Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Ojo Loco and Me

I found this today because I was searching for it--or something like it. It's been a rough week in the Little Mind of Moira. It's brightening up a bit in there, but sometimes I still need a little dude in a robe to remind me of the things I already know, and forgot.

Day Three of my Caffeine Cutback Program. It's going well. I've only bumped into a few walls. ;o)

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jay Adams

The kind of news story that matters to me.

And if you don't know much about the history of skateboarding and Dogtown, you should look into it.

July 30, 2008
A Lord of Dogtown Re-emerges

COSTA MESA, Calif. — A specter from the grittier past of skateboarding has reappeared, ready to reconnect with his past without letting it drag him down.

The X Games are scheduled to begin in Los Angeles on Thursday, and Jay Adams, whose skateboarding career has been the subject of two major films, wants to attend. Adams, 47, does not compete anymore, but he hopes to watch and visit with friends he has not seen in years. More important, he wants to reunite with his wife and a daughter he has never seen outside of prison.

The decision about the X Games will not be up to him. The relationship with his family will be.

Adams was transferred from a federal prison in Oregon on July 7 to a halfway house in Garden Grove, Calif., where he will serve the final months of a four-year sentence for his role in a major drug shipment scheme. Although he has enjoyed increased freedom, his schedule and movements remain strictly supervised.

“They like to keep tabs on you, and know where you are at all times,” Adams said Tuesday of those running the halfway house, who will decide whether he can attend the games.

In the late 1970s, Adams was a leading figure in a seminal vertical skateboarding scene rising from a seedy section of Santa Monica and Venice known as Dogtown.

Adams had been a talented teenage member of the Dogtown-based Zephyr Skate Team, known as the Z-Boys. Together they helped shape modern skateboarding with an aggressive attitude and style born in the streets, and maneuvers inspired by their favorite surfers.

“Jay was one of the biggest innovators of skateboarding in his time,” said Danny Way, 34, who will compete in the skateboarding Big Air event at the X Games on Thursday. “He brought a carefree personality to skateboarding, and skateboarding has always been a little rebellious.”

Although Adams initially rode the rising popularity of skateboarding to fame, he eventually chafed at the sport’s increasing emphasis on commercialism and contests. Soon his rebelliousness overshadowed his skating.

“We were wild and acting crazy and not being very positive role models,” he said of his fellow professional skaters.

This led to serious legal problems for Adams in 1982. While hanging out in Hollywood after a concert, he taunted a gay couple, which led to a fight. Adams said that he fled, but that a crowd joined in and stomped one of the men to death.

Adams was convicted of felony assault and sentenced to six months in prison.

He spent the next two decades in and out of prison as he battled drug addiction and his own demons. After the deaths of his brother, father, grandmother and mother in less than two years, he hit bottom during the late 1990s. Adams was, in his words, “a down-and-out junkie.”

In 2001, an award-winning documentary, “Dogtown and Z-Boys,” chronicled his early rise and fall and catapulted him back into the limelight. At the time, Adams was serving two and a half years in a Hawaiian jail on drug charges.

He was released in 2002. In 2005, Hollywood followed up with a feature film, “Lords of Dogtown,” in which Emile Hirsch played a young Adams.

By then Adams had begun trading on his renewed status. He signed endorsement deals, but failed to pay taxes for three years. He relapsed into heroin addiction. And in June 2004 he was overheard on a federal wiretap introducing a crystal meth dealer in California to a buyer in Hawaii.

He was not arrested until November 2005. In the meantime, he stopped using drugs, got married and was expecting a child. All of which weighed at his sentencing when the judge showed leniency.

Still, if he breaks the law again, Adams expects to be locked up for a long time. “My good-luck chances with judges are through,” he said. “I can’t make those mistakes anymore.”

Since emerging from prison, Adams has spent most of his time at an indoor skate park at the headquarters of the surf apparel maker Hurley in Costa Mesa. That was where he was on Tuesday morning, sitting on a skateboard in the middle of the cavernous space, tattoos scrawled across his face and outstretched arms and legs.

He works there as the facilities manager, keeping the park clean and making sure that skaters have signed liability waivers.

A condition of his release, the job requires him to wake at 5 a.m., followed by an hour-and-a-half bus ride to begin work at 8 a.m. He is back at the halfway house and in bed by 9. On some nights he attends drug or alcohol treatment.

The simple schedule is designed to help Adams, a recovering drug addict, readjust to civilian life.

“We’ve got to make sure he gets on the bus and gets to work on time,” said his agent, Peter Townend, a former world surfing champion who has known Adams since the late 1970s. “If he gets too much too soon, he’ll go off the tracks again.”

Family and friends are watching him closely. His wife, Alisha, and 2-year-old daughter, Venice, are in Alabama biding time while Adams demonstrates that he can control his addictions. He also has a 14-year-old son, Seven, who lives in Santa Cruz, Calif.

Adams, whose fearsome appearance belies a soft-spoken demeanor, said his faith in God and the routine of work would help him remain drug free.

“My ideal future would be to be with my wife and family and to be somewhere where I’m helping young kids not make the mistakes I’ve made,” he said.

Meanwhile, he looks forward to resuming surfing and skateboarding.

With the X Games just 45 minutes north on Interstate 405, those dreams seem tantalizingly close.

Whatever happens this week, there are the matters of a future with his family and another five years of probation. For Jay Adams, there is a long road ahead.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Look Around

I'm not going to get into the ups and downs of today or this week. We yoginis do our best to find some sort of stasis or balance in the up and down. But we're not always good at it. Even the wisest old yogis weren't always good at, which is why they stuck with their practice. Gandhi said, "Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances." If only it were that easy.

But I have a lot of things that keep me afloat--like how spoiled I am with two amazing kids, Ian, and some incredible people in my life. I can't complain about anything, really, if I have health and love and a sunny dinnertime to walk the dog. It's only Thursday, and already this week I've had a lunchtime thunderstorm lobster roll with Heide, a car ride with Grandma and the kids, a fun dinner with mom that included regular girl talk and trying on clothes, and dinner with my friend Mary and the three crazy kids between us. I've gotten flowers from Ian and surprise truffles that I shared with Heide in between eating cherries at work. I mean, seriously, what the hell do I have to complain about?

So tonight I'm going to take the dog for that sunny dinnertime walk. I'm going to enjoy a few quiet moments in the house while the kids are with their dad. I'm going to pour myself a tall glass of wine, sew (I really should be careful with the drinking and sewing, given my impaled sobriety at the machine), and enjoy my absolute favorite Beatles song, ever, from my favorite Beatles album, ever. That, and the sound of the sprinkler chick-chick-chicking across hydrangeas in my yard really snaps ya back to the beauty of the moment.

You know, you can be the example of peace amidst chaos without being a doormat. I'm trying to find that balance without feeling like everything hangs in it.

Happy Thursday.

Cute. Cuddly. Maybe a little pissed off.


Friday, July 18, 2008

I Sewed Napkins--to Sop up the Blood

Backtacking. It's this thing you do with a sewing machine to backtrack a few stitches and thereby secure them in place. Forward, backward. That pretty much ties off the stitches and viola! You're done with that seam.

I sat down at my dining room table on this extremely hot and humid Friday night (just the way I like it), the last night before the kids come home after a week away with their dad. I miss them terribly, but this time alone has been good for me. I've caught up on all kinds of boring domestic stuff; I've gone running and walked the dog a ton; I've hung out with girlfriends; gone out to dinner...the list of blessings goes on. But tonight the plan was to finally really get sewing. I've had the fabric. I've had the desire. But I've had issues with my "bobbin" that, until Heide came over on Monday, I couldn't fix. Now? Now it's fixed. And I was ready to rock and roll.

I had picked out a simple--really simple--project from Amy Karol's (of Angry Chicken blog fame) book Bend the Rules Sewing. It's a fabulous book with great ideas and tips, and I love Amy's style and approach. It's all very philosophical, really: Follow a few simple, standard rules of sewing, and then do your own thing with them. The project I had chosen for tonight was to make four simple napkins. But, at Heide's suggestion earlier in the week, I decided to have them be double-sided rather than single-sided with a hem, because the latter was actually tougher to complete and would require me ironing tiny hems before sewing them. Since I just wanted to get my stitching groove on, for the sake of practice if anything--the former seemed like the best option.

And away we went, armed with newly purchased/washed/dried/ironed fabric I picked up today at JoAnn, some ribbons, and new thread that is a much higher quality than that "other" stuff I had. I ripped out one napkin, shaky with the stitches, but complete. I sewed a cute little ribbon border, and within 15 minutes the first napkin was in the bag. Not bad, considering I really hadn't sewed much since my first project a couple of months ago. I was thrilled.

And then...

While backtacking the start of the second seam on Napkin #2, I did something really silly. I backtacked a bit. Stopped. Then intended to backtack another stitch or two, but I forgot to push down the reverse button. The needle went forward instead. And right through my index finger.

In the throes of extreme pain, some people scream. Some cry. Some are rendered dumb with shock. Me? I stared at my finger, trying to make some sense as to why it was bolted to the machine. I rolled up the needle. My finger went with it. The needle was clear through the skin just to the right of the nail bed (LUCKY!) and the tip of it was out the other side, bright and shiny in the light of my sewing machine.

I rolled the needle up some more. My finger kept going with it. DAMN! I had to pull my finger off the needle as neatly as possible, to keep this lovely puncture wound from getting worse. Deep breath. I think I breathed, anyway.


Still stuck.

Shoomp again, harder.

Got it.

I made it to the kitchen sink in about 3 steps, running my finger under water and grabbing a papertowel. Then I applied tons of pressure while I ran to the bathroom and dumped peroxide all over the hole. I kept the pressure on, applied neosporin, a sterile bandage, wrapped it nice and tight in gauze, and taped the hell out it.

"DAMMIT!" I yelled. "I'm a fucking moron!"

I laughed at myself, though. My finger was throbbing, but I was determined to finish sewing. I didn't need to go to the ER; it wasn't THAT bad, and besides, there is very little they can do for puncture wounds, anyway. And my tetanus is up-to-date (I think), so ...

I sat down at the machine. "I'm finishing this, I don't care," I mumbled to myself. The dog lifted her head to see who I was talking to.

I got ready to sew again with my big, silly finger. But then I realized I would have to replace the needle, because this is what happens to a needle when it goes through your finger:

Note the thread with blood on it just above the needle.

I replaced the needle and got going. An hour later, while I listened to the Yanks crushing the A's on TV, I had ripped out these lovelies:

I love them! I still have so much to learn. They definitely look like the work of a novice, injured seamstress. But despite getting impaled, I LOVE sewing. This is the craft for me. All that yarn stuff takes too damn long. That's not what I need right now. I need instant gratification. I need cutesy ribbons. I need the visceral experience of a sharp piece of metal through my finger.

The kids come home first thing tomorrow. I cannot wait. These guys.... they had such a great, long week with their dad that was long overdue. They needed that week with him. Their dad needed that time with them, too. But I'm so happy they're coming home tomorrow. It's just way too quiet around here. I miss my silly guys:

I took the bandage off to type. It's not so bad. I poured more peroxide on it and threw on a band-aid. I think I'll live.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

12 Steppers Would Call it a Gratitude List

Tonight's top miracle list:

10. It's summer, for chrissake.
9. It's not winter in New Haven (see #10)
8. Dried cranberries in my salad, because I'm crunchy like that.
7. New friends. Via
6. Um, Because how did I buy jewelry, or any gifts for that matter, before Etsy?
5. Laughing with coworkers.
4. Crying with coworkers.
3. Seeing my kids for a bit before they took off for camping during a mid-week vacation with dad (see #5 and #4)
2. Dinner and drinks with my friend Mary.
1. Escaping SBC at 10PM with Mary, when a swarm of crotch-rocket-ridin', crooked-white-hat-wearin' 20somethings descended upon the bar with their very bad facial hair and even worse ink.

It's true: that's #1 tonight. We made it out alive.

There are other things I could include, like the eggplant and peppers and poppies in bloom on my deck (three cheers for container gardening, the best friend of summer-loving apartment dwellers!); a small reserve of coffee-oreo ice cream from Ashley's in my fridge; driving 2-1/2 beers deep home just fine (hey, I'm a lightweight); the AL winning last night's All-Star Game; that moon tonight; this sweaty glass of seltzer beside me; songs stuck in my head; wedding dresses; crunchy raw peppers in my salad; Willoughby's coffee fresh ground and fresh brewed in my pot tomorrow (this is how I know Ian loves me); my dog chewing her bone; fresh-washed fabric ready for ironing and sewing; countdown til the kids come home Saturday; the moonlight splitting across the water at the Seawall on my drive home tonight; ceiling fans; looking forward to dinner tomorrow with Ian, Renee, Jeff...; walking the dog; crickets; seeing how things come full circle; seeing how things take care of themselves; trusting people; trusting the process of life; Grandma's voicemails; Mom calling me at 9PM to have a sane, girlfriend-esque conversation about work/hair/food; the historic house I live next to and whose three chimneys and wood-shingled roof I wake up to every morning; planning the wedding for me and Ian; books (lots of books); the long list of movies I don't have time to watch; this little thing called breath....

That's all for now. I'm sure I'll think of many more while brushing my teeth.


And Happy Wednesday.


No Surprises

I live in the smallest town invented by humans. At least it feels that way some days. Nothing surprises me. Some things disappoint me. Most things amuse me.

This place, these people...sometimes suffocating, usually entertaining, always transparent.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be assholes.

Men. How they turn out in life is 50/50, regardless of who raised them. The most amazing mothers in the world have turned out rotten sons, and the most rotten mothers have turned out amazing sons. It's a crap shoot when it comes to the kind of men little boys will become, but if I do an adequate job at raising mine, then I hope I will have lessened the likelihood they'll grow up to be...jerks.

Of course, "jerk" is subjective. One person's jerk is another person's president. Which brings me to my next point: any jerk can be successful; any "loser" by conventional socio-economic standards might be the kindest heart out there.

But most guys, and even most women, have an uncanny ability to show their jerk side. It usually comes out in subtle ways: Off-handed remarks and idle comments; impulsive and reactionary behavior....neither sex is immune. But I'm a woman, and so it bothers me more when guys act like...jerks.

Take ogling, for example. What is that? Most girls don't mind getting a little attention, but what's with the leering that some gross men can't seem to control? Like the guys in the pick-up trucks who turn and stare at a woman walking down the street? Or what about the boyfriend who constantly looks at other women when he's out with his girl? How fucking disrespectful is that? Look if you want, sure. But don't make it obvious, idiot.

I never liked the term "boys will be boys". What a cop-out. My boys will be men, dammit. And it's going to happen sooner than I realize. Tonight I will be cleaning out a closet full of baby and toddler toys no longer used by my children. The kids are with their father this week--and they seem to be having so much fun that they don't appear to miss me at all, which is a relief as much as it is a bit of a bummer not to be missed just a little--and I'm tackling some over-due spring cleaning around here. There is a part of me that never wants to leave this apartment, and whether I stay or go now or two years from now, one thing is certain: The baby toys must go--now.

Because in all likelihood I probably won't have any more kids, despite previous postings and musings suggesting I'm considering it. And on the very off-chance I did have another child, I'd want to get new toys for him or her at this point. The ones in the closet have been well-used by two children, and it's time to pass them on to other children who will play with them rather than save them in the basement for the phantom third child.

I started working on the closet last night, cracked out and wide-awake from Ashley's coffee oreo ice cream that I enjoyed with Heide, who came over and gave me some much-needed insight into my sewing machine. After she left, I was about two hours from collapse, so I had time and energy to burn. I went through all the kids' clothes, and sorted what to keep; donate; give away to friends with kids. In the process, I had a wicked allergy attack, having been assaulted by dust from the clothes and toys in the closet. Those clothes and toys had, for the most part, traveled from my old house to this one without seeing the light of day. The dust from my old house flew up my nose and into my body, making me forcefully sneeze several times in a row, several times throughout the night. It's as if I couldn't shake the old house off of me no matter how hard I tried.

Tonight I get to go back at it. I'll pitch and sort toys that saw me and the boys through long winter days and hot summer weeks, when my children were tiny cherubs with big cheeks and diapers. Those days are over now. We're busy with Legos, Star Wars, and superhero action figures around here. I am now fully in the process of raising little men. If I had a third child...God Almighty. It might actually be a girl.

Then I would really be challenged to raise a child right.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

"If someone makes a bad play, you gotta call it."

"Bobby Murcer died today."

I sucked in my breath and held it. Ian lowered that boom when were driving into a sunset across the Q bridge, headed downtown for dinner last night. My heart cracked a little. After a half minute or so, I exhaled.


"The big C," Ian answered.

I never followed Bobby's career. I came to love the Yankees too late for that. But as I began to follow them in the mid-90's, Bobby Murcer (along with the likes of Ken Singleton and Jim Kaat, among others) introduced me to the franchise, its talent, legend and legacy through his on-air commentary. Bobby Murcer's down-to-earth salty voice, as matter-of-fact as it was kind, shared more than plays and stats. He waxed nostalgic, peppering his commentary with anecdotes from his days on the field. He was a patient, easy voice to listen to every night six months or so out of the year.

I have no special stories about Murcer. I couldn't even remember what position he played. In fact, I was certain he was an infielder, til I was reminded his career with the Yanks saw his position change from third base to center field--so I was half right. I can't claim to have met to him or have had my life graced, even briefly, with his presence (although I am lucky enough to say I met and had a conversation with both Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford together in Florida many years ago). Murcer was just a voice on the television, but a voice I had come to count on to tell me how it was, plain and simple.

Tonight, the YES Network aired several specials on Murcer, including his interview with announcer Michael Kay on the network's program, Centerstage. Murcer acknowledged that the hardest thing about becoming a baseball commentator after retiring as a player was calling bad plays on former teammates and other players he held in high regard. But, he said, he learned that if someone makes a bad play, you gotta call it.

Who doesn't value that, especially in a peer?

Murcer might have cringed at Pettitte's outing on the mound today, but he also would have pointed out Pettitte's strengths as a pitcher. He might have expressed surprise and disappointment at a lousy game, but he always pointed out the better side of players' abilities. That says so much about his character.

No games til Thursday. It's All-Star week at Yankee Stadium. But then again, isn't it always? ;o)


The Mundane, Open to Interpretation

A few nights ago I dreamed I was riding as a passenger in a car that was moving too fast and wasn't stopping for some barricade ahead. I used two hands to pull up the emergency brake, which seemed stuck, and the car came to a screeching, freight-train halt, clanging and clashing and banging. Odd.

That dream was a nice departure from what I have been cooking up in my sleep lately. The last few years I've gone through periods of recurring dreams at night. The plot isn't necessarily always the same, but the characters and ending usually are. The dreams come, stick around--on and off--often for weeks at a time, and then they they go away again. I had thought I was in the clear, but they came back a couple of weeks ago. They're not nightmares, they're just...annoying. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my little brain I'm obviously trying to "work something out", which is the only reason I attribute to having these dreams from time to time. Regardless, I've stopped trying to figure out what they mean or why I'm having them. The less energy and attention I give them, the quicker they might go away.

Last night was different, too. I dreamed a wonderful teacher was leading a group of children, including mine, through the ocean on a swimming lesson. They were lined up behind him, one after the next, and behind the line of children were a school of fish, and ducks, and other marine life. It was like a strange little Disney movie, until an airplane -- which had been closely followed by birds -- dove into the water. But it wasn't a plane after all. It was a motorcycle, being driven by the teacher who had just been leading the children. And he dumped the bike, laughing. The kids scattered out of the water.

Maybe it was my burger from Prime 16 last night, or the beers I had a Firehouse 12. Who knows. But in the dream I was upset with the teacher, and I quickly wrapped up my kids in big hugs and towels when they ran scared from the water.

I'm going to the beach for some serious alone time this morning. I don't anticipate any motorcycles crashing into the surf. Just me and several hundred New Haveners showing some skin. I'm supposed to go to Costco later today, to exercise my right to consume in bulk. The jury's out on that one, though. I might change my mind.

Here's some T.Rex for your Sunday:


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Friends Don't Let Friends Not Get Knocked Up

This morning I did not hesitate to get out of the house for a run. Ian was here, and I seized the opportunity to lace up and bolt before the coffee had finished brewing. It's been a while, since I am usually on solo-duty around here with the kids, and I can't just leave them alone for 20 minutes to get my sweaty catharsis on.

It felt good to be moving, alternately listening to the Clash on my iPod and the birds chirp in between songs. All long walks with the dog can't match how good I feel after just 20 minutes pounding the pavement, watching neighbors set up tag sales and, in some cases, return from their own morning jogs. The only thing that makes me feel this good is a Kundalini yoga session -- with Gurmukh. No other teacher can push me the way she can.

Afterward, it was nice to sit on the deck and enjoy some coffee while reading the paper with Ian, while the kids took in some Saturday morning cartoons. I explained to him all the plans I had next week while the kids are with their father: Heide is coming over Monday; drinks with Mary on Tuesday; dinner with Renee (and Jeff and Ian) on Thursday. It went on and on.

"What happened to all this free time that you were worried about not knowing what to do with yourself?" Ian snickered.

"I'm going to be busy. I love it," I said. "Oh, and Heide said she's coming over with a turkey baster full of semen to impregnate me."

Background: Heide insists I want a baby. Now. Despite my (weak) protests to the contrary, my darling friend (mother of toddler and pregnant with her second) is determined to see me knocked up. Her real dream is to see me in full gestational bloom at my wedding, in a maternity gown.

Ian distrusts her.

"Oh, GOD!" Ian said. "I don't trust that girl. Not as far as I can throw her."

He shouldn't. She's my friend, and she's looking out for me.

The third baby. Will there be one? We don't know. Ian and I have discussed it, of course, and we rule out nothing and rule in nothing. We're open to possibility, but we've left it at that. We've got enough going on, between getting married, merging households, his eventual role as a step father to my children, etc.... Baby number 3? I don't know. Not just yet. It means maternity leave; body changes; more changes in the family dynamic; a third c-section; daycare costs....and of course a whole lot of love and joy.

There is a freedom in considering the effects a third baby would have on our lives: Although a third child would change things dramatically (especially for Ian, who has never known what it's like to feel the tectonic shift of becoming a parent), it also wouldn't be the kind of lifestyle change -- and shock -- that I had with the first baby, or even the second. Once you have two, you feel like you can have 10. For me, I was pretty much outnumbered the minute Nolan was born. I was home full-time then, and so it was me and me and me and me with the kids from 7:30 AM until 6PM (and often from 7PM until 10PM, but that's another story). Another one? Sure, why not.

But that's not to say it will happen. Or that I wouldn't have a panic attack as soon as the little pink plus sign appeared on a pregnancy test pee stick. I recalled today with Ian how I felt as soon as finding out I was pregnant with Nolan: I was elated--and terrified. I had grown up an only child, with 20 years between my siblings and I. I didn't understand the dynamics of living with siblings; I was terrified--I mean truly terrified--that I wouldn't be able to give either of my children what they needed, and thereby I would fail them both. From anxiety over giving them adequate nurturing to worrying that Sean would walk into traffic while I was distracted by caring for an infant, I was a mess. All this by the 9th week of my pregnancy, before I was really "telling" anyone my "news".

I remember it clearly, being newly pregnant and standing on the sidewalk in front of my old house, while Sean toddled around with a little Radio Flyer scooter. A neighborhood dad who was also an old friend of mine--and who eventually became the guy who would grab my hand to dive head-first into a sea of marital transgression two years later, helping me undo my marriage and, in some ways, set myself free--walked by with his son, who is just a few weeks younger than Sean.

"What's goin' on?" he asked, in his familiar, amused, drawn-out tone of cool.

"I'm pregnant," I answered. And then I burst into tears.

"Whoa...hey, what's the matter?"

"I don't know how I'm going to do this. How am I going to have two? I have no idea how to do this."

He is one of four, and regardless, he's a pretty non-plussed guy in general.

"You'll be fine. You'll see. It'll all work out."

Ah, the irony in that statement coming from him.

But it did work out.

And I am fine.

So fine I'm considering a third--SOMEDAY. Maybe.

With Ian.


Some morning running music (and a lil' documentary stuff) for ya:

Happy Saturday.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Love is...

Is it too much to wish for a scene like that just once in my own life? Or at least for young Marlon Brando's sexy, sweaty self to throw me over his shoulder...

Maybe it's the heat, or just summer in general, that makes me want the impossible.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Few (or, maybe I should just rent "Beaches" again)

My new mascara makes my eyes itchy. Not good.

Today was my first day back at work after a few days off, and I had the pleasure of making sure a newly terminated employee left the building without stealing anything. That sucked.

Yanks lost to the Pirates tonight. Whatever. I got to take the dog for two walks today, drive around with Ian for a while, and get extra kisses from the boys at bedtime. I'm pretty content.

Now I'm alone on my couch. I wanted to write something, but ... what? That I've recently been reminded, again, how I've always wanted to be a nurse? That I'm about to embark on an entire WEEK without my children at home--and I fear I will feel like a ship adrift without them here for that long? That I am happy to have some very good friends--some who have become closer, some who have simply arrived without warning? And that I still, sometimes, mourn the loss of friendships in the wake of my divorce? What? What? Where is my brain going tonight? Oh...down this road:

There are a few friends I've lost because of my split from Baby Daddy. But in all honesty, I don't really miss them. I miss the idea that maybe we could have been close one day. But the reality is that we were never close. Those friendships--those very few--were forced. They were dreaded social obligations. They were friendships that were the direct result of my association with my ex-husband, and nothing more. This point was driven home a couple of months ago when, at a get together with several people with whom I have some or no level of acquaintance, I had Absolutely Nothing to Say to one of the moms there. She has, in all truth, never been particularly kind to me. But I'm not unique; she badmouths everyone. And so, when I was informed by a mutual friend that this person had unsurprisingly criticized me at length following my split from my ex, I saw it as nothing more than her moment to finally do what she has always wanted to do: Have an excuse to blatantly dislike me. I'm not complaining. It makes things easier...things like saying "hello" and nothing more at a picnic in the park.

But what gets me about all of this is our instinct as humans to immediately judge any situation and its players. My mother loves to say -- but not necessarily believe -- there are three sides to every story: His side; her side; and the truth. Suck it, people. We don't know the half of anything we hear about anyone. So stop judging.

To the friendships I've lost as the result of some of the most painful years of my life, I simply say See Ya. The fact is that they were friendships I never really had. True friends don't assume and judge things they don't know. There is his side. There is her side. And there is the truth, which is suspended in some fourth dimension above the heads of two small children at the dinner table, while daddy's plate of food is hurled at the wall.

I don't judge you. Why should you judge me?
Favorite Clash lyrics of mine. Why do we judge? Because judging others is the only way we can sometimes make sense of our insecurities and fears. Everyone does it, one way or another. Next time, try to catch yourself doing it, and correct it somewhere in your heart. Because no one ever really knows the full story of someone else's life. And if we're all connected, then logic dictates we could never really know the full story of our own lives. We only know the fullness of our experiences.

The Upside

In the wake of the dee-vorss, a few amazing things happened: I fell. I got up. I fell again and wanted to just stay down. But I didn't, and then I unexpectedly fell in love with someone I've known a long time. The first party my ex-husband and I ever went to together was at Ian's house, back in 1992. It was the first time I met Ian. Then he was someone I saw around town a lot; someone with whom I had mutual friends; someone who waved to me and my kids on the playground while he walked his dogs through the park; someone who served me Harp (and many waters) at Rudy's. And now here I am, 16 years later, engaged to the guy. The most amazing guy. Who knew?

Other things happened, too. I gained a self-confidence (however spotty) that I didn't have before. I gained an incredible sense of self-reliance, proving I can handle many things--financially, emotionally, physically--without the help of anyone. I gained a sense of what it means to be alone, what it means to be a single mom, what is means to be a "co-parent" (Good God, I CAN'T STAND that phrase!!! What idiot came up with that shit???) I left a house full of good and not so good memories for a nurturing, peaceful apartment by the water. I got a turtle. A new car. And a new job.

And I gained friends.

I might have lost a few superficial friends as the result of my split from the kids' dad, but did I ever get a return by the bucketful. I've always been blessed with Renee, of course, but I've grown that much closer to Heide (love you!), and to Rachel, who I recently got to know very well and hit it off with so easily that it was uncanny. I've also become quite close with Mary, the nice Irish mom of Nolan's best buddy. All of this--ALL OF IT--has been amazing. I fell asleep more than two years ago on the floor of the living room in my old house surrounded by darkness because of yet another unpaid UI bill (thanks, ex), about 30k in debt and positively depressed. I woke up in the sun by the beach, debt-free, surrounded by strong, hilarious, and irreverent women who had cooked up a feast of Fuck That, Let's Rock This Thing Called Life. And viola! I'm actually...happy.

So tonight, I think about the coworker that got laid off. I hope he has good friends. It makes all the difference. Good friends hold us accountable for our actions but don't hold our actions against us. Good friends turn a horrible day into just a bad one full of tearful laughter--and good days into great ones. Good friends. I've been blessed with a few exceptional ones. Each one of them inspires me to be a better friend, a better mom, a better daughter, a better sister, a better worker, a better ex-wife, a better--uh--better half, and a better friend to myself.



Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Philosophy and Magic at 6

Sean spent the morning practicing quarter flips and card tricks. "Pick a card, any card..." He's getting pretty good.

He's also getting pretty big. Not wide. Just big. Taller. Older. Funnier. Busier. Hungrier. We skipped tae kwon do tonight (there's no A/C there, and if last week was sweltering inside class this week would have been brutal) and decided on Tolli's instead of Clark's, since the diner side of Clark's wasn't going to be open past 4pm today. While at Tolli's, listening to Dean Martin and talking to the owners whom I've known since I was a kid, Sean managed to HOUSE five slices of pizza. It was a small pizza, so the slices weren't huge, but still. Five slices, crust and all. And an entire Foxon Park orange soda. That's a record. Even Nolan managed three slices and half a soda. Not bad for his tiny tummy (the kid is a skinny scamp who runs and leaps rather than walk or step). The kids must have been starving after a day at the beach.

The beach was fun. Sean was thrilled; we ran into his best girl/desk mate from school, and the two of them ran off and played in the low-tide pools for a long time. Noly hung by me, digging holes and finding shells and rocks. The sun was hot, the breeze was perfect. We ate popsicles. Just a great moment in time.

Later, after exhausted protests over going to bed instead of watching Pettitte pitch the rest of tonight's game (I'm molding their brains well!), they passed out, two hot and sweaty little munchkins sprawled across their beds.

It's quiet in the neighborhood tonight. No fireworks. Maybe everyone in the neighborhood finally ran out of them. I can't say I mind them, though. Most nights between Memorial Day and Labor Day see some kind of pyrotechnics action around here. But nothing was quite as sweet as the 4th. While sitting on the grass by the Seawall, watching fireworks light up the sky from Morris Cove to West Haven, Sean said,

"I wonder if people in heaven can see the fireworks?"

"I don't know, honey," I said, taken a little offguard. "I'd like to think so."

"Well, if people are in heaven, then they're really just always with us in our hearts, and up in the stars looking over us, right?"

"Right, sweetie." What a good heart this kid has. And then he threw me for a loop with his memory and his not-quite-in-first-grade-wisdom:

"Right, so...your dad is dead. But really it just means in he's always with you."

I looked at Sean. Fireworks popped and boomed around us. Sean remembered a conversation we had earlier this year. The conversation happened because Sean was, at the time, very distressed about not seeing his father more often than his father's self-imposed schedule "allowed". I had told Sean I understood how he felt, to which he wisely replied, "No you don't." And then I agreed. He was right, I don't know exactly how it feels to be the child of divorce. In fact, I never knew my dad at all. Without getting into details far beyond his maturity, I explained my own dad died a long time ago, and so I never really knew him. And Papa married my mom when I was 10 and raised me like his own. So, while it wasn't nearly the same, I did know how it felt to want to see my father when I couldn't. And I understood he was upset; and it's okay to be upset and mad. (Just. Don't. Stay. That. Way.)

This obviously shifted something for Sean. And so last week my little man of big compassion sat beside me on the Seawall lawn and smiled. "And so if your dad is always with you, then maybe he sees the fireworks, too."

Phew. I needed tissues.

But back the usual order of things: Earlier today, Sean and I had an argument over what qualified as "snack" food at the mid-morning snacktime. Skittles leftover from yesterday's trip to the movie is not acceptable (he disagreed); yogurt is. (Groans.)

"It's my life, and I'll do what I want," he said.

I stared at him, my mouth open. "Did you really just say that to me? You better rethink that kind of fresh talk, Sean Francis."

"Uh...nope. I'm just saying words from a song. It's my third favorite Animals song, remember?"


So, without further ado:

Yanks are winning. 4-0. Pettitte's pitched a beauty.

Happy Tuesday (night).


A Bowl of Cherries by the Sea

If only one vacation day with the kids included a movie (Wall-E. Awesome. We loved it.), playgrounds and popsicles from ice cream trucks, robots built out of empty cereal boxes and lots of aluminum foil (and even more tape), card tricks, and dinner (and lunch, and breakfast) on the deck, then I'm psyched for day two. Today's agenda is pretty simple: The beach during the day, and tae kwon do class before dinner at Clark's. For now, I've gotta slap together some sandwiches and pack some cherries into the cooler. Nothing like spittin' pits into the sand.

I've had Beck and the Dead Boys stuck in my head the past few days. To my delight I found this Swedish blend of the two:

Happy Tuesday.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Strong Bones, Healthy Teeth

Jeff rules for sending me this:


Rain Out

Yesterday's plans for a picnic in Madison were a washout, so a whole mess of us from the family gathered on Grandma's big screened-in back porch instead. We had tons of food and caught the rest of the Yanks-Sox game that Ian and I had been watching all afternoon. If I was out of the room and Ian cheered, I knew the Yanks were in trouble. If my brother Jack cheered, I knew they were in good shape. If my Uncle Danny made a noise at all, I didn't know what to make of it, since Danny is a born Sox fan who has lived in New York for almost 30 years.

The Yanks eventually took it, but only after a rocky ninth inning. Still, after losing two in a row to the Sox at Yankee Stadium, it was ABOUT TIME. And it was a nice way to cap off the afternoon, especially since my Grandmother, a lifelong Sox fan, chided me yesterday: "I'm really sorry about your Yankees, Moira. What's going on with them?"

Merciless, I tell ya.

I grew up on that porch. When I was a kid I loved to sit out there during thunderstorms, watching the lightening, counting the seconds between flashes and thunderclaps, and feeling the mist of downpours through the screens. The whole family would hang out on the porch--my grandfather, who has been dead for almost 10 years, and all my aunts, uncles and their friends. For a small little cape, Grandma's house has always seemed to be filled with people. Party central.

Sean held sparklers in the backyard yesterday, too. And I joined him. For a moment there, with my mother cracking jokes from the porch and the game echoing from the den, I was brought back about 30 years. Then again, I'm always brought back about 30 years there. But considering one of my earliest memories is of holding a sparkler in the backyard for the country's bicentennial, standing there with Sean yesterday and jousting with sparklers was extra special. Not reliving old memories. Just making news ones I never expected. Given Grandma's initial prognosis last August, it is the greatest gift that Sean and I were playing there in the twilight, with a wall of tiger lilies behind us and Grandma's laughter skipping across the grass out toward the apple tree.

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fleeting Hours and Ghosts

One of the most difficult things I wrestle with is trusting that "things happen for a reason", and that things usually turn out better than we could have hoped when they don't go according to "plan". Combine this with the fact that I am an impatient and driven person, and you might then understand why I'm so drawn to yoga--especially Kundalini, which isn't about "serenity" as much as it is about catharsis through sweat and pushing physical limits. It is the oldest form of yoga, and everything we consider "yoga" in our modern society is born from that original form.

I had a point, but I'm not going to bother making it. It's irrelevant. Let's just say that I am struggling with the passivity of "trusting' the "process" and my highly motivated-cut-a-square-hole-to-fit-the-peg mentality.

Speaking of plans, I'm off work the next few days. It's a treat to spend unstructured, unplanned time with the kids. Ian suggested this morning that it was "a perfect day to see a mov--" and before he could finish I 'shushed' him. We have plans tonight with family. That's enough. I'll take them to see a movie this week. Not today. Today they are wrecking the house with toys, running around with capes, eating chocolate and reading comic books. I'm laying on the couch reading magazines and watching Avatar. Sheer, delightful donothingness. I love it.

Tonight we head out to spend a picnic-y night in Madison with extended family and tea-sandwiches. Then it's back to reality for a few days of our own little summer camp. Summer already feels like it's going by too quickly. Everything feels fleeting. I feel like I'm running out of time, and I don't know why. It's as if somewhere a great big life clock is running down. I wish I could lock up the gears for just a day. Then maybe everything will fall into place, or at least I can catch my breath and find it a little easier to trust everything, especially myself.

Gotta go. Nolan just made up a game called "Ghost and the Police". I've been handed a "gun" and told that Sean is going to turn me into a zombie.

Happy Saturday!


Friday, July 4, 2008

Lighter Fluid Beach Funtimes

The neighborhood has officially exploded with traffic. Cars are parked--almost strewn--everywhere, and up and down the roads as far as I can see are people with coolers, umbrellas, chairs, bags of charcoal. All of them headed a couple of blocks to Lighthouse, where they've already closed off the parking lot because it's filled to capacity. Even if it wasn't, we'd have plenty of cars all along the streets, since many beachgoers don't have the NH registration to get into the park for free, and they'd rather risk a parking ticket (unlikely) than pay the $10 to get in.

I walked Cee Cee down to the beach around 10AM. The place was already jumping. Despite the dead-low tide, the water was packed with kids and the splashpad was teeming with little ones trying to cool off in the humidity. There isn't much sun today, although it's trying its best to break through. Still, it's hot. And in the midmorning haze, most people already had their grills going, their beers open, and their party most definitely ON. I still have the taste of lighter fluid downwind in my throat.

Cee Cee and I strutted on home, an extra wiggle in our walk given all the salsa playing down at the beach. A few cops waved: "How you doin' today?" I waved back: "Fine, thanks. You?" "Fiiine...stay cool today, alright?" "I'll do my best." Wink, nudge. Behold! The power of tits in a bikini top! Then it was home to make "patriotic" t-shirts for the kids with the magic of a color printer and iron-on transfer sheets. Sean's shirt features the Superman "S" made of stars and stripes. Nolan's has the simple and effective symbol from Captain America's shield. They're going to love them, and hopefully they won't fight over them.

Soon, I'll be making cookies and salad and other stuff for today's party at Kevin and Rachel's. But first, before the boys get home and while Ian is out riding bikes with Kirk (awww...ain't it sweet), I'm going to enjoy a big glass of lemonade on my front porch and take in every bit of the summer madness that's descended upon my neighborhood. I love it here.

This keeps the mood going, too:

Happy Fourth of July!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

New Haven Fireworks and Punk Rock PreSchool

Tomorrow is the fourth. The kids/Ian/me will hang out with our friends at a BBQ and watch NH fireworks from the Seawall. I see many sparklers and hot dogs and beers in my future. Our friend Kevin, whose house we're going to, has the best tattoo: The underside of one forearm says "Elm"...the other says "City". If only I was that dedicated to this town. could I devote myself to New Haven in ink? Maybe I could get a tattoo of one city neighborhood at a time. "Wooster Square" can go on my stomach; "The Cove" can go on my heart; "Westville" can go on my ass.

And today, while trolling for Minor Threat videos on YouTube, I found the best thing EVER. These kids rule:


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Clap, Clap

Ian makes mixes. Lots of them. He's got a vinyl collection that rivals most anyone's, and he's got two turntables -- and maybe a microphone. He hasn't DJ'd in a while, but suffice to say the guy knows music. Good music. And I benefit, because I get lots of great mixes.

The latest mix is one Ian made for my ride up to Boston in May for the Yoga Journal Conference. I've got a few new favorite songs as a result, incuding "Handclapping" from the Meters. I couldn't find a decent video of it on YouTube, so you can go find it for yourself if you'd like.

So instead? Instead I bring you this:

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Second Half of the Year

Baby Daddy and I are working out a new schedule with the kids. Without getting into details, I can say this: While I am delighted that he is being more proactive about seeing them more often (and for longer periods of time), I am struggling with letting go. My identity is so wrapped up in motherhood and being "needed" by them that I don't feel grounded when they are away from me more than one night a week. I don't like it. I miss them. And I don't know what to do with myself when they are gone for more than 18 hours. I want them to see their father as much as possible. I have never stood in the way of that and I never will. But this new plan is, Change isn't easy, especially when I'm used to doing pretty much 100% of everything 100% of the time. There is a measure of comfort in all of that control, even if it's not healthy.

So here we go. A new routine. A new way of looking at things. A new way of being. So far, the kids seem pretty content with it, and that's my only real concern (even if Sean frequently complains that there aren't as many toys at his father's house. That's fine, I tell him. There is a brook and fishing there instead.). As for filling up my "down" time, I'm not worried about: I've got plenty to keep me busy (or not). I have to push aside the ego that whispers--no, screams--in my head: They might prefer him to you, sucker! They might never want to come home! What IS that? Why does that happen? I know they love me and I know they love their father and I know it's not a contest. So why do I sometimes worry they will reject me, or not need me, in the end? Boy, just when I think I've had enough therapy...

In the meantime, I have the rest of this thing called life to have fun reshaping and building. I'm trying to do well at my job, as tasks mount and responsibilities shift and increase, blurring the lines of what my role is here. I welcome the challenges, I'm happy to be busy. At home I have closets to clean and flowers to deadhead and fabric to sew and photos to print and a wedding to plan and a porch to sit on with nothing to do but look at the water. Life is good.

Today is July 1. My late great-grandfather's birthday (he was born in 1894). Talk about letting go. When he was ten years old, his parents put him on a boat in Ireland and sent him here, alone, to live with extended family, because they couldn't afford all the kids they had back home. He never saw his parents again. He never met some of his siblings who were born after he left, either. He always wanted to go back, but he never did. His descendants have tried to make up for it, in a way. The old family house in Co. Meath is a shrine of sorts; we've all been there. We've all walked the path from his home to his old schoolhouse. We've all tried to imagine, as mothers and as children, what it must have been like to be shipped off. To let go. To be ten years old and arrive in Boston, trusting you will be taken care of, somehow.

July, July. Not a beach day for me, though. Today I'll have meetings and clear my desk of work. Today I will pick up the kids from camp and take Sean to his Tae Kwon Do class. Today the kids won't see their dad, but tomorrow they will. Today my cousins will bury their 22 year old friend, Mark, who crashed his motorcycle on Thursday. Today I will think often of someone I know who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Today I will drink a big glass of lemonade when I get home. Today I will play a board game with the kids before they go to bed. Today I'll hear more gossip from around town, winding its way out of the bar Ian works at and into my life, briefly, before it vaporizes, unimportant, stupid, silly, irrelevant, because I'm not part of any "scene" or "clique".

Today is just another day, in the middle of summer, in the middle of my life, in the middle of it all. Today is today. Tomorrow isn't guaranteed, but it does hold some promise: If I let the kids go, a little at a time, it will make it easier for them to spread their wings and fly someday. If I help them figure that out, and allow them to have that freedom, they can always return to me, to the nest, to home. I am their mother, and that will never change.