Wednesday, August 29, 2007

roses in August

It's the most cliche of cliches, I know, but I have made it a point this summer to literally stop and smell the roses whenever I pass them. And in my neighborhood, that's pretty frequently, since a number of our neighbors have these lovely little gardens.

On the way home from an intensive walk in Astoria Park just now, I found three bushes with luscious new roses on them--in August! It's funny, two out of three produce these heavenly scented blooms, but the fuchsia colored roses have no smell at all, or at least it seems that way to me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

into a sow's ear...

Forgive me for oinking a bit, but now that it's really, really official (I just received the prize money check), I finally feel I can announce the first part of my two-part good news: my chapbook, Fine Motor, was awarded the Sow's Ear poetry prize, and will be published in Spring 2008!
Check out their website by clicking here.
Second part: sorry, you'll have to wait a bit longer. I'm still too nervous to announce it!

in case you're worried

I promise I will not be posting every raw bit of journal-writing here. I just wanted to show myself that I had something going.

Something else
Sometimes, I admit, I watch TV with the kids when I am exhausted evenings. We watch cable stations, mostly--Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, TLC, Food Network, sometimes the movie channels when something appropriate is on (which is surprisingly rare). Last night we watched a program called Incredibly Small about Kenadie, a little girl who has a very rare condition called primordial dwarfism. She was a little over 2 pounds at birth and is still unbelievably tiny, delayed in language and other developmental areas, but very energetic. At three years old she was only half the size of her 18-month-old baby brother. One of the scariest things is the high risk of aneurism, which means that the life expectancy of an individual with this syndrome is very short.

I could tell that Bobby was immediately comparing her condition to Stella's. I made sure to remind him that Down syndrome is really common, and doctors know a lot about it. Stella's health is excellent, and she has every chance to live a long, full life. I remembered that one of our favorite shows to watch together has been Little People, Big World. Bobby really feels empathy, I think, with these families as they deal with difference in their lives.

I think about what a good thing it is for this bright young kid to be so aware of other people's challenges. But I also worry about my sensitive son and wonder what it will be like when the inevitable questions are posed--or even comments made--about his little sister. What will be do when his friends use the word "retarded" in jest, or call someone "Downsy"? How will he feel later, when he becomes more and more responsible for keeping track of her? When it goes beyond checking on her and coming back to me with, "Stella is naked in the bathroom, holding the toilet plunger"? When I'm not here to report to?

I know he is strong enough and smart enough to deal with anything that comes along, but it does make me sad sometimes.

Monday, August 27, 2007

i wrote something

Thanks to my friends for the support!
The Difference
My daughter is adorable. She is sweet. She is smart. She has a very strong will of her own. She is capable of a great deal of things. She is growing. She always amazes us. She sometimes disappoints us, but that’s more about our expectations than anything.
She makes us feel overwhelmed. She presents a serious challenge, which we often do not think we are up to. She needs a lot, lot, lot of attention, time, patience.

Hmm. Which of these things could not also be said of our son? None, of course. But there is a world of difference. Bobby is bright, sensitive, highly aware of all sensory input, a spongelike entity who spurts out sound bites of our own voices when squeezed too hard. Stella, on the other hand, is “special.” She is “developmentally disabled.” Stella has Down syndrome.
The main difference is in our expectations. Bobby will excel, learn, grow, go to college, maybe even graduate school (both of his parents and most of his grandparents have advanced degrees), move out on his own, perhaps get married, perhaps have children. If all goes well, of course, which one never knows, but there is a great likelihood that at least some of the above will come to pass.
Stella’s future is a big question mark. She had early intervention, but she is still struggling with oral communication. She is nearly six years old and so limited in verbal expression that I am purchasing a sign language DVD for her today online. Her limitations produce a great deal of frustration for all of us—she ends up letting us know what she wants and needs in other ways, usually by tantrum or other protest, often physical. She is a lot like a child of two or three, “mine,” “me do it,” still not able to express herself in words and reason with us.

Getting a Jump Start

Today's the day. I have to start the actual writing. There are so many distractions--piles of laundry, babysitting arrangements, overflowing desk, floor, chairs, the great fire hazard that is our 2BR apt.

Yes, I am terrified. But it doesn't matter. I have to do this. No excuses. Starting now.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Andrew Bird is saving my life

Listening right now to "Heretics," from his album Armchair Apocrypha. I discovered my latest musical crush/obsession/fascination while I was at Sewanee, listening to WFUV online.

You gotta love a guy from Chicago who plays the violin, right?

If you want to hear more, go to Andrew's myspace. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Theater on the Fringe

Bob and I had the chance to catch two fabulous plays by friends of mine, part of the NYC Fringe Festival. I'd been looking forward to Jacqueline Goldfinger's The Terrible Girls since meeting Jackie (officially one of the Nicest People in the World) at Sewanee, and then I also discovered that Steven Fechter's The Commission was being premiered.

It was great to see two very different, very compelling pieces within three and a half hours on a hot, steamy Saturday afternoon.

Now we're off to celebrate with Jackie and other Sewanee friends--prosecco for all!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Artist's Way...Should I or Shouldn't I?

I just found out that Julia Cameron is leading a session at the Open Center this fall. It costs a lot of money. But a very dear writer friend of mine said she is worth it!

I'm really feeling the need for some help with my focus on writing. To put it another way, I'm panicking and freaking out!

Should I do this? Is it worth it? What do you think?

Home, sweet....???

We're back in NYC after a stopover in lovely State College, PA. The word "discombobulated" is not strong enough. I'm truly not able to figure out what to do first. And it's going to be hot, hot, HOT tomorrow. Ugh.

Had to get supplies for breakfast at our dear Othello's Deli this morning. Man, those folks need better ventilation! It was rush hour for short orders, and I came out of there smelling like grill fumes. Bleah.

I guess I have nothing profound to say. The kids are watching Noggin. I give up!

Monday, August 20, 2007


Yesterday my brother David and his family left for PA, and I took the kids out for the day to give Grandma and Granddad a break. After some retail therapy, we took a (rainy) driving tour of some of my old haunts.

Snyder Park is the home of my first playground, it's where my dad played golf, it's the site of the infamous Dr. Dredge Tennis Program where I learned that tennis was not my forte.

Sadly, although the playground, tennis courts, and golf course look okay, most of the park is a mess--the lovely ponds are clogged with algae, waterfowl feathers, debris, the boathouses are boarded up and deteriorating.

Fortunately, the Memorial Arch at the Western Avenue entrance is still in very good shape. Here are two views of this landmark, from well before even my time (left), and the other from the present day (right).

Thursday, August 16, 2007

oHIo. w/kids and kings

Here I am at my parents' house. Using Dad's computer. In addition to Bobby and Stella, I brought along 2 of my brother's kids--Davey, who is best buddies w/Bobby, and Mary, who just turned twelve and has been a lifesaver.

I have to say that spending days with Stella nonstop is exhausting. She has been giving me opposition at every turn...everything is "No." Mary has helped tremendously--Stella loves her and will cooperate more with her. It especially works well at bedtime, since they are sharing a room, and Mary can get her to sleep.

I sneak in here to use email occasionally, but haven't really been writing much, of course. Reading a book from my Granddad's collection about the Plantagenet kings of England in my "spare time."

Friday, August 10, 2007


When I lived in Boston many moons ago, I had a group of friends who thought it was fun to speak "faux francais"--they'd take normal English words and put "-ment" on the end, and of course pronounce everything with an exaggerated fake French accent.

The word I've coined for the title of this posting is an example. It's not exactly grammatically correct ("-ment" is used to form adverbs, while what I'm looking for is an adjective), but it describes me right now. Since coming back from Sewanee on July 29th, I've been plunged into Mommyland. Bobby and I have had all kinds of bonding experiences--the good, the bad, the mundane, the extremely irritating, the completely demoralizing. Stella has been in summer school until today. AUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can barely think about writing. And I had made this commitment to write 50 pages (crap or otherwise) before my sabbatical officially started (which would be August 27th-ish). HA!

Well, time to go make pizza dough. If nothing else, I have reconnected with my inner chef, and we've avoided takeout for the most part this whole week. The family that cooks together...