A Mother’s Prayer for its Child by Tina Fey

“First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen.Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, that she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. “My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.


-Tina Fey

LSS: Baker for a day

Combining a soft spot for good bread with an interest in raising global awareness, especially to the plight of people in West Africa is a win-win-win.
Great Harvest Bread Co. has chosen Eric Wowoh, a former Liberian refugee and founder of Change Agent Network, to be their Baker for a Day today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. All sales generated today will benefit the poverty-stricken people of war-torn Liberia, a country in West Africa.
Some may ask, “When there are so many locally in need, shouldn’t we focus our attentions closer to home?”
My answer to that is, “Then get busy focusing your attention closer to home.”
Because, you’re right, there are plenty of kids who go to bed hungry and don’t get the love or education they need right here in Acadiana — probably minutes from wherever you live, in fact.
However, doing what we’re called to do — whether it’s making a positive difference at home by tutoring a 6th grader who needs to learn how to read, organizing a service day for middle school-aged students, raising money and awareness to educate people in far-away West Africa or making cranes to raise money and support for others in Japan — is what makes a difference. I’m a believer in the adage, “To whom much is given, much is required.” No, we’re never going to save the whole world, but it’s certainly not going to get any better if we don’t try. So, if there’s something that’s been nagging at you that you know needs to get done. There’s a reason why it’s nagging at you.
Take a cue from a shoe and just do it.
That’s what Eric Wowoh and Fran Clarke did.
Their efforts are proof that if you build it, they really will come.
They may not come right away, but eventually, they will come. Perseverance is required.
On Sunday, evidence of their perseverance will be the money raised at Great Harvest — money that will help build schools, pay teachers and ship donated computers for Liberia. It also supports Yassah’s Sisters, an organization founded by Lafayette’s Clarke. Yassah’s Sisters is a pay-it forward planting and agricultural program helping the women of Liberia create a better future for themselves, their children and their country.
Great Harvest, located at 854A Kaliste Saloom Rd., usually loafs on Sundays, but today they’re open and will donate all ingredients, supplies and overhead of running the big oven and related equipment to the cause. Bakery employees volunteer their time to make the event happen. Change Agent Network volunteers join in the fun of adding even more than good bread to the day.
They’ll have all the trimmings for a fun day including magicians. As an introduction to the magic of West Africa, Les Djembes, Acadiana’s only women’s West African drumming ensemble, will perform at 12:30. Everyone is invited to bring a drum and join in the grand finale.
“Eric Wowoh is one of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever known,” said Clarke. “Our Yassah’s Sisters program is raising funds to begin a micro-finance program to help the women of northern Liberia have a sustainable agriculture and improve lives.”
In 2010, Yassah’s Sisters shipped 85,000 pounds of goods from Acadiana to Liberia.
Wowoh, a young boy when war broke out in Liberia, was separated from his family. He was captured, tortured and survived several attempts to force him to become a child soldier. He fled his country on foot and alone. He settled in a refugee camp in Nigeria and lived there for more than 10 years. He founded Change Agent Network there in the refugee camp as he taught computer skills to fellow refugees. He arrived in the U.S. in 2006 and has worked to raise awareness and gather resources by creating tuition-free schools for the Liberian poor who otherwise would have no educational opportunities.

LSS: Poetic (in)Justice

April inspires thought and notion.
I set out to see the world anew.
Stippled light and shadows ocean
my spirit another winter through.

I set out to see the world anew
replete and wide, eyes washed clean.
My spirit another winter through,
summer shadows unforeseen.

Replete and wide, eyes washed clean,
the afternoon glow tenders hope.
Summer shadows unforeseen
from the base of a rising slope.

The afternoon glow tenders hope,
A quiet chance for planting.
From the base of a rising slope,
the future must be slanting.

A quiet chance for planting
Doesn’t happen often.
The future must be slanting
for our falls to soften.

Doesn’t happen often,
perfect light and gentle wind,
For our falls to soften;
for wounded hearts to mend.

Perfect light and gentle wind
Sustain a weary soul.
For wounded hearts to mend,
a virtual choir, harmonies whole.

Sustain a tired soul.
Vermilion river flowing.
A virtual choir, harmonies whole.
Children gather, strength unknowing.

Vermilion river flowing,
April inspires thought and notion.
Children gather, strength unknowing,
stippled light and shadows ocean.

Editor’s Note: April is National Poetry month. This poem is written in the form of a pantoum, a format that originated in the Far East. In a pantoum, there are no less than 6 quatrains, though there may be more. The twist to the pantoum is that the second and fourth lines of each stanza become the first and third lines in the following stanza. Then, to wrap it up, the first and third lines of the first stanza becomes the second and fourth lines of the last stanza. This brings the poem full circle. Additionally, the first and third lines of each stanza and the second and fourth lines rhyme.
Got a poem of 24 lines of less that you’d like to send in to celebrate National Poetry Month? Send it to me at jan@janrisher.com. I may choose yours to feature in an upcoming column. One entry per person, please.

LSS: Lizard Love

My family’s little piece of this earth is a haven for lizards.
Green anoles, to be exact.
And every time I see one — which is often, I think of my maternal grandmother. No, she wasn’t cold-blooded. In fact, she was as gentle, giving and kind as a June day is long, but she had a relationship with the animals around her home and farm.
She talked to them.
Dr. Doolittle style.
Every time she would see a little green lizard, she would get close and say in her consistent singsong way, “Show me your money.”
And that little lizard would, in fact, bulge out his neck thingy, which I recently learned is called a dewlap. A little research later, I learned what Greer, my 13-year-old daughter, said she suspected all along—the bulging neck is a mating ritual. Sort of a “Come hither, lizardette,” sort of thing.
I don’t think my grandmother knew that.
It’s also what lizards do when they’re protecting their territory, which is probably why the little lizard would always, in fact, cooperate with my grandmother’s request. Even though her voice was tender, she was probably scaring the poor lizard to death, encroaching on his territory.
At any rate, my grandmother would say a few more comforting words to her friend, and they would go their separate ways.
She had a similar relationship with squirrels. They were like her pets. She fed them and talked to them. They were friends.
Other than an ancient horse named Doc (that eventually made his way to a glue factory), I don’t remember my grandparents ever having a bona fide pet, but the way my grandmother bonded with the undomesticated animals could explain a lot about her love for our family in general.
She loved birds too. However, if she heard a whippoorwill, she immediately would drop what she was doing, go to her bed, take the pillowcase off her pillow and tie a knot in it. She wasn’t a particularly superstitious woman, but she took that one seriously. In her world, that knot prevented the death of someone she loved. Being someone she loved, I was happy to see her tying the knot.
Though I’d like to believe my cousins and I inherited many of my grandmother’s tendencies, I readily admit that lizards freak me out. Stacey Scarce, a naturalist at the Nature Station, assures me that the local lizard population is a good thing.
“They keep the insects in check and are good for your plants. They’re also a food source for many animals,” Scarce said.
Greer and Scarce do their best to convince me there’s no reason to be squeamish around lizards — or other reptiles, possibly even those without legs. Truth be told, I’m just not there yet. Intellectually, I know they’re all God’s creatures and each plays an important role in the whole Lion King Circle of Life, but they wig me out.
Nonetheless, Greer loves them. She has, for years, had loads of fun in harmless play with them. She thrives on catching them and letting them crawl on her arm and basically torturing me with her antics, before she returns the little lizard to his leaf or limb. To no avail, I appeal to her humanitarian nature and tell her she’s probably traumatizing the lizards.
Much like another woman named Greer did years and years ago.
I suppose some traits — even quirky ones like lizard love — really do skip a generation or two.

Dear Jan,

Dear Jan,
How can I be more organized about paying my bills when half come in the mail, and half of them are online? I never know what my password is because they make me change it.
Muddling through in Lafayette

Dear Muddling,
The first step is a big one for you. Girl, you’ve got to buckle down and get with it. I recommend starting with what I call “My Organization Notebook.” You may choose to buy a $1 no frills spiral bound number or go for something embossed and pretty. Either will work. Now, it’s time to collect all your bills for a month. If some come due before the month passes, save the receipts. Be a maniac about it. If they’re e-bills, print them out this once. Get old-fashioned for a moment and use your handy-dandy notebook to sort through your bills. Make the list for which is snail and which is electronic mail. There is no easy way around it. You have to do the work. Be diligent.
In one month, you have the potential to get it organized. Then simply refer to that little notebook when you have questions. Keep the notebook with you in your purse. It’s worth a whole lot more than just helping with organizing your bills. All those little numbers and tidbits you write on sticky pads or scraps of paper and are rarely able to find when you need them, start writing ALL of those bits in your notebook. Old school, yes. That little notebook can save you in a pinch. Trust me. I know.
Regarding the passwords. I recommend having a set of three standard, but safe password combinations for non-critical accounts. (Your bank account or other financial management accounts are not included.) Switch the standard passwords as needed. Each should include a number.
One good way to devise a password is to take the first letter of a sentence that is meaningful to you. For example, “Roses are red. Violets are blue.” Becomes RARVAB, and then you’d add a number to it.
I also am a firm believer in writing myself cryptic notes in notebooks and e-mails that I understand as password codes or clues.
Don’t let it overwhelm you. All of this is so much more manageable when you wrangle it to the ground and tie it up. I believe you’ve got it in you to do this. I believe.

Dear Jan…

I’m launching an advice column.

Here’s the first entry. This column is soon to move to its own site. Enjoy!

Dear Jan,
I have recently moved into a new neighborhood. The homes here have been here for years, but the house is new to me. My problem is that the neighborhood cats LOVE MY CAR. The car is in a carport area that is not enclosed. My car is black and I like to keep it clean. The cats have muddy paws leaving cat tracks and mud behind when they jump up and lounge on the hood. I have a problem with the cats spraying my cover to my grill. They play and fight and make noises throughout the day and night under my house. I see them using my flowerbeds as a sand box. I am so frustrated that I want to sell this house and move, just because of the bullying from the cats. What do I do?
Catty in Arnaudville

Dear Catty,
Here’s to solving your cat problem. The first and most obvious solution: Get a dog.
Assuming that you don’t want a new best friend and constant companion, here are a few other ways to help with your cat problem.
Did you know cats hate citrus smells? In fact, citrus actually repels cats. Did you know there are citrus scented car waxes? If a cat gets crazy and decides to jump on your car anyway, the new wax job will protect your car from the paw prints. Also scatter lemon or orange peels around the area. You could even try pouring lemon grass oil or citronella oil.
But wait, there’s more.
You could sweeten the pie by luring them to one distant corner of your yard or property. Plant catnip in that area.
Want more?
Well, there are motion sensor devices that scare off cats with high frequency alarms. They’re not very expensive. Or you could repel cats with granules derived from coyote urine. Sounds gross, but should work (would keep away skunks and raccoons too). The only tricky part is you’d have to reapply after rain, but if you park in a covered area, the coyote urine granules might be effective. If you’d prefer to use something slightly less weird than coyote urine granules, cats also hate cayenne pepper. Sprinkle it around your carport or where you park.
If you’re in the mood for gardening, there’s a border plant called Coleus-Canina that is marketed as an effective deterrent for cats. The herb rue may help as well.
Do keep me posted as to what you tried and what worked for you — heaven forbid, what didn’t. If you’re willing to try two or three of these potential solutions, I believe you’ll be rid of the cats.