Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cutting The Cheese

This morning while I was getting our breakfast ready, it's always the same, granola and yogurt, Finley came into the kitchen. She is wearing a white with florescent pink polka dot dress, my black fancy open toe high heeled shoes, a purse in the shape of a white poodle slung over her shoulder and the baby doll my dad gave her (that she has named grandpa baby) in her arms.

Quickly I grab my phone and hit the camera app to turn it on. I hate moments like this to go uncaptured. I hold the phone up, "Smile" I say.

"Chhhhhheeeeeeeeese!" Finley shouts.

As I'm checking the photo Finley says, "Mama I tooted when I said cheese."

She giggles and climbs up onto the chair to reach counter height and dives into her yogurt.

I love our mornings.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week 3 Writing Submission UCLA


Cruising the Carolinas afforded my husband and I opportunity to meet all kinds of characters. In Wilmington we made acquaintance with one swarthy cat. A wiry man of indeterminable age with skin like tan shoe leather. The dude would disappear for a few days and then reappear. He seemed agreeable enough but I didn't’t figure it would take too much to set him off. I was happiest when he was at a distance.

Our paths crossed for the first time in the upscale marina laundry. He had a little white Lhasa Apso with him. This dog struck me as being an odd fit for a guy like him.

I bent down to greet the dog. "What's your dog's name?"

"Mutton.” He sizes me up. "Inherited her. Name was Muffin, but that was too faggotty so I call her Mutton. It works."

"Good name - she looks like Sheri Lewis' Lamb Chops." I say.

He looks at me blankly. Perhaps my Canadian accent trumped him or more likely he had no idea who Sheri Lewis and Lamb Chops were.

“Which boat you on?” He asks.

“A sailboat.” I am purposefully vague. My instincts tell me to be cautious.

"Tell your Mister to see me if he needs work done.” Then he adds, like it’s a selling feature, “I’m a cash man. Live aboard a boat on the ocean, what do I need to pay tax for?” He raises a hand to his head to tip an imaginary hat and passes through the door with his small bag of laundry. The dog reluctantly follows. “C’mon Mutton! Ain’t got all day.”

I return to our boat and swing the bag of clean clothes up over the safety lines to my mister. “ I just met the salty dude. He said you should get-up with him if you need any work done.”

“That guy is used to taking on jobs for boat owners. We are sailors not boat owners we do our own work.” My mister says.

Later I return to the slip to find the salty dude up our mast. The boats in their slips are rocking gently in the breeze. Lines clinking against masts sound like a percussion of spoons tapping a water glass. Mutton is tied to our hookups lounging in a small bit of provided shade.

"Hey, what are you boys up to?"

My Mister winks at me to let me know he caught my joke. “ Jesse is giving me a hand with the wind gage.”

“Hey, why so far from home? Canada too cold?” Jesse shouts as he repels the mast in bare feet. “I’m from West Virginia in the mountains. Too fucking cold there and I knew soon as I was old enough I was getting outta there. Ain’t never go back cept to burry my kin.”

“I’m also allergic to winter.” I say as I head below to grab a notebook. This was one conversation I had to record.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Dinner Party

Here is an excerpt from a piece of writing I did last week for school ... yes, the events actually happened last week while our vacation was just beginning:

The Dinner Party

Hannah has just finished helping me set the dining room table. It’s a formal antique table with a matching buffet and hutch in a light stained oak. The mish mash of place mats and chairs pulled from other parts of the house are placed deliberately. I’m sure it would make Martha Stewart cringe. I don’t however, as I’m just so happy to sit down to dinner with my dearest friends who have just driven two days to get to me.

Kathy and her three kids; Hannah, Megs and Jack and our friend Lucky are all sitting around the table hungrily diving into a salad made of quinoa and Northern Beans, dressing grilled sausages and digging spoons into the southern staple of Mac and cheese. My daughter Finley, age two, is climbing in and out of her chair too excited to sit or eat.

We’re cackling with laughter at the names we’ve given ourselves for this girl’s and kids trip, Sponge Bottom Square Boobs Mom, Hooker Mom and Prozac Mom.

“But why Prozac Mom? Are you happy now?” I’m asked.

“I never wasn’t,” I say, before tagging on “ Please don’t feed my dog, I just cleaned up puke upstairs.

“What was it?” Lucky asked.

“Apple?” I reply. She mocks a guilty look.

“No more dude!” I wag a finger at her as Finley climbs the back of my chair to hang off my back. Finley looses her balance and clings to my tank top and bra strap. In an effort to prevent a nipple slip I’ve clamped my hand down over my now exposed bosom. Jack, sitting directly across the table from me swings the desk chair around backwards to avert his eyes. His whole body turns red with embarrassment. At 11, he’s not yet on the life long man quest to see boobs. The rest of the table becomes alerted to what is going on and we all begin laughing. Lucky then chokes on her food, collectively we pause to stare at her wondering if we’ll need to perform the Heimlich maneuver, before returning to our fit. Finley slides off my back, while I readjust myself, “Poor Jack finally gets to see a breast and it’s my lazy eye nipple” I say.

Our laughter is broken by a wretched gagging crossed with what sounds like a cat coughing up a hairball. We look back toward the kitchen to see my Yorkie throwing up, again. Lucky’s dog is circling to see if it’s good seconds and that’s when Finley yells, “Mama I’m pooping!”

I jump up, “quick let’s get to the potty.” She’s already dropped her little black and yellow striped undies and is in a squat. I get to her as she drops a turd on the dining room floor.

“Don’t step in it! I command as she pops up to look back proudly at her accomplishment. And thus the tone is set for our week long vacation. It can only go up from here…

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Getting an Edumacation on Summer Vacation

I have just begun a new class on-line through UCLA called The Art of Creative Non Fiction. I'm loving it so far. We have a really awesome class comprised of talented people from across the globe. A ballet dancer, teachers, stay at home mom's, students, copy editor's, and pre-med students just to name a few...for the next ten weeks we get to share each other's writings and lives. What a privilege!

I thought I might share some of my writing here with you - so you can see what I've been learning in school!

Week One:

The Ballet Bully

We danced every Wednesday in the Richmond Arena, a space that housed craft fairs, wedding receptions, and pancake breakfasts. My pink leather shoes had a grey sparkly residue on them from the wax on the parquet floors. Our classes were arranged by enrollment not age or skill. Katrina had braces and boobs. I was gawky with big eyes and big teeth. Katrina used to terrorize me to the music of Beethoven and Mozart while my ballet teacher’s back was turned.

We were lined up organized by height. Katrina was short and I was tall for my age and had the unfortunate placement behind her or in front of her when we turned to practice both the right and left sides. While Madam selected a record from a milk crate and scanned the back panel for the right song another dance was happening, it looked more like Katrina yanking my leotard up my back. Madam pulled the record from its sleeve and I pulled the wedgie out of my backside. “Michelle stop fidgeting! “ Madam commanded. “Hands up – first position please and One and Two and ….”

In January we were given choreography and began to rehearse for the spring recital. Flamingos were really popular that year appearing on everything from wallpaper boarders to Christmas ornaments and after a unanimous vote it was decided that we would be flamingos in the recital. We had pink and white tulle sashes pulled tight around our waists, gathered at the back leaving a draping tail. Someone’s mother took a poetic license on the costume design by creating a head piece that looked like a pink balaclava with white seagull feather tacked to the forehead.

On opening night of the recital we waited behind the thread bear curtain. Katrina ran out to take her place as the youngest dancers dressed as ducks filed off the stage. She was well into herself and out of earshot as the last little duck came off crying; “I just peed in my tutu.” I felt for that little duck, for so many times at ballet class I nearly peed my own leotard while I waited for Katrina to get out of the bathroom with her posse of girls so I could use the stall alone.

As the finale approached I saw an opportunity present itself. Prepared, I shifted my position slightly. Gracefully Katrina leapt across the stage touching each girl on the shoulder as they froze in place before arriving in front of me. She lay down on her back, and raised a leg. I held the back of her leg and took an arabesque for the grand finale. That little duck had provided Katrina with a pond and I steered her right into it. Katrina gasped and sat up a little then looked at me. “I’m wet! She cried. “ It’s pee” I replied, then turned smiling out at the darkness interrupted by proud parent’s flashbulbs and cheers.