Life and the ephemeral meaning I seek to ascribe to it.

Dear friends,



I’ve had the oddest week. Not so much a week as an off-key symphony of gasps and stumbles and indignations and re-opened wounds and thoughts about my life and the ephemeral meaning I seek to ascribe to it.

I made a Facebook post on Tuesday about how awful my day was and felt immediately guilty. Because, you know, the Ukraine. If the cultural and socio-economic gnashing of teeth and splitting of skulls we’ve come to know as geopolitics doesn’t incite guilt in you, I’ve also got examples close to home.

One friend’s father is dying of organ failure. He put off seeking medical attention because he couldn’t afford it. Another friend’s mother is gravely ill with an unexpected, often fatal illness, the kind that blindsides the loved ones of otherwise healthy people who end up dead in less than 48 hours. My friends’ blushed faces, their tears, their cracked voices and halting logic overrun by emotion remind me of 2010, the Year I Lost My Mother. I cry for them and I cry for me, knowing their wounds are fresh and will take years to heal and, even then, the scar tissue will occasionally bind them until they wince with pain at unexpected moments.

On the day I cursed life, many of my Facebook friends darted out from behind the social network curtain to send me cheer, to commiserate, to remind me of both happier and sadder days. And so I watch the curious parade of status updates — a recipe, a birthday celebration, “prayer warriors” bound by cause and faith, political rants, happy babies, vacations, and sporting events — and I think to myself that the world spins with or without my participation, without the injured or dying or dead and with no regard for either the gleeful or the grieving. This makes me feel at once small and enormous. I am inconsequential, as are my moods, and yet the world, the glorious, infuriating, life-sustaining and soul-sucking world continues to spin around me, spinning so fast that I am compelled to stand perfectly still, like the spindle in a centrifuge, unswerving, observant, disquisitive about the meaning of my Week of Crap until a kind of willing equanimity washes over me, the immensity of which swells my heart with reconciliation for my mysterious earthly journey.

And I think we’re all just plodding — hopeful tramps looking for the slightest evidence of grace in the next soul we meet, so we can shake a hand, offer a word, compare notes, and head on down the road, none the wiser but maybe a wee bit closer to the divine that lives in all of us.

With gratitude {for a week that reminded me of a Jackson Browne song, perhaps a little less harmonious but just as lyrical},

Joan, who’ll get up and do it again, Amen


Dear friends,

So I told you already I had a crap day this week, followed by another crap day. Then I didn’t post anything at all so I’m assuming you knew the crap was still flying.

And in the middle of the flying crapeze, also known as just another day, I took a second to check my Twitter account. I admit it. I was at work, you know working, and I checked my Twitter account. And look what I found:

And suddenly the crap melted away and all was right with the world again.

Parker was at our school’s conference championships playing tennis. Kate is the team manager. She was supposed to be texting me scores, but instead, they both were apparently stretched out like cats, napping in the sunshine. It made my heart swell. And when I turned back to my work, everything didn’t seem nearly as craptastic. Love has a way of doing that, you know.

(By the way, I later found out that Parker and his teammate took fourth place in doubles, while the team won 3rd in the tournament. Hooray for our boys!)

So here’s to sibling love. And Mamma love. It does a heart good.

With gratitude {for the fact that I’m tech-savvy enough to actually know how to use Twitter and stumble across these glimpses of my children’s lives},

Joan, aka @MayberryMagpie if you care to follow her

Before I run, I have to tell you the funniest tennis story I’ve heard in a long time.

In case you’re not a tennis fan, here’s a little background. If you’ve ever watched a professional match, you may have noticed there are people standing around the court doing all sorts of things. A few of those people are “line judges” meaning they decide whether the ball bounces in or out. In amateur tennis, there are no line judges. The players call the lines themselves. And since the player receiving the ball gets to judge his opponent’s shot (and, therefore, determine whether he wins the point or his opponent does), there is an incentive to cheat.

If you don’t play tennis, just imagine a basketball game where a man on defense is allowed to decide whether or not a basket counts. Yeah. Things can get crazy.

Now, I’ve played a lot of tennis and I can tell you 99.99% of players are honest. But every now and then you run across a cheater. Or a guy who understands gamesmanship. And don’t disparage gamesmanship. Some of the best players in the world are also great gamers. (Think McEnroe.) In fact, some amateur players advance far above their talent level purely on gamesmanship.

Mr. Mom is a former tennis coach and he always taught our kids to challenge a cheater by cheating him back. In other words, send an immediate signal that “Hey, I can play your game, too.” He also taught his players that kids make honest mistakes, and if you think your opponent made one, ask “Are you sure?” when he calls the ball out. (A lot of honest kids will correct themselves on a bad call when questioned.)

This tactic doesn’t work with the gamer, of course.

Anyway, apparently there’s a kid named T on Parker’s team who’s a pretty clever gamer. According to Parker, T recently hit a shot out by a foot. His opponent immediately shouted “Out.”

“Are you sure?” T asked politely.

“Yeah, I’m sure” said the opponent.

“Okay,” T said. “Hey, how about we play rock-paper-scissors to decide the point?”

“Uh . . . . . . okay” said the opponent.

And wouldn’t you know it? T won a totally free point on his bad shot that a blind man would’ve called out, all because he outwitted an inexperienced player who fell for the gambit and then was lucky enough to call scissors over paper.

Sometimes a little clever goes a long way.

Drop off the key, Lee.

Dear friends,

How can I say this?

Day Two of This Week surpassed Day One of This Week’s suckiness?

Or, Tuesday smoked Monday in the crap race?

Or, Uncle?

(By the way, I didn’t realize how off-kilter I was yesterday until I actually read my post late in the evening and saw that I had forgotten my trademark sign-off. Holy cow, I was off my game.)

I know it’s a bad day when I start humming Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. Slip out the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan. You don’t need to be coy, Roy. Just get yourself free.

Of course I’m not talking about leaving Mr. Mom. But there are certainly days that I want to hop on the bus, Gus, and leave my responsibilities in the rear view mirror. And, hoo boy, Tuesday was one of them. If I could have found the key to the whole darn thing, I’m sure I would have dropped it off.

Instead, I took a two-hour R&R with a couple of friends. Then I came home and ate the home-cooked meal Mr. Mom had thoughtfully prepared. Then I retreated to a quiet corner and gave myself a manicure because it feels good and I had destroyed my nails with stress-biting over the last month.

Remember when I mentioned I could give a better manicure than anybody besides my friend Alisa? Here’s the proof.

That’s my right hand, by the way. Meaning I painted those perfect white bands WITH MY LEFT HAND. In high school, we used to say “all fact, no brag.” Once you get past being grossed out by how aged and splotchy my hand looks (it’s the Instagram filter, you know), I think you’ll be duly impressed with my abilities.

Which is to say, if I ever need to slip out the back, I have a Plan B and it involves painting nails.

So, I’ve got that going for me.

With gratitude {for the security of a totally legit back-up plan},

Joan, who sometimes makes up her own lyrics to favorite songs and thinks “Hang up the phone, Joan” might be good advice on a bad day

Three small things. And one very important postscript.

Dear Friends,

Tuesday was a very random day.

By that, I mean it was a bit unsettled. It was up, it was down, it was hard, it was lovely, it confused me, it delighted me, it plum wore me out.

Many of my days have a decisive slant — meaning I could sum them up in one word. Today was super! Today was grueling! Today was productive!

But Tuesday was all over the place and defied a tidy description. Still, here are three points of interest about my very random Tuesday:

  1. I improved the day of someone I know. A person entered my orbit quite unhappy (scowling and complaining, actually) and left my orbit laughing and smiling. And this person sent me an email of thanks, afterwards. It took no real effort on my part other than a kind word and a willing ear. The encounter reminded me the universe sends us all kinds of messages — some dressed up as people in need of a tiny act of graciousness.
  2. I had lunch with a new friend and learned all sorts of interesting things about her, things that make me want to ask my new a friend a million more questions and plumb the depths of her energy and enthusiasm and generosity. But here’s the most intriguing thing I learned about her: her parents used to live on a golf course and drove a pink golf cart with a unicorn painted on the front. How cool is that? I promise if those were my parents, I could write the heck out of that story.
  3. I got an email from an old friend who said kind things about this blog.  Actually, she said it reads like a love letter to Mr. Mom. I take that as the highest praise. I wasn’t consciously aiming for it, but it makes my heart full to think “love” is the predominant vibe coming through. And it reminded me of this lovely sentiment.

Image courtesy of Etsy

With gratitude {for friends old and new and random Tuesdays},

Joan, who would be just fine if, when she passes from this world, people said she had great love

Parker said yes!!!