Thursday, March 31, 2011

When Karma Takes Itself a Little Too Literally

• I totally believe in karma, but didn’t realize it could sometimes be so tit-for-tit, tat-for-tat literal. About a year ago I ran into a neighbor at the bank. We both did our business at the ATMs, and he left a minute before me, as he didn’t need to hassle with rounding up toddlers. I noticed his ATM on the ground. He was long gone, so I brought it to his apartment. He was so grateful. Flash forward to yesterday. I am walking in my building and my neighbor is outside the building with his dog, chatting on his cell phone. I pull my keys out of my pocket and, apparently, my credit card falls to the ground. He yells to me, points out the card on the ground, and saves me the hassle of closing my account and getting a new card. I found his card, and he found mine. Literal karma. I had another almost literal karma incident, but that one was not as pleasant. That’s another post.

• Tomorrow is our 9th anniversary, which means starting the day after that, I will round up our “years together” to ten. As in, a decade. As in, a tenth of a century. As in, a drop in the bucket on the way to forever. We will not be celebrating officially, as Nicole is heading to New Mexico for work, and I am heading to Long Island with the girls for my niece’s confirmation. That is the beauty of having two anniversaries, I guess. This one is the anniversary we celebrated before we were officially married. I refuse to relinquish it. It seems silly to pass up a gift-giving occasion, I mean, a day to celebrate our love.

• Speaking of gifts, I got Nicole a totally symbolic gift that I am now second-guessing. Was I high when I decided this? Like, completely stoned out of my mind? It seems like an idea ripped out of the pages of one of those Harlequin romance books. Or Jane Eyre. Full of symbolism and treacle and awww, shucks. Left to my own devices, I am a total romantic who sits around dreaming up things like this. Not even sure I can give it to her with a straight face anymore. Can’t say what it is yet, but I will after Nicole gets it. If I give it to her. Ugh.

• This is the worst spring ever. Cold, windy, dreary. And snow is forecasted for tomorrow. That’s not stopping me from wearing a strapless dress to the confirmation. I willing the sun to come out by dressing as limitedly as possible. I’ll be properly covered in church, though, to shield the congregation from my heathen cleavage.

• Speaking of worst, I joined the Worst Gym in America. It is underground; has no towels; has no signal for cell phones; the treadmills are prehistoric; and its three TVs are set to SportsCenter and music videos and CNN. Oh, and there are closed captions because there are no outlets to plug your earphones into to listen. I mean, who doesn’t love watching music videos? The good part of this gym is that it is only $25 a month, which is unheard of in NYC. I tried it out for a week, and when I didn’t join right away, they emailed me, asking me to join for $70 a month. I ignored that email and they sent another. This time, $50, then $40, then $25. A waited to make sure no emails were forthcoming and then joined at that rock-bottom price.

• I find that when I am, say, cooking in the kitchen, and the girls are playing by themselves, unsupervised, in another room, it is wise to yell out “No” periodically and randomly. I usually then hear the girls scramble, then giggle, and say “OK, we won’t do that anymore,” which means I was right. They were up to no good. That’s parenting at its intuitive best.

• I signed the girls up for swimming lessons. I’ll save you the “Time is going by so fast” rant. But time really is going by so fast. 17 months till kindergarten.

Pictured above, glorious signs of spring, that were covered with fresh snow not long after this picture was taken. And more snow to come tomorrow. Longest winter ever. Silver lining is, I will totally appreciate the spring like I haven’t in a very long time. Also pictured, Avery and her cousin Isabelle (who is in costume for a play. She doesn’t normally run around with a bow like that.). You can’t tell this by this pic, but Avery worships her. Which makes me happy, as she is a perfect role model: Smart, kind, evolved, talented and beautiful!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Butter and Japan

Tonight I took the girls out to eat. Dinner started with an otherwise routine adjustment period of negotiating seats; removing sharp silverware; analyzing potential water spillage patterns and arranging water glasses to minimize soaking children; tucking away the unused-ever-at-our-table wine list and asking the waitress for just two more minutes. Bread was dropped off at our table, just in time to tame the hungry toddlers, and I had a flash of annoyance when I noted that the butter was frozen solid. Don’t restaurants realize frozen butter is completely unspreadable, thus rendering is useless? This always bothers me, frozen butter.

Almost as quickly as that thought entered my head, I thought, what the f&ck is wrong with me? Annoyed by frozen butter? How petty and insignificant and trivial and stupid when measured against real problems in the world.

There are so many real problems to choose from, but the earthquake/tsunami in Japan really struck a nerve in me. Maybe because I see my sister-in-law and her sister’s face in the faces of the Japanese women and because I see my niece and nephew in the faces of the children. Those Japanese genes are powerful. The footage makes me cry. The coverage makes me angry. I have officially changed my “homepage” because I am annoyed beyond belief that CNN makes me watch a 30-second commercial before I can watch their video reports. Really, You are going to try to sell me a car before I can see the story about the man who escaped the path of the deadly tsunami with his three-month old child? Or the report about the mother who ran to get her son from his kindergarten class and book it to higher ground? Or the residents of a home for the elderly, sitting dazed in hard plastic seat, with looks of the saddest sadness etched on their faces? And, that video making the rounds on facebook, with the sirens and the view of the horrific water sweeping away a town, will give me nightmares tonight. If I can sleep. It’s almost 1:00 and I’m still up.

Haiti and Chile and Australia and New Orleans (so poorly handled), all recent victims of horrible, terrible, unimaginable natural disasters. And now Japan. I don’t mean to get all John Lennon and peace-y but, wow, what a different world this would be if we used our armies and resources and money and budgets helping people devastated by natural disasters, instead of “wars” and “defense.” Why can’t we mobilize our armies (which include such much needed people like doctors and nurses therapists and social workers, in other words: People who care for people) for powers of good?

It’s all so heartbreakingly sad. Tonight, after a perfectly perfect day with the girls (play school, store school, play date with a friend, dinner out, couch snuggling, book reading) I was even more grateful for home and safety and no sirens. Avery fell asleep in front of my eyes (looooong blinks to peaceful sleeeeeep) as I lay with her in her bed. And Madeline, who, an hour after she went to bed, came out into the living room and asked me for a just one more hug. Tiny, perfect moments.

Pictured above, scenes from the weekend. We tagged along with Nicole on a work trip to Boston. I am constantly amazed that my two girls have two different personalities, because I, too, sometimes fall into that trap of thinking that just because they are twins, they have the exact same personalities. Madeline’s fearless in the water. Absolutely fearless. She just jumps in, goes under, and comes up laughing. Avery loves swimming, but she requires a little more support. She will do everything Madeline does, but she needs a little more hand-holding. Just look at the looks on the faces before Nicole dunks them….Avery is so serious and focused, and Madeline is so excited and happy. Every day they teach me that mothering must be dynamic, detailed and focused. And end-user specific.

Friday, March 04, 2011

You Win Some, You Lose Some

And this is exactly why my next stop is password-protected posts. Because these are the times when I cannot stand the muzzle I put on myself, and choking down the words is, well, choking me. Yet what I want to write will hurt another, so I can’t bring myself to do it. I am an open book with (most of) my life, but it is hard for me to share portions that directly involve others. So, no post. Instead, I sit here, close to midnight, unable to sleep, with this burning away inside me. Can’t call anyone this late and can’t pound out a blog post. Yeah, maybe I am being dramatic. Burning, choking, muzzles, mixed metaphors… classic me. But there are times when I feel completely overwhelmed and just not capable to dealing with situations on my own.

[and this next part was deleted this morning….]

Thursday at the Post Office, an obnoxious and disheveled man shushed the girls. The best part is, they weren’t even being loud. My last trip to the post office included the girls knocking over of velvet corral ropes and general antsy mayhem, and culminated in Avery biting my ass (literally) while I tried to make that very important decision of one-day, two-day, three-day or parcel post mail.

This time, polar opposite. Madeline sat like an angel in a chair while Avery stood next to her. They were passing a plastic Lego tree back and forth, laughing and obviously happy. Avery would pretend to take a bite out of the tree and Madeline would laugh and say “Avy, do it again!” And Avery did. (Maddie calls her Avy…)

This grinch kept shushing them, in a loud and undignified way that sent spittle spraying in their general direction. First time, I ignored it. Second time, I told the girls to quiet down, all the while thinking to myself “What am I doing? They are not being loud.” But the third time, I let loose a little. I told him that the are not being loud and he can stop shushing them, as they have been taught never to take orders from strangers.

I was angry. Maybe sort monthly chemical shift (which gets worse as we get older? WTF?) prompted that not-very-controlled response, but it was rude, and he needed to not get away with that. And he struck me as the type of man who has gotten away with a lot. I’m pissed that I had to be semi rude to him, and that I must have seemed like that defensive mom, and embarrassed that other people waiting on line had to see that. And I am pissed that I will not be able to protect my girls from losers like that. I love my girls more than anything. How will I ever be able to protect them, from spittle spraying strangers?

That’s my state of mind. Let’s hope sleep cures this. Friday has to be better.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

In Defense, Yes, In Defense of Charlie Sheen (a little...)

It’s been hard lately to avoid the overexposed Charlie Sheen. He is all over the morning news, which, in a lovely twist of events, I have been able to watch (the news, that is) a little of this past week. Thank you, tea set and magnets, for occupying my children’s early morning hours. I have never seen an episode of the show he is on and I’m not a follower of his film work. And I don’t know much about his life, except for the broad strokes as covered by tabloids and gossip columnists. But I won’t let that stop me from weighing in.

I have two comments, maybe three. One, it is indeed interesting that his show was halted after he insulted the producer. Make fun of management and bam! the show is shut down. Yet, beating his wife and holding a knife to her throat while threatening to kill her? Destroying a suite in The Plaza after some sort of binge? The show must go on! Interesting….

Second, if he is as messed up as everyone is saying he is, then wouldn’t the media be, you know, exploiting him? Hmm. Everyone is quick to say he is crazy or high or losing it or not sober or insane, but damn if he isn’t good for their ratings. Last time I checked, that is indeed exploitive. I find it all a little sickening. And yet I can’t stop watching either.

Third, I think that he actually has a provocative message that is getting lost in the mix of his bizarre verbiage. I am fascinated by his outspoken break with AA. Clearly, he is done with AA. Not only is his done, he is espousing deep hatred for the organization. This time, he got (is getting?) clean by doing it himself at home, without the support of AA. And, believe it or not, I admire him for this.

Let me explain: I know a few people — whose sobriety I truly admire — who are in the program, and swear by it. I wanted to be one of those people. I wanted to sit in folding chairs in a church basement with a cup of bad, lukewarm coffee in my hand. I wanted a sponsor who I could call in weak moments. I wanted a blueprint for sobriety. I wanted to tell my stories to an audience of people who would get it. Seriously, AA is a dream for emotionally needy/barnacle people like myself! Alas, I tried AA for a while and did not find a fit for me. I was very, very disappointed.

At first I had no faith that I could do it alone. But I had to. So I dug in my heels and did this stop drinking thing by, as Avery would say, my own self. Well, I did have Nicole and the support of most of my friends, but, in the realm of recovery world, I did it alone. No AA, no therapist, so counselor or social worker. No nothing. And here I am, eight years plus later, living proof that you CAN do it without AA, or a counselor, or a therapist, or anything. You CAN do this alone, in your own home, and I think that is a really important message that needs to get out there.

There are many people don’t try to get sober because AA and counselors and rehab aren’t their bag and they don’t think they can do it alone. And they can. Is Charlie Sheen the best spokesperson for this message? Right now, not really (again: that verbiage). But he has the biggest megaphone right now. Too bad a good message is getting buried in bad interviews. And, his name will most likely soon be a verb.

Coming up, mini breakdowns, compliments of Google. And, I’m looking into wordpress and its fancy easy import.

Pictured, Madeline and her Match Game.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Except Accept: A Journey Indeed

My latest philosophy—and I can say “my” with some assurance, as I have not read any self help books lately and haven’t had the benefit of therapy—is that the less you (I) fight against reality, the happier you (I) will be. Anyone smell overtones of “Que Sera Sera” here? Or the whole “ accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” OK, so many some self-help ideologies linger.

This concept can apply to 17 different areas of my life, but here’s a case in point: I mentioned this a few blogs back (study up; there will be a quiz): I really miss my niece and nephew, who have relocated, without my written consent, to China. Just thinking about them now is making me cry. I think about them every day and lament their leaving and mourn the distance and get frustrated with the time difference challenges and wish they would come back. I am wistful for the days when they lived a mere ten miles (or, 40 minutes, in NY driving time) from me. I torture myself by recalling specific memories. In other words, I have done pretty much everything… except accept.

What I should be doing is focusing my energies on care packages and hopefully Camp Cousin this summer, when they return for a while, and Skpe calls, which are all destined to be at awful and inconvenient times. That is what I should be doing. I should be striving to make sure that my children maintain a connection with them, their cousins. I should accept the fact that this seemingly sudden and drastic move across the WORLD is one of life’s latest little twists, and there is nothing I can do to change it. But I can accept it. Settle down, and settle.

Which brings me to settling into that acceptance. I love the duality of the verb “to settle.” Forget duality, there are actually almost twenty accepted definitions of this verb. One definition means to come to rest, to adjust to something. To become calm. Settle down. Settle on the couch with a good book. Settle in for a long winter’s nap. There are slight variations there, but they hover near enough the same concept, around the same core. And then there’s “to settle,” as in to settle for something. As in accepting something even though it is not the best and not what you (I) want. Accept something in spite of incomplete satisfaction. Settle for less than perfect. Amazing how one word can span such two (or twenty…) disparate ideas.

“Settled” brings to mind such a peaceful feeling. “Settling” makes me want to fight. In this particular situation, I am settled and settling for. I am doing both. The one-two punch. I am trying now to accept this situation, and stop the runaway thought train of “If only…” and “why can’t…” and “If maybe just…”. But I am also aware that this cross-world paradigm is not MY preference, that I am trying to accept it, in spite of incomplete satisfaction.

So I am trying to let these two definitions marry into one psychologically strong concept. I can be settling for something (unsatisified), and still feel settled (satisified). A paradox, no? And I can take that excess “energy” in the awful, damaging forms of torment, sadness, anger and frustration and put them to better use. Like sending my niece a birthday present (which is in two days….)

Next up, Redundant vs. tautological: What’s the Difference?” Just kidding. Maybe.

Pictured above, Leif, Skye. Not only to I love them three days past forever, I love their names.