Friday, September 12, 2008

Divorce Court, Anyone?

Yesterday, the Matron's husband made this inquiry of her --without irony or humor.

John: "If I can figure out how to get the lessons free, would you take driver's training again?"


She will leave her response (although there was more than one expletive involved) to the imagination. But she now is in need of retribution, rebuttal, revenge! Ideas?

Or a good divorce attorney. . . .

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More Linear Narrative, Anyway

Yes, she's a little sick of herself, but she's also a slave to Story. And here's one!

The Children's Theater is the Mother Ship -- not just locally, but this boat trails national stature. And all the little theater creatures the Matron knows, these talented and determined children (including hers) want in! They want to go aboard.

"Take me home! Take me home!" Think ET. Only less adorable.

You see, they're not normal, these children. They are aliens among us, more comfortable onstage than off. Most children watch The Sound of Music for the first time, enjoy the show, and move on with their lives. Scarlett promptly changed her name to Louisa and never looked back.

The competition for The Children's Theater is steamy and dark-- and some of the parents? Not all of them live on this planet (or deserve to). the matron still gets weepy if she revisits that scene

Scarlett has clawed at this impenetrable bastion three times, the third and latest on Saturday, when she was one of the last two Ramona the Pests standing at the three hour callback (thank you, Stage Father, for that one).

Of course, when the Matron picked up her child at school for the initial Thursday audition, Scarlett was all: "Do I have to?"

Matron: "Of course not. We can just go home. It's totally up to you."

Scarlett: "I don't know. I want to watch Malcolm in the Middle. What should I do?"

Matron: "This is totally up to you. I can't decide. We can be in front of the TV in 15 minutes or on the road to The Children's Theater."

Scarlett: "If we get in the car and go, like two minutes, and I change my mind, can we turn around and go home? I almost called you at lunch time to say I wasn't interested."

Matron: "Yes! But if we go more than two minutes, we're committed. I'm not driving to Minneapolis and turning around."

Scarlett: "Okay."

There were several "are you okay, do you want to keep goings" in the van, all of which were met with "uh-huh" from Scarlett, who was engrossed in - guess what book! Beezus and Ramona! While singing totally inappropriate songs about sex from Rent.

When they crossed that border into the real city, the Matron said, "We're in Minneapolis."

Scarlett: "Fine. I'll go, then."

She had the 3rd audition spot out of hundreds and was in and out, zip quick, within one hour. Yes, that's zip quick in some worlds.

Saturday, she had a three hour callback, during which Scarlett and her main competitor did many readings with many other potential cast members, sort of to get all the angles. Sometime during this process, she decided she wanted this role.

When the Matron tucked her in that night, Scarlett said: "Mama! Wouldn't it be GREAT to be Ramona Quimby in a show called Ramona Quimby? And at The Children's Theater! I hope I get it!"

Monday night, when the Matron picked up Scarlett from Sound of Music rehearsals, the first thing out of that child's mouth: "Did they call yet?"

She knew who. Alas, there was no happy phone call on Monday. It has been the Matron's considerable experience that good news is nearly immediate.

But Tuesday night at 8:30 pm, Scarlett boarded that Mother Ship. Yes! The Children's Theater called and Scarlett is Ramona Quimby IN Ramona Quimby, this spring.

And Stage Mother has been handed endless blog fodder. Thanks, Ramona!

But Stage Mother admits to wobbling a bit on her high heels -- she's just dazed by the family schedule ahead!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sick of Herself

Yes, it has taken 417 posts and nearly one year to get there, but the Matron is thoroughly tired of her own stories and small life!!

She was cruising along just fine until she came to Jesus, the Black Hockey sort, here.

Considering, she has decided to mix it up a bit, move beyond her own small sphere. Why, the Matron can create non-linear narrative with the best of them! Black Hockey, she has vast Imagination!

Digression. Imagination has failed her for 20 years regarding a certain book title: Quick Comebacks and Witty Replies, the Pocket Guide for the Slow Thinker. You see, the Matron thought of that title when she was a Young Miss and has yet to conjure content. Sigh. She thinks she has already said that here, too. See? Time for renewal, fresh energy, all that.

Self-help books aside, the Matron is either the most under-utilized creative writer that she knows or a hopeless egomaniac. So she wants to take blog risks and get more creative, all that, but today, she is living a very linear, narrative-driven life (with a job!).

In a nod to creativity and concession to the demands of the day, here is a scene from one of the Matron's two unpublished novels. Check out that imagination and nonlinear verve!

Background: The ambulance is taking Leilani--a 45 year old woman whose 3 year old daughter Holly and husband were killed in a car accident several months ago -- to the hospital following a suicide attempt. Leilani was serious. She took a boatload of pills.

The ambulance bumps and howls down streets and around corner. Inside, men paid to save lives earn their money on Leilani. They help her heart pump and make sure she's still breathing.
"Hang in there," whispers one.
Leilani can't hear them. She is alive. She isn't in the ambulance. She isn't fighting. She's most assuredly not pulling her weight--as far as the medical team would be concerned---in the battle to keep the body breathing.
No, Leilani is at the midway marker of her journey. There are no pearls or angels. No great wise guides wait to usher her to the other side. She doesn't feel the heat of Hell, nor does she merge into an eternal oneness.
She stands by a river, shivering, as centuries of dead children rise to meet her. The water foams with wispy cuts of baby hair, tiny toenails and teeth. Babies swarm and descend: locusts, greedy and unfed.
"Holly!" She plucks off the creatures that crawl up her belly, her thighs. She searches every face, only to discover that the mothers through time have lost the same child: each face looks precisely like the others, round and slightly brown with limpid black eyes.
She trips and stumbles up, only to stagger again. Who could walk an inch? There are millions and millions of them. The toddling bodies on the bank thicken and pile. More emerge from the white river, endless.
Leilani gives into the babies. She sits down so they can crawl all over, burrow her in. There's some comfort in this, she discovers. Babies! Meaty little packs of warm fat and skin, they claw their way higher and higher up her body until she nearly disappears. Fists, chunky thighs, a thunderous belly--the body parts obstruct her vision and limit her hearing to the swish and goo of newborns. Holly! No sound comes from her mouth, swollen with flesh and hair and fingers. The river is warm and smells like almonds, yarrow and milled corn. The current calls and opens, folding her in as it's own.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Stage Mother

Yesterday, the Matron hit some dingie on her dashboard that tracks the miles for just one trip. She set that little gadget on zero at her daughter's school.

She and Scarlett dropped off Merrick at home, grabbed Scarlett's series of snacks and dinners and various necessary materials, and headed to the faaaaaaar western suburbs for Scarlett's training with Famous Actress X, with whom she will do the deaf-blind tango in The Miracle Worker.

During the lesson, the Matron wrote yesterday's blog post in a bar called Bunny's.

Now, the Matron was not quite fully aware that this bar --where she has waited out her daughter before--was a sports bar. So she heads in with her laptop and half an hour to blog, and wonders why in the world that parking lot is jam-pack, full?! On a Monday?

So MANY men. And most of them sporting stomachs capable of sustaining 2 or 3 or occasionally, small villages of belly. This was not a pretty crowd. Now the Matron herself looked quite adorable, in black-leather knee boots, a tight gray short skirt, and t-shirt, with the ever fashionable and bar-trendy laptop at her side.

Why were so many people wearing purple? Funny hats and nordic wigs? What planet has she landed on?

As she elbowed her way to a tiny table and apologized to her waiter (she left a terrific tip for her half hour and diet coke), she slowly realized. . . .Monday night football! The Vikings versus the Green Bay Packers, those two historic rivals.

So yesterday, the Matron blogged at Bunnys, hunched over her laptop, fingers flying furiously in the midst of a loud, happy, halfway drunk (the game hadn't started) football fans. She fit right in.

She really wanted a martini, too. But she didn't.

These are the sacrifices she makes for that child, who then had to be driven --through rush hour traffic on highways 100, 394 and 94 (for the local readers, who can just imagine what the 5:30 departure time meant) to the first Sound of Music rehearsal, conveniently located in Wisconsin!!

Scarlett, who might have to be surgically removed from her iPod, sang inappropriate songs about sex from Rent the whole way, so that hour in the van just spun by her. The streets of Wisconsin were deserted as the Matron imagines all of that state also bellying up to the bar.

While Scarlett got the whole Marta vibe going, the Matron (still in that tight skirt) worked on syllabi and email out in the lobby. Conveniently, there were no chairs. Or wi-fi, so she just did the syllabus shuffle.

The numbers?

Insert your favorite expletive -- Four and a half hours and 79 miles!!!

Welcome to the Matron third full-time job!! She had the drink, later.

Monday, September 8, 2008

In Case You Thought She'd Forgotten Him

Now, there is someone in the Matron's household--beside her daughter--who is more delicate than that Princess who discerned a pea. Someone in her house is adept at the creature comfort, at seeking out the 300 count cotton sheet, demanding the truffle when plain old chocolate would do.

And that someone would Be Satan's Familiar.

Yesterday was a typical day for the Henchman.

He woke and was fed. After making speedy dispatch with his own bowl of nuggets, he made a bold attempt at the deaf-blind Jekyll's feast. Luckily, the Matron stood her usual guard because she just doesn't want this dog to live so long (15.5 years and ticking), only to die of starvation.

The Matron's not sure what he did while they were at the Zen Center, but the entire family spent no small amount of time looking for Merrick's sandal upon their return. You see, S.F. has taken to the fine art of Shoe Theft and Concealment. Only plastic, stupid things that the children rely on and adore, like crocs. The Matron finds them, weeks later, half-eaten, underneath beds, in closets or uncleaned corners and crannies.

Later, the Matron went to the store where she purchased some pastries: long johns, raised glazed donuts, chocolate with sprinkles. One for every child. She set the bag on the dining room table and went about her business.

Insert theme song from Jaws.

When she could not find that bag anywhere not much later, she interrogated each of her children in turn: "Did you take those donuts?"

Could it possibly be the hand of the Devil, again? But the absence of evidence, the empty bag, bothered the Matron. But as she was scanning the house yet one more time, it hit her. The dog door! She opened the human door that's right next to the dog one and sure enough -- one empty, wrinkled abandoned bag (from Woulletts, for the locals). Score one for Satan.

When the Matron went on her daily run, she considered not taking Satan's Familiar, as punishment. But she knows that what goes in, must come out and pastries with chocolate will come out as diarrhea.

Better outdoors than in.

So even though rain is imminent and the Matron dislikes running the rain, she leashes up her favorite Henchman and off they go! Now, if so much as a stick, a twig, a tiny teeny leaf gets snarled in SF's furry little hair, he refuses to move. He sits down and holds up his paw for help or rolls over: taket his pea off of me!

There is much stopping and plucking and doggy hair repair.

Then, the rain comes! The rain comes and it is decidedly not torrential, but wet. They get wet. And Satan's Familiar? It turns out that he cannot tolerate rain, not one bit. He sits beside a tree and refuses to budge. A very exasperated Matron pulls and pulls on that leash, to no avail. That doggie ain't walkin'.

So the Matron picks up her special gift from the Devil and carries him home, careful to cover his snout so he doesn't get wet.

The children were outraged! How could their mother subject the beloved to--water! Weather! Potentially dangerous Exposure, in general. They fed him treats, rubbed his belly and Merrick engaged his dog in a rounding game of Police, a game in which S.F. is jailed, escapes, chased, captured and jailed again. This keeps both of them busy, for hours.

And after sitting on Stryker's lap all through dinner before the Matron really noticed? He curled up for a good long sleep, right on the Matron's pillow.

Just another day in the life of Satan's Familiar.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday, Meditation

Very early this morning, the Matron took ten minutes before waking her children and looked at the Master Plan, the family schedule and calendar, which now includes her daughter's full-time job(s) on top of everything else.

She experienced a moment of complete psychological dissolution.

Afterward, she and her husband forced their offspring (now she knows what kicking and screaming mean) into the van for the Buddhist version of Sunday school! Last year, Stryker hated his class and made that quite clear, in articulate and voluminous narrative.

So the general spin from the children's team was that the Matron was shoving loving kindness down unwilling, powerless and anti-lovingkindness throats. Oh, she is evil! Just imagine, promoting mindfulness and goodwill!?

While the children were tortured in separate rooms, the Matron and her husband listened to yet another gripping dharma talk, actually available online.

Today, the priest was Myo-O Habermas-Scher, a late middle-aged mother who has been doing this stuff for 30 years. And she confessed that fear still gripped her. Not just fear, but rip-your-guts-someday-I-will-no-longer-exist-and-I-will-leave-my-children-deep-tissue-crisis level.

She talked to HER teacher about this and, what he said?

The Matron is working from aging memory, but in sum: Fear is a treasure. Do not trust people who do not know fear like a friend. They're dangerous. Embrace and welcome fear so fear loses her power; if you don't, you will die with fear.

Myo-O moved into some scary Tibetan yogi, who asks people to do exactly the thing they fear the most as part of their spiritual practice. Does someone repel you? This is the person you're to embrace, to help, to love.

No small order. Move toward what threatens.

Someone asked about denial, that universal mechanism. Myo-O's take made the Matron glisten! She's a fan of denial, herself.

Myo-O: "Denial is a beautiful thing. It's a place to rest. You should use it. It would be hard to get through breakfast and getting the children to school if you were focusing on the fact that you will soon cease to exist, at all. And your children."

Oh, friends. There were no soft landings today, no pulling punches. So the Matron went through the spiritual ringer. And when she gathered her brood, post indoctrination?

They had a fabulous time! They were all precept, bow and dharama.

Later, tonight, the Matron walked to her van in a bad neighborhood, the kind where you keep your head up and purse close. She was tired and her hands were full. She was 20 minutes late to start the process of retreiving her 3 children from playdates conveniently located in disparate parts of the city. She felt the pressure of the Mater Plan ahead, the schedule, the job, the chaos.

She listened to her cell phone messages on the short walk to the van and heard this:

"Hi Mary! This is cousin X. Remember, we've moved elderly Aunt Kay to Minneapolis, now that she's 94 and all. And after my three surgeries, my legs aren't working all that well and so I hope that you can help out with Aunt Kay's care? If you're not too busy?"

Just as Stress started to knock over the Matron, a woman approached her, crying. Visibly, staggeringly poor and in distress.

Woman: "Do you have any money? A few coins? See this key? I borrowed a car and there was no gas! But I have to go to my job as a personal care assistant and first, get some cheese or something for my children at SA before I get the gas. There's no money for gas! I'll lose this job!"

The woman broke down and wept.

The Matron did what any good Buddhist would do. She made facial reference to her full arms, shook her head no (it's a bad neighborhood, remember), got in the van and slammed the door. She'll never forget the despair on the woman's face when she did this.

Crying, the woman--who seemed to have a small child waiting for her at the corner--took off in hot pursuit of another passer-by, who also rejected her.

And the Matron? She came to her senses. She pulled over and gave that woman every last red cent in her wallet. It was only $10, but it was something.

Matron: "I'm sorry! I can afford to give you money and I didn't. Here you go. Good luck."

Woman: "I know that this money isn't much to you. But the prayers I'm going to give you every day for a life time might be payback. The Lord knows I'm not taking you. You just saved my job. My children. God will hear about this."

Thank you, Myo-O. The Matron was initally repelled by need, by fear, by dirt and poverty and grime and she was able to participate in that without concern for self, but attention to others. And she called her cousin and said that the family was pressed to the wire for time, but yes. She can help out with Aunt Kay. Sure, so maybe the blog will suffer.

That's what she's trying to cram down her children's throats.