Portfolio Center Theater

Before each seminar, selected students are assigned to do the data blitz for that week--a sort of pre-game show. They can do pretty much whatever they want. We've had break dancing, mud wrestling, film noir, you name it. This time, it was a little Jewish rap.


7 Days

I'm leaving on Saturday, flying up to Mt. Holyoke College for the Warren Wilson MFA program's annual alumni conference. I've never been able to justify attending before, but I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship this year, by the sheer good luck of my name being drawn from a hat. So it's just a little gift of poetry from the universe, much needed and much appreciated--seven days to help me remember who I am.

I'd like to share a poem by the woman that scholarship honors, Linda Dyer:

Crawfish, Crawdads, Crayfish

On the wall of the restaurant is a picture made up of nine
small pictures entitled "How to Eat Crawfish," and the
couple I sit with because I came in alone and they didn't
mind if I shared the table talk about how disgusting it is
and I write down what they say because I am lonely and
have spoken to no one all day. The poster says: "Find the
biggest crawfish, pinch the tail bite the meat...." Growing
up in Pennsylvania I would catch them-crayfish we called
them-and fold a few in my white anklet socks to take
home as pets, but from anxiety or just because it's what
they do, they would shit all over my lace-trimmed socks--
bright orange spots-so I would drop them back in the
creek, bury my socks along the way, and try to sneak into
the house unnoticed. I did it more than once, many times
in fact, each time thinking my socks would remain white
and I would have some pets to whisper to at night in the
small room where I wanted to be alone, but wasn't always.

**From her book Fictional Teeth, Ahsahta Press, 2001


One Happy Thief

I've mentioned before that Stella likes to run next door and look for Hobart's (Labradoodle neighbor) bones. Usually, she comes back with a leathery scrap of rawhide that looks like Keith Richards' cheek, but this morning, she retrieved a rare treasure:

What's the Point?

Tonight I saw a commercial for the birth control pill Seasonique. Since I have two daughters who need an exorcist once a month, I paid close attention when the girl said "only four periods a year." I heard choirs of angels singing in my head. Until her disclaimer at the end of the ad:

While you get the convenience of 4 periods a year, you’re also more likely to have bleeding or spotting between periods. This can be slight to a flow like a regular period and should decrease over time. Bleeding or spotting is a common side effect with any birth control pill, but you’re more likely to experience this with Seasonique.

For this, you get to pay extra.


True Story

Yesterday, I had to go to LaGrange to pick Jack up from band camp. After enduring the usual 45 minute thank-you love fest--chaperones and volunteers introducing and gushing their appreciation for one another while the rest of us do-nothings sweated in thousand-degree heat, we got to watch our students perform what they'd learned of their half-time show. That part was great.

It's not that I have anything against giving credit when it's due, but Cheese and Rice, we get these introductions at the mandatory meetings, where they all line up in their yellow spirit wear and go through the whole rigmarole. It was NOON! And even those hard workers being celebrated looked none-too-well for their week of 6 a.m. to midnight days, powdered eggs, and Kool-Aid. You could see their blood pressure pulsing in their swollen, sweaty faces. Someone should have sent a thank-you newsletter.

Anyway, after the performance, parents were instructed to drive back over to the dorms and wait for our kids, who were being bussed back. I got to the dorm and sat outside on a little picnic table where another mom had already sat down. Here's the conversation that ensued:

Nuther Mom: My son's a tuba; they always have to help load the equipment on the truck, so he'll be one of the last ones back.

TR: Mine's on the drumline. Same thing. I wonder why it's always the tubas and drummers?

Nuther Mom: He's always complaining that it's not fair. He says people don't do what they're supposed to, so he ends up having to pack for everyone else. I tell him life's not fair--that there are those who DO and those who DON'T DO.

TR: Yeah, I was one of the DO's when I was a kid. The sad thing is, the DON'T DO'S are usually the best schmoozers, and the schmoozers always manage to succeed. I look back on the slackers I was friends with in high school. They're making three times more money than I am... Jack's actually a pretty good schmoozer.

Nuther Mom: Really?

TR: I think so. (My cell phone rings. It's Jack telling me they've got to "load the damned truck," so it's probably going to be at least "FIVE HOURS" before he's finished.)

TR: That was my son. It's going to be another half hour at least.

(Conversation continues and includes the following topics: ADD, OCD, air conditioning, the HOPE scholarship, and potato salad. About ten minutes, and Jack shows up, looking flushed and in a hurry.)

Jack: Did you put my stuff in the car yet?

TR: No, I wasn't sure if I was allowed to take it--if you'd passed your inspection.

Jack (Looking around): C'mon! Let's get it and take it to the car. Hurry!

TR: Why are you back already?

Jack: Me and Dennis jumped in BT's parents' car and got away. His parents love us.

TR: So you didn't finish helping load?

Jack: No, that's going to take all day.

TR (to Nuther Mom) This is Jack.

Nuther Mom: I see.

TR: It was really great talking to you. We've got to go now.

Nuther Mom: Bye.

Note: It's time for the flutes and trumpets to have a turn loading the truck.


Friday Nostalgia

Speaking of 'flair'... Office Space, 1999.


Wanted: New Running Partner

About two weeks ago, Georgia told me that Blaise wanted to do a 5K race with some people he works with, so he’d elected her to train him. He’s as much of a jogger as Biggy, so I didn’t give it any mind. I just figured she’d hit the streets with him a couple of times, listen to him whine about the heat and his shin splints and how STUPID and BORING running is—like Greg does—and that would be that. George and I would go back to our lovely routine, pounding the neighborhood pavement while discussing such deep subjects as toe cleavage and laser arm-hair removal.

Like I said, that was two weeks ago, and Blaise has worked up to three miles, jogging half of that. When they’re not jogging, they’re at the Y, working out on the weight machines. And I’m stuck with two hours of Damien Rice on my Shuffle, because I’m too depressed or lazy to load new music.

How am I supposed to compete? Sure, she likes to boss me around, and no doubt she misses making me cry, but Blaise has the beautiful blond curls and the Ashton Kutcher smile. And Blaise can run with his shirt off.

So what if I bore her? So what if we once shared one body?


Snare Flair

They call it "spirit wear." Jack Man's at band camp. Second drummer from the left.


Check out this Washington Post article on one of my former Portfolio Center students, Krishna Brown, who has her own virtual bakery, ShoeBox Oven.

Krishna one of those people who got more than her share: She can write, design, cook, run a business...I'll bet she can sing, too. It's not fair at all.


Here's One For the Freaky Fetishers

Now, I've officially heard everything. Pedicures performed by fish.

I used to have a cat that did dermabrasion.


Too Tired to Blog

Had a work dinner tonight at One Midtown Kitchen. Rough job, but someone's gotta do it.

Loved the restaurant!


Saturday Things You Might Not Know. On Sunday

Today, Biggy and I took Jack to LaGrange and dropped him off at band camp and then drove to Dausett Trails to ride our bikes. At some point during the ride, I noticed something crawling on my leg--a tick. Sick, sick, sick. I swiped it off but it landed on my other leg. I swiped it again, and it stuck to my glove. I shook and shook the glove, but it wouldn't budge, so I pulled off the glove and threw it as far away from me as I could. Then I started wondering how a tick can hop on me while I'm riding down a mountain. I mean, do they wait for you and jump out of trees? So, when I got home, I wiki'd it:

Physical contact is the only method of transportation for ticks. Ticks do not jump or fly, although they may drop from their perch and fall onto a host. Some species actively stalk the host by foot. Changes in temperature and day length are some of the factors signaling a tick to seek a host. Ticks can detect heat emitted or carbon dioxide respired from a nearby host.


Friday Nostalgia on Saturday

Perhaps I'll do 'Saturday Things You Might Not Know' on Sunday...


Lola in the Car

Lo (spotting a convertible Mustang): I really hate convertibles. What bothers me about them is the way the bottom is one color and the top is a different one...... Have you seen the Batmobile in my World Records book? The inside looks like a Batmobile. I have a Batmobile Hotwheels car. Well, it's not really the Batmobile, but it looks like it...... Remember Mamoo's old convertible? I spilled mustard on the seat once. After that, it always smelled like mustard. It never came out. It smelled sick. I can still smell it...

What 40 Looks Like

He had no idea where we were taking him. Biggy's happy birthday, courtesy of Mamoo, Granny, Myself, and the Kids:


Big Questions

I was watching this with Lola tonight--Are You Afraid of the Dark episode Jake the Snake, wherein one boy risks his life to save his friend. This got Lo thinking:

Lo: Would you do that?

TR: What? Go into that basement with those snake men?

Lo: Risk your life to save a friend.

TR: If it were someone I loved.

Lo: A friend you loved? Like who?

TR: Like Kathy, Josie....

Lo: You would actually risk your life?

TR: I mean, if there was a chance I could save them and we'd both survive.

Lo: What if there was no way you'd survive? Would you save them?

TR: Nope.

Lo: Nice.

TR: I have kids who need me.

Lo: What if you were a hundred and it was a kid, like a seven-year-old, and there was no way you could survive? Would you save the kid?

TR: Yeah, I think so.

Lo: You should. The kid would have its whole life to live and you'd be about to die anyway.


What IS That Noise?

Not the squeaking--that we're used to. What's that sad cry of someone who wants to come inside?

I'd bring him in, give him his own pad, but I'm running out of pet names.


Team Trivia

Here's a sample of last night's brilliance at Suburban Tap:

Chopper (the Team Trivia Host): Your category is Fictional Characters. The question is, What fictional character's name meant "white face" in Ape language?

Blaise: Who was the main character in Planet of the Apes?

TR: Oh my god, what WAS his name? Charlton Heston played him. Raquel Welch was in it with him, riding a horse.

Blaise: And Marky Mark was in the remake. Jack, did you see the remake?

Georgia: I did. But I was about TEN!

Biggy: Think, y'all! Ape language!

TR: I still have that image of her on the horse. When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to look like that.

Blaise: C'Mon...Marky Mark...Ape language...No one remembers what they called him?

(Wham song coming to an end)

Biggy: We have to put something down!

Jack: How about Cracker?

Biggy: Na...I'm putting Nilla.

TR: Ha! Turn it in.

(Song ends)

Chopper: Ok, again, the question was, What fictional character's name meant "white face" in Ape language? And the answer is: Tarzan. Your next category is Sports. The question is, What 1992 American Olympic gold medalist figure skater played Princess Jasmine in Disney's Aladdin on Ice?

TR: Who was the girl Tonya Harding beat up? The one with long dark hair?

Biggy: Kerry something.

Blaise; He said Gold medalist. Kerry didn't didn't win the year she got clubbed. You sure it wasn't Michelle Kwan? What year was she?

Biggy: Michelle Kwan's not American. No, I know it's that Kerry girl. What's her last name?! Kerry....Kerry...

Georgia: Does he mean she WON the medal in '92, or could she have won it any time? The question's not clear.

Jack: I wouldn't know anything about Disney on Ice.

(Meatloaf song coming to an end)

TR: Just put down Michelle Kwan, since we don't know Kerry's last name.

Biggy: AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! Fine! (Writes it down, goes to turn it in.)

TR: Her last name was Something-aggin. Something-aggin...Kerrigan. NANCY KERRIGAN! Catch him!

Blaise: It's too late. He already put it in the pitcher.

(Biggy comes back, sits down.)

TR: Nancy Kerrigan!

(Biggy slaps his forehead, which takes a while. Meatloaf song ends.)

Chopper: Your question was, What 1992 American Olympic gold medalist figure skater played Princess Jasmine in Disney's Aladdin on Ice? The answer is: Kristy Yamaguchi.

*Note: Girl on horse was Linda Harrison, not Raquel Welch.

I Ain't Gonna Lie

I Forgot to Post Yesterday! That's scarier than when I walk around searching for my cell phone while I'm TALKING ON my cell phone.


Friday Nostalgia

Pet Sematary, 1989. As if the book hadn't scared me enough.


Projected Family Portrait

For the month of July, it's Camp Georgia at our house, as we're paying George to take care of Lola until she (George) leaves for school in August. The sisters have made a loooooong list of activities to while the while and have already checked off 'see Mim's Island,' 'baking day,' 'walk to Publix,' and 'go to the World of Coke.' At Camp Georgia, Lo must say please and thank you. She must brush her hair. She doesn't eat junk food and she has to exercise. I recommend Camp Georgia. It's money well spent.

I don't have much money, however, because Georgia is also cooking for us. You might think that sounds wonderful, especially since she's an awesome cook, and it is. But she sends me to the grocery store with epic lists--full of strange, foreign items, such as buttermilk and pineapple-not-from-a-can. Monday, we had oven-fried chicken, twice-baked potatoes, warm rolls, and fresh fruit salad; Tuesday, it was French bread pizzas from scratch; yesterday, a home-made chicken casserole; and today, country-fried boneless pork chops, fresh corn, peas, and muffins. At every meal, Biggy acts like a pig in mud. He tells my daughter over and over how good everything is, glancing sideways at me with an expression born of nine years of Old El Paso Gorditas and Tuna Helper. He never knew it could be like this.

But I've got news for my husband: my lack of kitchen skills has kept him fit and trim. Three more weeks of these dinners, that will be us above: Biggy, Stella, me, Jack, Blaise, and Lo (who'll be fine because she won't eat real food).


On Fathers

I've been thinking a lot about fathers lately. Fathers Day is always a tough one, being as I haven't spoken to mine in 15 years and see that as a trend for me. I was talking to one of my favorite students yesterday about fathers and we agreed that, no matter how old we get or how vast the divide, we are always--somehow--looking over our shoulders, wondering if they see. That everything we do, we do to impress them for good or bad. As for me, I'm always thinking, "Living well...," as if what I needed were revenge, as if he would wish me ill. Well he might.

But it occurred to me that we'd summed up the whole problem, then and there: that we'd always wanted our fathers to SEE us, see who we were and are, which is something they'd never done. They'd always seen us as extensions or reflections of themselves. We were not to be separate creatures, or special, or entitled to our own thoughts and emotions. So while we might gain momentary approval by making straight A's or winning at the track meet, we were not going to get it when we excelled at something that proved our separateness.

This didn't change when I became an adult. The first time I was published in a literary magazine, I was 28. My father didn't say "That's so great!" or "I'm so proud of you." He scowled at the poem and told me, "I wish you'd publish something I could show my friends." And when my sister was in the hospital, withering away with Leukemia, too exhausted to see her friends, too depressed to be comforted, my father said to her, "Leroy is coming by to visit. Could you put on a little make-up, try to smile, and thank him for the robe he sent you?"

When I picked my first husband, I was certain he was nothing like my father. More than twenty years later, I'm still dismayed by that error. Turned out, my father was his hero. I think my ex got some of his best ideas from the stories I told.

For men like this, families are accessories, something to be shut up in a box and worn to make them look good on special occasions. And by special occasions, I mean family reunions and company picnics, not the likes of Christmas or Easter. For my father and my ex, holidays were hours to be endured. I have the pictures: yawning by the Christmas tree, swinging a golf club during the Easter Egg hunt, drunk at the Thanksgiving table.

This was all I knew of fathers before I married Greg. I was surprised the first Christmas Eve when he didn't stay out "shopping" till the malls closed and "stop by the office afterward to wrap the presents." He was already home, having taken a couple of days off to shop with me and consult with Santa.

When Lola was born, I kept waiting for the new to wear off, so he could start ignoring her and resenting her. She's eight, and he still rushes home from work, barging through the door with his stupid falsetto "Looolaaaaa!" Until a couple of weeks ago, I assumed I'd snagged the only truly good father besides Greg's uncle, who was the most gentle and sweetly devoted father I knew to have raised his children to adulthood. He died in April, and I will never forget him.

The week at Fripp this year opened my eye (the one that would open). There are more of these guys out there, and I was in a house full of them! Dads who took their kids fishing and golfing, who laughed at their kids' idiosyncracies--yeah, blaming them on the mothers--rather than bullying them into being little mini-mees; dads who got the kids in the shower and knew where the favorite tee shirts were and what they liked to drink; dads who didn't sneak off in the golf car(t) to the other side of the island to call their girlfriends.

These men were actually HAPPY hanging out with their wives and kids. I'm not saying they're perfect. In fact, I've got a long list of of improvements they could make under the heading 'Husbands.' But shocker of shocks, they all SEE and love their children, which is enough to make me tear up that list.


Row, Row, Row

I've been down the Nantahala several times, but this was my first time to brave the falls. Sadie takes them during her virgin voyage. With Biggy as Captain. That's real courage.

Precious Moments, Part Two

Lo and K with their water blasters, doing what they do best.


Saturday Things You Might Not Know

One topic for argument this weekend regarded the daddy longlegs spider--venomous or not? I'd always heard they were the most venomous spiders in the world, but with mouths too small to bite. Turns out, they're not even spiders.


Friday Nostalgia

From (the real) Get Smart, season one, 1965.

*Note: According to Blog 365 rules, I can prepare posts when I don't have access to the Internetz and post retroactively. Ha.


What Anne Frank Said

"Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart."

After we got home on Saturday, Mamoo was telling me how much Granny did NOT enjoy Fay's visit and that, at one point, she offered to take Fay home if Mom would bring her the scooter and a leash. I was going to blog the whole conversation, so I was googling for images: old lady scooter dog : when I came across the bunny above and had to check it out.

You have to admit--even when you're in one of those 'people suck' moods, as long as there are folks who care enough to buy these, all is not lost in the world.

Jogging With Georgia

Ga: I've been thinking about this a lot, and I've decided you should adopt another baby.

TR: Oh? Why's that?

Ga: Because I played with a baby in Costa Rica, and it was a lot of fun. So I'd like to do it again.

About Me

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Writer, teacher, student, mom.

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