Susan's Blog

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

On Mommies and Mermaids


More about bellydance; sorry. I always feel a little guilty blogging about bellydance because I wonder if so many of my readers are just looking for autism stories, news about Nat? (And yes, nasty Anonymous has told me as much, but all I can say is, don’t read me then!) But Nat’s always in my head; I keep a lot in my head and sometimes need to clear it and dance is the way. (Except that I’ll say that we had a sad little thing happen last night. I was giving out grapes to the boys at dinner time. A little background: I had just announced that Ned and I were going out to dinner, just the two of us. As I was pulling apart the stems my hand jerked away and connected with Nat’s jaw. He was instantly furious. I didn’t blame him. “Ah, I’m so sorry Nat! Oh Darling!”

But he was so mad he started deeply biting his arm (presumably more painful than the bump I gave him but of course anger is not rational) and then lunging for me. Then Ned. Nat was easy to contain; we just stroked his arms and had him sit down on the floor, and I kept repeating that it was an accident and that I was sorry. I tried to explain how it had happened so that he would understand I had not intended to hurt him! Oh, another circle of Hell exists for Mommies who hurt their children!!!!!

I think he was also upset that we were going out. We stayed home a good long while to get the boys through dinner and to make sure Nat was feeling okay again. He and I hugged, and although he was shaking with emotion, he did not try to hurt me again.)

So things were okay. Later on, I was feeling somehow too full — from dinner and the day’s drek, that I was either going to go to bed at 9, or dance. And because all afternoon I had been sewing that green costume, I knew I was going to have to try it all on.

Ooh, la la! C’etait magnifique! The rocaille fringe was gorgeous and the new silver sequin layer looked wonderful. I was so incredibly psyched to see this creation of my own and to be able to wear it! (Although it is pinned only still on one side and I have to finish off all of the edges.) Plus the color was a dream. Ben and Ned both said at different times that I looked like a mermaid in it! That is true; the sequins sometimes seem scale-like and the straight skirt is sea-green and like a tail. This will color how I dance with it: my choreography will be water-like and flowy.

I danced to about an hour’s worth of Bellydance Superstars Live at the Folies Bergere DVD, and because I do that so often, the choreography was very familiar. I found I could do a lot of what they were doing, in the Egyptian Nights number. I finally mastered the large hip circle traveling step!

The whole thing felt wonderful and looked wonderful. Then, at the very end, when I did my spin and finish, one arm up in the air, my hip scarf slid down to the floor! At least my skirt stayed on! I picked it up, smiling, pretending it had happened in a real performance, and acting, of course, like it was all part of the act!

Here, for your viewing enjoyment, is my absolute favorite bellydancer, Sonia, doing a drum solo that I can now do, too (thanks to Michelle Dove for the You Tube clip). Second photo by Ben Batchelder.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Okay, I’ll Admit That I Like…

Stupid things I’m not really supposed to like:

1) Bubble gum
2) Blasting Yes in my car when I’m alone, particularly Close to the Edge and Yours is No Disgrace, esp. at the very end when it sounds like a rocket taking off.
3) Listening to Max’s music at the gym (the Black-Eyed Peas)
4) Napping every day
5) Curling my naturally curly hair
6) Sequins, tassels, tulle
7) Buying new gym outfits
8) Cheap make up
9) Writing erotica, but not reading it
10) Quitting things that bug me
11) Picking a fight with someone I trust (knowing deep down we will be okay)
12) Organizing angry people towards a good cause
13) Inappropriate humor
14) Jalapeno peppers and melted cheese, even on just a plate
15) Getting a suntan
16) Blowing off appointments
17) Making up dumb songs about my kids to whatever music is in my head, then singing them and bugging my kids
18) Driving somewhere far with all five of us in the car
19) Deciding to have a good cry
20) Making fun of people with my sister

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Old Footage Redone


Tabblo: My Book Cover Photo Shoot

This was my first professional photo shoot, for the publicity and head shots used in conjunction with my book, Making Peace With Autism:  One Family’s Story of Struggle, Discovery, and Unexpected Gifts.  Every aspect of this book process was fascinating for both my family and me.  My wonderful husband Ned Batchelder took all of the photo shoot photos.

See my Tabblo>

Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Test-Fest

This has been quite a time, being without Ned. I really have three very nice boys. Unusual, but nice. I took them to the video store this afternoon and we just kind of did our thing: Max went straight for Jackass II, which I decided to allow; I found nothing except a movie I’ve seen many times (Rain Man) but figured I’d inveigle the boys into watching with me; and Benj got some awful new cartoon. Nat walked and talked up and down the aisles, only to end up choosing a vid we already owned (Alice in Wonderland), but who’s judging? Ben was. He muttered, “Of course, we already have that.” And I said, “What do you care?” Poor Benj. I often do not validate his comments like that because I feel that he needs instruction more than validation about Nat.

So, then we went to Bertucci’s in SoBro (South Brookline) for dinner; the favorite when Ned is not around (he does not enjoy going out to eat with the kiddos because it is tough when the service is slow and that Bertucci’s is uneven that way). But I don’t mind, and I love how much cheese they use in everything! Their rolls are torture, however. So I allowed myself a morsel with a lot of butter; such is the skewed way of eating in the Atkins universe.

A lot of people stared at us because of Nat’s stimming and Max’s blue hair. I found I was completely amused by it; what has happened to me? Where did this mellow chick come from> How strange, that suddenly the double staring made it all easier! Like, we are so bizarre a quartet to the untrained eye, what’s a little more? I should have worn a hip scarf!

Got home, everyone had their showers, except me (I’m morning) and Max (he’s blue-haired and must wait one more day). Usually Ned runs the showers so it was a bit of a surprise how much skin can fit in a small bathroom. Somehow one of the towels is now sopping wet, as in, was dropped in the toilet perhaps. D’oh.

Later, I tried to get Beast to watch Rain Man with me: my version of sibshops. I think it helped Max understand more about autism and having a sibling when he was younger. Dustin Hoffman does a terrific job of it, too. But Beast is different from Max; less patient, less willing to be seduced by vague promises of funny things to come. He did, however, love how Dustin Hoffman was acting and was fascinated by him. (“Is he really autistic, Mom?”) Eventually, though, I lost him: he suddenly jumped off the couch and crawled out of the room, backwards, and on his back. He’d had enough empathy for one night. I shut it off because I’ve seen it a bunch and really had had my heart on watching it with boys. I’d had enough empathy, too.

I went upstairs and watched some Jackass II with Max. Well, I suppose it was a bonding experience, at least. Some of it actually did make me laugh against my will (a fartmask?). Other parts nearly made me sick (the fartmask). It is so totally one of those young men kind of things, a test-fest (testosterone festival, my phrase, make sure you credit me).

Tomorrow for lunch: Neddy Sweets

Alone, But Not Quite

Funny thing about going it alone; you kind of learn more about your own strength, and about others. Ned adds so much to our life; he is woven intricately well into our rich and complicated family fabric. When he leaves, like he did yesterday, there is a big tear, and it seems as if all the fraying will start a gigantic unraveling. But then we get our bearings, and we figure out a way to come back together, to reattach ourselves to each other in his absence.

So yesterday, I spent a lot more time with Max than I ever do. We shared companionable silences in my car, and had satisfying conversations on I.M. He kept laughing upstairs, so I would I.M. him and ask him to send me what was funny. Then I would laugh. We did this a couple of times. Then later, I and the three boys watched “Man Vs. Wild” on the Discovery channel, something I would never watch, but it was absorbing for all of us. The guy, whose first name is aptly “Bear,” I think, was a young, fit, thirtiesh Brit who loved putting himself into dangerous situations, like bear trails, shark-infested waters, and the inside of crevasses. All the sorts of mishegos that gives me nightmares, but which were riveting to watch him survive. Max was really into it. Ben made it funnier by reminding us that the camera guy was with him the whole time, what about him? Nat loved to watch all the extreme sport aspects of the show. And I loved hearing Bear say, “Glahssier,” instead of “Glay-sher” and watching him take off his shirt now and then.

We all went to bed fairly early; I had gotten up with Ned at 4 a.m. after all, had danced after “supper” (too much bad ice cream), and had had no nap. But Ben was anxious, I think, from Ned being gone, (Sweet Little B!) and he showed up in my room at 10:30 saying, “I find I am thinking about death” in his little helium voice. Oh, man! So we had a discussion about how everyone dies at some point, and you just can’t think about it too much. (Yeah, good luck with that! As Seinfeld would say) I knew what was coming. He wanted to sleep with me, especially with Ned gone. Now, I am not a Family Bed kind of person. All of my children have always had their own cribs, their own beds, their own bedtimes, and my bedroom is just my bedroom (and Ned’s). I’m not cold; I just like my space. Ned and I need adult time, simple as that. And yet, I am not a rigid person. Sometimes a kid just needs more, you know? And how could I refuse when my Beast suddenly gets all squooshy on me?

So Ben slept with me. Incredibly sweet. At one point I was awakened by a little snoring face right in my face. I breathed him in, his little nightime breath, then pushed him over, just like his father!

And today, my challenge was to take Nat to basketball on my own. I have never done that before. Ned does the public interface more often, if you remember, and the sports. So I was really nervous, and half-decided to bag it. But then what would Nat have this weekend? Nothing! So how could I? Suck it up, Sue, and get going, I thought. All coffeed up, I was ready.

Stopped for the candy-after treat: butterfinger for Nat, 3 Musketeers for Ben. Don’t look, don’t smell, for me. All was well. Got to Boston College, and promptly forgot how to go. I had a tiny feeling of the directions, but not enough. “Uh…is it here, Nat? Can you help me get to the parking lot? Is it here, or next?”
“Next,” he said.
“Next? Really? Next? Or here?”
“Next.”
Son of a gun, he was right. “Okay, so now, here?”
“Yes, here.” I turned the car. It looked right. Sure enough, there was the parking lot! Why do I have so little faith?
Then Nat pointed to the exact spot he and Ned always take. I pulled in, and felt like I’d just won the lottery.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Nothing But the Blues

Ned goes to work everyday but just knowing he won’t be back until Sunday makes me blue. I’m sitting here eating low-carb vanilla chocolate chip ice cream with a fork just surfing the Net, feeling sorry for myself! I’ll have to dance for an hour tonight, and with no photographer.

But, pig-out notwithstanding, a few good things happened so far:
1) Ned landed safely and we were IMing during one of the workshops he was in. Nothing like sexy, funny emails.
2) I got Beast a playdate in the afternoon with one of his best, best friends. They have been quiet for hours! Just the clatter of Legos and the high-pitched cadences of little boy voices. Sweet!
3) When he does talk to me, Max is a wealth of interesting information and the very latest in humor. Take a look at these three links that he sent me; I think they are hilarious, especially the knock-knock joke one (the second link)! Boy, did Beastie like that one! And I nearly horked my choc. chip ice cream laughing at the others.
3) In the morning I took the puppies to get their hair cut, at long last. In our family, that happens like twice a year. Max has been wanting to put blue in his hair. I am not the kind of mom who just says, “No,” outright if my child likes something and it is harmless. I discuss it with him (and with Ned) and think it over before crushing his spirit. No! I called my favorite hair salon and discussed the whole thing with Jen, who has had “every color” in her hair. She told me how they would have to strip his color out and put the blue in. It would be very permanent, with roots and everything. Max did not care. He seemed to really want it. So I discussed color correction with Jen, in case he hated it. Finally, we worked out a compromise: blue streaks.

Three hours later…

Now that’s a Max in a Million!

Just A Dance Before You Go

Ned is going on a short business trip. So we spent the evening making the most of our time together: playing with the boys, a bellydance photo shoot, and then watching The Office and 30 Rock. Sweet kisses, too, of course.

White House Evening Remix

Revisited out of fond nostalgia and a desire to create a more beautiful and comprehensive Tabblo.

Tabblo: Remix:  White House Dinner for Special Olympics

I was invited to a White House dinner in honor of Eunice Kennedy Shriver because of my book, Making Peace With Autism, and my writings about Special Olympics. The trip was like a dream, the pinnacle of my career as a writer thus far. Our hotel was beautiful and also kind of cool,
with its federal-meets-hip-contemporary-sixties-air.

See my Tabblo>

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Controlled Kaos

Do me a favor, as you read this, knock wood. I don’t want any Evil Eyes to come along and take this away. But — Nat has had a burst in initiative! It’s part of his burgeoning need to control the things around him, but I suppose that being a Control Freak is at the heart of every successful initiator, when you think about it.

He has become very concerned about other people’s business, other people’s routines. You may remember I reported a few weeks ago that when Ben refused to put on socks, Nat became upset. He does not like bare feet; anyone who has read that autism book Making Peace With Autism (hey, I hear it’s now out in paperback, quite affordable, makes a great gift!) would know just how much Natty hates bare feet. Anyway, after Ben kept refusing, and then when that Little Beast actually put on his socks and then took them right off, Nat yelled out, “I want to hit!” But he did not. That menschkeit MiniMan held it together!

You might also remember the coat incident. Not nearly as charming a story. My shearling is fine, but the memory of being smacked in the head again and again simply because of a coat not being removed still smarts.

Well now we have the laundry story. The other day, Nat saw our brimming laundry basket and said, “Do a laundry.” Laundry baskets, in his mind, are supposed to be empty, I guess! Well I guess I’m the sloth mother! Anyway, I said, “Okay, Natty, do it with me!” So we went through the house collecting everyone’s dirty stuff and Nat lugged the heavy basket down to the basement for me. How wonderful to be surrounded by big strong men! A dream come true. Max puts out the trash, Nat carries the laundry basket.

So, as always, I forgot about the load until it was congealed wet and solid against the sides of the washing machine. But Nat reminded me. We went down together and put it in the dryer. After the dryer had long buzzed, I remained upstairs doing my thing, whatever that was. Soon I hear Nat trudging up from the basement, but I thought he was merely bringing it all to my bed for me to take care of later.

I went upstairs a few minutes later, and the laundry was nowhere to be seen. But then, I saw Nat smashing a large pile of socks and briefs into his drawer: it was all the socks, (both his and Max’s), and all the briefs (both his and Ned’s). They all look the same; why not? Only I know the differences. I see a pile of sheets smooshed into a chair in the corner. I see my stuff laid out on my dresser! Ned’s tee shirts, in his drawer!

Hmm, “Where’s Max’s boxers?” Finally I look in Ben’s room. They were in there, I guess because Nat figured they were little pants and belonged to Ben!

So clever, such a self-starter, my Natty.

Be Longing

I am not a joiner. My boys and Ned are not, either. However, I was raised by people who were ambivalent about their joiner-ness, and so for a long time I did not realize I was not a joiner. So I would join groups, sign up for things, and then eventually withdraw/stop going/quit in disgust because the group thing would get to me. Then would come a long period of self-hatred because what was wrong with me? Why didn’t I stick with anything? Why did these people in these groups seem to speak a language that I could not parse? In my playgroups I would feel like I was an alien, the only mom not interested in discussing children’s clothing, diaper services, breastfeeding, or the cute thing our kids were doing. I wanted to get to know the moms as people, as friends. I wanted to talk about things that really interested me, like current events, how it felt to be a mother, husbands, boredom. Or why was my baby different from all other babies? (Ma nish ta nah ha yeled ha zeh mi call ha yeledim?)

The same thing happened in my book group, my one and only book group. I felt like the discussion of the book was always shallow. People were focused, again, on their children, or the snacks that were being served, or the decor of the place we were in. I’m as into decorating and food as the next person, but I think a book group should be about the writing, the characters, the themes, etc., and not whether to serve Chinese food when you “critique” Amy Tan.

And then there was our synagogue. I tried, as G-d is my witness. Not only did I join; I started a special education task force there. I kind of gently forced them to have education for disabled kids. The Rabbis eventually took it up like a favored cause. It was wonderful, natural, beautiful. I would tell them, the public schools have the law, but we answer to a higher authority!! I invoked Moses, too. And so, Nat got a Sunday School education for several years. So did Max. And then — stop me if you’ve heard this one — when it came time for the kids in Nat’s grade to choose their bar mitzvah dates, they all went ahead and chose them without telling us and we were left with only a Monday or some other reject date. The cantor was flustered when we went in to ask why this had happened, but there was nothing to be done. They had assumed Nat would not do a “normal” bar mitzvah, and so they had made it so. My heart broke. We withdrew and did our own bar mitzvah for him.

The other day my mother asked if Benj was having a bar mitzvah and I just said, “No.” Heavy, sluggish brown silence filled the car like a bad fart. She was really disappointed: that we would not rejoin a temple, and that Max and Ben never had one. I told her I don’t like bar mitzvahs. I actually hate them. I find them pompous, long-winded, boring, indulgent. I don’t know how much meaning they have to the kids participating. Maybe they have meaning. But I can’t stand them. It’s all personal, selfish, I admit it. I hate watching the other kids, dressed up, giggling. Not really paying any attention to their classmate.

Plus, there is the whole trauma of my own experience: I remember how I was excluded from the bar mitzvah circuit because my parents chose not to give us bat mitzvahs! (They sent us to Israel instead, but somehow, my peers did not get the memo, and never invited me to theirs even though I was in Sunday School with them through age 15.)

Mom wondered why we had done one for Nat, then. I told her that it was about the fact that we felt we had a lot to celebrate as far as Nat’s progress, but that there were no natural milestones for him. He goes to the same school, year after year, no rite of passage. No 8th grade graduation, no high school graduation. No award ceremonies, except for the Special Olympics. So, a bar mitzvah, created out of thin air. Nat’s had a lot of meaning for him, and for us, but that was an extraordinary circumstance, not some ritual forced down his throat. I didn’t have one, and I didn’t need one: my trip to Israel did everything for me and more. (Not the least of which was meeting Gabi, whom I am still in touch with, my Canadian friend. He taught me how to drive a tractor, and much more! :) But I also saw the Western Wall; I still remember how it smelled. I slept on the Sinai; I visited Yad V’Shem, the Memorial to the Six Million; I swam in Eilat; I went to Lebanon, the Golan Heights, the West Bank; I met relatives; I climbed Masada; I went to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and Haifa. What would standing up in front of that petty group of people at Temple Shalom have given me that would be better than that?)

I am not a joiner. I will not join a synagogue again in this lifetime. I probably won’t join a book group either. It is a miracle that I still occasionally go to my writer’s group. It is an even more blessed miracle that I have been able to attend bellydance class but I must do that. I have to get over my anti-group thing and stick with that class and be a novice and bad at it and ultimately do the recital. But I am terrified. This is making me so very vulnerable. I have no problem putting pics of myself dancing on the Internet but the idea of dancing in front of family and friends — EGAD!!!!

(I asked Max what he felt his religion was and he said, “I’m Jew–ish.”) Ben said, “I’m more into Technology.”

There you go. They’re American Jews!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Growing Up

Well I stood stone-like at midnight
Suspended in my masquerade
And I combed my hair till it was just right
And commanded the night brigade
I was open to pain and crossed by the rain
And I walked on a crooked crutch
I strolled all alone through a fallout zone
Came out with my soul untouched.
I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd
When they said sit down
I stood up.
–Growing Up, Bruce Springsteen

When I was little, I only did four things with my friends or my sister: draw, play dress up, play with Barbies, and play Pretend games. Barbies I would play with any of my friends or by myself; mostly just trying on gown after gown and doing their hair and dreaming.

Laura and I would draw in the back of the car on all of our family trips: funny stories about twins and stuff like that. We even made up our own language and alphabet.

Dress up I would play with my friend Debbie, when our families would visit. I had gowns that were cast-off designer dresses from my grandmother. Once I put together a great costume for Halloween: a gypsy. It was early October, I think. I remember begging my mother to let me keep it on the entire month until it was Halloween, so that I would be perfectly attired. She said no, however. I think I managed, nevertheless, when Halloween arrived.

Pretend was my favorite, though. I would lose myself for days in the Pretend games I played with Bonnie and Sharon (my friends up to age 10, after which we moved, and I started middle school, and I became friends with Cynthia, until age 18, when she dropped me like a hot potato or piece de merde. With Cynthia, everything we did was gossip, clothes, food, and boys, boys, boys.) Bonnie and I once played a game that lasted three days, in which we were stranded on an island and had to live off the land. We twisted branches together to make our shelter, we made clothes out of grasses, and that sort of thing.

I just got back from a movie that has all of those best elements of my childhood: Bridge to Terabithia. This is a kids’ movie, and yet it was several huge cuts above anything I’ve seen in a long time, especially anything I’ve seen with Beast at my side. It is a simple story, about kids who are in need of a little escape from certain difficult realities in their lives, such as loneliness or bullying or inattentive parents. The boy and girl imagine a land in the woods near their homes: Terabithia. They fix up a treehouse and lug stuff to keep there! That is the childhood dream come true. They paint stuff and hang stuff and fight the enemy. Together they become stronger and more confident and happier, just like any of us when we get a really good friend who gets us.

There is nothing gooey in this movie, although the young sister Mabel did get on my nerves a bit, even with her penchant for Barbie play. She seemed a bit like a tiny adult, the most cloying kind of kid actor. But she pulled it off, in the end. The two main characters, the funky music teacher, and the boy’s father were absolutely terrific.

I detest the evil plot turn in the movie. Ben himself told me it did not have end that way. I heartily agree. I was sitting there next to him, crying my eyes out, thinking of loss and how hard it is to say good-bye. I have recently said good-bye to someone who wasn’t even always good to me, and yet my heart was twisting as I thought about it in this context. Let go, grow up, give in, move on. Sigh.

Gut Feeling

Last night I practiced by simply imitating the Bellydance Superstars Live at the Folies Bergere DVD. I was amazed at how many moves I could actually do, though of course not as beautifully as those gals… Still, an extremely satisfying and grueling workout! With Beast and Ned watching and playing nearby.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Frozen

A day of dreaming and nothing. Three boys home, too cold to play outside. I danced, I napped, read, I cleaned, I got a (silver) pedicure. I feel a bit like a parasite, however; a purposeless, adrift thing. One of those creatures that just floats around under the sea. I keep trying to do things of value, but it is hard to always contribute. I feel the need to justify my existence. Here’s my list: I am waiting to hear from two editors and my agent; what else is new? One editor has a piece I wrote on the new CDC numbers and what that means to me; the other is a piece I wrote on the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and their new guidelines for Down Syndrome, etc. where they will now test every pregnant woman and counsel her “neutrally.” So if that gets published — in the Sunday Globe Mag, no less — I guess I will be on record now as not being all that Pro-Choice. Life becomes more complicated for me, no pun intended.

I have also booked two more conferences: one is actually the Harvard Medical School annual autism conference, which is kind of an honor, I suppose. The other is another gig in Montreal. That makes three in Canada in the next year, perhaps one in Alabama, one in progress in Virginia, one in Sioux Falls, and one in NYC.

On the homefront, in the name of trying to be a good mom, I taught Nat how to do laundries, both colored and white. He was very interested. I also had him make his own breakfast and lunch. I really try to teach him things, help him grow, all the time. I took the three of them to Finagle a Bagle, because we needed bagles and because we needed to get out of here for a little bit. I got a Greek salad, and they got snacks. We ran into some friends there, which was nice.

But I feel so overwhelmingly cold, and kind of listless. So I googled some warm weather vacations which we won’t take. Jamaica, Bermuda, St. Thomas. All five of us on a plane! Makes me tired just thinking about it. What I really want/need is a vacation just with Ned but my parents are very busy these days. That would fix me up pretty good. Probably not gonna happen.

So here is my vacation, when I can’t do anything else: I daydream about bellydance. I imagine looking like Sonya, of the Bellydance Superstars (she is the last one performing on this little YouTube video). I have found the perfect outfit, which I would love to buy, and I just might. Maybe once I sell the second book, I will celebrate with buying this outfit. I still can’t imagine ever performing, however.

If I dance tonight, I suppose I will feel more worthwhile.

A Two Starbucks Day

Yesterday was a good day, a two Starbucks day. I went to my gym with Mom and showed off the place to her, which was fun. Very hard trying to work out, however, because now my left hip is giving me trouble due to some overzealous bellydancing. Still, I did around 25 minutes Stairmaster and then 10 on the Elliptical.

After we were done we went to Starbucks and I had my usual (breve misto: like a latte but made Atkins style, with half-and-half foamed up). Mom had nothing. We talked about relationships, and how they change. It was really beautiful, sitting there in the lit window with her, looking at her very familiar lovely face, sipping sweet coffee, and exchanging stories about friendships: how they help; how they hurt; how to let go; how to know.

Later, after Mom and Dad went home I tried to nap with the ice pack on my hip (this works for me sometimes: to get deep under the covers with the ice and sleep with it on the sore part; I wake up with it feeling a lot better). I could not nap, however. I wanted to go to the bookstore and get some of the books Mom and Dad had recommended to me (The History of Love, by Nicole Krouse; A Fine Balance; The Emperor’s Children; Gesture Life; and Richard North Patterson’s Exile).

Nat, Max, and Ned were at Nat’s swim practice so I had Beast to myself. I asked him if he wanted to come and he remembered that he wanted to get the Franny K. Stein Activity Book. So I took him to my favorite part of town, Northern Brookline, the urban, ethnic, busy part, and we broused in Booksmith for a while (where I had my very first reading; truly the best bookstore on earth).

When we were done with our purchasing we went to Starbucks and I got him a soft molasses cookie and a water. I had a breve misto, decaf this time, and a very different time than the morning, but equally enjoyable. Across from me, a dear little face, messy hair, dark intelligent eyes, tiny nose, perfect little lips, newly emerging slightly crooked large front teeth. More delicious than the cookie.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Satisfying Saturday


Tabblo: Saturday Sledding

A gorgeous day in mid-February. It was winter-warm, around 32 degrees, very bright, so it was good to be outdoors. The sun touched our faces like a mother’s hand, soft and soothing. The yard was a curving sheet of white ice. The snow was packed down so hard and was completely frozen over, so you could walk on it without sinking down at all.

These icy conditions made it extremely slippery for sledding, so we did not let the boys use the plastic sleds. Instead, we all simply slid down on our backs.

Also, look at Max’s photo collage of our red oak.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Mama You Been On My Mind

Guess who’s coming to visit today…
I’m very excited. Have not seen my loco parentes since early December. They been globetrotting. So today, I am ready for some sweet-smelling hugs, laughter, maybe a little annoyance, intense conversation, gift exchange,(there’s always some occasion to celebrate!) long looks, and making up for lost time. (I have stuck Laura into this Tabblo because she is inseparable from the Senator family mix and memory machine). I hope to see her beginning of March, however, for more of the same! Here’s a little quiz for my readers: which one is me, in the little girl photo on the left?


Tabblo: Mama/Daddy/Laura You Been On My Mind

Perhaps it’s the color of the sun cut flat and coverin’
The crossroad I’m standing at
Maybe it’s the weather, or something like that
But Mama [Daddy] you been on my mind.
–Joan Baez and Bob Dylan

See my Tabblo>

Friday, February 16, 2007

Young Faithful

Nothing cures like time and love.
–Barbara Streisand

Parenting has so much to do with faith. And when I say “faith,” I am not actually talking about faith as in Religion. I am talking about the inner voice, the unprovable, the feeling you go with that you hope/wish is the truth. In Nat’s case, I wish I had found that sort of faith earlier, and believed what my gut was telling me. I even had dreamt about him in utero, and still I gave this no credence. In the dream he looked the way he did when he was four. He was standing in my sister’s childhood room and laughing. Laughing! How important a role his laughter has played in my life! This was my intuition, or Nat, or something, telling me loud and clear that everything would be alright. But I did not harken to it. At the time I remember thinking, “Oh, I guess that means that if I have a boy, it will be okay [having a boy rather than a girl].” That’s what my naive little self thought about; the gender! I want to hug that girl I was, and shake her at the same time and say, “Shtummy! Get with the program! Life has a big surprise in store for you and you’d better get some rest so you’ll be up for this!”

I have said before that my relationship with Nat often feels like a leap of faith. I believe more than can prove that he feels certain things. About me, about everything. I look, I observe, I have gotten to know; but mostly, I feel. Maybe I wish. But who can contest this? I know Nat better than most, I would say. I absorb him, I sit next to him, breathing him in, wondering how this is that same person who showed himself to me as an unborn baby. This is that same boy who seemed unknowable, yet whom I have always known so well. This is the boy who has always been a delight to be with because he is pure Id, he just is who he is, and if he smiles at you, it is nothing short of a gift. (These days he smiles the most when I pop in the Bellydance Superstars DVD and he gets to watch all those pretty girls on the stage!)

My faith in Benj has grown lately. I used to be so afraid for him. I worried that he would have trouble socially because his development was quirky for a while. I had a certain feeling of doom surrounding me when it came to Ben and his friends. But by third grade, he has figured it out. He has his own little posse of boys. He has absolute faith in his appeal; utter confidence. How did I, such an insecure person, manage to give him this? Or was he born this way? I found that today, as he ran across the back yard and up the hill to a friend’s house, on his own, for the first time, I was so proud of him and so relieved I could have cried.

People really do develop and change, for the better. With love, understanding, hard work, and time, so much can happen. Just have faith. That is so simple, yet so much.


Tabblo: Time and Love
Thursday, February 15, 2007

On My Mind

A cold and frozen world out there, but inside, my mind is alive and warm. So here’s a list of what I’m thinking about not necessarily in order of importance:
1) Should all five of us go to the Atlantis in April, like we did five years ago, our last winter vacation together?
2) Or save, save, save the money?
3) Will the costume really work once the bead fringe is added?
4) Should I take M and D to the bellydance club? Will they like it, or act weird about it and make me feel weird, too?
5) Where is H and H?
6) Will 30 Rock survive?


Tabblo: Places My Mind Enjoys

Cape Cod and the Atlantis … See my Tabblo>

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Conception Day


Eighteen years ago today Nat’s life began. Ned and I had been trying for a little while to get me pregnant. We went out to a Thai Restaurant for Valentine’s Day dinner. Just the two of us! Imagine that! What babies we were! 27 years old, earnest little people dreaming about their first baby. I was so clueless I thought I’d have a girl. Ha! As if.

I don’t remember the Thai food although I’m sure I had Pad Thai because back then I was a Noodle Eater. I do remember the romance that followed. And the thing I remember the most was that at the best moment, I closed my eyes and I saw, in my mind, swirling black concentric circles with a burst of black in the middle. I knew — or I felt, or hoped — at that moment that I had conceived.

And of course Nat’s due date was November 14, but he has always had a rhythm of his own and he did not show us his beautiful self until November 15!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Proof of God

I can’t believe how beautiful this Tabblo is. It makes my eyes happy. The artist lives in Vancouver and is very talented. Delphinium is my favorite flower, and its beauty if proof that God exists. Lucky bees! You an agnostic? An atheist? A Nietzsche Freak? A Doubting Thomas? Fear not! Look upon the delphinium and your heart will know the truth.

The blue shown here is my favorite color (I guess? I also love baby pink, rose red, and jade green). I painted Baby Benji’s room this color when he was born; actually, every boy of mine had a room this color at one point in his little darling life. Just imagine a bellydance costume with these colors! Actually, I have many of them already. Maybe now I’ll make a delphinium blue bra top with pink and green beading and use the rose red petal skirt I already have (or the jade green one I just made!) and maybe I should now try to make a cabaret style belt with fringe, also in delphinium blue.

And then my hips have to heal, but how? I can’t stop dancing. It is like that girl with the red shoes in the fairly tale, except my feet are bare!

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