Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It Isn’t All Sunshine and Roses, But Mainly It Is

This is the eve of our seventh anniversary. For those keeping track, yes, our wedding anniversary is in October but April 1st is our original anniversary, which we before we were granted an official wedding date. And I insist on celebrating both. I never said it was easy being married to me. It is a little know fact, but seven years is a very important/significant anniversary, right up there with the 10th , 20th and 50th. Seven years happens to be the “diamond and sapphire” year (traditional; notice “and” and not “or”) and the “iPhone year” (modern). OK, so I made that up. A girl can dream. And I can’t get an iPhone anyway until it links with Verizon, dammit.

Our time together might seem like a drop in the bucket compared to others, but we have known each other most of our lives. We actually went to school together, so she was in my orbit since 7th grade. And we had/have mutual friends, so our paths crossed quite a few times through the years after high school. There was never really a time when she wasn’t in my life, through one or two degrees of separation.

But our relationship wasn’t one of those slow-simmering, we-always-knew kind. I remember once years ago Nicole had people over to her apartment to meet up before we all went out. I walked into her apartment and she acted like I was invisible, or perhaps she was being coolly indifferent. Either way, I couldn’t hide my disappointment (I never did have a good poker face, as I have learned again and again and again, sometimes the hard way). Our mutual friend Mike noticed Nicole’s slight and my subsequent disappointment and said “Don’t worry. That’s just Nicole.” Time and motherhood has deleted the exact words he said from my memory but it was along those lines, but I remember what he said was comforting. And it reassured me, his comments, and might very well have saved me from writing her off forever.

Our relationship literally turned a corner one night, when I was very recently separated, and, as the story goes, we were standing on a street corner (how symbolic!) with our mutual friend Molly (Mike’s wife). Molly and Nicole were going back to their respective homes, and I did not think it wise for me to go back to the boat that I temporarily shared with my ex. I was going to drive back to my mother’s home on Long island but both invited me to spend the night at their places instead. Suddenly my life was like that Robert Frost poem, with the two roads diverging in the yellow wood. More like the yellow light of the street corner. I decided to go with Nicole. Was she the less traveled road? Did I know what I was doing? I ended up sharing a bed with Nicole that night. Nothing happened! But notice she didn’t make me sleep on the pull-out couch. The best part is she was still a bit indifferent to me, even though we were in the same bed. Now that takes skill.

A fateful choice, it turns out. About, oh, a week later, she asked me to move in with her, effective immediately. And I did, though I refused drawers or closet space and instead lived out of a giant bag. And gone was the indifference and in came the calm, decisive, strong, patient, slightly mysterious Nicole.

The beginning was blissful. What relationship start isn’t? This is why so many have affairs, trying to recapture that gloriously exhilarating period of time. While I love standing on the precipice of love with the butterflies-in-stomach feeling as much as the next person, I was happy to trade all that for stability, security, surety and routine. And here we are, seven years later, stable, secure, sure and routine-ical. I must say having kids is like dropping a bomb into the middle of your relationship. It is surreal how children change every single aspect of your lives. When you pick up all of the pieces and put your relationship back together it isn’t quite the same as before. Not in a bad way, though. It’s just different. And for someone like me, who LOVES order and consistency and routine and lack of change, it can be hard sometimes to adjust it this new it’s-not-just-about-me-and-us paradigm.

But it is altogether great. It comes down to macro vs. micro. There are some rough patches and adjustments and frustrations, but they usually pass and I don’t think it is fair to judge my life and choices based on the events that happen in a day or a week or even a month. I like to look at years. That seems more accurate. So I ask myself every year on birthdays and anniversaries and eves of anniversaries and Hallmark holidays: “Was this year better than the last?” And consistently, every year with Nicole, the answer has been a resounding yes.

Pictured above, tree power and our wedding day and the day-after the girls’ birth day.

Oh, and before I forget, anyone have a Twitter feed? Leave your Twitter name in the comments so I can follow you. I just signed up yesterday (yes, a little late to the game, again) and I am not sure how often I will be Twittering, since I do, after all, have Facebook, but I would love to follow everyone!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Things I Learned on Mini-Vacation, Mixed with a Bullet Summary

• The only reason why Nicole uses the GPS is because she wants to prove it wrong. (She also decided she wants to name is “Janeway.”) It is a bizarre sort of Man vs. Machine struggle for her. Her defense: “I don’t need to prove it wrong, I’m just saying there are better ways to get places.” She doesn’t even need the GPS to get to Northampton, yet she turned it on and told it to go to Northampton and spent the entire trip pointing out its poor directional sense. She scoffed when it told us to take the Cross Bronx and went her own way instead and she second guessed every directive it spurted out. She takes some sort of perverse pleasure in knowing the insider traffic snafus and hotspots in the tri-state area.

• Two children sleeping in the car at the same time is a beautiful thing.

• Two children missing their daily three-hour nap is not a beautiful thing.

• On Friday, we went to Look Park, sight of last year’s nuptials; walked around downtown Northampton; had dinner at Pizza Paradiso and met Auntie Annie at Herrel’s for ice cream (burnt sugar for me, Heath Bar and Peanut Butter Cup mix for Nicole and vanilla and chocolate mini scoops for the girls). We ended the day watching the sunset on Mt. Pholux.

• A king-size bed is so large that anther family might have been in it with us and we didn’t know. We slept both nights with Nicole and on the outside edges and the girls in the football-field-like middle. It was not restful and I am using “slept” in the figurative sense. The girls seem to do okay, but Nicole and I spent most both nights waking at regular intervals. The girls flip flop and turn so much that it is a wonder they sleep at all. The acrobatics they are capable of in a deep sleep astound me. My favorite moments are when Madeline, in the middle of a sleep, just sits up straight, lets out a few little cries, looks around and then throws her body in a complete different direction to sleep. When do we stop sleeping like maniacs? If adults slept like that, we would all need to wear protective gear to bed.

• Now that I am thinking about it, Nicole has hit me several times while sleeping in violent ways. In the morning she claims she thought she was saving me from some giant spider or attacking alien mollusks or a poisonous and mutated octopus. But it sounds like science-fiction excuses for spousal abuse.

• But one of the nice things about sharing a huge bed: At some points in the night, I was touching Nicole, Madeline and Avery at the same time via some very complex, Twister-like positions possible in such a large bed. This may seem silly, but at night, when it is dark and quiet and no one is talking, it is very connecting and comforting.

• On Saturday, we spent the day with Auntie Annie and went to the Sugar Shack for breakfast; the petting zoo; a playground, where Avery learned to slide by herself, under Auntie Annie’s tutelage; Montague Book Mill; Auntie Annie’s house; lunch in Northampton; a little shopping; the cow farm and ice cream and then back to the hotel for swimming and “bedtime.” Exhausting.

• Out of the blue in the middle of the Saturday night, Avery started throwing up. Nicole told me calmly several times to get a towel, and I responded as I usually do: By doing nothing and assuming the deer-in-headlights pose. I panic and even with guidance I find myself unable to react. What it that about? I eventually found my way to the bathroom and returned with a towel. Nicole said that said that in her lack-of-good-sleep delirium and in the darkness of the room, she thought that Avery was choking on a golf and foaming at the mouth. She was remarkably calm for a person who thought her daughter was choking on a golf ball and foaming at the mouth.

• Nicole needs to stop watching anything science-fiction like (golf balls, foaming at mouth, etc.).

• If Nicole brings her golf clubs, she will have neither the energy nor the pocket of free time to go the range. If she doesn’t bring her clubs she will have both the energy and time to play. She brought clubs this trip, which means she didn’t play.

• Annoyingly, the heated pool at the hotel was not-so-heated. So two priority-delivered bathing suits for Nicole and I, the time spent finding the girls bathing suits and the evening planned around the pool play all boiled down to a five-minute swim adventure. Avery really enjoyed it, but was chattering so hard we had to take her out, even though she wanted to stay. Madeline enjoyed sitting on the steps and stomping her feet. The girls don’t know yet what they are missing, but we were disappointed, for them and us.

• Nicole and I have very different stories attached to the song “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”

• Nicole and I are both back on the vacation-home train. We drove around a looked at a few houses and talked about how nice it would be to have a place to go to on the weekends. If we didn’t buy my mother’s house, I think we would have settled on a place already. We love going up there, and the girls really seemed to enjoy it too. They need to be outside running around, in nature. And if we are planning on staying in the city long-term, will we need an escape hatch for the weekends. There are only so many weekends we can impose on friends!

• I am really worried about this spring/summer. It is very difficult for me to take the girls to the playground alone. But spending a summer indoors in out of the question. Last year, it was easy to take them to the playground every day, because all they did was swing and toddle about. And we took walks every day because they were happy to sit in the stroller and just look. But now they don’t just want to stroll, they need to do. But the two of them and just me at the playground is borderline hazardous. They run, jump, slide, swing, climb and in general just pose a physical threat to themselves and all those around them. I can’t be in two places at once. How do others do it? Am I being too overprotective? Do I just need to accept the fact that they will fall? I take them to the age-appropriate playgrounds, and they still seem like toddler deathtraps.

• I normally don’t share the details of dreams because I figure most people don’t care about how my subconscious works, but I dreamt last night that Dan Akroyd told me that he never liked me; that I show up at a black-tie event in a bathrobe; that Don Rickles also told me that he didn’t like me and stole one of Madeline’s toys; that my friend Molly was a Bhutan princess who watched her kingdom burn down; that I had a white Mercedes given to me by my father that turned out to be stolen.

• Three days is not enough vacation.

• Pictured above:

1. Nicole and Avery wore matching shirts. How cute is that? You might have to be in our family to think that is cute. Others might think it’s crazy.

2. Madeline and her crazy hair. Why do I feel this may be the bane of her (and our) existence in the teen years?

3. Auntie Annie making child care seem so easy. Look how she has Avery tucked under her arm. Notice Nicole struggling with Maddie in the back! In her defense, Madeline was in a mood that day. By the way, if you are, say, a single, hot Smith professor who lives in the Western Mass area, I would like to set you up with her. Annie, that is.

4. In a bookstore of 10 million books, Maddie managed to find a “Goodnight” book, like the ones she has at home (Goodnight New York City, Cape Cod and Florida are in her collection). She selects it then backs up into my lap, forcing me to sit, even if I don’t want to. But I usually want to.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How To Succeed in Motherhood Without Really Trying*

Avery is still in the midst of an explosion of words and super-excels at mimicking words and Madeline is taking her sweet time. And try try try as I might not to compare, I inevitably do. How can you not? Two children: Same age; same circumstances; same access to the same advantages, resulting in radically different outcomes.

Today, my quieter one, my more solitary-loving child who doesn’t feel the need to speak unless she feels like it, excitedly said “Please” and “Pee Pee” over and over again, to the thunderous applause of both mommies. This is a relief, because with chatty Avery in the house, Maddie seems to feel that she needn’t talk much. She a little thinker. And since she was showing off, Madeline joined Avery in the word-combining arena with a very succinct and out-of-the-blue “Bye Elmo.” Elmo was nowhere to be seen and thus also not going anywhere, but I was so pleased to hear that that I didn’t care that it wasn’t categorically true. Just this past weekend, Avery uttered her first sentence: “Night Night Elmo.” Yes, my daughters are obsessed with Elmo, Abbie, Bee Burd, Ceeekie, and the rest of the Sesame Gang.

Speaking of Sesame Street, has everyone noticed anything amiss on that show? The girls watch it twice a day — once in the morning and the second time around 4:00 — and that means I have seen all of the episodes many times. I am collecting some very interesting images from the show. Either the cartoonists have a crazy sense of humor or I have a dirty mind. But take, for example, the sheep above. What do you see when you look at that sheep? Can you tell, for example, like I can, that this is a girl sheep??! And there are plenty more images like that.

Avery is perfecting her kissing. She kissed the vacuum cleaner today and I realized that I would fiercely fight for her right to marry that vacuum cleaner, should that desire ever become a reality. But seriously, Avery kisses everything hello and goodbye. Is this normal? The stroller, the walls of the elevator, the vacuum cleaner, books… I may need to blanket lobby for all inanimate objects.

Tomorrow is my much dreaded doctor appointment to discuss thyroid results. Which means I better call the lab to make sure they sent the results to my doctor so this appointment isn’t all in vain. It is pretty much set that seething is wrong: After all, my blood work shows my function is off and other blood work showed antibodies around my thyroid and my thyroid feels enlarged, according to multiple doctors. And since my mother and aunt both have thyroid issues, it stands to reason I do/will too. But I hate this, and I hate waiting for results, and I hate having to go see more doctors and I hate knowing that bodies break down. I post any news tomorrow, late afternoon, probably in the comments.

Pictured above, from the weekend’s Central Park adventures: does Avery have a skip in her step or what? And Avery kissing a tree. See what I mean? And Madeline: Don’t fence her in. And finally, the dirty sheep.

* For the record, for the most part I am really, really trying.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Getting a Sonogram, and Not the Fun Kind

The first time I heard about my potential thyroid issues was in my RE’s office, during the infertility years. Blood work, he said, revealed antibodies around my thyroid, which means I probably have the beginnings of an autoimmune disease. He added, I guess to reassure me, that that meant I may get an autoimmune disease in my lifetime, or may not. It could happen next week or never, he said. Reassuring, no? My body is either a ticking time bomb, and incubator of disease or a perfectly functioning Superhero machine that battles and annihilates diseased cells before they even have a chance to turn into Something Bad.

While I was pregnant, my ob/gyn told me that my thyroid numbers were “off” and that I should get it checked out. It most likely had to do with the raging hormones of pregnancy and the stress of a twin pregnancy, she said. But I was too busy napping on my couch and panicking though my pregnancy to add another appointment to my roster.

Then my primary care doctor informed me two years ago that my thyroid was enlarged and I should get a sonogram of it. And, as recently as six months ago, my gynecologist said the same thing, after just looking at my neck from across the damn room.

So why does it take me almost four years to get to the damn thyroid doctor? What is wrong with me? Today, at long last, I finally have an appointment to get a sonogram, and I am reasonably certain that this will be the first in a round of thyroid-related appointments. My fire was lit because my friend, who had a similar narrative, went to get a sonogram of her thyroid last week, which revealed an almost five-centimeter growth on it. Next up for her: Biopsy, followed by a long list of appointments. Worst case scenario: It is cancerous. But even if that is the case, there is an almost 100 percent cure rate. Still. While we are humans and it is normal for our bodies to break and break down, these little reminders of our mortality are sobering and more than as little annoying.

It is almost a foregone conclusion that there is something wrong with my thyroid. Both my mother and aunt have had goiters and nodules and are on that synthetic thyroid medicine for the rest of their lives. And when a doctor just looks at my neck and without even touching it can say my thyroid is enlarged, then we know something is up. Plus, I think about my history and my ability to gain and lose weight with alarming ease. I can gain 20 pounds like it’s nothing and lose 20 pounds just as easily. Not sure how that fits on the thyroid spectrum, because most issues I read about are either an inability to lose weight or gain weight and not both.

I realize I am bordering on histrionics here, but this sort of thing just scares me, which is why it has taken my almost four years after the antibody report to see doctor. I prefer, in a way, to not know if there is a problem. Just let me go quietly in my sleep. And I am not the type of person that deals well with follow-ups, which is part of the reason why I don’t like to go to bed mad. I don’t like to revisit pain, suffering or sorrow in the morning. I don’t like to “sleep on things.” Give me a firm resolution and course of action, thank you very much, and call it a day.

So today, around eleven, Nicole will make the five-minute trek from her office and switch places with me so I can head down to 23rd Street for a sonogram, the first step in this thyroid journey. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that it all just resolved itself and this is a false alarm? A girl can dream.

Pictured above, from our weekend, which included a trip to the NY Aquarium. I love the picture of three out of four gnawing on a soft pretzel. And check out the woman in the bathing suit: We witnessed and honest-to-goodness Polar Bear club swimming event! I love the image of her, half naked, in front of people bundled up in the winter garb. It was a relatively warm end-of-winter day but not warm enough for a dip in the ocean!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Empathy, Sympathy and the Wealthy, Swarthy and Stealthy

This post will probably get me in some trouble and it going to seem out of nowhere. But these are the things I think about on my morning runs…

I am feeling a little over-saturated with the 24-7 Bernie Madoff coverage. Society loves its villains and he certainly fits the suit very well. And the media more than happy to deliver him to us. How many times have you seen that footage of him being pushed by a photographer as he tries to walk into his luxury apartment building? I think everyone agrees that what Madoff did was evil, stupid, corrupt, immoral, illegal, crooked, lawless and just plain wrong. His punishment — most likely life in prison and the immediate and drastic cessation of life as he knows it — will certainly give him time to ponder what he has done, if his conscious even works like that.

And yet I feel sorry for the guy. I do. He made some jaw-dropping business decisions and now he will pay for it dearly, for the rest of his life. Even our broken-down justice system can ensure that.

But why this insatiable need to hate? We need a person to funnel all our anger to, and he is the latest. People want to kill this man; they want to torture him. I get that, I really do, but it just seems like a lot of energy wasted on an awful, poisonous feeling of which nothing good can come. I feel sorry for him, not because he is a riches-to-rags story and not because he got caught, but because freedom as he knows it is done. His life is over. Take him out of the context of his crime and how can one, as a human being, not feel just a little pity? He will spend the rest of his life in jail. He will die alone or on a bunk with a roommate hovering way too close. He will shower in giant rooms with no privacy and live in humiliation every day. He will never go to sleep feeling his loved one next to him or have the luxury of complaining about weather systems or the chance to take his marriage for granted. And we all have front-row seats to this dramatic demise, gladiator-style.

My point (and it has taken me a while to get to it): We as a society have powerful, strong, tidal waves of venomous hatred for the wrong-doers and just a little dot of empathy for the victims. All that energy in hating. All of those thoughts wasted on something we can’t change. And nothing but of "poor them" for the victims. Our empathy seems limited but our hatred goes on for miles and miles and miles. This, I think, is epidemic. I am not going to pretend like I am the poster child for empathy. I have a special place of hatred in my heart for, say, people who orchestrate the genocide of millions of people (and how sad is it that there are several people who fit that description?). And I have moments like when I read about a mother and her child killed by a drunk driver at 11 at night when I think “What is she doing taking her child out that late?” But I am trying.

This Madoff debacle portends a dangerous trend: Our empathy is dialing down and our hatred and anger is ramping up. There are too many people who have not an ounce of sympathy for smokers who die of lung cancer and flood victims who lose everything because they don't pay for flood insurance and the so-called "lazy" poor who deserve nothing but the worst because they just don't work hard enough. We send so much time judging Octomom that we forget there are 14 kids' lives in the balance here.

Do the people who get so bent out of shape about Madoff also get bent out of shape about the fact that 1 in 50 American children faces homelessness? Or about the fact that millions of people are starving this very moment? Or about the millions of people who live below the poverty line? Or that our neighbor may be drowning in debt and on the verge of foreclosure? Is it that empathy is too raw and makes us too vulnerable? Is the grand scope of human suffering too hard to grasp? Is it just easier to go through life hating ad blaming and judging? I can attest to the fact that sometimes it is easier to walk around with a chip on my shoulder and a wall around my heart. But now, with two little beings looking at me, those chips feel very wrong and those walls seem just stupid.

Isn't there some religious principle of "love the sinner, hate the sin?" That makes sense. I am not going to say Madoff should "rot in prison" or "good riddance" or repeat the pinstripes to jail stripes jokes. I will say he was very, very very wrong and I feel sorry for him and for every family touched by this and for the people who took their own lives because of this (two so far) and the collateral damage that many are going to feel because of his actions.

And this is not the end. Not everyone sees him as a villain; some think of him as a role model. Mark my words: There are already mini-Madoffs out there trying to get their hands on his playbook so they can copy him.

Which all reminds of of those quote, by Ani DiFranco, pilfered from a Facebook friend's page (thanks, Cynthia, for in part inspiring tis post): “We have to be able to criticize what we love, to say what we have to say 'cause if you're not trying to make something better, then as far as I can tell, you are just in the way.”

OK, I feel a little better now.

Pictured above, is it me or does Madeline’s hair look a little like Gene Wilder’s? And below, Avery, one of the two constant incentives I have to get my sh*t together.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Is It Wrong to Lie About Unicorns?

We are in the midst of an explosion of language here. Nouns and verbs are littered all over the apartment. Avery is full-on speaking in paragraphs now. Of course, we can only pick up on about three words per paragraph, and one of them is inevitably Momma, Ammi or poo poo, but she thinks she is talking to us and she thinks we understand her, and her toddler gibberish is punctuated with lots of finger pointing and jabbing and head nodding. Last night she mastered “Ammi work,” which is Avery for “Mommy is at work.” Nicole and I are delighted with this development, though I wait for the moment when “Ammi work” reminds Nicole how much time she spends away from the girls every day.

Avery will try to repeat every word we say to her, sometimes to humorous results. “Dada” means “what’s that?" So Avery is like a mini Helen Keller know, running around pointing to things and asking me “dada?” and then repeating what I say. And Madeline said “Maddie” for the first time yesterday. Problem is, she thinks Avery’s name is Maddie. I think Maddie’s explosion will happen soon. She is on the verge. It is so hard not to compare and hard not to panic because I irrationally feel that the girls need to reach every milestone at the exact same moment. But I usually am able to talk myself down from that ledge and let both grow at their own pace.

Today I am stuck in this apartment from 8 until 5, waiting for the dishwasher man to come. It’s been a month without a dishwasher, and the new one was delivered broken. So we need to repair the new one. Nothing like being forced to stay indoors for a nine-hour span to feel like you are in prison. In addition, Madeline played with the alarm clock, so we missed the five a.m. wake-up buzz and I missed my morning run. The day isn’t off to the best start. I’m hoping for a happy ending.

Yesterday was great, though. We spent it at Aunt Jenni’s Country Home and my reward for making the one-hour trip out to the mountains of New Jersey was not only Quality Adult Time and Happy Children Time but also a container full of her delicious homemade pink vodka sauce and a Ziplock bag full of cooked pasta. Dinner to go! The highlight had to be a conversation about unicorns with her four-year-old twins, who told me in all seriousness that unicorns are not real and are pretend (I love that earnest stage!), but seemed a little wide-eyed full of wonder when I told them I saw one crossing the street on my drive up. I wondered on the way home if it was possible to tape a horn on a horse on one of the horse farms near their house and do a drive-by. Also cute: Avery playing peek-a-boo with the nearly-one-year-old Francesca and sharing her snack with her. And Madeline playing in the tent with Giovanni, who is so patient and kind with kids younger than he is. The best part about all of the kids is that they all have that amazing innocent quality of pure happiness that radiates in moments from their eyes and smiles.

During the drive home I imagined — as I usually do after leaving her home — Nicole, the girls and I living at Jen’s home. I imaginary-decorate each room with an imaginary unlimited budget. It’s amazing what I can come up with when money is of no object! Jen has a walk-in closet bigger than the girls’ bedroom and more windows in her den than we have in our entire apartment. We all could be so happy in a home outside the city with so much space and a backyard! Not to mention being able to BBQ. Jen and I talked about future plans and we really still have no idea where we will end up. Right now, we are staying put in the city. Nicole’s office is a five-minute walk away: How can we trade that sort of commute for an hour-plus one? Bottom line, living in the city lets Nicole spend more time with the girls and me. Isn’t that the important part? Also, I have lived here in the city for nearly 20 years, and I don’t know if I can make that transition to suburban living. Driving everywhere? Having control over the heat in our home? Hiring a local kid to shovel the driveway and rake the leaves? It all seems so foreign, even though that is how I grew up. But it isn’t about me anymore, and it comes down to the girls and are we raising city kids or country kids?

I am trying to get the girls off bottles. They have two a day: One in the morning and one before bed. All drinks in between (water, that is) are served in sippy cups. Madeline will take milk in a sippy cup but Avery will absolutely not do such things. And once Maddie sees Avery with a bottle of milk, she wants a bottle too. What do I do? Do I cut the morning bottle out cold turkey, reasoning that they will eventually drink because they are thirsty? Cut both bottles cold turkey? Our doctor says they should have about 16 ounces of milk a day, and I fear they won’t if I cut the bottles out. But they are 21 months and enough is enough, right? No more baby-pants bottles.

Pictured above, creepy-looking fog in Jen’s backyard. One drawback to living outside of the city is I would be scared all the time. And pictures don’t lie: Look how much fun the girls had!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Good-bye Sliver of Hope, Hello, Reality, for the 37th Time * with request

Well, we might be turning the corner, but I am not counting any healthy chickens until they are hatched. The girls have ceased vomiting and Nicole is back at work (after two days off) and the diaper fiascos are slowing down considerably. I am fairly certain Avery has the rotavirus, and maybe Maddie, too, though she had much milder case. Maddie had one evening of throwing up and, just like when she was a baby, this involved depositing small disgusting piles on the floor, like a cat, which she then would roll on or touch or somehow get all over her, despite our efforts to pull her away from it immediately. Avery projectile vomits, like a cartoon character. There is this low sonorous noise and then everything inside her comes out all at once with force, like a fire hydrant. After we stop laughing, because it really does look funny. We are faced with the daunting process of cleaning everything up and comforting the sad Avery. Our concern now is Avery woke up this morning with a dry diaper, a sure sign of dehydration, so I need to stay on top of the liquids thing, and be on the lookout for crying with no tears and a dry mouth. But that is enough vomit and sick talk for a Monday morning.

This morning NYC the victim of four inches of snow. March is in like a lion, indeed. The city is, as usual, shutting down with panic. The store’s shelves are wiped out of water, toilet paper and milk. Even the schools are closed, for the first time in five years. My walk to the gym this morning was a very slippery one, but manageable, and the cold wasn’t exactly bone-chilling. It is supposed to snow more, and already little flakes are swirling outside. But that is enough weather talk for a Monday morning.

This weekend was unusual in that two people I am close to have confirmed they are alcoholics. That doesn’t happen every weekend. Well, one confirmed and the other… that is an interesting story that I’ll get to in a minute. But the first is a good friend of mine (whose anonymity I will respect) who made the decision to quit drinking and has not had a drop in 21 days. She quit cold turkey and other than regular therapy, she is not seeking any treatment, which is a method that worked for me. She hasn’t told many people yet, and I wonder what people’s reactions will be when she does drop this mini bomb. Should be interesting, because some people seem to have a hard time when other’s quit drinking.

So this got me thinking about my own drinking days and nights. For me, quitting wasn’t the hardest part. Making the decision to quit was. When I finally quit, it was actually almost easy. After all, when you are hungover all the time and finally admit how drinking is fogging up your life and making your future seem hazy, it is easy to make the decision that it is time to steer clear of the poison. Sort of like starting a diet after a stomach virus, when food of any kind is the last thing on your mind. So the beginning of quitting was okay. The hard parts come later, when I am faced with old habits and old patterns and old haunts and old synapses. But at this point those hard days are few and far between, to be honest, and fleeting.

My will power is strong and avoiding something in totality is easier for me than moderation. But oh I still resent lacking moderation abilities so very much. I envy my friends who can practice moderation and indulge in a drink every now and then. I want to be a member of that club. How I wish I could have a cold beer in the hot summer, a warm buttery scotch in the cold winter. Sangria. Whiskey sours. Mojotos. I still remember, with fondness, nights at one of my favorite bars, the kind of place where the bartender gives you a free glass of Opus One left over from a bottle one of the tables in the connected restaurant ordered (I quickly developed a taste for very expensive wine, thanks to that generous bartender!). Sitting at the beautiful carved bar, my coat draped on the back of my stool, eating creamed spinach and clams, my dinner for an entire winter. The check every night was impossibly small, as the bartender knew that undercharging us would ensure regular visits and big tips.

When I have fondue and taste that sharp sweet flavor of wine, I miss drinking. When I see a friend relaxing into a drink, shoulders releasing tension, slouching down in the seat, exhaling and visibly relaxing (and stopping after one drink) I miss it. I miss it and will always miss it. But don’t regret my decision to quit.

The other alcoholic, well, I can’t get into that one too much, but that one rocked my world a little more. Once again I am reminded that I really really need an anonymous blog. But this case really saddened me. It isn’t a surprise, because we all know she has a drinking problem. She denies it, and still does. What is a surprise is that she admitted to regular blackouts, which she has never done before, which everyone knows is a very certain sign of drinking issues. So in a way even though I know she is an alcholic and I know she can’t stop, I still can sometimes pretend that it isn’t as awful as I imagine, that maybe I am over sensitive or overreacting. And then I hear things like blackouts and I realize I can’t live in my pretend world. I have always had that that sliver of hope that she is just a regular drinker who has complete control and can stop any time if she wants. Poof, gone. Reality is and will always be a very bitter pill to swallow.

That’s enough drinking talk for a Monday morning.

Pictured above, my beautiful sunny Skye. Today is her fourth birthday!

* If anyone has any ideas where to take a 4 year old for a birthday experience, please share. We want to take her out somewhere in NYC. Not Amercan Girl. If any intrepid NYCers have any ideas, please share!