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Year of the Ham

January 15, 2012

Soon it will be the Year of the Dragon. Strong, and powerful doesn’t sound so bad when most days I feel drained, washed out and emptied from raising three children & a toddler. Cold now, it’s dark so much earlier now. Our dogs dance in crazy anticipating circles as Rob comes in the narrow back hall into our kitchen, home from work. Like dealers in a casino I give him the details of who to watch out for and where they are all at. I feel like I should hold out my hands palms down, palms up before I go. Cheek kisses instead and I’m free for a bit.

A few moments driving and a shuffle on the mp3 and I feel my self starting to come up for air. I love softly echoing along with Courtney Love to the lilty parts of ‘Malibu.’ I am so not a singer, but I seem to do okay with some of her range. And when she gets edgy and gravelly I join in as best I can.

“And I knew…love would tear you apart….. and I knew …the darkest secret of your heart…..”

Seems almost dragonesque. It had been the year of the rabbit. I’m ready for the dragon. Courtney Love. Not really a dragon. At least not yet. There’s performance and show and opiate created esteem, but down in the bellows where that throaty voice lurks, I’d have to bet there’s no self. A hot mess of narcissism. A strange brew of her own wave of vulgar feminism, and a vocal range that surprisingly I like to think I can pull off. I don’t think she has dragon in her. Or she hasn’t chipped away at the stuff deep down to let it surface. It takes a lot of work to let out who you really are. Even if it’s not authentic and alive, it’s fun to pretend there’s some dragon in her voice. She wants to be the girl with the most cake. I can’t blame her.

Drifting up and down farmyard back roads I’m on my way to good coffee, escape, a place to write for a while and to get some spark and color back in this tired Momma. Even if I don’t write I get to sit in a cafe and maybe feel like a writer. A thinker. A solitary, literary soul pondering great things. What I’m pondering now is earlier today when my busy, devilish, sprite-like 5-year-old boy called to me so sweetly from the bathroom.

“Momma, guess what….? My pee smells like ham.”

He sounded surprised and proud. There was some marvel in his voice too that such a thing was possible. The literary thoughts will come. But for the moment I feel much more connected to my job of being the un-clogger of crusty green noses and abused toilets. There are no clogged toilets in Malibu. It’s my favorite song to sing to and once when I sang along to it playing in our kitchen my daughter said, “you sing this really good Momma.” I do. I remember that I had to pause the mp3 before ‘Celebrity Skin’ came on so that I wouldn’t have to answer any kid questions about ‘hooker waitresses.’

I know that I had absolutely no idea whatsoever what any of the songs were really about, but in 4th grade my friends and I sat around singing from ACDC’s ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.’ We were sprawled out on the textured, olive-green carpet of my parents living room. I loved the scratchy zip of one of us running our finger along the needle before it touched down, crackled and found grooves. So when we giggled and laughed and declared that ‘We’ve got the biggest, balls of them all,’ we relied on older kids, our own imaginations and the nuances of adolescence to figure it out…or not. Maybe I was the only one who didn’t know, I’ve always been a late bloomer. Now she’s only a year younger than I was when I was singing about balls, but my daughter isn’t allowed to watch icarly. It’s different though. ACDC was raw, edgy, sexual and provocative in a way that made us excited and silly. It didn’t make us think that every young girl is supposed to be pretty, thin, sarcastic, a boy magnet and a model.

On my drive I’m allowed to sing ‘Celebrity Skin’. I imagine that I’m in some fun cafe in the East Village. It’s karaoke night and I can gesture a hybrid of Courtney’s mannerisms made my own and imagine I am humble, silly & cool. The room loves me. I don’t have to answer any questions like,

“Um… Momma… what’s a hooker waitress?”

Not one of the onlookers says indignantly that I’d promised to take them to Five Below to spend their allowance….and even though we have homework, dinner & god knows what else that evening, I’m supposed to drop everything & fire up the Acadia to keep my promise. No one insists that they have a playdate at our house with 2 of the triplet boys who are 10 years old. Great kids, some of my sons nicest friends, really, but no manner of three boys in a house less than a behemoth is manageable unless they play outside. Nope, no one is disappointed with me, no one needs me to listen to more bickering, noise, falling down, squealy, tattly bawling cause someone got hurt wrestling (hurt wrestling-shocking I know) they simply love my silly awkward fun self singing.

Now just about the sweetest singing that I ever heard was my nearly nine-year old daughter in the back seat of our car. Before she was born, Rob & I would listen to ‘Summertime’ by The Sundays in our apartment. The CD was in our alarm radio and we woke up to it every day for a spell. This may have even been before we were married, so to be driving to Maine for summer vacation and see our sweet, wide-eyed daughter, ear buds in, singing in that way when you can’t hear yourself, sweet melodic notes up so high from ‘Summertime,’ as she gazes out the window, is definitely moment. I can remember all of her chirping and squawking baby sounds that led us to call her Ladybird, and she’s still singing.

I have no desire to be Courtney for a moment. I like that there’s actually a song or two that I can sing that sounds pretty good. I like the idea of having balls big enough to not give a thought to what people think and jump up and do karaoke and have fun. I don’t want to be a reckless mess. I don’t want to be so polished that I don’t seem real. I want to show up and be brave and see who else is out here being themselves. I always love the stuff that you see on a person that kind of hums inside of them, emanating if you look. I want to know when to look, when someone is showing you their proud stuff, what they are afraid of, what they have lost and what they know. Not a thing to prove, she showed me an unaware, sweetly confident girl singing in the back of our car. I think this thing of a self is a courage filled recipe of humility, care, time and timelessness.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I like my cover, I’m not Pema Chodron or anything. I like my sarcasm or looking smart and ‘writerly’ when I’m really just faking it. Put a super competitive person around me and it’s hard for me to dig deep in who I am and not play and get caught up in somebody else’s contest with themself. I don’t know if it’s the forties or what, but there’s this sense that all at once I’m an awkward 4th grader singing about balls, an overworked stressed out mother who feels haggard and like she lost her self, a teacher of how to be yourself to my children, and a karaoke daydreaming silly rocker chic. I’m not on the PTO. I’m not the Homeroom Mom. I was never Homecoming Queen or the girl with the most cake. I don’t think it’s ever too late to get cake. And sometimes it’s bellowing song lyrics like a Courtney-she dragon alone and sometimes it’s one of those moments I see in our children and knowing how very much of a hand I had in it. Cake is always good.

Confetti Cake Balls

  • 1 package Naturally Nora A Lot’a Dots cake mix (available on amazon)
  • 1 package Naturally Nora A Lot’a Dots frosting mix (ditto)
  • Candy Melts (like Wilton’s)

Prepare cake as directed. Let cool. Crumble finely, breaking up any big pieces with a fork (or else they will ruin your balls). Prepare frosting mix. Add 3/4 of the frosting to the cake crumbs and mix thoroughly. Using a melon scoop or your hands form into 2″ balls. Place on wax paper lined cookie sheet & place in freezer for about 15 minutes until firm but not frozen.

Melt candy melts according to package directions. With a spoon lower cake ball into slightly cooled candy coating & spoon melted stuff over it until it’s covered. Spoon the cake ball out of the candy coating, tapping the spoon a bit to drain the excess coating. Place on another wax paper lined cookie sheet to harden.

Naturally Nora cake and frosting mixes are fabulous! No preservatives and junk (unless you think sugar is junk~but I don’t). Have 1, have 2 or have the most.


From → All

  1. Michele O' permalink


  2. For what it’s worth, *I* think you’re a writer. You have at least one novel in you … though I suspect more than one.

  3. articgirl permalink

    For what it’s worth, I know you’re a writer.

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