Sunday, June 11, 2017

My Blog, and Falconry, Are Making A Comeback

I don't even remember how it started, but this is the conversation I had with my husband Rod last night. Wait, I think it was related to him watching ESPN.

Anytime I have a conversation like this, I am reminded of the far wittier and more prolific blogger and author, Jenny Lawson aka @theBloggess.

Rod: Falconry is making a comeback.

Me: What?

Rod: Falconry. It's making a comeback.

Rod again: Someday, I may come home with a surprise for you.

Me: If you come home with a falcon, we're going to have a problem. 

The End. 

NB: This image is from a Groupon for a discounted falconry experience in San Juan Capistrano, California. Apparently, falconry is making a comeback. In California.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Just the Way You Are

This sign makes me sad. I think it's supposed to be sweet, but it makes me sad. 

I saw it on a walk through my neighborhood today. At first, I thought what a cute idea. Then I looked closer and saw that small children wrote their 2017 resolutions on this board. One says, "Stop sucking my thumb." The other says, "To focus better at school." And that makes me sad. 

I feel like knocking on my neighbor's door and saying, "Hey I sucked my thumb until I was driving and I hide chocolate bars in a small Igloo cooler in the pantry. I hide them from MYSELF!"  

But I totally get it. We want our kids to do better. "You can do better!" we say. I think it comes from a place of wanting better for them, wanting what we think we lack or didn't have or should've done differently. 

Now that Will is away at college, I'm thinking about all the things I wish I hadn't done as a parent. I think about what I put in his head with my "you can do better" prodding. 

Maybe, instead of worrying about the next thing and the next thing, I should've just sat in the grass and watched him play baseball. Or let him use every single dish in our home to bake his psychedelic, 7 different food coloring birthday cake with his friends. Or let him take hour long showers and run out all the hot water because at least I could hear him singing. Or not lose my shit when he forgot something again, because maybe what he forgot was never important to him or really even matters in the long run.

Will is an awesome kid. But I often think he is an awesome kid in spite of us. That our constant wanting better for him should've been, "You're pretty awesome just the way you are." Period. Mic drop.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Welcome to Kakistocrastan

I learned another new word reading Paul Krugman's Op-Ed in the New York Times about the war of words currently taking place in social media and traditional media between Georgia's Representative from Atlanta, John Lewis, and our PEOTUS, Donald Trump. The word is: kakistocracy.

Here's the word kakistocracy used in a sentence by poet James Russell Lowell, who wrote in 1876: “Is ours a government of the people, by the people, for the people, or a kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools?”

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


No that's not a typo.

I learned a new word today. Finna. It struck me as an appropriate word to write about on my Fighting Finn(a) blog. It's a slang term that apparently the young people are using these days. It's the equivalent of "gonna." As in, I'm finna avoid my work by learning youthful slang terms and then blogging about them. 

Or as my Granny Helen used to say, "I'm fixin' to..." This is an expression that also means "gonna," and in Granny's Helen's case might be followed by: "I'm fixin' to go out to the barn" to "I'm fixin' to feed the chickens" or "I'm fixin' to make some chocolate pudding." 

I learned this term by climbing down a rabbit hole that somehow led me to a YouTube channel hosted by Olivia Jade, the daughter of  Lori Loughlin who played Aunt Becky on the 1908's sitcom Full House. Probably the most famous Becky other than Becky with the Good Hair from Queen Bey. 

Or me. 

Happy 2017!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Things We Do for Love

When our son was a little boy, we took him to New York City's famed FAO Schwartz toy store. We would go there many times over the years until Will's interests turned to gaming and electronics that were scarce at FAO Schwartz. 

On our first trip, we bought him a remote control airplane. He was so excited about it. We took it immediately to Central Park where we planned to fly and fly it until we needed to head back home. As is often the case in life, things didn't go according to plan. On its maiden voyage, the plane flew into an immense evergreen in the park and came firmly to rest in the tree's branches. 

Will was distraught. His beloved plane just sitting up there taunting him. My husband started throwing things up in the air to try and dislodge it, but the plane was really stuck. We came to the conclusion that one of us should climb the tree and try to shake it loose. The tree was one of those good climbing trees with loads of branches evenly spaced. How hard could it be?

I tried helping my husband up to the first limb but he was too heavy. It would have to be me. Me and my black patent leather shoes were going to climb that tree. With my husband's help, I made it easily to the lowest branch. Once inside the giant tree, I actually felt pretty safe. Branches were everywhere, leaves were everywhere. How could I fall?

I shimmied up that tree and shook the branches until the plane was freed and fell to the ground. Well done me, pat on the back -- until I looked down. 

My husband and I are both pretty terrified of heights. We're the people clinging to the inner edge of the Empire State Building Observation deck saying, "I'm good. I don't need to see it."

As I sat there probably three stories up in that tree, I thought the same thing. I'm good. I'll just stay here. But of course, I couldn't. It's a strange thing adrenaline. The overwhelming feeling that pushes you as a parent to do crazy things for your kids. 

I think my husband started to realize what was happening because he was talking to me like a hostage negotiator, calmly yet firmly reminding me that I needed to get down from that tree. Like most things in life related to fear, it's that first step of letting go that's the hardest, like learning to back dive when you're a kid. That's scary stuff. 

I climbed back down that tree by looking up. It's the only way I could make it. I listened to my husband and son on the ground and I climbed back down that tree at the pace of a giant sloth. I felt my way onto branches, stopped frequently and still considered from time to time that possibly the fire department might show up and rescue me.  Dear FDNY can't you hear my silent distress call?

That was really a proud moment for me as a parent. I did it! I climbed that freaking tree.

NB: Much later in life I would agree to go ziplining through the trees in Mexico with a guy named Loco in charge of securing our harnesses. He was missing part of his ear. But that's another story for another day.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Will, You Are Surrounded by Music

If I think about how fast I'm moving through life, not a second to think, not a second to reflect - it really should give me pause. One nice thing about sending my only kid to college is I suddenly have some time to reflect. Of course, I've filled that time with more stuff to do like house painting, weeding, cleaning and laundry. But every once in awhile, something strikes me as being sort of unbelievable, that I never saw a connection when there were so many connections to see. Like the role music has played in Will's life.

Our son Will was born with magnificent hair. Truly, it was a sight to see. Beautiful, thick black hair that his nurse immediately parted to one side. My brother nicknamed him "Tiny Elvis," a name that's stuck with him to this day.  It was a reference of course to Elvis Presley's famous pompadour, but Elvis was also a heckuva singer.

When Will started preschool at this crunchy Raleigh Montessori school, there was a young hippie dude named Chris who would sing and play guitar with the kids. Will loved Chris. One day, Chris pulled Rod and I aside and said, "I think Will has perfect pitch." He meant Will sings in perfect pitch. Only 3 or 4 at the time, I thought, "I think you might be hitting the reefer a little too hard there, Chris." I can tell you that I completely forgot about the conversation until much later in Will's life when when I saw him get up on his middle school stage and sing and play the guitar for the first time in public. 

Really, it was shocking. I tell this story all the time. When Will asked me what I thought about singing by himself in the 9th grade talent show, I honestly thought it would be the equivalent of middle school suicide. I was picturing the absolute worst, my usual MO for pretty much anything that involves change or risk or courage. 

But Will has great courage. He's not afraid of risk. He taught himself a song on his guitar, practiced his vocals, put on jeans and a pressed white shirt, and got on stage. It was silent. And then he played - Crashed by Chris Daughtry. And he was AMAZING! I couldn't believe the kid making that sound was my kid. The crowd went wild. The girls were screaming. It was one of the best moment's of many I've been lucky enough to share with Will and family. 

There were other signs all along of the music that surrounded Will. When he was a baby, we randomly spotted singer Marcia Ball in a Raleigh bagel store and got her to autograph a napkin of all things for him. We framed it and put it in his baby room. 

As a toddler, he was obsessed with singers Patty Griffin and Susan Tedeschi. I would play their music and he would sit in his car seat saying, "Again!" I heard Rock Me Right so many times, I thought I'd never want to hear that song again. Thank goodness it was Susan Tedeschi and Patty Griffin I had to hear over and over. Will sang and sang all the time. It was reassuring as got older and his door was always closed. I could hear him singing and know he was alright.

My dad and his wife took us to New York on several occasions and there we stayed in the swanky Peninsula Hotel. Alanis Morissette was standing in the lobby one time, spotted Will and started making baby talk and waving to him. We had a brush with Natalie Cole there and rode the elevator one time with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. "Aren't you Yo-Yo Ma?" I asked. About Will he said, "I am. But more importantly who is this young man?" And he shook Will's hand. 

Some time after Will left for college, I went through his baby book. In it, I found his horoscope from the day he was born, May 24, 1998. The first line reads, "You have unusual voice, sense of drama, ability to solve problems belonging to others." More signs of music, celestial signs now. 

My mom plays piano. My husband sings, my dad sings, even my brother and I can carry a tune.  My brother's wife, her dad is a big band leader - the Sammy Kaye orchestra. Her sister is a singer. Music is everywhere in Will's life.

I don't know how I missed all these connections to Will and music. Now that's he's studying music at Loyola, it all makes perfect sense. When Will started taking guitar here in Fairfield, his first teacher was this serious guitar player Al Ferrante who had previously played with people like Edgar Winter. He also taught John Mayer as a young man. 

John Mayer's official bios refer to Bridgeport as his hometown and I'm sure that's where he was born because Bridgeport Hospital is very near our home. But he actually grew up on the mean streets of Fairfield, CT where we live now. He studied guitar and went to what is now Warde High School, then music greatness. I'm hoping Will can really make it in music, like John Mayer make it -- with possibly less womanizing. 

Here's Will knocking it out of the park in middle school

NB: I remember what prompted this blog now. I was rummaging around in the basement and I found a woodcut my husband did in design school. It was the image of Wynton Marsalis. Kind of a weird coincidence don't you think? He grew up in North Carolina but decided to do a woodcut of a famous New Orleans musician over 30 years ago and now his son is becoming a musician in New Orleans. Weird. Cool weird. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Disney And Matricide: A Change of Heart?

My husband and I saw Queen of Katwe this past weekend and it's a departure from typical Disney films in a major way - the mother doesn't die, or isn't already dead or missing. As a young mom growing up watching Disney films with my son, I kept wondering why do all the moms die in Disney films? I mean it's everywhere. From Bambi to Finding Nemo -- a story arc that spans decades. 

Queen of Katwe is a Disney formula departure, but it's almost too much. First of all, the lead character Phiona's mother is played by the amazingly beautiful and probably too young to be Phiona's mother, Lupita Nyong’o. Then Nyong’o comes across as an overly tough single mom of four children with little confidence in Phiona's chess game as a way to transform their family. Phiona's chess coach played by David Oyelowo really plays more of a parental figure while her mother's character is focused on the day-to-day survival needs of her children. 

In Disney's favor, Phiona's mother lives until the end of the film and is paid her due by her children, her daughter's chess coach, and her community. It feels pretty forced but I'll take it over the typical  dead mother storyline Disney has used all too often.  

I'm always a proponent of a girl power film and this is one of them. Getting better Disney.