Tuesday, July 24, 2007

good news afloat

I will not yet elaborate, but the Saint has received some very, very good writing-related news.

Oh, and I'm having a great time at the Sewanee Writers' Conference.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

deep doo-doo

I apologize in advance to anyone whose delicate sensibilities may be offended by this posting, but I gotta get this out, so to speak. One of our many struggles with Stella is potty training. She has been able to use the toilet for nearly 2 years now, but only in the past six months or so has she used it regularly, and even now there are lots of slip-ups, here and at school.

Let's just say we are not yet at the point where she consistently goes to the potty rather than letting it happen in the pull-ups. This makes for lots of messes which require quite a bit of energy to clean up, but today was a definite low point. Bob had taken her to the bathroom, but she took the potty seat off the toilet and refused to use it. Then, a few minutes later, Bob returned to find that she had used the middle of the bathroom floor instead, and (this is priceless) put the bath mat over it to try and cover up the mess.

It took over two hours, several heated arguments, quite a few tears, and tons of elbow grease on everyone's part to clean everything entirely. By the end of it, Stella was not the only one who had let loose a bunch of crap. The place still stinks of it all, literally and metaphorically.

It's times like these I remember all too well what our midwife Jeannie said when, pregnant with Stella, I told her we were not interested in amnio. "Couples who have children with disabilities have a really high divorce rate." I thought she was just trying to scare me into having genetic testing.

To quote Garrison Keillor, We Are Still Married. God help us.
Yes, indeed, God help us.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Eleventh Heaven

Today is our 11th wedding anniversary, and tonight we celebrated by going out after I taught my first evening class (Creative Writing for Illustrators).
At my insistence, we went to Death & Co., a quaint hideaway in the East Village--I'd read something about their cocktails, which use vintage ingredients like various types of bitters.
I printed out the Plath poem and read it aloud to Bob on the way over. Some pretty intense stuff, not especially celebratory of marriage or anything!
Anyway, the bar was a little hard to find, mainly because of its coffinesque facade (and it is apparently inspired by speakeasies, after all). Inside, it was cute if dark and a just a tad "theme-y." The bartenders wear vests and ties, the menus are covered in black crepe, and the fishouse punch is served in actual punch bowls, with punch cups. We got a corner table and, after a bit of a delay in service, were able to enjoy some drinks and bar food in adorable little portions. I had a Black Market Manhattan (wheat whiskey, black tea-infused sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters), and believe me, one was enough.
Afterwards we grabbed some slices at Two Boots. I think we will have some of the Belgian truffles I got for Bob now...
Good night?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

I'm alone here right now. Bob has taken the kids to Central Park on the subway, and I'm trying in vain to catch up on the mounds of grading I have to do for my online summer classes, not to mention prepare for my evening class, which starts tomorrow. I've just spent an hour taking care of stuff that students were supposed to do and dealing with late and missing work. Argh.

Still musing over Beverly Sills. If my post about her (below) sounds a little stiff, it's because I was typing on our ancient iMac, which is the equivalent of dancing in a straitjacket. I glanced at dozens of articles searching for more info about her children, and they kept saying that Sills basically quit her art entirely, thought she could never go back, after they were born. Her own daughter, her firstborn, could never hear her work. Then her son had multiple needs--developed epilepsy after he was born. The phrase that kept coming up was "She left the stage to care for her children."

This was the late 50s/early 60s. What else was she supposed to do? Fortunately for us, she changed her mind. I wonder what sort of support she must have had in order to do that. From friends, associates, her husband?

My wedding anniversary is tomorrow and I have unfortunately just said a cruel thing, unnecessary and selfish, to my husband before he left with the kids. Bob is a great husband, a terrific father. He basically teaches me what it means to be an artist. He unconditionally supports my creative work. He even likes my "midlife crisis poems," which would make some married men a bit edgy. I don't know why he puts up with my crap sometimes.

I just got an email from my dad that made me cry. I'd sent them an interview of me from the FIT student magazine, and he responded by quoting his favorite poems, all of which I remember him reading to us over and over. This was in response to a comment I'd made that I always wanted to be a visual artist but realized early on that I was better at using language to create images. He'd chosen passages from Byron, Grey's "Elegy," Kipling, etc., that he found to be particulary vivid. But he also cited one of my own poems, "Kids' Night at Kitty Hawk," as his all-time favorite. "Using language is, indeed, a very good way for a true artist to 'paint the picture.' We are very proud of you."

So I'm alone right now. It feels okay. It's a national holiday, but since we don't have any particular plans, and Bob has to work tonight, right now it just feels like a regular day without mail. It's taking everything I've got not to head to the freezer and polish off the pint of Ben & Jerry's AmeriCone Dream.

But I have a good, big, juicy secret: I have been writing poems again. More drafts in the last three days than I've done in over a year. It feels amazing. Sigh. Back to grading.

In the meantime, if you are looking for fun holiday-related web content, check out the latest issue of Everse Video, courtesy of the fabulous Ernie Hilbert (meeting him was one of the many benefits of my sojourn at West Chester) and his sidekick Paul Fleming.

I think I will have that ice cream after all. It's my patriotic duty!

Remembering Beverly Sills: New York Diva and Special Needs Mama

The NYC Classical station, WQXR, has been paying tribute to Ms. Sills this evening, so I thought I would read up about her. Lo and behold, she was not only a brilliant musician and arts administrator, but she was also mother to two children with special needs. Her daughter Meredith, who was at her side when she died, is deaf, and her son Peter is developmentally disabled and has lived in a care facility since he was small.

When her daughter was born, Sills put her career on hold, and when her son came along two years later and was diagnosed with severe disabilities and epilepsy, she stayed out of the spotlight for quite awhile. Eventually, she not only came back to the stage with a vengeance but also made a great contribution as national chairperson of the March of Dimes for many years.

The LA Times has one of the most comprehensive articles: http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-sills3jul03,0,5195897.story?coll=la-home-obituaries

Truly an amazing woman.

Monday, July 02, 2007


The child is screaming on her father's lap.
The lights are off, the rocking chair's relentless
urge impels her back and forth. She's screamed
the whole way home, the cab a mess of wrath,
the driver silent, everyone on edge,
the mother, in front, trying not to cry.
We have a little girl. She's one of "those
children," the "special" ones. "A little retarded girl."
"You know They find it hard to deal with change."
she's quiet. Overtired, overfed, overstimulated
it's taken much too long to get her down.
Tomorrow she'll be up at six for school.
We'll put her on the bus and breathe a sigh.