Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The difference between L and R

Funny how two letters can make a big difference.

Please insert the letter "l" where the asterisk is located in this word:


Now insert the letter "r".

I'll wait for you.


Have you giggled?

One word means, according to Merriam-Webster, "the right, power, or privilege of making a choice" while the other means "the state marked by firm turgid form and erect position of a previously flaccid bodily part containing cavernous tissue when that tissue becomes dilated with blood". When choice and freedom are involved, both feel really good.

One was, for the majority, illegal in South Africa until 1994 when the first multi-racial elections were held and the other was rarely discussed until a constitution was ratified that ensured the rights of all, regardless of who inspired their erections. Or elections.

Sunday night Amazing Guy and I attended Pieter-Dirk Uys' performance of Elections and Erections. We had seen his show Foreign AIDS three years ago. I became aware of him and his character Evita Bezuidenhout in 1999 while traveling in South Africa. I was floored to see on the newsstands this lovely lady of royalty (read drag queen) on the cover of their Time magazine equivalent. She had rented a decrepit bus and was traveling from black township to township promoting elections.

Evita Bezuidenhout is "the most famous white woman in South Africa" and was quoted as saying during her bus tour that voting is incredibly important, that is why the whites kept it away from the blacks.

Now Evita performs a cabaret show in a renovated train station in Darling, South Africa. She also travels from school to school in those same black townships talking about erections. Pieter is on a one man/woman campaign to honestly talk to children about sex and AIDS. His theater show three years ago, Foreign AIDS, reduced me to tears as he talked about the fears, dreams and misunderstandings of children and their teachers and parents.

I had the opportunity to meet Pieter after the performance. It was a fundraiser for the wonderful group that brings books to South African school libraries, among the other wonderful things they do.

I was marginally articulate (unlike if I ever get the chance to meet Vince Clark then I will be a blubbering, incoherent mess) and actually told him I liked the show three years ago better (maybe I wasn't so articulate). He graciously explained to me that he didn't want to spend the rest of his days telling stories about the children, which he could easily do. Amazing Guy later said he felt Pieter's more personal in this more recent production.

And as we parted, Pieter said to me, "I'll see you in Darling, darling".

He called me darling.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Songs that Make Her Dance

Songs that make her dance.

That is the subtitle of the CD I gave out to 5 three- and four-year olds at the birthday party on Saturday. As I've noted before, I am on a one mother campaign against the ridiculous crap stuff that is given to children in crap "goodie" bags at birthday parties.

So, as has been tradition since my boys were 2 (they are now big 7 1/2 year olds), we gave out CDs with the songs that were my daughter's favorites throughout the past year. Some of you, I'm sure, will recognize them and the significance they have played during our daughter's third year.

  1. Really Rosie - Carole King from Really Rosie
  2. The Look of Love - ABC
  3. Sing - Annie Lennox
  4. True Colors - Cyndi Lauper
  5. Blue Savannah - Erasure
  6. Mamma Mia - Abba
  7. Seasons of Love - Rent The Musical (because she is singing it too - during snack at school)
  8. World In Motion (Carabinieri Mix) - New Order
  9. There's Always A Way - LazyTown
  10. Our Lips are Sealed - The Go-Go’s
  11. Walking In Memphis - Marc Cohn
  12. Love Song - Sara Bareilles
  13. Take On Me - a-ha
  14. Alligators All Around - Carole King from Really Rosie

So what would your kids' birthday CD look like this year? Or better yet, pick a year from your childhood and tell me what songs would be on your birthday CD.

Or just sing me any ol' tune.

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The best and the worst

On Monday during the marathon I experienced the worst and the best of people.

The worst

I chose not to mention in my post about Amazing Guy running the marathon an incident that occurred between the 3:15 and 3:30 part of the day when we were standing a block away from the finish line next to a posh hotel. I got the boys to the front of the crowd right up against the barriers while I stood behind them. There was a trio of older women to their right and a family to our left. The husband was at least 6 feet 5 inches. I am 5 feet 9 inches.

Pretty soon after getting us positioned to watch Amazing Guy run by us, I started being touched around my pants pockets. I would swat away the sensation. Then I panicked and thought of AG's belongings in his backpack I was carrying. I checked the pockets and everything was there.

I kept feeling fingers in both my front and back pant pockets.

The family to our left saw their relative run by and the wife and kids moved on. The father stuck around.

The feeling of fingers around my pant pockets continued.

Now, before you think I am a complete idiot I would like to interrupt this story with another story. I was in a New Orleans bar after a week of teaching my 1st-3rd grade class. I was with folks who were also teachers. At one point someone - a fellow teacher - came up behind me and grabbed me around the neck. It was so tight I couldn't breath and he whispered something really stupid in my ear. I swung my hand down and grabbed his penis, forcefully yanked it so that he squeaked in my ear. I turned around, stuck my finger in his face and yelled "Don't ever grab someone from behind like that, especially a woman!" Oh, and he was a former military man. Really honorable - don't you think?

Eventually I was separated from the boys by a tiny woman (she couldn't have been more than 5' 2"). Since I could still see them it didn't bother me to have her between us. The touching around my pants also stopped. Within a minute of her arrival she swung around and punched the 6'5" man in the chest so hard you could hear cracking sounds. She screamed "Don't f*cking TOUCH me!!" and went on to accuse him of touching her pant pockets. Some well-meaning woman asked if she still had her wallet.

6' 5" man went on and on about how he didn't want her wallet and left.

Then Amazing Guy appeared after running 26 miles.

The Best

When AG came over to us, he asked me to lift the boys up and over the barricades. One son tossed his backsack at me while the other kept it on his back. And off they went.

And I bolted from the area, leaving the backsack on the ground.

The backsack which contained his mini iPod, lyrics from his after school musical theater class, a Cub Scout magazine, a photo album, several books (later I suggested he not bring so much stuff) and on and on and on....

When we figured out what happened he was most upset that the lyrics were missing. He sobbed uncontrollably that the school principal (who teaches the class) would be disappointed in him that he lost the lyrics and couldn't practice them during vacation week.

We had been standing by a hotel along the route. I called that evening and the staff member I spoke to went out to look for the bag and even asked around the hotel to see if someone had turned in a backsack. She didn't find it.

We spent the evening promising the heartbroken boy that we would replace everything and explain what happened to the principal.

The next morning, AG listened to the phone messages and started yelling for me to write down a phone number. After getting off the phone, AG announced someone had found the bag.

After several phone messages, I finally connected with the woman who used good old detective work to figure out who the bag belonged to. We arranged for us to drive to her house about 1/2 an hour from our house to pick up the back. Little man drew her a picture of the missing bag with a thank you note. I gave her a card of one of my photos.

I am grateful to the kind woman who restored a little boy's faith in people. And mine.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday darling one,

Something has happened to you. Less than a year ago, you refused to wear dresses. This stance lasted through your second year of life and into your third.

Then, suddenly, you got your girl on.

And are you ever a girl.

Now you talk about boyfriends, wearing white at a wedding and wearing "tip toe" shoes (what you call high heels). You practically fall over from glee when you see me in a dress and high heels and try to convince me to wear them every day. I generally refuse, much to your disappointment.

During the play earlier this month, the woman who put make-up on the cast put a little rouge and eyeshadow on you. You were amazed that there was a whole world of colors to put on your face. I can't wait for you to figure out just how inept I am at make-up.

Fortunately your regular boyfriend is "Ladies' Choice" - that is what you think the young man's name is in a music clip from the movie Hairspray. So you talk on your toy cell phone to Ladies' Choice. "Hi Ladies' Choice. Should I meet you at the coffee shop? O.k. Mom I'm going to meet Ladies' Choice at the coffee and you can't come."

But he has competition. You are quite smitten with the lead singer from the A-Ha video, Take on Me. Of course, I think those Norwegian boys are pretty good-looking too so I understand your smitten-ness.

So I have a deal for you. As long as these boyfriends stay on the screen and in a toy cell phone, you can have all the boyfriends you want.

Until you are 32 years old.

And then we'll talk.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

We're just beaming here

Amazing Guy finished the Boston Marathon. I'm still amazed that he did it. I'm also surprised that we pulled off seeing him twice on the course.

Amazing Guy is picked up by a couple from our church. He was running the marathon for the 4th time and she had offered to drive them to the starting line.

The kids and I go out to buy poster making materials. Last month, My dad and I had ordered bright red t-shirts with "Go Big Daddy Go" printed on the front which we will all wear along the course.

Amazing Guy is scheduled to cross the starting line. We track his progress thanks to a computer chip on his sneaker that tells when he crosses certain points of the course.

The boys and I are riveted watching two women runners on television sprint to the finish line. The winner won by 3 seconds.

We arrive at my friend's house who lives near the marathon course. By 1:10 we're walking up to the road where we hope to watch Amazing Guy. The spot is before mile 18.

Convinced we missed him, we get to the spot. We start scanning the runners, cheering people who have their names written on their arms or bib numbers. We frantically call family and friends who are near computers asking if Amazing Guy has gotten to the tracking spot past where we are standing.

The boys start sticking their hands out to slap hands with the runners. We are amazed at how many folks seek out their hands, tap their hats or just run by to look in their eyes. Later Amazing Guy tells us it meant the world to have strangers yell words of encouragement at him.

Around 2:00 pm
Amazing Guy is spotted and we can't stop screaming and jumping. He comes over for hugs, handshakes and lots of "I Love You".

And he is off and running for the remaining 6+ miles, including the dreaded Heartbreak Hill.

My dad drives me and the boys towards the finish line (blessedly, my mom takes the cranky ballet-wearing nearly 4 year old back to their house for a much needed nap - she wouldn't have survived this last part).

The boys and I manage to get ourselves one block from the finish line. Someone calls to let us know she saw him at mile 25.

I spot Amazing Guy and start screaming. He had no idea we would be there. He comes over and asks me to lift the boys over the barricades. They all run together to the finish line.

My dad and I have found each other and then manage to find Amazing Guy and the boys (who look a bit shell shocked after watching various runners vomit and end up in wheelchairs - Amazing Guy wasn't one of them).

We're at my parents' house and Amazing Guy is having a beer. And telling stories from the day. We're all marveling that he is upright and coherent.

We are back home to all eat pizza.

Amazing Guy goes to bed.

There is a group of you that not only gave us incredible support throughout Amazing Guy's training, but helped him exceed his goal of raising over $3,000 for the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership. Thank you for supporting him.

Jen of a2eatwrite
Luisa & Patrick Perkins
June ( are you a blogger? - Thank you for your support!)
oktree (are you a blogger too? - Thanks for your support!)
Fourier Analyst
Jenn in Holland
Flower Child

All of you played a part in his success. If I missed you, I am really sorry and please let me know.

It was an amazing day. Which we would expect from Amazing Guy.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy Patriot's Day

Continuing in the tradition of finding some obscure reason to declare a holiday to accommodate what is really happening (e.g. Evacuation Day - a city holiday - just happens to land on St. Patrick's Day), today is Patriot's Day. What? Your part of the USA doesn't celebrated Patriot's Day? Humph, we in Massachusetts, Maine and Wisconsin do (yes, Wisconsin) in honor of the Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord.

Today also happens to be the running of the 112th Boston Marathon - 26.2 miles starting in Hopkington and ending next to the Boston Public Library.

Amazing Guy is running 10 minute miles so we hope to see him at mile 18 around 1:30. Then we hope to see him about an hour later around the finish line.

And of course, what running event does not inspire that 1982 classic?

Chariots of Fire. Am I the only one who noticed that Vangelis is smoking with a cup of cappuccino at his piano?

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

Feeling Patriotic today? Or athletic? Do sing along. But also link back please...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Quiet Hands

Soccer has started up again. The boys had their first practice Monday and the first game will be this coming Saturday. The team is made up almost entirely of the same boys from the fall season, with the same coach. This was the team that lost every single game (not that we paid attention or anything) and barely scored a goal the entire season. It was like they were 2 year olds playing against 10th graders.

This team is playing against the same kids this spring.

The one new kid on the team is autistic.

Both of my boys are in "inclusion" classes at their public school. One guy has nearly half of his classmates with IEPs (Individual Education Plans) for a range of issues including severe autism to behavioral issues. The other guy has a bit more than 1/3 of his classmates. There is a lot of talk in both classrooms of accepting kids and adults with different skills and being helpful when someone needs it.

A needed help on the soccer field.

I showed up late for practice and the team was playing a scrimmage. A's mom had been there the entire time and was nervous. It was his first time ever playing an organized sport. He was wandering the field, staring through his thick glasses, as the coach encouraged him to follow the ball. His mother kept telling him to have "quiet hands" since he would walk around the field constantly shaking both hands up by his shoulders.

At one point coach set up the game so that A kicked the ball to restart the game. After he kicked it, my guys ran up to him and hugged him. You would've thought he had scored the winning goal. He smiled. My boys kept encouraging him during the scrimmage.

So while this won't be a season with many goals, I think they will all be winners. Because they are a team.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Beautiful Day

Music Monday at Soccer Mom in Denial

I've got a bunch of songs going through my head these days in honor of spring trying so hard to come to this part of the world, in honor of our Selectman candidate winning (read his speech) the most votes, and of walking to church yesterday morning, in spite of the grey skies and chill that still hangs in the air.

The freshness of spring is coming. The freshness of new ideas is coming to our town.

Hello lamppost, what cha knowing?
I've come to watch your flowers growing.
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy), Simon and Garfunkel

It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away
It's a beautiful day
Beautiful Day, U2

Sunny Day
Sweepin' the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet
Can you tell me how to get,
How to get to Sesame Street?

Singing a song? Has something amazing happened that is perfectly captured by a tune? Do share. And share the love back by linking explicitly to me....

Friday, April 11, 2008

All Politics are Local

So, all of you Obama and Clinton fans - you are working on local campaigns too? Right? I mean, you don't actually think a President Obama or President Clinton (or shudder, President McCain) will really care about or do anything about potholes in your streets, funding for your schools or libraries, or how open space is preserved?

Because you know that all politics is local. Right? You know that? Please tell me you know that and that you know what type of local government you have (e.g. mayor, selectmen, town meeting). And who the people are that manage your town funds, determine the values and priorities of your schools and represent your local interests in state government.

Because you know all of that, right?

I'm disappearing again - AGAIN you collectively groan - because in the next 36 hours I want a certain candidate elected for Selectman of our town. I am dragging my daughter to play in his campaign office today while I type who has committed to vote for him into a spreadsheet. I've agreed to be anywhere on election day this Saturday - in the rain according to forecasts - to ensure that he is fully supported. I will even spend hours on the phone calling people to ask them to haul themselves out of their warm homes, go into the cold, raw rain, and vote.

Because this man will ensure that smart decisions are made about our schools, our town infrastructure and how our local government conducts itself.

Something none of the presidential candidates care about.

But I do.

So that is why I am voting for, and have worked for 2 months and am working the next 36 hours for, Paul.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Oh now this is just wrong

From the BBC:

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has asked for "embarrassing" travel restrictions on Nelson Mandela and South African leaders to be lifted.

A bill has been introduced in the US Congress to remove from databases any reference to South Africa's governing party and its leaders as terrorists.

The African National Congress (ANC) was designated as a terrorist organisation by South Africa's old apartheid regime.

At present a waiver is needed for any ANC leaders to enter the country.

"It is frankly a rather embarrassing matter that I still have to waive in my own counterparts - the foreign minister of South Africa, not to mention the great leader, Nelson Mandela," Ms Rice told lawmakers in Washington.

Last week, Howard Berman, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, who introduced the bill said it was "shameful" that the United States still treated the ANC this way.

"Amazingly, Nelson Mandela still needs to get a special waiver to enter the United States based on his courageous leadership of the ANC. What an indignity. This legislation will wipe it away," he said.

South Africa's apartheid government banned the ANC in 1960, imprisoning or forcing into exile its leaders.

Mr Mandela, who turns 90 this year, was released in 1990 after spending 27 years in prison.

He then became the country's first post-apartheid-era president, before retiring after serving one term in office.

He appears to be in reasonable health, but now makes far fewer public appearances.

As I've written before I visited South Africa in the late 1990's. I visited one of the prisons where Mandela spent 18 of the 27 years in government custody. It is incredulous that 18 years after being released from prison, 9 years after completing his term as the first democratically elected President in an election in which all citizens of South Africa could vote, regardless of his or her race, Nelson Mandela is still on a US Government terrorist watch list.

Shame on us. Shame on the US.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A good president

[The following was written on a series of images of the United States....]

I would be a
good president because I
would say a lot of

I would
help the U.S.A.

I would
save a lot of

I would
seperate (sic) a lot
of the fighters.

I would keep
the whitehouse

I would
travel hraly (I think the candidate became tired during this part of the platform development).

I would share things.

I would be a hiraly (again, I think exhaustion set in) president.

- written by my 7 1/2 year old son

Who knows, maybe he is the consensus candidate? I particularly like his campaign promise to keep the White House clean.

However, I don't mean to smear this candidate but he cannot keep his bedroom clean.

Monday, April 07, 2008

We represent the Lollipop Guild...

Yup, my guys brought down the house. If I do say so myself.

This weekend the three of us were in our church production of The Wizard of Oz. And yes, the identical twin boys with red hair were with another boy (slightly taller with brown hair) to present Dorothy with her lollipops.

I wish you could've heard the audience for each performance. Lots of laughs and applause for the snarly boys with funny hair. Even the time when there were no lollipops. A slight snafu that they handled with flair and humor.

Tra la la la la tra la la tra la la
Tra la la la la

Are you off to see the wizard? Or at least singing a tune? Do share. And be sure to have a heart (and a brain and the nerve). Link back to me...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Come to Jesus meeting

One of the expressions I've recently learned is the phrase "Come to Jesus meeting". How it was explained to me is a gathering, usually between folks who have not been getting along, to hash out their differences and make peace.

Could I call a come to Jesus meeting? Please?

I was talking with someone whose opinion I value greatly. Someone who also has the uncanny ability of accurately predicting political races. Someone who has my political bent and cares about similar issues as me.

He said McCain will be the next president.

And I agreed with him.

Why does he feel this way? Why do I? Because of the nasty, ugly vitriol by both Democratic candidates' camps.

Now don't post comments here about how the other is worse. I don't care. I truly do not care who is nominated (there I've written it). However, I have heard from supporters of both candidates the worst line possible:

"If my candidate doesn't win, I'm not voting."

Which is a vote for McCain.

I lived in New Orleans during the 1992 gubernatorial election. That was the election between David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan, and Edwin Edwards, a former Governor who had been indited several times on corruption (and was eventually found guilty years later). I was surrounded by smart, intelligent people who were disgusted by their choices for governor and vowed not to vote. Which, considering David Duke was polling ahead of Edwards in the rest of Louisiana, meant every vote in New Orleans was necessary to ensure a white supremacist didn't become the next governor.

My favorite bumper sticker from that campaign? "Vote for the crook. It's important."

So I'm asking everyone, once a Democratic candidate is nominated to put aside your feelings, your personal investment of time and money and DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO GET THE DEMOCRAT ELECTED. While it has been fun to watch, read and listen to people who are truly excited about this race, some of whom are engaged for the first time, there is one thing everyone should remember about politics.

Politics isn't personal. It is politics.