Friday, April 30, 2010


There have been times in my life when I've teetered on the edge of craziness, sure I'd topple over and completely lose my mind. I've had that fear since I was little, sometimes talking myself back into my body during exceptionally existential moments of not knowing who I was. At the time I had no idea I was just having a moment of looking at the bigger cosmic picture, I was sure I was following in the footsteps of relatives who had lost themselves in mental issues. I had an aunt who didn't leave her apartment for years, who maintained strict rules that things coming into her apartment became hers. My mother lost many lovely serving dishes that way until she resorted to disposable when bringing dessert. By the time one of my grandmothers died, she was basically a hermit, cutting off every single family member one by one. At one point, before contact was severed, she sent me hate postcards, calling me spawn of the devil and various other nasty names. I was 18 or so at the time and have blocked most of them out. 

I also had anxiety attacks, only I had no idea what they were. I was too petrified to tell anyone, so when my heart was straining out of my chest, when I couldn't catch my breath, when my mind was spinning so fast I couldn't pinpoint any thoughts but sheer panic, I curled myself into a ball until it passed. Or lost myself in endless books, to keep the fear at bay. I learned, silently, secretly, to avoid anything that made me nervous. I still don't ski, don't rollerblade, don't scale high heights.

I'm still terrified of losing control. Of microscopic cracks forming in my carefully constructed armor that will rip open so everything will crash and burn around me. Even after surviving an eating disorder and bouts of anxiety that had me too scared to get up and function, I still feel that icy hand occasionally stroking my spine. Anxiety makes me hunch over slightly, as if to help myself hold everything together. I wear more muted clothes, I cut myself off from people, I stay far away from new experiences that could possibly set something off. Stress brings it bubbling back just below the surface and, sadly, that's unavoidable. As is the genetic component. Anxiety runs through women in my family, sometimes quietly minding its own business, at others it floods its banks, destroying everything in its path. 

When anxiety is raging, it's hard to know there's calm on the other side. 

It's hard to hold onto the fact that everything will be ok in the end. 

That's one of my mantras: everything is fine. That, and this is only temporary

Those words are my lifelines when anxiety traps me in the corner and I don't see, believe, know there's a way out.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

when eating is an issue

Last night, over vegetarian pad thai and a red lotus (vodka, pomegranate liquor and cranberry juice), I spent hours catching up with one of my closest friends, who was in from London. We met when our older ones were 3 months old, which was almost 12 years ago, and even though we rarely see each other and are only sporadically in touch when I see her it's like she's here with me every day. The bond we forged as struggling new mothers is profound.

But that's not what I want to write about.

She filled me in on another NYC friend of hers, one she's known for much of her life, one who's struggling with an eating disorder. Anorexia, to name names. The conversation brought me back to when I was caught in the throes of it. It's been a long time, a really long time, since I lived that life, or even thought about the reality of it all. And for the first time in longer than I can remember, I remembered the feelings, the grip, the panic, the inability to see, feel, live any other way than in the prison I created for myself.

For someone not suffering with an eating disorder it seems like eating is not a big deal. You're too thin? Eat. Hungry? Eat. Faint, dizzy, disoriented? Eat.

It's not that easy.

In fact, it's just about impossible.

It's not just eating. Yes, food is the enemy. Calories, fat, carbs, sugar—you want as little of them in your body as possible. But worse than food is letting go of control. When anorexia rules you, you're in complete control. You have mastered your body. You are beyond hunger, biological need. And that control is your salvation, your pride, your universe. A tiny crack and it could all fall apart and then what? Who would you be? What would take the place of the constant spin in your head about what to eat, when to eat it, how to eat it, where to get it? Every morning I'd lovingly slice a Rome apple into the thinnest slices imaginable, to make it last as long as possible. And when that was done, I'd think about the diet Pepsi I'd have at 11. I could think about that can, never bottle, never fountain, for more time than you could possibly imagine. Straw or no straw. In a cup or from the can. Over ice or straight up. Straight from the fridge or let it warm up. How many more minutes until I can act on actually drinking it. And from there, once I had absorbed every last drop, it was on to Tasti D-lite (a diet frozen ice cream) for lunch. Thinking about that made my soda thoughts pale in comparison.

When I was sick—103 or 107 was my lowest, I'm 30+ pounds more than that now and I'm still thin—I took it as a compliment when people told me I looked sick. I knew, deep inside my twisted mind, they were jealous and only wished they had my self control. I thought berating myself for pages in my food journal over eating an extra bowl of lettuce or splurging to have brown rice with my chinese food was normal. That going to sleep at 8 because I was so tired from the day was ok, that needing to rest on a bench for 45 minutes after working out to scare up some energy to walk that one block home was fine.

I locked myself in a too small box with no windows, no door, no way out.

I understood where her friend is. I was there.

I am so grateful I escaped that hell. I also know not everyone can.

I wish, beyond wishes, that people could treat themselves with love and respect, compassion and tolerance. Our bodies and minds aren't the enemy. But too often we treat them that way.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What ifs

What if this is it?

What if I hit my pinnacle and the rest is a slow slide into oblivion?

What if I didn't try hard enough and the universe said screw you, we're giving it to someone more deserving?

What if FLOW was my one shot?

What if I just talk about WRINKLE but never actually write it?

What if nobody cares?

What if no one pays attention?

What if I can't muster up the bright side, half full point of view?

What if I don't believe in myself anymore?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

evolving relationships

I've never been good at long-term relationships. I don't have people in my life that I've known since I was five, from growing up, from high school or college. Since becoming a parent I've forged relationships that have lasted longer than my usual ones, but those are shifting and floating away as kids get older and life changes. I had hoped at this point, we'd have a circle of people we'd go on vacation with, celebrate occasions with, who'd have our family's back, but that wasn't meant to be either. I suppose I could spend years in therapy getting to the bottom of it but at this point in my life, I'm ok with it. Most of the time. 

And yet, for all the above, I grapple with change every time I'm confronted with it. Especially when it comes to relationships. Every once in awhile I meet someone who has a profound effect on me, the kind that can't last long term no matter how much I want it to. Perhaps it's a specific experience we share together, a bond that's forged to help keep us sane when things are falling apart. Someone to counterbalance huge growth when I can't handle it all myself. They show up, we share, and then everyone moves on. 

I hate the moving on. 

If I step back and look at the bigger picture, there's a pattern. A pattern of connection, meant-to-be-ness, gifts from the universe at times and of course, the inevitable pain when the magic is gone. 

I'm thinking maybe this lesson is appreciating it in the moment and letting go when it's over. 

You (I) can't go back. 

You (I)  can't re-experience what was so special at a distinct time and place, no matter how much you (I) want to.

I talked to a friend last night, a friend I've never met in person, but someone I had almost daily contact with for months and months. We talked, skyped, google chatted, emailed, tweeted, sometimes many of the above on the same day. And then, he was gone. For a month. He's popped in to say his life is dramatically changing and he's going to be impossible to reach for awhile. That I'll be proud of him, but he can't say what's going on. 

Total blank slate from someone I'd come to think of as a really close friend. This was my go-to FLOW person. The person who gave me advice, listened when I was panicked, pointed me in saner directions when I couldn't see where I was supposed to be. He was my self-appointed mentor, my guru, my media expert. At the same time, his life was in a dramatic flux. I suppose the constant contact gave him grounding while everything else was being ripped apart. But, as with all these seemingly profound relationships I find myself in, it was seemingly over. This time with no warning. He just disappeared. 

I was hurt, confused, furious, rejected. How was I supposed to be ok when I'd relied on this person during such a challenging time? I loved having someone there to support, to listen, to advise. I've been searching for that my entire life.

(insert lightbulb here)

Ok folks, I just got it. It's not about him. Or any of these people who come in and shake me up. It's learning that love, that trust, that belief can be found on the inside. That I just have to accept that it's there and let it flow.*

*Full disclosure. Just as I finished typing that sentence, my missing friend called. We talked for an hour and finished the conversation talking about what I had just written. 

Damn. When you're open, there are remarkable things to be seen.

Thank you Santiago.

Monday, April 26, 2010

afternoon blogging

This morning I was in the middle of a post about the physical realities of aging—at least the stuff that I'm going through. I was inspired by the hundreds (387 to be exact) of people who took time to fill out my WRINKLE survey. But, instead of having time to finish my crank and whine list, I've been grappling with camp plans and PTA websites. Oh, and I'm about to tackle imovie. So, tomorrow as I sit in my car during alternate parking purgatory, I'll delve into aging.

For now, it's time to cross stuff off my to-do list.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

bursts of creativity

A few days ago I was overwhelmed with ideas, constantly jotting words, thoughts, paragraphs in the little notebook I carry with me everywhere, on buses, in yoga class, on staircases, stopping in the middle of crowded sidewalks to scribble and make sure I didn't lose anything. 

Today? I'm sitting in my very messy living room, overwhelmed at how 4 people can let things get so out of control, knowing I'm the one who's going to have to fix it all. If there's any creativity inside me it's trapped under piles of dirty dishes that need to take the place of clean ones in the dishwasher, the boxes of sewing supplies that have taken over the dining room table, the furniture that's been moved so Jack could ripstick comfortably around the apartment. 

It's really hard to maintain creativity when real life is far more immediate.

I need space, time alone, a break. And things, for the most part, have been ok lately. But, we're entering into our 2 months of chaos and I'm not ready. Summer is looming and we have to figure out camp options for people who don't want to go to camp. Living in the city means there are some amazing things to do. At this point we're looking at puppet theater that culminates in creating a tv show, sewing classes, maybe robotics. A week here, 2 weeks there. For a person who loves the sameness of schedules, it will be a challenge. Every time we get used to a new routine, it'll shift. My days will be hiking, in city heat, to different places, dealing with new people, new subways/buses, kids who would rather stay home. 

To kick off May we've got a bar mitzvah next weekend that has to be sandwiched between baseball games and practice plus getting Iz to a sleepover birthday party that starts and ends in Chinatown. Jack's birthday is in 12 days and he's now having a party in 2 parts because his birthday weekend has so many other things going on we don't have time to host it. Mother's day is in 13 days. Jon's birthday is in 19. And then Father's Day, my birthday and Iz's are all in June. That's parties to arrange, cakes to bake, presents to get, celebrations to organize. 

I've got an entire package to write and produce for middle school orientation at the end of June. A class art project for Jack's 3rd grade group.

We're still working on vacations. We're figuring out how to go to Vermont for a few days, even though I thought I made it clear that since we go to Vermont all winter, summer was off limits. But, no, we're going. All of us. I had thought that I'd get a reprieve, have a few days at home, alone. Nope. This way Jon and I will have some time alone together while the kids stay at his mom's. That's a lovely thing that never happens, the time alone part. But, honestly, I want time by myself. I did the single parent thing twice this spring—when he went skiing out west and then taking the kids to Florida which he had to pass up because he went skiing out west. 

When do I get my break? To live in a space that stays the way I leave it, piles of clothes not magically appearing in the middle of the floor, cabinets closed, things remaining put away? To not have the constant drone of: what can I do, I'm bored, she started it, he's doing it on purpose, Lis can't you control anything? Apparently not this summer. I'm already looking forward to September, when our schedules click into a steady pattern again.

I've got to go empty the dishwasher and make my bed before taking a shower and heading to yoga. And I know, when I get back the cranks and whines about my being away will smack me as soon as I walk through the door.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

the meeting of the me's

This week was about the universe smacking me in the head, only I just realized it this morning. I had written recently about the 2 me's—the at-home me, juggling my day-to-day, and the ME who does interviews, projects, is in the spotlight, not hiding behind the curtain and how hard it is to be both at the same time. This week I found I was spending much more time than usual as the combined me. Yesterday, at a lovely coffee date a friend from twitter I'd never met in the real world before suggested perhaps it's all about letting these disparate parts of my life integrate and then I could just be me. Me. All the time.

It's happening more and more often. Monday I had lunch with people from Seventh Generation around the corner from Jack's school, talking about education, natural products, a new blog post for them, how we might work together in the future. Tuesday I did an interview about the new Kotex campaign while alternate side parking. Then, in sweaty yoga clothes I spent a couple of delicious hours talking intention, conjuring dreams into reality, Vajesus, lavender scented rivers and possible combined appearances with the real-life goddess Lissa Rankin. We share the same editor, met on twitter and here we were chatting away like we'd know each other for far longer than half an hour. Yesterday I met Stephanie Gailing, this amazingly beautiful spirit I met on twitter. It felt like I'd known her forever as we shared delicious chocolates from a Soho shop and talked mothers, astrology, the ins and outs of publishing, stepping back and seeing where we are in this world, aging, communicating and perhaps working together in the future.

The me collide was subtler but somehow more dramatic at Iz's middle school curriculum night on Thursday. Two different dads at two different times mentioned something I'd done. Knowing we'd never talked about it, both said they'd read my blog. One, in fact (yes, I'm blogging about you JM), literally shocked me into silence. He said he'd read my blog and when I laughed it off, held out his hands and said sometimes he just needed a spiritual pedicure.


Part of the challenge for me—most of it really—is owning it. Feeling confident and comfortable in what I do, who I am. Yesterday, with Stephanie, I had these moments of clarity that were insane. It wasn't just a lightbulb moment, it was like a chandelier illuminating over my head (but not a tacky Liberace one). I take what I do for granted and lose track of the fact that most people don't see the world the way I do. Design, coming up with ideas, getting my messages out into the world isn't quite effortless but it's me. I communicate.

That's my calling. And that's the conversation that started with Lissa.

I'm here to get people talking, thinking, challenging themselves, digging a little deeper. About subjects we don't necessarily feel comfortable exploring.

Someone suggested on my WRINKLE survey that after this I tackle death. Love that people are helping light up my path for me.

Namaste peeps. I'm glad you're sharing my journey.

Friday, April 23, 2010

someone else's something

Yesterday I had a day.

It was if the me that's been missing for longer than I can remember quietly slipped back in and took charge. The efficient me. The me who doesn't waffle, procrastinate, angst, complain. The me who tackles a to-do list with calm and determination. I made appointments. Figured out the whole forwarding, masking, domain thing that needed to be re-worked since my laptop death—after Apple and Godaddy couldn't help, I worked it out on my own. I navigated the posting waters at BUST and got my first piece up, mailed out copies of FLOW to winners of a contest, dealt with missing PTA bylaws and an upcoming election with our DOE contact, finished and republished my three websites, sketched out two new guest post ideas, tackled a new mass email program and got a middle school weekly blast to families on time. Planned Jack's birthday party in 2 parts. Made it to yoga. To Iz's curriculum night. Through it all emailing, tweeting, returning phone calls, updating my complicated spring calendar.

Somewhere in the onslaught of emails (the BUST post got a good reaction), I got a message from my brother, asking if I'd help with his dialysis. I was about to head into a portable Star Lab at Iz's school—which turned out to be a cross between a bouncy castle and a giant silver igloo. You had to crawl through a tunnel to get inside and I spent at least 10 minutes of the show focused on breathing while my mind flirted with a panic attack. I did learn all about Draco the Dragon and the bear constellations though. As the faux stars traveled across the sky I quickly wrote back I'd do whatever he needed. End of story.

Later last night, after we got everyone to bed, and I had a chance to go through all the emails I'd only had a chance to skim earlier, I read his whole message. And then read it again. And again.



What had been an abstract topic of conversation over the past few months was now an imminent reality that I was going to be a part of. Which is fine. For the most part I'm good at medical things. I'm a great hospital guest and can chat and distract while machines are whirring and clicking. I can handle blood. Helping, supporting, taking care of people is what I spend much of my life already doing.

But now this is real. I was reading details of how dialysis works, where things will be set up in his apartment, what I'd need to do for training. Why he'd need me there, which basically is for support in case something's not going well.

I have to say shit again.

I float through life coping, dealing, juggling, feeling, fighting my fears that I'll have something profoundly big to deal with, hoping against hope the stuff I contend with will be minor in the scheme of things.

This is major. MAJOR.

I don't know that light-hearted banter is appropriate but I don't know that I know how to do anything else. Having said that, I'd do anything to help so if that doesn't work, I'll find a new way to be.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

to blog or not to blog

I've been writing recently about the fact that I write here every day. It's borders on compulsion. It's just something I now do, like eat, drink lots of water, try to get to bed at a reasonable hour.

And blog.

But, I'm thinking it's hard to maintain that daily expectation while I'm writing other things to so, today's a two-for-one. I'm sharing the post I just put up at BUST (click the word to go there).

Messages there would be delightful. Comments here are always appreciated.

Tomorrow I go back to figuring out my calling. That or menstrual education or what it's like to be a writer these days.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

why am I here?

I had fully intended to delve deep today and start working on why I'm here. Yesterday I had the true pleasure slash honor of meeting Lissa Rankin in person and brainstorming about what it is we're here for. What messages we're meant to share. What our calling is.

She is a game changer. A bright light. A person so in her groove that pieces seem to be easily falling into place for her.

I'm not that.

When confronted with her deep belief in herself, her assumption all would work out, hearing about the support, the like-minded people she's surrounded by, the opportunities appearing, the doors opening, I was jealous. No, that's not the right word. I was delighted to hear how good things could be. It made me quiet, because that's not what it's been for me.

I struggle. I'm not sure why I'm here, what my message is, if I have a message.

I doubt myself. I don't own who I am/what I do.

Deep inside, I still think of myself as not good enough, an amateur, a poser. Because, if I was not that, more would be happening.

Agents aren't knocking on my door. Publishers aren't asking me what's next. No one is interested in writing about me or what I'm writing about. There are blips of interest on the edge of a world wide radar that send slight ripples through cyberspace and then disappear too quickly to resonate.

And that's ok. No one said this road was easy. Somehow, in my life, I always end up on a path that's all about breaking new ground. Being somewhere not so many people have been before. I can't look out and say oh, I want to be like this or that person because I haven't found someone who does what I do. In the way I do it.

Add to that that I'm still figuring out what it is that I do and you get the picture.

Tomorrow can be about figuring out my calling. Today is about taking time to be ok about not knowing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

being me

These days there's being me and then there's being ME.

The lowercase me is all about the usual juggle: kids, school, design, relatives, yoga even though my wrist is toast, camp plans for those who just want to "relax", vacations, organizing dinners with friends, overseeing everyone's schedules, class parenting and those related art projects because I'm the creative one, PTA and the overwhelmingly vast amount of confusion it comes with, getting meds into kids who don't want it, waking sleeping 9 year olds who stay up WAY TOO LATE (ok, the last 2 were this morning), sitting in my car talking to the super across the street even though I had tons of work to do while alternate side parking, making runs to Jersey City Target for socks and cool sweatshirts—you get the idea.


Then there's uppercase ME. The ME who wrote FLOW, was on The View, whose name shows up in thousands of google searches (yes, I check). The one who went to lunch with one of the founders of Seventh Generation yesterday because she loved FLOW, wanted to meet me and perhaps find a way to help each other. The one who had HD make up done. Who's worried about what to wear on air. The one with editors, publicists, publishers. Contacts. Contracts. The one who markets, sells, promotes, hypes, constantly building my brand.

Exhausting in a very different way.

When I'm ME, I'm exhausted afterwards. Being "on" is draining. I can talk, pitch, entertain, chat, amuse, educate. And then, when I'm done, there's nothing left. After every interview I feel like I've run a marathon, or at least 5 miles when not quite in shape for it.

And then there are times when me and ME collide and I have to be both at the same time. I did a magazine interview this morning while sitting in my car, hoping the chatting super would be done talking about his love of motorcycles before the phone call came. The journalist was great - we talked for almost an hour, finishing up as I stood outside my coffee shop, waiting for the fire engine to pass. I was in need of a caffeine fix well before lunch, wiped from talking my message. The cute boy in the shop asked how my radio interview had been. In the moment I couldn't remember what he had been talking about. Half an hour later I remembered last week I talked with The Kathleen Show (it airs next week). That was squeezed in after yoga, and while my kids cooperated by watching TV until I was off the phone. I got all that call, zonked, but had to make dinner, deal with homework and the bedtime drill.

In those moments, when I need to collapse but can't, I stop. Actually, I don't stop. I keep doing everything I have to but my brain's blank. If someone asked my name I don't know that I'd know. I'm having one of those right now. I'm empty. But I have 3 pieces to write. Design work to do. A PTA election to figure out. I'm meeting a twitter friend later. I've got a dinner tonight. A to-do list for me that keeps growing. But ME has her own list and that's important too.

I feel like there's got to be another me. Not the juggler. Not the writer. Just the person who sits still, stares off into space, takes it easy, isn't connected all the time.

If you see her, please send her my way.

Monday, April 19, 2010

passive aggressive om's

Lately my yoga teacher changed up the way she oms. It's been going on for a few weeks but in class I was rather distracted by a sore wrist which makes it harder to lose myself in the flow. There's a general pattern to classes at my studio and while the music, teachers, poses can vary wildly, all contain similar elements. The teacher chats a bit, we om 3 times, chant and then poses. Generally speaking that is.

So, the oms. These new oms start quietly and by the time we start chiming in, the next one's been almost secretly introduced. No way we can catch up. The sounds are jarring, almost discordant. Instead of joining together, everyone's struggling to fit in.

I don't know that anyone else noticed. But I felt this nudging challenge in a way. Are you with me? Tuned in? Too late? Unaware? It was a subtle shake up to om comfort. One could call it passive aggressive om-ing.

It got me thinking about spring.

Spring is a passive aggressive season. One day you're in flip flops and t shirts. The next it's back to scarves and boots.

Spring is passive aggressive. It says one thing but doesn't really mean it. It's all about mixed messages. It often leave you scratching your head, annoyed at yourself for not better reading the signs. For not bringing an umbrella on a perfectly clear day or wearing a warm sweater and the sweltering all afternoon.

Maybe the yoga teacher was tapping into spring's ambivalence. It's occasionally sharp edge amidst the budding trees and burgeoning petals. Keeping us on our toes and grateful for the loveliness by giving us moments of discomfort.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

this is as bad as it should ever get

I don't know if this is purely a yiddish expression, but when things are awful, I mutter under my breath, "this is as bad as it should get," as if to ward off further horrible situations in the future. I'm sure I got that from my mom, my grandmother, in the same way I say kenahura, an old custom so as not to jinx anything good that I'm in the middle of. 

Yesterday, as Iz's tooth was pulled, a baby molar that had cracked when the tooth underneath it was more than ready to come through, she was panicky, nervous, anxious. Having the numbing gell spread inside her mouth was terrifying. Hey, the hours leading up to the spur of the moment dental visit were no picnic in the park. It was her first health emergency. Her tooth ached. I could see bruising in her gums. She clenched my hand, hard, as the dentist forcefully wiggled the halves out. And then, as she drooled and bled, I could see the nervousness still etched on her face. She couldn't feel her tongue, the side of her cheek. It was hard for her to swallow. Not being in complete control of her body was something strange and new.

She said she hoped this was the worst thing that would ever happen to her. 

My heart ached.

Her life is just beginning. She has no idea what out-of-control situations are in her future. She hasn't discovered relationships yet and the pain of liking someone who doesn't like you back, being broken up with, being in different emotional places as someone else. Or of friends you've known forever growing away and not coming back. Of people you love moving far away. Getting sick. Dying.

She's only at the tip of the physical iceberg. Of adolescence. Of a body changing in unexpected and sometimes surprising or disappointing or frustrating ways. Of surging hormones. Of pimples that may not seem like a big deal to the outside world, but feel like a bulls eye in the middle of a cheek. Or forehead. Or chin.

She's had colds and fevers and earaches and I'm sure there are plenty more of those in her future. She's been in the ER once, when she was a baby, for a cut finger than healed over before we got to see the doctor. No matter how much I want to protect her, no matter how hard I try to keep her safe, she's human. I don't even want to think about what ifs (that's a horrible road for anyone to go down), but the reality is we all have stuff we go through.

At the moment I have a pain in my jaw (this is when Jack would say I always make things about me). I think it's TMJ. Much is swirling in my life right now and I can feel the tension building up on the left side. But, it could be sinus issues. I know, from my many ENT visits, that my sinuses hang very low and when they're filled up, they press down to cause pain in that area. It could be a tooth ache. I recently had  a cracked molar and spent months with pain, fittings, work and now a crown. Could be bone cancer or a tumor. I try to keep those dramatic thoughts to a minimum. In yoga this morning I had trouble staying in the class as the pain stabbed and sharpened. I spent time contemplating acupuncture, massage, steam rooms, and what might work best. 

I'm looking for a solution.

I'm hoping this will be the worst that things get. 

You never know. Perhaps a painful jaw will be it for me. Maybe the universe laughingly sent me something that makes talking hard when communicating is what I do.

Hey, I like that rationalization. I'm sticking with that and packing the scarier stuff back into my anxiety closet. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

right now

The nap gods smiled on me and I just got to sleep in the middle of the day for almost 2 hours. The down side? I only wanted to stay curled up under a fuzzy blanket until tomorrow. The up side? It's already 7 and it won't be too long until I can crawl back in bed. The even more up side is that my kids compromised so beautifully on how to entertain themselves that there wasn't a single moment of bickering to mar the silence.

I am grateful.

I'm hoping we all survive dinner and baths in a calm and quiet manner so I can throw on sleep clothes and go back to sleep.


As I was groggily waking up I tried to figure out why I was so profoundly tired. But, it's been quite a week. Yesterday was quiet a day. I was hype queen every moment I was home, sharing my new HuffPo piece, my guest blog post on aging, my WRINKLE survey. The first two things pubbed yesterday morning which was pretty thrilling. Then it was running around like mad, getting ready to organize and chaperone a 7th grade dance. That was not so great. The adults and students setting it up were terrific, the kids attending the dance, not always so much. Several times kids told me they were bored and asked for their money back. At 45 I couldn't imagine doing that—at 12, making that demand of  grownup seemed not a big deal. We rushed from the dance to pick up Jack downtown and then it was an evening of crankfests and arguing all around, topped off with the discovery that Iz's molar, a baby one, had cracked in half and she had been in pain for hours. That led to an emergency dental visit today, where, thanks to copious amounts of numbing gell, the 2 halves were separately removed by our amazing dentist. Jack, meanwhile, had a little league game this morning. Getting him out the door was a Herculean feat. Last week had been the season opener, played at 8 in the morning on a freezing cold field, losing 4-1, struggling with kid's pitching instead of coaches. I wouldn't have wanted to go back either. 

Yesterday ended a week of actual design work (woohoo!), my dead laptop, Jack on the news, huge new responsibilities running this middle school PTA, and oh . . . I can't remember anymore.

But, I got my dream nap. 

Life is sleepy, but good. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

catching up

My laptop lives! I got it back last night and even though it's technically 2 years old, the repair folks said it's basically as if it's new out of the box and because I declined to pat $250 for data recovery, it literally is. I'm setting everything up from scratch, which is REALLY STUPID. I should have paid the money. In my computer crash panic, I didn't realize data meant programs and settings. I thought I'd lose any work on here, which wasn't all that much. Generally, from my laptop, I do online stuff. Or work and send it to my big computer. 

Basically, I'd had no idea what I'd lost. Until I booted up last night and realized, shit, I'm back to square one. I just finished setting up my safari toolbar so I could find my online bookmarks. 20 minutes shot.

A cramp just ripped through my side.

Forgive me in advance folks, for how jumbled this post will be. While on the one hand it feel so good to have my laptop back–this is where I generally blog from—much is going on at the same time so a rational post isn't in my today.

Apparently the one hard day of my period is a thing of the past. It's day two and cramps are now so intense they're taking my breath away. My headache's back, after a slight reprieve last night. Flow is still insane. 


But, there's light in here somewhere. I got my WRINKLE survey up and running and in the past few days 242 people took time to share their thoughts. I'm blown away. When I first posted it on twitter I'd hoped if I heard from 50 I'd be lucky. Many of the people writing are people I don't know. I love, and I mean LOVE, that what I'm doing is resonating with so many. That my questions get people thinking and sharing, enough so they share what I'm doing with others. LOVE it. This is a subject that is fascinating, interesting, scary, and effects everyone on the planet. Having an opportunity to think about it a bit is something most of us don't take time to do. I'm hoping that by diving into the subject, I'll be better equipped to grapple with my own stuff. Like the panic every time my head twinges that something much more dire is going on. 

On that slightly unhinged note, it's time for everyone else's morning craziness.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My period. Right now.

Folks, this post isn't necessarily one for the masses. Consider yourself forewarned if menstrual details make you squeamish. Having said that, perhaps reading about it will take some of that away. You never know. I'm all about starting conversation and sharing information.

I'm bleeding. Hard. If it was thousands of years ago, before people understood what periods were, I'm sure this could have caused serious freak outs. I'm slightly freaked out every time I go to the bathroom and am confronted with so much blood. Over the past couple of years my cycle's changed—it's almost as if my body's trying to be uber-efficient. I'm down to every 23 or so days, which is decidedly unfair. And then, as if the shorter cycles weren't enough, I'm pretty sure my body's trying to get rid of everything in 24 hours. One crazy heavy day and then I'm basically done. That part's great but the one day is hell. Cramps that have doubled me over in the street.

*an interesting fact: cramps are actually the uterus contracting to move menstrual flow out of the body

Even on hot, sticky summer days I have to wrap myself around a hot water bottle for a chunk of time. My body's desire to expunge is tremendous and I often get the runs as well. And have to pee far more often than usual.

Just so I don't get too complacent, every few months my body saves it all up and my period is late. At least late compared to this revved up schedule. Each extra day, as my face breaks out more and more, the hormone headache builds to migraine proportions and my moodiness is stretched to the limit, so sure my period must have started, it hasn't. This month it was 6 days later than I was expecting and it's been brutal. I've been wearing sunglasses around the clock as bright light, or any light, hurts the inside of my skull. My skin has been so sensitive worn-in jeans feel like sandpaper. I had a pimple on my upper lip that rivaled anything I had in high school.

It's now 8:51. My head is throbbing. My sunglasses are firmly in place even though the shades in my living room are down. My hair is far greasier than it should be. My entire body is achy, as if I carried a high stack up cartons up 10 flights of stairs. My middle is swollen and tender. If I drink any more hot chocolate, my pee will look like Hershey's syrup.

I have to run to the bathroom.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

to vajayjay or not to vajayjay

I was inspired today to write a HuffPo piece about vaginas and their euphemisms in mainstream media. It's certainly thought-provoking and the menstrual migraine I've been grappling with for 3 days is making those very thoughts reverberate painfully around my inner skull.

This is just a dipping the toe in the blog pool hello. I've got to get back to bushes and muffins.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Right now

It's 9:38am. I'm in my car, blogging on my phone because my laptop died last Friday. I'm writing into the body of an email becase I can't get my blog app working. I spent the last 8 minutes fighting a text box that wouldn't let me actually enter text.

The half hour before that I spent in bumper to bumper traffic heading back to the city from Target. I'd been planning to do a big shop in their new and improved grocery section but discovered, when I got there at 8:05, it doesn't open until next week.

On the way to the Holland Tunnel I had an unexpected blow out with someone who was along for the shop. Frustrated, I said they should get out of the car. And they did, barely waiting until I came to a stop. It was a figurative statement. But, there I was, fuming, not able to turn around as I was in an entrance lane.

I had just come from the supermarket, getting a flavor of ice cream Iz would eat, so we could crush Claritin into tiny pieces to help with the severe pollen attack she's having today. I picked it up on my way home from dropping Jack off early at school. A FOX news crew was there at 7:30 to film PS41 kids working with Inside Broadway.

I have a national radio interview at 1:15. An almost impossible to do freelance project, for a new client, to finish. An agenda to write for tomorrow night's PTA meeting at which I'm being elected co-president.

Iz has a playdate coming over this afternoon. I have to create a middle school planner cover and get it to the printer. Design t-shirts and have them produced. Get checks to a vendor for folders ordered. Mail books to FLOW contest winners. Have little league medical forms filled out. Get decorations for a 7th grade dance and round up volunteers too. Make sure someone comes to unclog a toilet and snake a bathtub drain.


Find camp options for both kids. Plan a vacation. Learn video editing. Finish a website. Write a book proposal. Find an agent. Plan Jack's birthday party. Redesign a middle school website and create a welcome package for orientation. Write 3 guest blog posts. Not all today but in the near future.

My head is throbbing. Sinus issues or borderline allergies kept me up much of the night. The knot in my shoulder has taken over.

It's now 9:58 and all I want to do is crawl back in bed and pretend I don't have anything to do.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Folks, I'd love your input. I'm officially starting on WRINKLE. Starting, which means asking people to fill out a survey so I feel like something's going on even though I'm not doing any actual work yet. But, just getting people talking and me thinking is a huge step.

I'm ready. It's been 5 months since FLOW came out and I need to be thinking, talking, researching, developing something else.

So, please fill this out and forward to anyone and everyone you think might be willing to take a few minutes to ponder how they feel about the inevitable process we all go through:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

passing go

I'm talking a day off folks. I have what could be either a sinus or hormone headache. My back hurts. I have a knot in my shoulder and can't lift my right arm. I just took my favorite yoga class and walked out slightly less unhappy than when I walked in. I have to take Iz to a class today and we need to take the subway, which still fills me with dread.

My period's about to start and I've been noticing I feel increasingly anxious and bleak beforehand. I'm wondering if that's where I am now. And I'm sure I'd have plenty more to whine about but it's a stunning Sunday and I don't want to make you suffer through that.

Tomorrow will be better. Who knows, life might be better in 10 minutes. I'm still optimistic, just not in this moment.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

the day my laptop died

Yesterday, while on the phone with apple care, talking to the 5th lovely person who was trying to help with my seemingly unsolvable problem with mail (the problem being that I hadn't been able to launch the program for weeks), my laptop stopped starting. Every time I restarted, I'd get to the grey apple and then the screen went black. The supervisor on the phone kept insisting, nicely, I must have been doing something to cause that but no, Flash (we name computers at my house) had a mind of its own. Or, rather, it's mind was disintegrating into nothing.

Backstory: a few weeks ago, the apple mail program wouldn't launch. I kept getting a strange error message about to-do conflicts. Strange because I never used them. So, I opted for gmail as a work around. Then Safari wouldn't launch. It got stuck loading pages. So, I moved on to Firefox. But when I couldn't open Quark (yes, peeps, I'm stuck in the dark ages and still use Quark), I figured it was time to call apple care.

First, I had to work through registration issues. I'd bought apple care and had all serial numbers, but someone had entered wrong info along the way and it took 2 people to straighten it out—one lovely, one not so much). The I got to my first tech person.

I spent an hour and a half of rare solitary time in Florida on the phone with tech support. We deleted cache, everything in my mailboxes, rebuilt them from scratch, creating a test user to see what was up with other accounts. By the end of the call, things seemed to be working and we happily said goodbye.

Next morning? Nothing worked. Call two g0t me to a disc fail when trying to repair things. The apple guy said I needed to start up from start up discs to do repairs and since I didn't bring them with me, repairs had to wait for NY. After we got home life was so crazed it wasn't until days later that I had time to call. I spent 45 minutes with someone yesterday afternoon, when we repaired permissions from the start up disc (don't even ask, I have no idea what that means), but I had to run out and get Jack. I called back last night and found it was impossible to do disc repair. The button was greyed out and every time I tried to identify problems, the whole program quit.

At this point the lovely man I had been working with very quickly turned me over to a senior supervisor, who was far more serious. Small talk was a thing of the past. And so was my computer. Minutes after man number 2 got on the phone, I couldn't get the laptop to boot up. And this is where the story started. He suggested someone needed to see this in person and booked a 15 minute appointment at the genius bar for me.

I knew, after spending almost 4 hours on the phone with apple care, that 15 minutes wouldn't cut it. Something was seriously wrong and I'd wished, at any point during my upbeat, enthusiastic support, that someone had asked me if I'd backed up the hard drive.

I hadn't.

When at the mac repair place last night, within 2 minutes we determined my hard drive had failed. Turns out that while the repair is covered under my extended warranty, data recovery isn't and that's a $250 charge.


So that's where I am today. Blogging from someone else's laptop, sneaking in the corner so they won't notice. It's come to this.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

be careful what you wish for

Remember, just a few days ago, when I was missing how much I walk in the city?

Yesterday I had one of those days that has left my quads sore, my calves throbbing and the tops of my toes still tender and painful. I hiked, in flip flops, for miles.

And I am now going to indulge myself in figuring out just how far I traveled.

Need to know info: 3 city blocks = 1 city avenue. 20 city blocks = 1 mile.

I had a PTA meeting at Iz's school. Getting to school both bus and foot: 8 blocks.

Trip home, flip flops flapping the whole way: 26 blocks.

The hike from a meeting in Chelsea to picking Jack up at school: 20.

Roundtrip to the apartment to get his ripstick: 8.

Roundtrip to take Iz and friends to a restaurant birthday party: 20.

Roundtrip with Jack to meet a friend for ice cream on Bleecker: 24.

Running to the car at 11th and 5th to get a friend's parking spot at 12th and 7th: 7.

Total: 113 blocks. Which equals 5.65 miles.

I'm thinking that effort deserves a really long foot massage. And a pedicure.

what to wear

Yesterday it was 89 degrees in NYC. Yes folks. 89 degrees at the beginning of April. And while today won't be quite so scorching, it'll still be over 80. My concern is not global warming ramifications, but what to wear.

It's always hard for me to change clothing gears, to make necessary seasonal switches. And the hardest is spring into summer. I work my way through my coat collection, going from the heaviest black polyester, mod plaids wools, heavier velvets (although those work better in fall), 3/4 toppers, to super lightweight. And then, every year, I have to confront the coat-less day.


Big sigh.

I have to let go of my fashion armor and be myself. With my butt (covered of course), out there for all to see. No fabulous fabric or funky pattern to distract people. Just walking around in a t-shirt and chinos—of course with a spring scarf—is not easy. And then there's the jump from basic color to my outrageous 60s summer dresses. It seems I'm a fan of Hawaiian bark cloth, a heavy-ish cotton that holds vibrant color, and I've got some that are almost blinding. It takes serious guts to walk out of the house in some and that transition takes place over months. By July I'm a billboard for extreme retro, but getting there was no easy feat.

Which makes right now almost impossible for me. I haven't had my ease-into period. I can't pull out crazy vintage without putting in the tolerance building time.

There are times when people stop me on the street, asking where I found whatever it is I'm wearing. And there are times I want to be invisible, in cargo pants and a plain grey t-shirt. Temperature-wise, today is a psychadelic mod a-line but mentally I'm still at the edge, dipping my toe in to my fashion pool.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

back to the grind

I don't really want to be up at 6:13, writing in the dark. Although I just had a horrendous dream about kids stabbing themselves and then calmly walking into a fireplace to die. That image is seared into my brain and will be with me for days. But back to the early morning solitude. Today is back to school after a week and a half of spring break and Iz needs to get up early to finish her homework.

When does it stop being my fault when things don't get done?

I don't feel it as strongly as I usually do. She's in 6th grade and should have been more on top of things than she was. We made time for homework in Florida but I never should have come home with it not completely done, for both kids. They "convinced" me though, that yesterday would be a relaxing day with plenty of time to get it all done.

Not even close.

Homework work didn't start until 2 in the afternoon. That was after plenty of time crocheting arigurumi (Iz and I are making very cute owls), watching TV, playing on computers. Maybe work went on for an hour, hour and a half and then there was a break while I went to yoga and they caught up on Sponge Bob and Project Runway. When I got back at 5:45 (after confronting the H&R accountant who was a no show for our meeting yesterday morning and then charged me twice what he had estimated for doing our taxes), things got back on track but it was not pretty.

Jon and Jack went out at 7, to ripstick in Washington Square Park. Iz, by that point, was so fried and frazzled she was beyond work. So, both of us near tears we headed out too. It was a lovely night, lovely in terms of weather, stressful in terms of both of them needing to be the center of Jon's attention. After 6 days of reasonably delightful children, the bickering and battling was too much. Not to mention knowing there was still hours of work to be done.

Which, she did. But didn't finish. She and Jon holed up in my room working on Spanish and math, both things I couldn't help with. My job? To get her up at 6:30 and then get her to school, by 8, for early morning extra help.

Then I have to rush right back to get Jack up and out. Then there's the middle school planner meeting right after.


Today is off to a rocky start.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

this blog has been temporarily interrupted . . .

I'm writing a guest blog post for Seventh Generation and their movement towards green periods. Green as in ecologically sound, not color.

It's slow going. I know what I want to say, but crafting it so it feels right is never easy.

Back to the usual angst tomorrow folks.

Monday, April 5, 2010

an open letter to someone I love

Where are you? We've been living in your house for the past 5 days and it's almost like you're not here. Every once in awhile you float through for a bit, only to quickly disappear again. Wait, let me clarify that. You don't float, you shuffle slowly, legs bent at uncomfortable angles, stooped to one side, a grimace on your face. You plop down into a chair, muster a smile and some casual conversation and are gone again before you know it.

This isn't what I'd imagined. Or expected. Where's the diagnosis we could hang a hat on, at least knowing treatment possibilities, a prognosis, a sense of what to expect?

What do you call giving up?

I've spent time with the thyroid scare, the shoulder damage, the stroke victim, the knee replacement. The open heart surgery. The colon cancer. They mysterious gastrointestinal issues with the unexplained weight loss. They're still moving. Going. Trying to heal in whatever ways they can. Mall walking. Exercising in the pool. Volunteering to help strangers. Helping each other. We talked about aging bodies, systems failing. The frustration and fear of what's coming up, not being able to do what they used to take for granted. How often they'd hear sirens, meaning EMT's in the neighborhood. In spite of the above, life is still precious.

Yesterday one of the women at the pool talked about the night before's sunset. The clouds that looked like towering cotton sculptures, backlit with crimson and purple. The wedding they'd driven past, the sky illuminating the gazebo on a hill. I'd been wondering if anyone noticed the beauty or if it was all background noise. But I found people grateful for still being here. They pay attention to the moments.

I don't think you have moments anymore.

I know that you love me, adore my kids. You say you're happiest when we're together. But we're not together even though we're in the same house. There's almost no connection anymore. Little conversation. Hardly any interaction.

Every time we're together now I notice how much less you're engaged. You barely complain anymore. Even that seems to take too much effort. You just retreat into your shell, curling up in your dark bedroom for hours at a time.

I know that you're in pain. But can't you do something to make it better? Taking medicine isn't the only answer. You have to fight back. You have to want to get to a better place. You're letting it win.

I don't know how to feel and so I'm just numb. Wishing there was something concrete I could do. Questions to ask. Calls to make. Information to share. Treatments I could help with.

I wish I could be angry. That I could yell at you and tell you to stop being so selfish. That people love you and need you and you're hurting all of us by not taking care of yourself.

I wish I could force you to move, to listen, to care. To try.

But, you have always done your own thing, regardless of what family, doctors, experts say. Parts of you shut down years ago. This isn't anything new, it's just what has always been, scarily magnified.

You can justify, explain, rationalize, deflect better than anyone I know.

This is too big though. Too important. With permanent ramifications.

You're scaring me. Please come back.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunday, not in the city

Little glimmers of reality are seeping in. While I'm writing, Iz and Jack are tackling vacation homework and I have to say, neither complained (too much). I think they feel the real world catching up quickly. And that's ok.

Or maybe it's not. I just got stumped by equivalent fractions and had to navigate ELA test prep without actually helping. Now there's a slight pit in my stomach that hadn't been there before.

But, a necessary pit. Too much sitting around, relaxing, aimless hanging out isn't good for anyone. At least not me. I can handle 2 or so hours and then feel the need to move, to do. Doesn't have to be anything big, but endless lounging makes my brain wilt.

I miss walking. I MISS WALKING. It's been so long since I've lived in car culture it's hard to jump back in. The stress of reversing directions made my heart pound yesterday when trying to figure out the return trip from craft supply shopping. Even with google maps highlighting the route on my phone, I had to repeat the turns (there were 2) over and over out loud to make sure I didn't screw up. Everything here looks the same.

I miss my body being my primary source of transportation. I miss the independence, the surety, the ease of navigating crowded sidewalks, whipping across corners to get to the next destination, carrying everything myself, arms often aching at the challenge. I miss the proximity. I miss the noise, the bustle, the intensity. I miss being in the middle of people. Strangers. Wearing outfits that make me stop. Or running into friends unexpectedly.

I miss yoga. I took a week off to let my wrist heal but I"m feeling empty without it. I miss the music, the incense, the colors, my mat. I miss sweating, stretching, breathing hard.

I miss my life. My routines. As a creature of habit isn't not easy being without mine. In just a few days I've managed to establish some new ones: making cappuchino first thing in the morning, swimming before lunch, ripsticking with Jack when it gets shady after dinner. And it's been lovely. But I'm ready to be home.

Last day in Florida needs to be about appreciating what's different, not missing the sameness.

I'll see what I can do.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

not my reality

I'm sitting in a driveway (don't have one at home),

listening to the wind rustle through palm trees (don't have those either . . . palm trees I mean),

watching Jack master his ripstick on the perfectly paved black street (no potholes),

not a car in sight (life without traffic is almost surreal).

Every building in sight is one story, faux Spanish style, designed and painted in coordinating colors (my real neighborhood is nothing like that).

The pool is steps away. Flowers of white, hot pink, coral, and red line the path leading there.

We haven't seen another person in 45 minutes.

But we can see the moon in the sky.

Last night, as the sun went down and we skating in the street, we heard crickets chirping. Jack said he thought that was just a sound they used in movies as filler when nothing was going on. He had no idea they were real.

I can't think of the last time I could hear the wind while watching the shadow of palm fronds swaying across my outline in the street.

The movement in the stillness, a solitary bird squacking overhead, is almost surreal. To me.

I wonder how many people who live here all the time actually notice any of this as they drive across the golf course or head to Bloomingdale's.

Friday, April 2, 2010

it's all in the ripstick

Last night, as Jack was getting ready for bed, he told me he wanted to learn the words to a song he'd seen on his favorite episode of Sponge Bob. Now, I'm in no way a fan of that painfully grating show, but the song is called "Best Day Ever." Yesterday, Jack had one of his best day's ever and it was a joy to be a part of.

We did lots of Florida shopping and on a pool toy run at Target (generally our first stop when we're down there), I asked if he wanted a ripstick—a seemingly impossible to ride skateboard derivative that has only 2 wheels and you have to wiggle constantly to keep it in motion. He's tried it before, angry frustration keeping him from ever doing anything more than falling off. He seemed intrigued, enthusiastic with a large dose of realism mixed in. He then picked out a blue one, a matching helmet, and we headed home, where we had lunch and watched the instructional dvd together. And then, with a general sense of what to do and how difficult it was going to be, we headed outside.

First of all, never try a ripstick without watching that dvd first. Just learning how to get on was key. So, Jack and I hit the perfectly flat, black pavement outside and, facing him, holding both his hands, he practiced just getting on. As I walked and pulled, he got a sense of what he'd need to do to balance. He kept thanking me for helping. Telling me how much he appreciated this time with me, how much fun it was to do it together. By the time he was down to holding one hand he told me that even though he knew he'd be able to do it on his own, he was so glad I was there. And then, minutes later as people we knew drove by, he was solo.

Those moments, when you see your child accomplish something huge for them, are nothing short of thrilling. He skated. I screamed. Jumped up and down. Ran after him to give him the hugest high five ever. As he skidded to a stop and hopped off, his face was completely lit up. He did it. And he kept going. We worked on it, together, until it was time to eat and headed back outside after dinner until it was so dark, we couldn't see. I've never seen him so determined to do something. Every time he fell, scraped his knee, scratched his elbows, banged his hands, he shook it off and got right back on.


By the time we were done for the night he was able to get on, get started by himself and was already working on turning.

Watching him I was struck by how much braver he is than me. I could never even imagine trying to balance on 2 caster wheels, needing to be in motion to be stable. I'm most stable when I'm in one place.

Whoa. I think that applies to most of my life. I'm far happier, grounded, more stable when things stay the same. I'm not the biggest fan of change and yet, in my life, change is relatively constant. When you have kids, things can change almost minute to minute. Moods, emotions, shoe sizes, friends, relationships, likes and dislikes. School breaks break up the routine. Summer sends everything into disorganized flux. New schools, school tours, birthday parties to plan. Babysitters, playdates, field trips.

And I've chosen a career path that's anything but stable. Freelance design, especially now, is up and down. And books? Every step is fraught with unknowns. Is the idea good? Does the proposal work? Who should I send it to? Will they like it/buy it? And if it's a yes, did they really mean it? Will I be able to pull it off? Can I handle the deadlines? Did I do a good job? Will the design work? Will anyone pay attention? Will it sell? Get press? Be well received?

Sometimes I feel like we're here to master lessons that are particularly challenging. I often think/feel/know that one of mine is to be ok with change, to learn to ride the waves, to live more in the moment instead of panic about what's on the horizon.

To let go of control.

To let myself fall.

(although not on a ripstick)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What's different about this picture - day 2

Life in Florida, at my mom's, is radically different then my usual day-to-day. In some ways. Iz just walked in asking for something and I'm grateful I wasn't still sleeping. Within 2 minutes of seeing me, she already was complaining and I couldn't listening. Can't listen. Being on vacation should mean something different for me too. Something relaxing, easier, stress should be reduced not increased. One thing that's the same as home is that they can't just go outside and play. There are no backyards here. Nowhere to go and play catch (not that they'd ever do that), unless they head into the street. They can't got swimming by themselves. There's nowhere to go and explore. So, any outings to the outside, have to be arranged, organized, overseen by me.

But, back to differences. It's unbelievably quiet here. Home is in the west village, on the corner of 6th Avenue–it's rare not to hear traffic roaring by, sirens and street cleaners and jackhammers punctuating the usual din. Everything here is one story and looks remarkably the same. This development has 3 styles of Spanish style houses people could choose from and a very limited color palate to work with. As you drive into the cul-de-sac, palm trees swaying, magenta hibiscus blooming, it almost feels like you're entering a movie set.

The house is spacious, with soaring ceilings and skylights everywhere. My mom's bathroom is bigger than rooms in my apartment. Every inch has been decorated, from the borders around the perimeter of the guest room, to the towels in the hallway bath.

They have not one but two fridges plus an extra freezer. A garage filled with enough paper goods and saran wrap to last for years. 2 cars in such pristine condition neither look like they've ever been driven. In fact everything here is immaculate. Let's just say my apartment's not like that.

You have to drive everywhere. Whenever we leave the city I crave walking. None of us are fans of car culture and I feel my body atrophying after a day or two. I miss movement, stretching, my heart beating faster at mobility, not at finding a good parking spot. It's a really hard adjustment to not just run downstairs for coffee, feathers (art project recently), ice cream, distraction. Getting somewhere else is a process. Who's going. Who's staying home. Where are we going. When are we leaving. What do we need. Who's driving. By last night our planned trip to Target for pool toys never actualized.

It's hard to be alone here. Even though it's a big house, it's mostly open. No crannies to crawl into to hide.

No autonomy. I can't just run out to be alone for awhile. I think that's going to be the hardest thing for me here. Even though there are other adults, I'm solely responsible for the kids. No one offering to help with meals, entertainment, alternatives. I'm used to getting breaks, even for 15 minutes here and there. Being away enough so that no one can ask me, berate me, need me. I'm not sure how well I'll handle this expanse of time without Jon here to tag team with.

I've got 12 hours ahead of me to fill. 3 meals to make. Pool toys to search out. People to negotiate. Rooms to clean. Dishes to do. Pools to visit. Suntan lotion to apply. Unpacking to sort through.

I'm not having a bright side. Yet. Maybe decaf cappuchino will help.