Monday, November 14, 2011

Love letters

I guess I feel a burning need to discuss my Anglophilia, post a very fun trip to London this past week.  Sure, I don't know any other languages so maybe it's just laziness on my part.  Or could it be heritage?  My grandfather's family immigrated from England (by way of Ireland of course, but that used to be a family secret) at the turn of the twentieth century and when I was a kid my relatives still embraced an awful lot of Irish and English culture within the family.  Although 70 years later it was mostly expressed in the form of insanity but also in our family food preparation, dress, commonly used words and phrases and grudges held.  
bikes and phone boxes still around in 2011
Andrew Sullivan, slightly more popular blogger than I, posted this weekend about what he misses most about England.  It got me thinking about what is special for me.  It's certainly not the people, or the weather, or even the food that keeps me coming back.  One doesn't always feel the love when it comes to these dimensions of English life.  But I relish crazy little things, like the idea of a shadow government functioning in fantasy alongside the real government.  I love that in an otherwise expensive economy for consumers, candy and tabloids are and have always been an incredible bargain.  I love all British comedy and most British TV, music and newspapers.  I love that department stores are alive and well.  I love that pubs are full in the afternoons of people drinking beer and that people smoke cigarettes (granted outside now) without looking furtive or ashamed.  I love that the whole country has shared identity through the BBC and the monarchy and the Church of England.  I love that women's fashion is always slightly slutty and that breast cleavage is freely shown and rarely mentioned.

my favorite department store

delicious meal at The Ivy after the theater,
where the star of our play came in minutes after us and sat just two tables away


I love that you can say "fuck" on television but never "bloody".  I love, and I will loosely quote Andrew Sullivan who said it most aptly, "[the lack] of religious extremism in public discourse."  I love the year round greenness of grass and the care of a garden rather than a lawn.  I love the tradition of arranging small Christmas parties at restaurants with friends and colleagues and the very dear aspect of those parties which is hand delivering Christmas cards to one another given out at the table like valentines.   I love the progressive nature of art appreciation in London within the same society that has a great misunderstanding still of what causes illness and what cures it.  This fact was never so clear to me as when Olivia's foot was runover at school by a car and while waiting for the ambulance, the school secretary made her a cup of tea.



a perfect view of parliament
So there's my love letter about my homeland.  As for my love letter about my husband, I simply state in the most British way possible, "Well done you."  I feel lucky and always slightly suspicious of being undeserving of all the love and good stuff in life that feels heaped upon me, like Mardi Gras beads on a baby.  But I'm mixing my geographic metaphors.
I am terrible at selfies

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween

Homemade soup, butternut squash, Halloween, caramel apples, crunchy leaves, golden sunlight.  It's fall and it's lovely.  And tonight, a first!   I broke my streak of 20 plus years of having way too much candy on Halloween.  I actually ran out of every single last piece of candy in the joint with over 200 pieces walking away with Packers and Yankees and ghouls and witches and princesses and ninjas.  Tiny tigers and pumpkins, round and clueless as they were cute, plunging pudgy hands into the candy bowl for candy I'm sure they would never eat.   I'm not even sure they knew it was candy, it was just colorful.  There's nothing more triumphant than running out of a reputable amount of candy.  It kind of puffs you up.  Ran out of candy, what can you do?  I'm awesome.   Really what I forget is that we don't have any candy coming in anymore on Halloween, just going out.  No bags to raid for those last few kids that show up to the party late.  I rooted through the pantry shelves and came up with single serving potato chips and Cliff bars.  But in the end it was too tragic, so after about three kids I turned out the lights.

The Chicken and Mrs. Bachmann
Our street has evolved as the new drive-in street for kids across the way.  It's an easy access street, close by, wide and car-friendly. Parents can hover at or crawl along the curb while the kids do a few houses at a time before hitting a curmudgeon's house.  Then they get a whoop or a whistle from the car and all go hopping back in the car in search of more lighted houses. When I was young, it was mere feet between neighbors, but the little legs here have to go quite a bit further between houses for a hard won snack size candy bar.  The kids come in big groups, all ages and sizes, some with costumes and some without, it really doesn't matter because most are wearing coats.  There might be several moms or dads or just older siblings leading the way.  Some families collect candy for the baby in the stroller, a favorite tradition of ours from our days in West Philly.  The kids are fearful of stepping into the foyer presumably because they've been told never to go into stranger's houses (good rule), so I have to step outside to give the candy and get a look at their costumes.  They say Trick or Treat and thank you without prompting. Some of them go off script and tell me how nice my house is which I find touching.  They feel like neighbors but I don't know where they live and I wish I knew them better.  Ally told me to stop giving two and three pieces at a time, admonishing me that I would run out.  "I heard you out there sneaking them extra pieces, Mom.  No wonder you ran out."  I know, I can't help myself.  

ironically the mime is stuck outside the glass door
Halloween is a special night for me, from growing up in the trick or treating capital of the world, Narberth, PA to starting a Halloween tradition in West Philly that continues today and now to Madison where I'm mostly the nice older lady who is a soft touch.   Ah, whatever.  It's one night and no need for limits.  As my neighbor posted on Facebook tonight, and I paraphrase, "if I ever get tired of cute little princesses and pumpkins ringing my doorbell, commence with the beatings."
http://ucreview.com/eve-of-all-hollows-celebrated-in-spruce-hill-p3031-1.htm

Friday, October 14, 2011

Six weeks. I know I know.

Sometimes it takes six weeks to think of something to write about something that doesn't begin with "those darn kids of mine..."  That's all I'm saying.  They are mind suckers.  Only I didn't say sucker.

This week I'm feeling my dinosaur bones creak but I'm loving it because finally it has been revealed to me where my knowledge of the past is relevant!   In the event of a power outage.

early morning fog over the Wisconsin Capitol


As part of our clinic's emergency preparedness, we have been walking through the steps we would need to take in the event of a cut in the power to our computers.  Everything is automated in our little corner of the health care world, from parking to registration to filling prescriptions at Walgreens.  The paper chart is gone, the consultation forms are gone, the prescription pads are gone--all information is stored in one giant program on the computer for the entire organization.  And for most people, they can't remember working any another way.  Coming from the school district where paper is still very much alive, this change to the paperless health care setting was probably the biggest shock to me, and it still is.

I run with what we call in nursing, the pumps and pearls crowd.   Most of them are younger than me by about a decade.  It keeps my wardrobe hip but in my brain I quietly identify with the ladies who wear Christmas sweaters and Sketchers.  I run in a fast circle of power pals in business attire, attending meetings to discuss and strategize about things that nurses in patient care couldn't begin to care about and don't need to because I'm there.   I do believe, I do believe, I do believe.   It's been a learning curve over the first year to see the value in what I do.    Policy, standards, regulatory, organizational, evidence based practice, quality improvement, meaningful use--buzzy buzz words that mostly make sense to me now.  But I also clean clinic rooms between patients, I hold kids during procedures, I talk to parents pissed off because they've waited two hours to see the doctor and I help lost people find their way.  I'm the rarest of pumps and pearls--I'm also a mensch.   They've embraced me.  It's been a year.  Hurray, I'm through it.

Kansas butterfly


So, back to "downtime".  I can't even go into the details of an absurd conversation about coming up with a plan for running clinic during a full power outage. We can run as long as 90 minutes behind schedule when we're working with full power.  Really, we're going to try to see patients with no power?  I'm thinking we just tell everybody to go home.  (and that right there is why I'm not in charge)  I was willing, however, to entertain the possibility of how we would run clinic without the use of computers.  The sheer notion of developing a work flow involving pen and paper or gasp, talking face to face is always perplexing for everyone in the group EXCEPT this woman of  a certain age who during the dry run sat blithly in a chair and chirped, "...Heaven forbid we might have to use paper or talk to one another!" The group ignored the sarcasm and communicated with weary glances that this woman should sit quietly and keep thoughts of the good old days to herself while the real grown ups talked.  Fine, whatever.

Late autumn Kansas sunflower 


Them: "So, how will radiology know that patients are sitting out here in the waiting room?"
Me: "Somebody could walk back there and actually talk to the radiology tech."
Them: "Shut up Julie."
Them: "Anyway, and how will the lab know that the family has checked in?"
Me: "The lab person could walk down the hallway and talk to the front desk staff or vice versa?"
Them: "No, that won't work."


I'm just trying to keep it real.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

One stick at a time

The words haven't been coming to me this summer.  Frustratingly, I've started lots of posts never to finish them.  
Daytime firepit...who knew you could enjoy that?  My dad's a rulebreaker.

Our new lake house is a pleasant distraction from my distraction.  The house faces west so the sun is a long time coming over the trees to the dock, but it makes for a pretty morning with the creep of the light over the rooftop cutting through the trees, casting the brightest light and deepest shadows in the yard. Superimposed fern silhouettes layer one over another in a feathery pattern of every possible shade of green.  It's peaceful and natural.  But then when that gets boring, just follow me five miles up the road for cocktail hour and a cooked meal in Minocqua.

The paths begin to take shape
Olivia's gone to college and she's thriving according to local reports.  I'm more than surviving and less than thriving with her departure. It's just weird.  But as I've told my friends, all the registration stuff for high school came in the mail and none of it had Olivia's name on it so I knew she had to go.  You don't have to be independent but you can't stay here.


My dad and I headed north last weekend for a look at our house and it took him all of ten minutes before his knees were in the dirt.  A huge woodpile/mudpile had been plowed/bobcatted against a little grove of trees to clear the way for digging up the old septic tank.  A giant mess of tangled cut wood, plants and dirt that had been burrowed and co-opted by chipmunks who clucked and scampered and scolded whenever anybody came near.  So much literal dead wood, I couldn't face it!  Chip tried to tackle it a few weeks ago and I made him stop.  It seemed insurmountable.  But piece by piece, my dad, who doesn't heed me like Chip does, began to root through the pile pieces one by one for the most burnable to least burnable wood and stacked it painstakingly.

"Dad, stop. It's too much."
"Why should I stop?  I love working like this."
"How can you love it?  It's overwhelming.  I don't even know where to begin out here in the yard, there's so much debris."
"Jul, you just move it one stick at a time until it's done."



One stick at a time.  Big tasks have been scary lately.  I don't know if it's been the unsettling nature of sending a kid to college, going back to work, or just getting older.  But my dad's simple words freed me for the weekend, by simply telling me to start the task.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The heat was on.

Blistering heat.  It's finally moving east but the past week has been like a long plane ride for me. Trapped and airless days and nights strung together, stuck either inside work or inside the house.  I felt and behaved like a caged wild beast.


I pushed myself to go to the Concert on the Square this week despite the hysteria that it would be so hot people would die trying.  And what a good decision it was.  The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, incidentally conducted by our darling friend and neighbor Andrew Sewell, performs Wednesday evenings on the grounds of the Capitol (that's with an O, teachers) all summer.  It's free and a blanket and a bottle is the standard minimum-full on picnic dinners are common. It's a wine swillin' crowd generally.   What's stopping anybody from attending is a mystery to me.  This week, Andrew had recruited Revival, an ABBA tribute band, for the orchestra to accompany.  The band used the rotunda as their back stage and "took the stage" in a grand fashion on the Capitol steps to the sounds of a whoop whoop whoop of a chopper, as if they had somehow just landed downtown from Sweden just for us!  Hilariously cheesy but in the final analysis they brought some musical chops.  Showmanship if nothing else with gold capes and entreaties for getting the crowd on its feet, which they accomplished and was no small feat given the temperature.

Back in the day, when I was at the mercy of the disc jockey on WFIL FM radio, I was not a fan of ABBA, despite enduring the song Fernando incessantly.  The soaring melodies and the Swinglish lyrics made no sense to me as a kid, but then again, I hadn't yet traveled beyond Ohio and I loved the band, Kiss.  I'm not here to judge.

My friend Martha, with whom I braved the temperatures only to be rewarded with a cup of homemade gazpacho for my trouble, is a cellist and a lifelong musician/biology nerd by her description.  When I told her I didn't go for ABBA as a kid because I was pretty hard core rock, she replied, "For me, ABBA was hard core."  That was funny and of course, a little sad.  But the thing is,  I did eventually grow up and  began to see the merits of pop in my life.  And I'm not giving Mamma Mia any credit for this because I think that show, despite it's popularity with women, is lame-O!

Nearly 100 degrees.  Shout out to Chip Hunter for throwing out our blanket and
babysitting it until mid afternoon when the temperature was more like 120 degrees.
The ABBA allure has got to be about its retro-ness and also generational shareability.  As a middle-ager, you hear an ABBA song and for good or bad, you remember a moment or an event or even a vibe from the past.  I don't even think you have to like the music to experience the nostalgia.  And the crazy thing is, at the height of their stardom in the seventies, the band was probably the least popular in the United States than anywhere in the world.  I guess that's the thing about retro is that it's more popular in its resurrection than it ever was in its hey day.

Martha and I watched over the course of the evening as pockets of people began standing up to dance or sway, young and old folks, moms and daughters, girlfriends, little kids, and even a few guys.  We were swept up in the good feeling of the crowd and the music made the heat almost a non-issue.  My kid and her friends knew all the words to the songs and they were eventually up dancing, although not until moving to a secure location away from me and Martha and our attempts to mimic all of the choreography of the background singers.  Arm movements are easy to do from a beach chair but it does sometimes cause you to spill your wine, so it's important to take care.

New generation ABBA fans

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Reunion 2011

Northwoods sky
My first official weekend at our cabin.  Alone with the dog.  Everybody else is busy as usual so Minnie and I ventured north to welcome a new bed being delivered and start surveying the work ahead.  I'm surprised because I think there is more work outside than in.  Paths are overgrown both front and back and I'm reminded of Burnt Offerings, the movie (and book) about a family that buys a rundown old house with a crazy lady in the attic and the mom becomes obsessed with the house to the point of maybe murdering her family, I think?   I can't quite remember the whole story but I do remember that as the house got fixed up, she got crazier and eventually the family runs away and leaves her to be the new old lady in the attic.  Hmmmmm.



The past week has been full of 2 year old.  The former preemie who battled uphill for much of her first year is now a skinny, wily, fast grabbing (no kidding, knives!), bilingual, sassyfrass beauty.  And the gift and blessing is that...she knows me.  I can tell by the way she looks at me that I'm a notch above random stranger.  We have a connection and it's love, baby.  Her parents are wonderful but they are like blurry shapes that satellite around our love affair.   That's the cold hard truth and I can write freely since my blog doesn't penetrate the Great Firewall of China.

Genius marketing that set us apart and above the Lutz Family Reunion
An amazing journey to Kansas for a 66 person-strong Hunter Family Reunion.  Amazing in that our family (and that means America) is beginning to reflect the colors of our world.  Chinese, African-American, Filipino, Latino in-laws and descendants blending in with each subsequent generation.  The Hunters are turning beautifully brown.

Aunt Judy and Aunt Ann get the shirts divided up by family


second cousins



um....what a production this was.  you can see the level of cooperation on their faces


A quilt of all the t-shirts over the years
Grabbing a signal at The Vine in Minocqua with a glass of syrah beside me while Misty Mountain Hop plays overhead.  I must remember this in February.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jello at my age

A woman of a certain age acknowledges she has occasions for flights of fancy but when she has jello shots two weekends in a row, it makes her reflective.

My tailgating buddy
The first week out of school has gone by so after going into liquid state, the girls have re-materialized into solid form and are into the swing of their summer rituals:  babysitting, diving, running, piano playing, malling, lunching, TV watching.  Jobs you ask?  Well....Chip and I have them.

The cats are having the summer I used to have as a kid.  Out at 9am, home at 9pm.  Dirty and up to no good, holding back their stories because I would worry.

Darling girls at Jimmy Buffett, beautiful and chill
My first summer working in 10 years so far?  Difficult.  Teachers, stay-at-home moms and part-time professionals make up my social circle so while they’re working hard for their kids this summer back and forth to camps, the pool, family vacations, they are “off” in my mind.  I wake up each morning wishing I could just sit in my garden and drink coffee for a few hours then head to the pool or take a bike ride or a paddle or even just clean out a closet.  But then I remember how much that work pays.  I want to say that it makes me savor the weekends and that I make the most of that time, but really it just makes me greedy and anxious for more.  I’m still adjusting, is the politically correct answer and the one people close to me want to hear because they love me.  I’m crabby and unsettled, is the reality.

Glow bracelets really complete an outfit
Outdoor lunch with a friend, Jimmy Buffett, Trivia Night at the pool, gardening, family reunion, glass of wine on the patio…our grown-up summer rituals have also begun.  Despite the feeling that there's never quite enough time on the weekends, all possibilities are entertained and planning is rich with verdant and abundant blooms like my garden.  Not until my ferns start to get crispy and I begin to look at weeds and think, “meh…” will I feel that wistful slide of summer on the down slope.   I hope at that point I can look back and feel like I found that balance, enjoying both summer and working simultaneously.  Jimmy Buffett works all summer, I tell myself.

The sun sets behind a sea of happy drunks--the steep grade of the hill at Alpine Valley
is a cruel joke on all these people after dark.  Many of those above us on the hill were below us later in the evening,
not of their own accord.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A new perspective


 

And the new view is not just out my window.  Although that's changed, too.  This lovely shot is the view from the porch of my new lake house.  Ok, ours.  That feels very weird to say aloud, even in print.  And so we get to watch a new chapter in our family's life write itself from this vantage point, perhaps even quite literally if I can get Internet there.  Liv and Ally are only mildly impressed and somewhat baffled.  I don't think they see the relevance of a lakehouse to their lives right now and that's probably appropriate from the perspective of a teenager.  It's just a place with a lot of attention-seeking dragonflies and sketchy cell phone service.

front and center which is how we see her
Olivia's high school graduation was executed with Wisconsin precision.  On time start, the reading of each individual's name graduating -- 480 plus students-- in addition to hosting five speakers all in under 90 minutes.  Mussolini must have consulted here at one point in history as I've never been to a school, arts or public event that hasn't run on time or finished within 10 minutes of its scheduled completion.  Compared to Philadelphia time, where start times are merely suggestions for the under part of an over/under bet, Madison time is laughably accurate.

Catching up with Aunt Pol
And the million dollar question?  How does it all feel?  It feels like it's time.  It was nice for our crazy families (ok, just mine is crazy and it may be a small betrayal to write that...and yet I write it anyway) to see each other again.   It came together before the ceremony in a day's long arrival of family like stars on the red carpet one after the other building to a crescendo of an Italian feast at a local restaurant.

I hear they all had fun

The scene from my kitchen window on many sunny summer days

Absolutely no idea if Olivia is the brown haired one or the blond haired one.


It resumed after the ceremony as a wonderful thank-you gathering for family and the neighbors who helped me bring this here child to adulthood with sanitys intact.  Each friend in her own way has had a hand in making this kid feel safe and secure in this world.  She calls them collectively the "aunties" and many live in our backyard.  The phrase "it takes a village..." may be trite from overuse but it's not without absolute meaning.  Because if you can raise a kid by yourself for 18 years, you deserve some sort of recognition or some sort of a job from the United Nations or the Pope or maybe Desmond Tutu.

dinner at Bella Vita, new locally owned restaurant that shows some local love
Almost as good as a hug from JJ Hardy...but not quite

Advice taken with some skepticism
a video assembled by some girls in Liv's class.  truly artful.  liv at around 1:50 secs.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Management 101

I spoke up in a meeting today, a big monthly sort of deal with women all doing my job plus a director or two.  I try to contribute, to be visible, because the truth is if I didn't show up they wouldn't even miss me.  Just a little pediatric fish in a big pond of sickest of sick adult care practitioners.  I'm alone in my sunny disposition and pediatric friendly colors.  They rarely smile except when I alone try out some material on them and they think big thoughts about wound healing, urinary infections and heart disease.  Some scary bitches I tell you, although you'd probably want them taking care of you if you were sick.

Later, a woman introduced herself to me because she was "interested to hear my comments" at the meeting.  Uh oh.  Is that a good thing or an "I want to remember your name so I can avoid committee work with you."


My comment was in reference to a journal article about nurses needing to break through professional silence to protect patient safety.  Never having been silent my whole life, it was hard to relate.  But the conversation turned to communication and I reflected that as tricky as it can be for women to manage other women, ironically in the female dominated nursing field we end up spending most of our professional lives deftly managing everybody from patients to doctors without ever having any formal management education or training.  A lot of nurses are just winging it so maybe as advanced practice nurses we should advocate better for management education for our staff groups.



Speaking of women ineffectively managing women, there are 7 days of school left and somebody needs to finish 10th grade before her mother a) checks into Betty Ford or b) sells her to the carnival folk in the deserted defunct Italian restaurant parking lot behind the mall or c) both.

As for the graduating senior, she's unusually sassy as hay'll.  I literally waved a pencil under both their noses tonight and used the words "I'm your mother and I want respect."  It was so absurd, I think it worked.  Thinking that demanding respect will be my new thing.

Thing 1
Thing 2

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My first. There's only one.

That's the face of butterbeer
Liv’s prom pictures made me realize we are reaching milestones almost daily around here. The lasts of a lot of things…band concerts, forensics banquets, booster shots.  As I consider all these lasts, I can’t help going back to that skinny yet improbably hard-to-carry toddler who never held on to us so much as used us as perches from which to view and delight in the world around her.  Who she’s become and will yet become is largely who we always thought she was.  Kids are puzzles in the box, the pieces are all a jumble.  The keen observer can start to see the whole for those little pieces pretty quickly.  And over time in our case, the edge pieces have all been found and framed a wonderful 18 year old that has emerged her senior year. I think back to some of my favorite Olivia moments and the puzzle pieces that have fallen into place. 

my traveling buddy
As a toddler, with the precision and silence of the Stealth Bomber, she crawled from the kitchen while my back was turned, scaling a chair to reach the top of the dining room table where she teeteringly must have turned around to sit cross legged so she could carefully open a box of jelly beans that I assumed had been stashed above her view.  The puzzle pieces here still remain.  She has an amazing memory and she still loves candy. 

As a kid of 5 or 6 she once crept downstairs on a weekend morning and opened the back door triggering the whoop whoop of the burglar alarm.  She scaled the baby gate off the back porch, walked down the side alley of our city block in nightgown and barefeet to the front of the house to get the newspaper.  The house alarm blared and Chip and I went to the open back door with the cricket bat poised to brain someone, only to catch the tail end of that spritely little return walk back down the alley, Liv smiling to herself with newspaper in hand.  And to this day, she cannot really start her morning without reading the newspaper.



On our trip to Harry Potter world, she was decidedly disappointed in her geriatric mom’s inability to ride the rides fanatically and repeatedly with her--oh, yeah, that's why we made you a sister!  It was clear to me on our trip that NASA doesn’t know about this diamond in the rough living in Wisconsin, who could take space and time exploration to a whole new level with her love of physical sensation.  Her preschool teacher said it first.  She has always and still does love sensation of most kinds; fast, spinning, sweet, salty, sour, upside down. 

And she's a talker.  She’s been babbling since she was about two weeks old, on trains and planes, in the tub, pointing and squawking from her stroller, following us around the house to chat sports or reflections of her day.  Despite having to tell her to zip it occasionally, whether it’s a trip to Harry Potter world or a trip to the grocery store, she’s a low maintenance, sweet, positive, flexible companion at home or on the road, especially if there's a snack in it for her.  I can’t really imagine what it will be like around here without her daily presence.  But I’m feeling great so far, steeped in my denial.

she went on, I did not.  I could not.

Classic tourists...full of chicken fingers, soda and nachos.
I see many friends on Facebook are also facing their own firstborns leaving home this summer.  Like the Decorah eaglets, they all seem big enough, they all technically look ready to fly, but it’s such a long drop down from the nest.  Scary stuff.  Their lives are starting “for reals” and in a way we as parents are appropriately being nudged unwillingly to bystander status.  What can we do?  I can't make her do anything.  I think the police could arrest me for that now.  And I resent those grownups who think they get to call the shots because they pay the bills--nuh uh, it's her time now.  My parents were so good about letting me live my life that I want to honor them by doing the same for Liv, as much as it pains me to let her make the decisions now.  If it keeps her out of living in my basement at age 26, well, the pain will have been worth it.   

I am not weepy but I am sad and afraid to let go…let go of the baby, the toddler, the little kid we took to Disney, even that teenager I took to Harry Potter world just a month ago.  And at the same time I can’t wait for her to have her chance at living her life without having me pawing at her daily like a lioness keeping her cub close.  And I look forward to watching the rest of this puzzle come together.  The edges were ours to put together but the middle is for her to fill in with the picture she imagines that is her life and her passions and her future.  I'm going to miss you fiercely, kid, but I love you enough to not make it all about me this one time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The hook

I bet you thought I would blog about Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.  And I will, but this post occurred to me at 30,000 feet and so I'm going with it first.  Might be good, might be oxygen deprived drivel.  I visited my friend's parents this past week in Florida and my friend's mom is a regular reader of my blog.  I do have a small but devoted following of about 20, mostly friends and family.  I'm OK with the fact that my blog never caught fire like The Huffington Post.  Really what would I do with 315 million dollars anyway?


She said, "You're a fantastic writer and you have a book already written.  Memoirs are in!"  And yet I still don't see it.  Maybe someday, but right now I prefer belly aching about the relevance of my blog in my post-apocalyptic "I have to get up and go to work again?" state of mind.  I'm hanging on by my fingernails to keep my life orderly and calm, which is how I like it these days.  Sunday nights not having done my homework yet...ugh, that lifestyle, while seemingly embraced by me at every stage of my life, has actually never made me happy.  I just can't go back to the seven foot high pile of laundry, the chore laden weekends and hot dogs twice a week for dinner as was customary of my family life coupled with a full time job ten years ago.  It was de rigueur when I was younger, skinnier and cuter but middle aged women who don't have their lives together is just tragic.  Must.maintain.order.


Qualifications for writing a memoir surely include some formal training somewhere.  I'll admit to higher education, good fundies from expert teachers, good instincts and a good sense of humor...those are scant credentials I've got to hang my writing hat on--ending a sentence with a preposition aside.  And unlike Sedaris, Burroughs, Wells, McCourt, I don't have the hook of an amazingly colorful past.  Sure I've got the alcoholics, the slightly checked out parents (benignly so), the seventies, the youthful indiscretions and the European travel stories.  I also have a firm grip on reality and the dynamic duo of my funniness, self loathing and sloth.  I know myself and I'm willing to talk truthfully about it.  That point alone seems valuable enough to keep blogging if only to help a friend take the pressure off of herself on a hard day. But reading blogs is a fading ritual for Internet readers, like waiting for holds at the library (really people?  have you heard of the Kindle?) and actually blogs were a dying bird even as I took mine up. Twitter is where it's at.  It's been fun and interesting being a part of a social media fad on the Internet and in the end maybe one of my grand kids will write a book report about her granny the blogger back in "aught 7".  Who knows if any of it will even be here in ten years and what will replace it?


So what would be the hook of my memoir if I wrote one?  As I sat on the beach this past week and my brain was re energized by Vitamin D, my muse finally came to me!  Because as I try to juggle work, kids growing up and going to college and the maintenance of my house and what little of my sanity remains, the one thing I am sure of is that I love to tell a story and edit it for the reader's pleasure but I simply cannot f*cking do this while my family peppers me on the quarter hour with inane questions like, "Did you wash my sliding shorts?"

This post is about a child so dear that it's going to take a little while to craft
It also occurred to me that nobody ever comes looking for me while I'm doing the wash.  My respite.  My haven.  My salvation.  I've blogged numerous times about it before.   The laundry is my muse.  Life as I know it from the subterranean recesses of my house--the underworld, Atlantis.  It is all finally coming together in an arc so mundane that it might make Erma Bombeck seem funny.