Sunday, May 23, 2010

Supersecret Small Town P.S.

Re: the wedding. I forgot to mention that the bride is a distant cousin on my mother's side, so distant she probably doesn't realize it. My parents are going because they are friends of the groom's family.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I love my supersecret small town

My parents are going to a wedding this weekend; one of the bridesmaids was Annie to my brother's Daddy Warbucks in 1993.

NSLR is going to a supersecret Catholic boys' high school next year; his prospective track coach was Tom to my Connie (in Good News) in 1984.

My father was explaining these connections to my children, and then he observed, "They're going to start thinking there are only about 11 people total in Supersecret County."

When, in fact, there are 11 million. At least, that's how many are downtown when I want to park my car.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Days of Meat and No Meat

There's been a lot of talk lately, in the media, in the blogosphere, and in my real life, about eating less (or no) meat. I started down the road of thinking harder about the meat we eat when I read The Omnivore's Dilemma, and picked up speed with Real Food. For the past year we have been splitting a meat CSA share with Johnny Falschgedank (we miss your blog, Johnny!) and Umami Girl; starting in June my family is taking on the whole thing (which is good because NSLR, between the diabetes and the rapid growth, is constantly clamoring for more protein).

So one suggestion that's floating around a lot is Meatless Mondays. Now, I like alliteration as much as the next girl--I was named with alliteration in mind. And I get the concept that starting the week with a mindful practice can help us continue to be mindful as the week goes on. But I am also very capable of taking things personally, and this feels like a deliberate flouting to me, to wit: if you are a Catholic, or even a believing and practicing Christian, please consider meatless Fridays.

It is commonly believed that Vatican II did away with abstention from meat on Fridays, retaining this practice only during Lent. In truth, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence in November of 1966 which read, in part:

1. Friday itself remains a special day of penitential observance throughout the year, a time when those who seek perfection will be mindful of their personal sins and the sins of mankind which they are called upon to help expiate in union with Christ Crucified;

2. Friday should be in each week something of what Lent is in the entire year. For this reason we urge all to prepare for that weekly Easter that comes with each Sunday be freely making of every Friday a day of self-denial and mortification in prayerful remembrance of the passion of Jesus Christ;

3. Among the works of voluntary self-denial and personal penance which we especially commend to our people for the future observance of Friday, even though we hereby terminate the traditional law of abstinence as binding under pain of sin, as the sole prescribed means of observing Friday, we give first place to abstinence from flesh meat. We do so in the hope that the Catholic community will ordinarily continue to abstain from meat by free choice as formerly we did in obedience to Church law. Our expectation is based on the following considerations;

a. We shall thus freely and out of love for Christ Crucified show our solidarity with the generations of believers to whom this practice frequently became, especially in times of persecution and of great poverty, no mean evidence of fidelity in Christ and his Church.

b. We shall thus also remind ourselves that as Christians, although immersed in the world and sharing its life, we must preserve a saving and necessary difference from the spirit of the world. Our deliberate, personal abstinence from meat, more especially because no longer required by law, will be an outward sign of inward spiritual values that we cherish.”

Obviously, if your sabbath begins on Friday night, that would be a terrible time to abstain from meat, and I would never suggest such a thing. But if the story of Christ's passion continues to hold any meaning for you at all, you might consider marrying that meaning to the meaning of your choice to abstain from meat. Amidst the noise and waste of life today, it behooves us to heap up meaning where we can.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Back out of all this now too much for us

I would be remiss if I did not point out that this weekend's Wall Street Journal has a column in their Masterpiece series about "Directive," the poem from which I titled my blog. Not surprisingly, I concur with Randall Jarrell that the poem is "...consoling or heartbreaking? Very much of both"; and "...hard to understand, but easy to love."

Much like life.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Sure, Blame The Public

From a Wall Street Journal article on the sitcom "Modern Family": a look back on creator Steven Levitan's career--

"From there, he jumped from failure to failure, such as 'Greg the Bunny' and 'Stacked,' a sitcom in which the pin-up Pamela Anderson played a bookstore clerk. 'I overestimated the American public's willingness to see Pamela Anderson as anything other than Pamela Anderson,' he says."

Oh, boo-hoo, Steven. Perhaps if you had not called it "Stacked"? I know that kept me away.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Home Again

Inspired by Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project, I have started a Happiness Group with Umami Girl and two other friends who don't have blogs but should--if that's what they're into. We decided to jump in with some resolutions and report back in a couple of weeks; but also to give some serious thought to Rubin's 1st Commandment, "Be Gretchen." What does it mean to "Be MomVee"?

One thing that occurred to me is that I love music, and although it's a big part of my life, I could be happier by making it even bigger. I thought a resolution as simple as "Remember to turn on the stereo" might be warranted.

Last night Not-so-big-R. posted a status update on Facebook with a few selections from the eclectic jukebox in the restaurant where he was dining with the big kids on their ski vacation: All the Girls I've Loved Before, Xanadu, You May be Right, One Fine Day, and Atomic. "I love 'One Fine Day,'" I commented, and he replied, "I know you do." That was nice in itself.

So I started thinking about One Fine Day, and Carole King songs in general, and I thought, "I should rip the CD of 'Tapestry,' and then I can run to it tomorrow." Well, I had forgotten how much I loved that album. When I was 11 or 12 I listened to it over. and over. AND OVER. I know the whole album sequence, which side is which (I prefer side 2), every schmaltzy string section, the moments when James Taylor chimes in, and of course every word of the lyrics.

Today I ran on the indoor track at the Y, and I began to recall auditioning for Pirates of Penzance with King's "Home Again," in my warmest, easiest, biggest voice. But there was no accompanist there that night, and the director suggested that the few people present come back and re-audition on Saturday. He seemed particularly encouraging to me. When I returned I had changed my song to "The Simple Joys of Maidenhood" from Camelot. It seemed more appropriate for a Gilbert and Sullivan audition. Great song, don't get me wrong, and I can pull off the humor--but the image of the director chatting with the music director the entire time I was singing is burned into my brain. Chorus. There aren't a lot of parts in that play anyway, and I was young and inexperienced, but still: why didn't I stick with what worked?

I'm not sure what all of this means, except that MomVee is an Alto (like Jay), and she loves Carole King.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Here I Go Again On My Own

Have I lodged Whitesnake firmly in your head for the day? Good.

I revised 9 chapters out of the 34 (and I only got that far after I decided to start at the end of the book instead of the beginning). And then I decided the book was too flawed, and that it has too much of myself in it, expressed in too flawed a way. It could hurt people, and it may not be fixable. Not right now.

So I am starting fresh. It's scary, but there was a lot of good stuff in the first book. Now I know how to do it, and I think I can come up with more good stuff. It should not be finite. And since my previous record is four years, I think I can beat the time.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


My book lives on the computer--on two computers, actually, because we switched computers and I tried to convert the whole thing from Word to Pages...*shudder* also lives in a nice jute-and-leather box that has been under my desk for a long time.

I just took it out, dusted it off, and put it on the dining room table.

I am going to revise three chapters a day, starting today, and submit my manuscript to the Amazon Breakthrough Contest on January 25th.

And then I am going to start writing a new book.

I am not going to use Facebook or Twitter until January 25th. I am not going to blog, and I am not going to drink beer or wine with my dinner.

Let's see how this goes.

*National novel-finishing fortnight

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


To follow some of the precepts of two recently-discovered sites, Unclutterer and The Happiness Project...

...but also to spend less time on the computer and more time living.

To continue to keep in mind last year's words of intention, "listen" and "love without fear"...

...but also to focus on this year's word.


I was reading in USA Today (the hotel gave it to me, okay?) about the new book by Dr. Susan Love and friends, "Live A Little." I don't think anyone can accuse me of being overly concerned about my health. I'm well acquainted with the concept of moderation and I know how to indulge. It was this that jumped out at me: "Lives that are not full enough are an overlooked problem in a popular culture focused on crazed multitaskers, Domar says."

My life is full enough. However, in the knowledge that I am an introverted, contemplative personality, I spend a lot of time trying to protect myself from my own life, instead of celebrating the fact that it is full. Brace yourself for the awkward extended metaphor. When we get the fake Christmas tree down from the attic and set it up, the branches have been compressed in storage. It needs to be "fluffed," the mini-branches on the main branches pulled out in every direction to make it look like a full and beautiful tree. All those needles are there, but it takes fluffing for the fullness to appear.

Why isn't my word of intention "fluff"? Because that would be ridiculous, and because the psychic, spiritual equivalent of fluffing--in my opinion--is embracing. I need to embrace my life as a mother (especially as a mother of a child with special needs), as a wife, as a homekeeper, as a friend, as a writer, and so on. When I'm focused on stress and shielding myself from it, my life looks like a spare and pointy tree just out of the box. When I embrace it, my life looks like a full and healthy evergreen.