, I don’t think I am prepared for Life at all.

I tried my best to restrain from bursting out laughing. He now declares, I did a combination of both.


This morning, as I primped

sentence interlude – I love that word, my mother always used it, as in she would never leave the house ‘without her face on’ or without primping first – and back:

Toots sat on the hall floor, rocking and singing to two baby dolls.

Wock a bye, baby
in da tee top
when da wind bwows
da cadow wiw wock
when the wind bwows
da cadow wiw faw
and down wiw –

I interrupted to sing the missing line:

Wait, you forgot,
When the bough breaks…


Wock a bye baby….


chicken, no head

I am trying to slow down, really. I have parts of some days that it is possible. And I do.

But, yes, I am late, but not forgotten.

For New Year’s Weekend, we visited my family in Connecticut, the house I grew up in, and I retrieved the boys from their father who lives in Rhode Island. It was too much driving in too short a time, but good to see my parents, brothers and their families. I can’t believe how fast my nephews are growing and how grown up my niece is now, with her own apartment in Boston.

In its way it was like so many Christmas gatherings of old, the way my mother likes them: as much as everyone in one place as possible. We used to do this with her enormous family when I was a kid, too. Must be where the mayhem started.

For about a half an hour of quiet, I took Honey and Toots to the old boat marina. A bit of salty air does me good, always, and this is the original salty air for me. Usually when I visit, I hit one of the beaches for a bit, but I hadn’t been to the Marina in decades. I went with my gut instinct to  see the marina.

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In other news, I contacted an award winning local musician for a senior year mentorship for Mr. Cynic. He’s very impressed with his songs, says he has an impeccable sense of rhythm, among other things and he is excited to work with him on his songwriting skills and in the process of recording the songs he writes, will learn some basics in music production. Mr. Cynic has his heart set on going into music, however it happens, and production was the contingency plan for his creative side.  Now is the official beginning of his career, if this mentoring happens for next school year, for credit, and so forth, one step closer to his college of choice, Berklee College of Music.

Here’s another little sample of his stuff:

I really couldn’t be happier. Unless I finish this draft of my manuscript at writing group tomorrow!

happy bday to me

I have had more mayhem than usual since I moved to WordPress, consequently, more intention to post and less chance to do so.

I will try to get more consistent about it shortly, things may start to settle down a little, post holidays.

I usually post a number of things coincidental to the number of years a person in my family is turning, but today, I may skip that for fear you would not reach the end of the post.

Instead I will try 10. maybe 12, because that is double my favorite number, which is my favorite, because there are so many of them in my birthday. And I can never stop at a reasonable limit. Just ask cookies, or chips.

1. I gave this to myself as a little birthday present because, I need to heed this advice more to calm the mayhem: (sorry, not a lot of time this morning and had trouble uploading photo and setting link to it).

2. It snows on my birthday every year. It’s Mother Nature’s little dose of happiness to me. She knows I love it. I am pretty confident it will not snow here on my south coastal Virginia peninsula wedged between two rivers, today. The forecast is for a high of 6oF.  But if it snows where you are, please let me know. It will give me a little winking thrill.

3. My boys have both outgrown me this year. Captain Comic has been sneaking (not certain if this is accidental or on purpose, sometimes both most likely) wearing the new pants I bought for Mr. Cynic. Mr. Cynic declares he feels violated when he sees Captain Comic in his jeans. They wear the same size, and Captain Comic says, “What?! They are my size! I checked!”  I think he knows how to work his special difference to his advantage.

4. I need to slow down, I love the energy of a good life pace, but even for me I need to be conscious of how quickly things avalanche. See number 1.

5. My daughter is a regular little person now. She still sounds like she’s talking through helium, and she’s a tiny little spit of a kid, but she stuns me with her grown-up qualities daily.

6. My Honey sang Happy Birthday to me in bed this morning, before dawn.

7. Grandma showed me a recipe the other day for a Boston Creme Cake. She wants to make it for me. It’s a giant donut. Now that’s love. I don’t know when we’ll share it or I’ll have a chance to blow out the candles today, but I love the idea.

8. Some how, at some point in this wacky scheduled day, there will be a dirge-like rendition of Happy Birthday, one kid mouthing it with fingers in his ears, and saying CHACHACHA between verses.

9. I love my life, and happy I am still here, aches and pains and mayhem, et al.

10. Going to see my stylist today. Happy birthday to me!

11. The camellias are blooming.

12. This year is going to burst with goodness. I just know it in my gut.

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