The Circus Came To Town Last Night And I Fell On The Floor And Cried.

My son’s elementary school variety show took place last night. Every year they bring in a new artist residency, the medium changes, but basically the kids get to learn something new and present it to the community. 

This year it was a circus, which is nothing short of awesome. My son was to walk on stilts. There were also The Jugglers; The Plate Spinners; The Globes; the Chinese Yo-Yos; The Acrobats; The Clowns; The Balancers; and The Lassos.

All week long, they had been coached by four gentlemen. And these guys were amazing, with patience bigger than any circus tent. But last night? Let’s just say that our kids were less than cooperative. I’m not sure if it was because it rained all week and they hadn’t seen the sun in over 168 hours. Or because every single recess had been canceled all week long, along with every recreational sporting event. But whatever the reason, these kids were live wires by Friday evening. And when faced with the prospect of going on stage and performing ridiculously awesome circus acts alongside their friends in front of a live audience, well forget about keeping any sort of decorum.

Which is why several parents chose to volunteer in order to help try and keep the kids in line as they waited in the gymnasium for their acts to start.

So back up for a second. Let me try and give you a better picture of the gentlemen running the show. All four of them had big, boisterous personalities. They wore multicolored, decorative suits, some with sparkles. They wore patterned socks, kickass pointy shoes or collectible Converse sneakers. If they wore hats, said hats had a Dr. Seuss type personality. If hatless, their hair was perfectly sculpted (think Johnny Suede). Basically, picture Kids in the Hall meets Tim Burton meets David Lynch meets PeeWee Herman meets John Waters and you get the picture.

It was SPECTACULAR when you combine these four men with a bunch of 10 and 11 year olds. This was like watching a short story come to life, a most spectacular short story.

I LOVE when real life becomes more fictional than fiction. 

Anyway, us parent volunteers? We failed miserably at keeping these kids quiet. Within minutes it became a total shitshow. The clowns were taking selfies of one another. The Jugglers kept grabbing the props, which was a big no-no, our rule number 1 not to let them break. The Globes were playing with The Acrobats and The Chinese Yo-Yos were rolling around on top of one another. The Balancers were falling over. It was a circus in that of itself and those of us who had volunteered? We had absolutely zero control over what was happening. I now see how prison guards get overthrown. And if insects ever figure things out, like basic math, we’re doomed.

We tried everything. We tried idle threats, to promising to buy them all iPhones and puppies. I even tried crying. But they would not shut up.

Finally, one volunteer (a friend of mine) just up and quit.

“Screw this, I’m going to watch the show. We lost.” She said.

And we had. And I knew this and was pretty much totally ok with it. But we are their parents. So we are used to kids being little, independent assholes.

But the guys putting on the show, the artists who made it all come together, the ones who worked all week to make it happen? You could see that they were growing increasingly more upset with the lack of control. I wouldn’t say they were losing their cool, but I think it’s safe to say that they were losing their flare for all things that combine tweens with show business.

I snuck out to watch The Plates as one of the guys yelled at the kids for the 60th time to keep it down.

In the front of the house where all the parents were, they didn’t seem to have any clue that after their children were done putting on live circus acts in the auditorium, they were remaking a version of Apocalypse Now back in the gymnasium. They had no idea how bad it was backstage.

So, for the front of the house, there were two presenters, and both wore over-the-ear microphones that then came down around toward their mouth. They took turns presenting each group. So while one gentleman was on stage with the kids, the other was backstage preparing the next group. 

So I’m standing way off to the side with another parent volunteer (the same friend) peeking out over the tall wooden wall that separates a hallway from the auditorium, watching The Plate Spinners. The kids finish up and take their bows and one child doesn’t want to leave the stage, he’s enjoying the cheers and the applause and so he takes a few more bows and everyone laughs and the presenter leaving the stage goes back out and ushers him out the door and back down the hall with the others and then down into the gymnasium. The door shuts behind them and the next group is about the be introduced by the other guy also with a microphone. It is quiet in the auditorium and right as he starts speaking, his voice gets drowned out by another much louder voice. That voice is yelling, “STICKS IN THE BUCKET. STICKS GO IN THE BUCKET! PUT THE STICKS IN THE BUCKET! THE STICKS GO IN THE BUCKET! OH MY GOD, KIDS, THE STICKS GO IN THE BUCKET! PUT THE STICKS IN THE BUCKET!”

The voice begins to crack as it grows increasingly louder. It’s becoming more desperate with each request. And the words being heard by the members of the audience don’t match the lips moving onstage so people are confused.

Have you ever seen the movie Se7en? When Brad Pitt is pleading with Morgan Freeman, he’s saying, “WHAT’S IN THE BOX? WHAT’S IN THE BOX?” It was sorta like that. Only louder and it’s being broadcast over loudspeakers throughout an auditorium.

Clearly none of the kids are listening to the presenter backstage and I knew this because I’d been back there for most of the show trying to help out. The presenter onstage is desperately trying to turn that guy’s mic off from the controls on stage. The other volunteer and I are laughing. I’m laughing so hard, I’m literally on the floor. I am not kidding. I am ON THE FLOOR, tears are streaming down my face. I am paralyzed with laughter.

She looks down at me and says, while looking out across the sea of parents who are still trying to figure out what’s happening, she says, as if she’s trying to figure out what it is they might be thinking, “Oh! This next presentation must be called PUT THE STICKS IN THE BUCKET. PUT THE STICKS IN THE BUCKET MOTHERFUCKERS!”

Crying. Tears.

“This gives everyone a perfect snapshot of exactly how it looks back there.” She says.

Someone eventually figures it out and the show continues and aside from all the chaos and insanity the kids put those guys through, everyone put on an absolutely fabulous show. Some kids walked on globes. Some juggled. Some spun plates. Some walked on stilts. These kids did things I couldn’t even dream of doing. And most importantly, they walked away feeling really damn good about themselves. That is priceless. And the four guys who worked with them? I know it wasn’t easy, but I can’t even begin to thank them for all their hard work. I hope they know how amazing it was. Even if it was so damn hard.

I told my friend that I would probably laugh about this every single time I remember it. Life can be absolutely brilliantly funny sometimes. I just have to keep paying attention, I suppose.

Here’s to paying attention.

The Rabbit

We’ve never seen a rabbit in our yard. I’ve seen opossums before. Even a family of raccoons. But never a rabbit. We’ve lived in this house for three years and none of us have ever seen a rabbit. But that changed on Friday morning when Toby Joe looked outside and said, “There’s a rabbit in our front yard. I hope Bella doesn’t scare it.”

She didn’t. The rabbit wandered off on its own.

I don’t go to many live shows anymore. But there are two bands that still bring me out of the house: The Mountain Goats and Frightened Rabbit.

I’m 44-years-old, I have three kids and so not much can drag me out of the house. I don’t know when that happened or why. It’s almost like I gave up at some point. Or maybe I just can’t be bothered with public transportation or traffic. It’s probably that. Also, there’s the whole getting up early after getting home late. Kids don’t give a shit if you wanna sleep in after getting home at 2 AM. They still want their pancakes. They still need to make it to school on time. You can’t call the absentee line and say, “Junior will be late this morning because his mamma was at a live music show until 2 AM reliving her youth. She had a blast, by the way. Byeeeee!”

I used to go to live shows all the time. I used to drive 4 hours both ways in one night to see a live show. I used to drive 8 hours just to see a single, 60-minute set. Incidentally, this equation sorta reminds me of that Shel Silverstein poem where the kid gives up a dollar for two quarters and then gives up two quarters for three dimes because each time he makes a move he feels like he’s gaining something and I mean who are we to judge as grownups? Money is a made up concept anyway. If the kid feels good because he has THREE shiny things instead of one piece of paper, who gives a shit? Let him make the trade, go through the effort and feel good about it even if the payoff from an outsider’s standpoint seems less fruitful than the payout.

So, maybe driving 8 hours to see a 60-minute show wasn’t that stupid after all.

(Wow, I think I just gave myself therapy.)

Last Friday, I had just parked the car and was standing outside my son’s elementary school when my phone buzzed. It was my older brother from Alabama. He and I text often, but not at 10 AM on a Friday. So I decided to stop what I was doing and see what was up.

I read this:

“The lead singer of Frightened Rabbit has died.”


I knew he’d been missing and that his brother had been looking for him, but I didn’t expect this. This was… awful.

I’m not sure what happened next. Something in my brain popped. Because my knees buckled and I began to lose it right there outside of my son’s elementary school, in front of the other mothers also coming to drop off Friday Teacher Appreciation gifts. Some of them looked my way, wondering if they should help. Help with what? I wasn’t even sure what was happening.

I had to get my shit together. So I walked back to the car and sobbed. Uncontrollably.

I didn’t know Scott Hutchison. So when I got home, still crying, I’m pretty sure Toby initially thought someone we knew had died. So when I told him it was the lead singer of Frightened Rabbit, I immediately felt disingenuous, so utterly ridiculous for my reaction.

You didn’t even know him. You never even met him. What the fuck is wrong with you, Michele? 

Scott Hutchison suffered from depression. As was evident in his lyrics. He didn’t hide this. And I am absolutely certain this is why their music was so damn earnest. Like Jason Molina, he wrote music as though he had to in order to survive and I believe we all benefited from this survival tactic. He often brought tears to my eyes, many times in public in front of strangers. (Usually on a train or a bus, most recently I cried on Sunday crossing the finish line at a NYRR race.) If only people knew what they were missing.

Frightened Rabbit made me feel less alone in this otherwise lonely world, like the battles I fight aren’t only my own. (Holy hell, writing that down, and then reading it back to myself, it sounds so trite. But I mean it. I really do.)

Somehow the world was safer, funnier, livelier and much more comforting with Scott Hutchison in it. If he could do it, if he could survive the greys, couldn’t we all as well?

Fuck depression.

No, I didn’t know Scott Hutchison. But I sure do know his music. I know it like I know the tinnitus in my ears. I know it like birdsong. I know it like I need it in order to survive the greys.

I never got to shake his hand and thank him for all the miles he saw me along, all the grey pavement his voice colored as I tried to outrun my own demons while training for a marathon. I never thanked him for the songs he wrote about self-medicating with alcohol (something I know a little bit about) or about dealing with depression. I never thanked him for all the times his songs comforted me back in 2009, one of the darkest years of my life. I never told him he made me laugh out loud on numerous occasions on Instagram. I never thanked him for helping me perfect my Scottish accent, the same accent my eldest son is so embarrassed by, that every time I do it, he’ll immediately leave the room.

There was a rabbit in our yard last Friday morning. This holds no meaning whatsoever other than the fact that we had a rabbit in our yard last Friday morning. It just happened to show up on the very same day my brother texted me letting me know that the lead singer of Frightened Rabbit was found dead of apparent suicide.

But I need to come up with parallels because life makes absolutely no sense most of the time and I’m feeling emotional these days, raw like an exposed nerve. I also feel a whole lotta sadness right now.

And if I were to be totally honest, I really hope the rabbit comes back. I keep hoping I’ll get to see the rabbit again.

Pictures From the March in D.C.

Here are some images from the March For Our Lives. I plan on writing more about the event and will do so later today. For now, please enjoy these images. What an amazing weekend. I am so glad I shared it with my children. I am so grateful to our youth.

We also took the boys to see the Obamas’ portraits. They took some time to play in the water scrims in the Kogod Courtyard.

I designed a t-shirt using the sign I created for the march. All proceeds will go to March for our Lives. I have a men’s available and a women’s.

March For Our Lives

We drove to D.C. yesterday to take part in March For Our Lives. The boys and I created this sign for the event. I had the idea on the drive down, designed it in Illustrator in less than 15 minutes, uploaded to my Staples account and within three hours the Staples on H Street in D.C. had it printed, mounted and laminated. Crazy.

We are getting read to march and I will report back with pictures later.

Enough is Enough.

We Have Such Little Control.

I love when nature takes over and puts everything in its place, stops us all from the constant hustle and worry and fretting over nothing—a bunch of human created drama. And why?

We humans spend so much time considering the dumbest shit. We create deadlines that don’t include anything remotely close to actually dying but instead get in the way of living. I am notorious for this. I lose my way daily.

I have been told that if I live to see 75, I will have spent about 25 years sleeping. (Although my kids are the worst sleepers and I’m not so good at it either, so I’m not so sure that number is correct for me, but OK.). I know that some people consider that a waste of one’s time spent here on planet Earth. Like, if we didn’t spend so much time asleep, we could do so much more!

Of what?

Most of us would probably just spend that time needlessly worrying about things that don’t much matter. We’d schedule our kid for another activity and then complain about having to drive them there and they would complain about having to go. And then we’d fret over how big of a failure we are when, at 3 PM, straight off the bus, our kid absolutely refuses to do anything more than what he just did—school. So it’s 4 minutes before he needs to be somewhere you paid 150.00 for and it’s a 20 minute drive and so, well that’s not happening. And you watch the family next door and they do everything, and I mean everything.

The even all ski.

Very well.

I dunno. Maybe sleeping for 25 years isn’t such a bad thing after all.

I’d like to say I will one day change this about myself—that I won’t worry so much or compare myself to everything going on around me. And that I will convince my kids to not worry as much as I have. But I know that’s not possible. So on days like this where nature steps in and says, “Not so fast, you silly humans! You think you have control? Oh no. Your cars don’t matter. Your grid is delicate. Your roads are falling apart. Your houses are temporary. Your very existence here should be cherished every second of every day.”

Nature is there to remind us of this.

I like days like today—where what actually matters isn’t what we spend most of our time actually doing.

I Give Up. You Win, Squirrels.

Late last week, I put all the candy, snack bars and pop tarts in a giant glass jar with a super heavy lid hoping to keep all the squirrels out. I left a note for them that read: “For Humans. Not Squirrels” hoping they would get the point. I also left some snacks out for the squirrels in a bowl with a sign that read: “Eat this, Squirrels.” It didn’t work. So, I’m done. This fat bastard has officially won. I give up.

This didn’t happen previous years so I don’t know what the hell is going on with the squirrels this year.  I will try again next year and hope for the best. This year, I will stick to beverages, hand warmers and tissues because they don’t seem to give a crap about that.

You win, squirrels.

Thieving Squirrel Videos.

Copyright © 2017 Michele Boudreaux. All rights reserved.
For licensing / permission to use, please email licensing(at)mihow(dot)com. Thank you!

Someone from NBC contacted me after I posted this story on our local Facebook page. They asked if could have the videos in order to put together a cute little segment for their website. Here is what they created. It’s cute! It also made the 11 PM news but that’s WAY past my bedtime, so I missed it.

Update: The lovely Ali Bauman from CBS New York stopped by last night for an interview. She watched the Boudreaux family in all its glory at our home here in Maplewood.

And apparently this squirrel is now internationally famous.

Canoe covered the story as well. And I sea that Sea Girt is experiencing similar issues.

The original videos with a great deal of my commentary.

Since I am clearly losing this battle, I left him a note and some treats so he came for the gum.

Day five. I think I’m just going to let him win. I give up. Eat up, squirrel.


I don’t even know what to say anymore.

Then he ate the pop tart in front of me.


Suburban Thieves Are Little Bastards.

Every year, we put out a tray of treats—water, soda, tissues, lip balm, hand warmers, chips—you get the picture. We do this for the many delivery people who come to our house during the busy holiday season. (Frankly, I’m not sure how my mother got through Christmas with three kids without the help of Amazon, but I digress.) We tip the usual suspects; the mailman gets an extra bit of love, the trash guys, too. But this is for all the outsourced work, those third parties.

Last year, I had it up for two weeks and replenished whenever things went low. Not once did we have an issue with anyone stealing everything or taking too much.

On Monday, I put out this year’s treat table and—NO JOKE—within a few hours, ALL the Ghirardelli chocolate squares were gone. I couldn’t believe it. Why would someone do such a thing? And why would they take the most expensive chocolate on the tray? Why not rob us blind of all the Reese’s and Mini Snickers since I can’t seem to stop eating them because holy crap, trash candy is so damn good and I totally don’t choose Us Weekly over Time while in the waiting room.

But, no. This thief took the good stuff. And I wanted to cry. It was day one and already two packs, like 25 pieces, of Ghirardelli squares had been taken from us.

My husband, being an anti-surveillance nerd who is aware of all the myriad ways HUMANS are tracked constantly, decides to set up a small camera. Not that we’d do anything about it, should we find the thief. We aren’t like that. The chocolates are free, after all. It was more about KNOWING who would do such a thing. Who can eat that much Ghirardelli?

So, the camera goes up yesterday and I head out with my husband to take the dog for a walk. It’s midday, right around 1 PM. The sky is overcast and we’re enjoying the weirdly warm weather. We walk for a while then return to the house.

That’s when we spot the FATTEST squirrel. I mean, this squirrel is so obese—a jolly ol’ chap—he must be prepping for a decade of winters. Even my rat terrier dog took one look and said, “Nope.”

So the fat squirrel is standing on our step stool, furiously digging through our wooden tray. He’s digging and digging and digging and then he TAKES OFF toward our backyard carrying whatever he possibly can.

“You don’t think… I mean, no way, right?” I say to Toby.

Sure enough, every piece of chocolate is gone.

Toby tries chasing the fat bastard through our yard to see where he’s taking all our goodies but the thief makes a successful getaway.

At this point, I am still not convinced that a squirrel ran off with THAT many squares of Ghirardelli. I mean, that’s insane. What is he doing with them? Building the most amazing nest, a rodent palace consisting of fine chocolate?

This morning, I head out to take the kids to the bus stop and I spot an unopened square of Ghirardelli on our driveway. When I return, I decide to comb the perimeter of our yard, because NO WAY.

Sure enough, I find three other unopened squares of Ghirardelli.

This squirrel went from being the biggest jerk ever to becoming the greatest fuzzy freak I’ve ever not quite met.

We now have our chocolate in a jar that requires opposable thumbs.

Update: He cleared me out of chocolate. (All on video). Then the snack bars. Then the Ricola. NOW THIS!???!!


Watch more of this little dude in action here.

Copyright © 2017 Michele Boudreaux. All rights reserved.
For licensing / permission to use, please email licensing(at)mihow(dot)com.