16 October 2016

Go Band!

It's marching band season at our house again. This time, we have a baritone. That means early and late practices, pep rallies and football games, and marching band competition.

In Texas, your chance at State only happens every other year, because there are so many schools, it is impossible to have them all compete in one year.

This year happens to be the boy's first year in band. First year going to State (maybe). And they put him up front.

He's also following his sister, who is well-known among the band -- some of the seniors were freshmen when she was a senior.

No pressure. Not one bit.

He's risen to the occasion far better than we ever expected. He found his people. He embraced the hard work required. We couldn't be prouder.

The road to State started yesterday, and they put on a good show.  (He's at the 40 in the first movement, when they bend down to point at the bassoon soloist.) Enjoy:

11 September 2016

Fifteen years later

Fifteen years ago was a gorgeous fall morning.
chicago art institute in the fall

I got off the Metra at LaSalle and started my four-block walk to my office building; a Daniel Burnham structure from 1910 that was across the street from the Art Institute. 

I remember a beautiful blue sky as I cut through the plaza at the Dirksen Federal Building. One of those perfect days you get in Chicago before winter freezes the lake and you consider moving away from the frozen hellscape. 

I remember riding the elevator at about 8:10. 

I remember walking into my offices on the 16th floor. 

I remember everyone gathered around Doris's crap black-and-white portable TV that she kept at her cubicle. 

I remember disbelief. 

I remember horror. 

I remember panic as I frantically tried to pin down where our NYC and DC friends and colleagues were. They had no reason to be anywhere near the crash sites, and yet. 

And yet. 

I remember arguing with my spouse on the phone about coming home. I remember saying that if I left the Loop, the people who did this won. That if it were me, I'd bomb the Metra lines, because commuters would be packing the trains to rush home. I remember saying that walking toward the Sears Tower was dumb, and if they were going to bomb the Art Institue, they'd have done it already. 

I remember the surreal phone call from my OB/GYN nurse. She had no idea what was happening in the world. She called to let me know that after years of secondary infertility, my hormones looked good and that this time, finally, we had a chance of a baby that would stick. 

I remember the mental whiplash. 

I remember still looking for friends online. Searching for old sources from my days in Westchester and realizing that one most certainly was at CantorFitz. 

I remember the staff, myself included, tearing the magazine that was to go to press apart and trying to pull a piece together that was appropriate and on point and ready for press while we were all in the most surreal space. 

I remember friends checking in one by one. Some were scarred forever by what they'd seen. 

I remember walking to the station to go home. The silence. 

No planes to Midway or O'Hare overhead. No rush of commuters. 

I remember the conductor telling me I had been smart, because the morning trains out were a zoo. That he, too, wondered if there would be bombs on the tracks. 

I remember driving home and thinking that life has changed forever. That I was bringing a new life into it, and oh, God, had we done the right thing by trying so hard to have another child?

I remember hugging my husband and my daughter. 

I remember the anger. The tears. The worry. 

Fifteen years later, I remember all of it. 

I remember that we are stronger for surviving it. 

I remember that we did do the right thing by bringing a bright, funny child into the world who changes this planet just by being on it. 

I remember those who were lost, especially my source at CantorFitz. He was a funny, witty man who could have become a good politician. We're the lesser for those lost. 

We are the less for our collective bunkering. The bollards that went up around the Dirksen Plaza. The pervasive sense of fear that permeated the air.

Fifteen years ago, life changed.

We can, and should, remember.

We can, and should, grow older and wiser from lessons learned.

We can, and should, push back fear and embrace the beauty of a glorious fall morning. 

I remember. Don't forget. 

17 May 2016


I used to write more. 

I used to write more about the kids.

When they were small, the stories were funny and easy. Now, as they are teens, I'm writing less. 

The stories are theirs to share. I'm hesitant to do so. They have heartbreak and happiness. They have stress and fun. 

But they are on social media now. I am leery of sharing. It is their story. No longer is it only mine. 

That's bittersweet, but it is life. I'll share as I can, when I can. 

25 August 2015

Maria, Maria

Maria from Sesame Street is retiring.

I feel very old.

While we were driving to school yesterday, NPR was interviewing Maria, er, Sonia Manzano, about her autobiography and her retirement.  I was sniffling. My younger two kids were trying to place her.
Sesame Street cast, circa 1970s. Courtesy Wikimedia.

That may sum up Sesame Workshop's problem in a nutshell there. My children watched on-demand; Sesame Street was appointment PBS TV for me.

One thing Manzano said in her interview struck a chord with me.
There was a moment when Stevie Wonder came on to Sesame Street and he did "Very Superstitious." ... The whole studio rocked out and it was great because, white people, black people, young people, old people — everybody was on the same page for that two minutes that he sang and that really stands out. ...

It was a moment of clarity, I think that you know, we started this show, we thought we were going to end racism, we were going to close the education gap. ... We had big dreams! And moments like Stevie being on the show gave us a glimpse of the way things could be.
To the Sesame Workshop crew: Mission Accomplished.

You gave a white girl from rural Missouri who was immersed in German Catholic culture a view into another world. A world with more races and colors and complications than I could imagine. You opened up my mind to more than the ABCs and the power of animation to teach math.

You opened my mind (at age 4) to a world beyond my own. You showed me who else was out there. What potential might exist beyond my rural county. You prepared me for the world that I would inhabit, first in college, then in my years beyond. I was better able to cope with my future surroundings in New York, in Iowa, in Chicago, back in Missouri and in Texas, all because of you.

Job well done.

11 June 2015

So, how's it goin'?

This year has been a year of changes.

The eldest went off to college. 

One of the kids switched schools after bullying made his life intolerable.

I switched jobs, to sort of what I considered a post-doc (not really) in web development/SEO.

Here's what I've learned:

Sometimes, things work out, even though there is upheaval involved.

The eldest is happy as a clam in her time at Kansas State. She loves her program. She's debating a minor in city planning, which is ironic, really, since she spent days under my desk when I was a copy editor at the American Planning Association. So, APAers, expect her to take the AICP test circa 2020. #notkidding

The other kid has flourished at his BASIS school. He needed his "nerd school." If you have a profoundly gifted kid who is feeling out of step, I highly endorse BASIS. They embrace these kids. The youngest is switching schools this fall. Her choice.

Sometimes, things work out not so much.

The new job isn't bad. But I'm struggling to make it a good fit. I miss academia on an undergrad level more than I thought I'd realize. I miss collaboration across department lines. I miss the people. I kinda hate SEO. A lot.

Lesson learned.

Change means you pick yourself up and you try to find the pieces that fit. Sometimes they fit well, and it is a smooth transition. Sometimes you need Superglue. Superglue may be in my future.

Sometimes you change again. That remains to be seen.

Change is inevitable. Life moves. The best thing you can teach yourself and your kids is how to keep moving with it, and how to store the Superglue for when you need it.

03 February 2015

The Mondayest of Tuesdays

Today was the Mondayests of Tuesdays. 

It was raining. 

We collectively forgot about an orthodontist appointment for our son, which meant my spouse had to race back to the school, get the boy, then race to the orthodontist. In the rain. In morning rush hour. 

My spouse was forced to listen to The Macerana on the office Muzak at the orthodontist's. 

While that was happening, I spilled coffee on my white shell blouse. On a day I had multiple meetings. 

Twenty minutes before I left for meeting one, I realized it was actually on Monday. As in yesterday. 

At that point, I decided it could only go up from there. 

And it did: I wore a sweater that classily disguised the coffee fiasco. 

I managed to make it to the Girl Scout shop in the rain, exchanged badges I did not need for ones I did, and survived the hair-raising drive on 410 in the rain. Twice. 

I met a good friend for lunch and caught up with some much-needed mom and work chat.

We found some decent filming locations for a video at work. 

We made it home early. There is no kid drama. It is leftover night. (Yay, no cooking for me!)

So, Mondayest of Tuesdays: Ha. I win. 

Unless my Girl Scout bank account doesn't balance. Then all bets are off, and I'm finding the red wine. 

16 November 2014


There is nothing worse than a stomach virus. Unless you also have a sinus headache. And your kid also has the virus. With a fever. And a headache. 

Only upside: at least we aren't traveling. Yet. This had better pass soon.