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. 


Monday, September 26, 2016

Rosé Is the New Kale

Twice this week, rosé has been the wine of choice at events I attended, and it made me think, "How did rosé become the new kale?" There was a time when pink wine was considered laughable, made by Sutter Home or the one in the box. But in 2016, rosé is no laughing matter. 

Take for example, this recent rosé story that appeared in Vanity Fair which claims rosé really took off in in the Hamptons about 3 years ago, where it is now known as "Hamptons Gatorade." Others blame social media for rosé's insane rise to fame. Or Miraval, the winery co-owned by Brangelina -- the former Mr. and Mrs. Brad Pitt. Whatever the reason, rosé is the toast of the town and according to Forbes, USA Today, and UK's The Guardian its popularity knows no bounds. Here's an interesting quote from a rosé detractor responding to recent news,  
"Or maybe it’s this article from The Guardian that revealed that rosé sales in the UK have doubled, doubled in the last year, mostly through sales of a kind of rosé slushie called frosé. First of all, if a wine trend is driven by slushie sales, that’s a red flag. Also, these are British people—they’re supposed to know better."

The question in my marketer's mind is how does something like a wine varietal or say a common leafy green like kale become the hottest product on the market? It's the concept of The Tipping Point put forth by Malcolm Gladwell in his original bestseller.  Even  Malcolm Gladwell was at one point the darling of the literary world -- the rosé of storytelling for marketers like me. 

This is a subject matter I'm going to be exploring more in depth because I think there's something fascinating about it and most of me thinks it has absolutely nothing to do with marketing skill or dollars. Mostly, it seems to be about blind luck. But I could be wrong. 

Perhaps it was the work of astute rosé winemakers in Provence banding together in a secret pact to push their wines to meteoric fame. Or the brosé movement. Surely you've heard of this?

"Last month, Details magazine observed that more male drinkers were 'pounding pink. Rosé is kind of like online dating,' Sam Daly, an actor, told the magazine. 'What was once a faux pas has become the norm. It's become universally accepted among men and women. It's kind of like the beer of wine.'" 
Like the beer of wine. Now we're getting somewhere. Kale must be the iceberg lettuce of greens. And quinoa is the white rice of weird starch substitutes from the Andes. 

I'll keep you posted. And enjoy a glass of rosé as summer comes to a close. 

NB: A long time ago, I worked in a newsroom with Malcolm Gladwell. He honestly looked like a junior Republican in the making with short cropped hair wearing blue blazers everyday.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Go Pokémon Go

I see them everywhere now. Young people roaming the streets like zombies trying to catch a Pokémon. I had this long conversation with my hair stylist about how you play. She explained PokéStops/Gyms to me and why so many people are wandering around aimlessly waving their phones in the air. Why they stand on street corners turning in circles looking for paw prints. 

I've never played the game, haven't downloaded the app. I like the idea of kids getting outside -- that's almost revolutionary thinking for gaming company Niantic. It feels like an old-school scavenger hunt with virtual creatures overlaid on the real outdoors. 

I know there have already been some stupid and tragic events that resulted from playing Pokémon Go. On the stupid front, two adults broke into the Toledo Zoo in the middle of the night and were later arrested. On the tragic front, Pokémon Go players are being robbed or worse of their expensive phones while out at night playing the game. 

A group of my son's friends have been going out at night in Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport to play Pokémon Go. I've been in Mountain Grove on my own during the day, and while beautiful, it's also a bit scary. Like "no one can hear your screams" scary. 

In two weeks, our son leaves for college at Loyola New Orleans. I told him, "Listen Will you need to be careful in New Orleans if you're playing that game. You can get in trouble quickly in a place like New Orleans."

He nodded his head as if in agreement. Then he said, referring to himself and another friend headed to Tulane as a freshman, "Me and George are going to Pokémon the shit out of New Orleans."

Great.  Another relaxing thought for me as Will heads to Loyola NOLA in the fall. Pikachu that!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Sucking Up Is Not A Skill Set

Dear Will,

I know it's been a tough week and you're under a lot of pressure between school work, choir commitments and college applications. I thought your audition of Marc Broussard's It's Almost Christmas song was amazing, especially when you sang it with your original partner Sarah Rexford (It's Almost Christmas - the prequel with Will in his PJs). I thought it was worthy of a featured spot in Warde's Carillon program, but it was not meant to be.

Will, you have an amazing voice. You would've killed it in my opinion. But your choir teacher chose the ensemble of the usuals -- her favorites that you can't seem to infiltrate. Let them sing their song, because they've earned a spot in her inner circle. Just make no mistake, you should've earned a spot too.

As I said to you today, sucking up is a skill set that can get you somewhere -- in work for example or in high school choirs. But it's not a real skill set. Because it's founded on copying the behavior that someone else dictates to you, not following your own heart and thinking for yourself. 

Looking back at what happened this week, I would have given you better advice. First, your teacher made you change your partner because she wasn't in a school sanctioned choir. Second, she partnered you with a substitute not nearly as well suited as your original partner. Third, she pitted you against her choir favorites -- and then chose them.

Knowing what I know now, I would have told you to stick to your guns, stand by your original partner, and know that you probably had no shot because of the politics involved. But also know that high school is high school, and once you leave, merit and talent will be rewarded.  

Not always. Sometimes, the guys who sucks up wins. But the older I get, the less room I have in my life for people with that skill set, and the more room I have for people with actual talent. People like you.


Everything Just Flows

Our son won a music scholarship through a town scholarship committee. It was sort of surreal because our long-time neighbor gave him the award. But she had to act all casual and didn't tell us before hand. So it was a complete surprise. 

As a researcher, I am naturally curious. I looked into the memorial scholarship. It’s a memorial for a young guy who sadly died at age 20 back in 1989. I can’t really figure out what happened — I think because newspapers were not online yet. His name was
David John Nogan.
I did find that he died here in Connecticut, but he was born in Louisiana where Will is going to college. And on his headstone are two carvings, one of a guitar and the other a peace sign -- two symbols I associate with Will. We’ve pledged to go and leave something at his grave site here in Fairfield -- maybe Mardi Gras beads and flowers for
David John Nogan. We want to say thank you for the generous scholarship before Will leaves for Loyola. But how weird is that? From one young man at the end of his life, to another young man just beginning his. From Louisiana to Connecticut and back.

Maybe everything just flows.

This is amazing! In the days after, Will received an email re: the scholarship as follows:

Hi Will,

I am the Vice President of Scholarships for the High School Scholarship Foundation of Fairfield.  My husband and I were having dinner tonight at the Old Post Tavern and we struck up a conversation with a lady dining alone who, it turns out, is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Bands at Loyola University New Orleans College of Music and Fine Arts.  She grew up in New England and was visiting her mother who lives in Fairfield.   I mentioned that we had given a scholarship to a Fairfield Warde graduating senior who was going to major in music at Loyola, gave her your name and suggested she look at your performance of Hey, Stranger on YouTube. 

She said you should contact her if you have any questions before you leave for New Orleans and offered to help you adjust when you get there by introducing you to other students in your situation so that you can begin to build your network.  It’s a great city to be a music major!

Just tell her that you are from Fairfield and that you were given her contact information by the lady who ate dinner next to her at Old Post Tavern.  That should jog her memory.  She was very sincere in wanting to help you.

Her contact information is:

Dr Serena Weren
Phone: 508-865-2027
Email:  sweren@loyno.edu
6363 St. Charles Avenue
Campus Box 8
New Orleans, LA 70118

Best of luck in the coming year.

MaryKay Frost 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Time to Put Away Childish Things

For Will's 18th birthday, all he wanted was clothes, or money for clothes so he could be a new man going to college in the fall. I tried to explain to him that the best clothes for New Orleans in August are probably gauze bandages or a bathing suit, but he isn't listening to me anymore. 

Typically frugal, I made him divest himself of old clothes that no longer worked, either to donate or trash based on condition. There was a third pile for clothes he might want to wear when he comes home for break -- if he comes home for break -- and needs something warm or different to bide his time.  He went through all diligently piling up clothes or putting away spares. And then from the depths of his closet, he brought out a wooden chest he'd had forever.

One of our neighbors makes jewelry and collects stones. Vic was at some point many years ago trying to dislodge a large couch stuck in his doorway. My husband happened to be walking by and helped him move it. Since then, Vic has been a friend but also like a tooth fairy. He drops off baked goods and he gives me tomatoes from his garden. Vic gave Will some rocks immediately after the couch incident. One was a showy crystal and the other a flat piece that sort of shimmered like shale. 

An interesting coincidence these gifts of rocks because as a kid I shared a love of rocks with my Grandpa Fred. I would walk around telling everyone, "I'm going to be a paleontologist."

Will put the rocks away and then some time later he bought a wooden box at a tag sale that became a kind of treasure chest. In it he stashed the crystal and the flat rock. He put marbles he got with my mom. Feathers, coins, a $2 bill my Uncle David gave him.  All his little treasures.

He hid this wooden chest away in the back of his closet, which of course I found immediately while doing laundry. But it stayed there for years. Until this year. This year, he decided he didn't need it anymore. The box was just taking up space in his closet. 

Now the box is sitting in our guestroom. I emptied its contents including the rocks and other treasures. Now an empty box, it's still a treasure to me. It's a reminder of Will's childhood.

It's a reminder to me of believing wholeheartedly in a world of magical rocks and found feathers and coins from a distant land. Yes, it is time for Will to put away childish things. But I'm keeping the box for that day when he wants to remember rocks and feathers and magic. Or maybe I'm just not ready to put it away. 
1 Corinthians 13:11
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

Monday, May 23, 2016

In a World Without Earbuds

Eighteen years ago today, I was in labor with our son Will. It was a tough labor. It went on for over 30 hours, even after I was induced with pitocin. Pitocin is pure crap by the way. Don't believe the lies.

I saw one shift of nurses, and then another, and then the first ones came back again. I went through three OBs and regrettably ended up in delivery with the one I referred to as "Dr. Hair Plugs." That guy was the worst. He said at the bitter end, "Maybe we should've done a C-section after all." I would like to just go on record here and say you should never tell a woman that after hours and hours of labor.

It was not a shining moment for me. It was not a moment bathed in pure light as I saw my little boy for the first time. The doctors were worried about Will and the trauma of such a long delivery so they whisked him away from me. They sent a lung team in to check him. The nurses scrubbed him down and put him under warm lights. I could see him from a distance. He had a beautiful head of black hair. He was okay.  He was healthy.

I saw my husband Rod put his hand on Will's chest and it covered his entire torso. I remember thinking when we brought him home -- a nearly 10 pound baby is actually pretty tiny. Please God don't let me break him.

They did finally hand Will to me, just the way you see in movies. Swaddled in a little baby bun. Our beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy. We immediately nicknamed him "Tiny Elvis" for his amazing head of hair.

Tomorrow, Will turns 18. I'm trying so hard to keep it together and to remember the little boy who is now a junior man. I want to be happy for him and accepting of him and start to let him go. 

This morning he was complaining about his lost earbuds again. I believe this is two pairs of earbuds in one week, a world record here at the Risher-Morton house. I've come up with an idea for a new reality show where young adults are dropped on a desert island without earbuds. "In a World Without Earbuds" teens will be forced to talk to one another or make earbuds out of coconut shells like on Gilligan's Island. This is what I think about so that I can pretend this isn't happening. But it's all happening. And off he will go. I'm gonna predict he'll lose 17 sets of earbuds as a freshman at Loyola New Orleans. 

Yesterday I spoke to my good friend Leslie and we caught up on all the college news. I told her Will is going to New Orleans and that I was worried, because I know the dangers of New Orleans as a former Tulane grad. She said something so sensible to me, something like, "If he's a good student now and a good kid, wouldn't he continue to be that in New Orleans?

I said, "Leslie that's crazy talk!" And then I laughed. Because she's right. Or as my mom often says, "Honey, he's cooked." Or baked. Basically, he's done. He's made. He's Will. 

NB: This is Will with Lars Ulrich from Metallica at Berklee last summer. I'm not Facebook friends with Lars or else I would totally tag him in this post. Rock on!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Slippery Fish Won't Get Whacked

I went into the City on Thursday to meet up with a friend who was in town from Portland. It's been ages and I'm so glad we had the chance to catch up. Her 9 year-old son was with her and I was telling them one of my favorite New York stories about my son. 

Will has always been a dreamy kid as my mom puts it, just happy to be wherever he is at the moment. I remember that we were standing outside of Serendipity. It's the famous ice cream place where all the tourists go and have huge sundaes or whatever ice cream creation you want. Will was staring up at the sky or wandering or something and he got in this older lady's way. So she whacked him with her cane. And kept going. Not a hard whack, but it was odd. It was a first, even for New York.

So I asked Will if he was okay, and then I said, "Will, you've got to be a slippery fish in the City. You've got to weave in and out of the crowds of people looking for gaps where you can slide through and keep moving ahead. You have to pay attention to where you're going, watch for bike messengers. You can't just wander around."

You can always spot a City kid. They're still. They stand serenely on street corners holding their nanny's hand waiting for the light to change. They know the dangers of city streets unlike suburban kids who wander around looking up at the tall buildings touching every single filthy surface possible. City kids glide, kids from suburbia flail.

I met my friend and her son at Grand Central and by that time he was tired from walking -- there's so much walking in the City. I told him the story of the slippery fish. "You've got to be a slippery fish," I said. And my friend and I were laughing about that old lady whacking Will with her cane. And then this happened.

I was walking back to Grand Central to catch my train home. The sidewalk on 44th was a mess with scaffolding dividing the passage into two sides. On the right side, pedestrians were walking east and the left west. Well there were a lot of people walking east, so I decided to jump sides and walk in the opposite direction. There were a few people I had to dodge, but mostly I made it through well ahead of all those other poor people on the right. Until the very end.

At the very end of the block sat an older homeless woman who seemed to be directing traffic in that section of sidewalk. When she saw me walking on the left, she whacked me on the butt with her hand and said, "Get on over to the right side." Not a hard whack -- like the way your grandma might whack you to get in the house because it's getting late.  

I must be slowing down, because I never saw that whack coming. I used to be a slippery fish. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Here's to You Millenials

Over the holidays I interviewed for a job in the City. I haven't interviewed for a job in a long time, but this one really interested me because it was an educational start-up teaching kids through news and current events. Some day, I will get back into news. I don't know how yet, but I will. News is a profession you can grow old in. I often tell my younger friends, think about what you're doing. Because time flies and some professions don't want you when you're older.

For the interview, I went into the City to meet the marketing VP at their offices on 8th Avenue. He is a very nice man, even though he didn't offer me a job. Probably in his early 40's I would guess. Not so far off from where I am. 

He introduced me to his team, all very young people. And I could swear one of them let out an audible gasp when I was introduced, as in I didn't know people could BE as old as you are now. That's part of what led me to this blog about millennials. Hey, my son is one of them. Or maybe even younger. 

Here's what I thought when I heard the audible gasp, though of course I didn't think of it until later. "Good luck with that neck tattoo," I said in my own head much later. "It will serve you well when you're in your 50's." Because nothing looks better in your 50's than a sagging neck tattoo. Good luck with those earring things that are creating giant holes in your ears for what purpose I don't know. Good luck with your impending hearing loss caused by never removing ear buds from your ears. Ever. Good luck with your gigantic thumb pads earned from swiping and texting. 

And then I had this terrible thought. Make it an awful idea. A wonderful, awful idea. Could it be that I'm the Grinch in this scenario? That soon every HR manager I ever meet will have a neck tattoo and something sticking through their ear. That I'm the one who looks strange without earbuds? That my thumb is lacking because it's regular-sized?

"And THEN They'd do something He liked least of all! 
Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, 
Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing. 
They'd stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing! 
They'd sing! And they'd sing! And they'd SING! SING! SING! SING! 
And the more the Grinch thought of this Who ChristmasSing, 
The more the Grinch thought, "I must stop this whole thing!" 
"Why, for fifty-three years I've put up with it now!" 
"I MUST stop this Christmas from coming! But HOW?" 
Then he got an idea! An awful idea! 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Act As If This Is Your Last Chance

My friend Julie and I had a pretty funny conversation this afternoon, or it seemed funny to us. Through crackling cell phones we had a series of "old people" exchanges as follows,

"I'm hot," I yelled.
"What?" she yelled back.
"I'm hot," I yelled.
"What?" she yelled back.

This went on for at least a minute. A glimpse of things to come. 

At the same time, Will, my son was trying to tell me something about his scholarship money from Loyola in New Orleans. Some extra financial aid had appeared out of nowhere. A gift from the heavens. Great. Fantastic. At last, we can relax.

Then I opened the mail. You, Will,  have 8 absences, of which you are only allowed 12 in English for the entire year.  Or you lose credit and I don't know, maybe lose your biggest scholarship opportunity at Loyola. That's $15,000. 

I panicked. I got mad. It's like all the stages in Death and Dying by Kubler-Ross. Really panicking because it is frightening trying to get a kid into college these days and then figure out how to pay for it. 

I'm trying to be Irish Zen like my friend Lou Lou Mulderrig or my other friend Mike Casey. Just breathe, take it easy and know everything will be okay.  But that's not really how I tend to think. I tend to think the worst, predict the worst, fret about the worst case scenario that I know lies just around the bend. 

Until the worst case scenario happens, and then my thinking switches into another level of panic something like, "What if this is it?" I've experienced these moments under positive circumstances, for example when you see a landscape like parts of Texas and Louisiana, or pretty much anywhere on the Pacific Coast Highway. It's overwhelming, the feeling of smallness and finite and wow. This is really it.

And sometimes it happens in an emergency room, when I see my son attached to tubes and oxygen meters. Or when the vet finds Daisy, our beloved Doodle, has swollen lymph nodes. Or when, or when. It happens all the time. 

Bargaining kicks in. Dear god, I will do this thing, if you'll do this one for me. And the one thing becomes another, and another, until I would sell my soul to have one more chance. As I sit here thinking about how to tell Will that the absences in English could sink his ship, I try to also think of what I would say if I had one last chance. 

"Dear Will," I hope I would say. "It has been my great honor and pleasure to be your mom. You have a kind heart, a wonderful curiosity, a strong body and voice, a magnetism that could work in your favor if used wisely, an oblivious in the clouds nature that I think has to do with the music in your head, crazy confidence, less than exceptional work ethic and organizational habits. You would give a friend your last dollar and way too much of your time, so choose them wisely."

You asked me today how Dad and I raised an awesome kid like you -- not your words but I won't repeat them because you're a teenager and sometimes you say stupid stuff.

I think your dad and I made conscious decisions about choosing each other and not making the not-so-great relationship decisions we'd made in the past. We avoided certain patterns that were not healthy for either of us. We also discussed up front very important issues like how to discipline, how to talk to you, what to do about media (or too much of it), getting outside to build strength, what was important for your development. Most importantly, and THIS IS SO IMPORTANT, we wanted to keep an honest, open relationship with you. So we made a decision early on that if you told us the truth, we wouldn't punish you.

From what I've seen with your friends, this has sometimes been perceived as a positive and often times a negative. Some parents don't want to know what's happening. We do.

Full circle back to my typical worst case scenario thinking. You can't miss any more classes Will or you'll risk your scholarship, or worse, graduation. I'm seeing Poseidon Adventure scenes now in my head - the old one with Shelly Winters

But what's really important is to put this in context. I need to spend more time thinking like it's my last chance. When I think that something is finite, when we're in the ER with you because you've been bitten by a dog, fallen down a water slide, are overcome by asthma, then I start to think clearly about what is important. 

Dear Will. It has been my great honor and pleasure to be your mom. 

(NB This is one of my favorite videos of you singing at Greenfield Hills Congregational)

Monday, February 15, 2016

I Love You in Minus 25

Today is Valentine's Day. I sort of forgot. I didn't because I bought a card for my husband and my son. Then I forgot.

It was -5 Fahrenheit today, so that may have thrown me off. That is really cold by the way. It was actually -25 with the wind chill. That's also really cold. My neighbor, who is old school New England, said he walked out of the grocery store last night and the bridge of his nose was so cold he immediately got a headache. 

Valentine's this year falls on a Sunday morning.  My husband and I have our Sunday rituals and one is going to the grocery store. Not big fans of grocery shopping, either of us, especially when  it's -degrees temperature. He went out and started the car to warm it up and we took her for a little spin through the neighborhood to make sure everything was A-okay. 

Down the street, we have a relatively new neighbor. I don't know them but I know the guy is a Dallas Cowboys fan because he has a huge Cowboys star on his truck. No one here in Connecticut is a Cowboys fan except me, my neighbor, and like one other guy I met at the DMV.

Anyway our relatively new neighbor has an older son living with them plus the son's girlfriend. I think this phenomenon is very common with millenials who move back home either because they can't find a job or they can't find an affordable place to live. 

Based on handwriting analysis, I'd say the girlfriend went out in the middle of the night last night -- in sub-zero temperatures -- to write I Love You Messages on her boyfriend's freezing cold truck. And I thought wow, that is true, young love. Getting out in this cold to surprise your boyfriend with I Love You on his truck. 

I don't love like that anymore. I'm not getting outside in -25 to spray paint a love letter to my husband. But I did get a very sweet card from him to say Thank You for all you do. We're not young love anymore, but we are love.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

This Apple iPhone Fell Far From the Tree

Dear Tim Cook, CEO of Apple,

A funny thing happened yesterday. Oh wait, it wasn't that funny. 

My iPhone 6 is about 1.5 years old now. It recently started doing weird stuff -- mainly not staying charged during the day so I had to carry around my charger with me everywhere I went. Kind of a pain, but hey I dealt with it. Then the new iOS came out. I tried repeatedly to download it and nothing. Wouldn't work. I deleted apps -- sorry Facebook and LinkedIn. To no avail. 

Yesterday I tried again, this time tethering my phone to my Mac (yes I also own a Mac and Apple stock -- like 2 shares).  Then it got weird. I started getting an error message, error 53. Here is a very interesting article about error 53 entitled Error 53 will kill your iPhone and no one knows what it is. Thank you Mike Wehner from The Daily Dot because you are absolutely correct. No one can explain it or repair it and your iPhone just dies. The only difference between Mike's story and mine is that my iPhone was out of warranty, and Apple will not replace a phone out of warranty EVEN if I had nothing to do with causing the error. I didn't drop the phone, I didn't submerge the phone in liquid and I didn't replace any part of the phone. It just died. But it was my fault. 

I went to the Apple store. Nope, can't help. I contacted Apple chat support. Super cheery support guy named Chris told me, "I do want to point out the price for repair listed, is the price you'd pay to have the phone completely replaced, if they are able to repair it the price will be less." (This is a run-on sentence by the way Chris. I'm a writer. I know.)

My reply, "I see."

Chris' reply, "I just know that price scares a lot of people, wanted to make sure I pointed that out for you." (There are other grammar problems here, but at this point I'm more concerned about the CONTENT of what you're saying Chris.)

You see Chris, I don't think the price "scares" people. I think it enrages them. Because I work for myself as a freelance writer, I need my phone. I don't have a "work" phone. My work phone is my cell phone.

Like a lemming to the sea, I went to AT&T to trade in my phone, but they can't give me a new phone until I pay off the remainder due on my dead iPhone 6 with error 53. A mere $243 later + $40 something in tax for my new iPhone 6 that I'll be paying off for 30 months, and I'm back in business with another iPhone 6. 

Here's the funny part, Mr. Cook. (Aside from the part where I actually bought another Apple phone.) The only thing I can relate this to is the time I bought my first couch as a 20-something. I didn't have $1,000 in cash so I signed up to pay off the couch interest-free for 1 year. I loved that couch in my crappy Raleigh apartment. Until about 2 months into couch ownership, I came home one day to find my bulldog/boxer/mutt had eaten the stuffing out of my new couch. Just destroyed it. Couch stuffing was everywhere. So I had to throw it out. And continue to pay for it as it languished in a landfill somewhere. 

I can't even donate the phone, as I normally would, because no one can get in the phone to wipe my personal info. So I'm going to mail my error 53 lemon of an iPhone to you Mr. Cook. You sort it out. Now it's your $300 paperweight.