Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ben and the Clarinet

No one should have to play an instrument that requires being drained of spit.

Last Year...

Yesterday, we all went shopping for a new couch to have for Sea Winds. Walter, Allan, Jeanine, the kids and I packed into the wagon. The first stop was a Mitchell Gold/Bob Williams store.

I have to say, when we show up, it's like when a bus pulls into a fast food restaurant. Each kid was on a different couch, we had two sales people talking about the products all within about thirty seconds of walking in the door.

Jake and I were by some chairs.

These are like Grandma's! he said.

They were like my mother's chairs. As we circled the store, Jake said, This place reminds me of Grandma.

Yes, she would have liked this store very much, I said.

How old would she be if she were still alive? He asked.

Seventy-seven, I said. It surprised me how quickly the answer came to mind. I'm terrible with remembering people's ages.

Grandma sure would like it here, He said again before joining his brother's on another couch.

Jake's observations were dead on. My mother loved modern/contemporary furniture. Seventies style sloping arms, or high backed, narrow, all white chairs. It made me smile to think he still remembers a piece of her so clearly.

When I woke up this morning, I remembered where I was a year ago. I started to cry. I called my sister who asked me to write some of my happy memories of my mother.

I don't have any, She said. I love reading yours.

That made me cry more.

Last year on this date, I said goodbye to my mother. She died a few day later.

This is what I wrote on 9/30/06:


I walked in and started to cry. She was curled up in a ball on the bed- fetal position as much as her swollen belly would allow. I laid down and put my forehead up against hers. She reached up her hand and touched my face and said, Oh, it’s not that bad.

Sweet and soft, her voice made me melt. I cried harder. I can't let go. I can't.

And then she was mean.

I helped her up for a smoke. Got her some wine. Sat behind her and rubbed her back, held her in my arms.

Are you going to get through this?

I am, Mom.

Doesn’t seem like you are going to be all right. Seems like you’re never going to be all right.

Yes, Mom. I will. I’ll be okay.

Doesn’t seem like it.

A long pause. Another drag off of the cigarette. She stops to look at her hand. It is unfamiliar in it's present state. She had such beautiful hands once. Now they are red and white, bruised and swollen.

This is a nice room, she said. I like being in this room.

It’s very beautiful, I agreed. I wonder if she knows who she is talking to. Where she is.

All the time I’m holding her, rubbing her back.

I love you, Mom.

She took another drag of her cigarette. Slowly raised the wine glass up to her lips. It is clear swallowing is almost impossible. She says nothing.

I’m sorry, Mom. I’m sorry I hurt you.

Another long drag of the cigarette.

You’re not one to say that, she said.

In a second, I am remined of how selfish I am.

After one more long, painful sip of wine, I help her get back down.

Lying down, I tell her I’m sorry. Again. Tell her I love her.


You really hurt me, she said.

I know, I said. I’m still rubbing her back.

I’m sorry you drove so long but I’m going back to sleep now.

I just wanted to say goodbye, Mom. And let you know I love you.

Her eyes closed.

I stayed a while, rubbing her back. I got up to leave.

I cried in the living room for a while. I’m really saying goodbye. Really saying goodbye. And she won’t say she loves me. Not once. I feel myself wanting to go in and ask her if she loves me. Do you love me, Mom? And it feels so pathetic and sad. Am I going to hear the words? One last time?

I went back in and wanted desperately to hear the words I love you, Sara. I wanted to hear it so much. I wanted to beg for it.

I didn’t.

I sat on the bed and she opened her eyes briefly.

You’re doing what Granddaddy did, aren’t you?

My grandfather, her father, starved himself to death. Refused liquids. Took a long, painful week to die. She held his hand the whole way.

No, she said, I really can’t eat.

Well, you’ve never been much of an eater, I say smiling.

She doesn’t respond.

It’s okay not to eat, mom. It’s okay to let go. Just let go.

She doesn’t respond. I’m not sure if she’s asleep again. I lean over and kiss her forehead. Goodbye. I love you.

She opens her eyes wide and I think I’ll hear something and she says, Keep the door open, please. I hate being shut in here.

And closed her eyes again. I sat for a long moment. Looked at her. Held her hand.

I left.

A moment of kindness. A brief, amazing moment. I’ve lived my whole life for those moments. When she loved me in such a wonderful way. With clarity. And then it would be gone.

I’m sorry, Mom. I’m sorry I hurt you so much.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Major Updating

I have a new computer.

I know, very exciting.

It is currently being prepared, which means my old computer is hooked up to it.

I wish I had a great Frankenstein graphic.


Um... but not yet.

I'll be back tomorrow, when I'm not posting off my children's computer.

And finally... no more crashing computers.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Steamers, Steak and Some Birthday Cake

How do you teach your kids to buy birthday presents?

It was Walter’s birthday the other day. He wanted a dinner with everything starting with the letter S.

He was kidding.

Allan and I took it seriously. There was shrimp, St. Andre cheese, St. Augur cheese, steamers, steaks, salad, ‘spuds (work with me here), sour cream, sweet butter, served with Syrah and Samuel Smith pale ale.

I was looking for Schlitz but I don’t think they make that anymore.

Of course, the kids had soda.

About a week before, I started asking the kids what they wanted to give Walter for his birthday.

Flowers, Jake said.

Walter works with flowers every day, honey. Besides, I cannot begin to buy or arrange them as well as he can.

Chocolate, Ben said.

Allan loves chocolate, I said, but no so much Walter. He’s not a sweets guy.

Zachary said, Can I get him something for fishing? Like a bag or something for all the stuff?

Mind you, Zachary does not like fishing. Jake goes fishing with Walter. Never Zachary.

Yup, I said. I’ll get one.

The other two kept thinking. The next day Ben said, Flowers. Jake said, Chocolate. This went on for several more days, each unable to move off the motif.

What does Walter like to do? I finally asked, getting exasperated trying to explain multiple reasons why chocolate and flowers were not okay. I wish the man wore a tie to work.

He likes baseball, Jake said.

I don’t know! Ben dramatically flew off into a tizzy. It was too much to ask him on a day the news came out that the young actress who plays Hannah Montana might be pregnant. I decided to order Walter a book of photographs of Down East Maine from Ben.

Walter does like baseball. What do you think we should get him? I was very hopeful Jake was finally moving in the right direction.

How about a jersey?

He has one.

A hat?

He has several.

A ball with an autograph?

While Jake had come up with a perfect idea, it was two days before the birthday and I knew I could not get an autographed ball in that little time.


Jake crumbled. The kid had done a lot of work on it. How about a book on salt water fishing so you two can learn together? I suggested.

Yeah! He popped right back up, happy he came up with a great idea. Get him a book on fishing for me!

Bought, wrapped- don’t get me started about wrapping again- and the boys made their cards. It was interesting to see that Zachary, the one who had the perfect idea? Made a very basic card. Few words. Ben and Jake, however, who could not for the life of them, come up with an idea? Drew elaborate cards.

My mother was one of the best gift givers. Okay, the asparagus steamer was just plain weird but I could see the time and care in her choices. She looked for things that were completely off the beaten track. Things you would never expect. I’ve always tried to be as thoughtful. Except for the few, muted attempts at giving Jeanine a technology gift, I think I’ve done fairly well.

I try to help the boys come up with ideas but with their friends, I’m often at a loss. I don’t know them that well. It’s important to me they learn how to see the other in giving a gift. The act is not just about stuff but an acknowledgement of your love, care and connection. Kids are quick to grab what they love which isn’t a bad thing. I’ve watched their faces, however, when they get something that is completely out of the blue. It’s not fun.

Jake, however, bought his buddy a present in Lego Land in July for the kid’s September birthday. And Zachary got it right on the nail, first time. I must be doing something right. It was a stretch for the other two for Walter’s birthday, though. Maybe I’ll start earlier next year. Still, as I’m sure Walter would say, it’s the thought that counts.

Just don’t ask Ben when there is a breaking crisis in the pre-teen world around one of his favorite actors.

The S theme- and the effort behind it- hopefully made it special.

Although at the end? We had to stick with chocolate cake. So... Steamers, Steak and Some birthday cake.(Keep working with me, here!)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

US Marine Motto Revised:

"The Few, The Proud, The Marines."

Stop enticing my kids with visions of shiny swords and fancy uniforms during baseball games. Let's face it, the reality?

"The Few, The Proud, The Dead."

Good-bye Mall, Hello Collection

I was at the mall yesterday killing time while waiting for my new iPhone to get fixed.

Yes, I did take the plunge into the world of new, fabulous technology.

Yes, it also broke within one week.

No, it was NOT my fault. Out of nowhere, my phone started to blink blink blink an all white screen.

Not good.

So I dutifully went to the Apple Store and was handed a beeper that would inform me when it would be my turn. This keeps everyone with something broken filling up the store- bad for business.

I am not a mall person. I avoid malls at all costs. I find them over-stimulating and giant symbols of all that is wrong with American consumerism. Don’t get me started about the need for 18 belt stores, 20 shoes stores, and a small cart with plastic covers for all your little gismos so you can “personalize” your look.

Like two hundred thousand of those same gizmos haven’t been manufactured. When my kids were little and someone would buy them a plastic dump truck, I could only imagine the millions of plastic dump trucks that came off the assembly line and where they would all be in two years.

I hate the mall but this, I was informed, is no longer a mall. It is a “collection.” What was once the Natick Mall is now the Natick Collection.

What’s a Collection? Jake asked when I informed the boys later in the day of the name change.

It’s a way to make you pay for parking, I said.

I can only say, this monstrosity is so huge, the mall walkers better have water tables set up along the way. There was so much of… basically nothing or the same thing over and over, I was dazed.

Not too dazed. I noticed, as I walked by the Ann Taylor store that the mannequins all had erect nipples. I went back to another store- the Gap- no erect nipples. No heads, either, on a lot of them, but… I won’t go there. I looked around and it seemed, in my brief sampling, that Ann Taylor’s mannequins were the only with high beams on the block.

Why? I don’t understand why they had to be created with so much definition… is it not bad enough they are perky?

Maybe, a friend said, they are meant to entice you.

They did not entice me. They frightened me. I wanted to cover them up so none of the nursing infants in the mall would be confused.

I found out later that the collection would include a condominium complex. “Where Life and Style Come Together.”( For a cool 825K, you can get a three bedroom, 1600-foot condo. It even comes with a stove, although I’m not sure why. You’ll never have to step outdoors, if you’re lucky. You could get a job in one of the stores, exercise at the exclusive Bosse Nouvelle that is if mall walking isn’t enough for you, and have all your meals there- maybe you’d have to leave to see a doctor, but somehow, I’m guessing they’re working on that, too.

Which leaves me to ask, would you want to live in a Mall? Sorry, Collection? With fake twenty-foot tall birch trees, and black granite pools of water, don’t you think you’d miss the fresh air? Real sunlight? Is anyone else out there a little concerned about what it means to actually move into a mall and live there? It was one thing to watch Tom Hank’s portrayal of a man stuck in a terminal at JFK, but in the end, we feel bad for him. He can’t leave. It becomes a little claustrophobic.

At least it did for me.

Personally? If I have to go to the Apple Store again, I’m going somewhere else. Somewhere there are real lines, no erect nipples and doors to the outside.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lecherous Old Lesbians

I went to Davis Square the other day to meet a friend for lunch. Davis Square, in Somerville, MA, is ultra cool. So cool it makes Newton look like Iowa. To get there is a ridiculous venture of side roads, twisting, turning, remembering odd streets and one-way roads. Make a wrong turn, you’re in East Boston. Or Connecticut.

Make the right turn, you reach the home of the hip, the trendsetters, and the young. There are fabulous restaurants- Gargoyles, Red Bones, and where I met my friend, the Diesel Café.

They should have named it the Diesel Dyke Café because the place was crawling with the cutest, hottest, young lesbians I’ve seen in a long, long time.

And I worked in Jamaica Plain for a while, walking the center ever day. No comparison.

My friend and I have known each other almost twenty years. We have the kind of connection that even if we don’t talk for a long time, when we get together, there better be at least two hours free or we’re going to feel like we’ve said nothing.

We sat down in the very hip, edgy urban café after ordering our sandwiches with sprouts and whole grain bread. I believe we invented that cuisine in the seventies, but I guess it goes to show everything comes back in style, even sprouts.

While we discussed our kids, our long-term relationships, our extended families, the long journey we’ve been on, trying to find balance and laughing at our missteps, we could not help but watch the young women walk by, from time to time.

You know, my friend said to me, we might feel 24 years old? But we’re not.

Oh god, we’re lecherous old lesbians! I said. Drooling over women young enough to be our children!

This did not stop us but it did put it in a different frame. It’s hard to imagine sometimes how much older we are now. She’s almost fifty. That can’t be. I remember her watch a basketball game I was playing in because there was a cute, single woman on the team I thought she’d like. I could still play basketball. I played a pretty good game, too, back in the day.

I know it seems like I’m going on an age rampage- “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” but to be honest, I like where I am now.

Minus the hot flashes.

I honestly don’t want to be 24 again. I love that I have a friend I know so well we can pick up as if not a day had passed in between visits. When we first met, we had to learn so much about each other, hear each other’s stories. All that information is piled together over the years, turned into humorous, one-liners, understood without needing any explanation.

“I don’t fly coach” is my favorite.

It’s not about flying coach at all, but a fun story and a parent’s ability to make light of a difficult situation.

As we finished our long talk, we decided it was a good place to meet. Maybe we are too old to even be considered attractive by those young women. To be honest, I have so much more than them. I don’t want to go back to living in bad parts of town, and having earnest conversations about world peace over Blue Nun wine.

Okay, I’m still having earnest conversations about world peace; they just don’t last all night anymore.

Today the wine is much better than Blue Nun.

I like all my experiences – good and bad- and the vision it gives me. I love the richness of my friendships.

And even though I’m old enough to be their mother? Those young lesbians smiled and acknowledged us. I remember seeing older lesbians when I was their age and thinking, Thank you.

But certainly not, I want to date you. No. Never.

I may not be hip. I may not be a trendsetter. But I helped paved some of the road they are walking on today.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Note to Self:

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." --Harry S. Truman

Perimenopausal Meltdown

Have I mentioned I’m having a perimenopausal meltdown? Last night, I went off on such a tear about well… nothing… that when a friend suggested I was making a mountain out of a molehill, I almost reached through the wireless connection and smacked him.

After I calmed down, I headed up to bed only to lie there and be hot.

Not hot in a good way. Hot as in miserable, how the hell can it be so warm this late in September and why didn’t I turn on the air conditioner?

Perhaps because it was only hot for me.

Jeanine was still downstairs working when I stomped down and picked up a huge box fan sitting in the corner of the living room and took it back up with me.

I won’t mention the dialog I had, basically with myself, about the temperature. No need for that much vulgarity this early in the day.

Jeanine, who hates fans and any excess noise, didn’t say a peep. She knew better. She kept her head down.

Our house is a hormonal nightmare right now. As I walked with home Zachary and a friend of his yesterday from school, they both gleefully told me they were, in fact, tweeners.

You are only ten, I said.

Ten to twelve is the official tweener years, Zachary’s pal told me.

Then I have two tweeners in my house? I said, raising an eyebrow.

Yup. But Jake is still a boy, the kid assured me.

I can’t have two tweeners in my house. You don’t understand.

Ben will be a teenager really soon, he said. Then you’ll only have one.

I smiled. The boy is sweet and he has no idea he might as well have pounded a stake in my heart.

Ben already goes back and forth between the nicest, most helpful young man in existence and a whining, screaming fanatic. At the ripe age of almost twelve, his hormones are working overtime. This morning he asked Jake if he wanted help getting breakfast.

GET AWAY FROM ME, BEN! Was Jake’s less than calm response. Why? Because two seconds before, Ben had called Jake’s favorite game stupid, thus insinuating that Jake was stupid.

I wouldn’t have let him help me, either.

But I heard in Ben’s voice a real sincerity. He honestly wanted to help. I could see both points of view and couldn’t figure out a balanced response to help them hear each other.

Like Jeanine the night before, I kept my head down.

I think that’s why newspapers can never stop being printed- they provide perfect cover for avoiding children’s disputes you cannot reasonably address prior to finishing at least one cup of coffee.

I hope there is some force in the universe that will help us when Zachary starts hitting the hormonal stage. Not to mention Jeanine is getting old enough to start edging into perimenopause, too. We're going to need it. I look at Jake and think, well, maybe he will get to live with his dads Walter and Allan a few days a week. I mean… it doesn’t seem fair to be caught in that crossfire.

As a feminist, I have always shuddered when people define women by their hormones. It’s a bogus reason not to have women leaders in the world on any level. All the stupid jokes about pushing “the button” to end the world just because a woman having “that time of the month” are absurd. Let’s face it, after almost thirty years of bleeding monthly more than any man would ever probably bleed in his life, I am a hell of a lot tougher and far more capable of controlling my emotions.

I did not smack anyone last night. I may not have been very calm but I did not act out on my emotional state. I closed my eyes, with the fan on high, and drifted off to sleep. By morning, I could see the insanity of my response. I could see the mountain out of the molehill.

And I could see Ben trying to be helpful two seconds after being mean.

Each stage in parenting has provided a new challenge, new rules, and new lessons to be learned. This is the first time I’ve been trying to learn them with a physical handicap. I have to be able to see clearly through a perimenopausal meltdown.

It’s not easy.

But I’m trying…

Monday, September 24, 2007

Remember the Gnome?

Remember the Gnome? The kitchen gnome I wrote about that Jeanine loved and the rest of us... well... we love her.

Where would you hide it?

Jake's Learns to Jam

I had a dream last night that Jake was reading out loud from a book. A very advanced book. It was like listening to a sweet song.

In real life? He’s getting there. Slowly. He prefers to memorize and recite back. The kid has an amazing memory for sound.

On Saturday night, in Maine, we all played the piano. Jake was playing his one song he knows, the top part, Jeanine was playing the bottom part. I showed Jake how to riff on the basic tune.

Don’t ever ask Jeanine to riff, improvise or anything like that. When she was a student at Berklee College of Music and was required to do an impromptu piece on the marimba, I thought she was going to have a heart attack and die. She is a classical musician. One does not improvise in classical music. Ever. She spent hours listening to different pieces of music, famous musicians. In the end, she transcribed someone else’s riff and memorized it.

Not really the point, I said. I still remember her glare back.

Needless to say, it’s not strength of hers as a musician. So I stood next to Jake, and played a couple variations of what he was playing. Doubling notes, adding another, still staying in rhythm with the bottom line Jeanine was playing.

In less than five minutes, he was on it. And playing more complex riffs than I showed him, building, pulling back, and building again. I was blown away. I went over and started to play the top line, an octave higher. Ben picked up the hand drum that was there, and Zachary an old ukulele, with only one string. We were jamming.

Well, except for Jeanine who was sticking to the lines written.

I won’t mention that we were having so much fun we didn’t notice the place was filling up with smoke; one of the damn mantles on the oil lamps had caught fire AGAIN.


No harm, no damage. Windows were opened and the breeze cleared the place out. I’m going to remove all the damn mantles from all the damn oil lamps and that is final. The fire lady has spoken.

The kids crawled into bed, the rooms just off the living room, with doors open. Jeanine pulled out the old sheet music and started to play. Schumann. I went to tuck the boys in and after giving Ben and Zachary a kiss; I pulled Jake out of bed.

Come, sit with me. Watch your mom’s hands.

He curled up in my lap and we watched her play. The next song, truly German, was bleak.
Can you play something a little happier? Ben chimed from his room.

Jeanine laughed and flipped through the book… Minor, minor, minor… she stopped at Chopin.

I love Chopin, I whispered to Jake.

There we sat, in the golden light from the oil lamps (MINUS mantles), listening to Jeanine play the piano. It was easy to remember why I fell in love with her so many years ago. She had the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. (still does.) Seventeen years later, she is just beginning to learn how to talk about her feelings- better late than never. But they were always there- and when she played the piano, I could hear them. I could feel them.

I don’t want her to stop playing ever again. We lost each other when she did. Almost irreparably.

And Jake… Jake gets it. He hears and understands music like words on a page. In my dream, I wanted him to be able to read like a song. To connect to words like I do, as I always have some kind of dialog going on in my head. I hear words, form images while doing the dishes, or driving the car. I beginning to understand he hears music.

Not words, but sounds and combinations of notes and rhythms that express feelings.

Jake’s reading is still a concern. He has memorized every book in our house- a feat that in itself is amazing. We’ll keep working with him.

And in the meantime, I’m going to go buy him a piano. Because after this weekend? I understand what language he speaks fluently, beautifully.

The same one Jeanine does.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Maine Again

I love Down East Maine in the morning. It’s so quiet.

You can hear the water whooshing on the shore, and the invisible lobster boats growling along somewhere out in the fog.

Except for the boys, of course. They break the silence by laughing, shouting and fighting with each other. Jake cut himself on the knee. Wounded, he sat on the bench by the window, looking out at the ocean.

Can I play Ben’s DS? He asked, referring to the Nintendo DS brought for the car ride. Five hours is a long time to be in the car for kids today, strapped down by seatbelts. I remember rolling around, jumping over the seat to the back, and to the front, finding some movement in the small space my mother’s station wagon provided. I don’t know how else I could have survived the long drives to North Carolina from Upstate New York.

I don’t know how my mother survived with my energy bouncing through the car. Divorced at a time when no one was divorced, alone with three kids, going to visit her father who disapproved of her whole life.

No, honey. I reminded Jake, No electronics here. You know the rule.

He sighed and hopped, injured leg in the air, to the piano.

I’m the one who needs Maine. I realized as we drove down the dark road Friday night, high beams on- when do you use high beams in the city? I need the peace and quiet. I need to be away from the Internet, phone, emails and news. I’m the one who is so quick to the fray. Any fray.

A friend shook her head at me the other day, tsk tsking me for getting riled about a ridiculous SEC proposal.

Isn’t this taking you away from what you should be doing?

Which is what? I wondered. If it’s not getting riled about something I care about, then what exactly is my job? My purpose?

My purpose. Back to that again.

When I’m in Down East Maine, on the porch watching a gaggle of geese (I really did see one, and how can I resist that line?) float by, my purpose feels very clear. I need to be the best person I can be. I need to be a good parent.

That’s it.

It’s enough.

It takes time and care to do everything in Maine. Coffee put on the stove, must boil then perk for fifteen minutes to be any good. I had peaches again, white ones, and they tasted sweet with an earthiness that would be fabulous grilled. Regular peaches can be sugar bombs. Not white ones.

I tasted that. I took the time to taste it.

I thought about the next breakfast I would make- left over sausage, bacon, I knew I had spinach, cheese, and eggs... I decided to make omelets Sunday morning.

I go into conservation mode there- partly because the refrigerator is about the size of a shoebox, and partly because it’s the spirit of the place. The house was built from a shipwreck’s wood. Nothing wasted. I remember a story an old man who delivered firewood in Ogunquit told me, about how his father and grandfather had built the house down the way. The now beautiful home on the market for over two million dollars was built, partly, with wood recycled from a chicken coop. It wasn’t out of a sense of renewal, rather necessity.

It was hard to get milled wood, he said. You used whatever you could. They just scraped the chicken crap off it and used it.

We both smiled. Two million bucks for a house built on chicken crap.

The state of Maine’s motto is “The way life should be.” I couldn’t live every day moving so slowly- I’d go out of my mind. But there is something that really is the way life should be. Something about being thoughtful, and doing things well. With craftsmanship and ingenuity.

I went out after breakfast Saturday morning and took some pictures of the Point. The light was diffused, my favorite light to shoot in. While I’m walking down the dirt road I remember- I wanted to build a portfolio. Finish my series on trees. I scan the woods. The moss is so green I regret not bringing my macro lens.

I haven’t taken any pictures at home in a long time. Too busy getting riled, I guess.

I love getting riled.

I need some balance.

Friday, September 21, 2007

True Confessions

Someone stole a plant from my front yard. They ripped out an entire dahlia. Took the whole thing.

Serious crime in the ‘burbs. Plant envy.

What kind of person steals a plant? Was it the elderly woman across the street, whose garden has long since failed? The young couple two houses down who work all the time on their yard and it still sports the home depot look?

I read in the Wall Street Journal today that confession is making a comeback. I guess the Nazi Pope Benedict (he is what he is, was what he was) has instructed the U.S. bishops to make confession a top priority. (

The article goes on to say that there are even a few priests listening to confession at the mall. I mean, pick up a new pair of shoes, get a card for your grandmother’s birthday and confess to any sins you’ve accumulated along the way.

Just in case a car circling for a good spot on the way out hits you, you’re cleared and ready to go straight to heaven, no purgatory needed.

While the Catholic Church does not accept internet based confessions, there is a site- where you can post your confessions for everyone to read. I’m not sure if it’s going to get you into heaven faster or end any lines for the pearly gates but it does make for interesting reading.

I’ve always been fascinated with the concept that you could do anything- kill, rape, steal- and have a clean soul after confessing and saying some Hail Mary’s. There is a certain appeal to it- you get to wash that sin right out of your hair. Of course, the downside is pretty much everything is a sin.

Sex is a big one. It seems to be most of what people on are being cleansed of. The article mentioned a suburban mom’s confession of being impatient with her children. Good thing I’m not Catholic or I’d be in the booth every day. There are the big ones, though, the seven deadly sins- lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, pride…

…And envy. Even plant envy, I’m sure is a deadly sin. My plant stealer better head to the nearest confessional.

I mean… why risk eternal hell over a Dahlia?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Middle School Reality

My son Ben came home today and told me he has been given half credit for both his social studies and science homework.

I forgot to finish it, he said.

But I asked you last night if your homework was done…

I know, I know, don’t have a fit!

I was not having a fit. I was incredulous that he lied to me the night before, but I was being very calm.

I need you to go do your homework now.

OKAY OKAY, IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL, Ben shouted. It is clearly a big deal to him.

Ben is a kid who wants to do well but doesn’t want to work at it. He wants to be famous but won’t try out for a theater club. He wants to be rich but doesn’t save his allowance- ever. He wants to get great grades but he doesn’t put any time in the work. He is, without question, a kid who could get straight A’s. It would not be easy, but he could do it.

Newton is a very competitive public school district. The level of intensity has been written about in the New York Times (ttp:// Most parents in this high-pressure suburban school want their kid to get A’s. to be first chair in the band, to get the solo part and to be class president. Problem is, not everyone can be the best.

But I feel it creeping up for me now my son is in Middle School. Before when he did a school project and it came out looking less than stellar, I was proud of myself for not helping, except to buy the supplies. I wasn’t going to be one of those pushy parents who created a perfect to scale version of the pentagon for the monuments of Washington, DC project. Instead, when Ben said, I want to build the Jefferson Memorial out of marshmallows, I went and bought marshmallows. Tooth picks and glue.

Walking around the classroom, you could see who helped their 4th grader and who did not. I loved Ben’s project even though it was leaning to one side and the play dough covered action figure turned Jefferson was not even close to the right scale, it was his work.

As I reviewed his social studies project, I heard come out of my mouth- this isn’t very good. I think you could try a little harder in your drawings. It doesn’t look like an island, and what’s with the squiggly pen lines?

Oh god. Should I shut up and let his teacher give him a C? It’s not good work. He can do better. Is that my place to say something to him?

More importantly, when did I get this competitive? I’ve never wanted any of my kids to go to Harvard- too close to home- but I do want them to have the option. I want them to be able to choose their colleges and careers without any boundaries of academic performance holding them back.

Yes, I realize I am talking about a twelve-year-old child in sixth grade.

I also realize he’s not a child anymore. He’s transitioning into a young man. His sarcasm at age four was cute- it’s not anymore. Building projects with marshmallows was fun but scribbling a poorly shaped palm tree on a small circle of yellow isn’t going to cut it anymore. I’ve never wanted to be a high-pressure parent but the reality is I have high expectations.

Is that because I live in a school district where kids routinely get perfect scores on SAT’s? Or is it because I want them to have choices in their lives.

I told Ben he could not go out and meet his friends today. He needed to do his homework and then practice his clarinet. Another parent was picking him up for soccer practice.

There are consequences for your behavior, I said. If you don’t do your homework, you don’t get to go out. You can’t like to me and say it’s done and still get to go hang out.

I stopped there. I wanted to say something about how poorly he had done his assignment but I had once already. It’s only the second full week of classes. I know I have to let him make some bad choices and learn from them.

He sulked away but didn’t offer any arguments. He knows better. I believe, or maybe want to believe, he feels badly about not getting full credit. He doesn’t like to lose, and he doesn’t like getting D’s.

Right now we’re both running smack into the reality of middle school. It’s not just about cell phones, bus rides and new friends. It’s about a new level of academic expectations and personal responsibility.

Not only for him, but for me, too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Metal Mouth Time

Ben had braces put on- top and bottom.

He is in major pain. He started to cry when he was setting the table for dinner last night. I can’t eat anything, he said.

I felt so bad for him. I remember getting braces. I remember the feeling of my mouth being in a vice. It took days between them being tightened for the ache to subside.

Me? I’m fine. No big deal. Did my running. Took the kids to the dentist, had three conference calls and cooked dinner. Rip out a piece of my uterus one day, back to life the next.

I realize it’s because I’m a woman. Let’s face it- Men are babies. They are babies when they are little and they never get better. Women bleed for days on end and never miss a beat. Men? Remember Wade Boggs of the Red Sox not being able to play because he had hemorrhoids?

Please. After giving birth to two babies, if I used the hemorrhoid card to get out of work, I’d be on permanent disability.

I feel for Ben- I do. I fed him chicken soup for dinner, with yogurt and Jeanine made him a fruit smoothie for dessert.

When I tucked him in, he asked me, earnestly, Do braces rust?

No, honey, they don’t.

By this morning, he went from pathetic to pathological. He almost kicked the dog when she got in his way. If it had been Jake, he would have been down for the count.

It’s not that bad, Ben.

When he arrived home this afternoon, he was talking to Walter on the phone.

I know. They’ll be off in twelve months, maybe ten.

I overheard and said, Um… try two years.

He held up his hand. Nope. Twelve months. That’s all I’m doing.

It was a fight not to engage in so I simply smiled. It’s not like he can remove them himself. After he got off the phone, he went into the bathroom to view the offending mechanics in his mouth.

Now I have pimples AND braces, he said in disgust. PERFECT.

I won’t tell him there could be worse things, because I know it’s as bad as it gets right now. I won’t mention the appointment in 8 weeks when they take a little wrench and crank up the tension again.

I just smiled, put my head back down to the computer.

And called the dog to sit next to me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Who am I?

I've been given an assignment to help me get a grip on my life. I'm to write about who I am, every day.

I am a mother of three boys. I am a lesbian. I am a writer. I am someone who cares deeply about equality. I love art- weird, funky, off the wall art. I mean, I can appreciate Monet but give me Motherwell any day of the week.

Oh god, that all sounds so hokey. I’m working on an assignment to try and pull all the dangling strings in my life together. I’m not good at these kind of deeply reflective writing assignments. I want to be irreverent, goof off and make everyone laugh. I was too shy as a kid to be the class clown but the inner clown in me was always there, putting together words to frame any situation into something funny.

My sister once said to me she could have seen me go on tour as a stand up comedian.

Hello? I’m shy, I always responded.

She never quite understood that. I was always talking in front of this group or that group, doing a presentation here, traveling for business there. I’ll post the most intimate details of my life in my blog without a second thought.

But I’m shy.

Okay, so I’ll add shy to my list of “who am I?”

Maybe I’ll just ask other people who I am and compile the list, throw out all the negative crap and turn myself into a saint. Not really the point, though.

I am someone who works to help make the world a better place.

Nice line if I’m in a beauty pageant, otherwise it sounds a little too arrogant if I’m not on stage in a swimsuit or evening dress.

I am a person who tries to be thoughtful in the world.

I am an athlete. Or was one. Still living large in my mind, although the actual skills are a little rusty. I do, however, love competition. I love playing hard and I hate losing. I’m a good loser, except when it comes to presidential elections.

I am easily excitable. Some people describe me as high strung- I am to some degree but I can also be very Zen about some things. It’s more that I get excited about many different things very easily. I sense someone’s excitement about something and dive in- me too!

Which is why I have to do this exercise. I’m diving in everywhere.

I am passionate. Yes, this is different than being excitable or high strung. It comes from deep inside. My passion cannot always be controlled. I do not think clearly when I am passionate about something- I am coming from my heart and my rage. I believe my best writing comes from this place.

I am very perceptive- that’s the nice word for it. I’m also very judgmental. I can be wicked at times with what I can see. I have great instincts when it comes to people- it comes from learning how to read an alcoholic parent’s mood. I see every movement, every gesture a person makes, not because I’m trying to but because I’ve done it so long I don’t know how not to do it.

What is the point of knowing all of who I am? In the last year, I’ve learned more about myself than sometimes I can stand to know. It makes it hard to breathe. Maybe that’s why I’m so silly about these kinds of exercises. It cuts too close to the core.

While I was trying to finish my list, Jake came running in.



Want to see my super hero suit?


He showed me a beautiful drawing of his suit. His eyes were bright. He loves this stuff.

See? It has claws out of my hands, cleats to grip the ground and my suit lets me fly and my bat turns into toxic stuff…

Maybe I should create a super hero suit instead of trying to figure out who I am. Wings to fly, a wand to whisk away all inequality and a truth lasso to get Bush to admit he’s going to invade Iran before he leaves the Presidency.

It would be a lot easier than doing this exercise.

Monday, September 17, 2007

I have to go back... Down East

I know it's not warm enough to be out fishing in shorts and bare feet.

I know the fire will need to be lit and stay lit all day, most of the night.

I know Jake will play chopsticks, his one and only song on the piano, over and over and over again until we beg for him to stop.

I can't stop thinking about it.

I have to go back.

Bad Parent Award

My children are evil.

I came back from my test today and felt like I was getting ready to give birth. Not a good feeling.

After I crawled down to get my lovely little children from school, and crawled back- because I am a saint- I laid down on the couch and said, Please… no fighting.

Which meant fighting ensued.

So I put them to work. I had a list of tasks they could do, from bringing the garbage can back in to putting books away in their room.

Finally, I told Zachary, I think you’re going to have to cook eggs for dinner tonight. I’m still very sore.

He came over, and kissed my forehead. Sure, Mom.

My heart melted. What a sweet boy.

And before he walked to the kitchen, he said, So how much are you going to pay me to help out?

Evil. I looked at him and said, I’ll consider paying for college.

The kids finally all settled down. No more fighting. I cooked the eggs after taking more Advil. Zachary helped even without financial reward.

Breakfast for dinner, the boys all sighed. We love breakfast for dinner.

To me it means total failure as a mother. Time to nominate me for the bad parent award. Nothing green on the table. I’m not at the table, which means a laughing giggling night of conversation around body parts and bathroom antics. Napkins will be – gasp- left on the table, never used, and never finding their way to the lap.

Oh God, I am my mother’s daughter.

The cut up oranges are good for scurvy, I think to myself. The toast is whole wheat. Everyone serves breakfast for dinner- at least it isn’t cold cereal. I had a chunk of my uterus removed today. I feel like shit. It’s okay not to do everything.

Besides, my children are evil.

Payment, indeed.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Boob Lady

While watching the Simpson’s movie last night, I leaned over to Jeanine and said, I do NOT want to become the “boob lady,” the character who is defined by her huge, sagging breasts.

Jeanine laughed. Oh, they’re not that big.

The truth is, I’m getting older. And things are heading south. My body is changing and there is nothing I can do to stop it. It’s time for root canals, eyeglasses and biopsies.

Yes. I have to go for a biopsy tomorrow morning. It’s nothing, I know, because the symptoms I have been having are about perimenopause. I know it’s just a precaution. I know I’m fine.

But I also know that everything is starting to crumble. My knees often ache and I have to take days off from running. The last time I had an eye exam, the doctor told me I was on the slippery slope to needing glasses- more than the reading glasses from Costco I have stashed in many places. I have yet to need a root canal but I know with fillings almost forty years old, it’s going to be time soon. These things can’t be helped. Nothing to be done but to learn to accept it gracefully.

And take all the precautions possible.

Part of getting older is great. A friend said to me the other day, Look… there are no grown ups around anymore! She’s right. We’re the grown ups. We’re in our forties and fifties and now is the time for our generation to take over and shine.

Part of getting older is hard. Friends are getting sick. Our parents are dying, and our children are getting old enough to have their own children. Our bodies show the years we’ve experienced in real lines and gray hair.

Don’t get me wrong- the lines in my face make me feel like a warrior sometimes. I find older women far more attractive than younger ones. I see strength in the wrinkles of an older woman’s hands, and wisdom in her crow’s feet. I’m more intrigued by what I will become; perfect skin and flat stomachs only remind me of what I was once.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to be happy the day my breasts touch my waist. I have my limits.

But it also means it is time to shine.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Drive In Movies

It's finally happened.

I had to put on jeans. The weather has shifted to the icy and I'm cold enough to abandon my shorts and put on a pair of pants.


Tonight, a mere month and a half after his birthday, we are having Zachary's birthday party with his pals. Off to the drive in movie theater to see the Simpsons movie for about the third time.

Yes, Homer. I am that stupid to pay for a ticket to watch something I get for free on TV.

We'll have a lot of blankets, plenty of sweatshirts and lawn chairs. A portable radio to listen to the sound. Bad pizza, soggy hot dogs and stale popcorn for dinner before the sun sets.

What are you going to have for dinner? I asked Zachary.

Nachos and cherry coke.


A car full of ten year old boys. The Simpsons movie. Can't wait.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Condi Coming Out? I say, No, No, No.

What a day. I go out, meet a friend for lunch, come back and people are busy outing Condi Rice and her gal pal Randy Bean, who she owns a house with in California. (

Um… I don’t want her. I don’t want her to be a lesbian. I can think of a lot of creepy people I’d rather deal with than Condi Rice.

Now I know how gay men felt with Craig was outed. It’s awful to think someone imagines, “gay man” and has the image of Craig tapping his toes immediately come up. Condi Rice? Please, no.

How about Martina Navratilova? Good image. Or Jodie Foster. Oops. She’s “not” a lesbian. Sorry. Heck, I can even deal with Mary Cheney more than I can deal with Condi Rice.

At least Mary and her partner, Heather are out as lesbians. They may feel basic LGBT civil rights are an issue for the little people to deal with, but they aren’t pretending to be housemates or hide behind an assassination attempt- it was a long time ago, Jodie.

While I have been an ardent supporter of Mike Rogers and his one man crusade to out all hypocritical politicians who live one life and vote- with angry indignation- another way, I don’t want Condi outed.

I don’t want her. I don’t want anyone to think ‘lesbian’ and think of her. She might be a genius, she might be a gifted pianist, but she’s crafted, with our idiot president, one of the single worst set of foreign relation policies since Lindbergh’s anti-Semitic, isolationist policies in the early years of WWII.

So as far as I’m concerned, she can stay in her closet, and I’ll personally hold the door shut. Because like walking in on your parents having sex, it’s an image I don’t want to have imbedded in my mind.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Where Are You?

My son has been gone all day. In Newton, we have Rosh Hashanah off. My kids spent half of their life thinking they were Jewish, the other half loving the fact that they get a day off in September because they live in a predominately Jewish town.

The let down came when I said, no, you are not getting Hanukah gifts AND Christmas gifts.

But we’re Jewish, Ben wailed. He was about six at the time.

No, honey. Just a lot of Jewish friends who invite us to different celebrations.

The same boy I could not get to call a single friend all summer left the house at 10am today and I have not seen him since.

He went to a friend’s house, who he met up with while walking our dog. He then went with a bunch of kids to Knotty Pine restaurant for lunch. I called him.

Where are you?

Waiting for (a bunch of kids) to meet us.

Are you causing trouble in the restaurant?

NO, Mom.

Where are you going to go?

All was explained and I left him alone. For an hour. Then I called again.

Where are you?

(Girl’s) house.

Is her mother home?


Let me talk to her.

I talked to the mother. She’s a pro, already having an older son, her youngest just entered middle school.

Don’t worry, Sara. No booze, no drugs, no smoking.

No sex? I asked.

She laughed. No. Promise. I’ll call you when they leave.

She did and they were off to another friend’s house.

Meanwhile, I have Jake, a friend of his, and Zachary running around the house. Jeanine at work, Walter having stopped by to create an amazing floral display, I still am worried about where Ben is.

I call again.

Where are you?

(Boy’s) house. His mom ordered Pizza. I’ll be home in an hour or so. Okay?

I can hear in his voice, he’s lost his patience with my calling.

Uh… okay. Get some toilet paper on the way home at the store.

Hey, I might as well make it work for me.

Are you serious? He asked.

Yes. I am.

It’s after four now. Still no Ben. No toilet paper.

I’m not ready for this middle school hanging out thing. I’m afraid I’m being too lax. Too worried. Too nice. Too mean. I don’t know. I have new boundaries to figure out. My son is hanging out.

I’m so happy he has a peer group to be with.

I’m worried what he’ll do to fit in.

I’m working on the drug, cigarette conversation.

And I’m about to call him again…

Where are you?

“Pray Away The Gay”

Now I know where my mother failed. She didn’t want me to be a lesbian and asked me if I could simply be asexual. Not involved with anyone. Worked for her, so why not?

What she really needed to do was have me pray. Read the bible. Study scripture. Find God and embrace him.

He’s a man, after all.

Stanton L. Jones of Wheaton College and Mark A. Yarhouse of Pat Robertson University are releasing today study results, if that’s what you call it, at the regional conference of Christian Counselors in Nashville. (The full study results will be released on Oct. 10, in the form of a book by Christian publisher InterVarsity Press.) (

Too bad my mother was an atheist.

“It comes as no shock that anti-gay ‘researchers’ at Wheaton College and Pat Robertson University would release a study that claims you can pray away the gay,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “I suppose their next study will provide support for Pat Robertson’s theory that homosexuality causes meteors and hurricanes.” (

I wonder if that has worked for Ted Haggard? I mean, it didn’t help him being the head of a ministry, but maybe all those men on their knees at the alter was too much pressure?

On one hand, if a bunch of Christian Fundamentalists want to believe that you can deny sexual feelings by immersing yourself in prayer, then I applaud them. Personally, I don’t see the point. As I told my mother at the tender age of 20, you mean, you want me to NEVER have sex?

Yes, was her very firm answer. What’s the big deal about sex?

That’s when I dropped the conversation because I was not going to explain to my mother that sex actually kinda rocked in my young, earnest opinion and there was no way in hell I was going to give it up. You just don’t go there with your mother who was raised wearing white gloves and thought nothing of piling books on your head to teach you how to walk the right way.

It breaks my heart when I read about young adults being pulled into the belief that if they pray, be good to God, and really really really try, they won’t be gay anymore.

The problem is, they are still going to be gay. And then what? Do those Christian Counselors think about what kind of shame they are filling these young people with? Do they take responsibility for the attempted suicides and successful suicides of young LGBT youth?

Anyone out there think they “doth protest too much?” Are they just trying to scrub out their own ‘spots?’

I’m 44 years old. It took my mother ten years to come around and finally not only accept me for who I am, but to read garbage put out by the likes of Jones and Yarhouse and understand how dangerous it is for young, impressionable minds. She never admitted to being wrong, but years later, in a quiet moment on a porch looking out over the ocean, she asked me how I made it through whole.

Who helped you? She wanted to know. I thought all homosexuals were unhappy, lonely people.

I shared with her the books by Ann Landers I read, the few friends I confided in who still loved me, the panicked hang up calls to a gay and lesbian group listed in the phone book and the ultimate experience of going to a college LGBT group meeting.

I didn’t mention the part of about kissing a girl for the first time and knowing, in my heart, that I finally knew who I was.

I told her I was lucky.

I remember how quiet she was after I told my story. She knew I was lucky, too. There were so many other, incredibly destructive, ways I could have ended up.

I’m old enough now to laugh off ridiculous, illegitimate studies done by people trying to prove their own point. I read the fine print, see the methodology used as beyond hokey and roll my eyes. I have my family, my friends, and my community who supports me for all of who I am, every day. I am ashamed when I don’t recycle everything I can but never about marrying a woman.

There was, however, a time when I was ashamed. I am so grateful there was no Christian Counselor telling me to “pray away the gay.” I cannot imagine how I would have recovered.

And every time I read one of these studies, I vow to be as out, as available and as open a role model as I can possibly be.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happy New Year

Tonight, at sun down, Rosh Hashanah begins. The New Year and time to remember the sweet, good life. Well, at least that’s what I understand from my friends who are Jewish. I love the tradition, the period of reflection. A time to celebrate and eat apples and honey, and a time of atonement, to fast and pray.

I’ll work with the first part. My life is so full and rich.

The apples and honey:

My house is clean.

My wife is happy.

(Yes, my house being clean is more important than my wife being happy.)

I had a great meeting this morning with my wife that relieved a huge tension between us, thus her happiness.

My kids have not fought at all in the morning for now three days in a row. I believe that is a record.

My oldest son is excited, loving school and hanging out with friends daily. He’s happy. Still anxious, nervous, high strung but… clearly that is genetic.

My middle son actually talked to his former kindergarten teacher. His shyness is melting away and his confidence in dealing with other people- even adults- is coming through.

My youngest son, while still in the classroom I am NOT happy about, loves school and is reading every night to Jeanine and I. Slowly, cautiously, but reading out loud and not simply reciting from memory.

My community is gathering around me, supporting whatever needs to be done in regard to Jake’s classroom. I feel blessed and stunned so many people care.

My family has a home- a new place for all seven of us to call ours- on the most beautiful stretch of ocean I have ever seen.

I am part of a new venture I believe will change the way we think of political activism.

My kids are healthy, Allan, Jeanine and Walter are all healthy, and I am healthy. Well, except for this hip… and oy, I ache in the morning but... you know, healthy enough.

My dog is always at my feet, adoring me even when I’m a jerk.

My life is good. I have so much to be grateful for this list is just a beginning. Tonight, I get to go to Fenway and watch the Red Sox. Jake is coming with me, Walter and Donald. We have plans for foot long dogs and some popcorn. Zachary is going to see the Simpson’s movie with Allan. Jeanine and Ben are going out to eat and shopping.

I know I complain… a lot. I know I worry… all the time. I know I obsess… more than occasionally.

But I also know, life doesn’t get much better than this.

Here’s to a happy and sweet New Year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

All Grown Up

I was at my desk this afternoon, reading a very sweet blog written by mother about her young daughter and the drama of entering kindergarten.

I remember taking my oldest to kindergarten. I write letters to my kids on their birthdays- they haven’t seen them yet, it’s something I’ll give them when their’ 18 and they’ll look at me like I’m nuts. But this is what I wrote on Ben’s birthday when he had just started school:

"Kindergarten has started. You are a great fan of your new teacher, Mrs. Dickerson, quite shy around her, but you love her very much. You walked into school the first day, calmly looked around, sat down at the play dough table and started to work, chatting with the kids there. Your mother and I started to cry, loving your independence; sad for our loss of the little baby you had grown out of being. We hung around the in the hallway for a while, finding it hard to leave. You had started kindergarten. And as the days went on, you were going in, meeting people, and making great friends. You are your own guy. "

Well, that sweet little just turned six year old just came clomping through the front door with size nine men’s high-tops, baggy shorts to his knees and a super sized cup of hot chocolate from Dunkin’ Donuts.

Because that’s where they all go to “hang” after school.

He now chats on the phone with his friends and there is no play dough in sight. Just an open palm looking for real dough, can he please have his allowance?

It’s no longer a heart wrenching experience when he walks out the door. I want to know where are you going? When will you be back? Who are you going to see?

Then I have to go all parental controlling bitch and say, no, not that long. You need to do your homework first. Did you take the trash out like I asked?

Ben is as tall as Jeanine now. He will be twelve in a few weeks. I am shocked by how heavy he is and yet still skinny, jealous of the amount of food he can eat. His feet are enormous, something that upsets him deeply.

Is there a medicine I can take to make them stop growing? He asked me the other day after the size nine’s were purchased.

No. Your feet will be the right size for your height…eventually. It all evens out. Promise.

He looked at my feet.

You have big feet. That means I’ll have big feet.

I nodded. Yes, I do. It’s true. I am tall. Goes with the territory.

Then I waited for the eventual overall critique of my clothing, shoes, hairstyle and required weight loss number thinking to myself… when is he going to realize big feet is a GOOD thing for guys?

I remember those first weeks of kindergarten when he would walk in with his best pal and they would hold hands walking down the hallway. How we would both walk him in, stand at his locker while he put his things away. We would spend a little time in the classroom almost every day.

Yes, Mrs. Dickerson was a very, very patient kindergarten teacher.

The other boy’s early kindergarten days are not as clear. Maybe I was more ready- Zachary was a year older than the rest of his class, having been held back with an early August birthday, as the teachers recommended. And Jake… well, Jake was the third. I know he was dressed and had shoes on. After that? I’m not sure.

I remember letting go a little. Then a little more. But how did I end up here? With this giant boy standing at the table hand out, looking for money? When did he become old enough to walk the two blocks to the coffee shop to meet his friends?

I have no desire for another baby. I love the ages my kids are now, the independence and especially their ability to put away their own laundry.

But I remember standing in that hallway, tears in my eyes, thinking my baby was all grown up.

Little did I know how many more times I’d watch my baby be all grown up.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Off With the Hair!

Okay, that's it.

I'm done with long hair.

I went to a meeting today and saw an old friend. It's been a few months but not that long.

Oh my god, she said. You look like... Christy Brinkley. In drag.

I have, most of my life, had very short hair. Stylish, I hope, but short. I started growing my hair out last year mainly because I kept forgetting to make an appointment to get it cut.

When I finally made it in, my hairdresser and friend of 20 years said, Let's keep growing it out.

Since I have never argued with her before, I said, Sure.

I went through the barely long enough to tuck back behind your ears stage. then the night quite long enough so it looks like a bad bob stage. I finally got to the long enough for a substantial pony tail when it's hot phase and any longer would make me look like Lindsay Lohan on crack.

I have also, most of my life, identified as a fairly butch woman. I don't wear dresses, although yes, there are are least two wedding pictures with me in an awful dress my mother purchased for me and insisted I wear. And there was that BRIEF period in corporate America where I also donned a skirt suit or two.

Never heels. I drew the line at heels.

For the rest of my adult life, I have been a jeans, tee shirt and sneakers kinda gal. I do have business suits for moments when I need to dress up but to be honest? They are men's suits. I have no hips and no butt. I look better in men's suits. I find a nice blouse unless I'm really in a mood and then I wear a tee shirt with that.

It worked for Don Johnson.

I have one pair of women's shoes. I bought them to wear when I was dressing up for my mother. I still have the one pair but since she died, I have not worn them- except to her memorial service.

Overall, my goal in clothes in comfort and some style. Never enough for my son Ben, however.

I came back from my meeting discouraged. Christy Brinkley? I have femmed out. Why?

I do like the long hair. I think it frames my face better. I think at 5'10" it's hard to pull off very short hair unless you are also very skinny. I used to be very skinny. Then that funny thing called perimenopause hit and I look at a salt shaker and gain five pounds. I'm not obese but I'm not ... uh.. skinny anymore.

Ben informed me the other day that if I lost about a hundred pounds? I'd look good.

I told him if I lost a hundred pounds, I'd be dead.

Okay, start with fifty mom, he said.

My friend was trying to be complimentary while noticing what she thought was a huge change. I wasn't the big ol' butch she knew and loved. I was... tall and blond with flowing hair.

I can't do it anymore. It's not about looking my best it's about my identity. I'm a dyke. I've always been a dyke. I'm proud to be a dyke. Besides, even with all this long hair, when I'm driving out of the beach parking lot in my one piece Speedo with my hair tied up? I still get called sir.

And that's with breasts large enough I've been asked if there are moons orbiting them. Go figure.

I told Ben I was going to cut my hair off. I couldn't do it anymore.

But Mom, you'll have to wear dresses!

I don't think so... but you can.


What Ben doesn't understand is being identified as feminine has never been important to me. In fact, there have been times in my life where being female meant being targeted for abuse. I've let go of some of that fear- which made it possible for me to grow these long locks. The reality? I am who I am. I am proud of who I am. I love wearing men's suits, with tailored shirts and pushing the androgynous/butch boundary as far as I can.

I might get called sir from time to time? But no one ever said Christy Brinkley in drag.

Bagels with Cream Cheese, Satan style

You know, I wake up this morning. I'm catching up on some email from the weekend, having a cup of coffee. In a few minutes, I have to make lunches for the kids. Cut up some fruit for breakfast. Do the things I do every school morning.

And I read this, forwarded from my friend Jim at

Nigeria's newly-appointed Bishop of Uyo saying "Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God's purpose for man."

It's so nice to know that a religious man, a bishop, believes I am not fit to live.

I'm going to make some bagels. Jim's response at Boxturtlebulletin is thoughtful and the details not meant for early morning reading:

which is why you should read it.

Anyone need any more reason for Hate Crimes legislation?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Patriots Opening Day

And the solemn words for today are:

"Exsisto Quietis Quod Obduco Beer Lamnia"

(be quiet and pass the beer nuts)


Saturday, September 08, 2007

The VERY Organized Soccer Coach

I am coaching for the first time. Well, not the first time. I've coached an adult Volleyball team- got paid for it, too. I'm actually pretty good at it.

Uh… where are the balls? Jeanine asked me this morning.

We are testing out some new found skills- our ability to make joint decisions. For some insane reason, we are both coaching Jake’s soccer team.

Aren’t they in the bag?

Mind you, this is the bag I picked up Tuesday night. Have I looked in it before now? Nope.

Practice starts in forty minutes. Game at 9AM.

That’s the horror about being a coach, Jake told me, You lose stuff a lot.

I didn’t lose it; I just didn’t look for it.

Well, let’s go get it.

I would except… it’s 7 in the morning. Can’t really go right now.

Jake smiled, put on his goalie gloves and went outside.

At least I have goalie gloves for the team. That and a snack of juice boxes and cookies? Please. The kids won’t notice a thing.

The parent’s… well… that’s another story.

Hey, it’s second grade. Time to run around and have fun. Who cares if there aren’t little cones to weave around in practice.


Friday, September 07, 2007

What to do?

I’ve tried to stay calm.

I’ve tried to have a good attitude.

But I am having a hard time.

What do you do when one of your kids, perhaps the one with an issue with reading, has a teacher you think is going to be completely inept at dealing with it? Not because of rumor or innuendo at the school, which can very easily influence parents, but from very real, personal experience?

And what do you do when one of your kids, perhaps the one with the less than stellar teacher, comes home from his first day miserable and describing a class room where he had to stay seated the entire time?

When we were informed, two weeks ago, of the classroom assignments, I flipped. But, my charming and ever calm wife reassured me it would be fine.

That’s her therapy issue.

Now what do I do? Lie to my son, through gritted teeth, that it’ll be okay?

Don’t tell me to work with the teacher. Been there, tried that.

My gut told me to do something two weeks ago. I didn’t. Now I’m angry.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Who's on Your Speed Dial List?

Ben has a cell phone.

When the house phone rang the other day, he called out from the other room, They should be calling my cell!

Not only was the cell phone approximately two hours old, the call was for me.

He has called all his friends. Entered numbers into speed dial. Many numbers. I’m not in his speed dial list. But someone he ran into at the local Brugers Bagels- and has seen approximately zero times in the last three months is.

Not that I'm bitter.

He called me from the front yard to tell me he was in the front yard.

I could see him.

I waved.

And hung up the phone.

He downloaded a ring tone. "Fergalicious."

Something to dance to on the bus on the way home, he told me.

Today, when it was time to go to the bus, he didn’t want us to join him. No, I’m meeting some friends, he said.

Arranged on his cell phone, via text message.

I remember being this excited when I got my driver’s license. Freedom. I could go meet my friends. For Ben, it’s freedom, too. It means he’s an adult, in his eyes. He can call anyone at anytime. He is no longer tied down to … uh… a landline?

I warned a few parents. Watch out. And let me know if it’s a problem.

It also means he’s stepped into middle school as a full-fledged, tweener. He has the acne, the cell phone and the enormous feet of a boy who will soon be over six feet tall.

He walked home from the bus stop, chatting and laughing with a friend. As he turned up our walk, he pointed to him and said, I’m gonna call you!

And his friend shouted back, I’m gonna call you!

For the last six months, I’ve worried about what middle school would be like for Ben. How would others see his "Fergalicious" moves? Was he going to be so anxious beforehand he wouldn’t be able to function?

After one meltdown this summer, all four of us had doubts.

Today was only one day. He walked in the door and announced that middle school is the best. SO much better than elementary school.

He has pulled it together in amazing fashion.

And my boy is about fashion.

I am very proud of him today.

Even if I’m not on speed dial.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Today is the last day before school starts. Total chaos is upon the house. Shoes to be bought, supplies to be purchased, hair to be cut.

Okay, they don’t have to have haircuts before the first day but… it would be nice.

Ben had is first ‘orientation’ at the middle school. Met his homeroom teacher and found his way around.

I loved see all the parents again after the long summer. What was very different is the kids I have known since kindergarten, all actually answered my questions and conversed with me.

I guess sixth grade means it’s okay to talk to adults.

It was great to see all the kids so excited but claiming to not really be ready for school. One boy I asked if he was excited about school said, Nah… with the biggest grin on his face.

Ben, who I thought was going to need a straight jacket the last week before school started, was calm as could be. Excited, but some of his nervous habits were non-existant.

He’s going to be fine.

On the way back, he was chatting on and on… a song came on by Christina Aguilera.

Oh my god, Ben said, I love this song.

He turned up the radio.

She is so hot. She has an hourglass figure and she smells good.

I almost ran into the car in front of me.

How do you know?

I don’t know. Just a guess. She’s famous so… she must smell good. Probably wears strawberry perfume.

Did you read that in People magazine?

No… I just know she would. She’s blonde so… she’d wear strawberry perfume.

How this boy’s mind works is a mystery to me. I smiled and stayed focused on the road.

When we got back to the house, friends from the neighborhood started stopping by. Ben’s friends, Zachary’s friends… all wandering around, asking who has what teacher, showing off new sneakers and grinning from ear to ear, happy to see each other.

I love this time of year. For me, it’s the New Year. Forget about January first, that means nothing. The beginning of school marks a new cycle for me. I have to measure my kids to find out how much they really did grow- when they are wearing shorts, you can’t tell but put them in last years jeans? Whoa.

Tomorrow? They will all go off to school. Jake and Zachary to the elementary school up the road. Ben will climb on a bus and go off to middle school.

And I will be alone.

All alone.

With no one asking me where the baseball they had in their glove three weeks ago is or what there is to eat in the house or if I finished washing the single pair of shorts they would wear all summer.


Just me and my dog.

I can’t wait.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bill O’Reilly To Join Crusade for LGBT Equality

Okay, you gotta love this. Bill O’Reilly, conservative talk show host extraordinaire, claims that a man’s sex life is a private thing.

I’m serious.

“We’re uneasy about this kind of exposition,” O’Reilly said. “Somebody’s sex life should have nothing to do with any kind of policy.”

This comes from a man who thought nothing of outing a judge as a lesbian. Not to mention the fact the conservative platform he supports not only ventures into people’s private bedrooms, in the case of sodomy laws, but also wants to claim rights to a woman’s body, in the case of abortion laws.

But mess with some Republican nightmare right to bang someone in the bathroom stall? Never mind he has been working hard to dismantle and never allow basic rights to LGBT Americans. A man’s sex life… well, that’s over the line.

Oh, come on Bill. You have got to be kidding. A man’s sex life is his private business? Not since JFK was in the White House has there been a hands off rule for politicians and their sex lives. You didn’t seem to think twice about calling for Clinton’s head when he was having private, consensual sex.

In Mr. O’Reilly’s interview with Mr. Rogers on Monday night, Bill showed so much concern for the image of gay and lesbians in America I figured he was ready to join the crusade for LGBT Equality.

What will people think? He pleaded.

This the same guy who reported “about a national network of lesbian gangs (150 in DC alone) who were raping schoolgirls. In addition to being a national crime cartel, Bill’s reporter, Rod Wheeler, breathlessly tells him that a lot of their viewers will want to know that some of these lesbian gangs call themselves Pink Pistol Carriers.”

And he cares about the perception of gays and lesbians across the country? Please, Bill. I might not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier but that’s just plain stupid.

What is awful is for LGBT people across this country suffering from ridiculous laws like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Defense of Marriage Act, and to have Hate Crimes legislation stalled by the likes of Larry Craig.

Who probably ISN’T homosexual, just passing the time. And arrogant enough to think he’d never get caught.

Kinda like you and those phone calls, huh, Bill?

Maybe you can start slow in the gay rights movement with the Pink Pistols group, Bill. Lesbians with guns, they’re all hooked up with the NRA.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Down East and Kitchen Gnomes

What a whacked out life I have. A week ago, I was driving back from Down East Maine thinking… oh, would it be fun to buy that house.

And now? We’ve moved in.

Have I ruined everyone? Have I lost control of myself? What the hell do people think when I say… uh… by the way, we bought another house?


The smell of lantern oil takes me back to a cottage on Canandaigua Lake, built by good friends of my mother. They purchased the land and then, with their own young children in tow built the house, one weekend after another, bringing supplies, navigating a steep cliff. There was no electricity, no running water- only kerosene lamps and a tiny refrigerator that ran off kerosene- I think. Or maybe an ice block. I can remember my mother struggling with it to make it work. I was too little to care. The whole cottage was a single room, with built in beds, like a ship no more than ten feet by sixteen feet. Off one side, there was a tiny screened in porch with a cot, where my mother stayed.

The cottage sat right on the water. I remember the black and grey shale beach. There was very little beach, and a small dock to launch the canoe from- I was always allowed to take the canoe out, even by myself as a young kid. My mother didn’t know how to swim, but didn’t seem to have any fear of my exploring on the boat. I was the third child- she mostly left me to my own devices. There was a fairly large rowboat, as well, that I would go out on with my brother. The motor was off limits so we would take turns rowing.

I loved that place. I could hear my mother snoring on the porch at night. She was close and I felt so safe around her in that place. We were never allowed to light the lanterns ourselves, and rarely did we have a fire. Mostly, by the time it was dark, we went to bed.

It was a part of my mother that was totally relaxed. While the small camp stove made her nervous, and the initial hauling of all the supplies down the steep walk was never easy, after all was settled, she became a very different person. And we, I believe, became different kids. We played board games, and swam and walked to Whiskey Point to skip rocks. We were kind to each other.

It was like living in a different era.


I have that house, now, on a point in Down East, Maine. The only electronic gear is a small solar powered, hand-cranked radio for the Red Sox games or Bach. The refrigerator runs on propane. I walked around the first night, lighting the lamps. I was quickly given the job of lamp lady- caretaker of all wicks, mantels and oil. I love the smell. It reminds me of a very special time in my life.

I woke up my first morning there and made breakfast for everyone. Eggs, bacon, English muffins toasted under the broiler. I put a bowl of fresh cut peaches on the table while coffee percolated on the stove.

How do you do this? I asked.

Jeanine was aghast. Didn’t your mother ever percolate coffee? Didn’t you ever have to help the church ladies on Sunday with the coffee?

I looked at her. Hello? My mother was an atheist. I did not go to church.

What about her? Our friend Donald asked, a neighbor and former Dads camp location provider.

I remember instant coffee… and then I remember it being a big deal when Mr. Coffee came out with automatic drip coffeemakers. I’m sure there must have been a percolator but… I never saw her do that. Mornings were rushed, she needed to get to work, teapot on the stove to boil water for instant.

Donald walked me through my first pot. It was a little weak. I’m learning.

Standing at the stove, with a big camp skillet, and all the ingredients on the butcher-block counters, made me smile. I love cooking for a lot of people. My whole family together is a lot of people.

Our first dinner at the house was lobsters pulled from the sea that day, fresh corn and salad. After dinner, we pulled out a port from 1977 and drank it with some delicious cheese. By then the fire was cranking, and the kids roasted marshmallows.

Except for poor Jake who almost fell asleep at the dinner table. Jeanine tucked him into our bed in the main house. But he was afraid of the dark… so in came the lamp lady. The Aladdin lamps here are of all types, and the one in our room has a mantle on it and a gorgeous glass shade. You have to carefully remove the top, crank up the wick, and then gently place the shade with the mantel attached on top. Quarter crank off, quarter crank on. The mantel lit and the room glowed softly.

Jake asked me why there were no regular lights.

Because this is a house stuck in another time.

Why do you like that?

Because it’s important to remember where we came from. I think it is.


It’s different, Jake. We have everything now in an instant. Sometimes, we need to remember that it’s not about a switch but an act of lighting something.

He could barely keep his eyes open and I knew he was afraid of all the new swirling around him, the house, school, everything. He didn’t understand any of what I was saying, only needed to hear my voice.


It’s okay, honey. Time to go to sleep. I’ll stay right here.

I curled up with him and rubbed his back. Hummed a quiet song.

I wondered what my mother would think of this place as I sat with Jake.


Our first morning was filled with errands, and moving and adjusting things. Allan is the king of all things organizational, including furniture. He rearranged every room in the main house. It’s perfect. And now ours, where before it still felt like you were walking into someone else’s home.

There were things to be thrown away. Old rocks collected on the fireplace mantel, full of someone else’s memories, merely rocks to us. Some of the photos on the walls. And in the kitchen there was an … odd, stereotyped image of an Italian chef carved in wood. It’s about a foot long, maybe a little more. It has a carved out center- a place to store wine.

Tacky. Truly 1970’s trash.

Want this? Allan asked me.

NO. I said.

Walter replied the same.

I like it, Jeanine said.

First major impasse. A very ugly statue of a chef.

Well… uh…

Um, maybe we can find a place for it no one will notice it, Walter offered.

But I like it… Jeanine protested.

At the moment, we let it drop. The kitchen gnome remained in the kitchen.

I know, Walter said to me as we were cleaning up, let’s have it in strange places, peeking out.

He placed it under the kitchen sink, half inside the door, peeking out.

Let’s see how long it takes her to notice it, Walter said.

That’s it- it’s a game. Who can hide the kitchen gnome! I said.

The day went by and finally we explained the game to Jeanine.

She agreed, reluctantly. Even thought she knew the gnome was safe because of her single vote, and while she wanted it prominently displayed in the kitchen, it was better to have fun.

When the gnome was found, under the sink, it returned to its perch in the kitchen.

Only to be miraculously relocated to the outhouse, nestled next to the large bag of peet.

Found again, it has already made its way to several other locations.

We do not always agree. We are not always on the same page. Hopefully, we will always keep our sense of humor when looking for solutions.


Allan and Walter headed to the dump and the hardware store. We took the kids to the grocery store. Watch out. We’re dangerously coming close to very heterosexual roles. We returned first and the kids helped unload the groceries, while I put them away.

In the living room is a baby grand piano. We were told the owners brought it in a few years ago. Old, and a little battered, it still plays amazingly in tune. While I was finishing the last of the groceries, I heard someone playing. I thought it was Jake. Then I realized real chords were being played.

Real music.

I walked in and saw Jeanine sitting at the piano. I had asked her to play the day before and she scoffed at the idea. But with Allan and Walter out of the house, she was willing to practice. Slow at first, she played the old sheet music left there.

Jeanine hasn’t played the piano for me in 14 years. I love listening to her play. It was one of the things I first fell in love with, the sound of her music.

I went over and kissed her head.

Thank you.


We all have our titles now. Allan is the Organization Gentleman. Jeanine is the Technology Woman, as always. Walter is the Toilet Man, learning in earnest all about the compost toilets, even when we have all heard enough, he keeps informing us of more.

And to think I have to tell the kids no potty talk at the table!

I have gone from Lamp Lady to Light Lady to Fire and Food Lady. Jeanine pointed out I was obsessed with all fire, not just the lamps. It’s true. I have a fascination with flame.

Walter said, Sara’s in charge of ALL things that start with F…

I smiled. He knows me well… yes, I think that’s the right designation for me. Fire, Food… you come up with the rest.


Saturday, as the sun started to go down, we all sat on the deck. I saw a male loon… then a female, no two females. The giant wingspan of a great blue heron whooshed by, landing in the cove, followed by another. My excitement drew Jake to the binoculars.

Where mom? Where?

I felt tears in my eyes. This is what I did with my mother. Watch birds.

This is incredible, Walter said. I love this. It’s sunk in… has it for you?

And for Allan and Jeanine, It had.

No, not yet. I said. I feel like I did something naughty.

Why? Walter could not understand.

I hear my mother saying, Bad, Sara. No no no, you shouldn’t have done this.

Your mom would have loved this, Jeanine said.

Yes, she would have. I agreed. Knowing who she was at the small cabin on Canandaigua, she could only have loved this place.

Then… why?

I can’t answer, really. It’s the part of me that is still afraid. The part of me that believes Jeanine will leave and my life will fall apart. The part of me that always knew there really was a boogieman. Most children are afraid of a fictional character conjured up at campfires, or on sleepovers, with a flashlight held under your chin.

I had the real thing.

And he was someone I was supposed to trust.

What’s that? Jeanine asked. A bird hovered in the air over the sea.

It’s a Kingfisher! I was ecstatic. Two of them darted around the cove, fluttering high like a humming bird then diving hard for the water.

All at once, the cove was filled with two Great Blue Herons, three Loons, and two Kingfishers, along with assorted Sea Gulls. Jake, Zachary and Ben were sitting on the porch listening to me spout on and on about the birds.

Don’t you think that might be a sign from your mom? Jeanine asked me quietly. Maybe she’s trying to tell you it’s okay.


For dinner I cooked spaghetti and meatballs. Caesar salad. Garlic bread. I sat afterwards in the living room- I knew I did not have to clean up. Too many hands around. There is so many of us to take care of daily life. It’s a treat to do something for everyone because in return, someone does something for you.

I lit a fire in the fireplace.

Fire Lady.


Saturday afternoon, Allan asked if anyone wanted coffee. He was going to make a pot of French press…

I said, Yes, sounds great.

Fifteen minutes later, he comes out with a tray, creamer, sugar, and two teacups with saucers, spoons.

I felt like a queen. So spoiled someone would do something… well… that I would do. That extra step to make it special.

It was, perhaps, the best cup of coffee I have ever had.

Coffee, at Sea Winds, if served formally in the afternoon.


I took the kayak out and circled the island across the way. As the tide was going out, I barely had to paddle to coast along. The return, however, was a bit harder. I felt a moment of panic- I was in deep water in the ocean fairly far away from shore. The distance, in a lake, would be nothing. I could easily swim that far. But the tide rushing hard the other way, and the wind… I wasn’t sure. I will start swimming again on a regular basis. My goal is to swim to Hen Island and back by the end of next summer. In a wet suit, of course. The water is cold but it doesn’t hurt.

It’s how the kids and I talk about the water. When they come back from the first dip, I ask, Does it hurt? Because to ask if it’s cold is pointless. It’s always cold. The only difference is when it doesn’t hurt.


I had a dream Saturday night that Jeanine had left me. I keep having this dream, over and over. I was trying to put my mother’s house back in order after she’d been gone a month. It was a mess and my fault- the kids had torn everything apart. I couldn’t get the headboard to her bed reattached. Jeanine wouldn’t help me. My mother was due any second and I couldn’t get it done. Finally, I saw that it was only four screws. I reattached it just in time. When my mother walked in, she told me she knew it was a mess. I always do such things and try to get away with it. I never do.

And, she added, I didn’t quite put it back together again the right way.


Sunday morning and the sky is clear again. The Great Blue Heron is in the cove fishing. The Kingfisher is hovering, waiting for something to make its last, wrong move.

I never feel like the Kingfisher, steady in the sky, waiting for an opportunity to dive towards, swooping in for what I want. I’m the fish in the ocean, swimming along, clueless to the danger just a few feet away. In a flash, it can all be over.

I don’t know how to get rid of this ever-present dread. I have so much in my life. Things people dream about and yet it never feels quite like mine. If I hold it and take it in, it’ll all be snatched away.

The kingfisher will dive and I’ll be gone.


I’m almost ready to go back. My mind isn’t racing yet but will be soon. I had my break, the break I felt like I needed so much. I’m eager to go to the meetings I have lined up. I’m excited about a new project that is in the works I have been so fortunate to be invited to participate in. The anxiety, that never really goes away, is at low tide. It’s pulled far far away for now.

It’ll come back.

I am coaching Jake’s soccer team. I have a family meeting to organize that has the potential to be explosive in a great way.

But right now? It’s time to make sausages, eggs, and muffins. Fresh blackberries, peaches and bananas. After, when the tide comes in more, I’ll take the kayak out to the next island and circle that. Friends of Walter and Allan are coming over to see the place this afternoon. Before dinner, I want to walk the dirt road around the loop.

In the distance, I can see Nash Lighthouse.


Late Sunday afternoon, my last sunset, the tide was slowly going out. The Kingfisher came back briefly but left. Not quite time yet. The Loons have come back- early for the time of year, I was told earlier.

Friends had stopped by. We had a chance to proudly show off our house. I nervously asked it we paid too much, I was assured, no. It was a deal.

As if that really matters at this point. Merely quieting my inner critic. More importantly? I did not buy this alone.

It was not my decision to make the right way or my decision to make the wrong way. It was a family decision.


Jeanine and Walter cooked Sunday night. Lobster gazpacho, steamed mussels picked today out front, bread. The fire already lit because the breeze was cool enough to cause everyone to move from the porch to indoors. Sweatshirts were handed out and I realize it’s an important thing to have a lot of here.

A couple from down the road came knocking- with a blueberry tart they called ‘kutchen.’ It’s a Point recipe, we were told, having been passed around and perfected over many years. The couple, with a son Jake’s age, came in for a while to chat. It was great to meet a neighbor because it feels like you are so far away it can be a little intimidating for a city woman like myself.

It’s called “The Point,” we learned.

And the dessert everyone knows how to make is blueberry kutchen.


This place is a dream. I am safe with my family. It’s beautiful. It’s peaceful. I thought I would be afraid up here but I am not. At least not of the boogieman.

He’s still alive but very far away. I hold him too closely. I let my fears have a seat, front row and center. My father cannot hurt me anymore. He’s an old man, no longer the six foot two inch bulk that could not stand still, fidgeting from foot to foot, rocking himself like a baby. The smell of his skin, of talc and greasy skin oil is imbedded in my memory but doesn’t exist in my life. Letting him live large in my mind only takes away from me.

For a moment, I wondered what it would be to live with such horrible secrets. How it must feel to have lost two of his children because of a need so powerful it made him do the unthinkable. How only one child deals with him at all, and only sparingly- what goes through his mind?

I have worked so hard to have this family. This home is the culmination of years of time put into building relationships. We have placed a stake on the coast of Maine for our family. We are all committed to it. The kids, climbing across the rocks, I hope someday will be sitting on the porch with me, watching their kids do the same.

I have never thought so far out before in my life. The thought of grandchildren, the thought of something so permanent. Never have I let myself picture such things- I don’t want to burden my kids with hopeless dreams.

But it’s not about me, I realize. It’s about our family. It’s not up to me to make it happen or to make it fail. I’m just a piece of the puzzle.

I’m not alone. There is no boogieman anymore.

It’s a dream that could come true.

No, it’s a dream that has come true.