January 2011

Posted by Duff

My plans for the day:

Pick up enough food, infant Motrin, diapers, and entertainment for 2 days.

Call our town offices regarding signing up The Dervish for kindergarten. Yes. Kindergarten.

Call the vet to inquire about side effects from cat’s recent dental work.

Do enough laundry to get us by in the event of lost power.

Prepare meals, wipe faces and heinies, save children from themselves.

My husband’s plans for the day:

Go apesh*t outside with the snowblower, shovel, and broom to prep for the next 2 days. 

Order sandbags for upcoming but seeming impossible thaw.

The Dervish’s plans for the day:

Become a princess

Become the baby she used to be, so she can remember what it’s like.

Purchase mini-muffins, fruit snacks, lollipops, juice boxes and chocolate

Play, alone, with everything within reach

Atticus’s plans for the day:

Throw food. Pour juice. Sit on mommy’s lap in the bathroom.

Be carried around. Avoid the car, all store carts, the changing table, the crib.

Purchase mini-muffins, fruit snacks, juice, and chocolate

Play with everything The Dervish has made look interesting.

Snot on everything.


We’re looking at two days inside. Please send reinforcements. And entertainment. And snowboots that dry faster.


Posted by Duff

I sometimes forget that I always wanted a kid this age, so I could ask her questions like these (the following is taken from a real conversation with The Dervish at 4.5 years old):

Me: Hey, What’s up?

Dervish: Hi.

Me: So what do you want to be when you grow up?

D: What do you mean?

Me: I mean, what do you want to become? Anything you want. (Expecting to hear ‘princess’ or ‘fairy’ or ‘Doctor Sheehan’)

D: (Silence. Thinking. Mild amusement at the possibility of answering). Mommy, what do YOU want to be?

Me: A writer.

D: A writer?

Me: Someone who decides the words that go in books, like the ones you and I read. Only the ones that mommy reads, without pictures.

D: Oh.

Me: So what do you want to be?

D: A picnic basket. With a blanket inside.

Me: And will you have any special powers?

D: Yes.

Me: What?

D: Batteries.

… A moment later:

Me: So what’s your favorite color?

D: Pink. And purple. And yellow and white and blue and green and orange.

Me: Well, if you could wear any color dress right now, what would it be?

D: Pink. And purple. And yellow and orange. And mashed potatoes and peas.

Posted by Duff

You know how certain songs take you back to a memory, spotlight it, show you yourself at a different (and, in retrospect, immature) time?

Through the fantasticness that is Pandora, my Sting station plays newer Matt Nathanson alongside Sting’s mid-90’s Hounds of Winter, which probably holds minimal signifcance for many, but I know you’ve got your own version of it: the song that reminds you of the, well, sting of young, melodramatic, unrequited love.

The pain of this heartbreak is all but muted now, minus the minor time travel that dropped me into my 21-year-old self–not into the lost love of a boy,  but what it meant to be myself before I knew how things would work out. Can you even imagine what it would have been like, at the peak of your unrequitedness, to know what was to come? I probably wouldn’t have believed it, honestly. Though it would have been comforting.

Because just then, Atticus handed me a toy car, and made his way over to his train table, and smiled at me.  He had kicked me in the throat earlier that day, and spread oatmeal on the TV and unplugged the cable connection. But he also begged me for my homemade meatballs (bland) and chocolate chip cookies (when will I learn to use real butter?) and linked arms with me while I read him a bedtime story.  And told me I was pretty, (even if by accident) and often tells me he loves me (sort of, like a parrot would) and thanks me for anything I hand him.

Talk about requited, 21-year-old self. You just wait.

Posted by Duff

Please help. I’m being held prisoner by attitude over here, the preschool and toddler kinds. 

Please send advice on how to outwit them, or  keep them from killing each other. Or, at the very least, how to keep them from killing me so I can keep raising them–hopefully to be the nice kind of people that don’t harm anyone other than each other and their mother.

Also, while you’re at it, please send Spring.  Three. feet. of. snow.

And, good news is always welcome.

Posted by Duff

Several of you have commented or contacted me and let me know that you’re writers yourselves (or I know you and have read your stuff and have been giving you the hairy eyeball because YOU SHOULD BE SUBMITTING YOUR WORK ALREADY).

I know. Sometimes it takes a kick in the pants. Like a Dervish to inspire you, or a lay off, or a series of vivid and terrifying dreams that you’re being sucked into a vortex of meaningless existence because you’re not being true to the characters that spill from crevices you’d rather keep kidden. I get it. Consider me your Dervish, your layoff, your nightmare. And take a chance. Untrunk your manuscript, give it another once over, and then submit the first 150-200 words to The Guide To Literary Agents’  Dear Lucky Agent Contest.

Here’s more info about the contest.

Here’s the shove you need: Go. Submitting your work for judgement is just what your writer’s soul needs to remain vacillating between assurance of genius and paralyzing self-loathing. You’ll love it.  (And can I just say how proud of you I am?)