musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the month “February, 2012”


I don’t know what to think of it. Is it here yet?

Yes. And then No.

And then kinda sorta, ah forget it.

February had blooms and snow and rain and 80F and freezing temperatures, all jumbled together.

Today is pretty dull, dank and chill. My daffodils and jonquils haven’t burst open yet, but locally, I see their sunshiney faces welcoming a season that hasn’t really arrived in others’ yards.

My winter blooming camellias are still blooming. The whites, variegated somewhat with my reds, began to bloom about a month behind the reds. Reds started in earnest in December. Whites sometime in January and are still hanging in there.

I should have deadheaded them more than I have, but well, see prior posts, things have been a mite crazier than usual around here.

I am holding out hope that things will settle down sometime soon…back to the usual mayhem.

I had the day off yesterday, and my writing group met. I have some more margin notes and a few more edited and typed paragraphs into my final chapter, so close, but for time to sit down and finish typing the sucker er, manuscript out. Last Chapter. Really. That close. My Chapters are quite short, mere pages. Wish me luck and the time and headspace to do it, please.

In the meantime, have a lovely Leap Day!




That’s what I have always called them. I check them everyday and pay attention or not depending upon relevant connection to my life. I actually briefly check two every morning and go with the one that seems the better fit, or looks to make for a happier day if I follow the advice, which is usually to keep my eyes open and breath….

This morning, I need to reconcile them. 1st one, from my internet homepage:

You’ve been working especially hard and you’re beginning to wonder if all your effort has been for naught. A restructuring at work leaves you wondering just exactly where you fit in or if you even fit in at all. You may have a troubling few days, Capricorn, but will be relieved to learn that the higher-ups have big plans for you in the newly organized, streamlined company.(source: msn)

The 2nd is from the usually more easybreezy chick site:

You’re feeling confident, creative, and fueled by some serious willpower today. This is a great time to put some steam behind your passions and ideas. Just make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew, though. You’re likely to overestimate what you can handle. Don’t forget to pace yourself; otherwise, what started out as fun could end up feeling like a burden. (source: astrostyle)

Of course I like the opening of the second one.  The rest of both fits more what has been going on at my job lately.

This was supposed to be a silly little part time gig to supplement family income, while I could still take care of my family’s needs and write, but in the past week or so especially, it has become the monster that is chewing me up bit by bit.

Thanks for listening, I am hoping in the next few days that certain things at the job will resolve, from tech difficulties to cracks in my training getting some spackle.

Thank goodness my writing group meets tomorrow.  I hope I can focus well on writing for a couple of hours tomorrow morning. Also, I sang my heart out yesterday morning at my fellowship, before going in to work to fill in for someone else. And the Academy Awards and a little of the red carpet pre-show almost took my mind off of things for a bit. Additionally, I came home to a lovely split pea soup that Honey made, knowing that I really need some comfort of late, and Toots cuddled with me and was a balm to my raw little soul.

Life is good, but sometimes, it’s a challenge in ways I hadn’t expected.










writing, editing

I have said it before, I am on my last few pages of my middle reader novel’s third major draft. Last time my schedule allowed me to even open the document was on January 31st. On that day, I think I worked over one paragraph.

Today, I have had the document opened for about three hours so far. I am halfway through another paragraph. Of course, I went back and edited a bit to get to the point of what I planned to edit today, to get me in the groove, so to speak, but really? Why does it take me so long to rewrite this darned paragraph yet again?

It finally occurred to me that it takes me so long, because every word and where I put them really counts this time. It matters so much, because I am in the final stretch and I really want to get it right. I don’t want it to be sloppy, I want it to convey exactly what I am going for.

The closer I get to the final page, the more it matters – the more every word counts. The more I don’t want to lean on phrasing I’ve written how many times before. The more I want my main character to see, the less I need to say he looked. You get my drift?

It matters so much.


I am musing upon make-up this morning.

In my teens, I wore entirely too much. I was self conscious of my zits, and wore green eye shadow, purple eyeliner and blue mascara around my brown eyes. I wore a dark plum blush to define hollowness in my chipmunk cheeks. I wore fuscia and purple frosty lipsticks that I had a bad habit of chewing off. Except when I was at the beach. Then I wore baby oil (not on my face) and sprayed something I dubbed Ocean Potion in my hair – a combination of lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide and salty polluted water of Long Island Sound. I wore entirely too much Dippity Do and  mousse. Everyone did, it was the early eighties. Having said that, I never rocked the giant hair of the eighties.

In my twenties, I rebelliously eschewed make-up and hair products, unless it was a special occasion, or the rare occasion I just felt like it. I wore oversized clothes on my 98lb frame and refused to believe anyone wanted to look at me.  Post-college, when I was working at a big wig law firm for a few years, I wore suits and just enough required make-up everyday (mascara, a little foundation dotted on a random zit, Clinique’s black honey lip gloss or a wine lipstick by Chanel – early 90s, folks, even indies like Lisa Loeb wore wine lipstick), but my hair was basically down to my waist and always pulled back into a ponytail or a big barrette. My skin felt healthier, and looked healthier than when I was younger. Then I got pregnant with Mr. Cynic and chopped off all that hair.

In my thirties, I became more comfortable with my face, started to lose the chipmunk cheeks, and didn’t really care one way or the other if I wore any makeup. I was generally leaning toward naturalness in all things, and that included the rare use of make-up as a mom of two young boys. Lip balm was the order of the day.

In my forties, my eyes look beadier, my eyelashes are even more invisible. I am naturally greyer than a 60 year old, and recently returned to dying and highlighting the hair. I look tired because I am. My skin is beginning to show the signs of all that early sun exposure, and I still get zits on par with my teen sons. I wear make-up more daily now, and feel a little more self-conscious when I leave the house without some on. But I still prefer to go without if I’m not going anywhere.

Mr. Cynic thinks I worry too much what other people think. I know that isn’t really the case. I just want to feel more presentable, illustrating my internal pep rather than my flagging energy.

Sigh, now I understand why my mother never left the house without “her face on.”

choices up against a wall

There is a lot of talk around the blogosphere  about choices. You only bring into your life what you ask for, etc.

And while I am as woowoo as the woowoo-est among us, and do generally prescribe to this theory, there is another part of me that says this is a crock of —-rubbish.

And that some people, who may have it a tad easier than some of us, often use this bon mot of wisdom to look down their noses at those of us who may not look like we have our s@&*# together. Yea, the view is pretty nice from the top. Mountain vistas usually are. Why don’t you come down here and join me for a day and see what the view is in the valley filled with jungle vines and no machete in sight?

I am going to talk about one area of my life where this karmic equation really bugs the you know what out of me, and no this will not be a rant, much as it looks like I am revving up to one.

I did not ask for one of my children to have a form of autism. There, I said it. Phew. It’s almost like I can breathe to admit it. But guess what? I reach this moment about 47 times every single day for the past thirteen and a half years. People have told me over the years that I shouldn’t think about that, but you know what? If I didn’t I’m not sure I could make it through any given day.

He did not ask to be born with a disorder that compromises everything about a ‘normal’ life.

We did not enter this life with each wanting to get into a verbal tangle over every little thing for him to accomplish from brushing teeth to doing homework. From sitting in his chair at dinner to making a consensus choice for family movie night that does not involve giant monsters or robots and might include a musical number or two and a princess. From wearing his winter coat on a 40 degree day to not wearing it on a 100 degree day.

I did not choose to have a child who did not choose his autism so that he could get bullied at school, on top of just trying to implement viable accommodations for his Individualized Education Plan. I did not choose to have a child who, when he has a normal cold, coughs so that it sounds and looks like he has tuberculosis, so school authorities will send him home over something a neurotypical kid would just deal with and not totally disrupt even the special ed class.

He did not choose to have to rage against an onslaught of sensory information every waking moment of his life.

I did not choose to have a son who could break my heart with his frustrations and suffering to communicate his needs , as well as blow my heart up bigger than I ever thought possible, every single moment of every day.

What I choose in the face of what Life DEALT me, and him, like it deals some other families cancer or cerebral palsy or Tourette’s, or severe allergies, or anything else, is to find what I can to enjoy in the midst of the mayhem of daily living.

I can choose, when things are at their most hectic and I really should just take that Saturday night once a month to go lie down and get a good night’s sleep, to instead be an hour and a half late to join my friends who also have children with special needs, so that we can laugh our faces off in the face of what we face everyday on our own.

Whether we have jobs, spouses, or anyone else to help, or other kids’ schedules to wrestle with, it often feels like the managing of every interaction, the assessing of where our children are and how to swing that response pendulum in a better direction – and it’s a wild one, let me tell you – is completely up to the parent who oversees functioning for that child.

For instance, today:

Last night I left laundry in a midway state when I went to bed. This morning I asked Captain Comic to please help (and occupy him so he would stop pacing around me trying to get me to look at something he wanted to show me online while I was trying to just have my coffee and check 75 emails before getting in the shower so that I could take him and his sister to a doctor appointment I couldn’t get for yesterday, which is taking me away from my writing group today, when he’d called me out of work to come get him at school because of the cough I mentioned earlier and I hadn’t even walked into the door of work  at my recent re-employ yet yesterday) by moving the clothes from the washer to the dryer for me.

I did not specify for him to remove the clothes that were in the dryer before transferring the wash load there. I wondered briefly if I should let that important piece of information go or risk an argument for micromanaging my instructions to him. I also wondered if I should specify to put those clothes into a basket rather than dump them on the floor. I chose to risk them being dumped on the garage floor.

He came back in from the garage and Honey asked him where the dry load was.

“In the dryer.”

He merely added the wet clothes to the dry clothes and hit ON. We talked to him about that being too much and that he needed to remove the dry clothes from the dryer before adding the wet. Honey asked him to go back out there and remove the dry clothes please. He went out, came back in a few minutes later empty-handed.

Honey: Where’s the basket of dry clothes?

Captain Comic: What do you mean?

Honey: Where did you put the dry clothes?

(I was listening from the office to see how this would play out and seeing every step of this conversation before it happened)

Capt. Comic: Oh, in the garage.

Honey: Please bring it inside now.

Capt. Comic went out to retrieve the basket. Came struggling back in through the door with it, mightily. He was like Atlas must have acted as he lifted the world onto his shoulders just bringing the basket indoors.

Honey: [Captain Comic] Are the wet clothes in that basket, too?

Capt. Comic: Yes (in an of course tone, because this is what we asked, right?)

It goes on, but you can have a little taste. This is our normal. Every Day. Several times a day. And he wasn’t even arguing about our forcing him into Child Slave Labor over this one. He was being reasonably compliant!

And this is why my Mom’s Night Out is so important. Because this particular set of moms just gets these moments and understands and can laugh about it to help each other laugh it off. Because if we didn’t, this is a rough life.

They understand that I am not martyring by telling the story, I am not saying, oh poor me, I am just getting it out of my system, and am not looking for big puppy eyes or condescension or advice or anything else. This is just my IS. And my IS is pretty darned ridiculous. So I better be able to laugh.

Okay, the other thing is I brought him back to school after today’s doctor appointment. I really didn’t want to unstrap Toots from her car seat so she could commune with the fish tank as I sign him back in in the middle school office like I usually do. I called the secretary and told her. She said it was fine, she would watch for him. He’s rather well-known around that school. You can’t miss him. Unless he wants you to, so it’s best to keep an eye on him. And make sure someone does when I don’t. He walked in saying he didn’t really want to go back to school today. He walked to the front door in Super-Slo-Mo. If you remember the 1984 Summer Olympics, you know how slow that is.

The sky this morning was very grey, a wintery it’s gonna snow kind of sky, but a tad too warm for snow. A blue flash and orange flash crossed my field of vision. a twirl of an Eastern Blue Bird. It stopped on the No Parking Here sign and let out a song. I swear he was looking right at me. He was beautiful, he sounded beautiful and he was full of the promise of Spring.

Choosing Laughter, and Choosing to see these moments of beauty and soak them in are the choices I make to survive. And I choose several times a day to Love Captain Comic. I choose to love him when I have nothing left but to yell back. I choose to Love him because he is mine and needs so much more love and understanding than the rest of the world put together. I choose to love him because any other choice is immoral or illegal or both. I choose to love him because, even in the midst of all of this, no one loves back more when he can show it.

If you ever meet him, and your heart is true, you will be hug attacked. I promise. He will bowl you over and then he will make you laugh more than you thought possible.

I was reminded today of why I read and loved all of those 19th century Russian novelists in college. Tolstoy said it best:

Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source. 

I choose Love.


Yes, there is snow, Virginia.

I was beginning to believe it didn’t exist. We already started spring here at the end of January.

See the hyacinth in the header photo?

The juniper by my front walk looks confused. a bulb is coming up next to it, a stray leaf is under it, and he has been snowcapped. I think he doesn’t know quite what to do about this state of affairs. He thinks, All time is now. The Buddha was right.


In the meantime, life has been off the charts crazy. I really don’t have time to be writing this post. I really need to be reading a lesson plan to ‘teach’ teens in about 2 hours, and finish coffee, and take a shower, and get all the kids ready to get out the door. And Captain Comic’s voice in my ear at 4am just about gave me a heart attack, “Mom, I can’t sleep.” Under normal circumstances, my normal, which is at least a little mayhem all the time, I would have awakened at the sound of his door opening and his feet on the hall carpet.

Last night, as we watched Mr. Cynic do a fabulous job in the All District Chorus concert, and be announced as an alternate Tenor II for the All Virginia Chorus, we couldn’t have been prouder or happier, even if Captain Comic and Toots were reenacting the Wild Ones in the audience. And then we walked out of the auditorium in Williamsburg to snow on the ground and the sky still spitting a mix of snow, ice, and rain. Yes, I use the Oxford comma.

Life couldn’t be better, but it could slow down just a little so I can breathe it in. And take a moment to play battle in the snow with the kids.


off the rails

My mayhem is growing.

For example: I thought I had rescheduled my hair appointment to today from Friday (because I scheduled a school meeting re: Captain Comic the same time as my Friday hair appointment) to today, because generally speaking, if my writing group does not meet, Tuesdays work best for me for appointments – Tuesdays are my new Saturdays – but I forgot that my stylist didn’t have anything available for today when I rescheduled, so I had made it for tomorrow, right at Toots’s preschool pick up time, Doi.  But I still had it in my mind for today, when I asked Grandma to take Toots with her this morning to her exercise class, to play in the little kid play room there, as I was rushing to take Lucy the Terrorizing Terrier to the vet because the month long run of antibiotics has not fixed whatever problem she is having, and then as I left with the dog, I glanced at my calendar and saw when my appointment was actually scheduled – tomorrow.

So, this put me in mind of a post I meant to post a long time ago now, really, sometime fairly recently, but since my life is so jam packed, I feel like it was last year when I took the below picture of things hanging on my bathroom wall, which are hanging there, because they were things I really need to pay attention to in order to stop my mayhem from becoming what it is at the moment which is amplified mayhem, of which I have only given you the tiniest taste of above.

I present a cell phone pic of two pieces of Artsyville doodle works. Aimee Dolich is so sweet and creative and fun and her doodles are always cheerfully right on the money for what I need at any given moment. Go ahead and click to enlarge so you can read the top one especially.


I swear the blue wall is prettier than it looks in this, and the glare on the lower piece is due to the fact that while I did hang both pieces up as soon as I received them in the mail, I broke the glass in the bottom frame in the process and well, the plastic from another old frame doesn’t quite fit, but I have every intention of finding a glass and replacing that asap. See? mayhem. I’m still rushing or I would tweak this image a bit.

So today I need to read the top one about seventy-two times before it will sink in. And then I will bake snickerdoodles, somewhere between laundry rounds, the dog’s discharge appointment and Mr. Cynic’s bass lesson. Because with snickedoodles, everything is alright.


And this folks, is my day off. Life is full. Please remind me to breathe. ANd do the same for yourself.



Captain Comic got me in the Ellen Dance Dare and they aired a clip! Don’t blink at about the third scene in.

Yes, I am folding laundry. It’s what I live for.

Hmm, The embed code didn’t give the visual in the blog, but you can see it by clicking.


Here’s the thing:

Toots was doing this for a long time before I whipped out the cellphone.

Oh to be under 4 and have invisible access to anything you want just by believing it is so.

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