Friday, August 29, 2008

The Republicans Are Coming! The Republicans Are Coming!

Now, the Matron lives in a little-known urban neighborhood, one of those treasures. Hers is a gorgeous bluff above the Mississippi River. Every night, the Matron and her husband gasp at their (moderately priced) panoramic view of the Twin Cities.

But tonight, on her way home from three torturous hours at Como Town, she was unable to zip through downtown on an errand. Why? They're heeeeeeeeeeeeere. . . . all her favorite routes are orange road blocks. The Republican National Convention has taken up roost.

Why, she is SO close to downtown that on Monday, she will be able to see Karl Rove's nose hairs. And the plastic surgery stitch marks on Cindy McCain's face! Not that she's a leftie and a tad bit irreverent.

Okay, she is! Both!

The Matron and her family plan to bike downtown several times during the Republican National Convention and check out the wealth of alternative protest offerings. Cloud Cult is playing on Sunday, for free!! The Matron has sung their praises before she had so many readers and she hopes you click, because, oh, that band is worth knowing.

But at this wizened, mid-game age, the Matron understands that protest and fervor is just part of the picture. She's been of the pay it forward mindset of late.

To that end, in honor of the Republican National Convention breathing down her fair neck, the Matron is making a micro-loan through Kiva. Have $50 bucks that you can spare for a year? That money means the difference between poverty and prosperity -- even between hope and despair or life and death -- in the lives of millions.

If you've ever wondered how you can help someone who was born far less lucky than you, here's your chance. And she hopes all the kind-hearted, generous of spirit folk who read her blog (and that includes at least a few Repblicans because she knows and loves some) can find a few bucks they don't need for a year.

Want to save a family? She wonders how anyone could answer, no.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ten Years Ago, Today

Yes, today's Birthday Festival is turning into a two-day event with baggage. Thank goodness that the Matron and her husband both have full-time jobs or they'd be bored silly! The overnight has been set in motion and the house is FULL of little girls singing songs from Rent. Sorry, parents.

Yesterday's post was birthday tribute enough, so today, the Matron, in the 4.6 minutes allotted for blogging, will tell a story of a different sort, and feature a new player!

The Matron's father died when the Youngish Miss was a brand new mama. She was nursing four month old Stryker when the family patriarch, her uncle, called to tell her that her father had had a heart attack and died within minutes.

Stryker was the only grandchild he ever met. The Matron has ONE picture. One. She can see it from her desk and is looking at it right now: the beaming proud-to-the-rafters grandfather and the cradle-capped imp. Hi, Dad. Miss you, still. Always.

It just so happens that the Youngish Miss (and currently, the Matron) adores her stepmother very much, the woman her father left behind. She's wonderful! And if the Matron misses her father? The stepmother has really never recovered. Truly.

So. . . when newly pregnant with Scarlett, the Matron called her stepmother with the good news!

Youngish Miss: "My due date is August 11th."

Stepmother: "You'll have that baby on my fiftieth birthday, as a gift from your father. I'm just sure."

Fast forward a few sweaty, chunky, pukey months.

When the doctors all clucked about Scarlett being two weeks overdue, the Matron reminded them that she'd been nursing another child when she got knocked up again and sometimes, well, we can't be exact. As long as she subjected her belly to probing, Medicine concurred that baby could bake till she was good and ready to see her mother.

When the Matron went into labor at noon on August 26th, she prayed for things to go at just the right pace. Even as she suffered, she prayed for that baby to wait and when the doctor offered to break her water around 11 pm and move things along, she tried to kill him.

You see, the Matron wanted to see what would happen. Would someone --nature? God? Her father? -- give her stepmother this, this most improbable of gifts, a message from the love of her life?

Scarlett Sophie (after John's Mom) was born at 1:02 a.m. on August 27th, the same day her step-grandmother turned 50.

When the Youngish Miss called her stepmother at 4 a.m. to tell her the incredible news, her stepmother said, in the way you'd roll your eyes over somebody's shenanigans: "Your father is a piece of work!"

Thinking of you today, Dad. Thanks for that present.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Stage Mother

As mentioned earlier, Scarlett is currently playing Maureen--the lesbian sexpot--in a child-led production of Rent. The Matron's most favorite things about this production?

  • Someone else's child is the director/dictator/producer this time
  • It's at someone else's house
  • The 10 year old child, and the house, belong to a conservative Rabbi

But his child has been bitten by the theater bug, so what can you do? But all these contradictory dynamics please the Matron. That performance will be December, rehearsals on Sundays. Scarlett has grown ear buds, new permanent extensions of self that plug into her iPod which would be playing all the music from Rent, all the time!

Anyone entering the Matron's house might hear her 9-year old singing, loudly: "To Sodomy! It's between God and Me! S & M!" Etcetera. Once, the Matron asked her daughter if she would like some of the language explained and Scarlett said: "I'm not ready."

Last Tuesday, the Matron took Scarlett to audition for The Sound of Music at The Phipps Center for the Arts. Now, you really think the Matron would know better by now, but still, she was shocked to see the squirming mass of little girls. The auditions were held for three hours each, Monday through Wednesday.

Scarlett waited 2 hours and 45 minutes to sing her song, "Oh What a Beautiful Morning." Now, earlier the Matron had suggested, once, that Scarlett practice said song. But she couldn't be bothered. Still, the Matron brought this head shot and the resume.

Scarlett: "I just love reading my resume! It's my favorite thing to do."

When number 116 was called, Scarlett got up, left the room and returned five minutes later with instructions for the Saturday callback. She was given sheet music and instruction: "Practice these songs!"

In the interim, when the Matron inquired after said practice, Scarlett said: "Mom! I've known all of these songs ever since my OWN production of Sound of Music in 2007. I'm fine."

And she is, because she landed one of those little girl roles of a lifetime, a Von Trapp child in The Sound of Music! She's Marta, and could not be happier!

Rehearsals for THAT show start September 8, 7-10 pm three nights a week until the grueling 7 day stretch of tech week and shows in November. All conveniently located in ANOTHER STATE! Wisconsin! Hey there Green Girl and Angie! See you at the Phipps? It's actually just 20 minutes away, but still.

One month ago, the Matron got an email asking if her daughter would audition for this role.

Torch Theater and the History Theater have teamed up to stage this production in March 2009.

Now, the Matron was also instructed to have her daughter watch the movie and practice. Instead of practicing one whit or even really caring about the win, Scarlett has spent her time actively recruiting competition for the role among her favorite friends (just like her mother but with a lot less muck). The Matron loves that about her daughter.

Tomorrow is Scarlett's 10th birthday! And at 7:40, one of her best friends, invited by Scarlett, will audition for Helen Keller, followed by Scarlett herself at 8:00. Break a leg, baby! Today? Scarlett is spending her time training her friend to be Helen!!! The Matron could not be happier or more proud. That's the win, right there.

Monday, August 25, 2008

401st Post

Hot damn, if the Matron isn't prolific! Or an egomaniac? Certifiable? Well.. . . let's just say she can't stop talking!

This morning, Stage Mother was preparing to post, only to notice that yesterday's ditty on dharma was the Matron's 400th post! The blog was born in late September 2007 and this little engine sure could, it would appear!!

The Matron is crunching those mixed metaphors, sorta like lunch. See how she just tossed one more into the mix? Stage Mother will have to wait for tomorrow but there's a new show for the child and no doubt, good dish to be had by all!

Today, she's giving herself a rest and reposting one of her favorites, written before her third person self was fully realized. The only other thing that's changed? Those online relationships that seemed tentative then? They're real -- and mean much to her.

Thank you SOOO much for putting up with her nonsense!


200th Post

I had lunch with a friend yesterday.

As in a member of the Top Five Friends, the first you call on the days corporeal punishment sounds, well, reasonable or when you buy that $188 purse at ValuThrift for $7.49.

Me: "Tomorrow will be my 200th post."

Friend: "What?"

Me: "Blog post. I started with four weenie ones in September and I'm up to 200."

Friend: "I always forget about that blog."

Me (!): "You're kidding. I thought you read every day."

Friend: "Actually, I talk to you every day. Why would I read the blog?"

Me: "Because I'm writing it? It's good?"

Friend: "Actually, I like you better in real life."

Me (umbrage, taken!): "How could you! No you don't."

Friend: "Yes, I really do."

Me: "You can't possibly."

Friend: "You're wrong. I like you better, here."

Me: "But I'm funny on the blog."

Friend: "You're funny in real life, too."

Me: "I am not!."

Friend (sigh): "Yes, you are."

Me: "But I'm funny in a more thoughtful, well-done way on the blog."

Friend: "Actually, you're quick as a whip in real life. "

Me: "Now you're hurting my feelings."

Friend: "Sorry, but I prefer the real deal to the blog."

Me: "But I offer interesting political commentary on the blog. Gender stuff, too."

Friend: "Mary, you are Commentary, incarnate. In real life. You're just like that."

Me: "Oh my God. I can't believe you're saying this about my blog."

Friend: "I'm saying this about you."

Me: "But my blog is climbing in numbers! In just four months of steady postings I have hundreds of readers!

Friend: "Do they pay you?"

Me: "Of course not!"

Friend: "Are these relationships? If their kids showed up at your doorstep, do you know what to feed them? Tampax or Kotex? Which bathroom in their house is for public use and which strictly off limits?"

Me: "I know them through comments. There are kids' names involved, like Nature Girl and Boy G. Mr. T and Mr. G. Wild Child. See?"

Friend: "Hmmmm."

Me: "They put my name on their blogrolls: Minnesota Matron."

Friend: "That's not your name."

Me: "Yes, it is. And it looks good sitting up there for everyone to see, all shiny and taut: Minnesota Matron."

Friend: "You like being the center of attention."

Me: "I do not!"

Friend: "Who are we talking about?"

Me: "But I wish you preferred the blog."

Friend: "Center. Of. Attention."

Me: "Oh my God. I'm so sorry! Let's talk about you."

Friend: "Sweetie, you're always the center of attention. That's okay."

Me: "Thank God. I was getting worried, you hating my blog and all."

Friend: "Mary, the internet was created specifically for your blog. Online creativity can now take a rest. Can we order now?"

Me: "You like the blog--better? Prefer it to me in real life?"

Friend: "At this moment, yes. Very much so."

Me: "Thank you. Lemon grass soup?"

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday, Meditation

Today's dharma talk still has the Matronly head spinning!

The Priest announced the topic of the day as busyness and being too busy! Now, that had the Matron's immediate attention in a sort of Self Help Primer sort of way because the first day of fall semester is tomorrow, her children are running amuck with the-end-of-summer restless energy, the house a mess and her dog a henchman sent by the Devil.

So she is SO busy her head might explode and she hasn't had much time for your blog! (sorry!!)

The Priest, a mama with teenage boys, confessed that she was afraid sometimes of being tossed away by external circumstances on a daily basis -- tossed from meditation or prayer and finding herself driving to ball games, doing the dishes, making the beds.


Now, since Mortality has been sitting on the Matronly shoulder for awhile, she thought how entire lives can be tossed away by external circumstances!! She imagined her life as if it was over, and wondered: what was at the heart of that life? What evidence is there of it? Think for a moment how tossed away we are, daily. How much time is there for tending the center of self, the soul or heart? For making meaning? Why, she realized her one wild and precious life (thanks, Mary Oliver) was largely spent on things that suddenly seemed trivial, like all those hours weeding and sweeping!

Then there are the people who have no choices, whole countries where lives are just tossed away, blip, by external circumstances like poverty, disease, war, and politics. That made the Matron angry and of course, instantly guilty for tossing away the incredible luck she'd been given.


But, the Priest complicated the Matron's instant commitment to mediation, Art, Literature, centering of Self, Good Deed, all that. The Priest reminded us that the busyness of life is absolutely necessary. If we don't tend to the details of our lives ---preparing healthy food, doing laundry, driving the children and taking time to talk to them -- things fall apart.

Don't pay the mortgage, change the oil in the car, remember to buy the gift? Don't make the time to sit on the couch and just hang with your teenager? The end result is the very thing Buddhism sets out to end: suffering. People suffer when they are behind in their bills, when there are no clean clothes for work or food to pack lunches. People suffer when their relationships deteriorate.

The Priest paused to observe how complicated we are, we humans. Not only do we have all this stuff to own and attend to, we have our emotional lives, our family lives, careers to consider, a nation to run, global warming to consider. We're busy!

We're here. We're required to show up, attend the party, and clean up afterward.

The trick to not being 'tossed away', said the Priest, is to practice living like this line from a Zen koan:

"Holding up the moon while sweeping."

Finding what's divine within ourselves doesn't need to be limited to a meditation cushion or a pew. In fact, that understanding would severely restrict how much time we have for the divine --we're too busy! Find the divine and be so guided while sweeping, washing, cooking, cleaning and talking to your children

Wouldn't that be nice, thought the Matron! She'd like that and she thought you would, too. She was ready to stop right there and get all groovy with her short drive home.

But wait! Just when things seemed all Peace and 1967 Love&Happiness, damn if they didn't get complicated! Someone asked: "What is the task is unpleasant? I mean, I'm driving and it's rush hour and I just want to get home!"

Or the dog pooped in the kitchen and your five-year old stepped in it?!

Even the challenges -- ESPECIALLY the challenges was the answer. Meet the unpleasant with reverence and respect; that's your life, at the moment. Why sully it?

Ouch, thought the Matron.

Another complication from the room: "But when I embrace a negative emotion or task, I find that I'm not really revering it or treating it with respect, it's just that I embrace it thinking it will go away faster. I still hate it, I'm not transformed."

The Priest smiled and told us about fear. She said that when fear pours through her, she has learned -- after all these years of study and practice -- to genuinely welcome Fear.

The Priest: "When my blood goes cold or the terror over a child comes, I just smile and say, 'welcome old friend, my most intimate acquaintance. The thing I love about you is that every human shares you, we're all together.' And suddenly, Fear has a lot less power."

Mortality, one of Fear's biggest corporate contributors, snickered from his perch on the Matron's shoulder . But the Matron's been at this Zen thing long enough to know that death is what we're all actively working toward, whether we think about it or not. And the duality of life and death is something Buddhism challenges.

Holding the Moon while sweeping. The cessation of suffering is the end-game, the goal, the big trophy. Duality -- a misguided belief that sweeping and divine are different or life and death are different --- is one of the big time causes of suffering.

So the Matron plans to just smile and say: "Hello there Fear! One of the few friends here for an entire lifetime."

Holding up the Moon, while blogging! She feels you holding right along with her.