Dec 19, 2013

What I Wanted

I wanted to write a piece about what it might be like living as an artist in a socialist nation.  I wanted to make five tins of fudge and fold all the laundry.  I wanted to sand that slice of oak from my grandparents' forest until it was smooth and soft and glassy. I wanted to send out letters telling people what happened all year and I wanted to make it to the gym and to give blood and have a new key made and get stamps at the post office. I wanted more day in this day.

Dec 17, 2013

How Poetry Works

You have some lines that roll around in your head against the rough edges of your thoughts until they're polished into a shiny little gem... or turd, depending.

The toaster lasted
Longer than the marriage
In my defense
It was a damn good toaster.

Dec 9, 2013

I Boo these Boots

I have some lovely knee high faux leather biker boots I usually wear in the winter.  They're pretty beat up and I retired them this fall.  I wanted to spend a little more and get the exact same boot but in leather this time so they'd last more than the seven years I had the last ones.  I could only find them ankle height.  My feet hurt and they've been cold.  Tonight I went out to shovel the walk and move the car into the driveway and I threw on the old boots.  That was when I realized how much the new ones suck.  Having warm feet for me is everything in the winter.  After today I said I'd like to wear two little snuggly fuzzy baby bears turned inside out and dipped in whale oil on my feet if that's what kept my toes from going numb with cold but tomorrow I think I'll set out to look for some nice rubberized fluffy synthetic somethings instead.  Hopefully I'll find something that doesn't break the bank.  I may shop in the men's department.

Dec 6, 2013

Self Made

Among the busy bustle of the everyday living of one adult and two kids my son decided to potty train himself.  He and his sister are different in so many ways.  She was content to hang out and quietly color, play with small toys and/or join in the adult conversation.  He wants to chase the dog and climb tall and dangerous things and in general keep me on alert every minute of the day.  But it's incredible he decided he wanted to be done with diapers and then ever more that's how it was.  No effort from me.  It's how he is, when he decides something he figures it out and just does it for himself.  He can load his own dvds into the computer - starting with turning it on, he can pour a bowl of cereal (milk supervised), he can get dressed all on his own and I imagine soon he'll have how to drive the car figured out.  I think he'll be one of those guys people say is a self made man, but hopefully the kind that looks back into the camera and says "Hi Mom!"

Dec 5, 2013


Sure, I could stop worrying how to make ends meet and I'd have way better health care, but I'd still live right here, I'd still drive my same car, I'd still eat my favorite breakfast ever - toast and coffee, I'd still fold my own socks when they come out of the dryer and I'd still be trying to get the kids to eat more vegetables.  I think I would travel just a little more to some prettier places and maybe I'd have a second car to zoom around town in, something small and red perhaps, and I could give a little more to the charities I like.  I'd still be looking for a reliable babysitter for my family to fall in love with.  For sure I'd have a bigger bathtub and a fluffier bed.  But mostly, you'd find me here, raising my babies, typing posts for this blog and getting the good pen out to draw and paint things for people I love, just like always.

Dec 4, 2013

Rainy Autumn Wednesday in the Midwest

We are in the house playing with rediscovered toys and books, realizing how funny we can be contorting our faces into monstrous imaginings after shouting "Hey! Watch this!"  We eat toast and milk and oranges.  We wish for snow.  We chase the dog around in the big circle of open space on the first floor and squeal at the clickitty clickitty noise her nails make on the wood, through the kitchen, the dinning room, the living room, the entryway, the hallway and back again to the kitchen, times ten. We stare closely at a house spider before giving her a one way ride in a drinking glass out the backdoor.  We fold some laundry and watch an episode of cartoons.  We make animal noises and talk about all the colors in the rainbow.  We count each other's toes.  We watch out the window for the school bus to go by heralding the arrival of another playmate.

Nov 12, 2013


Of five shoe stores in town I found one pair of boy's snow boots toddler size 10 for $39.99 and got a lead on another pair at another store for $69.99.  We looked at literally walls of girl's boots by the hundreds all sparkly and lighting up, full of characters and exotic furs in every color, lacing, zipping and velcro-ing this way and that in a veritable playground of fasteners.  For boys, the aesthetic choices dwindle to a meager; cars, super hero, or camouflage pull-on style and if you narrow that down even further to an actual size the choices were none and none.

When I got in the car and called the place with Footwear in the name of the store, the clerk offered the only pair of boy's toddler boots they had on the shelf, but they were a size too small and would I like to put a hold on them anyway?...  I declined to pounce on the idiotic opportunity to have her take something I could never use and hoard it behind the counter awaiting my desperate arrival.  I'm not sure if she expected me to buy boots too small for my boy and jam his foot in there anyway or if she was just on autopilot but I was clearly the only one bothered by the suggestion.

He's going to wear them for four months tops if he doesn't outgrow them first.  They need to entice him enough for him to want to wear them.  I just want him to have a fluffy pair of mukluks in a racy red for sledding in.

Oct 9, 2013

These Packed Days

I had another one of those nonstop days packed with doctor's appointments, grocery store errands, leaf raking, sick tree diagnosing, scheduled after school activities followed by open house, book fair and a 7:30pm cooking of three different dinners for my picky people, with a liberal dose of dog hair and some potty training and the day felt as arduous as this run on sentence.

It all moves so fast I hardly have time.  I keep taking photos, hoping at some point I will be able to sit down and see what happened.  I imagine, the day after Jack goes to college looking through seven hundred thousand photos and laughing at how busy and frazzled it all was.  And then I'll sleep for a week.

Aug 21, 2013

Damn You Fake Cheesemakers

I accidentally bought two pounds of fake cheese. I'm pretty pissed off about it.  It was in the cheese aisle and it said "SHREDDED imitation MONTEREY JACK"  Then I was at home preparing a home made pizza with insane mounts or vegetables on it and I grabbed handfuls of this stuff and thought "that doesn't feel right."  After spreading it, I tasted it and went back to the label to read that it's great for salads but doesn't melt.  I had to throw the whole uncooked pizza in the garbage.  I just couldn't see a way to scrape handfuls of shredded imitation cheese off an uncooked pizza.  I was so mad, I resolved to return the rest of the bag t the store and chew someone out for even selling the junk.  Can you imagine how crazy I'm going to sound?  But damnit someone must pay.  With the amount of ingredients in it, I can't understand how this stuff is easier to make than cheese and it still has whey in it so it's not even like it's good if you have a milk allergy.  Again I say Damn you fake cheese makers and seller - you suck!

Aug 1, 2013

Accidental Waxing AKA Things I Shouldn't Post But*...

So whenever my three year old get's water in his eyes, or a bit of a runny nose he get's all OCD and has to wipe it off immediately.  This makes his top lip my top worry when he has a cold.  I have to follow him around trying to sneak coco butter onto his face when he's not paying attention. Ever try to sneak something onto someone elses face?  Usually you have to wait until they pass out... only instead of drawing funny moustaches or putting shaving cream in his hand, I'm trying to just moisturize his chapped lip.

Anyway this OCD of face wiping also makes me nervous as hell while swimming.  Why?... What's the nearest piece of fabric for him to wipe his water splashed face with in the pool? The front of MY swim trunks. Let me tell you he's not dainty about it.  He grabs a big hand full of nylon swimming suit and yanks it towards his watery eye.  Packed into that hand full of swim suit is all the normal short curly things hidden behind an adult's swim trunks.  Yeaaah... so he's got this hand full and he yanks it towards his eye and I try real hard not to scream.  The first time it happened we were swimming at the lake and it was soo fast I yelled "WTF!" only not the letters, the whole schlemiel.  This only made people turn around and look to see if I was getting eaten by a shark, or losing part of my swim suit; which are the only two reasons anyone yells at the beach (and in fact, the later was happening to me.)

So, I learned very quickly not to draw attention to myself when the kid is trying his best to yank everything between my bare skin and the sunshine off in public.  Now, every time some little snot from the YMCA day camp yells "Cannonball!" and takes a flying leap, I have to either have to throw my body in the path of the splash destined for my toddler's eye, or dunk down low enough to ensure my tankini top gets clawed off instead of an impromptu crotch waxing in the shallow end.  Go ahead and add this to the list of things things you can't put in the baby book.

*A lot of times I don't post stories about the kids because I know, eventually, they'll be fifteen and not want their stories out floating around the interwebs, but when one of them repeatedly makes my eyes water with pain like that, it's no longer about them. It becomes my story to tell.  (Sorry kid.)

photo by nikoline

Jul 27, 2013


We planned a beach party and it was supposed to be today.  It's 66 degrees today and overcast with a chance of rain.  Last week it was in the low hundreds and the kid had to wear pants and cowboy boots for horse camp.  Apparently I had my weeks switched.

I had to dig back into the back of the closet for the boxes with sweatshirts last night before we went to the movie in the park.  We only made it half way through "Brave" before we packed up and went home because we were shivering.  I'd like to see the end of "Brave" one of these days.  It seemed like a super good movie.

My leg hurts when it gets cold.  Like a giant foot cramp hurt.  I hope it's not like that all winter.

Jul 4, 2013

July 4th 2013

I said to Jack "You gotta wave your arms and yell "Right HERE!"" and he did.  He waved his arms and yelled "I RIGHT HERE!" and they threw candy and he picked it up and said "I did it!" followed by a happy candy dance.

Then we saw Grandpa ride by on his motorcycle. 

And we picked cherries in Grandpa's back yard.

Later, I went to the butcher shop where I ran into the mayor and saw these two stray dogs hanging out waiting for people to drop a package of fine meat on the ground.

A very nice young lady grabbed them and called the dog catchers and then I wondered if I was stuck in a Tom & Jerry cartoon.  Maybe I am the lady who's feet are featured in all the episodes... Nope, can't be, I still have a splint on my leg.

Later tonight, we'll go downtown and sit on a blanket and watch fireworks. Ella will soak it all in, Jack will cover his ears and hide his face in my lap.  I'm sorta glad that explosions scare him.  He's too much of a daredevil to love fireworks without giving me a heart attack.

Jun 4, 2013


I open the front window just a few inches.  Bird song and cool morning air hit my bare legs while I sip coffee and unfold the paper. Two days of school left before the kid is running home from third grade. One week left before I do a jig up and down the halls of the orthopedist's office sans clunky cast, I hope. Then, we'll get start ticking things off the Fifty Fun Things To Do Summer 2013 List.  I'm putting roller coasters on the list.

May 25, 2013

Say it Sister!

THIS is brilliant.  I'd even send kickstarter money to put this together.

May 15, 2013

Five Things I feel Outstanding About

1. Being up at an early enough hour to get one kid off to school after the other kid was up barfing in the night.

2. Using up the entire train table by making three loops, including a bridge with the wooden train set.

3. Giving Jack a super cute, mostly even, tear-free haircut with kitchen scissors, while he sat on the coffee table and watched cartoons.

4. Keeping three house-plants alive.

5. Spring.

6. Getting the dishes into the dishwasher.

7. Eating oranges.

8. Not turning the AC on yesterday.

9. Toast.

10. Overshooting this list by double.

May 13, 2013

Humorless Feminist



"...all the people who deviate from those privileged "norms," and all the ways the rest of the world has indoctrinated you into that system of privilege, and socialized you to believe it's the natural and right and immutable state of the world, and all the shills for the kyriarchy who fill the ether with self-reinforcing rubbish on a constant loop so you swim in a sea so thick with the detritus of Othering that you don't even notice it on a conscious level anymore, and all the bullies who emerge to kick you back in line if you do, if you have the temerity to question the message, and all the other bits and bobs of the brainwashing to which we are all subjected since the day we're born as part of scheme, nearly incomprehensible in scope, to ensure that challengers to these traditions are never made, and, if they're born, are squashed with the weight of mountainous tidal waves of blowback in the other direction…? The purveyors of that shit are the goddamn thought police.

 And you know what one of the biggest lies they tell you is?

 That it's the other way around."

May 11, 2013

Day Three of Broken Leg

Sitting still is driving me crazy.  I do a bazillion things in a day and it's been reduced down to about four things.  In a way it is good because I wasn't even aware my kids knew how to pick their toys up off the floor and do the dishes.  Haha!  Guess what sort of things will continue even when I'm back on my feet!


I asked people for stickers for my big plastic cast and so far I have a bunch.  They make me super happy to look at.  Jack likes to count them and name them all. I think I'll see some in the mail from TX soon and that makes me excited to see the mail man and it reminds me of how much I miss my derby family in TX.


Early this morning the sun was peeking up into my bedroom window and poking me in the eyelid, I was half asleep and then my body did that big twitch thing right before you fall all the way back to sleep and - holy schmolies!  It hurt like crazy and I woke up all the way.  Boo to the big twitch.

I have crazy legs again from not skating and not moving a mile a minute.  I'm going to start cobbling together an ab/sitting down sort of work out thing today so that I can sleep at night without feeling like my legs have electric energy running through them.


I need someone to come mow my lawn but I chose to buy an old fashioned push mower from the 1930s.  This because a) my kid can't fall into it and get killed b) I wanted the work out c) it was very cheap and does the job just fine in about an hour d) it's very quiet e) it's great for the environment (no gasoline)  d) there's no motor to break down.  While, these are all fantastic reason to have such a thing, they are overshadowed by the fact that I need someone else to mow for a few weeks and it's sort of sucky to then say "But all I have is this very outdated old machine to do it with."  I may just hire a service for the month. ug.

That old push mower will be great when I'm doing leg rehab.


"If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If they pray for courage, does God give them courage, or does he give them opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for their family to be closer, you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings? Or does he give them opportunities to love each other?"
- From the movie Evan Almighty

I am looking at the opportunities presented and I think She wants me to learn to let go of the "perfect" picture I have in my head of how things should go.  I have to stop micromanaging and let people do things even if it's not the way I would do it. Not just now when I'm gimpy, but ever after.  It's an opportunity to learn to accept help without resenting needing it. This is not a situation I can power through with sheer will and strength, it's not something I can even think my way out of. It's an opportunity to learn patience and appreciation to the nth degree.


I am very lucky to have the people I have in my life.

May 10, 2013


I was at derby practice last Wednesday and got my skates knocked out from underneath me.  I felt my leg snap on the way down.  I laid on the floor for a second and then got all my gear off before refusing to let the coach call an ambulance and opting for my teammate to drive my car a mile to the packed ER.  I sat in the wheelchair in the hallway behind the magical doors that separate the milling around texting/Angry Birds playing world from the I'm seriously dying part, for about fifteen minutes.  I was moaning,  shaking and trying not to throw up just like having a baby, but they had no beds available. And I couldn't wait in the hall moaning like that, as I was freaking the hurt patients out. "Ma'am if you can't stop that, we'll have to ask you to leave" to which I replied "I really can't heeooooOOOOooooooowlp it!"  She shook her head and wheeled me back into the waiting room to next to toothache guy, sore throat kid and ugly pajamas lady.  She put a slip of paper with the number 5400 in the barf bucket I was holding in my lap and made sure to face me into the corner so nobody could knock into my leg on the way to get a bag of Fritos.  My teammate Mellon Collie ran interference when cops came in and brought a very pissed off and bloody handcuffed lady past.  Mel was ready to hip check anyone that got near my wheelchair. Our trusty track-man, Scott,  held vigil over my leg keeping it steady with his bare hands because the emergency personnel didn't have a board.  We waited while they called out the numbers leading up to 5400, bitterly triaging every person that went in front of me with a quick scan of how they were walking.  Two hours and six x-rays later they put a splint on the back of my leg, wrapped it with an ace bandage and sent me home with instructions to call a doctor.  

The next morning I called the number they referred, before I even got out of bed.  They said they'd call me back and let me know when I could come in.  Hours went by.  I called back in and they said "Ma'am, it takes 24 to 48 hours for the doctor to review your records and then we will call you to let you know what we have available." I had just gotten the 'don't call us, we'll call you' from someone who wouldn't even use my name.  I thought about the wait the night before.  Then I refused.  I looked up orthos in my city and called the next doctor, who's secretary Pam, said she would talk to the doc and get my x-rays sent over and call me back.  Five minutes later Pam was on the phone again telling me I should come in to see Dr. McCarty right now. I did.  But first I took a little joy in calling the first ortho back to tell them I'd gotten in somewhere else immediately.  They apologized.  They explained their triage department usually gets back to people sooner. They said if it was a break, they didn't know what could be taking so long.  They said they'd make a note about it in the file.  I cringe to think what the note says about me.  Dr. McCarty put an air cast on my leg.  It gets big and small to allow for swelling and looks like a big piece of machinery.  It has plastic armour on the outside and holes for pumping it up and velcro to hold it on and since it's not the signing type of cast, I'd like to get some stickers for decorating it.

Apr 25, 2013


Today was pajama day and school.  The Kid was so excited about the prospect of jumping out of bed and going straight to school in the stuff she slept in that she got up at 6am and asked every twenty minutes if it was time to go yet.  The Baby on the other hand was sawing logs up until I carried him out to the car because he was up partying and jumping on the bed until 1am.  So, today I exist on this low mellow plane where nothing can happen very fast because I'm still half asleep and the whole day is surreal. 


I had to edit it down to 200 words or less.  It was excruciating but worth it. Last Sunday my letter to the editor was published in the Rockford Register Star.

"Last week we ventured to Midway Village in Rockford, IL for the WWI re-enactment. Face to face with history, we learned about blacksmithing, typesetting, and the American Red Star Animal Relief. That afternoon, I gathered my children close, among the crowd, for a battle re-enactment. My daughter squeezed into me admitting she was scared. I hugged her telling her war is scary, you have to be brave. The crowd hushed as rounds of blanks exchanged, men fell clutching themselves, quietly closing their eyes. When the shooting stopped, a chorus of women's voices rose. Wearing sashes, they emerged yelling, "What do we want!" "The right to vote!" "When do we want it?!" "Now!" I whispered to my daughter to raise her fist in solidarity with the Suffragettes. We stood proud as the women of our past marched and men standing among us laughed and yelled "No!" On Saturday afternoon, amidst jeers from the crowd, my nine-year-old daughter not only learned of the struggles of history, but the struggles ahead. One in which the men we stand next to think it's hilarious to yell "No!" to women's rights. Thanks guys, for teaching her early why she needs to be brave."


After getting to captain my team to a win last weekend against the Decatur Derby Dames (141 to 101) I bought myself tall black athletic socks from Sock Dreams and this derby patch from Donna "The Hot Flash".  Today it's official I can sew it onto my warm up jacket.  Happy Birthday Me!


Vivian Maier

Apr 1, 2013

Mmmm, Digestive Flavored

No, I haven't tried one yet.  I'll let you know how it goes.   

Mar 30, 2013

Those Are Called Jobs, Your Supposed to Pay People To Do Them.

In December of 2012 Unemployment in Rockford was double the unemployment rate of Arlington Heights, IL. That's on average, how we are, with comparable cities across the nation.  Often there is public lauding of a business who is adding as few as ten jobs to the market.  People have to move away to find work.  Crime is on the rise.  Forbes pronounced the city Miserable and our idiotic Convention and Visitors Bureau, in forgetting they were talking to visitors, agreed in a colossally failed inside joke that went over the heads of everyone who's wasn't from here.   The help wanted ads in the local paper simply no longer exist.  They've been replaced with people selling puppies and having garage sales to scratch out extra money. So when I do see a job in the paper, I read about what it is, I feel a little excited that someone is hiring. Just this week I saw this one:

Wait.  Go back and read it again... I did.  I had to read it four times.  Then I checked their website  To get one of these positions one must comply with a list of requirements; 

"...must work cooperatively and courteously with diverse groups of people; be able to access multiple references in a timely manner in response to customer requests for information; demonstrate oral and interpersonal communication skills, and have the ability to respond calmly in emergency situations. A basic knowledge of the internet or the ability to learn basic computer skills is necessary. The ability to travel to/from the airport in all types of weather conditions is required..."

The website goes on about dress code and age qualifications, minimum education requirements and finally gives you a link to an application... to apply for one of these volunteer positions... where the pay is a shirt and a nifty airport jacket.

Holy shit-balls RFD! Are you sure you can get off the ground with balls that big?!  That sounds a whole lot like jobs you are trying to fill without paying anyone to do them. Is this what we're doing now?  Asking for Volunteers?!  If so, Hey, I'd like to offer up the wonderful Ambassador Lawn de Bombadee Position for the summer.  Applicants must be extremely proficient in lawn maintenance, know how to repair small gas engines in case my mower sucks, must adore weeding as well as  laundry and taking out the garbage.  A basic knowledge of tree houses and tomato plants is a plus.  Volunteers will receive a brand new sharpie-personalized fruit of the loom t-shirt and one PB&J.  

Or here are some other places you can volunteer your time this summer: 

I would even bet these organizations don't have $122,568,336.00 in international airport assets for 2012. 

Mar 26, 2013

Adjustable Purse Strap Hack

The strap of my favorite buttery leather black purse wasn't leather, it was pleather and it fell apart. I was going to take it to a saddle shop and have a new one put on and then I got an easier idea. I bought a .99cent belt at Goodwill and attached it. Now it's adjustable. Favorite purse is now even favoritier - Yay!

Mar 18, 2013

Bag Lady

My version of this commercial

Diaper bag 

First kid:
Tupperwear of goldfish
Fruit snacks
Change of clothes
5-6 diapers
Changing pad
Diaper rash cream
Q-tips for sterile application of rash cream
Sippy cup
Extra hair ties
Five crayons, one of each color
Small hand made coloring book
Hair brush
Baby jacket
Band aids

Second kid:
One diaper
One inch plastic t-rex

Mar 10, 2013

Keeping it Classy

There's always the lady with two or three carts and her army of children aimlessly standing around in my way.  There's that one guy who's knees are bad and he's riding in the store provided hoveround with all his body spilling over in all the places, and in his cart I see seven cases of diet soda and thirty pizzas.  I see fifty teenagers I'd like to kick for dressing stupid and at least three old ladies who are taking their time comparing prices in front of the thing I want to get out of the cooler.  I say all this to make myself feel better than them,  while I am standing at Walmart, trying to figure out what sort of wine goes with corn dogs and freedom fries, while my crying two year old tries to escape the cart and my nine year old is whacking him on the head with a french bread in an attempt to beat him back into his seat.

Mar 6, 2013


Lead by example. - Fortune cookie fortune found in my Grandma's jewelery box

As you think, so shall it be. - Proverb 23:7

One million starts with one. - My daughter Ella

It's not supposed to be anything.  - From Pleasantville written by Gary Ross

Opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor. - H. Jackson Brown

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. - Antione De Saint Exupery


Mar 4, 2013


Jack was ill when he was young and as a result has some hearing impairment on the left.  Nobody knows how much, it's just that the little hairs in there don't move like they should.  This could mean he hears nothing or something or everything and we just need to wait until he can talk more to find out.  The doctor said, because he can hear completely with his right ear, his language should be just fine, but the fact is Jack doesn't talk very much.  He's the second child, and a boy, and busy with riding motorcycles and drawing things, and when he does speak he's just not very good at it yet and Ella or I translate for him when we can or sometimes just take over and speak for him.  We ask him "What? Do you want?  A chip? Cheese? Toast? Milk? Grapes?" He just nods or says "Yay!" when we get to the thing.  This is exactly how not to handle things, I'm sure.

It's hard for me, because I compare him to Ella and her extensive vocabulary at age two.  I know I shouldn't.  It's apples and tigers.  Ella couldn't do a jumping jack until first grade and Jack can pedal a bike and roller skate, but life is far less frustrating for everyone when a common language is spoken.  I've heard him make all the required sounds for speaking English.  He has all the consonants and vowels in his arsenal, it just seems like he doesn't really care about it that much. Some days I'm all lax about it, figuring he'll learn at his own pace and he won't end up in first grade not being able to say 'please' and 'thank you' and other days I hear children at the grocery who seem like big kids to me and they are having a hard time speaking and I get all anxiety filled about Jack's words.  I did talk to a language specialist who wasn't worried, but that was three months ago already.  And what if, that was then and this is now?!

And now as I write this, I see how it is my primary occupation as a mother, to worry non-stop all the time to love these children and trust them to become who they are meant to be.

Mar 2, 2013

A Dishwasher Bitches!

I've never been soo excited about a dishwasher.  I have one again.  I like to hear it running. I like to task the eldest kid with emptying it.  She likes to do it.  I like having a dishwasher.  I didn't know how much until I didn't have one.  We left that crummy old cottage and moved about ten blocks south into one of the oldest neighborhoods in Rockford.  It looks like a Normal Rockwell street.  The house we live in is a four square, craftsman style, hundred year old house with cold hardwood floors and a big front porch... and a dishwasher.


I'm participating in Spring Art Scene in downtown Rockford. Come see it, April 5th & 6th.  The second printing of Toughskin Rhinoceros Wrangler Company is on the conveyor belt.  I have enough room to get paints out again.


I want to plan some sort of cookout in April around the time I turn forty.  The last time I planned a cookout for my birthday it snowed.  I feel like a celebration is in order for getting this far in life.  There should be cake and dancing.

Feb 26, 2013

My Last Whopper

When I was in third grade my mom was pregnant with my littlest brother.  Being the oldest and already jilted from hogging all the attention by my middle brother, I enjoyed the audience of my peers at school.  I think it was the first time I worried about being cool or belonging to a clique.  Plus there was a new girl in class who was uber cool with her carmel blond hair and tan skin, she was bilingual and super tall, and everyone wanted to hang out with her.  Suzie didn't like me.  I don't know why, maybe because I was bossy and bull headed and a bit of a rough and tumble kid, maybe I talked too much or maybe I was just annoying, or maybe she just didn't.  I actually got into a fight with her once during recess.  I cried.  Mostly because she wouldn't stand close enough for me to do some karate punches on her face, instead she stood far away from me and kicked with her long legs.  Pretty much she was the coolest person in class.

I loved show and tell that school year.  It was a chance to stand in front of the class and star in your own show about whatever you wanted to tell about.  I signed up every week.  But pretty soon after a few months I was out of stuff to show or tell about, the show got stale as I was standing in front of twenty-five of my beloved peers trying to make my yellow number two pencil sound interesting.  Finally the teacher stepped in and very diplomatically announced to everyone "If you don't have something extraordinary to share, please don't sign up for Show and Tell."  I signed up anyway.  It came to my turn and I had nothing.  My mind raced.  I walked to the front of class and blurted out, "My Mom is having a baby."... I meant in general.  She was about eight and a half months pregnant and she was going to have a baby but how it was interpreted was she was having a baby that day, that morning, right then.  The kids in my class went nuts. The teacher hugged me.  I went with it.  It was exciting.  Everyone was all smiles thinking about little babies.  I felt like a million bucks.

The following day people wanted to know if I had a little brother or a little sister. I had a fifty-fifty shot at guessing right so I wished my baby sister right into existence.  Then I wished my baby into the Hall of Cool by telling everyone we had named her Suzie.  Then I changed the subject. We went on Christmas break and my brother Joe was born just before the new year.  In January I forgot about baby Suzie until Anita confronted me at lunch, "My little sister is in your younger brother's class, and he told her your mom had baby boy and his name is Joseph." I denied my brother Joe.  I denied my brother Andy's story.  I may have even made out like my middle brother Andy was kookoo.  I pretty much betrayed my whole family right then and there to keep face.  

The rest of the school year was followed by me spinning stories about pink frilly baby things and begging my parents to not come to school events.  This all culminated in a parent teacher conference my mother had to bring the baby to.  I was in knots thinking about being busted.  I may have even cried while begging for us to please leave that baby at home.  I imagined my teacher taking one look at that cherry-cheeked baby, dressed in corduroy blue overalls, and marching me in front of the class the next day to spill my guts. I was dying inside.

It never happened.  Mom went to the conference, with my baby brother Joe.  I sat in the hallway trying to stretch my ears into the room to see what was said and to my astonishment, they just talked about school stuff.  I waited for Mom to bring it up in the car on the way home, she didn't.  I waited for my teacher to pull me aside the next day for questioning, she didn't.  In later years whenever somebody mentioned Suzie again, I remember throwing out random little lies to keep up that first whopper and somewhere in maybe sixth grade I started saying I had another brother named Joe and soon people didn't care anymore.  I was relieved to go off to junior high in a different district and reinvent myself; a cool kid with long bangs, lots of eye-liner and a family who was none of your business.

Feb 20, 2013

Stopped On Wheels

She's skating straight at me and at the very last moment before she hammers full force into my sternum she turns her hips and her wheels make a great breaking screech and she's standing there blinking smiling like she's waiting for a bus.  This is the hockey-stop I've been working on for two years.  It's taking so long because I had excuses.  My excuses were; I had an ACL surgery, a divorce, a move three states away, and a new derby league.  Now I am out of excuse.  I do them at the end of practice and when we're doing foot worky things but it's slow going.  I hesitate. I question.  I over-analize.  I forget to work on them.  I feel like I kinda have it, sometimes I make that great scritching noise with my wheels but I don't yet have the nerve to try it going full blast with someone standing in the way yet.  I will though.  Then I will hockey stop all over town, screeching up and sliding in sideways like the Dukes of Hazard announcing "I could have plowed into you with everything I have, but choose not to."


Feb 19, 2013


When asked what character from a work of fiction I would like to be, I immediately opened my Good Reads account to review what I've read over the last few years.  Apparently I love sad epic dramas, because all the ladies in these books live hard and rough lives and some of them die at the end.  Then it occurred to me I could pick a man, and I went back again thinking about what the men in these books are and again I say nope, too dramatic, too self absorbed, too TOO.  It's all too much life to live on top of the life I'm actually living, so I thought about the books I've read my babies.  Olivia is a pig so that's out.  The Seven Silly Eaters have SEVEN children... nuff said.  Going on a Bear Hunt sounds tiring.  The Little Prince is lonely.  Suess - too trippy.  Though I love Alice in Wonderland, it's just too creepy. The Princess Bride is agonizingly frustrating.  A Series of Unfortunate Events is too unfortunate.  Charlie and Chocolate Factory was a possibility and the I remembered a classic adventure story with a swashbuckling girl, pirates, mermaids, fairies, flying, and a very happy ending.  That's for me. I'll be Wendy Darling in Peter Pan and Wendy.

Feb 18, 2013

Do People Count as Items?

Name 5 items you’d demand to have everywhere you went if you were famous enough to do so.

1. Super fast wifi, because I love me some internets and even now, everywhere I go, I'm all "Does the internet work here.... in the waiting room of the doctor's office/parking lot of the grocery/school gym during rec night?"

 2. Kid safe kick butt play area for my kiddos because of course I would bring my children with me and of course they'll need a cool place to play.

 3. A Mary Poppins type person to hang with the kids while I go do whatever it is I'm famously doing so that my mind can be totally focused on famous-ing.

 4. Organic fresh snacks and beverages for everyone in the entourage, including a decent coffee.

 5.  A masseuse, because.

Feb 17, 2013

Vertical Lawn

I saw a man nearly chop himself in half while driving down Riverside Blvd.  With four lanes of traffic whizzing by, I think I was the only one in the world to notice the whole ordeal.  The homes on Riverside face the inner street exposing back yards to all of us who are trying to drive forty-five through town getting some place way more important than any place you are going.  I was hurrying from the store straight to the bus stop to meet the kid after her first day of school.  I saw him trying to push that lawn mower up the steep embankment.  His crippled left limb hung off to one side and his leg limp just seemed extra cruel in the afternoon heat, but that lawn mower piling it's weight down on him, at that angle, was absolutely scary.  I slowed the car, full knowing I couldn't get out fast enough, and wondering what sort of reaction a young man would have to an old lady pulling her car over, in the middle of four lanes of traffic, to ask if he needed help mowing.  I watched his scrunched up face turn red with effort just before his only good arm gave out and the large cutting machine rolled backwards, grass clippings flying every direction.  I held my breath and watched him jump out of the way while the machine hit the bottom of the ditch and sputtered out into a pile of sharp smoke.  He shook his head and leaned over to catch his breath and I drove on to the bus stop and thanked the Universe.    

Feb 16, 2013

The Dark Side

We're moving again.  I found black mold in the basement and I suspect it's on the outside of the wall, the side the painters can't paint over, the side that is in next room over from the furnace, the side that makes us sneeze and cough as it's particles filter up through the whole house pushed up through the heat ducts, the side that reminded the landlord he can't just buy $30,000 homes that are falling apart and rent them out to people  for insane amounts of money because he thinks they don't know any better, the side that got me out of my lease much earlier than expected, the side that allowed me to rent a three bedroom, hundred year old foursquare-crasftman house in a historic district, the side that has me cleaning house and packing again.

This moldy side of drywall is something I think about late at night lying in bed, it something I stress about, it's something I blame.  I'm actually a little obsessive about cleanliness though still a bustly and cluttery person.  I like to save things with ideas for art projects, I like to look back on a bobble and remember that time.  But I can't stand filth.  If something is sticky, dirty, stinky or moldy I get the heebie-jeebies.  I can't actually rest my mind until I have cleaned it.  Having a two year old in the house, you can  imagine, sometimes I step in something sticky.  It short circuts my brain.  I can't handle my feet being even too dusty, much less sticky and knowing it could get stuck again because there's juice on the tile makes me literally loose it.  I can't even function until the sticky is washed, dried and order is restored.  I know this is irrational but really to properly heed the five second rule, keeping a clean floor is imperative.

I watch the show "Hoarders," it's one of my favorites.  If I were ever on that show, I'd be the lady with a million scraps of memories in containers stacked to the ceiling.  Though what actually happens is every few months I get fed up and need to rearrange the house.  A great sorting always comes with it and after the many moves I've done over the last three years (six in total) I have learned to let go of things.  I actually hear the doctors' voices from the show "You will always have the memory, the item isn't the person." I also ask myself  "Can I replace it for less than a dollar?" This keep me from filling my desk with old menus, bits of ribbon, greeting cards and every scribble my baby ever splotted on the back of an envelope.

This weekend, as I sort through clutter I could love, the mold in the basement whispers "Get out."  I intend to listen.  I'm packing boxes, tossing broken toys, sorting clothes that don't fit, and re-reading greeting cards before they go in the trash.  I plan to move the small stuff during this week and big things on Saturday with a moving truck.  It's supposed to snow that day, but the mold doesn't care. It creeps and whispers, blackening any sense of comfort I have with spores set forth on the wind currents of this old house. It haunts the place and soon it will own it because I'm moving on, cleansed of all the broken, useless and hurtfull things. I am moving in to a sturdy old healthy house with enough room to think.

Feb 15, 2013

Disappearing Ink

When people hear I play derby they assume I have tattoos.  In fact my skatey ladies have even turned and asked me "where's yours?" The truth is I'd love to get one, I just have never been able to decide on something I think I'd like to wear on my person forever.  I have a hard time keeping the same art on a wall for more than a year.  Lot's of times I've wished aloud for some ink that would fade fast and completely.  I'd have tons.  I'd have my derby number tattooed on my arms in big bold Helvetica "OO" so that I'd never have to scrub the marker smears off again.  I'd have some black star earrings put on my lobes and maybe some wings on my feet.  I'd have stars up the backs of my legs and maybe some cat eye eyeliner put on, I'd have my babies names across my chest in their scribbly handwriting and maybe Opus the penguin from Bloom County on my butt.  I also want one of the Sergio Aragones tiny-in-the-corner-cartoons that you find in the margins of MAD magazine hidden in my armpit.  

Feb 14, 2013


Once you fall in love with roller derby it's hard to not want to put the uniform on every day.  Most skatey ladies I know would if they had the time.  I've been skating now for seven years and every where I've visited we all wear the same thing; skates, elbow pads, knee pads, wrist guards, mouth guard, helmet, the need for speed and the indelible habit of getting back up when knocked down.  That last part of the uniform most of us wear for the rest of our lives, right along with whatever ink we had poked into our skin and scars we earned from getting broken and the friendships we forged from the shared frustrations of it all.


Roller Girl 

You're all elbow 
 And hip 
 And heart 

 A blur and a 
 And a booty 
 Block into 
 Love's suicide 

 By - T.L. Vaultonburg

Feb 12, 2013


My son loves a train.  When he was about one I decided to give him one of Ella's old dollies for the sake of nurturing his pink toy-isle side and he promptly drove it down his toy train track.  Among his first twenty much anticipated words were "woo! woo!" and every time we cross the river near our house he's yelling "Train tracks!" as we we pass the yellow octagon sign with the big X.  I'm not sure how kids seem to be born loving a thing.  For Ella it was fashion and for Jack it is wheels and especially trains.  So this summer when the IL Railway Museum was doing their annual Thomas the Train Engine Party, I figure it was my duty to take this baby to see it.  The same way when I was little my Dad felt it was his duty to take out to Cottonwood airport and get us a ride in what I remember as a VW bug with wings.

We woke early and as we pulled into the museum this is what we saw.

Oh yeah, this was the right place for us.  As we walked in we saw a bazillion little boys in striped Osh-Gosh overalls and old fashioned conductor hats chased by doting parents pushing expensive strollers of gargantuan proportions.  It didn't matter, we were all so excited, I couldn't even get annoyed with all the privileged suburbanites.  I'd never really taken a proper train before, sure I'd ridden the El in Chicago and the trolley in New Orleans and some zoomy things at lots of airports, but wowzers this was the real deal.

Each train had that same machine shop metal and grease smell from my childhood, and the you could see where the patina of a million hands had rubbed off the enamel of the hand rails.  It was easy to get lost in time imagining commuters in the same seats with far more etiquette than I'll ever see on public trans.  

We spent the whole day riding grand old trains around in circles and smiling. We did do some of the the other activities; mini-putt, scavenger hunt, tattoo tent and half a magic show.  We must've stopped to eat at some point but really, it was so fun I don't even remember the snacks.    

We were almost the last kids to hobble back out to the parking lot at the end of the day and we'll certainly go back again next year. 

It has me thinking though, about summer vacations.  It would be nice to get to a place without having to drive, to enjoy the country side going by and the rocking of the tracks.  I've looked at the "family car" on Amtrack and it's a regular little cabin, much like I imagine they are on a cruise, though I don't really know.  The biggest ship I've ever been on was a ferry where the passengers only get their own car to sit in.  I think me and the kiddos could like hanging out in a little family car, politely playing cards and eating string cheese at night, wandering out to the riding car in the day and playing I-spy.  Funny how imagining us on a train naturally includes imagining us all being polite. 

Feb 11, 2013


I can't tell you if the most pivotal years in my life were the ones jammed packed with graduations and marriages and babies, or politics, roller derby, and moving homes.  Perhaps the most important year of my life was the year I spent sleeping in trying my hardest to avoid cleaning and making a renewed effort to chase butterflies.  Perhaps that was the year I staved off a nervous breakdown and lingered at the green light long enough to miss the deadly car wreck ahead.  It probably contained a day I lolled about in bed so long I imagined the most amazing masterpiece painting, the one that would hurtle me past fame and into history books, and allow me to never worry about money again.  But then I rolled over with a morning sun beam and forgot what it was instead choosing to scratch my butt and see what it would be like to snooze with one foot out from under the covers.  I'll have to consult angels to know if blowing on dandelions or finishing this post is better.

Feb 9, 2013

Overcast and Grey

The whole city a large, grey, well-used machine that never stops grinding and turning.  Cogs and wheels fueled with blue collar sweat and a nuclear plant whose base the city's dark navy river flows quietly past.  Yesterday's shop-grease hangs in the air, washing the vibrancy from the face of each home with it's thick blanket of white cloud, horizon to horizon.  When I think of Rockford, it is always overcast in my mind, the same way my little brother is forever fifteen and seafood is always decadent.
Photo by Lance Wells
NWI-NRHS Photographer of the Year 2012 

Feb 8, 2013

A Theme Song

My marriage fell apart on a Friday.  My dad begged me on the phone from three states away, not to drive anywhere for the weekend but I promised the children we'd go to the Bayou City Art Festival.  I didn't want to sit home a mushy mess letting the children have the run of the house.  I insisted we proceed as planned.  I packed a diaper bag; five diapers, wipes, three waters, a few gold fish snack bags, a couple of match box cars, sunglasses and sun screen and we left. It was 90° at ten in the morning when we parked the car at an outlying mall in the suburbs and got on the shuttle to the down-town festival.  I wrestled an umbrella stroller, a diaper bag and two children onto the bus filled with families and did my best stiff upper lip for the kids.

We walked among the arts and crafts and paintings and sculpts and pottery, the sun beat down on us, the stroller kept getting stuck in the cracks of the walkway, the baby kept trying to crawl out of it, the kids were simultaneously bored and wanting to touch everything. They were unhappy and I didn't have enough arms.  We were all thristy and hot and everyone was in our way and we didn't know which line was for tickets or how many we needed for ice creams and water and chips. Happy couples with no children in tow filled the walkway sipping wine and avoiding our stickiness, but not so much as to make an extra inch of room for us on a bench or a side-walk and certainly not in the shade. I reapplied sunscreen and forced myself to eat two bites of the sixteen ticket gourmet macaroni and cheese I bought for the kids, that they hated.

Then the children were doing crafts under a bustling tent with a hundred other children. I started to think of all the days ahead of me with not enough arms to hold the diaper bag and stroller and shaving cream on a paper plate, and waters and a toddler.  It was hot and I was hyperventilating and the children were glitter gluing things with some lady and I was was on the phone with a friend who was reminding me how to breath and then I realized I was in the middle of a crowd in the middle of the fourth largest city in the nation with my entire family standing inches from me and my best friend on the phone and I felt alone.  I wished I had listened to my dad and not driven anywhere.

I packed all the crabbiness and glitter up into the diaper bag and a random plastic bag I liberated from on of the craft booths and started towing the children back across the span of the festival back to the shuttle bus.  We had to pee.  There were only the squat, green, plastic boxes of portable outhouse to be found.  I slogged on to the least used box and parked the stroller along with everything I had, next to the outhouse.  I put the baby on my hip and went in to the small space with the kid while bellowing "Don't touch ANYTHING!" and "I know it stinks, but it's this or pee your pants!" and "Don't open the door now, my pants are down!" and "I know you're hot, I am too!" We made it out relieved and surely covered in a bazillion germs of hauty art patrons' piss. While I was trying to wash it all off with the trickle of portable sink water pumped by my foot, the baby stood up in the stroller and everything tipped over.  The bags emptied onto the pavement, the baby went face first into the back of the stroller the water bottle rolled down into a gully and people gasped and looked towards the horrible crash.

I grabbed everything in my arms, stroller, crying baby, child's hand, diaper bag, plastic bag, sparkly crafts, sunglasses, all of it.  I held it all together weaving through the crowd faster yet, towards the shuttle buses.  I was looking for a first aid tent.  The world was spinning, I was going to go down and be laying on the ground while my one year old ran crying into the sunset and my eight year old cried her legs hurt and the art lovers would drink their wine and discuss the merits of Mark Ryden's pop retro influence on the festival. I couldn't find any first aid tent.  I walked on.  We finally rounded the last mound of sculptures and tents and I saw the line for the bus snaking back and forth between long ropes.  The sign in my head said "Your wait is now 50 mins."  I just stood there, not knowing where I was going to get the energy wondering if we could even survive the wait.

From nowhere a man walked up to me and asked "are you going to the mall?" I nodded.  He held his hand out to me and said "Here take this over to the line on the left."  I took the small ticket and read it "fast pass."  I looked back up to thank nobody, he had already walked away.  We walked up to the line on the left where the bus driver swiftly folded up my stroller, stowed it and offered me an arm to steady myself as we quickly boarded the bus.  We plopped down; a glittery, sad, sweaty mess in the second seats just under the air conditioning vent.  I pulled the last bottle of water out of my bag and Alabama Shakes came on the radio.


Feb 7, 2013

It's a Tie!

My kid doesn't like to compete.  She hates the idea of pressure to win and the possibility of someone feeling bad because they lost.  She kicks butt at chess club, she's been asked to be a math-leet, and there are karate tournaments galore, she has signed up for none of them.  I understand not being able to enjoy something because someone you care about is having a crummy time.  And the kid is pals with everyone, but I hope she finds a way to be joyous about winning.   I want this for her for all sorts of reasons; selfish ones (inwardly I'd like to say "Yay! I knew my kid was the best kid in the history of ever!")  also winning is fun, plus trophies, and prize monies!  But really I cringe to think she'd hold herself back for fear of hurting someone's feelings.  I want her to be comfortable being the best kid in the history of ever (a title, of course, she will have to share with her brother.)

Feb 6, 2013

No, I like LIKE you.

Standing in the front hallway of my parents house I threatened Chris Gravano "I am totally going to kiss you."  We were waiting for his mom to come pick him up.  We'd be going together for a whole week, which started with a carefully brokered agreement through our mutual agent Tim Raymer, who ultimately employed the time tested checking of a yes or no box as a legally binding contract.  This was followed by sitting together in the lunch room discussing our mutual love of AC/DC and hate of Mrs. Beard's Social Studies class, four ridiculously quiet phone calls, lots of blushing and one awkward afternoon sitting on the couch in my parents living room.  It was the perfect.  Finally his mom pulled up in front of my house.  I leaned in and kissed Chris so hard he fell off his crutches and into the hall tree.  I happily helped him back up and out to his mom's car.  Our mutual "like-LIKE" wouldn't last the length of his broken leg.

Feb 5, 2013


"Gratitude" came out in 1992 and was on heavy rotation in my truck. I took my boyfriend and my little brother to Lollapalooza 94 to see the Beastie Boys and when P-Funk rolled out on stage I couldn't dance hard enough to honor the joy in the music, but I tried.  I spent the whole decade trying to dance enough to honor myself and the music, and the people who didn't make it to the 90s.  The whole decade before I spent attending funerals. There were suicides and car accidents, illnesses and a murder.  When I finally reached my senior year, I'd been to six funerals.  These were people who were close to me. People who's middle names I knew, people who's front doors I no longer knocked on but just walked through while yelling out "It's me!" That was the 80s; frantic feelings, funerals and loss.

The 90s I spent living loud and knowing death is a moment away for any of us.  I went to Mardi Gras, I bought an old victorian church and lived in it, I got married and spent the bulk of the wedding budget on open bar inviting everyone we knew.  I worked back stage at the theatre.  I gave my husband a mowhawk.  I filled the house with friends and cooked dinners for twenty.  I quit jobs.  I went to concerts. I tried to do something good every day.  The 90s actually bled right into the next decade not really ending until 2004.  That was when Ella was born.

Having a child showed me a new quiet and patient gratitude.  The kind that isn't dramatic, that doesn't feel like Robin Williams standing on a desk yelling "Carpe diem."  The kind of thankfulness felt when a fussy baby finally falls asleep.  Or the kind of appreciation you have when you trip on your platform clogs while holding the baby, go down hard and but manage to hold her up in the air, unscathed, while you take the brunt of the side-walk to the knee-cap.  The kind of gratitude you have all at once for your parents and all that they do for you and how you feel like you will never be able to thank them enough for taking the bruise on the kneecap.  There just aren't strong enough words.  I think maybe the only way to thank parents is to live well; the same way I want my children to go out into the world and live happy, rich, full lives.

Though it never hurts to say thank you anyway, so;
Thank you Mom for cleaning up the kitchen that time me and my brother "made breakfast" by dumping the entire contents of the refrigerator on the floor of the kitchen.  Thank you Dad for teaching me how to handle driving on ice by letting me do doughnuts in a parking lot on a snowy night. Thank you Ron for being cool about me coming in for the evening at the same time you are getting up for work in the morning.  Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for always being a place to "escape to."  Thank you my children for showing me quiet gratitude.

Feb 4, 2013


We sit behind the glass watching our hearts out on the smooth wooden floor moving in a choreographed blur. Holding our breaths with every feat, attempting to will perfection with our gaze, knowing we have no control over the lump-dove lump-dove of the shifting movements. We smile and nod through tight teeth at each missed beat, nearly the same way we smile and nod through tight eyes with every perfected measure.  Soon the wooden floor is empty and there is a whirlwind of children all around us, everyone talking at once, getting their shoes and coats, and asking about dinner. Our instructor smiles and waves us on, until next week.

Feb 3, 2013

My Ideal Place to Write

My favorite place to write is on a graffiti-ed bathroom wall.   In every purse I carry a black permanent marker, mostly for writing my number on my arm before a derby bout but secretly it's to draw Kilroy Was Here, or for a Good Time Call..., or to correct other defacers' spelling and punctuation errors, or just to tag an unsuspecting wall.  I've never shoplifted, I don't cheat at games, I'm that person who tells the bank teller she gave me too much change back, I've been accused of being a goody-two-skates on more than one occasion, I'm a middle aged mother of two with a bum-knee who likes historical fiction and the Home and Garden channel, and I am a vandal.  I've carved on public picnic tables, I've written on bathroom walls in at least six states in the last three years and once I even took a can of spray paint to a bridge.  I don't have a message, I don't have any reason, I just like to do it. Shhh!

Feb 2, 2013

Three Names

I'm named after the floaty hippy song "Jennifer Juniper" by Donovan.  My Mom thought it sounded unique and fresh. It turned out to be neither that year.   The Melissas and Jennifers and Michelles of the world understand what it's like to have a single letter behind your name for twelve years of academia.  When I entered college I tried out "Jenna" instead of "Jenny" for a semester and it was a horrible catastrophe.  I wasn't used to it and so people would chase me down the hall yelling "Jenna!" at the back of my head while I meandered on to my next class.  I had to give it up.  I'm Jenny, that's the name they gave me.

The last decade I've been "Mom" a name also neither unique or fresh.  This time it doesn't bother me at all to be called the same as women all around the world, in every family, all the way forward and back through time.  It's a name I'll love forever even when it's howled from the sticky back seat of my car, during heavy traffic.  Call it out into a crowd and I along with all the other women who's children are near mine in age, will turn around and look.  I am Mom, that's the name I earned.

My first baby had an imaginary friend she used to call on the phone and blame things on.  Bombadee broke it, colored on it, cut that doll's hair and ate all the marshmallows.  Bombadee did whatever she wanted.  It's her garden we played in and her feral laughter we chased all those young summer days with my first baby.  It's her name I took when asked to pick a something for the back of my roller derby uniform. It's sometimes shortened to "Bomb" by my skatey sisters and thus never yelled in a crowded public place.  Now if you google Bombadee it is my own garden and feral laughter you'll hear.  I am Bombadee, that's the name I took.

Feb 1, 2013


When you're getting a divorce after being married a very long time, all your memories, even the really good ones feel like walking through a cactus patch.  Though some have flowers and look beautiful, you don't examine them up close and breath in the sweet smell like you would with lilacs.  Some of them may even be nourishing, but most days it's safer to keep a distance lest you end up sitting on the floor trying to extract nettles from your skin and move on with the day.  It causes me to very carefully walk my path in life, never veering too deep into the thicket, never watching certain movies, or reading certain books, tossing out a whole decade of music and avoiding whole regions of my brain, only peering in slightly when the children ask.  It's a delicate and absurd dance living in a cactus patch.  It's why I returned to the lush grass lands of Illinois where the oaks have deep roots and the rich black dirt will nourish just about any seed you can plant.  I think eventually I'll have enough new growth to roll among the violets and keep my cacti in bell jars next to the pressed funeral flowers and childhood rock collection.

Jan 31, 2013

I Bought Ink

I never have printer ink.  When I need it, I call around and nobody else has it either and since whatever I need it for needs to be printed today it's useless to place an order.  I go to the copy shop all the time and have one sheet of paper printed out; a permission slip, a handbook, a coupon, a homework assignment.  I am the grasshopper of home office computing, never prepared for the long winter of needing ink, scrounging around at my friend the ant's house, with a  flash drive in my pocket, trying to mooch printer access "Would you mind if I just printed a page or two real quick?"  I've been known to hand draw a permission slip at eight fifteen in the morning on the day it is due back, my embarrassed nine year old asking "Are you sure this is ok?"

Jan 22, 2013


The Aquarium was free on Sunday and the Art Museum on Monday.  Ella had the day off for Martin Luther King Day. I just had to find a hotel in between them both, one with a pool.  The Essex is right on Michigan Ave, and we could stay there for $80.00 so I booked it.  I find mid-January is the perfect time to take a mini-vacation to cheer everyone up.  I also find that standing in line for the aquarium on free day in mid-January with two Texans is very difficult.  They end up both trying to crawl into your coat with you and while that is very warm for everyone, it's also very unstable once they get past being cold and start tickling each other and blowing raspberries at each other while in your coat.  I had to kick them out periodically to remind them how cold it was.

The hotel pool was FREEZING.  Other kids were in there, everyone splashing and swimming and dunking like little porpoises all happy and squealing.  It's possible that it's just not the temperature we spoiled swimmers are used to, but our lips really did turn blue, so I don't think I'm just being wimpy.  When I finally talked my little blue lipped babies from the pool and back to the room, we ordered a delicious deep dish Chicago style pizza. I was glad to remember binoculars because the view was pretty awesome and while I got us all ready for the art museum on the second day Ella spent a good amount of time reporting on the gargoyles around town.

The aquarium was a hit save for the wait to get in and the art museum a bust save for the miniature hall.  Those children looked in every little room in a box in astonishment.  Ella inspired to go home and build her own doll house and Jack proudly naming everything in the little room.  But the rest of the time they were bored and nobody wanted to walk.  Next time, we'll go when it's warm.  Warm enough to walk to both attractions, warm enough to swim in the pool, and warm enough to stand on the lake front and stare out at the blue for a good long time while the kids run around the sculptures.