Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Matron's Fifteen Minutes

Yes indeed --yours truly is hoisting her hose and making the most out of her 15 minutes of semi-fame. The Today Show website! The Matron is asking you to "like," comment, or share the Today Story -- and make sure that everyone who loves his or her mother buys the darn book! Find out how this amazing teen made his mom's dream come true

Sunday, September 7, 2014

This One Speaks for Itself

But first, hand her a tissue. Rosenblum: Son's gift to writer mom is one for the books

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Magic: Just Starting!

Last week, the Matron read from her novel, At the End of Magic.    She picked up her son from COLLEGE (where he now lives) and the two arrived, early.    The store was alarmingly empty.  

Bookstore worker:   "You're competing with the state fair and the start of school.  Nobody showed up for last night's event."

Wherein He Who Cannot Be Named (HWCBN) but whom everyone knows, looked mildly alarmed.  His mother said 'not to worry' but she did.   She took her worried self to the Ladies Room, that time-tested respite from whatever else is happening outside of its doors.

A few minutes later?

People were walking in. . . and in . . . and in . . and more people started coming.   The bookstore workers had to get extra chairs.

Bookstore Worker:  "Folks, we can put a few people over here."

HWCBN was no longer alarmed but a wee bit proud of the room his mother packed.    Then that mother got to stand up in front of the crowd and talk about her work.  She read from the book.  She answered questions.

Really, truly great questions -- from people who actually read the damn book and were genuinely curious.    The Matron was happy -- so happy!-- to thoughtfully answer back, each question bringing her to some new self awareness or artistic realization.

Synergy ensued.   Goodwill and lively conversation.

The book store worker kept frantically signaling "time" on his pretend watch until the Matron snapped shut her book and promised to sign some of theirs.

Fifteen minutes later, as she was chatting and signing, she happened to look up and behind her.   There was a LINE.

Bookstore Worker:   "You're competing with the state fair and start of school, Mary -- and we ran out of chairs and books.   Impressive.  Good show, too."

And the son who made it all happen jhad shifted right to flat-out, happy, pride in his mama's show:  "Mom!  I didn't know you had that in you!"

"That" being genuine delight in discourse.  She is light on her conversational feet and enjoys every minute of it.    Not a big surprise to the blogging world, where the Matron gets to strut her stuff routinely--and watch others strut theirs too.

Thank you, Stryker.   It's going to be a magical ride.  Already is.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

As the World Turns

Yesterday, the Matron moved her eldest into his dorm room.   Tears were shed and not just by her.   That young man may have experienced a moment of Sniffle himself.

At the University of Minnesota (ahem, BIG scholarship), he is close to home, but oh-so-far-away.   Yesterday was clearly a move out.   Away.  Into the new chapter. 

And this one, the girl?

Is now a young woman.   Happy birthday, Scarlett!!  The Matron's only daughter turned 16 today!   The Matron and her husband are parents of few rules and one of them is:  no dating until you're 16.  That's right.  Not a  peck, not a walk in the park, not a boyfriend-girlfriend.   Merrick asked Scarlett if she "plans to go crazy."  

But her mother isn't worried about that.   This child has been focused, disciplined and determined since birth. She continues to amaze and blaze onstage (The Cherry Orchard, coming up next) but has also shown up as her older brother's intellectual equal.   He was fourth in his graduating class.  She is rounding that corner at #7.   But 16!

Suddenly, Merrick isn't quite so much the baby anymore.   Not after pulling on that uniform and stepping into Middle School this morning.  He went in her little guy and emerged a middle-schooler.

She is certain that he will try to break that 'date at 16 rule.'    

The Matron feels like the real matronly deal -- the old lady sitting with her cronies in the church basement, watching the young people sing and dance after the wedding -- full of nostalgia, full of hope for the spectacular future in the youth before her, humbled by her own role in the universe. Her life! Tiny! Huge! Tiny by scale but enormous in terms of heart. The scope of history gives us just a firefly blip in its timeline, but each day shaped by love is as rich and dense as eternity.  

She is grateful for each and every one of those days she's given. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Future Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank?

The Matron, awash with maternal anticipation for Middle School, took Merrick to orientation for his academically rigorous new school. Incoming sixth-graders were given a piece of paper with five questions and ushered into the gym, where a teacher explained precisely what they were to do with that piece of paper over the next two hours. Students would be going to small classroom meetings, where they would hear school themes and messages that should be recorded onto that paper to answer the five questions. This went on, clearly and without deviation, for 15 minutes. Then the group disbanded for said small classroom meetings.

Merrick (waving paper): "Mom?!! What do I do with this?"

Matron: "We just spent the past half hour talking about this!"

Merrick: "We did?"

Matron: "You go room to room with your group, and the teachers will give you ideas about how to answer the questions on the paper. Does that make sense?"

Merrick: "Is this school now or something before that happens? And what did you say again about that paper?"

When she left him with group and home room teacher, all she  could do was shove him into the fold, look the teacher square in the eye and say: (with meaiing):  "Good luck."
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Moment with Merrick

There are times when the Matron simply cannot get over the absolute adorability of her youngest son!  

In the kitchen:

Matron: "What do you want for your snack at camp, Merrick? Carrots, sugar snap peas, apple?"

Merrick: "Beef jerky."

Matron: "Don't want something to go with that -- a vegetable, fruit, cracker?"

Merrick (totally taken aback): "Mom! This is SPORTS camp. I can't bring sugar snap peas to a sports camp. I need meat."

Matron: "Preferably raw, correct? A big hunk of raw meat?"

Merrick (joy!): "Do we have some!!?"

Speaking of adorability, just see that radiate when he was three!    That little man could move a Fisher Price.  And he did . . . endlessly. 

Eight years later . . . and back in that kitchen.

 Merrick inquired if child labor laws existed in Minnesota.

Matron: "Well, yes. Why do you ask that?"

Merrick: "That's private information for me and the police."

For the record . . this is not long after he helped his mother set the recycling at the curb.

So much for the yard work impulse, it would appear.  The Matron thinks Mr. Adorability won't need lawn skills or a well-developed palate to succeed in life, particularly with the ladies (or the men, should he swing in that direction).   

He just needs to bat those eyes.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Linguistics R Us

The end at the beginning.   Ardis?  You win the draw!    Kicks Like a Girl is heading your way . . send details to mpetrie33 at gmail dot com.

Otherwise . .. .

The Matron is about to do a servere disservice to Complex Linguistic Theory.   If you have a PhD in English and are reading this, please forgive her.  You know who you are.

 In this theory, absence defines what is present.    Sounds like super-duper gibberish?  Absence defines what's present?

It goes like this:  part of the reason we know that "G" is "G" is because it is not A, B, C, or D and so on.   We understand "apple" as "apple," in part, because it is not this box of letters  -- "table"  or this box of letters "bed."  

Absence is important because there is no fixed meaning to any box of letters, to any word.  For example, if the Matron asks you to picture a "coat" in your mind, what do you see?  Give that coat a color, history, texture, length.   Picture it.

This whole blog post depends on the visual.  Get that coat in your head!

You can bet your coat was different than hers.   The Matron saw a red suede little number, with heavy stiching and a vintage edge.   Knee length. And she owns one.   Unless everyone reading this saw the same, it's clear that our understanding of '"coat" varies from person to person.  When we see the word "coat," we don't each see red, suede, and adorable.   But we can all know that "coat" is not "porch."   So even if we can't immediately see the same "coat," we know it's not "porch" or anything else, and can get to that general shared framework of "coat."

This, in short (and to summarize and bastardize LEGIONS of work and theory), this is why absence -- what a word is not -- is fundamental to what the word means.

Being the literary sort, the Matron has returned to Complex Literary Theory in the course of her everyday life.    The past few days have been spent entirely in service of --or defined by -- what is not.   What is absent.  The list?

  • He Who Cannot Be Named (HWCBN)'s wisdom teeth
  • John
  • Scarlett
  • Merrick

HWCBN had his wisdom teeth removed on Monday and, boy oh boy!  The Matron cannot remember a time when something that didn't exist caused her so much maternal headache and toil:  ice packs, pain medication, soft food, warm salt water, medicated rinse, etc.    This, folks, has not been a pain-free process.  The extraction went well but the young man in question?  Suffering.   But the Matron is running about, utterly defined by the absence of those damn teeth.

Complicating this is the fact that the rest of the household has departed -- absent, gone, poof!   Scarlett is doing a week-long theater residency in northern Minnesota; John and Merrick are camping.    Although the lack of people --and subsequent domestic mayhem -- has been conducive to HWCBN's recovery, it has also meant that there is nobody else here for HWCBN to talk to.   . . . . so not only is she hustling around meeting his medical needs, she must also pause and perch on a bedside (appearing as if she had all the time in the world!) to chat and otherwise entertain, unassisted.  The Matron is on solo social duty because of what she lacks, the absence:  everybody else.

While the Matron feigns Repose with her firstborn, her head is exploding with the list of Stuff that Must Get Done  -- from sabbatical project to book promotion to pain medication to malt-making to dog-walking.   That Stuff inserts itself into the Matronly mind to claw and carp:   wash me!  Walk me!  Write me!

The things taking up her brain space -- those chores, that Stuff, -- are also currently absent.   Here she is, sitting by the bedside, ministering to the ailing.   Her outside demeanor?  Well!  Florence Nightinggale could take a page!    Invisible to others, yet structuring the Matron's own experience of this moment,  is what she is not doing.  She is sitting here.  She is not writing.    She can only be sitting here because she is not writing.    Again, defined by what's absent.

These, friends, are the sorts of thoughts that currently clutter the Matronly mind and shape her experience.  Feel sorry for her.    She is not just caring for the ailing while unloading the dishwasher and every other damn thing, but she must do so while awash in semiotics.

Now, that's a tricky way to live.

Unloading the dishwasher, awash in semiotics.

And on another  -- more Reality Driven -- note entirely.

Kicks Like a Girl goes to Ardis.   Send details to mpetrie33 at gmail dot com.