Friday, January 8, 2010

Cautionary Tales

is what the Matron is getting regarding Hollywood, largely, here. She's also got a couple of phone numbers from local folks who've made the journey to the holy land. Thanks so much to all of you dear friends and readers for giving her plenty to think about --and then some.

Another cautionary tale would grow out of the Matron's vast error in judgment, for once not involving a child or excess food.

So. . . she's all groovy and good because one of her classes is Contemporary Fiction. This class is online and goes 'live' at midnight on Sunday. This is a NEW class for her and the other three, taught before.

What makes sense? Get the new one started earlier so you have more time or first reboot the old classes and wait until a later date to start the new?

Bingo! The Matron put Contemporary Fiction LAST.

And here is where her grave error in judgment steps in to thunk her on the head and kick her scrawny ass. The Matron is assigning many books she adores (contemporary fiction! even the words should make you happy). But because she read many of those books several years ago, she has FORGOTTEN THEIR ACTUAL CONTENT.

She realized this when she sighed and picked up Zadie Smith's On Beauty in order to create an assignment based on this one million page book only to realize she didn't remember what the book was about!!

Now she has to 'refresh her memory' on On Beauty, The Things They Carried (Tim O'Brien), Breath, Eyes, Memory (Edwidge Danticat), Interpretor of Maladies (Jumpha Lahiri), Drown (Junot Diaz) and everything Lorrie Moore ever touched, IMMEDIATELY. For those interested, the list rounds out with The White Tiger by Aravnd Atiga which she recently read for just these purposes.

Of course, you must read these books! But if you have to pick just one new one, go for Danticat.

So Sunday night at midnight, in her other life (not real life but just different as it involves actually seeing and sometimes -- willingly or not -- touching other human beings), this new online class is open to students.

Guess what she's doing this weekend?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What Do You Do?

When it is nearly 11 pm and all three children (for various reasons including theater and waking up from a sound sleep earlier) area awake?

And tomorrow you need to be at a work conference at (GOOD GOD PEOPLE) 7:45 am?

This conference would also last until A) Time Ends or B) Long enough to mean the next step involves alcohol.

And -- you get an email message requesting that your 11 year old daughter spend six weeks in L.A. doing 'pilot week,' wherein, precocious people try to be on television shows.

So, weigh in. No kidding. Scarlett has an agent in L.A. (trust her, this happened without one lift of the Matronly finger which is why she is so gosh -darn home-down apologetic-- they called her) who would like Scarlett to spend about seven weeks in Los Angeles touring the rounds of television.

This would be expensive. Sorta like a trip to Disney Land (as it is, fantasy and all that).

Here's the Matron's take: soon, we die. Don't you love her? Cut right to the chase. Soon, even an 11 year old dies. Honest to God-Buddha-Oprah-Allah-Heather Armstrong-Universe, the Matron does not believe her child will win the celebrity juvenile lottery and get into television.

But what about the journey? What amazing dinner party conversation, light years ahead, when Scarlett can talk about this singular experience? What about abandoning normal as the dream?

Still. Time. Money (really a factor but, thanks to friends in L.A., do-able) Drama. Wardrobe.

What should she--they?--do?

Is Stage Mother heading toward Hollywood. Oh yes, there's narrative potential. But that exists in grocery shopping. She needs real advice.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


This would be the Matron.

The friend she thought was true (if long distance) just stopped returning emails. Okay. Got the message. And the email address is still valid, she knows.

The beloved relative she called who couldn't talk at the moment but promised to call right back? Hmmm. . . still waiting.

Grandma Mary skipped Christmas and is unable to talk on the phone because her cat died. Okay, the Matron gets this but thinks that one should be able to TALK at some point over the course of a month.

When it was ten below zero on Sunday, the van's heating system broke to the tune of $378.

The last Visa bill was, well, WAY more than that. But she paid the whole thing in full anyway and decided not to buy that extra $2.99 pair of jeans at the thrift store today.

She has two online classes to get up and running before midnight Sunday and woefully little time outside of tending to children and going to two convenient days of meetings on Thursday and Friday.

Did she mention the whole money thing or that Minnesota is in a deep freeze? Double digits below zero every night for awhile. Nobody can ever get entirely warm and John just announced that he "turned down the heat."


Snappy the foster dog continues to pee on everything brown, yellow, red, green, orange, purple, blue or pastel pink in the house.

The same dog ate four hamburgers left unattended for five minutes while the family ran to the kitchen to see which house the sirens went to.

Satan's Familiar remains just that. If Snappy eats the burgers, S.F. will eat the plates.

The sirens -- fire and ambulance--did NOT go to the psycho-meth neighbors but the hotel down the street. At least two of the residents recently claimed to be Jesus and the Matron sincerely hopes they're not the cause for alarm. Being Jesus and all that.

Then there's the psycho-meth neighbors who alerted the Matron to the phrase "you small dick bitch" one night during a domestic battle. Small dick bitch. Savor that.

Merrick still can't read.

Sigh ~

The silver lining? The Vikings (this is a Minnesota professional football team for the like-minded) are in the play-offs, which means that for one afternoon coming up soon the Matron can shop in all the stores she wants to with NO competition.

Are the stars aligning like this for the whole world or just her ice-addled corner?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Because That's the Kind of Husband She Has

Last night, the Matron behaved - well, badly, at first and then better.

Did she say "last night"? Actually, this would have been more like early this morning -- very early -- as in about 1 am, which was the time Merrick decided he needed to rotate beds.

Now, the Matron and her husband are very loose about who sleeps where. Too loose, in fact. So loose, indeed, that there is a near nightly lottery for who gets to sleep in the "big bed" (yes, theirs is a KING because John cannot be touched while sleeping; he has a foot no fly zone around him or at least he used to before the whole swinging door to the big bed issue).

Last night it turns out that not only did Merrick want to shift to the prized big bed in the middle of the night, he wanted to first boot out Scarlett so he could cuddle alone with the parents. Unbeknown to the sleeping Matron (in the big bed with Scarlett), Merrick had a raging meltdown after John nixed the waking Scarlett strategy; John swooped the screaming child up to the third floor to keep the silence.

Unfortunately, not.

Stryker woke up. The Matron woke up. She didn't get the background. Instead she completely flipped out and demanded why her husband didn't just plop the peanut in the big bed instead of bringing him upstairs and CAUSING all this ruckus. Of course, Merrick WAS the ruckus but the Matron was tired and pissy and just, well, got FULL OF RAGE toward her husband.

Her anger scared everybody else so much (there was the whispered hiss fight involved) that Merrick immediately cowered in the big bed alongside Scarlett where he hadn't wanted to be in the first place and -- even after the Matron went back to bed-- nobody could sleep because the other three felt her SEETHING beside them.

Then Stryker got up.

Got up. As in at 1:30 a.m, he couldn't sleep either. And, he was alone upstairs so the Matron, now behaving better, went upstairs to keep him company and reassure him that the occasional bout with insomnia (especially if your parents fighting or your brother's wailing woke you up in the middle of the night) was really no big deal: he could sleep in and be late for school if necessary.

That poor child - and the Matron -- was awake until nearly 5:30 am. This would be the part in which she behaved better.

Aha! Let's add up those numbers. This means the Matron was up from 1 to 6 am and that would be five hours.

She woke up at 8 with the wee ones while Stryker slept until 9 am. Everybody was--is---tired. John took the Matron by her slim shoulders and sat her down and told her, firmly, the background of last night's three ring circus and made it clear that she should have shut up and listened instead of yelling.

She was--is--contrite.

He then drove all three children to two separate schools. Then drove to a far flung suburb to haul home the craigslist elliptical machine that she wanted and he tracked down, tested and retrieved.

Then he sent her this love poem.

That's the kind of husband she has.


I was Meant to You Today

Things were difficult
and I was impatient.
You were trying to explain
why I must reorganize the files
on my computer, why
they all have to have project numbers,
why I can't put them
where they've always been,
what the tax consultant said,
what you need for your report
to the Board of Directors,
and it boiled down to my files
have to be re-filed, and they
have to have titles with no more
than twelve letters to leave room
for project numbers,
and I said, Well, dammit.
And you said, Don't talk like that.

You sounded pained
and I was mean to you.
I was bored and tired
and mad, and you were
trying hard. Later,
I went out in the rain.
I went to the mall
and bought us both really
expensive pillows. Down
pillows with 100 per cent
cotton covers, 400 thread count.
I have lusted after them for years,
ever since Mama told me
that she asked Grandma,
who was 86 and dying,
"If you could have anything
in the world, what would it be?"
and Grandma answered,
"A down pillow" and Mama
didn't have enough money.
I bought two down pillows for us all,
to say I'm, sorry.

Pat Schneider