Wah, Wah, Wah, I hate whining.
Mr. Cynic’s concert was incredible. His Jazz Choir is better even than my bragging about it. Toots bounced around her seat and between Honey’s lap and mine. Captain Comic had a sensory issue as the audience began to fill the front section around us. An old man kept looking at me like “Why can’t you discipline your kid?” So after a few attempts, I decided to let Capt. Comic do what his instincts dictated, and let him have a seat all the way in the back center of the auditorium rather than fight it. I went up to
blackmail inspire him to not move from his chosen seat with a threat that if he did so, he would lose all access to screens for a solid week. He stayed put. I turned around to check periodically throughout all three choirs’ numbers. As long as I saw his knees hanging over the seat in front of him, all was good. Mr. Cynic’s Jazz Choir was on last. During the second to last number – after the Hanna- Barbera Spiderman theme, of course – I felt a tap on my shoulder. and a whisper right in my ear:
Captain Comic: Mom. I need a drink.
The choices we mothers make. I went with finish watching one son as he excels and trust the one to worry about will be okay on his own to find a drinking fountain and not get into trouble. And guess what? It worked out. I sent Honey to collect him while I took Toots with me to go find Mr. Sparkly Red Vest. It only took a moment before I spotted Honey with Captain Comic in the hall with all of the singers before I even had a chance to hug my singer. Captain Comic beat me to it, literally, with a not so stealth pounce and grab knockdown tackle hug that took down all three siblings, and nearly me as well, as I had nearly reached hug contact with my eldest when he was hug attacked.
Honey took this phone pic of a mom and her progeny after the attack hug. It’s really the perfect shot of us all, exhausted and proud mom with her eyes closed, sleepy Toots, grinning from his performance Mr. Cynic, and goofball Captain Comic.
Life is good. Hug your kids, if you’ve got ’em. Happy Mother’s Day.
Then there was Toots’s Preschool Art Show this morning and “Muffins with Mom” event, where I received a bunch of little hand and footprints accompanied by sweet little rhymes. I swear they’re trying to kill me with the cute. I couldn’t even read the I leave my Handprints everywhere out loud for Toots when I unwrapped it, without catching a lump in my throat and my eyes becoming inexplicable fountains.
Tonight is Mr. Cynic’s high school jazz choir – the one that was Grand Champion in the Myrtle Beach regional competition – Spring Concert.
I will need a large box of tissues. I couldn’t even make it through my niece’s dance recitals over the years. I suppose I can just bring Captain Comic and Toots and go into parental management mode. Nah, it’ll never work. Not this week. I think I will just let the tears roll.
Happy Mother’s Day to the other weepers out there.
Before it got really going, I managed to take this of my first bulby blooms:
This morning, the creep is beginning to show already: an eraser, a shirt, an encyclopedia. I can not tell you how often I went over use one thing, put it back before you take another out. His desk surface still needs a thorough going through. That file cabinet is empty, has been since I slid it into his room for saving his artwork. Sigh. Below are three examples of heartbreak I tried to rescue:
Hmm..maybe this should be my first List it Tuesday for the year?
1. The boys are home and the twelve hour road trip was an adventure, starting with the giant donut and cup of milk at eight am. Toots ingested it faster than I’ve ever seen her eat anything in her little life, and it was bigger than her head. Her eyes were like glazed donuts when she spied its removal from the Dunkin bag. Since Halloween, she essentially has forgone all foods but sugar. All she asked from Santa was candy. I can’t wait til there’s no more candy in the house. She has been wired. Only tantrums she’s had have been during this sugared up quarter of a year. Back to the story:
Then she dug into a roll of raspberry Pez. An hour later, as I drove, we heard a little voice say, “I haf a bewwyache.”
Thank goodness I was driving. Honey turned around in time to see Toots’s cutely pathetic face reveal a repeat appearance of the Donut and milk combo streaked pink by Pez.
I’ll spare you more details, particularly the smell – which was something else. Poor kid. we pulled over on the side of the road and while Honey got her cleaned up in the grass with cars and trucks whizzing by – thank goodness the weather wasn’t frigid, I made good, if gag-inducing work of her seat.
Later, Honey vowed he’d never hand her a whole donut again.
We retrieved the boys in Delaware, a halfway meeting point with their father who lives in Rhode Island, and got back on the road around two pm. Later, as we considered a dinner stop, Toots who is about ninety percent potty trained, peed in her seat. Poor kid. That was the main reason I was considering the stop, I knew she was due. So there went the towel she was sitting on, and her second outfit. Good thing we packed three.
The kitchen staff of the restaurant very nicely gave us some clean dish rags for her sit on for the two hour ride home. So if you’re ever traveling along Virginia Route 17 through Port Royal, stop at Buster’s Place. Good seafood – my oyster Po’ Boy wasn’t quite a New Orleans one, but the oysters were tender and perfectly light battered and fried – reasonably priced and the staff was great. A good family place.
But mostly, the boys are home now, and that is good.
2. Aimee Doolich at Artsyville asked about resolutions and offered a doodled prize to go to a handful of commenters on her post. I won the little piece below!
It couldn’t have been more perfect timing as I am committed to finishing the manuscript’s third draft and getting it out ot agents and publishers by spring. I can’t wait til it arrives via snail mail! I’ve loved Aimee’s doodles from afar since I came across them. They are reasonably priced and come as small prints, magnets and larger prints, but they are all bright, cheery, beautiful, fun and motivating. Please go check them out. Be better than I am at ordering something for yourself. They are extremely reasonably priced. Treat yourself now. Go ahead and give yourself permission. Give up 2 double latte mocha whatevers at Starbucks, and get yourself something permanent, creative, and motivating. Because they are really good.
Addendum: I have been remiss lately about linkage to what List it Tuesday is all about. Aimee at Artsyville posts a list of her own on Tuesdays, and then the commenters post links to their pieces of art. I wasn’t super artful this week. The lists are meant to be handmade. Please click on the colorful box List it Tuesday in my right margin and that will lead you around a very colorful web of lists…
I have at various points in my life been a fashionista. Not a generally known fact and not one I am prepared to admit readily.
If it’s brought up, I usually prefer to mention my past as a thrift store junkie peacepunk cross between Deadhead, punk, and vaguely Audrey Heburn styling moments. In my clubbing days I had an awesome green with gold brocade jacket that would have fit Prince. Literally and figuratively. Oh, and there was that one antique black lace over red satin 50s type number that usually ended up being used at Halloween for a flamenco dancer…
Not so much these days. But last night I went to the Opera. My current wardrobe consists of worn out jeans and go to stretched out comfy t-shirts covered in stains of 15 years’ worth of parenting.
And then I remembered I picked up one Calvin Klein black dress several months ago at Ross. Serious rack dig moment. I am not a good shopper. I am very picky, it’s tough to find anything that fits me, and I can always find fault with whatever I try on, so I walk out empty handed if I walk into a store at all. Mirrors and I have a difficult relationship at best. Especially since I still, on some level, expect to see a 95lb stick staring back out at me. But I have had three kids and a lot of life since those days. Women’s bodies change. I like the curves I have now, but they aren’t always exactly where I think they should be. The good part is a lifetime of chipmunk cheeks has finally left town.
I put on make up, wow! I got dressed, including textured tights and heels I couldn’t walk in. I had Mr. Cynic take the pic above for proof. Hence, the shoes are cut out, but that’s okay. The necklace and earrings are by Kelly Warren of Happy Shack Designs. Go to her blog, she has the best attitude. Then go to her Etsy shops, because her jewelry is gorgeous and fun and her photos are as bright and layered as she is. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Good, now go start dropping holiday hints to spouses, etc.
And back to me. Bottom line: I cleaned up quite nicely, and besides the shoes, it felt good to spruce up for a change. Every woman, mother, etc, needs to feel pretty now and then. I suggest it periodically even if you don’t have an event to go to. It just feels good. Now remind me I said this a few months down the line when I have a sucky winterized attitude.
I had the opportunity to go see the Virgina Opera perform Mozart’s Comedy Cosi Fan Tutti at Harrison Opera House in Norfolk, with Honey’s young cousin because no one else in the family wanted to go! I leapt on it. Live Mozart?! Are you kidding?! Pick me!
It was also her 19th birthday, and it was sweet to spend with her and talk about how things are different now than when I was 19 (ie drinking age changes, etc). She also just got her motorcycle license the same day! So she was excited about that, too. But the cutest was when we finally arrived at the opera house – after a comical circuitous route which involved counting stoplights a la The Count of Sesame Street fame – we found ourselves in the balcony elevator with obvious lifer opera fans and she threw out that this was her first opera. The sweet elderly couple told her what fun this one was and that she would likely enjoy it a lot. And she did!
And so did I. The sets were gorgeous and simple, although there was a funny malfunction of a venetian blind. The voices were beautiful, as were the costumes which had another malfunction.
Mozart’s treatment of the rather silly libretto is stunningly gorgeous, and though what they were singing at times was rather bawdy, in Italian, it might as well have been singing to the divine. Mozart couldn’t write a bad note if he tried. It would still be fun.
So, if you haven’t ever tried it, I highly recommend going to an opera. I hadn’t been in years, and loved it even more than I remembered! Life is about the experiences we share, and sometimes going out to a live performance takes us out of ourselves for a couple of hours, and reminds us to laugh and love in community. Because that’s the best kind. Art is good!
Many years ago, I used to doodle a lot – to cope, to meditate, to blow off steam, to sort my head, just ’cause. Apparently I have started again. I need better tools, though.
I am just going to share with you the ways that Jack personally influenced me. I would be lying if I said anything of this man that did not reflect how he influenced literally every aspect of my life. I absolutely would not be who I am today, personally, professionally as a writer and as an educator if I had not met him.
September 1989, not even completely fresh out of college, as I was still working on my thesis, I arrived in Boston, a 23 year old intent on making it as a poet and fiction writer. I spent a lot of my Western, MA college years in Boston but had not sought out the arts community until I arrived and unpacked everything I owned into a small apartment on the frat block of Beacon Street near Kenmore Square. In my first week there, I bought a Boston Globe and a Phoenix, and scoured the Events section for poetry venues. One called Stone Soup Poets called to me from the newsprint pages of both. The following Monday evening, I ventured across the river into Central Square and down a side street. Other than walking into a temp agency, this was really the first time I navigated my way around Boston and Cambridge and the T completely on my own. It felt epic. I felt as though I were the young hero of a novel about to be written, and it was my life. Little did I know that walking into Charlie’s Tap, an unassuming backstreet pub, and up its back stairs into the closed restaurant night would make me.
I was shy then, nervous, sitting at a corner table out of the way by the bathrooms, wondering if I was at the right place, because I was the first to arrive. Slowly the room filled with an odd assortment of people, young, old, gruff, quiet, smelly, clean and passionate. It seemed every facet of the character of this metropolis walked up the stairs into that small, smoky, covered in paintings of jazz musicians space. I wrote them down in my little notebook as I kept to myself. Eventually, a towering, salt and pepper haired man blew up the stairs and took command of the room and set up the microphone. I watched as everyone approached him, wrote their name in his book for the open mic, and chatted him up. He graciously, if somewhat distractedly paid attention to each of them with his frenetic, barely containable energy. He was obviously the man in charge. But also, his spirit was huge and filled the room. Jack Powers.
Months later, after attending the venue weekly, I finally worked up the nerve to walk into his orbit and sign up to read one short poem. I was in a sweat. My leg shook like an earthquake long before he called my name from the sheet. He still didn’t have any idea who I was as far as I knew. I barely made it through that poem without breaking the mic stand because of my right leg’s violent shaking.
The next week, when he read the list of upcoming dates and features, I heard my name cross his lips for the second time. I had no idea, except that a little bird name Gary Hicks had kind of taken me under his wing and wanted me to spread mine, so he convinced Jack to give this little nervous unknown a featured reading. The rest is a smidge of poetic history around Boston in the first half of the 90s before I started having kids. Because of Jack, I eventually became comfortable and confident reading my poetry in front of an audience of fellow poets. Because of Jack, I got a reading at the Cambridge Public Library. Because of Jack, I began to have a bit of public recognition. People on the street, in stores, on the T walked up, said “Excuse me, aren’t you that poet I saw read at [such and such venue]? I love your work!”
Because of Jack Powers and Stone Soup Poets I met my closest circle of friends for many years in Boston. I met still one of my dearest friends, Joe, who prefers a bit of anonymity. I met my now ex-husband, and father of Mr. Cynic and Captain Comic. We had a long, albeit half-life relationship. I met and was mentored by the poets Wally Butts, Peter Kidd and Bill Kemmett. Poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ray McNiece, Billy Barnum and Brother Blue, just to give a range; songwriters Jan Luby, Jim Infantino, Don White, again, a range all influenced me greatly, including storyteller Raelinda Woad. Jenny Harrison from Australia amazed me more than most, she wrote of my life before I lived it as a mother, and I felt that when I heard her read.
At some point I found myself as part of an inner circle around Stone Soup that met periodically at Jack’s little apartment on Joy Street in Beacon Hill. Lots of laughter and deep conversations occurred there, running the gamut from politics and good works, to beauty, life, the nature of poetry, and always the rich well of stories from Jack and all his years around Boston. From that, I babysat his two boys a number of times.
I tired of temping early on in 1990, and amazingly, and I’m not exactly certain how this came about, but Jack Powers wrote me a letter of recommendation to begin working for the Boston Department of Education as a substitute. He gave a way in to the world of education, I always felt drawn to, yet simultaneously was unsure I could do. I remember distinctly all these years later, what a glowing recommendation it was, even though I felt we didn’t know each other well. He was much more confident in me than I was in myself. “She thinks well on her feet and has a good eye for the Big Picture.” I still remember that line from the letter and it is what gives me my confidence as I walk into every new situation. Professionally, I basically have done something in education ever since, if you just ignore my 3.5 years as a law firm receptionist.
I have felt blessed in my life to feel that I have two professional raison d’etres: writing and education. In writing, I never would have found my voice without the influence of Jack Powers and the faith he had in me. I never would have built the confidence I have in my writing if I had not stood by his holding me up in front of an audience for the first time, completely on faith and the continued support he gave me after. I never would have found my second raison d’etre, my career in education, such as it has been over the past 20ish years, if he had not suggested it and written that letter of recommendation.
And more importantly than both of those, I would not have my boys, my heart, if Jack had not created Stone Soup out of thin air, had not that place existed in that upstairs smoky back room above a bar where I first met the father of my boys.
I am terribly remiss in that I did not maintain contact with him as I moved on in my life after having the boys and moving into other directions and places. But when I heard of his passing this morning via a message from the boys’ father, I immediately broke into tears as the memories of all he did for me, as well as his laughter and energy came flooding into me. I honestly would not be who I am today in all aspects of my life, if not for Jack.
Jack Powers left many legacies, not just for me, in his wake when he left this earthly world yesterday. The reason for this is the passionate heart of a man who continually put the success of others before himself, providing at the very least, a place for new voices in Poetry and the Arts of Boston to bloom and be heard.
May he truly rest in Peace. His work here is done. But I bet he doesn’t think so.