Thursday, January 31, 2008

And by the way, I'm a genius.

Lest you forget I recently deleted my MySpace account, read on about why I am at the forefront of a trend!



January's End

In my seemingly never-ending quest to find adequate employment, I've had to accept that my priorities come before my passions, because I have two children for whom I provide almost exclusively not just in monetary terms but also and extensively in terms of time and attention.

Yes, I need a job that pays well. Writing for a shoreline newspaper, for example, wouldn't buy me enough toilet paper for two little boys in this house. That said, there are other jobs that appeal to me, but that will not work for various reasons that have less to do with money and almost everything to do with maintaining a certain quality of life and time spent together as a family around here.

I was offered a job as an assistant to a local first selectman. It was an excellent job in many ways, but this newly elected administration works an average of 60 hours a week, with no overtime and on a relatively weak salary. In addition, the job security was contingent upon the re-election of my would-be boss. No thanks. I don't need to go through this process again in less than two years.

I had some other excellent interviews, but some were with sketchy small non-profits--a world I have decided to leave completely--and one was with a hospital 45 minutes from my house (60 minutes or more during rush hour). Now, that job would be EXCELLENT. But here's the thing: The kids' father works in NYC. If something should happen to the kids, I need to be closer than an hour's drive. In addition, that job would require me dropping off the kids at school for before-care starting at 7:30 and skidding in to pick them up at the very last minute of after-care around 5. Snow? Accident on the highway? Needing to pick up milk on my way home? Then my kids wind up being the last ones sitting in class with the teacher. Again, no thanks. I don't want to move to the middle of the state somewhere just for that job. My life is here, so it's up to me to make it work here.

Yesterday I scored an interview for a position that I wouldn't have normally sought out in a company that I hadn't even considered. But if I'm going to practice what I preach about "being open" to life's opportunities in all of their disguises, I've got to follow every lead. This lead led me to an office within two blocks of my childhood home. The pay is excellent, the job is insane--but I will never be bored there, that's for sure. There is plenty of room for advancement, and the turnover rate is low. The dress code is casual. The commute is minimal. I mean that in every sense of the word. I can drive there in 3 minutes. I can bike there in probably less than 10. It's a mile from my children's school, and the hours can be flexible if duty calls at home. Not to mention I can head home a few times a week to walk the dog at lunch. AND I'd be working with a good friend of mine. It's well worth considering, and I'm hoping it works out.

Still, until anything is set in stone, I'm on the hunt. Today's adventures include an interview with yet another company. It's for a writing position within a marketing department of a large corporation that is at least 30 minutes away during a good commute on I-95. Yes, it's a writing job. Beyond that, I'm not so sure what it has to offer besides "casual Friday" (I'm being serious). I guess I'll find out today.

And don't get me started on my three interviews for the same position with Yale-New Haven Hospital, the local employer that moves slower than molasses in its hiring process.

So here I am. Poised to take a job a few minutes away. Could it be that sometimes the best opportunities are right under our noses? Yes. Could it be that I haven't gone all that far in life, since I'll be working two blocks from Grandma's house, my childhood home? Maybe. It could also be that everything--absolutely everything--has come full circle, and that is because I have embraced it all, rather than run away from my childhood, my failed relationships, my responsibility. Maybe you can only go "so far" in life if you don't accept from whence you came. Maybe going back there and accepting all that you were allows you to start the next chapter for all you can be. Or maybe I'm getting entirely too philosophical about a new job.

Either way, I can write without having to do it for a living. And having no commute means so many other things: I can still make it to the kids' Tae Kwon Do and little league practices and games. I can make decent, healthy dinners and enjoy some real down-time after work and school with the kids. Soon, warmer weather will be here, and I'll have time to play in the yard with the kids and toss the ball to the dog and enjoy a longer twilight every night in a neighborhood that makes me happy. I can still take yoga classes at night, too. I can even pick up a new class to teach! And eventually, maybe I can even possibly consider taking some graduate classes. Maybe. Or maybe I'll just finally finish the book after a few years.

First, I need to get hired. No one said I had the job yet.

Time to walk the dog.

I have the Kinks' "So Long" stuck in my head.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Where Do You Live?

I live in the tiniest town ever created by humans, ever, to quote my very close friend Craig. On my way to the dentist today, I drove down Frontage Rd through a smoky fog created by some raging house fire on Sherman Ave or somewhere thereabouts. When I left the appointment--no cavities, thanks--my car still smelled of smoke. I can honestly say, I don't mind the smell. There are worse things.

So that's where I live. My kids live in this tiny town, too. We can drive through our old neighborhood, passing the houses of friends they haven't played with in almost three years, and my oldest will shout out, "There's so-and-so's house!!!" I don't drive through there too often.

My kids also live in Lego World. We all should. Right now, the kids are busy playing with the Indiana Jones Legos they built last week. I'm going to shut down this computer right now and join them.

Read on. Right on.

At 50, Lego still going strong despite high-tech toy world

by Slim Allagui1 hour, 57 minutes ago

Lego's colourful bricks that have inspired kids' imaginations worldwide celebrated their 50th anniversary Monday after resisting fierce competition from high-tech computer games that nearly brought the company down a few years ago.

On January 28, 1958, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen submitted a patent for the interlocking and studded plastic brick that can now be found in almost every child's toy box.

The simple building block has become one of the most well-known and popular toys in the world.

The key to its success?

"The Lego brick doesn't age with time and continues to fascinate because it allows children, and others, to develop their creativity, imagination and curiosity and let it wander free," said Charlotte Simonsen, a spokeswoman at Lego's headquarters in the western Danish town of Billund.

The family company Lego, whose name comes from the first two letters of the Danish words "Leg godt" or "play well" in English, was founded before the invention of the famous block, by Ole Kristiansen in 1932.

The company's iconic toy allows an infinite number of assembly combinations. With just two bricks there are 24 different combinations, and with six there are 915 million possibilities, according to Lego.

A half-century after its creation, more than 400 million children and adults play each year with the bricks, spending five billion hours a year putting them together and pulling them apart.

The bricks made today can still interlock with those made in the first batch in 1958, note avid Lego fans.

And make no mistake about it, Lego bricks are not just child's play -- they also capture the imagination of adults.

South Korean adventurer Heo Young-Ho, who climbed Mount Everest in 1987, left a Lego toy behind in the snow after his ascent.

"I've kept a box in the attic with Lego from my childhood. They never go out of style and they box is full of memories of long hours spent building things with my friends," said 21-year-old Alexander.

Primo, Quatro, Duplo, Toolo, Technic, Mindstorm... New Lego bricks have been developed throughout the years to suit the needs of babies and adolescents, the pieces' perfect fit making piracy difficult.

After its planetary success, Lego experienced a severe crisis at the end of the 1990s, hit hard by fierce competition from interactive electronic and computer games which brought the Danish company to its knees for the first time in its history.

Named "Toy of the Century" in 1999 by US business magazine Fortune, Lego suffered through a dark period that last several years that risked relegating the plastic brick to the history books.

The company had diversified into theme parks and branded products, including clothing, books, watches and multimedia games, but reported millions of dollars (euros) in losses in 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2004.

Some experts were quick to eulogize the colourful brick, including educationalist and toy researcher Torben Hangaard Rasmussen.

"Lego bricks belong to the industrial era when children liked to build things, playing wannabe engineers. Nowadays, the most popular toys are inspired by the virtual world," he said in 2004.

Then, at the height of Lego's crisis, owner and chief executive officer Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen tried to get a hold on the situation and save the family business from bankruptcy, injecting more than 800 million kroner (158 million dollars, 107 million euros) of his personal fortune into the business.

Several months later he resigned as chief executive, handing over the reins to 35-year-old Joergen Vig Knudstorp, who brought a breath of fresh air to the company. Determined to bring the company back to financial stability, he proceeded to lay off staff, focus on core operations and close down production sites.

The company began to prosper again, and in 2006 it posted sales of 7.8 billion kroner (1.04 billion euros, 1.5 billion dollars) in 130 countries and a 1.4 billion kroner net profit.

Seven boxes of Lego are sold every second around the world, and 19 billion components are produced each year -- enough to wrap around the Earth's circumference five times.


My Bullshit Detector

When you're scraping the bottom of your emotional and financial barrel, sometimes a simple silly email from the Daily Om hits your sweet spot.

I've quit MySpace. It's just something that I had to do. This town is tiny, and for me MySpace only made it smaller. For a while, that was actually a comfort. But over time, just checking in with my account there made me feel more stuck in patterns and relationships of the past, rather than moving forward. So: Shazam! I blew it up. My real friends exist off of the internet. Everyone else can have fun stalking each other.

I'm doing a lot more yoga than ever these days, and taking long, frigid walks with the dog down by the water. The beach in winter is hauntingly peaceful. Amidst the shuttered snack bar and empty sands, I see ghosts from my life the past few summers, eating hot dogs, chasing melting popsicles down their sticks, playing in small waves, running over hot sand. Eventually, though, I get tired of those memories, and the dog and I turn toward home.

If I could have found a decent clip of the Clash's "I'm Not Down", I would have posted it here. But somehow this is more fitting, because it's '77 and Joe Strummer is hotter than an Arabian desert in July. In all seriousness, ladies and germs, nothing turns me on more than Strummer's rabid growls into the mic.

So, here.

And for days like today when even the Clash can't lift me up too high, I've got this to share with you:

January 28, 2008
Growing Pains
Difficult Times

It can be very challenging to maintain a positive attitude and a measure of faith when you are in the midst of difficult times. This is partly because we tend to think that if the universe loves us we will experience that love in the form of positive circumstances. However, we are like children, and the universe is our wise mother who knows what our souls need to thrive better than we do. Just as a young child does not benefit from getting everything she wants, we also benefit from times of constriction and difficulty to help us grow and learn. If we keep this in mind, and continue to trust that we are loved even when things are hard, it helps us bear the difficult time with grace.

This period of time in history is full of difficulty for a lot of human beings, and you may feel less alone knowing you are not being singled out. There are extreme energy changes pulsing through the universe at every level and, of course, we are all part of the growing process and the growing pains. It helps if we remember that life is one phase after another and that this difficult time will inevitably give way to something new and different. When we feel overwhelmed we can comfort ourselves with the wise saying: This too shall pass.

At the same time, if you truly feel that nothing is going right for you, it’s never a bad idea to examine your life and see if there are some changes you can make to alleviate some of the difficulty. Gently and compassionately exploring the areas giving you the most trouble may reveal things you are holding onto and need to release: unprocessed emotions, unresolved transitions, or negative ways of looking at yourself or reality. As you take responsibility for the things you can change, you can more easily surrender to the things you can’t, remembering all the while that this phase will, without doubt, give way to another.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Recipe for an American Girl

Take one part mick with one lesser part guinea. Add a dash of Hungarian gypsy. Mix until fully heated in the backseat of a Chevy on a July night in 1972. Bake in oven at high for 9 months. Remove, set on cooling rack. Divide equally for 34 years among hungry wolves. Save crumbs for birdfeeder.


Friday, January 25, 2008

All the Boys are Freefallers

I think it was 1989. That sounds about right. It was the summer that Renee and I took SAT prep classes at Hammonasset School in Madison and met a bunch of stoners, including Bob, Ed, and Marcus, who we had fun smoking cigarettes with during our lesson breaks. I can't say that the prep classes helped me with much. My SAT scores never broke 1000. But that's because I was sorely deficient in my math skills. I scored 780 on the verbal. You can do the math on the rest--I can't.

At some point during that lazy summer of riding my bike to the beach, working odd hours at the old Metcalf's drugstore in East Haven, hanging out at the Mansfield Grove beach cottages with high school friends and boys from Fairfield Prep, and wallowing in heartbreak over some prep school kid from Mass. to whom I freely and quickly gave my virginity, I won tickets from WNHU to see the Replacements with Tom Petty at Lake Compounce.

Of course, Renee was going with me. Of course, being 16 years old in the late 80s, we were way more psyched to see the Replacements than we were to see Tom Petty. We had so much to learn. Granted, the Replacements are an amazing band. But still, I was too young and silly to appreciate Tom Petty and all of his thin-haired, kissin' cousin talent.

It's hard to believe that was 19 years ago. A lifetime ago. Shit, two and a half years ago is a lifetime for me, but anyway. There we were on a hot summer night, two best friends sitting high up by the fence on a hillside drinking Snapple, smoking Marlboro reds, and rocking out to the Replacements--Tom Petty's opening act. All of a sudden, over the chain-link fence and down the hill rolled Ed and Bob from SAT prep class. What the fuck?

Renee made out with Ed. Bob tried to kiss me several times, and I pushed him away several times. Finally, I pushed him so hard he rolled down the hill. It was a big effort. He was rather roly-poly compared to my <100 lb "I'm so fat!" adolescent body. And he was totally and completely stoned outta his gourd.

I don't remember much of Petty's set, which bums me out these days. I didn't really appreciate Tom Petty until my 30s, sort of how I didn't really appreciate the Who until my 20s. And I'm okay with that.

What I'm not okay with is that I had a surprisingly crappy phone conversation tonight. At least now, it's over. I finally finished eating dinner (I wasn't hungry. I ate salad.), and I'm drinking wine and hunkering down to continue writing the Great Unpublished American Novel tonight. The dog is by my side. The kids are with their dad. My MySpace account? I deleted it, and consequently I no longer receive random invites to happening events in town. Isolated here in my little awesome apartment by the water, I'm out of the blue remembering back two decades, ready to drink and write, and singing this song, over and over, in my head:


And, because I mentioned it... (love the sk8 outfits, girls. so hip...)



I'm the kind of person who throws music on first thing in the morning--usually. It's frequently Coltrane, Ornette Coleman or Billie Holiday, but I'm just as likely to spin the Clash or the Stones while the coffee is brewing, too.

This morning the Stones gave way to Jets to Brazil. It's been a while since I listened to their album, Four Cornered Night. It's an amazing album from Jade Tree's golden era as an excellent emo label, back when emo was really just the second generation of college rock and not the lousy manufactured mallrat screamo that passes for emo these days.


The kids were packed up and heavily cloaked against the morning's bitter cold for a ride with Ian to school. A few days a week they hit the road in the blue starship, their nickname for Ian's car, a 2002 E320 4matic. (This is the beauty of being in love with a bartender/gearhead. He's all about the rock'n'roll with two motorcycles and credible ink, but he drives a Mercedes. He knows cars inside and out. And enjoys cooking. And he even heats up my cup in the morning before pouring coffee into it. God I love him. But I digress...) The kids insist the blue starship is faster than mom's red starship, my 2004 Outback. True. Technically it is. But I drive faster, because I'm an idiot.

As the kids took off, Jets to Brazil's "In the Summer's When You Really Know" came on. Wow. I had forgotten how much I love that song. I let it roll and watched seagulls glide above the bare branches in my backyard and thought that at least we're on the bright side of the winter solstice. The days are getting longer again. And although it might not feel like it, I'm making progress in my job search. The seagulls circled and moved on, and a small commuter plane from nearby Tweed Airport took off into the sunrise.

Ah, the Cove. A wonderful New Haven neighborhood with its clustered beach cottages, roar of jet engines, dated 50s ranches, and Virgin Mary in the bathtub on most front lawns. It's got a pretty low crime rate as far as the city is concerned, relatively speaking, and it's got a hefty dose of mob residents. This is not something that is rumored. It is fact. And many of those kids go to my kids' school, where the daily hot lunch is catered by Tolli's Apizza and the foreign language for upperclassmen is not Spanish or French, but Italian. In fact, if you look at a map of New Haven, the Cove actually sticks out from the bottom of the city like the "boot" of Italy. No lie.

Exhibit A:

I love living here.

The song ended. I had stared out the back door long enough, refilled my coffee and walked toward my computer with the full intention of working on my story--which I will, eventually, when I'm done with this prattle--when the phone rang. It was Ian.


"Hey," he said. He sounded pissed off.

"What's up?"

"Some first grader just got dropped off in a brand-new Lamborghini. A fucking 240 thousand dollar car."

"Hahahahaha. Wow. Maybe they're a dealer. Did it have dealer plates?"

"No. It had temporary plates. A fucking yellow Lamborghini. And the kid driving it was some chubby Italian guy who looked like he was my age."


"Be on the lookout for it."

"I will. Love you."

"Love you, too."


I returned my attention to the computer. I have a story to tell. I'm constantly in revision of its telling, too. But that's the beauty of writing. The story tells you how to write it, not the other way around.

I also have to find a job. I've had some very successful interviews and even a job offer, but the jobs weren't right for me. One was contractual, expiring in less than two years (some job security, huh?). The other is really far away, and if the offer comes through, I'm not sure I want to commute nearly an hour a day, each way. The kids' dad works in NYC, Ian is around some of the time, but I am the primary parent for my children. I need to be available at a moment's notice if necessary--and I WANT to be. An hour commute would get in the way of that.

And I don't want to move to some anonymous, quaint and quiet town in the middle of the state for the sake of a shorter commute to some so-so job in the middle of the state. I want to live here, where people drive ridiculous cars home to their two-bedroom ranches, where I can walk the dog down to the beach in less than 8 minutes, where I can get any kind of food I crave in less than 10 minutes. Where there are sidewalks in my neighborhood and my neighbors know each other. Where my kids eat Tolli's for lunch at school and will learn how to throw a few good punches in their life rather than someday crack and bring an arsenal to high school because they grew up in isolation on a suburban cul-de-sac with the nearest neighbor two perfectly manicured acres away.

So, I'm back to the drawing board. I need to find a good job more central to where my children and I are happy. My savings and unemployment checks make it so I can afford to wait about one more month before I HAVE to start working. I've had three interviews for the same position at a local, uh, organization to whom I applied before I was laid off from my underfunded former employer in December. I'm hoping and praying it pays off. My most recent interview there went extremely well and was with the two most senior officers below the CEO. But they aren't in a hurry to fill the position. My first interview was in November. The second in December. The third in January. Following this logic, I might get a job offer in February---maybe. If not, I might be looking to Origins for a job while I continue my career search.

In the meantime, I need to trust my instincts and go with my gut on this. I don't want to job-hop. I want to get the right position where I can dig in my heels and stay for a while. A small non-profit group is not the way to go, as I've learned. But I have some opportunities that are no doubt before me. I just need to be patient, trust in the process, and do what's right for me. If I panic and take a job just to take a job, I'll be unhappy and still looking, and creating problems for that employer should I choose to leave.

Ultimately, I need to shut up, stop obsessing, and use this time to get back to writing.

With that, happy Friday.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

The First 48

Ian and I have been watching three episodes in a row of The First 48. I'm riveted. I also wonder what I'll dream about tonight.

Last night? I watched nothing before bed. Instead, still recovering from a stomach flu and the latest job interview, I went to bed early, full of herbal tea and seltzer. I slept long and hard, and only later today, while making a yummy pear and apple tart for dessert (awesome cooking around here is one perk of my unemployment), did I remember that dream.

Everything was on fire.

As I pulled the tart out of the oven, and the oven's heat blasted my face and neck, I was suddenly and surprisingly reminded of that dream:

I was in an old house with wide-planked floors, white-washed walls and great big windows. Some walls were light blue. The house was on a hill. Dogs were there. Maybe some were lost in the fire? I don't know. But the fire was huge, engulfing the house. At times I was inside it, trying to get out. At other times in the dream, I was recalling it, as if it were a memory. Still other times I stood on very green and dewy grass next to the house, while people scrambled around pouring smoke. Were they firemen? Neighbors? Strangers? I don't know. But they were everywhere. And I stood there, bare feet in wet grass, with dogs tethered to leashes in my hand. I watched it burn, not concerned about anything. Feeling secure, as if everything I cared about was out of danger. I was simply watching something burn out, as if it couldn't be saved. I wasn't sad. My feet were wet. That's all I kept thinking. "Everything is burning, but my feet are wet. I'll be okay." I didn't strain holding the dog leashes. They were slack in my hand, as if the dogs were sitting quietly by my side.


Think I'll double-check that my candles are out before bed tonight.

The tart was yummy, by the way. Very gingery. We had it after pierogies and an amazing salad. I must say, I rocked out in the kitchen tonight.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008


In yoga we say that "energy follows attention". Simply put, think about something enough and you can make it a reality. This may not necessarily work with gambling or other instances of chance, but it can work with other things: Relationships, jobs, a home, a vacation. If you flood your world with good (read: positive) thoughts about something--say, that you want to get a new job, and you pursue a new job with that positive attitude, then you'll likely find what you're looking for. Similarly, if you focus on the negative of something, such as obsessing over every sniffle and cough, you will likely find yourself sick. A lot. It's all in the attitude.

I've found that obsessing over things can sometimes create a reality of those things within my world, but at the same time I found that letting go has the same effect. When something is no longer "important" to me and I no longer place any attachment on it, it comes to me. In other words, if you love something, set it free....

Am I making sense? I have a hard time putting this into words.

I don't know. Maybe the letting go is only half of it. Maybe the thing--the person, or the job, or the house, or whatever--has its own energy that it floods back to you. Is it reflecting the energy you've flung at it, or is it giving its own energy back to you? If you love something and set it free, but it keeps coming back to you (in action or thought or in some indirect way), then what does that mean exactly? Does the house want you to live in it and be its caretaker for the next few decades? Are you the only person who can do the job well? Is the person who keeps coming back the one you're meant to be with? Does any of it matter unless you tell yourself so?

What's more, just because something presents itself when you set it free, does that mean it's right for you? Or is it presenting you with a choice?

Just a thought.

I also thought I liked winter this year. I'm not so sure about that after all. I'm trying really hard to like it, but it's wearing thin. Especially since we had a warm spell, and I found a fresh, yellow dandelion poking out of the ground in my backyard. What hope!

Time to go to another job interview. Positive energy. Positive energy. Positive energy... And maybe a shower first.

A sick day at home yesterday. See what a fever does to my brain?


Sunday, January 20, 2008


I think people's perspectives on whether their glasses are half empty or half full really depends on how thirsty they are.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Root Down

How do I unwind after a full day of prep and partying for my oldest's sixth birthday, with four pies from Tolli's, good friends from my life then and now, and 11 boys who tore up my house here in the Cove?

I finish up a bottle of Big House Red and watch The Godfather.

"In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns."


Sean is six. Time is flying, and I am holding on.

Friday, January 18, 2008


If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the box I unearthed today speaks many languages, for English alone doesn't have enough words to convey the stories I dug up this evening.

It's a box fit for the the kind of life I've lived the past six years: The discarded box in which Nolan's Dora potty was packaged has now become home to the children's baby books and all the photos taken since January 2002, when Sean was born. I have four additional photo albums, but these photos are the ones that never made into any album. My intentions were good, believe me. Aren't they always?

The impetus for tonight's trip down memory lane was to flip through Seany's baby book on the eve of his sixth--SIXTH!--birthday. I also came across photos of me as a child, and Nolan bears an uncanny resemblance to me. Right down to the mischievous little smile I had as a three-year-old. Nolan has it, too. A grin and twinkle. I will never tell him how far that can get him in life.

The photos were bittersweet. Sean's baby days were followed by Nolan's first coos and feedings. The photos of Nolan's first winter were particularly poignant: behind every face that smiled at me behind the camera, my marriage was disintegrating. Specifically haunting were photos taken in January 2005, during a full-blown blizzard. Sean smiled into the lens with rosy cheeks and a runny nose, fresh from a brief and blustery adventure into the front yard on a day that should have been his birthday party. The snow got in the way of that, and we had what I thought was a nice family day at home. What I didn't know the day these pictures were taken was that a few hours later I would suffer a full-blown breakdown. What's more, my breakdown was only the tip of the iceberg. Yes, I had postpartum anxiety and depression. But that was a mere sliver of the pie. My whole world at that moment on the corner of West Elm and Yale was a barren tundra. And it was going to get colder, warmed only by the light of my two amazing little boys.

The events that played out over the course of the next year are not something I choose to get into here, save to say that I came out of the darkest period of my life and into my loneliest. I'll save the details for the book I'm trying to write--a feat that is proving harder than I could have imagined, for the catharsis of writing yields to the pain of reliving memories, moments, dialogue, sensation, taste, temperature, and sound.

But back to the photos. I noticed something about myself in those photos from the months leading up to my breakdown and those soon thereafter:

I was too skinny.

I never thought I'd say it--or think it. But it's true. I was too skinny. If the camera puts on 10 pounds, then I must have been emaciated. I tossed a photo up from the floor to Ian. "Check out the bones poking out of my chest in this picture."

Ian surveyed the photo, looking it over longer than he had the others. Finally, he said in a concerned tone, "I'll say."

The photo was of me holding Nolan on Christmas morning. I was sitting crosslegged in pajama bottoms and a v-neck sweater. My knees stuck out like tennis balls. My clavacle was much too visible, and my sternum was leaping out of my skin. My eyes looked tired and wild, sunken into their sockets while my cheekbones were entirely too defined. I had the look of a refugee being thrown onto a rollercoaster without a seatbelt.

Some might have said I looked fabulous. Skinny! I was skinny! Isn't that what's important in this culture? Isn't it funny, my friends and I have noted in more recent times, how fabulously skinny we are when we are miserable? So skinny we can't eat. We can't drink. We can't breathe beneath the weight of our own bones that are screaming for us to be noticed, since the soul can't do it on its own.

Ian handed the picture back to me, and I didn't look at it again. Instead, I pulled out a photograph taken in New York City on February 24, 2005. It was of my children in their strollers in Central Park. The park was covered in snow, and in stark contrast to that was the billowing saffron folds of Christo's "Gates", a wonderful exhibit of warmth, texture, and movement against a barren landscape.

Behind that photo was one of me, my children, and my Uncle Danny (who lives in New York), taken the same day next to an absurd and amusing naked statue inside the Time Warner building in Columbus Circle. I looked happy. I looked like I had gained about a pound, too.

A month earlier, I was unable to walk around my neighborhood alone without having to sit on the sidewalk, fearful I would spontaneously walk into traffic and kill myself. Now, in February, I was admiring the billowing gates with my grandmother, mother, sister, brother, uncle and children by my side. They are the constants in my life. The fact that we are now slowly losing Grandma to liver cancer made me cradle these photos a little more carefully in my hands.

One of Sean's earliest memories is of that day. As recently as this summer he mentioned it to me. "Remember that day we were in New York City and it was cold and I ran under all those orange flags, and you were chasing after me with Nolan in the stroller, and we were all laughing? Do you remember that, Mommy?"

I remember.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Home is Where Your Head is At

Ian and I have been starting the process of exploring our options for house buying within the year. We've pretty much narrowed it down to staying in the Cove or buying a place in Branford--a town we both like. A lot. But how the year plays out still remains to be seen. Ideally, we'll have a place by fall or winter, so we can be somewhat settled before our wedding in Summer '09.

We're definitely at an advantage as buyers in this market, but we have certain requirements of a house that drive up the price nonetheless. For starters, we have three dogs between us, so we need a yard. Not a little yard, either. It doesn't have to be an acre, but it sure as hell can't be the .09 acres that many Cove houses promise. Besides, I want lots of space to plant a wild, gorgeous mass of perennials--something I never did on West Elm Street, where I curiously preferred annuals to compliment my tiny smattering of bulbs that flowered each spring.

We also need at least--at least!--1400 square feet. Between two growing boys, three big dogs, and two adults who *really* like their space, anything less isn't really an option. And we need a garage. Ian has two motorcycles. The guy is a bonafide gearhead. We need a place where he can hang up those half-naked pics of chicks and get grease under his fingernails.

In short, I've had houses on the brain, somewhat obsessively. So it should be no surprise to me that last night I dreamed about my old house in Westville. I dreamed it was vacant, with children's toys scattered on the lawn. It was remodeled, and apparently paid off. The only thing it needed was an owner, someone willing to move in and care for it. My old house! Paid off! It just needed a tenant.

"No way. Absolutely not. I don't care if it's free," I was saying in my sleep, when I woke up to Nolan crawling into my bed.

Later this morning, I baked up some cinnamon rolls to enjoy the morning of this bogus snow day (in all the meteorological panic about this storm--this dusting--school was cancelled). The kids are thrilled, running around the house in robot pjs, staring out at the patchy white stuff through the great big windows of this gorgeous apartment. Nolan held a tiny globe in his hand and approached me as I was removing a band-aid from a nasty cut I received on my finger last week.

"Mommy, can you show me where our house is?"

"Sure, baby!" I said, and spun the globe to find New Haven. I pointed to a little spot southwest of Cape Cod.

"Is that our new house?" he asked.


"Is that not our old house?"

"Well, our old house is in New Haven, too."

"Our old house has new people in it?"


He turned his attention to my cut. "Is your cut all better?"


"Why is it not all better?"

"Because some things take a while to heal."