Wednesday, September 14, 2005
A Magical Childhood
A photo collage collection for my sister Iris, who still remembers. . .



Strange things happen to children who lose their mother at an early age.

They gain the gift of magic.

Any fairy tale will back me up on this. Look at Cinderella, Snow White, Vassalisa, or even the Goose Girl. It was the magic left to them by their mothers that allowed them to overcome the horrors and adversity they faced in their lives. It was the magic that protected them until they could unfold into the strong and graceful women they truly were.

So when our mother died, it was only natural that the magic would come to my sister and I.

We never had to think about it really. We just knew.

And the magic was never stronger than when we shared our dreams . . .



Each night the snowy owl would appear at our window, ready to take us to the in-between world, the place where "let's pretend" becomes reality. . .



We ran with the wild ponies in sunlight meadows, strong and untamed . . .



We searched for frog princes and played with the fairy folk in the woods. . .



We sang mermaid songs and hid among the water lilies, splashing in the cool water of our secret garden. . .



We made a nest out of ivy, and spent a lazy afternoon nibbling on acorns and sipping honeysuckle blossoms. . .



We chased fireflies in the twilight and danced with the mysterious King of Cats. . .



We called on the Greek gods and they answered. They kissed us, cuddled us, and delighted in our wild games . . .



We looked for the Mother in all her forms and dreamed of one day becoming Queen of the May . . .



The whistle of the trains tugged at our imaginations. We whispered our secret plan to become hobos, hopping boxcars from one town to the next. . .



To combat the scary times, we created friends to come rescue us. Jane and the hippies would appear, laughing, to gather us up and take us on a new adventure. . .


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Monday, September 05, 2005
Why Moms Hate to Shop with Kids

I pulled back the dressing room curtain. "You don't happen to have these jeans with a 34" inseam do you?" I asked hopefully.

The attendant shook her head. "No, I'm sorry. The longest we carry is 32."

I sighed. "Figures."

I hate shopping for clothes. I'm so unproportioned. My legs end where most girls' waists begin.

My son cocked his head, considering. "Those look nice mom."

I looked ruefully at my ankles. "If I wanted to go puddle-jumping maybe."

He giggled.

"Be right back." I disappeared into the dressing room.

Brian sat down on the bench outside the door, swinging his legs.

"I bet if you had beds in these dressing rooms, you'd sell a lot more jeans," he told the attendant.

The woman looked puzzled. "Why?"

Brian shrugged. "So people can lie down to zip up their pants. That's what my mom does."

"Brian!" I growled warningly from behind the curtain.

"She's not my real mother, you know" he continued conversationally.

"Really." The clerk smiled at him.

"Nope. She's not. My real mother is Tina. She's the queen of Mars, and she only wears purple polka dot dresses."

"Is that a fact?"

Brian nodded. He leaned forward confidentially. "You see there was a big war on Mars so my mom sent me to Earth in a rocketship to protect me. She's going to send for me later."

"I see." The woman sounded amused.

"Wanna see the scar on my chin from when I fell down and cut it open? The doctor had to use six stitches."

"Wow! Did it hurt a lot?"

"Yeah. My mom and my sister had to sit on me to hold me down so the doctor could sew it up. It's okay now though."

"Well, I'm glad it's all better," said the clerk kindly.

"Me too. I don't like hospitals much. Mom almost had to take her best friend to the rug burn unit last night--"

I threw back the curtain and grabbed my son firmly by the hand.

"Out. Now."

Brian grinned up at me and waved goodbye to the attendant.

"That's quite a boy you have there," she said , smiling.

"Yeah," I told her grimly. "I get that a lot."
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Sunday, September 04, 2005
Dating and The Single Mom
Dating is more involved when you're a single mom. You tend to be a lot more cautious and very selective about whom you bring into your family circle. Then, of course, the man has have the patience and humor to survive the pre-date child interview:


"So," Brian said seriously. "You want to take out our mom?"

"Yes," Paul looked amused. "I thought I'd take her out to dinner tonight if that's okay with you."

"Where are you taking her?" Amber asked.

"Sweet Baba's--it's a gourmet pizza restaurant that just opened."

"Well she does like pizza," Brian offered helpfully. "But I think she likes Chucky Cheese better. They have games and stuff too. Only last time we were there she got stuck in the ball tent and the people had to pull her out."

"That's cause you were hiding under the balls, and she got worried," Amber told her brother. "She was scared you couldn't breathe."

Paul laughed.

"Can you cook?" Brian asked curiously.

"I can cook a little. I make great hamburgers, and I've been known to make some killer chocolate chip cookies."

"Mom doesn't cook very well," Amber confided. "Sometimes when we go to parties she buys cookies or cake from the store and wraps them in aluminum foil and pretends she baked them."

Brian made a face. "Yeah. And she's always trying to make us eat healthy stuff like whole wheat bread or Toe Food."

"It's not Toe Food. It's tofu."

"Whatever. It's gross."

They sat quietly for a minute.

"Do you think our mom's pretty?" Amber asked.

"I think she's very pretty."

"She gets weird about that sometimes. Thinking she's fat and all. She's already changed dresses three times tonight."

"Yes," Brian nodded wisely. "She didn't like the blue one because she said it made her look lopsided."

"Brian!"

"Well she did!"

Amber shook her head. "Mom's going to kill you," Amber told her brother. "You know that right?"



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Friday, September 02, 2005
Vampire Juno
When I was about eight-years-old, I had my little sister convinced I was a vampire. It was during my Barnabas Collins period. I used to sneak into the den every day after school to watch Dark Shadows, the popular monster soap opera. If my aunt had ever caught me I would have been beaten within an inch of my life. I didn't care though. I was addicted.

It was October, and I had gotten a pair of plastic vampire teeth from the Halloween party we had at school. When I got home I put them in and practiced my best vampiric hiss in front of the mirror, opening my eyes wide and baring my teeth--just like I had seen Barnabas do a milllion times. It looked amazing. Very real. Excellent. Pocketing the teeth, I went off in search of my little sister.

Iris was sitting on the floor of her bedroom, dressing her Malibu Barbie. I settled into the corner and pretended to read. She ignored me. Pulling my face into the most mournful expression I could think of, I sighed dramatically. I peered over the top of my book at my sister. She was brushing Barbie's hair into a ponytail. This was going to require more drastic measures.

I let out a strangled sob and hid my face in my book. Iris looked up, startled.

"What's wrong?"

My lip trembled bravely. "Nothing."

That got her attention. We always told each other everything. "Come on, Juno. Tell me."

"I can't!" I told her, blinking back real tears. "It's just too awful. If anyone ever found out . . ."

She scooted across the floor and put her arms around me. "I won't tell," she promised. "Really I won't."

Taking a deep breath, I looked her in the eye. "I'm a vampire."

My sister punched me in the arm. Hard.

"OW!!!!!"

"That's for making me all worried. You're just mean!" She tossed her head and went back to her Barbie.

"But I really AM a vampire," I wailed piteously. "I am so scared, Iris! Do you think I wanted this? Do you think I want to be a bloodsucking monster with an insatiable thirst, always afraid I am going to destroy the ones I love?" Barnabas had made that speech just last week.

Iris looked at me skeptically. "Yeah, right."

"I AM!" I choked, tears streaming down my cheeks.

Her eyes narrowed. "Prove it. Show me."

I stared at her in horror. "I can't! I might hurt you!"

"I'll take my chances."

"You don't understand," I told her earnestly. "Once I transform, I'm not me anymore. I'm a monster. And I have absolutely no control over what I do. I could kill you."

"Are you going to do it or not?" Iris asked pointedly.

I sighed heavily. "Fine. I'll do it. But let's go out in the hall. You have to promise me that once I change, you'll run in your room and lock the door so I won't hurt you. Whatever you do, DON'T LET ME IN! Got it?"

"Fine."

We walked out into the hall together.

Iris folded her arms across her chest. "Well?"

"It takes a minute," I told her.

Suddenly I arched my back, grabbing my throat. I twisted and clawed at myself, letting out strangled cries, seemingly in agony from the throes of transformation. It must have been impressive because my sister began to look scared and stepped back a bit. Finally I turned my head to the side and slipped the teeth into my mouth. I whipped back towards her, wild-eyed and hissing.

Iris screamed. She ran into her room and slammed the door, locking it behind her.

I rattled the handle. "LET ME IN!" I roared threateningly. "I must drink your BLOOD!" I could hear her breathing heavily on the other side of the door.

I fumbled in my pocket and pulled out a hairpin I kept there for just this sort of emergency. Sticking it in the hole of the doorknob, I popped the lock and threw open the door. Iris shrieked and dove under the bed.

Unfortunately it was a very low bed, and she got stuck about halfway under. When she realized what had happened, she began wriggling like crazy , screaming for help at the top of her lungs. I heard footsteps in the hall and quickly slipped the teeth back into my pocket.

"What is going on in here?" my aunt shouted, running into the room. "Why is she screaming?"

I shrugged innocently. "I'm not sure. I heard her yelling and came in to see what was going on."

My aunt went over to the bed and started tugging on Iris's legs. My sister shrieked louder and tried to kick her.

"Stop that this minute, young lady!" With a good hard yank, she popped Iris out from under the bed frame. "What 's wrong with you?" she demanded.

"Juno's a vampire!" Iris howled hysterically. "She's going to suck my blood!"

Aunt Fran looked at me accusingly.

"I have no idea what she's talking about." I looked at Iris, concerned. "Did you have a bad dream or something?" I asked kindly.

My sister glared at me.

Fed up, my aunt grabbed me by the arm and began whacking me. "I don't know what you did, but I know you instigated this. Your sister isn't smart enough to think up this stuff by herself."

Iris watched in satisfaction, only slightly offended by Aunt Fran's comment. My butt hurt for an hour after that, but it was worth it.

Barnabas would have been proud.

Footnote: I called Iris on the phone and told her that I had written a story about the time I had her convinced I was a vampire. After a brief silence, she asked dryly, "which time?."
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Thursday, September 01, 2005
Do one brave thing today--then run like hell!


Got this in my email today. Rich says it reminds him of someone. Can't imagine who.
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I'm a 40-something writer, artist, and Jill-of-All-Trades. For me, magic is looking at the ordinary and seeing the extraordinary. My writing tends to take me to unexpected places--not so surprising when I think about it. I had an unusual growing up and have always chosen the offbeat over the "safe". I prefer interesting people over beautiful ones, and I am fascinated by people's stories. What I love most about life is its glorious imperfections and fantastic plot twists.

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