Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Post-Christmas Post: Cancel My Subscription to Christmas, Please

I remember when The Polar Express first came out. I was in Elementary school, probably 5th grade, maybe earlier. It won the Caldecott Medal Award in 1986, was a New York Times Best Seller as well as Best Illustrated Book of the Year.
It’s the story of a boy who begins to doubt Santa’s existence, boards a magical train to the North Pole, thrilling ride and adventure ensues, meets up with Claus, and reason to believe as well as the power of magic is instilled once again in the heart of the boy.

This great book was made into a rather disappointing movie years later, in 2004. I sat down to watch it recently. I had two thoughts: First, this sort of animation is bizarre. Kind of creepy, and the kids, well, they look like something is…well…you know, wrong with them. But maybe that’s just me.

Then I thought: What to do about Christmas? Should I continue to subscribe to it for the sake of my child, even though I have long since relinquished my personal subscription? Should I tell her about the abundantly Caucasian Santa Claus, as portrayed in The Polar Express and generally everywhere else?

I’d like to cancel my subscription entirely, though I would like, also, to think I am not that jaded.

I suppose I burned out on Christmas and all that goes with it years ago. Rightly so: between the rise of severe commercialism/consumerism and the 72 hour continuous showing of A Christmas Story on TNT with NO COMMERCIALS one year, I just had it. I was done with Christmas; done with the plethora of movies- The Grinch Who Stole Christmas? No thanks. It’s A Wonderful Life? No way. Home for the Holidays? Well, maybe.
Let’s not forget the year I saw all the characters from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a childhood holiday favorite, joyfully displayed in a department store: The Dentist action figures, plush Abominable Snowman toys. All of this shone as a shameful act of exploitation in my mind. There, in the department store, was a part of my childhood for sale.
I was done with the decorations-No Christmas tree, no Christmas lights, holly, boughs, creepy Santa Gnomes, reindeer antlers, etc, etc, etc. Not that I ever had a Santa Gnome….
The food, well, that stayed intact as the Christmas Dinner. That’s just too good to pass up. So were the presents-in moderation of course.
Oh, and the religious meaning behind it? Done with that too, in fact, never was into that aspect from the beginning.

It is reported by the NRF (National Retail Federation) in 2005 U.S. citizens spent $438.6 Billion on the holiday season, in the months of November and December alone. In just two months. This includes presents, cards, creepy Santa gnomes, Christmas trees, lights, and other Christmas paraphernalia. Amazing. For that amount, you could live in a fairly posh hotel for a year with room service and other amenities. You could go on a cruise, first class, around the world. You could probably even fly into space for that, these days.
Some people just gotta have their Santa gnomes.


So, here comes the question round again: What to Do about Christmas? Still shun commercialism and move towards Winter Solstice (the holiday that Christianity took over) as we have been doing for the past couple years now?
What about Santa? And Candy Canes?

I think I will introduce Santa Claus to my daughter. For a reason as simple as this: kids need that sort of magic in their lives. They need to believe there is power in magic. Besides, why instill such disbelief and cynical tendencies at a young age when they will have to deal with that later as they get older? Why take it away when there are fairies and elves to have tea with?

However, I still feel the need to shun commercialism and pack up most of the Christmas movies. I could settle for a tree with lovely lights. But please, let’s not go crazy with the decorations.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Bigger, Better, Faster

Bigger

Better

Faster


It's the American Way. We are the epitome of all three. It's part of our culture and becoming part of the world's culture (some parts of it, anyway).

Not everything needs to be bigger, better and faster.
Sometimes it's okay to be a little bit smaller, just as good and slower. You know, like eating-smaller portions, and taking your time to eat, slowly.
Taking the time to observe life-this does not require bigger, better or faster types of anything.
Besides, if you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Chick-Lit and Mommy-Lit

Chick Lit: The Sequel, NYT

From Media Bistro


"My feeling about my own work is, I could be writing 'The Aeneid' and they would still have to call it chick lit or mommy lit or menopausal old hag lit," said Jennifer Weiner. "Crone lit - is that what's coming next?" Well, it sounds about as good as AARP lit, I suppose...


She has a good point.

Everything is a marketing strategy these days. Women and Mothers are now clumped into the somewhat unattractive group of 'Chick-and Mommy-Lit'. It, really, is almost another way to discredit the wisdom and words of Motherhood and, just generally, being a woman.

Yeah, I write stuff that is Mother-related, stuff that would probably be considered Chick and Mommy Lit. I don't write it because I know it'll be a good 'marketing strategy'. I write it because it's part of my life and you write what you know. Just as many other Mothers and women do, and have done, through the years: write what you know.





Saturday, December 16, 2006

What I'm Reading These Days

I have taken to catching up on Poetry magazine's entire collection from 2006 lately. Just love that mag. They're having a great holiday sale on subscriptions, too-1/2 price-goody, goody.

Also, The Mother Trip, Ariel Gore
Collected Poems, Sylvia Plath and-
Anne Sexton, Self-Portrait In Letters

Friday, December 08, 2006

TRUCE: Toy Action Guide, 2006-7

The 2006-7 Toy Action Guide is up from TRUCE. Go check it out! Always an excellent resource.

Interesting (in a mild use of the word) that Sesame Street's Sesame Beginnings DVD Series is on the 'Toys to Avoid' list. (See the previous post I did about Sesame Street recently)

Happy to see, too, that Bratz product is on that list as well as LeapFrog and Baby Einstein.
I must say, though, Baby Einstein seemed like a good idea in the beginning, but it seems to be going the way of Disney. Not to mention, it got a little bit creepier as time went on, and the fact that there is something terribly wrong with marketing to babies (under a year, 18 months) that sort of stuff.

They also have the updated Media Violence and Children Guide.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Discovery of a Poet

I discovered Wislawa Szymborska awhile back-4 or 5 years ago. I love how she writes. I love her wit, irony and humor. I, somewhat recently, purchased her book of poems, new and collected, published back in '98. It's always interesting (to me, anyway) to see how a poet has evolved her craft in a collected edition spanning, in this case, four decades. A couple that caught my eye were "In Praise of Dreams" and "A Medieval Miniature".

Really, nobody(as a random reader) wants to hear about a random person and what they dreamed the other night. But, everything lies in the language with this poem. Not to mention humor and familiarity. A few favorite lines from "In Praise of Dreams":

I speak fluent Greek
and not just with the living.


A few years ago
I saw two suns.

Readers Are Dead

I found this via Kenyon Review blog.


"I don't think the novel is dead. I think readers are dead." Gore Vidal

Interesting, and true, I think.

Monday, December 04, 2006

What The Hell Happened To Sesame Street?

I may begin to sound 'old' here, so skip if you want, or not. Whatever.

I'm not sure what to think about Sesame Street these days.

What's Seth Green Doing on Sesame Street ?

ELMO. The Girl hates elmo. She won't tolerate elmo. At ALL. Telly looks like he's developed a crack habit. It's more screechy than I remember, definitely, in comparison to those old VHS tapes. I mean, the whole Elmo sketch alone is longer than it needs to be, too flashy. Although, I guess it reflects the times we live in.

The Girl loves the show-from the 70's/80's. There is a slew of old Sesame Street VHS tapes at the library that we check out on a regular basis. In love with it.
The new/recent Sesame Street has been on (and off) since we got cable. Mostly off.

Just saying- Sesame Street, for me, has gone down the tubes with its loud, screechy, flashy ways. Which is just too bad. I don't know, seems as if it all started with Jim Henson's death. (Much respect to him).

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Hot Topic: Homebirth

I read the Imperfect Parent pretty regularly. I read the blog just as much. Occasionally, I'll click the little box at the end of the article to be notified of any future comments on that particular piece.

One that I've been keeping an eye on is Jessica Carlson's Homebirths: Natural or Foolish. The subject itself is a hot topic anyway, producing passionate opinions on both sides: Homebirth vs. hospital birth. The article is certainly getting alot of press in terms of comments and such (including this post). She made the comment of 'wanting to incite some controversy'. I think she has, for better or worse.
To make such generalizations about a group of women and calling them 'Foolish' for a choice they think is right for them, you better be prepared for some sort of retaliation, whether it be mild or otherwise abrasive.

I've written something about this particular article before and had much of the same thoughts as most of the commenters. This piece still gets to me sometimes (obviously, or I wouldn't write about it again).

Birth defects on the rise? Check this out.
Infant Mortality? America's Health: State Health Rankings



Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Final Installment...Boring or Not...For Now

-White Oleander, Janet Fitch
-Anne Sexton, Dianne Middlebrook
-Reviving Ophelia, Mary Pipher
-The American Night, Jim Morrison
-Birdsong, Rumi
-Monday or Tuesday, Viginia Woolf
-The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
-Hamlet, Shakespeare
-Delta of Venus, Anais Nin
-The Prophet, Khalil Ghibran
-No Evil Star, Anne Sexton
-The Collected Poems of Rotheke
-Anne Sexton, A Portrait in Letters
-The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
-The Most Beautiful Woman In Town, Charles Bukowski
-Anne Sexton, The Complete Poems
-The Poet's Companion, Addonizio
-Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes
-The Practice of Poetry, Robin Behr
-Anais Nin, A Biography, Dierdre Bair
-Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness, Edward Butscher
-Words For The Wind, Theodore Rotheke

Monday, November 27, 2006

What? There's More?!

Yes...another installment of THE LIBRARY-

-The Hot Zone, Richard Preston
-The Day Women Got The Vote, George Sullivan
-The Encyclopedia of Palmistry, Edward D. Campbell
-Women In Medieval/Renaissance Europe, Susan Hill Gross and Marjorie Wall Bingham
-Women Writers of the West Coast, Marilyn Yalom
-Sylvia Plath Journals
-Selected Poems of Thomas Merton
-100 Most Important Women of the 21st Century, Ladies Home Journal
-Henry and June, Anais Nin
-The French Lieutenant's Woman, John Fowles
-Her Husband, Diane Middlebrook
-Sylvia Plath Collected Poems
-Ariel (New Edition), Sylvia Plath
-Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom;Christiane Northrup
-The Chalice and the Blade, Riane Eisler
-Letters Home: Sylvia Plath
-Venus Envy, Elizabeth Haiken (The history of cosmetic surgery. Better have a strong stomach for this one!)
-All Families Are Psychotic, Douglas Coupland
-Kama Sutra, Anne Hooper
-The Witching Hour, Anne Rice
-Lasher, Anne Rice
-The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned, Anne Rice
-Between Two Lines, Lawrence M Hauptman (Discusses the role of the Native American during the Civil War)
-The Glance, Rumi
-A Backwards Glance, Edith Wharton
-The Queen of the Damned, Anne Rice
-The Complete Poems of Emily Dickenson
-Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
-Possession, A.S. Byatt
-Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
-Writing A Woman's Life, Natalie Goldberg
-Writing Down The Bones, Natalie Goldberg
-The Death and Life of Sylvia Plath, Ronald Hayman
-Wild Minds, Natalie Goldberg
-It's the Little Things, Lena Williams
-The Orchid Thief, Susan Orlean (I am just now reading the book after how many years??? Fantastic, though)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

People I'd Like To Meet-Dead or Alive

An ever changing and growing list....

I've noticed, as I go through the list compiled in my head over the years on the above subject, that most are musicians and writers and such. Not surprising, really.

-Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. Amazing lyricist. If I ever had the chance to actually meet him, I imagine the only words that would come out of my mouth-there would be no stopping them-Oh my god! You ROCK! Of course, I'd like to think I could be all calm and collected about it. I'd love to see him in concert before he retires.

-Sylvia Plath. Yes, think what you like about that one. Very much a wordsmith.

-Carlos and Deborah Santana. Carlos because he rocks on the guitar like nothing else and Deborah because she has done so much amazing things in terms of human rights.

-Gary Oldman. Truly a great actor. A chameleon of character.

-Daniel Day-Lewis
. I first saw him in Last of the Mohicans. I began to really appreciate his talent after I saw him in Gangs of New York. Then, one day recently, I finally saw Room With A View. Wow. Talk about versatility. You would never guess it was the same person from all three movies.

To Be Continued...

Monday, November 13, 2006

This Will Either Bore You Endlessly, Or Not (4)

Yes, another installment of my library.

-The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, A.E. Waite
-Watership Down, Richard Adams
-A Spy In The House Of Love, Anais Nin
-The Great and Secret Show, Clive Barker
-The Plumed Serpent, D. H. Lawrence
-The Bostonians, Henry James
-The Idiot, Dostoevsky
-The Voice of the Poet (Recording), Sylvia Plath
-The Voice of the Poet (Recording), Anne Sexton
-The Hobbit, JRR Tolkein
-Lady Chatterley's Lover, D. H. Lawrence
-20,001 Names For Baby, Carol Mc D Wallace
-Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
-Pride and Predjudice, Jane Austen
-Taltos, Anne Rice
-the Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan
-How to Use Tarot Spreads, Sylvia Abraham
-Belinda, Anne Rice
-Webster's Dictionary
-The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
-The New York Public Library Desk Reference
-The Short Handbook for Writers; Schiffhorst, Schell
-2006 Poet's Market
-2007 Writer's Market
-1491, Charles C. Mann
-Old Maids to Radical Spinsters, Laura L. Doan
-Tender Is The Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
-Sexual Personae, Camille La Paglia
-French Bilingual Dictionary
-Little Birds, Anais Nin
-Aspects of the Novel, E. M. Forster
-Characters and Viewpoints, Orson Scott Card
-Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette, (1950's)
-Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry, J. D. Mc Clatchy
-The Awakening, Kate Chopin
-Self-Reliance and Other Essays, Ralph Waldo Emerson
-French Women Don't Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano
-Eat Right For Your Type, Peter J. D'Adamo
-Heal Your Body, Louise L. Hay
-Promiscuities, Naomi Wolf

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Stay Away From The Artificial Sweeteners! Run Away!!

We all know artificial sweeteners are Evil. Why do we continue to consume them?
And-why can't I just have a piece of fucking gum without this shit in it? Just regular sugar in my gum for me, thank you. Seriously- I can't do gum at all because all of it has some sort of artificial sweetener in it. I'm quite pissed about that.

I understand some people just can't have sugar, and diabetics need to have a certain diet that contains little sugar, etc.
But what about the rest of us? We don't need it. It doesn't need to be in everything.

People, don't you know it's all evil(Nutrasweet, Aspartame, Equal, Sweet n' Low, Splenda) , that it causes all sorts of crazy shit? Headaches, Cancer, for fuck's sake? Stuff we probably aren't aware of?

Take a look at these:
Aspartame-'the most dangerous of all'
This gives an overview on most of the sweeteners, gives side effects of Aspartame and introduces a book by Janet Hull titled Is Splenda Safe? Very informative.

Wikipedia's article on Sugar Substitutes.

Artificial Sweeteners and Cancer: Q and A
(from Cancer.gov)

Okay...So what would it take to get all brands of artificial sweetener out of our food, gum, candy, etc, etc.?

Monday, November 06, 2006

This Will Either Bore You Endlessly, Or Not (3)

My Library (Part 3)

-The Last of the Mohicans, James Fennimore Cooper
-Snow Falling On Cedars, David Guterson
-Women of the Beat Generation, Brenda Knight
-Trading Up, Candace Bushnell
-Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier
-Women of the Republic, Linda K. Kerber
-The New Diary, Justine Rainer
-Shopgirl, Steve Martin
-Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser
-Astrology For Beginners, Hewitt
-Numerology For Beginners, Bauer
-Harry Potter (series), J.K. Rowling
-Women Who Run With The Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes
-Ain't I A Woman, Linthewaite
-The Diaries of Anais Nin. Vols. 1,2,3,4
-Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
-Naked, David Sedaris
-Lunar Nodes, Koparkar
-With Eagle Tail, ?
-Gate of Rebirth, Haydn Paul
-Afro-American Women Writers, 1746-1933, Ann Allen Shockley
-The Writing Life, Annie Dillard
-Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
-The Thornbirds, Colleen Mc Collough
-The Mill On the Floss, George Eliot
-Scarlett, Alexandra Ripley
-The Beautiful and the Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald
-The House By The Sea, May Sarton
-Catch-22, Joseph Heller
-Dorothy Parker, Portable Library
-Sons and Lovers, D.H. Lawrence
-The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bridget Jones's Diary, The Movie, The Book

Yes, yes. I have just now seen the movie. Not a tragedy.

This is very much a background movie for me: something you put on as noise when it’s too quiet in the house.

I read the book years ago, back in West Palm Beach. I thought, my god, can this woman get any more obsessive, what with the counting of cigarettes, alcohol units and weight gained and lost, etc., at the beginning of each chapter?

Still, I read it, all the way through, back and forth on the bus from Lake Worth to West Palm Beach nearly every day. Those were the days when I really kept up on what was new in Fiction, et al. Alas, not so much these days, but I try….

I can see why and how this was so popular and sold well. The movie, at least, is pretty formulaic. 30 something woman depressed about being single, thinks she found right man, turns out to be ass, finds right man who has been there all along, ends all happy sappy. Oh, and for good measure, throw in a fight between Was Mr. Right and Is Mr. Right.

Still, I feel compelled to see the sequel. Is that sappy?

Renee looked lovely, though. She didn’t look waspish in the movie, or ghostly, like some of the other actors do, which is always nice. You know, she looked real.

Perhaps that can be another subject for the future....How Thin Is Too Thin? type of thing- Male and Female.

Friday, November 03, 2006

This Will Either Bore You Endlessly, Or Not (2)

My Library (Part 2)

-Pigeon Feathers, John Updike
-Tale of the Body Thief, Anne Rice
-The Challenge of Feminist Biography, Alpern, Antler, Perry and Scobie
-Ornament and Silence, Kennedy Fraser
-Beginners Guide to Jungian Psychology, Robin Robertson
-Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
-Women In Love, D. H. Lawrence
-Averno, Louise Gluck
-The Motherhood Manifesto, Joan Blades and Kristen Rowe-Finkbeiner
-The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need, Thurman
-Exotic Names (a baby name book), Allisa Jones
-The Hours, Michael Cunningham
-Everyday American History, ....
-Our Dreaming Mind, Robert L. Van De Castle
-Don't Look Now, Daphne Du Maurier
-The Witches of Eastwick, John Updike
-The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison, Wilderness
-Wislawa Szymborska, Collected Poems
-Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
-Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, John Gray, MD
-Dreaming the Past, Dreaming the Future, Diane Stein
-Mary Queen of Scots, N.Brysson Morrison
-Goddess In Every Woman, Hean Shinoda Bolen
-The Blood That Is Language, Louise Townsend Nicholl
-Great Short Stories By Women, Candace Ward
-The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Plath's Previously Unpublished Poem

Over at Blackbird, they have a whole feature section on Plath's previously unpublished poem "Ennui".
It also features the always interesting original typescripts (to me anyway) , both rough and final drafts.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This Will Either Bore You Endlessly, Or Not (1)

I present: My Library (Part 1) (The First Official Post of NaBloPoMo)

Maybe you'll add something to your 'Must Read List', who knows?

-Howard's End, E.M. Forster
-Hot and Bothered, Annie Downey
-The Age of Grief, Jane Smiley
-Midwives, Bohjalian
-Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
-Little Altars Everywhere, Rebecca Wells
-The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
-Beloved, Toni Morrison
-Adam's Curse, Bryan Sykes
-Plays, Lillian Hellman
-At A Journal Workshop, Progoff
-Wicked, Gregory Maguire
-Sun Signs, Linda Goodman
-Reading the Tarot, Martello
-Love Signs, Linda Goodman
-Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
-Cry To Heaven, Anne Rice
-Words For The Wind, Theodore Rotheke
-The Essential Rilke, Rainer Maria Rilke
-Bellefleur, Joyce Carol Oates
-Mastering the Tarot, Eden Gray
-Ariel (original Paperback), Sylvia Plath
-The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
-The Feast of All Saints, Anne Rice
-The Catcher In The Rye, J. D. Salinger
-Christmas Stories By Women, Susan Koppelmann

Check out the rest of my library:
Part 2, 3, 4 and 5

Monday, October 30, 2006

Scary Spooky Stories

I’ve had my share of these sorts of stories and experiences.

The earliest I remember: I was about 16, we were living on a third floor apartment, in a building that dated back to the early 1900’s. It was truly a gorgeous apartment: spacious, lovely hardwood floors, original woodwork frames on the doors and windows. And-a sunroom jutting out from one corner of the apartment, with walls made of brick and an Astroturf-ed floor. Despite that last bit, it was a favorite spot for reading in the summer.

One day, I was home alone (isn’t that always how it happens?), it was probably spring or summer-it was fairly warm out.

Situated next to the sunroom was the dining room and on the other side, the living room where a magnificent entertainment center, near the French Doors, took over all space and housed a very small TV.
There was a vertical cabinet/shelf on the left side of this entertainment center with a glass insert allowing you to see all your videos (there were no DVD’s in those days) and CD’s, etc.

I was listening to music-loudly, as I was alone-and looking for another CD to play.

All of a sudden, I felt something. I felt somebody else in the room. At first, I thought it was my parents back from the store. But then, the hair on the back of my neck stood up and I got the chills ever so briefly.

I stood still as I saw a woman in a light blue dress walk behind me, her reflection seen in the too-big entertainment center. I whipped around as soon as she passed from the E.C. and nobody was there.

Another time, at a family gathering, I felt someone tap my shoulder, and then the other shoulder. I thought it was one of my brothers playing tricks. Nobody was behind me. This was in the dining room, right next to the sunroom.

A few years after we moved out of that apartment, I got a clipping in the mail from a family friend. It was from the local newspaper: ‘Dog dies in third floor fire’.

It was our old apartment in the picture, the corner-where the sunroom was-blown out and charred by fire.

It was the only spot in the entire building that was completely damaged. The rest of the building had minor smoke and water damage, the first and second floor sunrooms were unscathed.

All I could think of was the woman reflected in the Entertainment Center….


More to come later...again, check out Devilish Southern Belle's Halloween story.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Currently Reading...

Annie Downey's new book, Hot and Bothered and E. M. Forster's Howards End. I gush at each of these books. Well written, ninety-some years between them, the dirty side of life.

It will take me months to finish. Really. It's already been a month and a half at both books, simultaneously. I mean, two books, at the same time? With more than 50 pages (the limit at which my brain can handle these days)? And-no pictures, just words?! (I read alot of non-fiction, with occasional pictures)

Yeah, it'll take me awhile.

My mother once told me she didn't read anything for two whole years while my siblings and I were very young. There just wasn't the leisurely time there once was, and the attention span beyond kids.

I really miss getting lost in a book: Having the whole day to read. It's like the journal issue, I suppose; but, I could do without a book. I cannot do without writing.

Not to worry....I'll finish these books...someday soon.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Some Thoughts On ‘Homebirths, Natural or Foolish’, The Imperfect Parent

I enjoy reading the Imperfect Parent for its diverse views and commentary on various subjects. I catch up on it through my Google Reader whenever I find the time.

I’m not quite sure how to approach this. Let me start off by saying everybody is entitled to their opinion (however different it may be from another’s) and I have no intention of tearing the author down. This is, after all, just my thoughts and opinion.

This article "Homebirths, Natural or Foolish", from the Imperfect Parent really grabbed my attention, planted a bug underneath my skin.

I’m itching as I write.

Nice image, eh?

There seems to be an air to this article suggesting lack of respect in birth choices. We still have that choice, don’t we?

The fact that the author used the word ‘Foolish’ to describe homebirth immediately turned me off and it let me know where she stands. But hey-she’s entitled.

To assume women are going the home birth route because of ‘the man’ and patriarchy is something of misinformation. There are plenty of women who do it because it is just more comfortable. They most likely have a medical back up plan in case something does go wrong. There is also the option of a birthing center-with the feel of home and the backup of medical assistance if need be. There is a lot of ‘false information’ and propaganda floating around about hospitalization is the only ‘safe’ way.

It must be said that there is no ‘safe’ way. A hospital cannot guarantee safety, no matter what you’ve been told. Neither can a home birth. There are dangers in each situation. Life itself is dangerous; we take risks every single day.

obviously, the subject of home birth is a hot one.

Check out the comment on the site by Andrea. She has a link to a tragic story of one woman. She also makes some excellent points.

Homebirth is a choice some women make. A choice that should be respected, by women, men, and doctors alike.

Does this ban me forever from Imperfect Parent?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

CHBM: Favorite Guilty Pleasure TV Show

Kind of early to post (for Oct 18), but, well, here it is:


We don’t have TV these days-for obvious reasons: the news is depressing, CNN has the habit of bombardment informant, and it (TV) is just a bunch ‘o crap anyway. Just before we got rid of the tube, I was watching The Travel Channel, The Movie Channels, The Discovery Channel and PBS (Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers), and that was it.

But, I do miss Whose Line Is It Anyway?, which can be found on YouTube, apparently-Yea!

My Guilty Pleasure TV show? I deeply indulged in those Most Haunted shows on the Travel Channel. Haunted Hotels, Haunted Towns, anything Haunted, I would watch and be fascinated. Fascinated. I just liked the Travel Channel in general really. ‘Passport To Europe with Samantha Brown’ was great too. Perhaps it was some sort of morbid curiosity with those shows, the Most Haunted, even though they were pretty damn campy at times. Paranormal activities have always interested me. It’s the morbid curiosity thing. Do those things actually exist? Do people really have those experiences? Enquiring minds want to know!

And-with Halloween coming up, I imagine The Travel Channel will be having Most Haunted Marathons galore. And I’m missing it! But hey, it’s not the end of the world


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Friday, October 13, 2006

So, Is Peppermint Tea Okay When Pregnant?

Just recently, people have been coming to my blog via Googling the above question. Just how and why did they come here, precisely? Take a look at This Post. I would like to say, Yes. Yes, peppermint tea is okay when pregnant. It is actually one of the safest teas out and about. Of course, this is not sound, medical advice. I'm just a mom and a blogger. What do I know, right?

It's always interesting to see what brings people to your site.
Some recent searches:
-"Vermont Woman" (From this post, probably)

-"wheat free"

-"The Sun Magazine", "suri" (This Post)

-"Mary Peck Butterworth" (This Post)

-"Fatherhod/Motherhood Writing"

-"Lotus Poem, Birth" (This Poem)

-"pregnancy cravings peppermint" (of course. See above.)

-"why is pluto not a planet anymore" (This Post) This came up something like 20 times.

-"poop diaper" (!)

-MY NAME

-"women- demeaning quotes in the bible" (perhaps this post?)

-"how to say 'excuse me'" Um, excuse me?

-"Cathy's Book" aka, Product Placement (This Post)

-"small poems on the sound of silence" (This Post) How about big poems?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

So Delighted and Very Much Pleased

This morning, I got an email from the editors at MotherVerse saying they want to use one of my prose pieces in the upcoming issue. I am so delighted and very much pleased!
Such strong, feminine voices in all areas of writing...

Go on, check it out and see what I mean.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Expanding My Vocabulary

Lately, I noticed some new words and entire phrases have leapt into my voracious vocabulary:

Don't touch that!
No!
Get away from there!
What are you doing over there/under there/with that?
Get that out of your mouth!
What is that?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Guest Spot: Annie Downey


I am pleased to introduce Annie Downey, author of 'Hot and Bothered', as Writing In The Mountains' very first Guest Spot:



Writing & Motherhood
by Annie Downey
All Rights Reserved 2006



I remember the first thing I ever wrote about being a mother. I was eighteen years old, my daughter, Iris, was eight months old. We had a tiny one bedroom apartment in downtown Burlington. I had just begun my first semester at college and had signed up for a creative writing class. Our first bit of homework was one of those basic “How to ___” writing assignments. Classmates shared their ideas aloud—one hip-dressed student said she was going to write about how to make an Orgasm (like the drink!)—another student chirped up and said that he was going to write about how to get a hot guy in the sack. Everyone laughed. I remember being panicked about what I would write about.

My professor said to me, “Write about what you know.”

I went and picked up my daughter at the college daycare. As I pushed her stroller up the street to our apartment, I thought about how boring and dull my life would seem to my college classmates. At the same time I didn’t want their lives of endless partying and fast relationships. I liked being a mother, I liked the safety of it, and, I knew I was good at it. I liked the weight of my daughter on my hip, I liked nursing her, I liked folding her little baby clothes at the laundry mat, I liked mashing up food for her, and I loved giving her a bath, changing her diaper, and reading her stories. I enjoyed it.

After I put my daughter, Iris, to bed that night, I sat down to write. The words flew out of me. It was something I hadn’t felt in a long time—me—alone—just me. And I was O.K.. Typically, because I couldn’t stand the loneliness of the night, I would leave most of the lights on in the apartment and go to bed along with Iris. But that night, while writing my assignment, I felt cozy and good. I didn’t feel alone. I had words for company. When I finished the rough draft, I turned off the lights in the apartment and went to sleep.

When the next class rolled around and I shared “How to Change a Poopy Diaper”, the class loved it, and thought it was hilarious. It was so exhilarating to be both seen and heard by a room full of people. By incorporating my mothering experience with my writing—my first writing class became a place for me to share my stories of single motherhood which lessened my own feelings of isolation and I made me a happier mother, which, in turn, benefited my daughter. By creating a venue in which to share my joy of my daughter with other people (something I had always imagined married couples shared), I was able to also claim my own identity as a writer without feeling I was leaving my daughter, Iris, behind. At that time, I felt I couldn’t do anything that somehow didn’t include her without feeling tremendous anxiety and guilt. If I wrote “our” story, then those feelings wouldn’t tug at me— extinguishing the page—and thus extinguishing this new found freedom to become what I wanted outside of motherhood.

So, I began to write…I wrote everyday in my journal, I wrote poems, I wrote short stories, and I wrote essays. I wrote through a rocky relationship, another baby, and a break-up. I wrote through graduation from college, court processes, my mother’s illness, and a new marriage that has had its ups and downs. Writing has been my companion— my one other relationship— besides the relationship I have with my children— that has remained consistent and unwavering. I am always loyal to it.

Now that my children are older (my daughter now in her senior year at high school and my son in middle school) and are developing their own amazing identities—beginning to get a sense of their own crazy ideals and dreams—their own story—it is easier for me to allow them to do just that. It is easier to be at peace with them flying in and out of this little colorful nest of mine because of writing. Because I have been able to slowly claim my own identity that goes beyond being their mother—a part of my life that doesn’t necessarily always have to involve them—that doesn’t have to be “our” story—but is “my” story— that occasionally (when allowed and if invited) is intermingled with theirs.*

Be sure to check out Annie Downey making the rounds on her upcoming book tour at these locations.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

CHBM Prompt: My Husband and I....

I saw the latest CHBM prompt/carnival recently. It poses the statement of ‘My husband and I were so embarrassed when we got caught by the kids doing….’

This is all I came up with:

It’s funny how a lot of people’s first reactions to this statement would be about sex, or of a sexual nature.

I immediately thought, we don’t get caught, because-well-there is no WE.
And yeah, my first reaction was we don’t get caught in the bedroom. (see above)

Why do we (most likely) think of possible sexual connotations when we get ‘caught by the kids’?

That’s it. It’s all I can muster at the moment.


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Monday, September 25, 2006

Caught In The Blogosphere

You tell someone you are a Mommyblogger and they roll their eyes. Oh, one of those, said with disdain. It sounds almost as bad as ‘tweens’, or some other clever marketing strategy.
Is that all this is? Is that all mothers are these days? One of the biggest target marketing groups?

There are women out there breaking (smashing) every myth of what it means to be a mother. At the same time, you got to wonder if some of us are unconsciously exploiting ourselves and our children.

However, it must be said that mothers have this unique forum for expression that was not available a few years ago; to let our voices be heard (and they are), to gain support from each other, other mothers like us, and it is tremendous.

I really don’t consider myself a ‘mommyblogger.’ I despise the term and try to go beyond the stigma in my writing. I mean, I do have other interests than my child and being a Mom. right? I would think so.

When I started my blog, (and earlier on Mama Says) I immediately made it clear that there will be no pictures of my child or anyone else’s, and that I would keep some anonymity-as much as possible- concerning myself and my daughter. It’s about the writing and always has been. The Girl is definitely a part of that, just as motherhood itself is. Plus, I just feel weird about posting pictures of my kid on the Internet. I always felt that was going a bit too far; as if I were crossing some sort of boundary; that is was a violation of …something.

So what of the next generation, our children? This generation who has their entire lives on display? This is the generation of the blogosphere. Their lives are public; privacy is no longer a boundary. My own child is of this generation.

Every generation has to rebel against the one before them. That’s just how it goes, it’s their job. How will this one show their rebellion? The children of the...Blogosphere.
Will they be super private individuals? Will they be more conservative than we could ever imagine, in more ways than one? Even prudish? In extensive therapy?
I could be totally wrong, but that backlash is coming with a rebel yell, though how it will sound remains to be seen.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Defining Identity: More Than Just A Mom

A lot of moms define themselves as just that: A Mom, and nothing else.
I’ve seen it, and it disturbs me.

Surely we have interests beyond our children?

Why do some of us drown ourselves in the role of motherhood? How do we come to that spot? How do we lose ourselves? Where do we learn Motherhood Is All That I Am? Why do we think that’s okay?

One reason I started this blog (and worked on Mama Says) is so I wouldn’t lose myself. So I wouldn’t lose other parts of my identity that would surely have gone astray amidst the demands of motherhood.

I am able to write (and vent) on this blog. It has pulled all aspects together, a merging, of the self. I write what I write because I can. Because it’s what I want to write. It pushes me to write more, differently than I have in the past-in journals, poetry, whatever sort of writing I choose to do. It keeps all my identities intact.

Hey, motherhood is demanding and at times overwhelming and all-consuming, but it doesn’t mean you have to give yourself up.

How do you define yourself-Writer, Sister, Humanitarian? Avid Reader? Photographer? Various Activist? Mother...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

My Peppermint Obsession

When I was pregnant, and then shortly after The Girl was born, I had this intense, out-of-my-mind craving for peppermint. Particularly peppermint tea.

For weeks I wanted nothing but peppermint tea to drink. As is. No milk. No sugar.


Hell, I probably would have eaten the actual leaves if I hadn’t caught myself and realized-Okay, that’s going a little bit too far. maybe not...

It reminded me of when you hear about pregnant women eating dirt (it actually has a name). I-my body- must have needed the tea somehow.

I couldn’t get enough of the smell. I would go in the kitchen and just sniff the bag of tea leaves (we buy our tea in bulk usually, so it is fresh and loose and very minty), never mind actually making the tea, just like a druggie getting their fix.

There were a couple of times where all I could smell was the aroma of peppermint. It overtook all my senses. Out of all the smells within the house-different herbs and even more potent spices than peppermint itself, among others-it was all I could smell.

It’s amazing how your body communicates its needs through cravings such as these, during pregnancy in particular, and just in general.

Additional info: Properties of Peppermint

Monday, September 18, 2006

Hey, My Baby Reads The New Yorker, What Can I Say?


So, the other day, The Girl and I were out on our regular walk around the block. She happened to pick up a magazine on the way out, pretty stealth-like.There was no way I was going to take it away from her at that point: why incite a tantrum when that magazine will keep her busy for about FIFTEEN glorious and quiet minutes while we do errands?

You know what she picked up? The New Yorker. Just a random copy that was laying around the house. In her stroller, she sat, studying the pages in all seriousness, nodding in agreement to this and that article, issuing a little chuckle at one point, turning the pages with slow precision.

A man walking his dog approaches us, slows his stride, says incredulously: "If I only had a camera! She's 'reading' The New Yorker! I have never seen that! Priceless!", and moves on laughing and shaking his head in disbelief.

Friday, September 15, 2006

So, Pluto Isn't Really A "Planet" Anymore....

This post is a little over due.

Who decides this stuff? A bunch of people in a boardroom gather together one day and say, 'Hey, uh, should we take Pluto off the planet roster?' Better yet, let's lump it in with the Dwarf Planets. 'Cuz, um, they're not really planets anyway, right?

Well, I ran across a post from Astrobarry about the Pluto Downgrade.
He makes a good point (as always) about the relationship between The Planet, 9/11 and Katrina. I mean, this can't all be coincidence.

Those two events are the country's worst disasters in decades. Would you go so far as to say Pluto's Demotion was a(n) (un)conscious attempt at brushing everything so horridly eye-gouging about these events under the carpet?

I mean, who really wants to admit poverty and racism are (still) rampant in America? Not here, in this Great Land, where all are created equal....Yeah...and the Constitution is just a 'piece of paper.'

Thursday, September 14, 2006

CHBM Prompt: The Best Part About Fall Is....


Hmm…Fall Foliage and maple creme filled cookies with coffee.
Really. Living in New England, I have the advantage of seeing the country’s most spectacular show when it comes to Fall Foliage. I’ve never seen anything like it until I moved out here. I always think the mountains are on fire when fall rolls around.





The only downside to this is the Leaf Peepers. They come from all around the country by the busload, (big tour buses, I should add) invading our town for about two weeks. Great for them, a bit annoying for the townies that have to deal with the sudden influx of tourists and their exclamations of ‘What a quaint town!’ or ‘Do you know where…’ heard for the hundredth time that day.
But-whatever. I can be a tourist too.
The maple creme filled cookies (any kind will do)… These cookies really hit the spot in fall. Especially with that cup of coffee…I don’t know, they just taste better when there’s a bit of chill in the air...and the melty-ness of the maple with the coffee-yum. I would suggest the Vermont Coffee Company. What can I say-I have been spoiled in my taste for coffee…

Oh yes-could not forget the true sign of fall in Vermont: Cold Hollow Cider and Cider Donuts-freshly baked at Cold Hollow Cider Mill-Mmm, mmm.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

This Is Why I Rarely Go Out Shopping Anymore

Went shopping for The Girl's pajamas last night.

Know what I saw passing the girls' section? Training bras by Mary Kate and Ashley that were somewhat padded and had CUTIE in a playful arc across the bra cup spelled out in what looked to be a form of shiny rhinestone type things.

The whole Bratz/barely concealed product placement(no pun intended) has really lit a fire under my ass.

Yeah, I'm irritated. Yeah, I'm a mom.

And yes, I would still be saying these things even if I weren't a mother.
I would never wear this shit if I were that age, my mother would never have let me! Hell- I wouldn't wear some of it now if it were being marketed to me, or even when I was 18.

Hey, I'd rather be called a tomboy with my jeans and push-up bra tank than a slut for wearing a too-short skirt.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Don't Be Such A Brat!

*Deep Breath*

Alright. Yesterday, I posted about the abominations of Children's Lit Advertising. This morning I got the latest post from IzzyMom in my box. It is along the same lines as what I posted about in the Children's Lit thing, except hers infuriated me even more than product placement.

What- you say- can that be, that which infuriates you so?

I'll tell you. Those frickin' Bratz dolls.

I never liked these in the first place.
They now have 'Baby Bratz' dolls wearing lingerie marketed to 6 year olds. As if the original Bratz dolls weren't bad enough.
6 year olds!
They don't need to be thinking about that shit.
In addition to that, stores are selling padded bras to these girls. Padded Bras!!!! Hello!!

What is wrong with this society that we think it's okay for children and 13 year olds to be so pre-maturely sexualized?
Also, the parents who buy this stuff...stand up to your kids, say no and be the parent, for christ's sake!

Where did this come from and why do we take it in stride?

I don't know what the deal is about parents being afraid to say no to their kids, and letting their children walk all over them. What you end up with is a child with no boundaries. I think that's what it comes down to in most cases. Was that too harsh?...Another post for another day.

Obviously, there will be none of these dolls in my house, and if they do happen to sneak in , they are going straight to the garbage.

Write to Target, write to the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood
Make some noise about this!

I think IzzyMom really hit the spot with her post.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Poets Of The Palm Beaches

While I was in Florida, I had the pleasure of reading with a few members of the Poets of the Palm Beaches, courtesy of one very feisty woman.

This was the best thing about my time down there. Every Tuesday down at O’Shea’s, poets would gather and share what they had written for the pure pleasure of writing and constructive feedback.

In truth, I miss this kind of atmosphere. I came out of each meeting (nearly) with something: lines for a new poem, a great conversation-humor ran rampant here-, helpful criticism well taken. It also didn’t hurt that it was 70/80 degrees around 8/9 at night, in the middle of November.

In most of the recent writing groups I have attended since seem to lack something that the experience of the readings at O’Shea’s provided.

I’m not sure what it is, but I’d like to find it again.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Vermont Woman's Review For Hot and Bothered, Annie Downey

For those of you who can get a copy of Vermont Woman, I encourage you to check out the book review for Annie Downey's Hot and Bothered in the September issue out now.

I know you can get the newspaper all over Montpelier (at Bear Pond Books and Capitol Grounds) and in Burlington.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

CHBM Prompt: What Is Your Back To School Tradition?

The Girl isn’t in school quite yet-still have a few more years to go. That surely doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about the subject. But, I’m not obsessing about it either. I have weighed the possibility of home schooling against public school in my mind (and aloud at others who would give me a good opinion). Public school isn’t all that great these days, as we have heard through the news: schools are understaffed, kids aren’t reaching their potential, test scores aren’t as high as they should be, etc, etc. Also, do I really want my child in public school if she isn’t learning anything? So many kids are unchallenged by the public school system.

Home schooling gives you more options for learning, that’s for sure. Everyday activities could be counted toward home school learning: cooking, reading Jane Eyre, or taking a hike through the woods. Mothering Magazine has always had great articles and information on the benefits of home schooling and has been an excellent resource in helping me come to my own conclusions about public/home schooling, among other things.

I don’t remember if we had any traditions per se when I was in school. We always went school shopping for clothes and supplies (paper, scissors and pens in those days. Oh, and a calculator. Not half the crap kids need today). It was a planned event (with three kids it was just easier to do it all in one fell swoop), always on a budget, and we were involved whether we liked it or not.

When it comes time for The Girl to start schooling, I hope we will find new traditions and non-traditional traditions to throw into the mix. Aren’t we always schooling in some form or another throughout our lives?

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

In Praise of Women Inventors, Most of Whom Happen To Be Mothers

(Because women should be praised all of the time, not just on Mother’s Day and National Women’s History Month)


I saw a sign not too long ago (at the bookstore, library?) proclaiming June as ‘National Men’s Month.’ Oh, so the last 2000+ years haven’t been enough? They have to claim the month of June, too?

Where would the world be without women?

Women are the inventors of life, the single most important force on the planet. There have been many who have been either ignored altogether, or passed the invention off to the credit of a man.

Here is a little gem from Inventors and Inventions: C.D. Tuska (1957)

-“I shall write little about female inventors…most of our inventors are of the male sex. Why is the percentage [of women] so low? I am sure I don’t know, unless the good Lord intended them to be mothers. I, being old-fashioned, hold that they are creative enough without also being ‘inventive.’ They produce the inventors and help rear them, and that should be sufficient.”

From the very mundane, most practical items (brown paper bags!!) to Nuclear Fission; from Hypatia to Hedy Lamar, women have been inventing throughout history.

Inventions abound on the domestic front, though most are considered as improvements to make life better and easier. No woman won any awards for these. They were merely looking for a better solution to the drudgery of housework and raising their children. Such women as Melitta Bentz, inventor of the drip coffee method; Marion Donovan created the disposable diaper; Anne Moore, the Snugli carrier and Margaret Knight-brown paper bags.

One of my favorites for ingenuity is Mary Peck Butterworth. Everybody wondered how she got her fortune. She counterfeited Rhode Island currency in the 1700's while living in Massachusetts and, essentially, never got caught. There wasn't enough evidence!

Among the doctors/healers/mothers was Dr. Virginia Apgar, of which the Apgar Score is named for. She was a leader in her field, but would never get as far as she would have liked because of her gender.

Many women who have made some of the most astounding and important discoveries of our time have been overshadowed by men, or simply dismissed for being too far ahead of their time.

Take Lady Mary Montague: she invented the smallpox vaccine nearly a century before Edward Jenner. Guess who got the credit? Then there was Nettie Stevens (a native Vermonter), who discovered the X and Y chromosomes in 1905. At the same time, a male scientist, Edmund B. Wilson, was conducting the same study. Who is more remembered for that discovery today?(for more on Stevens and Wilson click here)

Sometimes it seems as if we, as women, have not come far at all, and at times, even fall a step or two backwards. Granted, we are not torturing ourselves wearing wale bone corsets as a ‘necessary’ item of clothing, nor are we struggling for our right to vote (that only took 200 years). But, we are still underpaid in the work force; we are still struggling, as mothers, as women to adequately support our families, and ourselves.

A few months ago, CNN announced the Senate knocked down a proposal to raise the minimum wage. It stands at $5.15 an hour. There is no way anyone can live on that, let alone support a family.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Sound of Silence

I cannot stand the sound of silence. Not so much, however, that I feel the need to fill the dead air with meaningless words, just because it is deadly quiet (as in, let’s say, conversation).

No, no. This is a different sort of brand.

It is the silence when you are alone, when you are sitting up at night, when you are a single mother.

I cannot tell you how often I just put a movie in at night when I am writing, after The Girl is soundly in bed. I don’t even watch it. It’s just there for the noise.

I used to do this before The Girl: While I was at college, my (kinda psycho) roommate had a small portable television. I would turn that thing on while going to sleep, after a hard night’s partying, err studying-keeping it low just to have the sound. She was hardly ever there, anyway.

I did it at the last place I lived (before I had The Girl), where it was just me and my then boyfriend. He never stayed up late into the night as I did, so I’d turn that TV (or radio) on again while I wrote, so I wouldn’t have to listen to the silence.

Why do we do this?

Why is it so hard to accept the sound of silence?

(The sound of silence was nowhere to be found this morning: The Girl got up at 4 am)



Sunday, August 27, 2006

Montpelier Farmer's Market

For all of you familiar with the Montpelier Farmer's Market, you know about The Performer(s).

Here is the costume from yesterday, courtesy of False 45th.
July 22, 2006

July 15, 2006

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Changing Directions: On Writing/Journaling

Edited to announce: Accepted To The Whole Mom, November 2006 issue

(Preface: I know this is a long one, but please, take the time to read it)

I write regularly in my journal. I take that back-I used to write regularly in my journal. This past year, I have gone from being a faithful, detailed, everyday journal keeper to writing a sporadic, intermittent mix of half coherent fragments from the day. When I wrote on a regular basis, I could easily fill a two hundred page hard-bound journal within a month or less. These days, it takes me a disappointing four months to finish a book with the same amount of pages. In the new journal I recently started, I write half sentences, ideas that go nowhere, fragments of events that I wanted to record, all left hanging in mid-sentences.

These days, I find I put most of my journaling energy into the Mama Says blog. That, in a sense, has become my journal. However, I am not completely satisfied with this. I don’t want it to become my journal. A journal, to me, is something that is personal, a place where I can let it all out, stuff that I would never share with other mothers, let alone the world; a place where I can work through my crap ( definitely much cheaper than a psychiatrist!).

In this age of computer laptop journals, live journals and the blogosphere, I still prefer to draft things out with paper and pen. My handwriting is still decipherable, not yet reduced to chicken scratch. Besides that, I just love the feel of pen in hand. I don’t know why, but it seems I can put things together more efficiently that way. Plus, I’m a doodler. I like to scribble all over the page, cross out words and whole sentences, make squiggly arrows directing this sentence or paragraph to go all the way to the top (or bottom). After what seems to be sufficient doodling, I can go to the computer and make the final draft. I’ve always done that with poetry as well.
For me, journaling is a ritualistic process, I write out the drafts over and over, replacing this word here and that word there. There is a certain meditation in actual writing with pen and paper that cannot be found in banging out words on the computer. The blue-glow of the computer monitor can surely trance me out, but it’s just not the same.

I could say that most of my energy for journaling has been sapped by my two-year old running around the house. But it’s just not true. In fact, it’s just the opposite: she is my daily inspiration in many things, including writing. I turn out posts on a near-daily basis for the blog; some consisting of entire pages that could be turned into a possible articles. I just don’t have the interest for journaling right now. Never in my life did I think that would be an issue. Not me, the one with 40-plus full hard-bound journals and countless notebooks; the one who could never bear to skip a day, letting it go by unrecorded; the one who had to fill the page to capacity. Surely, I could never lose interest? I can’t even believe that’s what it’s come down to, but there it is.

These are the years of my daughter’s childhood. I feel I should be recording every little thing she does: new developments, what she’s feeling, how she reacted to the bug that dropped from the tree onto her sleeve. Will I look back on this time in my life and wish I had written more? Will I feel a certain sort of regret at what I didn’t record?
When I look back now on the journals from when I was pregnant with my daughter, I find myself wishing I had written a more detailed account of that experience; and I do feel something akin to regret at not writing more about it.



Perhaps I just need to accept the fact that it’s alright to not be interested in journaling at times. Right now there are plenty of other things in my life that require my attention. It’s not as if I won’t ever journal again. Perhaps it is the style of journaling familiar to me that is changing. Perhaps I am changing. Perhaps I just need to accept that as well. After all, life changes just as the wind changes directions.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Music For A Child

I’ve been on a major Santana kick lately. It’s all I listen to-aside from the soundtrack of Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz that have been running through my head. Maybe it’s that African-Latino sound that grabs my ear every so often, resulting in non-stop Santana binges.

It’s all the old stuff: Moonflower, Live at the Fillmore-’68, Abraxas, the third album (Toussaint L’Overture: amazing!), Shango. I listen to the somewhat new one as well: Supernatural. It’s the earlier stuff that makes me want to move, though. Those rhythms are so raw; they could give you shivers all through your body. How could you not dance to something like this?

The girl digs it too: she gets down with her funky dance. I have no idea where it came from.
She looks like some Voodoo Goddess channeling her ancestors. Given her ancestry, she might just be.

Santana was a big influence throughout my childhood. It was always playing, along with Jethro Tull, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, The Guess Who and Heart among many others.
I have a very vivid memory of my father playing Shango on the record player (you know, when records were still pretty much in the mainstream). I’d dance only as a kid could: with crazy abandon, and sing. Oh yes. Belting it out only as a kid can: really loud and slightly off-key. In the center of that record was the likeness of ‘Shango’. I’d watch this Shango spinning round and round the incantations of music on the record player. Damn it was scary as a kid! Powerful, though: I could never stop looking at it. I can still see it in my head. Perhaps it has become a little distorted in my memory stores over the years. I don’t have the album and I can’t seem to find a picture of it. I bet if I look at it today, I’d say: That’s not so scary…who knows.

Too bad when the CD came out, there wasn’t any room for the Great Shango. You wouldn’t have even known he was part of the album, spinning and spinning, unless you knew of the record.

With all that said, I wonder sometimes how what kind of music I listen to (among other things) will influence my girl, what sort of memories the music will create for her.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Putting Myself On Boyfriend Probation

Around the time The Girl turned 22 months, somebody said to me:

"I'm so glad you put yourself on boyfriend probation."

I thought about this for a minute. It never really occurred to me that I have, but now that I think of it, I guess that's exactly what happened. I must have made the decision somewhat unconsciously, shortly after my latest ex and I broke it off and maybe even before that.

I will admit I haven't had the best track record: druggies (not too hard core, but enough) alcoholics, Lunatics, born-again Christians, the 'I found God' types. Although, those last two happened after we broke up, strangely enough. Let's not forget the one with obsessive control issues.

Yes, I was in a rather strange place myself at the time. There were some decent ones-it wasn't all drugs, sex and religion. God, what a dangerous combination....

Shortly after I became pregnant, I had a wake-up call, a realization (that seems such a mild word-a thunder crack to the skull, maybe) that, looking back on it, seems so obvious-so simple. I cannot live my life as I once did. This became even more apparent once the girl actually squirmed herself into this world and my own.

No more could I stay out all night as I once did. No more could I drink myself stupid (while having obscene amounts of fun, of course). And-no more unbalanced men. Actually, how about just take a break from men altogether? Who has time for them anyway, when you are a single parent with a very young child? I barely have enough energy left to write or think after my daughter goes to bed, let alone enough for a new boyfriend, fling or whatever; one who demands my attentions for far more 'grown-up' things.

There is a whole other life I am responsible for. I came to the conclusion that there wasn't room for these types of men in my life-and my daughter's. I want her to feel safe, loved. I want to be able to respect myself and my daughter enough to not get involved in the sort of chaos I once knew.

And-I do respect both of us enough, so much so that I put myself on Boyfriend Probation. Now, whether that was conscious or some sort of survival mechanism, is another story.

Maybe someday I will meet a nice fellow who's not into drugs or absolutely, legitimately crazy, but for now I am perfectly content with being on self-appointed boyfriend probation.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Casting

It will be 2 years-on July 22-that my very pregnant belly was cast.

In the dead heat of summer, I patiently sat in my mother’s living room on a chair (not the most comfortable, but what is when you’re 9 months pregnant?), legs propped up on another chair, as my mother and Linda took turns in covering my torso with strips of casting. There was no air-conditioning, only box fans, window fans and the ceiling fan were going. Yeah, it was hot.

And, yes, there are pictures.

As the crust hardened and separated from my body, I could feel my baby girl rolling around inside-she was a very active tumbler from day one-and the beginnings of the Braxton-Hicks contractions, very slight, not close enough to go to the hospital by far, but still-there they were.

A very small baby shower (with only about 4 people) was held the same day. I was so glad (in retrospect and at the time) for the private atmosphere this provided. I imagine if it had been with the rest of my family (you know, all of them), it would have been a situation of slightly controlled chaos.

Technically, she was due to come into this world on August 7, you know, any minute. Well, that day came and went, obviously. That day turned into a week and a half- almost two weeks. When she finally did make her first appearance, I, of course, was in love. To be honest, I don’t even remember anybody else in the room except my daughter and I for at least the first half hour.

The cast from that day holds many different memories, some light, some dark:

I look at my now two year old daughter (where did the time go???) bouncing around, climbing on tables and then to the cast, back again, and think: dear god-this bouncing girl grew inside my body. Of course, awe strikes me dumb and all I can do is smile (after I tell her to get down off the table, three times). Who knew you could love someone this much?

I think about how I thought the situation I was in before and while I was pregnant was okay when, really, it was not. And, more accurately, I realized it was not okay and didn’t do anything about it till the last minute.

And, every once in awhile, I think about Rose C. She was there at the baby shower that day, looking fresh and pink-cheeked with her news, so overjoyed and positively glowing.

I picked up the Sunday paper a few days later and saw an article about a ‘Worcester woman dies in car crash’. I didn’t read it-only skimmed through the paper-, but I had this very distinct feeling that would not go away, knowing it was her.

With a phone call that strange space between life and death tightened for one spare moment and all I could think of was Life: hers, mine, the one growing inside of me, in her.



The cast now hangs on my wall, a blank canvas still, a symbol of all these things, of a difficult yet insanely blissful time in my life.

I have not been able, for one reason or the other, to give it any color or decoration. I wonder if it is because it already holds so many things, events, feelings,-still fresh in mind- that there is no need to decorate it at this point.

Still, it certainly deserves some kind of adornment. I feel something should be done with it, but I know not what.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Things We Notice Once We Become Parents: Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz

Things We Notice Once We Become Parents: Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz


Recently, my daughter has discovered Mary Poppins (‘pop’ as she calls it) and The Wizard of Oz.

It has, very literally, been years since I’ve seen either one. They were both iconic to my childhood. I was very nearly rabid about both of these classics, demanding to watch them over and over and over, driving my mother mad, no doubt; just adding two more entire movies to the soundtrack in her head. She could probably recite the two movies without any prompting these days for as much as I watched them.

In watching these standards with my daughter,-yes, we see a lot of movies, but we don’t have TV/cable, so it doesn’t seem as evil. Is that bad?- I am seeing things anew in both movies: the little details, dialogue becoming quite clear to my adult ear, rather than rushing through my child ear, picking out the rhythms to the songs, and random words like Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious (did I spell that right?). Having realizations such as ‘So that’s what they were saying all this time…’ and nodding my head in thoughtful comprehension. As well as the old question: So what is Mary Poppins? Is she a witch? And-what exactly is Mary and Bert’s relationship? How did they meet?!

There is one particular scene in The Wizard of Oz that really irked me this time around. Towards the end, when she is about to go home, Glinda the Good Witch asks Dorothy what she has learned. She replies with: "…If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”

Okay. I understand ‘home is where the heart is’, and I do believe in family ties, keeping close to one’s family. Still, I found myself becoming increasingly annoyed at these last lines Dorothy speaks. I also understand that this was filmed in 1939 and the first book in the series was written in 1900. Women had acquired the right to vote barely 20 years when the movie was made. They (We) were still expected to be docile creatures and stay at home, tending the kids and hearth. God forbid if you should have an adventure outside of the home. Yeah- can’t have nice girls going on awesome, dream-like adventures (drug-induced, perhaps? Come on-Snow??? Poppies??? Who could forget the 'crazy coincidence' of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon following the course of the movie? Hopefully, you figured this one out before you were intitiated into the world of parental bliss...). Oh nooo, can’t have that: Be a good girl and stay home, after all, there’s no place like it.


Despite all of this, I find it hard to dislike either movie. These are things I have noticed since becoming a mother. It won’t make me stop watching. Besides, what child doesn’t like Mary Poppins or The Wizard of Oz? I’d be hard pressed to find one such child.

Check out the original Movie Script

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mother Mary




I am not an overtly religious person. In fact, I don’t think I am very religious at all, and really never have been.


My daughter and I pass her nearly everyday on our regular walking route.
This Statue, this Mother, this Goddess.

I’ve lost track how many times we’ve gone past her, a quiet, solid presence, held in stone.

Every time, she holds my interest.
Every time, I cannot help but look upon her in acknowledgment, in respect.

Apparently, my daughter thinks so too. Apparently, she knows Mother Mary well-
On more than one occasion, while walking alongside me, she’ll veer into the alcove of Mary; bow down to sniff the flowers (‘fow-fow’s), her hand delicately cupping the petals. She then straightens, gazes shyly at Mother Mary, shifts a little so she is standing in front of her and begins a conversation with the Holy Mother in her current baby jabber.

When she is done, she comes over to me, takes my hand, and we continue our walk.

I always wonder what she’s saying to Mother Mary.

…And if anything is being said back to her…

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mama Reads Occasionally

  • Mother Shock, Andrea Buchanan: Makes the correlation between culture shock and how it feels becoming a mother. Outstanding, well written, highly insightful, deeply empathetic writing. Suggested by MamaAme
  • The Price Of Motherhood, Ann Crittenden: This is such a validating book because it outlines the inequalities, discrepancies and economic hardships that goes, unfortunately, with mother work. Suggested by MamaAme
  • The Motherhood Manifesto, Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner: This book covers everything American women have been trying to get for years: Maternity leave,(decent) Childcare, Flexible work and decent wages, Healthcare, all the biggies one would think we'd already have by now. This book not only reports on the situation, but offers real solutions to a real problem in America. Well researched, well formatted, an essential for all mothers. Suggested by Kris.
  • Shop Girl, Steve Martin: Anything Steve Martin writes is excellent. He is a genius. He is frequently seen in The New Yorker.
  • Ariel
  • The Bell Jar
  • Letters Home
  • Journals, Sylvia Plath
  • Virginia Woolf Journals
  • The Diaries of Anais Nin
  • Delta of Venus
  • Women of the Beat Generation, Brenda Knight
  • It's The Little Things, Lena Williams: Recently read by Kris. Engaging, Witty and Eye-opening.
  • Linda Goodman's Love Signs; Sun Signs: Classics of the Astrological world, indispensable.
  • Venus Envy: A History of Cosmetic Surgery, Elizabeth Haiken: This is great if you have the stomach for it. Ever wonder how cosmetic surgery started? How it became so mainstream? The history behind it is so fascinating-You want to turn away in disgust, but you have to sneak in just one more peek.
  • Lady Chatterley's Lover, D.H. Lawrence: One of the greatest books ever. It was banned in the '60s and was the subject of a much publicized 'obscenity trial' at the Old Bailey. Beautifully written, flawless story.
  • Wicked, Gregory Maguire
  • Tender Is The Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Averno, Louise Gluck
  • The Hot Zone, Richard Preston: Freaked me out the first time I read it.
  • French Lieutanant's Woman, John Fowles
  • Painted Shadow: The Life of Vivienne Eliot, First Wife of T.S. Eliot, Carole Seymore-Jones: I am just beginning to read this, and it is mind blowing!!!

I'll Finish These...Someday

  • Mozart's Women: His Family, Friends, His Music; Jane Glover
  • Painted Shadow: The Life of Vivienne Eliot, First Wife of T.S. Eliot; Carole Seymore-Jones.
  • Hot and Bothered; Annie Downey: I am actually in the midst of reading this fantastic book. Will take me awhile to finish...
  • Confessions Of An Ugly Stepsister; Gregory Maguire: I love his books. I got hooked with Wicked. Fully Devour-able.
Update: have finished Hot and Bothered! With the help of a little insomnia.... November 2006)