Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Book Trailer

Here's the trailer for the new book I have coming out with my father. For the record, in spite of his denials, I remain convinced that it wasn't raining on my side of the car.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Day of School

I am one of the crying mothers. On the first day of school, I let loose. But my sentimentality is becoming increasingly problematic, as my daughter, Maddy, is now a sixth grader. I find myself crying alone.

I recall last year we woke up extra early, even though her clothes had been laid out for days. I made pancakes, and we gave ourselves an additional five minutes of driving time.

After we arrived at school, Maddy stopped briefly to adjust her backpack on the walk from the car toward the school. I noticed she looked concerned and thought she probably needed to reflect on a new, rather monumental, transition. At her school, the younger children line up with their classmates in the front of the school, while the older kids – starting in fifth grade – convene each morning in the back playground.

“Are you ready?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, now smiling. “I’ll see you after school.”

I told her I’d walk her around back, to the playground.

“That’s okay,” she said. “Bye.”

At this point, we hadn’t even gotten out of the parking lot. My daughter was bidding me farewell a mere twenty or so steps away from our car. Experts in child development would applaud her reaction as healthy. At the age of ten, this was exactly what she should have been saying to me.

But I don’t need a child-development expert. I need a parent-development expert.

Clearly I am not handling these transitions with the grace and ease expected of an adult. Didn’t Maddy really mean to say, “Great mom, and why don’t you come up- stairs and meet my new teacher too?” Not, “Okay, bye.”

She acted like a first-day-of-school veteran, while I’m still in training. Sure I’m thrilled she’s hitting her marks with all this development rigmarole, but my timing seems to be off; I’m six years behind. This is old hat for her, this first-day-of-school stuff.

Not so much for me.

I recall reading about successfully navigating transitions. Don’t show them your ambivalence, the authors advised. Well, Maddy certainly wasn’t showing hers. She greeted her classmates and they headed off, busily chatting about an issue so important that it took precedence over a goodbye hug.

I greeted a few parents and teachers I knew, and then started walking back to my parked car, grasping my coffee cup. That’s when I noticed them – the congregation of concerned parents hovering around the kindergarten class. They outnumbered the children. I knew there would be some free-flowing tears among smiles and conflicted emotions.

I recall seeing no tears among the parents of the fifth graders, only salutations and some laughter.

I walked over to the crush of kindergarten parents. Their eyes red, lipstick smeared. They were putting up a good front. Their hands continued waving, even after their children could no longer see them.

I stood with them. I cried. These are my people.

(This essay was published last fall in Martha's Vineyard magazine but it seemed appropriate to post on this first day of school.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Obamas are on Martha's Vineyard and I'm driving with the motorcade

As Vineyarders, we play it cool with celebrities. Over the years, this well- publicized nonchalance has emerged as our calling card. Live and let live is our collective motto, a motto that we some- times even adhere to.
So what if Carly Simon just walked past me? Ho hum.
There’s Ted Danson watching his wife, Mary Steenburgen, chuck skillets at the Agricultural Fair. That’s nice, but honestly I’m here to watch Kara Shemeth, the women’s skillet-throw record holder, an Edgartown resident, and a land surveyor.
And no, I don’t know where David Letterman lives. I don’t care where he lives. Well fine, if he invited me over for dinner, I might be able to find his place.
Some of us even pretended that President Obama and his family might have chosen Martha’s Vineyard for their vacation spot last summer because of our cool ways; we said we’d give them an opportunity to enjoy some quiet, private family time.
Ha. As soon as the first family arrived
on the Island, we ditched the cool. Our collective heart started to flutter. We swooned like young girls in the forties did over Frank Sinatra. Our inner-Fonzie, where we nurture our own Happy Days king of cool, retreated into the abyss and unleashed a bunch of dorky Potsies. I was among them – although those who know me well might say that my inner-Potsie lurks dangerously close to the surface, even on a good day.
After dropping my daughter off for a horseback-riding lesson on a gloriously sun-soaked August afternoon, I found myself driving directly behind the presidential motorcade. I couldn’t believe my luck. And to think, I had just complained about feeling trapped in a perpetual cycle of drop-offs and pick-ups. Had I not spent the summer fine-tuning my chauffeuring skills, the chances of finding myself behind the Obamas would have diminished exponentially. I whipped out my phone and started calling people. Everyone I spoke to seemed duly impressed with my accomplishment.
“You’re right behind them?” 
“Practically driving next to them,” I said. 
I was driving with the Obamas – spending some quality time in our respective cars together.
I started to wonder if I looked tired. Earlier I had noticed the circles under my eyes seemed to be drooping down toward my chin. Oh no. I panicked. I bet I looked like hell.
I reached across to the passenger seat and found a tube of lipstick. It had melted into a gel-like mass of glop from sitting in a hot car all week. It didn’t matter. I dipped my forefinger into the lipstick canister and applied Revlon’s Perfectly Plum goo to my lips.
Did I really think the Obamas might look in their rearview mirror and see me? Did I for a second believe the motorcade might stop and I’d meet the first family? And if it did, would it have mattered that I wasn’t wearing lipstick?
Or a bra? 
Oh no. I wasn’t wearing a bra. 
I drove on, turned right toward home. There’s always next time.

(This essay was originally published in Martha's Vineyard magazine)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Let's talk embarrassing mom's stories

It’s one day after mother’s day and we’ve just cast the My Mom is Trying To Ruin My Life play. The play is based on my book by the same title and adapted by Vineyard Playhouse artistic director MJ Bruder Munafo. The book, the play, my life as the mother of an eleven-year-old daughter, all revolve around the seemingly endless stream of embarrassing things we mothers do.

I've come to realize that being embarrassed by mom is a stage of development, one that perhaps Freud missed. Let’s put it somewhere after the Oedipal stage. We can call it the “Moooommmmm!!!!!!!! You’re sooooo embarrasssssssssing!!!!!!!” stage.

When the book came out last year I made a video of some kids talking about some of the things their moms do that embarrass them. I thought it could be fun to collect more stories. So if you have one of your own, either as a mom or as a daughter, or son, please post it in the comments section. This could be fun.

If you want to heck out the video, here’s the link on youtube:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How not to announce your new book

The publication of a new book is exciting for an author and thanks to email you can tell all your friends, acquaintances, and anyone else who has managed to land in your address book. Our publishers encourage us to use social media to help get the word out. We’d probably do it even if they didn’t. It’s easier then yelling from a rooftop. At least I thought it was. I have been trying to use social media, who isn't? I made a fun book promo for my new book and posted it on youtube. I joined twitter – although I prefer reading other people’s posts than posting myself, so I don’t know if that counts. I facebooked (now a verb, right?) and then I sent out a big spam-like email announcing the birth of my lovely new book, But I Wanted A Baby Brother! Only to discover that my announcement came through in code.  It has what I wrote, then the computer translation of what I wrote. It looks bi-lingual. This, I'm sad to say, is my new book's birth announcement:  

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Men in Shorts of Martha's Vineyard

The sun has reappeared, and those men, the ones with the legs showing, the ones that walk around all winter long wearing shorts, finally look less conspicuous. For reasons I don’t understand, there are a number of men that live on this island that seem to have an aversion to long pants and winter coats. My husband Chris is one of these men. I wish I could say I have achieved acceptance and a live and let live attitude about this, but I cannot.

It drives me nuts when Chris wears shorts in the middle of winter. My stomach turns when he goes to work without a coat on. Half the time I’m wearing a coat inside the house and when I go outside, the Michelin Man looks underdressed compared to me. Honestly, when Chris and I go out together during the winter, it looks like we’re on a multi-latitudinal date. I’m walking down the street at 50º and he’s at 30º. You'd think that I'm up in Montreal and he's in Florida.

There’s a whole group of them. I’ll call them The Men in Shorts of Martha’s Vineyard. I often wonder if they are secretly in cahoots with one another or perhaps in a competition. They are not, to the best of my knowledge, doing this to raise awareness for a cause, although I sometimes wonder if the Chamber of Commerce might be using them to promote tourism in the off-season by trying to lure visitors here with the promise of a men in shorts sighting.

I know the men in shorts own pants. I’ve seen them wearing them once or twice and I look longingly at the pairs in Chris’ drawers, wishing they would move out of his drawers and onto his legs. See, here is a pair of his pants.

But today the sun is out and The Men in Shorts of Martha’s Vineyard suggest the promise of spring. Spring! Today I can't wait to see The Men in Shorts.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lost, again.

I lived in Boston for seven years and spent six of them driving around lost. For the better part of that gas-guzzling period, I searched for street signs that weren’t obscured by an intrusive branch or obscenely large leaf and groused about ending up at Logan airport on my way to a movie.

Admittedly, I am a self-diagnosed directions dyslexic. However, I suspect I wasn’t the only one hopelessly trying to navigate my way through Boston’s web of one-way streets, all seemingly heading in the same direction. While I have a remarkable ability to get lost almost anywhere, Boston poses challenges even for those gifted souls endowed with an internal GPS system. Ask anyone that has spent time driving around Boston. I’m confident that I’m not the only one who has wondered how they ended up in Medford on their way to Cambridge, or more importantly, why they can’t seem to find their way out of Medford. (After unexpectedly driving around Medford for several hours last year, I became rather fond of the city and decided I could be happy living there, assuming I never did find my way out.)

After I left Boston, I moved to Martha’s Vineyard, which is an island. It’s difficult to get lost on an island, even for me, which means that I have more time available to do other things. The problem, I’ve discovered, is that on Martha’s Vineyard there isn’t a lot to do in February. Lest you forget this reality of living in a tourist destination during the off-season, just go to town and the signs readily remind you.

Yes, even the restroom is closed.

It seems like a good time to start a blog.

The internet is open.