m wood pen

ILLUSTRATION + DESIGN


03/21/2012

m wood rise & shine i never appreciated the difference between a revolving door, the kind when you can keep going in and out of a place…and a turnstile, the inventive yet diabolical device that allows only a one way journey.

this morning, while i waited in patient line to drive through the high school lanes, the kiss goodbye from my youngest child fresh in my mind, i took it all in.

washed suddenly with one of those darned epiphanies that come more and more frequently, i took a trip back in time through the years that i’ve been making this very same early morning drive.

corey is a junior.  her brother is a junior in college.  her big sister, a sophomore.  with sips from my coffee, the cars chugging in place to make their all too familiar loop, i did the math.

this is the 7th year in a row that my job is to drive my car to this place, watch the teeming teens stream from their range rovers, impalas, jeeps, bmws, explorers, minivans and pick up trucks.  it’s a veritable merry-go-round of sameness, the only variations are the weather and the mood of the particular teens sitting in my car.  it’s an early morning clarion call, so crabbiness is always an option.

so, for 7 years, i’ve been fused to this task, this first peek at the day of thousands of high school kids.  the slide show played in my mind…the kind of car i drove, the outfits of the students filing into the building, the energy of each of my children as they reached for the door handle, bracing themselves to join the throngs of high school academia.

my children need to eat.  it’s no secret that i’m a night owl, so this 7:20 bell call of the start of first hour has my alarm here ringing way too early for my own good, and yet, it’s the job i signed up for in 1990 and there is no clause for excusing myself from the start of the day.  nor would i want to, despite what my kids would think after much texting and whispering and calling, “mom…it’s 6:30…”.

if i’m in my good form, thanks to the clever child who pushes the start button of my little coffee maker, the aroma will start to kick me awake before i’m on my feet.  automaton-like, i’ll make way way to the kitchen (luckily, a mere 9 steps), and pour the magic elixir into my mug and open wide.

next up: a blatant ignoring of the warnings about cholesterol.  we’re a bacon and eggs kind of family, or an egg and ketchup sandwich clan, or best of all, an egg in the toast gaggle.  so, with my java attached to my left hand, i’ll risk the safety of all by flipping on the gas burner and cooking up something hearty for the teen who is about to make their appearance at the kitchen island.

these are good days.

why is it so satisfying watching your children eat the food you’ve made for them?  who knows, but it is.  it’s the first joy of the day, the first tick in the to do list of being a parent and sending them off with a dose of goodness & attention.

you matter to me.

so, as i was in the que, heading out of the vast parking lot, i wondered why it took me so long to realize that, this raising kids thing, rather than each experience being like a revolving door, revisit, relive, redo….it is just like a turnstile where there is only one direction to go: forward, never back.

so, maybe this caboose of mine is feeling a bit more tended to.  and not for any personal, specific reasons (really, kids, trust me: i love you all the same, and i like you like that, too): it’s more about my getting it: this is the last of the line.  this is the final bow.  this crawl out of bed, inhale my coffee, flip the egg, grab the car keys, head out the door, lean over for that goodbye kiss: it’s the last frontier of my daily bread, my view, in the not too distant future, of that oft talked about empty nest.

i’m soaking it up, every last crumb of it, as the best years of my life.


03/20/2012

m wood crate&barrel banner ad

 pinch me.

have to admit: this is pretty darn cool.

while loitering online just now, in between some work objectives, trolling for books about england’s monarchy, & researching chinese painting, i took an irresponsible swing over to tmz to read about lindsay lohan putting herself under house arrest.

there’s no denying we fell loopily in love with her back in the day when she landed, all freckles and perk, in the nervously anticipated remake of “the parent trap”.  in hindsight, though a big fan of hayley mills, it really wasn’t difficult to trump that kind of cheesy first go at twins cavorting and cajoling their parents into a reconciliation.

since then, and i’m certain it’s the burning maternal stuff going on, i’m still rooting for her.  kind of like those awful decisions that jenny made in “forrest gump”, we keep holding our collective breath as she makes a right turn then a wrong turn….no, the audience cries, don’t go down that dark road!!!

so, i’m off topic, again, but this is how my mind works.

as i landed on that gossip website, a page i typically avoid, i learned that lindsay’s probation is ending in two weeks, and a plea from her friends has convinced her to just stay home in the evenings so that she can avoid further skirmishes and trouble.

sounds like a wise decision.

as i felt a bit restored in my hope that she’s going to get it together, i glanced up at something oddly familiar that was topping the website page.

could it be?

way beyond cool: my cocktail blueprint print, centered in a crate&barrel banner ad, right there for all to see!

and in my favorite game, the six degrees of separation, does this mean me, my print, lindsay lohan, dennis quaid, meg ryan……the game could be endless, and i’ve stalled enough already this morning so it’s back to work i go.

for as much as i love to kill time with my insatiable curiousity about pretty much everything, i get a killer satisfaction over seeing something that i pored over for weeks last year, yes, even skipping a taylor swift concert for my daughter, sketching, drafting, and drawing at my kitchen table…blazing.  it never gets old, this thrill of mine.

a pretty fine feeling, indeed.


03/16/2012

happy birthday cwi

 is it the chicken or the egg?  the horse before the cart?  a self-fulfilling prophecy?  some kharmic, intuitively accurate label making?  an obsession with hollywood that just went too far?

when it came time to come up with a name for our third child, there was the requisite digging through family trees, flipping through baby name books (never did it for me), staring at maps of the faraway lands of our ancestors….searching, searching & searching some more for just the right moniker.

the previous two carried mantles that did come straight from family names, almost pre-determined during the courtship of their parents.  but this third one…this final work of art…this brand new promise…what was his or her name supposed to be?

okay, so it’s true that my kids have unusual, if not complicated or confusing names.  the boy has a girl name that means christmas and is constantly pronounced incorrectly.  don’t people speak french?  and the girl, well, it seems simple to us, but the world inexplicably has decided that her name is really a different one.  and to complicate matters entirely, they all have an alsatian last name which our entire orbit of people mispronounces, misspells, and butchers.

so when it came down to my absolute final choice, i had to call on my savvy marketing skills to convince the baby daddy (and to foist more importance on the toddler boy, we gave him a vote, too).

you see, the name that this baby, should she be a girl, needed to have, at least according to hormonal me, came right out of a movie. it wasn’t just the movie, it was the character and all that she was, that so inspired and delighted me, and i knew to my core (pun intended) that this little person yet to arrive was the spitting image, energy-verve-hilarious-passionate-bubbly-adorable-kookie-wise, of the cinemascope gal.

but now, to rock the vote and entice my people to agree with me.

back in 1995, the wonderful world of movies was at our fingertips, as long as you didn’t mind loading the red volvo sedan with a four year old blue eyed boy and his sublimely sweet blond little sister, drive off to the library, scour the shelves for the vhs in mind, stop at the bakery for a couple of donuts (our friday tradition), swing by the po box to see if there was a check (our daily tradition), then back home to fill the remaining hours until daddy came home with some romping and napping.

tucking little hallie to bed and popping a big batch of popcorn, i made my p.r. move to win the vote of the gents of the house.

as the movie began, i, for one, was swept away with the theme song and image of the white carriage gliding through the busy circa 1968 streets of new york.  noel seemed pulled in the second he tasted the popcorn and saw the white horse!

but i knew, the vote that i needed, the 50-50 deal that was on the table back then, was going to need a bit more convincing. he looked dubious.  he looked unattached.  he seemed uncertain!

but, happily, as the plot thickened, and jane fonda, robert redford, charles boyer assembled in that hilarious scene involving a ferry to staten island, belly dancing and too much unidentified liquor, mildred natwick cooed, “corey, darling…”

and then it happened.  i saw the connect, i saw the approval, i saw the delight.

we had a name.

so, the story veered wildly off course a little bit after this cherubic firecracker landed in our lives.  our nuclear family was suddenly way off course, as though that horse and carriage trotting through central park was suddenly caught in a storm that whipped the reins and drove us all into a maniacally uncertain and frenetic future.

the landscape for this baby became a patchwork; a nontraditional world that would become her childhood, her foundation, the beginning of her story.

others would have withered, but this outrageously expressive, optimistic, determined, passionate, strong gal grabbed a hold of the bucking bronco that life presented her and rode like a rodeo star.

at one point, i had a little nickname for her, simply: “trigger”:  she makes things happen, she knows what she wants, she cajoles and loves stronger than anyone, she fights for what’s right and isn’t afraid to get bruised along the way.  she nourishes and delights, feels and gives warming affection, calculates the next few steps ahead to avoid those often unpredictable bumps in the road, grabs a hold of a problem and vanquishes it to dust.  and, like her namesake, will do anything for the people she loves.

so the chicken and egg, the whole thing.  did she grow to match this plucky persona, or was this baby growing and poised to join our lives,  already armed with the fortitude, strength, courage, heart and perseverance that she knew she was going to need.

yep, that’s my 17 year old birthday girl.

of course, to keep her as moniker-challenged as her big brother and sister, we spelled her name the boy way (who knew?)…oops!  as the cornelius brothers and sister rose sing, “it’s too late, to turn back now…”

next time you have movie night, pop in “barefoot in the park” and take a look at the kind of daughter i lucked out with.

%d bloggers like this: