A Birthday Message

Friday, July 22, 2011

For years I've listened to NPR, played the game of Name that Voice before the reporter signs off, picturing each commentator (Cory Flintoff delivers his stories from a leather winged-back chair, a burning cigar just out of frame; Ann Taylor has white hair. Smart gingham jacket. And pearls. Always pearls.) And then one day I decided I wasn't content with my imaginary stable. I needed to know that very minute what Melissa Block looked like and I hopped over to the site and she was so, so extremely NOT what I had pictured that I stopped myself from looking any further.

It's not unlike a time in college when I grabbed a friend and spontaneously drove to Nashville to listen to Stephen King be interviewed on stage. Sure, I knew what Uncle Stevie looked like thanks to the innumerable book jacket photos, but seeing him in person kinda threw me. He was just as foul-mouthed as his characters and rather pompous and blase about it all (this was pre-car accident), and I was still living a sheltered college girl existence, but I was really put-off by Stephen King, the person, not the creation in my head. It stayed with me as I read more of his stories, unable to divorce the man from the work.

So I think about this conundrum as I find myself visiting blogs and websites about the ever-evolving status of the publishing industry and its relationship with social media. I'm currently at work on a graphic novel and curious about the best way to approach publishing. According to the bloggers and writers who are the most media savvy, these are the writers that we as readers are going to seek out because we have a relationship with them. We not only know their words, but thanks to twitter and you tube and google plus, we will know them as people, too, and this will make us seek out the work more. If a writer is to be successful in the 21st century, he or she will have a brand, a platform, a strong, finely honed identity that will make them stand apart from the rest. I think if you are writing a memoir, this kind of natural cross promoting works. But what about a fiction writer? If you know his/her thoughts on abortion and pets and a recipe for quick weeknight meal, are you more likely to seek out their literary thrillers?

With everything so accessible, isn't there something kinda magical about a little mystery?

I ask you, while said writer is tweeting and FBing and blogging and letting you in to their personal sphere, shouldn't they maybe just be writing?

Or if you write and don't blog about it, will anybody download your book to their kindle?

So all that said, my video debut!

a birthday message from Melissa Anderson Sweazy on Vimeo.

Cruel summer

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

If people lived by the credo of "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," I'm not sure blogger - let alone the internet - would have been invented.

So I will not whine about my raging mid life crisis. How I have reached a certain age where I truly need makeup yet can barely find the time to apply it.

I could tell you about the cold fear in my belly as I fished my daughter from the pool, having realized she was struggling to breathe in the five seconds I turned my back. How the look on her face in that moment keeps me up at night.

My depression over our trips to Florida -and California - being cancelled because our house ate our bank account was a strong contender.

Instead, I will tell you about Harlow staring at my belly.

"Mama, look at how fat your belly is," she said. I stared down at her, eyebrows raised.

"Please," she added.

Because if I want to leave you with anything, it is that politeness right there? That is the product of awesome parenting.

Ellee

Thursday, July 14, 2011

smooch

Meet Miss Ellee. I was thrilled to, especially after having the privilege of shooting her mommy and daddy's wedding.

Hard, being so loved and so damn cute, eh?

3 months

Monday, July 11, 2011

new couch. newish baby.

New couch. Newish baby.

When Declan was three days old, the nurse wheeled me to the hospital exit, wished us well and released us into the world. Caleb hustled to buckle the baby into his sister's old car seat, and I hurried to join them in the back, the wind that April day particularly cold and biting. Baby was situated, we were ready to go - and that's when we realized that we had locked ourselves into the backseat of our own car.

Directly in front of the hospital lobby.

Thanks to Volvo's ubersafe childproof locks and Declan's carseat situated in the middle, we weren't getting out easy.

We hadn't even left the hospital parking lot and already, we had failed.

And what did we do?

We laughed hysterically for about five minutes before Caleb managed to squeeze his lanky frame over the passenger seat and drive us home.

I think that moment is a pretty good indicator of the past three months with Declan. By no means is he a "hard" baby but certainly harder than his sister was as an infant. Thankfully, the second go at this has made everything seem easier.

I'm a bit weary of the incessant spitup (and overflowing laundry) but I'll take that over the colicky screaming fits that blessedly strike with less frequency these days. I've made miserable attempts at cutting out certain foods (no cheese, no sampling the chocolate chip cookies I just baked with the kiddo), but honestly I'm hoping that the books will be right this time, that those newborn intestines will work out the kinks by week 12 and the gassiness will just magically disappear.

Because I like manchego and chocolate chip cookies.

He giggled at me around the second month, a strange, burbling sound that truly does not seem part of this world, more of an echo from his alien beginnings. A friend shared with me that some tribal cultures don't believe that the baby is truly human until their first laugh, a sentiment I can get behind. Even though they are here, in your arms, don't they truly seem that they are not yet fully part of this world? The unearthly cries that don't seem to come from his throat or lungs but elsewhere, those phantom, almost metallic sounding grunts as they paw at the breast for food? I guess it's the trade off for those big, gorgeous brains they have - we are blessed not to give birth to a munchkin that's been bulking up for 52 weeks, but really, wouldn't it be nice to cook those babies a little longer so they come out as if they were 3 months old - bright eyed, smiley, and ready to engage with the world?

I'm happy to report that Declan is fully with us on the planet. Kiddo is strong - he could hold his head up well at 7 weeks, so now his neck works like a spectator at Wimbledon, constantly swiveling to see where that pesky little blonde girl went. He is committed to what we call his baby crunches, curling forward so that he can (one day) sit up. Unfortunately he likes to practice this in his car seat, a move that typically results in his getting his head stuck on the side of the seat.

Some patterns are starting to emerge from the haze of those early weeks. He has a bedtime which is early (yay) but coincides with his sister's next door, so it's like trying to soothe a baby to sleep by placing it in a ballpit inside a Chuckie Cheese. To her credit, Harlow tries to be quiet, but really, I don't want her memory of bedtime to be SHHHHHHHHHHHHDONTWAKETHEBABY. Fortunately for us, she has chosen just the right time to fall in love with a fellow 4 year old lad in her summer day care, so she's eager to hear bedtime stories about Prince Bryce and fall sweetly into dreamland for more.

They are both asleep. The house is quiet. Mama out.

Burn the dance floor

Raifords

The last time I went dancing at Raiford's Disco, I was on summer break from college. I have no memory of who I was with, but I remember everyone else - soused college boys, beer-soaked 45 year old ladies in cut off shorts cougaring long before it was forgivable, fog machines, red lights, and Raiford himself - slick jheri curl, sunglasses inside, a mouth of gold. True to the club's name, the music was pure 70s, and the dancing was frenetic, the kind that leaves you wet and wrung out and sticky with cigarette smoke and sweat. In the red lights, we were foolish and we were beautiful.

Good god how I miss dancing.

Saturday night I got the chance to visit the new Raiford's - slightly bigger than the original, but still the same acrid smoke smell, the stripper poles, the warnings not to check your coat with the coat girl as Raiford's did not actually employ a coat check girl. My friends Chris and Lurene set the bar for celebrating 15 years of marriage by doing so at a disco. Caleb and I tried desperately and failed to score a babysitter, so we decided to take shifts. I took the 9-11:30, showing up in my sparkly mini and heels to a largely empty disco. But by 11:30, my muscles already ached from dancing, my hair the no-nonsense wet mess in a bun that frees up your neck for more head tossing.

I love how dancing is like riding a bike, that there is some serious wobble until the third or fourth song - or until Stevie Wonder arrives to make dances pros of us all. At 11:30, the dance floor was pea soup thick with fog machines, friends, drunk college boys, and better dressed cougars. I started to see some awesome dance archetypes falling into place, beginning with a couple of my signatures.

1. The Clapper - the dancer keeps the beat like they are warming up at a pep rally, front to back, over the head, getting in some serious cardio but not really dancing so much as jogging in place. Small wonder my quads catch fire the next morning.

2. The Trancer - they love to dance and they really want you to know they love to dance. They exist in their own little square footage and make no mistake - they are not dancing with you, just kinda adjacent. They are terrified of #5.

3. The Storyteller - this one acts out the lyrics of the song, i.e. scrubbing a phantom car at the Car Wash, texting Lady Gaga during Telephone, crumbling, laying down and dying and flexing muscles to prove they Will Survive. This can quickly segue into

4. Bag of Tricks - there is always the one, the guy who busts out with the sprinkler, the bus driver, the shopping cart

5. The Lyricist - this is a close relative of the Storyteller, a dancer who leans in during the chorus and demands unfaltering eye contact as you say AHOOOWAH DANCING IN SEPTEMBER, AHBOOGAH YO NO SAY REMEMBER. (What the hell is going on by the end of that chorus, anyway? )

6. The Exotic Dancer - if there is a pole, they will use it, and disturbingly well. If there is not a pole, there will be a drunk college boy as a willing stand in. And he will catch it as she drops it, repeatedly.

7. The Wishes Every Dance was a Line Dance - this one usually is some combo of #s 1 and 7 but catches FIRE during the Electric Slide. They know every move, every kick and go left and to the back and walk it out with finesse.

8. The Galaxy - gravity doesn't apply here. He/she flings themselves onto the floor and is at the DJs mercy, careening around until they collide into #4's shopping cart or the DJ stops the room cold with El deBarge, whichever happens first.

Do you see yourself in a combination here? Did I leave out some good ones? Have you been dancing lately?

You should go. Your heart and quads the brain cells responsible for moving you through YMCA will thank you.

Harlow and the Wolf

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Last week was Harlow's Peter and the Wolf ballet camp. (yeah, yeah adorable but seriously. why is school still out for the entire summer?) I picked her up on bird day and duck day, and she told me about flutes and oboes and masks and dancing with her best friend, Adelaide. I picked her up on wolf day and she was low to the ground, skittish, jumping into my arms and declaring that she DID NOT like the French horn. It was scary! she declared. This was a dramatic reversal from previous statements, where she insisted I inform Miss Mandy that she - and she only - would be the wolf. I thought this was kinda rad.

I quickly moved attempted some PR spin.

I love that your imagination is so strong, I told her. The music scared you because you imagined the wolf being right there!

You know my imagination, mama? she replied. I'm gonna pound it. In the face.

So much for that.

We're gathered at the recital. The kids come streaming in wearing their handmade shirts and costumes and then suddenly there is this creature who breaks rank and comes running for me, a cat-masked, duck-feathered, wolf-tailed Harlow who squeals Mommy! and flies into my arms. She gives me a hug, and I squeeze her back, laughing, kind of embarrassed to have all eyes in the performance space on me. But just as quickly my heart hurts in my chest, so humbled to be the only parent singled out for such a display.

I was too busy watching Harlow be all Um Miss Mandy? Oh, Miss Mandy? Can you, uh, Miss Mandy? to take pictures but I'm happy to report she flapped and quacked and yes - even waved a paw in the air and grrred through the scary French horn section.

***

D
photo by Nana

She has a brother, too. I may have mentioned him before. He's 3 months old (!) and cooing and smiling and fighting his way to sitting up and so deserves a longer post than I can manage at the moment. Maybe if he stops waking up at 4, I can find the energy to tell you more about him.

Abe

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Here's a little sneak from this weekend's baby shoot.

Yes, I want to eat him, too.

abe

Happy 4th

Monday, July 4, 2011

Because, y'all, seriously. If you've been reading this blog, you know this

just doesn't

ever

get old.