Saturday, April 19, 2008


Yesterday, the Matron went to hear this monk:

He gave a very fine presentation on happiness and the mind-body connection. Turns out he volunteered his brain for this:

Scientists were able to follow the brain changes in monks that meditated. Matthieu Ricard? He once spent 22 hours in the course of 3 days in an MRI capsule. Once, he was in that machine for 9 hours, straight.

Here is what happens to your head:

And then they insert you.

Ricard had science to back up his home run point (all of them). Meditate, practicing loving kindness and compassion and not only will you be happy (and the world a better place), but your immune system beefs up while your stem-cells just party, they're that much more powerful.

The Matron left the conference chalk stalk and barrel-full of loving kindness! Meditation R Us! Compassion? Radiating off that van!

Until the Matron felt a bit funny. Was that a rain drop on the windshield? Why were letters unreadable - -while traveling at 60 miles an hour? Within minutes, the visual aura was steering that wheel, not the Matron.

She's had migraines before, but this aura lasted nearly an hour! For the uninitiated, disruptive streams of white light shimmer and shine, rendering vision jagged and highly inaccurate.

Then, her left hand started tingling. As in, quite a bit. Now, the Matron had received a chiropractic adjustment just that morning and she was pretty sure that the hand was vertebra related.

Still, the aura persisted and the hand throbbed and burned. But she pulled into the driveway and was steady in her step -- if not her vision.

Coming from a long line of people who drop dead without warning, the Matron wondered if this was one. So she called her clinic.

M: "So. . . ideas?"


M: "Do you think I should make an appointment?"

Nurse: "Oh no! I was trying to decide if you should call 911 or have someone drive you. Like now."

M: "Well, I can drive myself."

Nurse: "No, I really can't let you. You may not drive yourself. It's forbidden."

M: "Okay, then."

Of course we all know who wins that battle and the Matron drove to the Emergency Room. Sharp thing, she brought along everything she needed to prepare for her 8:30 am Saturday morning creative writing course.

The Matron was actually not unhappy to leave the house right before she was expected to start cooking dinner. In fact, she had badly procrastinated and had half of this left to read!

And a test and lecture to prepare! So she didn't mind (secretly) the departure. She hoped that she got plenty of time to wait!

During her two and a half hour wait, the Matron realized she was not stroking out. The tingling ceased and desisted. The eyes worked quite well. They could track the hand of that clock as it made its slooooooooooooooow round. Twice. Then half again.

But! She was a docile, compliant and uncomplaining patient . . . until exactly 21 seconds after she finished every last little bit of her work.

After inquiry and small fit that included her immediate intention to depart, somehow a room magically opened its doors for her!

Her very fine doctor convinced her that she had made the right decision! Why, she could be having TIA's, little tiny stroke precursors even as they spoke! That chiropractor (an intern even!) could've scrambled some big artery.

So she agreed to the MRI and CT scan.

And muttered and paced and swore at the gods while waiting another 45 minutes before either of those began.

And when it was her turn to get shot into that MRI bullet - and to BE Matthieu Ricard, all synchronictiy and challenge and Zen --- the moment to have your head buckled up all unavailable for your personal use, and it was 11:10 pm and the technician smiled and offered:

"Since this is a 50 minute test, I hope you'll be able to sleep."

The formerly beatific Queen of all things meditative did this:

She eventually agreed to the 20 minute shortcut to the brain.

She is fine. The Matronly brain is a lesson in perfection. All is well. But that whole loving-kindness, compassion and calm state of being?

Work in progress.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

New Mama

Remember the Pregnant Student?

Today, her friend A (who we just adore) raised her hand and said, "XX had her baby!!"

Victoria was born on Sunday, bursting on the scene at 7 lbs and 4 ounces. Report has it that she's beautiful. Perfect. Her Mama is 19 years old.

Here's the email that Dr. Professor Matron sent the New Mama:


Dear XX,

A told me that the stunning Victoria was born in the wee hours of Sunday April 13 and that she's beautiful. I'm so happy for you! Welcome to the Mama Club. Even though I'm your teacher, this Club is a special place that we both belong to, on equal footing. It's something the non-Mama's don't fully know (but they appreciate because women are good that way). I'm happy to meet you here. Take care of yourself and the sweet Victoria and worry about College English 2 whenever you're ready.



And, she meant it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blowing Off Steam

Look at Satan's Familiar! Isn't he precious?

Merrick. Squeeze harder. That choke hold has some real potential.

Yesterday, John bought and installed one of these:

Look at that dog on the cover! Obedient! Trained! Why, the Matron even detects a hint of joy. That snout is actually a smile!

You see, John is confident that Satan's Familiar can be retrained to understand that dogs go potty and poopy outside, not (today's list, so far!): on the stairs, in the hallway, by the dining room table.

When the Matron woke this morning to the revitalizing scent of doggy doo-doo at her feet, she reconsidered this solution offered by one of her readers:

This is wholly inappropriate and may offend.

Peter, do you have contact information?

Because Satan's Familiar will not use that door. He is afraid of its pretty compact flap. He cowers and runs now, from all doors, generally. He would like to be a permanently indoor on-lap dog.

Why, Satan's Familiar is just now planning his next bowel movement: hmmmm. Time to use that virgin plank near the second floor hall closet? Or if it's runny, should I deposit the love on some carpeted stairs? Or maybe work on the yellow pee pattern upstairs on the beige carpet?

He is overwhelmed with options.

Here are some of the Familiar's current bad habits:

  • Pooping and peeing in the house? Check.
  • Jumping up on the Matron's lap and sticking his snout on her plate during dinner? Check.
  • Sleeping under covers, between Matron and the human beings she wouldn't mind snuggling against? Check.
  • Able to open a child's backpack, remove lunch, open container and eat all contents? Check.
  • Puking wrappers from the lunch in the hallway, on the stairs, in Merrick's bedroom? Check.
  • Rolling in poop, licking self and then licking one of Matron's offspring? Check.
  • Jumping onto kitchen counters and eating any morsel of food or string of children's lunches left there? Consistently? Day after day? Check.
  • Yip, yip, bark, bark! Yip, yap, bark, bark! Yip, yap, bark, bark? Check.

The Matron's previous dogs had no bad habits. They required no firm hand or hired gun. Indeed, Jekyll is still with us, now deaf and blind and 15 years old this April. Happy Birthday, old man.

Because Jekyll is unable to see the new dog door, much less comprehend Change at his advanced age, the Matron must still assist this dog outside. So that new dog door? Pretty much just one big potential bee entry for now.

Does the reader know that the Matron is allergic to bee stings? In the adventuresome anaphylaxis way, because she doesn't believe in doing things halfway.

Here is the Matron's main source of transportation:

There are big bold yellow peace signs on both sides. She gets a lot of two-finger peace signs in returns, a lot of smiles. She cannot drive by a Volvo without receiving a honk or wave.

This love machine also has a single bumper sticker that reads: "What would Buddha do?"

And because the Matron is blowing off steam today (and thinking about how she steams, sometimes, generally), she understands the confusion she causes when she lays on the horn or throws up her hands in exasperation or drives by the offender with a searing, lethal look at Who Is That Idiot Driving That Car?

She knows that the next time one of her children particularly annoy her, are relentless in harassment or anger or outrage, she will step behind the offending back, stick her thumbs in her ears in order to wiggle those fingers and stick out her tongue: Nana nana boo boo!! Sometimes it helps to make awful faces or throw punches or shake your fist and stomp your feet. Quietly. Wiggling is good, too.

That way when they turn around you are calm, composed, present. Maternal.

And since the Matron is not much of a dog-killer (or even dog kicker, but do NOT tell Satan's Familiar; she is trying to keep him afraid) she supposes she will keep picking up poop or God forbid, train that creature.

Unless he wanders away?

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Longer Journey

When the Matron confronts this hill on her daily 4 mile run, weariness overtakes her. Worse? See that slight bend ahead? This is what is on the other side:

More hill. Lots of this.

She lives in a neighborhood nestled high above the city, full of 100 year old houses with million dollar views. Did she say high above the city?

Very. Every day, the Matron follows the city park path that runs right along a river bluff.

Sometimes she feels sorry for herself and a just little bit whiney. Oh, about everything.

The job interview, the wrinkle that is not a flexible laugh line but a permanent entity, the economy, Stryker's disdain for hygiene, the weather, that stupid hill she must climb one more time, Satan's Familiar, Scarlett's inability to fold a sock or close a drawer, the way her husband wipes his mouth with the back of his hand instead of a napkin (only when eating cereal).

The Matron frets and whines and puffs but then she eventually goes down the same hill and sees this, every day:

This is where a boy the Matron does not know but read about in the newspaper fell off the cliff and onto the railroad tracks next to the river, hundreds and hundreds of feet below.

You can see, his name was Georgie.

Because the Matron's neighborhood is high above the city and boasts a spectacular view, he was here with thousands and thousands of other people to watch fireworks on the 4th of July.

Being a teenager and and immortal, he crossed the little wimpy one foot safety chain and got as close as he could.

His mother was standing behind him and got worried: "Be careful!"

He laughed: "I am not going to fall."

And then, he did. Just like that.

This is what the Matron read in the paper, nearly five years ago.

But every day she runs past that wooden cross. Sometimes there are new flowers. Sometimes a rosary or poem.

Every day she runs past that wooden cross and thinks about that mother and that boy and those few seconds.

She stops whining, usually because she has to cry. Again.

Messing With My Karma

Dear Chanting, Praying, Meditating and General Good Vibe Reader,

Tomorrow's interview has been changed to 10:50 am. Send that yellow light-o-love around 11 to noon, Central Standard.

Not that the Matron is superstitious even to believe this matters and mention it or anything. . .

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Busy Mama Mantra

I'm sorry!

About a week after I left a message on a good friend and busy working mother's answering machine, she called me back with this: "I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you! I've been so busy it feels like I'm always saying I'm sorry. I'm sick of saying, I'm sorry. Sorry I forgot the lunch, sorry I was late for the meeting, sorry I didn't get it done. Sorry."


That resonated with this busy working mama (thanks again for Tuesday 12-1 CST you energy-sending intelligentsia, you) who thought the comment precisely captured the chaos and guilt that is contemporary maternity.

Today's List

I'm sorry I haven't been commenting on your blog. I miss you! Once the grades and interview are history, I will be back.

I'm sorry, Scarlett, that you wanted to play at Madison's house but I called Ellie. I wasn't listening very closely because Merrick was naked on the floor screaming and I was trying to find that new Stephen King book Stryker lost.

Stryker, I'm sorry that you're reading adult books without parental screening: your Mama doesn't have time to read each one first. She understands you will one day stumble across a wholly inappropriate and potentially damaging scene of sex, violence, despair or degradation and be duly altered (as she was).

I'm sorry I went to bed before the movie was over last night, sweetie.

I'm sorry! That sweatshirt is in the laundry and I haven't gathered the courage to walk into the basement this week.

I'm sorry, but you can't have a cell phone. I know everyone else in the play has one, even the little kids. Think of yourself as a trend setter. Rebel?

I'm sorry this hurts your feelings but I can't help it. He is Satan's Familiar and I hate him.

Oh no! Merrick, I am so sorry! I didn't even see you there. Is it bleeding?

I'm sorry I haven't called in a few days, Mom.

I'm sorry! I forgot to call you back about that grant proposal.

I'm sorry, I can't be President of Parkway Little League because I actually know nothing about baseball - on top of all the other reasons.

Sorry it took me so long to return your book -- and about the new coffee stains on the cover.

I'm sorry that I can't sew a costume for your presentation at school. We have a needle and spool of thread somewhere in the house but these are power tools and they scare me.

I'm sorry I forgot to thaw the meat, forgot Scott's birthday, forgot to pick up the library book on reserve.

Sorry, but I can't get to that revision until Wednesday.

I'm sorry I came to the appointment without the paperwork already filled out.

I'm sorry that we missed the first class! I wrote down the wrong date.

I'm sorry, but no, there will be no locking the bedroom door for some afternoon delight to the soundtrack of "MOM WHERE ARE YOU?" Not today. Probably not this semester. Or year. Or ever.

I'm sorry, but I cannot read that book out loud again. Not ever.

I'm very sorry I experimented with my remaining Xanax as part of preparation for Tuesday's job interview. My deep desire for a nap leads me to believe that 2 pills is overkill. On the other hand, I am pleasantly unconcerned about that recent sound of glass breaking.

I'm sorry I can't continue the list, but it's back to work because I'm already feeling sorry about the slim commentary my students may receive on their papers this week!

Now that I've shaken that out of my system, I am going to focus on apologizing less and telling all my dear Mama friends in the real world and this one, that there is no need to say: I'm sorry.

We're doing the best we can!