Monday, August 29, 2011

Missing Mommy Gene

I think I may be missing a vital mom gene. All I've been hearing the past couple of weeks from my friends is how hard it is to watch their kids go off to school. Granted, my kids are closer to adults than children, but even when they were little I didn't feel....weepy? nostalgic? empty-nested? when they started school.

Nope. I felt relief, boundless joy, even a bit of giddiness. I painted my face blue and screamed, "FREEDOM!" just like Braveheart! Sure it embarrassed and traumatized the kids but therapy fixed that. Maybe I felt so relieved because I never had just one child. My first pregnancy was with twins so I was a little bitty bit more busy than the average new mother. Couple that with being single at the time (long story for another blog) and you see why I was walking around in a daze for the first eighteen months of their lives. When well intentioned family and friends would remind me to "enjoy this time because it goes by so fast" I would glare at them and think LIARS! I am going to be stuck in this maternal purgatory forever. It was a blur of feeding two babies every three hours, washing and making twenty to thirty bottles at a time, millions of diaper changes, continuous loads of laundry and lack of any real sleep for months. Oh, and let's not forget the horrendous case of colic that Nick had and it was an all round magical time in my life.

When people ask me how I did it I honestly answer, "I don't remember." I know for sure I couldn't have done it without the help and support of my family and friends. I moved back home and my poor little sister, ten years old at the time, had to share a room with me and the babies. Those first few weeks were tough on the whole family. The babies would cry and I would jump up and try my best to quiet them down so that they wouldn't wake up the whole house. At first my sister would wake up and grumble about the noise, but she learned to sleep right through it after awhile. My mom took two weeks off of work to help me with the overwhelming task of caring for two babies. She was so patient and understanding and by the time she went back to work I had a system worked out. When the twins were nine months old, we moved into an apartment and I was thankful for the strict schedule I had developed. I was able to handle the daily demands of parenting on my own.

Flash forward to the cutest little kindergartners you've ever seen and the ecstatic mommy with the blue face paint. I was so happy to have a moment to myself that I celebrated the best way I knew how.

I went back to bed until they got home from school. FREEDOM!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Saddle Leather and Blackberries

I close my eyes and envision the red clay of East Texas. If I take a deep breath I can almost smell that unique scent. Strong, rich earthiness permeates the air. Blue skies with wispy clouds lazily crawl toward the horizon. The pine trees cluster together facing off with the vast acres of prairie grass. The hot wind blasts my face and bare arms and legs with granules of sand, scouring me down with brute force; a force I give over to with a sigh of resignation. I belong here. This is home.

I remember riding my horse, Copper, through the pine forest. The air in here is so much cooler than out on the prairie. I breathe deeply and inhale the acrid pine sap, the saddle leather and Copper's unique scent. A shrub of wild blackberries adds a flash of color to the surrounding green and tan of the pines. I revel in the sweet bursts of juice with each mouthful and climb back in the saddle with purple/black stains on my fingers. Stains that will not wash away later, but have to fade away like a bruise. I steer Copper to a small lake for a well deserved drink. He walks into the water until it reaches his stomach before he dips his head down to swallow gallons of lake water. I sit quietly on his back and close my eyes against the glare of the sun. I'm cocooned in my own world.

Sometimes I'm afraid I'll lose these moments. That time, like the relentless hot Texas wind, will scour my memory down to the dry bones and leave me without the visceral meat...the scents, sounds and feel of that time.

Why can't we ever go back? I could ride that same pine forest on a similar horse on a hot summer day and nothing would smell, sound or feel the same. God, I wish I could go back! Just one afternoon as that young girl to recapture the moment more closely.

The longing is what makes the moment so sweet and tantalizing.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Channeling Shel Silverstein

Envy said
     I wish I was you
Jealousy said
     Yeah me too
Hatred said
     I don't like you
Pity said
     It's too bad you're you
Arrogance said
     I'm better than you
Confusion said
     Which one are you

Love said
     I love you for you
Acceptance said
     Yeah me too

I'm lying in bed
With a cat on my head
It came out of nowhere in the night.

As I lay down to sleep
To my bed it did creep
And curled 'round my head real tight.

It's fuzzy and soft
And to it I talk
As it purrs out a tune on my head.

You make a nice hat
But I don't own a cat
So how did you get in my bed?

You're tickling me!
said the flower to the bee
And you're taking my pollen away

So the bee did refrain
and the flower did exclaim
Wait! I want you to stay!

My nose is so funny
It's clogged, but it's runny
And how, you may ask, can this be?

One nostril drips snot
While the other does not
How gross, you may ask, can you be?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Reality Slap

I loved going with my friends to the bars on OSU campus. Back in the '90s campus bars were nothing more than crevices in the walls with dim lighting, crowded dance floors, overpowering music and lots and lots of liquor. My friends and I would spend hours getting ready. We would make our grand entrance at the bars at around 10pm and stumble out into the deafening quiet of High Street around 2am. Campus police were even thoughtful enough to put up a drunk string, which was a thick piece of twine strung between the street lights. This high tech device kept the inebriated crowds from falling into traffic as they weaved their way down the sidewalks. Ah, good times.

Now, twenty years later, I don't feel any different from the girl I was. Of course I have matured and changed in the intervening years, but the core "me" doesn't feel any older. But reality is a spiteful bitch and she slapped me the other day but good.

Sam and I were going to a book signing at the Barnes&Noble on High Street which is where the old bars used to be. That area is completely unrecognizable from my bar hopping days. All of the older, questionably sound buildings of my youth are gone. They've been replaced by beautiful buildings and businesses. The dark, seedy feel has been replaced by a bright, cosmopolitan vibe.

We had a few hours before the book signing and decided to get dinner at Noodles & Company on campus. We ordered and sat down to wait for our food. As I sat there I was suddenly aware of my surroundings, or more clearly the people surrounding me. Every table was filled with college "kids"...the same age group as my twins...18, 19, 20. I looked at Sam with huge eyes and whispered, "Oh my god!"

He looked at me sideways. "What?"

"I just realized that all these kids are Nick and Lauren's age."

"Yeah. So."

I looked at him like he was an idiot who couldn't grasp the obvious.

"So! We are now the creepy old people on campus, honey!"

I remember those people from my times on campus. The creepy man my dad's age trying to buy me a drink; the woman wearing an outfit that suited a 15 year old, not a 40 year old; the couple still trying to be "hip" by hanging out with the younger crowd. Ewww.

This was the first time that I "felt" my age and it truly shocked me. I'm the adult now. My kids expect me to always know what to do. I feel like an impostor! I STILL feel like I'm playing "grown-up".

I don't know if I'll ever feel like the adult. I'm not really sure I want to. You can't make me! Nah!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Quotable Thursday

William Faulkner
"Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it.
Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window."
William Faulkner

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Reluctant Gamer

It's game night! No, not poker. I'm talkin' Dungeons and Dragons. Now before you roll your eyes, let me explain.

I was coerced into this whole world of nerdvana by my own circle of husband, my son and my friend, Candy.

Zachary, my son, has been playing online role playing games for years. His favorite is World of Warcraft or WOW. There have been a few others but WOW always lures him back. I don't have a problem with role playing games, but as a mother I do have a problem with Zach sitting on the computer for 12 hours at a stretch playing a game. I think what bothered me more than the inactivity was the lack of real life interaction. Social skills are built and honed by being around other people. Take that away and you have a very intelligent, awkward anti-social with no people skills. I'm sorry. I do NOT want my kid to be that man living in my basement that has been turned into his "command center". Creepy.

I talked with my hubby, Sam, about the ridiculous amount of time Zach was spending alone on the computer. He suggested that he take Zach to the Guardtower, which is a gaming store. Not only do they sell every imaginable game product, they have a room for people to sit and play the games. Zach could meet other people who share his passion for role playing, get involved with a regular gaming group, get away from the computer and develop some social skills! Winner!

The glitch I didn't see was Sam rediscovering how much he enjoys role playing games. Sam came home with a gleam in his eye and a stack of D&D books. Crap. Now I had two gamers in the family. But wait! It gets better! I was telling my friend, Candy, about the boy's 10 hour day at the Guardtower and she squealed, "I loved that store when I played D&D!" The next day she and her daughter picked up Zach and they all went to the Guardtower together!

Before I know it Sam is setting up "Dinner and a Dungeon" night on Tuesdays with Candy and her daughter. Zach is beside himself with excitement and everyone is pressuring me to drink the damn kool-aid! Candy, who has known me since we were 17, pulls a dirty card and tells me that developing a character and plot lines for the game will help me with my writing skills. Bitch.

And THAT is how Woogums Leathersole was born!

A couple of months into getting together on Tuesdays to "game" and I have to admit it's not that bad. I still am not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination. What I really love is the excuse to sit down with my family and close friend, eat a home cooked meal, play, talk and laugh. The time we spend together is great for all of us. No t.v., no cell phones, no computers, no distractions. Just us and our imaginations creating a story.

And let me tell you, Woogums kicks monster behind!!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Silent Sounds

Our electricity went out for almost 3 1/2 hours. It stayed light outside until 9 or 9:30 so I sat on the couch listening and writing. Listening to how vastly different it is inside our home without electricity. It sounds alien without the hum of electricity coursing through the veins of our house. The lack of sound has become uncomfortable. No soft hum of the air conditioner; no rabble from the t.v.; no frantic whir of the fans; no jolt of sound from the refrigerator kicking on; no buzzing from the computers...sounds I don't register until they are silent.

Then there are the sounds I suddenly notice. The hard tread of Zach's footsteps; the baritone of Nick's voice with the harmony of his girlfriend's soprano; the tick of the battery run clock; the click of our dog's toenails on the hardwood floor; the faint hum of traffic; the sound of the wind blowing through the windows; birds singing in our flower garden; Sam humming softly to himself.

I walked into the bathroom and my hand automatically reached up and flipped the light switch. Even though I knew the electricity is out I still had that moment of shock when no light blazed forth. I needed to wash clothes but couldn't; we bought takeout for dinner because we couldn't cook; the kids got "bored!"--where were our saving distractions? Those mindless entertainments that save us from actual contemplation, creativity and accomplishment?

I sank down on the couch again and continued to write, daydream, talk with and listen to my family, pet the dog and just sit.

I loved it...but I really missed the AC.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

It Really Is The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

This is my favorite commercial for back to school. I laugh every time I see it. Thought it was appropriate since school starts tomorrow! All you parents ENJOY!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I'm Super Cereal!

I love those short stories in magazines that quote cute or embarrassing things kids have said. They are so innocently honest that it's impossible to get angry. They haven't developed the mental filter that adults use to keep from getting socked in the mouth.

My kids have given me lots of great stories over the years. Thank goodness I have written down some! I was reading through a few that I've written over the years and I'm amazed that I really don't remember 99% of them! This proves to me how important it is to write down those moments. I can't remember what I walked into the other room for, let alone what cute thing my kid said fourteen years ago. Here are a few of my favorites.

We were at my in-laws one evening and a friend gave Nicholas, who was three, a dollar.
I said, "Nicholas, what do you say?"
With a big smile and his hand thrust out he said, "Got another one?"

Zachary was around four when he came to me pointing at his forearm and informed me, "Look, Mommy. I have skin 'cause I've been drinking a lot of skin milk."
After my laughter subsided I told him it was skiM milk not skiN milk.

Lauren was trying to be as serious with me as a five year old can be when she stated, "Mommy, I'm super cereal!"
It took me a moment to figure out she meant super serious. I nearly choked on my laugh.

But it's not just my kids who have given me fodder for this blog entry. I could fill an entire page with things my nephew, Kael, has said. One of my favorites is when he raced into the living room, stopped in front of my sister, raised his hand up and yelled, "Talk to the hand 'cause the butt don't dooky!", turned and slapped his butt and raced out of the room.

Reading what I just wrote makes me laugh out loud! I think he was about three when he did that. But he gets it honest. My sister, at the ripe old age of nine, asked my mom, "What was my first memory?"
We both stared at her and mom asked, "Carlene, how would I know your first memory?"
"Well," Carly rationalized, "when I had my first memory I would have told you and forgotten and you would remember and tell me later!"

We were laughing so hard but she was super cereal!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Babe, Can You Get Me, Um, A, Um...

You know what I hate most about being sick? Besides the obvious part of being sick. It's all the wasted time! Time I could be spending writing, reading, playing D&D with my family (yep, I'm one of those people) or just enjoying the relatively cool weather we've had lately.

Instead I have been dragging myself to work for half-days and crawling back home to bed in my dark cave of a bedroom. I sleep until my cough wakes me up, take some more meds, drink some tea with honey and lay back down. This wasted week has passed by in a haze.

I can't even read when I feel this bad because the words don't stick in my mind. I end up reading the same sentence multiple times, grasping at the meaning I know is there, only to sigh with frustration as I curl back under the covers for some more fitful sleep. As for writing, I can't form coherent thoughts or even articulate a certain word when needed.

"Honey, can you get me, um, a, um..."

Sam looks at me with pity when he finishes my sentence for me. "Drink?"

I get so excited that he was able to pull that elusive word from out of nowhere. He's so smart!

Plus, he never gets sick. I am jealous of his immune system. It is nuclear powered whereas mine is a flickering candle. He takes more sick days to care for me than for actually being sick. I know he wonders about our sickness and in sick is this chick gonna get!? Too late now. Brew some tea, honey. My throat feels scratchy again.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sick again

Strep throat, so no posting today. Not sure when the next post will be... whenever I'm feeling better.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sing For Me

I sit on a bench about a hundred feet away from the practice room. Sam's voice rings out with authority and power, grabbing my attention away from the book I'm reading. The strength and beauty are so pure. I feel myself vibrate with his high notes and descend to a soft peace as he sinks into the lower ranges.

A man walking by turns his head left to right trying to locate the source of the voice. He glances toward the practice rooms and moves on with a soft smile.

To bring joy, sight unseen, with a practice scale, is a gift; a blessing that demands to be heard. I see the spark back in Sam's eyes; the excitement of using his voice again; of tasting the Italian words as they roll off his tongue and hang in the air. I see the rush of pleasure as he hits the stratosphere. There is a high that no drug can provide as people sit rapt with attention and disbelief listening to him achieve the miraculous.

Then the whistles, applause, thank you's and holy shit's wash over us. I say us because I revel in his triumph as well. I glow with pride at his talent, humility and beautiful personality. He shines and I stand in his rays.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Quotable Thursday

"Seek not greater wealth, but simpler pleasure; not higher fortune, but deeper felicity." Mahatma Gandhi

Sam and I have realized that after almost 17 years of marriage, we don't need all of the trappings of the "American Dream". When we first got married we rented an apartment, drove fixer-uppers (which my daddy held together with duct tape and salvaged parts), dressed in hand-me-downs and never ate out. We always looked forward to the day when we could own our own home, buy a new car, buy new clothes and eat out anytime we wanted. So we worked hard and by golly we got it all!

It sucks, quite frankly. Owning a home comes with a massive mortgage payment, utilities, water, yard work, repairs and maintenance that all come out of our paychecks. There is no calling the landlord when something goes wrong. Our outside water spigot hasn't been turned on in over seven years because it leaks behind the basement wall. We just don't have the cash to fix it, so I lug water from the backyard spigot to the flowers out front. I am a proud homeowner, alright! New cars come with payments and still need maintenance that sometimes costs more than the payment! I shop at the consignment shops and thrift stores because I can buy the same name brand stuff for 90% less. I just have to take a little more time to find it, but that's part of the fun. It's like a treasure hunt. And thanks to eating out whenever we want, I am STILL fifty pounds overweight.

All the hype we are fed from the time we are kids--more stuff with make you happier; name brand is better; paying more means better quality; you have to have every new techy toy out there or you are falling behind the times; BUY your way to happiness, security and health--is empty and meaningless in the end.

Sam and I decided years ago that we would rather spend our money on experiences than products. Don't get me wrong. I don't want to live like an ascetic. I have conditions which include electricity, indoor plumbing and health care. But all the possessions have lost their glitter.

What really makes me happy are family, good friends, laughter, reading, writing and not having to dust all the stuff I have given up.

Less truly is more. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Music Speaks For Itself

I love all kinds of music including rap. What I don't like are lyrics that glorify violence, drugs, hatred, intolerance and ignorance for the all mighty dollar. I was watching some videos and ran across this rapper with a <gasp> positive message. I think it takes more guts to stand up to the status quo in the rap world than to carry a gun and follow the herd. Even if you don't like rap, do yourself a favor and watch this video and LISTEN to the lyrics. His lyrics are poetic and mean two totally different things by the end of the video. I am officially a fan.

EDIT - The link above is broken again, apparently they've made their site private. Here's a link to the video on YouTube:
And to a Facebook fan page:

Monday, August 8, 2011

I Wanna Be Good, But I'm So Bad

I have the best of intentions. Really! Every two weeks I sit down and make out a healthy meal plan with the altruistic intent to cook a delicious dinner each night of the week. I go to the grocery store and stick to the list. I walk past the cookies, cakes and frozen quick meals. I will feed my family "good" food, and we will be healthy and happy.

So, what did I eat tonight? Cereal and waffles...mmm-mmm. What did we eat last night? Pizza rolls, cheese sticks,mini corndogs and chicken nuggets. What is still in the fridge? Salad fixings, grilled chicken breasts and fruit of varying kinds. I am a total failure! Seriously, the "baby" is 15 and I'm still lugging around the fifty extra pounds I put on when I was pregnant with him. I can only milk that excuse for another 10 years at most! Then what!

It's not that I don't like healthy food. I actually prefer it to quick junk food. It tastes so much more satisfying and I physically feel better when I eat healthy. It's just that after an eight hour work day and writing, I am tired and the last thing I want to do is cook. Oh, I want the healthy dinner. I just don't want to expend any energy on making it. That's the appeal of eating out. It's the service that I crave more than the food. I want to be waited on so that all I have to do is enjoy the experience of eating. And afterwards I can get up and leave. No leftovers to put away, no dishes to load in the dishwasher, no pots and pans to wash. Just a full belly and a good night's sleep.

But I don't have the bank account to be able to do that. So there are nights I eat cereal or stop by the store on the way home and buy "snacky-foods", which is what we call a dinner of pizza rolls, cheese sticks and such. Hope springs eternal. I will continue to write out my menu and buy the "good" food because I can't help but strive to feed my family and myself healthy meals. And to have balance in my life I have to allow for those "bad" foods. crumbs on the keyboard from my HO-HO.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Didn't I Already Do This?

I am exhausted! What have I been doing you ask? Training for a marathon? Saving puppies from burning buildings? Making sweet love to my husband?

NO! I am babysitting my niece, Lizzy, age 10 and my nephew, Kael, age 6. Now, my kids are 19 (the twins) and 15. I have not had to wipe a poopy butt, fix a lunch, get a drink of water, or "entertain" my kids in years. I am woefully out of practice!

First of all, you have to have the stamina of an Iron Man athlete to keep up with young kids. I think my stamina is that of a sloth or, on a good day, a koala. I have come to enjoy a life of leisure and it has been completely ripped from me this weekend.

Liz and Kael got here Saturday around noon. I needed a nap by 1:45 but plowed through the fatigue and sleepiness to blow bubbles, color, play soccer, make bracelets, get 7 glasses of water, make dinner and then reheat pizza because "I don't like this" was sung in chorus, make beds in the living room, play with Legos, play Wii, watch Avatar (the cartoon), announce that it is bedtime, get 3 more glasses of water, make Kael go to the bathroom before laying down a third time, kisses on the head, I love you's whispered, threats of death if you get up ONE MORE TIME and then the sweet oblivion of sleep!

Sunday: See Above.

I was 20 when I had the twins and 24 when I had my youngest. I had much more stamina and patience...well, maybe not patience but definitely more stamina. When our kids were young, our house was the go-to playhouse. I used to babysit as well, so we had a full house from morning until evening. It was chaos! But a well controlled and organized chaos. I kept a strict schedule and even when the kids were older I would make them take naps. Not for them; for me. I told them that they didn't have to sleep, but they had to lay quietly for at least an hour. This gave everyone some down time and gave me time to rejuvenate.

After I had my youngest, I knew I was done having kids. There has not been ONE TIME in 15 and 1/2 years that I have looked at my husband and said, "Honey, I want another baby." Well, I did once, jokingly, and he ever-so-lovingly said, "Hell no." We know what it takes to raise kids and right now, with 3 young adults under our belts, we see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Being a parent is all consuming. You "become" Mom or Dad and the person you were before children is as different as the person you were in your teens as compared to your forties. It is so easy to lose yourself when you become a parent; to give every aspect of yourself to your kids until you no longer know how to act or what to do when you aren't with them. I tried so hard to write when my kids were young, but I just couldn't. I kept a journal and wrote sporadically, but I felt guilty taking this time for myself. Being that mentally distracted and emotionally self-beaten made writing a dreaded chore that I forced myself to do. It wasn't fun anymore. I decided to put my writing on the back burner until the kids got older.

As a parent you have this ongoing list of "I can't wait until's". I can't wait until they sleep through the night; until they can eat solid food; until they are out of diapers; until they can walk; until they start school; until they can drive themselves; until they graduate; until they get a job; until they move out.

This is when you get yourself back. When you rediscover what brings you happiness and get back to doing what you love. I can now dedicate the time and intensity to my writing that I've always wanted. No guilt or self loathing involved. It has been a long time coming and I am going to enjoy every minute of it.

But this weekend I am back in parent mode. So, if you will excuse me, I have to get my butt kicked at Mario Brothers by a 6 year old.

Friday, August 5, 2011

I'm Glad We Talked

When I am out in public I tend to keep to myself. It's not an intentional snub to my fellow humans. It's just that with so many strangers around me, I shut out the external and insulate with my own thoughts. I may notice others around me; their dress, mannerisms, speech and interactions with others, but I rarely engage people in conversation. Instead I write down anything interesting to possibly use in a story.

My job as a homecare visit nurse was to see patients in their homes and I had lots of humorous, interesting or down right bizarre conversations with my patients and the other nurses in my company. I learned so much about all of their lives and the delight of getting to know someone under the public facade is wonderful and a creative boon. But now that I work in the office I don't get that daily boon. I sit at my desk and do the minute critiquing that makes the paperwork acceptable and, more importantly, payable. It is a completely different role than being a visit nurse, but it has its own satisfaction. I work with some wonderful people in the office, but the conversations are work related or funny quips thrown back and forth. Nothing deep. And that's when I noticed that I was insulating myself at work much like I do when I am out in public.

My co-worker, Carmella, and I share an office. One day we started talking about our relatives and she was telling me about her eccentric grandfather on her mom's side. On a lark she Googled him and up popped a web site and video. Carmella was as surprised as me.

You see, her grandpa, who she calls Hawkie, is William Hawkins, " of America's most widely exhibited and collectible self-taught painters, and his work can be found at the American Fold Art Museum, New York; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; the National Gallery, Washington, D.C.; and in Ohio at the Columbus Museum of Art and the Akron Art Museum." As we watched the video, Carmella told me a little about Hawkie.

When Carmella was younger she would sometimes stop by Hawkie's house after school. She remembers being scared of the house. To get into the house she had to climb a dark stairway, being careful not to fall into the hole in one of the steps. The house was always cluttered with his art supplies and projects in various stages of completion. Jet magazine covers were framed and hanging on the wall with a silhouette cut-out of her mom in the middle of the collection. She remembers that Hawkie didn't like to use new paintbrushes. He preferred to use his old brushes for years on end.

"Did he ever teach you how to paint?" I asked.

"Oh, no! I thought his paintings looked like a five year old had done them. Besides, there wasn't any place to sit."

This is what fascinates me. Most people see artists as intangible objects of admiration; something more than human. We don't feel we can relate to them on a personal level because of the awe their art inspires. Yet here is Carmella, with whom I work every day, and her grandfather, a self-taught painter doing what he loved for the personal joy it brought him. A grandpa who always had a dollar for his granddaughter when she came to visit.

All I had to do was talk with a co-worker and this wonderful story and William Hawkins' art were brought into my life. How many other great stories am I missing by staying silent?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Quotable Thursday

Daisy Miller (Einstein Books)

I was looking at the books on my bookshelves the other day trying to decide what I was in the mood to read, and I noticed that I have quite a few books on Einstein. Not technical books explaining his theories (those are so far beyond my capacity to understand, although I still find them fascinating) but books about his personality and interactions with those around him.

He was brilliant and charming with a sharp wit and quirky sense of humor. I think it's his sense of humor that I find so intriguing. Here was a man who had unlocked secrets to the UNIVERSE, yet he could quip jokes about becoming fat. How awesome is that?! I love that he took his work seriously but not himself.

I find it sad though that for all his insights into the workings of the universe, he was woefully inept in his relationships. In other words, he was very human.

If this has piqued your interest in Einstein, the man, please read any of the following books.

For a fictional discussion between Einstein (after his death) and a young girl who is invited into his study, which is stuck out of time and space, read the following book. A fun and interesting read, but can get pretty technical with the science.

Please, Mr. Einstein by Jean-Clause Carriere translated by John Brownjohn

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sick and Bent Objects

I hate being sick. My entire body aches, my head is pounding and my thoughts are muddled.

Instead of writing tonight I will post a link to one of my favorite artist's blogs. Terry Border creates hilarious scenes with everyday objects and wire. Check out his Bent Objects. You will not be disappointed. Enjoy!

I'm taking some medicine and going back to bed.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Frank N. Stein

I wrote this children's story years ago. Hope you enjoy!
"Frank, honey! Breakfast is ready!"

"Alright, Mom. I'm coming."

Frank took one last look in the mirror and shuffled out of the bathroom with a sigh. Clumping down the steps, he inwardly cringed at his awkward gait. If only he had taken more after his mother instead of being the spitting image of his father. How he longed for her full black and white hair and pale skin. No matter what styling products he used his lank, black hair hung straight on his head. His skin was the same pale green as his father's and there was no way to hide his protruding neck bolts.

"Good morning, honey. I made your favorite."

Frank took a seat and smiled down at the heaping plate of spider cakes.

"Thanks, Mom."

Frank thought how his mom always made him feel better. She made a game of the many moves the family had to make. As a professional monster, his dad worked in many different villages. His dad's agent would book a gig for three or four months at a time in each new castle. Frank N. Stein, Sr. was contracted to keep the residential castle in proper disarray. The doors and windows had to be kept boarded up, the spider webs spun in thick blankets on the walls and ceiling and creaking floorboards kept up to the right decibel code. On special occasions Frank was allowed to help his dad make the strange noises that stopped villagers in their tracks.

But as much as Frank loved and admired his dad, he hated the constant moving. The worst part was the first day at each new school. It was hard enough being the new kid but being a professional monster's kid was almost unbearable! The kids were stuck somewhere between fear and shock. They either steered clear of Frank or teased him relentlessly for looking so different. Frank mostly kept to himself and dreamed of becoming a scientist.

"What's wrong, honey? You haven't touched your food."

"Oh, sorry, Mom. I was just thinking."

Frank's mom sat down beside him and patted his hand.

"Frank, I know how hard it is to start at a new school again. Your dad said that I could tell you the good news. He talked to his agent last night and guess what? We're going to be here permanently!"

Frank's head shot up in disbelief.

"You mean no more moving?"

"That's right. I guess the mayor requested a permanent monster to raise tourism and your dad was his first choice. He'll be doing regular shows with the villager's union, and the local paper is sending their best reporter, Miss Shelley, to do an exclusive interview with your dad. Isn't that exciting?

Frank beamed with the news. No more moving! He could actually make some friends. His smile faded with that thought.

"Mom, the kids are never going to be friends with me. I look too weird."

"Honey, that's ridiculous! When they get to know you they'll realize what an amazing person you are. Besides, I think you're very handsome, just like your father. Now you'd better hurry or you'll be late."

Frank quickly ate his breakfast and ran out the door towards school. Halfway down the sidewalk he slowed to a walk. He would rather be late the first day. That way he wouldn't have to wade through the sea of students outside the building. He hoped his mom was right. Maybe this school would be different. If they weren't moving again, the kids would have a chance to know him and hopefully they would like him.

He made it to school after the first bell rang and slowly walked down the hall to his classroom. Pausing at the door, he took a deep breath and braced himself for the stares, gasps and whispers. He opened the door and walked straight to the teacher's desk with his head down and his eyes glued to the floor. Reaching the desk, he mumbled his name and explained that he was her new student.

"It's nice to meet you, Frank. Why don't you take a seat in the front row."

"Yes, ma'am," Frank replied.

Turning toward the class, Frank looked up for the first time. What he saw made his heart quicken. Sitting in the front row, next to an empty desk, was the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen. To his surprise, she was looking at him with a warm smile.

"You can sit by me if you want."

"Uh, sure," stammered Frank. "Thanks."

Frank sat down and glanced around the room. No one was staring at him and a few students even smiled as he caught their eye. Frank looked again at the girl beside him. When she smiled this time Frank caught a glimpse of two, sharp fangs glinting in the light.

"My name's Lydia Dracul," she said.

"Dracul? As in Count Dracula?" Frank shouted in his excitement.

"Yeah, that's right," Lydia laughed. "Daddy retired a few years ago and we moved here. You've heard of him?"

"Heard of him? Man, he's a legend in the monster union! He's my dad's idol. By the way, I'm Frank," he said with amazing ease. "My dad's the new monster in town."

"Nice to meet you, Frank. By the way, wicked bolts!"

Frank's face beamed. I'm gonna like it here he thought.