Monday, June 29, 2009

The Old Student

I find myself wanting to take a class. But the thought of being, “the old student” turns me off. I remember those women in college, the mamas who were ‘finding themselves’ after years of parental duty, finally released to the academic wild - to expand their minds and spend their money. I don’t want to be one of those women.

It was easy at 20 to size them up in two seconds. The husband left for a younger version of themselves, the kids finally left home, and now was the time to do something, be somebody, find out who they hell they were. So they signed up for Colonialism in the Caribbean, or Transgender Studies of Latin America, Theatre of the Absurd – absurd indeed sister!

They all congregated together, raising their hands in unison at every question. They were the perfect student. But to everyone else, they were annoying, transparent, and desperate. They had replaced their husband and children’s affection with the professor’s attention. And we knew it. They asked a million questions and it was evident on the professor’s face he was used to these women, women who were taking classes not only to learn, but to feel alive again. They asked obvious questions like, “So is the syllabus an outline of what we are going to study this semester?” or, “Will you post our midterm exams before the final?” And our medieval Lit Prof. would be cordial but openly irritated, like, “Of course, that’s why it’s called a syllabus, and yes, I’ll post your midterm grades after midterms, so put your hand down and stop wasting my time.”

We were there begrudgingly, we were genuine man - to expand our minds damnit, and not because we wanted to. But these crazies were here out of pure want…because they desired to actually learn something, whether or not it furthered their career or looked good on a resume. They were there to build their brain, to feel acceptance, to make up for what was lost while they made PB and J’s, kissed boo boos and attended 459 violin and ballet lessons.

I remember the way I smugly felt about these mamas, how I evaluated their desire at higher education as somehow less than mine. What future did they have? What were they going to do with an English degree at 50? Who the hell cared?

Well, what the hell was I going to do with an English and Theatre degree at twenty one?

Turns out, nothing.

Now I would embrace these women and call them my friends. We’re all desperate, aren’t we, for something? And I can’t imagine anything more rewarding than education and community. I’m sure someday soon I’ll find my place among the “old” students, talking about kids and husbands rather than parties and careers. I know that I too would raise my hand at every question, eager to fulfill an answer to the question of emptiness that only time can give.

And maybe a class like Women's Lit, or Beatnik Prose will make me feel whole again. Who knows?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Another Good Poem from "The Writer's Almanac"

The VCCA Fellows Visit the Holiness Baptist Church, Amherst, Virginia

Barbara Crooker

We are the only light faces in a sea of mahogany,
tobacco, almond, and this is not the only way
we are different. We've come in late, the choir
already singing, swaying to the music, moving
in the spirit. When I was down, Lord, when

I was down, Jesus lifted me. And, for a few minutes,
we are raised up, out of our own skepticism
and doubts, rising on the swell of their voices.

The singers sit, and we pass the peace, wrapped
in thick arms, ample bosoms, and I start to think
maybe God is a woman of color, and that She loves
us, in spite of our pale selves, so far away
from who we should really be. Parishioners
give testimonials, a deacon speaks of his sister,
who's "gone home," and I realize he doesn't mean
back to Georgia, but that she's passed over. I float
on this sweet certainty, of a return not to the bland
confection of wispy clouds and angels in nightshirts,
but to childhood's kitchen, a dew-drenched June
morning, roses tumbling by the back porch.
The preacher mounts the lectern, tells us he's been
up since four working at his other job, the one
that pays the bills, and he delivers a sermon
that lightens the heart, unencumbered by dogma
and theology. For the benediction, we all join hands,
visitors and strangers enfolded in the whole,
like raisins in sweet batter. We step through the door
into the stunning sunshine, and our hearts
lift out of our chests, tiny birds flying off to light
in the redbuds, to sing and sing and sing.

"The VCCA Fellows Visit the Holiness Baptist Church, Amherst, Virginia" by Barbara Crooker, from Line Dance. © Word Press, 2008

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Happy Birthday to Moi!

FD and I on a date, an actual date!

Checking out the crabs at a local restaurant.

Riding the airplanes!

I'm thirty-two! Do you remember how old 32 seemed when you were a kid? It was basically geriatrics. Just check yourself into an old folks home, play some bingo and shuffle board and chew your food very slowly. I still feel 23, just a little inverted, and perhaps a bit wiser.

FD let me sleep in, tried to do Froggy's treatment, but she protested. And even though FD was disappointed he couldn't 'do it all' this morning, I was thrilled to sleep in an extra half hour, have coffee and meds prepared, (coffee for me, meds for the Frog), and FD made me an omelet, yogurt with fruit and toast. What a guy.

We spent the day at the Pier in Santa Monica, riding the kiddie rides, perused the bookstore on the Promenade, then Grandma W. babysat while FD and I enjoyed Indian food (coconut malai curry vegetables, garlic naan, raita) and saw the new Woody Allen movie. I'd have to say, a perfect day. Thirty two doesn't seem half bad.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The dreaded dentist

And the goggles are for what exactly?

Froggy was a champ at the dentist. She sat perfectly still, listened and did as she was told.

When I brush her teeth, she acts like I'm training her for a fire breathing circus act -screaming bloody murder and closing her chops at the sight of a toothbrush.

Fortunately in public, she's a bit more civilized. I was so proud. No cavities. And they removed a lot of the brown stain left from her iron supplement. The dentist said that her x-rays show her permanent teeth are rather LARGE!

He laughed and said, "You know what that means, right?"

"Braces," I replied?

And he giggled a sadistic, "Oh yeah!"

I'm thinking about switching dentists. He enjoyed that a little too much.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Froggydadda Graduates!

Classmates checking out their diplomas.

FD with the head of his Respiratory Therapy Program.

FD and Classmates.

FD and his friend "P" the valedictorian.

Froggy and Sissysnuggiekins

The Froggy Fam.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Froggy-Short on the Subject of Conception

Froggy is watching "Little Bill," the cartoon. They are discussing how a friend's mom is going to have a baby.

Froggy: (pointing at my belly) How does a baby get in there?

Froggymama: How do you think a baby gets in there?

Froggy: You grab them, put them in your mouth and swallow them.

Froggy returns to her cartoon while FM happily accepts this version of conception. Whew!

End of scene.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Graduation Day

Froggydadda graduated today and is now a Respiratory Therapist. How cool is that?

I'm so tired, but before the day is over, I wanted to shout it from this cyber roof top. Woo Hoo!

Pictures to come.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Iowa in June

Froggy and her cousin E-boy wading in the 'waves.'

Fish carcass - I thought it was cool.

Very Lord of the Flies, don't ya think?

Cousin Pee Wee and her boyfriend.

E-boy, the Frog and Papa.

Cousin Drama Queen and her mama.

Grandma S. and Papa in Pella (ya know, where the doors and windows come from).

Froggy playing the game "bunny butt."

Mommy playing the game too.

Auntie Arctica and Froggy.

What's this wet stuff falling from the sky? We don't have this stuff in L.A.

Best Buds.

Great Grammy and Aunt B.

Evelyn, and Grandma S.

Great Grammy and little cousins.
Feeding the babies.

Cousin S. and Auntie Arctica.