Beautiful Little Nonsense #8

stomachThe 5yo had trouble falling asleep last night, haunted by a DVD we rented from the library that spooked him.

“Think about ice cream cones,” I tell him. “Don’t think about the movie.”

Him: “But my body keeps pressing the play button.”

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Beautiful Little Nonsense #7


The 6yo, eying the urn with our old dog’s ashes. “What are ashes like?”

“Sand,” I tell him.

He thinks. “Plus love.”

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Beautiful Little Nonsense #6

mazeThe 4yo is doing a maze, blazing wantonly through solid lines.

Me: “Can’t go through walls, bud.”

Him: “They’re just gates. I push them open.”

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Paddling Blind

kayak2Last week the yoga class I take from time to time decided to meet on the water.

“We’ll visit the swans,” said the instructor Erin as she directed three of us into kayaks. Then she climbed into her own — well, they were all her own, she lives on the pond, and teaches the small class at her home — and pushed off from the shore. “Then we’ll have a little blind paddle, see how it might expand our morning.”

My mornings tend to start in a not very expansive way, something I’m not very proud of. My initial reflex when I open my eyes, in that first lucid moment between dreams and reality, is to do a mental check of the things I know are in store and brace myself for the things I don’t. It feels like there’s usually some unforeseen thing, some blindsider that makes me exhale at the end of the day and say, Wow, I didn’t see that coming. Sometimes I wake up wondering what’s going to be The Thing today. I know this isn’t the most open, optimistic way to greet the day.

“There she is,” Erin called back from under the brim of a floppy pink straw hat, and reached back a muscular arm to hand me her binoculars. Not more than 50 yards away, an enormous swan sat on her large nest, a camel-neck queen on a pedestal of sticks. Her mate drifted watchfully about 30 yards away. “Last year when I sat here once, the cygnets poked out and walked around,” Erin said. We floated there awhile letting our kayaks drift, then back-paddled away with quiet strokes.

When we reached the middle of the pond, Erin told us to close our eyes. “Point yourself in a direction away from anyone else, set your sights on a far point onshore, and try paddling toward it blind. Don’t peek.”

I have sat down to writing that way, trying to ward off distractions by typing with my eyes closed. But that’s sitting stationary. I was never a big fan of pin the tail on the donkey or three legged races. I’ve woken abruptly from nightmares about driving a car blind. Like many people stuck with the label control freak, I tend to be far more comfortable when all of my senses and limbs are in play. Surely Continue reading

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Beautiful Little Nonsense #5


The 4yo, irritated that he has to stop drawing this morning and get to preschool.

“Why did you even sign me up for school? It wastes into my art*.”

*part of his “sister’s ballet recital” oeuvre



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Beautiful Little Nonsense #4



The 6yo, biking over a boardwalk through a marshy field, sees tall stands of cattails.

“Mom, look!” he says. “It’s the way corn-dogs grow!”





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Beautiful Little Nonsense #3



I put unmatching white socks on the 4yo.

He grabs the miscolored toe seams, clearly disturbed.

“These do not rhyme!”



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Beautiful Little Nonsense #2

Mint-leaves-2007A little “Who’s on First” with the 4yo and 6yo after their dentist appointment.

The 6yo: “Did they ask you if you like mint?”
The 4yo: “I like mint.”
The 6yo: “That’s not what I asked. I asked you if THEY asked you if you like mint.”
The 4yo: “Yes, I like mint.”
The 6yo: “NO! I asked you if THEY asked you…”
The 4yo: “Don’t tell me no! I do too like mint.”

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Beautiful Little Nonsense #1

Hoboken-Walking-Tour-map pic

When time is short, and I don’t have much time for writing at length beyond work-related projects, there’s one type of writing (if you can call it writing) that consistently gives me pleasure: recording the beautifully absurd, gorgeous tiny nonsense my kids say. It takes one minute to jot it down, or two minutes to forget it forever. 

The 8yo, when my novel came out in paperback a year after the hardcover:

“Mom, if your book is really popular, will you be able to read in places like Japan and Hoboken?”



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The Myth of the Perfect Start

log-frozen-smallThe log was 30 feet up in the air, a sort of telephone pole of a balance beam. I was supposed to walk from one end to the other, holding onto nothing. The rest of the group had done it. Ten minutes had passed, and I was still frozen on the business end.

Thirty feet was not a height that would kill me, especially in a safety harness. But from the way I stood paralyzed after a series of false starts, you’d think I was walking a tightrope over a rift in the earth down to its fiery magma core.

“Just take the first three steps,” the guide called up. “You just have to make yourself start. It’s like writing the first three words of a novel.”

“No. It really isn’t,” I called down, trying to be darkly funny, but the bitter was seeping through. So were the tears.

My two younger sisters, with whom I’d traveled to this Tucson resort to celebrate a Big Birthday, had both just done it successfully. And when they reached the end, they’d each tagged the far pole and walked back, backwards. That was the victory lap, a victory I’d assumed would be mine, too. After all, I like physical challenges, I like being out of my comfort zone. What I hadn’t figured on was how much I wouldn’t like it when I couldn’t use my hands (which our guide explained later was the ultimate bugbear of those who have an issue with being in control).

The group members down below had been calling out encouragement and advice — momentum was key, they said, just get that first step going and then another, and don’t stop. But 10 minutes was an uncomfortably long time to watch someone short circuiting, and they had put away the cameras and fallen silent.

I’d like to blame it on  Continue reading

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