Terror & Songs

“I fear Squirrels the most,” my brother Bryan said one random evening over dinner. We all cracked up laughing. Not because his fear isn’t legitimate since squirrels are pretty terrifying. They just sort of freeze-up when you see them and then shift side-to-side as they contemplate their escape and you engage with them in this awkward dance as neither of you knows which direction to shift your weight into and you fear that the beast will choose to leap onto you face! But that exact sentence has been repeated in our family countless times because of its beautiful construction and the way it brought us all together in agreement that squirrels might be the creature to fear the most.

Prior to the articulation of our familial collective phobia of squirrels (known as “Sciurophobia”), there was and remains another creature of equal trepidation: The Music Snob. Now this person is not insufferable, entirely. In fact, the music snob is a much important species in the ecosystem of humanity.  Except, the music snob is super intimidating. You know you are in the presence of a music snob based on four telltale signs:

  1. The snob wears an over-ear-set of headphones of probably some sleek vintage looking variety.
  2. The snob hates pop music <period>.
  3. The snob complains about what is found on radio stations.
  4. The snob ask you about some band they just saw live that is so obscure sounding, you can merely nod your head for fear of embarrassment

Mostly, this person intimidates me because my musical preferences are so pedestrian. Tops 40s are my jam and I rarely download a single song but enjoy whatever the radio personality puts on. Live shows don’t compel me to purchase tickets and I don’t think I even own a set of earbuds. There does exist a desire to be more musically inclined but no follow-up is ever consistently achieved. When people share their favorite songs during ice-breaker activities, my face heats up in a panic. “What was a song on the radio that I heard this morning?” as my mind floods with anxiety before my turn to share out.

But there are three songs that no matter what else is going on in the world, when the introduction chords or baseline drops, I pause. These three songs compel me to listen to them in their entirety because I sort of love them and they make me think about the three most important relationships in my life. They aren’t maybe the coolest and they likely would not impress a music snob, but they are literally music to my ears and in the past 24 hours I have heard each of them on the radio and gotten a little smile from coincidence. So take that hypothetical  music snob judging me! haha

 

For David:

When the rain is pouring down
And my heart is hurting
You will always be around
This I know for certain
You and me together
Through the days and nights
I don’t worry ’cause
Everything’s going to be alright
People keep talking they can say what they like
But all I know is everything’s going to be alright
No one, no one, no one
Can get in the way of what I’m feeling
No one, no one, no one
Can get in the way of what I feel for you, you, you
Can get in the way of what I feel
-Alicia Keyes
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For Henry:
I told you to be patient
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced
I told you to be kind
Now all your love is wasted?
Then who the hell was I?
Now I’m breaking at the britches
And at the end of all your lines
Who will love you?
Who will fight?
Who will fall far behind?
Come on skinny love
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
-Skinny Love
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For Owen:
For all the things my hands have held
The best by far is you
If I could fly
Then I would know
What life looks like from up above and down below
I’d keep you safe
I’d keep you dry
Don’t be afraid Cecilia
I’m the satellite
And you’re the sky
And you’re the sky
-Cecelia and the Satellite
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the best and the worst

There are a lot of emotions associated with Mondays. Dread, anxiety, and excitement rest on the continuum of Mondays’ feelings. Wednesdays get the delightful position of “hump day” when talking about the weekend becomes socially acceptable. Thursday and Friday blur as one slides into the two days everyone is working for according to the Loverboy song of 1981. But Tuesday, poor forgotten Tuesday, has the awkward status of coming after that rough and tough Monday and before the turning point day of Wednesday.

For me though, Tuesday just might be the best day of the work week.

Since school started, this once forgotten day has ascended into quite the object of affection. While the alarm still goes off at 5AM, instead of rolling over into the usual, I have to bolt out of bed, grab my “go bag,” and race to the car. There is a spin class that has started my morning for the past 6 weeks and while on Monday night I question the sanity of my next day’s decision to attend this class, when the morning breaks I am always excited to head into spin. It makes me feel like I am “conquering the unachievable” for a suburban working mom, at least. There is a pocket of time between my kids waking up and work where I can sneak off to exercise and not feel guilty that I am neglecting something. For 45 minutes at an insanely early hour on a Tuesday morning, I dig into some party music along with at least 30 other people. I sweat, burn calories, get a smile for doing “something good for my body,” grab a Starbucks, enjoy a hot shower at the gym, and soak up a morning routine that isn’t as crazy as it first seemed when that 5AM sounded. At school my Tuesday morning schedule is awesome! The first TWO HOURS are prep time. After my morning of spinning and sipping coffee, I power through grading and lesson planning with my head down and fingers flying across the keyboard. I shut the classroom door and try as hard as I can to make it through my entire to-do list or to get as close as I can to that ultimate goal. The rest of the school day continues on and having “done” so much before 10AM, I am left feeling like a real-life Gal Gadot-Wonder-woman.

After school on a Tuesday, we never cook. Monday nights are for a big pot of something so that Tuesday we can come home and just be with the kids. Cell phones get turned off or put in drawers and for the next few hours, we are just. Just together, just doing legos, just eating some leftovers, just laughing, and just doing the family things. Before bedtime, it is pottery time. Tuesday nights are my favorite because I get to spend three whole uninterrupted hours in the ceramics studio. These productive nights have my hands busy pulling pots, glazing, trimming, and chatting with the awesome ladies in my class. I look forward to hearing their stories from the past week and seeing them make alongside me. And then at 10PM, I head home.

Then Wednesday……

is the worst. Seriously so hard to get up on this morning after a day like Tuesday! Wednesdays are the busy school day, the hardest morning waking, and the longest day. UGH.

When is Christmas?

At least 3 times a day, Henry and Owen ask if today is Christmas. We have tried giving them the numerical time frame between today and December 25 but the number is too big and abstract. We have tried to share that first comes the celebration of Halloween and then Thanksgiving and then Christmas so you have two holidays before TODAY is Christmas. But both of those other holidays are not as exciting as Christmas so they are easily skipped over. We tried using the temperature and trees as way to tell time with your senses: the trees need to be naked and there will be snow on the ground at Christmas time. But again that excitement factor for Christmas to just be here trumps all logic, reason, or cues.

So instead of tempering their excitement for the winter holiday, I am just going to fully embrace it. They are only this little for a short blink so if they want to gear up now for Christmas let it be!

We have started a list of all their “to-dos” for embracing the winter wonderland: make snow forts, build a snowman, eat snow, hold icicles, go for a sleigh ride, see Christmas lights, visit Santa, see a reindeer, eat cookies, bake cookies, eat cookies (they really want to eat their holiday joy!), wear hats and gloves, make a snow angel, make a snow ball, wear cozy footie pajamas, stay up late with mommy and daddy, open presents, and start a list of presents for Santa.

Their list though they refuse to write down. Instead, they get an idea for something that they would love to open on Christmas morning like: Batman Lego mini-figures or any number of little toys they saw in the Lakeshore Learning magazine that came to our house and they immediately run to the chimney. They grab ahold of the fireplace hearth gate and say, “Hello Santa, could I have a Batman Lego mini-figure for Christmas, please? ::they pause::  “Thank you.” And off they scamper back to the playroom and share that they think Santa will say yes. It is the cutest little thing and it is getting me really really excited for the season they are longing for so much.

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Thursday moment

My pottery shop went “live” yesterday. It is going to have incredibly humble beginnings, but I’m excited that it is now a public dream and it truly does feel like the start of something …,,,

One time I saw a psychic

I thought about that one time a lot this weekend. About 10 years ago, on a super rainy afternoon (I think maybe even a tropical depression was sweeping across Boston), David and I and a friend went to see a psychic downtown. It was a creepy event: gray skies, torrential rains, and the storefront sitting directly across the street from a colonial period burial ground. What brought us there? Our friend had shared about her previous experience in which the psychic saw deep into her past in explicit and concrete ways and even made not-so-soon-into-the-future predictions that rang true with her head space for the decisions that needed to be made. As a total skeptic, I thought it would be more fun than anything else to get my tarot card read and check out that one-time experience of psychic predictions.

The space was exactly as you might imagine it. Dark lighting, some old thread worn carpeting, and lots of decor of stars, moons, and other celestial bodies filling the room along with various pillows of what was supposed to be lush and plush ornamentation but read more like a Pier 1 clearance aisle ransacked. We sat on chairs, that reminded me of seats from the local Columbus Hall,  in the waiting space behind a silk screen partition for our turns. The psychic was a heavy set man, probably in his mid thirties. I was beckoned over to his folding table covered in a tapestry tablecloth where he asked me to cut the deck of tarot cards to begin.

That is when things got weird. I remember at the time begin taken aback by many of the claims and insights he shared. The ones that have stuck with me throughout the years were:

  • Are you lactating? You are giving off a “milk making” vibe.

WTF!! This is crazy. Who has a milk making vibe? Did I smell like milk? I was not. Nor was I planning to have a baby any time soon since David and I only started dating.

  • You have a thyroid problem.

I do? Whoa….my recent blood work had not revealed this issue.

  • You live in Southborough.

I lived 10 minutes by T from this dude’s psychic location, not 20+ miles from downtown Boston

  • You will have four children but two of them will be girls’ and they won’t be your children.

Huh? I don’t want four children, that is just too many. Also, what does “won’t be yours” mean? Like will I steal them? 

I left the session dismissing all the crazy. While it was fun, it was also an apparent waste of my time. But his prediction sat with me because they felt so bizarre in how direct and confident he was in delivering them. Every time they crept back into my mind, I would remind myself that of course he needed to share confidently whatever crazy story he was spinning because otherwise he would not have a “job.”

So ten years later, perhaps if I bend around the tale a little you can make the argument that all of his predictions ACTUALLY came true.

  • I nursed both boys and it was a relatively easy experience though exhausting. It felt really awesome to accomplish that despite early troubles getting started and working full-time.
  • When I was pregnant with Henry and Owen, I did have thyroid problems and now who knows potentially I might see my thyroid crop up again on to the “naughty” list of organs not doing their job.
  • While I don’t live in Southborough, I do live way outside of Boston. Perhaps he got the town’s name wrong but knew that my true point of settling would not be within the confines of the metropole.
  • I have two sons. This should come as NO surprise to anyone. BUT I do have 2 goddaughters. When Avery was born, my brother and sister-in-law asked me to take on this super special role and then just this past weekend, I was asked a second time to be the godmother to my bestie’s baby, Juliet. So I have 4 children but the two girls are technically “not my children.”

Who would have thought that a kooky visit to a psychic might turn out to have been 100% valid over the course of a ten year landscape….or perhaps I am just remembering it that way, haha.

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By request

Last night was this crazy sweet moment. The four of us were sitting at the dinner table sharing some grilled chicken and veggies and a side dish of silliness. Henry shared about his memories of preschool which sometimes blends multiple days’ experiences into one and Owen shared about his time with Mema visiting the new puppy and bringing Henry to school. It was a sweet scene peppered from time to time with a little hysteria over whether or not someone will taste every item on their plate. We try not to make the dinner table a battlefield but we do encourage everyone to taste everything…this trend tends to turn the highly objectionable item into a substance approvingly (and sometimes delightfully) consumed because, wow, that thing actually doesn’t taste like poison after all!

And last night while running through these family norms, Henry asked if he could come down and watch me “do pottery.” Then Owen mimicked the request and I thought for a moment how awesome it would be to bring together these two worlds. So often, I wait and wait and wait until the kids are asleep, the house is picked up, my students’ worked is graded, lessons are planned, emails are sent before finally giving myself the time to find my pottery wheel. Late and alone, I do one item and feel both elated and guilty that I am not in bed and guilty that I don’t figure out a way to navigate this hobby better into a daily practice. How do I do all the things? But, last night after dinner was eaten and picked up, the boys came downstairs with me and to watch “the pottery.” They helped me cut the clay and they asked questions about why I was doing what I was doing. They shared little amazements about the simplest things, like when I used a sponge to bring water onto the spinning wheel and ball of clay and it shot out like splatter plaint art. When I pulled the walls, they were both so excited and shouted, “Look at that!” And then Henry got nervous and asked, “How tall can it go!? Will it be bigger than our house.” And all I could do was smile because sharing this with them and seeing their wonderment was so freaking awesome. We are moving into this new phase of life where David and I can share in real ways our passions and hobbies with the little ones and they want to grow and expand on these little introductions and get their hands dirty and share together more as a family experiences because the basic survival mode of life with tiny babies is fading.