Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Baby Love

I spent some time today holding LMJ, watching her face roll through a cascade of expressions while dreaming that would have made Marlon Brando proud. She has this Taxi-Driver, "you-talkin'-to-me?" look, and there's also this face of absolute sweet peace borrowed from napping Golden Retriever puppies. There's this expression of profound puzzlement, as if she were calculating pi. She also has this look of relief, the kind most of us have in the morning after a satisfying bowel movement (hey, don't make that face, you know what I'm talking about) during which I'm sure she having a most gratifying poop.
Then, there's the signature smirk, half smile, half lips pursed ready to say, "you putz", genetically remastered from her father. That's my favorite.
Most strong women have a smirk (LMJ's dad, I'm sure, got it from his mother, a fierce and powerful goddess I adore). Xena, Warrior Princess, wore a perpetual one, suggesting to sword wielding gangs to "run for your miserable lives," a line I would kill to use at one of the many unpleasant IEP meetings in my career. Siguorney Weaver had one all during Alien Resurrection as the cloned Ripley straddling the line between human and alien, flame-throwing her way past all manner of monsters. All the women of Battlestar Galactica have big frakkin' smirks. Judabear has one when she describes the relentless exploits of her cat, Hansel, an animal who's part Ninja and part Pepe LePew.
So LMJ resides in good company wearing Papa's smirk, one of her many dreamy faces, as she sleeps through her baby days.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


I love being home, it's true, I am an ubber-homebody and happy to admit it. When school is in session, being at home takes on a Ground Hog Day quality. It's a lot of the same same on schedule. In the summer, though, schedules are spanked and put in the corner, to-do lists wait patiently for my moods and lots of wallowing in nothingness becomes the order of the day.
So, this is some of what I did on Wednesday.
In the early afternoon, I napped for 45 minutes while the musical stylings of Soundscapes (channel 835 on Comcast) played in the background. Harps. Sounds of the rainforest. Some birdcalls. Eerily melancholy flute melodies. If heaven has a waiting room, this is the music that's piped in.
Later, I watched VH-1's 100 One Hit Wonders hosted by William Shatner. I'll watch anything hosted by Shatner but the guilty pleasure intoxication was amplified by knowing that I had five great books on my night stand just waiting to opened and there I was watching the Safety Dance video by Men Without Hats. If I would have had some S'mores in one hand and a pint of Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia in the other, it's decadence even Lindsey Lohan would have appreciated.
In between all of this, there were long periods of time where I stared appreciatively at my toes.
I'll explain.
The day before, I joined my pal Andrea, her husband Mike and her 16 year old daughter Kenna for a family pedicure at a local nail joint. The pedicure was a necessary antidote for having spent most of the day with my animal control guy, Jeff, plotting the ultimate demise of the opposums who recently made my attic their permanent address. After hours of hearing about assorted animal feces and the fatal diseases that spring from their molecular tango and the infestation history of the invincible Norweigan Wharf Rat in Jacksonville Beach, I felt a little pampering was needed. An hour of scraping, scrubbing and firm massaging left my feet feeling softer than Scooter Libby's conviction and when the dust cleared, my toenails emerged a Wicked Witch Apple Red. Glorious.
Yeah, summertime. It's all good.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Kingman, Arizona

I spent most of last week in Kingman, Arizona with Judy and her family. Kingman was a work detour on the Goulds on the Run Pacific America Tour '07. Judy and I spent three days with the teachers of the Kingman Learning Academy in a bit of writing training. There's a remarkable mix of energies that churns during these three days. I tell ya, it's not work when you have teachers like these who were open and engaged during all our sessions. When you're a teacher who just finished the school year and you agree to three full days of training at the start of your vacation, that's dedication that should garner more print space than a spoiled hotel socialite going to jail.
These teachers were cool.
We wrote, we laughed and we cried and I'm talking the good cry not the "oh-mah-ghad-I'm-listening-to-Michael-Bolton-accompanied-by-Kenny-G" cry. My favorite thing about writing training, besides marveling at the silky smooth delivery of one Judy Gould, is discovering the layers of lives of our attendees. You want to talk family values? Then you should listen to the way these teachers talk about their children and their wives and husbands, words wrung from memories, sacred, fragile and affirming.
We heard about triumph and loss. We heard the truth come out in verse and song and priceless prose in alliterative anthems. We heard about backyards and porches and new borns and books yearned for and enemies defeated. There were people who approached author's chair the way most of us look at jumping out of a plane with a parachute. As they read, I hope they felt like they were floating because that's how a spirit learns to soar, with acts of bravery, in a room full of people who have their arms extended to catch them.