Friday, August 30, 2013

Meeting Mike Rowe

I had the opportunity to meet Mike Rowe (the Dirty Jobs guy) this summer.  And while I did not know who he was by name until a few weeks before I ended up shaking his hand, it was exciting nonetheless.  I got to chat with him briefly about where he grew up and about the foundation he has recently started.  And I learned that Mike Rowe and I have at least two things in common: we are both from Baltimore and we are both very proud of our dads.

See, I didn't meet him on the set of a Toyota commercial, or while traveling to San Francisco where he lives.  I met him on the campus of Essex Community College in Baltimore, Maryland.  Because he, like me, was there to see his father perform in a community theater production.

Now, I don't know John Rowe's history with acting, but I know Thom Peters'.  In high school, my dad discovered the stage and continued to pursue his love in college by majoring in drama.  He even embarked on a graduate degree in play writing, but left early to come home to my mom and start a family.  Dad left acting behind shortly thereafter and while he would occasionally recite Shakespeare and continued to religiously recognize the birthday of the great bard, his days of playing Macbeth were done.

But about six years ago, something must have bit him in the butt.  Maybe old Willy Shakes himself appeared to him in a dream.  My dad decided, after a nearly thirty year hiatus, to audition again.

The first few auditions didn't result in any parts, but he persevered until the right part came along.  Four summers ago he landed a leading role in two different plays and I got to see my daddy on stage!  It was thrilling to finally watch him do something he had always loved.  It was as if I got to meet my own father again for the first time.

Since then, my dad has performed in several more plays and I have eagerly attended each one.  And one of those times, I got to meet Mike Rowe.  Because he, like me, is just a good kid from Baltimore who is very proud of his dad.

The 2013 cast of "Social Security" at Essex's Cockpit in Court.
My dad is wearing a red tie.  Mike Rowe's dad is wearing a bow tie.
Read a review of the show here.

Mike Rowe and me after the performance.

Monday, August 26, 2013

In The Terrace Kitchen

Gram presides over the simple terrace kitchen from her place at the table, the one closest to the sink.  She always expects you meet her there for a hug and you never let her down.  As soon as you sit adjacent she places her strong, weathered hand over yours, her freshly painted nails blazing against your youthful skin.  Her finger tips stick gently to the plastic table cloth as she releases to reach behind her for the fridge.  You want nothing but a tall syrupy glass of sweet tea and a tuna sandwich on white bread.  Gram has already mixed the tuna just the way you like and Pop has made the tea.  After all, they knew you and your family would be there.  It's Sunday morning after church.

Through the screen door and the layers of chain link, you watch a few kids playing in the alley.  They ride small bikes up and down the concrete, whizzing by the seven or eight row houses you can see while you eat.  You'll probably stay inside and play cards with Gram or any other cousins who may also come by.  Or you will go in the back by the washing machine.  They have no dryer here.  You'll set up the ten wooden pins for your sister to knock down.  She'll take aim from across six or so tiles of linoleum, cream and evergreen.  

The expansive canvas awning shades the kitchen all day, but it is hot and you go back for more tea.  Gram smiles while you sip it, happy to have you here where she always is.  Pop sits by the phone. You won't hear it ring, though you will hear him shout out, "hello."  The screen door up in the living room slams and random family descends.  It's fun to see who it will be, who this Sunday morning will bring, down the stairs into the terrace kitchen.


Even today, my memory feels clear though it may soon fade away.  Pop will not live here much longer.  It's time to move on after 56 years.  45 with her, 11 without.  The last time I saw her in this kitchen it was a few days before I went back to school.  She got up from the table, walked to me on the stairs in long, white shorts, the kind she often wore.  She handed me an envelope with some money for books, maybe snacks, some cash for my final year.  I'd be back soon.  I'd see her on break.  

But I didn't.  She was gone. 

Gram presides over the simple terrace kitchen from her place at the table, the one closest to the sink.  She always expects you meet her there for a hug and you never let her down.  


This piece was somewhat inspired by a recent trip to visit my daughters' Grandma.  I hope to write a piece on that as well soon.  AND, I'm linking up with Yeah Write again, finally.  I've missed hanging out there.  Join me!  Click on the button below to read some fascinating writers, or better yet, post your own piece.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Notion of Procreation

I'm going to cut right to the chase.  Introductions are for the weak at heart.  I've been thinking about having another baby.

Please note that I said "I" and not "we."  Fret not, should I decide to go three rounds I would definitely "do it" with my husband.  After all, he has a good job and a proven track record of making cute kids.  But, so far, I think I am alone in this contemplation process.  Zach is still wary of "risking three girls."  On the other hand, neither of us are ready for him to get the "big V" so the notion of procreation continues to taunt.  

During my periodic pondering (and yes, I tend to have waves of baby fever monthly.  Eww gross, stupid hormones), I have compiled a list of reasons related to why one might choose to add to their family. However, I can't quite nail down which of these reasons are good reasons for having another baby and which ones are not.  Maybe we should just get a puppy.    
Or, maybe you can help me sort it out.  Here, in no particular order, are the reasons I am weighing for having (or not having) another baby:

1. If I have another one, I'll probably just want another one  
In some respects this makes absolutely no sense and in other respects it still makes no sense, but it graces the list nonetheless.  I will try to explain.  I love watching my daughters interact and they have become very close already.  I expect this will result in equal amounts of affection and downright hatred over the years, but that's what siblings are for, right?  If I have another baby it will be at least 3 or 4 years younger than it's closest sister.  Clearly, if I have another one, I'll probably just want to have another one.

2. I'm only 32
Is it really time for my uterus to shrivel up and die already?!?!  Did I really completely sacrifice the integrity of my chest, stomach and thighs for two measly children?!?!  

3. What else do I have going on?
Yes, I keep plenty busy with the two beautiful children I have, our lovely home, responsibilities at church and the like.  But in just a few weeks, #1 goes back to school for 12 hours a week and in just a year both of them will be in school!  Do I really need all of that amazing time just to write wit to send your way?
4. I just got my maternity clothes back from a friend 
And some of them are kind of cute!  When you are pregnant you allow yourself to wear things you would never be caught dead in otherwise: horizontal stripes, shirts with attached collars, tops with words like "Loading..."  Plus, maternity clothes are soooo comfy (save those awful torture pants with the full panels.  As if you don't feel full enough with another person living inside of you.  I loathe a full panel, if you know what I mean.)  But, a chance to wear new used clothes...  

5. My babies are getting so big
They are growing up so fast.  I spend hours upon hours upon hours upon hours with them, and yet, some times it is still not enough.  I am better because of them.  I understand life and love and letting go all the more because God gave them to me.  What more might I learn?  

What are your reasons?  Do they sound as crazy as mine?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Warning: If I Really Like You I Might Throw a Ball at Your Head

Today's clear skies, bright sun and cool breeze have soothed my soul and inspired me to write for the first time in a long time.  This summer has kept my body busy and my mind bustling, but the constant humidity has kept active creativity at bay.  Like many of you, the weather can affect me deeply.  I seem to write best in the winter when I am a bit moody and brooding.  The warmer weather wears me out, leaving me little mental energy to compose.

The artist in me wants to let go and allow myself to roll on the waves of whimsy my muse unfurls.  Time and space matter not in the creation of true delight!  The perfectionist in me is embarrassed that I have yet to set a hard schedule against which I write no matter what.  All of the little lemming letters must bow to my heavy handed quill!

So, listen up Right Brain and you, too, Left Brain.   Let's pump the brakes and get a long, shall we?  We are going to work together and get back to it, ya hear?

All summer, I have considered entering the annual "Life Lessons Essay Contest" sponsored by Real Simple magazine.  I feel I have a compelling answer to this year's question, "What is the bravest thing you have ever done?" and I know that the exercise of drafting the piece would be therapeutic regardless of the end result.  (In other words, I am not banking on winning the $3,000.)

But, let me be honest.  I can't just blame my lack of alliteration on the rain.  I fear I have literally become scared to write.  Yikes.  I really like writing.  I want to be a writer.  And right now my inclination is to throw a big red playground ball at writing's head and run away giggling.  Writing is not the bravest thing I have ever done.

Thankfully, summers usher in maturity and like new boobs on a teenager I am busting back into the blogosphere.  I'm going to look writing in the eye and say, "Hey there, wanna dance?"  And then I'll probably form my lips into some dumb pouty expression, stop to take a selfie and set myself back a few months.  But, who cares?  I am in love with writing and I don't care who knows!  Writing will be the bravest thing I have ever done.

I'm not going to write my essay about that, though, so don't worry I won't submit the word "boobs" to Real Simple (at least I don't think I will).  I'll get back to you with the actual essay answer soon.  It's due in mid-September, after all.

In the meantime, I am curious, what is the bravest thing you have ever done?