Sunday, March 20, 2011

Stolen minutes

James Taylor was singing on the television as we were cleaning up from dinner tonight.. ahh, there's a way to get ladies to support public television.  Where do I send the check?   Ladies like me, raised up on JT's sentimental crooning, songs sung with girlfriends with arms slung around each other's shoulders and usually a few beers under our belts.  Then, ten years later singing those same songs quietly in the dark to my dozing babies because the lyrics came automatically in my own foggy brain.  I was weepy tonight and I grabbed Ally as if to dip her, instead cradling her head and shoulders and we stood swaying as I rocked her and sang Sweet Baby James along with the TV.

"Do you remember me singing this song to you?"   Nope.  But she let me hold that portion of her that I can still fit in my arms and she didn't pull away.  I grabbed Olivia as she walked out of the bathroom still fixing her hair and I squeezed them both very hard one in each arm, kissing their foreheads and telling them how much I loved them. A little weird but they're used to the odd grab and kiss so not sure it registered how badly I needed to hold them at that moment.

I blogged in September about Ally and her friends doing a benefit walk for cancer in honor of their friend battling leukemia.  That friend lost her fight this weekend.  Her mom blogged during the last nine months and reflected this weekend that this arduous walk with leukemia took the same amount of time it took to bring M. into the world--a crushing and ironic connection of the dots that felt for me suddenly like I was walking on the floor of a cruel fun house--how does a parent stay upright through all of it?  Her posts were written with raw and sublime honesty so that we could be witness to the purity of her love, the agony of her fear and in the very end those final moments as her daughter slipped peacefully away.  As for M, I mostly knew her through the funny stories I heard from Ally and Chip and then lately   from her own mother's words.  M. was fierce and funny, honest and original, a tomboy and a princess.  She was the quintessential daughter, sugar and salt and fire.

I find retreat these days in being as thoroughly present in my own happy life as I can be in as many minutes of the day as I can remember to be.  It's not easy to always be grateful and present, but it's sort of like yoga in that it can't ever be bad for me to try.  Much of the good stuff in my life is within my control, the rest is simply luck.  What I can control, I can strive to honor.  I can hug my kids and my husband willy nilly and enjoy every minute with them when I'm not yelling at them.  I can express my love whenever I feel it and that may get weird for the occasional stranger who treats me right.   I can take the odd minute each day to enjoy a moment of sun on my face, stroke a baby's cheek in a hallway at work, listen to the birds as I sip my morning coffee and smell the flowers soon to come.  It's a small offering of karma to the universe in the name of a girl who unjustly lost the luxury of spending her own stolen minutes.

Monday, March 14, 2011

So much stuff going on

The early March scene in Madison is upon us, when winter is not really over but we're all kind of getting a bit done with cold weather activities and therefore, the cold weather.  The snow is old and crunchy.   My XC skis lean with a detached mood against the side of the garage, without much appeal to me or me to them I think.   The temperatures will keep popping up into the high thirties from now on and so the occasional flurries or freshening snow here and there won't do much except turn what's left of the snow into a dirty ice pack that will melt and freeze into a composite similar to the surface of Neptune.  So much for the snow.
Minnie didn't know whether to bark at it or pee on it.  She did neither in the end.

Cheese or pepperoni?
The past three years I have played host to hundreds of hungry teenagers at the home forensics tournament at the high school.  Rounding up enough parent donations of fruit and drinks to augment two pieces of pizza and charge 5 bucks without the kids complaining of the value.  It was my calling these three years as it turns out.   And so once again, I spent an exhausting day off (precious this year) waiting on children who are old enough to wait on themselves.  I'm done volunteering for this event as my senior is outta there and my sophomore doesn't see a future in the spoken word.  So much for forensics.

The first year I was freaked out by hundreds of kids talking to the walls.  This year I barely noticed them.

We've welcomed back our Wisconsin 14 but our state is angry and divided, the many now without collective bargaining, a fundamental human right btwubs, against the few on a raging power grab against the middle class to further line pockets that don't even sit in Sconnie pants.  I don't know how all them rich guys can even fit all their money in their pockets with so much fleece in there.

Social media can be both instructive and informative but also repetitive, reactionary, inaccurate and at times in need of spellcheck. Capitol, Capital, capital.  C'mon folks. You're teachers for God's sake!  Facebook has become a sea of armchair postulation as activism.  I'm bored of it as my kids used to say. So much for politics.

It is fun attending the protests and seeing friends even in a crowd of 85,000.
Tony Shalhoub and I exchanged two thumbs up but obviously with my
thumbs up, I couldn't take his picture.  We had a moment though.
My 30th high school reunion in New Orleans is teed up for ten days from now.  They're not the kids I cut my teeth with but they are the ones with whom I stepped out into the world back in 1981.   I'm perhaps a little thicker around the middle than I'd like to be and well, not sure there's anything to be done about that before next Thursday.  But two of my three buddies are headed back with me and that will be just fine to sip a few drinks on the porch of the Columns Hotel as the streetcars vzzzzzz by and their metallic smell mixes with the sweet olive and the night blooming jasmine and whatever other brilliant things might be blooming .  So much for caring about being thin.

Thanks Cath and Nat for kicking me in the ass to get this written.  It needed saying and I couldn't find the words.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A capital post indeed, or is that capitol?

I just can't seem to concoct an interesting post about how the ice in the driveway keeps freezing and melting, freezing and melting so I'll have to turn to the topic of my state recently being sold to the Koch Brothers.

We're all a little freaked out, angry, confused, divided and unsure about the future.  Not exactly fertile ground for a feel-good blog that generally tries to make thoughtful but lighthearted observations about life in Sconnie Nation.  Here I sit.

I got my first hostile comment from a crabby anonymous after my last post, so that was a very exciting new twist after four years of blogging.  I started to consider my response to the comment and then contemplated briefly that while my blog is not a plutocracy like Wisconsin, it is a monarchy and I'm the queen... so I just deleted it.

My kids have returned to school with a renewed energy after boredom had set in with their time off protesting and sleeping at the Capitol and watching reruns of Jersey Shore.  Teachers and kids in catch-up mode is a good thing in the winter doldrums of February and early March.  There's energy in the air and it's unsettling but at least it's something to feel.  Usually, we're deep in our frozen cups by now just hunkering in hopes for spring.

Cookies for the Oscar party sent by beloved NYC uncles to offset the drama in our own lives
Governor Walker is not honorable.  He's got an agenda set by some very rich and connected guys who don't even live in Wisconsin to dismantle the Democratic base by vilifying those in public service, while the bankers and the hedge funders and the wall street guys all roam free.  It's entirely laughable each night as we are greeted by new pieces of mail from non-profits, quality of life programs and public service anythings as they sound their death knells by postcard and letter.   Bike Federation, PBS, Planned Parenthood, farmers markets, kitties, bunnies...basically anything a hippie might like.  Many teachers are on facebook hourly with updates about Walker's dishonorable tactics and I think it helps to keep morale up.  But I wish more of these teachers would spell Capitol correctly and/or refer to the capital of our state.  Bad grammar, even ironically, does not help the cause.

It really shouldn't be a surprise that I immediately tucked into Colin Firth
Work is weird.  Represented and non-represented workers sitting side by side in team rooms, carefully moving their chairs around the elephant in the room.  I was a union member in the school district who paid my dues but didn't pay much attention and that characterizes probably too many people in unions. I feel like maybe there's been some overreaching over the past decade, holding out for raises in pay and benefits even during difficult economic choices.  I hear mumblings even from those sympathetic to unions that it's time for them to stop being so grabby.  But the misplaced vitriol on twitter and in the editorial sections of the paper aimed at teachers, of all people, is crazy.  Public sector unions didn't get us into this global financial mess--that's just smoke covering the real fire.  I want to say to these private sector cry babies in the editorial pages, who have had opportunities and will again to make bonuses and set their own hours and move up the corporate ladder or fire at will, you are free and encouraged to go back to school and become a teacher or a nurse or a cop if the private sector isn't treating you right.  And earn a whopping 65K after twenty years on the job and drive a Ford Fiesta.

In homage to my friend Karen, we played Oscar bingo and of course she was with me so I won
Tonight the Capitol is empty for the first time in almost three weeks.  But the protesters are outside camping for the night and intend to return to the rotunda in the morning.  The fight continues and we are all weary and worried about poor ol' 83 year old Fred Risser.