Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Science and Religion

Current Biology: "According to a study published last year by the University of Minnesota, Americans distrust atheists more than any other minority group, including homosexuals, recent immigrants or Muslims."


But, the Englishman to the rescue of American politics.....

"The Democrats and Republicans may be preparing for battle in next year's presidential election but Richard Dawkins is on a new battle bus promoting atheism. (Photo: www.richarddawkins.net)

Dawkins appeared as one of the stars of the Atheist Alliance convention in Crystal City, Virginia, last month. He admitted that he was a little bit hesitant about being an Englishman talking to Americans and he showed “a certain amount of deference” when asked about US politics. “But I think that this country is so powerful and what goes on politically here is so enormously influential, the rest of the world is entitled to have a say.”

Although religious groups denounce him on websites and radio talk shows, he has not received abuse at public meetings; religious people tended not to turn up — “which in a way is a shame”, he said."

Yeah, basically because even the biggest religious zealots know that they would, as an old friend would say, be ripped a new asshole.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

November 11, 2007

It began a very rushed, but somber, wet day. Remembrance Day. The British day that memorialized the end of WWI: when the guns fell silent on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918. We traversed train obstacles and crowded London streets to watch the marching armed forces place their poppy wreaths at the Cenotaph. Then we meandered towards some guards for some photo ops and found ourselves heading in the direction of Buckingham Palace, so we went with it. I got a refill on my lavender scent at the Queen’s shop and we walked on, being led by our tummies now. We decided to alight at Leicester Square for a little romantic Mexican treat. It was the sight of one of our first dinners in England and one of the few places to get that ethnicity food in England. My, I felt so satisfied with our day, especially after the nachos and Mexican melon drink, a burrito with sides of beans and rice with guacamole and salsa, and topped off with some fried ice cream. I popped a fuzzy toothbrush in my mouth and then we rolled on.

But we didn’t make it that far. Yards from the restaurant-front the European premiere of Beowulf was kicking off—fire, furred drumming Viking men, big screen, red carpet and all. And then the stars came out. We watched as Neil Gaiman, Crispin Glover, and Anthony Hopkins strolled their way down to the Vue theater. Then Ray Winstone graced us with his gentlemanly presence. He kindly autographed a paper for Noel and called her a “Sweetheart” before generously continuing on to sign his name for a good portion of the onlookers. Then the (embarrassing) shrieking began. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie emerged from the just arrived Mercedes and immediately became the center of attention. They waffled this way and that, signing for the demanding crowds as they went….until they drifted to our corner. When Brad spotted Noel, he stopped, took the notepad she offered, and after signing his initials collected Angelina in order to do the same. He pointed to Noel and she flashed a brilliant smile before autographing the notebook and handing it back to Noel. Brad Pitt is a good guy.

(Paul has an even better picture of Brad pointing at Noel to get Angelina to sign...)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The sweet moment

The sweet, sweet moment of finally being able to flush the toilet with a button after weeks of using a bucket....was lost so quickly when my glasses dropped from my face, bounced off my 5-year-old, and then straight into the bog....

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Mom: "Remember for next time, OK?'

Noel: "I already stuck it in my brain."

....."but I think my brain's a little itchy."

Monday, June 11, 2007

Happy Birthday, Stefan

Tonight, at least 50 people assembled at the YMCA where my brother was a lifeguard for the past 6 years. We read a poem he wrote, sang a song written for him, sang an Irish Blessing, shared memories, and planted a sugar maple tree in his honor. We cried, got to know each other, ate barbeque, and missed Stefan together.

Still, there are moments when I feel like I'm in a movie, that this can't really be happening, that my Stefan can't be gone. I feel like there has got to be some alternate ending to my choose-your-own-adventure story. I just need to go back and re-read the path that I want...I just got sidetracked along an untrue, unwanted story-line.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I miss my brother so much

I still cry often, and sometimes daily for stretches of time. I've started running lately (in the hopes of playing football/soccer), but often tears start streaming down my face mid-run. These are the same sidewalks Stefan and I trained together for our Virginia Beach half-marathon.

I really hope that he can read my mind now….
Because there are way too many things that I never told him.
For example, although I don’t typically associate superheroes with the people that I know, whenever I would watch the newest Spiderman movie, I would feel as though I was watching my brother. He was always understated, underappreciated, undervalued. I never told him that he is the only person that I associate a superhero with.
I also never told him about the negligent lifeguard who did not move an inch while Noel struggled underwater and her 5-year-old friend attempted to rescue her and was pulled under herself. I was stuck in another room watching from behind thick glass and traversed the complicated maze of dressing rooms, shower rooms and other pools before getting there myself. That day I had written: “Now there is the lighthearted, “I need a drink” [giggle]. That was NOT how I was feeling. Instead, I had a rare bout of the other kind of need-a-drink: the kind where you have a pounding head and an image burning in your mind that you are desperate to forget.” I spent (it felt like) hours explaining to the young lifeguard and her supervisor how negligent that she had been and couldn’t help adding that my brother who lifeguards (and saved 2 kids-that we know of) would have been irate.
We never got to show him how Noel could ride her bike, sitting so straight with a proud smile on her face and wind whipping through her fine hair. My brother owned nearly a dozen cycles, in part so that he could loan them out while he worked on a new person to come along with him for a ride… He raced in the tri-borough bike race in NYC just 2 years back.

And I can’t help thinking: I want MORE. I want more time, more laughs, more memories, more conversations, more outings, more drinks, more, more, more with Stefan.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Request to the World

The Legendary Stefan James

Typically stories about my family center on Stefan. Tales of bee stings to private places that make most squirm, peeing on a stranger’s sandaled foot to the chagrin of a young lady, her muscle-bound boyfriend, and my gentle father, and dropping shorts in front of a loaded school bus. He has lived things that we only do in our dreams and nightmares.
He had a way of bringing us together. We learned to say “I love you” to each other regularly because of Stefan; we remembered how to hug, too. He was a nurturer: caring for others was his mission in life. He saved lives through his lifeguarding; he just simply made so many others happy by his unassuming ways and sweet, self-conscious smile.
He was the most hard-working person I have ever met in my years filled with self-motivators and high achievers. He was well-intentioned and sweet-hearted, brave and giving. He was confused and soul-searching, sometimes muddled, not always happy. He was quiet, often times a mumbler, often times perky-almost bubbly for a 170 pound boy. Stefan was not wise, but his gentleness and kindness overflowed. He was cute and nervous, yet brave about so many things. He was talented and clever in a reclusive way. Even as a teenager he had camping and fire-building skills that made grown men jealous. He was a brilliant photographer and never endingly giving. He was heart-achingly good, oh-so-good, the best of people you could ever be so lucky to know.
In lieu of the loss of my spectacular brother and what he regularly contributed to this difficult world, please spread kindness, nurture a plant or tree in his name, and help those who have needs that you can attend to. He would want that and that will best keep his memory and address the cavernous void in community service that developed Saturday April 28th at 6:50 am in the morning when my 28-year-old brother was hit by a train and killed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Breaking news

Rock on. The lil'un braved the hard concrete jungle of our neighborhood on only 2 wheels today, and without me to complete her balancing act. I am super proud *puffs self up* It appears it's time for a bike holiday...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

i come from a gang-bang background

Well, not really...but despite my straight and narrow path, me like Snoop, was refused a work visa by the UK Home Office. Of course, they did not have to cancel any of MY concerts... ;)

Friday, March 23, 2007

The most appreciated invention. (IMHO)

TP. Bog roll. Toilet paper.

It’s a lovely thing, especially mine because it has a gorgeous lavender scent which permeates the bathroom and beyond.

I got to thinking this morning about what people used before Joseph C. Gayetty invented TP in 1857 (a product that has his name imprinted on every square…the man was obviously clever, but with ideas that were not so well thought-out). I was pondering the nice plant we found in Virginia Waters with undersides to every leaf that rivaled that of a sheep or Malden Mills best polar fleece for softness. Although, I couldn’t imagine that sort of luxury would be available regularly when you would need to do your business out in the woods. An then there would be the unlucky soul that managed to pick the prickly, or even worse, itch-generating leaf. Really, with encouragement like that, it’s amazing the first bog paper didn’t come about until 1857 IMHO. And then there are other pleasant thoughts along those lines…Northern Tissue advertised “splinter-free” TP in1935, insinuating that there was (cheaper) take-your-chances, splinter-infested toilet paper available. Mmmm…that’s a treat, “No wood fragments up the bum today, Mom!”

Of course all these ponderings were sponsored by this book, in which young orphans were so maltreated and neglected that they used their hands to clean their bums and then wiped their soiled hands on the walls….

Now go on, what invention do you particularly fancy, then?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I have a new friend

She gets me into new kinds of trouble.

Three nights ago, it was the "tupperware party" that involved lingerie and dildos. I won a whip, and won a contest involving licking out the white cream from a chocolate egg held between another lady's knees (whom I had never met before). It was a laugh.

Sometimes I wonder how I manage to keep my friends. Whilst describing our intentions to visit Paris in the near future to one of my friends back in Connecticut, I included how I was luring my 5-year-old into getting excited by telling her that we were going to visit where Madeline came from. Madeline-the little French cartoon girl-"In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines lived 12 little girls in 2 straight lines, the youngst of which was Madeline." Only, on this particular day, what slipped out of my mouth was "12 straight girls...." to my lesbian friend. Of course, my embarrassment caused me to repeat the phrase a couple of times whilst I fumbled to right the situation. She was patient.

And then there's my blog friends, whom I have become desparately sporatic with. Despite our friendships initiated from flickering screens and one-sided conversations, from our flimsy beginnings strong bonds have been foraged. They are patient too.

And finally, my long-time friends, whom I miss quite dearly. But, they too are patient and know that they are in my thoughts, even if I have not called in ages.

All this, born from reading another book, loaned from my new friend; part of a genre I consider "perspective reading." It's sort of a morbid St. Patrick's Day celebration (the Irish, my ancestors would not be proud: "where is my drink?"); a memoir of the the disturbing childhood of Kathleen O'Malley, set in Dublin, 1950. The traumatic events, but even more the appreciation of a tasty bit of bacon, a velvet-collared coat, hair ribbons, or the way your Mom curled your hair gently and told you you're beautiful....how can we not appreciate our lives and what we have? So cheers to my friends; you mean everything to me.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

daft Sod

Yeah, that's me.

I'd like to say it was the three rum-and-cokes or the pot-haze or heavy pounding in my ears....but really there's no excuse for the muddled response I had to meeting Cate Blanchett at the Nine Inch Nails concert last night. While being jostled by the crowd, I murmured, "She's famous" to my Sweetheart, apparently not too far away from Cate. She turned around and asked me, "What?" And me? I was dumbfounded. I was quiet for a few moments....just long enough for a throng of black-enrobed, pierced, colored and spiked-hair concert-goers to shove themselves in between us as they struggled to arrive at the exit. And then she was gone from view, likely on the streets of London, not on her way to the tube, like me. I was left mumbling about Elizabeth the I, the elf-queen in the Lord of the Rongs, and the witch in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe-and my favorite of all-the seer in The Gift.

What should I have said? Should I have sung my praises of her acting skills, tripping over myself to express just how moved I had been by her films? Ranted on about how she's been my favorite actress for several years gone? I think, had I been in a clear state of mind, I would have asked her what she thought of the concert.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

There's this emoticon...

..that perfectly describes how I am feeling today. It's this little red-faced dude that bounces his head off a wall, over and over and over....

I found out today that due to an unlucky collection of circumstances, I will likely never be able to get a UK work permit (I've only been trying for near a year). Apparently they prefer lazy scabs here.

My lovely daughter screamed throughout a 5-10 minute (felt like 2 hour) walk through a grocery store today. Her face looked purple by the end of it.

While attempting to help retrieve her bike, my daughter and her friend locked me out of the house with no one left inside except the cat. I rummaged around our driveway, found a coat hanger, and used it to pull open one of the window handles. I broke into the front of our house. I figure I should keep my coat on, as I'm sure the cops we'll be round soon to arrest me...it's that sort of day.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The conclusion of the whirlwind tour

Virginia...Connecticut....Pittsburgh....New York City...all in a month's time.
it was lovely....but time to go home....

He missed his best friend dearly....

Noel's best friend, Bryant, composed his 2006 Christmas List. Amongst the toy trains and usual boy toys, there was something special..."a sleepover with Noel."

Earlier in the year, Bryant entered kindergarden. It had not been an easy transition, despite his cleverness and experience with organized child programs. He was still the youngest in the class. He pined for loud silliness with his best girl friend....

As you can see, he still believes in Santa Claus: Santa delivered what he wished for most.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Friday, January 26, 2007

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Images of the last couple months...

(I'll give ya more, but let me just tease you with a little taste first...)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ya know....

Ready to go.
Time to get the lil Lady.
Right. And the volvo.....is not working. *sigh*
OK, time to fire up the 'ole leg power.
After navigating the debris of the back driveway, I push off toward the school.

Me in my nice outfit complete with black pointy high heels pedaling away with the caravan in tow....
Round the roundabout...down the lane...over the Curly Bridge, avoiding the doodoo...slow passing along the mucky path...around the tree-branches littering the walkway...less than 10 minutes late.

Turn back around...fighting the blustery winds...navigating around the clumps of blinkered Mums....sugar low (oops, forgot lunch)...starting to sweat...goddamn that volvo....f'it, I'm walking.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Favorite Request of 2007 (so far)

[early morning hours]

Noel: "Mommy, I look cold."
"I need a hot cuddle."