Category Archives: My Thoughts

Last night I dreamed of Zippy.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Eric via a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Original image courtesy of Flickr user Eric via a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Zippy is our hummingbird. Well, insomuch as a hummingbird belongs to anyone. Zippy is the female hummingbird who, in the dog days of summer, finally discovered our optimistically hung feeder.

The feeder, a gift from my mother-in-law, was filled and hung out in the late spring, probably a little late for hungry hummingbirds, but with high hopes of emerald-and-ruby visitors with delicate probosces and barely visible wings. It was ambitious, frankly, as we live in a dedicatedly suburban place, with plenty of green and flowers and gardens, but also plenty of noise, cars, homes, pets, and people.

Initially, it wasn’t the hummingbirds who found the feeder. Wasps and bees discovered its design flaws and hovered drunkenly, gorging on our homemade nectar. The bees didn’t bother me overmuch. They already frequented the perennials, rolling in rhododendron and azalea pollen and performing their particular alchemy in the neighbors’ peach tree. The wasps were troubling, though, especially when we saw the beginnings of a paper nest in the peak of the fascia.

I left the feeder hanging empty in defeat, a kind of passive-aggressive hopeful gesture. Nothing for you, wasps, but if the hummingbirds should inquire…

About three weeks ago, I was doing dishes in the early morning when Zippy pulled up to the empty feeder. She was a good-sized bird, quick and agile, mossy-green and flecked brown-gray, and disappointed by the empty state of the feeder. I froze with my hands in the running dishwater, disproportionately happy that she was even there.

I had the feeder inside, cleaned, and filled with a fresh batch of nectar in no time, and Zippy, bless her, came back again the next morning.

The bees and wasps staged an attempt to scare her off, and depending on the heat of the day, the concentration of the nectar (one of the feeder’s flaws was a tendency to leak sweetness in great, fat drips from the feeding flowers), and Zippy’s appetite, it was somewhat successful. By the end of the second week, Zippy was coming by less frequently, and I wasn’t sure if it was because of the early sting of Autumn in the air as August wound down, or if the local winged insects were keeping her away.

Mark bought me a new feeder, this one meticulously researched, and touted as being insect proof, and boasting a perch around the feeder’s circumference. Zippy could settle in, if she wasn’t too afraid of the delighted humans on the other side of the window screen. Felix and I washed and filled it, then fought our way to the hanger and took down the wasp-ridden one, sending it to the recycling bin.

Since then, the nighttime temperatures have dropped significantly, and the kiss of fall is in the sunlight. I haven’t seen Zippy in days, and the nectar levels are untouched. I suspect she has decamped for warmer places.

The instructions on our lovely new feeder suggest leaving it out for two weeks after the last bird sighting, just in case, and so I shall. I have a tender hope that Zippy will come back in the spring, perhaps with a gentleman caller, to raise some kids.

I woke from a dream of Zippy at the feeder with that strange, waking feeling of certainty, unsure if I was dreaming or remembering or seeing. The feeder, full and bright in the morning sunshine, tells me she’s not here, but I can’t quite give up hope that one last visit might let me cling to summer a little longer.

If Our Kinship Is A Fire

Kinship.

It’s an old-fashioned word: at its most literal, a blood connection. But also: shared characteristics or origins. Affinity, sympathy, rapport, harmony, understanding, empathy, closeness.

It seems unlikely, even with the heady blend of performance, personal essays, and the topic of motherhood thick in the air, that eighteen strangers could form any kind of lasting bond over the course of two three-hour rehearsals and a single performance.

Kinship.

The spark of it was there as soon as our director sat us down in the first draft of the order of our readings. It kindled amongst shared threads on Facebook. By the time we left the second read through, it burned: a merry little flame of kinship between us.

If our kinship is a fire, it’s a bonfire right now—huge, bright, crackling, still fueled by the power of connection, sharing, sheer nerve, and the magic of performing. Before too long, it will be more the sustained glow of embers. Not nearly so dramatic as the bonfire, but quiet and warm and comforting. That warmth is what we’ll carry in our hearts once the light has dimmed.

I have no doubt that we will carry that light with us. The same way that I still feel the flickering of kinship with the women who shared my camp summers, or the woman who was my first college roommate, or the friends with whom I shared other stages over the years.

Emotional experiences leave their embers in our hearts. The best ones glow forever.

I know I’ve thanked the co-producers and cast of Listen to Your Mother Boston before, but it took me a while to really process the experience. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for your stories and your friendship and your sparkle.

I Found My Word: A Listen to Your Mother/Boston 2014 Story

Once, I was fearless.

I stood up and sang solos. I submitted writing to journals. I once told the boy I thought I loved what I felt, even though I knew he didn’t feel the same. Because I was, while gut-twistingly nervous, fearless.

And then some things happened. Things which eroded my sense of self. I have allowed them to drive the bus too long.  (Where is Mo Willems to write this post? Don’t Let Your Fears Drive the Bus!)

I’ve never claimed a guide word for a year before, but I have friends who do it routinely.

There is, as they say, a first time for everything.

In 2014, I am going to reclaim FEARLESS.

I am going to go for it. My fakeittilyoumakeit Aries self is going to be the boss. I realized this about 5 weeks ago when the auditions for Listen to Your Mother/Boston were announced. I had an anecdote and an idea I wanted to explore, but I’d never written it down before. In the span of about two days, I drafted, edited, fretted over, and ultimately submitted the piece and signed up for a spot.

That audition was great. I mean, I enjoyed it. I was happily nervous, excited, optimistic, and okay with not making the cut if that was how the wind blew. A healthy kind of mindset I haven’t really owned in a long time. (Perhaps it’s my thick author skin growing in? You can’t please everyone all the time.) The producers were kind and funny, and I left thinking, “Good on ya, Cam.”

Well, friends, readers, and any Romans or countrymen who might be poking about here today, I was cast!

I am one of 15 men and women who will share our stories about motherhood in the inaugural Boston performance of Ann Imig’s fantastic franchise. Take a moment, if you will, to click the pretty image. It will take you to our casting announcement, where you can meet my cast mates.

If you’re going to be in or around Boston on April 26th, please consider bringing your mother, daughter, spouse, sibling, cool uncle, best friend, hot date, or that total fox from band practice to see the performance. I’ll be comparing a small child to a large fowl. Sort of. Earlybird tickets are just $16.52 (pesky fees) until March 15, and 10% of sales proceeds will support  the Cambridge Women’s Center.

In Fourteen, I will be fearless. I will embrace the challenges, believe I can do what I want to get done, and push myself to be my best self. To see again in myself that fearless girl I once was.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to be FEARLESS about working out, because these performances are recorded for posterity by way of YouTube, and there’s only so much Spanx can do…

Thursday Morning Musings

Overcast today. The autumn sky had that pale indigo daylight quality that I love so much about Fall in New England. I was thinking on my commute, about the various things on my to-do list, and how it feels like the plates I’m spinning are going to come crashing down at any moment, books, publishing goals, my son’s birthday party, the coming holidays, the finances… When I parked my car, I checked Facebook while I was walking to the office, and there was one of those snarky ecards that I generally love, which read “You know you’re a writer when the barista knows your name.”

And it pulled me up short.

Without thinking, I commented, “Or, you know you’re a writer when you can’t remember the last time you went to Starbucks, because you’re too busy working a day job for a salary, freelancing in the evenings, balancing home and family, and collapsing and exhausted heap at the end of the day.” And I didn’t even bring up the writing of fiction, for which I don’t get paid until it’s all said and done and published, purchased, and 60-days-for-royalties paid out.

I felt badly, because my tone might have been perceived as sharp, and it was just a silly Facebook image. So, I went back to leave a little, “Sorry, no pre-coffee commenting for me!” comment. And lo! Apparently, I struck a nerve, because there were a bunch of likes, and I had a warm blossom of I am not alone in this.

When I got to the office, the pale indigo had given way to gunmetal clouds and gusty wind that lifted my scarf off my chest to bat at my chin, and I was buoyed by the fact that I am, in fact, not alone in this.

And neither are you.