Sunday, August 29, 2010

And a little child shall lead them

My husband was chatting with one of our seventeen-year-old twins yesterday about a former babysitter of theirs who used to date women but is now marrying a man. The husband asked, "Why do you think she's doing that - marrying a man?" And our wonderful daughter answered, "Dad, it doesn't matter who you date or marry. What matters is that you love them and they love you." And he felt very proud and very humble.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

80s dating video

80s Video eCard
Uploaded by plentyofbaggage1. - Classic TV and last night's shows, online.

I was trying to decide - if I had to choose one of these guys on point of death - which one I would date. So far I'm leaning toward the guy who says "One of my favorite foods is pizza" simply because, well, I do like pizza....

Which one would you choose, I mean if you had to?

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Yesterday the husband surprised me with a date night at an expensive gourmet farm-to-table restaurant. Which is a pretty big deal for us for a number of reasons:
1. We have those four pesky kids
2. One of them is special needs
3. And mostly because the husband hates spending money. His idea of a decadently extravagant dinner is buying it all in the frozen-foods aisle at Trader Joe's. So, for him, going to a restaurant where you'll pay $100 for dinner for two is a BIG STINKIN DEAL and it damn well better be transcendent. And since it had been rated as one of the top 100 farm-to-table restaurants in the U.S. by Gourmet Magazine, he was primed for Heaven on a plate.

So, of course, it wasn't. I knew things were not going to go well when the husband, who can't drink, asked if they had anything like lemonade. All they had was booze and soda pop. When the food came it was in those stupid skinny stacks (seriously, who stacks their food?) on huge, mostly empty, white plates decorated with nouvelle cuisine dots and squiggles of sauce. Excuse me, but I do not like my food skinnier or prettier than me, and I like enough sauce so that I can mop it up with bread from the generous bread basket. Which there also wasn't. The final insult (for the husband, who is a crazed foodie) was that the meyer-lemon tart had a soggy (shudder) crust! It was a major case of hoping for lemonade and getting a big fat sour bunch of lemons. Seriously, the poor boy was devastated. He's sensitive that way.

So after our nouvelle d├ęsastre I suggested we go for a walk around beautiful (by which I mean impoverished and decaying) downtown Sharpsburg, PA, where said restaurant was situated. Now kids, small-town Western Pennsylvania is not a scenic wonderland but we had the babysitter so....

For a few blocks things went from bad to worse. We saw a mother pull over her speeding minivan, smack her screaming kid hard, then screech off with the poor kid wailing like a siren. And as we strolled along, the natives stared at us because, I assume, we didn't have tattoos and bleached-blond mullets (not a good look for me).

Then, just as we were about to trudge dejectedly home, I saw a glimmer of water. From a river. That you could walk to. Which is unusual here even though we are literally surrounded by rivers. Because of Pittsburgh's industrial past, the waterfront is mostly blocked off by (abandoned and decaying) industrial sites. It is almost impossible to actually walk to a river anywhere in town. But there was the river, and there was the path to it, and so we walked.

We went through a long dark tunnel and emerged into a magical place.

We strolled over and dabbled our fingers in the miraculously touchable river. Amazing. Then we sat by it and just breathed it all in. People were fishing, feeding the ducks, or just sitting, talking, being there, like us. It was a perfect mild evening. The sun was setting, and everyone around us exuded that special peace that you get near a body of water. There were all classes and races of people, all just so happy to be exactly where they were.

After a while I started chatting with people, as I do. The guy next to us, with the tattoos, the blond mullet and the Lynard Skynard bandana said he was catching small fish, mainly crappies (or maybe he meant that he was just catching small crappy fish!), but added that "I really just came here for the peace." The black woman next to us with the akita and the toy poodle offered me bread to feed the ducks with. As we watched the ducks squabble, a friend of hers told me about taking his granddaughter ice fishing in Minnesota. It was the nicest evening I've had in a long long time.

On the drive home, I thought about lemons and lemonade and how happy I was that my husband and I are generally able to take the lemons we have been given in our life together, some of them pretty seriously sour and, one way or another, made some pretty nice lemonade out of it all. And next time we go to Sharpsburg, we'll skip the fancy exclusive restaurant altogether and take our lemonade - literal and metaphorical - and some sandwiches right to the river and share it all, which, for me, makes everything so much sweeter.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Another poem (what's gotten into me?)

It's been a tough couple of weeks here. An old friend's daughter (a victim of spousal abuse) died, and a member of my extended family is struggling through, and I hope out of, a nervous breakdown. Thinking about all this brought me back to a poem I've been wrestling with for some time. It's about my grandfather, who had a nervous breakdown and committed suicide. It's very much a work in progress, but I thought I'd share it with you anyway. Feedback welcome but I also know it's, well, heavy to say the least (!), so no worries if it's too sad to read or comment on.

What I would say to my grandfather before he jumped

I know:

the unbearable weight of skin,

heavy as a suit of stone, pins you

under your smothering despair;

how your bones feel already broken

by your steep fall

from joy and your lacerated heart's

bled dry of all its hope. Madness

brought you to this high and burning room

but not alone.

I have stood at the same clear pane

you stand at now and seen,

on both sides of it, a broken life;

the only difference that on this side

skin covers the keening pain,

but on the other side your jailing skin

breaks open and the pain leaks out leaving you

in peace, at last. Your thoughts whisper

it’s logical, that step

up onto the narrow ledge between life

and its end. But I know

that, if you jump, the window never closes

over the unanswerable riddles

of Why? and then Why not?

So each of us you left in grief

must hold tight all our lives against the airless

vacuum of your fall. The open window calls

till some of us just tire, let go. Without you

your wife will drown herself

in a river of drink, a grandchild swallows

too many bitter pills, I always know

where the exits are in case

I need to get out. Still I stay

here. Here,

take my hand, stay

your feet. This living death will die

away at last. Stop

your ears against the poisonous Iago

of our traitorous chemistry, close

the window, reclaim the still-breathing body

of moments that make up the rest

of your life; the one you made from

countless things like love

of a girl with brown eyes and a red dress,

three children born with her Indian eyes. Wife,

daughter, son. These words that tell us who we are,

they grew from you. Remember

how you drove across three states, no stops,

windows rolled up just to protect them all

from polio which had no cure. But If you step out

onto that yearning air, what remains of you

will be just the hollow shattering shell

of your fall to death on a sidewalk

among strangers. Stop, stay, remember

us. Protect us now, again,

from the crippling incurable wound,

the aching phantom limb that you

become after,

if you fall.