Friday, May 29, 2009

Life in the Fast Lane

Thanks to Cheri at Blog This Mom for the clever formatting idea (although the Matron's woes aren't as weighty - wishing you well, darling).

Did you ever have one of those days when you wake up at six a.m. to face your THIRD DAY with no pot of coffee to get you through your morning post-dawn Cave Man conversation with your nearly 13 year old?

Matron:  "Anything special to look forward to, today, honey?"

Stryker:  "Uh."

Ever have the kind of day where your son sidles off to the bus stop wearing a shirt made out of duct tape and a red plastic hat with a light mounted on it (don't even ask).

Then at 6:50 am you wake up your husband -- because he hasn't yet mastered the concept of alarm clock -- and remind him that the lottery ticket thing didn't pan out, and he has to rise and shine and start setting the children in motion by 7:15.

Ever have the kind of morning where on your daily run with a dog Satan built, that dog stops DEAD in his tracks for no reason--directly in front of you -- so that you can hurl over him headfirst and entertain the teens on the school bus driving by?

How about going home to the three narratives:  the six-year old with the ZapTingleItchOw Skin who is wailing about pain because the ONE pair of pants he can tolerate have finally turned to dust; the ten year old, frantic with anxiety over a voice that can barely croak and a big show to carry; and the husband trying to prepare for a morning with clients.

The Matron was fully struck this morning by how distinct these narratives were.  Each person had his or her own arc, theme, characters, and plot.  And none of them were related.  Each was all consumed.  But the Matron?  She belonged in everybody's plot.  

Ever have the kind of day where you run through those plots simultaneously, carrying on three conversations at once while packing the final lunch box, finding another pair of pants and securing some throat lozenges.

Wave the daughter off to the kick-ass car pool and the kindergartener to Dad who's doing the driving but WHILE the door is still open, you're already on the phone to make a  4 pm appointment about the daughter's rash and sore throat (because the littlest one has strep) and call one of Stryker's parents about that overnight, RSVP forgotten.

Ever have the kind of day when you notice that Satan's Familiar is nowhere to be found and spend the next twenty minutes outside screaming for him, only to finally find him inside under a bed because (and you had forgotten this) he had been scared by a feral CAT an hour before?

Then you go to the computer, to your online Introduction to Literature class, only to discover that in the 12 hours since you last visited said virtual classroom, one student declared that James Baldwin's iconic short story "Sonny's Blues," is actually NOT AT ALL ABOUT RACE and everybody else jumped up and said "I agree there is no racial overtone here"?  Ten hours without a Matronly guiding hand, and they had removed any degree of social justice or racial tension from a text known for just that.

Ever spend a morning quickly writing a lecture that was both literary criticism, history and current events?  

After which, the lack of caffeine meant you were unfortified to fight against your urge to search for rabid bats -- which you spent a good half hour in pursuit of?  

Ever have the kind of day when your next email is from HR querying why you have not taken a required and time-driven course on the History and Philosophy of the Community College and could you please register and take this right away or get fired?

Except you took that class in the fall!

So you spend forty minutes trying to clean up that mess and then your next email tells you that yes, Publisher X is very intersted in you penning a research and writing textbook for them (nice propsal, Matron!) and how soon can you pen the sample chapter?

Then you realize you must wash your oldest child's baseball uniform for a 5 pm practice/game and put away some of the clutter in the house while rescheduling the youngest's dental appointment and calling the daughter's school about the doctor appointment.

Ever have a day when you get a phone call from your middle-child, en route with her father from her play, to say that the sore throat is SO bad, she is in agony AND that unless the strep takes place by 2 pm, she might still be contagious and the understudy fill in?

You go to the Minute Clinic with the child, where the nurse deems the results 'inconclusive,' (and here you get to wonder how that can possibly be) but recommends antibiotics immediately, given how many people this child could infect during any given performance.  So you agree, thinking the culture will only confirm or deny this and if it's the latter you can stop the drugs without damage and the former you are serving the public health, only to have the nurse immediately TOSS the strep test and announce:  "Once we give the scrip we cannot do the culture."  

So you give your chlid a dose right there in the Minute Clinic pharmacy and you follow instructions to immediately follow up with the stage manager on health and infection status.

Ever have a day when you go home with the child to meet the oldest's school bus and give him instruction on evening Travel, Route and Game, reminding him about tonight's overnight and inquiring how the whole duct tape shirt thing went?

Then you go to another school to pick up the third who has a backpack full of rocks and take this one and the daughter to another doctor (their real one) to investigate the mysterious rash which turns out to be chiggers but only after a forty minute wait?  Yes, the Matron is sure that during that wait the rash morphed from fatality to chigger.

Ever have the kind of day where you are unable to eat an entire cheesecake but the thought actually crosses your mind?

Ever have the kind of day where you go home and make dinner while your six-year old rides his scooter in footie pajamas and cowboy boots (he can cram the foot in) and a helmut while your ten year old comes downstairs with huge basket full of toys and says:  "What can I sell tomorrow?"

Then you remember that you agreed to participate in the neighborhood garage sale!!  And have done not one little thing to prepare other than warn your neighbors that you've never done a garage sale before and are wondering about inclination?

Then you work on the garage sale, catch the tail end of the oldest's ball game, transport that child to an overnight, come back and find neighbors in yard - chatting --  which is good because your head is going to explode and Alice Walker is probably a Republican white woman in the online class and you are unable to share that glass of wine because of the CLEANSE mania, thank you.

Ever have the kind of day where the bed time, the laundry, the garage sale, the perpetual nature of the online classroom and the mandated half hour zombie stare at late night TV meant you rambled off a last-minute midnight blog post?

And you go to bed knowing that tomorrow looks just about the same.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lessons for Girls: Don't Peak Early

The Matron is going to hoist herself on the meme bandwagon--only because this is a meme of merit, which started with Historiann's first lesson for girls. She was followed with pith and wisdom from Dr. Crazy, Professor Zero, Sutton, Undine, Exile in Academia, Geeky Mom (oh how the Matron agrees with this!), and Squadratomagico.

Lesson for Girls #10: Don't peak early.

Let's start with a story. When the Matron was but a Young Miss, oh, in the 14 or 15-year-old ballpark, she wanted to be Deirdre Garner---the super star of 10th grade. You knew the girl. Your school had one. This one was beautiful. Blond. Her father owned a successful local business which meant that Deirdre had too many pair of Levis to count and the best of everything else. Cheerleader, student council, choir, band, track and swim team. There was nothing that Deirdre could not do and nobody who wouldn't pay to walk in her wake.

Young Miss remembers sitting in a desk a few rows behind Deirde, pining. There was something so deft about her movements, so winning, so sure. And she was pretty! The dimple, the quick smile! Whereas Young Miss felt herself a bumbling mass of uncertainty, Deirde flourished, firmly rooted and secure as the center of senior high.

Young Miss wanted some of that confidence for herself.

Until the day that Herr Ewing asked Deirdre to conjugate a verb in German class: wollen. Young Miss was admiring the way Deirdre screwed up her face to concentrate. How she wiggled her pen and squinted. Adorable. The way Deirdre so cutely shrugged her shoulders and said: "I don't know."

Over the next few minutes, an increasingly alarmed Young Miss tried to send Deirdre the answer via ESP. She tried to radiate across the aisles: ich will, ich wollte, ich habe gewollt, du willst, du wolltest, du hast gewollt. . and so on.

But nothing happened. Deirdre exited a puddled mess, after an agonizing effort in which she demonstrated not even the most rudimentary understanding of concepts she'd been supposedly studying for two years. The teacher simply did a mercy killing and moved on.

Young Miss's entire world spun on its axis and did a Major Planetary Reaslignment: Deirdre was not smart. Young Miss was! And being smart was much, much better.

Young Miss's desire to trade assets with Deirdre were forever lifted that fateful day. Deirdre did indeed peak early. She got pregnant her junior year in high school, took a job at Wal-Mart and that was sort of that.

Unfortunately, women in this culture are primed to peak early because we're most valuable when we're sexual players. Hot. The object of the Male Gaze, all that. We're supposed to develop and work our assets, and in most cases that does not mean the brain.

The Matron can think of many examples of the female body as the path to success, but the one sitting on her desk will suffice. Every month, Vanity Fair opens its "Vanities" section with a portrait of a ripe young actress, about to take off.

These young women are invariably presented as about to burst on the scene, about to arrive---indeed, the first page of the Vanities assumes a star to soar, a career to start peaking. The Matron wonders why she cannot think of a single man who's been on that page! Maybe because there hasn't been one? Or so few because it is a woman who is going to peak when she's sexually ripe and the man who peaks on the rim of life accomplishments?

Just ask Susan Sarandon or Jessica Lange -- or the Matron. The power and appeal of the female body diminishes with age, and so do the social (problematic but real) rewards for having the type of body the culture values. Rely on your physical appearrance for life's goodies---recognition, success, confidence, achievement --- and you will find yourself washed up against that shore of age, without recourse. A well-fueled brain and sense of justice constitute a much stronger lifeboat: they can carry you for decades.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Shaking in the Corner

That would be the Matron. Because today? She is on Day One of a three week 'cleansing diet' (okay, she knows there's debate about that but she needed a title in order facilitate Change) that is vegan, with these niceties tossed in:

No more of this!

This! (sniffle)

Or, sigh, this:

Why in the world would she endure such deprivation? Torture? Friends, the Matron is embarrassed to admit this (okay, not so much otherwise she wouldn't be blogging about it, would she?) but, at any given moment, one of those three chemicals stream through the Matronly blood -- at all times! She is never not without alcohol OR caffeine OR sugar. Indeed, just seeing those words lined up together makes her thing those would be very fine ingredients in pie!

Wine, caffeine, and sugar are interchangeable mood-altering substances and she's slipped into one big altered Mood.

So it's plenty of this instead:

And because she is as neurotic and obsessive, as all get out, plenty of these, too!

Six hours in, it is SHOCKING to the Matron to notice how many times she has thought about chocolate. The caffeine hasn't really hit her, but the sugar? Ouch. Suckah punch. Who knew that was the stronger chemical.

The Matron does not recommend you try this at home. It is dangerous! Thankfully, John and one of the Matron's dearest friends (hi Esti!) are also eating bark for the next 21 days. She'll be sure to tell you all about it!

Time for some dandelion greens . . . .

Drop Everything and Read

Lessons for Girls!  Sheer brilliance. . . the Matron is an instant regular reader.  She'll do a real post later but had to share the find.  She knows you'll love it!  Here's the site's home page.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Hotel

In 2002, when the Matron was pregnant with Merrick, John stumbled across their dream house!

This house has hidden treasures, starting with its deceptively demure appearance. It's big! Here's the back view.

And the view from the back? Breathtaking, year round.

Imagine the Matron, five-months pregnant with an agent awaiting a novel, touring this house. She could not fathom being so lucky as to live here! Or how in the world she would actually manage the move!

Everywhere she looked, there were good lines and gleaming wood.

And a beautiful garden!

But the very best part? She would have her own office! A room of her own.

There was a brand new kitchen, just waiting for John to clean and care for (ahem).

This house was also near a regional park - a place to play and a fine expanse for the daily run.

So the Matron and her husband miraculously secured this house! As they prepared to move in, there was just one problem. And it had nothing to do with being increasingly hugely pregnant while moving, writing a novel, and caring for a four and six-year old.

It was this:

That's the picture the Matron surreptiously took this very morning. She can't stand in front of the house and snap with abandon, because its front lawn is littered with people. Clearly and substantially medicated people.

This alarmed the Matron. She loved her new house. Loved the neighborhood. But one block down was clearly some kind of group home peopled by a large number of adults fueled by thorazine. The Matron wondered what type of problem these people had? Were they mentally ill or simply disabled? Dangerous to children?

She moved in and made it her quest to scour the neighborhood for knowledge. Surely, one of her new neighbors knew the exact nature of the home. For an entire year, the Matron inquired. "Do you know what kind of disability or mental illness they're licensed for?"

Not one soul knew. Indeed, at parties and potlucks and neighborhood gatherings, everywhere --everyone confirmed: not one person had any inkling about what kind of residents lived next door.

There was a whole lot of this: "Wow, isn't that strange that nobody knows!" and this "funny that we don't know. But there's never been a problem there" and "can't say that anybody ever has asked. Those folks keep to themselves pretty much."

Yes -- from the people living directly next door to those two blocks down--the neighborhood demonstrated a general sense of ignorance and incredulity at said state.

So the Matron, a bit obsessive and fearing pedophiles and ax-murderers who could potentially 'wake up' from their slumber, did a little research and saw that the property was owned by the state of Minnesota. A few more steps and she found the appropriate state agency to call. She even secured a phone number to call for the exact scoop on what kind of folk resided down the street.

But just as she was set to hit that 'dial' button? She could not bring herself to call! Who was she to mess with neighborhood karma? The control freak Matron put down that phone. She felt like it was the destiny of the house and neighborhood to not know. Trust her. This attitude does not come naturally. She was probably shaking when she set aside that phone.

And nearly seven years later? Not one negative peep or red flag waving from the big huge house.

Yesterday, when one of the residents embarked upon a two hour somabulist shuffle up and down the street (as they sometimes do), Merrick simply moved his scooter out of the man's way and said this: "It's nice to make woom fow the people from the hotel because they can't weally walk wight."

Part of what's normal around here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

She Forgot to Tell You

That the Matron is taking a Memorial Holiday Blogging Break.  She'll be back on Tuesday, refreshed as all get out.