“By a Swimming Pool…”

Collins, Billy. “By a Swimming Pool Outside Siracusa.” Nine Horses: Poems.New York: Random House, 2002.

I have to start off by saying every time I have a Billy Collins poem on my “read list” I know I’m in for a treat. His poetry is not the stuff of stuffy, if that makes sense. His poetry is the jeans and sneakers variety, hanging out just waiting to be approached. Take, for example, “By a Swimming Pool Outside Siracusa.” Here are the tags I jotted down the first time I read it, “first person, communication, language, weather, Italy.” Here are the tags I added the second time I read it, “vacation, alcohol, drunk, humor.” Because, as I read it, the narrator became less stringent about formality of words to the point of funny. You can almost feel the ooze of relaxation seep into the words.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Kitchen-Sink Poetry” (p 138).


Between Parent and Child

Ginott, Dr. Haim G. Between Parent and Child: the Bestselling Classic That Revolutionized Parent-Child Communication. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1965.

This book starts off with the best introduction, “No parent wakes up in the morning planning to make a child’s life miserable” (p 1). As soon as I read that I knew I was in for a good read. Between Parent and Child is all about psychological perception and what you say (as a parent), how you say it, and even what you don’t say, can influence a child both at that moment and years down the road. What Dr. Ginott offers up is common sense advice about how to communicate with small children and even teenagers. His advice is no-nonsense and extremely practical. It is so straightforward it seems simple, a no-brainer, if you will. The ah-ha moment is not in what to say, it’s how to say it to avoid conveying a message you do not intend. Choosing tone as well as the right words are crucial to emotionally intelligent communication with a child. My one naysayer comment? Many, many times Dr. Ginott suggests mirroring the child’s emotion to illustrate understanding. The go-to catch phrases are “You wish you could play with Sam,” “You wish you could have ice cream for dinner,” and, “You’re angry about losing the game.” Here’s where I would get annoyed. I dislike anyone telling me how I feel. As a small child I probably would have connected with someone “understanding” me… but as a teenager I wouldn’t appreciate dad calmly regurgitated what I just angrily spit out.

I would recommend Between Parent and Child to anyone – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers. In short, I would recommend this book to anyone who is around children of all ages. If I were planning to have a child I would also plan on reading Between Parent and Child several times over. Once while pregnant and definitely more often during my child’s formative years. Maybe even during labor just for good measure.

Favorite quote, “Often after getting angry at their parents for not listening to their argument, children will present their case in writing” (p 56). Yes, but what Dr. Ginott doesn’t mention is that after getting said missive parents often ignore it.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called, “Babies: a Reader’s Guide” (p 30).


Magic is Coming

Sean Magic
I have been known to get lazy, to get uninspired, to get quiet, withdraw and quietly disappear. When that happens nothing wakes me, nothing moves me, nothing touches me, nothing makes me anything. Period. Such was my complacent situation recently. People would text. I would untext right back. People would call. I wouldn’t hang up because I didn’t pick up. Invitations would come in. My silence would go right back out. It’s not that I wanted to ignore you. It’s just that I couldn’t help myself. You didn’t need me. And I knew it.

Today is a whole new day. the sun is shining. The clouds have blown away. I not only accepted an invitation I made one of my own. And Magic is coming. For those of you who don’t know, Magic is the name of Sean Rowe’s newest album. Long, long, long anticipated album, I should say. I have been looking forward to this since forever. Forever and a day. Now, it has a drop date. It has an estimated time of arrival. Soon it will be here. Here’s the tracklist (and to think I almost said setlist – don’t I wish):

  1. Surprise
  2. Time to Think
  3. Night
  4. Jonathan
  5. Old Black Dodge
  6. Wet
  7. The Walker
  8. American
  9. Wrong Side of the Bed
  10. The Long Haul

I have to tell you, Jonathan and Wet are my two favorites. Not that I don’t appreciate everything else on the album. I do, I do. (Wrong Side of the Bed and Surprise are my very-close-to-favorite-but-still-second fav songs). It’s just that Wet leaves me breathless and now, having heard the studio version of Jonathan I have chills. Chills and goosebumps to be specific. That song alone is magic. Pure magic. Never mind what happens when it’s more than just the song alone. I don’t want to focus on the singer when the songwriting is more than brilliant, more than amazing. As always, it’s the words that get me, the words that keep me.

I know for a fact I am clearing my schedule for 5/15/09 and 5/23/09 – two Sean gigs “locally.” I have had an awakening. Thanks, Sean.


Gone Daddy Gone

Last night was one of those toss and turn nights. Insomnia, my old friend. Back for another round of fun with me. Maybe it was the bug with a million legs crawling across the floor right before bed. Maybe it was the midnight wind that howled. Maybe it was the dream of him. Doesn’t matter which. Sleep was gone.

Okay, so there weren’t a million legs on the bug. More than eight is more than enough legs for me. When it came running out from under the cat I was running for higher ground, screaming like the girl that I am. Kisa killed it with knightly heroics. I still crouched above the toilet while brushing my teeth, afraid to let my toes touch the tiles.
Then, there was the wind I didn’t know was coming. Who ordered this wind? It banged up against the house and made the strange sounds of an unfamilar place that much weirder.
But, the dream was the weirdest of all.

I remember telling him all I wanted to do was tell him this one thing. Just one thing, I kept saying. We got tangled in a wedding procession. Joyous music crashing around us. Noise. Lips moving without sound. Really, all I wanted was a quiet place to tell him this one little thing. He disappeared for awhile and came back wearing excuses, babbling reasons. Really, I didn’t care. I just wanted to say one thing and let him go. It took forever and when, at last at last he was standing quiet before me, I couldn’t get the words out. I couldn’t say that one little thing I wanted to say which was to say No one talks to me the way you do. But, like the bug and the wind, when I woke the words were gone. Gone daddy gone.


The Last Word

I’m having a battle with my email. One of my 2009 resolutions is to pare down the amount of shouting shopping emails that sneak into my inbox. You know the ones: 70% off sale through this email offer only! Newest arrivals – first peek in this email! Keep your new years resolution! Lose more weight with this email!
Every day I “unsubscribe” to one. It’s interesting how each company handles the UNSUBSCRIBE process. Some are incredulous, “what do you mean you want to unsubscribe? Are you sure? Are you really sure? Really, really sure?” Some are stubborn to stay, “Can you tell us why you want to unsubscribe?” I almost expect them to say ‘Give us your excuse and make it a good one. If we don’t buy it we’ll continue to send you crap.’ Others make you work for the unsubscription: fill out this form, reconfirm your name and email address, give us your first born. Some sound pitiful by claiming it will take weeks to get off the mailing list. They apologzie for the emails that might continue “in the interim” but, rest assured, they are working to save your profile changes. The threatening ones are the best, “You will no longer receive announcements from —. You will miss out on great savings opportunities!” I almost expect them to add a shrug and sniff and add, “your loss!”
Today I received a new reaction to my unsubscribe request. All I had to do was click ‘unsubscribe’ and I was done. Deceivingly simple and painless. No incredulous attitiude. No forms to fill out. No apologizing or threatening. One click and supposedly I was off the list…Too good to be true. This company just had to have the last word. They not only sent a follow up email saying “your request will not be fulfilled until you reply to this email, but they also sent a confirmation that my request had been received. Are you keeping track? In the process of trying to get rid of one email they sent a total of three. And here’s the kicker – I still don’t know if I sucessfully unsubscribed!


Mums the Word

Dear You,

I haven’t known how to write this letter. I haven’t known exactly what to say. It wouldn’t really matter because, knowing me, once it was all said and written I wouldn’t have sent it anyway. Excuse the grammar but it’s true. You wouldn’t have gotten whatever it was that I wanted to say, in more ways than one. Instead, I am tempted to be like a politician and say what you want to hear all the while not really saying anything at all. This is how we get along best, am I right? I don’t tell you what I really feel and you don’t spill anything worth a thing either way. Polite as polite can be except with a bite of caustic. That’s us.

You told a story over a meal and I wanted to throw up. What you didn’t say was so telling. What you meant was so obvious it made my stomach roll. I realize I have always been the stronger one. There was never a need to protect me. I acted like nothing could pierce my armor or hurt my pride. My heart was unbreakable and my soul, unreachable. Cold as an Ice Queen in the heart of January. I accept that image. I am comfortable with the chill of uncaring. But, here I am, waiting. I wait for glass half full comments; signs of compliment. They never come. Condescending, accusing, critical, not a single good thing to say. With each utterance I slide away. Closing myself off from wanting to be anywhere near your mouth. If you don’t have anything nice to say…. I played a game in my head. For every criticism it’s one less month here. When I got to three years I gave up knowing I could never stick to my story and stay away for that long. There are too many other things I would miss. Even you. Eventually. I don’t care that I’m not worth worrying about. I don’t care that I’ve never been a cause for real concern. Blame it on the drugs. Blame it on the maladjustment period (or whatever they call it these days). Blame it on the rain. I don’t care.

So, I didn’t say what I really wanted to say. Mums the word.

But I feel better.


Talking to Myself Again


I am very used to talking to myself while driving; having full conversations while cooking alone; debating the issues with me and moi in the shower. It’s all been said before – to myself. What I’m not used to is talking to myself when I *think* someone else is supposed to be listening; getting the message, and responding. It’s been happening a lot and I think it’s driving me crazy.

The first time was when I was on the phone with mum. Blah blah blah. We can talk for hours. That’s my fault. I call once a month or less. We have a lot of catching up to do. The last time I was going on and on about something – not important because even I can’t remember what it was – when all of a sudden my mother is asking hello? hello? like I had hung up on her. How long had I been blathering? More importantly, how long had I been talking to myself? How much did she didn’t get? Sighing and ignoring my husband’s bemused look with raised eyebrow, I started from the beginning.

Then there’s the small incident with texting. I was deep in conversation when all of a sudden I noticed my last three texts had gone unanswered. Was I texting to myself? Was I a disconnected dork? Feeling a little put out I shut off my phone and buried it under a bag.

Most recently there was FaceBook. I have to admit I think there is a conspiracy afoot. FB and Google have me good. My problem is I am too rushed to notice if my email is a Facebook message or a real, honest-to-goodness email. Lately, I am assuming the latter and write back these big long, dramatic, here’s everything that has been going on with me emails. I pour out my trials and tribulations leaving no detail untyped. With great satisfaction and a feeling of connectedness I click send on my communication….only to have message delivery failure message pop up because the message I thought I was responding to wasn’t actually an email.

I don’t think there is a moral to the story. I don’t think there is a cure for what ails me. I will always talk to myself in some fashion. Waiting for someone to respond is just part of the game, I guess. In the meantime, I guess I should log onto FaceBook and answer some messages or walls or whatever!