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Going the Distance

Going the Distance

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Published by Helen Winslow Black
Mother's Day Out, Vol.2, No.8 9/28/10
For Irma
Mother's Day Out, Vol.2, No.8 9/28/10
For Irma

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Published by: Helen Winslow Black on Sep 26, 2010
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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Going The Distance
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Mother
By Helen Black
MOTHER’S DAY OUT,Vol.2,No.8 September 25, 2010
Fig. 1.
“She conked out, but her hair held up” (remember those Clairol ads from the ‘70’s?)
Greetings, gentle readers! The title for this piece comes from the fabulous last track of Cake’s album
Fashion Nugget 
, which Swoosh is listening to lately in an endlessloop. Like father, like son; it was practically the only album Daddy played duringthe entirety of 1997…he was even playing it as he drove me to the hospital, on theone occasion (Scriblet #2) I agreed to deliver a baby in that most bizarre of settings…which biophilosophical standpoint actually lent new and enhancedmeaning to the opening words of the song (
reluctantly crouched at the startingline
). I have a feeling Swoosh filched the disk from Old Father. I’m amazed it’sstill intact and playable. Album of the year for1996 was Southern Culture on theSkids’
 Dirt Track Date
and that one bit the dust long ago.As for the subtitle, it’s tongue-in-cheek. It’s impossible to be lonely in a houseliterally TEEMING with vast quantities of children! Curiously, the additions seemmainly to be boys, which I don’t mind because their amusement value, on average,is slightly higher, and I mean that in the best and kindest way. Slapstick comedy is just what the doctor ordered for the year 2010.Besides Blondie, the hitherto nameless hungry teenager immortalized in Vol 1.,No.1 (“Why Women Write”), we’ve now got Spike on retainer as well. Spikeselected his nickname himself –these kids are onto me now. The moniker isintended to refer to his track stardom, but also applies to his hair.Spike is the youngest in his family, so he thinks it’s an absolute hoot to sit aroundthe dining room table and have fish-shaped fish sticks with the young -uns beforehe and Swoosh embark on their almost daily spider-hunting expeditions. I am NOTmaking this up. Yes, these almost-seventeen-year-olds think hunting spiders is, like,the best activity ever invented, and YES these are kids who have driver’slicenses…
girlfriends.After supper, they take old spaghetti jars or sawed-in-half plastic soda bottles andtroop off into the dripping underbelly of the forest behind the house (trailed, of course, by all the young-uns with THEIR jars and bottles) and
catch spiders
, andmaybe a few other little critters.Then they divvy them up in different combinations according to some complex andmysterious equation, like the square of the child’s container divided by the root of his height in inches. The young-uns are agog, and there are no complaints. Thenthey accessorize, adding little sticks, and moss, and leaves, and moss-coveredsticks, and leaf-covered moss, and stick-covered leaves, and so on.The ringleaders leave the little ones to their own devices and retire to Swoosh’scave upstairs, where they listen to Cake’s
Fashion Nugget 
and Facebook on theirspider psychology observations. These are intricate and, apparently, quite neatlysuited to analogy on all aspects of teen culture. I know because they shared some of 
 this enthusiasm with me (those of you with teenagers will know this is the ultimatecompliment), and I said it looked like this was turning into a magnum opus andcould it possibly become their junior thesis so they could get some credit for all thistime, but
said no, junior thesis had to be about a BOOK, and anyways, youhave to do your OWN junior thesis, they couldn’t do it together. So
said, well,how about gunning for extra credit, and Swoosh rolled his eyes, so I said “Hey!
Workin’ for you, baby!
which was always Old Father’s joke, but I haveappropriated it, because I am now the only adult living at Nueva Casa Lucila, whichis what I have just decided to name my house, for reasons which I may divulge in alater issue. Or…maybe...Hacienda Helena. Old Father and I always had a penchantfor naming things. For example, the basement was the Nether Regions. The livingroom was the Grand Salon, or the Drawing Room, depending on whether we’d beenwatching French cinema or Masterpiece Theater on DVD after the most recent babyhad fallen asleep. And the porch was the Ramparts, or the Lido Deck, if we werehaving a cocktail under full moon while waiting for the most recent baby to fallasleep. Listen when you have three children in four years you don’t get out much.You have to make your own fun. Anyways. What I said was, I said: “Workin’ foryou, baby!” and sashayed out of the room, so the teenagers could make fun of mebehind my back in peace.
the little ones stay outside (outside is good!) and get totally into theterrarium aspect of the whole deal. They get pretty inventive, but I recentlyoutlawed water features unless we were dealing with a tightly-lidded container,even though my dining room rug has this earth-toned pattern ideal for hiding mudspots, which was actually why I bought it because I had three children in four yearsand knew which way the wind was blowing, housekeeping-wise.So where was I? Oh yes, the brief introduction that goes on for pages. It must behormones. Where I was, was this: I have so many MDO’s in the hopper I can’tthink straight. There’s Part 2 to “Ah, Wilderness,” and I bet there are SOME of youout there who haven’t forgotten about the long-promised “Sex and the Suburbs,”among other catchy titles. But what I really wanted to do with No.8 was just take an
, like they used to do in super- long movies, like
Gone with the Wind 
(actually, refresh my memory, didn’t we have to go to the movie theaterfor two consecutive
on that one?) and give you a little update on the Scriblets,whom over the past year you have grown to know and love, which is easier for youbecause you don’t have to be with them 24/7
 just kidding!!
and we’ll start with thechickens.

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PurrfectSense liked this
Helen Winslow Black added this note
Preparing for Litquake...have decided to read something funny. Funny's always goodf. So I've gotten that far! Now I just have to find a southbound turnip wagon!
Helen Winslow Black added this note
My teenagers have just informed me there is a movie out by this name. I wonder if they got the title from Cake too?
Helen Winslow Black added this note
Newsflash: Bluetooth found in ForeverBaby's terrarium last night; Penrod won the Whoppers
Helen Winslow Black added this note
Ran a few laps of the school's fundraising jogathon with my two daughters on Friday. Circling the track, three abreast, hand in hand, under a crisp blue sky, joyfully brought the title of this piece to mind. We're going the distance!
Helen Winslow Black added this note
MIRACLE ON 87th STREET Spike's mom just took me to Costco and bought $800 worth of groceries. Fridge, freezer & pantry are now stocked, proof that the Spirit of Christmas Present is alive and well. Truth is...beautifuler than fiction! tho fiction tells the truth in a beautiful way...at any rate: "God Bless us all, every one!"--especially, D.H., lovely and generous soul
Sal Page added this note
Wow! I feel like I just found a treasure. Makes me wish I still lived in Sausalito so I could attend your reading. Wonderful.
What a journey, Helen. Onward and upward is clearly the theme in every strong line of this piece.

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