Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sarah and Burglars, Part Two

The conversation between Sarah and myself, an hourish ago.  "Mom, I've been hiding something from you."  "What is it, honey?"  "It's your purse." 

Darn jewel thief, anyway.  So, Mom's revenge is to blog this week about some of Sarah's best moments, in honor of her thirteenth birthday.  Enjoy, Sarahbee!

Her first grade open house was interesting.  All the first graders were asked to fill out a chart, with basic information about their favorite colors, animals, and so on.  Sarah eschewed the more popular pinks and blues in favor of "metallic copper."  Her favorite animal was not a kitty or dog, but the Komodo dragon.  And, in response to the intrusive (I thought) question on their posterboards, "Where do you like to go to be alone?", most children replied, "In my room" or "In my treehouse".  Sarah wrote, "In the dark places of my mind."  The collage each child created of his favorite things usually had pictures of sports, or school, or their own family members.  Sarah's was comprised of lipstick, diamonds, and corn. 

My WTF? moments as a parent are many, that night was one of the most interesting.  I wouldn't trade my girls for lipstick, diamonds, or even corn, nor would I want boring children.  So glad I don't.  Happy Birthday, darling Sarah!

Sarah and Burglars, Part One

When Sarah was only waist-high, I once asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. 

"A cleaning lady," she told me.  I was still thinking about this, her first choice, with the word, "Why?" unspoken, when she added, "Or the guy who dresses up in black and takes away people's pretty things."

"Do you mean a burglar?  Or a jewel thief?" I asked.

"Yes, a jewel thief.  I want to be a jewel thief when I grow up." Again, the obvious answer to that is "Why?", when she answered me, without pause.  "I want to take away the pretty things from people who have too much and give them to poor people.  Like Robin Hood." 

To which I said, "Aww... You can be anything you want to be, honey.  Just try not to steal."

I was reminding her of this when we were out walking Gonzo this morning, and our talk segued into my telling her about the NYC garbage strike of a few years back, when people desperate to unload their trash wrapped it up in Christmas paper and left these attractively, deceptively packaged piles in their unlocked cars.  Sarah thought this was HILARIOUS, and came up with a scenario, during which a family of burglars unwrapped their "gifts."

"Eww... I got dryer sheets and some eggshells.  What did you get, Dad?"

"Some cat litter and a half-eaten brownie.  Wait.  That's not a brownie."

Thank you, Sarah, for making me laugh most days, from when you first could talk, to now, when you have much more to say.  I love you, birthday girl.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Electra and Eurydice

So, once again, I am taking time off from my real job to work on my book.  And, once again, I am writing about my dad.  I always write about my dad.  A psychiatrist would probably label me with an Electra complex, but that's not it.  I didn't idolize my dad in life and certainly don't now in death.  I think I write about him, because he was so wrapped up within himself, he was lost to his own children.  We never had him, didn't really know him, but after much time and reflection, I have come to terms that I don't really need to know a person to love him, anyway.

My mom has always been more accessible, talks easily and openly about everything.  She held back a few secrets until I reached adulthood, and now, there are no secrets.  She reaches out like I do, with the belief that words heal all, that the right words in the right order hold a magic and a power.  I've heard all of her stories many times, but the one which molded her is a story which happened before she was made, a story which made her life possible.  My grandfather's first wife was on her way to the hospital to deliver her fifth child, and her last.  This was the first time Izero had delivered a baby in hospital.  My mother's half sister, only five, watched her mother pack up to leave for a few days and wanted desperately to run up and hug her mother goodbye, but she didn't.  And she never saw her mother alive again.  My grandfather remarried, had my mother with his new wife, and many years later, I was born, to grow up hearing how tenuous is life, and how people will leave us without warning.  Never hold grudges and always fix what I can; this is what I was taught, because like Orpheus learned, once Eurydice is gone, she is gone forever.

And in the meantime, to write my dad's story and do him justice, I have to get inside his head, when he was a boy and packed up what he could carry to leave his home in Upper Silesia forever.  How many times did he look back, as he hurried away?  I will never know, so I have to invent an answer.  Fiction works best, in writing what is true; paradoxical, I know. 

So, both my parents made me who I am, but my mom much more so.  Because even though the story I write is based on my dad's life and rewritten to give him absolution and a happy ending of sorts, the fact that I write is due to my mother, and because of her I care so much for others.  Someday, the people I love will be gone, but first, I will be.  That is a near certainty.  So, I hope when my girls write my story and try to make sense of my life, they remember me picking them up and swinging them in my arms to radio music, that they remember us opening a tab and playing Carmena Burana while we rated guys on Hot or Not, that they remember us reading aloud from the Great Brain series, Phantom Tollbooth and all the others.  I don't want to be a character in a Greek tragedy.  I just was happy to be their mom, and a good friend to mine, and a daughter, and maybe, if I find an audience, a writer, too. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Okay, so I've apparantly not been clear or as inclusive as I should be, writing this.  I accidentally offended my friend Jeff C., by writing that he had no idea how much I overthink everything, but I guess it sounded like I said he had no idea about everything and anything, not my intention at all.  My apologies, Jeff C.  It's always good talking to you about life, but I do overthink things sometimes.  Most of the time.

And, to Cath, I'm sorry I neglected to mention your amazingly creative use of the letter G in playing Scattegories for the category of Awards Ceremonies.  However, just like there is no magazine titled "Kitten Hunter's Weekly" for K, no job starting with C like "Constipation Artist" and no W superhero called "Waspguy", there are no Gnoscars.  That said, the Gnoscars are pretty darn funny and I'm sorry I left that out. 

Feel free to contact me regarding other errors, factual or in my understanding of matters.  I will publicly apologize and move on. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"You, Who Never Arrived" by Rainier Maria Rilke

You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don't even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of the next
moment. All the immense
images in me-- the far-off, deeply-felt landscape,
cities, towers, and bridges, and unsuspected
turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods-
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.

You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house--, and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me. 
Streets that I chanced upon,--
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and, startled,
gave back my too-sudden image. Who knows?
perhaps the same bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, seperate, in the evening...

Translated by Stephen Mitchell
I rewatched the movie "Only You", with a young Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey, Jr., which I first saw in the theatre with my ex-husband before he was even my husband and my wonderful friend, Shawn.  Anyway, this poem was in the movie, misquoted and misattributed, but I went in search of it.  It's just so beautiful.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

S*&T My Kids Say, Part Two

And Now: 

Sarah:  "I left you the gift of butter on your chair, Mom.  Can you feel the love?"

Cath:  "An Armadillo says, What?"  Sarah (or Darrow):  "LOVE ME!"

Sarah, showing me old paper dolls played with at my in-laws:  "And here is  Crossing Guard.  The other dolls stole his teeth.  He's bitter."

Cath, cheating at Scattegories:  "What do you mean, Kitten Hunters Weekly isn't a real magazine? Let's google it."

Sarah:  "What do you mean I was supposed to wash the dishes?  Which dishes?  Whose dishes?  THESE dishes?"

Cath, cheating at Uno:  "I can see your cards reflected in the shine off your baby's head.  Just sayin'."

Sarah:  "Yes, that's sharpie marker in my hair.  Why?  Don't you like the color blue?  Cause I know you do!"

Cath, texting:  "WORSHIP ME."

Sarah and Cath's new game, to come up with a little-used phrase on the bus each morning, use it as often as possible in one day, and text each other each time they do so.  Here are some of their phrases:  "There's so much you can do in life without a spleen."  "Why don't all you Indians scoot down one?"  "Ha, ha!  You had to take off your clothes!"

And, whenever I ask, "Do you want to know a secret?", their answer:  "Yes, Mom.  We know.  You love us.  That is SO not a secret!" 

Not with a blog, it's not.  : )

S*&T My Kids Say, Part One


Sarah, on coming inside after eating mud:  "I mixed together some dirt and water and it tasted like chocolate milk, cause I wanted it to."

Cathy, playing with her Barbies:  "I just don't love you anymore, Ken.  I'm in love with... this guy."

Sarah, playing with her Barbies:  "What's wrong with her, Doctor?"  "I think she's in a trance."  "Oh, no!"  "Oh, yes.  What this girl needs is a corndog."

Cathy, applying age-defying make up to Sarah:  "Hold still!"  "But, Cathy, you said this will take decades off my face!"  "So, what?"  "I'm only ten.  Won't it erase me?"  "I think it's starting to work..."

Sarah, laughing uproariously amid a mess of popcorn and our dog:  "Mom, watch this!  I rub popcorn into my armpit and Gonzo licks the butter out!"  "Sarah, what on earth gave you that idea?"  "I dunno.  It was the voice in my heart."  And she imitated the voice in her heart, a gutteral hiss like the demon in the Exorcist:  "Sarah... Take some popcorn... Rub it on your skin..."

Cath and Sarah, dressing up in feather boas, big sunglasses, plastic high heels, to fool their friends into thinking movie stars had come to town.  When the kids on bikes rode by and yelled, "Hi, Cathy!  Hi, Sarah!", Cathy stormed inside and fumed, "They knew.  They all knew."  Sarah didn't realize her getup fooled no one and tottered back inside:  "I'm a famous movie star.  You don't know who I am, Mom." 

Only two people in the world call me Mom.  I had a clue which is the shorter one.  : ) 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cath' and Sarah's Children's Story (written at ages 8 and 11, when both wanted to be hobos)

Sarah & Gage cure Alzheimer’s.
Cathy forgets.
Hobo remembers.
Sarah & Gage lose twenty pounds.
Cathy finds it.
Hobo steals it.
Sarah & Gage discover fire.
Cathy discovers boot.
Hobo lives in it.
Sarah & Gage discover new plant.
Cathy steps on it.
Hobo eats it.
Sarah & Gage smell roses.
Cathy rolls in it.
Hobo eats it.
Sarah & Gage plant a garden.
Cathy buries bone in it.
Hobo eats bone.
Sarah & Gage swim in Atlantic with dolphins.
Cathy swims with hobos in sewers.
Hobo lives there.
Sarah & Gage climb Mt. Everest.
Cathy climbs aboard the hobo train.
Hobo’s still chewing on bone.
Sarah & Gage cross the Pacific on raft.
Cathy crosses puddle.
Hobo lurks in puddle.
Sarah & Gage become Greek gods.
Cathy becomes lunch.
Hobo becomes full.
Sarah & Gage cure AIDS.
Cathy breaks out of Hobo.
Hobo is mad.
Sarah & Gage write a formal apology to Hobo.
Cathy eats it.
Hobo hires a hit man.
Sarah & Gage win Oscars for directing.
Cathy wins best picture on milk carton.
Hobo drinks milk.
Sarah & Gage hire Bodyguard for Cathy.
Cathy flees country.
Hobo eats Bodyguard.
Bodyguard gets mad.
Sarah & Gage stop global warming.
Cathy is cold.
Hobo is hungry.
Bodyguard makes friends in Hobo.
Sarah & Gage create Sims 4.
Cathy creates a mess.
Hobo gets sick.
Bodyguard is free!
Elvis is free!
Sarah & Gage create world peace.
Cathy starts a fight.
With Hobo.
Bodyguard bombs Hobo.
Elvis runs away to Bermuda Triangle.
Sarah & Gage go to Bermuda Triangle.
Cathy decides not to go.
Hobo doesn’t care.
Bodyguard invades Iran.
Elvis discovers Sarah & Gage!