Category Archives: Like Theresa with an M


While reading Half in Love by Linda Gray Sexton I found myself remembering how I used to write poetry. Lots of poetry. I barely do anymore. It’s almost like that was a different person, that poetry writing girl. Looking through an old notebook I found this. It’s an early draft of something I never finished. I read it now and think that it’s a bit corny in parts but I like it. I thought that it was an interesting snapshot of me almost exactly 20 years ago.

Untitled – 2/26/91

I have lived far from the water for too long. I wish to be touched by the ocean. Its cold green smile forcing my lips to a blue grin of muscles gently aching. To smell the wind in my skin, amidst the stony salted patterns, like tracks of millipedes. My eyes will ignore the lesser colors, seduced by electric fish scales, (sea greens) and rich sky.

I wish to be slapped by waves, awoken from my slumberous thoughts and their dry results. My dry brain creaks in its casing. Fossil ideas stick in my throat. How I thirst for salt water, our parent fluid. I suck on pieces of shell, its smooth skin smooth on my tongue. Searching for the taste. The taste of God.

At one time, I wanted to breathe the water without help of gills, the ocean floor, unaware of silent light straining down to touch my face. I wanted to be dreaming coral, home for fishes, deep rooted, unmoving yet secretly alive. Buried underwater. My million fingers gripping, gripping the sand.

Standing on the beach, waves bury my feet under sand. The surface like the glistening skin of a seamless shark, and I am planted upon her back. We are feeding and I have yet to have my fill. Beaten by a wave, I’m thrown upon the beach. Tasting the sand in my mouth, in my hair, in my eyes, in my crotch. Its roughness is so lovely. And I turn to crawl back into the tide again.


A Very Lenska Christmas

Once the holiday season starts I always have an overpowering desire to sing Christmas carols in four part harmony in the original latin where applicable. This happens without fail. I thank my High School Chorus teacher Mrs. Martindale for this and I say this without sarcasm. I really thank her for making me this way. I love that I know the words to the second verses of most of the traditional carols. I thank her for the thrill of getting to sing our songs in the city at the Pan Am building. Years later when I worked in that building it was almost as exciting to see all the school groups coming to sing every year. I would feel just a little bit jealous as I looked up at them singing at the top of the now removed grand white staircase. I remember practicing on the school bus on the trip into the city and singing out the windows to the people on the street.  Thank you Mrs. Martindale.

I try to fill my musical holiday needs by singing Christmas carols loudly in my car, in the shower and whenever I hear them playing. One of my most favorite “numbers” from that time was Dona Nobis Pachem. It is sung in a round and that makes it kind of unsatisfying to sing by yourself. I’ve started teaching it to my daughter but we’re not quite there yet. Then I realized that I could sing it by myself, with myself and I recorded the music you hear in the video (thank you GarageBand!) below. Originally I wanted to just have the music but couldn’t get it to load so I decided to make a year in pictures video and the rest is Roolalenska history. I hope that you enjoy it!

I want to wish everyone out there a very happy holiday. I’m hoping for a good holiday this year. Things have been a little harder and uncertain lately but we’re making our way. I guess that’s the best we can ask for? I’m wishing good things for you internets.

I’m wishing you peace.


My Starbucks Name

I went to vote on Tuesday with my daughter and the ladies at the desk asked me my name. I gave them my last name which is very unique. They immediately recognized it and one of them said, “oh Marissa Bo”! I made the split second decision to let the mispronunciation slide. It’s negative energy. Then one of them couldn’t leave well enough alone and said, “Marissa is SUCH a pretty name.” Negative or not I wasn’t going to let that stand. Story of my frakking life.

On a related note I think I have to choose a Starbucks Name. I hardly go into Starbucks but it is not the only place these days that asks you your name so they can call you when your order is ready. I have dutifully given my real name all these years just to hear it butchered. It gets tiring. I just realized that I can control that particular situation by giving them a name they won’t mess up. I was in Panera Bread yesterday and remembered my new plan in time to give it to the associate. I tried to think of something and “Daffodil” popped into my head. The kid’s expression changed ever so slightly as he tried to figure out how to spell it. When I looked at my ticket later he had spelled it, “Dafadil”. At least they said it right when they announced it.

Any ideas for me Internets? Do you have a Starbucks Name?

A Post in Which I Discuss My Breasts

The mighty Isis Isis Isis

Not my breasts

I don’t want to whine about this Internets. I really don’t but to be honest, I do wish the girls were different. I could say that about a hundred other things in my life and the least of which would be my cup size but I have to be honest. I’ve been working on this post for a while now. You would think that I’d have a lot to say on this subject but I’m finding it extremely difficult to get through. I’ve been wanting to write something after reading this. The article also inspired me to buy. Bra shopping has always been my least favorite kind. It is not only difficult to find ones in my size 32A but having them fit without big gaps on the sides or without the straps constantly falling down is another story. I had only two bras that I thought fit well but both were probably over 20 years old. I always chuckle at those fashion makeover shows where they take the makeover-ee for a bra fitting. Once the woman is properly fitted with a $200 bra she goes from training bra to c-cups in one commercial break. I laugh because I don’t think that would ever happen to me. After reading the NYT article I decided to try to find some better fitting bras myself. I started poring through the Journelle and Little Bra websites and made a few purchases. I have to say that I am extremely pleased with what I got. I spent more than have spent on bras in a long time but I think my girls are worth it. I actually have some cleavage now. It was definitely money well spent. Now if I could only find a bathing suit that doesn’t squash my chest into oblivion.

When I was a kid there was a store in town called The Shirting Gallery. They had hundreds of iron-on designs for t-shirts displayed floor to ceiling on the walls. My dad took me in there once and told me to pick out one I liked. I wanted to get a shirt that said, “Flat is Beautiful”. He absolutely refused and wouldn’t let me get that one. I liked the shirt. I had seen girls wearing “Black is Beautiful” shirts and I wanted to be as proud of my body as they were of their race. I don’t even know if I would have had the courage to wear it to school but I still wanted it. I think it embarrassed him and he just made me feel shameful in the end.

My Dream on the Bus

I am on an old city bus. The kind where you sit on benches that face the center aisle. I am sitting on one side of the bus and an older heavyset black woman is sitting across from me. As I’m sitting there I suddenly realize that I have lost my wallet. I search my pockets and my bag but can’t find it and I’m getting more and more upset. I look up at the woman across the aisle and now see that she is holding my wallet. It is clearly my wallet. It is exactly the same size and color as my wallet. She is looking at it and I can see all my pictures in there. I get up and walk across the aisle and tell the woman that I know she stole my wallet. I stand there pointing at her and accuse her of stealing from me. I’m shouting now and insist that she return my wallet to me. She doesn’t say a thing and hands me the wallet. I’m feeling righteous as I take a look at the wallet to be sure that nothing is missing. As I open it up I know immediately that I’ve made a mistake. It is clearly not my wallet. The pictures inside are of her sweet faced grandchildren.

I wake up.

I had this dream during college. I think I was reading Flannery O’Connor’s Everything That Rises Must Converge.


Glee Schmee

I know this is probably blasphemy but I just can’t get into Glee. I love the concept of the show much more than the show itself. It’s absolutely fantastic that a show about High School kids who love to sing and perform is so popular but it looks and feels too much like High School Musical to me. I guess it’s the esthetic I don’t get into. It’s too Disney. They all clearly have amazing voices but the sound of the show is just too overproduced. I LOVE Jane Lynch though. She is hilarious. I’d probably like the show better if it was just her and her zingers.

Now, if you want to see some real young singers check out the kids from PS 22. I love their faces, they are feeling this song.

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3 for 16

If you could go back in time and meet your 16-year-old self, what three things would you tell yourself?

  1. Don’t let your brother Mike slip out of your life. He’s going to steal from you in a couple of years and it’s going to hurt. You’re going to be angry. When you’re angry with someone it is easy to let your heart harden towards them. The anger will subside in time as it always does. Just don’t forget to reopen your heart again. Don’t miss your chance to truly forgive him.
  2. You are just starting to really get into theater and performing now. I should probably tell you to pay a little more attention to your schoolwork, especially math and science. You won’t listen to me so I’m not even going to try. You are finding out where your happiness lies and no one is going to steer you away from that, even old you, I mean me.  Let me make just one little suggestion to you 16, get a teaching degree.
  3. You will meet the love of your life in about 15 years so you’ve just got to relax and hold on until then. I’m not sure what else to tell you 16. I’m not feeling especially filled with wisdom right now. I will tell you what I always tell my daughter (yes, you have a daughter and she’s a STAR), treat people the way you’d like to be treated and that life sometime means you have to do things you don’t want to do. You are beautiful, be kind to yourself. Learn everything you can and don’t postpone joy. Oh and buy Apple stock in a couple of years and hold onto it.

Good luck and take care of yourself.

Love always,


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Me yesterday

This is me yesterday. I like this picture of me. I’m not entirely loving my facial expression but in light of yesterday’s post I’m trying not to care. I do need a hair cut though. I think I look my age and I think I look pretty good. I’m embracing this yesterday me.


Back in the 80’s, in those bad ol’ day glo leg warmer Long Island days my friends and I invented our own catchphrase. There were many annoying ones back then and ours attempted to be an antidote to the coarser and less refined sayings of the time. This was back when everyone around us either talked like a Valley Girl or a member of the A Team. Everyone in our school was saying “Wild!” constantly as a positive response to everything. Wild was pronounced Why-Uld, with a whiny emphasis on the “I” sound at the beginning. Sort of like an early form of Foine! Wild was so widespread that it became annoying. I don’t remember who exactly came up with substituting “uvula” for “wild” but I know I can’t take credit for picking the word. I think it might have been due to an initial understandable confusion that one of my friends had with the exact location of the uvula on the body. For the record, the uvula is the little punching bag shaped flap at the back of the throat featured prominently in many cartoon throats.

We quickly started describing good things as uvula or uve for short and it was really uvula for a while. Alas, it was a short lived fad and never really went too far outside of my circle. I was thinking how I could possibly revive the magic now. It would certainly showcase my skills (or lack thereof) as a social marketer if I was able to get complete strangers to start using the word. So dear reader, if you’re reading this post (you know who you are, that’s right all 15 of you) give a kid a break and try to use uvula in conversation today. It feels good, I promise. You are bound to make the people around you smile. If someone tries to make a uvula shaped Silly Bandz I’ll know my work is done.

Have a totally uvula day!

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Camper Marisa

We took a little trip to the Stormville Flea Market today. It was really fun. We almost didn’t make it. The traffic was so bad on the way there that it seemed like we’d never get there. We persevered and problem solved and found another route that put us seconds from the entrance. It was a good lesson for us all I think. Piper did the most shopping at the flea market. She got some doll house stuff and some other little things. Her biggest find was this little doll: Camper Marisa! I told her that when I was little I couldn’t find anything with my name printed on it. NOTHING. Of course the name Marissa is very popular now but you almost always see it spelled with one S. Not correct! Sometime after we bought Camper Marisa I saw a tent that had a sign above it that said, “Marisa’s Collectables”. I had to go in and see if that Marisa was really a Marisa or a Marissa pretender. I walked in the back and saw a woman putting things in bags. I asked, “are you Marisa?” She said that she was. I said well I’m a Marisa too and I showed her the doll. I knew that she’d appreciate it and she did. I told her that I couldn’t believe that I had just seen two public Marisa’s in one day. What are the odds of that?

The actress Marisa Tomei guest starred on Seinfeld once. She pronounces her name Marissa. Throughout the episode they said her name about a thousand times, especially George. I remember watching and thinking that if she pronounced it like I do it would have freaked me out. I can’t imagine hearing my name publicly chanted like that. Seriously, my brain might have exploded from the Marisa overload.

I also wanted to share this picture. I’ve decided that in the future when we all have Jet Packs and can go into space at will, I definitely want to party with this guy!

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