She's a Real Mother

Mutha's got eyes in the back of her head.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

So What's Up with the Green Chick?

Say hello to Green Tara everyone. She is a Buddhist deity, sometimes referred to as the "Mother of all Buddhas" -- so you can see how she might hold some interest for me.
But that is not the only reason I admire her. She can be the symbol for perfect compassion, but can also be eight-armed and wrathful. She is said to depict generosity, but also quick thinking.

Sounds like a Mutha to me.

P.S. I found this image quite a while ago and loved it. Now, as I post it, I realize that I have no artist's name. Sorry Green Tara artist...and thanks.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Tinkerbell Suppressed

My mother made it no secret that she hated Halloween.

Was it a rejection of the dark traditions too close to the pagan rituals from which her Roman Catholic religion tried to distance itself? Or was it that six kids could manage to get an impressive amount of cavities? She was never too clear on the reasons, just that the holiday was a chore, plain and simple.

She hated buying bags of candy (which, in general we did not have in our house).

She hated Mischief Night (there were plenty of trees to hang toilet paper from in our yard).

But most of all it seemed, she hated the tradition of costumes.

My brothers would often opt to be the now politically incorrect "bums." This meant looking dirty, sometimes blacking-out teeth, and wearing torn clothes featuring pants held up by twine. In other words, imitating the homeless. All this and a pillowcase brought home a haul of candy.

But then there was me, the only girl. I admired my brothers for sure, but never wanted to be a bum or anything scary for that matter. This often left costumes of the girlie variety including princess and fairies. One year, to my mother's dismay, I spied a Tinkerbell costume in Woolworths. It had a short-sleeved top with a glitter collar, wings, and a mask of Tinkerbell's impish face.

Mom protested the purchase. She claimed that masks were a bad idea because they were hot and you couldn't see very well while wearing them. Somehow this combination put us in danger of being hit by a car. The connection was never crystal clear, but the drama always made an impression on me. In general, I did not argue.

And yet, there was something about that Tinkerbell costume that made me insane for it. So somehow, I begged her into a corner about it and she gave in. Delirious with success, I played at being Tinkerbell for the weeks leading up to the big night of Trick or Treating.

When the big night came, I excitedly got myself ready. Short-sleeved glitter blouse (check!), delicate authentic-looking fairy wings (check!), and plastic face mask (check!), when suddenly my mother came in my room and said,

"Oh no! It's freezing outside. You have to wear a coat."


Tinkerbell wears no coat! Everybody knows that! The elastics that held the wings on didn't fit over the bulky coat sleeves! You couldn't see the glitter blouse at all! I screamed! I cried! My mother exclaimed that boys were easier to raise than girls! She complained, just like ever year, that she hated Halloween.

Forty-five minutes later, my brothers were grumbling that not only did they have to suffer the indignity of their little sister Trick or Treating with them, but they were still waiting because of my fit.

My mother gave me one withering look and said, "Well, I guess you can stay home with me and answer the door."

Quick as a wink, I grabbed my goody bag, put the mask on, and ran out the door.

Artistic expression loses out to booty once again. And after all, Halloween comes but once a year. I wore the wings the other 364 days.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Three New Things I Can't Believe

The rock band Kiss is marketing a perfume and cologne line.
I ask only -- who the hell wants to smell like anyone in that band? And what would that smell be? Grease paint? Sweaty leather? It gives me the shivers.

The US Army is actively recruiting parents now.
Ads I have seen in several publications telling parents that if their child wants to sign-up, they should hear their child out and learn the "facts" about serving. Apparently hard sell TV and print ads, websites, billboards, and countless big budget movies geared towards adolescents are not enough propaganda for the machine. Now Uncle Sam is going on to try and roll Mom and Dad directly. My boys are far from serving age and this already leaves a very bad taste in my pinko mouth.

The Detroit Tigers are in the World Series.
When I went to actively cheering for the Tigers during the train-wreck that was the Red Sox August, I thought they might have a chance. But here they are: baseball steamrollers. Bam! And now they are even rested. Mets or Cardinals? I don't envy anyone coming up against them.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Mother Tongue

The other day, I heard my son tell another kid to "stop being an utch-amagutch."

I would have thought it strange, only I have heard myself say it a hundred times. And if I'm not mistaken, I'm the one that made it up.

But it does not stop with my own creativity. I say weird things because my parents said weird things, my grandmother too.

When someone announced they had to leave, my dad used to say, "Stick around, we're gonna open a can of molasses."

If someone makes a joke at my mom's expense, she will probably retort, "T'aint funny McGee."

When I was growing up, no one else had households in which phrases like "Now you're cookin with gas!" or "You're the cat's pajamas!" were common place. I knew this because people generally stared blankly at me when I used them.

I find these sayings as strange as can be, but at the same time they make up the language I grew up with -- and what's more, they have always made me laugh.

And apparently, I'm not the only one. I worked with a woman who was very fluent in English, but for whom French was a first language. The elements of English she found the most interesting were slang and sayings like the ones I used liberally. She loved to use them, but rarely got them right. My favorite interpretation was for "between a rock and a hard place," which she crafted to be "between the stone and that cold, dark space."

It reminded me of my grandmother who could let 'em fly in two languages. I loved when she used to say, "If you believe in witches, your asshole will dry up," and then claim that it rhymed in Polish."

And I betcha it does.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Who Put the Pal in Principal?

Both of my children have been sent to the principal's office in the last week. Two very different kids, two different reasons for being sent there, two different schools and two different principals. One child burst into tears the second I saw him that afternoon (the anxious and sensitive one) and one child tried to snake past telling me at all and then claimed to have no feelings on the subject (the alpha-male, charming one).

One principal told my child to simply "quit it" and to avoid the kid with whom he had mixed it up into a fist fight (guess which one). I get behind such a no nonsense approach. The other principal took one look at my other child while he cried in fear that he was going to get into trouble and told him, "Act like a fourth grader and stop crying."

Honey, I am long past fourth grade and even I've got to cry sometimes.

Did I mention this second principal looks like Ava Braun? Oh yeah.

Did I mention I took the next morning off from work to sit outside her office until she met with me so that I could tell her what I thought of the "no cry" policy? Yes in deed.

Does anybody else remember the spelling rule that the Principal of your school is your Pal?

I think someone forgot to tell her.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

No Red Sox in the Playoffs -- So Why Is She Smiling?

Because the Yankees aren't in it either!

Yes, that's right. That is how crazy baseball makes me. I love New York City, there are people I love who are Yankee fans, I even think Joe Torre is a good guy -- and yet, few things in this world make icewater run through my veins like the Boys in Pinstripes.

On an every day basis I'd like to think I am a kind person. I study Buddism.I do community work. I've never been arrested. And yet, it is as if a well of unexpressed anger at all things dominant fills endlessly when it comes to this team. One whiff of the "Yankee Mystique" can honestly make my throat close.

Am I proud of this? Not particularly, but I have never been at a point of questioning it until this year. My 6-year-old jumped ship from being a Red Sox fan to being a bold faced (gulp) Yankee fan because his very favorite player, Johnny Damon, signed on Steinbrenner's dotted line. Damon is so hated for this act that certain Boston radio sports commentators refer to him as "He Who Must Not Be Named" or with the undercover tag of "Juan Damone." Red Sox fans have been seen chucking wadded up money at the man when he takes his position in cener field at Fenway Park. But my boy still loves him, haircut and all.

This has created moments of family tension, including the time in August when my husband called Damon a jerk in a moment of frustration (as in getting our clock cleaned for the third game in a row) and our boy burst into tears. Ah, the agony and the ecstasy that is baseball.

So, have we toned it down? Yes. We do not call players names anymore, at least when my children are awake. And when we feel satisfied, we let our smiles do the talking. But my 6-year-old doesn't read this blog -- so it is here that I am free to express my deepest feeling on the subject.

And it is this: nothing makes me happier than knowing that Juan, Jeter, A-Rod and the boys are stroking their Yankee Mystiques in the comfort of their own homes today.

Go Tigers!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What the Hell Is a NaNoWriMo?

Are you ready for NaNoWriMo? I am here to tell you that I am not only ready, I am PSYCHED!
Okay, okay -- enough. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and translates to a bunch of people trying to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1 & November 30, 2006.
I was when I heard about it last year and so I checked it out. What I found was a real good time. So, I am here this year to preach the gospel of NoNoWriMo. Nonbeliever?
First, you have to close your eyes and say:
  • NaNoWriMo!

  • Okay now open your eyes and click on that link.

    There you shall find a a website that encourages this madness and does so in a very fun, inspiring way. The creators of this venture ask you to embrace the notion that writing in such a Kamikaze fashion will mean you write, write, write and therefore create a lot of crap, but perhaps also take some risks, make leaps any sane person writing at a normal speed might think twice about, and -- in short -- grow. Maybe even play. Perhaps (GASP) loosen up a bit.

    Can you just type something you have already written? NO!

    You can organize reference material, notes, etc, but the idea is write the whole thing in 30 days.

    Now, as if to torture you, they include diversions on this site as well. There are very good Q& A sessions and forums that are both interesting and very fun. There is a forum devoted to advice, to encouragement, plot doctoring, and -- my favorite -- Character and Plot Realism. There you can find experts on things as diverse as symptoms of mental illness and boat making, child birth and European history, fetishes and sports. But anyone can read questions and post answers.

    Last year I got feedback to such plot and character questions as:
    How much would a teen-ager charge to shovel a neighbor's driveway?
    Masons! What are the steps in replacing a brick patio?
    Medical expert: How could a guy get stabbed in the chest and live?

    Although the process is to begin 11/1, the site has been geared up since October 1st. A quick scroll through the already humming Character and Plot Realism forum today revealed these question topics:

    "Effects of the moon"

    "How many people usually on a cheerleading squad"


    "Best ways to cut up an alien body"

    So here is a hearty shove in the dumpa (Polish for butt). Come on and join me! On December 1st you'll be able to tell loved ones and friends, "I wrote a novel last month!" And, hell, wouldn't that be a kick?