untangling life one story at a time
This remarkably sunny, mildly humid, barely breezy May 27th day, has offered something I like to refer to as earthquake weather anxiety. I’m from Southern California and when the Santa Ana winds, sunshine and eerie quiet combine, there’s something that can only be defined in this particular way from a Californian. You just know it. You know it the way a New Yorker can sense the summer humidity culminating in a sudden heavy downpour.
After my return from Puerto Rico, I was looking at photo I took of a Fernando Botero knock off or the real thing or something (too lazy to ask right now but you may just get it out of me by the end of this because I like facts where necessary or meaningful) and it made me think of the feelings of both earthquake weather and joy as co-occurring.
They are two feelings that kind of cancel each other out typically and can be identified on a smaller scale as waiting for the other shoe to drop. Pretty much, living with anxiety and realizing, in retrospect, that this sculpture of a woman gesturing toward a yoga dancer pose and wearing a very colorful and emotive one-piece swimsuit, is about how close I am right now to feeling joy.
But also kind of slutty, in the way that anyone emerging from a pandemic would feel.
I just got back from a very pleasant business trip with the guy to a world that is walking around without masks, planning birthday parties, booking flights, and running amok like irresponsible social tramps. Social promiscuity is all about bliss and people waiting around for earthquakes and a shoe dropping from the heavens. It’s about the heavy toll and incessant social dread that will now swing to that extreme opposite like pendulums do when they’re all jacked up on an antithetical horizontal peak (it makes sense, give it time).
And my world of a very few intimate get-togethers with mask-abiding friends and family is going to be corrupted with FOMO and Instagram feeds blowing up with ACTUAL things people are doing besides posting about bad news and the pandemic.
I LIKE the way things are going. I LIKE real interaction. I LIKE not doing things that I’m supposed to do outside of what I have to do. And, I like that all the dogs in so many shelters were adopted. What’s going to happen to them? There are things that I actually LIKED about this thing we’re in, or we WERE in. I spent time with my kids. I met a guy. Apart from the many tragic outcomes, I liked what was real about it. It was a small part but when everything sucks you have to find something and that something is already very well-liked by me.
I didn’t like the fear and the sadness and the horrible toll on human life because that would make me a Darwinian monster and unworthy of a second of anyone’s time. But I’m used to nervous. I’m used to anxious. I’m used to working really hard to find the bright spots. I’m also really used to making myself laugh about things that would make someone else not so eager to find a joke.
But, I know that this back to normal isn’t normal. It won’t be. All the things I like to do, I can do amid anything. You definitely cannot say that about earthquakes. What I can say (because my kids and everyone close to me say that I cannot stop talking) about my blend of joy is that it’s pretty simple amid complicated stuff, so I’ll take it. My life is very lifey.
BOY TEEN CHILD: “What’s the difference between men and women? I mean I know the biological difference but what’s the personality difference?”
GIRL CHILD: “PATRIARCHY!”
MOTHER (holding breath, thinking and rolling eyes): “Well, one of my English lit professors wrote something on the chalkboard at our first class. It was a quote from a poet by the name of William Blake: ‘To Generalize is to be an Idiot. To Particularize is the Alone Distinction of Merit.’ He taught Romantic Poetry. It basically means that everyone is different and you’re a bright human if you can articulate that.”
I added that women tend to be more social but as I said it, I felt stupid – different in fit maybe like a pair of modern jeans fabric, cut, color, length, design, logo, and life.
Jeans and I are very happy together. It took years to narrow it down to one brand that fits all things I love and the budget I’ll expend on-trend and outside of it (I don’t inside).
Parent 101 is basically, “I don’t know.” And so you think about this stuff like you’re Plato going into a cave but you have a fraction of the time and also a half-second of the audience because you’re not a simple yet literate man with the oratory skills, following, Socrates at your bidding, and centuries of scribes who created the template for philosophical thought based on one of the first recordings of self-reflection. In a cave.
The first man cave on record.
“PATRIARCHY!” is echoing right now.
Which is probably patriarchy if women just get a “She Shed.”
Fit is the difference. At some point, one or all of the TEEN CHILDREN will maybe be amazed that fitting is the only difference of that unique blend that is being together when you could be alone and be still be perfectly happy until you find a fit.
It’s called belonging. And it feels like singing in the shower.
One of my favorite memories is a little video of my youngest child singing, PETE THE CAT: I LOVE MY WHITE SHOES. It’s the most perfect song of my now thirteen year-old youngest child, singing the only song I’ve ever heard him sing. It was the song created by a children’s book author that is one that is about life and color: two things that I care about quite a lot.
You can’t keep them from growing. Anyone, humans! Even the ones you always want to be this perfect, four-year-old, half-clad, curly-haired, inventive troubadour. They need to, have to, and will. Grow.
My favorite part of being a mom, you ask?
The small moments like this where the world could be caving in, but then you see a spark of light that is so bright and full of the purest joy you could never imagine on your own, and you find years ahead with the winding road partially lit but lit no less.
Once an artist friend of mine (actress, actually) told me that my children would inform my art. I listened but had no idea what that meant.
My children inform my life.
Art is life.
Life is art.
Life is an art.
It’s messy, unlimited, then perfect. Accidental. Unplanned. Partly planned. The plan went to shit, actually, but then a new plan came to be with some trying and failing and trying again.
Curiosity and necessity (and therapy) move it forward, looking ahead with the wisdom of experience.
Then, it’s suddenly perfect again.
If you were to put music to it, it would be a song with “Bohemian Rhapsody” changes. It would be a human rhapsody of growth.
Or it would be Blue Shoes and just some muck and leaves and you would just get on with it while with eyes wide open you let the joyful moments find you.
If there’s a God or a power that can suspend this planet and every other planet in the universe that we know and don’t, then that force can hold you up too.
Today’s Readings (of no purpose but to find joy and meaning to highlight such support and strength):
“I do not think that the banks of a river suffer because they let the river flow,” Frida Kahlo
In describing what the Voyager captured in that grainy photograph of mostly empty space, Sagan limned Earth as a “pale blue dot.” That became the moniker of the photograph itself and the title of his bestselling book published later that year, in which he wrote that “everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives” on this “mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
“When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.”
A thought that crossed my mind today, amid all of my sometimes stormy interior life, as I was looking out the window past the altar of the room at Kaia Yoga. I could fit in a class today so I did. That thought is, that I love the wind. Wind is thrilling and known to churn up the wildest of behavior in people. Maddening to some, but not me.
Located in a desert, my hometown was a basin surrounded by mountains where smog often settled, low enough to invade our lungs and make breath sometimes painful. Counterintuitively, my home town was also a passage for the Santa Ana Winds. Even on a warm summer night, they’d blow through the oak trees and my memories of that invisible force still
That was not the thought of the moment though. The thought of the moment as I looked past my toes to the bronze statue of
A good sign, I consider this, because that means spring and spring infers new beginnings with a clearer ground. It means perfectly pink cherry trees and the magnificent Magnolia that blooms only for
Especially, spring offers hope and the warm promises that optimism conveys as the sun draws closer, the days grow longer and all good things grow into something new. That any suffering is temporary, that the exquisite feast of the eyes on this extraordinary
Tonight, well, I fought with myself because there’s no one left to fight with.
I learned that, you will fight with whoever’s there.
Dog, cat… me.
Me… And, here we get chatty again because I’d like to talk and not fight.
Thought about online shopping for a new blazer by my T-Rex arms would be to short and that slouched trend just is not me, unless I actually do slouch it into that Golden Girls three quarter inch sleeve. I’m stumped.
Hustled. Actually got locked out of my house for two hours today because the ex has a key, the daughter has a key and maybe one of the boys have a key. But dogs aren’t allowed on the public school grounds so que Crowded House, “Locked Out,” and there you have me living in a musical…
But, the sun was out so I was intent to take the dog around the block because she puked early in the morning, an early sign of her usual ingestion of a foreign object which needed to be dejected via alternative channels. I’ve become immune. Even locked out for two hours, I talked to my recently unemployed neighbor who hates the sister-in-law he lives with, but walks her dog who’s frisky with any girl canine on the block and Gidet crapped another sock. It’s like a colonoscopy for her, I’ve decided.
During this sequence I realized that, well, when you get locked out when the plan was to do your taxes via the AARP at the Greenwich Town Hall, it ain’t so bad. Likely better, because the first thing you do is realize that Crowded House is more relevant that it previously was. Then you call a high school friend who you adore and is your designated spirit guide, which is great but sad, because that’s your brother’s spot and Spirit Guide lives all the way in Washington state with his fabulous wife and family so your talks are few. You talk and you laugh your asses off because – middle school kids going toward high school make you realize that you really just want to be loved again like you were when they never left you alone. You’re not though. Now you’re a fallible human and a disappointment. And it’s your job to figure out how to deal with that by letting love in your life somewhere else, that’s not your failed marriage, or your family of origin, but is your dog and those you can now invite in. It’s where you’re vulnerable and conflicted and sometimes caustic, because that’s become a huge space with very little room to spare.
I cruised the neighborhood. Peed at the gas station bathroom at the corner with my dog in tow who loved the way the place smelled. It was like someone lit Nag Champa incense after half a day of smoking weed by a campfire while snuggling with a three month-old baby (head) in a jasmine garden. It’s winter. Give me a break. My senses are tamped down and I may just have to do poly – tantric yoga which battles with my morality and civility and… well, my hot boyfriend.
Socialized with the neighboring corporate complex employees and discovered just what they do there. Dogs get the best of people. People don’t ALWAYS get the best of people. Gidget was the #happinessambassador. It was sunny by still chilly. It’s March so that’s to be expected, dammit!
Later, there was a thirteen year-old daughter conflict that was brief and via a pick up from her dance class. Then, a repeat of the two-fer whole organic Costco chicken that stripped two carcasses and a giant ginger root to also make broth that fell into a recycled Mason and jam jar for later infusion or consumption… or whatever.
Here we are because here we are. Right in the middle. The live phone Washington high school friend phone call was the best of two that day… in which, there was related topical matter…
Me, with my son’s newfound allergies, old-found allergies and recently discovered Celiac Disease. He’s the youngest who says, “I’m so needy…,” yet says, “I’ll learn to deal with it,” then goes on to Google all the junk food he can still eat with his NEW Celiac disease, including but not limited to: Cheetos, Fritos, Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream plus all kinds of whole foods including the super classy two-pack of whole organic chickens from Costco that I baked with yellow and red mini potatoes for dinner (two days in a row) then stripped and boiled the carcasses with a wildly large ginger root, twice, in filtered water, only to understand that the result would henceforth malign me from all future interactions with the packaged blandness until I actually refrigerated the stuff in recycled Mason jars and realized that natural wines still screw up your perception, too. Which is okay because I have a dog who likes marinated kibble so the stuff has a use. I’m… such… a… Millenial… maker. She’ll eat anything. Except, is ginger a canine carcinogen? You have less than 24 hours to answer that because my OCD doesn’t allow for spoiled food that also looks ugly in my fridge.
Childcare is the chief motivator for me to explore the option of a Murphy Bed. Mom of three, single parenting and lover of all things amid my creative sales and marketing approach to real estate. No fourth bedroom for me, so what do I do if there’s no au pair space? Or, what do I think about doing?
Many who live in New York City have done the same. The closest northern suburb of New York offers more space but for many of us, it’s still not enough to host a visiting au pair. You know, the international, young and fun sitter who works for close to nothing but receives free room and board in compliance with agency standards? All you can hope is that she’s not MeanNanny from the Netflix show “Workin’ Moms,” because who needs that kind of negativity?
Murphy Bed to the rescue. It’s the trapdoor solution to this problem and many others – occasional visitors or in my opinion, serendipitous fun: trap doors, secret wine cellars, hidden stairways, whispering halls or that weird little closet under the staircase that looks like it’s intended for a gnome – really, anything that can be tucked away into a wall to make a small place into flexible space, is worthy, especially if you’re going to spend at least 8/24 hours per day in it.
Despite the clandestine reputation, and potential disaster a Murphy bed could create, the name has nothing to do with Murphy’s Law, which states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
“The truth is that the bed is named for William Lawrence Murphy (1876 – May 23, 1957), who applied for his first patents around 1900. According to legend, he was wooing an opera singer, but living in a one-room apartment in San Francisco, and the moral code of the time frowned upon a woman entering a man’s bedroom.”
“A Murphy works by being pulled out of the cabinet before being replaced back inside. This means that the legs of the bed must be able to retract flat against the mattress in order to fit. The way this works is similar to the way that the legs of a sofa bed fold in order to fit inside the couch.” – Wikipedia
Word has it that the bed is actually more comfortable than a sleeper sofa, which isn’t difficult to attain. That said, if you need a sofa it may not be the route for you.
To get one, just Google it. Ratings not yet available, but please let me know what you find out. Someone else would get my room and who doesn’t need a wee bit ‘o luck ‘o the Irish?
Once in a while, people say, “Oh, you’re the writer,” as though it impedes my ability to sell and market, conduct data analysis, raise my kids, or walk a dog. Babysit for a friend. I have to remind myself, that while the publishing business (a business in which I worked, after I worked in the creative talent agency business in entertainment and books) is still young, it’s not a growth industry.
Before the publishing existed in its prior and current form, people wrote because they needed to write (contrary to all things delusional, it’s not really fun to write, but it’s necessary much in the way going to the bathroom and sweating after a good workout or even good sex can be necessary, depending on where your body and brain are in a given day or moment). Writers are compelled to share stories. From the oral tradition to the written tradition, it has been old to young and now we’re pretty much writers trying to sell to a market that is based on money, luck and connections. Bad writing is published. Good writing is not published. Bad writing is self-published (or vanity published, which I don’t understand at all except in all of its diminutive interpretations of the word, which convey, “insignificant”). Success as deemed by high sales (hopefully before a writer is dead) and much of it lies in exposure and luck with a foundation of rich talent.
Self-publishing was my route because:
1) I was a jaded creative;
2) I wanted total control over my piece of art (visual artists don’t have to edit their works so why should writers and authors have to edit based on a subjective editor’s perspective?);
3) The publishing industry, made up of mostly white, highly-educated, parentally subsidized, self-professed liberals, who are still prey to a market which increasingly dumbed-down work to appeal to increased sales and corporate goals (yes, you’re part of the problem we’re in right now where people are becoming much less educated, and much less smart, because it’s bad/good to be smart/not smart now). What you get is junk that sells.;
So, I was the writer, the feeler, the editor (with a ton of help from generous friends), the art director, the production manager, and a really horrible marketer and salesperson for my own books (which is funny, because I’ve always said how great an advocate I am for others but not for myself/my work… while sales and marketing fuel my employ).
Communication is the best of all things in life that qualify success in all things. Look it up.
And, in our tech-driven platforms across industries, if you can piece together otherwise disparate pieces of fictional and real information and create a product, you’re a great candidate for all things tech integration, data integration and, well, just about anything that involves a launch or support of a product or brand. Creatives innovate.
People like to categorize. Librarians and SEO geniuses will confirm that things often deserve and allow for a multiple search opportunities… because the world just isn’t that black and white. Ever (even if black if your favorite colors). You never search for one word unless your head is in a dictionary (which is okay but not exactly what I’m going for here) or you’re typing into the amazon.com search bar (which is likely not enough to create accuracy).
For instance, I’m:
- A human being;
- Mother of boys;
- Mother of a girl;
- Female (for clarity);
- Russian Jew;
- New Yorker;
- Resident of Connecticut;
- Real Estate Salesperson;
- Dog lover;
- Cancer survivor;
- C-Section birther (X3);
- Special needs advocate/mother;
- Art enthusiast;
The list goes on but hinges on self-pity, which is great substance for a writer’s life experience, but pathetic in other venues. You get my drift; when a writer has a lifey life the stories are better. My pet peeve is a novel about an academic, a writer or an author, because I don’t want to hear about them. It’s a big, ghastly, self-important bore. While the grammar and words are always pristine, though likely overwritten, the story lacks and often echoes Lolita which is simply disgusting because child pornography is abominable and I don’t care how good the writing is, I don’t and won’t read it.
That’s all I really have to say on this topic…
Except being a writer is simply a way of processing the world that doesn’t hurt anyone, at least directly, and can connect people in a way that other modalities cannot. Shall I mention that it’s also a helpful tool used to prepare for difficult conversations, speaking engagements (I’ve written a couple of excellent obituaries in my short life) and confrontations where emotions can get the best of a person if not capably prepared to stick to the content on a page.
So, yeah. I’m the writer, but I live in other dimensions too. All of them need each other.
The Insect Lore butterfly kit arrived without the caterpillars so they, about six of them, arrived in a separate shipment. All I could recall was watching the butterfly release during the event at my children’s preschool. It was a parent co-op and every day a parent volunteered to support the class. If a parent was not available for their rotating slot, then the parent was to pay a nominal fee for a substitute. It sounds easier than it was and involved childcare for me when I was caring for three small children at once. Anyone was able to attend the butterfly release though. Connective thought tissue to those two memories seems only linked by the fact that in both cases, I had to pay extra. The caterpillars were a surprise.
Children from my oldest son’s class formed a circle out on the side lawn at the church where the school was located. Siblings were invited that day and all were excited as one of the lead teachers brought out the wide tube of enclosed netting. She held it by the nylon handle, placed it on the bright, green spring grass outside of the Methodist Church on Boston Post Road, then lead the children in a song of which I don’t recall… though I do remember the many times I sang, not well, to my children – my oldest especially. I sang until he ate: Raffi and Dan Zanes and Wee Silly Songs but Raffi especially. There was not one thing about being a new mother that I didn’t like. Even the sleep deprivation seemed a mere inconvenience. That’s all it was. All it was everything to me.
One aspect did bother me though – the one thing that I did not expect, though I have no idea what it was that I expected. Perhaps it was that my love would suffice. That I would know. What bothered me was my ignorance, my unfamiliarity: the not knowing what to do. Not just learning how to read while nursing, how to comfort colic, how to heal from a C-section (three of them, actually) and move through the pain of abdominal surgery or have faith that my grossly swollen kankles were that way because I didn’t get up to walk after childbirth soon enough and that they would go away (though I knew it would because I just became a mom so anything was possible). Meeting the expectation that I was to know the answers to everything like the signs of a bilateral inguinal hernia and how to cope with my son’s outpatient surgery at five weeks old. Then his nine-month-old diagnosis of a coarctation of the aorta and planning his surgery that demanded its correction. Not other diagnoses or other problems. Not knowing immediately that I had to consult with the most magical lactation consultant on the planet so I could get my sleepy infant daughter to eat using a special bottle originally created only for babies born with cleft palates. Or, having my third child, my son’s frenulum snipped because he was tongue tied, then using the same method I’d used with my daughter to also get him to eat.
One would think, that mothers really just have to figure out ways to get their children to eat. It’s pretty basic but my powers of empathy and imagination cannot summon the sense of dread and failure that would strangle my heart should I not be able to feed my kids. Problem-solving and immediacy are two things I learned that I would have liked to have learned prior to having my children. Perhaps I did know but there was no need so exacting for me to be good enough at this particular art.
Not this. Not that.
“It takes a village to raise a child” is something that I did not fully understand until now. Mothers need all of it. We don’t raise our kids in our little village anymore with extended family on hand to help with both the extra set of hands and eyes, the wisdom and words and solutions to problems we now have to find via heartless Google search, a capable and connected pediatrician or friends in a supportive new mother’s group (best option).
So, when I hear mothers criticized for over-programming their kids or doing something wrong, I may agree with some of it. But on the flip-side of that, where I found my answers was with other mothers who told me where to go and who to see. Doctors, yes, but even my son’s first pediatrician told me that the reason that medicine also has its gaps and for that reason is referred to as the “medical arts.” I didn’t find much solace in that. I found that it made me frightened enough to know that constant advocacy and questioning of those around me, including medical professionals and people who loved me and raised me, was the only way to find an answer, and that answer was typically with my other mom friends – the honest ones who shared their problems to obtain solutions.
That day on the grass for the butterfly release was its own sweet and simple net of pure joy: smiles, little legs running around, delighted song and the reverie that accompanies the eventual kiss of spring’s arrival.
Photos bring the experience back to me fully and my spirit is lightened by it. Those teachers were truly loving. Each one of those butterflies took flight as though summoned by a conductor. It seemed the were ready to do as expected. Maybe they sensed the frantic and eager energy of the children and parents watching from the circle around them who said, “Go. Now. Fly.”
My realization as I sit down on the sofa to write about my attempt to “grow” my own butterflies is simply that those seasoned nurturers had the repeated experience of growing butterflies more times than I who had none. They’d released the butterflies before. It’s not likely that they let the one chrysalis stranded at the bottom of its original container live like I did. But perhaps they’d done it before and learned. They learned that perhaps one would need to stay.
None of our butterflies flew away on command. It’s almost as if they sensed my inexperience and my hesitation. “Were they ready yet?” “Is it the right time?” “I can’t possibly open up the top now because the one with the wings destroyed by its bad luck can’t fly and has to spend its life here with me.”
This butterfly with the bent wings is now named Jerry. This one stepped onto my finger this morning because all of his siblings flew away in their own time, literally one at a time, and when they were ready. This butterfly seemed to not enjoy but need to flutter around spastically in my hand, trying to use the wings it had been given but could not use. Jerry pretty much just needs physical therapy and a little bit of company plus watermelon slices. It’s not much for what I know will be a short life from my perspective, but for this, I don’t need a Google search, I only need some patience and life-won wisdom. Perhaps if I talk to the little creature, I can get it to eat.
Perhaps while I’m here I’ll do my best to love the guy…
Love is the most gentle teacher.
Love just kinda hangs out with butterflies.
You are responsible for the energy you bring into this space, was what I told myself.
The second week in a row that I took my usual spot at the front, far corner in the Bikram Yoga studio where I attend class once per week. Last week someone was directly in the corner and this week, a friend. I placed my mat next to hers.
Both times, a woman wearing all black leggings and about three layers of long, black shirting, combined with the miserable look on her face plus the witchy wear, created an aura that leaked over her mat. The man beside her and directly behind me, wore UCSD gear, including basketball shorts last week and this week UCSB. He moaned and signed because I stood directly in front of him – both weeks.
Mind you, the class wasn’t full. But I like my spot. I was a few minutes late but I know the sequence so I can be where I want to be. Last week I adjusted myself so he could see himself in the mirror, as the instructor advises. He still moaned, sighed, rolled his eyes and I did my best to deflect the disdain. My friend next to me told me to move my mat this week so he could see himself. I didn’t. Last week I did move it, but I got the same passive-aggressive behavior that I did my best to deflect. I laughed at the instructor’s jokes, adjusted myself so he could see himself, not all the way and not at risk of blocking someone else behind me who would have the same reaction, or to look into the vertical seem that spliced my own reflection in half. Truth be told, I hate looking in a mirror when I exercise but my form can get so out of wack that it’s necessary to do so. This week I didn’t move until it was the first legitimate break time within the sequence to make such an adjustment and I knew it was too late for any more latecomers. Why be so rigid? Because I knew I wasn’t. No matter how many adjustments I made the week before, the couple still spilled over with piss and vinegar. I resolved to move once because if it was anything else than the guy’s attitude and resilient toxicity, he would have adjusted his mat. He could have but he chose not to move an inch.
If you don’t want someone in front of you, be in the front. It’s the simple. If you want to see yourself in the mirror in a certain way, also move your mat. There’s typically symbiosis in the room among yogis, like there has to be in good relationships. An outcome if more than one person’s doing. If nothing changes, nothing changes. There’s always the likelihood that the man standing behind me didn’t much want to see himself as much as he thought he did so I’ll end with that.
Note to self.
#Sundayyoga #reflect #attitude #acceptance #momeconomy