Skip to content

Poetry readings and pleading for patrons the “glamorous” life continues…

April 14, 2014
morning opera faces by the non singers in the family

practicing our poetry reading faces

All last week I felt a little trapped in the fast lane.  After the photo shoot, and the excitement of a full house on the bonus side of the family, I was a few days away from a poetry reading to a crowd of five hundred plus people ages four to eighty-four. Not an easy crowd to prepare for.

The poetry reading took place at the ninth annual faculty talent show at the middle school where I have worked for fourteen years. I believe I have read an original poem there for at least seven of those nine events. (We’ll leave out any commentary about my dance performance that one year..) The event raises money for a two night and three day camping and community building event for our 7th graders in the fall.  This year I read four new poems, three of which came from the water series. The first one was about my own experience in the locker room after gym class in junior high. It was an epic success.

As a thank you to the three donors who have reached out to support me so far I will be sending along your own hard copies of all the poems I read that night. To encourage a little more participation in my own modern day benefactor outreach here is my fourth water poem; Lifeguards which I began while sitting alone in the observation deck of the local YMCA swimming pool. I imagined that perhaps someone else was there too…

Lifeguards

She pulls herself unencumbered for the last
five lengths. Almost eighty, and with deliberate consideration
in each step, the woman leaves the pool.
Her legs are bowed, her skin pale, vieny, and taught.

The back of her suit, is almost identical in shape
and color to that of the teenage girl hugging
the young man with the easily rumpled hair
coming on duty to relieve her.

The young lifeguards do not see the old woman pass.
They make no notice of her diminished bone density,
or the heaviness in her joints (relieved a little by the
swim hopefully). The thirteenth anniversary of her husband’s

death, or her frustration with her great nephew’s odd wife
do not interrupt the young people’s embrace. That she will be dutifully honored
for her years as a military pilot after the Vietnam War,
or that she lost two children because of some genetic anomaly

that will die with her, is not snap chatted during the lifeguards’ exchange.
She steps into the locker room, to shower and sauna.
Her companion admires her from the observation deck, sees her exit,
and delights so in the grace, and comfort of their friendship.

I am noticing a definite theme to my work is surfacing. I’m not quite ready to name it yet, as I am still exploring, but the awareness is powerful. It has to so with the relationship, or space between (inspired by a favorite street photographer of mine in San Francisco) two people. I feel that that space is often the place my poems scramble to inhabit. In the case of the poem above, I was also caught between the two women (who I witnessed pass and that is when and where the poem began) in how I see my own life. Layers of relationships are so compelling to me

Patronage in the modern day:  I have an ambitious goal of making $500.00 today in patron donations (that would put me over half way to my $1000.00 mark for my spring campaign!!! and allow me some very necessary support to use the precious free time I have to keep writing poetry, and designing the anti bias curriculum I am committed to instead having to squander it away trying to obtain underpaid freelance writing “opportunities”.)  Thank you for your consideration. Any contribution is so deeply felt as a vote of confidence in my work and voice.

How to become a MamaC benefactor:

Go to Square and email me a  donation of your choosing. There are no fees, and according to my brother it takes about three minutes to set up. All you need is my email address: mamacandtheboys@gmail.com  For $25.00 you get my thanks, and one poem a month for the next eleven months. For $50.00 you will receive my thanks), and two poems a month for the next eleven months. For $100.00 you get In tact my original water poem, two new poems for the next eleven months, and a bound and signed copy of the collection by May 2015. For $500.00 you get a poem a week and a photo montage along with a bound and signed copy of the collection by May-June 2015. OR, if you are more interested in the race work please specify that in the Square email, and I will keep you informed about the progress of the curriculum and let you know as soon as it is complete.) Creating abundance and support for my layered work in the world one bold ask at a time.

For $5.00 I’ll send you a random poem and all my gratitude for believing in me.

Total raised so far: $300/$1000 spring benefactor goal >>>>>> THANK YOU SO MUCH.

What a photo shoot with AARP looks like: the aren’t we FAB edition

April 13, 2014

 

Shoot location 1: the ice cream shop.

Shoot location 1: the ice cream shop.

Recently an editor at AARP magazine contacted me to see if we would be willing to be part of a photo shoot about the “Modern American Family”. After several emails back and forth, and lots of clarifying questions we agreed. The huge bonus here was the travel allowance to get four out of five of Shrek’s available children in town for the shoot. They came from as far as San Francisco, and as near as up the street for hair, make up, and click, click, snap, snap for a good part of last Sunday.

But why us? Well apparently we evened out an upcoming story for the boomers on family today-both regionally and in terms of the composition of our blended family in the making. Here’s a few stanzas from a poem I wrote to honor the occasion that might further answer the question:

Remember we want to capture
the nine of you at ease
so the rest of the world
sees the “modern family”
wait, wait that’s it-

freeze

Adoption, blended family
transracial, known donor insemination,
divorce, first marriage at 46, second
marriage at 61, run of the mill,
click-click-snap-snap
kind of thing

Everyone look this way
Relax
Get closer
On 3, 2, 1:

See-family is click click

snap-snap: synonymous
with eating an ice cream cone

as long as it complements the color of your shirt.

The experience was a complete hoot really. (Leading up to it there was definitely some free floating anxiety about just how one is supposed to present as a modern family in the making…) But once we were all here there was  some very sweet family bonding around the edges of it all. The photographers Gregg, and Tom, and Caitlin the glamorous make up artist or “groomer” were part of the blend by the time the shoot was complete. Five thousand tons of delicious food were delivered for our lunch and in six weeks or so the issue will appear.

I was also interviewed over the phone for the story, and am super hopeful that a link to Mama C and the Boys might be included in the copy. Since the magazine boasts the largest readership in the world, it might mean a little boost in readership? For our “trouble” we will also receive a few prints from the day to mark this surprising and magical moment in time beautifully.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I can talk about race in the classroom

April 4, 2014

Over the last few months I have been researching and designing a unit that any parent, volunteer or teacher could use in an elementary school classroom to foster a race positive environment that enhances the cultural competence of the group. I have been collaborating with Sam’s 3rd grade teacher, who opened her doors wide to the offer after I had been volunteering all year-once a week during math (of all things-not my forte). After building relationships with the students, and her, it was an easy and seamless transition for Sammy’s mom to be reading stories and talking to the kids about who they see, and often don’t see in books.

I can see myself in the books I read

I can see myself in the books I read

The impact of this unit-which we delivered once a week for four weeks-is palpable in her classroom.  The comfort level students have with talking about people of all colors, about race, and difference, and the changes we all can make on our communities is evident in their larger discussions now about history, fiction, and current events. It feels different when you walk in the room–a cohesiveness that I didn’t feel before exists now.  Granted, I am biased. But, as soon as I find a way to measure such a shift empirically I will!

This weekend I will be presenting this curriculum along with other components of my; “I can talk about race in the classroom” workshop to administrators, educators and education majors in Augusta. A few months ago I presented another version of this to a group of students pursuing a masters in counseling. This June, I am speaking to a symposium on early childhood educators. This is wildly satisfying work, and after years of volunteering to do it, it is gratifying to be sought out and paid!

Eventually I hope to offer the curriculum itself through this site, or another avenue. This was one of my big goals for working part time this year, and it feels really exciting to see it in action. Have any of you done work of this nature in the schools in your community? What were your discoveries? Or if you haven’t but would like to, what do you feel would be most helpful to get you started with your planning?

flash floods (poem)

April 1, 2014
flash flood

flash flood

 

Refusal

Saturated she

just refuses to let more

in. Flash floods must rage.

x

Swallowed whole

Flash floods swallow whole

the bridge. Saturated earth’s

blatant refusal.

x

These are the latest two poems in my water series. Two haikus wrestling with the same moment, but each one capturing something different. I worked on these over the weekend while visiting my brother. The boys were so struck by the fury, suddenness, and relentlessness of the flooding. Sammy was really amused by it. He loves things which are doing something they are not supposed to…

take me to the water...

take me to the water…

On being a donor kid: checking in with Marcel and Sam

March 30, 2014
Marcel Marcel

Marcel Marcel

Often a driving impetus for a blog post comes from the outside. The most recent query came in the form of an email from a reader who was seeking the experience of one who came before her, on the issue of having a biological child with the help of a donor, specifically chosen with the consideration that the biological offspring would then share certain traits with her first child, who happens to be adopted.

Translation: we are white, our kid is not. If we enlist the help of a donor who looks a lot more like our kid, what are the implications later on for the kid? More specifically how did I teach Marcel to celebrate his story, and how does he understand it? Does he or did he resent in anyway his being outside the normal understanding of how we get here?

I decided I would start by asking Marcel. His answers were really revealing, and not in ways I necessarily was prepared for:

Me: Marcel a woman is writing to me asking if having a child with the help of a donor is something that will make sense to her kid one day. Can you tell me what you think?

Marcel:  Well, it was very hard. It takes a long time to get used to it.

Me: Can you tell me, what is the hard part?

Marcel: What is a donor? It’s hard to figure out. A donor is like a parent. But he doesn’t want to be a parent- he just loves you enough to bring you into the world.

Me: That sounds like you have put a lot of thought into it. Is it hard to understand why Mommy chose to bring you into the world that way?

Marcel: A donor gives you all these good things, and you still get to have a dad. But if friends asked me to explain it? I’d be scared I wouldn’t get it all yet. Well, maybe I would. Would I?

Me: If you need help with it, we could talk it about some more.

Marcel: Sometimes it makes sense. But people don’t always ask when it makes sense.

Me: Hmmm. Maybe we should work on a script for when it isn’t as obvious?

Marcel: That helps if I remember the script.

Me: Do you feel like your donor loves you?

Marcel: More than anything. And I love him more than anything. When I see him we have to figure it out all over again. And we do. And so does my dad.

Me: Why do you think I decided to have a donor help me make a baby?

Marcel: Because you and Sammy wanted Sammy to have a brother that looked like him, and understood him, and loved him. So it worked out that way.

+++++

Me: Sammy, why do you think I used a donor to bring your brother into the world?

Sammy: Because you weren’t ready to be in a relationship.

Me: Did it have anything to do with you?

Sammy: No.

Me: What about the part where Marcel’s donor is brown skinned like you. Did that matter?

Sammy: It mattered to you. But I don’t care.

Me: You think if I had a white kid, and not a brown kid, it would be the same to you?

Sammy: Well, maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know yet. I want a sister. Probably a brown one. Then you can worry about her hair and not mine.

+++++

So clearly there is more work to do in the big picture part? Or maybe there isn’t. What we intend, and what they take from it, are so wildly unrelated despite all of our intentions. What I learned most from all of this? Clearly there are questions, and unknowns, and ways of constructing the world, that the boys are holding onto that I had no idea about, because I hadn’t asked. This is often the case. My best intentions, play out so differently than their experience as a result of my best intentions.

In terms of celebrating adoption and donor assisted conception equally? Differently? These are good questions. Marcel seems super confident that his coming into being was intentional and the result of a lot of love. What more is there? If anything I think I err on the side of making a bigger deal of the adoption story, because I want to make sure Sam always feels that his arrival into the family has the same core value as a biological entrance into the family. Marcel, is often trying to establish that he “knew Mama longer than Sam because I started in her belly..” We talk about how Sam was growing in my heart while growing in Tea’s belly (his birth mother). To that Sam usually just says; “Dude. I have been with mom for three more years than you.”

Additional resources: I found the following article of interest while considering my approach to this post.

 

Boys will be…

March 29, 2014

This morning I woke at five, hugged on Shrek, packed the car, and brought the boys to visit their uncle several hours south for the weekend.  Since our arrival I have napped, edited several poems, and “published” my fourth water poem entitled; “Lifeguards”. The boys have been inside once to pee. Their morning started like this:

Bonfires and machetes

Bonfires and machetes

I must say the recent article in the Atlantic exploring children and “dangerous” play certainly came to mind as I heard myself saying; “please remember we don’t run with the machete.” But, if anyone is equipped and competent at guiding these boys in satisfying and stimulating uproarious play–it’s Uncle.

They have not stopped laughing, yelling, racing, tossing, whittling, tossing, wheel barrowing, or screeching for three hours. They have bumps, scratches, pine needles, and sap stains all over them. They are in total bliss.

Marcel, shirtless, and cell drenched with the smell of smoke just came in to hug in me and tell me they are having an “epic adventure in boys will be….” He ran back outside before finishing the sentence.

 

Parenting the Sensationally Sensitive child: Or, it’s not all about me this time.

March 20, 2014
I got this

I got this

When I was little, in my teens and through most of my early twenties, I heard from all over that  my “sensitivity” was not often a desirable trait.  I was “too” sensitive.  I was “very” emotional. I was not the person you wanted at your side at a loud party. I preferred one on one conversations to large groups.  I needed to spend a lot of time talking about the situation when a tragedy struck. I was too intense, and too serious. There was no hanging loose over here.

Now, I have that son. Only I see what he has going on as an asset, and not a curse. This may have something to do with all the parenting articles I’ve read online, or the surveys I’ve secretly taken on Buzzfeed. Bottom line: being hyper aware of the world around you is not something that I want my kid to ever feel lousy about. Unless of course my ego is involved?

A few weeks back I wrote about how Marcel overcame his fear of crowds, or perhaps even, if I were pushed, his perfection streak to get back on the court and have at it, during a basketball game. I boasted that I knew I needed to step back and watch, not adding any layers of mama drama to the mix, and send his brother in to silently support him by sitting next to him on the bench, when he looked like he might dissolve in tears. Read more…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,012 other followers