Friday, May 30, 2008


Q: What costs $124 and comes with a smile?

A: A ticket for blowing a stop sign.

This morning the kids and I sped off to school as usual, darting down Concord St and rolling through the stop sign at Parker. "Rolling" might actually be a generous term. I don't think I even stepped on the brake; I just took my foot off the gas pedal.

I kept on down Concord, chatting away with the kids and listening to NPR when all of a sudden I heard the undeniable woop woop, woop woop of a police siren. I looked in my rearview and saw him, a New Haven motorcycle cop motioning me to pull over. Crap.

"Why are you stopping?" Sean asked.

"Yeah, why are you stopping?" asked Nolan the echo.

"Because the police are pulling me over. I didn't stop at a stop sign. I just kind of .... rolled through it. And that means I broke the law. So......I'm probably going to get a ticket."

"What's a ticket?" Sean asked.

"Yeah, what's a ticket?" Echo. Echo.

"A ticket is when you pay a fine...which means you pay money because you broke the law. If I broke the law really bad, they'd put me in jail. But when you only break the law a little, they make you pay for it."

By this time the cop was by my window. I handed him my license and registration and smiled, regretting that I took off a skimpy tank top this morning and replaced it with a t-shirt.

"I rolled through that stop sign, didn't I?" I asked, smiling.

"Rolled? More like you sped through it."

"Sorry 'bout that."

"No problem. Be back in a minute."

I watched him walk back to his motorcycle and write the ticket.

"You should have stopped, Mom."

"I know, Sean."

"Yeah, Mom. You should have stopped." Echo.

"I know. It's dangerous not to come to a complete stop, right? What if someone was trying to cross the road while I was driving?"

"Great. Now we're going to be reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally late," Sean moaned.

"Exactly. And I didn't stop because we were late and I wanted to get you to school. But what happened? Now we're even more late, right? So what's the lesson?"

"Stop and we'll only be a little late instead of a lot late and having to PAY MONEY."

Sean obviously 'got it'.

"Yeah, PAY MONEY." Echo.

The cop walked back to my car, handed me back my things and gave me the ticket. 124 clams. Sheesh.

"So, I've given you a ticket for running the intersection, and if you want to contest it you'll have until the 15th of June."

"Ha!," I laughed. "I don't think I'll be contesting it. I totally blew that stop sign. Lesson learned."

He cracked up. "I'm supposed to keep my composure, but thank you for the laugh. I appreciate your honesty."

"No problem."

We drove off, just two blocks away from school.


"No, sweetie. It's coming out of mine."


We arrived at school and I kissed the kids goodbye. Sean's friend Hillary arrived when we did, and her mom and I talked. She's divorced, like me. And like me, she is always a few beats behind in getting her kid off to school.

Sean and Hillary walked together into class, and Sean couldn't wait to tell Hillary's mom, "Mom got a ticket for not stopping at a stop sign! Now she has to pay $124!!"

Sheila--Hillary's mom--was aghast. "$124? Why couldn't it be, like $50?"

"It's no big deal, really," I explained. "It's the first ticket I've ever received in my life."

"Are you kidding me?"


"Have you ever been stopped?"

"Oh yeah, lots of times. Guess I'm just not as cute as I used to be. Ha!"

"Oh, you're still cute. You just got a cranky cop."

"Well, at least the kids and I all learned our lesson. And now all of Kindergarten is going to hear about it."

"They'll think you're badass."

"Well I am!"

We parted ways, promising to meet up for lunch after little league soon and hopefully sip some margaritas on the deck once school lets out.

I drove off to work, smiling.

Not a bad start to the day, really. I mean, I'm 35. And this is my first ticket. And I made the cranky cop laugh.

Not bad at all.


Thursday, May 29, 2008


Positive Mental Attitude

Sean has long been known to say, "You get what you get and you don't get upset." My ex-husband and I do not know where he picked this up, but we're happy he did. We can all learn from it.

In that vein, I have a few rules around our house: We don't call each other stupid; we try not to say "hate"--this requires extra effort on my part; and we do not say we can't do something.

This morning Sean tried to fix yet another Star Wars ship that Nolan received for a present at his birthday party. We have a fleet of ships in our house, and the kids can tell you the specs and functionality of every single one. As he struggled to fix the ship (it sure didn't look like an easy task, and I was happy he offered to help out), Sean dropped the ship in his lap and cried out,


"Sean!" I exclaimed, whipping up some soybutter and jelly sandwiches for today's lunchboxes. "We don't say can't."

"But this thing is never going to get back together!"

"Well if you say that and believe that, then what is going to happen?"

"It's never going to get back together."

"Right," I smugly replied. (If only I followed my own philosophy....)

"I know, I know. We try and try and try, right?" Sean replied, totally annoyed with the ship and now me. "And we never give up."

"Right, kiddo!"

Sean threw down the ship. "Except today. Today I give up."

He walked out of the kitchen.

I picked up the ship. After about five minutes, I managed to get it back together. Nolan and Sean weren't so impressed. After all, they'd done it before. Just not today. Today was my turn to try.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Results are In

I stopped home at lunch today to check on Shakes the Dog. Cee Cee, as she is also known, had a seizure last night. She needed a noontime game of fetch and some fresh water. We both did.

While I chucked the tennis ball in the yard, the phone rang. It was the allergist calling with the results from the kids' latest blood work. Two weeks ago, I took them to Yale for their annual allergy testing. Sean was a trooper, hollering like a monkey and realizing that if he made himself laugh while three large vials of blood were being drawn, then it didn't seem to hurt as much.

Nolan on the other hand...

Nolan screamed more than he has ever screamed in his life when that needle dug under his skin. He screamed at the tech, "Take it out! Take it out!" His body was rigid, held tight by my arms weighting him down in my lap. He was so distressed the tech couldn't get the vein, and so she had to wiggle the needle under his skin for more than a minute before she could tap into it and get the blood flowing. This only fueled Nolan's hysterics. He was beside himself, spit flying as he screamed at the tech.

Sean tried to make him laugh. "At least they're just sucking your blood and not your eyeball into that thing!" he said. Nolan wasn't laughing.

"I don't think anything is going to cheer him up, Mom," Sean said loudly in my ear.

"Good job trying, anyway," I yelled back over the screams.

By this time Nolan was purple and sweaty, slippery with tears and shaking from fear. The tech was done, and Nolan almost threw up from crying so much. I quickly gave him and his brother Dum Dums before we headed off to Target for some new toys as a reward for being put through that ordeal. During the course of the next 30 minutes, Nolan randomly broke down, shaking and shivering. My heart was broken for him. I hated to put him through that. But we had to find out where he stands as far as food allergies are concerned. After all, his brother hasn't been very lucky in that department.

So this afternoon, I stood in my sunny backyard, strappy skinny black heels sinking into the earth as I tossed the ball to Cee Cee. "Lay it on me," I said to the doctor. "Let's start with Sean."

Bad news. All of his levels are up. Way up. In some cases there is a 100-fold increase in his sensitivity to certain allergens. Peanuts, tree nuts, and nearly all shellfish are lethal to Sean. And I don't exaggerate. He can't ingest these foods. He can't even go near a smoking nut cart in New York City. This crap is poison to his little body, period. Fortunately, he is still negative on the less lethal but more hard to manage food allergies such as wheat, dairy, soy and eggs. It's a major silver lining. Most kids start outgrowing food allergies by six years old. Sean's prognosis seems to be that he'll be allergic as an adult, too.

Nolan? For all of his blood, sweat and tears, Nolan isn't allergic to anything. Not a single thing. I'm thrilled for him. But it's not like we're going to run out and celebrate with Reese's peanut butter cups and shrimp.

Before hanging up, the doctor wanted to know if I had any questions.

I sighed. "I guess I just wish there was a guarantee he'd be safe--and not turn into a paranoid lunatic about food. I feel like I walk a really fine line in educating him about his allergy without making him completely freaked out and fearful."

"Just keep doing what you're doing. So far, he seems to have a good handle on what he's dealing with and sense of humor about it, too."

"Yeah." I didn't sound convinced. I had stopped throwing the ball to the dog. Thanking the good doctor, I said goodbye and sat on my deck stairs for a few minutes, feeling the sun on my arms.

So later tonight, while Sean snoozed in his bed and Nolan whimpered for me to snuggle with him "just one more little last time, Mommy," I laid my head on Nolan's pillow and answered all the questions to the MedicAlert service rep I was talking to on the phone. It's high time to reactivate Sean's account, in light of his increased sensitivity and the fact that he's spending most of summer vacation in day camp.

Nolan twirled my hair in his little fingers, and Sean's breathing was steady and deep, so reassuring against the clanging of the sailboat masts a few blocks away. The rep and I discussed what would be engraved on the two sportsband bracelets Sean had picked out.

"So, we'll have it read 'Anaphylaxis to peanuts, treenuts, shellfish. Call 911'," the operator said. "Correct?"


"The thing is," the operator went on to say, "I answer a lot of the emergency calls that come in, and some people honestly don't know what they're dealing with. It's not their fault. They just don't even know what an epi-pen is. So if we say, 'treat with epi-pen', they'll lose precious minutes trying to figure out what it is, how to use it, and neglect to call 911. Worse, they might use the epi but never follow up with a 911 call, which can be just as bad as not treating him at all."

"I know." I've been to the hospital twice with Sean. Believe me, I know.

"So, do you agree the inscription on the bracelet should say that? Should we confirm it, or would you like to change it?"

"Keep it."

Nolan fell asleep, fingers in my hair. I could hear the operator clicking away on the keyboard.

"Okay, you're all set. Two bracelets will be shipped out within the next 72 hours or so. You should have them in 7 to 10 business days."

Sigh. Lots of sighs today.

I went to the kitchen. I really need to do yoga tonight, which of course means I instead grabbed some of Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra from the freezer and scraped the bottom of the pint. Working my spoon (and eating my feelings), I thought of all the ways you can protect your children in life--and all the ways you can't. We can kiss skinned knees and other boo-boos, we can arm them with epi-pens and knowledge, but we can't always stop things from happening. Usually, we can just do our best to lessen the likelihood of any harm coming to our children, provide antidotes if needed, and pray and hope for the best.

At the end of the day, Sean's allergies are a real challenge. But so are other things. When he's a fragile 15-year-old with a raging hormonal/ego cocktail swirling in his head and body, I won't be able to protect him from all the emotional monsoons that might come his way. But I can do my best to stave off the worst of it--starting now. Just like with his allergies, I can begin now to lay a foundation of self-confidence and understanding for Sean and his brother. Maybe Sean's sweet six year old wisdom will carry over into the rest of his years, and he will approach life like he does his allergies: He will have handle on it and even have a sense of humor about it. Maybe these allergies are his greatest teacher. As for me, I learn from my children.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Clear Skies

Nolan's birthday party was a fun, back-yard time on Saturday. The sun played peekaboo behind the clouds for most of the afternoon while nearly a dozen children 6 and under (most of them 3 and 4 years old) ran around the backyard wearing various Star Wars masks and helmets, brandishing lightsabers and blasters, and in some cases even sporting capes. While the parents chatted away, the kids piled into the battery operated Jeep (thanks, Grandpa C....the kind of gift only a grandparent gives) and drove around the yard at about 1.5 MPH. The car holds about two and a half kids. There were as many as six in it at one point, waving guns and lightsabers in the air, frosting-smeared faces hidden behind masks. A bunch of preschool sandinistas. I loved it.

We all enjoyed the party. And on Sunday, the boys and I enjoyed a respite from all the activity. Just the three of us with nothing to do all day except enjoy the sunshine in the backyard and play with all the new toys Nolan received for his birthday. And Monday was more of the same, including a few solid hours at the beach and hamburgers for dinner. The kids and I had much-needed time together. There were no meltdowns. No tantrums. No big chores. No issues at all. Just a couple of sunny, relaxing days for the three of us. I kept my phone(s) off for much of the weekend, too. If the kids are with me, then I know everything is okay. And if someone needs to reach me, eventually they will. But frankly, I don't really want the outside world to intrude when the birds are chirping and the kids are riding scooters in the driveway, wearing capes and singing "Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto!" over and over and over....

I think it's funny that I have two boys. It makes sense, really. As much as I would like a daughter, too, I think that the boys are my speed. My friend Julia, with whom I visited last week in Boston, quickly commented that she thought it was a good match. "You have energy," she said, and I do. Like the kids have said, "You're not a grown-up. You're fun!" But I also don't try to be their buddy. I am very much their mother, and they know that. Their fun mom. Their playful mom. Their silly mom. But always Mom. And if they don't listen and I start counting to three, you should see those little legs scramble.

At the same time, it's a handful some days, especially at the end of a long workday when all three of us are punchy and hungry. Heide came over for dinner last week, and after witnessing the flurry of little boy activity that goes on around my house in the evening, she said I was her hero for doing it all alone. "No wonder you're getting married!"

At first I took exception to that. But I understand her point. Still, I responded, it depends on the man. Would I want to marry a man who is a self-centered, irresponsible, childish boy? No. Would I marry a man who is responsible but playful, adventurous but not reckless? Yes. I don't need to be married. Marriage can be a hassle, to put it simply. But it can also be a rewarding, beautiful space in which to grow and thrive as individuals sharing their experience.

For now, the only vows I'm making are to myself and my children. I've vowed to keep this summer free and clear of any more planning or future-talk. I've vowed to immerse myself in the moment as much as possible, cultivating the little nest in which my boys and I grow and thrive and share. I've vowed to trust that when the next step happens, our wings will be ready to spread.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Top 10

Today's Top Ten:

10. Seeing that rainbow last night.
9. Dinner with Heide and her daughter at my place on Wednesday.
8. Stuffing a Batmobile pinata full of toys and Tootsie Pops.
7. Walks with the dog.
6. Ocean breezes in my yard.
5. Grinding beans and brewing coffee with Nolan.
4. Big, big hugs from Sean.
3. Hitting Ikea at lunch yesterday with Heide.
2. Flowers, flowers, flowers blooming everywhere.
1. Knowing I could add another 100 things to this list.

It's Memorial Day Weekend. Time to grill some burgers and kick out the jams.

Here's a clip for the day. If it was 40 years ago, I would have been a horrible groupie for the Animals. I'm sure of it.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Date Night

With myself.

I didn't do anything particularly exciting. In fact, my ex-husband and I had dinner at my house with the kids before they all went off for the night, walking through a sunshower to the car. And as I waved to them from the back door while they pulled out of the driveway, we all noticed an absolutely spectacular rainbow behind my house:

The kids waved and smiled, and I did the same. Then I ran and grabbed the camera to capture this thing:

Just gorgeous. These pictures don't do it justice, honestly.

It was the first rainbow I had seen in three years, the last one being as I lay in the grass in Lenox, MA during a yoga workshop with Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa. Funny this one would come on the heels of another weekend of studying with her.

My favorite rainbow--yes, I said favorite rainbow--was one I saw with Grandma back when Sean was about five months old. My ex-husband and I, along with Sean and Grandma, met up on the New Haven Green for the Metropolitan Opera. There was a terrific thunderstorm, followed by a glorious rainbow in the clearing. I will never, ever forget that. It is one of my favorite memories.

Back to today. That moment I peered from the deck into the striped sky was a gift. A moment to pause and know I was pausing to do nothing but look up and admire.

Then I went to Stop & Shop. Yawn. Picked up some essentials for this weekend's birthday blowout for Nolan. Home, I took Cee Cee for a long walk in the twilight, smelling the grass, jumping over puddles, listening the birds cheep cheep goodnight. Back inside, I let Cee Cee lick the spoon after I devoured ice cream, readying myself for some serious goody-bag packing and pinata stuffing. Which I did happily on the living room floor, watching the game.

The game. The Yankees are in last place, and tonight they played the last of a three game series against the Orioles. And in the bottom of the 9th, the game tied at 1, the homeplate umpire paused before giving a call, allowing the catcher to tell him what he thought the call was. It wasn't in favor of the batter, Giambi. And the ump agreed.

Enter Joe Girardi, who channeled Billy Martin for the most exciting moment I've seen so far this season--maybe in years. He threw down his hat. He kicked dirt. He screamed, spit flying everywhere. He fired up the crowd and had me hollering and cheering from my living room floor, Batmobile pinata bouncing in my lap, Tootsie Pops flailing in my hands. Ejected from the game, Girardi instantly became my hero. For as much I loved Joe Torre for his stoicism, I can equally love Joe Girardi for some serious spark and fire.

The Yanks won right after that, when Cano knocked an RBI double into left field. I shared that moment with the dog. Then all was quiet, time for yoga. Nearly time for bed.

But first, a couple more photos from the week. First, baseball is obviously the sport of choice around here, regardless of how many teams you root for at once with your wardrobe. (For the record, Noly now has a Sox hat...)

And this, of Noly wearing his Vader helmet and riding the raptor. Just another day around this house:

Happy Thursday.

Something to See

Yet another reason for me to head back into the City soon. From today's NYT:

Three Dubliners’ Plain Poetry of Everyday Loss

Words are sharp, shiny hooks in the monologues of the Irish playwright Conor McPherson. They attract and snag the attention, snaring it at least until the language stops, and usually well after that. Give those words to actors who know how to cast a line, and you’ll find an audience helplessly captive.

Three such actors have been assembled for “Port Authority,” Mr. McPherson’s haunting fugue on passive lives and loves that might have been. (The show opened on Wednesday night at the Linda Gross Theater in Chelsea.)

Playing Dubliners of three generations, Brian d’Arcy James (late of “Next to Normal”), John Gallagher Jr. (a Tony Award winner last year for “Spring Awakening”) and Jim Norton (a McPherson stalwart, nominated for a Tony this year for his work in “The Seafarer”) are asked simply to stand up and talk without benefit of flashy jokes, someone else to play off or much in the way of a dramatic story.

Yet 5 or 10 minutes into this Atlantic Theater Company production directed by Henry Wishcamper, I found myself holding on to what these actors had to say as if I were a 5-year-old at bedtime being introduced to “The Arabian Nights.” It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t wait to hear what happened next to the men portrayed onstage. The endings of their narratives are fairly evident in their beginnings. What kept me eager and alert was knowing that another simple, surprising phrase was always around the corner. And with that phrase, one or another of the actors would quietly open a door onto a sad, resonantly quiet darkness that laps away, unacknowledged but omnipotent, at a perfectly ordinary life. As Mr. Norton’s character says with a pleading urgency, “I was always like everybody else.”

Broadway audiences of the last decade know Mr. McPherson for “The Weir” (1999), “Shining City” (2006) and “The Seafarer,” which recently had a limited run on Broadway and has been nominated for a Tony for best play. These are all dramas in the expected sense in that people talk and react to one another on the stage.

But it was as a creator of gruffly lyrical monologues that Mr. McPherson, who is still in his 30s, came to attention in the mid-1990s with works like “The Good Thief” (1994), “This Lime Tree Bower” (1995) and “St. Nicholas” (1997). These are pieces with the enveloping, brutal sentimentality of Irish short-story masters like William Trevor and Edna O’Brien. But they are written in a punchy, cadenced style — meant to be pitted with silences — that blossoms fully only when spoken aloud.

I hadn’t realized how much I missed hearing Mr. McPherson’s monologues until I saw “Port Authority,” which was first staged in London in 2001. All of the show’s tales, delivered in rotating chapters, are love stories of a sort, told by people of scant initiative to “whom things happened,” as one of them puts it.

They belong to the three ages of man. The young Kevin (Mr. Gallagher) is living outside his parents’ home for the first time, sharing a rundown house with two alcohol-pickled men and a wry woman. Dermot (Mr. James) is a middle-aged ne’er-do-well who finds himself inexplicably bound for Los Angeles in a glamorous job as a money manager. Joe (Mr. Norton) lives in an old-folks’ home, where meals are the big events.

They are, as each well knows, people you would normally look right through. They make their entrances with appropriate inconspicuousness, materializing on Takeshi Kata’s anonymous waiting room of a set before you are fully aware of them. All three remain onstage for the show’s 90 minutes, though for the most part they don’t appear conscious of one another.

Their stories begin flatly, tinged with the sheepishness of those who don’t think themselves worth listening to. The smile of Mr. Gallagher’s Kevin, the first to speak, is furtive and apologetic. Mr. James’s Dermot appears eternally crippled by disgusted embarrassment. Only Mr. Norton’s Joe has a touch of the showoff and that, you feel, is a privilege of old age adopted only recently.

Yet each is endowed with a godly eye for detail, which makes the mundane assume a cosmic glow. Joe, describing a woman who once lived next door, speaks of “the strange way she twisted her jaw when she became full of good-humored bad thoughts about people she was criticizing.”

Kevin sees a vision of a possible future in the bare ankles of the housemate he goes grocery shopping with, “like she’d never need to wear socks if she was with me or something.” Dermot, on the phone in a swank Los Angeles hotel to his wife in Ireland, hears the sounds of a backyard family party and thinks, “There was an echo which struck me as something to do with the summer and I couldn’t take it anymore.”

Remorse is what Dermot feels in the carpet under his feet then, or at least he thinks so. A tentativeness infuses these monologues, as if these men are unwilling to trust the self-defining perceptions that creep up on them. Instead, they unthinkingly accept regret as the human condition, on a par with original sin.

“Port Authority” is weakest in its teasing references that link the characters’ stories, evidently meant to satisfy a hunger for conventional dramatic patterns. But as in Mr. McPherson’s best work, this play is steeped in a deeper symmetry, rooted in the ineffable within the everyday.

This mystical presence is signaled by Matthew Richards’s artful lighting, which follows the actors’ expertly guided tours into shadowy corridors of introspection and revelation. None of their characters lingers there for too long. Nor should they; the pain would be too great. But Mr. McPherson and this fine cast make sure that we know that such shadows will always gnaw at the edges of these three lives.


By Conor McPherson; directed by Henry Wishcamper; sets by Takeshi Kata; costumes by Jenny Mannis; lighting by Matthew Richards; sound by Bart Fasbender; dialect coach, Stephen Gabis; production stage manager, Mary Kathryn Flynt; production manager, Michael Wade; general manager, Jamie Tyrol; associate artistic director, Christian Parker. Presented by the Atlantic Theater Company, Neil Pepe, artistic director; Andrew D. Hamingson, managing director. At the Atlantic Theater Company at the Linda Gross Theater, 336 West 20th Street, Chelsea; (212) 279-4200. Through June 22. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

WITH: Jim Norton (Joe), Brian d’Arcy James (Dermot) and John Gallagher Jr. (Kevin).


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Required Listening

Thin Lizzy's "Little Girl in Bloom", turned up just right for a sunny afternoon drive.

And way of Ian. Everyone should have a music vest!

Happy Wednesday.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Ladies and Gentlemen, the bag:

This is the bag that made headlines at last weekend's Yoga Journal Conference in Boston. I purchased it from Athleta just last week, after months of lusting for it. It was worth it. The bag is beautiful and practical. And everywhere I went during the conference, it became a topic of conversation. I'm not exaggerating. The first morning I was approached by a handful of women who eagerly asked where I had purchased it. By the end of the day I had made two new friends because of the bag. And by Sunday morning as I rolled out the two mats I can store in the bag's exterior pouch, someone asked me where I had bought it and another woman said,

"Every time I've seen you, someone's asking you about your bag! And I've seen you a lot!"

It was hilarious.

The Tadasana Tote from Athleta. If you do yoga--and especially if you do so much yoga that you're tired of schlepping your gear from class to class--treat yourself to the bag. It's worth it.


As for the rest of the conference: Dr. Dean Ornish gave a powerful presentation. I had a twisting workshop with Richard Freeman, who could very well be the lovechild of Willem Dafoe and David Bowie.

And then I had the Kundalini kicked out of me in two intensives with Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa.

Gurmukh's classes are so inspiring, and they usually shock newcomers off their feet. Typically, while doing the different kriyas put forth by the late Yogi Bhajan who brought Kundalini to the west, we hold certain poses for several minutes. The kriyas are designed to target the different chakras of the body, and before I was introduced to Kundalini several years ago, I wasn't certain I believed in the whole chakra thing. And I was already a serious yoga student.

Now? I believe. I have no choice. Kundalini has a profound effect on the people who practice it. So, while Gurmukh led us through a kriya targeting the heart chakra (including going back into camel pose 55 times and coming in and out of a squat position for 28 minutes, which loosened up all the emotional gunk in our root chakras), people found themselves suddenly weeping. Sure, it can be painful to be on your knees and reaching back for your heels 55 times in a row, but that's not why they were crying. Something in the heart chakra literally cracks open. It might feel like your spine, but really it's emotion we hold onto so tightly it can make us sick.

So there we were, a room full of women and two men, many of them well-off, reserved, and some of them in powerful careers. And people were weeping. Reaching for their heels, weeping, and listening to Gurmukh say, "Forgive yourself. Forgive the people who are hardest to forgive. Offer up a silent prayer to those people. Tell them, 'I forgive you. Will you forgive me? Please. Thank you.' Always say please and thank you. And say it to yourself, 'I forgive you, will you forgive me?' Can you tell yourself that? 'I love you, will you love me? Please. Thank you.' Let go of it all. You don't have to understand everything that has happened in your life. If you try to understand what has happened you'll miss what's in front of you. Just have an open heart, compassion. For others. For yourself. Only ten more times to go for those heels. Now go!"

At the end this pose, the chakra-blown newcomers turn to one another, bewildered, red-faced with wild hair and say, "This is amazing. I'm sobbing. This is just amazing." And rest of us just smiled, covered in sweaty tears head to toe, because that sense of release and acceptance is the whole reason we study Kundalini in the first place. For me, it's my preferred form of yoga. But there is so much to be learned from other disciplines as well. And I have a lot to learn--about everything.

Gurmukh. Man. I wish I could study with her daily. It's enough to make me want to drop everything and bring my kids to her Ashram in India for the rest of our lives. At the very least, I hope to make it on one of her Yatras sooner than later. In 2005, after first studying with Gurmukh at the Kripalu center in Lenox, Mass., I had planned to go on the Yatra in February of 2007. But life demanded my attention in other areas. I was subsequently separated for a second time, divorced, and sold my house. I could not drop everything and go to India for two weeks. In fact, the opposite was happening: I was doing everything I could just to keep it together with my children and have a roof over our heads in New Haven.

Things are different now, while so many things are the same, and that point was driven home on Saturday night when I met up with my beautiful and wonderful friend, Julia. Eleven years ago Julia and I were interning together at the New Haven Advocate, friends from college and acquaintences from a shared lifetime in New Haven. (She helped stock my vinyl collection when she worked at the long gone Rhymes Records on Broadway.) She and I are kindred spirits in many ways, and we both descend from Doyles. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if we were distant cousins. Except that I'm wicked short, and she's pretty damn tall.

She met me at the posh Jurys where I crashed out for two nights, and we trolled through Boston's South End, eating at a great Asian tapas diner and grabbing tea to go as we walked around Boston on a pretty spring night. We caught up on each other's lives, both of us having been divorced, she now remarried and me "getting there". We filled in gaps and filled in each other's sentences. It was a serious reality check to pick up with her where we left off some time ago. She is one of the smartest, wittiest friends I have. I was sad to say goodbye, and I can't wait to get up to Boston again to see her.

The weekend wound down quite nicely. By the end of the day on Sunday, most conference attendees were so sore they could barely walk, me included. Those squats gave my quads a life they never really wanted but seemed happy to have all the same. I had another Kundalini session, and I went to a workshop with NYC's Om Yoga owner Cyndi Lee. The last session I attended was a keynote by a guy named Matthew Sanford, author of Waking.

Matthew is a parapalegic who survived a horrific car crash 29 years ago when he was 13. The crash killed his father and sister, and paralyzed him for life. Now at 42, he brings hope to others with disability by bringing to them the yoga he has learned. For someone without a disability, it is relatively easy to see how sitting in dandasana (staff pose) and pushing out through the heels of the feet can create a swirl of energy that runs up the legs and, if you're really paying attention, all the way to the crown of the head. For people with disability, they do not know that sensation. Or, more likely, doctors refer to it as a "phantom limb" sensation.

But that is inaccurate. In the case of people with their limbs who are given that same line by doctors, the limb is still there, and it has a lifeforce that these patients feel. It is ALL they can feel. And that feeling gives them hope. For some of the people Matthew has helped, including quadrapalegics who had stopped eating because they were so depressed, it is the first realization that they can connect with their bodies. For Matthew, when he first experienced it years ago, that realization meant he no longer felt he was just his torso dragging his crippled legs behind him. He saw himself as whole, rather than half of a broken body.

As Matthew pointed out, this disconnect is not limited to people with disability. The disconnect between mind and body is an epidemic in our society, and is a big reason why so many people make so many poor lifestyle choices when it comes to diet, exercise, substance abuse, relationships, etc. Disconnect. When you are disconnected from yourself, you are disconnected from your community. You are more aggressive, more judgemental. When you are more connected, you are more mindful, more compassionate, more grounded, a more positive force in your own life and in the lives of others.

Safe to say I got my Om on this weekend.

My quads are still kinda sore. I don't mind the feeling.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Mass Transit

Forget the car. I love to drive, but I'm not gassing up my tank in excess of four bucks a gallon to drive to Boston today. Between the cost of filling up and the duckets I'll be shelling out for parking at the hotel, I've decided to hop on AmTrak this afternoon for a relaxing trip up to Beantown. It's the same cost--possibly even a little cheaper. More importantly, I won't have to drive home from Boston after two full days of intensive yoga sessions. I can still keep my Om on. Or better yet, sleep.

Honestly. Twenty dollars got me about a third of a tank the other day. I'm so glad I live so close to my office. The bike is going to be put to good use any possible day this summer. Considering I'll have to take the kids to camp every day, I might not get to use it as much as I would like, but any alternative means of transportation is good right now. At the very least, the gas crisis should make us aware of our dependency on our cars--and seek to change that at least somewhat.

Back to Boston: I'm packed. Ready to go. Ready to read and listen to my iPod on the ride up there. Ready to pick up my registration pass tonight and wander Newbury Street, hopefully grabbing dinner at the Pour House and maybe hitting the Puma store for some new kicks. I've also been charged with the task of picking up Nolan a Red Sox hat. I'll do it. After all, I had the freedom to dissent from a Sox family; he can certainly have the freedom to make up his own mind about baseball. Both of my kids can. Why shouldn't they? But Sean...Sean is a Yankees fan through and through. Even though he sometimes wears a Mets hat. "It's okay, Mom," he has reasoned. "The Mets are in the National League."

I'm going to miss the kids this weekend. Since I'm "on" in solo mode 24/7 with them, it's sometimes a clunky switch of gears into "me" time. Sean has a belt test in Tae Kwon Do this weekend; the kids then have a baseball game and a birthday party. I'm happy to be spared the running around, but I'm going to miss the game and the belt test. That bums me out. I always like to be there to cheer the kids on in whatever makes them really happy. So much so that I forget to cheer myself on in what makes me happy. Hence this weekend away, a gift from Ian. An insistence that I get out of Dodge and downdog or upward bow myself into blissful abandon. And besides, I'm meeting my friend Julia for dinner on Saturday. I cannot wait.

Taking time to myself is not always easy, since I am compulsively responsible and "taking care of things". When I recently told Craig I was getting into sewing and going up to Boston for the conference, he sent me a great lil' email reply:

Take more! You can do it. The world will continue without your help. Kids will continue to have fun, get hurt, heal and grow. Houses will be bought and sold and burn and be built. Friends and lovers will come and go. Gardens will grow, die, get
weeds and sprout unexpected neat stuff. So with that in mind, go sew a little pocket thingee. Go flop down on the bed and nap. Go take a walk by yourself with no destination or time limit. Go "be" without any need to accomplish a task or nurture someone. Go get some Moira love. You're doing it now and you'll keep doing it. You rule.

He's right-on, especially about the kids. At Tae Kwon Do class the other night, I had an opportunity to see how Sean is quickly growing into an aware, responsible kid who will eventually do just fine on his own in the world. After I parked the car, he hopped out of his seat and spotted a discarded Poland Spring sports bottle in the otherwise clean parking lot.

"LITTER!" he shouted, looking both ways before sprinting 20 feet to pick it up.

"That's dirty, honey," I said, passively asserting he should leave it alone.

"I know, Mom!" he replied. "That's why we have to pick it up." He carried it over to my car. "Can you open the back?"

I opened the hatch of my wagon. He threw in the bottle. I closed the hatch.

"There," he said, wiping off his hands. "Now we can throw it in the trash when we get home." Then he darted into the building for class. He has such a good heart.

For now, the kids will enjoy a long overdue full weekend with their dad. And at this moment I should probably get some work done here in the office. The train whistle is going to blow before I know it.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ich! Ni! San! Shi! or Om or something

Sean's getting further into Tae Kwon Do. Although he's usually tired and out of it by the time class rolls around at the end of the day each week, he loves it. He's digging the discipline and vibing off the philosophy. So positively cool to see that in a six-year-old.

And then there is baseball, with its own tenets and structure. Both of my children love the sport, which makes me proud if only because the game is, as Yogi Berra put it, "90% mental--the other half is physical." Honestly, if they were really into football, I'd be worried.

I'm glad my kids are interested in competitive sports and martial arts. I was a very anti-sport kid, evolving into a skier and reluctant high school distance runner before finding a true passion for yoga and, of all things, running in my adult life. And, yeah, I like to ride my bike. But I'm not into the whole bike culture that's so hip these days. I have a bike. I ride it. I also have shoes. And I wear them. Same difference to me.

This weekend I head up to Boston for the Yoga Journal Conference. I cannot wait. I'm so excited for this weekend and so badly in need of it: A weekend alone, spread out in a king-sized bed all by myself, enjoying room service in a posh hotel and spending my days in intensive yoga sessions with the likes of Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, who is one of my heroes, and Ana Forrest, among others.

I'm also hoping to hook up with my friend Julia on Saturday night. She has lived in Boston for years, and we used to be close. We lost touch with each other, drifting apart after Sean was born. We reconnected a couple of years ago and, because we're on the same wavelength, she tracked me down and gave me a call the same week I had been thinking of calling her before my trip to Beantown. Hopefully we can connect and catch up. We have lots of catching up to do. She and I are always good for picking up right where we left off. And she is an excellent friend, full of as much chagrined wisdom as she is full hilarious stories.

My favorite story of Julia's is from a couple of years ago when she met the famed Japanese author Haruki Murakami at a cocktail party in Boston. Julia has a way of finding herself in such situations.

Julia was introduced to the man. "This is Haruki," a friend said.

" Haruki Murakami," Julia offered.

"I am Haruki Murakami," the author replied.

"Right," Julia laughed. "And I'm Dorothy Parker." And she laughed some more.

Um, but it was Murakami.

She couldn't wait to tell me that story.

So this weekend I'll get my Om on. I'm sure I'll also work my ass off and be pretty sore and sportin' a full chakra tune-up before my drive home Sunday night. Tonight Sean and I head off to Tae Kwon Do. And the rest is the rest, as always. That's a good thing.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How Eye-talian is my Neighborhood?

You: How Italian is it?

Me: It's so Italian, that out walking my dog today on my lunchbreak, I ran into an old lady smoking a cigarette and walking her dog--off leash. Her dog was a barky little fluffy thing, and it took off running toward Cee Cee.

"No, Anthony!" the old lady yelled. "Anthony, get back here!"

Anthony listened, stopped and trotted back to his old lady.

"Beautiful day today, isn't it?" she smiled at me, Anthony now cradled in her arms.

I smiled back. "It sure is."


Monday, May 12, 2008

Mothers and Sons

Yesterday's walk with the dog took me again to Lighthouse, where Cee Cee and I stumbled upon hundreds of people out for a cancer fundraising walk. Pink was everywhere in support of breast cancer victims and survivors.

Strong moms. Strong women.

This morning as we dressed for the day, Sean asked,

"I wonder what teams the Yankees liked when they were little kids?"

"That's a good question, honey. I know that Derek Jeter grew up rooting for the Tigers, because he's from Michigan, which is where Detroit is."

"Hmmm." He was thinking. "Well, anyways. I like the Yankees."


Saturday, May 10, 2008


Grandma had a photo up her sleeve tonight. At least that's where it seemed to come from, anyway, since it magically appeared in her hand during dinner tonight before she reached across the table to give it to me.

"Moira, I found this," she said.

I was 3 years old--almost 4, actually, when the picture was taken. I was next to Jeff, the faithful family dog who followed me around almost as much as I followed him. Jeff was put down in 1977, when he was 12. I have vivid memories of feeding him from the kitchen table and sitting quietly with him, playing with his fur. Here, a few months before my birthday and Jeff's quiet slip into Dog Heaven, we sat looking out at nighttime on Emma Road.

Kinda reminds me of someone.


A Week in the Life

I sewed something! It's like a little pocket...without pants. It's actually the start of a little make-up bag. A very, very simple project that I'm "designing" myself, since the process of simply winding the bobbin and threading the machine was so involved that I had no leftover energy to follow a pattern. Patterns...patterns are so....conformist. (That's the liberal viewpoint required of someone who simply has no idea what she's doing with a sewing machine.)

Last night I got loose and busy with my machine, housed some Dozo takeout with Ian, and then watched the Yanks take a beating by the Tigers (again). Ian left for work, and I spent the next hour or so with more ginger tea (I drink a lot of it), and some yoga before passing out cold in bed with the dog, who spoons with me. It's quite sweet.

Sunny morning. No game today for the kids' team. A long walk down to Lighthouse with the dog is in order before the kids come home. I'm so glad I'm not moving right now. I can't imagine leaving this place, this neighborhood, this short walk to the beach. Not now, anyway. Not just yet. Summer hasn't even begun.

Later today we'll do dinner at Grandma's for an early Mother's Day get-together. As for the "real" day tomorrow, I plan to fill the hummingbird feeder with the kids and be outside with them as much as possible, potting the plants they bought me at school. That's all I need. Fresh air and my boys. Maybe some pancakes.

Before I go, here a few pics from the last week. Just felt like sharin'.

The blooms from Grandma's yard:

Our kitchen is very sunny in the morning. Nolan improvises during breakfast in his Tigers hat:

The boys, beating each other with an iced tea bottle. I don't know if brothers get closer than this:

Cee Cee and her Noly. The dog is beside herself when the boys aren't home:

One of Sean's latest Lego creations. He gets bored with the kits and makes his own designs:

And finally, my sewing project! All it needs is the flap and snap! Yay!

Not a bad week after all.

Happy Saturday.


Friday, May 9, 2008

Springtime in New Haven

So the city of New Haven is cutting more than 100 positions, shutting down a school and cancelling a lauded early reading program, among other budget cutbacks. Don't worry, my politically connected dearies who have landed your civil service jobs solely on the basis of who and not what you know: You'll be fine.

As for everyone else? Well, I guess we can all look forward to the Festival of Arts & Ideas as our annual perk for living here.


In other news, last night I attended a PTA meeting at the private school my children attend (their one worthwhile shot at a robust education in this town, especially in light of budget cuts--and especially since I left Westville in the dust, along with Edgewood School). I met with this year's teachers, next year's teachers, discussed curriculum, fundraising, and other events, chatted with parents and geared up for the end of the school year. We've made some nice friends during the past year, so I am glad that the kids will remain there for a least one more year, if not longer. And I'm proud to say my kids are students of that school, especially since it was just recognized in the top 10% of parochial schools in New England.

But it's a chunck outta my wallet, lemme tell ya. For now, for them, it's worth it.

Other exciting news? My work email account has been hacked, and I've been awaiting my pinup photos from LoveSpell Studio forever. Turns out that Allison sent them almost two weeks ago, along with a DVD of ALL the images. But I've never received them. When I told this to Ian, his immediate reaction echoed my thoughts exactly: "Oh, shit. You mean some dirty fucking mailman is beating off to your photos somewhere? Great."

Ugh. Makes me wanna vomit.

Back to brighter things: Today I head to Nolan's class for an afternoon Mother's Day tea. And maybe this weekend I'll even squeeze in a run, since the scribbly storm cloud that descended over my head earlier this week has finally lifted--I think.

It's May. It's the heart of spring, the first few sips of summer. The blooming flowers, the warm sun, the clean night air...Nolan's birthday is coming up in a few weeks, too. He's going to be four years old. I remember his first birthday like it was this morning. I remember many things like they were this morning. To think he was only a year old when the shit hit the fan in my marriage. He was just a baby.

So was I.

Tonight I'd love to go out, but I think I need to stay in. I contemplated calling up Craig and dragging him out for a few beers. But it's been a rough week, so a night in front of the sewing machine is what is best right now, while I look forward to the spring and summer ahead of me. Seasons of no expectation. A few months to simply Be and see what comes my way.

Here's "You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do What You're Told)" from the White Stripes for your Friday. Enjoy.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Leave a Message and I'll Call You Back

The sewing machine, thread kit, and new copy of Sewing for Dummies is waiting for me on my dining room table. The kids didn't know what to make of it when they came home to it the other day. They thought it was some kind of robot.

Today, if USPS package tracking is accurate, I'll receive my choice fabrics from And I ordered yet another book (recommended by Heide) and some sweet tin toy patterned fabric from yet another site.

I cannot wait to get busy with my new machine. Getting this new hobby off the ground is going to be a serious learning curve that will require immense amounts of patience, I'm sure. But it's going to be so rewarding, too. I'm stoked. So when the kids are with their dad tomorrow night, and Ian is at the bar serving round after to round to most of the people I know, I'll be home. Pedal, push, stitch. Pedal, push, stitch... and only the dog will hear me swear as I learn the ropes.

Today we've got some big cheese in the office. Roquefort. Important bosses in town to present new information to staff. Tonight is a PTA meeting at the kids' school. And I've got some mother's day things to get together for the weekend--especially for my mom. She left me a really sweet voicemail today, full of all the things everyone (including me) has ever wished their mother would say--at least ONCE. She felt compelled to, no doubt, since my anxiety has been back on the rise and officially KO'd me into a corner a few nights ago. I'm better now. Not so shaky. But the point is that it was teaching me something: I have enough on my plate. I need not take on any more right now. Not if I don't have to.

And you've got to love a mother who, despite all the BS we've been through, says: "I don't know what I ever did as your mom to make the voices in your head tell you that you're inadequate, but you need to know that it's not true. You are amazing. Capable. Beautiful. Funny. Talented. Smart. A great friend. And a WONDERFUL mother. I am so proud of you, you have no idea. I'm so proud of my grandsons, too." It went on, but the fact is I listened to that in the middle of my workday and tried to sop up the tears before running into my boss.

I saved the message.

I also needed to make myself laugh--quickly--after that. So I found this, and it worked. Enjoy it.

McCain Vows To Replace Secret Service With His Own Bare Fists

Breathing's gotten easier the past couple of days.

And I have a question: Does the fortune from a fortune cookie count if you don't actually eat the cookie? I guess to be on the safe side I should house this thing. Then again, it did say "It is up to you to create your own adventure today!"

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I've Already Been to Paris, Already Been to Rome

And I'd go back. Just not right now.

Ah, spring in Connecticut by the water. The only thing better than this is mid-July around here. It's nice out today. I'm wearing a skirt and feeling purty. I'm grabbing a lobster roll at lunch with Heide today. I am blessed with some amazing friends. And Ian and I have decided to officially backburner househunting for the summer. So I feel free to Finally.

This song just about sums it up, as I plan a summer camping trip with the kids and contemplate next week's yoga conference in Boston (can't wait! can't wait!). Enjoy... (this is Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, for the uninitiated):

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Pulling it Together

I'm a little sore this morning. Not from doing lots of yoga, which I did last night and after I woke up today. Not from carrying heavy bags of groceries into the house yesterday, or even picking up my growing boys and tickling them.

I'm sore from trying to zipper up my new tank top.

This morning I slipped it on--a cute little number, maybe too cute for work. It has a side zipper, the trademark symbol of women's warm weather clothing. Left arm resting on the crown of my head, I reached across my torso with my right hand to zip up the shirt and be done with it. But of course, the zipper became stuck right at the side of my bust, and it required some serious torque (and contortions) to get the thing up. I broke a sweat.

I've been on my own since spring 2006, when my ex-husband and I officially declared our marriage dead, he moved out of our former home, and I embarked on this life alone with my kids. Yes, their dad is involved a couple of days a week, when he's home from his job in NYC. Yes, I'm now engaged to Ian. But I live only with my boys. What's more, Ian and I increasingly see less of each other, since he now works two jobs, and he has his own household (including two dogs and five tenants) to maintain. We're busy people.

Most of the time, I hum along as usual with this situation. I do very well on my own, thankyouverymuch. In fact, I like it. And I can handle most anything that comes my way. (And most anything does come my way.) But it's the small moments, like this morning as I struggled with a zipper in front of a full-length mirror, that I actually feel alone. Forget the bathroom door getting locked from the inside with the boys and I stuck in the hallway, while I dismanteld the doorknob and set us free to pee. Forget the raccoon in my yard one sunny morning, aluminum bat in my hand just in case the thing leapt out of the tree near my car. Forget the 911 call when Nolan fell on a plastic sword Sean put in his mouth and began to vomit blood uncontrollably. Forget everything I've ever dealt with alone, serious or trivial. Whether it's paying bills or dealing with broken appliances, I am capable. But when a zipper is stuck on my ribs and there is no other pair of hands to help--that's when I hear the crickets in my life. I feel lonely. I do not lift the hair off the nape of my neck and ask anyone to clasp a necklace or hook a dress. I figure it out for myself. Always.

Which is why I'm a little sore.

I got that zipper up after a few more tries.

Happy Monday.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Players

I know I said I wouldn't blog, but I have to. It's what I do. Besides, this is short:

This morning, while watching Looney Tunes, Nolan said,

"I'm like Elmer Fudd and Sean is like Daffy Duck and you're like Bugs Bunny, dressed as a girl."

I think that's the truest thing I've heard all week.

Happy Saturday.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Three for Three

My third blog today. Just excuse the mess.

So I found a quote I want to share. I find lots of quotes I like, and usually they are as remarkable as they are unremarkable. This is no exception, of course, because it's Shakespeare:

“Some true love turned and not a false turned true.”

I just love that.

And, unless I feel otherwise inspired, I'm not going to blog anymore...for at least a day. Maybe two.

I'm going to watch the rest of this Yanks game tonight and hit the hay. You?


Good News. I Hope It's True.

As the mother of a peanut-allergic child (Sean) who has experienced two episodes of bonafide anaphylactic shock (yes, everyone, peanut allergies are real), the following article is welcome news. I hope it's true:

Expert sees peanut allergy solution within 5 years

By Will DunhamFri May 2, 9:04 AM ET

A form of immunotherapy that could get rid of a person's allergy to peanuts is likely within five years, even as the condition appears to grow more and more common, a U.S. expert said on Thursday.

Peanut allergy often appears in the first three years of life, with the allergic reaction to eating peanuts ranging from a minor irritation all the way to a life-threatening, whole-body allergic response called anaphylaxis.

Many children grow out of other food allergies such as milk or eggs, but only about 20 percent lose their peanut allergy.

Dr. Wesley Burks, a food allergy expert at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, wrote in the Lancet medical journal that a solution appears to be on the horizon.

"I think there's some type of immunotherapy that will be available in five years. And the reason I say that is that there are multiple types of studies that are ongoing now," Burks said in a telephone interview.

Ideally, such a therapy would change a person's immune response to peanuts from an allergic one to a nonallergic one, Burks said.

He said one possible approach is using engineered peanut proteins as immunotherapy. Other approaches are showing promise, he said, including the use of Chinese herbal medicine in animal research.

Genetic engineering may also produce an allergen-free peanut, Burks said.

But he said that because several peanut proteins are involved in the allergic response, the process of altering enough of the peanut allergens to make a modified peanut that is less likely to cause an allergic reaction would probably render the new peanut no longer a peanut.

"You could end up with a soybean," Burks said.

He said peanut allergy affects about 1 percent of children under age of 5, and that in the past 15 years more children have been diagnosed with the condition.

He cited research showing the condition becoming more common -- doubling among young children from 0.4 percent in 1997 to 0.8 percent in 2002 in one U.S. study

It is unclear why it is becoming more common, he said. One theory he cited was the "hygiene hypothesis," which holds that too little exposure to infectious agents in early childhood can raise one's susceptibility to allergic reactions.

Burks said other researchers have suggested that if a pregnant woman eat peanuts, her baby has a higher risk of becoming allergic.

Symptoms of peanut allergy includes skin reactions such as hives, itching around the mouth and throat, diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, wheezing and, in severe cases, anaphylaxis -- a medical emergency.

(Editing by Maggie Fox and Xavier Briand)



Nevermind that I'm trying to save money so Ian and I can buy the *right* house in the *right* town, where we and the kids will be part of a great community that puts its tax dollars to work. No. Nevermind all that saving business. This weekend, I'm going to buy a sewing machine.

I'm Etsy'd out! I need to start making my own purses and pillow covers, cute dresses for the daughter I don't have and curtains for the house I've yet to buy. Initial costs aside, this is an investment. A guarantee. A sure thing that will enable me to decorate my *new* place with things I've made myself with fabrics I actually like, instead buying things from Target like everyone else. (Oh, I'll still do that. Believe me. But it will be tempered by my own design.)

And sewing will provide me with another outlet besides writing, besides yoga, besides game night and tag with my kids. It will give me a chance to exercise a different part of my brain--and it will provide me with the immediate gratification I need from creating something quickly. Honest to God, crochet is nice an' all. But I patiently wade through enough in my life, waiting for answers to unfold before me. So when I sit down to create something, I don't want to chain/turn yarn for hours and hours, nights on end (I'm slow with yarn, quick with words), just to make another baby blanket or horribly trendy cute creature. I want to sit down, pedal and push and shazam! I'll have a new duvet cover! Or better yet! I can create matching outfits like this for me and the kids!

Happy Friday. Yanks lost to the Tigers last night, much to Ian's delight. But I had fun with Ian at the game, drinking a couple of $9 beers and eating a pretzel. Tonight? Game night with me and my little boys. Probably Cadoo or Twister. Little League and birthday parties this weekend. And at some point, I'm disappearing for a long run. Once I sweat it all out, then I can sit down and relax.

And get busy with my new sewing machine.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bedford Falls, CT

Last night my mother's family gathered at Grandma's for dinner. One of my aunts is in from out of town with her husband, so it was nice to visit. And given the drama that unfolded at Grandma's birthday party last weekend, we all needed to prove to ourselves and each other that a peaceful, pleasant family gathering is possible--like, once every couple of years.

So there we were--my mom, her two sisters, my siblings, my kids, my aunt's kids, my uncle, my Grandmother, her brother--devouring a nice Irish meal of potroast and veggies. (It was actually amazingly good.) We all crammed into Grandma's tiny dining room, as Sean observed, "This is just like Thanksgiving, without the turkey!" And everyone was a good mick, saying please and thank you as they passed the potatoes.

Amazingly, it lasted. As we cleared plates and shared tasteless jokes, political differences, and baseball allegiances, I was rocketed back in time to when I was Sean's age, and my young loud family all pretty much got along--and seemed to enjoy each other's company. My belly was warm with this feeling. Or maybe it was just the potroast. Either way, when I looked up and saw Sean covering his ears and yelling, "Why does everyone have to talk at the same time around here? Ai yi yi!", I felt like I was home.

My brother (he's 11) and my children went outside to play hide-and-seek in Grandma's backyard as I put dirty dishes in the sink and side-stepped one mouthy female relative after another in the kitchen. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sean pondering the daffodils and tulips that I had planted last fall with Grandma. He crouched down to inspect the flowers, studying their form.

As I watched this sweet little moment, conversation spilled into the kitchen about my cousin Matt and his losses in the fire that ravaged his apartment complex last weekend. I had sent Matt a Target gift card in the hopes that he could buy something -- anything -- that he needed, since he needs everything from toothpaste and socks to furniture. Other people had thought of Matt, too. Lots of people. Several of Matt's friends from his days at Boston University rallied with mutual friends from around here, and a huge collection was taken up. Between family and friends, thousands of dollars were raised for Matt to rebuild his life. Matt, overcome with emotion, didn't want to accept it. Finally, one of his 'tough' buddies muscled Matt into accepting it, and somewhere a bell probably rang and an angel got its wings.

Later, home, my boys in bed and the doorknob removed from the bathroom after Nolan's defiance that managed to temporarily lock us all out of the bathroom at bedtime, I collapsed onto the couch with tea. The weekend had been an emotional one, between house hunting and family issues and the fire. But last night I realized that when Sean says he wishes the whole world were made of Legos so he could make it any way he wanted, he is on to something: The whole world is a lot like Legos. What falls apart can always come back together again, differently.

I slept very well last night.

Tonight I go to Yankee Stadium. :o)