musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the tag “milestones”

18

Something of a rush of days and years has led to this moment. Well, really, to Sunday.

A womb cocooned time prior to that day for his bedrest pregnancy and suddenly, years, an entire childhood has gone by and he can vote in the next election. He is preparing to leave for college. He has spent the last two 2nd half of the weeks out of the house for Choral field trips. Last weekend in a competition in DC with his school’s Jazz Choir, also a day this week out of town competing with his school’s Jazz Band, and this weekend he is in the All-Virginia Choir in Richmond. He has a job.

How does this happen?

Here he is at 5, his little sister’s age, enjoying/putting up with a trip on Papa’s sailboat on a hot and windless day on Long Island Sound in August 2000.

photo (8)

It is very him.

I am very proud of who he is, though I kid and call him Mr. Cynic. He is a well-rounded, talented, smart, compassionate, and passionate young man. He has grown up exactly how I wanted him to, with his eye on goals, his heart in tune with the world around him and ready to be a force for good.

18 for 18

1. Mr. Cynic is a loyal friend.

2. He doesn’t put up with crap.

3. He questions everything that should be questioned.

4. He plays 3 instruments and sings.

5. He writes songs. They’re catchy.

6. He was a pretty little guy, and he’s grown into a handsome young dude.

7. As a toddler, when he ran, he ran looking behind him and would run into walls, because he liked how the wind felt rushing through his hair. I guess he wanted to see it, too.

8. Mr. Cynic has a huge heart.

9. He speaks a secret language with Toots, consisting completely of raspberries.

10. He reluctantly and loudly puts up with Captain Comic, but if anyone else treats him with anything other than respect, he becomes as protective as their Mama Bear.

11. He strums, a lot, behind closed doors.

12. He will sing and play for anyone else, but hides it in the house.

13. But I hear him.

14. His head is on straight. I don’t think he’ll get into too much of the stupidity that some of us go through in college.

15. He knows he can call me if he does, and I won’t kill him. I’ll just let his conscience take care of that for me.

16. He has weathered many ups and downs and challenges in his young life. I think he’ll be able to handle anything life throws at him.

17. He’s at the edge of the nest, and while I want to go ahead and shove him out, I want to hold him near just a little while longer. Get in as many hugs as he’ll endure. Tell him how much he really is loved and how that will never change.

18. Something new is coming for him. And it’s him.

photo (9)

Advertisements

death of a poet laureate

Walter E. Butts, W. E. Butts, Wally. Old friend.

images

photo source, drunkenboat.com

New Hampshire’s Poet Laureate has passed with absolutely no fanfare. I can’t find an article in my google searching.

His Wikipedia has been updated, though no mention of how he passed.

In a way, this is fitting for a man who was very private while he publicly wrote from his deepest self.

When I first moved to Boston in the fall of 1989, I sought out poetry readings and found him sitting at a corner table upstairs at Green Street Grille/Charlie’s Tap in the Stone Soup Poets run by Jack Powers. Wally was among the first and most influential people I met there. Later, two other poets who also became big in my life joined him, and I eventually dubbed them The Triumverate. They helped me find my poetic voice, whittled it down for me, and made me laugh a lot in my early days in Boston as a poet. They were Peter Kidd and Bill Kemmett. I will always remember them affectionately, but mostly it was Wally.

Wally treated me like his daughter, and talked a lot about his love for his daughter with me, as she and I were about the same age. I got the feeling their relationship, at times, was estranged, but after a visit with her, his whole spirit would be lit up and his distinctive laughter would burst out of him like a bull honking during mating or an old crow signaling others of a roadside kill. Tears streamed out from behind his thick glasses when he laughed. Peter and Bill, along with Dick Martin and James de Crescentis and occasionally Vincent Ferrini or some another visiting poet would join them, and I was mesmerized. I spent more time at that table in the back even when Stone Soup moved to TT the Bear’s, with a bunch of middle aged and a couple of old men, than I did listening to the poets on stage. Though we did listen. They respected the younger poets, and enjoyed their progress. I just happened to bask in their experience and turn of words, and occasionally felt I could keep up with them, but probably mostly entertained them as a hubris filled 23-29 year old. It was they, and again, mostly Wally, who said I had what it takes.

And then I had kids and largely disappeared from the scene, and Wally moved up to New Hampshire, joining Peter Kidd at the base of the White Mountains, and our lives took divergent paths. Wally became became Poet Laureate, and I started focusing more on my kids and fiction and wound up being a ball hit off a bat from the Boston area to southern Virginia.

Life is strange and unexpected, but I found Wally again about a year ago, and we emailed briefly, promising to keep in touch. He sounded happy. Happier than I ever knew him. We didn’t really keep in touch.

Wally was one of the most sensitive souls I ever knew. He shared it with the world in his poetry. He wasn’t a complainer, he wrote his depths like no one else, and everyone could relate. I will always consider him my poetic father. And Peter and Bill, to a degree, too. but mostly Wally.

I was lucky to know them when I did.

In about 1991, I wrote this awkward poem to him, when he was about the age I am now: photo (7)

I knew he was going through some big stuff at the time, but didn’t know what. But it bore him down.

I leave this remembrance with one of his poems from the days I knew him, from his Chapbook on Igneus Press, The Required Dance:

How We Pray

We walk through a place
where men sleep in elegant cars,
and voices flutter onto the street
like magnolias across a lawn.
At the Baptist Church, women
sing “Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.”
My three year old child
wants to know what those people
are doing. I tell her this
is how we pray, and then the spirit has faith in its body.
That is why there is dancing.
A hymn demands we go to a mountain.
The gleam of sweating faces,
and rhythm of clapping hands
will take us there. Not poverty,
need for grace is what
we believe. My daughter,
rich from her mother’s country,
doesn’t notice her father lives poor,
but understands flowers rise
from the mouths of the forgotten.

 

Postlude

A dear old friend emailed this to me on April 8:

http://thisweekinraymond.com/walter-butts-poet-laureate-of-new-hampshire-p1688-131.htm

she’s 5

Happy birthday, Toots!

chloe 5Easter dress Roller derby girl because Honey wanted to protect his little girl now that she has a big girl bike.

roller derby easter 5

Five things about Toots in honor of her fifth birthday:

1. She is a delight both day and night. Except when she’s not, because she is normal, but even then, she is so darned cute, aw forget it. She is a delight both day and night.

2. She makes up songs about everything and nothing. Her breakfast, imaginary friends, how much she loves you, whoever you is at any given moment, and whatever she likes at any given moment.

3. Purple is her favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavoriteSUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUperfavorite color in the whole wide world.

4. Look at that perfect point in the Easter dress roller derby pic. She is as flexible as I used to be. I should start her in dance. Maybe she has matured enough not to run around and around the whole room by now and will listen to the teacher.

5. She’s smart, she’s observant, manipulative, adorable, charming, shall I go on?

I love her. She’s my girl. She’s Daddy’s girl, too.

Happy birthday, Toots, my littlest.

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.
2013.18. various and sundry 0152013.18. various and sundry 0162013.18. various and sundry 0212013.18. various and sundry 034

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.

2013.18. various and sundry 005 2013.18. various and sundry 007 2013.18. various and sundry 010 2013.18. various and sundry 013 2013.18. various and sundry 059

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:

toots 2013.2.17

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

good girl

lucy

Lucy 11/1(ish)/2005-2/2/2013

 

Lucy was a good girl. We thought we would have a lot more time with her, but her immune system attacked her suddenly, and we said goodbye today. It is very surreal.

We lost our old kitty Babette not so very long ago, and suddenly, too.

Toots has asked already if we are getting another dog. Honey said to me separately, please can we wait a little while this time to mourn her. We adopted Sasha 10 days after we lost Babette suddenly a few months ago.

Mr. Cynic is presenting stoically, Captain Comic seems okay, and keeps coming over to hug me and make me feel better.

I’m just teary and a bit in shock.

 

 

good news

1. Yesterday I completed the fourth draft of my manuscript! I am going to start submitting query letters to agents this week.

2. I wasn’t going to have any of my readers go over it again, but I had one late offer for a fresh eye to it recently, and after thinking I shouldn’t, I went ahead and sent it to him. He is someone whose opinion re: writing is one I value, especially one for humor and action elements. I suppose I wanted to be certain those elements were present after so much reworking over so long a time. I’m nervous, but it will be good to hear what he has to say about it. To paraphrase, I basically asked him to tell me if it was crap or not. I am not up for another draft at this point.

3. Captain Comic did not wrestle in last night’s home tournament, but he did last a good long time supporting his team in a loud gym, and he did a good job assisting setting up. Ear plugs helped.

4. One of the coaches asked him to draw up a poster concept of a wrestler hugging a cactus. He did two versions as soon as he got home. Both were good. He is an excellent artist with a lot of humor inherent in his work.

5.  While at the tournament, I was talking with another parent who suggested I contact the other closest high school in case a paraprofessional position opens up. His sister works in the special ed department there and he said he’d put a good word in for me.

6. I did. There is a little more to this story, but I have a good feeling about it and some things are best left to happen organically rather than discuss so much.

7. Mr. Cynic had a quick turnaround from his application to Berklee College of Music, his first choice, and his audition is in 10 days!

8. In the meantime, we all have colds, and it seems like it has been raining for eternity. The colds aren’t too bad, and the rain should help restore the water table from the recent summer droughts, and it hasn’t been a monsoon to flood, as how it usually seems to occur in recent years. But it sure would be nice if Mr. Sun would peak out from a cloud once in a while.

Things are moving right along for many in our family, and it feels good. The past few years, even with all the mayhem, has felt rather stagnant, and it’s nice to feel like progress can happen.

 

first pro track

My oldest, known here as Mr. Cynic, has shown desire and talent for music since he was a baby, but didn’t really start to do anything with it until he started taking bass lessons at 14.

This is three years later. He wrote all the music lines, plays them all, except the drum tracks are prerecorded sounds, and he sings the lyrics he wrote, too.

I couldn’t be prouder. I always knew he had it in him, and am nicely surprised by what he is doing with it. He really rocks and has alt rock commercial appeal. Yes, I am his mother, but it is true.

This is his audition piece for Berklee College of Music.

the epic failures

 

Captain Comic and friends when left to their own devices while their mothers were occupied elsewhere came up with this little gem. Not bad for 14, almost 13 and 10!

 

Yes, the mics are off.

Best little unintentional birthday present ever!

snow

We went to Connecticut to visit with my parents and all the cousins between Christmas and New Year – the big post Christmas Coley Christmas, because that is the way we roll: two days in the car for a one day visit.

With the dog hopping from lap to lap.

We had lots of fun and Toots was very excited about the snow.

This is what winter looks like in Southeastern VA

2013.1.2 ct snow and stuff 023

Toots, fresh out of the car in Connecticut, and so excited to see snow

2013.1.2 ct snow and stuff 026

Immediate snow angel making night of arrival

2013.1.2 ct snow and stuff 027

She’s just thrilled about her accomplishment

2013.1.2 ct snow and stuff 028

“Yummy snow is so YUMMY!”

2013.1.2 ct snow and stuff 029

Dawn over my parents’ back yard. I really grew up in a pretty place.

2013.1.2 ct snow and stuff 030

Lucy loved the snow, too.

2013.1.2 ct snow and stuff 038

Papa broke out the old Flexible Flyer and a slab of bacon to grease the runners.

2013.1.2 ct snow and stuff 039

Toots would only let me pull her up the hill. She watched me ride down and determined it was too scary after great anticipation for DAYS and the whole ride up. All she wanted to do was go sledding before the actual sledding happened.

2013.1.2 ct snow and stuff 041

I rode. A lot. and said, “Woohoo!!!”

2013.1.2 ct snow and stuff 063Here are my parents, Gaga and Papa, and all of their grandchildren minus the oldest, my one niece, who was working in Boston. She and Toots bookend five boys. Captain Comic is very silly.

belated and looking forward

Merry Christmas as well as anything else you may celebrate.

IMG_7545

The year is winding down, and the way much of this one has gone, I’m glad to put 2012 in the rearview mirror: too many losses among friends and family, a lot of hard knocks. While I muddled through, I did remain grateful and had a lot of fun, too.

My dear old college friend, BJ Timoner is back on the road, on foot, to walk across America for Pancreatic Cancer Research. This is his second trek,  he had a heart event in the middle of the heat of Texas, and got back on the road east in 2011. You can imagine just how important this is to him, that he is willing to risk his very life to raise awareness and funds again.

Please click on his link at top right to learn more and to donate. This is one of the lowest rates of early detection and one of the highest death rates of all cancers.

You likely know someone besides Steve Jobs, who has passed quickly from this disease.

Please help BJ’s efforts and donate and pass the word.

Thank you, and have a stupendous 2013!

13 has always been a lucky number in my book. 🙂

 

Post Navigation