Tuesday, March 30, 2010

the list

Sometimes, when I'm too overwhelmed to cope, I make a list. Could be written, could be in my head, could be talking out loud. Somehow, listing every single thing that's making me crazy helps me get back to a more grounded place. Very often the list is a "whine" list and Jon is the poor soul who has to listen. Sometimes it's a "whine" roundtable, for when everyone's feeling particularly snarky—we go around, each taking a complain turn. I can't think of a single instance that I didn't have the most items.

Today I've got a list that probably out-lists any list I've ever had. And it's not just that I'm whiny. I'm sort of past whiny at the moment. I'm empty. Tired. Burnt-out. Used up. Depleted. Of course, I've already been to the accountant in somewhat of a monsoon, got my parents out the door, have 5 loads of laundry to do, 3 people to pack up for Florida tomorrow, kids to feed, force into showers, mediate between, invoices to send . . . it's not a down day in any way.

I'll start with the fact that Iz and Jack, who yesterday had a complete and total love-fest, are now back to arguing, sniping, lobbing boiling oil at each other. In the past 15 minutes we've all been in tears, accusations circling the room. Jack told me if only I'd concentrate on being a good parent as much as I do on being an author, perhaps I'd do a better job. It's the honest opinion of a soon to be 9 year old. And it's like being stabbed with a burning hot knife. In my heart I don't feel like I'm doing anything particularly well.

Let's start my list there. Last night, as we were falling asleep, Jon berated me for not making sure we saw the seder through until the very end. Of course, there were 5 adults besides me, none of them making a move to crack the hagadah back open, but, in the end, it was my fault. The melting kids today? Inevitable. But I don't have the patience or even desire to smooth things out for them. I'm past caring at the moment.

I worked my butt off for days getting ready for Passover and half the guests didn't show. There is so much food leftover it's almost scary. Plus, some of the no-shows were not feeling well and there's that to deal with too. Some sort term, some long term. Sigh.

In the past 3 weeks? I've been on national TV twice, been interviewed 4 times, did my first college lecture. I've had extreme ups and downs with people associated with FLOW.

I've moved towards taking over (with someone else) a middle school PTA. Next month its official. There have been countless emails, phone calls, meetings to move it forward.

I chaired a 6th grade dance. Pulled together an auction project for Jack's 3rd grade class. Single parented parent teacher conferences. Taxes. Put together a new computer system while trouble shooting one that didn't work anymore.

Jon was away for 5 days so I was completely on my own for everything. Baseball practice, birthday parties, playdates, afterschool, making school lunches, getting everyone where they needed to be on time (not that I already don't handle most of that).

There were a couple of design jobs (thank god) to the mix. My parents arrived to sleep in the living room for the past 3 nights. And the seder to shop, plan, clean and cook for with the inevitable endless clean up that's not done yet.

I hurt my wrist so practicing yoga at this point is painful. I have to take a break for awhile, which both mentally and physically is really hard for me. I pulled something in the middle of my back that sometimes completely freezes me and I can't move. I've been fighting a sinus infection for weeks. And the arthritis that I've had for awhile in the joint of one finger is now in several places on both hands.

I'm worried about my mom, my brother, my father, my son. Some people I love dearly are struggling right now and there's nothing I can do to help.

I'm heading to Florida tomorrow and at the very last moment it turns out Jon can't go, so I'm single parenting for another 5 nights, after I just finished 4.

I want off this ride. At least for a little while.

I want to process all I've been going through. The absolute highs. The soul-wrenching lows. The moments of bliss. The depths of despair. I want to heal, to rest, to relax, to shut down.

But Jack needs lunch and Iz can't find anything to eat.

Monday, March 29, 2010


So, we're hosting Passover tonight and I've been thinking/talking/writing about how grateful I am that my family will be together.

This morning I got an email from my dad that he had a flood in his basement and he and his wife won't be here.

I got another email 10 minutes ago that there was a situation with an umbrella, a bloody lip, loose teeth and an emergency room visit. Two more guests are off the list.

I called Jon to let him know and he said his mom's planning on coming, but has a very sore throat. I'm thinking if she's got a very sore throat she shouldn't be here. But, I'm also thinking she won't be thinking that.

My sister has a migraine. Her boyfriend is having a horrendous allergy attack (they ruled out pink eye and a scratch on the cornea since yesterday).

My mom is in so much pain she's done nothing but limp from the bed to the couch and back since she got here.

I still have dishes to cook, place settings to set, vacuuming to do.

I just got an email that the MIL isn't coming either. Nice to know reasonable wins sometimes.

There is so much food in the fridge I can't begin to imagine how it'll be eaten.

All I want to do is curl up on my bed and cry, but I have to act cheerful for the 2 people who are actually here.

I'm looking for my gratitude but it's gone missing at the moment.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

grateful fors

Every year, before we start the seder (which is always at my house), we go around the table and talk about what we're grateful for. This year so many amazing things have happened, I've been thinking about the one or two I could quickly bring up at my turn. My book came out. It was really well reviewed. I got the fancy launch party, national TV, being quoted in The Times. Amazing, amazing stuff.

So yes, I'm exceedingly grateful for all that I've accomplished. But, while I was talking to Iz this morning, about what it means, at least to me, to be a parent, I told her that along with the frustration it seems like I'm often stuck in the middle of, there's a joy so all-encompassing you can't imagine what it's like until you live it. In the past year Jack mastered reading, going from early mornings and reading recovery, to reading Harry Potter to me at night. I never let him see the tears in my eyes as he stumbled over words, working to sound them out, watching him discover his love of books. In the past year Izvhas not just survived most of her first year in middle school, but has found this voice and leadership role neither of us knew was in her. I can't imagine what life would be like without these two remarkable souls who grew inside me. They expanded my heart in ways I never imagined possible.

And then I thought, even though I bitch and complain about the work of house guests, of cooking, of hosting holidays, of never getting time off for myself, how grateful, truly grateful I am that my family is here. We can make each other crazy, but I know, as a fundamental truth in life, that they will always be here when I need me and there's nothing I wouldn't do for them. I am grateful my brother is here, with his one kidney now officially failing, but still doing his thing and living every day filled with as much as he possibly can. That my sister is bringing her boyfriend/fiance who is thoughtful and sweet. Watching them is like looking through a rack of Hallmark greeting cards. I love that she finally found true love and glows much of the time.

I'm grateful that my parents will be here. They both struggle with their own issues, health and otherwise, but have come to this place where they can be together in my apartment, comfortable together. That my step father is here, who is so much a part of my family I can't remember life before him.

I have been married for almost 22 years to a person who continually sees me in a new light, who supports me no matter what I do, who is so proud of me it helps me be proud of myself. The word grateful doesn't cover it.

I am grateful I am here. In this place. In this moment. My mom sleeping on the couch. Jon emptying the dish washer. Jack mastering Age of Empires. Iz cleaning the hamster cage. The sky darkening as rain heads in. The laundry stacked for me to bring downstairs. My back stretched out from delicious yoga. Leftover Chinese food waiting in the fridge for lunch. A book proposal in my head, ready for me to put on paper. My toes freshly polished in vibrant blue. Roses, the color of sunset, opening on my windowsill.

Mess. Chaos. Disorganization. Too much to do. Beauty. Love.

I am grateful for my life.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

to blog or not to blog

I blog every day. The only time I've missed posting since I started last October was when I was on a cruise ship over Christmas break and didn't have access to wifi. But, as soon as I was back home, I was back in the blogging saddle, not ending my day until I had at least something concrete up to mark the spot.

Someone just sent me a blog post she'd written about why she feels people blog. She's not in the every day camp and some of her statements came off, at least to me, as slightly judgmental. Then again, I err on the side of sensitivity. But, her thoughts and opinions made me stop and think about why I do this every day.

In an interview I did before FLOW came out, someone asked me what my writing practice was. I had no answer because I didn't have a regular writing practice. This was my 11th book and in all this time I've only written to sell a project and then to see it through. I've never taken a writing class. I went to art school where papers were rarely required. I've worked as a graphic designer most of my adult life and communicate through images, layouts, color, as well as text. And up until now, I've been loathe to call myself a writer even though I've put all these written projects out into the world. I'm very good at minimizing what I do. Making it sound like it's not a big deal. Hiding behind the concept of stay-at-home mom who squeezes out moments here and there to make things happen.

That's not the truth. Every one of my projects has consumed me (yes, even Chunks). I'm a perfectionist and have worked through every word, every phrase, every image when I was lucky enough to art direct as well as conceptualize and write. I create logos for proposals, have designed each one to jump off a submission pile and make some have to look. How my work looks is easy for me. The writing's always been the hard part, the struggle. Crafting words, sentences, paragraphs to say exactly what I want them to is the opposite of effortless. And never having established writing as a routine felt like it was holding me back.

So, I made a commitment to blog for 40 straight days. Just for the continuity and practice. I found though, after those first days, sitting at my laptop, not getting sentences to work together, struggling to think of something pithy and meaningful to write about, that I was finding my voice. And as time went on I was uncovering parts of me I'd fought to keep hidden. Writing every day has often been cathartic. Eye-opening. Soul-wrenching. Painful. Joyful. Annoying. Frustrating. I've pissed people off. I've connected people who don't know each other. My words have resonated with my closest friends and people I've never met. My experiences are so often universal and I'm consistently blown away from the strangers who write and share.

Blogging every day is not always easy. It's often a pain in the ass to stick with. But, at this point, I appreciate the diligence and am proud of myself for continuing to hone this part of myself that I've kept hidden for far too long.

Friday, March 26, 2010

what I'm meant to do

Last night I talked FLOW at Rutgers. The reality of it all didn't hit until we were driving into the student center and I saw actual students sitting in the brightly lit lounge. I'd been invited, ages ago, by someone on twitter, was snowed out the first go round, and it had now been months since we first talked, or rather tweeted, about me coming out there. This was my last FLOW gig after a couple of crazy weeks: The View, The Times, The Strategy Room, the Susun Weed interview (which could air anytime through next January), and I felt like I didn't have much left. I was also sure no one would show up (strains of yesterdays post played in my head), which was sort of a relief. Talking to 2 or 3 people would have been fine.

As we wandered through the crowded student center, searching for meeting room B, I thought perhaps, the audience might expand to 4 or 5. Upstairs we found a full scale food spread, 2 people setting up books to sell, a projector and screen, and a room chock full of chairs. And then, people started wandering in. 2 more. Then another 3. One here, another smiled shyly as she walked passed me. While I grappled with my laptop and the AV equipment—a quick shout out to Eugene who lent me his computer when we discovered there was no way to hook up a mac—having no clue how to get my powerpoint presentation going, more people filed in. Finally, at 8:20 or so, tech experts in black polo shirts grappling with wires and plugs, I started talking. To a packed room. There had to be 50 kids, boys sprinkled in, staring at me.

I wasn't nervous. My heart wasn't pounding. I just talked. And talked, working my way through the show I'd created. I'd written a 2 page outline to go with it, but didn't look at it once. I just kept talking, heading out on tangents when they felt right, the topics effortlessly flowing into each other. I hadn't practiced beforehand and was amazed, each time I'd hit the "next" button to find the order was just what it should have been. It made sense. I truly know my stuff.

My voice went 20 minutes in. As it cracked I panicked, thinking I'd go off on a coughing jag, needing to leave the room until it subsided, wondering how I'd be able to squeeze past the projector to flee into the hall and maintain any sense of dignity. For some reason that's a major fear of mine. I'm never without a pack of cough drops in case that happens. Fortunately, I'd stuck one in my pocket and within a minute or so, between the soothing drip down the back of my throat and the water I was chugging, I was ok.

And I kept talking.

Everyone was just staring at me. I realized, afterwards, they were all engaged. No one was looking down, texting, checking messages. They were just sitting rock still, watching me. Listening hard, sometimes taking notes.

I wrapped it up and asked if there were any questions.

Silence. Polite applause.

And then someone said it was all so interesting she just wished I'd talk some more. Other people nodded in agreement. And so I did. This time though, people laughed as I shared stories, raised hands to contribute, to ask, to participate. When I finished this time, raffling off 5 copies of FLOW, people stayed to have books signed and to talk. More. I spent another hour chatting, listening, discussing. It was nothing short of pure delight, watching these kids see things in a new way, literally having light bulb moments as the night went on.

I realized, as we drove home and I scarfed down the delicious mozzarella/pesto sandwiches and yellow peppers they sent me home with, that this is what I truly love to do. I was completely present. I was myself but more than that. I had information to share, a story to tell, thoughts to weave, putting pieces together in a way people hadn't seen before.

I think this is what I'm meant to do.

I know this is what I'm meant to do.

Now I have to figure out how to go out and do it again.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nobody loves me, nobody cares

Those are the words that go through my head when I turn on my phone after yoga class and find that no one’s emailed, texted, tweeted, commented, left a voicemail, tried to be in touch. When someone says they’ll call right back and the call doesn’t come. When no one else picks up the ball when I’m too busy to be the planner of everything I’m involved in and stuff falls apart if I don’t make it happen.

Nobody loves me, nobody cares. Is that true? Intellectually I know of course it’s not true. I’m surrounded by people who love and appreciate me. But, still, there it is. Like a quiet chant that seeps in whenever, wherever it can, those words quietly deflate me.

I expect to be disappointed.

Yesterday, as I explained my overview life map concept to a friend (that was the subject of yesterday’s musings), he matter-of-factly told me that yes, I expect to be disappointed. I am sure the worst is waiting for me. Well, not the worst that life can bring, but the most painful to me. I expect indifference, disinterest, that I don’t register on anyone’s radar, that I’m not important enough to make an effort for, that I’m inconsequential in other people’s lives.

That thought slapped me upside the head. In a casual conversation, I discovered the theme of my life. Not that it was hiding anywhere. Nobody loves me, nobody cares. It’s pervasive. All encompassing. My default mode. I can rise above it, but there it is, like a familiar blanket, waiting to wrap me up tight whenever it can.

Why is this where I go? My wise friend Amy said the question shouldn’t be why—it should be how to keep it from happening again. But, it’s hard not to examine, delve, put pieces together for glimpses of understanding and insight. It could be that my brother was gravely ill when I was too little to remember and my parents were distracted, distressed, often physically and emotionally unavailable. At least, that’s what I’m guessing. We rarely talk about any of this. Yesterday my brother called me, shocked to have discovered I’d suffered from seizures as a baby. He never knew I’d been found turning blue in my crib. More than once. I know that when Jack was having seizures I had tremendous trouble coping. My panic and fear almost incapacitated me. Maybe having two kids grappling with terrifying issues was too much. My parents both came from emotionally stunted families (although, to be honest I’m pretty sure there wasn’t much communicating going on in most families back then) and their default mode was shutting down. My mom ate and read mysteries. My dad put headphones on and listened to classical music. Much more must have going on inside, but that’s how it looked to me. I remember wanting to spend time with them and being told there must be something wrong with me that I’d prefer family to friends. But, I had no true friends. I didn’t think anyone liked me. I was so afraid of that being true, I gave up trying.

If my family didn’t want to be with me, why would anyone else?

(I still feel that)

Even now, it’s hard to trust, to be open, to believe people have my back. To ask for help, to extend myself, to trust that it will be ok in the end.

So, if I was to rewrite my story, to find a new way of thinking, being, feeling, maybe it’s that I have to love myself. That I need to care about me. And that looking for approval, acceptance from the outside will always let me down. If I can learn to find those things on the inside, the outside will get easier.

It’s a step folks.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

not good enough

Today, as I raced home from Staples, black toner in hand for the work Jon needed to print out this morning, I caught a glimpse of myself in a store window: funky brown vintage jacket, cool olive sneaks, big purple scarf, matte silver bag, good hair. From the outside, all was working. I thought about what's been going on the past 2 weeks: TV, interviews, skyrocketing book sales. Not too shabby. And then I thought about Iz in tears on the street at 8:03 because she forgot her sneakers for gym, glaring at me in frustration and disappointment as if I was supposed to magically make them appear in my hands. Jack, at 8:46, calling me out, yet again, for spending too much time on the computer, listing all the things in his life that he's miserable about and how most of them are my fault. I came home at 9:04 to find the printer not responding and having to screen grab a multi-page document so it looks awful but at least Jon can leave having his information in hand. The apartment, which had been pristine yesterday, is now trashed.

No matter what I do, it's not enough.

No matter how much effort I make, how much energy I put in, how much I juggle, manage, fix, placate, soothe, support, it's rare that someone's not disappointed.

Moments of contentment and appreciation are few and far between.

A super wise friend yesterday gave me a suggestion—she said to look at my life from above and see how these situations, these patterns, these people, these feelings, fit together. And perhaps then I could find when I relive certain things over and over. And then, learn how not to go there.

I don't think she meant for me to diagram it out, but I started a sort of map last night, focused first on my family. I listed traits, situations, feelings and saw, before too long, it was almost 100% negative. Whoa. Not necessarily negative traits about them, but how memories, frustrations, fears, insecurities that have been with me most of my life have brought me to this place

And here's what I came up with so far:

• no matter what I do, it's not good enough

• underneath it all, no one really cares very much about me

• I desperately want attention but am terrified of rejection

• I find comfort in the discomfort of righteous indignation

That's where my head is today folks. It's much easier to keep it bottled up and tucked away tightly in the way back of my psyche. But, I keep repeating the same destructive patterns that prevent me from moving forward.

Damn it.

I don't want to be here.

But I can't get to the other side unless I go through.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

what's wrong with this picture?

Last night Jon called, his voice dripping with bliss. On the last night of his Snowbird ski trip he and his buddy decided to forgo a fancy dinner and spurge on massages instead. This was after a day skiing in the warm sun, with a former US Olympic ski team member, time logged in the hot tub and I'm sure a beer or two.

I have a sinus infection.

While he was careening down sunny slopes, I was rushing to Little League practice, buying birthday presents, dropping/picking up at school/playdates/parties, hitting the supermarket just about every day, doing endless laundry, cleaning for my parent's visit this weekend, designing ads, working on taxes, making countless grilled cheese sandwiches and baked potatoes, cramming in yoga whenever possible, and mediating all kid related issues. That was day job stuff. I had a FOX news appearance thrown in there. Add in the flurry of emails my soon-to-be co-presidency of the PTA at Iz's middle school has created in my inbox, and you get a sense of the past few days. I know I'm forgetting things, but life's been a bit of a blur lately. My head's barely above water most of the time. Tonight is the huge Bollywood themed auction for Jack's school. It's the first time I'm not volunteering. While I have a ticket, I have no desire to go. I'm talking at Rutger's on Thursday and still have to finish my presentation. Edit the video from The View and get it online. Post the Fox news clips on my website. Today someone's coming to help transfer all info from my old computer to my shiny new imac. I was supposed to go through and delete files I don't need anymore. Instead, I spent time perusing iphoto, marveling at how adorable my children were.

My body's aching.

(I just had to run to the hardware store to pick up glue to try and fix the broken hose of my vacuum. The salesman told me it was a lost cause).

As soon as I finish this post, I now have to head to the vacuum repair shop, hoping they can replace the part and drop forms off with the guy doing my taxes, who hasn't been in touch since I dropped info off over a week ago. Then it's back to my to-do list before the computer guy arrives, I head out for waxing, pick Jack up at afterschool, make dinner for everyone, deal with homework and debate whether to get dressed up and head downtown.

The manic energy I'm feeling at the moment is me running on sudafed fumes. Every time I stand up too fast, I'm fighting dizziness. I can't tell at this point if I'm getting sick or if I've been sick and haven't had a chance to realize it yet.

I'm overwhelmed with all I have to do. All the ball's I've got in the air. The new ones thrown into the mix when I least expect them. Trying to keep me and everyone else together.

I want to sit in a steam room until my skin is so wrinkled you could squeeze me and watch a puddle form on the floor. I'd love to lie in a bathtub and not think for awhile. I need a break folks. In a big way.

That massage had my name on it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

thank you

I think I say thank you more than the average person.

I say thanks every time I get on and off the bus, to anyone who holds a door for me, to everyone who rings up a sale, packs a bag, answers a question. I am grateful for the guy who delivers pizza or cuban/chinese in the rain, the kids who pour my coffee, the dairy manager who makes sure my favorite yogurt is always in stock. I appreciate the person who snake my drain when it clogs, the security guards at my kids' schools, the woman who enthusiastically tailors my vintage until it fits.

I am grateful an awful lot of the time.

But, right now I'm filled with even more gratitude than my usual day to day. The past couple of weeks have pushed me to the edge, stretched me to the limit, thrilled me, surprised me, satisfied me, shocked me. And through it all, I have had more support, more encouragement, more people shouting out, watching my back, sending love, than I ever could have imagined.

Thank you peeps.

If I was winning an award right now I know the orchestra would already be playing to get me off the stage. But, since I'm not in a fancy gown up on a stage holding a glittering statue, I can ramble on until I've had my fill.

Thank you to my family who have show enthusiasm for what I'm doing in ways I've never seen before. To Jon, who feels it more than I do at times. To Iz and Jack, who can't really comprehend all I'm going through, yet are good-natured about it as much as they can be. To my parents, for whom watching me on TV was remarkably surreal, to my brother, who thoughtfully recorded my national debut and my sister, who makes me look better than I do in the real world.

To Canada Dan, who listens to me when I'm crashing and still comes back for more. To Amy and Rebecca, who opened my mind and heart to the woman's way of sending messages out into the world. To Laughing Lotus and my amazing teachers, who bring me back to reality and breath when it spirals out of control.

To Alice and Sara and Susan, who waved at me from the audience and made me feel like I was at home. To Whoopi, who loved the book and got people talking. And endless private thanks to the person who made that happen. To the producers at The View and the Strategy Room, who were willing to host the conversation.

To all the people, close friends, total strangers, and everyone in between who read, commented, forwarded, retweeted, answered. Your enthusiasm blew me away.

Thank you peeps.

My heart is full.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

closing the book

This past week and a half have been a FLOW rollercoaster that exceeded anything I could have possibly imagined. And now, I think, the ride is pulling into the platform and it's time to get off. Not that I won't hop on again—I've loved much of this (only in analogy form, I'm terrified of rollercoasters in the real world), but the ferris wheel is calling my name. I'm hoping my next experience will be bigger but tamer, less heart-racing turns, peaks and plunges.

In the past week and a half I've been on a renowned national TV show, with a studio audience of hundreds and a viewing audience of millions. Whoopi thanked me for writing this book and ended The View encouraging people to get a copy for everyone they know. I was quoted in the business section of the NY Times. I guest blogged for BUST. I was on FOX news yesterday and had a true author/fan experience. I signed dozens of books for enthusiastic readers. I learned the ins and outs of HDTV makeup. I met producers, pr execs, experts in various fields.

I learned that I get very quiet before big gigs and have to dig back in to find my normally outgoing exterior. That being on camera is remarkably comfortable. That I really know my stuff. That I could have handled this on my own. That I'm starting to own who I am and don't have negate or belittle all that I've accomplished any more.

In the past week and a half I also parted ways with the agent who sold FLOW. She did the impossible. For years, I was assured beyond the shadow of a doubt that no one would ever publish this book. She believed and made it happen. But, in the end, it wasn't a good fit and she sent me a concrete message in the very recent past that she's done. A very talented and thorough lawyer spent days putting together a termination agreement and even though I've known for a remarkably long time what should be happening, I still almost couldn't hit the send button. I hate the thought that things can't be worked out, even when the facts are smacking me hard in the face.

I made it clear to people involved that things can't continue on the way they have been. I can't be in situations anymore that leave my stomach in knots, my fists clenched in frustration.

I also hit just about the most rock bottom place possible. After watching amazon sales sky-rocket and spending days imagining the FLOW frenzy taking over the country, it turns out only 500 copies were sold post The View. Subtract out the 120 copies usually moved in a week, that's 380 books from a national TV appearance. Amazon's touted 12K jump in rank? All I can say is WTF. I sobbed for hours, not knowing how to get past that place of supreme disappointment but also failure. I've done everything I could have, or at least know about, but nothing makes a difference. Someone wrote me a lovely email about the dangerous place of hope slipping into expectations. I honestly don't let myself get too caught up in either, but this one sucked me in without my even realizing it.

Through this, because of this, even in spite of this, I'm learning to stand up for myself. To stop waiting for other people to step up and help me. Part of me resents the hell out of that. Part of me is proud of taking a stand and standing strong in it.

I woke up today knowing it's time to move on. FLOW will keep flowing. Without my constant presence. I don't need to check amazon rankings every 20 minutes, troll the web to see who's writing, try so hard to get people to pay attention. I am grateful for every person who's read it, bought it, talked about it, recommended it, shared it, promoted it, wrote about it, loved it.

I can see from this vantage point what's worked. And I'm finally understanding that I don't need to be held back by what didn't anymore.

I started this blog to feel more like a writer. Now I know I am a writer. I don't say that anymore with apologies or the disclaimer than I'm a just a stay-at-home mom who cranks things out in the corner of the living room. FLOW has given me a platform, a voice, a point of view to share with people. A message. A conversation to start. A sense of confidence in who I am and what I have to say. On the other side of this I'm stronger. Less idealistic but more grounded in reality. Ready to create again with far less drama.

And now, it's time to move on to the next thing.

Friday, March 19, 2010

one lovely moment

It was a long day. I've been basically up since 4—waking up to wake Jon up so he could go on his 5 day out west ski extravaganza. I should have lots to say, but since I'm having trouble putting sentences together, I just wanted to share one moment from today.

After a miscommunication about what time my sister should have been over to do my makeup for the FOX show—she showed up just as I was tearing through the apartment in a panic trying to figure out how to handle the fact that I own no base, no blush, no brushes or sponges—I headed up to the FOX studio in midtown.

A quick aside: no one mentioned that you have to push the floor you're going to before you get on the elevator. Once you're in and the door closes, there's not a button to be seen. It took me 3 floors before someone explained the system and I made it to the studio.

Ok. This is my 3rd moment. Apparently even sheer exhaustion can't completely shut me up.

Anyway, we were in the green room, and were introduced to the second guest on the show, a renowned endometrious expert who was there with his wife. She came over and seemed to be almost shaking as she introduced herself. She then nervously pulled a copy of FLOW out of her bag and asked if we'd mind autographing it for someone in her husband's office. She's read the book, he'd read the book, they got copies for all 3 of their sons. They'd gone online to watch us on The View. They were thrilled to be talking to us in person. I was thrilled that they were so thrilled.

It still blows me away that someone could be so excited to meet me, that they love what I did, that they were inspired to share it with other people.

I never want to forget how amazing it felt to inspire such interest and enthusiasm in someone else.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

the puddle of grey bleakness or my day so far

I woke up this morning at 6:58 and hopped out of bed to finish the 3 native american headdresses Jack asked me to make for the tribe he's starting at school. I sewed last night until 11:30, top stitching layers of felt, carefully placing feathers, cutting animal silhouettes. While I was close to being done, I hadn't quite figured out how to get them to stay on 8 year old heads so this morning was all about stitching tying bits the the ends in the black. I finished at 8:36 which left me 4 minutes to get dressed and out the door.

To head to his family morning. I forgot the last two (something I've never done in all my years of a parent) and there was no way I could miss this one). Jack gave out the headbands. He was thrilled with the end result, not believing I'd actually be able to get them done and was so proud to show them to his friends. As the morning was wrapping up, I gave Jack's teacher a set of the greeting cards we created to auction off next week. They are beautiful and several parents asked if they could order additional sets. Plus, people had seen me on TV, read about me in the paper—it was a lovely morning to be me.

I ran downstairs, chatting to various people as I raced to my car so I could move it so I wouldn't get a ticket tomorrow. A friend happened to be parking behind me so we got to catch up for a bit and then I wrote.

Then I headed to a local coffee shop, it was so too nice to be at home, finished blogging and chatted some more with the kids who work there. I think the super cute boy would date me if he could. That's always good for my ego.

From there I headed home where I found an email from my editor with FLOW sales figures. It's been steady at about 120 copies a week and last week, after Whoopi told everyone to go buy the book, 500 were sold.


That was it. The huge leap at amazon. The books out of stock. The attention and the hype and the national television sold an extra 380 copies.

I was ok about it but Jon flipped when I told him. And after hearing his profound disappointment, I crashed. Hard. Painfully. Totally. I was like a balloon that had been filled with helium that was surprised by a battle ax. I didn't pop. I was shredded into tiny pieces of rubber. That fell onto 6th Avenue to be run over by countless taxis.

At that point all I could do was go to sleep. I laid on my bed, wrapped in Iz's super fuzzy blanket, waiting for sleep to deaden the ache.

After 45 minutes I got up and went to yoga. It's this stunning spring NYC day. I pulled out brown sparkle flip flops and summer yoga pants and headed to class. Which I had to leave early so I could get to Jack's pick up on time.

His day of positivity was over. I could see it in his face as soon as I got there. Everyone else was running around and playing and he only wanted to go home. I made him stay for awhile, hoping he'd get involved with friends. I even stopped 2 kids and tried to get Jack interested, but he just sighed and refused to engage. The entire way home he wallowed in the misery of his reality—no friends, no interest, nothing to do, nowhere to go. I have so much trouble with this. I've been there, I know how he feels, I spent years trapped in depression, but my empathy's been worn away.

By the time we got home, to find Iz waiting at the door, starting to steam that I wasn't home, I was near tears.

10 minutes later I was in tears.

I just can't handle this anymore.

Jon's going skiing tomorrow, for 5 days and I'm alone with the kids. With baseball practice and bat mitzvah school. A sleepover party one's invited to and the hurt feelings of the other who doesn't have a playdate planned. No time to take time to myself.

Then one week and it's spring break. Dinner for 14 for passover at my house. My parents here, sleeping on the couch in my living room and then time down in Florida.

All I want is to be alone. To wrap up by myself and process all that's been going on. To celebrate the very cool things I've done this week. To hurt over the frustration that nothing's really changed. There have been game-changing moments. And moments of tremendous hurt and disappointment. Moments I've lived a life that's not mine but is what I want. Moments I can't stand being in my real life anymore. Moments of pure joy. Moments of even purer pain.

Jack, Iz, and I went to an art store around the corner, just to get out of the apartment. Stopped off for ice cream on the way home. One happy kid. One with his chin hanging on the floor.

And now, I have to figure out what to do for dinner. I hate this part of the day. I still have to get through homework, baths, bedtime. Helping Jon pack for his trip.

Tomorrow I have another interview. I don't want to go. I don't care how I look. Doesn't matter what I wear. I hate having to plan school pickup options. Getting to midtown. Having my makeup done.

I can't do this anymore.

Having said that, I'm heading to the supermarket.

HD makeup

Last night I had dinner with a friend. A friend who knows the ins and outs of publishing and has been a tremendous resource, not to mention shoulder to cry on, as I navigate the world of being an author. One theme that generally comes up when we sit over Thai food for a couple of hours is what's next. For me, anyway. I told her how I've been a bit stuck with this blog lately, not sure where to go, what to say, how to find inspiration, how not to bore people by bringing up my angst and insecurity over and over, how to explore what I'm going through in a way that might appeal to people who take time to read what I'm up to.

She suggested HD makeup. Not from a beautician's point of view which is fortunate because I truly suck at makeup, but more along the lines of what it's like to be almost 46, on national TV for the first time, and all the artistry that went into making me look better than I actually do in real life.

Let me start with the tragedy that is my makeup ability. I wear almost none. I have no talent, no skill, bright colors, even subtle colors look ridiculous on me. Having said that, if I don't have on brown eyeliner, brownish-black mascara and blushing nude lipstick (Clinique), I feel completely exposed. And having said *that* it generally looks like I wear nothing at all. But, that little bit provides an emotional safety net. At the moment I've got no eyeliner left. This is day 3 and I'm grateful it's sunglasses weather so no one can see my non-rimmed eyes. Will I buy more? All I have to do is walk 2 blocks to the drugstore. Or pop in to the one across the street. Chances are, not today.

So, the thought of being seen by millions of people was enough to make me seek out help. A friend of a friend was free, and happened to live in the neighborhood, which was great. When we connected on the phone she told me how important it was to have the right make up for high definition TV, that it was another thing entirely than regular TV makeup. All I could think as I hung up was thank god I found this woman. I can't even put on blush (is that what they still call it?), let alone know what I should be doing to have my pores magnified thousands of times.

It's all about layering. That's what the lovely makeup artist said as she set up shop on my dining room table, unloading sponges and brushes, containers and compacts. She had boxes that opened with countless levels and drawers and hinges. As she patted and dabbed, lightly feathering my chin, my cheeks, my eyes she told me the HD TV is complete and total nightmare to older woman, that it's nothing but a disservice to blow pores, wrinkles, imperfections up so large. With proper makeup (that needs to settle for a couple of hours for it to look its best), one can try to minimize reality, but there's only so much you can do as age makes itself known. We talked about treatments and options. I just almost wrote "solutions" but there are no solutions. That's the trap we get caught in.

I'll say it again: THERE ARE NO SOLUTIONS.

There are products that promise results. Eyelash enhancers, wrinkle de-rollers, age spot reducers (actually I don't know if there still are, but I remember that commercial from my childhood). There are cremes and masks. You can have layers of skin burnt off. Doctors who will charge thousands of dollars to pull skin tauter, inject chemicals, suck out fat, slice off saggy skin. More people than I can imagine choose surgery to look younger. Call me crazy but the potential side effects or what can go wrong are too terrifying for me to take a chance.

And know what? I'm ok with where I am.

Talking about it helps.

This is my next conversation. Aging. Feeling ok about where we are and thinking about maybe why we're not.

There's more to the story than whether or skin is dewy fresh or our hair is sprinkled with strands of grey.

I want to hear what you think. Let's figure this one out together.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's all in the name

I've always hated the name "Elissa." Actually, after having had this name for almost 46 years, I don't hate it anymore—I've come to accept it with tinges of regret. I'd always wished my parents had named me Susan. That, to me, was the perfect name. Easy to remember, impossible to misspell, plenty of nickname possibilities. Jennifer would have been great. Or Samantha. I would have loved to have been called Sam. I guess it's not too late for that, but it would be a bit silly to try and switch it up at this point.

When I got married, almost 22 years ago, I changed my name. Back then, it was what most women did. I was barely 23 and didn't know enough to make a stand about being expected to give up the name I'd had my entire life. What caused me to change it back to Elissa Stein after a month was my husband's name was just too damn long. It was hard to figure out a signature. It made me sound like a temple lady organizing snacks after services. And it wasn't who I was. While I might not have adored my name, it was my name and I didn't want to change it because convention said I should.

I'm finding, after a week of being out in the public more than it's ever been, my name has become its own identity. Stay with me here folks, I know that sounded a bit existential or at least Star Trek subplot worthy, but I have a point.

My name is more than me.

Or, at the very least, my name is carving out an online identity for itself.

NOTICE: This blog post has been interrupted as I have been designated the super cool mom who can of course create 3 native american headbands from felt, feathers, and embroidery thread. Each personalized with animal silhouettes. By tomorrow. I don't know that I'll be able to finish this post today.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

what good is a book?

I'm quoted in the New York Times today.


And I have nothing to say. I thought I had something to say. I spent the last 45 minutes sitting in my car frantically trying to get on a wireless network so I could say something. React, share, expand.

But now that I'm here, not so much.

It's almost too big to process. I'm not sure why this feels more intense than The View. Crazy to think a couple of lines in a newspaper would be more profound than appearing live on national tv. And yet, here I am.

I think that it's because it's not just me selling the message. You know, that needs quotes. It's not me "selling" the message about advertising and language and shame. This campaign addresses it head on. It calls out the ridiculousness of femcare ads. Kotex does a remarkable job of making fun of itself, of the blue liquid, of the white spandex, of the women dancing with joy because they've got their periods:


Maybe it feels different because it wasn't just me talking FLOW. I was an expert being asked for an opinion. And that's pretty damn cool. I've been a so-called expert at different points in my writing career. For a few years I was a go-to person about evolving prom fashion, which is ridiculous because I don't know very much about fashion. But, I did write a book. Even though there were only 2 pages of text and it was more a chronology of prom instead of style highlights, it was enough to qualify me as a person in the know. The same thing happened with Beauty Queen. When one Miss USA was almost dethroned for bad behavior, reporters called me for an opinion. Me? It was a riot. Then again, I wrote a book.

Writing a book gives you gravitas in a way that's different from other things. I think it's because you can hold something in your hands and say, "look at this." You can feel it, look at it, skim through it, carry it with you, open it whenever you want to, share it, quote from it, refer to it. Other mediums are less substantial that way, or at least have been in the past. I blow my kids away when I tell them about the olden days, about how you'd see a movie in the theater and if you missed it, that was it. Perhaps it might be on tv. Once a year. If you missed The Wizard of Oz, you blew it. The VCR was a mind-blowing invention. Movies whenever you wanted? Incomprehensible until it happened.

And now, the ability to watch, see, read, hear whatever you want whenever you want is very often taken for granted. The demise of publishing, the death of the book have been hot topics in the media as technology presents almost more options than we can juggle. For those of you who know me, I'm a technology addict. I'm rarely without an electronic connection. Computer, laptop, iphone. But even though I'm so immersed in that world, a book is still the be-all end-all in some ways. It can't lose a charge. You don't have to worry about it not booting up. There's no 20% warning about battery power, no error messages, you can't drop it and break it. No warranties to run out.

A book can sit on your shelf just waiting to be delved into. You can commit to reading the whole thing or to skim at leisure. You can revisit it again and again. You can touch the paper, hear pages rustle, feel the ink on the cover. It's a tactile experience that electronics can't give you. For me, to read something on a printed page is real. Concrete. Permanent. You can't hit a button and go somewhere else. You are just there. On the page. In a book.

(or in the New York Times!).

Monday, March 15, 2010

the target on my back

Yesterday I wrote about not having anything to write about anymore. Apparently the muses of blogging found that amusing and sent me so much inspiration last night I couldn't sleep. At 4, as I laid there, trying desperately to stop the outrageous spin that had completely taken over my mind, I realized the night before The View had been uneventful. Live TV doesn't particularly phase me. But live drama? My mind, my shoulder, my stomach are so knotted up I'm on the verge of pain spasms.

But I can't write about what's knotting me up.

What I can say is there are people in your life you expect to have your back, hey, that you pay to have your back, and it doesn't always turn out that way.

I can say that I'm a really nice person, or at least I try to be. I've been told I'm a pleasure to work with. I'm really good at what I do. I never miss a deadline. I put energy and thoughtfulness and creativity into whatever I take on. I always say thank you and appreciate what's done on my behalf.

I can also say I have exceedingly high expectations and if I'm working with people who don't live up to their end of the bargain, in whatever way, I've got a dark side. Not malicious, not psycho, but I ride hard until things work out the way they're supposed to.

Sometimes that doesn't happen.

Sometimes there are different agendas.

Sometimes people aren't transparent, don't share information, make random decisions for me/about me without consulting me.

Sometimes I've been ignored to the point of fading into faded wallpaper in spite of the fact I knew more about what was going on than anyone else at the table.

Sometimes I've worked with people who are so sure they're right that I must automatically be wrong. Having said that, I'm thinking sometimes I'm the one holding fast to my rightness and that must be frustrating to deal with from the other side.

Sometimes there is no solution. No upside. No possibilities of making things better, finding a work around, establishing a truce.

Then what?

That's today. Figuring out what to do when something's unfixable.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

and I do this because . . .

I've been writing just about every day since October. One of my yoga teachers had talked in class about a sadhana, a 40 day commitment to something, the theory being that after 40 straight days whatever it is you had taken on would be part of your routine. I'd tried writing on a regular basis off and on for longer than I can remember, but it never lasted more than a day or two. This has. I'm well into my 6th month, only having missed time when I was away over Christmas and I was actually proud of myself that I could relax enough to not have to be chained to my laptop while on a cruise ship.

I've tried to commit to 40 days of other things. Walking up 10 flights of stairs once a day (honestly, I don't think I ever really planned to do it), to not eat sugar or white flour (again, it sounded good but who am I kidding), working on a FLOW thing a day, but nothing's captured my imagination.

The thing is, I don't think I have anything to say anymore.

I've shared my fears, my thoughts, my angst, my dreams. My frustrations, my experiences, my doubts, my past.

I'm getting a bit bored with me.

I imagine other people are too.

I've gotten much more comfortable as a writer through this blog. Just recently, I've even gotten comfortable calling myself a writer. In fact, this week I've stopped saying I'm a stay at home mom who happens to write books on the side. It's time to stop belittling what I do. Even I realized how ridiculous that sounded. I was on national TV, talking about my book, being thanked by Whoopi for writing it, a book that took just about everything out of me, that I'd tried for 15 years to make happen, and still, I'd apologize for not really being a writer. As if the idea, the work, the drive, the insanity, the creativity fell into my lap by accident.

I don't want to doubt myself the way I have my whole life. This blog has been a remarkable venue for exploring all that.

Will there be anything left to say if I'm not beating myself up every morning?

Will anyone be interested in reading that?

Will I be interested in writing it?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

yes. I. can.

It's been far too long since I've accomplished anything concrete. My to-do list's been growing at a ridiculous rate, but there's been so much other stuff going on, I haven't been able to cross anything off. This morning, I wrote it out, yet again, in the notebook that sits on my desk, meant just for stuff like that. It's my go to place to jot notes, phone numbers, quick thoughts. I used to be religious about organizing my life that way and could scroll through old pages knowing exactly what I was doing by the words scribbled across the page. These days, I hold it all in my head which means very often something comes in and disappears too quickly for me to note it anywhere, lost forever in good intentions with zero follow through.

But today, I've been crossing things off my list.

I ordered my new computer. Somehow, it's taken over a month to have time to figure it all out. But, a 27 inch imac is on the way.

I pulled together and organized all my tax stuff. Not only that, I dropped it off at H&R Block with George, the lovely man making sense of it all for me.

I reconfigured my router debacle, ditched the seemingly dead time capsule, and somehow managed to get my airport express back up and running. After almost a week of no wireless in the apartment, we're now all online at the same time. Everyone fighting to use my computer was getting more than a bit tired.

All this on a Saturday with people needing meals, emotional support, negotiations, discussions. I've explained, mediated, placated. I even baked cookies.

I finally feel energized. Capable. Ready to dive in and make things happen. I can't remember the last time I felt this way. The emotional ups and downs of FLOW have taken a serious long-term toll. I've been addicted to checking stats, trolling for mentions, hyping whenever/wherever I could. Worrying. Planning. Worrying about a lack of planning. Planning what to do next. Worrying that no one else is planning anything.

Trust me folks, it hasn't been pretty.

But, today feels better. Cleared. More focused. I forgot how much I love that sense of getting something done.

Tomorrow I tackle survey monkey and my WRINKLE questionnaire. And the 12 other things on my to-do list.

Or, go to yoga and nap the afternoon away.

Friday, March 12, 2010

doing the impossible

There are times in my life when I've done the impossible. I look back and can't fathom how I came through in one piece, how I managed to avoid a breakdown (although, very often, I'd been on the verge), how I was able to put things out into the world that resonated and were so much a part of me, the process leaving me beyond spent and empty. While still functioning in the real world.

During periods of outrageous creative output, life doesn't stop. Even though I very often wish it would.

(while trying to write this post, I've already had to stop to make pancakes, circumvent broken router problem with flash drives to email math homework to teacher, survive a meltdown about umbrella colors and missed meetings, and still have 2 people to get out the door)

The first time I had been that stretched beyond rational limits was when putting my portfolio together at School of Visual Arts. That last year all I had was my portfolio class. We'd been warned that alone was a full time job, but I couldn't afford another year in school without working. I got a job, as a design assistant, in the audio department at Harper Collins. Literally 9-5, figuring I'd work on my portfolio during all my spare time. It wasn't like I was working in my living room (upper east side) though, there was getting back and forth to the office (midtown). My anorexia was running full blast and so I had to (HAD TO) be at the gym 6 days a week. I was in therapy and was such a mess that I'd started going 2 times a week, crosstown from where I lived. Another commute added into my day (upper west side). And then, we did a stint, for months, at marriage counseling (Greenwich Village). A different neighborhood entirely. Plus, there was school (Gramercy).

To recap a typical week: work, 5 days. Gym, 6. Therapy, 2. Marriage counseling, 1. Porfolio class, 1. And then there was regular life—cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping. Much of that fell to me as Jon was working at a law firm that required crazy hours.

Teetering on the edge, I got it all done. My portfolio got a 10. I thought that was great until I heard about the 10+ and 10++ people were receiving. I even handled that pretty well. It was my portfolio teacher's note, telling me that instead of working as a designer I should continue in school to be a writer that was my final straw. That, and turning 30 a month after graduation.

There was a period a few years ago, when I had 3 projects going at the same time—the labor support guide, the NYC deck for kids, and the thank you note kit. I got the go-ahead on all the same week in October. All were due the same week in February (each was with a different department in Chronicle). Plus the PTA/kid/home juggle. I ended up in the hospital in December.

Working on FLOW was almost more insane. While I didn't have as many outside time commitments (therapy was over, my gym obsession had waned, I worked at home instead of at an office), the kid part was almost harder. Now instead of having a babysitter and playdates, there were homework issues to grapple with. Afterschool organizing and planning. Older kids are more complicated.

And FLOW was more complicated than anything I'd done before. This was more than a light-hearted romp through social history. There was seriousness, substance, interpretation. It was crafting an idea I'd had into something smart, accessible, tangible. It was pulling endless information from countless sources into a cohesive, appealing whole.

Sometimes, when I skim through the book and rediscover something I hadn't seen in awhile, I'm blown away that it came out of me. FLOW was literally my third birth. My mind thoughtfully shields me from remembering it in technicolor so that perhaps I might be able to dive back in to the unknown and do it again (write a book, not have a baby), but every once in awhile I'm still forced to confront something new, like appearing on national TV and I'm thrown back to that place of uncertainty.

Can I do it again?

I don't know.

I have ideas inside me that should be written. But I haven't been able to tap into that drive, that energy, that flow in a long time. And don't know that I can go there again.

(having said that, I should have a WRINKLE survey up and running next week)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

suspended disbelief

When my first book came out, I thought it was going to change the world. Not in a life-affirming or educational way—it was a compilation of vomit stories—but in a sophomoric gross humor sort of way. We were sure that every college student in America would have to buy it and spent our own money doing a massive postcard campaign to every college bookstore we could find.

Zero response.

We put a questionnaire in the back of the book, asking people to submit their own stories, sure we'd be inundated and would have more than enough material for the inevitable sequel. We debated getting a post office box, not sure the publisher could handle the massive volume we were expecting.

One person wrote in.

When Cheerleader came out, I envisioned it being sold at competitions, camps, for high school fund raising, at college games. I was sure that everyone who had ever worn that short shirt, been at the top of a pyramid, shouted out for the football team, would revel in cheerleading history.


Same for proms, beauty queens, stewardesses. I was sure, positive, certain that each would ride an Urban Outfitter wave to retro coolness, residing permanently on a front table for hipsters to yearn for.

Never happened.

And the projects I did subsequently were fun, smart, beautiful—I love every one—but none of those changed the world either. Should they have? I think a thank you note kit that helps kids learn about gratitude should have flown off the shelves. A labor support guide for dads? What mother-to-be doesn't need as much help as possible?

I've gotten cynical about publishing. Every time a book's come out and I nervously walk into Barnes and Noble to see if I can find it, I'm daunted by how many books are out there. Mine, no matter how much I believe in it, how hard I worked, how great it is, is just one of millions. And behind every one of those books is a writer who feels just as strongly as I do that their book could be the one to take off. My idealism's been scrubbed away.

So when FLOW came out, I was under no illusions that it would sell well. It had taken years (YEARS) for anyone to publish it. And while one very brave publisher took the chance and let it become the book I had envisioned, just about everyone else said there was no audience. No one would buy it. I should stop wasting my time. I knew getting press, the media, people to pay attention would be an uphill road. Martha Steward radio booked and then dumped us. Two NPR shows did the same. Joan Lunden has a tv show but they disappeared as the book was hitting shelves. Articles and interviews and tv segment possibilities that had been dangled quietly slipped away.

Our big break? Dr. Oz interviewed us for his Sirius radio show. Only it never aired, instead showing up, heavily edited, at oprah.com. I found it through a google search.

And then there was The View.

I can't comprehend the difference it's made. Not really. Not at all. The only tangible marker is its amazon sales rank. An author friend of mine very wisely told me to stop checking obsessively and for a long time I was able to let go. FLOW hovered around 20/30,000. Sometimes up near 80K, sometimes it dipped below 10. I checked Tuesday morning, before leaving for the studio. It was in the low 30s. I checked again while heading home on the bus.


I was sure it was a mistake. I could understand 6000 something as a lovely jump, but in the hundreds? And then it was 591. 405. 253.

By Wednesday it was number 2 on an amazon movers and shakers list, highlighting which book's sales increased the most. 12,929% since the day before.

What the hell does that mean?!

Millions of people now know about FLOW. Know who I am. Watched me talk, discuss, inform. Perhaps had an opinion about my scarf (it's been mostly a love-fest).

Now what?

Part of me assumed we'd be inundated with people wanting to talk to us. That couldn't be farther from reality. The View is sort of like the new St. Martin's. The one place willing to take the chance, to put the message out there, to start the conversation no one else was willing to own. And to do it in a really big way.

So what if 25 editors passed? St. Martin's let me create a book more stunning and comprehensive than I ever imagined. Mainstream media passed? The View put time, resources, energy, humor, thoughtfulness into our segment. Interviewing the hosts and cast members about what they called their periods? Completely above and beyond.

I'm thinking, the way this book has been going, nothing will happen and then, out of the blue, we'll be invited to the White House.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Me. Live. On national tv.

So. For those of you who don't know (and I can't imagine anyone I know doesn't know this ad nauseum), I was on THE VIEW yesterday.


By late yesterday afternoon I was so depleted I was beyond talking, and could only lie on my bed, tears of exhaustion leaking, obsessively checking twitter, facebook, emails and the amazon sales rank. While my body was wrecked, my brain was still spinning. But, I had to get up for homework, dinner, and a 3rd grade auction art project. After all that, insomnia ran rampant. So, an advance apology for this bullet pointed post. I'm not yet capable of winding thoughts coherently together.

• The outfit was perfect. We sat at table so no one could see the brown boots/pants. And the scarf was a huge hit (although a challenge for the sound guy trying to hide my microphone wire).

• I had my own dressing room. I spent all of 3 minutes in it, but still.

• I met Elisabeth in makeup. She was enthusiastic and lovely.

• HD makeup requires lots of layering.

• The green room wasn't green.

• The closer we got to our appearance the more I shut down. For an outgoing, relatively bubbly person, it was disconcerting.

• I wasn't nervous. Maybe the quietness was my way of dealing.

• I've never watched The View before.

• The questions were scripted.

• I didn't get a mug.

• I knew people in the audience and that was a thrill—huge smiles greeting me when I walked onstage.

• Before our segment started Whoopi said it was a pleasure to meet me.

• I tripped over words and was pissed at myself that I didn't do a better job.

• It went really fast.

• I couldn't make all the points I wanted to.

• After our segment ended, Whoopi thanked me for writing the book and starting the conversation.

• I told her we'd spent the night before watching her POISE shorts. It was a momentary love fest.

• As soon as we were taken back stage we were escorted out of the studio.

• I signed 30/40 books outside after the show.

• One woman wanted me to sign it to her son Julian saying he should always treat women with respect, empathy, and understanding.

• 3 had the dedications made to their husbands

• Jon and I went to Shun Lee for lunch, a super fancy Chinese restaurant.

• He found a piece of glass in his shrimp.

• I had a cocktail that was pomegranate juice, apple liquor and vodka. Delicious.

• Most of lunch was spent with me worrying I didn't do well and Jon reassuring me I was ok.

• When I watched the segment back I was really proud of myself. Iz couldn't stop smiling. Jack told me I was great.

• As the show closed, Whoopi held up the book and told the audience they should give a copy to everyone they know.

• I've been on TV twice before: a local Manhattan cable show and Channel 12 in New Jersey, years ago. I was pregnant with Iz and I think the patterned shirt I wore caused motion sickness in viewers.

• Talking on TV in front of cameras, felt like talking in my living room or on a street corner. No panic or freezing.

• I want to do it again.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

so, I'm going to be on television . . .

4 hours and 3 minutes until I meet Susan (my co-author), my publicist, and her assistant at the studio. 4 hours and 33 minutes until the show starts. We're segment 5 and so I'm thinking by 11:30/11:45 the whole thing will be over. We've got an entire segment, 7 minutes of air time, which apparently is a lot but I know it's going to fly by so fast it'll be a blur. Most interviews we've done have lasted an hour or so and there's been so much left we hadn't gotten to. So, I'm working to enjoy the experience and savor it while I'm living it. Having said that, that's almost an impossible goal for an anxious person. I've been up on and off since 4, working through various breathing exercises, feeling my stomach cramp, trying to stretch out the stress knot in my shoulder has taken up residence again.

Yesterday a friend asked me what I'm nervous about. What am I afraid of. He said that I'm a dichotomy (although he didn't use that word), that on the one hand I seek this: the attention, interviews, notoriety, on the other hand I panic about it so much it seems as if I want the opposite. Did I really want the "fame" (and I truly mean that as a quote/unquote statement) or was I just saying so? It was a strange conversation to have at that moment. I would have thought some on-air coaching would have been more appropriate than a soul-searching therapy-worthy exploration but, there we were, taking a road trip through my emotional past.

We talked for a long time. I came up with lots of explanations, excuses. About how I never felt like what I did was important enough or serious enough. About how I feel survivor's guilt after lots of illness in my family and have learned not to draw attention to myself. About how I immerse myself in my projects but never share them with anyone. About how I've never had goals or expectations. About challening the driving will of anorexia to get things done.

I'm good at explanations.

I'm not so good at answers.

In fact, I suck at them. But, maybe there aren't answers. I can't see my path while I'm on it, I can only look back and appreciate how it's unfolded. I don't know what I want. I don't know what's next. I can't figure out why I'm always so torn, why I have trouble owning what I've accomplished and hide it deep for no one to see.

At the moment I feel like a character in a movie. A makeup artist is coming in an hour. I'm heading to a major (MAJOR) tv studio to meet Whoopi Goldberg and talk, live, on this massively well know show about my book. About menstruation people. And tomorrow we're being interviewed by a New York Times reporter for an article.

Things like this don't happen in real life.

They don't happen in my life.

Only they are.


Monday, March 8, 2010

who has time to think about The View?

In 28 hours (not that I'm counting) I'll be standing at a reception desk at ABC, meeting my co-author, publicist, publicist's assistant, with my husband and make up artist along for support (and touch ups), ready to plunge into the unknown. By then my outfit details will be ironed out. I'll know for sure whether my newly stretched out biker boots will fit. I'm relatively certain I'll be down on sleep, hyped on sudafed, my stomach will be churning, and I'll be talking way too fast.

This is a big deal. Not quite up to my wedding (stressful and fun with a happy ending) or childbirth (stressful and painful with 2 more happy endings), but man, I never thought this would be happening for FLOW. I believed it should be, but I think most authors, along with creative people in all fields feel their projects deserve accolades, recognition, a forum for people to know about it. Hyping FLOW has just about been my full time job since it was published last November. Every mention, every shout out has been appreciated and chronicled. But this?

Instead of reveling, panicking, planning, enjoying this last day of buildup though, I've got to figure out why my router went dead last night. At the moment, no wireless network at my house. No printing from laptops, no google in the bathroom, no music to drown out everyone else. I got up from my desk and all was fine, came back 10 minutes later only to find what appears to be a dead apple time capsule. No one thought to design it with an on/off switch or even a telling light to see if it's working. I spent almost 2 hours last night, under my dusty desk, unplugging wires, switching connections, praying one small change would miraculously help.

Not a chance in hell.

During that I then spent well over an hour on the phone with Time Warner, at least 75% of that on hold, or pushing buttons. Trust me, after that, I never never NEVER want to deal with automated troubeshooting anymore. And why, might I ask, if I give all my info to someone, do I have to repeat the entire sequence to someone else? By the time the second representative asked how many computers I had in my house, I refused to answer anything more until she helped me solve the question, so enraged I could barely keep from screaming.

Sorry for the rant folks. My generally mellow Sunday night was fraught with frustration. So, today, I've got to try and solve this wireless thing.

I also have to help Jack's class create art for an auction class project. Today is classroom work time—when the kids are finished I have to scan everything and then create a set of cards featuring their work. Design, print, produce. By Friday. Along with pick up my boots, my pants, hairspray.

My business taxes are due next week. I've got to get all my paperwork together by Wednesday so I don't have to file for an extension. Wednesday's also the first general PTA meeting I'm running, after last week's surprising presidential coup. I have to prepare something for that. Thursday? Jack's performance in an afterschool program run by Inside Broadway. Friday is Iz's middle school dance. I'm the chair person and am also in charge of decorations. And while that's happening? My parents are arriving from Florida for the weekend. 3 nights. All that's on top of my usual juggle.

My head is spinning, scrambling, going through each day trying to fit in yoga classes, food for dinner, playdates. I realized last night, I don't know that I've eaten actual dinner since sometime late last week.

Maybe this current craziness is good. It's certainly keeping my national television debut in perspective. There's so going on, it's a blip in the crazy week. A serious, huge, amazing, daunting, thrilling blip but it'll be over and I'll be standing in an auditorium asking people to donate money to the PTA. Sitting in an audience watching Jack sing showtunes. Hosting my entire family for dinner and having my apartment torn apart all weekend.

Part of me wants to run away. Hide in a hotel room. Have a day, a few hours, even 10 minutes to appreciate where I am and what's happening. To be grateful that my book is hitting the big time. To be proud of myself. To revel.

But no. I have to go help type a middle school English paper so it gets turned in on time. Clean the apartment, yet again, so the makeup artist has somewhere to sit tomorrow. Move my car so I don't get a ticket.


Maybe I'll have time to be excited later.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

coming out of the menstrual closet

For those of you who don't know (and I can't imagine it's more than 10 people after my constant hype campaign), my VIEW appearance is in 3 days. And god help me, I have no idea what I'm feeling. I can't believe I'm pulling this analogy out of my hat, but I imagine this is how David felt before he fought Goliath, up against something huger than he ever faced, not knowing how he'd deal in the moment, anticipating an experience fraught with nothing but unknowns. But, in a way, he had it easier. He knew he could either be ripped to shreds or conquer the giant. It was all about the battle. The battle, metaphorically speaking, isn't want I'm nervous about. I don't have to worry about getting Elisabeth in a headlock or piercing Whoopi's armor with an arrow. I know I'll be on the edge of panic before it starts. But I've been talking, living, breathing FLOW for so long, the conversation usually flows (couldn't help that). It's more about what happens after.

I should know better. I've practiced yoga long enough, lived long enough to know expectations get you into trouble. It's about being in the moment and letting go of anticipation. The future isn't real, it's just stories, good or bad, you spin in your head. At this point I've constructed my life to be inside my comfort zones as much as possible—so whether something is good or bad, thrilling or miserable, it's not fluctuating all that wildly either way.

This is different. This is being thrust into a major spotlight after choosing to be behind the scenes most of my life. Having said that, perhaps that's part of my story that I'd like to believe but isn't necessarily 100% true. Years ago, during my anorexic stint, I was one of the people who got lost in a crowd, who faded into the wall, who wore all black all the time, desperate for no one to notice me, unless it was to comment on my thinness. Now, I wear outrageous stuff on a regular basis. Vibrant color. Psychedelic patterns. I love uncovering things that are unique, different, bordering on ridiculous. Pieces that are funky, silly, joyful. While I like to think I'm hidden in the shadow, that's far from reality.

At least out on the street.

Writing-wise, I'm still anonymous. I've done a bunch of books, but none have gotten significant press. I wrote about topics that were interesting but couldn't touch the conversation/controversy of FLOW. And even up until now, I'm still significantly hidden. Yes, I blog, tweet, engage, but very often it's in the corner of my living room, still wearing yoga pants and a tank top, not in the fashion armor I put on to go out into the world.

Tuesday, that changes. My voice, my face, my body, my ideas, my clothes, my conversation merge, in real time, for millions to see.

And then what?

A soulful twitter friend wrote that anxiety isn't just fear of failure, it's fear of greatness.

I think that's it. I want the greatness. Or at least I want more. I want a royalty check. I want foreign rights to be sold. I want FLOW to be on the NY Times bestseller list, even if it's only for a week. I want to write WRINKLE. I want to be a producer on a FLOW film project. I want a regular gig, whether it's radio, writing a column. I want to spend time lost in creativity. I want to be engaged, engaging and let go of the mundane I'm so often trapped by.

I want opportunities to show up in my inbox instead of constantly having to struggle to get up hill with every project.

I want to be taken seriously.

I want to take myself seriously.

I want to let go of the angst, the family drama, the weight issues, the insecurities of my past (and present) and be me. But a me who's confident, creative, self-assured, successful. Maybe I'm dreaming of a movie version of me.

Part of me knows that's all possible. And part of me knows, on the other side of this experience, could be that nothing changes.

I'm trying to be ok with both.

But I'm having a remarkably hard time balancing.

Friday, March 5, 2010

THE VIEW - day 2

Yesterday was an exhausting, confusing, often painful mix of real life, old anxieties, family drama, and life-changing opportunities colliding, at times slamming me against the wall so hard I was beyond tears. Beyond breathing. I had a fantasy bubble float over my head at one point that I'd hired a stylist ($1000 a day was the quote from the lovely woman who took time out of her day to give me advice), and would spend hours at my favorite spa, lounging in the steam room before getting a kick ass massage that would get rid of the knot that's taken up residence in my left shoulder. That someone would feel my children, do the monstrous piles of laundry that have now piled up, and intervene during any and all moments of bickering, whining, complaining, arguing, missing homework angst, boredom rants, and the like.

Nope. It was all me. Doing all my usual stuff with the added pressure of appearing on national television in front of millions of people and having nothing to wear. At least nothing that would make sense in that venue. I live in jeans and t-shirts. Lots of scarves. Vintage coats. Walking down the street in the west village I'm usually styling in a big way. But none of that's working on The View set.

After a middle school PTA meeting in which we hijacked the presidency (my newest job title), it was on to family drama. Someone (who's read this blog and has taken great offense, out of context, to things I've written), was enraged that I chose to tell another person, my actual relative, about the booking first. That phone call ended in screams and accusations and I've since been banned from calling their house. While I've worked hard to not take offense, to be open and welcoming and accommodating, I've been loved or hated, in the extreme, with emotions switching so fast I had no idea it was happening, for over 20 years. I know it's not me, but when at the edge of a precipice, something huge and unknown and different, anything can knock me off. This person's venom, jealousy, hatred has seeped in through a small crack of self-doubt and I'm having trouble letting go of self-righteousness and anger.

Which leads me to clothes. I hit a vintage shop in the west village and bought, what I thought, could be the perfect dress. Black, matte, 3/4 sleeves and collar edged in nude satin with subtle beading. It fit. It was fine. It didn't make me feel fabulous or sexy or super present like my lace dress that I wore to my fancy book launch party did, but, it could work. At home I tried it on with funky boots and watched Iz's face fall. Nothing will ever erase that look of disdain, dislike. She was right.

And so I headed to yoga. Where I couldn't breathe. Couldn't balance. Couldn't find the flow of class. Finally, more than halfway through, the tears came as I curled tight into a child's pose. Burning hot down my cheeks, I couldn't hold them back anymore.

After that? I went pants shopping. Sometimes, when I'm at my lowest point, trying on clothes and seeing how they don't fit is the sustenance my anorexic soul needs, fuel to berate myself with. I hit the Gap and only brought my new double digit size into the dressing room with me. The pants were a bit big, roomy and comfortable. And looked fine. Of course, instead of accepting this reality, I grabbed 8s to compare and contrast. They zipped. Were slightly tight. I threw them on the reject pile and got in line to pay for the bigger ones. I knew disaster was looming.

My phone died on the walk home, a telling sign life is too rocky at the moment. I never let power get to that point. I was lost, not able to call someone for support with all these disparate stresses roiling through my mind.

And then I got home. It was a night fraught with missing homework, dinner drama, endless arguments on top of all else I'd been carrying all day. I had just about the fullest inbox I'd ever had, emails I had to process and respond to, countless tweets to catch up on. Excitement and support mixed with aggravation and soul-numbing sameness.

At that point all I could do was cry until I couldn't anymore.

And then, get back on my bandwagon.

Today? Yoga, in hopefully a better frame of mind. Shopping, but with a purpose. I'll be avoiding parts of my family at all costs. And relishing the quiet before I've got a weekend full of other people's stuff.

Appearing on tv means nothing after I said no to a potential sleepover. When there are desks to be organized. Hamster cages to be cleaned. English papers to be written.

It's not going to be pretty folks.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Yes peeps, FLOW is going to be on THE VIEW (!!!) next Tuesday. Which means I will be too (along with Susan). Not only did we both get invited, everyone in the audience is getting a copy of the book. This is big. Huge. IT. The potential game-changing moment. Although the jew in me doesn't want to think any of that until after it's over, so not to jinx anything. I'm battling many things this morning, that being just one.

Backstory: 2 weeks ago our St. Martin's publicist casually asked if there was an TV footage of us talking about FLOW. The only stuff out there is the local NYC cable show I did (with a tremendous shout out to Miss Joanie and Paul), when the book came out. An hour of me talking in front of a screen that alternated between a giant cover of the book and a mac screensaver that seemed to shoot lighting bolts out of my head. Last week she wrote that The View was maybe interested in one of us, not to get our hopes up, and that a producer wanted to talk to us at the same time. Wednesday at 1:30.

I spun that vague info around, sure it wouldn't happen, and if in the slightest chance it did, they'd pick Susan and not me. I'd actually really truly honestly gotten to the point that I would've been ok—getting FLOW talked about was far more important that my ego. As the day wore on, and my anxiety settled into my stomach, the call was pushed to 4, which meant both Iz and Jack would be here. At pickup at 3, Jack was hit in the face, from close range and really hard, with an icy snowball—I found him out of the yard, being yelled at by this kid's mother. He was sobbing. The other boy was completely silent. Sure sign the guilt was in his court. After shouting at the mom to shut up and leave my kid alone, we sort of straightened things out and headed home. 3:25.

I needed coffee but my usual place was packed. Jack was so upset he only wanted to go home. So, after bringing him upstairs and getting him settled, I ran out again.


The new gelato place doesn't know how to handle more than one customer. By the time I got my large decaf cappuchino, 3:50. Susan was waiting for me in my lobby, starting to panic.

4:00. The phone rings. We talked, animatedly with the producer for 20 minutes. She loved the book, had tons of questions, told us to keep next Tuesday free, and that we'd be hearing from her. We got off the phone, not any closer to knowing if we'd be on the show. Who won. What had happened.

Within 10 minutes and a flurry of emails, we'd both been booked.

It was a quiet, surreal, strange moment. There was a half-hearted high five, an awkward hug, and the glimmerings of what to wear panic.

And then the real drama started to unfold.

I tried on the super cool theory pants I got years ago, 2 ultra sleek pairs, and found neither of them fit. So, in the midst of almost the biggest news of my entire life, the "you're a failure" anorexic part of me surged to the surface. The universe was smacking me in the face, making sure I'd hold tight to my new mindset that size didn't matter. Know what? In that moment, it totally did. It was like the Darth Vader/Luke standoff. The dark side battling the light. The old me trying to destroy the new me. It was epic folks.

In the midst of my pants freak out, Iz freaked out. Sobbing because she'd kept Jack company during the interview and felt I owed her that wasted time back.

These are what I call my life colliding moments. When disparate parts of me have to coexist in real time. It's usually not pretty. I generally end up screaming and in tears. This though, was so overwhelming, I couldn't process what she was saying and just walked away. Going forward I have to remember it was an exceedingly successful tactic.

I started calling, emailing, tweeting. And that started to make it real. Some people were utterly and completely thrilled. Some nonchalant. Some pissed. How could I share amazing news without stirring up some family drama? My reality.

And then I went out to dinner, a birthday celebration, in the east village. I could barely talk at that point and had trouble staying in the moment. I got home at 12, ears frozen, throat raw, still in this unbelieving place.

At the moment my head's pounding as if a sledge hammer's been smashing into my skull during my mostly sleepless night. Next on the agenda? What I think is going to be a heated PTA meeting.

And then full-scale, what to wear panic will be setting in.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

game changing phone calls

This afternoon we've got a phone call scheduled that could completely change the trajectory of FLOW. Or, absolutely nothing will come of it and we'll go limping along as we have been for the past few months (Canada Dan, I feel the eye roll). Ok, limping was a particularly pathetic word to use, but at the moment, right now, in my dark living room, afraid to look out side because I think it's raining and I can't handle another day of precipitation, wearing sunglasses because I'm too tired to look for my regular glasses, dreading that in 7 minutes I'll have to start waking people up and leave what I need to write for at least another couple of hours, I'm nervous. And that's not the right word either. I'm numb. Shut down. Frozen. Quiet. On the verge of catatonic. My stomach is churning, upset and unsettled. I've got a knot in my shoulder that's got half my back immobile. My head is stuffed and pounding. No, all these physical symptoms aren't wrapped up in this call, but I know, deep down, that many are.

The View is calling. Or, at least, a producer from The View. They're thinking about having us on the show next week. Or, at least, having one of us on the show. So not only is this phone call a screening for us, to make sure we're coherent, conversational, topical, can hold our own on a panel of women used to back and forth banter, they want to find the one they like best.

This is a total double whammy. It's not just about getting FLOW on the show. It's dealing with the reality that it could very well not be me that they want. And boy does that feed into my self-doubting, self-loathing, self-hating feelings that I'm not good enough. That I don't deserve this. That no one wants me.


Now is the more appropriate time to use the word pathetic.

Yesterday I met an old friend (not old age wise, but someone I've know since life before children), for coffee. Actually for french onion soup as it turned out. When we first met she intimidated me to no end. She had years of design experience on me, and could talk the professional talk like no one I'd met yet. Client relations. Business plans. Contract negotiations. I was a design neophyte, just out of school, and she was on another level entirely. Made me cry more than once. Made me doubt whether I'd ever be successful. It was a relationship fraught with frustration and insecurity. Yesterday, she told me I was her inspiration. That this path I'm on, this personal branding, this stepping out of my comfort zone and putting myself out there, every day, in as many ways as I can, is something she doesn't know how to do and wishes she could.

It never ceases to amaze me how what other people see on the surface is so far removed from the inner turmoil that's roiling just below. I play this out there, successful, confident part in the real world and people believe it. Really truly believe. And I'm getting to believe it to. That I can do anything. That I'm on this path to bigger things. That what I'm saying is resonating with people. That I'll write more books, build an audience, start conversations, have a radio show. Be successful. That there's greatness in me.


And sometimes I'm waiting not for a spectacular crash, but for it all to slowly deflate until I'm a middle-aged mother in high-waisted jeans, living through someone else's experiences. Not moving forward but holding on to the past.

Oh god. I think I just figured out my biggest fear (besides cancer and dementia).

That I won't be relevant anymore.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

coming between me and my calvins

Yesterday I wrote about my painful quest for new jeans. And I have to say, I ended the day in pain. Pain caused by pants I thought would stretch into something comfy and cozy, broken-in and familiar. Instead, I had deep red welts on my hips by the time I eased them down my legs last night.

It was also a painfully emotional day. Writing/reading about weight brings up so much for so many. Body issue issues. Women (and I have to say, a few men) were empathetic, enraged, pissed, dismissive, hurt by what I wrote. My negativity wasn't in any way meant towards anyone but me. My issues are so personal, run so deep, are so ingrained, I never imagined berating myself would resonate so deeply with others.

No matter how far I've come and trust me, I'm a lifetime away from living on diet Pepsi and Tasti D-lite (the fake ice cream that was my main sustenance for years), my weight and my body are still toxic. I've gotten remarkably adept at not confronting either. I haven't owned a scale in years. I'd say it's been at least 15 since that torture device ruled my bathroom. During the height, or really depth, of anorexia, I'd weigh myself multiple times a day, chronicling the ounce variations. With clothes, without clothes. Before I ate, after I ate. Before I peed, after I peed. When I woke up, before I went to bed. That number meant acceptance, at least in the moment, or abject failure. I've now learned to ignore the siren's call of scales in other people's houses, in stores, in doctor's offices. My ego, my being, my sense of self-worth is still tied into that number. It's better not to know.

Same goes for shopping. When forced to try on clothes, scrambling through sizes, praying the smaller will fit even though logically I know it won't, too much rises to the surface and suddenly, I'm a failure before hitting the dressing room. I'm beating myself up over what hasn't even happened yet.

It's amazing, shocking, depressing how tied I still am to what's on the surface. Weight. Beauty. Age. Success. We live in a society that's constantly telling us we're not enough. Not young enough, thin enough, hip enough. Our hair could be shinier, our skin softer. Our legs smoother, our faces wrinkle-free. We should always smell better. Hey, our laundry should smell better. Our computers should run faster, our pets should be more well-adjusted, our children more well-behaved. Our dishes cleaner, our lawns greener, our vacations should be more fabulous than everyone else's. Wherever, whoever we are, it's not good enough.

How can we ever feel good about ourselves when we're constantly bombarded by how much we need to be improved?

Here's the secret peeps:

It's being comfortable on the inside.

It's about accepting who you are instead of worrying about who you're not.

I'm buying bigger pants so I can breathe and sit at the same time.

Monday, March 1, 2010

jeans hell

I'm a creature of habit. I wear just about the same thing every day, with slight variations. My winter uniform consists of jeans, t-shirts and turtlenecks. With coat/scarf/hat change ups (trust me, I have countless of each), no one realizes the basics stay relatively the same.

This winter I finally accepted that I'm never going to be crazy thin again, that holding on to my skinny pants was nothing but old-school anorexic behavior. I'd pull on pants that wouldn't make it past my thighs, berating myself for having lost so much control. Truth is, I never should have been that thin. Yes, my pants were loose and comfortable, my ribs stuck out more, I easily wore small shirts but that's not everything. I wasn't healthy. In fact, I was sick far more often than I am now. This is the first winter I've gone through in good shape, able to fight things off or recover well when a cold knocked me flat. So, I packed up 2 drawers of pants, donated them so a thinner person could be better dressed and have spent the past couple of months in the same 2 pairs of jeans and one pair of corduroys (washing them regularly of course).

This can't last forever. Eventually my pants will fall apart and I'll be left with nothing. Of course, it'll be spring, when my uniform switches to 1960s mod dresses and the jeans conundrum could wait for fall, but I decided to suck it up, not to mention in, and buy new pants.


Shopping for pants is a loaded minefield for me. Just confronting the size on the label is toxic. I used to bring in 2 sizes, so I could revel in my greatness when the smaller slipped on easily, or beat myself up when the larger size was better. This time I just opted for larger, praying they'd be ok. It was literally nerve-wracking, walking to the fitting room, terrified my go-to larger size wouldn't work for me anymore. I was at Old Navy, willing to fork over $19 for a pair of jeans—in retrospect I'm thinking spending more money would have confirmed my failure with my weight battle. Somehow not spending as much lessened the defeat.

They now name their jeans: diva, flirt, and sweetheart. Those names are code for skinny girl, barely holding on, and fat slob. I tried each, not sure where I'd fit in anymore. Just to date myself, last time I was in this situation, ultra low rise were all fashion. They don't have those anymore.

So. Diva first. It was almost like reliving the smaller size nightmare. Apparently, low rise doesn't work for me anymore. Flirts were ok. Sweethearts most comfortable.

Fuck (and I don't say that often here).


When did I graduate to old lady pants? Was polyester in my near future? Was I becoming an embarrassment to myself, trying to hold onto a look that didn't work anymore. What could I possibly wear instead? OH MY GOD! It was a total jean meltdown. I pulled the old "concentrate on your breathing" trick out of my bag and bought 3 pairs.

Yesterday I wore the sweathearts and even though they were fine, totally fine, perfectly fine, a pair of plain jeans for god's sake, I felt awful all day. Self-conscious. Uncomfortable. Middle-aged. I ended the day super cranky, wrapped up in anger, sniping at people in real life and in my head, who didn't deserve it.

Today I tried the flirts. The're better, intellectually. But physically? Tight-ish. Not lounge on the floor comfortable. Then again, not constricting blood flow.

I'm hoping, with multiple washings and some holes torn in the knees, these new pants will become comfortable old friends.

And that it'll be years before I have to go through my jeans drama again.