The Shining

I have no idea why I do this (yes, I do) but sometimes when I am alone I start imagining my life as the setting for a horror film (cue the time my babysitter took us to a showing of The Shining when I was six years old. Would love to say she never babysat for us again but sugar babies and coke with crushed ice was involved and let's just say the bribery worked - until guilt and nightmares had me spilling the beans to mom.)

So give me an empty house like tonight and I suddenly hear weird noises from the basement.

Somehow when my son is around, my thoughts never go to a dark place. Some kind of momma bear instinct keeps me from ever letting the boogie man take up even a millimeter of space in my musings. The keeper of safe dreams cannot be a wimp!

On business trips, however, I find my thoughts often take a more fanciful turn. I usually go to the same cities and with three main time zones to work from, every hour is taken up with work. I keep thinking about returning with the family for a proper exploration - but who wants to vacation where you work from?

So I tend to fit my sightseeing in on walks around my hotel. Sometimes for an early morning espresso but usually for a late night decaf cappuccino when I can't sleep (time change) and I figure I'll walk a few blocks to mingle with the homeless, the students and weird sleepless strangers like me. Maybe its these tiny cracks of exploration into a new place that gets my imagination going. Maybe its being on my own away from the familiar (and my husband).

My latest trip had me in a new wing (new to me but ancient-old for the hotel). They were booked up with conventions and I was tucked away on a floor where I saw absolutely NO ONE else on that floor for three days. Apparently it is the last area to be remodeled.

Sometimes I would hear voices but never actually saw a single person.

To make the situation creepier, the entire floor reminded me of...(you guessed it) The Overlook Hotel, aka the hotel in the movie The Shining! If you don't believe me, have a gander...

My room was at the end of a hall right next to a creepy metal stairway. One night before turning in I peeped through the keyhole and just freaked myself out by imagining something white move very quickly past my door. Cue palpating heart and moving desk chair in front of the door.

Like that would help! I've seen enough films to know for fact that if a crazy, psychotic fiend wants to chop you up with lawn tools, they have a way of making that happen.

So I ignored it. But not before taking a picture in hopes of preserving my silly bout of imagination for morning chuckles. It did the opposite. The next night I stepped out of the elevator in total silence and walked calmly about six feet before shedding my heels to hightail it with barely suppressed squeals all the way to my room with shoes, briefcase and card key in hand. Darn that babysitter and Jack Nicholson's crazy eyebrows!

For some reason my hotels are frequently surrounded by addicts who get more aggressive at night and often follow me down the block chanting "...gimmemoneygirlgimmemoney
girlcantyouhearmeIsaidgivememoneygirl" while I am clinging to my Starbucks cup (fake, polite smile, check! No eye contact with the strange limping man on my left, check!) and trying hard to pretend to be Mary Moore on a sunny stroll while considering where to toss the coffee if anyone actually tries to grab me. This happens in well lit streets with police officers on every corner so its not like I am walking down alleyways.

Before you think me totally heartless, living in New York for so many years has taught me never to give money to strangers at night - it is a bit like the children's book Give a Moose a Muffin? It is creepy to be followed by someone who also text their friends down the block to note you are a sure thing and otherwise make you regret the impulse - especially when they look at the three dollars you have given them and begin a discourse on inflation and the cost of failing the homeless in distopian societies. So I stick to daytime assistance.

Enough getting off track! Not sure why I work myself up yet reading this post I think I will avoid late night wanderings for coffee and see if that doesn't stop the over active imaginings from taking a hike. I am also going to tuck a chair beneath the basement doorknob and check the alarm - just to feel better.


The big transition is well underway. Just when we all got the hang of laid back summer routine, we are thrown back into a new school year with lots of activities. I am both glad (I love a busy routine and organising lots of action!) and also mournful for our late night Dr. Who fests and weekends in water.

Monkey is on the travel soccer team, which means three two hour practices per week plus Sunday games. He also has weekly guitar lessons and Boy Scouts and has already requested basketball and winter snowboarding. I am also waiting for the homework crunch to begin as third grade is a big step up in studies. Why oh why wasn't I more militant about multiplication skills over the summer? We did quite a bit of work but it was not the hard core study fest I'd planned for us. I really, really tried. Truly I did.

But when your eight year old begins negotiations by pointing out your lack of a bona fide teaching degree and the futility of focusing on how much is 12 x 6 when there are lightening bugs just waiting to visit that glass bell jar with the air holes cut through the top - well, you remember what it felt like to be eight years old and pity the dirty boy who needs to be in a shower but only wants to be outside.

So we are enjoying our early morning Saturdays on the practice field. The sun is lovely at 8:30am on the soon to be fading summer greenery. My husband is an assistant coach and I love seeing them bond so firmly over a shared love of soccer. It has also been fun to reconnect with faces we haven't seen much of over the past three months. Bonus confession that I adore school supplies. Sharpened pencils and composition notebooks make me so darn happy!

Every year since Kindergarten we take his photo with backpack on while holding a sign like the one above (the color ink was low in our printer so I tried to dress it up at the last second with a bit of marker - lame?). It is amazing how much they change over the summer!

I couldn't resist taking pictures of the last wave of Sunflowers. It seems fitting to recognise their beauty just before the cooler weather begins to arrive. All things change and we are transitioning nicely. Did I mention Fall is my favorite season?

Sheryl and Martha

So I've been doing some deep cleaning and gathered a ton of old magazines for the recycling center. Struck by the contrast in a Time cover on a leading business woman and a famous guide for serious homemaking, I snapped a photo of the two together as they seem to reflect the contrast (or duality?) of my interests in some strange way. That sounds pompous and far too self indulgent - do over - let's just say that it seemed ironic. I have a switch that allows me to be both work focused and Mommy minded very easily - although rarely at the same time. I am getting better at switching between the two much faster.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg is old news but certainly earned its PR stripes. Valuable thoughts yet not very innovative. My own takeaways are that we have to stop looking askance at older men mentoring young women, that we women tend to build our own stumbling blocks and when you are invited to the table, take a seat. Many more.

It is admirable when the Sheryls and the Marissa Mayer's of the world succeed. Succeed big. I unfurl my girl flag and woop it up (figuratively.)Yet I also know like I know my name that they did not succeed BECAUSE they are women. It is great that they may, and the world may, identify their success with their gender. But the truth is that these are exceptionally intelligent and talented people who work very hard.

Perhaps I am naive yet beneath all the layers of influence defined by generational and cultural messages I think a greater truth exists - a natural understanding that we are equal contributors valued by our individual talents and drive. And isn't that what is truly amazing?