Life with Teenagers

Posts Tagged ‘sexuality

the writing life

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I love to read about how other writers and artists do what they do. When Zsofi McMullin asked me if I wanted to participate in a blog hop, I didn’t hesitate. I think it’s important to reflect on the creative process, because it often gets me unstuck and moving again. I left my job the other day on a whim and drove to Portland Maine to hear Kate Christensen talk in a library about her latest book and why she writes. It proved to be a good jumpstart for me to get back to my own work.

1. What am I writing or working on?

I write an autobiographical blog about living with my teenagers. When I first started it, I wrote several posts a month. But lately as they get older, and as I get older, I write a little less often in that format. I’m focusing more on writing essays and poetry with the goal of having more of an established background (meaning published) when I approach editors with a finished novel. I’m working on that, too.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I guess my blog fits in with the genre of “mommy blogs” although I write about parenting teens and not babies. I also write about food and the conversations that happen at the dinner table, and the little moments that are worth noticing in a life. My blog is also about my same-sex marriage and having a blended family (shared pets, an involved ex-husband down the street) and midlife for me at the intersection of my teens who are embarking on their own adult lives.

3. Why do I write what I do?
I am trying to find my own writing voice and having a blog about daily experiences as a parent helps me stop being too earnest and just write stuff. I like the way a blog post is just a slice of the now, a chance to find a little hook or arc of an idea, but not something to agonize over. On the other hand, the novel I’m working on is sheer terror and pain. Sometimes I get in a groove and characters and chapters seem to be making some sense and appear to be carrying me somewhere, but other times I have to put it aside for long stretches and hope I will remember what I’m trying to say when I come back.

I didn’t set out to be a writer in college. I wanted to be a visual artist and I made “film poems” with a super 8 camera in the 80s. I do web and print communication work now for my job, and have theorized about feminism, romanticism, and female masculinity in grad school. Now somehow all of this makes total sense to be showing up in my novel.

4. How does my writing process work?
I don’t have a process right now that works for me all that well, which is one of the reasons I love to read how others juggle their creative work with their lives. I struggle with balancing a demanding job, a long commute, and a lot of harsh voices in my head that are worried about making enough money to pay for two teens in college and who say constantly: “you are getting older, you know” and “why haven’t you published more than this?” and “you really don’t have the luxury of being a writer.” Ha, that one is my favorite. As if it’s a luxury to be writer.

But whenever the writing is going well for me, it’s usually because I have realized again the importance of filling the well. I can’t write at all when I haven’t made space for music, for art shows, for weeding my garden, and for reading about and talking with other creative people.

And now to pass on the baton…

Julie Silver is one of the most celebrated and beloved performers in the world of contemporary Jewish music today. She tours throughout the world, and has been engaging audiences with her lyrical guitar playing, her dynamic stage presence, and her megawatt smile for over 25 years. “As a songwriter, I just write and sing what I feel and hope it resonates with people,” she says. [Kris writes: She also writes a blog called On My Mind and her facebook posts can make me literally laugh out loud.]

Cheryl Perreault is a poet and spoken word artist. She is also executive producer and host of a monthly poetry and music venue at HCAM TV Studio called Wake up and Smell the Poetry which takes place before a live audience and is aired on HCAM cable television in Hopkinton. In addition, she co-facilitates the monthly Women’s Art Forum, a program of the Hopkinton Cultural Arts Alliance in Hopkinton. [Kris writes: Cheryl is a real force for the arts in the Metrowest and an inspiration for everyone who has something to say. ]


Written by kmguay

June 10, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Posted in dinner, mothers, teenagers

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mixed medley

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“Is this done mom?” asks my youngest teen standing bent over in front of the oven with his finger poking into the tops of two small chicken pot pies. I look at the clock and notice it’s getting close to 8pm.

“Yes, they’re done. Take them out,” I answer.

“They don’t look done,” he says.

“They’re done,” I say, as I empty boiling water from a pan into the sink and a block of bloated pasta falls into the colander with a thwap.

“What do I do with them?” he asks.

I’m engrossed in the act of trying to pry apart individual raviolis and arrange the white swollen packets on a white plate and present them to the older teen sitting at the table and texting into the cellphone on his lap. On the table are three placemats, a jar of tomato sauce, and a plastic container of grated parmesan cheese.

“Umm, just turn them upside down over the mixed vegetables on those two plates,” I say, motioning to the counter.

“Mom, they already had vegetables in them,” he says, carrying over a plate at a time of mounded broken crust and gelatinous chicken gravy jiggling over a layer of tiny multicolor squares, circles, and triangles.

“I thought we needed more,” I say.

“I’m not eating mine,” says the older teen. He grabs the jar from the table and empties a large amount of blood red sauce onto his plate with a splat.

The table laid out before us is gruesome.

“So your brother says he is quitting the leaders group,” I say to both teens.

“Yeah it’s not his thing, dog,” says the older teen.

“Well then, why don’t you suggest some other clubs he can join as a freshman, dog,” I say back. I look at the younger teen. “Or maybe you are going to need a job. You can’t just skateboard all the time.” The younger teen doesn’t look up and continues stretching the uncooked taffy-like center of his chicken pie crust with his fork.

“He can’t get a job at 15 mom. He’s not old enough,” says the older one between mouthfuls of ravioli.

“But you worked at the Y at 15, remember?” I ask.

Now the younger teen chimes in.

“That’s because he is the best one there, mom,” he says.

“Dude, I’m not that good. I wouldn’t leave my own kid alone with me. I mean, I would, I know what I’m doing, I’m not going to lie, but I still have a lot more to learn from the older counselors,” says the older teen. “And when I get married,” he looks at his brother across the table,”to a woman,” he says, and gives him a long exaggerated stare. “But you can do whatever you want…”

“Hey, why do you always look at me and say stuff like that?” says the younger teen.

“Guys, I think you mean when you get married to whoever you want” I say interrupting.

The older teen has lost his train of thought now and looks at me.

“Mom, you knew you were gay in high school right?” he asks.

“I’m not gay,” I answer.

“Come on mom, you were just holding it back,” he says.

“It’s not that simple, dog,” I say. “I like men. I had you guys with your dad didn’t I?”

“Yeah, but that just makes you bisexual,” he replies.

“Some people know right away, others don’t until they are older. Some people just change their minds. All I’m trying to say is that you have options,” I reply.

“Not if I want to have a family I don’t,” he says while pouring water from the jug into his glass.

The younger teen looks at my plate and motions to his massacred crust on his plate.

“This isn’t done, mom,” he says.

I cut around the gooey center of my own crust and hand him the cooked portions from my plate.

“What do you mean? I say back to the older teen. “Of course you can have a family! Most of the same-sex couples I know are having their own kids.”

“Well adoption,” he says.

“Yes, and lots of other things too. One of my friends had all three of his little girls by using his husband’s sperm, one of his sisters’ eggs, and a surrogate mother who lives in another state to carry the babies to term.” I say.

“So wait,” says the younger teen who stops eating to join in the conversation. “So that means their mother is also their aunt?! That’s weird, mom.”

“Or it’s pretty great,” I say. “Think about it. How lucky for those kids to have so many family members that love them.”

“You have friends that picked how their kids were going to look from a book. That’s not right,” says the older teen again.

“Why not?” I say back. “If you had the option to choose some characteristics ahead of time, you wouldn’t?”

“Yeah, dude, wouldn’t you want your kids to have the best?” asks the younger teen. “Not your ugly face.”

“Hey, cut it out, now guys,” I say.

The room gets quiet for a few minutes.

“I know someone with tendencies towards asbergers,” the older teen says changing the subject.

“Yeah, and what do you have tendencies toward?” I ask back.

“I have tendencies toward ADD mom,” he laughs. “Remember all that testing you put me through?”

“And what do you have tendencies toward,” I say looking at the younger teen. He grows thoughtful and thinks about it a minute.

“I’d have to say I have tendencies toward an authority complex.”

“Ahh,” I say back.

And the room gets quiet again.

“This is a terrible dinner,” I say finally while reaching for some of the overcooked french fries the older teen has added next to his plate as a second course.

“It’s not so bad, mom. You’ve made worse,” he says with a smirk.

“You’re right, dog,” I reply.

But in moments like this one, I have to remind myself just why I bother to make a frantic dinner for all three of us several times a week after 7pm.

Sometimes, the best dinners yield no conversation at all. All of us preoccupied with our meal, silently taking in the smells and textures of expertly prepared food, savoring each bite, and listening only to our thoughts and the sounds of silverware clinking against plates.

And the worst dinners can offer up pure magic, when the bad food forces us all to engage in real conversation with each other at the table. Before we know it an hour has passed, we’ve asked some tough questions, and we’ve brought up a whole assortment of colorful topics that matter, some real food for thought.

A regular mixed medley.

Written by kmguay

October 24, 2009 at 7:40 pm

who’s the real teenager anyway?

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I have mint chocolate cookies in the cupboard above the stove.

I have a few beers still on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.

I think I may have some caramels in the butter compartment.  

What can I possibly shove into my mouth and chew this very minute?” I wish I had a cold pork chop hanging out in a plastic container, or better yet, some leftover skirt steak swimming in a pool of juice. I would tear at it furiously and let the blood trickle down my chin and onto my neck.

I’m thinking all this as I lay spread out on my back on my bed. One arm draped over my eyes, the other arm still shoved down my pants. My breathing is labored and it’s hot in the bedroom. There is no airflow in this apartment.  My handbag is lying against the wall where I flung it only a moment ago. My shoes are in the middle of the hall where I stepped out of them in a hurry to get myself behind a closed door. There is absolutely no relief in my body.

And now the front door slams.

“Mom, we’re home.” Kids drop skateboards and backpacks in the front hall. I yank my hand free and leave it lying motionless by my side.

“I’m in here guys” I call out. But I don’t move. They won’t notice. In fact, they don’t even bother to reply. One of them is instantly at the computer downloading music; the other one is flopped on the couch in the TV room. I hear the familiar musical refrain from “Scrubs” playing in the background.

“I’m no superman” it singsongs.

Uh yeah, and I’m no supermom either.

It’s hard to believe at the moment that the very teenager I feel like is actually the 42-yr-old mother of two teenagers herself.  Or maybe it’s not so hard to believe. Women hit their sexual peak in their 40s right? Didn’t I read that somewhere?   And what if you are a woman in her 40s in love with another woman in her 40s and the two of you have jobs in the city and share a train ride home on weeknights and one of you has to get home to make supper for her kids and the other one has civilized plans to see a movie with her soon to be ex-husband? And what if the train ride is so electric that all you can do is grip her hand tighter and intertwine your fingers with hers and try not to jump out of your skin or remove clothing in front of a crowd of 6:15 commuters? What then?

“Mom, what’s for dinner?” 

It’s my son at the computer realizing that I haven’t emerged from my motionless posture on my bed.  

“I think its chicken and some lentil pilaf and maybe some peas and tomatoes,” I say back, my arm still covering my eyes.

“Mom I’m starving,” he whines. “Are you going to make supper now?” 

And the reality of my motherly duties start returning to my consciousness. I uncover my eyes finally, take a look around my tiny bedroom, and start to lift myself into an upright position.  Yes. Time to make supper. Time to get my two teenage boys fed.  But all I can think is thank god it’s date night on Thursday for the teenage girl in the house. Thank god.

Written by kmguay

August 21, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Posted in mothers

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