Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Scattered

First, I want to say that Nissan has used the Clash's "Pressure Drop" in an ad campaign.

OY!

***

The kids love Avatar. I'm a sucker for it, too, having first started watching it a couple of years ago. Sean is way into all the philosophical aspects of the stories; Nolan likes to imitate all the warrior stances--complete with sound effects. If you haven't checked it out, start watching it. It's a great show about a kid who learns to master the elements--earth, water, fire, and air--in order to save the world. Yet he doesn't want the responsibility. It's refreshing to watch. And it beats most of the crap on television. (Except Reno 911. And Rescue Me. And the Yankees...)

***

My thoughts aren't very cohesive these days. I have so much on my mind, the only thing that seems to settle it is to a) add to it with more thoughts, or, b) tune out completely.

So, anyway...

This morning I was in a pretty thick fog, having had no coffee at home and only having had one sip of a large house from Fuel before pulling into the parking lot at work. There, waiting for me--or waiting for someone from our organization, were news crews. Fully made-up reporters and badly dressed cameramen with tripods. They were all reporting on the end of the Habitat Bike Challenge (HBC), an annual cross-country bike ride organized by Yale students that has raised money for our organization for the past 13 years. Two years ago, Ramie Speight was killed while riding. Last year another student who was scheduled to go on the ride was killed while riding to Yale Crew practice up Rte. 34 in New Haven. And this year Dan Lewis was hit while riding and has been in a coma since early July. Consequently, the Habitat Board of Directors and the HBC Board of Directors agreed to end the charity ride. And the reporters are all over it. Not a single camera was on the New Haven Green when the riders left on their journey last May. But they're all over us now. Gross.

It's sad to see HBC end, but what alternative do we have? No one said the ride was without risk. But COME ON!! I cannot imagine saying goodbye to another group of students next year, wondering who won't come back. The ride nets nearly $300K a year for our organization, but I would give it all back to have Dan Lewis wake up. Or to have Ramie or Alex back. I cannot in good conscience accept this money along with the risk. Our first responsibility is to the students. There are better means to the ends we seek. With that, the HBC board and our staff are working together to find an alternative charity sponsorship for the students to organize. One with less risk.

Reporters. No coffee. It wasn't even 9AM.

Other news: Grandma is still coasting before the crest of the hill on her great ride. I'm enjoying every moment I can with her, and I spent a few hours by her side last night, crocheting a baby blanket, watching the Yankees blow it, and talking to Grandma about which bulbs she would like planted in her yard. I want to plant bulbs that will bloom in the spring. They will compliment the other perennnials in her garden. I want to do this. I need to do this. And no matter what happens between now and next spring, she'll be with me to see them poke through the thaw and open up to the light.

Grandma's illness has highlighted a major fear of mine, too: That we will lose all peace in our family when we lose her. Like it or not, she is the peacekeeper. And rather than step up to the plate and learn how to compromise and work together, my mother and her three siblings are fighting as much as ever. It's detestful. It makes me want to vomit. And they are looking to me---ME!!!???!!---to mediate and help them keep the peace. Unknowingly, they contact me individually, appealing to me to help them negotiate this or that with each other. I'm amazed. I'm appalled. I'm exhausted. I call them all on it, too. I won't play the game. I listen. I talk. I listen a whole lot more. Then I tell them that I already know about this fight or that. That so-and-so told me. And here's what I think. And go be a grown-up.

I'm definitely turning all ringers off my phones on Sunday.

I'm not up to the task of peacekeeper. And yet, I feel as if I have no choice. I want to run from the responsibility. There are four siblings. Four elements, for sure.

I'm no Avatar.

But I will get dirty in the garden.

xo

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Half Moon

I hesitated to write any more about Grandma in this space, out of respect for her and my family. But the truth is that roughly five people, myself included, read anything I write here. And what I have to say pours outta my head from the well of my heart. So, here we go:

***

The kids and I drove home from a visit to Grandma's late today, the last day of summer. We cruised past the airport, which is the main divide between her neighborhood in 'Staven and mine in the Cove. As we drove, Sean looked out the window into the twilight.

"Is that a half moon, Mom?"

I glanced up. The moon hovered over the runways. "Yep, honey. Sure is."

"Is it coming or going?"

"Good question. I don't know."

And what do I know, anyway? Grandma is not long for this world. The only thing I seem to know, philosophically, is that we should be grateful for any moment we have to say "hello", or "I love you", or "Goodbye" to the people who grace our lives. Grandma, with all of her poise, ease, and spirituality, has more grace than most.

Tonight I am very, very sad. And for once, I'm going to allow myself to feel it, rather than rush through it with self-imposed distractions. Why should I numb myself to these days? They might be the most beautiful ones yet.



xo

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Everyone's Hero

Last night was rough. Without getting into all the gorey details, I'll sum it up by saying that the kids got the rare treat of seeing me cry. A lot. (Hey, it happens. I'm not made of steel.) Sitting cross-legged on my bedroom floor, tear-soaked faced in my hands, I suddenly felt Sean's little hand rubbing my shoulder.

"Just breathe, Mommy. Like this: In. Out. You can do it," he said. "It's easy."

Be still my heart. The kid is amazing. And he's only five.

Tonight we watched Everyone's Hero, an animated kids movie about Babe Ruth and his stolen bat. The kids LOVE this movie, and we all snuggled on the couch together and took it in before the kids decided to battle with "swords"--a plastic golf club for Nolan and two items of clothing for Sean, which he wielded with Ninja-like skill.

At one point, Nolan got Sean good twice in a row, and Sean doubled over in pain, crying, "OW! Nolan! OW!" He began to cry, and said, "You fight really good!" Then he jumped back up, wiped away his tears and, "And I fight really good, too!!!" And he was on the offense, mercilessly swinging two pieces of a pyjama set. It was then Nolan's turn to whimper, before they both rolled around on the floor, beating the hell out of each other and laughing.

Last week at the kids' school orientation (for parents), Nolan's preK teacher--a wonderful, warm mother of two grown-ups--reminded us parents of young children that, "There will be good days, and there will be bad days. Really good days. And really bad days. But if you spend too much time looking at the bad days, you'll miss the good ones."

Word.

xo

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"A Lot of Boredom Broken Up by a Few Moments of Terror"

Watching the "Bad Girls" special on Cops right now with Ian. Hilarious and depressing. One cop began a segment by saying, in part, that his job as a police officer is largely "a lot of boredom broken up by a few moments of terror."

Just a thought.

***

Today was a mellow day after a fun night checking out Dave Gagne's photos at the Hope Gallery. His show is an amazing "retrospective" (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA) of New Haven's hardcore years, mainly the early 90s. Not only did everyone in the pics look thinner and younger and less tattooed than now, but everyone just looked so innocent. Even if they weren't, they looked it. And then there were the photos of friends who have died.

There is so much I can say about that show, about seeing so many friends last night--in photos, in person. It was somewhat overwhelming. I'm not sure how to articulate what it meant to me, except that it was really important. Afterward, Courtney, Hoss, Renee, Summer and I headed down to Firehouse 12 for a while. Ian headed off to work. After a few hours, exhausted from two very difficult weeks at work, to say nothing of the emotional rollercoaster of my grandmother's inoperable, untreatable, and very sudden and recent cancer, I collapsed into bed. For the earlier part of today, I felt as if I had the flu. I was simply exhausted. From life.

I was dragging. I don't normally "drag".

Late this afternoon, after a long walk with Cee Cee to get my blood moving, I brought the kids to the birthday party of a friend of theirs from our old neighborhood. He was also a friend from their old school, and Sean was THRILLED to see him again. It was a delight to see Sean and his friends David, Niko, and Sebby run circles around each other. Sean and Niko were attached at the hip for the duration of the party. Niko hugged Sean and wouldn't let go when it was time to say goodbye. It broke my heart. His mom and I have always gotten along well, and Niko and Sean had plenty of playtime outside of school in the past, so we'll be getting them together again soon. But Niko is now attending the school Sean would have gone to had we stayed in our old neighborhood. And for the second time in 24 hours, too many memories flooded my heart.

Now? "Cops". Nothing better to clear the head than some serious white trash drama.

Happy Saturday.

xo

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lost and Found

I've officially lost four friends in my life. Two weren't my friends to begin with, and the other two were very close girlfriends of mine with whom I had some bizarre "falling outs"--each of them resulting in me saying, "Hey, if you wanna go crazy and lose your shit, you go do that. My door is still open."

The first time this happened was after I became engaged nine years ago, and a close girlfriend, whom I'll refer to as "L", pulled away from me in a major way. This isn't unusual. Friendships often transition when one or both friends go through a major life change, such as a marriage, birth, divorce, etc.

But this was particularly messy and ugly, for no substantial reason. My engagement coincided with her nervous breakdown. I was powerless in helping her through what she was going through, and she lashed out at everyone in her path. Defensively, I stepped aside, heartbroken, with the door to our friendship wide open.

Seven years later, I ran into L at a market downtown while on a lunchbreak from my previous job. We were both married, although I was soon to be divorced. And we were both mothers. People eyed us as we hugged and kissed and cried in front of a freezer full of ice cream. Bygones went by, and we're close again.

The other friendship I lost happened after my marriage imploded two years ago. A girlfriend to whom I'll refer as "E" became extremely judgemental of me, painfully so. She and I had become friends a few years earlier as the result of our children's friendship, and, like me, she was Catholic. The difference is that she was a recent convert to the faith. I, on the other hand, was raised Catholic and was (and am) therefore a lapsed, jaded, and cynical Catholic. So it should not have surprised me that the ugly transgressions that were the main catalyst of my marriage's failure were of less concern to her than my imminent divorce. She would not accept that I would get divorced. She saw it as the most awful thing I could do to my relationship with God. As if, by getting divorced (after two separations and nearly a year of counseling) I would be a failure as a person, as a mother and, more importantly as far as she was concerned, as a Catholic.

The timing was the kicker. Although she had always been a little zealous, her own marriage was drowning alongside mine. Quickly. But rather than sypmathize with me, she was mean and critical. I did my best to tell myself that she was projecting her own insecurities, blah blah blah. But it still hurt. A LOT. After all, her two sons and my two sons were good friends. And I was the godmother to her youngest. I defended myself, but allowed distance between us with the door to a friendship wide open. "When you're done losing your shit, E," I said, "I'm still here for you."

Last week, I ran into E's husband at my children's school. As fate would choose it, he and E had enrolled my godson in the same class as Nolan, my youngest. And, as time played out, they are now going through a divorce. Her husband is a great guy, and we laughed about the moment I would see E again. It was inevitable. He anticipated drama and a scene. I anticipated nothing but love.

So today, when I finished blowing bye-bye kisses to Nolan and turned away from the door, I was filled with love when E was walking toward me, her young son's hand in hers. I ran toward her with open arms and we hugged for a long time.

"I was such an ass," she said. "I'm so sorry."

"What does any of it matter? I'm just so happy to see you."

We parted with the promise to talk at length soon.

Tonight I will head out with Renee and a number of the New Haven Girl Crew members to celebrate Renee's birthday, which is today. We'll talk shop and eat dessert and drink coffee or tea or wine and enjoy each other's company. And I will once again be overcome with how much I love having lived in this area my whole life thus far. I have been able to watch friendships evolve, pretty much die, and be reborn--to say nothing of the lifelong friendships that have been consistent through my blessed life. The cycles of our friendships, much like the cycles of our relationships with members of our family--indeed, perhaps moreso--help us learn so much. That is, if we're open to the lesson. And to be open to the lesson, you've got to keep your doors open.

That's not to say you should keep every door open. There are plenty of doors that should be shut, out of respect for yourself, depending on the circumstances.

But I prefer to keep my doors open whenever possible. And if I do happen to close one, just knock. It's probably unlocked.

xo

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Baby Love

Sean and Nolan have it all figured out. They both love babies, and they've decided that
a) I need to have a baby; and,
b) Maybe I should get married, too.

"And wear a black skirt on your married day!" said Nolan.

I don't know if either one of those items are in my future. Ever. But I do love babies. The kids know it, too. Whenever we hang out with Jane--and Noah and Luella--I can't get enough of that baby! I ask to hold Luella. I snuggle and sniff her and kiss her and dance around with her. I have a lot of love to give. A LOT. Too much. If only I had less love and more patience.

Friday night, Ian joined the kids and I as we met up with Jane, Evan, Noah and Luella for an exhibit of pirate-themed art at Beinecke. Unfortunatley for the kids, most of the exhibit was in lighted, glass boxes much higher than their small stature, and the exhibit was pretty much geared toward grown-ups. So the kids instead wreaked havoc, running around the rare book and manuscript library screaming and yelling, playing Hulk Smash!, and complaining that there were no pirates. "Sure there are honey," I said to Sean as I downed my glass of wine, while Jane went to get her second from the bar. "Right over there"--I gestured with my empty glass.

The bartenders were dressed as pirates.

Sorry, kids! There's really no exhibit! It was just an excuse for the moms to go drink for free on a Friday night!

After the exhibit---that is, after Nolan pitched such a fit that I carried him kicking and screaming down a flight of stairs, smelling boozy while wearing my heels--we all headed to Clark's for dinner. The three boys sat at the counter, sipping raspberry sodas and eating dinner, much to the delight of passersby who stopped to smile and point at the three American Kids, seemingly alone in a timeless city diner. After I scarfed down my BLT, I asked Jane if I could feed Luella, who was downing some yummy Gerber mush.

Man, I forgot how much fun it was to feed little baby birds.

Saturday morning, Keith picked up the kids early for a day in NY and I met Jane and her kids down at the Wooster Farmers Market, then headed over to Fuel where I enjoyed more babystealing and cuddling time. It was a treat, to say the least. Nevemrind how much I love just hanging out with Jane.

I'm in no position to have a baby right now, economically or emotionally, to say nothing of the rest... But I do LOVE babies. And so, when the kids saw a Huggies commercial on TV tonight, featuring a mom and her baby and older daughter, Sean said,

"Mom, you need a baby. Trust me."

It kind of broke my heart. Because it's true. I do need a baby...

...much more than a baby needs me. At least right now.


***

Last night was an evening spent eating talapia and swordfish and homemade cilantro and basil pesto on the deck and the sitting around a firepit and watching the Yanks (and Pettitte! Swoon!) kick KC's ass. It was a good night.

Today I went for a long bike ride and hung out with the dog and potted mums for fall and did a lot of yoga.

Tonight the kids are finally home, overtired, fed, bathed, and ready for a few stories and bed.

It's Sunday.

Tomorrow's Monday.

One foot in front of the other.

xo

I was going to write something.

But frankly, I'm not very inspired.





Happy Sunday.



xo

Friday, September 7, 2007

Everyone Remembers Eleanor

But she lived in her own house, apart from FDR. And she had many lovers. As did FDR.

I can claim no ties to FDR--nor any Roosevelt. However, my great, great-grandfather was a roughneck for Teddy Roosevelt. He was a powerful lawyer up in Massachusetts a century ago, a couple of decades after my great, great, great-grandparents owned all the horses for the Worcester Fire Department and Public Works.

There were some quietly powerful people in my family. They blended in with, and sometimes doubed as, writers and teachers and firemen and poliecemen and (featherweight) boxers and others from my sprawling, gnarly tree. Time for me to take a trip to the Worcester and Springfield and Boston historial societies and do some digging.

In the meantime, I'll go to Rhinebeck:

From today's New York Times:

September 7, 2007
At the Home of F.D.R.’s Secret Friend
By BARBARA IRELAND

ON a secluded bluff in Rhinebeck, N.Y., in one of the most beautiful spots overlooking the Hudson River, a 35-room Queen Anne mansion with a five-story turret is getting final touches on its first paint job since 1910. On one side, its rambling porch shines in bright maroon and green. On the other, where the painters and the grant money still haven’t penetrated, it looks like a crumbling wreck.

This is Wilderstein, a stepchild among the Hudson River mansions, one of the last to be restored and despite its beauty one of the least visited — partly because its owner, Margaret Suckley (usually called Daisy), stayed on so long, cheerfully dispensing tea to strangers and far outlasting her family’s fortune. She died there in 1991, a few months before her hundredth birthday. But on a Wilderstein tour it is Daisy herself who will tell you, in a video made in the 1980s as her house deteriorated around her, that the previous paint went on in 1910. “It was good paint,” she says, laughing.

In the same video, Miss Suckley (rhymes with BOOK-ly) also talks, almost in passing, about the last days in the life of a neighbor and sixth cousin who lived downriver in another mansion: Franklin D. Roosevelt. She was one of the four women with Roosevelt in his Georgia house when he died in 1945, yet she leaves the impression that she was little more than his dog walker. It is far short of the truth.

Until a suitcase of papers was found under Ms. Suckley’s bed in her turret room at Wilderstein after her death — including handwritten letters from Roosevelt with distinctly romantic overtones — the depth of their relationship was a deeply buried secret. Oddly, despite the publication of the letters, Daisy’s diaries and her letters to him in an absorbing 1995 book put together by Geoffrey C. Ward (also author with Ken Burns of “The Civil War” and the scriptwriter for Mr. Burns’s series on World War II beginning Sept. 23 on public television), very few people seem to know the story now.

It comes into play not only at Wilderstein, but also at Top Cottage, Roosevelt’s private hideaway three miles above his estate in Hyde Park — built on a woodland height that he and Daisy referred to clandestinely in the 1930s as “Our Hill.” Tour both places in the same day, and the resonance can run deep. But you may have to do your homework first.

On two recent tours of Wilderstein, guides had much to say about the landscaping by Calvert Vaux and the lavish interiors designed by Joseph Burr Tiffany, a cousin of Louis Comfort Tiffany, but little about Roosevelt beyond the unexciting fact that Daisy gave him his Scottish terrier, Fala. Although Mr. Ward’s book “Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship Between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley” was on sale in the gift shop, no one brought up what it reveals.

You may find out a bit more on one of the National Park Service tours given since 2001 at Top Cottage, the last of the Roosevelt sites in Hyde Park to be restored and opened to the public. Or you may not. Every tour there is different, said Kevin Oldenburg, a National Park Service ranger who was leading one in May.

Top Cottage tours are refreshingly informal. Visitors walk freely through the simple rooms and can even try out the furniture, all reproductions made with the help of photographs. They sit on the same bluestone porch where Roosevelt discussed war strategy with Winston Churchill. But the content of the tours varies. One day last August two guides showed a copy of “Closest Companion” and carefully explained Daisy’s role in Roosevelt’s life and in the plans for Top Cottage. On Mr. Oldenburg’s tour last month, when there was no response to his question “Has anyone heard of Daisy Suckley?” he said merely that she was a distant cousin who had helped Roosevelt find the site for the cottage.

In the video at Wilderstein, Daisy is quick to laugh, unassuming, direct and clear in her recollections. She has a plain, unaffected charm evident even to an Eleanor Roosevelt loyalist disappointed to learn of yet another “other woman” in the Roosevelt marriage. (Best known of the others is Lucy Mercer, whose affair with Roosevelt a few years before he contracted polio had so hurt Eleanor, her children hinted — according to Doris Kearns Goodwin’s account in her book “No Ordinary Time” — that divorce was avoided only with an agreement for separate bedrooms.)

All through the war years, Daisy stayed for long visits at the White House, keeping the president company on quiet evenings. At Hyde Park, he took her on long drives in the car he operated with hand controls. The only two published photographs of him in his wheelchair were taken by Daisy — both at Top Cottage. Yet she seems to have been routinely dismissed, even by the historians who trooped to see her at Wilderstein long after Roosevelt’s death, as the dowdy cousin who worked on the family papers.

Daisy was no beauty, and after the last vestiges of the Suckley fortune, originally built on trade and shipping, were lost in the Depression, she was too poor to dress well. But she was also playing, as she put it in her diary, “my part of prim spinster,” and Roosevelt laughed about it with her. The degree of their intimacy is unknown, and Roosevelt’s apparent instructions to Daisy to burn at least some of his letters have resulted in gaps. But in 1935, something clearly happened between them on “Our Hill” — something, Mr. Ward wrote, “that neither of them ever forgot.”

“There is no reason why I should not tell you that I miss you very much — It was a week ago yesterday — ” Roosevelt wrote her immediately afterward from Boulder Dam, where he had gone for a dedication ceremony. He called her “M. M.,” for “my Margaret,” and “C. P.,” for “a certain person” whom he had to “bite my tongue” to keep from talking about. “I have longed to have you with me,” he wrote from a cruise to Panama.

Before long they were writing back and forth about Our Hill as the perfect setting for a cottage. “I think a one-story fieldstone two room house ... one with very thick walls to protect us ...,” he wrote her in October 1935. “Do you mind — then — if I tell you fairy stories till it gets very late?”

Daisy responded excitedly, with detailed plans — her sketch of a larger structure that looks something like the real Top Cottage is reproduced in a book about the cottage restoration published by the project architects in 2001. Daisy even began assembling books for “O.L.” — the cottage’s library.

The bubble seems to have burst when Roosevelt gently shifted the plans. “What an excellent idea,” she wrote in late 1937, her tone suddenly restrained, “for you to have a ‘Retreat’ on the top of your wooded hill.”

Top Cottage was built in 1938, and it was Roosevelt’s alone. He designed it to resemble the Dutch colonial architecture he admired and to accommodate his wheelchair — it is one of the first accessible structures designed by a disabled person — and it gave Roosevelt a freedom of movement he enjoyed nowhere else. He used it as a quiet retreat and to entertain foreign dignitaries. Mr. Oldenburg, speaking as his tour group sat on wicker chairs on the Top Cottage porch, described the famous party there in 1939 in which the Roosevelts served hot dogs to the king and queen of England.

Daisy, often a guest at the cottage, was there that day, Mr. Ward noted in “Closest Companion.”

THE friendship lost its romantic edge but never its intimacy. With her, Roosevelt told Daisy, he could escape the demands of other people’s expectations and just relax. She quotes him: “I’m either Exhibit A, or left completely alone” (and, of course, he was largely immobilized by his paralysis). In 1944 he was still writing, at a time when they were apart, “I wish so you were here.”

“He told me once,” she wrote in her diary soon after his death, “that there was no one else with whom he could be so completely himself.”

And he could be honest. He wrote Daisy from the ship where he first met Churchill: “He is a tremendously vital person & in many ways is an English Mayor La Guardia! Don’t say I said so!” He told her about his plans for a new postwar peace organization, later named the United Nations. “He would like to be chairman,” she wrote in her diary. In a long letter from Casablanca in 1943, he reported, “De Gaulle a headache — said yesterday that he was Jeanne d’Arc & today that he is Georges Clemenceau!”

After Roosevelt died, his daughter, Anna, and a friend came upon a cache of Daisy’s letters, hidden in the box from his stamp collection that Roosevelt took everywhere with him. There is no indication that Anna read the letters or understood their significance, but she offered to let Daisy have them back, and Daisy accepted carefully. She supposed, she wrote to Anna, it had been “just easier” for him “to toss them into the stamp box rather than bother to tear them up & drop them into the waste-paper basket!” And so her letters to Roosevelt, along with his to her, found their way to the suitcase in the turret bedroom.

A weakness of the tour at Wilderstein is that it does not include climbing up into the turret, or even going beyond the first floor — though further restoration might someday make that possible. Surely every visitor would like to see Daisy’s room, with its majestic view of the Hudson and the convenient hiding place under the bed.

VISITOR INFORMATION

Tours of Wilderstein Historic Site (330 Morton Road, Rhinebeck, N.Y.; 845-876-4818; www.wilderstein.org) are given from noon to 3:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday from May through October and cost $10 for adults. To reach the house from the New York State Thruway, take Exit 19 (Kingston), cross the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge over the Hudson River and drive south on Route 9 into Rhinebeck. Go straight at the stoplight in the center of the village and then take the first right, Mill Road. Drive 2.2 miles and turn right onto Morton Road. The Wilderstein entrance is a quarter-mile on the left.




xo

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

If you go a million miles away I'll track you down now...

Had this in my head all day and listened to it on the iPod when I went for my lunchtime stroll.

Seeing as today was Sean's first day of school, I had to post this when I found it--a bunch of five year olds rocking out to a great song:





Happy Tuesday.

xo

White Rabbit

Back at work today with a heaping, stinking pile of work on my desk. It's all for the greater good. Seriously. But it's a motherload, and it will continue to be a motherload until the end of the year. And we're understaffed! Yipee!

Sean began kindergarten today, and I bawled my eyes out in the car after watching him walk through the school doors with his posse of new friends. My little big man is growing up. My firstborn. The kid who made me a mama is off to gradeschool, and ain't nothin' gonna be the same. College can't be far behind.

As a consolation prize for returning to work after vacation and sending my kid off to school, a mystery package arrived for me at the office today. I shot the shit with the UPS guy while signing for it. He's a huge Yankees fan, and we always talk shop for a minute or two when I'm wielding the stylus. After he left, I opened the box and found, much to my surprise and delight!, a gift from Ian:





Be still my heart! It was the one I had my eye on, too! And the guy didn't even know that. But I guess I'm easy to peg, what with my bunnylove an' all.

I rocked my new watch all day today. White. Looks good with this tan.

The tan won't last forever. Soon enough I'll be pale again. My hands will once again be milky white and look good with short nails coated in red polish. But it's too early for that yet. For now, they're still a sunny bronze. It's an even color. There isn't even a tanline on my ring finger, like some hidden committment beneath a tight band. In fact, I don't wear any rings these days. Not one.

xo

Monday, September 3, 2007

School Nights are Here Again

Day 5 in a row at the beach. I am BROWN. Not a bad way to end summer--and my (second) summer vacation. The kids and I went all of 1.75 blocks to Lighthouse today with Ian. It was windy as hell and absolutely gorgeous. A few hours later we were home again, and Ian surprisingly spent most of the day here. As I pressed tiny polo shirts for Sean's first week of school, I heard Ian and Sean in the backyard crackin' bats and arguing about fair and foul balls. I was happy for many moments today, and that was one of them.

Interesting, too, how my children are with the men in their lives. Their father, although he will always be their father, is not a constant physical presence in their day-to-day routine, unlike me. So how they vibe off other guys, like Ian or Craig or my cousins Derek and Mark, is kind of fascinating to me. It's also pretty beautiful to see them develop close ties with other grown-up "dudes". Yes, Dad does lots with them. (For example, after touring many skateparks with Dad, Sean now drops in pretty fearlessly and can hold his own on the half-pipe, keeping momentum like the best of them.) But their relationships with other guys bring out different traits of their personalities, and I don't know if that would have happened if I hadn't divorced. That is a major silver lining of a sometimes rough situation. It's one of the many ways in which I think they're going to continue growing as amazing guys.

Mom gets to see a different side to these boys, too. And today at the beach, Nolan smothered me with his adorable affection that I savor. "I love you, Mommy!" he giggled. "I love you, too, Noly." "No, Mommy! I love YOU!" "No, I love YOU!" And on, and on. The difference this time was that he did this in front of Ian, who has never seen anything other than Nolan the Warrior. Sean is often openly affectionate, but not Nolan. This was a treat. And maybe it's one of the ways my boys help some of those big guys grow and learn, just like the big guys help the boys figure it all out.

For the most part, I was pretty content today. I'm happy for the routine that the school year will bring us. I cannot believe Sean is starting kindergarten tomorrow. It's not at the school I thought he'd go to when he was born. It's not with the friends he had for so long in our incubated neighborhood in Westville. It's not anything I had thought it would be. In fact, NOTHING is how I thought it would be. And that's okay. That's been the best part. It's been painful as fuck sometimes, but I think the most growing I ever did was when I was honest with myself, despite the outcome. Once I was honest with myself, I could trust the situation and my ability to handle whatever came my way. And could I ever handle it! I never knew I was so strong.

And I never knew I could be so happy with myself and my decisions. I trust myself more than anything. I rely on no one else for that, or for happiness--although I am blessed with lots of happiness because of so many great people in my life. But I'm out of the fishbowl of my marriage. And no amount of money or promises in the world could make me go back to that. Fortunately, Keith and I came out of it all with two incredible children and a solid friendship--much more than many intact marriages have ever been blessed with.

So here I am tonight, in a new place with just me and two boys who are passed out in bed. The dog is by my feet. The turtle is bumping around in his tank. Crickets are singing and I can hear sailboat masts clanging in the harbor. I'm sad summer's over, but I'm glad, too. It's time to get back to a bigger routine. Today was a good day. It was a long day, too. Just a moment-to-moment lazy Labor Day, complete with hot dogs (of course, this is me, Sean and Nolan we're talking about) on the grill for dinner. A nice way to end the season.

I don't know what life has in store for me for fall or winter. I don't know where I'll be a year from now. Or two years from now. I think I know, but how can I know for sure? I've always thought I had it all figured out. The truth is, I don't want to know. That would take all the fun out of it.

Surprise me.

xo

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Flooded

Fingers still crossed for Grandma.

Beach today with Renee. It was a treat for the two of us to hang out in the sand and get some color on our asses. Then we actually had a sand fight, like two silly little kids. Nothing like heavy wet sand all over--and in--your bikini bottom to make you feel sexy.

Shoddy sleep lately full of strange dreams. I mean really strange dreams. Burning buildings. High-rises under construction. Lots of scaffolding. Stripped cars by the side of the road. Alleys. Broken concrete and collapsed balconies and bent wrought-iron gates. I don't typically dream like this. I think it just means I need to run more. I need to sweat some things off my mind. There's no other way. I suppose some basic Psych 101 analysis of it all could mean that I feel like a foundation of something is giving way (Grandma? My family?)--or being rebuilt. Or changed. Or something. I don't know. It's definitely weird.

So this, here, is something you've got to watch. Dana Carvey is a genius, and I miss his stand-up. This is old. Really old. And the quality sucks. But it's from one of his best routines. I needed this tonight. So do you.

Jimmy Stewart and Katherine Hepburn

Tomorrow is officially the last day of summer vacation. I have a washer and dryer full of school clothes for the kids. And I have backpacks with requisite punk rocks buttons to pin on them.

Time to fold.

xo

Saturday, September 1, 2007

It's Hidden in the Wisdom in the Back of Your Tooth

I'm tired. Really tired. I have to shower and get all prettied up for a wedding tonight. I want to go. But I'd also like to go back to the beach and sit there until the sun goes down.

I'm feeling the end of summer. I hate this feeling. For me, it's the same feeling I used to have in high school around dinnertime on a Sunday night: Dread. Pure dread of Monday morning's Latin and Algebra exams. But instead of dreading tests, I now dread nine months without summer. Other seasons have their high points, their upsides. But summer? What's to argue about that? I'm in my element from May until September. Then my world tilts off its axis a little bit.

This morning I stopped by Grandma's with a bunch of stuff from the Wooster Square Farmers Market. It was good to see her. Her coloring is a little better; the biopsy, which was unsuccessful this past week, will be done Tuesday. Fingers crossed. Lots of prayers.

Then I walked down to Lighthouse and enjoyed a couple of hours alone in the sand today, the sun warming my skin. The breeze was beautiful.

And right now there is an amazing breeze skipping off the water and pouring into the big windows of my living room. What a gift it is to live in this place right now.

Alrighty. Time to shower for tonight's bash at the Yale Graduate Club. But first, I'll share this with you, since it's stuck in my head:



Denial Twist



xo