Thursday, July 10, 2008

Seriously Lacking Motivation

I've done my best to live the right way
I get up every morning and go to work each day
But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold
Sometimes I feel so weak I just want to explode
Explode and tear this town apart
Take a knife and cut this pain from my heart
Find somebody itching for something to start

--Bruce Springsteen, The Promised Land

This pretty much sums it up, more or less. But I don't think I want to pick a fight. I'd probably just sit there and cry. It's been a rough few weeks. And let's just say I need to pay better attention to my actions, and how they are intended vs how they are perceived. As my grandmother pointed out to me decades ago, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

This is one part of my current malaise. The other is that there has been news out there in blog land that shook me to my core when I read it (late of course). There is something about love not being enough to see someone through that breaks my heart. Every time. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe in happily ever after in the fairy tale sense. But maybe I have always wanted love to be a salve. The right love to help heal the hurts. But it seems that again and again that is not the case. Maybe that is just ego. I don't know. I understand better now that one has to heal the hurts of their life under their own power. And the love that provides the strength for that is truly special and rare.

I sometimes wonder what, exactly, I am holding on to. And what would happen if I let go. Or if I have already let go on some level that I haven't quite yet admitted to my conscious self, even though I just typed these words. Guilt. Fear. Self incrimination. Blame. Shame. No way at all to live. Or is it all in my head? Wouldn't be the first time I over analyzed, when I should really just go to bed. But somehow this feel just a little different.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Day I Stood Close to the Sun

A week ago today, I enjoyed a delightfully small, vigorous yoga class. At the end of savasana, I leapt up and looked out the window to see whether my friend Sue had arrived at the Starbucks across the street. There she was. Striped skirt, lemon yellow tee. I hurried to get changed, and ran downstairs, zipped across 5th Avenue to meet a woman, who until then, I had only known through her writing. Well, that and the fact that we have several other blogging buddies in common. Is it not said that we are known by the company we keep?

The funny thing is that I knew Sue was coming at a least a month before she arrived. I knew we'd meet at around 7:30 in the Chelsea/Flatiron district of Manhattan. Did I scout out a suitable spot to sit for a drink or nosh? Nope. So, as much as I think I like to have a plan, I guess I truly am a seat of the pants kind of gal.

We walked around around Madison Square Park, named for President James Madison, and the origin of Madison Avenue. I asked Sue if she had any preferences. She didn't, other then a stiff drink. Done and done! We wound up at a place called A Voce. It had a wonderful looking outdoor seating area (while I didn't plan an actual venue, I DID envision an outdoorish pub). We knew it would be expensive just by the look of it, but didn't want to wander much further. And really, in that area, it wouldn't's ALL expensive.

Upon being seated, we were presented with menus, cocktail menus and a wine list. It was absolutely huge. Sue suggested we guess what the most expensive bottle would cost. I, trying to appear as urbane as the city I was showing off, guessed around $800. Sue laughed, saying she was thinking $250 to 300. Sue has a fantastic picture of how wrong we were on her blog. You can also visit here to be regaled by their Wine Spectator rated cellars. Truly how the other half lives!

Sue ordered a Cosmo, I ordered one of their own gin creations that tasted like pink grapefruit. Very refreshing. We shared a fresh ricotta and warm bread appetizer, and set about getting to know each other better. We talked about blogging buddies we follow, and how great it would be to meet them all. Big life changes. Culture shock. Traveling, kids, marriage in general. It was a fantastic experience. We settled up, and walked across town to the 8th Avenue line. I misjudged it by a few blocks, sorry, Sue, I know you walked your feet off and didn't need that extra 3 blocks...but it allowed the conversation to continue. Sue was the smart one...she brought a camera to document the event. Here we are on the C train headed uptown. We would part at Times Square to return each to our own waiting husbands and sleeping kids.

It really is amazing to meet someone you've only read. What we write in our spaces is full of who we are as people: Our joys, our inspirations, the things with which we struggle, or maybe just news. In my virtual travels, I am reminded again and again of how similar we all are. Not nearly as disparate beings as we sometimes make ourselves out to be. It is a different sense of connectedness in this milieu than we experience with our circle of friends and family, but just as vital in some ways. This was my first experience with matching the actual to the virtual, and I sincerely hope it will not by my last.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Warrior I?

An angry, armed mob made two attempts to forcibly enter my home to find something or someone they thought, and indeed I was, hiding. Both times I was able to push them out. I am not sure who the would be invaders were, or what exactly I was protecting.

Upon vanquishing them the second time, I shouted, "This is my sovereign home!"

Those words seemed to either have some significance, or otherwise gave away my guilt because they caught the attention of the departing pirates, "Your WHAT?!?!"

I stood proud, victorious in my doorway. I threw down a red sheet or cloak that fluttered down the two or more story height at which I was standing. A moment later, another sheet, or was it a robe? came fluttering down from above me.

Then I awoke...bewildered.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I am Christopher's Mom

Twelve years ago this moment (it is now 11:20am EDT) I was in my 11th (out of a total of 14) hour of labor with my beloved son. He was taking his time coming into the world, and let me tell you, nothing much has changed in that regard! We didn't know until around noon or so that he was actually breach, and there was no way in hell he was going to be born in the conventional way. Upon seeing my little intrauterine Buddha on the sonogram screen, my OB's words were, "Prep the OR."

To which I responded, "I can't have surgery, it's my birthday!"

Which had to do with absolutely nothing at all. The OR was prepped, the child was delivered. He was silent upon coming into the world. Since I was behind a surgical paper tent, I could not see the child, and was absolutely terrified by his silence. Essentially, I made my OB make my son cry, so that I could be assured that he was breathing. But the second the stimuli was removed, he resumed his quiet. My husband was sitting at my right shoulder, which was literally tied down. Someone handed him my newborn son. He was beautiful. His dark blue eyes were open wide as he beheld his father. His hair was matted with goo, and though blonde, appeared quite dark. His skin was peaches and cream fair. But mostly what I remember is his big, open eyes looking at his father in complete silence.

I was so very full of my new mother self, walking him through the neighborhood. He was not even a week old. My belly stitched by not yet healed. I actually walked into my parish church to present my child to the almighty saying the words, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." Of course I prayed for his protection, as well. Now, on my yoga mat, the intention for my practice is almost always Christopher's peace and well being.

From infancy until around the time he was eighteen months old, Christopher didn't really cry much. He was a placid, happy baby. He rarely had to cry when hungry, his schedule was my sixth sense. He was, however, a picky eater. And he didn't sleep through the night until I forced the issue when he was 14 months old. By that time, I was going on 2+ years without even once sleeping through the night. It was taking a serious toll on my personality!

At around 18th months of age, we started a two year battle with ear infections. My poor baby! The fevers. The pain. The fucking medicine!! That child was miserable for such a long time. How we got through it, I'll never know. But they stopped as suddenly as they started, with no damage to his hearing, thank God. He's been really healthy ever since.

Today, he is a smart, wickedly funny kid who struggles with math. He is a little dorky and awkward, a trait from both his parents. He is empathetic. Somewhat excitable. I am so proud of the young man he is becoming. And I miss the infant that he was, when I could make everything all better with a hug, a snuggle, one more round of Goodnight Moon.

I am so grateful I share this day with him. It is almost like a secret language of twins. My son. My joy. The one and only force in this world that truly made me put someone else first, without thought or reserve. It is ironic, really, that he came into the world on my birthday. I always put so much stock in 'my' day. Don't get me wrong, I still really like my birthday. But now, I view it more as a passing of the torch. To step back, and watch him shine is truly my greatest gift both to give and receive.

I love you, my son. I am so very proud to be your mother.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Winding Down

The end of another school year and baseball season are near. The school year has been much more successful this year than last, but still, it will be nice for all of us to have a break from the homework wars. This summer we can just enjoy camp, some review, a couple of book reports and the beach. Thank the Maker, we've earned it.

Sadly, the baseball season is also winding down. Christopher plays his next to last game tonight, unless, of course, the threatened thunderstorms materialize. We had a make-up game last Sunday that was called in the third inning due to thunderstorms. With the heatwave we are experiencing, it will be a welcome relief, but it will wreak havoc with baseball season. His last game is scheduled for Friday the 13th, and the All Star game is Sunday, Father's day. His team is 5-3 and 1, if Sunday's game is not counted--good enough for third place. If the league considers the rain-shortened game official, then they are 5-4 and 1 with 2 games to go. A playoff berth is on the line here, and I hope they make it. His team last year missed the post season by one run.

Christopher had his first hit that wasn't a foul ball this year. It was an infield hit, and while he advanced the runner, he was thrown out at first. He received the game ball two weeks ago for the most walks on the team. His batting average is a goose egg, but his on-base percentage is phenomenal! Last year you couldn't pay him to swing at the ball. This year, he'll swing, but not at bad pitches. His fielding and throwing has also improved. He really wants to pitch at some point, so I think I'll work with him to do that. Maybe get him some lessons somewhere.

One our our biggest complaints last year and this was with the umpiring. Most games, our umpire is this old school, blind as a bat curmudgeon. If a kid says the word, "damn" he is thrown out--given how the ump calls balls and strikes, I don't see how you can fault a kid for a stray "damn!" If a player takes a leaf off the base while the pitcher is in his wind up, he is thrown out. But the man can't call balls and strikes to save his life. He also flubs calls on kids running the bases. Eagle eye Frank is his name. I think he has favorite kids, teams and coaches. I have learned to keep my mouth shut, but I do admit to harboring truly foul thoughts towards him. So, imagine my guilt when I learned on Saturday that the man is in the hospital with blood clots in his legs. This after he just buried his brother. Sheesh. Yep. I'm a heel. He's still blind, but I'm a heel!!


Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Best I Could?

I was at my girlfriend's house, sitting around the kitchen table with a mutual friend a couple of years ago. We were enjoying some wine and cheese, and time out of our lives. I don't remember what we were talking about, or how the subject came up, but one of them said something along the lines of, "Well, she did the best she could." I have always considered that line to be a lame excuse at best, and a cop out at worst, so I proceeded to make my opinion known, in no uncertain terms. I did a pretty good job of putting a pall on the entire evening. My diatribe was perceived as an attack, and was viewed as inappropriate...out of proportion with the topic at hand, and all about me.

I thought I had reconciled myself to a kinder approach to "The Best I Could," but now I am not so sure. It seems to me one can say they did their best, but still have the effort fall far short of satisfactory. It also seems to me, on the few occasions I have allowed those words to come out of my mouth, if I really thought about it, I could have done better. I could have taken more time. Been more patient. Used a kinder tone of voice. Chosen better words. Put forth more effort. Paid more attention.

This applies to personal interactions as well as assigned tasks. Then the question becomes was it the best that could have been done at that time in space with what was available? Is one's seemingly best effort assailable only in retrospect? Do we, when in the middle of something, stop and ask ourselves is this the best I can do, then make any necessary adjustments? I know that I very often do not have the presence of mind to stop mid stream for such introspection, and adjust accordingly. So, no, I didn't do the best I could do.

Such a claim is made as a defensive posture, an attempt to deflect the slings and arrows of criticism, or to deny responsibility. What response can be made to such a statement that isn't a direct attack on the claimant's integrity? Conversely, what hope does anyone have of ascertaining necessary answers to major questions when such a defense is mounted?

We may set the intention every day to do the best we can do. But, I believe in our rush to get though tasks large and small, we gloss over the details. We forget to slow down and pay the proper attention, or be present enough to evaluate our efforts as we are putting them forward. We then bristle at being called out on our shortcomings and play the 'best I could' card.

So. I didn't do the best I could have done. I didn't listen well enough. I put forth far less effort than I was capable of. I was rushed. I reacted before I thought or felt. I was closed off and unavailable for any number of reasons, both real and perceived. I am aware of it. I will not offer excuses. I will not take refuge in something that leaves me feeling dishonest and you feeling unsatisfied. I am learning, however, how do do better. To come closer to my best. To better align my best with the ideal best that can be done in life. It is pride that makes us proffer the shield of 'I did the best I could.' It takes humility and courage to come to terms with the fact that your best just wasn't good enough.


Friday, May 16, 2008

My Favorite Flower

This is one of my favorite flowers. I love it in its wild form (maianthemum canadense or Canadian Mayflower) as well as its horticultural form (convallaria majalis). The dainty white belled flowers are beautiful, and I particularly enjoy their sweet yet subtle fragrance. I don't see them that often where I live, so when I was walking home from the gym, and spotted them the other night, I could not resist picking a sprig. Both varieties bloom in early May, and last only a short time.

Wild lily of the valley with bunch berry (sometimes called dog wood)

Horticultural lily of the valley. Frequently used as ground cover.

In college, I took a plant taxonomy course as part of my Environmental Studies major. The summer before the semester began, we were sent home with flower presses. Our assignment was to go through the woods, meadows, and shorelines where ever we were and take samples of wild flowers, and preserve them using the press. It was the summer of 1986, and I was living in Machias, Maine at the time. I remember finding varieties of dandelion-like composites I didn't know existed, and flowers in the lily family that took my breath away, some of them quite rare. It was on one of my treks in the woods that I came across wild lily of the valley and bunch berry. When the fall semester began, we took our preserved flowers and by way of delicate dissections identified them. Trying to get a look at the ovaries of a tiny flower to ascertain the shape, sometimes the tie breaker in identifying one variety from another, was challenging to say the least.

As a Mother's Day gift the following May, I mounted my remaining samples of lily of the valley on acid free paper, and framed it. My mother loved it, as did I. Enough so that I have considered collecting and preserving some flowers, and mounting them for myself.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

I'm Workin' on It

I am working on a post or three. Just needed some quiet time to sort it out.

Right now, I am off to Shea Stadium to chaperon a school trip to the ball park for a meteorological presentation and ball game. Last season before the wrecking ball takes it down, so damned skippy this born and bred Mets fan is goin'!!


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

On How to Be a Girl

For the last year and a half I have worn my hair very, very short. It is practical, minimizes the gray, and gives my face no place to hide. Until recently, I have received mostly compliments, some women saying they wish they had the nerve to cut their hair this short. Over the past 2 months, however, I have had several encounters where I was told I look like a guy or a boy. But by far, my most interesting encounter was with a little girl in a laundromat about a week and a half ago.

While my neighborhood is experiencing a demographic shift from more traditional ethnic families to young professionals priced out of Manhattan, there are still many of the old timers that remain. These are mostly Greek, Latin, Indian, Asian, and Albanian families, all of which have some very deep rooted gender roles passed from one generation to the next.

Last Sunday, I breezed into the laundromat to put in the last load of wash. A little girl was sitting on a window sill next to a pair of small load washing machines while her mother folded a freshly dry load of laundry. She was probably around 5 years old, had big brown eyes and slightly longer than shoulder length hair with bangs. She was wearing a pair of jeans and a pink shirt. As soon as she saw me, she asked me if I was a girl. I must admit, I was a little annoyed, as it was the third time in about two weeks that I had to defend my appearance. But this was a little girl, so I held my tongue and checked my tone of voice. I assured her that I was indeed a girl, removing my jacket to make myself more visible. The conversation continued...

"Well, why do you have short hair?"

"Because I chose to cut it short so that it isn't in the way when I exercise."

"But boys have short hair."

"Yes, they do. But Girls can have short hair too. There is no one or right way to be a girl. Girls can have long hair or short hair. Girls can have muscles or not have muscles. Girls can become moms or not become moms. They can go to work or they can stay home. There are many, many ways to be a girl. You get to choose what kind of girl you want to be. No one can tell you how to be a girl."

Then I asked her, "Do boys sometimes have long hair?"


"Does that make them girls?"


"No, it doesn't. It makes them boys with long hair. Just like I am a girl with short hair. More than one way to be a girl, and you get to choose how."

I was speaking very softly while I worked next to this girl. I didn't want to scare her, and I didn't want her called away until I was finished.

"You can do anything a boy can do, if you want to. Don't let anyone tell you you can't. I have short hair. I am a mom. I am strong. I am the kind of girl I want to be. I chose. Always remember you can choose."

Her mother was either finished folding, or had an inkling that we were talking and came to investigate. I assured her that we were fine. The child was not bothering me. Isn't it funny that as parents, we assume that our children are annoying another adult with whom they are interacting? I finished loading the machine, put in the soap and went back upstairs. The girl was gone when I returned. I wonder if she will remember my words.


Monday, May 05, 2008

One Hundred Posts Later...

I just so happened to look over at the sidebar of my blog and noticed that this will be my one hundredth post. It has taken me nearly 2 full years to reach this milestone. It seems I progress in fits and starts. Since I have been feeling somewhat reflective since I awoke, I will indulge myself here.

My second post was a short missive pondering the significance of turning forty. A few weeks ago I wrote about waiting. There is a pattern here, but I think there is also some actual progress as well. I don't spend as much time waiting as I once did, but there is still some work to be done.

There is a transformation going on, I can feel it. But there are times when I feel as if I have taken two steps forward and one step back. On my darker days, I am convinced that I have taken one baby step forward and two giant steps back. I have attained a greater sense of calm. But I continue to hide from painful things rather than confront and vanquish them. It really is quite ridiculous that a fear of loss and pain compel me to hide resulting in the very loss and pain that I fear. More ridiculous still is the ability to articulate the problem, and not actually solve it in a meaningful way.

Within the past year or two, I have found myself peeling layers of stuff away, both in physical and metaphysical terms. On the physical side, I used to wear fairly dramatic eyeliner, have hair to my waist, more than a few extra pounds and three rings stacked on the third finger of my left hand. Today, a little mascara, less hair than most men, a lean physique and one thin gold band is all that is left. I hoard fewer possessions than I once did as mean task when one lives with a pack rat!!

Mentally, the same sort of paring down is happening as well, but it feels somewhat superficial. Like picking away the outer edges of a week old scab...those pieces are ready to come off, and take very little effort to remove. But when you work your way toward the center of the wound, the scab is not so willing to come away...sometimes it hurts, sometimes it bleeds. So you stop picking, maybe for a day or more, until that part has healed a little more, and the painless picking can resume.

When I was a child, I picked scabs with reckless abandon, giving no thought at all to the scars I was creating as I reopened wounds again and again. But those were only my knees, not my soul. As life goes on, I have learned that I need to approach some wounds with a little more care. Perhaps some salve. Some I am afraid to touch yet. I know it will hurt, and fear the pain more than the canker itself. I am trying to move away from a fear based life, as again and again I discover that my fear of the thing is almost always bigger than the thing itself.

There are some really big things on my plate right now:

• My son is rapidly approaching adolescence. I want to walk through it with him in such a way that we come out the other side as two adults who would choose to spend time together, rather than that awkward obligatory mother/child relationship.

• I have some friendships that need some work. I am harboring some hurt and grudges to some extent. It needs to be addressed. I have to decide how I want to address it. Should fences be mended to best extent possible, recognizing that somethings you just never come all the way back from, or should I just let them go. Either way, the loss is significant.

• I need to be a better cousin, niece, sister and aunt. Call. Write. Understand that no one can read my mind to know that I am actually thinking of, caring about and loving them.

• I need to figure out how to better exist in my marriage: how to be more present, more caring, more patient. We used to walk side by side, but Brian always knew I was adjusting my pace to match his, or reminded me to do just that. Somewhere along the line, that stopped, and when we looked up, I was a quarter mile up the road. Brian feels left behind. I feel held back. This dynamic is creating feelings of resentment and jealousy. Not healthy at all.

In someways I feel like an athlete playing through an injury. Every day, I show up to the game, and some days, I make a pretty good play. While it is clear that I am not performing at a hundred percent, being sidelined is not an option. Would that it were. I'd go someplace really quiet, but not necessarily solitary. But maybe that is an illusion...that healing time has to happen outside the daily demands of life. Maybe it is through the daily demands of life, practice as it were, that we heal, grow and strengthen. But when your natural tendency is to burrow in rather than stretch out, it can be difficult to just get out of your own way!


In other news:

--> Christopher's baseball team is undefeated (3 and 0) so far. His Cardinals actually mercied the Astros 13-2 (in his league, games are declared over when one team is beating the other by more than 10 runs).

--> Brian's birthday was last Tuesday. We had the party on Saturday night. A good time was had by all. We thought we'd have the weekend kid free, but alas, Christopher's Boy Scout troop canceled their camping trip.

--> Christopher brought home an absolutely stellar progress report last week. His math grade is still a little weak, but I think we can bring it up before the end of the year.

--> Brian's 42 and a half year old sister, mother to our 18 year old nephew, just gave birth to a brand new baby girl, Alexis Juliana. She is the only girl born to this generation, so nope, she's not gonna be spoiled...nahh.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Let the Games Begin!

The ICYP baseball season has begun! Opening day ceremonies were Saturday morning, and included a parade through the neighborhood that started and ended at the playing field. Last year we had a marching band leading the throng, and keeping some semblance of time. This year, due to some changes in the league administration, we did not. We had these instead:

Back on the field, we were led in the Pledge of Allegiance and Stars Spangled Banner by the commissioner. Local politicians speechified. Sponsors gave their commercial messages and encouragement. First pitches were thrown out. The smell of hot dogs filled the air.

It was a gorgeous day to play baseball! Not a cloud in the sky, temperatures in the mid 70s. Perfect. There were a total of 3 games going at noontime on Saturday. Most other teams begin either midweek or next Saturday. Chris was one of the lucky ones. His team, the Cardinals, played the Mets to a 11-2 victory.

In his season debut, Christopher struck out twice and drew a walk. He also was a pinch runner, coming home on a huge base hit. No one made any really awful plays on the field, and there were a couple of real gems. The rust will be completely off in the next couple of weeks. There are around 14 kids on the roster, so outfield positions, especially, are rotated throughout the game. Chris played right for the first 2 innings.

Christopher joined the team a little late this year, participating in his first practice Friday afternoon. The rest of the team had practiced about 3 times before. One of Christopher's old school buddies, Teddy, is on the team this year, and his dad, a friend of ours, is one of the coaches. He will take Christopher under his wing, and get him up to speed in a hurry. He is a middle school teacher, and loves working with this age group. We played against Ted a couple of times last year. He plays on the CYO baseball and basketball leagues as well. Needless to say, he is pretty good! His dad signed him up for pitching lessons this year.

Christopher's next game is next Saturday. I need to make a note to remember sunscreen. I remembered water, and bubble gum for the dugout Saturday, but not sunscreen. Since were were out doors from around 9:15am until around 3ish, we we all pretty red by Saturday evening, but a decent shade of tan by Sunday morning. I have a farmer tan, dammit. Now my shoulders will never catch up! Sigh.

Yep, once again, Mom's an eeejit.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A New Job, Schedule Changes, Yoga and Baseball

Brian started his new job Monday. He is an assistant cook for a senior citizens group run by the Hellenic Association. Originally, he was to start on April 7th. Sometime in late March, that was changed to April 21st. Last Wednesday he received a call in which the HR person said, "See you Monday." Now, I, being ever so quick on the uptake, didn't process that to mean Monday the 14th. I thought they meant Monday the 21st. Well, guess again. Ideally, I like to have a little time to process the ramifications of a change. What time do we all need to get up? What time will I need to leave the house? What time will I get to work? When will I get my yoga classes in? I had about 4 hours to figure this out on Sunday night when it hit me that Yes, Rebecca, Monday starts the new schedule.

Normally, I left the house at either 6am for yoga or 7am for work, and Brian took Christopher to school. Now, the whole house is up by 6am. Brian's work hours are 7am to 2pm. Chris school bell rings at 8:05. There is a before school program that begins at 7:30. Brian leaves the house at 6:50 to walk across the street and down the block to his new gig. Chris and I leave the house at 7:10 so that I can walk him to school while grabbing a cup of piping hot coffee from Starbucks. We then proceed another block and a half, where I get my kiss good-bye on an otherwise deserted block, and Chris goes the other half a block while I watch until the door of the school closes behind him. I then get on the train to work. I really think this walk will be a good thing for us over the long haul. We talk and laugh and occasionally complain. It may only be fifteen to twenty minutes, but as they say, quality, not quantity, and it definitely seems like quality time for us.

This is only the third day of this new schedule, but all seems to be going fairly well. I was expecting some entropy last night, as I had to switch to evening yoga, and didn't get home until around 8:15. That is normal for Monday and Friday nights, but not Tuesdays and Thursdays. But again, all was well. Brian made me a supper of chicken breast and salad that was really good. I cleaned up the dishes, Chris got in the shower. Lights out at Chez Rebecca at 10:30. Huh. THAT never happens!!

Now, a word or two about evening yoga. HOLY SHIT. Same instructor. Same studio. That's where the similarities begin and end. Morning classes are an hour and fifteen. Since I want the same instructor, I now attend the 6pm class, which is an hour and a half. The extra fifteen minutes MATTER. Just when you're ready for closing series and savasana, another whole new series of poses is struck. When the lights do go down for savasana, and the sun is on the descent, it is entirely possible to just drift off to sleep! In the morning class there were a couple of students who I thought were amazing. There were two women in the 6pm class that moved in ways I didn't think humanly possible. What is really surprising is that I didn't feel my usual sense of inferiority creep in to steal my confidence. That is huge for me. My confidence was bolstered by the fact that I accomplished two different versions of arm stand, without my shoulders sinking to the point that my head hit the ground. And I accomplished the crow pose, and nearly held the flying crow pose. So the chick with her knee behind her shoulder didn't bother me one bit :) We did joke that our husbands would enjoy a web cam of the event (my heel was behind my head at the time). And I'm two months shy of my 42nd birthday, people!! HA!! Take THAT, birthday!

Last night we got a call from the ICYP coach. We were late in registering Chris for baseball this year, and were worried that he might not be able to play. Brian told me not to worry, as he knows the commissioner, and sure enough, Chris has a spot. He begins practice on Friday, and probably has a game on Saturday. The coach wanted to talk to Brian about Christopher's strengths and weaknesses, what position he played last year and with which team/coach. Guess we are going to have to move his Saturday therapist appointment, but we don't yet know when we can schedule it. We need the rest of his practice and game schedule to make that decision. Sheesh, we don't even know which team he's on this year! Guess that will be revealed on Friday. From the sounds of it though, this team, or at least the coach, might be more competitive than that which he had last year.

I am repeatedly reminded that the only thing constant in this world is change. Thank goodness these changes are positive thus far.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Springtime Splendor

Saturday was our first 70 degree day since October of last year. Christopher was up at West Point with the Boy Scouts for some orienteering training.

Brian and I decided to go to The Central Park Conservatory Gardens to see what was in bloom. If you ever find yourself in Manhattan in Spring or Summertime, it is a place you should not miss. The main gate is on Fifth Avenue at around 103rd Street. Before our rather impromptu wedding at City Hall, we planned to wed here. In fact, we saw a bridal party having their pictures taken.

The forcythia was in a shadier spot, so while it should bloom first, it lagged a little behind.

The magnolias were in full glory, filling the air with their heady fragrance.

This white tree was also in full bloom. I don't know what it is. Its fragrance is much more subtle.

All manner of bulb and small flowers were up. We plan to go back next weekend with Chris. By then the azaleas should be in bloom, as well as some of the other flowering trees.

We traveled downtown to the east village for Indian foods, and a walk along St. Marks Place. We walked up to Union Square to walk off a delicious dinner to find the farmer's market closing up shop. Chris came home around the same time we did. We had a wonderful evening exchanging stories of our adventures.


Friday, April 11, 2008


Remembering. Waiting. Anticipating. None of these allow a person to be fully present for the moment in which they are living. But like any habit or behavior pattern, it is damned hard to break.

I've never been one to spend much time tromping down memory lane. I didn't have one of those childhoods that one wants to run back to. I spent that time just waiting. Waiting for it to be over. Waiting to be an adult. Waiting to be the one in control. That changed somewhat when I had my son. Over the last eleven and a half years, when I see either an expectant mother or an infant, and I remember the feeling of expecting my son, and then pride and joy borne of bringing forth this miraculous new life. I remember every expression on his tiny face, every change in breath, every stage and accomplishment. I mentally send new mothers the message not to wish time away. Trace Adkins just released a single that expresses it well:

You're gonna' miss this
You're gonna' want this back
You're gonna' wish these days
Hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna' miss this

It is a good reminder to live in the moment. To drink it all in, and be fully present. (And yes, I do like sappy songs.)

I admit I am not good at it. I am a waiter. An anticipater. My brain figures that if I wait long enough, what I want will happen. Or things will change. I hardly ever give up the wait, as I am convinced that if I walk away, I will have missed it. Or given up. And Lord knows I can't give up. When I first met my husband, he would go to the comic book store or where ever, and I would wait for him. And wait. And wait, long past what would be considered reasonable (or good manners, for that matter). I thought that if I didn't wait, he would walk away from me. I also thought that the moment I abandoned the wait would be the moment he showed up. So what’s 5 more minutes? 10? Maybe I also thought that he would see some virtue in me for waiting, not matter how long. Yes, I was guilty of a little bit of martyrdom, saving the reproach for some time later. What I didn't see at the time was how it devalued me. I didn’t see the part of me that I was giving up.

That is not to imply waiting it is an entirely passive thing. Seems to me there are at least two kinds of waiting. There is the waiting that is just biding one's time. I did that through my adolescence. I knew there would be a day when my sentence would be served. Nothing to be done for it but wait it out. In this form of waiting, you know the endpoint. Then there is the kind of waiting that is borne of hoping something will happen. Waiting/hoping for parental approval. Waiting/hoping that certain someone will notice you. Or miss you enough to reach out. Or remember that you are waiting for him to finish up in the comic book store. With this, you don't have any knowledge or control of the end point. This is an active kind of waiting. One can spend a lifetime in this wait. I very nearly have.

In some ways this waiting thing I do distracts me from what is happening in the now nearly to the point of not really being able to remember what happened in that moment. There is no recall because I wasn't paying enough attention. You can tell me I did or said something, and I have no memory of it at all because, at that time, I was waiting, or maybe hoping for something else. There are things for which I have waited that did happen. Those are the things I remember most vividly. When I was accepted into the college of my choice, graduated high school, left home, had my son. The first time I truly tasted desire, and had it matched. Ah, but that doesn’t count. It left me wanting and waiting for more, and that is forbidden.

There are things for which I have learned not to wait, and frankly it took a lot to get there. I used to want my husband to do things with me, and wait for him to do so. If he didn’t want to, he didn’t. Period. I remember warning him that there would come a day when I wouldn’t wait for him, or ask him along. I remember seeing that as a form of disengagement that I found frightening. Now, I do things on my own, that I wouldn’t have 15 or 20 years ago. I go to the gym or track or to see friends. Things I wanted to do with Brian years ago, but in which he had no interest, and no desire to feign it no matter how many times I went to the comic book store and waited. I still see this is a form of disengagement that scares me. I see a part of me looking for an active partner; someone with whom to share interest and excitement and ideas.

There is a certain amount of chick and egg syndrome inherent in this. Does the waiting fuel the dissatisfaction, or does the dissatisfaction fuel the waiting. That is the rub. Once I identify the origin of the cycle, maybe I can break it. But I imagine some fairly uncomfortable truths would have to rise to the surface, faced and vanquished one way or the other. What’s ironic is that I never make people wait for me, in terms of time, anyway. I’m never late. It, I have come to learn, is both because I a: respect the other person’s time, and b: somehow never feel I am worthy of the wait. But, I have made Brian wait for me to let down my defenses. While I don't spend much time remembering my past, I am bound by it. He waits. For me to let him in. And I am sure it is just as cold where he waits as where I have waited. Ah, the impasse. Maybe we are just waiting each other out. Maybe that is the uncomfortable, unspoken truth.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Long Talks, Good Books and Dim Sum

These are just a few of my favorite things!

Friday afternoon, I snuck out of the office a few minutes early to get to the gym. I wanted to get a full work out in before starting the evening. Then I realized that it really didn't matter--Christopher would be at Youth night at school until 9pm, and my body was determined to undermine my good intentions. Oh well, can't win them all. Still got out of work early, and that is good enough for me.

On my way home I called an old friend, with whom I hadn't connected all week. It is highly unusual for us not to talk or email at least once a week, so I wanted to make sure all was well. I had last seen him the prior Saturday at a friends bon voyage party. For the first time in years, I became that person engrossed in conversation walking down the street, then paying for a bottle of wine, etc. I don't think I have ever done that before, but I wanted some one on one time, uninterrupted by family demands. I wound up having a 3+ hour conversation. Food for the soul, I tell you!

Saturdays we take Christopher to his therapist, and afterwards, tromp around Barnes & Noble for a while. I love Saturday afternoons in the book store. Last week, I picked up my Yoga magazines. This week, a copy of Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. I saw that it had really good reviews, so thought I'd give it a read. Christopher caught up on his graphic novel reads, and Brian held a tutorial for older kids on comic book history and lore. We grabbed some lunch, and enjoyed a nice afternoon.

Saturday night I had the unexpected pleasure of seeing someone other than the person I set out to see. We were invited to a birthday celebration for a girlfriend of ours. We decided that I'd go, and Brian would stay home with Chris. At the appointed hour, I headed to Bleecker Bar, took a look around, and not seeing the guest of honor, went back outside to call her and wait a few minutes. Much to my surprise, I see another of our friends, went back inside, had a drink as his buddies began to arrive. These people are all anywhere from 5 to 12 years younger than I. We were talking about Facebook, and what the point of the whole thing is, admitting that, yes, we both have an account with them, but still. I told him I felt sure that I was beyond the upper demographic they were trying to reach. He said, no way, I'm older than you. I laughed, and asked his age. He said he just turned 37, and was truly surprised when I told him I was about to turn 42. When I finished my drink and said my goodbyes, he said, I still think you look 35. I was tickled!!

Sunday all three of us had a dim sum brunch in Flushing in celebration of another buddy's 42nd birthday. I haven't had dim sum in ages, and forgot just how much fun it is. It was an endless parade of small yummy Chinese goodies. Dumplings of every description. Noodles. Greens I'd not heard of. And a table full of old dear friends, and a couple of new ones. I am looking forward to seeing those photos. This one was from the review on Christopher and Connor sat together and kept each other entertained without requiring too much adult intervention. Chris then went over to his friend's house, allowing us to run errands, shop and do laundry. All in all it was a very nice weekend.

The forcythia is blooming with a vengeance. Some of the fruit bearing trees are bursting as well. Spring really is my favorite time of year. Watching the earth slowly rouse itself from its long slumber renews my soul. It seems every day there is something new to see or smell. Like a bride on her receiving line, nature presents us with these gifts. It is for this reason that I do not begrudge the winter. Without it, I would be the poorer. Spring reminds me of hope, of potential, of life. So all through this muddy, changeable season, you will find me smiling.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

My Boy is Growing Up

I knew the day would come. It was inevitable, the boy's nearly 12, after all. Monday, I walked Christopher to school because my husband had to drive Nikko to the airport. We enjoyed a pretty easy morning, and the started out the door early enough that we would not be pressed for time.

Once we got to the corner of his school, Christopher said to me, "Mom, I'm going to go on up ahead."

"Well, ok, here, give me a kiss goodbye," I said, and he did. On the lips. In public. I smiled broadly inside.

"Do you want me to come to the school yard, or just leave you here?" I asked, thinking hmmm.

"Just leave me here, mom, your train is closer here than the school yard!" He started off at a quicker pace.

"OK." So, I waited until I saw him make the turn into the school yard, and went on my way to Starbucks and the train station.

Beginning on the 21st, I will take him to school every morning to the before school program. I guess I'll be leaving him at the corner, watching to see him go in the door. Fine. As long as I get my kiss.


Monday, March 31, 2008

Lion? Lamb? Guess it Depends Where You Are

I know that Spring officially arrives on the 20th or 21st day of March. But any date that begins with the word March doesn't really seem to count as an official spring day. Especially here in New York this year. It has been a downright chilly month. As I type this, it is 45 gray, raw, rainy degrees. The weekend was clear, chilly and windy. April will open much the same, though we might flirt with 60 degrees. I guess you could say March came and left much the same....nasty!

All that aside, yesterday was opening day for Major League Baseball, and nothing says Spring quite like those two little words bellowed for the first time, "Play Ball!" The Washington Nationals vs the Atlanta Braves in Washington's new stadium. What I really like about the stadium is that it seemingly has not (yet?) sold its naming rights. It is Nationals Park. I really hope it stays that way, though that is probably naive. An opera singer belted out the National Anthem, a capella. There were fireworks, but no flyover. I was not impressed. She was flat, her inhales were loud and raspy. And did I mention No Flyover? I felt cheated. President Bush ascended the mound to a loud, raucous chorus of boos to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. I found that somewhat surprising. The Nats won their home opener. The Yankees open their season today against Toronto at The Stadium in the rain, and my Mets kick it off in Florida against the Marlins.

My nephew, Nikko, wound up extending his stay through this morning, though we didn't see much of him from Thursday night onward. We went out for Thai food that night. Christopher loves it, and Nikko found that he could take it or leave it. He also learned the importance of actually reading menu items completely. He ordered a red curry dish with squid. He wanted it spicy, but didn't realize it contained coconut milk. He doesn't like coconut. Other than that, Nikko, how was dinner ;) He then went over to his other aunt's house for a few days. Brian picked him up last night, and took him to the airport this morning. Yep, Brian's Hotel and Airport Service, open for business.

We had Christopher's friend Connor with us Friday, and the boys worked it out that he would sleep over. Brian went to his buddy's house, so I had 2 twelve year olds to myself. Well, let me tell you, when you have 2 twelve year old boys around, it is a never ending preadolescent dick joke fest. You can't say ANYTHING about round spherical bouncy objects without them dissolving into paroxysms of giggles. Complete fascination with their genitalia. OY. Be gone, boys, and YES, for the love of GOD you can play your video games!! But really, they were great. I just laughed, poured another glass of wine, and watched Grey's Anatomy reruns.

Saturday afternoon, we took a drive out to Oyster Bay. I used to work in that hamlet from November 1999 through August 2004. It is a lovely little town, just not very accessible by public transport...a vestige of Robert Moses' planning that is very difficult to change. I took the Long Island Rail Road two hours each direction to get to work. It was a stunning train ride. It was like running away from home every day, such a different dynamic than commuting into a bustling urban megalopolis.

We visited Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park, where I used to walk nearly every day, and drove up to Sagamore Hill. It was late in the afternoon when we arrived, so we didn't take the tour. But we did make it to his grave site at Youngs Memorial Cemetery. It is a very interesting grave yard. Some of the stones are absolutely unreadable, long lost to the unrelenting wind. The slave graves are unnamed, but marked with wooden crosses. It is a cemetery for several Oyster Bay families dating back to the 1650s, including the Youngs, Bakers, Popes, and a few others I don't recall right now. It is difficult to find information on the cemetery itself, without it being completely coopted by the fact that TR is interred there. I'd like to go back and have a more leisurely walk around, when there is less wind, and more daylight left.

We drive home, had supper and I got ready for birthday/bon voyage party for a friend of ours. This is a woman who just turned 37, and is off for a two week sojourn in Kenya. She is a very down to earth media and film studies Fordham graduate, working the last 8 years as a Web producer for a HUGE accounting services company. For a long time she worked as a film extra, model, clown and production assistant for major network series. I wonder if, when we were sitting cross legged on the floor of her student housing room 20 years ago, this was the life she imagined she'd be living. She is one of only 5 people I have known my entire adult life. I was at her house the week before for a short visit, just catching up. Though I've known her for so long, there was much I found I didn't know about her life before I met her--it was as if we met, and assumed we were hatched at that point in life, with no past at all. I think that was probably born of some not so great pasts to recall. I just recently met her mother and step brother, and felt honored to have spent some time with them, if even in a party setting (the one on the Ides).

I can't wait to see the pictures she brings back! I also can't wait to see the paparazzi shots Connor took! He did come along with his parents to the party, and was charged with taking some of the photos. I saw a few of them, and they were interesting to say the least!

Well, I've been all over the map in this post, literally and figuratively. Guess I should get my butt back to work.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Running into the Sun But I'm Running Behind

I am behind on blog entries, and blog visits. I'll get there, I promise. In the meantime, here are some of the goings on in my part of the world that do not center around a certain member of the feline nobility.

Good to be Back!

The Ides of March were not nearly as ummm, unfortunate for me as they were for Caesar. Quite the opposite, in fact. We attended a birthday party for the friend with whom I have had minimal contact for the last 6 months or so, and had a wonderful time. More importantly, we came a step closer to getting to bottom of the problem that has placed us in this apparent standoff. We have only emailed back and forth a few times since, which is fine. It gave me some time to think about how I would respond to this knowledge.

The crux of the issue is a blog entry I wrote in a fit of pique on the heels of a horrible experience last summer. A mutual friend at the center of the incident, to whom I had given my blog address, went looking to see if I had written anything on the event. Upon finding that I did, she became incensed and passed the entry on to my friend, who was also tremendously upset about it. Note to self: Keep thy blog address to thyself if you wish to remain able to freely express thyself. But I digress. I have since gone back to reread what I wrote, and stand by it.

Initially, I thought I'd mount a defense. I have since had time to reconsider, and don't think I will. I think I will, when the opportunity presents itself, tell my friend that I am tremendously sorry that she took offense, none was intended. I will not take responsibility for anything that I am not responsible for, but I will acknowledge that words published in a public forum such as this might be stumbled upon, characters, though names withheld, might be recognized, and as such, it would appear that I was talking out of school. Or to put it more succinctly, what I expressed was truthful and accurate as I saw it, but how I chose to express it caused pain which, in retrospect, I regret.

It was a good party. Lots of new faces...amazing how much changes in half a year! I decided to kick out my left leg while holding onto my boot heel, nearly dislocating my hip in the process. No exercise for the next week nursing THAT back to health. No one left in a huff. No arguments. The kids all behaved. And not once did I feel the urge to get involved in clean up. My job was to ensure that there were always uncorked bottles of wine available. That I can do. When I am feeling out of place or uncomfortable, I clean. So if Rebecca is not cleaning, Rebecca must be content. This is a good thing!


Chris and his buddy have been off since the middle of last week for Spring Break. For the first time, Chris got all his assignments taken care of within the first few days, freeing up the rest of his time to just have fun. He has had sleep overs, play dates, trips to the park, all kinds of fun!

To top it off, this past Monday, our 18 year old nephew flew in from Ohio for a visit (he's on Break, too). It is his first trip to the City unaccompanied. It has been a joy having him around. He and my son play like boys...yes, my nephew is 18, has had serious love interests, is a varsity athlete in several sports, and wanted to go out on his own to tromp around Manhattan at night (which we allowed, shhhhh, don't tell his mother), but he and Christopher were still chasing each other all over the house with nerf rifles, giggling like kids. They also played a few games of chess together. It just made my heart smile, music to my ears and eyes as well. Almost enough to make me regret only having had one child, although I do recognize the harmony would be so much more short lived! The boy leaves to go home tomorrow, unless the weather is bad enough to ground his flight.

She works hard for the money, so hard for it honey!

So, all week, I have been walking on eggshells here at work. I have been nervous because I have seen my personnel file sitting on my boss's desk for WEEKS now. I figured that it was just for him to review my time off, or any other notes that might be relevant to my annual performance review. My anniversary came and went in February but zip, zilch, nada. No mention of a review. No pay increase. What I did have was a memo from the office manager informing me that my portion of my health insurance premium was going to increase by 13%. Holy moly!! So, no review, no raise, nope, a pay cut. GREAT. Just what we need in our household. Brian not working for 2 months now, and less money starting March 31st. Fantastic. Nope, no resentment here. None.

This week, my boss took off for a trip to the West Coast. Tuesday afternoon sometime around 4:30 he asked me what time I was coming in Wednesay. I told him I'd be in by 7:45, since it was not a yoga morning. I was a little leery of that, as the last time I told a boss I'd be in early, I wound up fired shortly thereafter. But, gotta let that go, right? I wound up getting here at 7:45. As sure as God made little green apples, my boss walked through the door at exactly 7:45. I was stunned. I don't think I have ever seen him in that early! After about 10 to 15 minutes, he called me into his office. I went in bringing my Venti with me. What was awaiting me was my performance review. And a nice raise--woo hooo! He was gone by 9am to catch his flight.

Man we needed that. Should more than offset my increased health insurance premium. And if Brian can't manage to keep this job without us going broke putting Chris in a summer program of some sort, fine! Now, all I need to do is interact more with my clients. Oh, and maybe not blog so much during my work day....Yeah, right!


So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

We might have been a little premature in hailing the return of a mended Sir Jeffrey. I am not sure if he is reblocking, or perhaps suffering kidney issues, but I do know that he has picked up the pace of urinating in inappropriate places. Understandably, this is causing quite a strain in our household. It is to the point that Brian does not want us to spend any more money on treatment for the animal, as we may very well be left with intolerable behaviors, and over a thousand dollars the poorer for it. Not to mention prescription food for the rest of his life. If I insist that the cat is treated regardless, it appears as if I chose the cat over my husband. Yeah, strained is a good word here. It is a heavy burden to decide the fate of another living creature. Neither of us wants to be responsible for the ultimate decision, as it is rife with grief, and the potential for blame and resentment.

Interesting enough, I have a good friend going through something similar--her cat has something akin to irritable bowel syndrome. He poops everywhere, and there doesn't seem to be a food or treatment to make it better. Her husband is pretty tired of dealing with the issue, too. I don't think the men are unsympathetic, they just have much different attachment levels to the critters. And in our house, I had my son to consider. I explained the situation to him honestly. We agreed that Daddy needed permission to deal with the situation in any humane way he needed to, and so now has it. Sir Jeffrey Underfoot's days in residence are numbered, one way or another.

I made a promise to myself that I would treat Jeffrey more kindly, and with more patience than I did before he became ill. He should not know fear or pain at my hand, and mine is the only one I can truly control. So, he gets lots of pets, and several good brushings. Good kitty. Nice kitty. Oh, poor kitty!


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Strike Up the Band

Sir Jeffrey Underfoot comes home today, tra la, tra la. I am so happy to have to leave the office early and pick him up. He had his catheter removed yesterday, and has since urinated on his own. That he hasn't eaten much, and ergo hasn't moved his bowels, was a source of some concern for the vet, but a final round of blood work indicates that he is free of urinary toxins. He is, however, a little anemic, but that might be due to the fact that he hasn't eaten for a week or more.

So, now we embark on a new path. We will be much gentler with our big ole kitty. He needs a new diet as well. We were told he has to slim down, lest he become diabetic. And he needs food that reduces the likelihood of new crystal formations, and future blockages.

I wonder how my other cats will receive him back home. He's going to smell bad in their opinion, so they will probably hiss at him. But they have been mighty clingy with me since Jeffrey has been gone, so I know they've missed him.

Jeffrey was the vehicle for a profound lesson for me. I really must sit with it a while. Hopefully with him on my lap, purring, kneading and shedding all over the place.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sir Jeffrey Underfoot, Lord of the Wind

Near the corner of 31st Street and Ditmars Boulevard, there used to be a small family-owned pet shop. They carried the usual supplies, as well as tropical fish, small reptiles, birds and hamsters. Occasionally, they also had kittens or puppies that someone needed to give away. The deal was that the animal was free, as long as you purchased thirty dollars worth of supplies for it. Christopher loved to visit that store. For him it was a mini trip to the zoo.

One Saturday in the middle of October 2003, Christopher and I were out running errands. The sun was playing peekaboo with the clouds, and there was a chilly wind blowing. I don't remember what we had set out to accomplish, but Chris asked whether we could stop in the pet store. We we were there a few days earlier, and there was a litter of kittens cavorting in an over sized cage. When we went back that Saturday, all but one of the kittens had been adopted. The last remaining kitten was fairly large for his age, vocal and very playful. We heard him long before we saw him.

The kitten that was left was gray and white, with a half pink, half black nose, bright green eyes and a half mustache. He practically climbed through the cage to make sure our hands could reach him to pet him, and be nibbled on. Christopher immediately thought this poor guy was lonely for his buddies, as did I. He looked up at me with bright wide eyes and asked, "Mom, can we keep him?" Now, I knew that my husband would have a conniption if I brought home an animal without asking him. He had said under no uncertain terms that he did NOT want another animal in the house. We had 3 cats at that time already. So naturally, I gathered up thirty dollars worth of supplies for our new kitten and walked him home.

Brian was faced with a new adorable kitten, and a son who desperately wanted to keep him. It was an unfair situation I put him in, to be sure. Actually, it was unfair to both my son and my husband. But I am a sucker for a small, lonesome animal and large round 8 year old eyes. My son promised to not only take care of the new cat, but all 3 others as well, taking over feeding, watering and scooping the cat boxes. For the most part, Christopher has honored the deal for all 4 years that we have had this kitty.

We named the new kitten Sir Jeffrey Underfoot, Lord of the Wind. He is Jeffrey, because that is what Christopher chose. Underfoot because he has a foot fetish, and will trip you while he does figure eights between your legs as you walk down the hall. Lord of the Wind because he was a farter. We call him Jeffrey for short. Or UnderFOOT when we are nearly felled. He is a big, dumb affectionate beast. At nearly 20 pounds, he dwarfs our two remaining cats (the third one died two years ago, of old age). He wants to be a lap cat, happily kneading the flesh of anyone who pets him. He is persistent, too. It doesn't matter how many times you push him off, he will jump back up to your lap for some loving.

The one problem we encountered with Jeffrey is that he sometimes peed on the furniture. It wasn't the first time we encountered this behavior. Tilly, a cat we adopted just before Christopher was conceived, would pee on his stuff. She was really not happy to share mommy with a baby. But, eventually, she stopped. I think Jeffrey smelled Tilly's marking and wanted to make sure everyone knew HE was alpha in our household. Cats, unlike dogs, do not recognize humans as alpha. We wound up disposing of two pieces of furniture because of Jeffrey. We thought that if we removed his, and Tilly's old marking places, we would solve the problem once and for all. Apparently, we were wrong: two weeks ago, Jeffrey peed on the couch. He also peed on my bed. And Christopher's bed.

Brian has always believed that if you rub a cat's nose in his own urine while smacking his butt, you will train the animal that the behavior is unacceptable. That I disagree has always been immaterial. When Jeffrey peed on our bed, with me in it, I stopped him, and tossed him unceremoniously out of our room. I was incensed, to say the least. When Jeffrey peed on the couch, Brian was outraged, in full fury. Did you know that anger can be contagious? That you can take on and amplify your partner's anger? Or maybe it is that you become angry at the source of your partner's anger. In that instance I helped my husband capture and punish Jeffrey. Thank God this was far from my son's sight.

We, at that point, resolved to surrender the cat to a no kill shelter. We told Christopher what was happening and why, packed up the cat, and wound up driving him all over town for the entire morning. No room at any shelter for an adult male cat. We took the cat back home, purchased some keep away stuff, and decided to cover the couch with a plastic drop cloth every time we leave the house.

Last Sunday, a week later after we tried and failed to surrender him, we noticed Jeffrey wasn't moving. At all. He was breathing, but he could not move. I saw him literally drag himself out of the bathroom to the hallway just outside the bathroom door. It was heart wrenching. We were terrified that we caused Jeffrey some injury that just then became manifest. We picked Chris up from his buddy's house where he had had an overnight, and trundled off to the vet. The vet painted a very grim picture for us, without providing a definitive diagnosis. Basically told us we could spend all the money, and still wind up having to put Jeffrey to sleep. He recommended that we bring him to the Humane Society of New York for more affordable treatment. Christopher was inconsolable. He begged us not to put his cat to sleep. We promised to do whatever we could, but if Jeffrey was suffering, and that suffering could not be abated, we would have to put him down.

The vet at the Humane Society whisked Jeffrey away, saying, "He's blocked!" Urinary blockage is fairly common in male cats. I have never had a cat that suffered it, but knew several people who had cats that did, and they all had to be put to sleep. I was not overly hopeful, as the vet took blood, and told us that his blockage had damaged his kidneys, and he had built up a near fatal level of several toxins. But we did admit him, a catheter was inserted to drain his bladder, and IV inserted to rehydrate him, and flush the toxins out. We took a much relieved child out of school to visit his cat on Monday afternoon. Jeffrey purred when we pet him, curled his hands in a kneading motion. Even sat up a little for a drink of water. Today, he had his urinary catheter removed, and if he pees on his own, we can take him home to complete his convalescence. If he cannot, we face some difficult and expensive choices.

I can't begin to express my heartbreak at Jeffrey's predicament and my own appalling lack of compassion. Most likely, that last week of urinating in inappropriate places was just the symptoms of Jeffrey's impending condition. I am ashamed of myself for treating him so harshly. I truly don't like what I became in dealing with this situation. I lost my empathy. I allowed anger to feed anger. I was mean, more probably cruel. I generally don't allow such unbridled anger to overtake me to the point that I commit acts for which I am forever scarred with shame. I have lost control on a few occasions, both with my son and with my pets, and remembering any one of those occasions makes me cringe.

I truly hope that Jeffrey fully recovers, and that we have a second chance with him. He is a wonderful, loving animal. I know that he will forgive me, as his memory of the event is probably limited. It will take much more time for me to forgive myself, as well as to find and heal the place from which such poisonous anger originates.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

What a Week!

One the one hand, it hardly seems possible that an entire week has gone by since I have last written in this space. On the other...only a week??

To begin with, Daylight Savings Time really did a number on me this year. While I remembered to reset the clocks before going to bed Saturday night, I was completely discombobulated all day Sunday. I woke up late. The sun rose too late, and set too late. I am one of those people who approximates time by the position of the sun and color of the sky. Needless to say, I was off all day. Combine that with having a cold, and forget about it. Supper was late Sunday. Bedtime was chaotic. Oh, well. I figured it wasn't the end of the world.

When I left the house Tuesday morning at 6am, it was still completely dark. When I came out of the subway at 6:40, it was still completely dark. I never gave much thought to walking the 4 blocks and one avenue from the train to the studio, but I did Tuesday. That neighborhood seems completely different, and a little seedy when unlit. We are supposed to gain about a minute of daylight each day until the equinox, or maybe the solstice, I am not sure. So, sometime in the next 2 to 3 weeks, it should be nearly daylight at that time of morning. Not a day too soon. I miss watching the sun come up. I go to class in the dark, come out to full on daylight.

Since last Thursday night I have been nursing a cold. I think it is the fourth one I've had this season. I swear the common cold is going to kill me in my old age. I cough with an intensity and frequency that is just scary. If I were hooked up to heart monitors and a blood pressure cuff, doctors would probably freak out watching the spikes. Nothing, and I do mean nothing relieves it. Some minor relief happens when I overdose on Robitussin Long Acting cough syrup. But man, that leaves you with a don't operate heavy machinery hangover that lasts deep into the day. My poor husband has been up for hours in the night along with me while I hack away.

Christopher's report card was sent home on Friday. Not only did he perform well academically, his conduct and effort grades were really good, too. No Ns (needs improvement) or Us (unsatisfactory) anywhere! Woo Hoo. He earned a Certificate of Merit this trimester, and participated in the awards ceremony. So, last weekend was a do whatever Chris wants to do weekend, pretty much. We had dinner out that night, and father and son went to the movies, while I took up residence on the couch to convalesce.

The only thing that clouded Chris' triumph was the prospect of getting rid of his kitty. Jeffrey is a 4 year old alpha male cat who decided to pee on the couch. And our bed. And Christopher's bed. Brian put the cat into his carrier, and carted him all over town looking for a no kill shelter to take him in. No dice. Every single shelter is completely booked up. Jeffrey and Chris had a reprieve. We purchased some keep away stuff for the furniture. And just to be safe, we put a drop cloth on the couch when we leave. Meanwhile Jeffrey and Brian walk wide circles around one another. Hopefully, detente can be, or has been reached.

Now, my cold is waning, the springtime is waxing. Chris is succeeding. My Mets are doing well in Spring Training. I was able to do a head stand today (harder than it sounds, believe me). Life's trials seem relatively minor these days. Or at least manageable. Or maybe I'm just too tired to overreact. Either way, fine by me!!


Thursday, March 06, 2008

It's All About Perspective

I spoke to my brother over the weekend. He was fine, but anxious about some impending test results. Test were performed on his son who is 5 years old because his head start teachers were concerned about some behavioral difficulties. I am always leery when I hear that. I know that some teachers just cannot deal with a child that does not fit into a cookie cutter mold, or color inside the lines. I also know, as the mother of a nearly 12 year old, that time does work magic on kids. The grow into and out of behaviors their entire lives. That which you would kill (or medicate) them for today will be replaced in 6 months by something else. I told my brother this, but it did little to allay his fears.

The call came Monday. Dakota has defiant disorder, anger issues, shows signs of obsessive compulsive disorder, possibly has Aspergers Syndrome, and last, but not least, ADHD. Man, it seems everything but the kitchen sink. Needless to say, my brother was pretty freaked out. He said he felt completely unprepared, that he didn't know if he could deal with all this. It was understandably impossible for him to take a step back to gain any kind of perspective. I asked him whether a: he had confidence in the information imparted (yes) and b: whether today was really any different from yesterday in terms of the actual child that stood in before him, other than the fact that big scary names had been attached to him. I think that helped him calm himself for the moment. He will need a lot of support, as will his wife and two daughters. My brother was a behaviorally challenged child himself; I know exactly what kind of strain that puts on a family. But there is so much more information available today to help him wade through this, and be an effective advocate for his son.

Also on Monday, my husband called my office to tell me that a couple with whom we used to be very close until an unspecified event last summer was coming to dinner that night. I had seen these people only once in the intervening six months, and that was two weeks ago at a mutual friend's birthday party. Bygones were set aside, and we had a good visit, both at the party, and around my table. I still don't know what the breakdown in our friendship was, and I find myself really needing to know in order to get past it. As Alanis Morissette says:

"The only way out is through
The only way we'll feel better,
The only way out is through,
The sooner we're in the better,

I believe this to be true (actually that whole album speaks to the theme of personal growth and recognition). My natural tendency when faced with a difficult discussion where I am even fractionally at fault is to run and hide. My fear is not of my own mistake per se, but another's judgment of it or me. In this instance, the mistake, problem or misunderstanding is six months old and I don't know what it is. That said, I really do want to face this head on. The friendship I lost hurt me to the core. If facing the truth of it can resuscitate it, I have to step up and face it, no matter how unpleasant. Likewise, she has to face my truth of it as well. It will take time and courage, but we took this first step. My prayer is that it was not in vain.

For these six months, my husband and I both absented ourselves and were excluded from activities and/or parties that involved the entire group of friends. That, too, seems to be resolving as time goes on. I want to ask what changed, but am not sure I will. Most of this group are more casual friends, only with one or two did I see myself in a rocking chair on some porch in thirty years.

Needless to say, I went into Tuesday morning's yoga class tired and spent. Naturally, it was one of the most vigorous ones I've attended thus far. I felt completely outclassed--that I had absolutely no business among such accomplished practitioners. I judged myself harshly when I could not reach poses, or fell out of them. I was in pain. My hip joint would not cooperate at all. I haven't had such negative thoughts about my physical being in a long time. My sense of post-yoga peace with which I normally face the day was shattered.

A glass of wine, and some much needed sleep brought me to a somewhat better place Wednesday, so I went to the gym to exorcise my demons. Felt good enough about it to wake up early and go back to yoga again, for which I was rewarded with a sense of accomplishment. I'm on my third Starbucks of the day, but that's just fine. I don't feel like I am going to cry, tear someone's head off or crash, so it is a good day.

And spring is coming. It is a balmy 45 degrees here in New York. Sun is shining. Daylight Savings time begins this weekend, and opening day at Shea is less than a month away. Life, while it smacks me up beside the head pretty good some times, is in fact very, very good.


Friday, February 29, 2008

Yoga and Sleep Deprivation

For those who are sick of hearing about me ramble on about yoga, I totally understand if you click outta here right now!

When I began my practice, I went to a large beautifully appointed studio located in a hotel spa. Because I enjoy a challenge, I attended the level 1/2 classes rather than beginner level 1 classes. The classes were fantastic, and the amenities were second to none, but the experience lacked a personal approach, even if I practiced with the same instructor each time.

The studio I have been attending of late is a small room, with 7 students at most any one time, and as few as 3 of us (I have heard stories of only 1 person present, and the class was still held). I truly do enjoy going. The instructor is the same each time, so not only am I getting to know what my body will now do, will soon be able to do, and won't for be able to even think about another year, but so does he. I am pushed both internally and externally to do more, stretch farther. I love it. I come away from the class with an enormous sense of accomplishment and calm. Calm is no small thing for me. I tend to be a bundle of nerves wound very tightly, waiting to fly apart at any moment (Whew, it took me a moment to make sure I stuck with one metaphor!). After a yoga class, I am calm for the rest of the day, and lately, part of the next. This is a good thing!

Now, I know everything in life is a trade-off. Here's mine right now: If I wish to pursue this activity, I have to get up at 5am, leave the house by 6, take a train to the 7 to 8:15 class, then walk to work and put in my day, then go home, be mom and the mrs, then crash! Right now, I am going to yoga once or twice a week and the gym 2 to 3 times a week. I'm tired!! By Friday, really just weary! I do know that there are many, many people who put in that kind of day or longer, but right now, I am a relative novice, so not only is there a level of fatigue this nigh on 42 year old hasn't known, but some pain as my body is also unaccustomed to this type of intense motion.

Then there is the fact that I am excited about what I am doing, so I talk about it...a LOT. Anyone who knows me would not be surprised to read that. I come home very animated about how I had my butt kicked in class, and either tell or show my boys what we worked on. Christopher always says I can do that, so I show him how, he then tries, and falls apart giggling. I'd like to have him take a kids' yoga class. I think he'd enjoy it. I am far too selfish, and somewhat self conscious to share my yoga class with him. Maybe I can put together a simple routine that we can do together at home. I don't know if that would give him the same benefit I experience, but it would be something we could do together, so it's worth a try. My husband says his back just would not allow that sort of activity without tremendous supervision. So, for now, he'll just leer watch. In the meantime, I just purchased a subscription to The Yoga Journal.

Oh, can anyone tell me WHY in the world yoga gear is so damned expensive?!?!?!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Waves of Disapproval

Today I made a mistake at work. Nothing earth shattering. But one of the magazines I handle mailed today, when it should have mailed Friday. The net result of this was that the few people who downloaded their publication before 2:30 pm today were unable to click through on some of the reader service numbers in the ads. And since this publication is paid by the lead, it was a pretty important mistake to them. I spoke to the client, smoothed the feathers, all ended well. The mistake was an honest one. According to the schedule, the publication was supposed to mail today. I missed the part of approval email the mentioned the revised date. I told my boss of the situation, and he immediately shut down. Absolute waves of disapproval and resentment emanating from him in my general direction.

After the situation was resolved, I had lunch with my husband. Until hat time, I was fairly calm about the whole thing. But once I sat down in the diner, I completely unloaded. I was so completely irritated at my bosses reaction. I told Brian that my boss clenched to tight that you couldn't drive a stick pin up his ass with a jack hammer. If you shoved a piece of coal up his ass, he'd shit a flawless diamond in about point thirty seven seconds. Brian was rolling at my diatribe, but did ask me to lower my voice...

We then went on to discuss other topics, one of which was our son. Of course, you say. Christopher is 11, nearly 12. He is trying on having opinions on things in the world, and expressing them. This is a good thing. The problem I am having with it is that he is repeating what he hears without educating himself, and forming his own opinion. Learn, form and espouse your opinion, fine. Repeat the latest sound bite, without solid information and then arguing when a correction is offered, not fine. In my irritation with the day, I told Brian that my son intellectually lazy. A repeater of unassimilated, spoon fed information from questionable sources. Brian knew what I was saying, but was stunned with how brutally I said it. I would never say those words to Christopher.

So what's the point. Well, the point is that I had a very visceral reaction at my boss's immediate shut down. He couldn't even look at me. Earlier in life, I would have taken this very personally. I'd have been upset with myself and everyone else for hours. Today, I actually kidded my boss about it, telling him his displeasure was palpable. He said I hate mistakes, my own most of all...I asked him how, given how he reacts to others, he hadn't jumped in front of a bus yet.

I, too, shut down when I disapprove. Waves of my (considerable) negativity are flung into the universe. When Christopher does or says something I don't like, there it is. Big, ugly, and sometimes very loud. He asked me which I hate more, press or papparatzi. I told him papparatzi because of their invasiveness, intrusiveness, their utter lack of regard for the person pursued, etc. He argued that the press is more invasive in their sometimes relentless questioning. We then went on to discuss the journalistic integrity more present in the mainstream press, and that does not include the National Inquirer. He would not hear any other point of view, would not learn the difference between the two types of reporting. I shut down. Hard. A conversation turned to an argument that bruised us both, and tainted an evening. And while I didn't say he was intellectually lazy, etc., I doubt the words were necessary. He knew exactly how I felt, even if the words were not stated.

Like my boss, I am my own harshest critic. Being so makes me less compassionate than I could be to everyone around me. I have lately been trying to find ways to be more patient with myself, and having that spill over to the rest of the world. There are some interesting meditation exercises that I just read about designed to increase what is called "loving-kindness" towards oneself. Basically, the line of thinking is if one should have loving-kindness thoughts for themselves. Then those to whom they are close, then to those for whom they have no feeling at all, and finally for those they don't care for. If one can master compassionate thoughts for all these categories of people, they will know greater inner peace, and see the world more positively. I kinda get it, but I also know I can be seriously derailed...


Friday, February 22, 2008

Now For Something Different

My last few posts have been full of worrying news and/or rank introspection. Today, I will change gears and share some lighter bits.

Wednesday night there was a complete lunar eclipse. According to NASA, it was visible over the Central Pacific, Europe, the Americas and Africa, and it is the last one we'll see for nearly three years. Apparently there were two last year that I somehow missed! Thankfully, the weather in the New York Metropolitan area was cooperative, and we were able to view the entire phenomenon. I am not sure why the eclipse took on a red hue, but it did, at least in our part of the world. I was able to watch this from the warmth and comfort of my house, as both my living room and bedroom windows face the full moon each month. It is one of my favorite features of my bedroom, especially.

I went to a 7am yoga class Thursday morning, which means I left my house around ten minutes before six. The first rays of the rising sun are beginning to peak over the horizon at that time of day; a ribbon of rose gold at the bottom of an ink black sky. I sat in awe watching the sun rise during my train ride into the City, joyfully thanking God for elevated subway lines! I love watching the rising sun change the color of the sky, vanquishing the night. I also love how the changing light plays on the skyline of Manhattan. I have often wondered whether architects make material decisions based on whether the building in question faces the rising or setting sun. But I digress. The final turn into the last above ground station afforded me the view of a lifetime. The sun rising behind me almost fully above the horizon, and the still bright, full moon in front of me beginning its descent over the west side of the island. The eclipse, the dawn, the setting moon and the peace of yoga stayed with me the entire day. To cap it off, when my train emerged on the Queens side of the 59th Street Tunnel, it was still light outside. The cloud bank of an impending storm were just beginning to become visible off to the southwest. Sunset equaling the splendor of its rising. It was a beautiful day, and the most serene I have felt in a long while.

Today, it was snowing when I awoke at the much more reasonable hour of six fifteen. It is supposed to be a fairly big storm. All I can say is FINALLY! I can't believe how snow free this season has been. The irony of it is that my son has been off from school all week long, and is therefore cheated out of a snow day. Oh, well. He and Dad will toss a few snowballs. Maybe Chris will get to dust off his sled.

Brian is healing well. He has a scary looking bruise from the palm of his hand midway to his elbow that will take an eon to heal. Other than that, and a possible touch a stomach flu, he is doing well: The storm clouds on our horizon have seemingly receded...


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I am, I Said

I am stealing the idea for this post from Maria, though I am a little intimidated by her eloquence and ability to hold little (but probably more than I think) back.

I am from a hot island paradise off the coast of South Carolina. Of two lost and confused souls that found themselves in the United States Marine Corps, who then moved on to other locations on the east coast including Quantico, VA, where I was born. From a woman who was the only surviving child of aging parents, who as a young mother sent her husband off to war. From a man forever scarred by both the battles he fought in his youth in Illinois farmland and then as a young man in Vietnam jungles. Semper Fidelis.

I am from a three-story semi-detached house in a neighborhood in Queens, New York long gone. A neighborhood of 2nd generation northern European immigrants, where my mother grew up. Where word of my misdeeds reached home before I did. A house with lush, fragrant lilac and rose bushes, both a font and back yard, with a hill, where a hundred years from now, archaeologists will probably find spoons from my grandmother's silverware drawer that we used to dig holes, and make mud pies. From a huge black and white Zenith wooden console TV where we watched Lawrence Welk's Little Bubbles, Guy Lombardi usher in the New Year, the Watergate hearings, and the Mets winning the World Series.

I am from a day in January when my Grandfather picked us up from school looking sadder than anything I'd ever seen. He told us that Grandma died. I was 8, and morbidly curious about the dead body in the other room. My brother, whose birthday was the next day, was 6. It was the first of 2 birthdays he would lose to a poorly timed death. It was then that my mother decided that we needed to know religion, and enrolled us in the same Catholic school she attended, sent us to CCD classes to catch up and make the sacraments of initiation one right after the other.

I am from a sunny day in May of my 9th year when I stood in front of my mother in my communion dress and veil. It was the first and last time I ever heard her say that I was beautiful. I am from Easter dresses with hats, gloves, purse and plastic jewelry, Christmas morning with lots of presents, Mercurochrome and the Good Humor Man. I, too, am from don't talk back, get out of my sight and bring me the belt.

I am from an awkward teenager with mile-long legs, microscopic shorts, and a forbidden tube top who had her first real kiss, cigarette, and feather roach clip at the age of 14. It was then I began to know that I inspired both lust in the boys and discomfort in the girls, and how to use it.

I am from a forbidden romp on my mother's living room floor in 1981 that resulted in procedure that required me to lie about my age, and experience a pain I've not felt before or since. I stayed with Jack nearly a year after that before we grew apart. Thus began my political awareness of women's issues. I am from a Thanksgiving vacation in Rangeley, Maine, when I realized pleasure was a gift I could give myself, which Jack never could.

I am from a late night revelation that I could indeed get out of my dysfunctional household...all I needed to do was get my academic act together and go to college. I took to this with a missionary zeal. Took every elective I could, excelled in AP classes, scored well on my SATs, filed as many applications as I could for far off schools, and began the countdown.

I am from a dormitory room in Purchase, New York where I decided to lay down the bitterness I had been carrying toward my father, the consequence of which was enduring my mother’s deep resentment. I think that was my very first experience actually realizing bittersweet. I was a waitress that July, and stayed out all night with a patron. The night before that would be the last night I spend under my mother's roof. She took my keys, gave me a suitcase and set me free.

I am from a night in August of my 22nd year spent visiting a friend. It was that night I met a man who walked me home. It was the night I allowed my fear of being alone to take over. The night I stopped allowing myself a choice. He would become my husband.

I am from a sleepless night in early October 1995 when I found out I was pregnant. I was absolutely giddy. It was the most boundless joy I had ever felt until the brutally hot, humid and magical day in June of 1996 when I delivered my long awaited son. When I looked into his serene, wide open, deep blue eyes I was forever changed. It was the day I understood the booming voice from on high that said, "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased."

I am from the cold raw day in December 2003 when I buried my father, experiencing heretofore-unknown grief, but gaining a family I have come to love and depend upon like breathing.

I am from a night when I was just shy of my 41st birthday when I realized that love could and should be expressed, shared and made regardless of the gender of the lover. And from the realization that some expressions of love come at a great sacrifice.

I am from realizing to both my delight and my despair that I can sleep peacefully all night long tangled up in a man's body, just not the body I am supposed to be tangled up in. That I can spend hours on end talking about an endless array of topics, just not with the person I should be. Because the person with whom I should be speaking has fallen asleep hours earlier. Every night. I am from the knowledge that abandonment takes on many, many forms, and I have experienced almost all of them.

I am from making my bed and lying in it. And trying everything I can to find some peace in it.