Saturday, November 19, 2011

Just TRY Yelling Crap at Me!

Today, I got a pass. I got assertive and told my baby son, "Kid, there's nothing wrong with you. You need to nap." As a family we'd all gone to Lily's basketball game and then to IHOP afterwards. Neil and I had spent about three hours that afternnon in which he hung out in my arms, eating and drooling. He had fallen asleep on me, so I tried to put him in his crib. He then proceeded to cry, at which I just decided to let him cry.

It's mid-November, and the temperature is mild. I decided that I needed to take advantage of the situation, so I went for a walk. I headed up Kentucky Avenue, which straddles the border between Newport and Southgate. I love walking in this neighborhood, because it feels like its own world. It's on a ridgetop, overlooking the Licking River and Covington to the west. I felt invigorated and alive as my heart started pumping. I thought Important Thoughts such as "You know, you never learn vocabulary in your L2 (second language) unless you're in a situation where you see the need for it." Then I thought thoughts such as "Look at that woman running up the steps (in Veterans' Park). One day I'd like to be a Person Who Runs."

Then I thought that I'd better get home. I had planned to attend Mass at my parish at 6:00, and it was after 5. So I headed downhill. I decided to take 19th street home. Its intersection with Monmouth Street (aka U.S. Route 27-a rather busy street) has a pedestrian walk light. Now, this street looks very "classic Newport" to me. That's snobese for "working class/working poor." However, I've always liked this street because its topography is good for Those of Us Working Off Pregancy Globs. Plus, I rationed, what room do I have to be a snob? I live in Newport, too.

What then happened was what has happened to me on several occasions in my life. Some #@^& thinks that it's his right to make me feel bad. Most of the time, when this has happened in my life, it's some man who has to yell to me about the fact that I do not live up to his perceived feminine sexual ideal. News flash, Goober-you're a troglodyte drinking beer on your front porch in Newport. It's not like you could have even gotten me anyway! Dude, I speak three languages. I have lived in Paris. I have a 1.5 masters' degrees. You probably have a criminal record, several DUIs, and body odor, if not excessive back hair. You wish you could savor my flabby feminine wiles.

For the first time in my life, I don't feel embarassed or shamed about this. Usually, when this crap happens, I think, "(Sigh) I wish I weren't ugly and fat." Now I get it. It has nothing to do with me. This man and his mouth-breathing pals realize that their lives have reached their apexes: drinking beer and yelling crap at a flabby, middle-aged walking mom of three who's trying to get rid of pregnacy fat. This is the best that you will have. You know that you are such little, little men, that this is the ONLY way that you can feel better about yourself. How sad for you. I'll let you yell your sad little insults at my alleged ugliness, because we all know who's really ugly.

I used to cry when I was very young and this kind of thing would happen. But today, for the first time, I am just angry about the whole thing. My feminist ire has been kicked up. Why is it that all women have to judged on the merits of their looks? Why is it, that when I was crossing the street in Lexington, running to make a light, some random man had to yell about my breasts bouncing up and down (something to the effect of his wanting a "shake with his fries.")


So I haven't blogged in a long time. It's been a year and half. Here's what's happened, in order of ascending importance:

1. I am in my fourth year teaching at the school in which I work. I am back in the room in which I spent my first two years teaching, after having spent a year traveling around from room to room, supplies in tow.

2. Lily and Vincent are in their second year of attending said school. They are thriving.

3. I spent a year taking online courses through U.C., and I completed all the coursework for an ESL endorsement. I still need to submit the paperwork and take the standardized test.

4. (This feels like resolution to the story) I gave birth to my third child on June 27th of this year. Wow. What a journey to get there. When I miscarried in December of 2009, I suddenly knew how much I had wanted the baby I lost. I decided I would do anything to get another baby. So my doctor suggested surgery to remove my fibroid. I researched options and decided on a surgical procedure that my practice did not offer, the DaVinci myomectomy. It was purported to be easier than the traditional myomectomy, as it was laproscopic, robotic surgery. I found a wonderful new practice that offered this procedure. I went through said procedure. Then, when all was said and done, I had decided by September of 2011 that I was perfectly content with my life. I thought that I could live happily without a third child. Luckily, the powers that be decided that I should have another baby. So I had my baby about a year to the date after Peach's would-have-been birthday. Neil is a (cliche to say it)blessing. He's easy-going, happy, and adorable. Whew. t

This all feels like the epilogue to book one. I needed to write this so that I can begin book two.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I haven't written in about four months. I wish I had something interesting to write about. It's the day before Mother's Day. I'm giving myself an early Mother's Day present in the form of self-pampering. I have about seven things I tcould be doing at this time, but I'm blogging on my netbook while sitting at the dining room table. The past three weeks were crazy hard. My final proposal for my grad school class was due on April 30th. Lily's First Communion was May 3rd. My parents-in-law and sister-in-law came up for the First Communion. We had a party afterwards. And poor Luke had to be out of town for four days from the 23rd-26th of April, come home for the party, and turn around and leave again. I'm wiped from all this. I halfway wanted to go out today, but as the day progressed, I wasn't feeling it so much. I have a really hard time dealing with just being at home normally, but it feels so good just to sit for a minute. No one needs to be dressed. No one has to be anywhere. I took care of mowing the grass and weeding the garden, so I haven't been a total slug today. The weather has been yuck all day long anyway. Maybe this was God's Mother's Day gift to me so I could rest and not feel bad about it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Hi everyone:

I'm trying to work out what I will be saying at Becky and Dan's wedding. This is a daunting task. I thought the best way to handle it would be to leave it up for public comment. Becky, this way you can preview it, too. Here's what I hope to say:

I was very grateful and flattered that Becky and Dan asked me to speak at this day, the most important day of their lives. Of course I immediately developed writer's block. Luckily, I rediscovered a book I had purchased a few years back, Seeds of Hope: A Henri Nouwen Reader. Father Nouwen was a Roman Catholic priest, an educator who taught at several seminaries and theological institutes prior to embarking on life-changing work with people with mental disabilities. Although Father Nouwen never married, he had beautiful insight into the nature of love. I would like to share some of his words with you today:

"Love asks for total love men and women take off all forms of power, embracing each other in total disarmament. When through the careful growth of their relationship men and women have come to the freedom of total disarmament their giving also becomes forgiving...their ultimate vulnerability becomes the core of their mutual strength. Power kills. Weakness creates. It creates autonomy, self-awareness, and freedom. It creates openness to give and receive in mutuality."

These words resonated with me, because they seemed so true. When you get married, you need to take off your battle armor. Relationships with other people-all relationships, not just dating relationships-make us world-weary. Even in the best of friendships or family relationships, one can have the tendency to think, "What is his or her angle? What does he or she want?" Marriage requires the total suspension of this judgment. Marriage should preclude holding a grudge against one's spouse, because there will be inevitable disappointments along the way. There will be times when minor offenses-improper folding of towels, forgetting to buy toilet paper, not replacing DVD's in their proper cases-will get on a spouse's nerves. The marriage will be an environment of perfect give and take.

Father Nouwen also noted that at the core of marriage is the idea of weakness and vulnerability. A similar notion is at the center of twelve step programs. In any of the "Anonymous" programs is the idea each person is weak, and the group together is strong because of its weakness. Each person make be weak and strong in different ways. The beauty of marriage is how spouses complement each other.

The passage I quoted also explains that, ultimately, in this environment of total trust, total vulnerability, and total weakness, the spouses can grow and achieve self-awareness. In this marriage the spouses can totally be themselves, more freely than they can be in the outside world. This complete openness should be liberating.

I wish Dan and Becky all the happiness in the world. May you be fully open to one another. May your weaknesses and strengths work together for the good of your union and of the world. In this marriage, may you together become the people God is calling you to be.

In praise of Michael Brandt

We have a snow day! By "we" I mean "I." My super-cool boss gave us the day off by about 5:15. But I sat immobile on the couch for about an hour after that, waiting for Michael Brandt, superintendent of Schools, to call off Newport Independent Schools. He did not. My kids' school system is close to the only one that is on a normal schedule in the Cincinnati metro region. Cincinnati Public Schools, Covington Independent Schools, and St. Xavier High School, infamous for staying open in blizzards, all closed. I'm sure this heralds the coming apocalypse. Still my poor children had to bundle up and go to school.

But how nice is that for me? Thank you, Michael Brandt. Thank you for giving me permission to watch a movie, if I want. Thank you for allowing me to go to the new SuperMegaKrogerville down the street from me without bringing Captain Uncooperative with me. Thanks for giving me a few hours without hearing, "Mommy?! Vincent hit me/bit me/pushed me,etc." or "Mommy?! I'm hungry!" Michael Brandt, you are my new hero! Hip, hip, HOORAY!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ordinary Time

It's New Year's Eve. I'm not in the mood to go into a list of resolutions I might make for the upcoming year. I lack the follow-through to actually carry them out. Besides, my unoriginal resolution is always to lose my 40-50 lbs of nasty that accumulates around my middle. How tiresome. It's not as if every other chubby middle-aged woman in America makes that resolution. Why not make the resolution to try artisanal cheese or go sky-diving? What will happen is that for a week or two I go full-speed at the weight loss thing, then someone brings in brownies to school. So the logical thing would be to learn to love myself as a fatty. But I'm in the mood to make peace with my rotundness, either. And the other things I could improve, such as being more punctual or better organized just seem like a maternal part of my mind nagging the lazy teenage self that is blogging today. I want to tell my inner mom, "All RIGHT, all RIGHT. Fine, whatever," so I can go back to watching movies all day. So enough with the "new year, new life" pep talk.

This is my least favorite time of the year. What's so great about January or February? Not a blessed thing as I can see. In the Cincinnati metro region this is when we usually get our snow, not at Christmas. If we don't get snow, we usually have color-coordinated weather. The ground, the trees, and the sky are all a monochromatic gray-ish color. How utilitarian.

This is the time of the year that I start to look for little tiny things to anticipate. Good thing, too, since my big thing isn't going to happen after all. Here are some things to look forward to:

1. Luke and I are going to Pittsburgh for our friends' wedding on MLK weekend. I can't remember the last time we went away for a weekend without the children. I'm thinking it might have been in 2000, before we had kids.

2. My kids got a tent for Christmas, so I guess we can go camping.

3. I got two good cookbooks for Christmas, so I can try new recipes.

4. I have a sweet and thoughtful daughter who got me a pretty dishtowel from the Santa Shop at school.

5. Umm, well, there's always spring break.

6. And after spring break there's summer vacation.

As I said earlier, I'm not a fan of January or February. The holidays are never the shining wonder time that retailers want us to imagine them to be, but the time with family and friends is restful and fun. My day-to-day life is mostly pretty good, but to be certain the pace can take its toll. And I've got too short an attention span to be a fan of the repetitiveness of regular life.

If I had to make a resolution, then, I would resolve to find wonder in what is ordinary. I would resolve to bless the everyday moments of grace. To be certain each day is filled with grace. In my church we frequently sing the idea that "God woke me up this morning, and that's a miracle." It's easy for me to lose sight of the fact that breathing is a miracle, that trees are a miracle, that a good bowl of soup is a miracle, that my friends and family are a miracle. May I keep these thoughts throughout the year, and may I remember always to be grateful for small blessings.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Today I needed to finish up some Christmas shopping. One of the items I needed to purchase could only be found at the Cincinnati Nature Center. I looked forward to going there. I figured that I would buy my items quickly and then let the kids play in the visitor's center while I read a book (Tweak, by Nic Sheff. It's a memoir of his addiction to crystal meth. I'm finding the bleaker the better right now). I thought I'd look at the panoramic view of the bird feeding area. What I didn't count on were the following:

I'm still sore from my operation, and I can only handle about an hour total of standing up. We went grocery shopping right before the Nature Center. So I hurt.

I didn't count on acoustic Christmas music on the speaker system. Of course I walked into "Silent Night." Later, it was "What Child is This?" There are way too many Christmas songs about babies, sleeping babies, lullabies for sweet, sleeping babies, etc. And the secular Christmas songs are annoying during normal years. This year, I really don't feel like rockin' around the Christmas tree OR having a holly, jolly Christmas. T'isn't the season to be jolly.

So the baby Jesus songs are on the stereo system, and I'm borderline weepy already. Then my kids call me over to the bird viewing area. "Hey, Mom-Look at all these birds! They're so pretty! They're different from what we see at home! This is so cool! I wish we lived by here!" This makes me smile. I have successfully indoctrinated them. My dad would be so proud of me, if he were here.

Wait-no fair. Dead family member double whammy. I was sad about the baby. Then, I thought about my dad. I'm bummed that he barely got to know my nephew Christopher, who was a baby when Dad died. I think it's totally unfair that he missed my graduation from grad school the first time, my wedding, my niece, Kate, my two children, and his soon to be three great grandchildren. And, looking at the birds, I think he would have loved going to the Nature Center with me and the kids. He would have taken Vincent and Lily fishing. They would have been so happy together.

But there was another dimension to my sadness in the moments I sat in the bird viewing area. Anything I say might sound like cliche, but here goes: The starkness of the trees, the cold weather, the grey sky-they're all beautiful in their way. This dark, bleak midwinter is sucktastic. But there must be some lesson I need to learn from it.

I sat and cried for a few minutes. Then my children asked to walk on the boardwalk path around the pond. I agreed. We hit the trail. The cold was bracing. There was a little bit of snow on the boardwalk. Vincent and Lily made snowballs and spent about ten minutes throwing them at the two frozen patches on the pond. We watched four adult ducks gliding through the pond, graceful as ballerinas in the Nutcracker. I thought about solstice. I'm not a pagan, but it seems like such a comforting holiday. If I understand correctly, the idea of solstice is that one celebrates the rebirth of light on the longest night of the year. To me, the celebration seems to say, "The world can be no darker than tonight. Let's rejoice in the fact that, although it seems far away, the light is coming back to us gradually."