Monday, May 31, 2010

life without anxiety

Lately the line between sharing too much information and sharing what's going on in my life has been questionned and at times I wasn't sure exactly where on the spectrum my true feelings fell. Yes, whatever or posts is out there for all to read, process, judge. And yes, I often share topics and thoughts most people don't feel comfortable putting out into the world - at least not in such a public way. But, my road seems to be talking about just those sorts of things, hoping my experiences encourage other people to not keep it all bottled up inside.

I grappled with posting this for a few days (plus there's no wifi where I am and I hadn't been able to blog on my phone) and finally decided, what the hell. The internal battle to get to this place has been extreme and maybe some of you are going through the same thing. Or have been here and can share what's worked or what hasn't.

Today is my 4th day of taking an SSRI for anxiety/depression. There have been many times in my life I think taking something would have been a tremendous help but I was always too scared. That, and I saw it as a sign of personal weakness - that I should be strong enough to hold it together and soldier through, regardless of how bleak or stressful things became.

So, what made this time different? I don't want to suffer so much. Even though I know I always come through these things I don't want to be in this much pain anymore.

I didn't do tons of research. I trusted my doctor, whom I adore, sat with the starter pack for 24 hours and then dove in on Friday. Being so aware of how I feel has made this more intense than it should be. Every moment of lethargy, every time I've been thirsty, anxious, spacey, mellow, every time my stomach's clenched, my head feels woozy, I can't remember a word I blame on the meds. For a person so terrified of change, of letting go, of not being in control, taking something like this is a nightmare.

I'm terrified.

And relieved.

I'm taking care of myself in a way I never have before. There are moments I'm aware that my jaw's not clenched tight. I sat on the beach yesterday and wasn't compelled to go do anything - just sitting was fine.

Anxiety had alwas been my default mode and I'm thinking/feeling/hoping that I'll discover another way to be.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

the opposite of usual

Last night we had dear friends over for dinner. Out of the seven of us, 4 celebrate birthdays in May, which was a serious reason to celebrate with both vanilla and chocolate cakes for dessert. Compared to my usual frenzy, I spent several hours doing just about nothing. I curled up in the corner of my couch and listened to my super cool, super cute, retro glasses wearing, 13 year old friend play guitar—most of us chiming in for You Can't Always Get What You Want (even I overcame my shyness about how horribly I sing to belt out that one). We played balloon ball for quite the long time, at times only being along to keep it aloft with our feet. We chatted away through cuban chinese food, lots of cake (I'm still sugar free so I easily declined pieces), and I was really sorry to see everyone leave at 10 or so. We could've chatted for hours more.

That doesn't happen often for me. Sitting still. Relaxing in one place. Not feeling obligated to rush around and accomplish.

Not being plugged in. Checking things. Making connections. Tweeting. Responding. Posting. Thinking about what to say, how to make it interesting, hoping people will plug in and answer.

Instead I was completely in the moment (most of the moments anyway).

At this moment, aside from blogging, I've already got a cake in the oven, have to pack 3 people to get out to Fire Island this morning, need to make trips to the bagel store, supermarket, and coffee shop, still have to take a shower, straighten up, unload the dishwasher from the load that's now running and fold laundry from last night. This is my typical state of being. But, I'm thinking the former is far better for me.

We're visiting friends who've banned electronic devices from the house. I'll still have my phone but I'll be far less connected/distracted than usual.

Usually that would send me into a frenzy. Today? I'm looking forward to the emptiness.

Friday, May 28, 2010


I would love to write an entire blog post today but my brain hasn't been working for awhile. I've been talking PTA and middle school since 8 this morning and only just stopped 15 minutes ago.

We've got 4 major events to coordinate in June—3 in the same week.

It can all be pulled off but man, my busy month just went into hyperdrive.

So, instead, I'm sharing my Huffington Post piece that went up yesterday: Who's Writing About the Writers.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

the whine factor

Yesterday someone commented on my blog that I should stop whining. Actually, what they said was STOP WHINING. First, I wondered if I should publish or delete their words. And then I thought if they thought that was me whining, they have no idea what I'm capable of. I am a whine connoisseur. Years of experience has honed the skill. At times I make a whine list, getting gripes out of my system in a systematic fashion.

To be honest though, I don't do that nearly as often as I used to. In fact, it's a rare occurrence. And yesterday wasn't whining, at least not to me. It was sharing frustration and the reality of my life in that moment.

I am still surprised people take time to read these very personal thoughts. And more surprised when someone judges me on them. A few hundred words posted online is only a fraction of the picture, the life. They're a snapshot of time and emotion.

People tell me I share too much. And people share that my words resonate with them, that knowing someone else out there is struggling or questionning or celebrating helps in their journeys.

Who knows who's right.

What I know is this is who I am at the moment I'm writing. Real. Raw. Not censored. Pained, deep, proud, inspired. Hurt, confused, questioning, filled with joy. Grateful, pissed, ambivalent, surprised.


I can't imagine what I feel, what I experience to be all that different than most people. I just write about it. In writing I'm finding my voice. And am searching for my center, hoping to let go all sorts of baggage I've been carrying for too long.

I put myself out here and I suppose being judged is part of the package. Sometimes it's remarkably uncomfortable.

But it is what it is.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

my 15 minutes of anonymity

My BEA experience lasted all of 15 minutes. I got there, got my press pass and got a phone call from Jack's teacher about chaperoning the class trip to Lincoln Center. I'd volunteered weeks ago but never received confirmation. Turns out I did but never saw it. So, I hopped in a cab and headed home.

I haven't been on a trip all year and this means so much to him. And at BEA I'm nobody. A faux reporter. I was overwhelmed at all the purposeful people milling about, toting rolling suitcases, carrying stacks of stuff. Waiting for special events. To meet authors.

I'm am author. No one's waiting to meet me.

Last year I came to BEA so excited about FLOW and the thought that this year I'd be someone, a presence, a worthwhile entity. Looking back over the past year it's mind-boggling to remember all that's happened. And yet, at least at BEA I'm in the same place. An anonymous (in a very loud vintage dress) spectator, not a participant.

It's moments like these I want to give up. That I feel like a complete loser. That nothing I've done or accomplished means anything.

I feel like why bother. Maybe field trips are my destiny. Maybe selling potato chips at a middle school play is what I'm meant to be doing. Maybe the universe is telling me, not so subtly, that my ideas aren't worthwhile, that what I put out there isn't worth the effort, that if I was supposed to be writing I wouldn't still be a nobody.

Yesterday I had the most offbeat astrology reading ever. It started out with me making a collage out of NY Times images and then spending 2 plus hours talking about how the images fit together to reflect my current state of mind and my astrological chart. The gist of the conversation, which was actually quite introspective and enlightening, is that I have to learn to put myself first, to nurture, to love, to appreciate and heal. That I can't keep being at the bottom of the list. That my voice, my ideas are supposed to come out into the world and I have to stop stopping that from happening. That the drama of my family is mine too and I have to find ways of letting it go, of stepping away, of emotionally freeing myself from the angst and pain and guilt. That fear is turning me into a seething volcano and I will destroy myself if I don't find a different way to be.

That was yesterday. I came home with glimmers of hope.

Today I was woken up at 6:30 by a very cranky kid freaking out about homework. I left my house at 7:30 to get lost in a sea of people who belong where I don't. I grappled with putting me or my child first and chose, as usual, my child.

This battle is so hard. Roadblocks are constantly thrown at me, keeping me from getting to a better place. I don't know how to not be here. I don't know how to nurture myself.

I don't know how to take care of myself.

I don't know what to do next.

I don't want this journey to always be this hard.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

while you wait

Last night I went out to dinner with 2 of my favorite friends, one a creative director, one a news producer, both insanely successful in their fields. As a stay at home mom who juggles work, volunteering, and kid stuff, sometimes I feel less than. Not like a failure, but certainly not even close to what they're accomplishing on a daily basis. Fortunately, those moments pass quickly as conversations careens from news stories, tv obsessions, bad dates, relationship issues to last night's cat poop in minute detail and Elvis's defective colon. We talked about my View experience, my burgeoning "menstrual expert" position in the world, and delved deep into city politics and education as my new role as PTA president means I'm closer to the source and what's going on in public schools. So, I was feeling slightly less less than (I'm hoping that made sense).

We dropped one friend off at his building and seconds later bumped into someone my other friend had worked with before,. He asked if we remembered each other–apparently I'd freelanced, years and years ago, at the agency they'd both been at. Neither of us had any recollection whatsoever. They traded stories for a moment or two, catching up on people neither had seen in awhile and then my friend threw out that I'd written FLOW and had recently been on The View (it was a lovely non sequitor). She looked surprised, so I mentioned the whole title was FLOW: the Cultural Story of Menstruation and she said yes she knew, that she had 5 copies of it, that one was always on the conference table at her office, that she was working on a new job for a menstrually related product and the client loved the book so much he insisted everyone involved read it. And that she loves it. LOVES it. She was literally thrilled to meet me.


She asked if I'd please be in touch, if I did any consulting, and then we talked and talked about the book.

In a split second I went from a friend of a friend who happened to be waiting at the edge of a catch up conversation to someone she was going to run home and tell people she'd met.

I have to say it again. Whoa.

We talked about ad campaigns, different ways of getting the word out and after we parted ways, my friend and I kept talking social media. He had just started on twitter, wasn't sure how it all worked, and was shocked to discover how much I know. He had no idea I have this online life, thousands of twitter followers, that I blog every day, have fanpages on Facebook and websites that I created and maintain. That I write at Huffington Post on a regular basis and pieces I've written are all over the web. Apparently these days, employers want people to have all those pieces in place.

I have all those pieces.

But what's it getting me?

So far, not very much except lots of google search mentions.

Maintaining this online presence is a very involved part time job that earns no money, gets no real world recognition, doesn't feel to be furthering my career in any way. And yet, I'm compelled, addicted almost, and blindly keep going, hoping that someday, somehow it'll make a difference.

Am I crazy? Is all this outreach building my profile, my brand, my image or am I spending my time and energy spitting into an ocean?

Monday, May 24, 2010

anxiety vs gratitude smackdown

It was a week ago right now that I had that full-fledged anxiety attack. Sitting in my car, waiting for the street cleaner to come, feeling that pit in my stomach, not able to make it calm down, ease up, go away.

I'm petrified it will happen again.

And yet, that panicked grip is losing it's hold. Very slightly. I'm having moments, periods of time, hours in fact of feeling like myself—grounded, comfortable, enthusiastic, happy, engaged. Yesterday I took Iz to a class on the upper west side. My mother in law offered to drive us up and we spent well over an hour in non-moving traffic. Iz was ok about being late. I, on the other hand, was fighting back some serious stress. I had 2 hours to kill, started wandering, wondering if I'd make it through. First I got lost in a thrift shop and found a perfect comfy long sleeved, super soft grey t-shirt. Plus, a silver/brown metallic scarf.

The clenching was subsiding.

Next was a very cool knitting store. I got lost in the yarn, the colors, the textures, looking for something to make (yet another) scarf, this one a loose wrap to wear over the vibrantly colored vintages dresses I live in all summer. I found a brownish bronze linen, silk, cotton blend.

I was imaging again.

And then I discovered a street fair, basically the same one I'd been to the day before down on 6th Avenue. Amsterdam was overflowing with throngs of people eating corn on the cob, mozzareppas (grilled cheese on round slices of cornbread), buying socks and Murano glass pendants, the last seeming to be the ubiquitous fair item of the season. I slowly strolled uptown, gazing at the many things I'd never buy, munching on my mozzareppa, comforted, wrapped up in the sameness of this experience.

I was present.

Iz and I walked back down the entire length of the fair and headed home for dinner, baths, an iCarly goes to Japan movie, and lots of yarn winding.

I was myself.

That anxious voice, the second guessing myself, the terror that I'd lose my grip and crash back into internal horror was gone.

I have hope.

Right now the knot in my stomach is back. But I know it won't last forever. I'll keep searching for ways to ground myself, to get help when I need it. To talk to people instead of keeping it inside.

This week I've learned how grateful I am for the people in my life who support me. When I shared my pain, they picked me up. When I shared my fear, they held onto it with me. When I lost faith, they believed for me.

Anxiety is all your attention turned inside. Gratitude is appreciating all that's not you.

I'm rooting for gratitude to win this battle.

And endless thanks to all of you who've been here with me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Usually when writing, I'm all about full disclosure. In no way do I ever write to hurt others, to leave bad impressions, to do anything other than share what's going on with me, either on the surface or deep inside.

Twice this week I've been censored. Once in a post about my pride and gratitude at how much Jack's accomplished in his 9 years, once in a post about what my anxiety feels like.

It's a fine line. Once words are out there, they're there for everyone to see. To react to. To make judgements about. I suppose I can appreciate the bigger picture of that. My writing about what an anxiety attack feels like might not reflect positively on me professionally. On the other hand, when I write from my deepest places, those are the posts that resonate most powerfully with others.

What's right? Do I go with my gut or respect that others have my best interests at heart and want to help?

I don't know.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

how far I've fallen

Next week is BEA (Book Expo America) and I want to go. Last year I went with a friend of mine, one of my closest from college whom I hadn't seen since then. We met amid the chaos and confusion before the doors opened and within 10 seconds it was as if I'd seen him every day since I was 19. We wandered the aisles, picking up books and galleys. I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Kinney, who wrote the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and got to tell him his books were the reason Jack started reading. My favorite part was the fabulous bags everyone was giving away. To be honest, that's one of the reasons I wanted to go back.

Apparently things tightened up this year and my friend's contacts wouldn't work so I called my editor and volunteered to sign books, to be a part of their team, to do whatever I could to help out. She very politely explained that since I'm not a best-selling author, that wouldn't be happening. I then came across a request for articles about BEA from a publication that's all about the publishing world. I pitched a story about what it's like to be a writer these days, about how everyone's talking about the companies, the profits, the future of the industry while no one's talking about how hard it is to be an author in this environment. Along with my (free) article I asked if they could get me into BEA. If I was willing to report on the convention, then sure I was told.

I sent off my piece. No response. I emailed again and he said we needed to talk, the gist of that conversation being that since he didn't know me, he didn't feel comfortable with me representing his magazine. I can understand that and had he stopped then, I'd never have given it a second thought. But, he continued. They had a certain image to uphold and I could, potentially, be quite damaging if I didn't live up to their standards. Ok, it wasn't quite as harsh as that, but he got stuck in this negative place and couldn't quite get out, rehashing several times how I could potentially make such a bad impression it would be detrimental. I thanked him for the consideration and said I understood his point. No worries.

He then said he could get me in as a volunteer, if I'd distribute promotional materials for a couple of hours.

It was hard not to laugh. I politely declined and got off the phone thinking about how in spite of the many things I've accomplished, to him I'm a potential source of embarrassment and inappropriateness.

I figured he hadn't seen me hold my own on The View, with Dr. Oz, on FOX news. He must not have checked out my website and all that I've done. Doubtful he's read anything I'd written or interviews about me. While on the one hand, it was thoughtful he offered me anything at all, on the other (and I know this sounds ridiculously egotistical) please.

How much do I have to do to get to where I want to be? To be recognized? Appreciated? To get a pass to a book fair without jumping through hoops or doing menial labor?

This isn't an easy place to be. But at least I'm appreciating the irony of it all.

Friday, May 21, 2010

rediscovering myself

Slowly, minutely, pieces of me are starting to come back together.

I'm crossing things off my to-do list.

I'm looking forward instead of down.

I'm thinking that maybe I do have more to accomplish in this life.

I'm not done yet.

I'm feeling the faintest glimmer of ideas starting to glow.

So faint I'm hoping they won't fade away.

But enough that I know they're there.

I remember the first time I felt Iz kicking when she was inside me. The barely there butterfly wings lightly tapping the inside of my belly. I wasn't quite sure if they were real or hopeful imaginings.

That's what this feels like.

But I haven't had hope in awhile.

It's delicate right now. Translucent. A bubble floating by that could burst with a breath. A second of creativity. Of self worth. A moment remembering that my ideas are unique and powerful and valued.

Right now I'm cherishing the flicker. And hoping it decides to stay.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

unexpected options

It's been a rough fews days.

It's been a rough few months.

I wake up not sure how I'll get through the day.

My drive is gone.

My creativity is a distant memory.

My enthusiasm shows up in short bursts when usually it's my status quo.

I'm not used to this bleakness, this sadness, being on the edge of tears, ready to plunge into anxiety at any moment.

I'm usually juggling more things at one time than I can even list. Now my laundry's been sitting in the corner for days and I can't quite seem to get it done. Or clean my desk. Send out invoices. Thank you notes. Write a book.

I had breakfast with one of my closest friends I've managed to shut out for months and realized, as I finally started talking about all that's been going on, that I need help. It doesn't make me stronger to soldier through and suffer this much. If there's something I can take to get me past this, take the edge off, help me cope until I can handle it all from a better place, that's what I need to do.

Medication scares the shit out of me. But at this point the thought of feeling like myself again instead of this, is a tiny light at the end of this grey tunnel.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

this blog has been interrupted

Hey folks - I'm far too anxious to write today. I thought today was going to be better, but no. My heart is racing, my jaw is clenched tight, I'm having trouble breathing, I'm back on the edge. And this is on meds. After a lovely early morning yoga.

So, I'm wrapped in a fuzzy blanket (Iz's anti-anxiety remedy) waiting to pick Jack up and trudge through the rain to mid town dental appointments—hoping I survive the afternoon.

I'm sharing this today. Thoughts I wrote last night about my week long sugar break:

I'm hoping, praying beyond prayers that tomorrow will be better.

Monday, May 17, 2010

crashing and burning

Some days, most days really, life is challenging but fine. My glass is on the full side. I believe that everything will be fine in the end, even if it's not quite that at the moment. I can juggle, manage, soothe, smooth, facilitate, organize, plan, hope.

But not today.

Could be the rampant insomnia last night.

Could be this horrid cold that knocked me flat and now has made it almost impossible to talk, a hacking cough ready to erupt at any moment. Could be all the meds I'm taking, trying to maintain the upper hand.

Could be my sugar free experiment. Today is day 8 and while the physical cravings are lessening, I miss, sorely, indulging myself when things get tough. Last night Iz and made chocolate whipped cream and as I watched her eyes light up at the first spoonful, a look of bliss crossing her face as she worked her way through it, I wiped my finger on a towel instead of tasting the treat myself. There's something emotionally powerful about denial. I was so successful at it for so many years but it doesn't seem to be working as well this time.

Could be that I have no creative projects going on and no desire to throw myself into a new one. I don't think I could survive more disappointment, rejection, disinterest. FLOW broke me down and while I came out the other side a far better writer, more confident in my voice and point of view, I'm shakier too. I thought FLOW would change things. It didn't.

Could be that so many people I know are stuck, trapped, weighed down by too much. Too much to do, too many people to take care of, the pain of growing up, the fear of growing old.

Could be that I'm losing the battle with the anxiety that runs through my blood. I can at best manage it, but now it's got the upper hand and I can't shake it off.

Could be that I'm afraid this is it. I've hit my peak and am now sliding into bland oblivion. Nothing to look forward to. Nothing to dream about. Nothing that takes the edge off this pain, this melancholy, this sameness.


I want to believe this is the worst it'll get.

We'll see.

(After I wrote this I had a full scale anxiety attack—couldn't breathe, couldn't sit in my car, couldn't function. Completely terrifying. Thank god for my husband and tranquilizers. In that order.)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

adding or subtracting

Last time I made a 40 day commitment to something I started writing every day. It often sucked. To find time in my jumbled schedule to take on something new. Some days I'd wake up with an idea and boom - I was all set. Other days I'd barely have time to jot down a few thoughts in a rare moment of quiet in the craziness.

This time I'm giving something up. Taking away a source of comfort, of nurturing, of soothing myself when things are hard. Which they so often are. And after years (and years) of denying myself it's makes this even more challenging. Not that this part is particularly difficult. I've trained myself to for this. I've given up sugar before. Anorexic willpower is a powerful force. Denial is familiar. Comfortable. Easy.

But it's bringing up so much. I haven't been this anxious since I was in my last year of design school, juggling a full time job, my portfolio, 6 workouts a week and a lot of therapy. I've fallen into this bleak place as if time's stopped and there's nothing to look forward to. I cry every day. I feel powerless, hopeless, at times on the edge of a breakdown.

And in wondering, is it worth it? To be in this much pain? Or will I come out the other side with my body in a healthier place and my mind catching up?

I don't know yet.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Do you ever feel heartbreakingly alone, even when you’re in the midst of people? I’ve been fighting this for days—feeling obsolete, unneeded, superfluous.

Today I found out someone I’d considered a great friend had tremendous changes going on in his life for months, never breathing a word. I feel stupid for selfishly rambling on all that time when his stuff was so much more monumental. It can never go back to what it was. He’s in such a different, better, happier place—turns out I was just filler until something better came along.

Another friend dumped me recently. Someone I trusted wholeheartedly. This time too, I was a place-holder until a more interesting option turned up. And it did.

I feel marginalized, insignificant. Unimportant.


I don’t know where I fit in anymore. The truth is I never fit in anywhere, never really. I skirt the edges, dip my toe in, take on roles I think I can handle and then quickly move on to the next thing.

I’m the planner, the doer, the organizer. I make things happen. I bring people together. But no one does it in return.

I sent out mother’s day cards and heard back from one person out of eighty or so. I pitched a film idea to a really interested company who sought me out only to hear nothing. I put my thoughts, ideas, feelings out there every single day and they're not even a ripple in a vast ocean

I don’t have it in me to start over again. To start a new project knowing how hard it will be to sell it. To have agents politely say no. Publishers shake their heads. To plan time with friends knowing it’s all one-sided.

This bleakness is stark. These days are empty.

Friday, May 14, 2010

painting with words

May was the month I was going to kick it into gear and pull WRINKLE together. I've done countless proposals up to this point. I know how to tell a story, create an effective arc, find eye-catching art and design a package people have to read. Don't necessarily buy, but read for sure. I used to love proposals–it was almost a hobby at one point. But, those were for books far lighter than this one. Now that I've dug myself in deeper, the proposal has to reflect that. Most of my projects so far were concept and art driven: stewardesses, beauty queens, thank you notes. While the text was important and the research imperative, words took second place to images.

FLOW changed that.

FLOW changed me.

I can't really do light anymore. But I'm having so much trouble diving into this.

I'm in the middle of a guest blog post about me and writing and as I've been telling the story I realized that now, for the first time in this long journey, I think of myself as a writer. Words come first. It's getting more comfortable, natural to paint a picture without literally using pictures.

That was just a lightbulb moment.

Usually, my first proposal step is finding art. I search ebay, scour the picture library in midtown, search ad access and their fabulous archives. The images swirl around in my head until I feel ready to tie them together into a story and I'm never quite sure what the story's going to be until I'm deep into it. I have a general sense—I'm great at one to two sentence synapses, or explaining my ideas over a cup of coffee, but writing first isn't the way I've worked in the past.

It's the way I have to work now.

And it's terrifying. Paralyzing. I don't know where, or how, to start.

After all I've done, I'm back at the beginning again. Reinventing myself. Putting on a new hat. Stepping off a cliff into the unknown, not sure I can handle this.

Not sure I want to be here.

But I know, deep down, that if I don't jump in, I'll always wonder what if.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

the common cold

I felt it last night. At first I thought it was the fallout of standing in front of a mostly empty auditorium, under a burning spotlight, giving my first speech as PTA co-president. I've learned I crash after being "on" for a performance and this sort of counted as one. Even though my motto for this gig is Lower Your Expectations, there's so much to do I'm completely overwhelmed.

After a chilly walk home the chill never left and aches set in. More like ACHES. My body felt as if I'd worked out really hard for hours. I'd taken a yoga class, but it was a super mellow one. And then, fatigue washed over me and I couldn't talk anymore. I sat at my computer until the need to be stretched out on my bed, under fuzzy blankets got too strong. I'm not sure how my kids got to bed. I'm not sure that I brushed my teeth. I don't remember changing.

Next thing I do remember it was 4 in the morning and my throat was throbbing. Not a thirsty throb, an I'm-sick-dammit-pay-attention-to-me throb. I popped 2 advil and crashed back into bed.

When it was time to get Iz up, I couldn't move. I'm only upright now thanks to the sudafed coursing through my veins. That and mucinex, advil, plus apple cider vinegar and honey. No matter how much water I drink, I'm still parched. I want to fall back asleep but the drugs are keeping me awake.

That and the fact that I have a sick kid at home with me.

This first day of a cold is day 3 for Jack. I suppose it was unavoidable. We've been together nonstop except for those 3 hours he spent at school yesterday, until the nurse called to pick him up. I've wiped his nose, held him while he fell asleep, sat with him through meds, neti pots, nose sprays.

This was the week I was going to get work done. Going to start WRINKLE. Going to clean my desk, pay my bills, send out invoices, tackle the clutter.


This is the week that's floating by, day after day, each exactly the same, with nothing to show for it but a pile of snotty tissues and red and raw noses.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Yesterday I crashed and burned. I burst into tears at the most unlikely times, was exhausted to the point of not being able to talk, my thinking brain wrapped in too many layers of fuzz making it hard to finish a sentence or answer a question. Creative thoughts? Zero. Coherent thoughts? I'm thinking that gets a zero too.

This blog post has been interrupted by a phone call from the school nurse, a sick kid, an unexpected doctor's visit and needed to create signage for the middle school play by tonight as the person who had that job is with her mom at the hospital.

By tomorrow I'll have survived day 3 of sugar free and will have plenty to say.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

living the sugar free life

I'm not having a good day. Drama. Relationships. Illness. No sleep.

Starbucks hot chocolate would help.

Iced coffee from Royale with chocolate syrup mixed in.

Chocolate sorbet from Maximo Pino.

Vegan chocolate cake from Lifethyme (I like to pretend vegan means less calories).

A pop tart would take the edge off.

One of the 6 chocolate mousse yoghurt whips in the fridge.

The dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt from Trader Joe's.

A chocolate chip granola bar.

As I list things that make me feel better I'm seeing I've been making myself feel better this way far too often. Perhaps, looking at what's making me feel bad and addressing that instead of avoiding it would be better in the end.

It's going to hurt more though.

I'd rather drown myself in chocolate.

That's already obvious.

Monday, May 10, 2010

pour some sugar on me

I like to think I'm a healthy eater. I've been a vegetarian for 24 or so years. I generally don't eat junk food. I could eat salads every day and be happy. My favorite foods on the planet are watermelon and fresh peas. And yet, I'm seriously addicted to sugar.

There. I said it. I'm a sugar addict.

For years (and I'm talking years) I banned sugar from my diet. I was anorexic for more than a decade so I basically banned everything from my diet, sugar being at the top of the list. Carbs and fat too. It got so I didn't miss them and even after getting to a healthier place eating-wise, I still had entire categories I wouldn't dip a toe into. No ice cream, butter, chocolate. It was easier to maintain control that way. I was never an out of control binge eater but when I was younger I could polish off a carton of ice cream, a bag of Milanos, a box of chocolate croissants and didn't want to risk going back there.

Having kids helped me get to a better place about food. The internal battle used to be excruciating. When she was little Iz would offer me a cookie, a lick from her ice cream cone and I'd try to find diplomatic ways to decline. But the problem was two-fold–I was being an unhealthy role-model and I was denying myself. So, over the years, I've eased up tremendously, with caveats in place. I eat chocolate, but only certain kinds. Chocolate sorbet is fine, although gelato is off-limits. I went through a butter love period a few months ago but plumped up quickly and have gone back to olive oil. Cheesecake is ok but most other kinds aren't. I don't eat store bought cookies but scarf down chocolate chunk ones from the health food store. Call it organic and I buy into the fallacy that it's not only low fat and low calorie, but it's good for me (delusional, I know).

But, at this point, it's all about sugar. I can't go to bed without eating something sweet. I drink hot chocolate in the morning, telling myself it's all about the calcium. I stop by the new Italian coffee shop on my way home from yoga for a sorbet a day. Or stop at Tasti D-lite for a cone with sprinkles. I do love sprinkles. I'm addicted to iced coffee with half and half and 2 splendas, just to ramp the delish factor up a bit. When I bake a cake I now, I happily eat the edges off as if those bitty pieces don't count, scrape icing off ice cream cake, devour these mini ice cream cones that don't even call themselves ice cream.

Some days, I'm not sure I'm eating anything but sugar. I haven't weighed this much in years. I went up a pants size for the first time since my 20s. I feel like my body is confused at the constant crashing and cravings.

So, I'm giving sugar up. I'm making a sadhana (40 day commitment) to not eat sweets for 40 days. Yes, I waited until today so I could finish my (low fat) Mother's Day ice cream cake. But, my body needs some nurturing and attention. I've let myself believe that that immediate satisfaction, that sugar high, that in the moment indulgence was good for me after all those years of denial. But, I swung too far.

Wish me luck folks. I've been at this for less than 2 hours and am already having a hard time.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day cards

Last night my brother, sister-in-law, sister, her boyfriend, ex-boyfriend (it was so good to see you Joe) came over to celebrate Jack's birthday. Except for the cool presents, Hershey's chocolate syrup cake at the end, and a last minute burst of balloon ball and ripsticking, Jack was nowhere to be seen. Our day had started with an 8AM little league game. Jon's mom and her boyfriend caught the tail end of the rain delay and headed back here for bagels. We then took an almost impossibly circuitous route to get to a Spiderman birthday party in New Jersey. Truly, I didn't know one could get that lost going to a place we've been before. All I can say is the GPS system in our Subaru was obviously created by someone who never needed to read a map or follow directions. We hit the new and improved Target on our way home which turned out to be new but not improved in the least, except for things like buying ice cream for $3.39 instead of the $7.69 I pay across the street. As Jon maneuvered into the tightest of parking spots, we saw my brother walk by—he carried the 24 roles of toilet paper back to the apartment for us.

So, by 7, Jack was exhausted and happily escaped with Iz into the world of the Sims. Meanwhile, my sister had recently uncovered a box filled with personal mementos of my mom's from years and years before. She brought it all up and we spent hours scouring through things we'd never seen before: her elementary school report cards, my grandmother's death certificate and funeral bill, the menu for my mother's wedding typed up on the most mod stationery I've seen in person, my grandfather's union card, my grandparent's wedding announcement from 1925, envelopes from the early 1920s from him to her—my grandfather apparently wrote to my grandmother every day before they got married. There was a long letter my father wrote to his father after an estrangement that lasted most of my dad's life. A notepad my parents filled jotting thoughts back and forth in a college class. And then there were cards. Valentine's Day cards from my dad to my mom, bursting with his deep love for her. He moved out the day after my high school graduation and it was heartening to see there was a point they had adored each other. I never saw that. Cards from my stepfather too, which added a strange twist. Postcards my mother had written to her mother over the years. And countless cards from me. 


Cards for birthdays, mother's day, valentine's day, postcards from traveling, and then the cards just to say I love you. Written to my dearest mumsy. Cards I bought, cards I made, cards so effusive I don't remember feeling that way—not that I don't love my mom but the language was so over the top it they made me both cringe and laugh out loud. 

And I realized, sadly, I don't do that anymore. I don't send cards. I don't write how I feel, not in a concrete way that you can pop a stamp on. While I could spin a good story about not wasting paper, not creating something that will end up as garbage, being ecologically responsible, I think a large part is laziness. I'd spend years designing and making all sorts of cards and loved it. Every holiday was a huge craft project. I'd send out dozens and dozens, rarely hearing back. Email is more gratifying. Easier. I moved to e-cards years ago, can design like mad, hit a button and boom. 

But my mom doesn't know how to check email. 

I didn't send flowers.

We were all here, together, last night and she was in tears missing us all so much. 

I get so wrapped up in my own day-to-day that even though I talk to her all the time, I don't take time to acknowledge her.

I love you mom. I'm so grateful that you're still here. I honor the hardships you've survived and the hard times you have now. I will call back sooner. I will listen with less judgement. I will be more understanding and compassionate. I will step out of where I am to remember how lucky I am to still have my mother here when so many don't. 

Happy mother's day. The card will be in the mail tomorrow.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

the day after the birthday

Jack's got a little league game at 8.

We're having brunch with Jon's mother and her boyfriend after that.

There's the 4 year old's birthday party in New Jersey early afternoon.

Wrapping up with relatives coming over to celebrate Jack's birthday for dinner.

Squeezed in there is a Target run, an apartment clean, a bagel shop pit stop, a trip to the Jacques Torres store downtown, and I'm assuming many phone calls to update the health/drama flare ups that are happening in my family right now.

I'm already tired and I haven't started yet.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

the day I met my sunshine

9 years ago today, Jack arrived into the world and lit my life up in a way I never knew possible. He made his entrance on a beautiful spring day, not a cloud in sight in a perfect blue sky. My water broke at 11:30, I was at the hospital by 2, he was in my arms at 5:28. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

I woke up that morning already tired. More than pregnancy tired. Too tired to take Izzy to the park that morning. I asked if she minded taking an early nap that day. She was surprisingly accommodating for a not yet 3 year old and so we dove under the covers in my bed at 10:30 and conked out. An hour later I woke up feeling something. Something I'd never felt before. Rushing to the bathroom I hit the toilet just as my water broke. Broke isn't even close to the right word. Gushed like a bursting pipe is more like it. And it's not just a one shot thing. I gushed. And gushed. And gushed. In between gushes I managed to get to a phone and let Jon know what was happening. Promising he'd be home soon, I called my brother as he was my babysitting back up plan until the babysitter showed. Iz woke up, Dave showed up, I made peanut butter sandwiches for everyone as contractions showed up every once in awhile. But, no Jon. He called to suggest I meet him at the hospital but I quickly shot down that option. Turns out he wasn't at his office as I'd been led to believe. He was at a deposition in Harlem and it was a long assed trip to get down to the west village.

He finally showed up and we hit the streets. Picked up flowers on the way, to give to Iz after the baby was born, and then couldn't get a cab. It almost felt like one of those anxiety scenes from a movie. I wondered if a police car would pick us up but we finally flagged down a reluctant taxi who zipped us up to NYU. I deep breathed really well, handled labor far better than I expected, remained drug free and except for the last half hour that sucked beyond anything I could have possibly imagined, in which I screamed for drugs, had a total panic attack, and changed my mind about having a baby. But, 2 pushes later which caused the nurse to scream in shock, Jack was out in the world.

What an amazing moment to see the person who's been living inside you for the first time, face to face. He was perfect. He was Izzy with lighter hair. That was my first thought. My second was that I'd never go through childbirth again. Needless to say, I didn't.

I had wondered how I could possibly love another kid when I already loved Iz so much. There wasn't any space left to love someone else. Or so I thought. My heart was full and I was afraid there'd be nothing left for this little one. But Jack opened this new room I didn't know was there that was only his. It was waiting for him. I love him with everything I have and in no way did it take away from anyone else.

He is stunning, beautiful, smart, snarky, sensitive, deep (in certain circles he's known as Mr. Zen), witty, laugh out loud funny. He can also be annoying and a terrible listener. He loves to read to me before he goes to bed at night. He's a full-fledged Glee fanatic and can vogue at moments. His movement is astounding—he's lithe, lean, graceful. Watching him on a ripstick is water flowing. All the more remarkable as he had sensory issues when he was little and couldn't balance. Couldn't catch a ball. Now he's loving little league. And he can sew better than most kids far older. He has a designer's eye, focus that far outweighs his years and a visual sense that never ceases to surprise me.

He's battled much in his little life and has had a list of doctors and therapists that rival most people in their later years. What that does to a person is something we're all still working through.

Then again, who isn't working through life? It's finding joy and acceptance in quiet moments that is what I'm hoping beyond hope Jack discovers this year.

Hey, I wish that for all of us.

nothing but seething

I am so filled with rage right now, I'm shaking. If someone blew on me, I'd burst into burning tears or a violent scream would let loose from somewhere deep down. 

I can't unclench my jaw. I can't stop the spin in my head from hyperdrive. I can't let deep breaths into my lungs. 

I feel alternately resentful, irritated, angry, annoyed, put upon, self-recriminating, frustrated, pissed.

I am tired of self-righteous people who blithely judge me when I'm doing the best I know how to do. Of the throngs of people mucking up my neighborhood, inadvertently pushing my child off the sidewalk while they clog up intersections with too many shopping bags. Of family responsibilities that are overwhelming at this point. Of not having enough money to disappear for a few hours and get a massage that would work this permanent knot out of my shoulder. Of needing to hide in the bathroom to talk on the phone because there's no where else to go. Of the crank and whine show that often takes over my house.

I've had it with state tests that work my kids up into a frenzy over something that shouldn't have that much weight. Of birthday expectations. Of being the organizer of everything for everyone. Of needing to be at the supermarket at 7:15 because I didn't go last night and there was stuff I needed.  Of other people's mistakes and misjudgments destroying things in my life. Of people saying they'll be there at a certain time and not showing.

I can't take more unknowns. Not knowing what to do, how to help, where to turn in situations that are beyond me and aren't necessarily solvable. 

All I can say is this better be hormones. The faint glimmer that things will shift and this will disappear is all that's holding me together at the moment. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

inner voices

Yesterday, as I was lying in shivasana (corpse pose) at the end of yoga class, I couldn't quite get comfortable. My right hip ached. It's not sciatica—I've grappled with that one ever since a car accident when I was 16. As I shifted around on my mat, trying to find a comfortable positition, I wondered what the pain was.


Before I could even formulate the question, the answer popped into my head.


And I knew that's what it was.

I've heard this voice before, more recently lately, especially when things are rough or I'm having trouble figuring something out. It's sort of like having an internal Answer Lady who doesn't necessarily give me the answers I want. Nor does she wait until I've really asked her anything. Nor is she a she per se. Oh, and it's not really a voice I hear. It's more like uncovering a truth without having been searching.

Or maybe I'd be searching and didn't know.

The thing about this inner oracle is that sometimes these answers have been showing up and I don't want to listen. I don't agree. Perhaps I know she's right and I don't want to accept it. In those moments, we sort of have a back and forth—me rationally explaining why I'm not taking her suggestion to heart, her staunchly sticking to her guns. She doesn't get mad or put upon at my not taking her seriously, she just keeps quietly stating her point of view.

And sometimes, when things are really rocky as they have been lately, she lets me know I'm ok. That even if I feel like I'm falling off the edge, can't handle anymore, could crack from the pressure, that non-voice, that feeling, that sense let's me know that won't happen.

While we don't always see eye to eye, I appreciate this in-tune, perceptive part of me. Even more I think, I appreciate that I'm open enough to hear those deeper truths. Acting on them? I'm not that evolved yet.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

breath is glue

That thought popped into my head as I stretched into an early down dog in class this morning, sweat dripping down my nose onto my fuschia mat covered with subtle lavender lotus outlines.

Breath is glue.

When things are falling apart around me, breath holds me together. When I am surrounded by panic and pain, illness and anxiety. When life, whether my own or someone else's, is out of control. When there's not an answer, no solution in sight, when not knowing is all there is, breath keeps me calmer than I should be. Breath has done a remarkable job of vanquishing my inner drama queen.

Last night I told Jon when pressure gets too much I dread breaking down, going crazy, losing control. He told me I’m too strong for that to happen. Too grounded. That I've grown into a place where I shouldn't fear that anymore.

I have to give all the credit to my breath who has not had an easy time with me. I am often disparaging, cynical, skeptical. And yet, in spite of those negative feelings, I keep showing up on my mat, letting breath take over for a little while. The amazing thing is that yoga has seeped in and is at work in me much of the time, regardless of the fact that I’m a non-believer. I’m pretty faithless. I never bought into the “we’re all one” or “god is inside us” or “love is the answer.” I eye roll when that message gets too sappy.

And yet here I am. Knowing beyond intellectual thought that my breath saved me. That without its support, it’s evenness, it’s subtle control I’d be lost. That all those hours, weeks, months, years sweating, twisting, breathing, chanting have changed me without my knowing it.

Namaste breath. To know you is to love you.

Monday, May 3, 2010

an open letter to a friend

I have a friend who will most likely lose his apartment this week. And it's not just his—it's a rent controlled place he's been subletting from a friend. He's months behind and unless the rent goddess shows up to rescue him, he's out on the street with nowhere to go.

The thing is, he's been here before. In January. Last summer. The summer before. Luckily (sort of), for him, someone's swooped in at the very last second to write a check and stave off the inevitable. So, no lesson is ever learned about financial responsibility, about making sure rent money is put aside first, about cutting back on entertainment, about needing to find a more conventional job. 

He's a musician and prides himself on being only that. He gives lessons during the day and is always working to be in a band at night, hoping to hit it big. His belief that this will happen is both vast and fragile. I'm pretty sure deep inside, so deep he only gets rare glimpses of it, he knows that's not so realistic. He's in his (early) 40s and if you haven't made it in the music business by now, it's most likely not happening, no matter how good you are. So many people at this age are forced to let go, to face reality, to reconsider the path they're on and how to change things up to make life work going forward. On the other hand, some people are stuck in what they're doing, which very well could be successful and they can't leave to shake things up for personal growth or adventure. Mortgages, credit cards, families are too dependent on that concrete paycheck. 

Either way, 40s can suck.

For many people I know, 40s also means kids getting older, the responsibilities and realities far different from when Elmo could soothe and the thought of an ice cream cone made everything better. We're navigating painful territory and often our own insecurities come flooding back as mean girls loom on the middle school horizon or birthday party invitations are few and far between. We're dealing with aging parents who need time and attention and nurturing when we're already stretched to the limit and have nothing left to give. We're grappling with our own changing bodies, hormones screaming out of control, stray hairs erupting under out chins, wrinkles appearing in the most unlikely places.

We're facing mortality. Or at least the reality of old age. 

We're confronted with giving up dreams that could have been with us for as long as we can remember. Perhaps it's not having a baby. Not having a successful career, a summer house, endless disposable income, a standing date with a masseuse (I dream of that).  Not getting recognition in your field. Not finding a field that resonated. Not discovering your true passion. Not fronting an arena worthy band. 

I've never been a dreamer. I never had big plans, high hopes, pie-in-the-sky ideas. I'm too grounded in a borderline cynical reality and perhaps, I've often thought, if I let go of my fears and skepticism I could have been outrageously successful. 

But what is outrageous success? 

That's the question folks. 

(I'll let you know if I find an answer).

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Kill Joy

That was just about the last thing a relative said to Jack last night as we were leaving a family bar mitzvah. It was just about the only thing she said to him all night and she was right. He was a kill joy. He whined, complained, begged to leave, painfully sobbed for most of the night. He refused to hang out with other kids I found for him. Wouldn't dance. Wouldn't get involved in anything other than sit next to me with a miserable expression on his face. So, instead of catching up with cousins, some of whom I hadn't seen since I was a kid, I spent the night soothing, cajoling, comforting, arguing. By the end I was livid and as he hunched over, in the fancy country club lobby, saying that when he most needs me I'm not there for him, he was right. I resent like hell when other people do that to me and here I was, not a shred of niceness left in my body.

He had been a trooper, even agreeing to go. Iz was at a sleepover party and so it was just him and strangers, basically his worst nightmare. Jack isn't good at new social situations. It takes months for him to feel comfortable somewhere an here I was throwing him off the deep end into sugar crazed kids, running rampant, music blaring so loudly you couldn't talk, total mayhem.

Deep down I guess I knew it would be a disaster.

It didn't start there. We got to the hotel almost 2 hours later than we had planned so there was no hang out time. His baseball game lasted 45 minutes longer than I realized. We stopped at Best Buy and Target to pick up phone chargers. Jon and I had our first fight of the night about how I could be so stupid as to buy something other than what he said. He didn't believe me when I told him 4 peple at Best Buy said they longer carry what he was looking for. And then, at Target, he continued ranting until he couldn't find it there either.

We stopped by my parent's room for a quick hello and the scrambled to get dressed. That's when I discovered Jack had no pants. I had ironed his at home, along with his shirt and my dress but they weren't there. So, as I scrambled to figure something out I started to panic.

And was met with silence.

And then shouts. Accusations. A firewall of blame slammed me against the wall until I finally broke down in tears. Yes, I made a mistake, but instead of even a silent pat in the hand or a work together to fix things attitude, I got guilt laden shit about how irresponsible I am.

I google mapped Old Navy, found a replacement pair of black dress slacks Jack slipped into in the car, and continued on. The arguing somewhat abated but by that point I was already ready to go home. Jack, who gets stoic at the times, must have been too.

We walked into a throbbing wall of lights, music, blinking necklaces, frantic energy. Long gone are the days adults have a place at these things. The hired dancers were on from the beginning and made sure kids (not mine though) were engaged at every moment.

Jack tried. I tried. It had been a long, not particularly easy day and he just wanted to go home. I don't blame him. But, we couldn't and it spiraled out of control.

I spoke to hardly anyone. I felt lost, out of place, disjointed. I too knew almost no one in a room of tightly knit people. Jon and I argued most of the evening, about Jack, about my lack of appropriate parenting, about how irresponsible I get. At one point I said we would never go to an affair like this again. He berated me in public, disgust contorting his face, for saying something so outlandish. On the drive home he said exactly the same thing, claiming not to have understood what I meant.

Which brings me to kill joy. As I struggled for an entire night, it would have been a relief, a blessing, a gift for someone to come to my rescue. Perhaps this person could have talked to Jack for 5 minutes, tried to engage him, humor him, be there for him. But she didn't. She judged and the second we got into our car he burst into tears, Jon started yelling again and I wished beyond wishing that I could disappear.

But, I couldn't. I can't. So here we are in a hotel in NJ. I have another overbooked day ahead of me. I don't know how I'll survive this one.

It's not going to be easy. Or pretty. Or remotely ok.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

making excuses

I was woken up at 7:24 by an exceedingly cranky child. I've got to pack us all up to head to a bar mitvah in New Jersey later this afternoon—fancy clothes for all. Except Iz who's going on a sleepover extravaganza, by limo. So, I have to get her packed separately and help her wrap the 20 or so piece present she created for her friend. Get her to Chinatown by 11. Sign the kids up for a camp on the Lower East Side. Get to Jack's baseball game on the West Side Highway at 1. Oh, and get a replacement phone for Iz to take the temporary place of the one she lost this week on the bus. Make sure everyone's fed. Finish drying Jack's baseball uniform. Deal with impending family drama that I know is imminent.

So, instead of having time to write an entire post here, I'm sharing something I wrote yesterday for BUST. Click on bust and let me know what you think.