Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Six Words

I'm pretty hooked on Smithmag.net's Six Word Memoirs... I've had my students write them for the past few years as year-openers, and post fairly regularly on the site.  Tonight, though, I'm doing a six word blog post.

Too many dreams, not enough time.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Musical Memories...

I don't listen to much music... I'm not sure why.  I've always been out of step with what's popular, and even before MTV appeared, I saw stories in the songs I heard.  One lasting memory is riding a bus to a parade with my fellow musicians, none of us much over fourteen at the time, and regaling my seatmates with my fleshed-out narrative version of Styx's "concept album" Kilroy Was Here, complete with "and that's where this song comes in" inserts.  Even now, I'll occasionally get a soundtrack playing in my mind to go along with a story I'm working on, or find a story in a song.

I just downloaded a bunch of songs I remember liking from way-back-when to help me invigorate my workout... and some of them are story-songs, and some of them are songs that fit into stories.  Among them...

  • The Devil Went Down to Georgia by the Charlie Daniels Band.  I may use it, B-word and all, as an example of narrative poetry when school starts up again.  I took a shine to this song when I heard our grade school custodian playing it in the cafeteria after school once, and never got it out of my head.  
  • Because the Night - the unplugged 10000 Maniacs version.  I'm working on a G.I. Joe fanfic where Scarlett works through her martial arts katas to music, blending in a bit of dance and gymnasitcs, and this seemed perfect for what I have in mind.  I don't do "songfic," but I do sometimes have a playlist behind a story.  This is definitely on the Luporri soundtrack.
  • Kyrie by Mr. Mister, as well as the a capella version from The Sing Off.  I hear this one with entirely new understanding now that I'm an adult... but still love it as much as I ever did as a kid.
  • Goofy movie love songs... Glory of Love by Peter Cetera and All for Love from the first Disney version of The Three Musketeers sung by Sting, Bryan Adams, and someone I just cannot place.  Yeah, I'm a hopeless romantic.  I may inflict them on characters in a story sometime.  Sigh.
  • Just the Way You Are - the Glee version.  Never watched the show, though I wanted to.  The viral video of the flash mob dancing to this song in its original version made me tear up.  I so wish that someone had, or would, dedicate this song to me.  Unfortunately, dear hubby isn't the sort to do it.  Sigh, again - but I love him anyway, just the way he is.  This is probably the most recent of my playlist - the only other one from the past decade that I can think of is The Sing Off version of 21 Guns, which makes me want to go out and find someone in uniform to hug...
  • A couple of Neil Diamond songs... Sweet Caroline and Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show.  My mom used to inflict Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow on my sister and me back in the day of eight track tapes in the car.  One day, we simply couldn't take it any more and we each stripped off a sock and made impromptu sock puppets to lip-synch along to what we honestly felt was cruel and unusual punishment.  We were in hysterics within minutes.  I will NEVER put Copacabana on my iPod, but I now have a deep fondness for Neil Diamond and sing along lustily as long as I'm alone in the car.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My Boy and Me...

Driving home from spending Easter with my family, I was jogged out of a doze by an interview on NPR... "There are plenty of pop culture references to the dangers of a close mother-son relationship. From the myth of Oedipus to the movie Psycho, narrative after narrative harps on the idea that mothers can damage their sons, make them weak, awkward and dependent."

Oh, brother, I thought. I so do NOT want to hear this... it's probably some diatribe about how loving moms cripple their boys, make them targets for bullies, make them weak.  I've heard it all before.

But, reaching for the dial to flip stations, I was caught by the very next words:  "But for millions of men, the opposite has turned out to be true, author Kate Lombardi tells NPR's Laura Sullivan. Lombardi — a mother herself — is the author of the new book, The Mama's Boy Myth: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger."


I cranked the volume.

I listened, and my heart did one of those "happy-Mommy-dances" it does when I find out that something I was afraid I was doing wrong... is actually something I'm doing RIGHT.

It's hard being the mother of a young son.  There are picture books aplenty about Moms and daughters sharing magical playtime, sons and dads and grandpas bonding in masculine ways, even "Daddy's little girls" books focusing on that very special relationship.  But moms and their boys?  Few and far between... one that I did buy, despite my misgivings, was I'll Be Your Hero - a Christian picture book, the boy equivalent of its companion, I'll Be Your Princess.  Since I loved the first - a charming look at a little girl imagining herself as her daddy's princess, and also the princess of God's kindgom - I had high hopes.  Unfortunately, unlike in the Daddy-daughter version, the mother was very much a non-player in the text; always in the background, watching her son go off adventuring with Dad, never really DOING much.  Sigh.

There are plenty of Mommy-and-Me clubs for girls... even past the multi-gendered playgroups of toddler years.  There are Daddy-and-Me activities galore for both boys and girls.  But moms and their boys?  Not so much.  No Mom-and-Son book clubs... though I did find a Guys Read club targeted at boys, I can't lead it.  I'm not a guy.  Nothing out there but the expected role - sit on the sidelines and cheer or get violent with the overly-competitive youth sports parental units.  I'm not thrilled with that... I've seen the behavior, seen the cliquishness, and I want no part in it.

I've been left to wonder... AM I somehow doing what I ought not to do?  Is spending time DOING things with my boy - going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (his idea, after reading a picture book about it), going to zoos, visiting museums - not what I ought to be doing?  Is sharing my interests - comic books, animals, reading and creating stories, imaginative play - the wrong thing?  Should I be pushing him to play football, though I've no interest in it and he hasn't asked to play?  My sister thinks so.  Should I be arranging playdates to fill up the weekends?  Other moms do.  My mom feels that I need to learn to just relax with my boy -  sit on the beach, watch him play, take a book to the playground while he romps.  But I don't enjoy doing that... I like DOING things.  Together things.  Things that let us talk, and joke, and learn.

This weekend, Daniel and I spent a whole afternoon building a Lego diorama.  I made a T-Rex at his request, Daniel assisting with certain parts; he made a temple and created the backstory: there were three jewels, the Jewel of Ocean, the Jewel of Sky, and the Jewel of Fire, all with different powers.  The dinosaur guarded the treasure, which was in a shrine Daniel designed.  He was VERY proud, particularly of the corpse of the minifigure sprawled across the temple entrance.

"Few have survived," he intoned, as sinister as a six year old can be.  We were both thrilled - it was the first time he'd had an interest in building something that didn't have specific instructions.  I told  him that maybe we'd try to start a "Mommy and Me" Lego club for moms and their sons.  He's ready to start recruiting TOMORROW.

So I listened to the interview, which I've linked to below, and felt my heart swell to bursting.  I'm doing it RIGHT.  I'm not hurting my son by loving on him, keeping our lines of communication open, by sharing experiences we both find exciting and enjoyable.  I'm not a mom who wants to watch her young knight ride off in search of the dragon - I want to be out there with him!  And - go figure.  Science says that it's okay.  PHEW.

So I'm ordering the book tonight... can't wait to read it.  If any of you are moms of boys, I'd say you need to read it, too.  There are precious few books out there for women like us... we have to grab the good ones while we can.

The NPR Interview:  Ignore 'The Mama's Boy Myth': Keep Your Boys Close


Monday, April 2, 2012

Another Post of 5's

WHAT I'M READING - I'm currently between books.  I started a children's novel, Breadcrumbs, but it's not really hooking me.  May ditch it and move on, consigning it to my classroom library.

WHAT I'M WRITING - Character profile of Veritas, my G.I. Joe alter-ego; she's MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) as well as interfaith chaplain for the Joes.  (Yes, women CAN be chaplains... cool, huh?)  Just finished a draft of Gonna Draw Me a Story that needs to sit for a few more days before I start revising.

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO - Mercedes Lackey's Phoenix and Ashes, one of her Elemental Masters fairy tale tributes.  This one is Cinderella under a historical fantasy veneer.  It's probably my fourth time listening to it - never gets old.

WHAT I'M TEACHING - Gary Paulsen's Woodsong in reading, poetry in writing.

WHAT I'M PUTTING ON MY WISH LIST:  I love the Signals catalog!