“People need spoons.”

I was on the phone with Laurelyn. (You know how I love Laurelyn.)

I sat at the top of the stairs in my jammies, since that’s been my talk-on-the-phone spot in every home I’ve lived in since age 11, when I first remember finding any interest in the phone.

The boys came in and out, in and out, in and out. Tuck was perpetually annoyed that I was still on the phone instead of serving him dessert, and he finally brought me a half gallon of ice cream and asked me to take off the lid. He resolved to solve this problem on his own. I applaud this.

A few more trips in and out, now with a grocery bag. And then he passed by with my silverware drawer in his hands.

The whole drawer.

I put Laurelyn on hold for just a moment.  “Tuck?? What are you doing with the silverware?”

“Mommy. People need spoons.”

One of the primary values in our home is hospitality, and I’m teaching the boys that everything we have is for sharing. The cupboards are open to them as long as they are sharing with their friends, and there’s nothing we have that we love too much to give away. There is always more where that came from, and when you’re not sure, give it away.

I think the boys have accepted this value, perhaps even internalized it. Every night, they share snacks with their friends – a bag of Doritos, a box of CapriSun drink boxes, a dozen popsicles.

Tonight they hosted an ice cream party on our front porch.

A dozen children were in my front yard, ranging from first grade to eleventh, and ice cream shrapnel was scattered all around. Three tubs of ice cream, one vanilla and two mint chocolate chip, all the sprinkles from the baking cupboard, an array of plastic plates and cups, and of course, my silverware drawer.

Five teenagers sat on the front porch, in rocking chairs and on the ground, texting and laughing and telling their summertime sagas. Girls were braiding hair. Boys were shooting hoops. And everyone was eating ice cream.

There was laughter. There was community. And in the middle of it all was the pile of books I’d been reading when Laurelyn called. Move your feet, lose your seat.

“Hey, everybody, looks like quite a party out here!”
“Hi, Tucker and Tyler’s mom! Thanks for the ice cream!”
“You bet, guys. I’ll stay stocked all summer. You’re welcome here anytime.”

At 9:47 pm, I called my two children inside. And I’d just like to say that I think 9:47 is entirely generous for a six- and seven-year-old. But they were the hosts of the party, and everyone knows the host can’t leave early. That hospitality rule comes shortly after the first: Always have enough for everyone.

Right now, the boys are tucked in, I’m sitting in my bed, and the party continues. I told them they can stay as late as they want, whenever they want. I’ll leave the porch light on.

I said, “Good night, everybody. You’re my favorite.”

One of the girls said, “I’m writing that in my journal tonight.”
Another said, “It’s going on my FB wall.”

A Costco membership is a small price to pay for my children’s favor among their friends. And as an aside, there is community, friendship, and love. And sprinkles.

On my front porch.

Hello, Songza. Meet My Friends.

Has anyone introduced you to Songza? Allow me.

Songza is my favorite app for choosing music to accommodate the mood, environment, and setting for my listening pleasure.  It’s sort of like a personalized Pandora.

With Songza, when I sign on, it prompts me with a series of questions.

Good morning, Tricia.
It’s Tuesday late morning where you are.
What are you in the mood for today?
Would you like to play music for driving?
Soaking up the sun?
Taking a Sunny Stroll?
Taking the Day Off?
Working at your desk?
Hanging out with your Family?

I’m sort of working at my desk, if by ‘desk’ you mean the couch at the coffee shop, and by ‘working’ you mean the exhiliration of writing, which feels like taking my brain for a bike ride.

I choose Working at my Desk.

And then Songza asks a few more questions to clarify: Tricia, would you like music with lyrics or without lyrics?  Classical?  Jazz?  Movie Scores?

I choose Music without Lyrics, Movie Scores.

And just like that, Songza presents me with several complete playlists to accomodate my working mind on this Tuesday morning.

The options are endless. I’ve used Songza for laying on the beach (Ultimate Beach Party Playlist), boosting confidence (Eye of the Tiger Playlist), a brisk walk (Happy Pop Hits), a dinner party (The World of Nat King Cole), and even creating an avenue for my mind to pretend I’m somewhere else so I can write about somewhere I’ve never been (French Hip Hop Playlist).

Songza is also a great option for when you’re in the car with the new special someone in your life, you need some music to fill the not-yet-comfortable silences, but you’re not ready to pop in your iPod to reveal your guilty pleasure playlists featuring Brittany Spears or your affection for Simon and Garfunkel. (You can tell a lot about a person from their playlist options. It’s a lot to give or receive right away.) And so, you get out your savvy phone and you say, “Songza, I’m driving in the car and I’d like to listen to a male singer/songwriter today, on this Friday evening.”

Bam. ‘World of John Mayer.’ Perfection.

And if it happens that a song pops up and you think, “What the… I don’t want to listen to this!”  Well, then Songza picked it.  Not you and your iPod.  :)

Go ahead and download this app, if you haven’t already. You won’t be sorry.

My brother, his wife, and I were doodling around on Songza to find just the right playlist for our California drive last week. Since there are hundreds of options under any activity you can imagine, there’s a playlist for everything.

“Hey, Rob, listen to this – there’s a Playlist called Songs to Take a Dump To.”

I personally couldn’t think of a song that would encourage or set the mood for a big job in the bathroom. Whaddya say, Songza? We just had to see what Songza might recommend.

Oh, but here’s one catch: if you sign on through Facebook, Songza will market himself by posting your music choice on your wall, under ‘recent activities.’ (Do you see where I’m going with this?) FB reads: Tricia Lott Williford is listening to Songza: Songs to Take a Dump To: Lynard Skynard: That Smell.

Um, no she isn’t. Service: disabled.

Anyway, get Songza. And then disable the services that tell the world you’re in the mood for Making Out on a Saturday Afternoon.

Don’t Rush the Hydration, Kid.

If you jump on a trampoline,

and you get super thirsty,

and you come running into my kitchen for hydration,

and you are too hurried to get a cup,

so you drink directly from the water dispenser on the refrigerator door,

you will feel like you are drinking from a firehose.

And you will throw up on my floor.

 

True story.  I just saw it happen.

Thoughts on the Naked Helen Hunt

I kind of don’t want to tell you the title of this movie or who is in it, because you might have some opinions on whether or not such media is appropriate.  And I’ve dawdled around this topic in my mind, trying to decide if I’ll write it or not.  Usually, if I’m not sure I should write it, then I should.

 

Movie: The Sessions.  Actor: Helen Hunt.

 

In the movie, Mark O’Brien is a reporter for the Pacific News Service, a poet, and a victim of polio since age six.  He’s in an iron lung for hours each day, his body is rigid and immobile, but his mind is sharp, his emotions are real, and he is a man in every way.

 

He wants love.  Actually, he wants to make love.  He seeks a blessing from his priest to proceed with this controversial approach, and then he works with a sex surrogate to consummate the journey of his sexuality as a person with disabilities.

 

The movie is absolutely brilliant.  The film approaches sex from an unlikely vantage point, from a helpless person who cannot do for himself, as well as a professional therapist pursuing the course of helping and healing.

 

The story is respectful and honest, not pornographic or exploitive, but the movie is graphic.  We’re invited to watch as a man chooses humility and courage to learn what he would not otherwise experience.  And let’s be honest.  It’s straight up a movie about sex.

 

I’m not writing to declare any stance on media, religion, alternative therapy, advocacy, or sexuality.  I’m not writing to discuss all that I learned from the film, although I’m pretty sure I could write a sizeable thesis.  I didn’t even set out to write a movie review, although I guess it turns out that’s what I’m doing.

 

I’m writing about the way we see ourselves.

 

Helen Hunt’s character, Cheryl Cohen-Greene, is a typical soccer mom with a home and mortgage, a son and a husband.  When she first takes the screen, she’s coming inside from doing yardwork, and she’s dressed in jeans in a t-shirt. I imagine she’s also wearing cute, worn flip flops, though we don’t see her feet in that scene.  She looks lovely, honest, believable… and skeletal.  I recall that as the word that immediately came to mind: Skeletal.  Her clothes hang loosely on her frame, her angles are sharp, her eyes are sunken, and her lips are thin.

 

I mean this with all due respect to beautiful you, Helen Hunt.  You are lovely and wise, witty and demure, and I have loved you since your days as the ever charming Jamie Buchman.  And I’m sure you didn’t begin filming until you were good and ready to bare your entire soul and self on screen.  Given the assignment, I would aim for skeletal as well.

 

As Cheryl begins her sessions with Mark, as Helen takes off her clothes to varying degrees until we can see everything she has, I found that this actress is quite remarkably perfect in her skin.  No extra bumps, folds, or lines.  No imperfections.  Truly, remarkably perfect.

 

In fact, I have concluded that she is most beautiful without her clothes on, and this perception has affected me profoundly.

 

In my mind, I have formed a basic cause and effect argument. She looks skeletal in her clothing so that she may look perfect in her full exposure.  The converse is also true: in order to look flawless in the bedroom scenes, she is skin over bones throughout the rest of the movie.

 

Right now, I am wordless to explain what this means for me.  I guess it’s sort of a wordless discovery.  I keep writing sentences and deleting them, looking for coherency.

 

I guess it’s something of a trade-off.  Sure, she looked good naked, but otherwise she looked emaciated and hungry.

 

Sure, I may or may not have some parts I’d rather keep hidden forevermore.  (Who are we kidding?  Totally do.)  Still, I feel like I can put together a pretty, curvy, feminine outfit, given cute jeans, a t-shirt, and beloved, worn flip flops.  Since that’s how most of the world will ever see me for all of their days, I think I’d prefer for ‘clothed’ to be my better look.

 

You’d think seeing her naked would have made me feel worse about myself, but no.  I feel better, actually.

 

Her figure is as unattainably perfect as a forever immaculate home.  Just not worth the effort and constant scrutiny.  I am free to put my feet on the coffee table, wear my shoes in the house, stack dishes in the sink, and smile at myself in the mirror – regardless of whether I’ve just stepped out of the shower or I’m ready to walk out the door.

 

Freedom.  Sweet freedom.  With clothes on.

Pancake Ice Cubes

Right now, the boys are making cupcakes.

Actually, they are doing an experiment with pancake mix, water, Gogurt, and sprinkles. Oh, and this just in: lemon juice and lime juice, both brand new in the refrigerator, each opened by the power of my Grandma’s antique nut cracker.

Don’t think Christmas figurine with a beard. Think large tweezers to use backwards.

I like to think I keep extra things on hand for such experiments, but the truth is, I think I just buy more than we need, so there are naturally leftovers (or items yet unopened) that lend themselves to ‘experiments.’

I’ve learned to say yes to these experiments, since a dozen eggs cost about a dollar, and if I don’t provide the ingredients, they’ll go looking for them under the kitchen sink. And their ingredients will have the phone number for poison control written across the bottle.

So, gentlemen, have your fill with the edible ingredients. Right now, since I declined their request to put their creation in the oven, they have instead opted for the freezer. Also an optimal place for science observation. They tell me the goal is pancake ice cubes.

I just overhead debate about mustard, is it a liquid or a solid.

I hear Tyler speaking like a surgeon to his assitant. “Towel. Napkin. Scalpel.”

There is only one rule: Clean it up. Usually, they overlook many steps in this process. If I go in there to find yogurt and pancake mix caked on my floor, so help me.

They bound onto the deck, now holding Windex and dish towels. “Mommy, while you’re sitting out here doing nothing, we’re going to do some work for you. You’ll be so proud of us. We’re going to start with your bathroom.”

And the pendulum swings. But don’t let them fool you: it’s not really about serving mommy. It’s just about moving the science experiments to the bathroom.

While I’m sitting out here doing nothing.