Birthday season has begun. Today my 14 yo becomes a 15yo. There is raucous, pizza-fueled laughter echoing up from the basement family room. Fifteen year old boys make noise, I know there are only four of them down there but it sounds like at least a dozen. Six weeks from today is my birthday and my older son's birthday falls in between. Some years I have put up the birthday banners and flags and left them up for the entire seven weeks. The birthday season has been abbreviated by one week since my former husband moved out, his birthday was one week ago. So it's six weeks til the Big 5-Oh Birthday Fairy shows up to wallop me with her wand. I am planning a completely lazy day for my fiftieth. I have already requested the day off work so I can sleep as late as I want, brew some excellent coffee, and maybe eat chocolate for breakfast. I selfishly want the day all to myself to do as I please and contemplate the state of my life at this midpoint. I plan to celebrate, of course, but one month early. My actual birthday falls between Independence Day and the weekend of the local arts festival, inconveniently drawing away potential party guests. My fortieth birthday party was one month late for other reasons. We had completed an addition to our home but the yard was a muddy mess and there were no steps across the two foot wide, six foot deep chasm between the patio doors and the backyard deck. Since we were serving alcohol, we thought it best to complete the steps project lest a hearty partier should fall to the landscape rocks below. And sue us or something. Since projects almost always take longer than anticipated, my birthday party was delayed for a month. I figure there's no harm in making that up now. Today's title comes from my brilliant younger son, who at the tender age of three came up with that reference for a birthday celebration. He observed that his favorite portion of the party, the consumption of cake and ice cream, came immediately after the strange custom of singing the birthday song and blowing out the candles. Hence, sing and blow. There are numerous family members and friends who have come to refer to birthdays as so-and-so's sing and blow. To outsiders it sounds a little odd. Those who don't ask what we mean undoubtedly envision a much weirder activity. I'm looking forward rather gleefully to my fiftieth sing and blow. Last year at my forty-ninth, Anna's daughter Katie insisted that there be that precise number of candles on my German Chocolate cake. I deftly blew every single one of them out without singeing a single eyebrow hair. The ensuing cloud of smoke that engulfed their dining room nearly set off the smoke alarm. Guess I'll have to blow harder this year. Come to think of it, my wish from last year hasn't come true yet. I do still have six weeks. And it's a blue moon month. Nearly a year ago I saw a bumper sticker that read, the Goddess is alive and Magick is afoot. I'm certain she's contemplating my birthday wish, she's just taking her own sweet time granting it. When you're the Goddess, you can do that.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Creative outlets. Hmmm. Would that include setting up my dollies and stuffed animals on the basement steps to serve as a makeshift audience for me to sing Patsy Cline songs to? And no, that was not last week, it was before the age of five. I didn't do so well with a live audience at that age. I practiced my part for the church Christmas program diligently until I knew it by heart. But when it was time for me to say my little piece I spotted my mom among the other proud parents in the pews and ran for the safety and comfort of her lap without reciting my lines. I have no actual memory of this but I was reminded of it for years around the holidays so I have a sort of implanted memory that includes a vivid vision of the adorable dress I was wearing, right down to the snow-white leotards (now called tights) and black patent leather shoes on my feet. Later on I lost my stage fright and performed in high school, college, and community theatre plays, sang in various size groups, and went on to form my own musical comedy troupe (emphasis on the comedy, and now defunct) called the Wild Women in the Kitchen. There is video evidence of our performances which I'm certain I'll regret at some point when said video falls into the wrong hands. I've also done all kinds of creative things with fabric from costuming to sewing a wedding dress and many, many bridesmaid and prom dresses. I've made decorative pillows of all sizes and varieties and unique window treatments. I've sewn innumerable pairs of little boy pajamas that are currently packed away because I couldn't bear to part with them. I think the best sewing project I ever accomplished was creating matching Hawaiian print shirts for my sons and their father one summer long ago, the boys were aged 2 and 6 if I remember correctly. It made them easy to spot among all the other kids at family and other gatherings. I even have a costuming credit on a verrrry limited release DVD of a play that was produced only one time. I'm sure the limited run had nothing to do with the quality of the cow costumes I created. I can't say that I'm acquainted with anyone else who has a closet full of costumes, primarily created for Halloween over the years. We don't need to talk about any of the custom fine leather pieces...Oh, and I write a little. I've completed one novel, The Virgins Club, which is still under consideration by The Aaron Priest Literary Agency. I've made puny starts on other novels but haven't gone back to any of them recently. I write poetry almost constantly and submitted a collection of them for publication two years ago and must say that I got a very nice round of rejection letters for my efforts. I journal and I blog. I love to take pictures and swear I will never abandon film for digital! Another creative outlet for me is in the kitchen. I love to cook. I love to eat. I love cooking with wine and sometimes actually put some in the food. I heard once that cooking is the only art form that involves all five senses. Having never experienced the urge to lick a painting or a sculpture, I would have to say that I agree. Two sure things in life that I've been able to indulge in and enjoy. Motherhood, challenging and satisfying. Creative outlets the same. Now if I'd only hear from Paul Cirone at Aaron Priest. That would be deeply satisfying.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
There aren't a great number of things in life that I've been rock solid sure about. In fact, there are only two things that I have known for sure since childhood. At least about things that I want in life. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a mother. And I don't remember not knowing that in order to be happy that I need to have a creative outlet or five. As I got older I realized the first one was complicated in a number of ways. That obviously this was something I didn't want to do on my own. Not that it's impossible, but having grown up primarily in a single parent household I wanted the father of my children to be an involved, hands-on sort of dad who would truly participate in the rearing of his offspring. So then I had to engage in the primitive societal interview process known as dating to find this mythical man. Which I mostly did not enjoy. Eventually I listened to the ticking of my biological clock and married a pretty decent guy with whom I conceived two sons. For the most part I have truly enjoyed the mom experience. The whole miracle of pregnancy and birth was a process I reveled in and absolutely loved. There are few relationships in life that contain the intensity and fierce, unconditional sort of love that grows between a parent and child. It's a hundred different relationships as those involved grow and mature through all the stages of life. We metamorphose along, the infant becomes a toddler, a child, a tween, a teenager, and eventually matures into an adult while the parents frantically try to keep up with all the changes. It's all one big experiment where I frequently felt confident, capable, competent, inept, idiotic and irritable all in the space of an hour or two. You'd never think your proudest moment in life would be when you outsmart your five year old. But it doesn't happen often so you really should write it on the calendar and give yourself a gold star. My sons are currently teenagers, about to be 15 and 19 years old. I sometimes look on these enormous, goofy, wonderful boys and wonder where they came from. It seems the older they get and continue to grow into what they shall be I find it more and more difficult to believe that I had anything to do with their arrival on this earth. I have to go back to their baby books and look at the pictures of all of us as our much younger selves to remember. And it's a sure thing those memories will make me smile.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
I have just returned from a very enjoyable dinner with my younger son. We were celebrating a belated Mother's Day since I abandoned my children over this last weekend when the holiday actually took place. And yet they still gave me a very lovely and funny card. And they signed it from the cats as well. At least I think the boys signed it for them. As near as I have been able to observe Newton and Einstein have not developed opposable thumbs which would enable them to grip a writing instrument. And I'm pretty certain they haven't a clue as to how to spell their names. At least not in English. They may very well be able to spell their names in cat. Einstein has developed a fondness for unrolling the toilet paper in my bathroom. He seems to take delight in batting at the wall-mounted dispenser until the paper is in a heap on the floor. A heap with suspicious cat-claw-sized holes in it. He doesn't do anything else with the toilet paper, like trail it throughout the house or shred it to, well, shreds, he seems content to unroll it and leave it. Newton's new thing is to tip over the wastebasket next to the phone stand in the kitchen. He doesn't strew the contents all over, he just tips it over. These could be expressions of a similar sort of cat madness which may be familial in nature. A primordial feline urge to rearrange their environment to suit their needs. Maybe it's just a paper fetish. Which leaves me wondering if there is a deeper meaning to the fact that I mailed a little note to the CPPR yesterday and neglected to add the now requisite extra two cent stamp. Which means he received it with postage due. I think I just forgot that postage for a first class letter went up this week. It does seem more than a little insensitive to expect him to pay two cents for the privilege of reading my words to him. But I think it's worth at least that much. There is an opportunity here for a clever bit of wordplay involving opinions expressed and getting your two cents in quite literally but I don't have the energy to go there. If you have the energy, be my guest and take a stab at it. What I have the energy for is reading the paper and dozing off in a sitting position. Perhaps in the company of a toilet paper obsessed cat.
Monday, May 7, 2007
My American Heritage Dictionary lists no less than seventeen forms of the word desire. It's a verb, it's a noun, it's an adjective. It can be applied to or used to describe food, property, ambition, love, passion, possession. A longing or a wish. A request or petition. Hunger. Desire. Over the last few days I have taken a journey within. Looked inside to find what it is that I desire. What I found didn't surprise me. What did surprise me is that I have the courage to own this deep, dark thing regardless of whether it ever shall belong to me. And that discovery was freeing for my soul. I think of Colleen and the courage it required to attend an auction and bid on a house never thinking she would actually end up buying it. But she did. And not because she had the deepest pockets in the crowd or the fattest checkbook. She had a love and a vision for that house that simply could not be defeated. She has long hours of hard work ahead of her but getting the house moved to her property and restoring it inside and out will be a labor of love and a source of joy. At some point in life you have to make a decision about taking a leap of faith because you believe so strongly in embracing that which you desire with all your heart and soul. Today I have taken an internal leap of faith in accepting whatever may come to me regarding not just love, but where and how I truly wish to live my life, who I wish to share that life with and where I need to focus my energy to make it all happen. My journey of understanding the giving of unconditional love is closer to complete. A journey that started with motherhood and may never reach an end. I believe, like Dorothy, that when she voices her deepest desire and clicks together the heels of the magic red shoes that she will indeed be transported to where that desire dwells. It's a leap of faith.