Monday, November 29, 2004

Carrots for Love

Art by Phil Scroggs.

When I was potty-training my son, I used to give him little candies as a reward. I'd tried non-candy rewards (like Hotwheels cars) first, but found that three or four little Smarties got the desired results without my spending a lot of money. Occasionally he'd ask me for candies for no reason, and although most of the time I didn't give him any, there were a few times when I gave him a candy or two "just for love."

Earlier this evening we were sitting on the couch and I was chomping on raw veggies straight from the bag, getting ready to watch "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," my favorite weepfest. Omigosh. Could those families be any more deserving/inspiring/adorable? Anyway, as part of my ongoing effort to get my kid to eat vegetables, I casually handed him a baby carrot, which he took readily.

"Is this just for love?" he asked. I told him it was, and handed him another carrot.

I mean, it's all just for love, isn't it?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Deck the Halls, Light the Deck...Something Like That

My nemesis.

Okay, I just decided to give away the Christmas lights. Seriously. I already posted an ad on, offering them for free. I'd taken the box of lights out of the garage a day or two ago, thinking I'd be able to hang them on the deck. However, after untangling them, trying them out, burning my ankle when one bulb brushed against me, and hearing the tinkle of broken glass in a bag containing another string, I'd had enough. Those big retro bulbs are very cool, and I was feeling nostalgic about putting them up instead of the teensy white (and purple, and chili pepper) lights I also have, but they're obviously way too much for me to handle right now. Maybe someone else will have the patience to replace the burned-out bulbs and figure out which ones twinkle and which ones don't.

All that aside, I think I'm working too hard at the light project. This evening I went out on the deck to measure the railing and the height and width of the patio door. Somehow I think I may actually have to do some MATH (insert ominous music). Do you know what grade I got in math in high school (the last time I took a math class)? I had to get extra help from the teacher the first year, hire a tutor the second year, and sit in a remedial math class the third year. Thank goodness I didn't have to take math during my fourth year, or ever again. You should've seen my SATs -- way up on the language side and way down on the math side. That says it all.

So I measured the deck and measured the strings of lights I'd deemed suitable...and now I think I want to lie down for a while. Either that or I'm going to go out there and just fling the lights all over the place and if they don't look tidy, so be it.

Clearly I'm making much more of this than the situation warrants. There's a lesson in here, and it's not subtle. ;-)

Friday, November 26, 2004

Feeling Lounge-y

My true desire for today.

I've just accepted a package from the FedEx guy whilst still wearing my pajamas and robe. Somehow it seems like some sort of initiation to full freelancer status.


Yesterday my whole fam-damily (plus my brother's gf) came over for Thanksgiving dinner. Everybody brought various sides and desserts (my brother brought sweet potatoes with sliced bananas on top instead of marshmallows, which were great and a teensy bit more healthful -- I know, like bailing out a submarine with a teaspoon), and all I had to do was straighten up the house and make the turkey. The house never did get truly cleaned, although I made some attempts and my youngest sister did a TON of work. (Thanks again, Gail!) The turkey turned out great, without a lot of prep or effort. I know, turkeys aren't as much work as people make them out to be (or are they?), but humor me. I cut up some apples and onions and stuffed 'em in, then brushed the outside with garlic-infused olive oil and poured apple juice all over the whole thing, with plenty in the roasting pan. I covered the birdie about two-thirds of the way into cooking, basted it maybe every 20 minutes, and it turned out moist and tasty (prolly from the garlic-olive oil, although there was a hint of apple). I feel like some sorta turkey pro, which is fun because I don't do much cooking. It's nice to feel good at something "grownup," instead of slinging chicken nuggets and grilled cheese sandwiches and carrot sticks day in and day out.

When I was cutting up the onions, my eyes started to sting and water so much that I couldn't even open them to see what I was doing. Tears were literally streaming down my face and I was walking around the kitchen yelling, "OH MY GOD! MY EYES!" It was nice. ;-P My son asked me why my eyes hurt, and I told him it was because of the onions, and he said, "Oh Mommy, I think maybe we got the wrong onions!" Then he said, "Maybe Auntie Gail can do that for you!" He's helpful that way. ;-)

He had a blast playing with all the grownups, as well as with my sister's doggie, who patrolled the kitchen to make sure nothing that fell on the floor went to waste. Next year my son will have Thanksgiving with his dad, so I'll probably go to my parents' house, I suppose. I feel a teensy bit sad about not having my son for EVERY holiday EVERY year, but I also feel a sense of relief now that the holiday schedule is legal, and his dad and I don't have to discuss holiday arrangements every time a holiday comes up. Used to be that my son's dad got some holidays by default because they fell on weekends, and back then he had our son every weekend. I never had my son for Easter, for instance. Or any weekends, obviously. Now it's more balanced.

The last time my family was mostly together at my place was in January, at my son's birthday party. His dad was there, too. This time it was fun just hanging out with my family and being around my own stuff, and not having to drive anywhere. Just the same, thank goodness for (my sister's recommendation), which allowed me to give traffic advice to my family as they drove down to my house. I felt like some sort of dispatcher (?), calling people and telling them which roads looked clear, etc. I think that helped them avoid some major traffic areas.

After everyone left, my son and I were still sorta wired, so we unwound by watching the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special on TV. Dunno if anyone remembers this. Oddly, he squealed with glee when Snoopy got stuck in the ping-pong table, but was quite uncomfortable and wary when Snoopy kicked the recalcitrant beach chair and it came to life and kicked him back and chased him all over the yard. That was scary for the kid...but perversely amusing for me. ;-) Must write that down: getting smashed by tables = good; vengeful chairs = bad. Maybe it'll come in handy sometime.

The noise was tremendous here yesterday, which was nice. It's very quiet today, which is nice, too. My son is at his dad's house today (and most of tomorrow), so I plan to work and regroup. I have a project coming in later today that has to be turned around by the end of tomorrow. I'm a tad uncomfortable doing another rush job for this client when I haven't been paid yet for the prior rush project, but I believe they'll pay, so I'm taking the risk.

My coffee is cold, so I must reheat. Life is returning to normal.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Peace and blessings.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Okay, I Couldn't Help Myself

The presentation of the Bird.

Just an example of the sick and wrong...and funny.

Tomorrow my family is coming over for Thanksgiving. I had a terrible dream, the night before last, that a member of my family died right after Thanksgiving. What a crappy dream. I've never been psychic, so I don't consider it a foreshadowing. Rather, the dream reminded me that I am fortunate to have my parents and siblings all alive, local and able to come over to celebrate with me. That is no small thing, and I realize it several times a year. I know this will not always be the case -- some family members have had health scares in the past year -- but for now we are lucky, and for that I am thankful. This year my son will be with me on Thanksgiving, and I am thankful for that as well. We are blessed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Business of Busy-ness

Am I busy? Yeah, I'm busy.

Sometime I'll figure out how to talk about all the Religious Science stuff that's been floating around in my head for the last few months. I can't say I totally understand it, but it's certainly interesting. One thing that's been happening is this: I've been asking God/Spirit/Divine Flow/Name-Your-Deity for work, and I've been getting it. I should start asking for guidance on growing a small business, and information on scheduling. Yes, I should definitely ask for that. I'm definitely not rolling in dough by any means, but the work is coming. Hmm. Last week when I talked with my attorney, he said, "It's hard to grow a small business, isn't it?" and I thought he'd said, "It's hard to grow up, isn't it?" and I just started laughing. When I stopped, he asked me why I'd laughed, and I told him, and he told me what he'd really said. I told him I'd almost told him to shut up, and he said he would've expected me to slap him if he'd told me anything about growing up. He's a good egg, and a lot of fun sometimes.

Anyway, I'm busy. Crazy-busy. I keep telling my son we have a lot of blessings, though, and one of them is our being alive to work, play, go for walks, clean the house, etc. He nods like he understands, and maybe he will sometime, if he doesn't already. We are blessed.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Feelin' It in My Feet

Ouch. Posted by Hello

Omigosh. Yesterday I walked six miles with my neighbor, Pam, after not having walked so far for a long time. To be honest, I think the last time I walked that much was when my son was a baby and we were still living with his dad in Laguna Beach. I used to pop the kid in the stroller and walk all over town, since parking was scarce and I needed the exercise anyway. Last week or so, when I walked with my son by the lake, I thought that was strenuous. Turns out last week's walk was less than a mile, I believe. Yesterday's six-mile walk kicked my ass and reminded me that I need to do this more often. Pam walks twice this far every day, and we had a grand time chatting along the way (with me being a bit breathless), so think we'll be doing this again. I intend 2005 to be my healthiest year ever, so I'm getting a head start. ;-)

Sunday, November 21, 2004

You'd Better Knock (beat-beat) on Woo-ood...

Me in all my blurry glory. Note the craft table in the background.
Many masterpieces have been created there. Posted by Hello

We don't usually get lightning and thunder 'round these parts, but this morning I was awakened by LOUD, crackling lightning and LOUD thunder, only a fraction of a second apart. Oh, and lots of rain being blown against my window, which is right behind the head of my bed. Obviously no more sleeping was going to happen, so I pulled open the blinds for an unobscured look at the show, hoping my son wasn't too scared at his dad's house. [11-22-04: I asked him today and he said he was already up and playing his racing game on Daddy's TV, and he wasn't scared.] I was a tad concerned about a huge construction crane that has been parked in the lot across the street. It's not terribly close to my house, but it sticks right up in the air and I thought maybe it would get hit by lightning. It didn't. After a while, the rain let up and the sun came out! Southern California weather, I tell you.

Last night I went with my brother and his girlfriend to a Christmas show, courtesy of my brother's girlfriend, who generously scored the tickets for us. It was a lot of fun, although every so often I felt a twinge of guilt about getting Christmas-y before we'd even had Thanksgiving. Normally I'm a tad grumpy about things like shopping malls that start piping Christmas music through their P.A. system, but the show was fun, nonetheless. One young man sang a beautiful "Ave Maria," which made me cry because it was so beautiful and because the singer resembled a former classmate of mine who passed away recently.

My brother, his girlfriend and I had dinner together before the show, and I ate soooooo much. Hey, I was thrilled at the prospect of enjoying Real Grownup Food instead of the preschooler-fare I've been living on for a while now! It just hasn't seemed worthwhile to shop (and pay) for two separate menus each week. But last night there was rosemary! Garlic! Basil! Balsamic vinaigrette! Grownup conversation! ;-) Tremendous.

Well, my family is coming to my house for Thanksgiving on Thursday, so I'd best spend some time getting the place cleaned up. No, I did not finish it yesterday, despite my superhero getup. Maybe if I wear my tiara today that'll help a bit.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

My alter ego. Posted by Hello

Okay, I have to admit it -- this was fun.

Now I'm off to change into my hot-pink suit and clean the house. :-)

Friday, November 19, 2004


Posted by Hello

I should just go to sleep. Tomorrow I have things to do, but it's too late in the day to start them now. Ho-hum.

I Wonder If His Face Froze That Way

"Sour Grapes" by Sally Minker. Posted by Hello

This artist is cracking me up. I love Sally Minker's Seeds of Discontent, and her installations. I've always wanted to do an installation...but where would I put it? Hmm. Maybe I should do it anyway? Hmm again.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Doggie Dreams

Last night I got a call from the woman who has bought Brody's huge crate. She's a friend of one of my sister's church members, and has already sent me a check. All that remains is for her to pick up the crate and take it away. We made arrangements for her to come on Monday; I'll show her how the thing comes apart, and help her put it into her car.

The crate has been sitting in my garage ever since we had to find a new home for Brody. I tried several times to sell the crate on Craigslist, but the one person who actually showed up owned a huge puppy that would eventually grow to be too large for the crate. Finally, while preparing for a rummage sale at my sister's church, one of the members mentioned that her friend was looking for a crate. I got in touch with the friend, learned she was moving to Italy with her two large dogs, and we struck our deal.

As you can probably guess by looking at the photo here, Brody was a sweetie-pie. When the rep. from the rescue organization first brought him over to our house so we could meet, my son rolled Hotwheels cars on the dog's back and the dog never so much as blinked. That's when I fell in love with him. Back then I thought my son's dad still wanted to try to be a family with us, and when he said, "Get a big dog, so I'll have something to do with it," I did, partly because I'd always liked Golden Retrievers, and partly because I thought my son's dad would interpret my getting a small dog, like I'd initially wanted, as some kind of evidence that I didn't care about his preferences. Yes, that's where my head was back then, and it sounds awful to me now, the idea of going against my own preferences just to try to please my son's dad so he'd maybe want to work things out, but I was willing to try just about anything to give our son an intact family. It seemed worthwhile at the time, but if I'd known the way things would turn out -- that my son's dad was actually dating someone else already (or getting ready to) -- I would have done things differently.

Anyway, it later became apparent that Brody absolutely could not tolerate being left at home alone. The rescue rep. had recommended that we get him a crate -- that this would somehow make him feel secure. Nope. If anything, the crate made him freak out even more. Drugs didn't ease his distress, nor did gradual behavior modification. My son and I wound up just taking Brody everywhere with us. The weather was still nice and cool, so having Brody wait in the car with the windows opened a bit was entirely comfortable, temperature-wise. However, even though I gave him treats every time I left the car, Brody still flipped out when I left him alone even for an hour. One time, he scratched at the window frame so much that he finally broke off a huge section of plastic trim. Poor thing.

When my son's dad decided to take me to court over custody, etc., I realized I'd have to focus on the legal battle and let the rescue organization find another home for Brody. I was sad to lose the dog, and yet I was relieved -- for my sake and for his. The rescue organization, using my observations of Brody as a guide, found Brody a home in which he could hang out with a Labrador buddy, with a stay-at-home mom and a couple of kids...and a back yard! The doggie hit the jackpot on that one, I think.

Now that the Court Order has been finalized (after about eight months of aggravation, tears and craziness), and now that the weather is starting to feel like the weather around the time we first invited Brody into our home, I'm starting to miss him a bit. Don't get me wrong -- I don't miss trying to help him cope with his separation anxiety. I do, however, miss having him lie behind my chair as I work on the computer, and I miss having him around on weekends when my son is visiting his dad. Having a living creature around the house on weekends sure made my talking to myself seem less nuts. ;-)

I'm realistic, though, and I know we don't need to take on a pet right now. My focus is on my son and on finding work. I do tell my son that when he's at least seven years old, we'll try to find another dog -- a small, well-adjusted dog. I love having animals around. For a while, I considered getting some hermit crabs for my son, or a bird for me. Nonetheless, I keep coming back to the feeling of not being settled enough yet to be able to focus on caring for a pet.

Someday, though...

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Lure of the Rails

Yesterday I took my son to the Model Railroad Museum at Balboa Park. We live about 12 miles away and have a membership there, so it's free entertainment for the kiddo (and Mommy!) on days when we need a special diversion. I took a bunch of pictures inside the museum, but my camera is fairly useless in low-light settings, despite its flash. Hey, it's not that great in brght-light settings, either (it's a Gateway DC-T20 that came with my computer), but at least it captures semi-decent images that I can send to Grandma and Grandpa. ;-)

The museum was almost empty. Balboa Park offers free admission to a rotating selection of museums every Tuesday, and the free museums are guaranteed to be filled on these days. The Model Railroad Museum, however, was not free yesterday, so it was almost deserted. On Free Tuesdays there, that place is packed. We're all hip to the freebies around here.

Anyway, we poked around, looking at trains and pushing a few buttons here and there to make certain trains move. Fun stuff. The place also has a room with three Thomas the Tank Engine train layouts for kids to play with. Try prying your kid out of there once they've discovered it. It almost can't be done. Seriously, try it. You'll see.

Kids and trains. Gotta love 'em.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Dealing With Worthiness

"Held in Compassion," watercolor, Ruth Elizabeth Hays. Posted by Hello

Last week I had a slight freakout. (The editor part of me wants to see if "freakout" should be hyphenated, but I'm going to try to ignore the editor part of me for a few minutes.) I had/have eight projects, most of which involved clients who needed the work either RIGHT NOW or PRETTY SOON. This is not a negative statement about the clients. I love my clients. I love that I get to tell people I have clients. My clients make me feel like I'm doing something of importance. They make me feel just swell.

[The part of me that has spent the past umpteen years associating with shrinks on a social and professional level wants to change "make me feel" because, as we all know, no one can make you feel anything or any way. But you know what? If someone ever changes the lyrics to Aretha's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," then come and talk to me. Maybe she shoulda said, "When I'm around you, I feel like a natural woman, and I accept complete responsibility for this." Heh. I'd like to see someone take this up with The Queen of Soul. Oh my, the ass-kicking that would occur. But I digress...]

So I had some projects staring me in the face, and a few lurking in the corner, waiting to leap out and yell, "Booga-booga!" the minute I might try to relax. The phone was ringing, I was screening the calls, I was trying to work and take care of my son, and some people were wondering why I hadn't returned their calls yet. Oh, and I was feeling very guilty about all of it.

What the f*** is it with guilt? Why are we so hard on ourselves? Okay, I don't mean to bring you into this. Maybe you don't have this problem. Why am I so hard on myself?

Anyway, there was one client in particular who'd called me about five times. After the first one or two calls I missed, I started to feel guilty. I started to avoid him. I started to feel like maybe he was mad at me. How grade-school is that? (See, there I go being hard on myself!) Really, though, let's go with this. I felt stupid and incompetent and hassled and harried and tried to finish up his project Real Quick before he called me again, because that way maybe he wouldn't be mad at me, if he was indeed mad at me, the way I was imagining. My imagination was getting the better of me. Then he called about two or three more times, and each time his number appeared on my cell phone, I cringed. (I also wondered why he didn't call my home number like everyone else, and wondered how he'd gotten my cell phone number in the first place. Anyway...)

I should mention that this client had never given me any reason to think he was mad at me, or that he hated me (yes, I'm imaginative) or wished he'd never hired me (really imaginative). He's a minister -- a man who's dedicated his life to loving people and copping to his own stuff. His book is great, and brought up all sorts of emotional flotsam for me. Seriously, I cried most of the way through the book. He probably wouldn't want to know that, I suppose, since he would prefer to have positive energy behind his project. The crying wasn't necessarily a negative thing, though. I was crying because the stuff he was saying was very powerful and got me in all the right places. I had this experience when I edited another Religious Science book a couple of months ago. That stuff is powerful, and I definitely intend to look into it.

Anyway, where were we? Oh yes: neurotic editor, totally nice client. Okay.

I worked my ass off on Thursday to get the project finished, and was proud of the way it turned out -- the project, not my ass. After I gave it another once-over, I emailed it to him, went downstairs to play with my son, and eventually crashed on the couch.

The next day, he called while I was in the shower, and left a voicemail. His message was upbeat, and he sounded pleased with the way the book had turned out, and had even forwarded it to the designer already. Still, I was reluctant to call him and face whatever it was I needed to face.

On Saturday night, when the house was calm and my son was asleep, I finally called him. How did you like the book, it was great, blah-blah-blah. I told him I wanted to apologize for not having called him all week, and he said, "You don't have to do that." I told him I wanted to, though.

I could hear him take a breath and it was as if I could hear him just being present with me. He kindly said, "Okay, then I will listen."

I just about burst into tears right then and there, feeling his compassion float through the phone line. I told him about how stressed out I'd been, and that I had all these concurrent projects. I said, "One thing that stood out to me in your book was the part where you say, 'Be careful what you ask for.' "

He kindly corrected me: "I said 'Be ready for what you ask for.' "

"True," I said. "The thing is, I asked for work, and I guess I wasn't ready."

I told him a little about being a single mom and trying to work and take care of my son, and the reasons behind my needing to work at home, and he was very supportive. He spoke a bit about having to prioritize, and how that meant some things would have to be put aside. I told him the past week had been all about working and building train layouts with my son, and that everything else had been put aside. "Right on," he said.

Then he reminded me of another thing he'd mentioned in his book -- the importance of naming five things for which we are thankful every night before we go to sleep, and the significance of everything that comes our way. "We're all getting what we need, all the time," he said.

We wrapped up our conversation, and I was a bit weepy after I hung up -- partly because I was so relieved by our talk, partly because I was dog-tired, and partly because I felt like I had so much work to do. I'm not even talking about editing work; it's self-work that I have to do. It's time to take things to the next level.

As I sat there in the glow of the TV, I named five things for which I am thankful. One was my son, sleeping soundly beside me. One was my ability to do the work I have before me. One was the roof over my head. One was my family, who love me despite my quirks. And one was my clients, who often surprise me with their compassion and humanity.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

If I Did This More Often, I Wouldn't Be Tired

Sunset at Lake Murray. Posted by Hello

Tonight I took my son for a walk by the lake that's near our house. We probably don't visit the lake enough, although we go once a week on average. The big trail that winds partway around the lake is mostly uphill, and my son weighs 40 pounds, and the stroller is I'm tired.

Yup, we should do this more often!

Friday, November 12, 2004

At Least Today's Not Like Yesterday

Yesterday I worked like a crazy lady to finish up a couple of projects. My son missed me terribly, since I was unable to spend as much time with him as I would on a normal workday. We did have lunch together, and played a little bit periodically, but by about 11:00 p.m., the kid was still awake and rarin' to go. We ended up playing Go Fish on the bed, and he fell asleep around midnight. I think he was just waiting for me to finish working, for as long as it took, so we could have some fun. Poor thing. I'm so glad today was not like yesterday.

Tomorrow morning we're scheduled to meet up with a woman I met at the mall a few weeks ago. Her son is much younger than mine (hers is 20 months old and mine is almost four years old), so it's more like a mommy outing with kids attached, rather than a playdate. We're going to meet at the lake and take a walk for a while, then it's back to work for me. With any luck, the project I committed to this weekend will go quickly, as the text was written by a professional writer and I've been advised that the medical terminology will be checked by someone else. What a relief.

But back to tomorrow's outing. This woman and I met when our kids were playing in a kiddie area inside the mall. I heard her call to her son, "Be careful, Jolyon," and I instantly recognized the name from John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga. She said I was the first person to pick up on that, which prompted me to follow her a moment after she moved to the coin-operated kiddie vehicles and give her my business card. She seems nice, is new to the area, and I suppose we both need some new friends. I'm looking forward to seeing her and her son tomorrow.

Okay, the tot is calling for milk, and we need to do a couple of last-minute errands. Could life get any more exciting? ;-)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

This Moment Is Good, and It Is Enough for Now

My son sticks out his tongue sometimes when he draws or paints, and it just kills me. I love that little face he makes for anything that requires steadiness or concentration, and I'm always reminded of his dad's saying, "It's easy, but ya gotta hold your mouth just right." Something like that, anyway.

Working from home, as I do, I often have to come up with ways to occupy my son when I'm busy. His art table is in the same room with my computer, so crafts are a natural solution at times. I edit for a while, paint for a while, edit, paint (or glue, or cut, or...). It's nice for both of us.

Next year he'll begin preschool. Yes, he could have started preschool long before this. However, and this is only one of my reasons for my decision, I strongly believe in keeping kids home for a while (if possible) when they're kids; they have their entire lives to go to school. Sure, this is a complicated issue, and I don't judge other moms who put their kids in preschool at age two. This works for some people, and that's fine.

I suppose I compare my son's upbringing to my own. My mom was able to stay home with four kids well past the youngest child's beginning grade school, and I always dreamt of being a stay-at-home mom. Maybe this isn't practical in this day and age. Still, I recall a workshop in which the instructor talked about intentions and goals. "You'd never say, 'I'll feed my children if I can,'" she preached. "You just decide you will feed your children and make a commitment to it. It works the same way with goals -- you make a commitment to them, and there is no question that you will achieve them." Overly simplified, perhaps, but there is truth in what she taught.

When I was my son's age, our Illinois town had no preschool program. My mother placed me in a children's Saturday ballet class, and I remember the teacher would push us down into the splits instead of teaching us how to stretch. Ouch. I hated that. Somehow, though, we managed to learn a dance or two, and I remember proudly performing in a kiddie recital before my parents and grandparents. Golly -- did both sets of grandparents attend? I seem to recall they did. That was truly special, having everyone together. My extended family is so geographically scattered now. I remember being pleased with my sparkly, pink tutu; everything was pink, I think. Someone -- my parents? grandparents? -- brought me a musical jewelry box with a tiny mirror and twirling ballerina inside. The weather was cold, and I had to wear a coat over my costume as we drove to the hall. During the recital, I or another kid dropped my/her hat -- a benign, and probably cute, wardrobe malfunction. I honestly can't remember if it was my hat, but since I remember the hat falling, I suppose it was. One of the songs to which we danced was "It's a Grand, Old Flag," and we had to sing as we danced. Heh. It's not exactly a song that lends itself to the fine art of ballet, but I practiced singing at home in our finished basement until I learned it, and I still remember the words.

Every day my son and I have an adventure. Every day we play. Every day I hug and kiss him a hundred times. He sits on my lap and we look at car pictures on the computer. We visit museums and playgrounds, meet other kids for playdates and take walks, during which my son likes to pick up sticks and rocks. We have more sticks and rocks than I know what to do with, and I think soon we'll have to put some back. Fitting my work schedule around my son is a challenge, but I enjoy it. Someday soon he'll start preschool, then kindergarten, then grade school, and our relationship will change with each transition.

He'll still get a hundred kisses a day, though. I'll just have to kiss him when he's sleeping! ;-)

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Are You Feeling It?

Jennifer Bangs and Andrew Husmann in The Desert Song. Posted by Hello

Last night I joined my brother again to watch his girlfriend perform in The Desert Song at the Lawrence Welk Theater. The show closes today, and I'd enjoyed it so much the first time that I couldn't resist the ticket he offered me. The place was sold out and the cast was on fire. Their closing weekend energy was almost palpable, and the audience was right there with them, laughing in all the right places, hissing at the villain and occasionally clapping in time with the music.

My brother's girlfriend has, during past performances in other shows at other venues, sometimes text-messaged him on her cell phone from backstage to report on the audience vibe. At times, she's said, the cast doesn't "feel the love." I've thought about this a lot -- the way the performers, as professionals, need to maintain the energy of the performance despite the audience's reaction, but also the way the performers feed off the audience's energy sometimes, and soar to new levels of, well, sparkliness. That's the only way I can put it.

As we enjoyed the show last night, I was aware that my brother and I, as well as his girlfriend's mother and brother, who were sitting next to us, would on occasion laugh out loud at comedic moments in the performance. I sensed we were doing this partly to encourage the performers, and partly out of genuine amusement. We know, after all, that the cast picks up on the audience's responses. We've seen plenty of performances and spoken with umpteen performers. I've soloed before audiences in the past, and I know how much the audience's response does matter to me...even if I'd like to think otherwise.

A few weeks ago I took myself to a movie -- "Shall We Dance?" It was the remake of a Japanese film that I saw a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed. However, the American remake added more passion and spark to the story, and as the ending credits began to roll, the audience burst into spontaneous applause. As I mentioned to my brother yesterday, I used to think it was slightly stupid or unsophisticated for a movie audience to applaud, since the movie performers and crew are not present to receive the applause (unless you live in Los Angeles and happen to sit behind Shelley Long during "Irreconcilable Differences," as I did once). My brother agreed, saying he'd learned in a theater class that when the cast of a live show takes their curtain call, it is a dialogue between the performers and the audience. Each thanks the other for their participation in the performance. My brother has held onto this idea ever since. When the audience applauded after "Shall We Dance?," however, I was moved by the realization that the show had affected the audience in such a way that they had to show their appreciation, regardless of the absence of live performers to receive it. I was moved to think that we had all enjoyed the performance immensely, and the audience's applause reminded me that we'd shared the same experience. It was a unifying moment. We shouldn't take these lightly; we need all the unification we can get these days.

Last night, as my brother's girlfriend and her peers sang and acted and danced their hearts out, I stole a glance down the row of fellow audience members beside me. The glow of the stage lights reflected off their faces, and I could see each one smiling widely, sometimes laughing out loud or nodding, thoroughly entranced by the production.

They were involved. They were part of the show. Part of the experience.

Feeling the love.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Joy. Confusion. Ecstasy and bewilderment. Posted by Hello

Sometimes my son asks me what certain letter combinations spell: "Mommy, what's C-P-T-O-T-O-P-C-C?" I hate having to tell him it's not exactly a word, but an interesting group of letters.
Yesterday he asked me, "Mommy, what's P-O-P?" I told him it spelled "pop."

Without missing a beat, he grinned widely and replied, "That's what a bubble does!"

Lately he's taken to asking me, "Mommy, do you love me?" I always smile and tell him yes, I certainly do love him and I always will. The fact that he asks this question at all bothers me a tiny bit. I find myself wondering if he needs reassurance, or if he just likes being able to get a predictable response from me. I find myself wondering if I don't tell him enough that I love him, but the truth is that I tell him about 20 times a day -- usually more. Sometimes I try to notice what the emotional climate is when he asks me this. Am I tense? Are we having a difficult moment? Is it a lazy day? Is he bored?

Maybe it's nothing. But he's something.