Saturday, August 30, 2008

Here, There, Everywhere

"No matter where you go, there you are."

Long one one of my favorite quotes.

Tonight, 3-1/2 glasses of wine deep after a night on the deck of my good friend/next door neighbor Mary, I can finally say a few things about the past week:

1. Moving sucks. The idea of moving is great; the physical act of moving--the boxes, the dust, the random carloads of utter crap that has no place in boxes or the garbage--that sucks.

2. Ian and I finally live together. With two kids. And two dogs. And turtle and a fish. I'm re-learning how to live with a "significant other"; Ian is learning how to go through the motions with a family in tow. It's so worth it, and we'll ace this transition. But it is a transition, so it requires some patience and adjustment.

3. Great neighbors, like great friends, make all the difference.

4. I can hear crickets here, and not much else.

5. We're mostly unpacked, which is nothing short of a major miracle.

6. Camping midweek at Camp Burlingame in R.I. was just what the doctor ordered for one night after several days of boxes and dust. It re-calibrated all of us, especially after a long swim in the lake.

7. I have had countless episodes of deja vu since we moved in here.

8. Did I ever tell you that tulip trees tower over our backyard? And peonies grow beside the garage....

9. It's time for bed.

10. I am blessed, blessed, blessed...................................


Thursday, August 21, 2008

American Dream, in Excess

This week it's all about the move. It goes without saying that the apartment's a wreck and the house is "getting there". We've got lots of furniture in the new place, and much more to come this Saturday when we rent the truck.

In the meantime, though, I've got packing to do. The kids are with their father for the next two nights, so I can actually have some time -- and energy -- to get my things into boxes. Most nights I'm too wiped out to do anything by the time the kids get home/eat/take baths/read stories/go to bed. And since my cortisol levels have skyrocketed in recent weeks, I need Serious Downtime. It's the only way to cope with the anxiety/lovely panic disorder I have that rears its ugly, dark head in times of great stress. No matter how positive the situation, if it is also stressful then I need to lower the other stress triggers I have in my life.

Case in point: Not only have I quit coffee in recent weeks, this morning I didn't even drink my tea.

But back to moving: As of Saturday night, I will officially be out of my apartment and into my new place. This morning, the kids said goodbye to their room and their home, since they won't see it again. They quickly asked if we could drive by the "new house" on our way to camp. I obliged, and as we drove past it they eagerly waved at it and yelled, "Hi, new house!!!! See you Saturday!!!" I'm glad they're doing so well with all the change. I'm sure it will be a bumpy transition at times when we get in there, but it's all positive and good. And that's what I've been focusing on.

In the end, what is there to be anxious about? I'm happy. Things are going well. And I'm pretty blessed in this life. In fact, when you consider it, I'm one of the lucky few in this world. Not just because I have a house, but because of all the other non-material blessings my life has received.

So I appreciate what I have, because it's all a gift. Even the anxiety and panic teaches me something...something like, well....something that maybe John McCain could learn from:

McCain not sure how many houses he and wife own

Published: August 21, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Days after he cracked that being rich in the U.S. meant earning at least $5 million a year, Republican presidential candidate John McCain acknowledged that he wasn't sure how many houses he and his wealthy wife actually own.

''I think -- I'll have my staff get to you,'' McCain responded to a question posed by Politico, according to a story Thursday on the publication's Web site. ''It's condominiums where -- I'll have them get to you.''

Later, the McCain campaign told Politico that McCain and his wife, Cindy, have at least four in three states, Arizona, California and Virginia. Newsweek recently estimated the two owned at least seven properties.


Wow, huh?

Happy Thursday!


Monday, August 18, 2008

Richard Pryor

This clip is hysterical. (Thanks, Ian!) After a weekend of cleaning and packing and blowing wads of cash at Ikea and then assembling furniture, I'm kinda shot. But I cannot wait 'til we officially move on Saturday. The kids love the place and refer to it as the "hide and seek house", because there are so many huge closets.


Happy Monday!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

American Dream, Part 2

Part 1 ended a while ago.

The last couple of years have been an intermission of sorts.

But as of yesterday, I am the proud co-owner of a lil' Cove house. After our closing (with my old-school, salty, awesome Irish lawyer who owned Rudy's for 13 years some eons back), Ian and I celebrated with some sandwiches from P&M Deli in Branford. I capped it off with a black and white cookie, and then we hit Job Lot to get exciting cleaning supplies, a hose, and other miscellaneous items for the house. As Ian noted, it's the first of about 30 trips over the next 30 days to the store to "get something for the house". Only 30 trips? I'm sure I can top that. I can bet we'll hit Ikea at least 10 times in there, too.

Armed with an arsenal of chemicals to strip the place of dirt and grime (Note: I really don't like oven cleaner, but in this case I have no option but to use it), we arrived at the house and got busy. No, not that kind of "busy", which we'll get to soon enough. Instead, we cleaned. And cleaned. Ian replaced light bulbs and hooked up the dehumidifier in the basement. He cleaned the toilets (without me asking him to! Oh how I LOVE this man!) while I tackled the kitchen.

When we had first toured the house before our initial bid, I opened the cabinets and found them full of peanut butter and almonds and all kind of nuts. Great for the sellers, because I used to live on that stuff. But it's not so great for Sean, since my little guy is so sensitive to nuts that just the dust of all those pistachio shells on the shelves (and there are many--did a mouse live in there?) can make him sick. It's not me being paranoid. Wait--maybe it is. But there is reason: He really is that sensitive. He's six and we've already had to call 911 twice for the guy, since just trace amounts of the stuff closes up his throat and causes him to vomit uncontrollably. I don't really want him to have to go through that again.

So I'm cleaning THE FUCK out of that kitchen.

Hence the chemicals.

It's only 7:30, but I'm ready to rock out today. Ian's bartending a wedding, so I'll be on my own at the house, radio on and dog in the backyard. The kids come home with their dad around 3 or so. He'll bring them to the new house and finally get to see it. He's such a good sport about it all, but I know on some level this isn't easy for him. And so despite the fact that he and Ian get along quite well, I'm glad I will be the only one at the house when he brings the kids home.

We've already had visitors, though. Within minutes of arriving to clean the house yesterday, Ian's sister and her infant son showed up to hang out with us. Some people have their homes blessed by clergy of one denomination or another. My house was blessed by a baby. What's better than that? Later, my friend (and now next door neighbor!) Mary showed up with her son, who is Nolan's best buddy. They hung out for a while, and she assured me, "We're not sensitive, so if we become too much and you need to kick us out in the future or send Sean (her oldest son is Sean, too) home, we're not going to be offended. We know we can be a pain in the ass that way."

I love the girl.

She also happens to be a Yankee fan, and her husband is a Sox fan. And since Ian hates the Yanks, I forsee many seasons ahead of girls-only and boys-only households hunkered down in front of the TV.

But back to cleaning.

I'm leaving in five to finish cleaning my new house. (The big move is a week from today.)

The rocker is already on the front porch for when I need a little respite.

Neighbors will come knocking--and in the case of Mary, probably just walk in.

The furniture isn't in yet, but it already feels like home.

Happy Saturday!


Thursday, August 14, 2008


The thing about packing before a big move is that you're forced to face all kinds of relics from your past. Items buried in drawers or stuck on shelves; things that have meaning and things that are completely insignificant. In tonight's packing adventures, I came across two pens--a Cross and a Waterman, both high school graduation gifts. Not only do I still have these pens 17 years later, I have the original little sleeves they came in, too.

I also came across keys. Lots of keys. I dumped out a box that had, for a long time, been by the front door of my old house and, eventually, the apartment I'm now preparing to leave. The box was full of change, buttons, random rocks and sea glass, pins, and keys. I don't know to what locks the keys belong. I do know that I have carried them with me for far too long. Without hesitation, I picked each and every one of them out of the pile of change and tossed them into the garbage.

It's time to keep only the keys that unlock the doors to my life today.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Latitude/Longitude

It's a done deal. Ian and I are closing on the new house this Friday. We're moving next weekend. And we're staying in the Cove. (You didn't think I'd really leave New Haven, did you? I mean, I know the Cove isn't quite like living in Wooster Square, but it's still the Hayve.)

Exactly two long months from the day our final bid was accepted, we received the clear to close from the mortgage company. The experience of securing that clear to close was pretty painful: Between my divorce and subsequent warehouse of financial skeletons, to Ian's ownership of a multifamily (which he's holding onto), we had lots and lots of paper to provide. Given the current climate in the mortgage industry, they were seeking more info than usual, because banks are no longer quick to sell mortgages. They are forced to hold on to them for a while as a result of the big "mortgage crisis", so they want to make sure they're not taking on lemons.

So we provided paperwork upon paperwork. Emailing 82-page PDFs to the bank became an almost weekly ritual. And for what? For a simple, little place to call home, for good. A quaint little house on a one block, one-way street within a minute's walk to the water. In a neighborhood with lots sidewalks and LOTS of kids, including the best friend of my youngest son. Less than a block from a playground. A short walk to school. It really doesn't get better than this. We had it all in Westville; we lost it all. And then we gained something better back. Something much, much better. And by the water. (This also means our insurance is higher, but anyway....)

The yard is enormous, by Cove standards. Most houses around here are on .09 acres, being depression-era beach cottages converted into year-round homes. Ours is close to an 1/4 acre. The house is one of the oldest ones on the block, too, so it's got charm and quirkiness (that's sure to translate into expensive, high-maintence repairs, but whatever). It's an arts-and-crafts style cape with a big front porch, a single car garage (okay,'s really a glorified shed), beautiful fireplace, three beds/1.5 baths, french doors, crown moulding, foyer, breezeway, mudroom, big windows (most of them new), new siding and roof, and some truly amazing neighbors, some of whom have lived on the block their entire lives.

Ian, the kids and I are stoked. We will finally be living together, and it's a real blessing. The kids can't stand that Ian doesn't currently live with us; and they are THRILLED that their new home is right next door to one of their best friends and his brother. I'm excited, too, because their mom, Mary, is a good friend of mine. And she has already introduced me to the rest of the moms in the neighborhood. And they're all very similar: down-to-earth, hard-working, sarcastic, and very, very warm. And into everyone's business, which is kind of amusing and will probably make things pretty "interesting". And, as my grandmother was eager to point out, "There isn't a bad lawn on the block. Everyone takes such good care of their property there." Score.

So here we go. I'm ready. Ian's ready. The kids are ready as they'll ever be. And we're all pretty set on staying there for...well...forever. At least for the forseeable decades ahead. One thing is certain: I don't want to go through the mortgage application process again any time soon.

As of Saturday the 23rd, the boys and I will be leaving our sweet apartment that has been so good to us this past year and a half. Ian will be leaving the Westville multifamily he has proudly and slumly lorded over for the past six or so years. (He'll be back to mow/shovel/rake....) Unfortunately, Ian's dog Lopez is staying behind with his brother. She and my dog couldn't get along (read: she is extremely agressive toward my dog, who is extremely submissive toward her). But she'll visit. And Ian's other dog, Sparkplug, and my sweet Cee Cee will trot along behind me, Ian, two kids, Timmy the Turtle, a bonafide pet fish named Dish, and the unnamed fish in Timmy's tank that has yet to become his lunch. Somewhere in the big moving day parade will be several big boxes of Legos.

And away we go.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Precarious Pressing

I dreamt about laundry last night. I dreamt I was doing laundry and had forgotten to take the tags off all of Sean's new school clothes, and lights and darks were washed together, with the darks bleeding into all the white shirts. As far as dreams go, it was pretty dull. And domestic. Maybe it's because I do a ton of laundry. Or maybe it's because I've been ironing a lot more lately.

Ironing has traditionally been my least favorite thing to do around the house. There is real satisfaction on vacuuming, folding laundry, dishes....but ironing? It's an awful lot of tedious work just to make clothes look nice so we can wear them, and then throw a seatbelt across them on the way to work and get them all wrinkled again.

Since I've started sewing, however, the iron has become like a best friend. It was unexpected. I never counted on how much pressing I would have to do to fabric before I sew it--and in the middle of projects, pressing on seams and going over them with top-stitching to make them look "just so". The strange fact is that I don't mind busting out the iron for sewing projects. I actually like it. I do mind trying to press a cute little shirt of mine that has lots of gathered pleats around the top of it. That's just a hassle. I could use that precious time in the morning for other things, like plucking my brows or curling my eyelashes.

With that, enjoy:


Monday, August 11, 2008

Home is Where the Toys Are

It's official: The kids are sick of camp. I promised them what I know is true. They only have two more weeks of camp left, and then they're home with me for a week before they go back to school. Groans. Sighs. I feel for them. In their words, they wish they could Just Stay Home and Play All Day.

It's hard for me not to feel a little guilty that they can't--because once upon a time, I WAS home with them full-time, and life really was a playground. But things have changed, and really they've changed for the better in most respects. And the truth is that when the kids are home for more than two days in a row, they're bouncing off the walls.

This morning was tough, though. They both slept late and were really annoyed when they realized they wouldn't have enough time to play with their toys before hustling off to camp for the day. Lots of protests ensued. But once I dropped them off, they were running to meet their friends and jumping right into games. As we said goodbye, I took them aside for a minute to remind them:

"Are you guys happy to see all your friends at camp?"

"Yes!" Wiggling. Jumping. Eager to get back to playing.

"Okay, so tomorrow morning if you guys complain you don't want to go to camp, I'm going to remind you how HAPPY you are when you get here and start playing."


"And that means I don't want to hear any complaining."


I messed up their hair, kissed and hugged them goodbye. As I walked away and neared the door, I was suddenly jumped on from behind and nearly knocked down [note: I'm five feet tall. Sean is quickly gaining on me.]. I turned around and the two of them tackled me with hugs and kisses before abruptly running back to their friends yelling "BYE, MOM!" without looking back.

Usually it's just the anticipation of things and not the actual experience of them that makes us so anxious and upset. I know the boys would prefer to stay home; who wouldn't? I also know that they have a lot going on in their little minds: Mommy is remarrying (it makes it easier that they love Ian so much, and Ian is so wonderful with them. But it's still a Big Deal.); we are (hopefully) moving; they miss their friends from school; and they spend half the weekend with their father. And while they have a great time with him, they are still like any kids: They want to be home with their toys.

I give my boys so much credit. They've weathered a lot of change the last three years. They are troopers. They are also mischievous jokers who like to play pranks on people, but they are still considered the "best listeners" in their classes, both at school and at camp. They aren't afraid to talk to me about the Big Things that bother them--whether it's me or friends or school--and I hope that remains constant. They love their father. They love Ian. And do their best to understand and accept that Mom and Dad get along really well--just not well enough to be married.

The fact that my ex and I do get along well causes some confusion for them, no doubt. They have to believe we are telling the truth that we didn't get along well AT ALL during the last few years of our marriage, and although we tried very hard to make it work, it didn't work. Sean remembers some of the worst of it; Nolan doesn't even have memories of living in the same house as his father. Now all they see is that we do get along, and this causes questions: Why couldn't you just stay together if you get along now?

A: We get along now because we aren't together.

This frustrates them sometimes. And then, following that logic, Sean has asked,

"Well, what about you and Ian? Are you going to get along when you're married?"


I'm not sure he believed me. He was silent. He's never silent.

"Sean, I am marrying Ian because I know it will work. I don't want to be divorced again, and I don't want you to go through another divorce. So please trust me that I am doing this because it will work. I know it will."


I'm still not sure he believed me. I can't blame him. He has a lot riding on it: He loves Ian. Nolan loves Ian. My ex gets along well with Ian. And at home, the kids, Ian and I are really happy together. Sean already lost his dad on a regular basis; he couldn't go through losing Ian, too. (Neither could I.)

But back to camp.

There are only two weeks left of camp; only three weeks left of summer until Labor Day. Before long the kids will be trick-or-treating around the Cove and making handprint turkeys at school. We don't question the order of the seasons; we have faith that fall comes after summer, that winter comes after fall. In the same way, I have faith that what comes next for all of us as a family is what it should be. And it will work. Without a doubt. I don't think I've been more certain of anything in my life except the love I have for my children.


Friday, August 8, 2008

The Order of Things

I'll work backward here:

Sunday I'm going to a girls' lunch and salon-funtimes party for my friend Heide, who is expecting her second child next month. It will be the perfect and ideal way to round out a week of life that included, well, the full spectrum of life.

Tonight I have a wedding. It's my father's wedding. Well, my adoptive father's wedding. I hope they're hpapy together.

And that's all I have to say about that.

The earlier part of this week, I attended a wake and a funeral. John, a close family friend (and my accountant) suddenly dropped dead last Friday night. Just like that, and it was over. I grew up with his kids, spending our summers together at the beach club, and attending each other's fall dances and proms. It was a heartbreak to see them grieving for John, who was in every way a wonderful guy. And it was also reaffirming of so many things: life, love, faith.

John and Mary had four children and ten grandchildren in their marriage of 42 years. John has two brothers, both of whom are priests. Msgr. Gerry, who married my ex and me, said the funeral. But he wasn't alone. There were at least 30 other priests in attendance. And the Archbishop even concelebrated the mass and had some wonderful things to say.

The theme throughout the funeral, which was beautiful, was "do not be afraid". It is a phrase that is repeated throughout the bible and is a basic tenet of most organized religions and untethered faith. Do not be afraid. There is nothing to fear. Rest in comfort that everything is as it should be and will be what it will be. Trust. Trust. Trust in this thing called life and whatever it throws at you. Catch it, throw it back, play the game.

I went to the wake and funeral with my grandmother, who was given a grim prognosis for her liver cancer last August and who surprised everyone by looking so damn healthy and happy at a funeral no one expected to be attending any time soon. After the wake, for which we waited in line an hour or more, Grandma and I grabbed a bite to eat at The Playwright in Hamden. We two small Irish women grabbed a table, and the waitress asked what we would like to drink.

"I'll have a Harp," I said. (Duh.)

"You know, I think I'll have one, too," said Grandma.

It was too damn cute. Grandma, whose LIVER CANCER had shrunk more than 80% in the past year, decided to have a beer. If anyone has a right to, it's her I think. We were served, and together we toasted John and proceeded to talk about all the big and little things in life, from John's amazing family to babies on the way, and our huge mess of Irish cousins, some of whom have recently written me to say they're moving. To Australia. We nibbled on brown bread, ate our dinner, and Grandma tossed back an entire pint. It was such a simple thing, the two of us having dinner after John's wake. And it was the most perfect memory.

So tonight, Ian, the boys and I will gussy up for my dad's wedding. By next week we'll know whether or not we're moving at the end of the month. And in the meantime, I'll keep enjoying the 80s at 8 on 105.9. It's become a ritual for the kids and I to listen to it on our way to drop them off at camp each morning. One thing is true: I have found a newfound love of Journey as I drive up Rt. 80 in the morning.

In Kundalini yoga, we end each class with a saying until we meet again:

"May the longtime sun
shine upon you
all love surround you
and the pure light within you
guide your way on."

John will be very missed. But it was really nice to see so many people this week, at the funeral and the wake, that I've known since I was younger than my children. That connection to others is the whole point of everything.

Happy Friday.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Can You Walkie and Talkie, Too?

I have a wake, a funeral and a wedding on my agenda this week.

I have two kids who channel Inspector Clueso and Cato during every waking minute, stopping aprubtly for Pop Tarts and chocolate milk.

I have a great lawyer, who is currently helping me and Ian navigate what has turned out to be a hellish experience of securing the clear to close on property we had expected to own by July 31 (it's still in limbo; we don't know if we'll get it or not. Don't ask me questions. I have no answers and pay my old-school, well-connected, horse-race-bettin' Irish lawyer to take it from here for me. It's been a frustrating, awful two months in that department.).

And I found this, thanks to a coworker:

Happy Tuesday!