Monday, November 30, 2009

sex and the city schools

Ok folks, here's my first foray into writing about something that's not exclusively inner angst and turmoil. We'll see how it goes . . .

Last week, my daughter's middle school hosted a pot luck for new parents—assembling a panel of NYC teachers, assistant principals and guidance counselors who gave presentations on everything from extreme behavorial issues to what to expect during the high school vetting process. As most in the room were parents of relatively well-behaved 11-year-olds, much of the information was beyond what we needed at the moment. We were more interested in how they were functioning in this new environment, what their days were actually like, wanting to get a sense of how this exceedingly diverse fortress of a NYC public school was treating our newly independent, relatively sheltered kids.

And then someone mentioned sex. More specifically, when, and how, is sex education dealt with in sixth grade. The answer? It's not. There's no set curriculum. If a question comes up in, say advisory—a weekly forum 6th graders have with their guidance counselors meant to address time management, bullying, homework pressure—it's dealt with in as perfunctory a manner as possible, quietly and quickly. Apparently, the NYC Department of Education doesn't feel it necessary to educate our kids about reproduction, contraception, or sexual health. Wait, I have to modify that last one, there's a mandatory curriculum about AIDS, but parents are informed well in advance so they can keep their kids home if they don't feel comfortable about them getting that information.

I'm sorry, but what?!

Last year, I waited and waited for the notice letting me know that fifth graders would be seeing the rite-of-passage menstruation film just about everyone I know lived through. Smack in the middle of writing FLOW: the Cultural Story of Menstruation (with Susan Kim), my daughter knew far more than most nine-year-olds did, but I found, talking to her friends, misinformation ran rampant. But, I learned, there was no film. No lecture. No talk with the nurse, the science teacher. No booklets to take home. While I have mixed feeling about femcare companies coming into schools, providing what amounts to an infomercial about their products, providing a forum for education and discussion should be mandatory. But, apparently, the DOE doesn’t feel the same way.

I wonder if anyone from the Department of Education has strolled down 14th Street in Manhattan on a Saturday afternoon, sidewalks packed with girls who barely look old enough to be responsible babysitters, with babies on their hips, toddlers in strollers. I wonder, if kids learned about sex in school, whether they'd make different choices. Maybe, maybe not. They're teenagers after all. But, as a parent, I'd much rather my kids learn in classrooms, from teachers who can provide factual information, than by watching birth control and menstrual suppression ads on TV, gleaning information from misinformed friends, or tragically, developing sexually with no information at all. Living in Greenwich Village, in New York City, it’s shocking to realize we’re moving backwards. This reticence to talk sex in school is nothing but a disserve to our children.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

daily practice

So, I've been blogging every day for the last 50 or so. A tremendous accomplishment for me—I've never had a regular writing practice before. I now get the sadhana thing, the making a 40 commitment to something, that after 40 days it truly does become a part of who you are/what you do. I miss my early morning writing when I don't get to it. Like today. I'm now post yoga, post lunch, contemplating piles of laundry and a stack of paperwork that should have been dealt with months ago. In fact, I think within the very neat pile of papers stacked on my printer, is a parking ticket from last winter that we got in Brattleboro. It was $10 at the time but it's now up to $55. Sigh.

I've noticed an interesting thing happening lately. This writing practice has evolved the more comfortable I got with it. At the beginning, it was a strain to just sit and write. Every sentence, every thought before each sentence, was a struggle. I felt like I had to know where I was going before I started. And that's antithetical to the way I create. I'm never sure where I'll end up, but know that I'll recognize when I'm done. While working on FLOW, some were horrified by this. The word "horrified" as actually used. I believe "terrified" was too. But, this is how I've always worked, as a designer, as an illustrator, and writing as well. So these posts became free form ramblings that generally had a point and made sense in the end. Most were about angst, anxiety, inner turmoil, insecurity. I'm grateful to everyone out there who took time to read, think, comment on all I've been going through lately. It's been pretty intense, occasionally fabulous, I've met amazing new people, have been stretched to my limits, have remained surprising grounded throughout, hosted 12 for Thanksgiving at the tail of the mania, and still have hope.

But, I'm thinking it must be kind of boring to read about my internal struggles and agita. And, to be honest, I'm getting pretty tired of writing it. This reminds me a bit of being in therapy and wanting to leave. Not that it hadn't been extraordinarily helpful, but, at a certain point, I didn't want to talk anymore. My stuff is my stuff. I know it so well. I don't blame anyone else for it. I recognize my patterns and pitfalls. And, after awhile, it doesn't have to be the center of attention anymore. Not saying that it never will again, it just needs to take the back seat for a bit.

So, where does that leave this? I'm thinking it's time to write about more than me. I just put this project into the world that takes on so many issues. All conversation starters. FLOW is a beautiful book that will get lost in the shuffle if someone's not out there being its stage mother. And maybe it's time i jump off the diving board instead of paddling around in the very comfortable shallow end. I can make films, design websites, twitter endlessly, but at this point I'm preaching to the choir (and an exceedingly supportive and nurturing choir it is).

I was never much for jumping right in. But it's time.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

what's really going on

I posted before, hot water bottle clenched to my abdomen, sudafed making me racy and anxious, about how I had nothing to say. That's not true. I have plenty to say, but wish beyond wishes I wasn't feeling any of this to need to say it. The crashing part was true. The exhaustion. The hitting the wall. It's been an intense few weeks—nothing like I've ever gone through before. But the reality is that I'm petrified FLOW's peaked and we're on the downslide. It was a lovely peak. Fabulous book launch party, great press, people loving the book—such enthusiasm from both people I'm close to and people I don't know. I had a moment or two and will carry those with me forever.

But that's not nearly enough. I'm not a live-in-memories sort of person. I don't collect things (except coats, which are exceedingly functional). Last week Izzy had to write a paper for school, about an irreplaceable object. She had trouble thinking of one. I did too. I don't invest emotion or energy in objects. They're nice to have, within reason, but I'm a minimalist at heart. And memories too—it's lovely to look back at a moment, smile, bask in the glow, but they don't sustain you.

I want more moments. More events to look forward to. More interviews. More reviews. More conversation. More guarantees that it'll be ok in the end. I mean, of course it'll be ok in the end. I've already achieved more with this book than all the others I've done put together. Well, not quite. I did dozens and dozens of radio interviews for CHUNKS. Heard more vomit stories than any one person should. 2 of my books made it onto Entertainment Weekly's Must Have list. One was featured at DailyCandyKids. Those small mentions sent sales skyrocketing, at least for a few hours. But, no one's written anything about FLOW in a week. Trust me, I know. I'm constantly checking. The publisher sent out tons of review books. I saw stacks of them at The Strand, press releases untouched, tucked inside. They're selling for $14 folks, signed, at a gift table downstairs. How soon until they're on a dollar table outside?

But, I have to fight putting all this negative energy into the world. Or internalizing it so that my stomach aches and my teeth clench. This is one of those times I wish I had blind faith. Could believe in the best and hold on to those thoughts until the actualize. Or work at them until things actually happen. Maybe that's what my work is right now. This very second. This quiet Thanksgiving weekend. To accept where I am, who I am and be ok with that. To not imagine disaster and disappointment in the future, but sit with the unknown.

Not easy, not comfortable. But that's what is right now.

crashing and burning

I only wish it was that dramatic. Then I'd have something interesting to write about. Today I'm slumped on the floor, empty, tired, spent, blah. Nothing left. Nothing there. No motivation. No creativity. Aching muscles. Queasy stomach. Stuffy nose.

Compelled to write, from an I-can't-let-this-writing-practice-die place, not a place of insight, wisdom, substance. Although, who am I kidding, I don't know how often I'm insightful, wise, or have something meaningful to say.

And today's not going to change that.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I've got nothing

I think this has been the most emotionally (and physically) exhausting, challenging, exhilarating, thrilling, exciting, depleting two plus weeks of my life. Today, I am numb. Well, almost numb. Sponge Bob's voice feels like someone pouring rubbing alcohol on badly skinned knees—painful with an after-sting that won't go away. And now I'm thinking, post childbirth was, I'm sure, far more exhausting than this. That was a level of exhaustion that can't be replicated. Or even remembered clearly. Having said THAT, I'm older now, and less resilient than I was at 34.

Where is this post going? Folks, I have no idea.

On top of the FLOW insanity I've been living, last night we hosted 12 for Thanksgiving. Until yesterday morning I had barely started cooking, or even realistically made a list of what I needed to get. By the time people showed, I had been to the supermarket and farmer's market more times than I can count—several times going specifically to buy something and coming home without it. Never managed to get pineapples and strawberries.

(surprising wind shift)

While missing much needed fruit at the end of dinner is certainly something to ponder, I need to go on an unexpected tangent for a moment, because, of course, I'm online and checking constantly while I write this and just got an email that made me stop and think. Actually, stop and cringe in horror. It followed a tweet that said, with a slightly biting edge, that my many FLOW posts were overwhelming everything else on someone's home page. And then an emailed arrived asking that I no longer include this person on any FLOW mailings, that's they're receiving far too many and would prefer, well, none.

Whew. I am mortified on one level. Ashamed. Uncomfortable. Squeamish that my pulling out the stops to support my book has become such a turn off to people. Having said that (with a nod to Larry David), this book represents 3 years of my life. I fought SO HARD to get it out into the world. The information within should be mandatory. How women's history, women's rights are boiled down to a paragraph or two about suffragettes in school is shameful. Even more shameful is how we all swallow the pill of not talking, not challenging, not fighting the stigmas that we've been conditioned to believe are true.

This is such a fine line to walk. Shameless self promotion that many are reading is all about me. About book sales. About some sort of fame that's not fleeting too fast. And yes, honestly, that's part of the equation. But far more, I believe so wholeheartedly in this book in an environment, a construct, a society that's so hard to get people to pay attention in.

I'm figuring this out as I go along. I wish I had a mentor, a guru, a psychic who would keep me sailing straight. Who could see the future and know all this energy and effort was well-directed. Who'd be able to let me know I'd come out the other side with my ego intact, my friends not hating me, FLOW educating and empowering people. And a new book deal.

One can dream.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I will be thankful later . . .


And now the freneticism begins. But, as I start getting super crazy, there's still a tiny bit of calm and gratitude because my family is super mellow and will be fine with whatever is. I am grateful for them. That I have a place for them to come. That they want to be with me. That I have plenty of food for people to eat. That I live across the street from the supermarket because I'm sure I'll be there at least 5 more times today. That my kids like helping make potatoes.

I am not grateful for Sponge Bob and if I have to listen to that scratchy voice for one more second, one of us won't make it.

Happy happy Thanksgiving. Wishing love and light, gratitude and thanks. Peace and fun. Whether with people you enjoy, people you dread seeing, or if you're by yourself today, I wish you a moment of quiet, to soak it all in, and appreciate that you're here.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

what's now not what's next

I woke up too late to write this morning, with just enough time to type the title I'm supposed to be grateful before morning hysteria took over. So, now, hours later, post yoga, iced decaf with half and half in hand (how did I not know half and half turned coffee into the most scrumptious cup of love ever?), I'm thinking that title is on the snarky side. It's completely contrary to what this time of year is about. And how I'm feeling now that I'm finally alone, blues on the radio, in my cozy apartment glancing at grey skies outside, piles of food to cook for tomorrow.

We host most major holiday celebrations, rearranging furniture so we can make our table big enough to fit everyone, and every time my family and assorted friends get together, we start off going around the table talking about what we're grateful for. Could be health, family, new projects, a new president. A new video game, a good haircut, being together. Having people to be with. Where we live, who we live with. I think someone was once grateful for purple. Watermelon. Chocolate tofu pie (you have no idea how insanely delicious it is).

And so, I'm thinking, what better place to acknowledge all I'm grateful for than here—if I went on too long tomorrow at dinner, breakdowns would ensue. And to remind myself, that even though my inner spin keeps reminding me how things could/should be better, different, I'm exceedingly lucky to be right here, right now.

Where to start? How about the fact that at 12:24 in the afternoon I get to sit and write? I've been married to a remarkable man I'm still happy to see every day, who makes this life possible for me. We met when we were 19, at college. Crazy, I know. The first card he ever got me said: "You march to the beat of a different drummer. In fact, the whole band's pretty weird." He gets me. He was the one who wanted kids, while I was completely ambivalent. And now, how could I possibly imagine life without Iz and Jack? They push me, stretch me, challenge me, all the while filling me with a love that's so much deeper, powerful, intense than I ever could have imagined. Last night I told Jack that when he was born it was like another room opened in my heart that's just for him. I hadn't known it was there before he was here.

We live in Greenwich Village. In an apartment that's not too big, but big enough. With a roof deck upstairs that looks out over all of downtown. The Hudson River. Empire State Building. During the summer after the sky is completely dark, whenever we hear a loud crash we run up 7 flights of stairs to see fireworks erupting in the sky, over the river, the library, the Seaport.

My parents are both still here. Married to other people who appreciate them. I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that my eclectic, drama-filled, unconventional family is always here for me. And I love love love that family functions are fun. People always stay far later than I think they will, sitting around, chatting and laughing. No hidden agendas. No people we wish we didn't have invite. Truly, for that I am grateful.

I am 45 and feel like I have so much more to do, to experience, to discover. FLOW has already upended my life and I'm thinking the ride's just starting. If not, I've grown so much through the process it'll take awhile to let it all settle in so I can take stock and figure out where I am. My first TV interview is this week. I have meetings with a production company about a FLOW film. My own little films got a shout out at HuffPo. I posted there myself. Last week I lived a dream-come-true book launch party. My dress was great. My hair stayed straight.

Yoga. I'm grateful for yoga. For the space, the quiet, the movement and music and energy of the beautiful souls whose words resonate far past time spent on the mat.

And then there are the remarkable people in my life. People I see every day. People I've reconnected with who've been gone for a long time. People I've never met but whose words and thoughts, support and enthusiasm continue to blow me away.

Are you still with me? I want to wrap up by saying I'm grateful for you. For the people who read what I put out into the world, open up their thoughts, share this this journey with me.

Peace and love folks. You're in my heart.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'm not that deep

Yesterday my friend Amy mentioned me in a beautiful blog post. In fact, she said I inspired her. It was a post about recognizing and realizing your dreams, but more, about shining in quiet moments, moments when your true self glistens. These generally aren't moments of fame and glory, of being on a pedestal for yourself, and others, to stand in awe of, they're moments when you're truly connected to the universe. Those, to her, are the moments to savor. The steps of the journey. Acknowledging and accepting that everything along your path is important, happens for a reason, creates exactly where you're supposed to be.

Her writing is fluid and thought-provoking. Poignant and evocative. And I realized something pretty damn profound as I read through it the second time.

I'm not that deep.

I think people think I am. Perhaps they're mistaking my angst and anxiety for philosophy. Speaking of, philosophy used to, and still does, freak me out. My mind can't handle letting go of control to ponder "who am I," and "what does this all mean?" I'm too shallow. Actually, I don't know that I'm all that, but still, I find it unnerving to let go of "me" and dip my toes into a bigger reality. Every once in a long while, lying on my mat in shivasana, I feel it, "myself" slipping away, a sense of magnitude and beauty, peace and power tingling through me.

And I freak out.

I open my eyes, to ground myself in my body. On my brown mat with blue flowers. Lying on the hard wood floor. In a pink and orange Laughing Lotus studio. Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if I just let go, let it flow, didn't have to hold on to my ego so tightly, so desperately. Or perhaps, it's my ego holding on to me. Either way, I take a deep breath bring myself quickly back to Elissa Stein again, a person with many lists, much to do, and even more to worry about.

I remember feeling that same thing when I was a kid. That slipping away of myself—moments of not knowing who or what I was. And then sitting in front of the mirror that hung on the back of my bedroom door, staring, not recognizing me at first, but repeating my name, address, parents, teachers, until my reality wrapped me up in a familiar tight straight jacket again. I thought I was going crazy. Emotional instability runs in my family and I was terrified I was having a breakdown. In retrospect, I think I was actually having flashes (very tiny ones Joe) of enlightenment. I never told anyone about those feelings, those moments, that sense of losing myself in something far greater than me. I was sure I'd be locked up.

And yet, now, intellectually I understand what I was going through. I talk to Iz and Jack about the control the mind exerts. About one's true self that's beyond your thinking mind. About moving past that powerful, internal, negative spin and cutting yourself, your deep self some much needed slack. Letting go of anxiety and negativity. Being more present and not living in the past or the future. Treating yourself with love and kindness instead of recriminations and doubt.

I talk the talk. I do it pretty well. But I'm sitting here silently freaking that FLOW's been out for 2 weeks and it's already hit its apex, that it'll be downhill from now on. That my shining moment was a true flash in the pan. That I'll see my book, my labor of love and sweat and digging deeper than I ever have, sitting on a $1 table outside of The Strand by spring. That my deep belief, that I never talk about, never acknowledge to anyone, that I barely nod to myself, the one about me being here with a purpose, a role, that putting this book out there and volunteering to be at the epicenter of conversation, education, empowerment, is a joke. Maybe that secret dream isn't what's meant to be, it's just some 10-year-old egotistical fantasy, much in the way people want to be movie stars or rock legends.

And with that profound soul-search, my morning's about to start. Kids to school. A Target run. Picking up party photos. A radio interview. Yoga. Paperwork. New FLOW film. Pot luck. Homework. Incessant tweeting, messaging, posting, checking.

It's amazing how hard I work to distract myself from me.

Day 49 is stripped bare and searching frantically for a conceptual bathrobe.

Monday, November 23, 2009

before the day starts

These days I tend to wake up before the sun rises, to squeeze in some moments of quiet solitude before the day officially begins. I used to do this ages ago and I'd meditate. As there's no room of my own in a 2 bedroom apartment, or even a corner I can declare mine, I had a little mini shrine set up between 2 chairs in my living room. A graceful buddha hand holding a delicate lotus blossom sits on top of a pile of books including histories of Washington Square Park, a DaVinci art book, and Bar Mitzvah Disco (my dad and I are a full page, much to the amazement of a new friend who was over the other day). I'd light a candle, set the meditation timer on my mac dashboard, and sit for 10 minutes. In a row. Without doing anything else.

I can't fathom doing that now. Not the meditating part. The doing one and only one thing part. I've become just as splintered as the fragmented society/media I often rage against.

(I just took a second break to check twitter).

I'm constantly multi-tasking in a way that puts the old concept of multi-tasking to shame. It used to be impressive to listen to music, talk on the phone and do laundry. Last night, while I built a new FLOW film, I google chatted for a hour, maintained several twitter conversations, monitored FB, checked email, stayed on top of all FLOW mentions and amazon rank, texted back and forth, and helped my husband work through a cable problem so he could watch the Giants game.

(I just drank my first sip of tea only to realize I didn't actually put anything in my cup. I'm holding a hot, steamy mug of almost boiling water).

Even sitting and writing, which has now become a staple of my morning, is constantly interrupted. Besides my need to be updated nonstop in every possible arena, I now have to get everyone up and moving. In addition to the usual frenzy, today I have to be out before 8 to replace the pumpkin chocolate chip bread that I unwittingly ate part of, after Iz left it sitting, in a bag, on the dining room table. I assumed, wrongly, that she was done. She assumed that if she left it sitting there for 4 hours, it would be in exactly the same place for her to finish up. I see her assumption as a problem. She sees me as a snack thief. My penance? To get her a new piece before she leaves for school at 8. It was offering up that or another hour of raging. I pick my battles.

(It's now 7:04 and just her missing those precious 4 minutes could spell disaster for the next 56. I'll be back).

It's 7:53. I just had a lovely conversation about FLOW with the super cute guy at Royale. Left a copy for him to read that I'll pick up tomorrow. Now getting Iz up and out in the next 7 minutes and then on to the next kid.

It's 8:14. Met my neighbor who's home from college and talked Tony Hawke's new wii game and FLOW while waiting for the elevator. Jack's still sleeping. I can either write here for a few more, or delve into the world of "UGH," "I'M SO TIRED," "LEAVE ME ALONE." I know. I'm still typing . . . . obviously my choice has been made.

(Did I mention that I put olive oil instead of honey in my first cup of tea this morning?)

8:53. Falling back into stillness. It's colder out now than when I was on my pumpkin bread run. Chatted madly in the elevator, on the walk to school, fought through throngs of parents and kids, hustling to get in the door on time. And now, back home.


It's messy. But quiet. Warm and almost sleepy, as if the past two hours never happened. I feel myself slowing down, checking more slowly, easing into the emptiness of Monday morning. Taking a deep breath or two after hyperventilating for too long.


The phone just rang but I'm ignoring it.

Day 48 is grateful. Just really super grateful.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

reality check

Not to sound paranoid or anything, but sometimes it feels like the universe is punishing me. Just when things are going particularly well, or even just ok, I get slammed by something unexpected to put me back in my place, to keep me from thinking I have any right to feel too confident, happy, good. I've just lived through two days of this and I don't know how I'll survive another.

I was expecting post book party backlash from my family. I know, for kids, well my kids anyway, it's not easy having me be someone other than their mom. These projects, especially FLOW, took so much time and energy away from them and for long stretches at a time I'd be distracted, edgy, overwhelmed. It makes sense that they'd rather have me focus on them 100% in a happy homemaker sort of way. Not that I've ever done that, but when I was little I used to feel that about my mom—if only she could shake herself out of her depression (I didn't know that's what she was actually going through at the time), if she could not get in bed at 6, if we could spend more time together, if she was interested in me more, my life would have been perfect instead of insecure and anxiety-ridden. Somehow my mother had the ability to make everything ok. Of course she didn't, but I didn't know that either.

Expecting the other shoe to fall, I thought it would happen after the big party. Before the night began, I dreaded going home, expecting someone, something, to make me pay dearly for a night that was only about me. There were moments, at Rizzoli's, Jack showing up at my side, bored and frustrated, but it was minor. And I was so high that I managed to gloss over his temper tantrum when we got home. Iz had friends show up, Jack didn't spend his night with her the way we'd planned, he'd felt left out and lonely. I get it. We all stayed up way too late watching Project Runway, but everyone went to sleep in a sane place.

Friday morning was brutal. After school? Violent fighting kept me from going to yoga. I sat, listening to the screaming that dissolved into hitting and ensuing out of control hysteria, too tired to cry.

And then there was yesterday. At some point, a couple of weeks ago I think, we'd found out about a Star Wars concert that was happening on the Island and thought that would be a cool thing to do. Our weekends are usually free form and plan-free. Everyone's too tired from the week to tackle anything huge and while they're usually a disaster, no one has the energy or where-with-all (that would be me) to scrape everyone off the floor and make fabulous plans happen. And after this week? I couldn't comprehend getting everyone up/dressed/on board/in the car to drive for over an hour to scalp tickets at Nassau Coliseum. Forgive me for not, as always, putting everyone else first, but I had other things on my mind lately. Friday afternoon, I scheduled a playdate for Jack—he's been feeling lonely lately and it seemed having a friend over right before Thanksgiving would be a good thing for him right now.


It was as if I'd purposely set our weekend on fire, making sure to scorch and burn everyone so badly, we'd suffer as if with 3rd degree burns. I'm not kidding. All this, from thinking I was doing something positive and constructive for someone.

People were livid, as if this one time I ever took initiative, truly the one time I've EVER set something up for Jack on a weekend, was done purposely to destroy our weekend of potential bliss and togetherness. As if we ever have those anyway. As if I launched a missile into our well constructed plans and destroyed everything beyond repair. Things got a little out of hand, as sometimes long playdates do, and I was blamed, reamed, for letting that happen. For not being an effective host. For not being on top of everything. For letting the ball drop. For being tired and hoping someone else would take charge.

No one else ever takes charge. And I'm blamed for that too. I'm blamed for my kids being picky eaters (everyone in my family was when I was growing up), for not being organized enough, for letting weekends slip away without some grand plan, for not having the right food in the fridge, for other people's bad behavior and temper tantrums, for not sharing control when I desperately, deeply, don't want that control, for not playing games even when I'd offered to and no one heard me, for not buying the right ice cream, for not making an effort, for not finding a movie that EVERYONE wants to see, for not magically making everything just so, all the time. As we went to bed, the last installment was that our kids are so self-centered, they won't want kids of their own because it'll be too much of a nightmare for them to deal with children who act like they do. I was being held responsible for something that may or may not happen in 20 or so years.

I was yelled at, cursed at, sobbed to. I was emotionally beaten to a pulp, too depleted to stand up for myself.

I was numb. I'm still numb.

This, a day and a half after my glorious party. The day after The New Yorker wrote about it. The day of the best review I've ever gotten. A moment or two to celebrate, bask, let it sink in would have been delightful. A hug, a high five, some enthusiastic, or even tepid support would have been, well, expected. But no. Everyone's just pissed. And today won't be any different. There's homework that has to get done. Battles about leaving the house that will be waged. Frustration about going to class instead of movies with friends. Frustration that one was invited to the movies and the other wasn't. I'm sure there will be a 3 hour football twist in there. I can't live in the moment right now when I know the moments, minutes, hours coming up will break me down even more.

I feel small and lost and beaten down.

Someone last night said I need to withdraw into a cave. Emotionally, I'm already there.

Day 47 is anticipating more of the same.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

crashed and burnt

I am completely depleted. My temples are dull, achy, almost at the point of a slight headache throb, but not quite. My arms, my shoulders, the back of my neck, my legs feel heavier than normal somehow. It's hard to hold myself straight up at the moment. It's almost like the minutes before a cold hits and my body is prepping me for impending aches and pains. Only this time it's exhaustion. What I need, badly, is a day off. A day with no internet, no computer, no iphone, no connections, no checking, no searching. But, knowing myself way to well, that's not to be. Because I can't stop. Sadly, pathetically almost, this exhaustion is mixed with freneticism that I can't turn off.

I woke up at 6, checked email, FLOW's amazon ranking, and who was on twitter, but managed to go back to sleep for a couple of hours. That, in itself, is huge for me. But, in spite of being so-damn-tired-my-eyes-are-tearing-uncontrollably, I'm now mentally creating endless lists to slog through today. Last night, as I toppled into bed, I realized the holiday season couldn't happen without a new promo film, hawking FLOW as the perfect holiday gift. I had to get up, find paper and a pen and jot down ideas so I wouldn't lose them in dreams. The apartment is officially wrecked, as I haven't been able to pull it all together this week, so MAJOR cleaning is on the agenda. We're hosting Thanksgiving, and no I haven't even begun to think about any planning, cooking, who's even coming. I'm pretty sure I sent out an invite this week, but haven't heard back from anyone. Laundry? Too much to contemplate. I've got design work to catch up on, cruise paperwork to fill out (we're going on an obligatory family trip over the holidays), bills to pay, a daunting stack of papers haphazardly balanced on my printer that needs pruning. 972 emails in my inbox that need to be sorted through somehow.

And yet, it's hard to do any of the above, because all I seem to be able to do is obsessively check. Check what you might ask?

amazon rank, amazon comments
google mentions for both me and FLOW: blogs, news, recent activity, past hour, past 12 hours, past week
FLOW site hits, my site hits, youtube channel hits
comments on previous FLOW mentions
my blog comments, how many page views
facebook updates
all the while having tweetdeck open so I can post, follow, and answer
email checks
with the occasional google chat happening as well

Whew. I'm sure there's more but my brain's refusing to admit to it. The above list is ridiculous enough.

There's a nervous energy that's almost anxiety, but not quite, just below my surface. Honestly, that's how I generally exist in the world, but now it's cranked up to 11 ALL THE TIME. What to do. What can I do. Who can I hound, email, push? Why is nobody reviewing the book, interviewing me, writing about FLOW? WHERE IS EVERYONE? WHY ISN'T THIS BOOK'S SELLING WELL THE CENTER OF EVERYONE'S UNIVERSE?!!

HA! Ok, there, I said it. And made myself laugh in the process. I know I've gone completely over the edge this time. That I need to dial it back. That I sound so ludicrous it's borders on cartoonish. I can't help it folks. This is me unhinged, unfettered, unleashed.

I'm thinking coffee won't help.

Day 46 should be all about zen, but most likely will be managing frantic.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Post party glow

So. It's 5 in the morning and I'm crazily exhausted, but can't sleep—last night's Rizzoli party is still reverberating through me. It was amazing, remarkable, enervating, surreal, outrageously FUN, a blur of faces and conversations, all seen from the vantage point of sitting at the end of long table, sharpie in hand, with people lining up for me.

Yesterday, the hours leading up were not fun. In the least. It was cold and rainy, a day to curl up on a couch with a mug of hot chocolate and not go out unless absolutely necessary. As the day went on, aside from the potential debacle of having no one to do my makeup, emails and texts and messages kept arriving with regrets. By 3:00 I was sure no one was showing up. I didn't want to show up, wondering if there was a way I could blow the party off. It seemed like no one would miss me, as no one was actually coming. I crashed, or rather slowly, sadly slipped into a place of self-doubt and angst. Perhaps something nurturing would have been the way to go, lunch with a friend, a pedicure, a nap, but I didn't have it in me to be good to myself. My day, my afternoon, was remarkably the same as every other day. Jack and Iz were playing Lego Rockband, so the theme from Ghostbusters (they're scraping the bottom of the musical barrel at this point), thumped in my head. Trust me, that did not help.

My sister showed up to do my makeup. She'd very thoughtfully gone lipstick shopping for me. I'd thought something reddish would be appropriate and the only lipstick I own is the same color I've worn every days for more years that I can remember (Clinique, Blushing Nude). After outlining my lips and then filling and blotting, a look of controlled concern washed over her face. She couldn't even pretend I looked ok. Unless I was going for a Bozo the clown facade. And then I had makeup panic round 2. I needed to leave in 15 minutes and had nothing else. She ran downstairs to for another option (my sister's makeup collection rivals a well-stocked Bloomingdale's counter), while I tried hard not to hyperventilate. We settled on a bright plum, muted with my usual nondescript color on top. My eyes were elaborated layered with shades of grey and purple, foundation lightly dabbed on, with a dusting of blush. I looked like a ceramic version of myself—my skin had a texture I'd never seen before. She assured me that from 2 inches away, which was how I was scrutinizing myself, it appeared odd, but to the rest of the world, it would be fine.

I slipped my vintage black lace dress over my head. I have to take a moment to give my fabulous dress a shout out. While the lace was black, the flowers were edged in brown. A straight 60s sheath over nude satin. 3/4 sleeves with a lace ruffle at the elbow. I found it for $20 in the east village. Black tights and matte black Tahari boots, fitted with a square toe and shiny patent heels, and I was almost done. Smoky quartz earrings, made of dozens of shiny stones, and black glasses with subtle rhinestones in the corners. She ironed my hair super straight and I have to say, I looked good. Fancy, polished, sleek, about as not me as I could possibly get.

I grabbed the $50 worth of red m&ms I'd felt the party couldn't be without, stacks of mini FLOW stickers I'd had made, and ran out the door, shouting back over my shoulder vague instructions about getting Iz and Jack to the party.

I couldn't find a cab.

Off-duty signs everywhere. 2 pulled up but quickly pulled away when I said where I was going. No busses in sight. And there was no way I'd make it down and up subway steps in the first heels I'd worn in 15 years. Finally, a taxi pulled up and we super slowly headed into midtown. That lengthy drive gave me time to tear my entire bag apart, searching frantically for my lipstick (and more importantly aquaphor), that I'm never without. Convinced my lips would chap and bleed, my first post-cab stop was a ritzy pharmacy on 57th.

As I walked out I saw the bookstore across the street. The right side of the storefront was all FLOW. A huge blow up of the cover, with a banner announcing the signing, filled the arched window, stacks and stacks of books on a table below. A friend from twitter, the lovely Greetums, was already there as I walked through the front door. I headed up to the balcony, where we'd be, and found wine and salty snacks had been set out—the red m&ms were a perfect touch. Black sharpies were in place. A stunning man said hello and started snapping photos—he was the incredibly talented friend of a friend who'd so generously offered to come shoot the party ( Slowly, people trickled in. Someone asked me to please start signing and seemingly within minutes, the entire upstairs was jam packed with people waiting to say hello and have books signed. The next 2 hours were a blur. Friends I'd seen that morning, friends I hadn't seen since high school. One of the very first people I'd ever worked for. People I knew well, people I'd never seen before. People who knew me and it took a few seconds for me to place. My dentist. My mother-in-law. Our guitar teacher. My kids would wander by every once in awhile and then disappear into the crowd. I smiled, chatted, hugged, waved, blew kisses, bowed in thanks and gratitude. Was near tears more than once at the people who showed up to celebrate with me.

Over 100 books were sold. The Rizzoli people looked slightly stunned throughout and told us, as the crowed thinned but we continued to sign for almost half an hour extra, it was the most successful signing they'd ever had. People kept asking if my hand hurt but I only felt glee—I was floating in this space of pride, thrill, joy.

Later, as we had drinks with friends across the street, I thought about all the people who weren't there. My dad didn't make it—he's had some sort of emergency, and while not calling me himself, he'd asked someone else to let me know. Typical family communication. Some of my closest friends didn't show, people I never would have dreamed would be blowing me off. Some who said "see you later" and didn't. Some expected, some real surprises. And yet, it didn't/doesn't matter. It was a glorious night. Enthusiasm for me, for the book, for someone putting something new and different out into the world.

Love was flowing.

Day 45 will be bone-tired yet exceedingly, extraordinarily grateful for the people in my life.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

truly in the moment

Right now, this moment, this very second, as I'm sitting in my car typing, I'm panicking. PANICKING. Freaking. Stomach clenched. Hands shaking. Not really capable of breathing deep. I'm in the middle of that internal battle when I have to actively fight to maintain control and not spin out. Why?


Yes. Makeup. I want to, need to, look as fantastic as possible for my FLOW party tonight, which means serious makeup tricks are necessary. And the person who is supposed to help can't be at my apartment until exactly the time I need to leave.

(insert scream and stamping feet here)

So, I'm spinning this. Do I go to a Sephora store and beg them for help? Do I send out a frantic email asking for recommendations? Do I TRY TO DO THIS MYSELF?! That's not even comprehensible.

FOR ONE DAY. AN HOUR AND A HALF. ONE PARTY. I want to be not me. I want to be glamorous. Beautiful. Charming. The center of attention. Lina Lamont in Singin' in the Rain. Without the cigarette holder and endless rhinestones. I want to be unfettered, disconnected. I want one night to shine. I want to not think about laundry, undercooked pasta, bedtimes. I want life to be in a bicker/whine free zone. I want a bubble like the one Glinda used in The Wizard of Oz, to surround me and keep all negativity out. I want to bask in my own glow dammit.


Well, that rant helped me push makeup out of the forefront. I still don't have an answer but I have to believe it'll all be ok in the end.

Day 44 is trying hard to keep it all together.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

brand new me

Last night, at Jack's 3rd grade pot luck, as I munched on spicy sesame noodles and sipped red wine, I got into an animated conversation with a mom I'd never talked to before about personal branding. She's in between jobs, had worked in 2 different sectors before, and was now figuring out the best way to position herself to find a new job doing what she really loves. She's branding herself.

I found that fascinating. And true. That's what I've been unwittingly doing the past few months. You can't just be yourself anymore. You have to be a new and improved you. A you that's got catch phrases and a snappy bio. A you that can be summed up in short sentences. A you that's bright and shiny. In fact, it's almost like you have to reduce you down to a caricature, a cartoon, a 2-dimensional presence, to sell yourself these days.

And isn't that what we're all doing? Social media is all about personal branding. How else would anyone choose between the millions of people to follow? Everyone needs a shtick, a story, an edge that sets them apart. I delved into this online world at the suggestion of a friend in PR, as I was initially exploring ways to let people know about FLOW (I'm assuming, if you're reading this, no further explanation is necessary—you're probably overFLOWing at this point). Aside from sharing info about my upcoming book, I had no agenda. But, you have to have an agenda, no matter what anyone says. Otherwise what do you say? And why are you there? So, my agenda, my story, my persona evolved. Author. Vintage coat collector. Knitter. Mother. Yogi. NYC. Those are my facts. And while they trend more interesting than commonplace, that's not enough. I had to pump up the volume. Get sillier. More out there. I pour virtual FLOWtinis at night on twitter. My alter ego "Shameless Self Promoter" takes turns posting for me. I've tweeted statements as insane as "PAY ATTENTION TO ME!" And people did. I've found this group of amazing, smart, edgy, funny, quirky people who are right there with me.

Last night, at the party, I realized my online, sparkly, rhinestoned self is spilling over into the real world. Usually, at these sorts of gatherings, I talk to the few people I know, not comfortable branching out and engaging strangers. But there I was, introducing myself left and right, chatting comfortably away to people I'd never seen before. While the thought of that used to fill me with dread, I had a blast.

I got my first TV booking yesterday. Local cable talk show. I'm finding that enervating. Exciting. I truly can't wait to go and see what happens. Last night I got an email asking me to come talk at a college, that they'd put together a night for me to talk about FLOW and menstruation and education. WHAT A THRILL! I'm already pulling the outline together in my head, imagining how to create a super cool slide show of ads and visuals (no Dan, no bullet points), and thinking how I could put something together for other groups. I love being out there, talking, sharing, engaging. Looking in from the outside, I can see that my online personality is shaping my real-life life. How amazing is that?

Day 43 is marveling at how interconnected it all is.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

fear factor

Before my Laughing Lotus party kicked into gear last Sunday, I was talking to one of the teachers about yoga school. I had applied to do yoga teacher training, but sold a project before the start date and never got to go. It wasn't that I wanted to be a yoga teacher, but it seemed a brave way to face my fears on the mat, and, perhaps, that would spill over into the rest of my life. One of the major fears I wanted to conquer was going upsidedown. She was incredulous that contemplating a backbend would wrap me up in knots—if I had the courage and gumption to put FLOW out into the world, how on earth could a handstand freak me out?

It does.

I love yoga but always start to panic as we hit the inversion portion of class, relieved when we don't actually flip things around. Or when I have my period and that gives me a built in excuse. That, in itself, was an internal struggle. Publically acknowledging I had it to justify passing on forearm stands—secrecy versus anxiety? In this case, menstruation always wins.

It's not that I can't do a headstand in the middle of the room. That I can't ski (I dread fall because I know confronting that fear is around the corner). That I can't rollerblade, go on rollercoasters or the flying chair ride, sit through scary movies. Of course I can.

But I can't.

An impenetrable, endless brick wall magically grows in front of me. There's no way through, over, around. I am glued to the spot. Frozen. Silent. Spinning stories inside my head about why, realistically, it's ok to not do whatever's confronting me at the moment. How maybe next time I'll screw up the courage. Justifying to myself, in an internal craze, that anxiety is just a part of who I am. I've compromised endless jaunts searching for alternate ways of getting around the city because I was too terrified to take the subway. Just the thought of walking down the steps would start my heart pounding, my chest would tighten, I'd have trouble breathing while standing on the platform. I've walked for miles to avoid a 5 minute trip. I went through a period when elevators filled me with dread. Living on the 10th floor made that quite the challenge I had to face every day. Even now, there are some elevators I won't go in. Or, when heading downstairs, if we stop at too many floors, I quietly get out and walk down the rest of the way.

Skiing? A family disaster. I wish that I could like it. I wish I could even tolerate it. I've even taken drugs to survive a trip to Whistler without having a breakdown on the bunny hill. But, popping pills to spend a day whipping down icy trails, hands clenched so hard I've made my palms bleed, panic-stricken to the point of paralysis just isn't worth it.

And yet, there are some things that come naturally to me that fill other people with horror. I can put my thoughts and ideas out into the universe, and while there's a terror that goes along with that, fear of rejection, of feeling stupid or talentless or trite, I am compelled to keep going. I can't imagine not sharing that way—it's a fundamental part of who I am. I can be in front of a room of people and talk. Calmly, easily, comfortably. Turns out I am enervated by sharing, connecting, teaching, opening. The more I do it, the more I own it. I haven't always been this way. In fact, I was outrageously shy, remarkably insecure for much of my life, cowering behind anorexia, then dissolving into motherhood. But even during the bleakest years, part of me fought to be heard, to move past the traps I built for myself. Wait. That just sounded like I consider motherhood a trap. I don't. But it is a constriction, a convenient road block, an excuse for not doing things for myself I should have been.

This confidence is recent. It feels really good, to be proud of myself. To want more. To dream about possibilities.

Some people think this newfound growth will even extend to skiing.

I'm not one of them.

Day 42 is all about the importance of writing before the day starts.

Monday, November 16, 2009

FLOW afterglow

The event: my first FLOW party

The setting: a glowing pink and orange room at Laughing Lotus, rainbow confetti strewn across the floor (this was from the class before, but nobody walking in knew that)

The crowd: my closest friends and total strangers. Teachers from the studio and relatives. My editor and the under 12 crowd, doing art projects in the back of the room. People in dressy clothes and people with dreadlocks.

The equalizer: no shoes.

I had no idea what to expect. As I walked up to the studio, a case of books stashed in the bottom of one of those old lady shopping carts people use in the city (disclaimer 1: it's not mine. disclaimer 2: Iz pushed it the whole way), I felt myself shutting down. Why? I'll say it again, I had no idea what to expect. This party was ephemeral—a concept, a dream, intangible. Honestly though, most of what's going on with FLOW is all of the above. I'm having a hard time basking in the reality of it. Perhaps it's the finality of this part of the process. I have to let go. The book's not just mine anymore. It's out in the world and will make its own mark. People will discuss and be disgusted. Or fall in love. Form opinions. Write, gift, return. All out of my control. Up until this point, I had input. Vision. I shaped and formed. Often while arguing and getting tied up into knots. But it was mine. Now it's belongs to whoever wants to own it, think about it, embrace or reject it.

Honestly, all that wasn't going through my head as I walked up to the studio. I was more concerned about my hair getting wavy in the humidity (it did) and whether I wore the right pants (that's still in question).

We got there just as a class ended—hot steam pouring out as the doors opened and countless blissful people floated by. And still, I had no idea what to expect. Where we'd be. How things would be set up. What I'd say. We ended up in that very same steamy classroom, yoga blankets placed in a semi-circle with a spot for me in the middle, against an orange wall, under a painting of Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance. At first it felt like it would be just me talking into space. And then, slowly, people trickled in. Dana, the goddess who owns the studio, gave me a lovely intro and then I was on.

I took a breath and started talking. Within seconds Jon was signaling me to slow down. I owe him a big thank you for that as I tend to talk too fast, especially when I'm nervous or excited, therefore blowing through what I'd prepared in 2 minutes instead of 5. So, I'm 5 minutes in, wrapping up the back story of why I wrote this book, and there I am, on a pile of mats, in front of a sizable crowd of people, all with expectant looks on their faces. And I had nothing to say. Well, nothing prepared, organized, outlined, or thought out. Part of me was thinking: shit. I thought this was going to be more like a cocktail-less cocktail party, people milling about and chatting, asking the occasional question, but not all me as center of attention.

I was the center of attention.

I had marked off a couple of passages from 2 of my favorite chapters (advertising and education), pages that felt like my words with a minimum of sugar coating. I found myself editing out analogies and extraneous phrases, that didn't feel like they'd work while reading out loud. But, I found, it wasn't about reading. It was about connecting these thoughts and ideas and telling a story. So, I put the book down and started talking. Forgive me, but I was flowing. I have no idea what I said, how I tied strands together, what points I made. I was aware of people nodding in agreement, laughing, carefully watching me. I noticed the pre-teen girls in the back were pretty fidget-free. There was a consciousness of people looking at me differently. Suddenly I wasn't the yogi in the back corner of the room, or another mom at drop-off, or an older sister. I was someone with original ideas, a different perspective, who'd had a vision and made it read. I was also incredibly sensitive to the fact I had no idea how to wrap things up. Or how much time had passed. Why wasn't anyone pointing at a watch? Giving me a wrap it up hand signal? Dozing in the back?

And I'm still talking. I certainly could've talked for hours—there's so much to say: fascinating stories. Historical facts. Biological oddities. But, that's why there's a book. And I was starting to sense that not everyone was all that comfortable sitting crossed legged on the floor for so long. So I said thank with with a bow, answered a couple of questions, sent people out to have a tarot card reading (with thanks to my friend Gayle!), and signed a lot of books. The entire box was gone.

It was amazing. I LOVE connecting, talking, sharing, informing. My tarot cards said what I wish for will all happen. My burden will be how to handle the abundance. That after confusion right now, it's smooth sailing and success.

And yet, as I basked in the FLOW afterglow, I saw storm clouds gathering on the horizon. Within minutes of hitting the street, a brutal temper tantrum struck someone in my entourage. It lasted for hours. While I just needed to curl up in a dark room, depleted from my moment in the sun, instead I had to soothe and calm someone else, make dinner and negotiate bedtime. Mediate arguments, read stories, and let go of my own needs to take care of someone else.

The summary: gratitude for a delicious, super-shiny, thrilling moment nestled in the middle of a typical day.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

and now for something completely different

Last night I was on the phone for a long time with my media consultant. I think that's what he calls himself. I think of him as my renaissance guru. This is, Dan is, an amazing friend I've made on twitter, who's enthusiasm for FLOW, for what I'm doing, for how I'm doing it, has been a consistent anchor during the past few turbulent weeks. In fact, before I start writing about what I thought I'd be writing about, I have to acknowledge my amazing support system that's come together online. I've found such joy, empathy, support, from total strangers in a way that I don't have in real life. Sort of sad, while sort of amazing at the same time. For example—FLOW's on sale date. Twitter was buzzing with excitement. And the past few days have been messages from people getting their copies, of reading, sharing, blogging about it all. In real life perhaps 5 people said congratulations. Granted, it was a typical day of running around like mad. Playdates, parent teacher conferences. I got plenty of emails (responses to the one I'd sent out saying FLOW was on sale), but almost no one said a word out loud. So, boundless thanks folks. You all helped keep my head above water.

Back to the story—last night Dan and I were talking about what to do next. He'd sent an email earlier in the day saying I should take a break (take a week away at an all-inclusive resort actually, which I'd LOVE, but can't pull off), to recharge. It was time to let FLOW fly on its own for a bit and get back to normal. The thing is, I don't want to get back to normal. I don't play golf or tennis or bridge or mah johngg. I'm not a cook. My apartment could use a paint job, I'm in the middle of knitting a scarf for my mom's birthday, I could volunteer for picture day. No, wait, that was last week and I missed it. I need more. Time off is almost a punishment for me. I crave thinking, researching, pulling thoughts and ideas together, strategizing. Having something concrete to do. Something that challenges, stretches, forces me to go places that are uncomfortable.

You know, I need to back off from that a bit. I don't crave things that make me uncomfortable. It's more like I'm compelled to put myself into those situations. But from that place of fear comes growth. A personal aside: if only I could do that will skiing and rollerblading. Sigh.

FLOW is actually first in a (still conceptual) series of books that challenges how we think and feel about the natural cycles we live through. And so, perhaps, it's time to dip my toe into the second one. Actually, my feet have been wet for awhile. I've been reading and researching on and off for months. Over 100 questionnaires have already been filled out. People in the field are already excited for this book. This book that's still a vague bunch of somewhat related thoughts with no form or structure.

There are several hard parts. Parts that have kept me frozen to this place of non-action. FLOW was often so horrendous, it's terrifying to think about going back there. Although, now that I know so much more, it shouldn't be as bad. The subject matter is harsh. Often depressing. Inevitable, yet something we all fight against, whether we realize it or not. Ripping off the veils we so artfully construct will be painful. Or perhaps enlightening.

In yoga, we end each class with shavasana. Corpse pose. And in that stillness, there is bliss. So, maybe, this project won't be as dire and dark as I fear.

Ok folks. WRINKLE: the Cultural Story of Aging, is now officially out in the universe. Starting to take shape. I'll keep you posted.

Day 40 is DAY 40!!! What a sense of completeness. I did it. But still have so much to do.

Friday, November 13, 2009

now what?

I think I'll repeat that again as I literally have nothing else to say. Now what? It's a grey rainy day. Looking out my bedroom window the buildings, sky, and low hanging clouds are shades of the same color. Jon's away until tomorrow. The kids are watching Sponge Bob, a show that grates on my nerves and my soul. I have nothing to do.

It's not really that I have nothing to do. I could go get the laundry I forgot in the basement yesterday. And, I could always do more. I could put away the vintage ads and magazines that have been stacked haphazardly on my windowsill for the past couple of weeks—fodder for my last FLOW film that I haven't gotten around to re-filing. I have a couple of FLOW pieces to write, one for a very cool history website, another for an independent publishing blog.

I could take a shower.

I could think about breakfast.

I could clean up, trying hard not to resent that the apartment was sparkling yesterday morning but is now overrun with tufts of wool from Iz's needle felting project, yo-yos and skateboards and more pairs of sneakers than I realized we owned.

I could finish a book. I've gotten into the horrible habit of starting books with great enthusiasm, but never finishing. I must be in the middle of 5 or 6 books at this point.

I could plan out what to say at my FLOW party tomorrow. I'm in pretty serious denial about this one. I have no idea who's coming, if anyone's coming, how many people might show up. It's my first time talking to a crowd about FLOW and I don't know where to start. The studio owner suggested talking about how the book came to be and then reading from it. I spent some time yesterday going through, looking for parts I'd like to share. The problem for me is that Susan did the final polish of the manuscript so it's very often my words dressed up in someone else's clothes that don't fit quite right. To me anyway. I see my ideas, my structure, my process, my thoughts wrapped up in a style that's not mine.

The reality of this party, and the big fancy one at Rizzoli, hasn't sunk in. That this is it. The only concrete things left on the FLOW schedule. All the press we knew about it out. Plenty of reviewers, radio stations, websites, TV producers have copies, but no one's inviting. A few bloggers should be writing about it, but who knows. And that just about sums it up.

Who knows.

Plenty of people I know "know" FLOW is going to be big. Their enthusiasm and support is all that's keeping me above water at the moment. I'm drained beyond belief. It's almost like a post-partum depression settling in. I didn't realize I'd gone through that with Iz, until I read Brooke Shield's piece about it in the New York Times. I was afraid to sit too close to the window with her, or anywhere close to the perimeter upstairs on our roof, for fear I'd toss her out. I never told a soul—terrified there was something horribly wrong with me, that I was having a breakdown I wouldn't recover from. So, I sat in the middle of the room with her for months, until the darkness passed.

I'm not having visions of tossing out my copies of the book, or perhaps tossing them onto a bonfire, but there's a numbness right now that I can't shake. I can't cry. I can't yell. I don't have enough energy to really feel at the moment.

Post publishing depression. I think that's where it's at for me today.

Day 39 is lost in a puddle of greyness.

joy blossoming in the insanity

I've been working steadily for months. Drumming up interest, pitching, emailing, contacting, designing, writing, producing, tweeting, checking, connecting, hawking, selling, promoting, making sure that everyone I know, and everyone that everyone I know knows, knows about FLOW. That frenzy hit hyperdrive the past few weeks and I grew into this person I didn't know I could be. SSP (shameless self promoter). As SSP, my general state of insecurity lessened somewhat. It wasn't completely gone, but I handled potential rejection better. It truly felt, especially for the past couple of weeks, that I was invincible, that I could push as much as I felt I needed to (which, being me, meant all the time), and no one would really notice. No, it's not that they wouldn't notice, they'd take it with a grain of salt, understand how I needed to drive home the message about this book I believe in so much, and tolerate it all with a smile. And that I'd be able to keep up the frenetic pace until the book sold hundreds of thousands of copies.


I'm exhausted. Every day since Tuesday (FLOW's onsale date), I've crashed and burned by 2 in the afternoon. Yesterday I managed to miss 2 yoga classes, drifting in and out of sleep, not able to move an inch after I collapsed onto my bed. There are times tears start flowing, I'm so tired I can't hold emotions back. To be honest, I'm not even sure what I'm feeling anymore. After my self-induced pre-sale mania, I'm numb.

That is, most of the time.

I finally made it to a yoga class at 4:15. Expecting it to be one of my favorite teachers, whose class grooves with wonderful music and challenging choreography that keeps my mind occupied at all time, I was too spent to even be disappointed to find she wasn't there. The sub was this lovely guy, incredibly sweet and enthusiastic, who's just starting out. I had to concentrate more than usual, to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. That shift in focus let the FLOW stronghold slip and 3/4 of the way through class it hit me: I was smack in the middle of a dream coming true. As I wrapped around into seated spinal twist, tears stung—the enormity of where I was (not spinning to the right, but right in the middle of day 3 of this book being out into the world), finally was my reality. On the way to class, I had run into an old friend who's coming to my Rizzoli party (seems that many people are coming out for the shindig), who told me to savor the moment. To stop and appreciate where I was. I've been hearing that a lot, but it's just been words. I haven't stopped the spin long enough for anything to sink in. And it's not that I consciously kept the spin going, it took on a life of its own. So there I was, hooking my elbow over my knee, tears standing out in my eyes, feeling almost as if I had left my body and was looking in at some crazy amazing miraculous thing happening to someone else.

FLOW is real. It's out in the world. It's making an impact. People are talking and whether they love it, are horrified, ambivalent, shocked, dismayed, bored, disgusted, thrilled, countless people I don't know, know FLOW. This idea that took so much effort and energy, sometimes so much I didn't know that I'd survive, is far more than I ever thought it could be. In that moment, and for the next hour or so, I floated on a cloud of joy in this monumental accomplishment.

And then it was time to practice spelling words with Jack.

Day 38 is hoping FLOW keeps flowing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

but for the love of twitter

Last night I went out for my first celebratory FLOW drinks. Rose, our editor, can't be at the big Rizzoli party next week and wanted to, very thoughtfully I might add, take time out to acknowledge this book making its way into the world. We (she, my co-author and I) wedged into a corner table at a lovely, cozy, elegant bar and chatted about how beautiful the book is, how exciting the press is, how it all came together far better than we ever imagined. As the alcohol started to work its magic, we touched on, as politely and genteelly as possible, how most of the experience sucked. Of course, we didn't word it quite that way. No one pointed fingers. No voices were raised. But putting this book together was a hell that one can't possibly imagine and we were the three at the very front line of battle. It was the first time we all sat and talked about what we went through. Rose, I think, had it the hardest. She'd never done such a complicated book before and was the point person for outright publishing insanity. To me, she was never anything but diplomatic and helpful, although she insisted otherwise. She kept saying how great it was that all the angst, the stress, the anger and frustration of the book was in the past.

I don't think it is. As she laughed about how we are all in such a better place, I kept thinking, no we're not. There's still plenty of resentment and anger bubbling just below the surface. There are people involved in the project who will most likely never speak to me again. And some whom I sure wish they didn't have to. But that's ok. I learned, while working on this book, how to open my mouth, regardless of whether it would piss people off or not. After living for months at a time with conceptual duct tape wrapped tight across my face, sometimes I'd explode. It was never pretty, more often than not a train wreck for everyone, the fall out for me especially brutal, but I learned to stand up for myself. To trust my instincts, to fight, hard, when I needed to. Cordial and polite don't always cut it. And it's here in the story that I can go on a self-righteous bent, letting the negativity pull me under, getting caught back up in the pain and insanity.

But, I'm fighting it today.

Which leads me to this blog's title. Promoting FLOW is now my full time job. I've spent months working on the website, creating promo films, updating on facebook, tweeting like mad. Last night I filled the others in on the connections I've made, the people I've met, the fans FLOW has, the opportunities that are now showing up because of all that time and effort. But, unless you're immersed in this online world, I don't think people get it. That strangers pre-ordered FLOW because of what I put out there. That bloggers are writing not about the actual book, but just that the book exists. That people I don't know take time out to read my blog and share their thoughts. That blows me away. You guys blow me away.

As I walked home, far woozier than usual, I pulled out my phone to check out what was going on in my world. There was an email from Rick Stacy, a morning DJ in Houston, who'd read about FLOW online, and was asking me to be a guest on his show this morning (it went really well!). Posts on twitter from people who'd just gotten their copies of FLOW and couldn't wait to start reading. The photo at the top of this post is from @cara19 who took the time to shoot her copy's journey from Target, through dinner, to her couch. I LOVE THAT.

Sometimes I feel like my online life is more real than my real one. Or at least more interesting. Let's see:

Online: radio hook-ups, blog shout-outs, affirmations and support from people who love what I'm doing
Real life: sitting in a freezing car on a rainy morning for alternate side parking, next up: searching for a missing dustbuster, cleaning sticky hot chocolate residue off the kitchen floor because I'm sure no one else thought to, and tackling a desk piled high with endless papers that need sorting

Call me escapist, but cyberspace wins.

Day 38 is outrageously appreciative of the very cool people I've "met"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

the day after

So. 11/11.09. The day after the day I hyped, tweeted, promoted, dreamed about.

(a quick reality note: after that first sentence I had to pop some advil, and fill up a hot water bottle to help with cramps that are ripping through my abdomen at the moment. More on that later).

My morning couldn't have been lovelier. Post ice cream cake extravaganza and getting everyone off to school, I came back and sent a FLOW email to everyone I know, (these cramps are MIND-BOGGLING), highlighting some of amazing press, reminding people about the upcoming FLOW parties, ending with some serious gratitude for all the help and support I've gotten over the past few years. And then, I headed downtown to meet a friend for a celebratory massage.

Great Jones Spa is this super funky mix of zen and urban construction (I just had to double over for a moment or two), with a 3 story waterfall, the most delicious steam room I've ever been in, whirlpools, a sauna that I can actually tolerate, and comfy chairs strewn about so you can just sit and chill. My massage was fantastic. Margarita worked the knot out of my left shoulder blade that's kept me from raising my arm for the past week. By the time she was working my front, I was floating. Until close to the end, when a dull throb started in my left temple which only got worse when I stood up. We spent another hour in the spa, and while most of me felt great, the pain in my head kept getting worse.

And then, it was back to regular life. Picked Jack up at a play date and stopped off on the way home to pick up a yo-yo for him. After 2 days of playing with one he got as a party favor, he's decided Yo-yo Master is his life path and he needed something more substantial. Within 5 minutes of opening the package, he was hysterical because he wasn't automatically walking the dog and doing other party tricks. By the time we got home, he was full-on raging while I only wanted to catch up on all that had been going on in FLOW world for a few minutes.

Nope. I was tying knots. Retying knots. Getting out knots. All while being serenaded by screams and sobs of frustration. Into this mess walks Iz, who'd just had the best day of her life (she informed of this by phone, on her way home). The magical story she'd written for English won first prize. This is for a girl who hates writing. I have to say, her story was amazing. She radiated thrilled-ness. And, she got a 100 on a science quiz. So, she's beaming, he's melting. And still, I'm frantically trying to get back to FLOW.

Head still pounding I escaped the drama for a moment to get more advil and discovered that my period had started. Early. Or at least I'd thought so at the time—I'd managed to completely ignore my calendar for the past few weeks. Normally I'm hyper aware of when it's imminent. This month, not a clue. But, that explained the headache. And what a fabulous personal tie-in to FLOW's pub date. My body wanted in on the excitement.

Ran to Jack's parent teacher conference which was terrific for the most part. But, we realized there are still issues he needs help with. At this point, cracks started rippling through my heart, like when a shatterproof windshield breaks after a car accident. I don't know that there's a worse pain than acknowledging the pain your child goes through that you can't make better. Of course, I felt like it was all my fault. If only we'd realized sooner, blah blah blah.

Now what? Jon and I took a quick detour to Barnes and Noble on 8th Street, found FLOW not on a front table, but upstairs, in a far corner bookshelf. Looked great, but unless you're looking for it, you'll never see it. I called home from the street, telling the kids to meet us downstairs for dinner. And then, yes, you guessed it, my WORST MOM EVER executioners mask and ax magically appeared. OUT TO DINNER? Oh god, what sort of torture was I envisioning? Truly, my cruelty knows no bounds. Pizza at Patsy's? Someone should have me arrested.

While waiting for pizza and surreptitiously checking my phone for updates, I got an email that the Huffington Post article mentioning FLOW films was up ( I'd been expecting it for almost 2 weeks and had almost given up hope. What a fabulous thing to end the day with. HuffPo, with a shout out to my burgeoning film-making skills and a link to FLOW's website. The night was on an upswing. Sort of.

Dinner was up and down. The rest of the night was up and down. Iz read a book. Jack played wii. Jon sat at his computer. I caught the world up and what had happened during the day. Then bedtime with meltdowns all around. After that requisite drama I had website updates to do, and spent a couple of hours going through the tons of email and tweets and comments I'd received. Amazing enthusiasm and support from so many people. Not from my family though (did hear from my sister, thanks honey!). I'd been mentioning this day for months. I'd sent an email out that morning. No mention. No congratulations. No virtual high-fives. But honestly, not a surprise. And that just about summed the day for me.

On this life-changing day, nothing really changed.

Day 38 is realistically grounded, hot water bottle pressed hard against my belly.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I didn't get hit by a bus

I've spent the past few months (as many of you know), in a state of constant frenzy, panic, agita, freaked-out-ness and assumed that last night, the eve before FLOW'S PUB DATE, I'd be a complete train wreck, unable to sleep, up all night checking, tweeting, emailing, hyping, scrambling, not able to let go of the need to communicate, push, sell, promote.


Last night I reworked the FLOW site, put up a bunch of amazingly cool things people have been saying, and went to sleep. And today, I feel remarkably calm, almost to the point of drugged.

Wow. This is unexpected. I'm not even sure what to say. Words usually flow as I write, so much is swirling in my head that forms the patterns and themes of these posts, but today I'm swirl-free. I'm NEVER swirl-free. Ok, maybe there's a bit of a spin (I keep checking twitter to see if anyone's RT-ing my FLOW posts) but that's pretty mellow for my current state.

At the moment, everyone is trying so hard to pull off a surprise ice cream cake celebration for me. We celebrate birthdays at our house with ice cream cake for breakfast—totally irresponsible, but a super happy way to start the day.

(FLOW party break)

The cake said "go with the flow" in pink icing, with a big pink dot at the bottom and the on sale date. Apparently, the lady at Tasti D Lite (the only ice cream cake I eat), was quite confused and challenged at the involved inscription. Iz made a beautiful needle felted doll for me in a full length red dress. Jack managed not to whine even though he got woken up an hour early. A chair was set up for me covered in blankets, with a red pillow to sit on. A red rose and a "happy flow day" sign was waiting at the table. I am truly grateful for my family and that they made this celebration for me when I've been a nightmare to live with much of the past 3 years.

I'm thinking this post is about gratitude. I wouldn't have made it through the last few months without the tremendous support of people who fill my days and nights online with encouragement, humor, love, compassion, and the occasional shut-the-hell-up-honey-and-get-back-to-reality smack downs. What's crazy is that some I only know by their twitter names. Others are people on facebook I barely knew in junior high and high school. I am perpetually BLOWN AWAY by the people who respond to this blog, engage in my insanity, laugh at my insecurity, believe in FLOW. And me.

I'm hoping the music doesn't start before I'm done with my thanks . . .

There's now an official FLOW think tank: Dan and Tony who are working on an audio promo for me. Jeremy and Joe, who never leave me hanging. Janie and Lexie, who I can't wait to see again. Dana, and the LL crew, for my FLOW party. Katie and Kristy who kept me sane last night. My twitter brigade (there's no way I won't miss a name, so please know if we're in touch, I'm sending love and thanks your way: @SusanPowers, @rebeccaelia, @ponet, @BluePomGirl, @MrsWhich, @Greetums, @scottfaithfull, @AgingBackwards, @NovelHelp, @whitelotus01, @DarryleP, @joyfc, @cara19, @AmyOscar, @CousinSlowPoke, @butterflyhaikus, @ShellyKramer—you guys rock.

I just realized, the title of this post makes no sense. A quick explanation: while working on FLOW I'd have moments of heightened panic that involved thoughts like "what if I got hit by a bus before the book came out?" Moments when my usual panic would be flatlined compared to utter and total irrationality (I don't think that's a word but it's working for the situation).

But, today is launch day and here I am. Totally grateful, and with no broken bones.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I am not a priority

Last night, at 3 in the morning, I heard someone up. Turning on lights, faucets, flushing the toilet. And then, Iz appeared. While Jack popping in for a middle of the night visit is a common occurrence, I can't think of the last time, or any time at all really, when Iz showed up and said she needed Jon. Jon? I asked what was going on and she answered, "Joe's out." Joe, as in our hamster. The hamster that I gave in to after much begging and sobbing. The caveat was that I would have nothing to do with his care. And that if he ever escaped (I'm a screaming on chairs if there are mice in the vicinity person), he was out. But, he's escaped many times. After much experience, Iz is now a hamster whisperer and she and Jon got him back into his smelly cage. Smelly, because, yet again, a weekend went by when no one bothered to take apart his habitrail and clean it. That was supposed to be a weekly project—it's now down to every other weekend but realistically it's 2 weeks plus by the time they get around to doing it. With constant reminders from me. But that's another story.

I was up at 3 because I couldn't turn off the dreadful week I was about to head into. I now apparently have let go of all hope and positivism and my dark side is running rampant. FLOW goes on sale tomorrow (that note for the one person out there not already aware of the fact). This should be a week of celebrating, a week of reveling in this HUGE accomplishment but instead, every day is filled with extra juggling, organizational challenges, and more for me to stress about. Tomorrow: on sale day. Knowing I'm having trouble taking a deep breath at the moment, my shoulders twisted into painful-to-the-touch knots, unable to eat most of the time, I thought a massage at my favorite spa, with my friend Heather would be the perfect thing to do. As I sat down to schedule, I realized Jack gets out at 11:30 for parent/teacher conference day. I figured out a playdate for him, until 2. Then I'll have him until his conference at 5 and a PTA meeting for Iz, crosstown at 6. Wednesday? No school. I have 2 kids at home which means I won't get anything done except mediate, chauffeur back and forth from play dates and mostly likely lose my temper. Thursday? Jon heads off for a business trip. It's close to where his sister lives, in Ohio, so he'd planned to stay a couple of extra days to visit. That means I'm a single parent until Sunday. While he's watching his niece perform in a local play, I'll be sleep-deprived (I can't sleep when he's not here), and frazzled to the point of breakdown. Projection? Absolutely. I excel at that.

We had gone to bed early, trying to catch up after a couple of too late nights, but as I lay there it hit me. This, aside from giving birth, was the biggest event I'd ever been through. As I ranted and raved before we went to sleep about him being away exactly when I need him here most, he said that since none of my other book releases were a big deal, he didn't think this one would be either. Shit—if not now, when do I ever come first? That was the final straw. There was no way I could sleep. I realized then that, yet again, I'm in this by myself. That this huge accomplishment for me is a not a game-changer for anyone else. My expectations of pomp and circumstance are a pipe dream. If anyone's tooting horns, it's me. And that my current level of stress and angst will only make my regular life worse. This morning I was already brutally ripped into by Jack, who's stance is that my focus on FLOW makes me the WORST MOTHER IN THE WORLD. Last night, as I stole an hour of much needed solitude getting a pedicure, I received my first ever "I hate you" text. The sender will remain nameless but let's just say tween drama figured in.

My stomach is in knots. My hair is waving uncontrollably. I feel exceedingly fat but while not being able to eat anything. I crave my regular schedule, but there's not a day for the next week when things will just be normal. Right now I have to be super human when all I feel capable of is a dramatic crash and burn. But, I can't do that. Who would do the laundry?

Day 37 is feeling really sorry for myself.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

where the hell am I going?

I have to start this post by saying I JUST FINISHED this post and it disappeared. I finally worked it to the place where it felt right, and it's gone. Oh god. That's not the way I want this morning to start. And I'll add here that my last post ended with a rallying cry that FLOW is a game changer for me, that I've discovered my ambition, that I want my life to change, that I'm craving success for the first time and how absolutely foreign and uncomfortable that is to me. I put all that down, and boom, it's gone. Perhaps my there's something to be said for my innate superstition . . .

Honestly, I don't think I can go back and recreate what I wrote. It doesn't feel/flow right the second time. So, I'll summarize. Sorry folks, I hope this works. I wrote about going to a gallery opening last night, which is something we don't do often, getting dressed up and heading to the Lower East Side for feminist art and wine and how I'm not a night person. Day time works so much better for me and that even putting together something to wear out at night is hard (I ended up in jeans, a white t covered with purple lotuses, a vintage cream cardigan covered in sequins and black boots with heels, something I NEVER wear). About how, after the show, my sister-in-law, who's here for the weekend, was surprised, more shocked really, to find out that living in the west village, writing books while raising kids, all that my life is, isn't part of a grand plan, that I have no grand plan. My path evolves as I go along.

I wrote about how I never look to the future. I'm not great a making plans more than a week in advance. That my fears of what might happen have taught me to keep myself shut down when it comes to what's next. That I've worked my butt off to put projects out into the world and while I've loved and have believed in them all, I had no expectations or dreams that any would leave a mark. And none of them have. Yes, they've all been stepping stones along this organic, unplanned path, but this is the first time, the FIRST TIME, I'm not sitting back, tepidly hoping something good might happen. I'm working, hard, to make people pay attention. I'll trying to let go of my stuff and move past my own roadblocks.

I want FLOW to be a huge success. I want it to be an HBO film, an off Broadway musical with rhinestoned tampon hats and lots of red velvet, an edgy nail polish line (hats off to my creative friends on twitter). I want people to seek me out—interesting, engaging nurturing types who help me put more out into the world. I want to sell more books/projects that make people stop and talk and think. I want to be heard, to share my thoughts, to keep creating.


Day 35 is saying that out loud for the first time.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Conceptual babies

Last night I woke up at 4:00 (actually 3:58), totally disoriented, not knowing where I was, when it was, hey—who I was. I often wake up around that time, get up, check to see what's going on in the world, have a Luna Bar, and head back to sleep, but this was different. In sort of a haze, I started to panic, trying to get at least something into focus so I'd know how to handle the day. And then I realized it was Saturday, I didn't have to pull on the drill sergeant hat and get everybody going.

And then I remembered my dream.

I was in a triage room in NYU's Labor and Delivery floor, where Jack was born. There was just one other person with me, all was mellow and calm when a nurse came in and told me I wasn't ready to give birth yet, to go home and rest up. Next thing I know, I'm back, it's time, only they wanted to put me in a room filled with what looked like the after effects of a college dorm party. Piles of people passed out on beds, the floor, chairs. When I said that didn't work for me, they moved me to another room. 4 beds, only one person there, and the room was beautiful. Purple and orange walls painted in a striking geometric pattern (it looked better than that sounded), with metallic gold accents. Warm light streaming through the windows across the crisp, yet inviting white beds. I sat down on the first bed in the room and realized I wasn't pregnant. We had all made a mistake. There was no baby. And that's when I woke up, dazed and confused.

The reality is, FLOW is like my baby and I'm in the middle of labor (that literally just came to me and I'm almost afraid of where this is going). I've been working on this project for 3 years, a ridiculously long publishing pregnancy, but with the ups and downs, emotional swings, fears, doubts, elation and painful stretching and growing of the real thing. And now, instead of something you abstractly dream about in the 4th and 5th month, it's here. Well, almost here. It's like November 10th is my due date but I have no idea whether things will fall into place the way they're supposed to. I could go with a C-section analogy here since the pub date is concrete, but having never had one myself, it seems I'm choosing to go the all natural, drug-free road with FLOW.

And I have to say, this is insanely painful. Terrifying at times. I have NO IDEA what to expect. There are moments, just like in regular childbirth, of great excitement, but mostly, it's managing panic. There are remarkable people supporting me, but, in the end, this is my project, my baby, my dream. And who knows what will happen. There will be a book pushed out into the world, but its life, just like Iz and Jack's is a blank slate. My input will help shape its path. My efforts and support will hopefully send it in the right direction, but, for the most part it's out of my hands.

Last night I read an article about the challenges of publishing and PR at the moment. That everyone's struggling to figure out how to navigate the shifting landscape. And that it's authors who are suffering most—publishers always have a new list, a new book, a new project to get behind, but for us writers, who poured endless energy and love into our projects, this is it. There's a part of that that's terrifying—I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M DOING. But, the flip side is that no one knows FLOW like I do. Who better to talk about it, share it, "sell" it than me.

I'm working it.

On Thursday, I walked into Three Lives, a lovely local bookshop, and told the manager I had a book coming out next week. It took 15 minutes to screw up the courage to say anything (plus, I bought a book, just as an excuse to approach him). When I told him the name, he looked blank. So, I handed him a postcard and said I hoped he'd check it out. My heart was pounding as I left the store, fighting back humiliation for putting myself so out there. But, I did it.

And last night I went to a publishing seminar hosted by a writing professor I know—it was an opportunity for literally hundreds of hopefuls to meet experts in the field. I walked in, and within 5 minutes left. But, I went back. I brought Jon with me for support, ran into someone I knew and then had a great talk with an editor who had wanted to buy Chunks years ago. I got contact info for an agent from an editor at St. Martin's, who was sitting next to him. The 3 of us had a fantastic conversation about FLOW, which I not so subtly pulled out of my bronze metallic bag.

Someone told me last week I should tattoo "shameless self promotion" on my hand, so I'd always remember. I'm realizing that's not really what I'm doing. I'm working to give my book-baby the best entrance into the world I possibly can.

Day 36 is analogy-ridden. Forgive me folks.

Friday, November 6, 2009

when good things happen to good people

Jack brought home note on Wednesday, an invitation to participate in a 10 week literacy enrichment program at school. It took a little while to figure out exactly what that meant. Jack's been "invited" to participate in a bunch of programs over the years, but they've been more about helping him get to where he should be. Since 3.5 he's been getting extra support for speech, and I'm convinced those challenges were impeding his reading. For the longest time it just wasn't clicking. He went through reading recovery, extra support in the mornings, we were on the verge of further testing to see if something else was going on. And then, last spring, more than halfway through 2nd grade, the pieces fell into place. And, apparently he's come so far he's at the other end of the spectrum. My heart's still exploding—I'm so thrilled for him.

But, back to my point. I was on the phone with my mom yesterday and told her about this amazing new twist. "That's great!" she said and started to talk about something else. I steered the conversation back to Jack and how proud I was, but I couldn't sustain it. Her impending eye surgery (I have no idea what it's for but apparently we'd discussed it and I'd blocked it out so I couldn't ask) was too hard to get away from.

Which leads me to this: why is it so hard to dwell on the positive?

When something great happens, we acknowledge it, maybe even revel in it a bit, and then let it float away. Or maybe that's just me and other people can sit bask in the glow for longer. But I don't think so. People seem to spend far more time worrying, dredging up, rehashing the dark side. And when the good thing is someone else's good thing? That brings up a whole bunch of other stuff.

Disclaimer: this is where I start talking about FLOW, so if you don't want to hear anymore about it, don't read any further.

FLOW's officially on sale in 4 days. It's now 3 years to the month from when I first met Victoria, my agent for this project. It's been one long-ass hard road to this point. And still, there's anxiety about what-ifs. But, right now, in this moment, I'm excited. People are starting to pay attention. The press and feedback we've gotten has almost all been fantastic. And when it's not, people have jumped on the controversy bandwagon. This great launch party is coming up. The president of St. Martin's will be there. The book's designer, who's work blows me away, is coming in from out of town. People I haven't seen since childhood and my closest friends are making the trek. Daily Beast (I LOVE that site) is doing a piece. A FLOW slide show is debuting at DoubleX the day the book goes on sale. This is dream-come-true stuff.

But not everyone is on the FLOW bandwagon. I know, for me anyway, that sometimes someone else's success can highlight that I'm not where I want to be. Enthusiasm for them is tinged with personal frustration. Jealousy maybe. I've felt that too. I had dinner last week with someone I "met" on twitter who's published over 30 witty, smart books. I remember seeing one of them, years ago, and feeling pissed at myself that I hadn't thought of it. In fact, that happened with FLOW's very first incarnation. I made a mock up of a weekly journal called "Hormone Hell"—full of menstrual facts and stickers to help women chart their cycles. Shortly after, Vinnie's Rollercoaster Period Chart came out and I was devastated. Kudos to him for putting it out in the world, but man. It should have been me, or so I thought at the time.

And then, there's the mom competition aspect of things. One challenge of motherhood is figuring out where you fit in the work/home hierarchy. Some women work full time. Some choose to parent full time. I straddle the fence, working at home, always having book or design projects, plugging away in the living room while Iz and Jack are at school. Or when they're here. At this point, work work happens any hour of the day or night.

And, sadly, mothers can be remarkably critical of the choices others make. Maybe there's some regret about the paths we've chosen, or were chosen for us. Maybe watching someone else succeed shines a spotlight on things we wish we were doing ourselves, but haven't. I've been there. I remember sitting at a table with a great friend who was staging a play and feeling like I had nothing to contribute. My cupcake dilemma for a class birthday party paled in comparison with what off-Broadway theater would work best for this particular show. And that wasn't all that long ago. So, right now, maybe I'm the one who's making other people uncomfortable. Apparently my "shameless FLOW promotion" can be too much. I've been trying so hard to be respectful and not over-do. It's more fence straddling and sometimes I fall off.

Day 36 is trying to be circumspect while the excitement is mounting.