musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the tag “balancing”

life and stuff

Thank you for reading or following my blog. Some of you have been with me since I started it when Toots was a baby.

Things have ramped up beyond the usual mayhem in the past year, and I have been pretty spotty in my posts. At this point, I am considering at least a semi-permanent breather if not completely ending the blog in this form.

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All three kids graduated this June: Mr. Cynic from High School, Captain Comic from Middle School, and Toots from Preschool. They are all starting big things in the fall and have activities all summer.  College, High School, and Kindergarten. It’s a big time for us all.

I still take pictures almost constantly, never did upgrade to a better camera. I am still seeking a publisher for my children’s novel, and working on a couple of new projects, though my time has been very full with the kids, life and stuff that my writing focus has fallen off for a while. I’ll get back to it, just a lot of focus on the spawn these days.

Who knows? I may post an occasional poem here from time to time. Or I may decide to reorient to more of a writing blog in general.   All I know is at some point, this became something that I felt obligated to do, then couldn’t keep it up as I would have liked to.

I still get out to appreciate nature:

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I’ve just lost the focus to regularly post, and don’t want to leave you all wondering why I stopped.

Thanks for keeping me company since May 2009. Much love to you all.

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break

My attentions are elsewhere, so I apologize for not posting consistently of late. I continue to find respite and gratitude daily while dealing with quite a bit that is beyond my control.

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Treasure moments of peace. I will be more consistent at a later time.

accidents will happen

Apologies to Elvis Costello as I give a brief update, since I really shouldn’t be sitting up at the computer:

Much has been going on here in the land of mayhem, and then a car accident, and I was hurt, no blood, no bones, but I hurt ten days later. A lot. Working on some things, and I start physical therapy on Monday.

While I was trying to heal and rest and being on meds, Mr. Cynic similarly got into another accident within days of mine. So now we have two totaled vehicles.

Working on figuring out everything, moving forward, while trying not to move, but the mayhem continues, and so must I. But I shouldn’t quite yet.

I can laugh about some of this, but it hurts. But the good news is I can laugh.

Writing is currently on hold, except I decided to toss the sermon I was working on for months and had several drafts. That’s right, chucking it completely. After the two car accidents, I found “the piercing arrow” that is discussed in writing circles. Now I have about two weeks to get it right. It’s okay, most of my better work has been produced under the pressure of a deadline. It’s epiphanous.

As Samuel Beckett said,

I must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.

 

 

 

 

 

not exactly quiet

I know I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog lately.

The obvious place to start is with my grief over the loss of our dear sweet Lucy. It was so sudden, I think I’ve only begun to process it. I am not in a complete fog, walking through molasses and crying at the drop of a hat now. I think it piggybacked our autumn loss of Babette, which was within a week of the loss of my mother’s last living sister, and I couldn’t make it to the funeral. I lost a couple weeks of normal, quieter in some ways. In the meantime, we have been busier than usual in others.

Wrestling season ended for Captain Comic, but not before the number of hours spent in gyms across the Bay Rivers District increased exponentially.
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I am proud of him for trying hard, and always being game for a tough 1st season in the sport. Next year, maybe he’ll win a match from time to time.

Mr Cynic and I have been traveling to colleges and auditions for their music departments and Scholars Competitions, etc. and to have a look around. That has been a couple of adventures in traveling to Boston and to western Virginia.  That has been a bit of roller coaster of pressure, comic mayhem, not so comic mayhem, seeing good friends and my niece, sleeping on sofas, floors,  random beds and hotel rooms. We crossed many bridges, literally and figuratively.

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In the meantime, he has been involved in the Bay Rivers District Choir, and auditioned and won a spot in the All-Virginia Choir! The performance for that is the same weekend as his birthday in Richmond, at the end of April.

Toots is forever Toots, and a spark in our lives, and she apparently has a preschool boyfriend. I told her teacher on Valentine’s Day, that when I asked her who she loves after writing the family valentines, she answered, “D—?” sheepishly, knowing she should have said at least one family member in the context of the conversation. It was adorable. She also has been wanting to invite him over for sleepovers for a couple of months now.  The teacher cracked up and then told me she is always trying to get them to sit with other friends or at recess to play with other friends, but the two of them are stuck like glue everyday. I asked Toots at one point what she likes about D– so much and she answered, “because he is kind.” I couldn’t be happier, honestly, that she has found a best friend who is kind regardless of gender.

She has also been getting into trouble a lot at home, but she is approaching five, seeking independence or when we are preoccupied, seeking attention by plugging the sink, flooding the bathroom and soaking herself from head to toe. Or by poking the bear: Captain Comic, by doing the exact things she knows will trigger a negative response from him. Kazoos and pennywhistles she earns for good behavior in preschool are a big tool of torture for the noise sensitive Aspie.

But she is still our girl and how could we ever stay mad at this:

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One day, I will remember to hold this smartphone horizontally while recording…

Meanwhile, in the writing department, I have started sending out queries to agents, and the rejections have started coming in. At least I’m starting at the top:

1st rejection

white throated sparrow

Jets fly overhead, blasting us with noise,
Rumbling our bones, and we tune that out, too.

But a birdsong, a flit, an unseasonal aah!
So tiny, so inconsequential
to starting the car and rushing about,
I cannot let it go.

Lately, I have tried, but an unfamiliar bird,
white stripe by his eye has crossed my path so many times,
as if to say, hello! I am here!
Don’t you want to know me?
So much so, that yes, yes I do.

In this age of instant gratification, I go searching on the internet,
And wish I knew where my ornithology book was,
wish I had to hunt through the library for Audubon’s giant tome,
lug the tome to a table and flip the illustrated pages,
smell the musty age of pages,
just to slow down a bit more because
don’t we need this?

Don’t we need to be wrong and curious,
don’t we need to stop, light up,
don’t we need to let go of this rubberband life
and be present for an hour, a minute, a day?

We live too much for our slow DNA souls
and a bird needs us to wink
And say hello, because he is singing
the universe’s song in our backyards.

We need to feel the breeze,
even in winter, blow through our hair,
not because we create a wake of it behind us,
but because we must live in it now
to know the world goes on without us.
We are not so important as a white throated sparrow.

I must stop, hear his cheery, melancholy
Old Sam Peabody, Peabody.
Old Sam Peabody, Peabody.

Because to take this moment,
this reminder to live,
to know joy and love in a birdsong, a flit,
is everything.

mayhem, good

Again, we have had a lot – a . LOT. – going on around here, so I will make this short and sweet and add a gallery of a few highlights via cell phone pics.

Last week, I threw Captain Comic into JV Wrestling at the high school. He is taking to it better than a fish to water, his enthusiasm fills me with pride and joy. He is still awkward and funny as he is learning, but he is challenging the toughest biggest guys repeatedly during these couple of pre-season conditioning weeks. Even the Varsity guys are proud of him. The coaches are great with him.

Thursday was Toots’s Pumpkin Farm Field Trip with her preschool class.

This weekend we went on a Fellowship Retreat up in the hills at Pocahontas State Park. It was beautiful, we canoed, roasted marshmallows and froze our tuckuses in the drafty cabins in summer weight sleeping bags. We saw Great Blue Herons, turtles, and a snake climbing a tree. The snake posed best for pictures. Toots was talking about going fishing endlessly from before the trip, and I kept responding that I didn’t know if that was going to happen, maybe someone would have a pole she could use. As it turns out, she found a young boy and his dad fishing at the docks when we went canoeing. The boy was about eight years old and very patiently showed her how to hook a worm and repeatedly dropped a line from the docks, for her to watch fish nibble at the worm. He even caught a sunny at one point, and let her hold it. She was in seventh heaven.

Sunday, we came back in time for the Wrestling Team photo shoot. I didn’t realize Captain Comic didn’t even know what a singlet was. 🙂 I love that there is a girl on their team.

I took all photos with a cellphone. It should be in order of Pumpkin Patch, Pocahontas State Park then Wrestling, but I think things got a little jumbled in the upload. For instance, the yellow leaf on the step of our cabin should be horizontal, not a vertical shot. Toots and Mr. Cynic are sleeping in the car on the ride home Sunday morning, we canoed on Satuday afternoon.

A friend from my fellowship took my boys out canoeing Saturday morning, and brought back a tale of a killer beaver, GNAWS, parodying JAWS that he said the three of them came up with and laughed about the whole time they were canoeing. Apparently he GNAWS trees to fall on campers…It’s funnier when they tell it.

We had a great weekend. I hope you did, too.

 

 

 

 

parenting 301

Saturday night, at Busch Gardens  Hall-O-Scream, Captain Comic is nearly out of his skin as we head into The Roots of Evil Scare Maze. However, Toots, 10 years his junior declares, “I’m fine, Mom.” Hands on hips. “Dere’s no such sfing as weal ghosts!”

Once inside, Captain Comic and I lose sight of Honey and Toots immediately, and we make our way through lots of hanging damp misty, spooky things. He squinches his eyes shut and walks through with his head down and his shoulders in his ears, anticipating Scarers jumping out at every step. I talk him through it. “It’s less scary if you open your eyes. You can see them before they jump. Lift your head, Open your eyes. Here comes a corner, someone might jump.” In the meantime he is screaming like a 3 year old girl, I am laughing til I am wheezing and a few Scarers understand. He really is enjoying this even though he seems like he may have a heart attack at the ripe old age of 14. So they jump again.

Later, Toots and Honey make it out. Captain Comic and I are catching our breath, me, from laughter, him from utter anxiety and excitement. I am still laughing, Captain is laughing, too, while holding his heart. “Oh boy. I’ve never been so scared in my entire life!” He chuckles again, I am hooting. I declare him the funniest person in the world to go through a haunted maze with.

Toots’s eyes are saucers, and she is clinging to Honey’s shoulder for dear life. Honey declares no one even jumped at them.

Later, we find some kiddie rides and the carousel to bring everyone back to a normal happy state. Toots is riding the horse ride in Scotland, just prior to our exit. She looks like she is falling asleep in the saddle. Captain is standing next to me, swinging from the fence, in a rocking motion. He is not typically a rocker in the Autism behavior spectrum, he’s more of pacer and hugger.

Me: Are you Okay, buddy?

Capt: Nnnnot really. I’m still traumatized from earlier.

He laughs about it with me. He’s going to be fine.

~~~~~~~~

Sunday evening, Mr. Cynic and I attend a show at the Ferguson Center for the Arts, a great jazz Big Band, called The Birdland. Please check if they are going to be playing anywhere near you. This is a live music experience that you should not miss. They are an incredible ensemble of musicians and they bring down the house!

Back to my story: So we get in the car, it is raining, it’s a cold night for southern Virginia. If you don’t know, we moved from Massachusetts in 2006, when Mr. Cynic was 11 years old, now 17.

I look at his short sleeves in the passenger seat.

Me: Really, Bud, no jacket?

Mr. Cynic: This is the weather of my Homeland.

 ~~~~~~~

Monday morning I spend in a frustrating chase of info regarding scholarship deadlines, etc for Mr. Fall of Senior Denial, with whom I had such wonderful time the night before. I also simultaneously am scheduling out the rest of my already insane week, when I track down that JV Wrestling, for which  Captain Comic is now eligible as an 8th grader has already started pre-season conditioning practices. He can start NOW– at the same time I need to drop Mr. Cynic at work at the grocery and pick up Toots at preschool, which is the same time Captain’s school bus drops him off on a good day from the middle school. Practice is at the High school.  Hooboy, how am I going to make this work? I shout it to facebook and between drafting Grandma to go pick up Toots while I play Runaround Sue for the boys, I pull it off.

Fair warning to parents of young kids: Enjoy them now, soon they become above insanity, most of which I did not mention, but I think I finally got through to #1 about scholarship deadlines. Another piece of advice: try not to schedule anything at 3PM. Ever.

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Captain Comic has been craving physical outlets since he quit Tae Kwan Do a few years ago, and that has been taken out on us in hug attacks galore and wrestling a giant stuffed polar bear in the backyard, hence my searching out about JV Wrestling. Small problem: practices start before the middle school lets out, sport bus from middle school doesn’t start until the regular season starts, so I have a couple of weeks of getting him from middle to high school right when Mr. Cynic usually needs to be dropped off for work and Toots needs to be picked up from preschool. Among other chauffeuring needs…

Captain Comic went to his first practice yesterday. He flung himself into it, no holds barred. After many conditioning exercises, weights, and such, where the coaches and Varsity guys were coaching the new guys and girl on the team, they wanted to show him a few moves and matches so he could have an idea what he was getting himself into.

He took to it more than a fish to water. I’ve never seen anything like it. He didn’t stop, even when the coaches and other guys were out of breath. As soon as he hit the mat, he was back up again and crouched to shake hands to challenge the next guy. Finally I had to call out, “Have you guys had enough of Shea for one day? Because, obviously, he hasn’t had enough yet.” They all laughed and said “Yeah! We have!”

Then he said, “Ew, I’m all sweaty.” And they laughed again and insisted he hasn’t even begun to sweat.

Both of the coaches seemed to know about dealing with kids with disabilities. One coaches the town league, and said he coaches two kids with Downs Syndrome and one with Severe Autism. We confirmed that he would know exactly how to deal with Shea and his Asperger’s very quickly. Both coaches were really open to having him join the team.  He is so ready to do this!

I couldn’t be more exhausted this week, or more proud. And it’s only Tuesday.

breaking the block, life and stuff

It took a while, more like a month, possibly more, before I could really engage with the manuscript. On Tuesday, at my writing group, I seem to have finally broken through the block.

It took until then before I could even read it without going crosseyed and my brain shutting down in the first paragraphs. I’m not sure if a channel remains that puts the rainbow stripes up and that tone at a certain hour of the night, when programming ends. I am not sure if any of you remember awakening on the sofa to that sound that happened after a rendition of the national anthem and a stock photo of the flag flying, but that is what happened every time I opened my manuscript until Tuesday. Minus the flag and anthem.

In the mean time, I have been trying to stop staring at the computer so much and engage more with Toots and when the heat wasn’t thoroughly oppressive (index of 113F one day last week, and near that for about two weeks) walking the dog, since Captain Comic isn’t here to do so.

I had a moment when Toots seemed more discouraged that I could rotate my hoop so easily, and rethought buying one in my size with the idea I could teach her to hula by example. She hasn’t gotten the hang of it, yet, but I will keep trying with her.

I am off to the library today to edit some more, going to try to treat my writing more like a job, and get myself out of the house and someplace I can focus on it with minimal distractions. When I try to work on it at home, I can find anything to do instead far too easily – because things need doing.

I hope you had a happy Fourth of July, if you’re American. I am pretty happy to live here, even if there is a lot that I would like to change. Both sides of my family have been here since colonial days and longer, and though I have strains of the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon folks of old running in my veins, I don’t think you can get anymore of a place than my family roots in this land.

boston and berks

Life is crazy mayhem lately, including kitchen renno (post to come, I won’t say soon, based on how long it took me to get to this one) and trying to manage the garden plots, reconfiguring the flower and bush beds out front and finally planting some vegetables out back, which I am still in the middle of…okay, okay, I’ll get down to business and make it quick, too.

I love Boston. I love it like it’s my spiritual mother, my home, my long lost love, my raison d’etre, my weather report, my seasonal compass. I know its seasons and weather  by the ionic change in the atmosphere, I can tell you exactly when the pussy willows out Beacon, by the Charles Street Extension, just before you reach Kenmore will bloom by it, I can tell you when the tulip trees along Comm Ave will burst in an explosion of petals and when they’ll rain down and coat the sidewalks. I’m giving you spring examples, because this is the current season…but I can also tell you when it will snow, when the February winds will take hold and not let go, when the September leaves will burnish and flame into October by the shift of light and the scent change of metal in the air, the charge of life, the ionic existence of the city I love.

Along  I-90, The Mass Pike, as the Boston City Limits road sign rolled by Bertha’s window, I hooted, I hollered, and then I burst into tears.

My kids and spouse think I am crazy, but that is how much I love this city.

Most of these are taken in Copley Square, where we met friends and my niece for lunch, which was too much to squeeze in, really, and it was great to see all, though our visit was cut even shorter by events that transpired including the passing of a kidney stone by one of our party and a call to 911. It’s not for me to spread their business, or who it was that passed a kidney stone, but this just goes to show, even when the circumstances I set up are mayhemic already, random unrelated mayhem will happen in my vicinity. It’s guaranteed. Life’s an adventure, what can I say. I will ride those three bucking broncos, hanging on by a rope til the day I die. I am well practiced already, so I’ll just keep hanging on and see what happens next.

The purported reason for our ‘side trip’ to Boston on the way to my college reunion in the Berkshires, was to take Mr. Cynic to tour Berklee College of Music, the one place he wants to go. I took no pics, becasue we were too busy keeping the couple of Berzerkers, Toots and Captain Comic from getting into what ever they were going to get into with each other, which wasn’t fun for any of us, and highly distracting for Mr. C. Also it was Freshman registration day and the place was crawling like ants with people who didn’t know where they were going, either, and we had no tour guide, just the gaggle of us and a map with highlights, given to us in the Admissions office.

Needless to say, mayhem. Did I mention that the “campus” is integrated into the city? Luckily, a couple of decades ago, I hung out with a band in the practice rooms a lot, so I had a vague recollection of where buildings were…

A note about the couple of pics at the end of the Boston portion of the gallery, Toots is standing with a lion at the Hynes Convention Center, and he is a fendyee yion and those horse statues by Neiman Marcus are part of Honey’s photography portfolio from eons ago…he was commissioned by the artist to photograph them before their installation and create an exhibit poster with one. Sorry, don’t have a reference pic, if I did, I’d put it here. If I find one, I will edit it it in. 🙂

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We headed out to the Reunion and I saw so many great people, and was so happy to see them, I didn’t take pics of them, but I did take pics of frogs that as soon as I told the kids not to poke, they poked. Mr. Cynic did not want to be on my old campus for anything. Toots made friends with everyone else’s kids in her age range, who danced or ran while adults ate. And Captain Comic mostly just wanted to go home and let everyone know about it, particularly on the last day we were there.

Again there were mishaps, misadventures and mayhem, because I was involved, but it was fun, steamy, beautiful and wonderous besides. A couple of weeks later, the exhaustion is wearing down, but I am still riding the highs, having somewhat gained control of those broncos that gallop my life through everything.

I love my people and places and these two places are influential in my life, because of their landscapes, the times I spent in them, becoming, and the people I love within them…

drafts

Going to work on novel more now that I quit the little part time job that took over my life with a deregulated schedule.

Received my critique back, main problems:

1. Need to establish main character’s basic positive personality before he becomes a victim for the whole book.

2. Still having issues with Point of View. I had a third person narrator who followed the main character around, but morphs too often into omniscient. Does draft four need to become omniscient? Or can I write in things that seem to come from other characters so that Felix can see it more? Thought I had done the second option already.

3.  Repetition, and in trying to make up for the apparent lack of internal dialogue in earlier drafts, I overwrote his emotions in this draft. My male readers did not have the same trouble with the earlier issue as my female readers. I am thinking  return to the internal motivations being less told, more shown.

Writing is hard.

And I am still actively seeking different employment. We’ll see how it works out. Received a couple of tips to whip out a few romances to support my children’s book.

Maybe….but I don’t want to get too distracted….

 

 

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