Kale shakes and I are getting a divorce.

11 Dec

Irreconcilable differences.

It has been a disaster from the start.

Today, I decided to try again.

And I was so proud; I took our picture sharing this smoothie that tastes like tropical fruit and salad and was planning to say something like, “Kale, Take two! Woo!”

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Oh, look at us. Drinking our superfoods in harmony.

But, being home with a one year old and all, I didn’t get a chance to publish that post.

Instead I was chasing the baby and playing trains and trying to wrap gifts and was chatting on the phone with my friend about her son’s school conference when…

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Yup.

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I told my friend and hurried off the phone to clean. She couldn’t believe that it had happened AGAIN. I texted my husband.

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I think the universe is trying to tell me something.

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From now on we give kale the cold shoulder.

Kale, it was tolerable while it lasted. But, I’m sorry. It is over.

You’ll be hearing from my lawyers.

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Be there and be square.

9 Dec

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I made it no secret on here (and in my life) that I was quite nervous about expanding our family. We were a perfect triangle.

I remember taking an autumn trip to the beach house with the fairy godparents and sitting on the couch for hours, literally, listing the reasons why I was scared to have another baby. My bestie and her husband (who is also a bestie, so don’t get it twisted, babe!) do not yet have children of their own, but she is an incredible psychologist, so she was perfect for the job. She sat and talked me through it, holding my hand.  And, wouldn’t you know, as I am typing this I am remembering that she did the exact same thing 10 years before, in the exact same spot of that exact same couch. Obviously the subject matter was different, but we sat on that couch for hours and hours, as she held my hand and we shared secrets and dreams.

In any case, my list of fears about having a second child was scattered. Some of the reasons included:

The repeat C-Section. I loathed my spinal the first time around, as it made me feel paralyzed and unable to breathe (and wasn’t aware that I could opt for an epidural). Selfishly, I was terrified to go through that again.

I had been warned countless times that having two children isn’t double the work, but 100 times the work. That is scary.

And then there was the anxiety; I was nearly crippled by anxiety at times during my first pregnancy, doing “kick counts” and googling things like “Does a baby get hurt by being jumped on by a 25 lb dog?” and “Do blowdryers scare babies in utero?” I also vaguely remember a brief freak out over Tonic Water and the safety of Quinine during pregnancy.

I also had a fear that I could have a crazy, wild, messy, rambunctious, high energy child. I could have a boy.

But, most of all, I feared the change in our family’s shape. We were a perfect triangle; We had our system down, we were a  trio.

(*Note: In trying to come up with the equivalent word that means the same as “pair” but with three people, please be careful with the terms that you Google.)

My daughter was my everything.

(I should mention that as I typed that sentence, she just popped her head into my bedroom door, clad in pink, fuzzy footie PJs and said, “I just needed one more mommy kiss. And after you’re done writing about me, read this Ariel book I gave you. It is the best. And maybe later, I will check up on you, and sneak up on you, very quietly, and give you a new book.” and blew me a kiss.)

With my daughter, everything was magical. Her nursery was an enchanted garden. She had a tutu collection. She was dainty and delicate and darling.

I was scared to push my luck.

And so, that night, that Fall, my friend and I decided that it was clearly not the right time for me to have another baby, and that maybe, one day, I would feel ready.

And I waited. And I waited. And I waited for that day to come.

And then something happened.

We moved into a new house, in my dream neighborhood (where both my husband and I grew up) and all of a sudden, I just felt ready. It took years, but I got there.

He was conceived instantly, came out early, and I loved him instinctively and deeply.

And then all hell broke loose.

I was not able to care for my son in the way that I had for my daughter; I was a wreck, had to be medicated which forced me to wean him at 10 weeks (after having nursed my girl for 18 months) and I completely lost it for awhile.

But, to be honest, it wasn’t because it was hard. It was never really hard having two. I realize that when some people have their children very close together it can be insane. But for me, having a second child was not harder than having one. The bright spot in a bleak year.

Slowly, though, things have changed. And if you read here regularly, I think you will have noticed a perceptible shift in how I write about my son;

I recently declared him to be the best thing that has ever happened to me and I named him as my true strength symbol.

Over the past year I have woken up to many people and many things. I now look at life in a completely different way and hold those dear to me closer than ever before. I tell my friends I love them every day. I try to show my husband, in some way or another, how grateful I am for him. And I adore the hell out of my kids.

Every time I pick up my son, every single time, I kiss his face. I know that despite a rough start to things, he knows that he is loved.

And just like it went with his sister, I have become obsessed with him. Even with all of his crazy antics (and, truth be told, he is literally the personification of the fear I listed above) I gush over his toothy smile and sweet kisses and how he loves to nuzzle into my neck.

And I think I kind of took this change for granted a little, as though it was a natural shift that just happens.

But it didn’t really hit me until Sunday. It was the afternoon and the whole family was in the living room, the Eagles were on the TV, my daughter, husband and I were on the couch and my son was sitting with my brother in law on a chair eating goldfish. The three of us cuddled up and my husband remarked about how cozy and nice it felt. But I didn’t feel that; I felt incomplete. It was like our family’s hole had morphed from a triangle to a square and no other piece would fit. Without my son, we just weren’t whole.

And I didn’t have to force it. Not at all.

***

Believe it or not, despite my depression, I don’t cry a whole lot.

Today, my son and I picked up my daughter from school in the carpool line, and when the door opened and they saw each other, they literally squealed with delight. And she insisted on sitting in the extra booster seat that is right next to his carseat, and my two children were lost in fits of giggles as I watched them through the rear view mirror. And tears streamed down my face.

This was love. Love of the purest kind. Love of the truest nature. My team.

And all I felt was gratitude.

Biologically speaking, we won’t be any new sides to our family’s shape.

But oh my word, how blessed am I that I get to spend my days with this dainty girl who never ever stops talking,

and this sweet boy, who will cause destruction at every chance he can get,

and that when they say, “Mama?” I get to answer.

I am so in love. This is what life is all about.

I’m gonna make you fall in love with Brett Dennen

8 Dec

if it’s the last thing I do. No, really. He’s so awesome.

And I can safely say he is my second favorite enormously tall, bespectacled redhead.

I just discovered this version of one of my favorite songs–one that we perform in my band–so I thought I’d share the love.

Heart emoji.

The story of two girls, the story of two women, and everything in between.

8 Dec

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Where to begin? I sit here, hands tracing the keys of my laptop, but I don’t know how to start our story; to really tell our story in a way that will do it justice. It probably won’t make sense to anyone else. But it does to us, so I guess that is all that matters.

As our mentor’s mentor, Ernest Hemingway, said, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

And so I shall try:

I saw a girl, once, sitting on the ground of the third floor of an old, musty school building and she looked like the most beautiful and interesting thing, and I was desperate, instantly, to get close to her.

***

I have written many stories on here, about my childhood and adulthood and parenthood, about things joyful and sorrowful and fanciful, but there is one piece of my life that I have left almost untouched.

I did not have a traditional college experience. I started off attending the Honors Program of a big state school, so that I had tiny, elite classes, but also giant, cheering crowds of football fans (which was supposed to be the best of both worlds) and I stayed there for a year and a half straight.

It was there that I fell in love, with reading literature and with a boy from a tiny town in the Mid-Hudson River Valley.

It wasn’t a perfect fit for me, but I have some fond, nostalgic memories; of running in a storm of icy snow to catch the school’s busline, so that I would make it in time for my seminar on Jewish Cinema; of walking into crowded frat parties, with their smell of stale kegs and the feel of sticky floors and air; of being selected to sing in the school’s talent competition my first week as a Freshman; of buying a beer funnel and leaving it in a tax and buying funnel cake and eating it at Arts Fest; of watching the Friends series finale and sobbing on the floor of the dorm room two doors down, which always seemed to smell like popcorn. And the list goes on.

But after a year and a half, I left school and the small life that I had built there to travel abroad to Barcelona (where I would experience many new things, the most important being Twin (obviously).

Upon my return home to the states that May, the summer after my Sophomore year, I decided that I did not want to go back to the big school, 3 hours from home. I had just lived in a vibrant, colorful world, and couldn’t bear to go to a place where there were no tall buildings. I don’t mean to say this disparagingly. People live and breathe for the school that I attended. It just wasn’t for me.

And so I transferred, to a satellite campus in Philadelphia, where I was able to remain in the Honors College.

This was the best academic decision I have ever made.

I entered into a class of five. There were five of us in the Honors Program. It was so intimate and astounding and life-altering…

but I have gotten ahead of myself.

On my first day of classes at my new school, where I knew no one, I felt nervous and detached. I had made the choice to trade these huge, crowded cities for a mere two buildings and a duck pond.

As I had already declared myself an English major during my Freshman year, my first class was one on literature, with this incredibly smart and dynamic, dark-haired professor who spoke with great passion about American Popular Culture.

And after that, I trekked up the stairs of the old building that housed most of the Liberal Arts classes,

and I found my way down a small, corridor, to a tiny corner classroom.

And there she was.

Sitting on the floor with a spiral notebook, I saw this beautiful, and elegant and impossibly chic looking girl. And as we introduced ourselves, we realized that we had been previously “set up” by mutual friends, but just so happened to have met coincidentally that day. She was one of the five in my class.

My honors class was like “The Breakfast Club”. Really. We were all so different, but got along beautifully. There were four girls and one boy: One quiet but sweet Information, Science and Technology girl, one Class President type, studying business and ruling the school with her sparkly, kind demeanor, a shaggy haired boy, shy and pensive and incredibly bright, and then, the girl. She was a fellow English major. She liked words like I did.

And at the helm of our happy, mis-matched group was a Hemingway scholar like no other.

She was the author of a book about the “Lost Generation”, the group of colorful expatriates who gathered in Paris, often at Gertrude Stein’s salon after World War 1 (or, as they thought, The Great War), like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot and Jon Dos Passos. Note: I am oversimplifying this incredibly, and for that I am sorry. But if i were to continue to try to define the Lost Generation, this post would turn into a novel and I wouldn’t be able to see straight.

Our Professor was a personal acquaintance of the Hemingway family, and she knew it all. She introduced us to his short stories, novels, memoir…and to the color and life of that time in history.

Why does all of this matter?

It matters because this band of early 20th Century misfits seemed to mirror and our little Honors band of misfits, and learning with my class, in this tiny classroom around a boardroom style table

changed my life.

Because it brought me a soul sister.

I wrote this week about soul friends, and from the moment we met, the beautiful girl from the hallway floor and I formed a bond.

I admired everything about her, and the closer we got, the more I liked her and marveled at her.

I loved her sense of style, and the way she furnished her apartment (it seemed so grown up to me, with her fancy lamps and dressers painted with flowers and her own cats!) and her incredible work ethic. Her brain. Her insight. Her intellect.

The next two years, she and I worked closely together, as we were in almost all the same classes, and our Hemingway Scholar Professor became the mentor for both of our Honors Theses.

It is funny to say this, because I had a long-term relationship for the first half of college, met my Twin during Sophomore year, met my husband during Junior year and became engaged to him during my Senior, but this girl, to me, is like my one, real college friend.

I realize that I am in the minority, as I see my friends so connected with their former sorority sisters and roommates, but for me it was different. As I told her today, it was quality over quantity. And she’s it.

And over the years since college we have woven in and out of each others lives. There were times when we were inseparable, seeing each other several times a week and talking for hours on the phone; and other times that years went by without a date; but it never mattered. Never ever. Not once has she missed calling me on my birthday, and when my daughter was born, we brought her downtown to meet my dear friend in her gorgeous city apartment.

In the past few months, though, I will say that we have connected in a way that is so profound, it is almost impossible to describe. I was talking to her today and I said, “It’s funny that you’re the hardest person I’ve ever tried to write about.”

And she replied, “Because words don’t do it for us. It’s deeper. Ironic…”

and I finished her sentence with, “because we are both all about words.”

We have not seen each other in years at this point, but are planning to reunite soon. But until then we speak every day, and we are just there for one another in this impossible, indescribable way.

And, you may ask, if it is so hard to describe, then why are you writing about it?

And I would reply, because I love to tell stories; that is what this is all about. And this is a big part of my story. And she is a muse; a radiant character, and she deserves to be a subject of some sort of art, and this is a (terribly inadequate but) fine place to start.

I had asked her to show me pictures of her apartment, as I have always been so amazed by her style. And she sent me these photos and told me to look closely.

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Hanging prominently in her apartment for the past two years are two sketches that I made for her the year after we graduated. In the top photo, it is the drawing of a cat, stretching. In the bottom, it is a girl’s face, with red lips.

When she showed me this, gobsmacked is the best word I can use to describe how I felt. I drew her these pictures because I love her and I shared them with her because I trust her, but this is not me being modest when I say I that am not an artist. I am not very good at drawing. But for her, these pieces were special enough to hang in her home, her sanctuary. I am humbled beyond words.

There are many stories in my story; the story of how divergent paths can lead you to the same place as someone with whom you’re meant to be; the story of how friendship, when true, prevails over all else; the story of two young women, who met at twenty, are meeting each other, a decade later, and falling in love all over again; the story of passion; and the story of college, and how it looks different for everyone.

I saw a girl, once, sitting on the ground of the third floor of an old, musty school building and she looked like the most beautiful and interesting thing, and the closer I got to her, the more she unfolded, and the more stunning she became.

I always say this to her,

that I am a reader and not a writer,

so I will leave it to one of the greats to wrap up our story for now.

But I just mean on the computer,

for I believe our story together has only just begun.

Their eyes met and in an instant, in an inexplicable and only half conscious rush of emotion, they were in perfect communion.

F. Scott Fitzgerald.

“You keep sayin’ you’ve got something for me.”

7 Dec

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I guess it’s kind of an unspoken rule that when you go to your (fairy) godmother’s house, you’ll come home with something fabulous.

So not only did my daughter get sparkly Elsa Jelly Beans and a book of Frozen stickers, but we got to come home with these bad boys.

I just hope that my kid will share.

#godparentsrule

Some real perspective.

5 Dec

Hello! Broadcasting live from yet ANOTHER sick day at our house, with both kids home, coughing and sneezing.

Some folks might get frustrated that their plans (large and small) have to change for another day, so that they may look after their snotty offspring.

But oh no.

Not here.

I feel lucky to be here, still in my pajamas pants after noon, attempting to get my son to watch something other than The Real Housewives for five minutes so that I can put my hair in a ponytail.

Because, you see, had I not been here I would have missed my son,

walking, on his own (!!!)

to the toilet, and put my dental floss in the water. And then licking it.

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And I would have missed him stealing my phone, sliding down the stairs at warp speed, only to do some redecorating of my console table.

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And, it certainly would have been an utter tragedy to have missed my son trying to ride Lola.

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So what I am saying, is that I am truly blessed with my sick day in…

but I am out of dental floss.

“Trapped in the circumference of my head.”

4 Dec

This is not a happy post. But it is hopeful. And hopeful is the best we can do.

***

I love home decorating, especially covering my walls with meaningful pieces, as  511 suggests.

But in all honesty, I am not yet in a place in my life where I can collect a lot of real art;

I have my framed piece from the Festival Internacional de Musica en Barcelona in my Living Room

and a photo of Keith Richards that my dad shot as the Stones played in Hyde Park last summer, which hangs in my Entry Way.

And this and that.

I have but one piece of true art in my home, and it means a great deal to me. It is a framed and signed poem by Ray Bradbury, given to us as a wedding gift, from an incredibly person in our lives.

It is so significant for so many reasons; I am obsessed with words;

It is something so unique and rare;

It reminds me (us) of just how complex, complicated, confusing and often consuming the human mind can be.

Here is the text:

THE POET CONDIDERS HIS RESOURCES

The autumn sea, October sea
Tears darkened seams inconstantly
And stitches clouds with rain and fire
And charcoals hearths with dead desire
And turns old souls on burning spit,
Forget all Good, because of it;
Because of traveling night and clouds
Which bury moon in winding shrouds
The heart is buried , blood turned ice
And all the fruit jams, teas, and spice
Are pantry poisoned, forced to change
By weathers that incline to strange.
So what was dead now bolts upright
To knock is head on lid`s midnight,
And while all cold things jump and start,
Antarctica floes in warm heart
And tropic seas of blood are purged
By nightmare iceburgs, once submerged
Which now lift blizzard brows to seize
Sane room, sane door, sane locks ,sane keys,
And shriek the tumblers , warp the walls
With panic-colored storms and squalls.
And all of it, both live and dead ?
. . .
Trapped in circumference of my head.

Ray Bradbury 1979

Tonight I am brought back to the piece I wrote about depression, entitled, “Oh Captain, My Captain”, in which I discussed mental illness after Robin Williams’ devastating suicide.

In that piece, I made a plea to the people reading to help to protect their friends. I also tried to remind sufferers that they are not alone.

But today I had a conversation that explains it so perfectly.

If you have never experienced depression (which as of two years ago, I had not, in any way) it is very hard to understand.

It is insidious and it is debilitating.

But I think the most confusing part, despite the notion of “But you have so much, what could possibly be making you sad?”

is the feeling of abject loneliness.

Someone who is depressed feels so lonely. They can be surrounded by people, with friends, at a holiday dinner, not alone in any way, but still terribly lonely.

It feels like drowning.

I am welling up with tears even typing this, as it is the worst feeling imaginable.

I am lucky enough to have a network of soul friends, as I call them, who can relate to me on this deep level of understanding that only sufferers can. But my heart aches for them, my stomach gnaws at itself, every time I hear that they were unable to get out of bed that day, or are feeling at their lowest, or can’t imagine ever feeling better.

I am not a doctor. I am also not “better”. I am still dealing with a lot. But, if there is any message I can impart to you

(and hopefully, if you know someone in need, you can share this with them, I implore you),

it is that things can and will get better. Even at the worst of times, when you can’t move or breathe or open your eyes because everything looks too bleak, but you can’t close your eyes because your brain is pounding you with it’s incessant ruminations and chatter,

it will pass.

That spell will pass.

I believe in intervention. I believe in therapy. I believe in medicine. I believe in alternative medicine. I believe in support systems.

I believe in holding your best friend’s hand and saying “I am not going to let you go anywhere.”

This post may seem out of the blue, as the last thing I posted about was my son watching Bravo TV, but trust me, it needs to be said.

Much love.

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