Young At Heart

Very tiring week, which included another late night with the theater posse for karaoke following an evening of auditions, work responsibilities keeping me awake and some internal thought-rumblings regarding where i was a year ago* – all of which have interfered with my sleep.  Last night?  Tucked in to bed with work readings and then happily off to sleep before 11:00 pm (rare for me). 

Awakened by the phone, i groggily reached across the bed and snagged it from the nightstand.  With no idea of what time it was, i saw it was The Girl, and briefly experienced that momentary parental terror thing… but it still didn’t quite wake me up!

The Girl:  Mom, you have to turn on Leno**, there’s this amazing group…

daisyfae: [blurble… snort…] huh?

The Girl:  Oh, shit.  Did i wake you up?  I’m sorry – i didn’t realize it was so late.

daisyfae: [flipping channels… scratching assorted body bits…] hlumphf?

The Girl: They’re called the Young at Heart Chorus!  A bunch of senior citizens singing rock covers!  They’re amazing!

daisyfae: [grinning wildly… staring in awe at the spectacle on the television…]

The Girl:  The Ramones, Mom!  They’re singing The Ramones!

Yes – it was beyond beautiful… and well worth a brief interruption in my sleep.  Ladies and Gents, i present the Young At Heart Chorus – covering “I want to be sedated“, and then there’s David Byrne’s “Road to Nowhere“…

It is without question that i shall join up as soon as i get my retiree card!  I think they could use a choreographer…  and it’s cool that my daughter knows me well enough to know i wouldn’t have wanted to miss this!


* One year ago this week i was finishing radiation.  One year ago this week, i joined up with Team In Training and committed to run a half-marathon.  One year ago this week i was turning on my denial machine full blast, and putting the cancer behind me…

** For any non-US readers, Jay Leno hosts “The Tonight Show”.  Which starts at 11:30 pm, and finishes at 12:30 am.  Which is why my Vampyre-Daughter should have realized that it was, in fact, just a little late to be calling the old lady on a work night…

the glamour of motherhood…

Wandering the ether on a quiet evening, i stumbled upon this fun post from expensive mistakes and cheap thrills (a member of kyknoords South African Chick Posse*). 

It brought back a very vivid memory from long ago…

During the early breeding phase, i took unpaid leave to stay home and care for the li’l critters.  After returning to work and abandoning them to the Charles Manson Family Day Care Center**, i became restless to find my own “groove”.  Fighting the “working mommy trap”, i wanted to make sure i wasn’t just a work drone, and didn’t want to get completely lost in day-to-day parental responsibilities…. so i became a volunteer at the local Planned Parenthood Affiliate.

This led to a position on the Board of Directors, which led to managing various advocacy and fund-raising events.  i was astonished at how easy it was to pick the pockets of the wealthy by simply hosting extravagant events and pouring liquor down their throats.  The return on investment for a bottle of good scotch?  Thousands of dollars in reproductive health care for women with limited options… 

After one particularly lavish party, hosted in one of the most decadent, collosal and ostentatious finest homes in the city, i came home in the wee hours of the morning, still floating a bit from the heady experience.  In my role as “dessert hostess”, i was decked out in a spectacular little black dress, hair piled romantically upon my head, and wearing my cheap, sparkly jewelery bought at the drug store finest accessories.  i was awed that i could fit in with this crowd – witty repartee with the local “who’s who”, holding my own with doctors, lawyers and perhaps even an indian chief… and they seemed to find me engaging***.  Me?  The Trailer Park Refugee?  Unexpected and encouraging!

As i returned home, moving quietly through the house to keep from waking my sleeping family, i was awash in the hope that i could balance all three aspects of my life: career, mother and self…

Crawling into bed, visions of champagne and fine chocolates still dancing in my head, i was surprised shortly thereafter by The Girl, standing at my bedside.  She was about 4 years old at the time.  Although the room was dark, i could tell she looked a bit green.  Before either of us could say a word, she barfed the entire contents of her digestive tract into my hair. 

Reality? Check.


* seems as though they’re a bit like the gals from “Kill Bill” – without all the sharp objects and blood. 

** I was sold on the place when the sample “daily activities” list featured “fun with eating utensils” and “finger painting with kitten blood”. 

*** “engaging”?  i was surrounded by mostly sweet, partially-fossilized gentlemen who liked looking down the front of my dress.  unless they were sporting the “trophy wife” accessory package, i was certainly more “engaging” than the partially-fossilized spouse drinking too much gin and flirting with hired help in the kitchen…

and they said it couldn’t be done…

brief comments from my children over the weekend, in regard to my on-stage antics…

The Girl:  i’m going to make The Boy go with me to see the show tonight.  i figure if we’re going to suffer retinal damage, we should do it together.

The Boy:  nothing personal, Mom.  but i’d rather be punched in the nuts than see you topless on stage.  i’m gonna have to pass on this one…

The Girl: [via text message after Act I] nice rack

The Boy: [when i suggested that he just look away during that scene] but there would be naked chicks up there!  i’d have to look…

The Girl: [after the show] where the hell did you get that wig?  why do you have it?  oh, god… don’t tell me.  i don’t want to know…

…. and they said there’s nothing i can do to embarass them! ha!

Doctor, Doctor…

Even though my divorce was perhaps the friendiest of all time, i went through a ‘blue’ period – nothing quite so productive or meaningful as Picasso.  More of a ‘funk’ than anything else…

While driving with The Girl, we talked a little about these sorts of things…that it’s normal to feel a little down during life transitions.  Using the cantankerous tapedeck in my shitmobile, we were listening to a playlist from my iPod.  Nothing light and cheery, that’s for sure.

The Girl picked up my iPod, and dialed up the “25 most played” tunes.

“Holy shit, Mom!  No wonder you’re depressed!  Natalie Merchant? Eva Cassidy? Sarah McLachlan?  This is ‘slit-yer-wrist’ music… middle-aged chick emo!”

She then went on to prescribe some tunes with a bit less thorazine…

“You need some Scissor Sisters, the Soundtrack from ‘Life Aquatic’ and maybe some Killers…  Try that for a few weeks and see if it helps…”

Frame of reference

When i married in 1984, it was obvious that my in-laws were not ‘of The Park’.  Dignified, smart, hard-working and quiet people — they also had this annoying tendency to mate for life.  Celebrations of 60th wedding anniversaries are routine, and there are only whispered stories regarding divorces of more distant family members.

Over the years, our children quickly learned to expect different types of holiday gatherings, depending on which side of the family was involved. 

When visiting the in-laws:  Quiet dinners at beautiful tables, set with real linens and silverware made of actual metal.  Candles.  Many helping hands in the kitchen.  The eagerly anticipated arrival of vans full of tired, happy people who had traveled great distances to be with family for the holidays.  Holding hands at the table while someone says grace.  Thoughtful, tasteful and practical gifts.

When visiting The Park:  Chaos.  Too many people crammed into a too-cluttered house, with smoke so thick you can’t see the dining room from the kitchen.  Sandwiches and metric tons of cookies for dinner, with big, plastic 2-liter bottles of soda on the table.  Boisterous conversation, while gifts and food are thrown across the room — mainly because there is no clear path to walk without stepping on a screaming toddler.  People racing in to collect holiday loot, then racing off to go transfer the kids to the other parent to meet terms of custody agreements.  Gifts that vibrate, sing or both…

One Christmas, after a nearly side-by-side comparison of these disparate environments, my children made the following observation:

“Mom, how come on Dad’s side of the family, you are considered the wild, free-spirited, crazy member of the family, but on your side, you’re the one who handles every crisis and all the important stuff?”



Cleared for departure (?)

The Girl is beautiful, brilliant and fearless, with a penchant for world travel.  Majoring in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies, she was compelled to take a solo trip to Morocco last summer for some language and cultural immersion. Although i’m generally supportive of this, i did have some ‘mother worries’ since she was going alone. 

About a week into her trip, i get the e-mail:

“hi, mom!”

it started off simply enough…  after some general travel logistics information, there was this:

“i met the most amazing man on the train from Casablanca to Marrakesh…”

No matter how hard i tried to read the rest of her message, my brain kept taking me elsewhere.  

A humid, Moroccan courtroom, where i’m being silenced by smirking magistrates when offering pleas for the release of my grandchild…

The scene where my daughter and i run through the crowded marketplace, clutching a crying baby as we try to elude machete-wielding thugs.

Or, worst of all… a CNN news studio, where i’m being interviewed by Nancy Grace, sharing gut-wrenching tales of injustice at the hands of cold-hearted bullies.

After her safe return, and quite an adventure, i told her of my concerns.  Her response:  “Hold out for Anderson Cooper…”

Wii Smack talk

Both of the kids home for the weekend, and we ended up having a Sunday afternoon Wii moment.  Well, they had the moment – i was curled up under a blanket on the couch semi-dozing and amused.

The Girl is rather skilled at Wii bowling.  This annoys The Boy, who has been practicing to beat her.  They grabbed their favorite bowling Mii’s – Ernest Hemingway for The Girl, and Iggy Pop for The Boy.

(needless to say, watching cartoon characters of “ol’ ernest” and iggy in a bowling alley amuses me endlessly…)

After The Girl nailed yet another three strike series (known as a ‘turkey’ for those unfamiliar with bowling lingo), she decided to talk some Wii Smack.

The Girl:  So, if you’re hungry for some turkey, give me a call.

The Boy:  That is the worst smack talk ever.  If you’re going to do it, do it right… 

after another beating by The Girl, he drops the following:

The Boy:  Your mother is a whore…

from under the blanket on the couch: “hey…. leave me outta this”

sleep deprivation and ghosts

As my alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 5:30 am, i received a text message from The Girl.  She was finishing a paper, and was asking me for a back-up wake up call at 9:00 am.  After staying up all night to write the damn thing, she clearly didn’t want to accidently sleep through the class.

Work has been somewhat frantic, so as i walked down a long hallway, late for my 9:00 meeting, i gave her a ring.  She answered, and we chatted briefly.  I like to make sure she’s really awake…

As i’m doing this, i see my ex-husband turn the corner at the end of the hallway and start heading my way (he consults for my organization, and we still see each other in the office complex from time to time).

I said “hey, there’s Dad”.

Groggy, but clearly confused, voice from my phone “…yours?”

[giggling] “No, daughter… yours.  Mine died about 7 years ago.”