and so, the countdown begins

It’s been a while. I wonder how many times I’ve started a post with that sentence. It feels like quite a few in my mind. The last few weeks feel clear, and a blur, all at the same time. The thing about grief is that it catches up with you at the most inconvenient moments. I was well aware that this is a tender time of year, and yet it still doesn’t make it any easier. Perhaps, the right way of looking at is that it makes me more aware. More conscious that I need to be gentle with myself, that I’ll have to dig deeper to find more patience for our daughters, and that I’ll have to find a way to acknowledge my loss, but not let it get the best of me.

In the weeks I was away from here, I had two interactions with friends that left me feeling misunderstood. And it opened the door to a larger question in my mind, that if some of my closest friends don’t get me, will there ever be someone else who can understand me as deeply as the best friend I lost three and a half years ago. The closeness you develop in an intimate relationship is one that can’t be mimicked by even your closest friends. It’s the innate understanding of what you need, and willing to put your own needs on hold at moments when the weight needs to be carried by one, instead of two. Continue reading »

all in the family

Yes, I know, it’s been a while. I knew time was passing faster than I could keep up. My silence here inspired a few of you to send notes or leave comments wondering if everything is okay. The truth is that I decided to pull back a little at the end of August, just so the girls and I could enjoy our Cape vacation. I needed to disconnect a little, though I stayed tethered a bit to Instagram. Perhaps tethered is the wrong word; that sounds burdensome. I love seeing other people’s lives, and sharing my own, through photos, so you can always check in there if you don’t hear from me over here for a while.

Well, we came back from North Truro on August 30th, and then school started a few days later. After a relatively leisurely summer of waking when we wanted, eating when we were hungry, and going to bed at no particular time at all, well, it’s an understatement to say adjusting to school was a shock (more so for me, than the kids, I think). The girls seemed to settle in as well as could be expected, considering we moved just a few months, their friends are all back in Brooklyn, and they’re now in a new school up here. I’m sure as time passes, we’ll settle into new routines, find new friends, and feel more like we belong, and less like we’re outsiders. If only time was an ingredient we could buy, preferably a “just add water” item. We’d miss the journey, though, and experience has taught me that even the tougher parts of the path make it worthwhile. Continue reading »

18 hours in Philly

“Let me get this straight. We’re driving to Philadelphia for doughnuts.”

That was Isabella’s response when I told her about my road trip plans for the weekend. The sun had scurried behind storm clouds, and raindrops began to dance upon the windshield as we rolled out of Brooklyn. My mind was divided between concentrating on the stop signs and streetlights, and my real reason for driving 95 miles for doughnuts.

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killing time

In the city that never sleeps, where noise is the neighbor you can’t shake, the quiet room at the New York Public Library is an oasis. It’s better known as the Rose Reading Room, and until today, it’d been decades since I found my way there. I remember that list visit clearly, but only in the sense that someone extremely nearsighted can see when they’ve misplaced their glasses. You know, those memories where you find yourself squinting to make the moments come back into focus. Alas, they seem to be buried in a haze, the hopefully important parts sharp enough to recognize. Continue reading »

food for thought

We’ve had some snow here in New York City. Okay, so it’s a lot of snow, and unless you live under a rock somewhere, this isn’t exactly breaking news. What seems to be news to many people around the country now is the fact that there are many children in our great city who rely on the public school system for up to two of their meals a day. The school also provides a warm, safe place for them. Think of it as shelter from the storm, but not the literal storm outside.

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walk lightly in the lives of others

What if for just once we all decided to go about our day only seeking, and sharing, positive messages? If we surrendered the snark and sarcasm, and treated this life not as our stage, but a gift. What if we spent more time thanking the people we love for being in our lives, instead of highlighting their faults? I wonder if we all spent just one day in this manner if it would become contagious. Or as human beings are we predisposed to find fault in our lives, and those of others?

I started reading Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart, by Mark Epstein, again recently. This was an important book for M many years ago, when we were going through a rough patch. I think it was given to him, or recommended, by a friend, in his path towards trying to find some inner peace. I’ve yet to make it to the end of the book on this second attempt; my mind may be too set in its Western ways of thinking. Epstein’s emphasis on letting go of looking for answers, and just opening ourselves to the idea of acceptance, is something I don’t agree with, or maybe I just don’t understand it fully, yet.

His words have settled into my subconscious, though, and while I’m not yet capable of applying them to myself, they are obviously affecting the way I see others in my life. Last week I met C in Paris for a few days. We hadn’t talked in ten days, and hadn’t seen each other in two months. The lack of talking was simply because he doesn’t have a cellphone at the moment, and doesn’t see any immediate need to get one. I find it both charming and frustrating that he can disconnect from life so easily. In a way, there’s an old-time romance to it. My problem is that I carry the anxiety deep in my heart that it can all fall apart in an instant. As I walked around Saint Germain, collecting groceries for lunch, I had an epiphany—the key to loving him is to simply accept him “as-is”, and not try to figure him out. As I stood across the street from our apartment, conducting a social experiment of whether a car in Paris will stop for a pedestrian (the answer is no), someone sidled up alongside me, and began speaking in English. So bewildered, and excited to hear my mother tongue, I turned to see him standing right next to me. He had been waiting for me to get into the building since I had the only key. My heart fluttered, a smile washed over my face, and every fear that something happened to him was gone. Ever so carefree, he said “I told you I’ll always find you”, to which I shared my thoughts on the secret to loving him. His eyes lit up, and he said “you figured me out, my dear.”

So, maybe, just maybe, accepting what we cannot understand is the key to understanding it?

the great unknown

What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?

These words sit atop a vintage blackboard in my kitchen. They’re written on a little pencil box I found in Anthropologie a few months ago. I was never one for inspirational messages, but the last couple of years I find myself clinging to them. Even inscribing them onto my skin, as reminders in my darkest moments. Continue reading »

the sound of music

Right about now, you’re probably sick of hearing Christmas songs, especially if you work in retail, or any public place that has been blaring them since before Thanksgiving. I’m immune to this illness, having loved listening to, and singing Christmas carols, since I was a kid. I remember lining my stuffed animals up in my bed at night when I was about four years old, and then leading them in a yuletide chorus—in the summer. True story. Continue reading »

Treat Yourself Tuesday

I felt like Tom Ford for 72 hours recently while in Las Vegas. This thought occurred to me, as I settled in for my second bath of the day while staying at the Aria Resort & Casino. Not quite the four baths a day Mr. Ford gets to indulge in, but for a gal who rarely has the time to enjoy a bath, it had me feeling like quite the lady of leisure.

An invitation to attend the 46th Pillsbury Bake Off brought me to Vegas. We had a pretty busy schedule the whole time, but during one chunk of downtime I managed to escape to the spa for an incredible hot stone massage; it was my reward for a very productive three hours of writing beforehand.  As I laid on the massage table, an idea popped into my head to start a weekly column called “Treat Yourself Tuesday”. I felt incredibly fortunate that I was able to take those 50 minutes to unwind, and thought about how many of us look out for others, yet forget about nurturing ourselves. Continue reading »

a perfect {emotional} storm

It’s just a bad day, not a bad life. I can’t take credit for such wisdom (I saw it on Pinterest), but I will admit uttering those words to myself as I curled up into a ball, and cried so hard I thought my well would run dry last night. Some days, oh some days, it’s just so hard to digest life. The remnants of the day’s trials and tribulations—helping with 5th grade homework, fighting with a landlord over a necessary refrigerator repair, figuring out babysitting issues, it all just leaves a pit in my stomach.

I try to remember to breath. I try to remind myself it’s just a bad day, but the stark reality of my loneliness in being a single mother sometimes gets the better of me. Throw in a stubborn sinus cold (and an equally stubborn person who refuses to go to the doctor because she doesn’t want to take antibiotics), and it becomes an out of body experience. I imagine standing over myself, shaking my head, wondering what the hell happened. I know I’ll be okay, if I could just get some sleep.

Tonight I’ll try to self medicate with a good night’s rest. Until then, it’s time to soldier on. New rain coats have finally been purchased, and I found the girls snow boots, too. I fed my kids breakfast, packed a homemade lunch (bonus points for the homemade cookies, right?), got them to school on time, fixed an error on Isabella’s attendance record with the main office, and their feet are prepared for winter. Today, I’m going to cherish the small victories.