Thursday, July 15, 2010

Actual Conversation

Matron, calling local salon for a haircut for Scarlett: "Hi, I'd like to schedule an appointment for a haircut for a child--with Krista."

Anonymous Phone Person (APP): "I'm so sorry. Krista is no longer with us."

Matron: "That's okay. This is a trim for an eleven-year old. She has straight long hair and just needs the ends trimmed. We'll take anyone. A monkey could do it."

Significant pause.

APP: "A monkey?"

Matron: "A trim. Half an inch, straight across at the bottom. A monkey with scissors. Whoever is available is fine."

More silence.

Matron, back-pedaling: "Clearly, I'm less competent than a monkey. If I could trim the hair, I'd do it myself. So anyone who can trim long hair is perfect. No monkeys. This is clearly an art."

APP: "How about Kathy at 5:30 on Thursday?"

Matron: "Great!"

APP: "She's not a monkey."

Matron: "That's okay, too."

And when she showed up for that appointment with Scarlett? Everyone peeked to see who the 'monkey comment' lady was . . . .

While yours truly is given to hyperbole, that conversation actually ensued, nearly word for word.

But give a monkey a scissors and Scarlett will be just fine for a decade.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Day in Numbers

Today, the Matron realized the following:

* Five weeks until the new school semester starts

* Two new classes to develop

* One new degree program to manage

* One person in the Gender and Women Studies Department and that would be? Best guess and relates to that new degree program
* One BOOK TO WRITE in three months (and under contract!)

* On Saturday, July 17, her oldest -- He Who Cannot Be Named -- will be 14, officially at 7:42 a.m (after 37 hours of labor but that's an entirely different story)

* The Matron herself has been on the planet for 47 years. This makes her nearly dead, a grandmother and a new mother 100 years ago (before birth control and education for women)

* Twenty-seven spiders in the house

* One dog capable of eating half a pound of string cheese when anyone's back is turned for ten seconds

* Three children whose lives require car commitment and time management

* One big love who still sleeps by her side and is 100% supportive

* Seventeen bricks in the retaining wall requiring -- uh, she doesn't know what they require. They're just falling apart

* One life and an entire universe lost in the course of history -- most everyone's fate

Still on the same page as yesterday. . . . wistful.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Time, Flying

Today, big trucks descended upon the Matron's neighborhood. The city is repaving and repairing the streets. The day was defined by bulldozers, dump trucks, cement thingies, and various asphalt-dumpers (were she better versed in all things construction she could offer more technical names, but 'thingie' seems about right). In sum, there was a roar and whiz to the environs.

In the thick of the tar, asphalt, mayhem, the Matron noticed a woman -- whom she knows just by name and not well -- standing with her four year old son and carting an infant in a stroller--perched on a corner to watch the big trucks do their business. The four year old in red and blue cowboy boots, a baseball uniform and cowboy hat. Suffice it to say: adorable.

And as the Matron watched this clearly tired woman hold her little guy's hand and point out specifics ("see those big tires, honey? See that? This is where the tar comes out") while juggling the baby and fighting the beating sun, the Matron was transported three + years back, when Merrick wore only fireman (he's not gender neutral) boots and hats -- mostly naked in between.

She remembers standing on endless corners watching buses, trucks, workers, trains, airplanes and more -- first with Stryker and then with Merrick. She held their hands and discussed the nuances of 'workers' and their tools, the boys, rapt. There was no more important place on the planet than that corner, the great big world beckoning and the small hand securely tucked in hers, firm and soft at the same time.

Those days are gone.

So she smiled a little to watch this other mother holding a small boy's hand while marveling at mechanics on a corner as the big trucks rolled by. As each truck rumbled past to the child's delight, she remembered the dewy heads at bedtime and sticky faces, the thrill of what now seems ordinary.

She wanted to shout out the window: "Time rolls faster than that dump truck! Remember this!"

Instead, she remembered her own sweet moments and embarrassed her 14 year old by kissing his forehead at bedtime.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Righteously Yours, the Matron

Today, the Matron innocently hopped into her husband's car (the van was occupied by said husband and children) and turned on the radio.

Now, the Matronly dials --indoors and in the van --are all tuned to National Public Radio, the talk version. She listens to Nina Totenberg, Neal Conan, Carl Kasell, Michele Norris, and the like (as an undergraduate, she had a professor who always added "and the like" onto every sentence and the Matron has been waiting twenty years to employ this linguistic tic) pretty much every waking moment. Once in awhile a child wanders into the kitchen and she might switch to classic music in hope of promoting energetic brain cells.

This never lasts long.

Why? The two minutes of listening to pop music in her husband's car was emblematic of why talk radio instead of pop music. The song started out optimistically: lots of pretty waterfall sounds, happy harmonies, a pleasant female voice. The Matron was interested! Happy, even! Music! Yes, this is why people wear ear buds and iPods!

(Let's drive home the Matron's affinity for talk radio: she jogs to This American Life shows downloaded on an iPod shuffle. It is possible to run while weeping and railing).

But NINETY SECONDS into this pleasant melody came these lyrics:

"Who died and left you king of anything?"

People!? Really? Someone got a record contract and air time for 'who died and left you king?' Isn't there something smarter, more poetic, prettier, insightful to say?

Oh, wait.

How about "You're not the boss of me" or "are you the boss of me?" -- two of her current personal favorites and one a phrase she recently heard an actual adult employee of a venerable academic institution use, apparently without irony or self-awareness.

Wait! She can write lyrics too!

"Mom! Make him stop LOOKING at me!"

This is a road trip tune, of course. She smells a gold record.