Monday, October 31, 2016

The Joker in All But Costume

My oldest son at home does not care to dress up at Halloween. He eshews candy as "unhealthy" and has for the past four years, contented himself with passing out the goodies to whatever trick-or-treaters show up at our home.

Yet I've always thought perhaps it was a cover to allow him to cherry pick the offerings, both before Halloween got underway, and after we returned and everyone went to bed.  I couldn't prove it, thought I would find candy wrappers in his room.  He'd complain his siblings came in to wake him up.  Yes. I know, I didn't believe it either.

Still, I couldn't prove it, and I never really tried.

Today, after we'd been out going door to door, once all were tucked in bed, we found our teenager going upstairs carrying the cauldron filled with candy.  "Why are you taking that upstairs?"
"So they won't eat it. They'll eat too much candy. It's not healthy."

But no one is reaching for this candy. No one is asking for it. Each of them came home, had their stashes inspected, sorted, they traded and each ate three pieces, they brushed their teeth and everyone's fine.  Why does this need to go upstairs?

"So no one will sneak candy. You know I won't. I don't like it." He put his hand in and took out a Starburst.   "Right."
"It's just this one candy."  He had the grace to grin.  

Working Title: I Know Where He Gets It

Later, we talked about upcoming races. I mentioned I might bring everyone to see his next run.
"My race is Tuesday."
"I know for a fact, your run is on Thursday. It's not like we're going to hold up signs that say "Yay Peter!" and "Run Peter Run!"
"It's Wednesday."
"Maybe I will bring signs. Oh! We can dress up like we do for Halloween."
"I'll dress up too."
"I'm not running. The Coach said I should sit this one out."

ConText messages...

"Hey Mom.  I need running food."
Me:  "Like?"
"Quinoa, chocolate milk, mangos, banannas, smuckers uncrustables and protien shakes."
"And spinach, and eggs and navel oranges and protien oatmeal."
"Anything else?"
"Some beets, pomegranite juice, salad mixes (Caesar only), and cliff bars."
"Is that all?"
"No.  Water, good pasta (tortellini), meatballs, and sauce, string cheese and mabye Cantelope?"
"When is the race?" (Today is Monday).
"You won't need all of this for tomorrow."
"I'll do the dishes and fold the laundry."
"Will you make the bus in the morning?"
"Will you make the bus in the morning?"
"Just get me some banannas and cliff bars."

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Last Minute Trick-or-Treating Trials

I am normally a last minute kind of shopper. Given the pickings this year for Halloween, I have to think I'm a dying breed. Can it be with the advent of the internet being so ubiquitous, it no longer makes sense to the retailers or the algorythmns counters to every have stuff in stock for those who wake up and discover, there's only one day left before a holiday?  

I know I can't be the only one. I saw a frustrated Mom pushing a cart with two kiddos, searching for those elusive costumes.  I overheard a Dad saying, "Next time, we're doing this earlier."  and fishing through the discarded stack of costumes people tried on and found didn't fit.

My daughter's school eliminated props from costumes, rendering her Ranger costume a rather strange outfit. She didn't want to go as an archer without a bow and quiver full of arrows.  We figured, we'd snag a Harry Potter robe and call it a day.  The costumes in the first store, things no person should wear.  The costumes in the second store?  Designed and created for people who would allow their daughters to dress  in skin tight things that no one should wear.

As a writer, we have to create articles three to six months in advance of when they will be posted. When did all of retail get on the same schedule? Where's the store that recognizes, we have lives and  those lives are last minute?   Don't point me to the big box stores, that's where we were.

So I have a proposal for one of those big stores.  Have a last minute stock store for each holiday. Clear out an aisle and lable it, "Last Minute Shopping."  Don't put the premium stuff in there until the day before. Advertise you're the place to go when you're out of time.  I promise, we will beat a path to your door. We will buy you out.

I still have to wonder, in this age of cos-play, how is it there's a dearth of costumes at any time of year?

I proposed being a ghost.  Or a Charlie Brown version of a ghost.  We have at least ten costumes I could put together, she wanted none of them.  I know she still grieved not being able to be the ranger with the bow and arrows.

We went to get decorations.  These proved equally elusive. We'd have been in great shape if we were decking the halls or preparing for New Year's Eve.   My daughter wouldn't go for being the new year or wearing a top hat and sporting plastic champagne glasses or for being Rudolph. I pointed out she could say "Happy New Year" or "Merry Christmas." if she wanted.  No dice.

 The third store, we found two discounted racks of mish mash and in there, a witch outfit both modest and not uncool and grabbed a big bag of candies and some mesh bags for getting the trick-or-treats.  She is sky high happy.  I get home.

My teenager also wants to dress up, and wants to go to the store.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Small Success Thursday and the Connecting the Dots Podcast link up!

I know, writing has taken it on the chin lately.  I'm trying to force myself to make more time.  However, I've maintained continuity with two things, Small Success Thursday and Connecting the Dots with Mark Shea...and what luck, I have links for both of those things today!

So first, stop by and read up on this past week's comings and goings with Small Success Thursday and the piece entitled, "The Side They Pierced."

After you've left your successes in the com box (and I hope you will), come back and listen to Mark Shea and me, or rather, listen with us as we hear about Tom McDonald's trip to Jordan.

I just wish you could have heard us talking behind the scenes when we heard the music. Tom had great stories about his trip to Jordan as a journalist, and honestly, I wanted to go pack my bags. 

You can read about his trip here.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Problems with Poetry

When I get writer's block, I have drafts that have wonderful titles and nothing in them.  My draft board is filled with half finished thoughts which prove, I did write that day, I just didn't hit "Publish." These days, I have little time, so more half thoughts get started than finished.

The other thing I do when I feel as if I've said everything I can think of, and have nothing new to contribute that will either edify or amuse, is write poetry.   I don't like my poems as a rule for three reasons:

1) It's easy to write bad poetry.
2) It's easy to be pretentious about one's poetry.
3) I can hear in my head everytime I write a poem either my poetry teacher at Notre Dame saying, "We don't need to read her poems." or the Poet who visited Saint Mary's, saying, "I'm very surprised I almosts believed her poem."

Poetry is supposed to use form and words to create an indellible image in the mind, to engrave on the heart something that wouldn't be possible with prose.   Poetry uses active space in language, to create greater meaning in the language that does get used.   I tend to blather on, to cover the whole canvas with words, leaving little space for my poems to breathe.  See problem #1.

However I'm also protective about my poems in the same way any writer looks at their creation and thinks it beautiful.  See problem #2.

Problem #3 is the running tape in my head, which makes me highly supsicious of any praise of my poetry... because I know both problem #1 and problem #2 are real. Fortunately, I have a third teacher whose words also run through my head.

Die hard cub fan, Max at Saint Mary's remained a favorite all the years if only because despite being a poet, he could laugh at himself.  He laughed at me too, but I knew he didn't mean it except in the gentle way a professor might tease a student who needed to grow up a bit.   "Yes, but I'll never be as good as YEETS."  He wrote on the board.   A comment from some frustated student in the course of decades of teaching.   To which he quipped, "YEATS, no, Yeets, probably.  Now get back to writing."

The trick was to stop using everyone else as a yardstick, and learn what they did that worked and what they did that didn't, and apply all those lessons to the actual business of writing.   He taught us, be humble, and you can write whatever poem you like.

"That Max
pisses me off."

Possibly the most memorable poem in the semester began with these opening two lines. I can't remember the rest of it, but I honestly can't remember any of the other poems we read during that semester which proves since I didn't write those two lines, I probably made people suffer through #1 and #2, and legitimately helped foster the commentary listed in #3.   He laughed harder than anyone else at that poem, and taped it on his door. These were his lessons.  Wear your problem.  Bleed on the page. Laugh at yourself and recognize, much of what you write, is laughable.  

On top of that, he demanded, "Write until you stop thinking about what you will write, and just as a muscian will eventually be able to play a piece without looking, and a dancer to perform a whole routine without error, the words will flow and you'll only know after you write them, what they mean."  It sounded like nonsense.  It also sounded wonderful.    He made poetry something other than what depressed artsy sophsiticated people do, he made it fun.  

With all those lessons in mind, I give to you, today's poem, inspired by watching the students at my new job funnel out to the buses and cars waiting at dismissal.    

The Beauty We Cannot Yet See

It's three o'clock
and the students swarm out
all talking and walking,
so full of promise
some have already broken.

They stare at their phones,
at the ground,
at the sky
and anywhere at all
except each other.

Determined to remain
insulated and safe
in a crowd full of others
just as wary,
all just as full

of more beauty than we
or they imagine they can bear.
They are stars in the daylight
and every once in a while,
the veil lifts.

Revealing a glimmer
of what could be
of what should be
what would be.
It was always intended.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Halloween is Next Week...

I love dressing up for Halloween.  It is my favorite part of the holiday. (I know you thought it was the chocolate, but honestly, I've always loved the dressing up part.  Besides, the chocolate at Halloween is usually 90% Milky Ways...which are underachieving Snickers bars and if I'm going to eat cheap chocolate, it's going to be at least satisfying).  

However, I never like to repeat myself.  In recent years, I've felt less than inspired, mostly because I'm usually putting together all my kids' costumes or helping them come up with creative ideas.  This year, we've got it already set and ready to go, so I had the luxury of reflecting on the matter before shipping and handling would render the prospect of a costume cost prohibitive.  

Costumes can be tricky, since many of those crafted for women fail to account for anyone over a size four, and tend to involve in many cases, life choices with respect to wardrobe that no one should respect.  In the past, I've been Helen of Troy, A  professor from Hogwarts, Supergirl, Jesse from Team Rocket, a crewmember from Star Trek and a hobbit. The Geek power in me wins over almost every time.   I wanted to do something different.

Dressing up is supposed to allow you to play out some part of your psyche you tend not to allow out into the world, so I have to wonder...what am I saying when I've opted for this:  

I'm guessing it says, I have many teenagers in my home and sometimes, snark is a coping mechanism.  I will say, my daughters laughed and said, "I'm too nice to be Mother Gothel." 


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Line Between the Tweens

Having two adolescents in the house means I spend a lot of time discerning, "Do I need to fight this battle?"  and the follow up, "Why the heck did I need to fight that battle?" with the follow up follow up, "I hope I won."

Child A wants to earn money and offers to do what I currently do for free, for cash once a week.  Child A keeps track of the labor and gives a running tally on the money earned thus far.

Child B opts one day out of kindness to do the same chore.

Come pay day, both expect payment.   I oblige.

Now I have two people wanting me to designate who shall have the privilege of earning cash on the barrel for their labors, and who gets nothing.


One does the chore with decidedly greater skill than the other.

Suggesting both do the labor at the same time seems like the Solomon type decision, except both keep reporting how the other one isn't doing enough to merit full payment.

My head hurts.

My options:  Make both clean. Ignore all complaints. Pay both full amounts. This is not my first choice, just an option.  I don't want it.

Shared labor, half expenses.  Explain the pay is halfed with the labor.  Hope they agree to it. *I'd prefer, since it would mean realistically, the whole job might be regularly completed and gradually, both would come to learn the task.

Alternate cleaning.  Recognize I'll have to tweak or groom the less skilled laborer.   I'll have to psuedo check the other so neither notes their own superiority.

Assert Power.  Both clean. No pay.   This is more pain than it is worth. It will leave me eventually with no help.

This is why I write. It helps me see the folly of options.

I went to the two in question and explained the possibilities.

They came up with one I'd not anticipated.

"We don't need the money."  so they both dropped the chore.

Perhaps, I should write more.  I didn't see that folly coming.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Saturday Surprise

It was so nice to wake up and find a piece I wrote a while a go, was published today over at Aleteia.  This week's been pretty busy, squeezing my writing time but don't worry, I've got the weekend to work with, and we threw a party for 12 eleven year old girls yesterday, so there's lots of stuff in my head which will demand to get out.

This week's published piece is The Dark Night of the Soul Might Not Be for Me.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Universe, My Teen and Me

At some point after kids turn 13, they stop trusting your experience as having weight, until you turn the table on them and ask an adult question.

"So, what do you want to do after high school?" is a question that generally elicits one of two responses.  

Response 1:  Stare at one's sneakers until the question goes away.
Response 2:  Do anything else other than answer.

When I asked my son, "Can you name five careers you could imagine yourself possibly doing, things that you think would be cool to do?"   He nearly bore a hole in the floor from his intense stare at his shoes.

Not wanting to have silence as an answer, (since a career as a mime seems to have limited upward income potential) I opted for a subtle approach.

"Hey son?  Can you read Anna a bedtime story?"
"Maybe You Can Be a Vet, Maybe You Can Fly a Jet" might be one of the lamer Dr. Seus titles out there, but it did at least get the hint across, I wasn't going to let this go.

The next morning he cooked himself an omelette.  "You could be a chef." I said.
He left the room.

That afternoon, he fixed his bike.  "Mechanic?" He took off on his bike.

He brought me papers to sign.  "Lawyer?" I wasn't giving up.

I played games with the younger ones, having them talk about Halloween Costumes if they could only choose from careers.  JUDGE!  FIREMAN! POLICEWOMAN! SINGER! ACTOR! TEACHER! NURSE! ARTIST! We kept going around, as many of my kiddos wanted to have two, maybe three careers over the course of their lives.

He ran up the stairs holding his ears.

Surrendering didn't seem prudent, and yet I couldn't think of another way to approach the question and get an actual response.  My son gave a scream of irritation from his room. I ran upstairs.  "What's wrong?" I asked.

"The UNIVERSE Mom."  He led out a sheet of paper.  I looked at it blankly. It gave the schedule for Spirit Week.  "LOOK AT THURSDAY!" he shouted.

Career Day.   I couldn't help grinning.  Guess I'll find out at the end of the week.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Luminous Feast

Yesterday, I got to attend a wedding.  I love weddings.  I love the receptions.  They carry within them 1000 familiar stories, all beautiful and aching, because they are true.  There is the wistful woman sitting at the table, watching the dance floor.  There are the three beautiful girls dancing together, laughing louder than the music, and all four of them are trying to will through the loneliness they sometimes find unbearable, away.  

The men and women dance, there are couples who know how, and moments, when it is so beautiful, one wonders why we do not stop and watch such wonderfulness more often.  The best dancer finds all those sitting at the table, and brings them onto the floor, and the joy is contagious.  Some of us are dancing fools, and it does not matter the song.

There are the couples dancing cheek to cheek, even when it isn't a slow song, because the wedding feast never ended.   At least three families bring along their children, and everyone else delights in seeing them on the dance floor, especially the shy girl who wonders what happened to every adult she's ever known when the songs start playing.  At the back table is a group of family or friends, who once upon a time, saw each other weekly, if not daily.  Now, they sit and the years slip away as the minutes do, and they laugh and do not move from the golden joy of good memories and good food and presence, beautiful presence with each other.  

I watched the bride and groom, and it didn't matter where either went, their eyes were on each other's. Whenever their eyes met, their faces broke into smiles.   The best man beamed with joy, and the sister and brother of the bride burst with pride.  The father watched his daughter and you could see his heart, both bursting with joy and breaking, at the end of an era of his life.

The touches of joy lit the room like candles.  There is no mystery more luminous than love.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Over at Aleteia

School is making it hard for me to keep up with the blog, so I'm pacing myself.  I write in the evening, submit in the morning, and hope to link post the next day whenever I find, something got published.   It's always a pleasant surprise, it never gets old, that happy feeling seeing something in print.  

Here's the link:
My Son is So Much More than Down Syndrome.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Connect the Dots with Mark Shea

Mondays at five o'clock, you can catch us live and text us 1-573-4BREAD4 or tweet us @breadboxmedia.  After six o'clock on Monday, you have to search for the talk by looking here for Connecting the Dots with Mark Shea, click on the one that says "with Sherry Antonetti." I am the Robin (girl wonder) to his Batman, and together, we fight crime, or at least boredom, by talking about Catholicism, life, books and all the fun things you can chew through in an hour podcast.

We're talking books with Regina Doman.  Favorite books.  Books that grabbed our hearts and shaped how we think.

I am a fitful reader, but do have some favorites (who doesn't).  These are in no particular order.

10) The Liar's Club
9) On Writing
8) The Trojan Women and Other Plays
7) The Illiad
6) Emma
5) The Elegance of the Hedgehog
4) The Glass Castle
3) In this House of Brede
2) Our Mutual Friend
1) The Great Divorce

We also delve into what became an interesting discussion about Nostra Aetate of Vatican II and the subsequent fuller elaboration from the Vatican in December of 2015 "The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevokable."  I knew neither of these two documents and they're worth a read.   So, homework on your podcast today, but it's fitting since I'm now a teacher.

Monday, October 3, 2016

What's My Sign Today? Hold Please

Today, I spent 30 minutes trying to get back onto my blog, because I forgot the password to my email, and thus had to get the code from my phone to access my email so I could then access the password for the blog. Getting the code meant finding the phone, which I'd put on silent yesterday and now couldn't find by sound.  

My son needs documentation proving he is the age I say he is, birth certificate proves he was born, but not who he is now, ergo we need his student ID, which he has lost, which prevents me from taking him to get a learner's permit or a social security card.  So I need him to go get a new student ID so I can then take the student ID to go get him a social security card so we can then go and have him take a test to get a learner's permit.  We also need my oldest college student to give me documentation so I can add her to the insurance, and only a DL will do.  She's not here so I need to email her to send me a copy so I can go to the office and give the copy to the officials.

Or I can bring my tax forms, but since they were filed over the internet, the signature page isn't signed, so it doesn't count unless I go by the accountant, have them sign, and then bring it.   The accountant isn't open on Monday, so it will have to wait until tomorrow before it can begin.

My entire morning can be summed up as "There's a Hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza."  The entire world is giving me the message, "Be back in five minutes.  Hold please."  I recognize when the universe is saying give up, try again tomorrow.  I yield.

If anyone needs me this afternoon, I'll be slumming on my bed watching Netflix and eating chocolate.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!