Internet Explorer users may need to widen their browser windows to span all three columns. Or download Firefox.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Hello? Is this thing on?

My husband played guitar in an Irish folk/country/punk band for the first several years we were married. If your town has a drinking establishment that uses Olde or Ye or Slainte anywhere on its menu, or brass fixtures and red telephone boxes in its decor, then I'm sure your town has a version of this band. They played Thin Lizzie and Waterboys and Ramones covers, along with electrified versions of Danny Boy and the Rocky Road to Dublin, and a sprinkling of bluegrass for local color. They were huge on St. Patrick's Day, and had a pretty good run in the college bars. One time, whilst being introduced to a couple at a party, the wife thought they might have attended a gig once. The husband was having a hard time digging it up. "Remember, honey? We were dancing and then you threw up."

"Yes!" Patrick and I exclaimed in unison. That was the band.

When Patrick started out with them, they were mostly Irishmen, and there's no denying they did tend to run to stereotype as far as the drink goes. (It's funny, when I was in Ireland--and I spent nearly all my time there in bars-- I never saw anyone getting really drunk. It was all quite civilized and genteel. Perhaps they export all the troublemakers.) You could say the band had a tendency to get ahead of the crowd.

The frontsman and bass player was a charming fellow from the North whose accent was utterly unintelligible. This was a blessing because once he'd had a few, he'd start cursing at the audience. "Dance, you bastards! Motherfuckers dance!" Since he was smiling when he said it, and since it sounded to them like, "Brawbrawbraw!", the audience would simply smile and give him a thumbs up sign, if they paid attention at all.

One night some of us wives tagged along to a gig in Memphis. The place was a bit of a dive and it was a slow night. The lads were drinking to make up for the folks who couldn't be there, I guess. Once they took the stage, things went rapidly off the rails. I forget the number they were trying to play, but it got louder and loopier and more discordant by the second. The bass player was screaming something, while the rest of them were sweating and looking back and forth at each other in confusion. It was a train wreck. Somehow they brought the song to a screeching halt.

"What the fuck was that?," shouted the bass player, throwing off his guitar strap.

"You kept saying play faster, play faster," someone charged accusingly.


What recently reminded me of this occasion was a wonderful article in the New Yorker last month about stage fright, where it was revealed that Laurence Olivier used to manage his by pacing back and forth behind the curtain prior to a performance, muttering, "You bastards," at the audience. The article went on to delve into the peculiar love-hate bond between a performer and his public, rife as it is with need, narcissism, power struggles, manipulation, idolatry and all the other hallmarks of a totally codependent relationship. For the person in the spotlight, it's the old "can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em" paradox.

Recently I have found myself pacing back and forth in front of my site meter (the doohickey at the bottom of the page that tells how many hits a day this page gets), muttering similar curses. I tell myself its not about the numbers. This blog was never intended to be anything other than a place where I could write purely to please myself; check my expectations at the door. But then I got to looking around the blogosphere, and I notice what kind of traffic other blogs are getting, what kind of feedback, what loyal readership. Whole social clubs have been founded on the comments pages of other blogs. Advertising agencies are falling over themselves to get space on them. I don't think this in itself would bother me, but there's a little petulant part of me that says, yeah but dammit, I write better than most of them. Where is my loyal fanbase? Where are my bouquets of roses?

It occurs to me, perhaps:

1) I actually suck and don't know from good writing.


2) People who read blogs suck and don't know from good writing.

But neither of these theories take me to my happy place, so I might go with:

3) The world is not ready for the magnitude of my gifts.

which is a variation of the time-honored, "When I die, then they'll feel bad."


I know, I am breaking the rule of never let them see you sweat. The fact is, I'm up here in the spotlight squinting into the dark theatre. I know a lot of the seats are empty, but I know some of you are out there. I'd love to hear more often, from more of you. Send me a note backstage sometime, introduce yourself. Toss me a rose, throw a tomato. Clear your throat once in a while.

Or just email me a smiley and a thumbs up, because, honestly, you can't understand a word I am saying.


Filed under: randomthoughts
Technorati Tags:

Labels: ,

this post lives all by itself here

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Down in the Valley

6:30 p.m.I am still taking the loss of today's blog post personally. I feel like the mother of one of the disappeared. There is a tightening between my shoulder blades that is just on the verge of being painful. The baby is trying to open my leg with a can opener. The smoke alarm is shrieking hysterically over my roast chicken. My mother calls to express her shock at my using the f-word on tonight's blog post.

6:38 p.m. I take one half of a one milligram tablet of lorazepam.

6:40 p.m. I am overwhelmed with guilt and anxiety that I am now a drug addict whose children should probably be removed from her custody. Also, that I have potty mouth.

6:45 p.m. Unloading the dishwasher, I feel a little something ripple very faintly through my body, bordering on queasiness. I am still bummed about my post and guilty about my inevitable downward spiral into intravenous drug use and prostitution.

6:55 p.m. I sort the boys laundry and pick up their room, the wreckage of which I have unable to face since the weekend. I wonder if the drugs are responsible. I feel no horror or trauma as I turn out their underpants.

7:17 p.m. I call a friend who is a doctor. I tell her I'm not feeling a thing. "That's good," she says. No, no, I explain. I'm not feeling any different. I still have my unhappy feelings. Perhaps I should take another half tablet? Give it some more time, she suggests.

7:50 p.m.The kids are in bed and I read everyone a story. It's the least I can do before abandoning them for the mean streets. I notice that I am patient and acquiescent when they get out of bed one after the other needing a hot water bottle, milk, a peanut butter foldover, crusts cut off, but I can't tell if this is due to the calming effect of the drugs or my sadness at being a junkie mom.

8:30 p.m.Still no euphoria, just guilt. I decide a nice glass of wine would have done more for me, and tasted much better. I wonder if I can bring a really good bottle of syrrah on the plane. It occurs to me there was no airborne terrorism back in the day of open bar service and smoking flights. I guess the whole cabin was like one big capsule of depressants.

8:58 p.m.So much for mother's little helper. I'm kicking tomorrow.
this post lives all by itself here

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

1,152 and a half. And counting.

I am having a bit of a fucking moment.

I spent most of my precious writing time today churning out a pr piece for pay. But that was okay, because first, before I even got dressed this morning, I spent an hour or so on a new entry here. It wasn't a long post, but it was a big one. I had to dig deep for it.

I went back to look at it this afternoon and most of it was gone, obliterated by some gobbledygook. Blame the ghost in the machine. I am beyond frustrated.

If anyone actually read it and has it somewhere on their browser, would they be so kind as to email it to me at kyranp at yahoo dot com? It started like this:


In dreams, my poet-self borrows the face of a long-ago lover. He appears always on the periphery, maddeningly aloof. Like a wild thing on the edge of the wood. Lupine.

End quote.

I am thinking now would be a good time to try a happy pill (see below).
this post lives all by itself here

Friday, September 22, 2006

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Mile High

I don't know how the rest of you will be keeping the Sabbath holy, but I plan to come home straight after Sunday school, hang up my dress, peel off my pantyhose and GET HIGH. And maybe cook a pot roast.

I wrote last month about my fear of flying. I also wrote how I am taking eight airplanes in a 72 hour period in order to attend my cousin Erika's upcoming wedding. Then I noticed how these two situations cancel each other out, thus disproving my existence.

I mentioned the precariousness of my situation to Georgia, who is from Australia and, if you ask me, pushes her luck by flying back there from time to time.

"Ativan," she said. "It's the only way."

Apparently Ativan is the new Valium. Who knew? I guess I was so deep into contract negotiations with God about keeping the planes up, I hadn't considered there might be a more unilateral, pharmaceutical course of action. This was helpful information, as opposed to what my husband gave me, when I acknowledged aloud that my phobia is without a logical basis, and he pointed out that really, it is well-founded, because although planes don't often fall from the sky, when they do, it must be a hell of way to die, what with the terror, confusion and loss of bowel control.

Thank you for that, my knight in shining armour. You get none of my Ativan.

Yes, I went to the doctor yesterday and asked for DRUGS. I was certain it would involve a background check and possible deportation. I had a prescription in five minutes. "Wait!," I said as he was leaving the examining room, in which I had not been examined. "How much of this will it take to keep me calm yet functional through multiple connections?"

"We don't know," he said, "Better do a dry run first."

Mom, are you reading this? MEDICAL PERMISSION to experiment with mood-altering drugs. DOCTOR'S ORDERS.

Good Canadian that I am, I asked, "I assume I should not operate a motor vehicle or other heavy equipment while taking these?"

"Oh," said the good doctor, like this was my idea. "Probably not. No."

I consulted my daytimer. When would be a good time for me to get all fucked up? Friday: parent-teacher conferences. Saturday: soccer game and dinner guests. Sunday: church, with lector duty. Afternoon looks good, though.

I penciled it in. G.F.U.

I have a confession. I don't do drugs recreationally. I hardly do them medicinally. It's not a moral stance. If you are in the safety of a private residence without minor dependents, open flames or a chemical dependency issue to consider, and you aren't even remotely connected with the aviation industry, you go right ahead.

They just don't do really do anything for me and, as with being airborne, I don't like the loss of control. See, I'm the person who doesn't finish the second glass of wine because I'm "starting to feel it". This drives my husband, whose drug of choice is "more", crazy.

"That's exactly when you're supposed to drink five more!" he says, sputtering.

So even though I have a note from my doctor that says it's alright, even medically prescribed, for me to have a little something to take the edge off, I am still feeling hesitant about it. Like it's wimping out, and I should just white-knuckle it all the way to St. John's because there is some lesson for my soul to get about this fear that will win me karmic points. The problem is, I think my brain has become kind of addicted to the fear. Whatever chemical is firing off when those awful what-if scenarios start rolling has got my neuro-receptors all jacked up. Once the show starts, I can't seem to switch the channel. I think this may be one of those instances where it takes a physical jumpstart to get the psychology back on the right circuit.

The deal I have struck with myself is this: I will fill the prescription and try a pill on Sunday afternoon to see how it feels and how fast the effects kick in and whether I will still be able to get through customs and read a poem at the wedding without drooling. Then I will play it by ear. Maybe just knowing I have them on hand will make me feel less panicked. As for the psychological part, I am doing this free online course that is supposed to deconstruct your fear of flying, and maybe after I play it enough times, I will be able to turn off the Eeyore voice in my head that manages to turn the amazing aviation safety statistics into proof positive my plane crash is long overdue.

I hope. Because if not, I now have all the fatality statistics from driving, cycling, boating and common household accidents to be concerned about, and the refill line on my presciption says, "suck it up."

Filed under:fearloathing
Technorati Tags:

this post lives all by itself here

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Happy Birthday

What is the good of a having a public platform if you can't use it to single out family members for conspicuous displays of affection? I have been filing some old poems today, and found this one from ten years ago. I cleaned it up some. Honey, I hope you still like it.

Vigil for Patrick

My lover's birthday will reach me first
three times zones east of where he sleeps.
I'll light candles at midnight
to warm its passage west
and stand in the window at sunrise, stretched
so that no particle of daylight
will reach him unfiltered. Hour after hour
will have to flow through me to get to him
and when night comes I will hold it back
in the doorway just a minute to be sure
the stars have all been lit and counted
before it rolls out singing.


© All rights reserved.
this post lives all by itself here

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

My Linguistic Profile:
35% Yankee
30% General American English
25% Dixie
5% Midwestern
0% Upper Midwestern

This online widget analyzed my dialect based on an exhaustive list of six or seven questions. It is regrettably U.S-centric, but I think it illustrates my split linguistic personality. I have no earthly idea which five percent of my vocabulary qualifies as "Midwestern". Perhaps it has to do with my Finnish origins (see below).


My girlfriend Heather rang me up the other night, bored and looking for a defenseless immigrant to mock.

"Did you just answer the phone, "Hah?"

"Um, I don't know, did I?"

Insert smirking sound made by forcing air through the back of one's palatte into one's nose here. "Actually, you've been saying, 'Hah' for a while. I just wondered if you knew."

In case you are not from around these here parts, "Hah" is what southerners say in salutation. Like allo/bonjour. Or hola. Often it is accompanied by y'all, as in "Hah y'all."

I have lived south of the U.S. Interstate 40--what some consider the modern Mason-Dixon line-- for over ten years now. It is to be expected that by now I have picked up a smattering of the vernacular for which this region is both celebrated and reviled the world over. What is surprising is the sponge-like absorption with which I have soaked it up. I would have thought my native dialect would have held up better.

Before coming here, I lived in Newfoundland, which has its own encyclopedic Dictionary of Newfoundland English and at any given moment is maggoty (crawling) with four or five hundred linguistics students from abroad doing their thesis work by molesting the locals with field recorders. When I bother to reveal in conversation that I am from Newfoundland (which I don't unless I think we will know each other for longer than half an hour because it often involves a tiresome lesson in geo-politics, after which most of you will persist in thinking I am Finnish) the occasional well-traveled American will remark, "but you don't have an accent."

It hasn't been deleted from my hard drive altogether. My husband claims it comes out anytime I am on the telephone to my family back on the island. To his southern ear, which cannot process any sound wave that moves past the speed of drawl, it sounds like a chipmunk speaking with an Irish lilt. And my roots show from time to time in remnants of my native vocabulary, like when I forget and ask to use the washroom instead of restroom or bathroom and get shown the laundry room. Or say root for route, or "auhnt" for aunt. Or use "Go-wan!" to express disbelief instead of "No way!" Or say "arse" to my husband and "bum" to my children when referring to their rear ends wanting a boot or a spank.

It's a bit of a muddle. Possibly even my children don't understand what I mean when I tell them someone's fixin' to get a spank on the bum if they don't bloody well quit hollerin'. This would explain why they ignore me.

If this were a video post, I would now cue one of those earnest doctoral linguistics students to face the camera, like the "famous historian" in Monty Python's Holy Grail, to explain why it isn't really at all surprising a Newfoundlander should take so readily to the dialect of the American south, both areas being largely settled by the same anglo-celtic stock, with a common ancestral folk tradition and similar periods of relative geographical isolation during which regional accents and vernacular incubated.

Then I would cue a knight in armour to chop his head off.

Bah y'all.

Filed under: politicsculture, thesouth, america, newfoundland
Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , 


this post lives all by itself here

Friday, September 15, 2006

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Too Sexy

Actually, I am neither sexy enough, tall enough, skinny enough, nor remotely young enough to be a model, but that doesn't stop my friend Georgia from using me to parade her cool reconstructed clothing down the runway (which is usually a sidewalk).

For better or for worse, I have developed a reputation for being able to strut my--actually, her--stuff. I wonder if this is what my grandmother was grooming me for when she had me walk about her living room with encyclopedias on my head. Here I thought it was to let the contents sink in.

I guess the bright lights and the red carpet call out the performer in me. Undeniably that is part of it. I would probably be a menace in a karaoke bar (Actually, I was a menace in a karaoke bar, the night before my first wedding, with a heartfelt performance of "Like a Virgin". A bold selection, considering I was back in my hometown, where everyone knew the difference.).

Then there is my personal ethic of "go big, or stay home". I don't like to do things half-assed. I like Georgia too much to skitter past the gallery like I wish no-one would see me in her frock.

Finally, I think the utter irony of me as a fashion model in any context confers the insoucianct demeanor one expects from a mannequin. As much as I appreciate the creativity and effort that goes into these clothes, I am constitutionally incapable of taking fashion very seriously. Of all my friends, I am consistently the least well-dressed. On a day to day basis, anyhow. The exception is on special occassions, which are like playing dress-up, and I do get into that. But the rest of the time I am not thinking very hard or long about what I am wearing, and it shows. I wear a lot of brown. Let's not even get into accessories.

For some of my girlfriends, dressing well seems effortless and natural. They have shoes in colors other than neutral. They wear more than one item of jewelry at a time. They are doing things with layers and scarves and cuffs that are beyond me. They almost always look like they've really thought about what to wear that day, even just to the playground. I suspect it might even be fun for them to do so, like it is for me the half a dozen times a year I do dress up. But they seem to be able to keep it up on a daily basis.

It has always been a mystery to me. I remember coming back home after six months away in Tobago with my family when I was in grade five, and suddenly, what you wore mattered. Tapered jeans were the style then, and I remember a classmate condescending to explain to me why my pants were all wrong. It was the same, out-of-step feeling I would later experience with junior high french because I missed it when the teacher explained about the principle of conjucation. I caught up with the french, after I figured out where that lesson was in the textbook. But I still haven't found Unit 1 on fashion.

From time to time, I try. I thumb through magazines like "Lucky" and "Marie-Claire". (Georgia's favorites, Elle and Vogue intimidate me too much.) I will apply myself diligently, to a point, studying carefully how deep a cuff is, how high a heel is. But I get overloaded quickly. Once they get into layering things, or wearing more than one necklace at a time, I shut down. Also, I am only so willing to suspend my disbelief. $400 for a handbag? $600 for a pair of boots? Seriously? I mean, seriously? Clearly, I am missing some key information that would help me make any kind of rational sense out of that. I understand about craftmanship and that the price could reflect the actual skill and time in the manufacture of the garment. I just can't comprehend paying it.

Preposterous as you now hopefully appreciate it is, I am set to sashay down the runway tomorrow night at the show on the poster above. It's a big show for Georgia, and I love the outfits I am wearing, so I will once again walk the walk. If you are in the area, and are not a stalker, come on down.

Filed under: fluffdrivel, money, politicsculture
Technorati Tags:


this post lives all by itself here

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Birth Announcement

Today, I launched my new blog, 1,167. I will still be posting here regularly on general topics, but "over there" will be a space more specifically about writing.

I hope you can swing by.

this post lives all by itself here

Monday, September 11, 2006

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Requiem for a clear morning.

I remember.

"Go turn on the tv now."

"It's on already...the kids are watching cartoons. Why?"

"Go turn on an American channel. Two passenger planes just crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City"

Two planes. Two planes. He said two planes. I am standing in my mother's kitchen by the front door looking through the room divider at the children watching television. I am in Newfoundland. Patrick is in his office in Little Rock, having gone home ahead of us. It is a little more than a week since I poured the ashes of my father's body over the side of a boat. He said two planes. Two planes. Two.

One plane would be an accident. A terrible accident. He said two.


I drop the phone. By the time I make it around the corner of the living room, the children's programming has been interupted. There are the towers, and there are parts missing from them. Like an amputee with phantom pain, my mind fixates on the parts that aren't there. I suppose I breathe. I suppose I am aware of the children. Maybe I take steps to shield them from what is unfolding on the the screen. Maybe I even call back my husband. I know I call my mother and tell her, for the second time in my life, to come home, something terrible has happened.

When she comes in, the second tower has just fallen. I am standing in the living room and I can't stop crying. I am crying for the people I have just watched die, turning to dust and ash before my eyes. I am crying for my father, dust and ash falling through my fingers. The "two-planes-two" refrain changes. It's the end of the world, it's the end of the world. I don't think I can breathe ever again.

I remember.

Filed under: America
Technorati Tags:
this post lives all by itself here

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

It takes what it takes.

While my sister and I were children, my poet father managed to produce a prodigous body of work without ever having to depend upon color tv, sugar cereal, or plastic holding containers to keep us out of his hair. He was able to do so because he had a wife. I have none.

I do, however, have a poetry reading in Ireland on the calendar for February. And I was thinking, wouldn't it be nice to read something I wrote since I began having children seven years ago? Just to see if anyone is paying attention. I am not sure how I am going to accomplish this, but I am prepared to go to whatever lengths necessary. I am willing to negotiate with the terrorists. What are their demands?

One of the reasons I blog is because it is a mom-friendly genre, tolerant of interruptions and background noise. Poetry is not. Poetry requires many unbroken hours of pacing and teeth-gnashing and garment-rending during the composition phase, and days of lying under a blanket with the blinds down during the recovery phase. I refuse to buy into the tortured artist cliche, but there is no getting around the truth that making art is a process of delving deep, and there is a certain amount of compression that happens, depending on how long and to what depths you dive. It is jarring to have to resurface suddenly. I get the bends. I need a controlled, contained environment in which to gradually re-enter life. I need a wife.

Since I don't have one, bowls of froot loops scattered strategically about the house will have to do. My poor kids.

As if they didn't have to suffer enough for my art, my seven-year-old and I went head to head over the staging of the top photo. It wasn't a fake-out, I just needed him to get off the couch and move into the frame next to his brother. "No," he said, flatly, with an edge that suggested he's had it with enabling my narcissism. "Do it," I said, darkly, "or no more television for the rest of your life."

At least they will not lack for material should any of them go into the family business.

filed under: kids, poetrywriting
Technorati Tags:

this post lives all by itself here

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

Family Ties
My favorite cousin in the whole wide world is getting married this month. Mom and Dad came from large families, and I have a ton of cousins on both sides, most of whom I am crazy about, but Erika is like a sister to me. Minus the slapping and hair pulling.

She was born, in deference to my natural leadership abilities, three months after me. Here is a picture of us from way back, with her mom and my dad. I believe this is the only time I have seen her in pink. Kudos to our hipster moms for outfitting us in the latest pantsuit styles--I have rarely been this pulled together since. As you might infer from looking at my father, our family tree had a cross branch or two in it. Her father is a blonde version of mine, also of an artistic bent, and they remained close as adults. (Speaking of my father, what's with the necktie in this picture? I mean, what's the point?)

Erika was a bridesmaid in my first wedding, for which I adorned her and her counterparts in shiny green satin, puffed sleeves and other fine couture details, to ensure I would not be the only fool with a giant bow planted squarely on my ass. She and my sister are the only members of that original nuptial back-up group who still speak to me today. Such is the bond of blood.

I got married much too young, and Erika was my link to the single life. Every couple of weeks, she'd take me out to her favorite downtown bar where we'd dance all night to grunge music and she'd introduce me around as "my cousin who's married." She was my confidante during my break-down/break-up, and many times during that torturous year, my only source of levity. She is wickedly smart and funny. Think Tina Fey, but mellower. Beneath the wry grin, she is quite tenderhearted. I remember a phase of unemployment when she got hooked on "Little House on the Prairie" reruns. She'd answer the door with red-rimmed eyes, blowing into a tissue. "It's Pa," she'd explain, tearfully.

I despaired she'd ever settle down. Her own parents--another two of my very favorite people--have been married an unusually long and happy time, and frankly, I worried it had warped her. I was concerned she was looking to enter the front end of a relationship with expectations based on observing the back end. Our family has an unmatched gift for critical observation. In fact, our dna has evolved to favor this capacity over emotional intelligence and common sense. We tend to live in the abstract. I think of it as a mild form of retardation. If we are very lucky, we meet someone who can knock us off our high horse and bring us down to earth.

The minute I met Rob, now the fiance, I began to silently pray: pick him, pick him. He could not be more perfect. Self-assured, un-neurotic, down-to-earth, street-smart, moneywise, calm and good-humored. We NEED this man in the gene pool. Also he has, I gather, a large, happy, chaotic, kid-centric, big, fat, Newfoundland family. EX-cellent....My beloved cousin has very firm ideas about raising children. I am most anxious that she should have two or three of her own, preferably at least one set of twins.

"You're not about to give into that," are you? she asked me incredulously on a visit home a few years ago, when one of my children came up whining for a cookie.

"Hell, yes," I replied, forking over the treat. I hadn't come over two thousand miles to play the alpha-mom; I was going to savor every minute I had with Erika in peace, supposing I had to lay out their weight in chocolate chips to do it.

In the same spirit of favoring the end over the means, I am going to her wedding (on frequent flyer points), although it will take me nearly two days to get there, with barely two days on the ground before I have to get on a plane and come back, and I will probably have to take enough valium to knock out a horse (see my recent post on fear of flying). It's a mad enterprise; completely and utterly irrational.

And it will be worth every second.

Filed under: friendsrelations, marriage, kids, goodtimes
Technorati Tags:


this post lives all by itself here

Monday, September 04, 2006

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,

G'day, Steve.

It was ungodly early when I saw the news yesterday morning that Steve Irwin, a.k.a. the Crocodile Hunter, had been killed while snorkelling off the coast of Australia.

My first thought was, how very sad for his wife and children. My second thought was, my seven year-old son will be heartbroken. My third thought was, I will never, ever go swimming in the waters of northwestern Australia. If the Bill Bryson book I am reading, In a Sunburned Country, weren't enough to warn me off already, now I am a true believer.

A pot of coffee later, I thought of my friend Georgia and rang her up.

"Well, I just felt I had to reach out to an Australian," I said when she picked up. "And you're it, mate."

"You're the fifth person to call me this morning," she said, sounding baffled and amused. I assume she is still in the denial stage of grieving (her next door neighbor, however, is apparently quite distraught).

Come right down to it, Jeff Corwin is much more my cup of tea when it comes to guys with camera crews running around in the bush molesting wildlife. Although the genre as a whole has come a long way since my childhood, when all we had was the sadistic Marlon Perkins sending poor Jim into the lion's den week after week on Wild Kingdom. Nonetheless, I admired Irwin's effort to make us see beauty and purpose in creatures we have been taught to revile, principally crocodilians and snakes.

My sympathies have long tended to lean with the snakes. Maybe it's because we don't have any reptiles in Newfoundland on which to project primal fear, or maybe it's because deep down I've always known, had it been me in the garden of Eden, I would also have gone for the fruit (see "Sublime", below). I think they are beautiful, and I love it when one crosses my path (as long as I see them first). We have had several good-size king snakes around the yard, and last weekend there was a lovely brown water snake that would greet me at the water's edge when I'd go down to the lake at the conference center.

My husband, like most southern men, is of the "Whack first, ask questions later" school of zoology. The post-mortem report is invariably, "copperhead." The slender brown grass snakes that turn up in the garden from time to time, no more than a handspan long, are always "baby copperheads" which are supposedly "even more poisonous." This elicits much eye-rolling from me, and disavowals of assistance from him come the day I am finally bitten and lie twitching in the driveway. When I told him that the Crocodile Hunter had been killed, I thought I detected just a glint of biblical vindication in his expression (although, bizarrely, it turned out to be a stingray that dispatched him--the terrestial parallell would be a bull rider being gored by a goat).

My sons took the news in stride, as it turned out. Our resident mystic, my middle son, said after a moment's pause, "Now he's awake."

When it comes to knowledge of life, good and evil, my money's on the wisdom of snakes and babes, hands down, every time.

Technorati Tags:

Labels: , ,

this post lives all by itself here

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,


My five-year-old complained today of a kid in his kindergarten class who is stalking him. After a little maternal interrogation, it appeared that the stalker is feeling left out of the closeknit bond between my son and another child (let's call him Buddy).

I made several suggestions as to how my son might widen his circle to include stalker-boy (let's call him Skippy) from time to time. He tolerated this for several seconds before laying it out for me, flat.

"Mom," he said, "Buddy and I were made for each other. Skippy and me are not."

I had no argument for that. Sorry, Skippy, I tried. But this thing is bigger than both of us.

Later this evening, while getting a snack for my true blue darling, I said, "You know how you said you and Buddy were made for each other? That's how I feel about you. You and me were made for each other too."

He smiled and rolled his eyes. "Mom," he said, like I was the five-year-old, "I knew that since before I was even born."

filed under: kids, soulspirit


this post lives all by itself here

Thanks for visiting. I am no longer updating Notes to Self. I hope you'll join me on my current website,


I was twenty-six years old before I ever tasted a real peach. Such wild fierce beauty as is found on my island home is enjoyed at a price, part of which is having to eat produce that was picked well before its prime in a field in some other corner of the continent and has been entombed in a freight container for a month (wild blueberries and lobster go a long, long way toward offsetting this deprivation). The "peaches" of my youth were as hard as baseballs and odorless if they were unprocessed, or slimy and slick if they were tinned.

A real southern peach-- whose surface temperature has never slipped below 80 degrees, whose soft skins sloughs away at the first nuzzle of your lips, whose flesh can be ploughed under with the tip of your tongue, and whose scarlett pit, upon first glimpse, causes your mouth to pucker involuntarily in anticipation of sucking pulp and nectar from every dimple-- that is an experience that I probably couldn't have fully appreciated before I was twenty-six.

A little seasoning enhances everything.

Filed under: sexyyummy Technorati Tags:


this post lives all by itself here