Saturday, October 29, 2011

someone else's story

Today thousands and thousands of kids took the NYC specialized high school test.

Mine was one of them. After a morning of anime (emotional comfort food) followed by chocolate chip pancakes paired with a chocolate egg cream (actual comfort food), Iz and I headed downtown in a rare October storm. Sleeting as we headed down into the subway, hail pelting us on the other end, we slogged through slushy streets, past countless black umbrellas towards the test site. Shivering, she agreed to wear my purple scarf, soaking wet, she walked behind me as I tried to shelter her from the driving rain. We slowly walked up the slick steps to the footpath across the west side highway and that was it.

No adults allowed any further.

It was chaos, crowded, steamy and freezing at the same time. She moved ahead, quickly getting lost in the crush and suddenly she wasn't mine anymore. I couldn't help her,support her, protect her. She was heading into the most challenging test of her life completely on her own.

For specialized high schools this test is everything. These scores are the only entrance into these esteemed establishments. One test. 100 questions. 2 and a half hours on a snowy afternoon. GPA's don't count. There are no teacher recommendations, or extra curricular extra credit. Colds or hormones or broken bones don't matter either. Just this one score.

That's what I watched my child dive into, having no idea what to expect on the other side.

The crowd after the test was brutal. Parents crushed together in the freezing rain,umbrellas painfully poking into and backs shoulders as we waited. And waited.

And waited.

As the first couple of kids came out it was like watching celebrities navigating unexpected packs of paparazzi. They looked shell shocked, dazed, after having their brains stretched for hours, suddenly finding themselves thrust into a sea of anxious parents.

Finally, I saw her at the top of the stairs, looking pale and shaken.

I pushed through the crowd, shouting until she saw me. She'd forgotten her umbrella, her favorite black and white houndstooth, and was upset they wouldn't let her back in to get it.

It didn't matter. We could get another. And it didn't matter how she thought she did on the test. It didn't cross my mind to even ask. I was so proud of her, her strength, her poise, her self confidence. Her independence.

It doesn't matter where she goes to school. What does matter is the kind of person she is.

And she is remarkable.

She blew me away today.

But that's nothing new.

Friday, October 28, 2011

getting back

It's been almost 5 months since I donated a kidney. Almost 2 weeks since my final dose of Lexapro. Almost 2 years since my last book was published. And more time than I can remember since I've felt creativity wanting, or rather needing in my case, to take a front seat.

Even writing here isn't the walk in the park it had been for so long. Writing my kidney journey had purpose, meaning, a chronology—events to summarize and feelings to explore. Before that, it had been FLOW, and before that, fears of being a writer, or finding out I was just playing one on TV. I was almost never at a loss of what to say and every day, for almost two and a half years, I wrote here.

It's not that I'm empty. Maybe I'm not as willing to share as I'd been in the past. Maybe, for me, it's an event that spurs the exploration and baring of my soul in writing. Maybe it's because right now life is about everyone else and while there's plenty of stress and angst and unknowns, they're not really mine. I'm just herding others along their own burgeoning paths.

But, I want a path of mine own. Again. I know it's there. I'm just not sure which direction it will go in. I've never had a linear one. No clear direction, no clean cut next steps. I'm at a loss as to what to even think about doing next.

I started The Artist's Way this week - a 12 week book/course/set of exercises about discovering creativity. I'd done the program once before. 15 years ago. I did morning pages (writing 3 pages long hand as soon as you wake up in the morning) for more than 2 years. It was amazing, as I cracked open my new copy last Sunday night, at how much I've accomplished since then. I last read it before I'd written a book, before I had kids, as I was just beginning to be a designer. I was someone else back then. Scared. Timid. Fearful. Terrified I'd never amount to anything. That I'd never make an impact. That I'd never make things happen.

Years later, I have. I know how. I've created far more than I'd ever dreamed of. Had experiences that back then I never would have even contemplated.

I know how to get things done. Make things happen. Put ideas and projects out into the world.

But for me it's not ever about what I've done. Or what I'm going to do.

It's about what I'm doing. Now.

And I think I'm finally ready to start figuring that out.