Friday, May 28, 2010

Last Leg

The end of the year in 6th grade is such a tumult of tasks and emotions, and it all seems to be happening so quickly. There are projects to grade and a novel to finish (though this morning, preparing to read Homecoming in class, I remembered that there was a whole paragraph where the main character and her brother discuss the fact that the women in the town weren’t wearing bras…the words “jiggle jiggle” were involved…I wisely had them read that chapter independently, instead of aloud to them as I usually do.) There are Activity Days and Craft Day and Game Day…all of which I can tolerate. But there are two events that make me want to hurl myself right off of this windy hill and onto the Route 3 traffic: Field Day, and Boston Field Trip Day.

Field Day when I worked in the Elementary Schools was bad enough. It was loud, it was hectic, but all I had to do was follow my class from station to station, writing down which team - red, blue, yellow, or orange - came in first through fourth. They’d have spoon races and sack races and water balloon tosses and that sort of thing. I’d get ridiculously sunburned every year and go home and sleep off my migraine. Then in the middle school, we would have to actually write down scores and thing for each individual kid, tromping around the way back fields of two school campuses. Then came one magical year where the gym teachers all said, “You know what? We got this. We’ll keep them for the morning, manage the transitions. You meet us at the caf at 12:15 and walk them to lunch.” Oh, the glorious morning that was! But…they never did it again. Not only did they not do THAT kind of field day, but they never did any kind of field day again. So now we 6th grade teachers have to each lead an activity for our own made-up Field Day, and the classes rotate from teacher to teacher. Yeah…can you see me trying to lead the kickball game? Not so much. My solution? Karaoke. I borrow a karaoke machine, have the kids bring in their CD’s, put up an umbrella, and my station is Karaoke. Yes, it’s painful to listen to 6th graders sing Party in the USA 34 times, but it’s better than a freaking egg toss.

I still have my field trip to the Museum of Science to survive, and it’s not the museum that’s the problem. It’s the bus ride. A bus to Boston during rush hour with 50 6th graders in June. 'Nuf said, I think.

I know…you could tell me that I’m lucky to have a summer “off” (which, of course, I have never actually had) or that at least I’m done at 3:00 or whatever you might want to argue. Sometimes, I would agree with you that I’m very lucky to have a job with so many perqs. Sometimes. If you say that to me in June, however, I would like to punch you really hard in the mouth. I would like to invite you to join my class for Craft Rotation Day where I try to keep the boys from stabbing each other with friendship pins. Come give that a try. I would love for you to sit across the table where the mother says, “You have done nothing for my child all year. This has been a waste,” and I am unable to respond with what I'm thinking, which is, “Lady, your son is an asshole, and it’s totally your own fault.”

BUT…for now, it’s the long weekend, and I have trim to paint in the hall and curtains to sew (Aw…who am I kidding? Curtains to no-sew iron into some semblance of hang-able). There’s a BBQ with many of my favorite people on the whole entire planet and a pedicure tomorrow and festive beverages to drink and sunshine to shine it all up with a sparkly coating of happy.

And there’s only 11 school days left. I can do anything for 11 days.

Monday, May 24, 2010


From Abby to Amelia, in the back seat of the car:

"You know what Hayleigh said the other day? She said that her mother is a chef and that she gets to work with her every night making dinner in the restaurant. No way! She lies all the time. She ALSO said that the other day there were four police cars, two ambulances and a firetruck on her street because there was a UNICORN loose in her neighborhood. Can you seriously believe that? I mean, I believe in Unicorns but I do NOT believe that story."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Part of Every Mountain, Sea and Shore...

When I'm feeling particularly cheerful and springy and upbeat, here's what I like to sing in the shower. Reeeeally loudly:

On a clear day
rise and look around you
and you'll see who you are.
On a clear day
how it will astound you
that the glow of your being
outshines every star.
You feel part of
every mountain, sea and shore.
You can hear from far and near
a world you've never heard before.
On a clear day
On that clear day
You can see forever and ever more...

The sun is shining, the rhododendrons are in bloom, I have a morning of show tunes and an evening at home and the Lost finale this weekend. It's a clear, clear day. Completely ordinary, and full of the possibility of happy little happenstances.

Hope you make it a great one, too!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Why I'm Excited Today

First of all, it's Friday. And I have a super pleasant day planned in 6th grade today that involves reading a fabulous novel of courage and determination, (Homecoming, by Cynthia Voight.) Kids are working on their Portrait of the Artist Projects, and they're totally into them and enthusiastic and focused, and it's lots of good energy in 6th grade today, despite the fact that it's 75 degrees and sunroof-open lovely outside...I still have 50 eleven year olds who are kind of glad to be where they are.

Second of all, last night I got to see two of my most favorite high school students be brave and bold and fabulous as they directed their peers in a series of short plays. They were so excited and proud and whirring balls of energy, and I was incredibly proud of them, and loved seeing the actors in ways I hadn't been able to see them before. They "gave the gift," as Michael Joseph would say. And one of them, (the one who played Francie when I did A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, one of my top five theatre experiences anywhere ever) later sent a text about her feelings about the night, and she said this, "Today was volatile then phenomenal, sea of tears and hugs, then oddly very happy because I got to be something every single minute and it was worth it." This is in reference to my favorite passage in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, where Francie says, upon learning of the outbreak of World War I:

"Let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere-be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost."

It is a huge piece of my life's philosophy, and my feelings about art and love theatre and the whole act of creation...of, well, anything. I love that she has internalized that and made it her very own. And, Iloved the chance to sit back and watch these fabulous girls make a hat where there never was a hat, and build something of their very own from scratch, taking a whole bunch of energetic people on the journey with them. It was awesome.

And the third thing I'm incredibly happy about today is just like that, only different. My friend Peter Fernandez, author and composer, wrote a musical in 2005 called "Duplex" about two couples living in a Somerville duplex, and their discoveries and struggles. It was brilliant then, and we all went to see it in Boston, and he's revamped it, adding new songs and making changes, and we're all going to see it again tonight in Harvard. Now, I love this for many reasons. For the obvious one, of course, that one of our friends so incredibly talented and accomplished that his work is being performed and revived and celebrated. Pete was my first close friend at UMass, and when I first met him, he was hard at work transcribing all of the Schoolhouse Rock music by hand, from the videotapes. (This was before someone else stole his and Bill Larkin's idea to do it as a live stageshow.) He and Bill were the first, and it was that show that opened up some of the most important doors in my life, and the lives of a whole bunch of other people, actually. Music has been his passion for his whole life, and I have loved every chance I've had to see him live that passion out loud.

So, I'm excited because I'm proud of Pete for being brave and brilliant and incredibly talented and driven. But I'm also excited because all of our friends who are local are going to see it. All of these people who have known Pete for so long now are banding together to give him our love and support and energy, because he deserves it for being a good person who is so easy to love. Not just because he's talented, but because he's Pete. And the fact that he engenders that in so many people...well, it's just buckets of positivity and joy and good good good in the world that I'm so grateful to be a part of.

On another note there, my babysitter for tonight is someone I have known since she was in the 6th grade. She's babysitting tonight with her boyfriend, whom I have also known very well for many years. (And the girls know both of them extremely well, too, as they were all in camp together for years.) There was quite the moral quandry for me about whether or not it was wise or appropriate to let her bring her boyfriend with her, as kind and nice and responsible as they might be. And this is no reflection on her at all. I, too, used to babysit for my high school director's kids with my boyfriend...and I know what I was doing, and it was because I totally could. But I was a good girl, in love with a good boy, and really, it was good and healthy for us to get to just hang out together, and no harm was done. So, in the end, I decided that if it was fine with both of their parents, then it was fine with me. I did have to seek input from my Mothering Village on that one, though. (Thank you, Village!) It was a new question to have been asked.

Really loving this Friday.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lost and Found

I wonder, sometimes, if posting something totally boring and mundane is better than not posting anything at all. I have been all about shower curtains and book ends and throw pillows these days, and I don't have anything hugely significant to relate. So here are some odds and ends, or Petals on the Wind...(My tattered copy of which I totally found when I unpacked all of my books on Sunday afternoon, and yes, I absolutely thumbed through it to find the dirty parts. It was just as creepy yet titillating as I remembered.)

We watched the second-to-last episode of Lost last night, and OH MY GOD I TOTALLY GET IT NOW! I had a secret fear that the series would end, and I would be one of like three really stupid people in the country who had no freaking clue what the hell happened, what it all meant, and how it all ended, but I would be too embarrassed to admit it. I do get it now, and I appreciate it more than ever. If you haven't watched it, this might be considered a "spoiler," even though I may not be right. If you don't watch Lost at all, well, ignore this next paragraph.

Here's what I think: There will not need to be a New Jacob, because the Losties will work together to destroy the MIB, and then the light will stay protected as it is. Jack won't need to stay, Desmond won't need to stay (although I think if anyone does, it will be him. Jack just needed to be willing to stay.) These potentially good people who had lost their way in life and ended up on the island will have spent this journey redeeming the worst parts of themselves with the boldest, most courageous parts of themselves, and when the island ceases to be needed, they'll get back the best of what their lives could have been. Hugo will be rich AND philanthropic AND get to save his mother AND get the beautiful girl. Jack will be healthy AND get to have a relationship with his son. You get the idea. They will have learned from their mistakes, been better for them, redeemed themselves and ascended. And at the end of every episode, where the title bar "Lost" pops up, it should instead say, "Found."

And you know what? In a strange way, I'm relating to this right now. I feel like I made this conscious choice to re-boot some things in my life, to take it all up a notch, and it's totally working. I'm trying to be better in the world - a better wife and mother, a better teacher, a better friend, a better daughter - and good things keep on happening. I'm full of gratitude for these things. And through these things and my mindful examining of them, I'm becoming a different kind of "found."

This blog entry is the first thing I've ever written in my office, I just realized. In my Room of My Own. This room is one of the greatest gifts I've ever been given. Does that sound ridiculous? I know it's just a room.'s not. I feel like it's full of promise of more good things to come, more learning, more connection, more manifestations of big and small dreams. It's a great big "Toldjaso!" from the Universe. "If you visualize the what, I'll take care of the how," the Universe tells me in my message each day. Here is this morning's, also sent out to the bazillion other people who sign up for this website:

You know, Kelly, you have many gifts, extraordinary gifts. Gifts of perception, insight, and creativity. Gifts of preferences, leanings, and inclinations.

But there is one, ah yes, just one, that while often overlooked is the most sublime and profound of all, availing you of wonders beyond wonder, and the power to wonder some more. It is, of course, to think; to choose a focus; to see the world however you like... and live to see it so.

I mean, what else do you give someone who wants it all?

And on top of that, a person I adore and admire sent me a text this week that said, after reading my blog when she should have been studying, "You must be magical because your life is like a fairy tale." That was a very thrilling compliment for me. Is it vain to feel that way and post it? I don't even know, but it made me so incredibly happy. And it's because my life is NOT a fairy tale. Not even kind of. I have hurts and wounds and guilt and baggage and really serious flaws and some tremendously bad habits. But in spite of all of that, and in some ways, because of it, I have built a life that is rosy and fine. And happy. And if I can do it, anyone can. If I can get this house, my students can be a Broadway star or a veterinarian or the President, if she wants. I can tell them that because I know it's true. Totally know it.

So, my house is not just a "blessing from above," like Cinderella's ball gown or Alice's little "eat me" cake. It's taken work. So, yes, I know. We've busted our ass for 15 years to build up good karma. We were sensible (mostly) and fiscally responsible (pretty much) and determined (definitely) and that's why we got it. What's that facetious Thomas Jefferson quote about the relationship between luck and hard work? Something like, "It seems the harder I work, the more luck I have." The whole house is like that, in some ways I still have yet to explore. I feel lucky to have it, but I know that I worked hard to have it.

There are many rituals of this house still to go. I haven't saged it - partly because I haven't felt deeply compelled to...the work we were doing was cleansing it just as much. I haven't baked anything here, or used my crockpot, or hung all the pictures, or well...various other rituals, some of which will need to be saved till the kids are having a sleepover at Nana's. But I've done laundry here and eaten breakfast and set up my bookshelves EXACTLY the way I've planned and dreamed. I am home, now. I am a different kind of "found."

And rather than an ending of a story, I feel like it's the start of a whole new chapter.

Thanks for hanging out with me.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Playground Trends

"Mom, there is a craze that is sweeping through the fourth grade. Seriously. It's the biggest thing since Pokemon cards."

Now, my oldest is prone to dramatics (one stubbed toe and she limps for a week), but there was clearly some furor going on as she and Abby climbed into the car on Tuesday afternoon.

"Mom, look. They're bracelets. They're stretchy, and when you take them off, they make shapes. I have one because Maddie gave it to me, but Isaiah has TWENTY TWO. Seriously! There was a crowd around him at recess today, but he won't give any away. He'll only trade them. Mom, I NEED some of these bracelets, TODAY. They only have them at Tedeschi's and iParty. Please, oh Greatest Mother in the World!" (Yes, she really did say this.)

They look like this:

Now, Abby, who spends her recess times practicing her Dancing with the Stars routines and Hairspray choreography with her best friend, Eddie, was not as interested, but if Amelia was getting something, by gum, she needed to have it, too. (Eddie, incidentally, has declared his favorite color pink, his fashion sense "impeccable," and his favorite movies Hairspray and The Sound of Music. Eddie and I are going to get to know each other better, and I'm glad that Abby has taken him under her sequined, maribou wing.)

There was the moment of hesitation over the bracelets as I pondered these questions: Am I spoiling my children if I give into their elementary school whims? Am I enabling in them an unfillable need for instant gratification? Do I really want them to feel like they need to be on the cutting edge of every playground trend?

And then I remembered ribbon barettes.

When I was in 4th grade, the greatest playground trends were decorated barettes, and the bestest-most-coolest girls had the kind of barettes with these two coordinating colors, and long pieces that hung down, perfectly distracting and twirlable.

They looked like this:

Some tremendously skillful girls would supposedly make them and sell them, but only to select people. Being utterly and completely UN-select in elementary school for a whole pile-full of therapy-worthy reasons, I was not in that clique. Ever. I did somehow get my hands on one pair, though, and wore them every day. (Whenever I got something that was "in," generally a hand-me-down, like the two-tone acid wash jeans I got in 6th grade from Jan Goldstein, I pretty much wore them every day. I was very clueless.) Anyhow, eventually some snarky girl said something to me about wearing the same things every day, so I decided to branch out and make my own...out of shoelaces. I thought I was very clever, until I got to school, and was mocked for being clueless, for being too poor to buy the "real thing," and for putting pieces of dirty cut-up shoelaces onto my barrettes and into my hair. Score: Negative one for creativity. Conformity wins again.

I vowed then and there that if I ever had children, and there were ever some must-have trend, that I would make sure that they had whatever thing that was, the real thing, not a copy, within reason. (I had no idea what "within reason" might have meant, but I had yet to learn to dream big. That came later.)

So, yes, we trotted to Tedeschi's and each girl got two $2 packages of stretchy bracelets in animal and moving vehicle shapes, and they've worn them on their wrists every day since then, and traded with the other playground crew. The condition, however, was this: if there were any single child in the whole entire class who did not have a stretchy bracelet, they were to privately give them two, and not say a single word to anyone about it.

And though I know that I go overboard, (especially now with this new house and their own rooms), and that my children are so far over the "have it" scale, I know, too, that we are raising them to be conscious and appreciative, and to recognize that for everything they have, there is some other kid out there who wants it, and can't have it. And they have to share.

They get it.

On another note, my new house so freaking rocks I can't even stand it. It's everything I hoped it would be and more more more. It doesn't smell like home yet, but I'm hoping another weekend of burning lilac candles for 18 hours might do the trick. And nothing's hung on the walls, including curtains, but that's coming this weekend also. Our middle school play was totally adorable (except that Horton the Elephant fell of the stage and broke his wrist at the end of the second number - yes, really. He kept on going, and didn't know it was broken until he got it x-rayed five days later. THAT'S never happened in one of my shows before - the closest is when I fell backstage during Hello, Dolly! at Duxbury High and broke my own nose. That was fun.)

And I have 21 days of school left. Oh, my cup runneth over with happy thoughts!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pinch Me

It's all even better than I dreamed.

We're slowly getting settled, trying to get the essentials as livable as possible - kitchen, bathrooms. This house is almost exactly twice the square footage of our old house, and every time I go to put something away, I'm just amazed that there's actually a place for it. Every towel, every utensil, everything.

Last night Patrick and I sat down on our new reclining sofa to watch The Big Bang Theory, and in the half hour show, I think one of us said "I can't believe this is ours," or the equivalent, every 42 seconds.

All of the planning, visualizing, praying, hoping, manifesting, everything...all of the energy that I invested since September is tangibly before me now, and I still can't believe it.

I am sure in the coming months I will have other things to talk about besides my house. I'm sure that you're tired of reading about paint chips and bedspreads and curtain rods. For now, though, I'm continuing to just revel in this giant dream come true.

Pictures really soon. Promise.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Clicking My Heels Three Times...

Sorry for the lack of posting - so much to say, so little time to say it!!

We spent last weekend painting painting painting, and got nearly done (thanks to Chris, who pitched in all day on Sunday, and my mom, who took the girls to various activities so we could stay home and work!) After a few mishaps and a lot of dirty dirtiness, (and not even in the good way) we got close to done. Not all the way, but it's a work in progress. The floors have been laid during this week, and tomorrow...tomorrow! Tomorrow we move in. Tomorrow morning, when I leave the Vacation House at 7:00 a.m., I will be going Home.

Between this afternoon and tomorrow morning, I have to conduct Seussical Jr. twice, feed pizza to 90 starving middle school kids, finish scrubbing the Vacation House from roof to basement, and finish packing, running laundry, and cleaning out the fridge. No problemo...'cause there will be coffee in the world. (Thank you, Andrea, Goddess of Coffee and Choreography!)

I will post pictures at the start of next week, promise. Well, as soon as I find the cord that connects my camera to my computer. So...yeah. Needle in a haystack and all that.

I have nothing of interest to post right now, other than being utterly, totally exhausted and completely energized at the same time.

And my girls have a concert tonight that I have to miss. I HATE when they have a thing that I have to miss. My mother never missed one single thing when I was in school - every concert, every parent visitor day anything, and she was there. I hate not being That Mom, because I'm trying to be That Teacher, or That Anything Else, for that matter. It's almost worse, too, when Amelia says, all earnestly, "It's okay, Mom. Of course we understand. You have to do what you have to do." Ouch. Patrick and my mom will be there, but still...I'm the Mommy, you know? I'll try to make up for it with some happy Welcome Home energy this weekend.

Oh, I just can't wait to be home!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Big PINK Splot

Not five minutes after coming "home" for the first time yesterday afternoon, I opened the car door to unload the bazillion cans of paint we had just bought, and one fell right out onto the driveway.

A big pink splot. (Well, precisely, "Watermelon Slice.) I am my house and my house is me. It looks like all my dreams.

It was an awesome day. Exhausting, but definitely a red-letter day for House of Browne. We met the sellers at the closing, and they were....very unhappy people. I felt badly for them...until we got home. The house was filthy. The fridge was dirty, there was spilled rice in the cabinets, the same horrible smoker-smell, dirt everywhere and, delightfully, a cigarette butt in the toilet. (Patrick and I laughed about that for a long time. "We left our buyers wine, bread and salt, pictures of the house, and all kinds of Wonderful Life wishes. What did our sellers leave us? A butt.")

It doesn't matter, though, because by the time we were home an hour, Patrick had hung a new American flag from the front doorway (despite my minor protest that the new neighbors might think we're Republicans!) Both girls rooms had been started - we worked as Team Pink and Team Blue. We also got our bedroom done (that blue is called Ocean Sigh - sorry, Linda Rondstadt.) The colors are very vibrant - maybe a little too vibrant, but since Patrick has declared the color of the hallways "Sneeze," we had do something drastic to eliminate all of the greyish-greenish snot-hued sadness from the house.

We played the Mix CD I had made as we all worked together, singing along to Glee and the Barenaked Ladies, and my parents came over with pizza for dinner. Across the street neighbors came by with their two little girls (Yay! First grade and 4 years old) and we quit around 10, exhausted but very satisfied.

Of course, I was up at 5, too excited to get back home and start all over again.