October 31, 2007

Before and After

Here are pictures of Mr. D... before and after his somewhat unspecified yet gruesome accident:
No worries...

Oh, dear. Most unfortunate.

This entire costume – he called it "bloody accident victim" – was his idea. We just aided and abetted.

I love Hallowe'en. Chocolate flowing in the streets. The sound of packs of gleeful children on a mission. Teenagers giving up their cool for one last night of Raggedy Ann and Skeletor. Parents hovering at the ends of driveways. Friends who go out together and then come back and compare their loot. Homemade costumes. Kids who are thrilled when you "get" their homemade costumes. Little kids who can barely overcome their fear, but then finally pipe up with the requisite "Trick or Treat." Toasting pumpkin seeds the way my friend Fred taught me. People who turn their entire first floor into a haunted house that has become so popular that their street is parked in with people who have driven over to check it out. A chance to play at being someone else. A chance to play with fear. A chance to play.

October 30, 2007

Change Haiku

even my feet
feel the change –
cold bathroom tile

(Thanks to the women of One Deep Breath
for their continuing inspiration.)

We are SO ready!

That's Mr. D holding a gravestone, wearing a witch hat, and sporting a glow-in-the dark alien hand. The Hallowe'en box has been unpacked, a recipe for fake blood has been procured, and we are ALL OVER IT.

A boy who lives down the street asked us if we will be opening the door with alien hands again this year. I absolutely LOVE having a Hallowe'en reputation!

October 25, 2007

Fun for the Whole Family

Usually the phrase "fun for the whole family," elicits a "yeah, right" response from me, but you know what? This cool toy, a late-breaking birthday present from Mr. D's Aunt Chelle, actually IS fun for the whole family! You stand on the wobbly base and try to roll the ball through the maze by bending your body this way and that, and it's really hard to do! The gift arrived on a rainy fall evening; perfect timing, Aunt Chelle!

October 24, 2007

Lice Alert

This just in from Mr. D's little neighborhood school:
Just wanted to give you a "heads up" about taking lice precautions as a few cases are in the school. Although we have none in our class yet, we do have to share the same carpeted areas in the music room and library and some students have siblings. If your child has long hair, please put it in braids or ponytails. Thanks for your cooperation in this matter.
Swell. Wish his hair was long enough to have some fun with this. And I know it's great to be comfy during circle time and all that, but seriously? I don't think my elementary school had a scrap of carpet in the place. Hmmm....

October 20, 2007

Turning a Corner

Photo Sharing at Photobucket

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a bike rider!

Mr. D scooted over to the playground this morning, delighted to be in the company of his school friend, Little Boy From Italy. There were five of us (Little Boy From Italy brought his father and sister along), and at one point Mr. D's young friend wanted to give D's scooter a try. Remembering my friends' stories of offering their kids "no pressure" opportunities to try bike riding, I said to D: "Hey buddy, do you want to try riding your friend's bike?" "Sure," he said.

I took this picture three minutes later.

I just held the seat and gave him a push and that was it. I didn't even run alongside, instead standing there dumbfounded as he rode over the grass and then calmly steered around a tree and out onto the playground. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I had just finished explaining to Boy From Italy's dad that D wasn't quite past the point of needing training wheels yet.

Sometimes being wrong is actually fun.

October 16, 2007

Poetry and My Life

There was a little mouse
who had a very little house
Three big mice got ice
but the little mouse said please
for a piece of cheese.

That's the first poem anyone remembers me writing. I was five, and I can still feel the jangling thrill of realization that came from MAKING a poem. The idea that I could pull something as real as a poem from the apparent nothingness of my small self was intoxicating.

I'm not sure why poetry seemed so real to me. My parents read to me all the time, but neither of them shared my particular love for poetry. There was something about the sound and feel of words that mattered to me, and I figured out pretty quickly that this meant that poets were my tribe.

As I grew, my deep and unquestioning affinity for poetry was periodically clouded by outside influences. I went through years of wondering where the other people who liked poetry were, wondering if maybe I'd been wrong, wondering if writing poetry was beyond my reach after all.

When I was in high school, and struggling to get beyond what I came to see as the major themes of adolescent poetry*, I visited my grandmothers in Florida and discovered a cache of my old letters to Nana. And there, pressed between school pictures and report cards, was the incontrovertible evidence; I had never STOPPED being a poet. I found page after page of poems that I had no memory of writing, but which were clearly written in my hand. And that, coupled with my discovery of Denise Levertov, ee cummings, and A.R. Ammons, sealed the deal: I was a poet, and no one could ever take that away from me or shame me out of claiming it.

So I am a poet. And sometimes it shows. As with my spirtual identity and my sexual identity, my identity as a poet is about my orientation to and relationship with the world. Since becoming a parent, I have written more haiku than any other kind of poem; my relationship with time has changed in these years, and I want to both mark its swift passage and relish those moments when it seems to fall away. I am a lover of words, and the the days when I am able to spend some time playing and working and wrestling with them in a spirit of creation are good days indeed. I write for myself, for my partner, for our son, for our friends, and sometimes for those I may never meet. And even when I am not writing, I'm still a poet.

So my goal, in this as in everything, is to continue to live into my gifts. To write more often than not. To be so completely "out" as a poet that no one – especially not me! – ever questions it.

Thanks for asking, Jillypoet! I am looking forward to reading other folks' contributions.

* The seven major themes of adolescent poetry, as I see them
(I work in a high school, so....):

"I love you, you love me"
"I love you, why don't you love me"
"Whoa, the world is amazing"
"My grandmother is/was a saint"
"No one could possibly understand how I feel"
"Current Events"

Not that it's impossible to write a good poem on any number of these themes,
just that in the swirl of hormonal surges it's sometimes hard to find your own voice.

(Thanks to the good women of Fertile Ground
for their creation of an inviting space.)

October 12, 2007

World of Work

I am a matchmaker and a storyteller. I am a counselor and a sounding board. I am a dreamcatcher and reality therapist. And I actually get paid for it all.

I work as a college counselor in the oldest independent school in New Jersey. It's a great job, especially so because so many people think it sounds like a terrible job. And you can read all about it over at my work blog, Relax. No really. I try not to write about my day job too much here... it's the kind of job that can pretty much suck up your life if you let it.

Back at the beginning of my working life, I had some pretty bad jobs. I blocked lenses at Winchester Optical. Really dull and fussy work, and no one my age within five miles. Except for some poor guy named Ted who REALLY wanted me to be his girlfriend. And we all know how that worked out. ;-)

Then I worked as a lifeguard at a hotel in the next town over. The summer I worked there, they were doing reconstruction work on an overpass that ran right near the pool. Between fending off the quasi passes of the creepy and pathetic sales dudes who were staying at the hotel, and vacuuming the construction silt out of the pool only to see it fill up again, it was a pretty long summer. Although I did have one fantastic day after I'd stayed up into the wee hours of the morning finishing Frank Herbert's Dune. I got to work with my head still full of a world in which liquid was a precious commodity... and dove into the pool. I've never felt so rich in my life.

Then, while in college, I worked the dishline. One day a tray of dirty dishes came down that had fruit stuffed in each one. As I struggled to keep up with the conveyor belt while simultaneously working to extricate the apples and oranges from the glasses, a glass broke. I spent the next few weeks with a sutured and bandaged wrist, frantically explaining to my new college friends that no, it was not a botched suicide attempt. Despite the accident, I preferred that job to the library job I thought I'd love... a supervisor who thought that the Dewey Decimal system was the received word of God pretty much ruined that one for me.

My best job – before the great one I have now – was probably my stint at a bookstore. I was a teenager, and had to convince the manager to bend his previously ironclad rule against hiring teenagers. I wore him down, I think! And then when he finally did hire me, he figured out pretty quickly that I knew more about poetry than anyone else in the store and let ME make the purchasing decsions. Sorry about that, Susan Polis Schultz.

I was so happy. And I poured about a third of my salary right back into the store. Good times.

Okay, gotta go work on a letter of reference now. Thanks for listening.

(Thanks to the women of Sunday Scribblings
for their continuing inspiration.)

October 11, 2007

Genius Hair II

A while back my blogfriend Wendy wrote a post about the genius hair that runs in her family. Last night young Mr. D and I went to our beloved Maria for haircuts, and I'm not sure about the genius part, but my boy for sure has at least some mad scientist action going on, doesn't he?

We're trying to give him the space to live his own life whenever we can, so I sat quietly reading during both the washing and cutting of Mr. D's hair, and was out of earshot while he and Miss Maria earnestly conferred.

Last time he tried a little flip at the front. Didn't last. Yesterday's brain storm was "sticky-up hair," as aided by the wonders of hair gel and Maria's magic touch. As of this morning, our bath-loving boy is back to showers, because he's figured out that sleeping on the sticky-up hair tends to mess with the overall effect.

So this morning he took a shower, then I took a shower, then we both got dressed and I tried emulate Maria's work. Turns out that she is the true creator of sticky-up hair, but I got it enough so that he was pleased. Tama says that she could tell from his body language as he headed into school that he was a little nervous, thinking that maybe he wasn't a "sticky-up hair" kind of guy after all.

But he left the school building today describing his day as "awesome," and shortly thereafter asked if he could take a shower again tomorrow morning. Three people, three showers. A glimpse of things to come.

October 10, 2007

Web Haiku

web across my face
as I walk to the street
and bring back the news

I have been working on this haiku for weeks. Every morning, as I am forgetting again that the spiders have a longer reach than would seem possible, I walk through a web face-first and remember that I want to record this little moment for myself.

I'm not sure this is the final version, but it's at least a version that I can share.

Working on it in little bursts throughout these first weeks of October has also reminded me of a turning point in my life as a parent. I remember how, in the first sleep-starved months, it seemed hard for me to hold onto a train of thought that was more than a few sentences long. Then one day, way suddenly re-opened and I could think again. Not all the time, and not necessarily deeply, but with some cherished continuity. My thought became like knitting, something I carried around with me and could take out at any moment to work through a few rows of a pleasing pattern. And so it has remained.

(Cross-posted at Autumn Haiku 2007)

October 05, 2007

Fun with Toys

After three years of paying for full-time care for Mr. D, we have been dealing with a certain amount of deferred maintenance. Our roof is new. Our new upstairs sink is almost installed. Powerwashing should be coming soon to our supposed-to-be white house. And now that the first crazy month of school is behind us, I'm carving out a little more play time. It helps to have a six-year-old in the house.

Here's D contemplating his Erector set options:

And here we are, hard at work on a fabulous helicopter:

Life is indeed good. And cameras with auto-shutter options? Totally rock.