Posts Tagged ‘Magic’

a world where anything is possible

June 10th, 2015    -    11 Comments

Violet_from_the_Incredibles_by_mark33776“My new hair makes me feel like Violet from The Incredibles.”

Yesterday was the day before the last day of ninth grade, and I had done the incredible. I’d said yes when my daughter asked if she could color her hair darker, a color she said she’d been envisioning since sixth grade but never asked because I would say no. She’s right: I would have said no.

But by the end of a school year gravity lightens, a no can levitate to a yes, and the whys become why nots. Her new hair was dark, and I was wordless at the reveal, gnawing on my tongue, counting future shampoos before the fade, but she was empowered.

You might remember a little something about Violet Parr from The Incredibles, a teenager stuck at the crossroads between a girl and a woman. She wants to be normal. She wants to belong and blend in, so she hides behind a curtain of raven locks.

“There’s a lot of blue hair,” my daughter said at the beginning of her freshman year at the arts school, when I asked what it was like. And then to revive me, “You don’t have to worry.” Another day with a sigh, “I can say this much: there definitely isn’t a dress code.” She was wearing the awkward weight of her normalcy. She wondered aloud whether arts school was the right place for her and started looking for new schools, fretting over applications and admission deadlines, aiming for an old-fashioned, ivy-covered place with a dress code and uniforms where she could look and be like everyone else. Invisible.

“You don’t like it?” she asked to my frozen face on the ride home from the hairdresser’s.

“I have a picture to show you,” I said when the words came out.


It was the fall of 1998, and we were on vacation in New England: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. We were too late for the turning leaves, but something drew us there in those still-childless but trying-to-get-pregnant days, the urgency of an impending change, the sense that time was running out, the want of magic.

When you’re 42 and trying to get pregnant, it doesn’t seem impossible, not at first. But then it doesn’t work, and nothing works, and you don’t want to do that thing where you end up with eight babies, and so you go to Boston looking for a sign. And there it was on page 34 of the October 1998 issue of Boston Magazine, a picture of a girl who looked like it might be her one day. You tear it out of the magazine and keep it for 17 years.


The incredible really did happen this year: she got into a dreamy new school, a century-old institution with plaid skirts and ivy walls. We straightaway bought the uniforms, she eased herself into a comfortable identity, and we waited out the last two months of this semester. The transition would be complete when the new school started in September.

In April the first-year theatre students staged their debut. At the arts school, they make the freshmen wait nearly a year to perform, learning classical technique to discipline their fear and self-centeredness. Trained actors take themselves behind a dark curtain and come alive in a brilliant new world where absolutely anything is possible. She disappeared into the stage that night, remembering who she is, what she does, why she came, and two days later told us she would have to stay where she already was, foregoing the school transfer. “I cannot leave a place where there is this much love.”

Violet’s superpowers allow her to turn instantly invisible, creating anti-gravitational force fields within which she levitates heavy objects including herself.


I looked in every dusty, old, half-filled, falling-apart journal I still have. The picture wasn’t where I thought, but it was exactly where I remembered.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 9.01.21 AM

“Is that you?” she asked when I showed her.

“No, it’s you.”

the last chapter

August 5th, 2010    -    2 Comments

Last night I watched Georgia transform herself into a genie for a local kids theater performance of “Aladdin.” It was magic, I tell you, to see your baby girl grow up to be a genie who grants all your wishes with the shine of her smile. This morning, still reeling from the smoky potions, I remembered one of her lines, spoken to the wistful Aladdin who is wishing he could win the love of Jasmine by turning into a prince:

Al, all joking aside, you really oughtta be yourself.

And that reminded me of so much else, the whole of it, really, the beginning and the end, and so I spoke it out to share it with you here, the last chapter of Momma Zen. Listen and lose yourself in the story, the marvel, and then look up. See if you can’t crack a smile.

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Madonna of the magnificat

November 12th, 2009    -    8 Comments

I cannot let this day pass without a hallelujah! Without a scream! Without a dance! Without wonder and awe! Without immensity of love and gratitude everlasting!

Sylvia Marie Olson
8 lbs, 8 oz
20 inches
Lots of red hair!
Born 5:56 a.m. on November 12, 2009

Perhaps you met this family in my backyard about eighteen months ago. Perhaps you met my friend Jen at the first Mother’s Plunge. Perhaps you know everything I’m about to show you. And if so, you know it bears repeating again and again. The glory of eternal life is fully shining here.

Magic spell from a pincurl wizard

October 30th, 2009    -    6 Comments

Auspicious Dharani for Averting Calamity

No Mo San Man Da Moto Nan Oha Ra Chi Koto Sha Sono Nan To Ji To En Gya Gya Gya Ki Gya Ki Un Nun Shia Ra Shiu Ra Hara Shiu Ra Hara Shiu Ra Chishu Sa Chishu Sa Chishu Ri Chishu Ri Sowa Ja Sowa Ja Sen Chi Gya Shiri E Somo Ko

Veneration to all Buddhas!
The incomparable Buddha-power that banishes suffering.
Om! The Buddha of reality, wisdom, Nirvana!
Light! Light! Great light! Great light!
With no categories, this mysterious power
Saves all beings; suffering goes, happiness comes!


If I ever tell you that I’m saying a service for you, this is what I say. On another note, it warms a mother’s heart to see that there is some magic that only pincurls can accomplish.

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