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


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