The View From Here

by Lisa Rosen on May 8, 2013

A Poem

Greedy for the crunch of rock and sand beneath my feet, the pitch of trail, wind whispering through desert sage and dust, I yearn toward the mountains that ring the valley.

Dim and dusky, they beckon.  Shades of beige deepen, flushing violet, mauve, indigo.

Just out of reach.

The city flashes, twinkles, glitters, clamors for attention.

Look at me, she shrieks, look at me, like a ruthless toddler, a narcissistic teen, a desperate old woman, teetering on too-high heels.

The sun slides down, below the softly sharp horizon.  The mountains darken, a blue-black constant, always changing, immutable.

If I were a poet, I could capture their patience, their stoic watchfulness.

Immune to the noise, the bells and whistles and horns and braying laughter, too-loud, too-long, the mountains wait.

This, too, shall pass.


Leave My Chocolate Alone

by Lisa Rosen on November 30, 2012

“Wow.  That’s a lot of chocolate.”

This is what the young man bagging my purchases said to me the other day.

“Wow.  That’s a lot of chocolate.”

I was at the gourmet grocery in Chapel Hill, about a thirty-minute drive for me.  I don’t get over there nearly as often as I’d like, so when I do, I tend to stock up.  I’d been to the doctor in the morning, where ten–TEN–tubes of blood had been withdrawn from my arm.  The phlebotomist was on about tube seven when I started thinking I might deserve a treat, especially since I was being so good about not punching her (not that I didn’t consider it, but there was a needle in my punching arm, so I resisted the impulse).  A little jaunt over to the foodie store seemed like a reasonable reward.

So when that otherwise-perfectly-pleasant young man commented on the amount of chocolate I was buying, I once again considered resorting to violence.

But I didn’t–it’s not his fault, I suppose.  His basic survival instincts must not be working properly, or perhaps his mother didn’t teach him the Rules.

Rule #1:  Don’t get between me and my chocolate.

Rule #1a:  Don’t question or in any way comment on my chocolate consumption.

If I’m buying a large quantity of chocolate, there’s probably a good reason, and that is when you least want to draw my wrath.

But don’t worry–next time I see you buying a case of beer, I won’t ask if you’re going to drink it all yourself.  I won’t say a word.



How I Became Invisible

by Lisa Rosen on October 18, 2012

Yesterday I got my hair done, for the first time in months.  It was starting to look a little unkempt, so I decided it was time to take action.  I had broken up with my former stylist–whom I’d been seeing for over a decade–back in May, when we moved.  Lee said I was starting to look a little stripey on top, where my roots were growing out.  He thought it might be time to, in his words, “do something about that hair.”

So when I found a new woman–who is very nice, and eager to please–and she used words and phrases I didn’t really understand:  toner, glaze, low-lights, texture, I just didn’t pay all that much attention.  She’s the pro; it’s HER job to understand all that stuff, and, as she said, to make me look beautiful.

Her beautiful locks should have been a tip-off; they were short, curly, pulled back with a scarf, a beautiful shade of teal.  It’s not like I ignored the warning bells.  I was perfectly clear, when she asked what I was thinking in terms of color.  “Well, probably not like yours.  It’s lovely, but teal doesn’t really go with my skin, you know?”

She chuckled.  And that was that.  With a trusting shrug, I sat back in the chair and went to my happy place–that place in my mind where I have a headful of beautiful, well-behaved hair that curls when I want it to, but never frizzes, that flatters but never overwhelms, long enough to pull back, but short enough not to weigh me down.

What I have now is . . . not all that.  What I have, now that I’ve gotten my hair carefully (expensively!) colored, is, somehow, an absence of color.  It’s brown, I guess, but it’s not brunette, or chestnut, or auburn.  It’s not golden-brown, or honey-brown, or chocolate-brown.  It’s not lustrous, or rich, or deep or shiny.  It’s worse, even, than mousy brown; it’s no-color.  It’s that shade of grayish-brown that you don’t even notice, like a worn-out wooden fence, or dead vines in the fall after all the leaves have fallen off.

I feel like I’ve aged overnight (and it’s not just my imagination–the first thing Delaney said when she saw it was that it made me look so much older).  It’s mildly interesting, I suppose, if I’m looking for some sort of lesson or silver lining (not that it’s a cloud of any significance–I’ll just go back and get it re-colored as soon as I have time–I recognize this isn’t really a real problem).  What’s interesting, I mean, is how much difference something like a hair cut/color can make in how I feel.  This hair color makes me feel invisible, and that’s not a feeling I like.  I feel tentative and almost timid; I’m having to remind myself not to slump.

I don’t want to disappear into the background.  I want to stand up straight, square my shoulders, and wade into the action.  And I don’t care what color I have to dye my hair to make that happen.

“Do not go gentle into that good night . . .”*

No, I don’t suppose I will.

*Apologies to Dylan Thomas–I know he wasn’t actually talking about an especially bad hair day.


Things I Never Thought I’d Say

by Lisa Rosen on April 9, 2012

The kids were on Spring break last week.  I’m always glad when break begins, and always just as glad when it ends.

This year I was happy to see them go back for a whole new reason:

Toby has joined the ranks of the Great American Male On Vacation.  He refused to shave for the duration of his break.

I’ve done my best to remain neutral about my kids’ appearances over the years, especially as they got into teenager-hood.  I draw the line only at things that require my signature (tattoos), or things that will get me a phone call from the school.*

I have found, with my children, at least, that the less I give them to push up against, the less they feel compelled to push.  Besides, young children feel better about themselves, more competent, more satisfied, when they can do for themselves (that’s one of the things I loved about Montessori when they were small).  So they learned to dress themselves at an early age, and all I had to do was get out of the way.

Luckily (and when I go to the school and see the ridiculous clothes most teenagers wear, I know just how lucky I am), both of my kids tend heavily toward the pragmatic.  Delaney has no interest in short skirts or hooker-esque high heels.  Toby wears his pants a little low, but he keeps his hair tidy and his fingernails clean, so I have no complaints.

Stubble, however–this is a whole new arena.

My baby boy is growing up.

*Things that get the kid in trouble at school?  Not my problem.  As a matter of fact, I think that public disapprobation is sometimes (usually?) the best possible way to learn the limits of what’s socially acceptable, especially in sartorial matters.

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The Life of the American Teenager

by Lisa Rosen on December 6, 2011

Pardon me while I put on my kids these days cranky-old-woman voice.

Whatever you remember about your life when you were fourteen?  Forget it.  Just dump those memories right on out the window; as a frame of reference, they’re completely useless.  Even if it was only five or six years ago, and you’re my one and only twenty-year-old reader–your fourteenth year would be downright quaint in the eyes of a fourteen-year-old today.

Case in point:  Delaney is, as I write this, hanging out with a friend.

Let me paint a picture for you.  She is walking around the house, carrying her laptop, headphones in her ears.  I started to ask her a question, and she shushed me, pointing to the computer.

She is on Skype, hanging out with her friend–WHO IS TAKING A NAP.  I know she is; I peeked.  She’s sound asleep.

“Shhh.  She’s sleeping.  She wants me to wake her up in twenty minutes.”

The same friend hung out with us while we ate dinner (Lee’s out of town).  Delaney put her computer on the table so we could chat.   Actually, it gives me the weird feeling that the girl’s head is hanging out with us, sort of hovering on the table, like the Make-Over Barbie I had when I was a kid.

I know we talked on the phone a lot when we were kids.  I remember.  And I know that half of you are remembering how you fell asleep with the phone pressed up to your ear, while your boyfriend/girlfriend was sound asleep on the other end of the line.  I know.

But video just feels different (see what I mean?  This is where I start using my old geezer voice).  It’s like they’re almost in the same room, but not quite.  THEY CAN HEAR WHAT GOES ON IN EACH OTHERS’ HOUSES.

It wasn’t like that when I was a kid.  Not at all.



Slideshow, Retro-style

by Lisa Rosen on November 30, 2011

This makes me utterly happy.  Lee ran across it while he was cleaning out and digitizing a box of stuff he’d been dragging around forever.  It was originally a slide show, that he’d cued to music.  Yay for technology–now it’s a Youtube video, and all we have to do is click the play button.

It’s worth watching, just for the clothes.  Those high-waisted pants . . .

He thinks he made this (took the photos, printed them as slides, etc.) when he was in the 11th grade.  I think it’s kind of awesome, both that he was so into photography, and that he was so good at it.  I also love that technology (that brilliant little camera in the iPhone) has rekindled his passion for taking pictures.

It’s distressing to think, though, that you’d never be able to do something like this today.  I try to imagine Toby hanging out at the park near our house taking pictures of random kids he’d never seen before, and, well, not so much.  I can see a mob of angry moms wrestling his camera away and stomping on it, or him being arrested and shoved into the back of a police car.  It’s sad, really, that we’re all so paranoid.

Anyway.  That’s another rant for another day.  Enjoy the video.

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Unexcused Absences

November 15, 2011

Dear faithful readers– I owe you an apology.  I took a break from the blog, and in so doing, broke a cardinal rule of blogging:  I left you hanging, with no explanation. Sorry ’bout that. I’m glad I took the time, though, because it gave me a little distance in which I could think about […]

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Peggy Payne

October 18, 2011

My mentor, Peggy Payne*, had an essay in Sunday’s New York Times.  It’s a lovely piece, and I’m over-the-moon excited for her.  I think being published in the “paper of record” is pretty good vindication, don’t you? Revenge is sweet, indeed. *I’m a little embarrassed to use the word mentor.  It feels like I’m saying […]

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October 17, 2011

In our peregrinations around New York, Delaney and I took note of some interesting trends.  I list them here for your edification, in case you want to know what the cool kids are doing, eating, and wearing. –Dogs in shoes.  Dogs are everywhere in New York, but the cutest canines are all wearing sneakers.  It’s […]

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Technological Progress

October 14, 2011

Earlier this week, I finally mastered a technological challenge that’s been stumping me for several years. You’re going to laugh, but I don’t care.  I’m totally excited that I figured this out. I LEARNED HOW TO MAKE MY OWN MAP. This has been bugging me for ages.  It seems like I ought to be able […]

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