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?”

Winter Birding

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Saw tit mice, blue jays, cardinals, nut hatches, woodpeckers, maybe a goldfinch. Of course, pigeons, sparrows, grackle.

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Love the elegance of the Bow Bridge. And the turn of this cardinal’s head. “You lookin’ at me?”image

No one is lounging on the bench. But a pigeon flew into my frame.image

Is the San Remo the most beautiful apartment building in the world? I think so. image

And when I walk into the park around Strawberry Field, it is like walking into church. I question faith and death and life’s uncertainties. And there’s always some dude strumming John Lennon, even in the cold. image

In the summer, you don’t notice Central Park South in the Park because of all the foliage. image

And you may not notice all the birds either. image

I went birding with this hearty crew. We dubbed ourselves Charlie’s Angels. If you know Charles (Chessler), you know he has a great zest for life. image

He invited us birding through a Facebook post.

I asked Charles how he stays so friendly. Like, during his winter street fair experience – he was selling his work in December. He said he talks with people “without agenda, expectation, or judgment.” Pretty cool. I aim to do that too.

And yay, it was pretty cold today too! I’ve been warming my hands against the heater all day.

Incidentally, I took all of these pics with my new phone, a Samsung Galaxy Note 4. (I did not use filter, or edit any of these pics!)

Check out Charle’s pics. 

Find Meaning Through Writing

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I write every day. I write in my journal. Facebook posts and tweets. Blog posts for SPSARV and my own blog and website. I write emails and texts. I write lesson plans and press releases. Magazine articles.

I write very fast. I try to write faster than my inner censor. In NYU grad school, my writing teacher Philip Schultz called the inner editor the “shitbird,” who sits on your shoulder and tells you it’s shit. I’ve heard her chirp. She wants me to give up, stop writing. Watch TV or scan social media. Say nothing. Good girls remain mute.

And the “shitbird” is a term from a friend of mine who killed himself. He was the most talented poet. …And he wrote me a letter saying that he could hear my encouragement, but that there was also a shitbird on his shoulder, whispering that he couldn’t write. Maybe that shitbird is the Superego. Overly cautious. – From an interview with Philip Schultz.

But the bird flew away when I blogged 31 Days of October with a community of writers. Something shifted in me. The daily sharing of my interior life made me stop and notice my world. Maybe a little of my writing was shit. But mostly, the writing was deep and brief and full of wonder and gratitude. I have a tough time with my husband’s Parkinson’s and my three teenagers and wanting everyone to be happy all the time. I want to give these kids an awesome childhood. Still, I want to remain true to myself as an artist and a lover of learning. And always, I am looking for joy. When I write about these conflicts, I find meaning.

daisies mediumMy commitment to writing in October made me a better, more effortless writer. I realized I didn’t have to write one grand oeuvre. I could write a bunch of short meaningful pieces. I don’t know what my writing life will hold in 2015. Especially as I am teaching full time for several months. But I know that my life is deepened because I am a writer. I know that my writing helps me find my purpose and cope with  challenges and joys.

Thanks to WordPress – My 2014 in Review

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I love WordPress.com. It’s a free blogging platform. The creators of WordPress let people work in their own ways. It’s not like apple or microsoft, because it’s open source software. Which means, I think, that people can tinker with the software. (Not that I know how to tinker!). The WordPress peeps whom I’ve met, (or Automattic peeps) at the WordPress WordCamp this summer, are all very committed to sharing resources and knowledge. They’re not like, “Pay me $39 for my advice.” No, they’re like, “Here’s something cool you can try on your blog.”

When I started blogging, Beth Buchanan told me WordPress is where all the cool kids hang out. So, I thought, ya, that’s me. I’m cool. And I’ve been blogging since July 2009. What!

I thought when I started, I’d blog about writing, but it seems I blog mostly about family life. My most popular blog posts seem to be about non-traditional families, like when I wrote about Bridget and Amanda’s wedding this summer. Also, when I write about how annoying my husband’s Parkinson’s Disease is — that’s popular. Or how annoying my kids are. Also, popular. People like honesty in their blog posts. Not perfection. Readers like love. They also like failure.

WordPress prepared an annual report for my blog. I posted 71 times in 2013 and 68 in 2014. I wonder how many times I’ll post in 2015. In any case, thanks for reading about my loves and my failures. Happy New Year! Here’s to more blogging joy!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.