Writer’s Workshop: My Children’s Bedrooms

This week Mama Kat asked me to share a favorite part of my child’s bedroom. I’m an empty nester so what could I say about a child’s bedroom? When I woke up on Saturday morning, it just hit me. My favorite part of my children’s bedrooms is that they don’t live there anymore.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t miss having them with me in the house and having them immediately available to share their lives. Thank goodness we live in the era of instant communication. I often think about how much I miss my mother and I really miss the last five years of almost daily phone calls with her. Before cell phones, we didn’t talk nearly as much as we did in the years before her death. I’m glad that I’ve been able to forge out new patterns with my own adult children by maintaining closer communication with them than I did with my own parents.

We don’t even live in the same house as the ones in which I raised my kids. Thank goodness we don’t still live in the one in Ravenswood Manor just down the street from our newest incarcerated governor of Illinois. I can’t imagine enduring the media circus that was going on for the last two years, but I digress.

Even though both of the rooms that would have been my children’s bedrooms in this house are decorated as guest rooms,  I still miss the boyness and girlness of the two rooms in our other houses. Bubble gum pink walls come to mind and so do bunk beds.  Barbie dolls and science experiments. And music — lots and lots of music flowing out of bedrooms. Since my kids are seven years apart, they loved different singers and different bands. But we all loved Rockapella.

The fact that my kids both live in their own homes doesn’t mean that they’ve taken their childhood worlds with them. I’m sitting on the chair that my son brought home from college with the university logo on it. My storage area still has the collection of Brio railroad tracks and accessories that my mother-in-law collected for my son (I’m saving it, by the way, for the grandchildren –when the kids are ready) We still have the pink Legos in the garage and we have a pink trunk full of American Girl dolls in storage. The guest room that our daughter uses has some of her Little Mermaid collection on the bookshelves and she still insists on using her treasured duvet from college when she visits.

When I read blog posts from young mothers, it makes my life seem very staid and predictable. I don’t have the excitement and the miracles that come with the daily discoveries in young families. No one in my house is learning to talk or walk and we don’t have to struggle with what we’ll make for dinner. I know exactly what my husband likes to eat and what he doesn’t, and he doesn’t change his mind from day-to-day like little kids do. If there’s a mess in our house, we made it and we’ll pick it up.

Do I miss my children and sometimes wish those bedrooms were once again full of children and their stuff? OMG, yes. California is a very long way away, and even the one who lives in Chicago has a busy life and I am lucky if I see her once a month. But’s that how it should be. My kids are happy, employed, and enjoying their lives. Empty bedrooms are a small price to pay for that.

I’m linked up this week to Mama Kat’s workshop. Please stop by a visit some of her friends — and comment, comment, comment!Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday Linky Love: Book Challenges and Reading Dreams

My recent foray into The Louisa Challenge has introduced me to some interesting new online friends. I had no idea that I had not created something original — there are LOTS of book challenges out there among the book bloggers. It makes me feel kind of naive; I’ve just been poking along in my little 4th bedroom/office, writing about my life and the places to which I travel and dishes and catalog dreaming and the books I read.

My son, the social media guru and recently published e-book author, has told me that I need to isolate my niche. Contentedly blathering away about the things that touch my heart, I’ve been blogging for about 2 1/2 years, but I’ve yet to gain a widespread following. My loyal friends and family comment regularly, and I love them for that. Frankly, I’m satisfied with a small group of online friends, because it fills a gap in my soul to just write about what’s on my mind. Many of you probably feel this same need in our busy society; expressing one’s self is difficult because very few people actually take the time to listen. After all, we can always read about it later… or look at the video online. But who doesn’t want to be Pioneer Woman deep in one’s private soul?

Recently I got one and then another email from a medical malpractice attorney (???) who apparently stalks blogs to see if she can convince someone to allow her to do a guest post along with a link-up in return. I’ve always figured this was a scam, but surely many bloggers get unsolicited requests to promote a product. I have assumed I was small potatoes and there was no way I could ever “monetize my blog.” And did I want to? When Illinois no longer allowed amazon.com to pay me referrals, I kind of gave up. Do I actually have a niche, or am I just writing an online diary for the world to see about being an empty nester and woman in her latent prime?

Miraculously, I’ve been saved from these difficult questions by finding a bunch of kindred spirits. I immediately recognized the reconstructed shack on the shore of Walden Pond and the allusion in Jillian’s A Room of One’s Own. I’ve been intrigued by the reviews and challenges provided by Jenner at Life With Books. I’ve been inspired by the photography and creativity of  Michele at The Great Read. I was absolutely thrilled to find out that someone loves Louisa May Alcott as much as I do by meeting Susan at Louisa May Alcott is My Passion. I’ve met Merrick at Elf Paper who’s reading along with us on The Louisa Challenge. I love that my niece, Vanderbilt Wife, who is raising two toddlers, editing other people’s books, cooking, and reading and writing as much as her busy life will allow, connects up with The Louisa Challenge.  She also loves Gwendolyn Brooks and March, the fictional biography of Bronson Alcott, while he’s “off at the Civil War.” Who else is lurking out there? I’ve yet to meet her or him, but I’m looking forward to it.

Linking up with my new online friends,  I was obsessed with the layers of book challenges:

My students are currently deciding which book to read in literature circles for the Holocaust unit. I’ve recommended Night by Elie Wiesel if they’ve never read it; it’s a classic and belongs in the current canon, in my opinion. What’s in your canon? Many of the writers I’ve linked here have ideas about what should be in a modern-day list of must-read books.

To paraphrase one of my favorite movies, what’s your dream? What do you wish you had time to read?

“Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don’t; but keep on dreamin’ – this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin’.”

Opera in 3D and Suspending Disbelief

My daughter and I got ourselves all excited over seeing the opera Carmen in 3D. We carved out a day when we could get together, convinced her Daddy to go with us (even though he doesn’t much care for opera), and then Daddy and I drove into the city in Sunday afternoon traffic. It was going to be totally awesome.

Image via fullissue.com

First premiered in Paris in 1875, George Bizet’s story gives meaning to the adage, the things we do for love. Free-spirited gypsy Carmen seduces the naive soldier Don Jose, causing him to give up his hometown honey and his promising military career to follow Carmen into the band of smugglers she hangs with. When she moves on to a grander conquest in bullfighter Escamillo, Don Jose murders Carmen. The opera is tragic, yet the masterful writing of Bizet has many comic bits that keep the audience from being buried in melancholy. There’s a reason why it’s considered a masterpiece.

Building on the Metropolitan Opera’s roaring success and sell-out crowds seeing live simulcasts of its operas, this Carmen is the first in a series of operas to be filmed in 3-D, and it was a glorious production. Every song in Carmen is singable and Christine Rice in the title role was seductive and sassy. The problem was I just didn’t like her. I grew up with the film version of Carmen starring Julia Migenes-Johnson and Placido Domingo and I loved it. Although Rice’s version is probably more accurate to reality, Migenes’s Carmen is much softer and it’s more believable that Don Jose would give it all up for her.

Unfortunately, somehow Carmen isn’t aging well with me. It’s not unexpected that my 25 year-old daughter would think Don Jose’s devotion to Carmen was ridiculous. Even on my most obsessive days, I can’t imagine murdering anyone out of jealousy. There’s just not any man or woman worth the consequences. Saving the life of my family members in the face of danger? That I could murder for — maybe. But not for jealousy.

The good news is that Carmen in 3D is spectacular — I flinched when the crowd threw roses at the toreadors. The tavern scene is choreographed ingeniously, complete with acrobats! And if you don’t like what Carmen and Don Jose are saying to each other, you can ignore the English subtitles and just listen to the glorious music in its original French language. Although they aren’t the most fashionable choice, the 3D glasses are wearable and since everyone is in the same boat, it doesn’t make any difference if you look silly.

My internet sources tell me that the term suspending disbelief was originally coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1817 as a means to justify his use of the supernatural in the Lyrical Ballads. Since then, literary scholars and academics have taught us that the temporary acceptance as believable of events or characters that would ordinarily be seen as incredible is an important literary tool.  Suspension of disbelief allows an audience to appreciate works of literature or drama that are exploring unusual ideas.

In the case of Carmen in 3D, I encourage you to suspend disbelief and decide for yourself if Carmen has passed the test of time. Even though I’m not a fan of the jealousy plotline, the production itself is worth the price of admission. And speaking of that, if you were to see this cast at the Royal Opera House in London, you would have to pay as much as  £158. In American dollars, that’s $261.00. If you love opera, you’ll love Carmen in 3D.


Thank goodness! At least for a fleeting moment, we might actually be having spring in Chicago.

Image via womenthatwow.com

Spring means sandals and pedicures; what a lovely thought after seven months of sensible shoes.

Image via flickr.com

I wore a more sturdy sandal to school, but tonight’s 80 degree weather inspired me to pull out my spangled flip-flops. When I went to put them on, they still had dust bunnies clinging to them. I tenderly disentangled the dust from the sequins, examining the worn soles. Worn out flip-flop soles don’t seem very romantic, but these soles were worn out by trodding the streets of Paris.

Image via members.virtualtourist.com

I blogged about my trusty flip-flops here.

Next stop, London! Well, after Downers’ Grove tonight (and a few other places in between). And I need a pedicure.

Two Loads of Blacks

On Easter Sunday, my daughter texted me with the news that she was not wearing all black clothing to the festivities. She wanted to give me a “heads up” so that my poor ole heart didn’t collapse from shock. It was funny, but it got me thinking about how much black clothing many of us wear.

Image via squidoo.com

Audrey Hepburn’s black sheath in Breakfast at Tiffany’s was the epitome of chic and I grew up wanting to be just like her. Unfortunately, my “sturdy German girl” body was not designed for either Givenchy or Chanel. Clinton Kelly, as the current voice of everyday fashion, also tells us that we must have a little black dress and black trousers as our wardrobe basics. But what if I’m sick of black?

Being a teacher is probably part of the problem. At six o’clock in the morning, the best I can do is to throw on my teacher uniform — black trousers, some sort of dark-colored top and possibly a sweater or jacket. If I make the mistake of wearing a light-colored tee-shirt, it’s a sure thing that I will dribble coffee or some food on it before the day even gets started.

I routinely do two loads of light-colored items in my wash, one load of reds, one load of blues and TWO loads of blacks — and that’s just my personal clothing! True, I don’t usually do laundry once a week; it stretches out to one-and-a-half weeks or sometimes even two. What is frightening is that I actually have enough basic black items to get me through two full weeks. How did that happen? How did I turn into someone who lives in black?

Yes, it’s elegant. Yes, it’s probably slimming. But it’s boring.

Teacher time is almost over. I can wake up in the morning and put on summer clothing that actually reflects my personality. Bring on the turquoise and the hot pink. I’m ready for some summer color!

Saturday Linky Love

First of all, I’d like to say thank you to all who read and commented this week. Apparently most of you like the new format, and I like it too, so I think it stays. I’m still looking for someone to help me with some customization and domain hosting issues. If you know a blog designer in the Chicago area who works with WordPress, please give me their contact information.

I’m going to miss those fluorescent tulips, though. Here’s one more look before they are gone forever.

This week I was determined to do some cross-promotion and it really worked. I had more visits from Mama Kat’s Losin’ It and Vanderbilt Wife that I have had since I posted Grandma Lill’s spaghetti sauce. I’d like to send out a big thanks to those ladies for their continued support of the blogging community.

Just in case you missed one of them, here’s a few links to bloggers that crossed my radar this week. Besides having very creative titles to their blogs, they also have thoughtful and funny stories to share. Please spread the comment love around!

Damsel and Family
A Thankful Heart
These Days of Mine
Rubber Chicken Madness
Mommy’s Nest
The Psycho Babbles
My Time As A Mom
On My Mind
Dishwater Dreams
Farewell, Stranger
What Were We Thinking?
Open-Eyed Sneeze

Here’s wishing you a beautiful and restful weekend. If you’re cooking, do it with a glass of something relaxing in your hand and remember that you can always order pizza.

Why I…Don’t Tweet

I am old. I don’t tweet. That’s basically it.

I can’t continually look at my smart phone. It’s locked in my teacher desk, while I maintain desperate hope that I’ve remembered to turn off the ringer. I can’t even imagine how embarrassing it would be if I forgot and my phone was tweeting all day. I’m so old I probably couldn’t hear it. Not to mention bad for my street cred as a disciplinarian and buster of illicit phones in classrooms.

Didn’t Al Gore create the Internet so that I could look anything up that I needed to know? And then Mark Zuckerberg made it even easier for me to ask ALL of my friends for help. Why do I need Twitter?

I know more about my grown-up kids than both my parents combined and all of their friends ever knew about me. I like that, but do they? I don’t think they want me to have access to their Twitter lives as well. Facebook is enough disclosure.

Blogger Arik Hanson says that Twitter is a time-sucking black hole. That’s the last thing I need in my life.

If you think I’m missing something, please let me know. It has been known to happen that I’m the clueless one in the bunch.

This post is linked up to the Why I… carnival at Vanderbilt Wife. After reading and commenting on my post, go visit the Wife and read what others have to say!

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