roseShe came with August’s marigold sun,
Serenaded by the carousel,
And candied-apple sweet.

She was doe-eyes and hush-a-byes,
Wrapped in angel’s wings,
And party-dress pink.

Joyously the red birds sang:
“What, what-cheer! She’s-here-here-here!”
Proudly the Nemean roared!

What kismet, karma, or will  divine
Designed such bountiful treasure
With hope to make me whole?

So I named her pure and musical,
Breathed in her abundant promise,
Vowed to be deserving.

She was magic; she was enchantment,
And she held my swelling heart in the palm
Of her tiny hand.




One evening near my fifteenth birthday, I was summoned to stand before the Kitchen Tribunal.  My mother was there;  recently widowed, understandably shell-shocked, and exhausted by the demands of a fragile household and three needy teenagers.  Also in attendance were my two older brothers, their adolescent snickering temporarily pushed aside by the weight and severity of the matter at hand, which was this:  A few days earlier, an acquaintance of  theirs (several years older, a bit snarky, and appropriately enough, named Dick) had driven past me as I crossed the Market Street Bridge, then reported to my big brothers that their little sister walked like she wanted it.   The family was solemn and disapproving;  the kitchen smelled of fried egg sandwiches and scandal.

Well, I was affronted!  I was mortified!  I was. . .intrigued.  So after clearing my good name with Mom and the brothers, I retreated to ponder this new development.  I turned it over in my mind:  She walked like she wanted it.  Those words couldn’t possibly apply to me, a self-described wallflower and slow starter who hadn’t yet learned how to flirt.  I mean, I certainly knew what IT was, but I wasn’t sure I wanted IT anytime soon.  To be honest, IT was a little scary.  Besides, exactly how did I walk like I wanted it?  What was happening back there that I didn’t know about? 

Therefore,  I turned to my cultural icons for clues.  The men on Gilligan’s Island (even the Professor!) were dumbstruck each time Ginger walked by, but I’d have described my walk as more . . . Mary Ann-ish.  And there weren’t enough Underalls in the world to make my back porch swing like Ann-Margret’s.  But in the privacy of my room, I had to admit I kind of liked knowing something about the way I walked caused Dick to take notice.  Is this what made Aerosmith’s Walk This Way such a dirty song?

Conveniently placed bamboo conceals Gilligan’s interest in Ginger’s leopard skin swimsuit.

Until that moment, the only womanly walk I’d ever analyzed was my mother’s.  Her long legs moved with quick, purposeful strides.  “Keep up, Lisa!” she’d insist as we rushed from store to store each Saturday morning, trying to get our shopping done before some deadline (Yes, I grew up in a world with downtown stores but no Amazon.com.). 

Mom also instructed me on how to walk like a lady.  “Move your legs from the hips, not from the knees, Lisa.”  And because I tended toward pigeon-toes:  “Point your shoes forward, Lisa.  Don’t let your toes turn in when you walk.”  I assure you, Mom was not being critical;  back in the day, it was a mother’s duty to teach her daughter the finer points of being a woman.   How ironic that the very walk my mom worked to cultivate in me would one day attract the attention of boys like Dick.

I never managed to duplicate my mother’s walk, though.  At 4′ 11″ inches tall, I just don’t have the equipment to cover ground in the same fashion.  Now 79, Mom still out distances me step by step.

But as I made my way through the mall recently, I couldn’t shake the eerie feeling of being stalked by my Great Aunt Lois (May she rest in peace.).  Great Aunt Lois was smart and generous, a veteran school teacher with a no-nonsense attitude, a woman esteemed by the family at large during my formative years.  Great Aunt Lois’s walk, however, was nothing like my mother’s. 

The Grand Dame was short, stout, and plagued by arthritis.  She waddled stiff-legged from here to there with knees and hips that moved like rusty gears.  I imagined her carrying an oil can in that oversized handbag on her arm.  And whoever was caught climbing a flight of stairs behind Great Aunt Lois had better not be in a hurry;  coaxing those creaky joints to rotate in such a manner was a process that simply could not be rushed.

And so it was Great Aunt Lois’s walk that followed me  past each store window— in the form of my own reflection.  Nowadays, I walk like I want some ibuprofin and a nice, long, soak.  And since he’s a grandpa now, I’m pretty sure Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler walks this way, as well. 

Dick, too.

And such, friends, is the walk of life. 



It might have been the watermelon margaritas talking.  It might have been the fact that my son was celebrating his 21st birthday without me.  But whatever the reason, our table conversation at Ruby Tuesday‘s turned to childbirth, and I was the resident expert.  Of the four, I was the only person who had actually given birth.  Two of my companions—a man and a woman—had at least witnessed babies coming into the world, and the third—another woman—made little effort to conceal her distaste for the whole process.  Over our drinks, we all agreed that the miracle of childbirth is one disgusting miracle.

Lately my blog has become the go-to website for people who want their bubbles burst, their rainbows drained of color, and their warm fuzzies strung up by their warm fuzzies.  This I know.  Just a few weeks ago I reduced the charm of my 29-year, happy marriage to nothing but good luck, good timing, and good science  (click to read).  So why not shovel around my observations on having babies?

Before I’d ever considered having a child, I’d watched the Ridley Scott film Alien, with its terrifying, unforgettable alien-exploding-from-a-man’s-body scene.  If you’ve never seen it (Perhaps you were raised by wolves?), or if you just want to refresh your memory, go here:


Yessir, that's just fun for everyone, right there.

Anyway, when I imagined childbirth, I imagined it being rather like this.  At least I liked to think this is what it would be like if men gave birth.  Because let’s admit it:  in the battle of the sexes, childbirth is the trump card.  No amount of knees in the nuts will ever top the experience of shooting an entire human being out your boy howdy.  But I digress. . .

Turns out real life childbirth isn’t so much different from the scene in Alien.  Of course the person writhing on the gurney would be a woman, and the baby’s off ramp wouldn’t be her stomach.  And very rarely does the newborn actually bare its teeth and go skittering off the delivery table.  But other than that. . .

Now, before you click  on that response chastising me for sullying the most wonderful day of your life, let me just acknowledge how your own child’s birth was dreamlike and magical, with the clouds above parting for angels to herald little Junior’s arrival into a perfect world and the completion of you as a person.  All I’m saying is my children’s births were loud, painful, and messy.* 

It’s not like I wasn’t prepared.  I’d read every single book I could get my hands on, watched all the childbirth videos, and interviewed every mother I could find.  My wallet still holds the card proving my successful completion of childbirth classes just in case someone attempts to repossess my kids. 

But I don’t care; nothing prepares you for a parade of strangers going in elbow deep to check things like dilation and effacement and denudement and potability.  My own doctor sneezed while he was performing just such an intimate internal exam—now, there’s a moment neither of us will ever forget.  Nothing prepares you for the second when some yahoo holds a mirror between your legs so you can see a crowning head the size of a bowling ball (Aw, HELL, no! were my exact words).  And NOTHING prepares you for the doctor raising a scalpel and announcing that it’s time for the episiotomy (clickety click)

Then there’s the spurting goo, all that cheesy stuff that covers the new baby until someone hoses him down, and the likelihood that he’ll be all cone-headed and scrunched up when he finally makes his appearance.  And don’t even get me started on the afterbirth.

Then, suddenly, it’s all over and everything’s like this:


 Come on, now, did you really think this was going to have a bad ending?  

Not only did I have the baby girl in the picture above, but three years later I went back for seconds and ended up with a baby boy.  So it’s all good—all good in a loud, painful, messy, alien-explosion kind of way. But don’t take my word for it:  click here for more info from our friends at Cracked.com.  You’re welcome.

This one I couldn't resist. 🙂

 *Plain, ordinary, hospital birth with no pain meds or epidural.  That’s right, I’m an amazon, and I kick ass.