Tuesday, 11 August 2009

life IS short

A funny thing happened this weekend.

I went back to the the town of my alma mater where my high school class, which graduated 30 years ago, was serving as the "grand marshals" for the local festival parade.

Many of the folks I had not seen for many, many years; some I had not seen in the entire 30 years since I left my parent's home.

The funny thing was that somewhere in my mind I was expecting all of these people to look exactly the way they did 30 years ago; in my mind's eye they had not changed a bit. And funnier still-- most of them did look much like I remembered. I could still see traces of their adolescent selves in each one of them, or their voices, or their mannerisms.

When you come from a small community and a small school there is something that happens that is impossible to replicate in a larger school atmosphere. While you may not have known everyone of your classmates intimately, you DID know everyone's name in our school. And it is very likely that you knew some of the details of their lives as well. This was an extended family.

Like it or not.

There were some family members that you may have felt closer to than others or that you avoided getting into certain conversations with or that you never really had too much in common with, but the many years spent together makes them family just the same.

That was the overwhelming sense I had in talking to these folks. All social barriers were down. There are no cliques to wade through. Just the feeling of family, of "I know these people." The feeling of wanting these people to all be just fine and never have any suffering in their lives.

While I'm close to many folks by choice now as I'm plowing down my forties, there is a difference when you can look at a childhood friend or classmate and you can immediately see them as the five year old, or the awkward 12 year old or the gorgeous 16 year old they were.

That, my friends, is family.

And that is also when you feel the breeze from time flying by you.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

The Perfect Date

I just got back from the perfect date.

It was with my 86 year old mother.

Last year Amazon practically gave me some books and 2 arrived, inadvertent to my order, on tape. Therefore, Julie and Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes and One Tiny Apartment was my first-ever book on tape.

I loved it. The author's voice reminded me of Tina Fey and her hilarious rendition had me laughing while I was power-washing the house and made me look forward to my summertime chores last year.

Julia Child is a fairly forthright memory from my childhood so with the today's release of the movie based on the book: Julie & Julia we seemed to have the recipe for the perfect mother-daughter outing.

On the way to the movie I explained the world of "blog" to my mother, who has never owned a computer, but fully understands how integral one is to my writing, my work and my life.

The theatre was packed at a 12:30 matinee in the midwest; no small feat. I turned to my mother and observed, "There are a lot of folks here with the same color hair as yours," at which she giggled.

The movie vacillated between scenes of Meryl Streep playing a right-on Julia Child from the time she discovered French food, to cooking school, to the publishing of her book and Julie blogging and cooking and blogging and cooking.

I found the movie a delightful translation of the book- and was intrigued with learning more about Julia Child's life.

The best part of the entire experience though was the company. I'm sure we were not the only mother-daughter dates in attendance.

We are at a time in our lives when this mother and daughter give each other knowing looks and enjoy every bit of quality time we have together, while frequently commiserating about "how time flies."

Today we made another memory.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Step Away From Your Rag Mag

(this post was initially written for a blog I write for: The Voice of Mom)

Becky and Stephen +10 are on day 9 of a Florida beach vacation with 2 days to go.

Our HMF (self described high maintenance friends) were an absolute joy to be with and departed 2 days ago. With their departure we were left with their vacation rags that follow the “stars.” We do not have cable television, therefore much of the hyperbole in these publications is lost on us. However while travelling and staying in hotels, we had caught Jon and Kate +8 a couple of times and perused the rag-mags — enough to comment on the dynamics between the couple and how bizarre it must be to live your life under scrutiny — especially if you have a modicum of anxiety in your system (and don’t we all?).

Frankly, I’m sick to death of publications that obviously sell and sell and sell, pushing their unsubstantiated fodder; especially when it comes to folks that have it hard enough trying to keep some semblance of an emotionally healthy life while raising children (Brad and Angelina, Jon and Kate, Tom and Katie, and yes, Michael Jackson to name a few). But to have every move that you make with your children speculated about and made into a “when are they going to break up game” — geez, it’s no wonder other countries have questions about our values and priorities when we show that, as a nation, we are more interested in how a “star” looks in a bikini this year than how to help our fellow man or what is going on around the world.

On late night cable we saw a replay of an extensive interview of Michael Jackson being third-degreed about every angle of his life — plastic surgery, how he was parented, his own parenting . . . Which of us would want to sit in front of a camera and have every word we say and every move we make scrutinized? And yes, I would probably be shaking like I was high on crack too (recalling the leg-shaking Michael trying to feed his baby on camera to prove he could do it).

Earth to tabloid and star gossip show lovers: there’s a 4 letter word in the biz responsible for the hype that the networks and publication companies know sells: EDIT.

Yes, the flattering pictures of the star with their children, or the star’s figure, or their eloquent answers to the nosy questions frequently end up on the cutting room floor. Why? Because showing competence doesn’t sell dirt TV and rag mags.

After all the stares and comments we have gotten going through the airport and hanging at the beach and going into restaurants with our large brood, I have but an inkling of what it must be like for these parents that are constantly under the microscope and are, after all, just parents — like you and I: imperfect, learning, less than patient all the time, blown away by how much work parenting is and needing a break from scrutiny.

I wish the media would give them one.

Put your gossip rag down and repeat after me: “I will not be a part of the destruction of the lives of other human beings by supporting this unconscionable industry.”

If only the media could live up to the simple truths in one of my favorite vacation reads, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel– Be impeccable with your word, Don’t make assumptions, Always do your best– the “stars” wouldn’t have to practice the fourth agreement quite as much “Don’t take anything personally.”