My daughter and I walked in to a bar

~~ Originally printed in The Chapel Hill (NC) Weekly, February 2012 ~~

I took my 14-year-old daughter to a local Italian restaurant,  411 West, for dinner. We sat at the bar. I always sit at the bar. She wore mascara and lip gloss but wasn’t rocking the glamourpuss thing. The charming bartender handed us both the wine list, making eye contact with both of us while chatting about the selections.

I’m sure he would’ve carded her if she’d tried to order, say, a glass of Chianti, but she stuck with water. She was sitting up a little bit straighter, though, and whispered that I might have ruined things when I called her, “Sweetie.” Like she did me any good when she called me, “Mommy.” Continue reading

Daddy goggles

~~ Originally printed in The Chapel Hill (NC) Weekly, January 2012 ~~

So Beyoncé and Jay-Z have a baby girl: Blue Ivy Carter. Personally, I think Ivy Blue would have been more harmonious, but who am I to tell Jayz and Beyoncéz about harmony?

Yes, I like pop music. I might pretend the radio is on Pulse 102 because of the children, but I’m lying. I like it a lot. Well, except for John Mayer – he’s so puffed up and emo-ish, Katy Perry – gah! she bugs the crap out of me, and Kanye West – am I the only one who cares that he can’t rhyme? However, I’m trying not to hate on Kan so much because I really like that new single he has with Jay-Z, a song that shall not be named by moi, a middle-aged white woman, because it would be embarrassing. Continue reading

On the road to Alexandria

We just flew from Luxor to Cairo and are on a motorcoach for the 3 and a half hour trip to Alexandria, the Bride of the Mediterranean, founded 332 BC by Alexander the Great, the capital during the Greco-Roman period, and today the 2nd largest city in Egypt, where I expect to be able to tap into some wi-fi.

We spent 4 nights cruising down the Nile – remember, it flows south to north – from Aswan to Luxor. It was so beautiful! So amazing! To be on the river, looking at palm trees and banana trees and sugar cane and cows and donkeys and sheep and fishermen and cities and THE SAHARA all at once is such a surreal experience. Continue reading

In Assouan!

In Aswan. We’ve been traveling in a lovely wooden ship on Lake Nasser, which is a HUGE freshwater lake created by the Aswan Dam. Our program director, Nora, told us the dam is so heavily protected because, were it to be destroyed in, say, a terrorist attack, Egypt would be flooded and destroyed within 9 hours.

On yesterday’s excursion we went to see some amazing Nubian temples. These temples were built so far away from the capital at the time that it was presumed the king would never see them and so they were created in a more slapdash manner and lacked the precision of others we have seen. One of the temples from Greco Roman times showed Ptolemy (sp?) making offerings to the god Horus the Child, son of the goddess Isis, whom the Nubians worshipped as late as the 1600s AD. Continue reading

Eau de vie

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, June 2009 ~~

Have you seen the mom song on YouTube? “Momsense.” Comedian Anita Renfroe has set “everything a mother says in one 24-hour period” to the music of the William Tell Overture. It’s hilarious. My kids played it for me, of course. I’m not especially YouTube literate yet.

She’s got the old standards: “Did you wash behind your ears? Don’t make me come down there! If all your friends jumped off a cliff would you jump too?” And she’s definitely got the twenty-first century momisms down: “No texting at the table. No more computer time tonight. Your iPod’s my iPod if you don’t listen up.” The children thought it was gloriously funny. But they were a bit puzzled by the presumed universality of the lyrics. Momsense is not exactly a precise replication of the mom in our house. Continue reading

Say cheese

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, May 2009 ~~

I don’t drink milk, but I am sure that I consume far more than my share of dairy products. In my house I swear we go through a quart of half and half and a pound of butter every week. Then there’s the whole milk yogurt and sour cream. Oh, and the cheese.

Right now in the fridge there is chevre, mozzarella string cheese, baby swiss, sharp cheddar, shredded parmesan, parm in a can, also known as shake-shake, a chunk of coveted Dubliner, and a container of homemade pimento cheese. And this is when we are in short supply and badly in need of doing some shopping. Continue reading

The skin I’m in

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, May 2009 ~~

I have spent far too much time hating my skin:

It’s translucent and shows everything. Sharp hipbone, clavicle, rib. Purple capillaries on my eyelids. Blue veins on my legs.

There were those red hemangiomas that appeared in childhood, and then again during three pregnancies. On my hands, my chest, my face.

The freckles that pop as soon as I venture into the sun. On my face, my shoulders, my chest. Continue reading


~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, May 2009 ~~

Church was never about the words.

There were some things that I liked about going to Calvary Baptist Church in Toast, NC: I liked when I got to go to Papa Stone’s Sunday School class for “young marrieds” and draw with markers on his big pad of chart paper. That was much better than when I went to the children’s Sunday School class and people looked at me funny because I had no idea what they were talking about with that John-three-sixteen stuff. I mean, really, what did they mean by all that “whosoevers” and “believeths.” No one in Chapel Hill used words like that. Continue reading

The dirt

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, April 2009 ~~

There is a lot of dirt in my life. And I’m OK with that. Really. I’m OK.

Let me clarify. If someone in a white starched apron arrived at my door to vacuum up glitter and grit and mop up maple syrup and dried melted ice cream spills and clean the bathrooms and do eight loads of laundry and take out the trash and organize school papers and mail, I would welcome him with sobs of joy, hand over the shopping list, ask for a solid dinner plan and tell him I’d be back so he could do my toes around noon.

I have fantasies of living in a clean house. Continue reading