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Posts Tagged ‘Mary Laura Philpott’

“Looking through some photographs I found inside a drawer,
I was taken by a photograph of you.
There were one or two I know that you would have liked a little more,
But they didn’t show your spirit quite as true.”

Those lyrics from Jackson Browne’s song “Fountain of Sorrow” have been playing through my mind lately. We were heading into the home stretch of unpacking boxes and settling into our party farmhouse when Bob decided it was time to digitize our mountains of old pictures – the Bride’s 9th birthday party, the Rocker’s Middle School birthday trip to the Liberty Science Center with the Twin Towers hovering in the background. Eighth Grade graduations, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, my little cheerleader and my little ice hockey player.

Every single important event had been chronicled, and sometimes just random moments, like an impromptu trip to DC, or a drive back to the Berkshires, under sparkling amber trees with old friends.

I tried to look at myself objectively, did I look happy then? Or was I rushed and angry because I’d completed the grunt work and didn’t want to “pose” for a picture? What possessed me to don a Groucho Marx nose for a beach birthday party? We have lots of doubles because the second set of pictures were free and you never know who might want one.

A friend sent me a picture of herself, hanging clothes out on a line in the 70s dressed in bell bottoms.  I loved pinning up my clean, wet clothes to the sun, and still love it today even though there is no clothes line outside my city house. I guess Bob never saw fit to catch me hanging up diapers, or maybe he was always working on wash day.

I had a sense during that sweet young motherhood time, a feeling that this was just about the best it would ever be. I’d started writing for a newspaper, pecking out words during naptime and at night after the children were asleep. We had feminist consciousness raising young mom playgroups where we shared our secret mothering tricks and helped each other after each new birth. I used to sew baby elephants that would attach nose to tail across the new baby’s crib.

It was a lifetime ago, and yet it was just yesterday.

“I found some pictures where I still had dark hair,” Bob just said. And my hair looked different in each frame because strawberry blonde hair cannot be captured by a camera. Sometimes it looks like mahogany, and sometimes it looks white. Now that I’ve let it go grey, it actually is a blondish/white!

I’m reading a remarkable book by our local bookstore’s blog editor – “I Miss You When I Blink,” by the very blonde Mary Laura Philpott. It’s part memoir, part humor, and all heart. Following in the footsteps of Bombeck and Quindlen, she talks about her mother quizzing her in First Grade for a spelling bee, and she mentions how mothers always take the blame for our failures. She is, however, smart enough to know how nature can pounce on nurture. She was probably a Type A from the get-go. Philpott is still young by my standards, in her 40s, young enough to remember First Grade.

Her book has me literally laughing out loud! “She’s refreshingly honest and very funny, especially when, at a much-anticipated kid-free dinner party, she finds herself in an endless “momversation” (my term, feel free to borrow) on the subject of chicken salad. Boiled or baked? Shredded or chopped? Grapes or no grapes? To salt or not to salt? I chortled as Philpott fumed through dinner: “I had to concentrate to keep from shaking my head no no no, to keep from yelling, SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP . . . Fifteen minutes in, I wanted to scream, ‘Is anyone having some genuine feelings about something? Does anyone have something fascinating or funny or weird to discuss?’”  ”https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/you-know-that-funny-friend-you-look-for-at-dull-mom-parties-here-she-is-in-book-form/2019/03/29/cf43b17e-49ba-11e9-93d0-64dbcf38ba41_story.html?utm_term=.b9b497aebabc

We’ve all had those “momversations.” Seriously, if you know of any other Type A out there, this one’s for them.

Hope y’all had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend. I’ve always said the Flapper did the very best she could. Losing my father when I was 7 months old, then almost losing her own life in a car accident 3 months later. She was a strong and resilient woman and I see her qualities still in my own children, in their determination, chutzpah.

She waited for me to return of my own free will, and I will always be grateful for that. Here I am in my early 40s. Why did I choose a peplum dress? It was the 80s.

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It turns out, you can sometimes teach old dogs, and penguins, new tricks. Although I’m not sure you could teach me, or the Bride, exactly how to blink!

While I was trying to blink, my email was getting out of control; organizations seem to be sending me messages I don’t read, stores send me their latest advertising gimmicks, and I could care less. Political pleas for money are driving me crazy! Rarely will I get a message in my inbox I’d actually like to read, it’s become one big nuisance. And I’m not alone, because when I mentioned my little email problem on Facebook, many people sympathized with me and gave me some good advice. Currently I have 996 unread messages! Then one morning I heard about an App that could change my life! I know, I sound like an infomercial, but you guys….

It’s called Unroll.Me. and.it’s.free! http://www.businessinsider.com/the-companies-who-send-the-most-email-spam-2016-2

(When you) download the free app Unroll.Me. you can unsubscribe from unwanted emails, consolidate sales/newsletters/listserv emails into a convenient daily digest called the Rollup, and keep the rest in your inbox.

It took me awhile, since I’d forgotten my Google password and had to reset it, and also I think the App was clogged with new users. In this techno-wizardy time, when Apple is fighting with the Justice Department over encrypted passwords and emails, I gladly gave this App all my info just so it would help me clean house. Bob was skeptical, but eventually it started working and I’m loving it. Of course it didn’t clean up the previous emails, the 996 clogged arteries my Gmail was experiencing before I changed my password, so I still have to dust that history. But what a sense of relief!

At the same time, Bob heard about a new company, that basically acts as a health wholesaler for prescriptions. Some enterprising young entrepreneurs  started BlinkHealth.com: https://www.blinkhealth.com as a cure for high drug prices. They ignore insurance companies, let you pay online for your drugs, and pick them up at your local drug store – the savings is almost as good as taking a bus to Canada! Bob is certainly not endorsing this company, but I think he’s willing to give it a try.

Blink Health has recently become the number 1 medical App in the country! http://finance.yahoo.com/news/blink-health-hits-number-one-184500377.html

And I couldn’t complete a story about blinking without mentioning one of my favorite blogs, “I Miss You When I Blink.” I found this wonderful woman writer when she started editing the Parnassus Bookstore blog, Musing. Her take on life is whimsical, humorous, and uplifting all at once. “Mary Laura Philpott is an author whose work is featured regularly in major media. She is also the creator and illustrator of the quirky humor book PENGUINS WITH PEOPLE PROBLEMS; the founding editor of MUSING, the online magazine produced by Parnassus Books; and the co-host of the literary interview program A WORD ON WORDS.”    http://marylauraphilpott.com/2014/01/07/humor-blog/

Now it’s supposed to be in the 60s this weekend, and Bob is currently outside pruning our trees and shrubs. Here is an example of my overgrown Viburnum from last year, one of the first trees to bloom. So I must have blinked, because Spring has arrived! We are shedding emails and branches by the dozens! Have a wonderful weekend y’all!     IMG_2527

 

 

 

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As some of you may know, I signed up to follow the Parnassus Bookstore blog, Musing, almost as soon as it launched. I follow its editor, Mary Laura Philpott, on Twitter too. It’s a fun way to keep up with literary happenings in my daughter’s adopted city, Nashville. And a recent post on Musing made me wonder if I had ever been afraid to read something, anything. I won’t go to horror movies, but that’s different. I’m aware that I’ll read crime and mystery novels only on vacation – like the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series – but me, afraid to read something? Never!

In “Reading (and Writing) Through Fear” Philpott reviewed a book that she admits she normally wouldn’t read. The Bear, by Claire Cameron, is written from the point-of-view of a five year old; a terrified child who has just witnessed a bear kill her parents. Certainly horrific territory, and granted it is maybe a book I would pick up in a bookstore, read the jacket, and put down. Not necessarily because I’d be frightened by the content, but when you have lost a family as a child, as I did in my first year of life, it’s not something I would want to read about. In the same way that Bob doesn’t like to see war pictures, since his work is sometimes like a war zone. He gets enough adrenalin in the ER.

But then, Philpott interviewed the author. Cameron said that before she had children she wasn’t afraid of anything, but then…

…my sons were born. The first time a babysitter came over to look after my six-month old, I stood outside the front door and could barely make myself walk away. It was, I realized, a new kind of fear. It’s one that comes alongside loving someone else completely, be it a child, partner, lover or friend. The world is big. It can be scary. And I couldn’t protect the people I love at every given moment.

While I was working on the first draft of The Bear, I thought I was writing about that — the fear of not being able to protect my children from everything. After I finished, I talked to a friend about the story. Knowing me well, she said that I was actually writing about my fear of not being a parent. What if something happened to me and I wasn’t there for them? The minute she said it, I knew she was right.http://parnassusmusing.net/2014/03/06/reading-what-you-fear/#more-660

So I bought the book. Because it’s always interesting to see how an author finds the authentic magical thinking voice of a child. And because I knew I was deep-down afraid to read it. And the only way to keep growing, is to challenge that fear.

And today I’m going to read The New Yorker article, “The Reckoning” by Andrew Solomon, about his interview with the father of Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook killer. This really scares me, but I hope that some insight for some struggling parent out there will come through his words. When I heard Solomon say on a news show that Adam’s mother Nancy was more interested in Adam having a “good day” instead of a “good life” it sealed the deal. Sometimes a parent can live in so much denial, they begin to believe in the insular, sclerotic world their child has created. A world in which the bear is the child himself.  Unknown-1

 

 

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