Don’t Go

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I remember the first time my little darling took this hill. My heart was in my throat. I could barely look. Would he make it? Would he wipe out, yelling for me, all bloody?

Now every time I approach this hill at 79th and Riverside, I smile to myself. It’s really not so steep. What was I afraid of? Sure, there’s an ever-so-slight feeling that you are out of control as you descend, but just barely.

Why did I worry?

image My little darling is 18 now. In the fall he will head off to college. I am feeling that same insecurity. Should I let him go? What if he falls? I have to let him go. I can’t look.

I want to yell. Be careful! You are going too fast! Hang on! image

He has to take the hill. He has the need for speed. He has to feel the pull of gravity.

Incidentally, this little guy in the picture did fall after I took this pic. His father sauntered over slowly, got him back upright. He shrugged at me as if to say, Look, no bruises, no blood. As if to say, No biggie. “Do it again!”

My girls are growing up too. I could not believe how adult they looked on camera.

The amazing teacher Ellen Park gave them a coaching session for on-camera work. She told them to show their thinking in their monologues. She did not judge. She talked about finding the luminosity of You-ness. To find their own voice. Their own way. Not her way or my way. But their own way.

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Find your own voice. imageFind your own hill. Let gravity pull you down. Enjoy the ride.

This is a lesson for me. I want to seize the wheel. I want to drive my kids’ course. I want to be sure that they don’t fall. I want to wrap them in bubble wrap and send them out into the world.

But I’m not going to hover over my little darlings.

They are going to fall. And when they do, it’s really no biggie. They’ll get up. And take the hill again. Or find another hill. Maybe even a steeper one. Oh God, NO! This is so hard for me.

My Day

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In one week, we will have this explosion of blooms in Riverside Park.

In one week, we will have this explosion of blooms in Riverside Park.

My one today. My new today.

A new year. A new day. Sun streaming in my window. Calling me out.

I get out my bike. I ride around Central Park. I color Easter eggs.

I plan a little party for my son’s high school graduation. I RSVP to a dinner party.

My friend is coming over and we are making sushi tonite. And she’s giving me a massage. She’s a masseuse.

In college we had a cooking club; we made sushi. My life has not changed much since college. Although I live 65 blocks uptown from where I lived in college.

And in college I lived on Washington Square and Fifth Avenue and yes, for a little while on 34th Street. Living in New York is all about the real estate. Oh, I lived on 204th Street too and on 21st Street. In New York we don’t ask What you do? we ask Where do you live? As if, it defines us. Ah yes, you live on the Upper West Side. That explains it.

I am so lucky. To have the Upper West Side.

And I have awesome, crazy, creative kids. My husband is a caution. A challenge, but every single day, he tries to keep it together. That’s better than most. Keeping it together is good enough.

He made me an omelette for my birthday. And almond croissants. How nice is that?

My daughter Cat told me tonite that there will be a blood moon.

I may go for a swim now. Or to yoga. Maybe Pilates.

I do have freelance work to do. And must put in my time. I think I could give myself time off today for good behavior.

This was from the Easter Parade a few years ago. How fun is this New York City tradition! Happy Easter!

This was from the Easter Parade a few years ago. How fun is this New York City tradition! Happy Easter!

I need to paint the apartment.

I need to read my book for book club. We are reading the Boys in the Boat.

I need to plan my trip to Ireland. Am I really going to go? How hard it is to organize myself. I am much better at organizing my family.

This is my day. I am not crazy about getting older. But I consider the alternative.

And as I tell Chris, when he feels down, “You have a lot of love still to give.”

“Yes,” he says. “And a lot of love to receive.”

A birthday is a day to receive and I am not that good at acceptance. I would rather be the giver.

But oh, all right, if you must, then, give me a gift.

I tell my kids, “With me, it’s always the same. You can give me chocolate, a candle, a journal.” And so they do. And I am very, very grateful.

That is today’s Daily Post: Write op-ed piece, IMHO (In my humble opinion) that you’d like to see published.

Moments Over Money — Mamma Mia!

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I heard you look slimmer if you stand sidewise. But who cares! If you have a big smile, you’re attractive! Notice the poster! Big smile = fun!

My teenage girls loved Mamma Mia! They loved it more than the movie, which they also loved.They were climbing out of their seats and trying to squelch each other’s enthusiasm for the show at the Broadhurst Theatre. But they couldn’t. They were laughing, crying, dancing.

Mom: Why did you like it?

Cat: It was spectacular. A real feel-good show. We sang along. We had to fight the urge NOT to sing along. Then we gave in.

CoCo: It was really powerful. A tear-jerker.

Mom: What did you take away from seeing the musical?

Cat: A positive attitude.

CoCo: To live while you’re young.

Mom: What about older moms like me? What if you’re not young?

CoCo: Live as if you were young. The mom was so good. What was her name? Judy McLane. So good.

Mom: Any other advice?

CoCo: It’s more important to cherish what you have than stress about what you don’t have.

Mom: Thanks.

CoCo: And thanks for sharing your (Inglot) make up with me.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Serino Coyne and MAMMA MIA! Gimme! Gimme! Glitter collection at INGLOT Cosmetics for inviting us to the show. We did receive tickets and a little glittery eye shadow, but the girls’ opinions are their own. And they advise everyone to go see Mamma Mia!

A View of the Hudson

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april, cherry blossoms in central and riverside parks

april, cherry blossoms in central and riverside parks

At the end of the day at my coworking community, New Work City, occasionally, we’d get jello shots delivered to our work stations. Now I get chocolate chicken chip cookies and hot chocolate. My career has shifted from corporate-y to entrepreneurial to teaching.

And the river runs through it.

I started writing this blog post on Pajama Day last week. Yes, I got up and changed out of one pair of PJs and put on another pair. Working in a classroom is so way better than working in a cubicle. If only for pajama day. (At New Work City, I could’ve worn PJs, I’m sure; but not at GBGM.)

I asked my husband last night, “Do you think I’ll ever want to go back to corporate-y or non-profit work?”

“No,” he paused, then added, “But you did love your office.”

Ah, gone are the days of having a beautiful office on the 14th floor overlooking Grant’s Tomb and Riverside Church. With a big desk (containing a drawer full of shoes) and an expansive view of George Washington Bridge spanning the beautiful Hudson River…Those were the days… (Here, I enter a reverie state…..)

february, the view from my old office

february, the view from my old office

Ahem. Back to reality. From my shared Green Room drama classroom space at the school, I have a drawer in a desk. And still, to be sure, a view of the Hudson River — this time from the first floor.

Between the school buildings and the river, the children run, play, scream. I love the outdoor space of the country school. I love that the kids breathe in cold air between classes. Fresh air is enlivening. I love running outside myself between classes. Hugging my heavy sweater tightly around me.

And all along my pathways, the Hudson River is my guardian angel. Watching over. Gliding beside. Big-shouldered and steady. Freezing over and then, thawing.

I do believe the big floats of ice will melt. Our parkas will be replaced by sweaters. And we’ll see the muddy ground.

First crocus. Then daffodil. Raises her hand. And asks, “Is it my turn?”

Spring asks Winter, “Isn’t it my turn soon?”

Winter hesitates.

“Can I go now?” Spring asks. And then, Winter takes a sabbatical.

Yes, yes, and yes. Spring, it’s your turn.

And all along the way, the river glides by.

I Need ME TIME!

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At book club, one of my friends asked, “How are the kids managing with you working so much?”

“Kids?” I asked. “Kids? What kids?”

But I felt reassured last night. A fellow teacher told me, after I declined Happy Hour to come home to work, “It’s good you work a lot. Better to be a parent of benign neglect than a helicopter parent.”

This is a recurring theme with me, so skip the next coupla paragraphs if you’ve read this from me before. But I feel so badly that my kids’ father has Parkinson’s Disease that I do too much for them. I work too hard to provide every fabulous thing or vacation they need (or want). (Did I mention H. is going to Patagonia, Coco to Costa Rica, and Cate may go to Alaska?) I want them to have a happy childhood despite their father’s disease.

But then, I get the feeling, What about me? After organizing the whole family, I get resentful, “I’m working too hard! I need some ME TIME!”

I just saw this news on Facebook of a women’s writing conference. This warmed me — the thought of women writers sitting barefoot on the grass, talking about nothing or everything, at Skidmore College. Chatting about childhood, mothering, girlhood, international sisterhood! How nice is that! Maybe I’ll sign up. It’ll help me get me through the winter.

An Arctic wind is rattling the scaffolding outside my apartment window. I have so much housework to do. Loneliness settles in. I need parties and gatherings, but also need to burrow down, sort through papers and plans and permission slips. I need to dust and vacuum.

I need to do all that, I also need to work. So let me get back to my freelance writing, lesson planning, and sound design. And then get to the housework.

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PS If you’re looking for writing support, the WordPress courses are superfun. They start in February (which is tomorrow!)

Snow Day

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not a flake has fallen and we are consigned home.
i like working, teaching, much better than staying home.
i find the work of housework endless and there is no pay.
which leads to resentment.
but for the work of work, i get thanked and paid.
and I interact with adults with whom i can make jokes.
the joking part of work is almost my favorite part.
that and being paid.
but maybe because of my husband’s illness and his slowness
or my children’s, i don’t want to call it laziness, but i will call it laissez faire.
i feel like i am always pushing a stone up a hill with housework.
and there is the haunting ernest hemingway question — did he have to clean house as much as i do? i may not be at the same literary level, but dang, if i couldn’t be a better writer, if i wasn’t a woman and didn’t have to clean so much.
i have said this a million times, but i need more household help.
and now that today is a snow day,
i have to be the household help.

For no reason, here are some pics from the Pasadena Rose Bowl parade this year. (I never got them up when we were in California a month ago, this New Year’s.) 

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I was cracking up. Every time this woman tried to take our pic, her finger was in the way.

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These two love each other.

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Loved the celebration of Spanish heritage and the cowboys in the parade.

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So many moving parts on the parade floats!

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We had sunny days in California. (Not snow days)

Hug a Tree – Re Spring Your Step

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I am a tree hugger. If you ever go hiking with me, you will see that I literally stop in my tracks, go rogue and hug the tall, unsuspecting, happy tree.

I say, “Good for you, you tree. You just stand there. And you just keep giving us oxygen. You ask for nothing. Thank you. I love you.”

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When you hug a tree, your back opens. And you feel a solid connection to some depth of dirt or center of the earth.

I don’t know why the term ‘tree hugger’ is a pejorative. If every single human being found a tree to hug once a day, I think we would be a much better human race. (Maybe we’d even stop the race and just love.)

Trees are wise. They ask nothing of us. They can’t go anywhere. Maybe a person would flinch when I hugged them, or hug me back a little too hard (yes, that happens too). But a tree doesn’t do that. A tree just stands there.

I love in fairy tales when trees come alive. Like I think it was in one of the million Lord of the Rings movies — don’t the trees come alive, run with roots dragging, and save the world? Or at least until the next sequel?

My kids are highly suspicious and embarrassed — even in the woods — that I hug trees. They go, “Mooom!” You know that Mo-o-om! that has at least syllables?

“Do it!” I scream at them. “Hug the tree! You’ll like it!” I act all strict and mean. Begrudgingly, they do. And with an eye roll, they’ll admit, “Yes, hugging a tree is okay.”

hike 2Tree hugging is nice. And there’s nothing wrong with nice. Especially when it takes you to a happy place.

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My kids hiking Owl’s Head near Lake Placid. So many fun memories of hiking with my kids in the Adirondacks.

I love nature. And nature loves me back.

This post is in response to today’s daily post

“Tell us about the last experience you had that left you feeling fresh, energized, and rejuvenated. What was it that had such a positive effect on you?”