Sunday, January 25, 2009


Having people stay over is a challenge. No matter how much fun we have, the exhaustion generally wins out over the excitement. And to be honest, it's usually not that much fun. Is it because we have a small apartment with not many places to go? I think a house with guest rooms would help. It definitely makes a difference who the guests are. Some people are breezy to get along with. Others . . . it makes me wonder if I'm the easy or the difficult variety. And that, I suppose depends who you talk to.

Of course, it's not just me and the guests. Everyone in my family is frazzled by the end. Late nights with not a lot of sleep. No down time. No solitude. Weekends that are cram packed, even if it's only with other people drinking up our oxygen, leave us all drained at the end.

It's Sunday afternoon and all I want to do is sleep. But, there's extra laundry to do, things to put away, meltdowns to circumvent, which, to be honest, is impossible. That's one of the hardest parts—knowing that at the end, when home is finally all ours, the real screams begin.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

right in my backyard

Today Jack and I stopped in the bakery down the block from his school (Lafayette French Pastry), something we often do on our way home.

As we paid for Jack's rainbow sprinkle cookie, the owner told us he had been interviewed by Arnold Diaz of Fox 5 the day before, over the name of a cookie and an upset customer. Apparently, in honor of MLK day, he iced cookies with chocolate ganache, put red cherry eyes on them, and called them "drunken negroes." He changed the name to "Obama cookies" for the inauguration.

He thought the interview would bring him publicity and more customers. I told him I was horrified and he explained he was just being creative, that his cookies were art.

Shocked as I was, it was even more shocking to see him interviewed tonight, seeing a big tray of his chocolate glazed cookies in the display case, each decorated with thick lips, wide noses, and red cherries. Equally shocking was the story's teaser, that this situation was directly related to our new president. As they launched into the segment, images of Obama flickered across the screen before we saw the baker or the cookies. Nothing like escalating drama for ratings. Or making inappropriate cookies to get attention and more business. I have to say the cookies won this round, but the shameless shock value of the Shame on You production team was almost as tasteless.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

that day is finally here

President Barack Obama. What a thrill that is to write. What a thrill that was to say. The first time I said it out loud, to Iz and Jack while we were eating dinner, I had to hold back tears. I am but one of millions who was moved to tears today. Whose hope is restored. Who is looking forward to tomorrow. Who is ready to let go of fear. Who wants to believe. Who is proud to be an American again. Who feels change in the air. Who is determined to serve. Who knows the world is a better place.

Monday, January 19, 2009

celebrating ali

As I was walking through the snow to yoga this afternoon, I remembered the first time I ever took Ali's class at Laughing Lotus.

It was a snowy afternoon, the class was at 4:15, so the sky wasn't dark yet. It was my 4th week at the studio—I didn't yet know how early you had to be to score a good spot (back row, left corner), so I walked in to find the class cram packed. Ali walked over and found me a spot in the front row. FRONT ROW. My worst nightmare. I was up in the corner so I couldn't look to others for guidance. I didn't know the chants or many of the poses, but soon Ali's soundtrack washed over me—man, she can put together a playlist that moves and grooves. As we practiced, I watched the snow fall against the cast iron building across the street and the sky darken, through the windows hung with heavy velvet curtains. Car headlights glistened below and all sound from outside was muffled as we down dogged and warriored through class.

As we ended and laid down for shavasana, I was amazed that not only had I survived, but I felt this inner grace and beauty I hadn't felt in yoga before. And then, as I slipped towards the edges of bliss, Ali gave me the most delicious foot massage. I fell in love. With yoga, with her class, with Laughing Lotus.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

the other side of anxiety

At the moment, I'm reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Basic concept: super successful people get that way by more than just talent/intellect. It's a combination of luck, circumstances, when they were born as it relates to what's going on in society. AND, 10,000 hours of time dedicated. That's 10 years of work toward creating an expertise.

Mix that with Jill Bolte Taylor's powerful story (tp:// about her experience of her stroke. As a brain scientist, she had logical insight as to what exactly was physically happening. Her explanation of how the brain works, the in-the-moment creativity and wholeness of the right hemisphere, the living in the future and past, list-making, plotting and planning of the left hemisphere made brain mechanics crystal clear.

I sat, wondering what I've done for 10,000 hours that I could be considered an expert at. Parenting? It's been 10+ years (just) but I'm no expert—I scramble every day. Graphic design? It's been that long but that's more something I was born with. I don't slave away at it hour after hour.

And then it came to me. ANXIETY. Yup. That's my field of expertise. Anxiety. I've been battling it since I was too young to know what it is. My left hemisphere is so powerful (as I suppose most people's are) that it fights every time I try to ease it up a bit. For years now I've been working to lessen its grip. Yoga. Meditation. Writing. Ways to stay out of the spin cycle.

At least now I'm aware of its hold and power and have let go of some major roadblocks. I can go in the subway after 10 years of panicking when walking by the steps down. Elevators freak me out less. Planes, almost not at all. Skiing? OK, not everything's better but I'm aware of my fear and am determined not to let it win anymore.

The other side of anxiety. I'm heading there.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


So, I'm all about twitter at the moment only I feel like there's some twitter secret that I don't get. Make that many secrets. How can people do all sorts of personalized pages? I can't get one simple image to work in the space. Where did all those life coaches come from? Do I need one? Could I be one? What is it that I want to do with my life? I know I'm leaving my original question behind but I'm feeling scarily out of the loop and I'm not sure what the loop even is. Twitter. Tweets. Tweet deck. Retweet. Who are these people who are exceedingly adept at this? I remember feeling this way about school spirit. All these people around me had it but I wasn't sure what exactly "it" was. I feel the same way about religion. I respect other's faith, but totally don't understand. Or maybe it's more like twitter is the all about the popular kids and you're not sure what makes them so special but you know you're not one of them. Yes, I'm regressing. Maybe it's because I only have 41 people following me and that's bringing up feelings of inadequacy, bordering slightly on rejection. Yup. Straight back to 7th grade. My hair is better and I don't have to worry about if anyone will ever like me, but much of those other anxiety feelings are the same.

Friday, January 16, 2009

cyber etiquette for kids

Yesterday Jack, who's not yet 8, wanted to post a picture of an angry midget on his blog and say that it was his dad. Deep sigh. There were many things wrong with this scenario. First of all, I don't think "midget" is the term people use anymore. And funny as Jack thought the idea was, outright lying on something read by people he knows is wrong. Or is it? Was/am I making too big an issue of the strange but relatively harmless idea of a kid? He was putting words and images to his imagination. If he wrote that in a story, I would have found it strange, but would have appreciated his novel viewpoint and creativity. Somehow, putting it out for the world to see was different.

Which brings up the whole issue of people creating fake personas online. I know parents who have fake identities so their kids will friend them on facebook. I know women in their 70s (ok, I know one) who hung out in gay chat rooms. People have myspace pages for their cats, their turtles, their alter egos. Being honest is not a requirement for online communication. In some ways, the anonymity of cyberspace allows for extreme honesty—when you have time to think through your thoughts before shooting off an email, it's often easier to say exactly what you want without being in the same space as someone else. It's also reassuring to not see a reaction, which allows people (me) to sometimes put more out there than I usually would. On the other hand, it's really easy to lie, to be someone else. Isn't that what video games are all about? What is Sim City? You're a master planner in charge of the fate of some city you create. They have that now for kids. Cyber realities where you can change everything about yourself.

Ok, I'm losing my point. But, I have one more tangent. A kid I know called people "bitches" on his facebook page. I was offended but wondered if I'm wrong. Maybe I'm too old. Maybe kids are growing up in this altered reality where an online world is their reality, or at least a significant part of it. Maybe the combination of hyper-honesty and full-fledged fantasy is the wave of the future. Or the present.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

amazed and grateful

Today's crash was so many horrors wrapped up into one. When someone in my building first told me a plane crashed into the river, I thought he was joking. Then my heart stopped when my brain flashed to a terrorist attack. Planes in NYC where they're not supposed to be is terrifying. I watched the twin towers burn from my bedroom window. For months, I panicked every time a plane flew too close over the city. That was like watching a blockbuster Hollywood action flick—how could that possibly be happening? And that's what today feels like but with a happy ending. Unbelievable that no one was killed. That rescue workers and the Circle Line pulled together on this freezing day to get everyone out of the water. That there's now a large plane mostly submerged off the west side highway, blocks from the Intrepid. Hey, blocks from me.

I am often a cynic, but today was a miracle.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

pump it up

Yesterday I pumped gas for the very first time. Ever. This was just about the last on my list of things I'd resolved never to do. But, I pulled into the gas station, pulled up to the pump, and no one bounded out to fill my car up. No one slowly shuffled out either. I was on my own, with a cell phone that was almost dead. I called Jon, panicking, begging him to talk me through (or down, which ever the case was). First, my debit card didn't work - took 5 swipes through the pump before I could even start. I pulled the pump out, flipped up the lever only to find I couldn't get the cap off the gas tank. I swear it was glued into place, although now it seems an unlikely possibility. I checked with Jon at every step, making sure I wasn't going to fill the backseat or blow up the station. Surprisingly, I survived. The tank is full. The car and I made it back to the block in time to get a parking spot. And now I can say I've pumped. I doubt I'll ever do it again.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

obedience training

Jack, Iz, and I were walking down Lexington Avenue today. We got to the corner of 39th street and at the red light, a man said, in a very stern voice, "Jackson, sit!" When we turned to find out why some stranger was telling Jack to plant his butt on the sidewalk, we saw a large black dog sitting very nicely. Turns out Jackson the dog was very well trained. As the light changed to green, Jack the person was next up. I said, very loudly, "Jack, stop." He did. So did Jackson the dog and his owner.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

bathroom blogging

Iz is working with her tutor in the living room, so Jack and I are displaced at the moment. Because of the wacky way our apartment walls conduct stuff, our wireless network only works partly down our not particularly long hallway. In fact, the signal only works on the north side of the hallway so the bedrooms are out. Therefore, the hall bathroom becomes our personal cyber cafe. Jack gets the toilet (seat closed), his feet propped up on the hamper. I get the floor, with the bathtub as my backrest. For those out there who haven't been to my bathroom, it's really small. Even small for NYC. But, we're both typing away, updating our blogs (, working on Jack's website, and waiting until we can emerge. My butt is getting really sore. Maybe next time I'll break out the bath mat.

Friday, January 9, 2009

scan master

If only that title came with a throne. A cape. Or at least a little recognition. But no, at the moment I'm tackling a completely unreasonable amount of scanning and there's no glory involved whatsoever. Just an achy back, teary eyes, and a brain that's numb with boredom.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

other people's stress

I wish that I could put up a wall and not take on other people stress. Other people's challenges. Problems. Issues. But no, I embrace them and make them my own. Why else would I take on scanning a monumental stack of original art when it's someone else's job. Fix a friend's logo. With multiple edits. For free. Volunteer to design a project for an elementary school and take it as seriously as if it was an annual report. I angst over other people's jobs/homework/doctor's appointments. Babysitters/relationships/emotional well-being. Who's doing that for me?

There's a great big "L" on my forehead. Neon.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

tell me why I don't like Mondays . . .

Actually, I do like Mondays. In fact, I totally and completely love Mondays. My family gets exceedingly aggravated whenever I say that, but after 2 straight days of no time alone, whining, arguing, bickering, "what can I do," meals, messes, battles, repeats of Total Drama Island and the Simpsons, Spore, DDR, Guitar Hero, Star Wars lego, various wii games, I'm done. Of course, every weekend doesn't include all of the above. It only feels like they do. There's no room or time for me sit still, read a book, think for myself. When the door closes after everyone's gone on Monday, I take a deep breath and then often do the stuff I do every day. But, no one's asking me something or expecting anything from me.

So, tomorrow's like the mother of all Mondays because I've had people home with me for 12 STRAIGHT DAYS and my craving for solitude has hit an all time high. I will miss everyone tremendously, well, maybe not. But, I will be happy to see them all at the end of the day and will appreciate them all the more for having had time to just be.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

aging gracefully

I want to be filled with positive thoughts about aging, but it's close to impossible to dredge many up. While my getting older is ok at the moment, notwithstanding the wrinkles in my inner elbows and the creases at the edges of my mouth that make me look perpetually angry or mean, it's horrifying to watch it around me. I am confronted by my mother and mother-in-law—polar opposites at aging but equally scary. My mother is 73 going on 90, spending much of her time doped up and in bed. Between bad hips, bad knees and crippling arthritis, she can barely move and is constant pain. Then there are the multitude of other medical ailments that, to be honest, I can't list because I'm not really sure what they are. Almost every conversation includes recaps of doctor visits and test results. I gave up a long time ago and just mutter appropriate sympathy when necessary. She recently informed me she has 2 years left and then she's done.

Then there's my mother-in-law who, during a snowstorm this week, managed to skid off the road. Twice. Same road. Same spot. The fact that there were white out conditions couldn't shake her plans. She recently moved to Vermont, to a house off a dirt road, not really close to anything, surrounded by woods. 2 stories, so she has to deal with stairs every day. Her faith in her independence is remarkable and while I applaud her bravery and intrepid-ness, what the hell? She's alone. She's 5 hours away from any relative. Should something happen, who's helping? While looking at the dark side isn't the best way to be, being reasonable is, well, reasonable. While my mom's seeing the door closing quickly, my mother-in-law is acting like she's 25. Only she's 73. Which is worse—the old crone or the perpetual teenager? They constantly, without knowing it, battle for top spot.

Friday, January 2, 2009

cyber popularity

Getting attention in cyberspace is a bit of a mystery. In fact, getting attention in general has me pondering. Some people get attention all the time for absolutely no good reason while others, who need/deserve/could benefit from it, flounder in obscurity. Well, that goes for life in general but, I'm finding, online too. And I'm finding the world of blogging is all about no design, which makes it really hard (almost painful sometimes) for me to dive into. The nonlinear-ness of pages and links and photos and blogs and websites haphazardly thrown together is giving me a headache and I've only been checking things out for 10 minutes. Yet the most crammed, busy blogs are the ones with thousands of followers.

And who are they? I write here but don't follow anyone else's blog. It's challenging enough getting through my day and keeping it together (barely) without keeping track of friends and strangers and their stuff. Is it a popularity thing? What makes people popular online? Is it what they say in 20 words or less? What they do? A cool name? I have no idea. But, I want to be one them. I feel like if I had a presence, my projects would have a launching pad and might actually garner attention instead of getting lost in the multitude.

This book, in particular, should have done so well. It is nothing but support for new moms and their partners. It's funny, helpful, smart, easy to read . . . but it got lost in the shuffle and no one ever saw it: