I’m nuts, you’re nuts, we’re all nuts.

Less than 12 inches from me, right now, he is cracking them open, eating them, cracking them open, and eating them..please stop.   Doesn’t he see I want to write?  He’s still cracking them…he’s still eating them. He’s chatty now…quiet man wants to chat and I want to write. Is this what water boarding feels like?  O.K., I’m just going to tell him he’s making me nuts.

Well, that went better than expected..he said I was crazy, gathered up his remains and left. Wise move, I applaud you Joe, cause I’m feeling a little cuckoo..cuckoo..like the bird going in and out the little door on the clock. I’m used up today. My head is spinning with present and future obligations, my lists have lists. I am well aware that I am not the only mother who also works a full-time job, but knowing we are in good company never makes it any easier. You Dads out there are a huge support, but you’re lying if you won’t admit that the Mom is the Grand Marshal of the family parade. The “who goes where and when with what they need” is generally Mom’s job. A brief scan of the grocery store on any given Saturday shows the weary women pushing the craziest of carts, the ones brimming over. Sure, you’ll see the guys too,  hanging out by the fish, grabbing a few pounds of shrimp, or a steak, dashing through express checkout, they always seem happy in the store..Daddy hero returns home with his kill, cracks a beer and watches his steak grill. I guess you have probably figured by now that I enjoy grocery shopping about as much as I enjoy scrubbing gas station bathrooms with a toothbrush. I know I should be grateful for modern supermarkets, and the ability to be able to even afford a grocery cart brimming over, so please restrain yourselves from a lecture, because I bite tonight..I’m a little nuts.  I sometimes dream of living in the world of a little corner grocer, a daily stop for fresh stuff..that’s for me. I don’t need to choose from 75 different ketchups, I really don’t. My friends rave about the monster Wegmans..oh, the choices!  My worst nightmare of a shopping experience.  If I can’t see where the store ends when I walk in the front door, I ain’t going in. I shopped at Wegmans once..ran in for a salad to take to party..had to stop twice to ask directions to the deli..never went back.

So this weekend I am going to try something different..instead of worrying about everything that needs to be done, the cleaning, the laundry, the *gasp* grocery store, harassing the kids to start summer reading and math work..this nutty Grand Marshal Mom signed the family up for a day of Kayaking lessons on a beautiful lake with gorgeous sunset views.  They won’t know what hit them, Cuckoo Mom is just getting started.Image

The Last of The Originals

Oh Lord…here she comes again.  Poor Jean. The last of the originals. I was stepping outside yesterday evening to water my plants and saw my neighbor Jean, 90 years old and heading in my direction, tearful and confused, looking frantically for her dog, Teddy.  My block of Locust Drive was built in 1947, a post WWII development of identical, small flat-front colonials. Homes that hearken to a time of simpler living, a time when a large families made do with one bathroom.Soldiers returning home, grabbing that mortgage with the intent of actually owning their proud little home one day. When my husband and I bought our “starter” home here,17 years ago, there were still several original owners here, all elderly, but living independently and full of neighborhood history and gossip. Mostly widowed ladies, still holding down the forts. There was Charlotte, a strong personality, who invited us over for tea often.  I was usually in a rush and she was clearly not. Her conversations began with “have a seat”, and I did, commencing a visit that was difficult to end…I wished I had stayed longer Charlotte, you were a gem.  One by one, through the years, we would hear that “an original” had passed away, they have all gone now, except Jean. Jean is always looking for her beloved Teddy, who is usually waddling right behind her (he is overfed due to her forgetfulness) with a beleaguered canineImage expression of “here we go again”., or waiting for her in the house when we return after another fruitless, teary search  Poor Jean, poor Teddy. So, last night, I returned her and Teddy home, and I did something I hardly ever do..I sat down. We sat outside, Teddy next to me on the step, Jean in her chair, and we chatted, two gals on a hot summer night, out on the porch.. Jean told me about her kids taking her car keys away and her checkbook. She knows it’s for the best, but losing her independence has been hard.  She told me about the old days on Locust Drive, dances and block parties and scandals. She confessed that she hasn’t given up on love, admitting that she wouldn’t mind “a boyfriend..or two”. She was serious. Honestly, I didn’t want to leave, Teddy fell asleep with his head in my lap, and it grew dark, forcing us to wrap it up. On my walk back to my house, I saw Mary’s beautiful purple Hydrangea blooming. Mary ,another original, age 96, was removed from her home recently by her children, fighting the whole way. I almost missed the Hydrangea, it was getting lost in some overgrowth..her children have been focused on cleaning out her home, getting it ready for it’s next lifetime, no time for the landscaping.  I grabbed my scissors and crawled on the ground to snip the gorgeous blooms off the old bush .  They’re for you ,Jean and Charlotte and Mary, I have so much to learn from you ladies, the originals. 

My Son, My Heart

Twelve years ago today I was giving birth to my son, Matthew, in a rather urgent manner. I was just settling in for what was predicted to be a 4-6 hour wait, my Dr. patted my hand, assured me he would check in later, and I sent Joe on his way to grab a bite to eat and pick up the music we wanted to play in the delivery room.  Two years earlier we had had our first son, a picture perfect birth, born on St. Patrick’s with Irish music blasting away, a happy, happy day. We had this down, seasoned pros that we were.  Five minutes after Joe left, I sat bolt upright in the bed, a pressure from the deep, this kid wanted out. I requested help loudly, and 15 minutes later, the shocked team of nurses and the Dr. returned .  I will never forget the look on Joe’s face, standing in the doorway with a boombox in one hand and a Subway sandwich in the other, a midst the chaos of a sudden delivery , saying “What’s going on?’..to which the Dr. responded, “We’re having a baby, that’s what’s going on!”  Duh. Express baby, I imagined a freight train , horn blaring as he raced into the world, silently, as the cord was dangerously wrapped around his neck, twice.( Little did I know then that that would be his last silent moment to date.) The team breathed life into him, he gasped, cried, and given to his bewildered but relieved parents. Matthew has been 2012-06-22_14-15-35_41-1on the non-stop flight of life since that day. An intensely curious child, I should have known when I found him, at age 5, buried in the aisle of the public library, surrounded by art books he had pulled off the shelves, lost in a book of drawings by Leonardo DaVinci, stuck on the nude sketch of Leda and the Swan. He tucked the book under his little arm and marched it to the checkout. Matthew grew fast, a gentle giant of a boy, hands the size of baseball mitts, feet like pontoons. He was the 8 year old in the back of the classroom at the big desk, the kid who helps the teacher rearrange furniture. He grew stubborn and inpatient. Never wanting help, never requiring help, an awesome student, amazing considering the awesomely disorganized mess that his physical surroundings are. The awful show “Hoarders” comes to mind when I enter his mad, mad world that is his bedroom, which I silently move through at night with a garbage bag, while he sleeps. Correction, this child has never slept, he passes out, a total shut down to prepare his brain for another day of being Matthew. He has made our lives a roller coaster, intense highs, breath stopping lows. Medication? Believe me, I have thought about it. But, then he he presents me with a beautiful photograph, or makes an observation that leaves our jaws dropped. This kid feels, loves, breathes in every moment that he can. A loyal friend, a sensitive friend, not so much like the other kids…sometimes being excluded from the masses. Last year, on his 11th birthday, I took him out for a special lunch, just the two of us. He was chatting happily away, while doodling on the white paper that was pulled over the tablecloth, when I clued in to what he was drawing, I saw hearts everywhere and a big one with “Mom” in the middle. While I had to chuckle at dining with Oedipus Rex, my heart filled with love for this wild and wonderful boy. Love you too Matthew.

Now Hiring..Personal Shopper, Cook, Housekeeper

Oh dear, oh my, oh me.  Apparently, finding your voice and  lighting the creative spark, is code for watching your physical life fall into shambles and being helpless to stop it. It started innocently enough a few days ago..groceries getting low..who cares..the kids are at camp this week (thank you Jesus)..we’ll survive.  Joe (hubby) and I both work full time outside the home , and divide labor naturally and easily..he does the hard stuff and I do the stuff where buttons are involved..washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners.. truthfully, he does the easy stuff too..but  I’m the brains of this operation, I know what we need at all times, know when and where people are suppose to be, school meetings, Dr’s appointments..that’s my story and I’m sticking to it…he may have a different interpretation..but he needs to get his own blog if he wants to debate. Anyway, two nights ago while I was having a diva-ish mental breakdown (I’m an artist now!) over computer issues in the middle of typing my blog, I looked over and saw Joe picking green mold out of an old hot dog roll (we had rolls?) and microwaving an even older hot dog (we had hot dogs?) and eating it with a look of horror on his face…I felt a slight pang of pity and an even slighter pang of guilt (I don’t do guilt…I am ending the generations of Italian martyrs in this family at me).  Turns out we still have to eat even when they’re are no kids in the house.  I remembered the early years of my parent’s empty nesting..popping over to visit and opening the fridge (your parent’s fridge seems to be always fair game no matter how long you’ve been gone) and being horrified..”MOM! Have you seen the date on this milk??”  “What the heck do you people eat around here??”    So, this week has been shades of the near future..two people eating mold and stirring sour milk into our coffee.  I should have time to address the lack of food, the Lab fur balls rolling by my feet like the open prairie, the laundry basket mountain..my kids aren’t here..I was so looking forward to this week of free time to get organized.  Then this happened.  This blog. After a year of wanting to write and not having the courage, now, suddenly I can’t shut the hell up. Stop encouraging me people, apparently I am very suggestible. The fridge is near empty..and save your lectures about the toxins you may spot in there..I have decided that virtually everything is killing us now, and I’m not going to live in fear when I just have to have that ice cold Diet Pepsi…mmmmm. The kids are returning tomorrow to return some sort of order to this home..yeah right..and I can’t wait to hear about their fun week at camp, a place where all electronics are banned. I may need to have my laptop taken away from me here and there as well.  .A thought that has me twitching, as I am sure the kids were at camp.  There is probably a detox area for kids whose hands have to be retrained to work without an XBOX controller in them.  So, if are all going to survive my creative spark ,I need to find some balance around here…time to go clean something…ewwwwww..is that a banana??Image

Country roads…take me home?

People , there’s a reason the song doesn’t go  “Almost Heaven, West Baltimore”, and yep, today was one of those days.  I have spent every single one of my nearly 50 years, living in the Baltimore area..for you folks not from these parts, that’s Baltimore, MD, USA.  Right, right,,home of The Wire and Homicide, Life on the Streets. (Now, before my friends circle my home with torches ablaze for my disloyalty to dear ole “Bawlmer”, I would like to officially state that anything I am about to write  should not be held against me, and I will claim temporary insanity in a courtroom if need be.) I grew up in a little row home here, in a neighborhood of cement porches, neighbors sitting outside on their stoops, yelling their “hey hons” back and forth, sounds of Colts football and O’s baseball coming from TVs drifting back and forth across the street , blue collar Dads and hardworking Moms..I loved it all and wouldn’t trade a single day of it for any other childhood. We were free range kids, feral really, like most kids of the 60’s and 70’s, be they city or country mice. Played outside all day, came home when it got to dark to see the ball, or our parents just couldn’t take the deafening noise of 15 kids playing under the living room window, and made everyone leave…we lived in the “end” row home..thus making our yard the destination of choice..poor Dad, he just wanted to grow grass. Fast forward 45 years..I live one town over from my hometown in a wonderful little town with history and an eclectic mix of homes and people. It is a place bursting with tradition and community pride, no regrets either of our choice to settle here, where our kids can walk to school, the library, the post office..you get it, it’s Smalltown, USA. It’s a good thing. But..here comes my secret..never before uttered in public..please keep this to yourselves…I am tired of it. Maybe it was that crystal clear mountain lake last Fall that I didn’t want to ever leave..or the road rage I experienced today where a man nearly ran me down in my work parking lot and  when I asked him to slow down he unleashed hell on me using the “f” word about 40 times and making me wish he had run me over so I wouldn’t have to listen to him anymore…or maybe it’s the mother flippin’, butt ugly, 8 foot white plastic fence my neighbor just erected 20 feet from my backdoor, that has me wanting to burn black rubber out of here, Thelma and Louise style..only my husband would be playing the role of Thelma, or Louise, oh, it doesn’t matter, you get the picture.  I want to be with nature.  I want weeds, not these manicured golf course lawns doused in chemicals.  I want bugs. I want to see deer out my window, munching away on the vegetables that I would probably not stop them from eating. I want to see BIG SKY. Sunrises and sunsets.  I want my Labs to run like the wind and dive into ponds and lakes. I had a most sobering moment recently, excuse me while I grab a tissue, during a weekend getaway to West Virginia with my sons.  We stood on the river’s edge and there they struggled to skip stones, again and again. It made me realize that more than anything, I want them to live a more natural life. A life that isn’t constantly surrounded by adult supervision and participation trophies…(a blog for another day). Image

On wearing a muzzle, no thanks Mr. Galluzo, I’ll pass.

Folks who treasure their punctuation should not read this blog, because besides from the proper use of a period, I pretty much make the rest up..some things escaped my grasp in those Catholic elementary school years, diagramming sentences sent my brain to it’s imaginary place, usually a scene from the TV show “Emergency” where I fantasized Randolph Mantooth rushing into the classroom and rescuing me from the musty, hot hell that was Our Lady Of Victory School.  It has been curious to me in recent years how much I think about those OLV days , a 1970’s strange brew of traditional nuns and hippie mini-skirted teachers. The church was having an identity crisis, too busy fighting over whether or not we should be allowed to touch the host or stick our tongues out at Communion to notice if I was using my semi- colons properly.  So, while church table manners were being debated, there was no debate about discipline. My left ear still hurts from Sr. Marie Antoinette (not kidding), dragging me by it and literally throwing  me by it into the hallway, because I didn’t memorize my time tables. To this day, I am amazed that she could launch a child by using only an ear..impressive. I actually tried dragging my son by his ear once, it’s way harder than it looks. I had, what my mother described back then as a “spirited” personality..I can still hear her..”damn schools don’t know what to do with a kid who has spunk”. Thanks Mom, I love you, but I was probably a bit of an asshole at times. When it was time to move on to High School , my English teacher, Mr. Galluzzo, happily held the door for me. I will never forget what he wrote in my little autograph book, “There is only thing in life that will help you. A muzzle. Use it.”. No thanks, Mr. Galluzzo, I’ll pass.

Farewell to my 40’s, I hardly knew ye.

I haven’t spent this much time trying to type a sentence since those No-Doz enhanced, all nighters’ back in college. There, I finally did it. My first sentence of my first blog. Exhausting. How do you bloggers do it?  I was brave when I was young, bold with my opinions and writing saucy poems in college , reading them aloud in class..where did she go I wondered?  Married nearly 24 years ago, a nursing career and two teenagers later, I stopped feeding my emotional growth while worrying about everyone else’s.  Somewhere in there, I lost a decade.  Somewhere in there I became “M’am, do you need help with your groceries” (No) and “How old are you…IF YOU DON’T MIND ME ASKING?”  ( they lower their voice when they say it, dirty words..ssssh.  But, my brain hears it  real, real loud)  Somewhere in there, while I was potty training and tending to the sick, my 40’s ran over me and I am suddenly strange to this not young/ not old world.  A world where apparently, if I am able to muster the courage to speak my age ,I should probably whisper it, lest I offend.  Pity the fool who asks THE QUESTION though,as the big mouth in me still lives on,   and I respond with gusto with “why would I mind?  Is my age something to be ashamed of? Should I be concerned that I don’t look 25 or 35 or 45 anymore? It goes on from there..a mini lecture about embracing the years, and appreciating all of them ensues, leaving the questioner quiet and slightly confused about how we got started anyway on this mess.  So for now, I will attempt this blog thing , someone may care about my experiences and perspectives , if not, there’s still something energizing about it..I haven’t been this awake at 2am in years!