Wednesday, April 13, 2016

spring

winter coats washed,
boots tucked away,
sparrows chit-chattering in the trees,
SPRING!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Through the Looking Glass

Yesterday was a weird day.  A deeply sad day, as well.  But very, very weird. Yesterday, I went to my birth mother's funeral.

It was a lovely ceremony, very Rebecca.  It was in her house. She was there in her "green burial" coffin.  A set of (non-toxic) crayons sat atop the coffin, so people could write messages to her, before they placed her in the ground.  It was a pretty ceremony.  There were dogs and kids running around, and music and poetry, a double dutch song, as well as the normal Jewish prayers.   People spoke of her smarts, her kindness and her love of arts.  It was beautiful.  And exactly as she had planned.

She got suddenly sick last May.  One day this vibrant, bright and busy woman was having trouble with her words.  Her friends were worried she was having a stroke so they rushed her to the hospital.  A stroke might have been treatable.  Stage four brain inoperable brain cancer is not.  When I went to visit in early October, she could no longer lift her head, keep her eyes open, or speak, so it seemed as if the end was coming soon - but then, a near miracle happened.  She suddenly was able to speak, and said to her daughter, Nicole, "I feel better.  I need another MRI."  She was indulged with a new MRI, but no one really gets better from glioblastoma multiforme. Except she did.  Well, not really better, but the tumors had shrunk enough so that she had three months of lucidity and mobility.  She had a big seventieth birthday party in November.  She visited with friends, made plans to begin a poetry class at the local library and even started to plan to go back to her beloved pottery wheel.  She talked about seeing the first asparagus shoots coming up in the garden.  And she planned her funeral and burial down to the last detail.

Three weeks ago, whatever cancer miracle had taken hold, stopped.   She wouldn't quite get to see another spring in her garden.

She was a very kind and lovely person and I am so glad I got to know her. We met the year I turned forty, so we had a bit over a decade to reacquaint ourselves.  She was only eighteen years older than I, and we were both always very careful not to overstep.  She was like a kooky older cousin. Always full of interesting stories and small but intriguing presents for the kids;  a two-bowled, hand carved wooden spoon, a Russian Army officer hat, ballet slippers from the Bolshoi, a flower pin.....She lived in Russia until moving back to the States in 2010.  Then she built her perfect little house outside Boston and settled down in it to enjoy her later years with her art and her friends and her family.  That was the deeply sad part of the day.  Seventy years just isn't enough time.

But it was also a very weird day.  It is very, very strange to be in a room where everyone knows who you are, and you don't know almost anyone. And especially at the kind of event where you really don't want to stand out.  It was the first time in my life that I was anywhere with more than one or two people I am biologically related to.  Which I understand is not a very common experience for most people.  Here there were bio-cousins, and aunts and uncles.  They were all very kind and I felt very welcomed.  But it was a little overwhelming.   I hid a bit in the back row.   Wanting to pay my respects, but not wanting to get in the way.

I'm still wrapping my head around lots of things.  I've lived through two other parent funerals, and this wasn't that.  Rebecca was a wonderful woman, and I'm so glad she was part of my life, but burying a bio-parent is different than burying a parent.  Deeply emotional and yet deeply weird.

My brain had a hard time keeping up with the day.  I't's also weird to have now lost three parents to three different brain diseases; my mom had a stroke, my dad had an aneurism and now Rebecca to brain cancer.  It seems just a little unfair.  A little tilted too much to the head.  My bio father was in a car accident in the early eighties, so at least that is that.

It was very hard for me to find my center on a through the looking glass kind of leap day.  I was out of normal space and time.  It seemed appropriate for the odd day anyway.  The only word I could hang on to for the day was weird.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The End?

I woke up this morning thinking about death.  Or more accurately the end of death.  Somehow in my dreams last night we managed to be able to return people from the dead.  Completely intact and cured of whatever killed them. (Not at all sure why they had to go through the whole dying thing and why we couldn't instead just cure their diseases and aging, and spare them all the drama, but honestly, I have so little control over my awake mind, I can't imagine being able to control my sleeping one.)

In any event, I spent today trying to figure out what our society would look like without death.  I mean of course everyone would want to bring back their loved ones, our parents, spouses, children, and friends.  We love them and miss them terribly.  But should they all be brought back?  And who gets to decide?  Can you imagine the brouhaha now if we could just bring Scalia back??????  Or how about Bowie?  Could we just let him finish one more last album?  Then would we kill him? Would murder lose its sting?  Would we get to vote on who stays dead?  Who deserves to have more life?  How long extra they get?  Because clearly there isn't room here on the planet for all these people and even the recently deceased.

Not that I came up with any answers (although my wonderful husband in all the cynical wisdom I love him for, said, "You know exactly who would get to bring people back. Rich people." not that he's wrong...) even in my dreams.  But it has been an interesting way for me to spend my random thoughts of the day.  I would love to hear what you think.  How would our present day United States of America handle the end of death?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Dark Days

Just perfectly folded a fitted sheet, and felt compelled to yell, "She's a witch! Burn her! Burn her!" at myself.  The cleaning lady can't come back from vacation soon enough..... Two extra (semi) full grown adults back from college add to the clutter and chaos exponentially.  Toss in two weeks of solid grey skies, and I'm barely hanging on to my shreds of sanity.

Looking forward to a new year. And some champagne to send the old one on its merry way!
  
Cheers, all!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah

I might have actually won the Bad Jew Olympics this year.  Forget presents. The kids are at school.  Making latkes?  Not a chance.  (Fine, I have never actually made latkes.Do you know how much work that is?)  This year I bought my potato latkes at Whole Foods and they were delish! But, not only could I not find the menorah (when I did I found four) until tonight, but when I did the poor candles looked like this after having been stuffed into a kitchen cabinet over the stove since last December.
The ones on the right are the ones I separated before taking the picture, (with a knife because they are that fused).  I'm sure that when I put them in the cabinet I thought "Oh Hanukkah is in early Dec. next year.  No use putting this with the Christmas decorations.  I'll never find them there.  And in several days of frantic search, I did not, in fact find them there.  Instead, they were hiding in the kitchen.

And then, before I could put them into the menorah, I had to google "what night of Hanukkah is it?" So Bad Jew Olympic gold medal for me. (And I highly recommend the Whole Foods chopped liver.)
Happy 5th night of Hanukkah!
L'chaim



Monday, November 30, 2015

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

Walking back from town the other day, my phone buzzed at me a number of times, in quick succession.  As both kids were home for Thanksgiving break, my immediate assumption was that something terrible had happened to one, the other, or both, and I nearly broke my neck tripping on a uneven bit of sidewalk while trying to extricate my phone from my jacket pocket.  Both hands grabbing for a ringing phone means none to reach out in front of you when you fall.  It was then I realized that I live my entire life just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I am in a near constant state of worry.

An incomplete list of some of the recent things that have either kept me awake, or (my favorite!) woken me up at 4AM, and/or compelled me get out of bed to check on, would have to include; did I turn off the stove, did I turn off the toaster oven, did I turn off the dryer, do I smell smoke, is the tingly feeling in my pinky toe an early sign of MS, are my headphones really broken or am I losing my hearing in my right ear, is his snoring a sign of sleep apnea, did I lock the car, did I lock the back door, do I hear someone outside, are the kids both in bed, (better than when they were little and I also had to check if they were breathing), did I lose my keys, did I lose my phone, did I lose my wallet, should I have gone to law school?

With all the worrying I do, it's a wonder I get anything else done at all.  I'm not worried about anything in particular, we're all healthy, we have a roof over our heads and plenty of food to eat, I'm just worried about everything.  Planes crashing, elevators falling, car accidents, anytime the people I love aren't safely in my sight, I'm on heightened alert anticipating the worst. Most pointedly about things I can't control.  If I'm not in charge, I can't be sure things won't go horribly awry.

The strange thing about my free floating anxiety, is that I have it in conjunction with unbridled optimism.  So in addition to always feeling like sometime terrible is about to happen, I'm quite convinced that everything is going to be just fine. It's a rather confusing landscape in my head.  The best way I can figure, it's a small picture/big picture dichotomy. While in the immediacy of any given moment I am concerned that something dreadful is about to occur, I have great faith that in the long run everything will work out for the best.  I just wish I could believe that in the middle of the night when my mind is racing.

One of the wonderful things I have been given by social media is that back in the olden days (pre-facebook), I just assumed that this was just me and my weirdness.  Now, nearly every day someone I know posts something about anxiety disorders, and what is it like to live with them.  And I have begun to realize that not only is this not just me, but my anxiety level isn't even all that bad.  So there, one less thing to worry about.  It may not stop me from being anxious, but it does bring me comfort to know I'm not alone, so I hope this post brings comfort to anyone else in the same boat.

Oh, and the buzzing phone?  Offers from Bed, Bath and Beyond, Lord & Taylor, and Michael Kors for holiday weekend savings......


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Now What?

This is the first Tuesday after Labor Day as far back as I can remember, where I just have no idea what I am going to do next.  Before this year I had school, then work, then momming.  It all changed this year with both the kids in college.  While I realize that the momming isn't totally done (boy child can't find the package I shipped to him last week and I had to get the delivery info from UPS), it isn't the same ever present work that I have done for the last twenty years.  So now what?

Honestly, I have no idea.  I have a novel out with three agents (but haven't heard back from anyone). I'm working on my blog posts (please tell me you like them, I'm not above begging for approval).  Most of all I'm trying to figure it out.  I'd like to teach more yoga, but I have to get it together to find a space to teach in.  I'd like to find interesting work, but the couple of places I've applied to have hired twenty-six year olds instead.  I can do a lot of things very well, but I can't be twenty-six.

I went to a great yoga class this morning (thanks Samantha!!!) that helped ground me and made me breathe.  Breathing is good.  I guess for this transition time I need to be okay with just that.  Breathing and sitting with it, and figuring it out as I go along.  Any suggestions, please let me know. I'm floundering a bit.