Not Worried About Ebola

Standard

When I saw that the NYC doctor with Ebola had worked at Columbia Presbyterian ER, I did feel a little a butterfly flutter in my stomach. That’s where Coco and I spent the night on Friday. (And I had told her, at the time, “Let’s get out of here as fast as we can. You can get infections in the hospital.”)

But I’m not scared. I’m proud that our favorite hospital’s doctors work with Doctors Without Borders.

Borders are made up. Borders are moving. We are all brothers and sisters in this world. Trace us back, and we all descended from some fireside circle. We come from hunters and gatherers — women and children gathering berries in handwoven baskets. We are all eking out our survival. Even now.

I got so lucky in my adult life when I worked for so long (too long?) for the Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. I met so many brilliant people — people very similar to Dr. Craig Spencer. They are trying to lift the whole world out of particular miseries — illness, poverty, loneliness, oppression. Through their efforts, for example, and in a joint effort with lots of other do-gooders, malaria is practically history.

I’m also not worried about Ebola because I know that the things that will get you in this life are not the flashy front page diseases or airline crashes. But the less sexy — heart disease, cancer. And it’s better to take care of your daily health — floss, eat right, exercise — than stew about infectious diseases.

That’s why today I’m going for my annual physical and my twice-a-year dermatology exam; on Monday, I’m going for my annual gynecological exam.

I remind myself in this media swirl: It’s the little things that will kill you, not the big things. And I’m trying to take care of all the little things today.

The ER at Columbia Presbyterian – great people doing great work:

IMG_7166.JPG

Finding Beauty and Health Again

Standard

The experience with Coco at the hospital was pretty intense. And I feel a bit knocked off my life’s tightrope — balancing my paid work, my creative work and my (unpaid) family duties.

H. napping at one of the colleges we visited. He is an excellent napper.

H. napping at one of the colleges we visited. He is an excellent napper.

One such responsibility is supporting H. as he applies this week for early decision to a college. He needs a reminder to focus. He’s been coping with the added stress by napping when he gets home from school.

On Saturday afternoon, when I got home from the hospital, I realized I had to still feed and care for the kids. So I hopped on my bike to purchase rice and beans for Coco at La Caridad (the best Cuban Chinese food on the Upper West Side!)

There were a dozen limos on West End Ave. I wondered what was up. And then when I turned at 77th at the Collegiate Church, there were dozens of people pouring out of the church. It was a wedding.

And the sky was blue and the air was fresh, full of autumn but summer lingering. And I felt so full of life and beauty and gratitude. My kid was fine! We were going to be fine!

And people from the wedded were dressed up so fancily — men in tuxes and ladies in silk. I was elated.

At Caridad, I told the guy at the counter, “My daughter’s just out of the hospital.”

And he, this lovely tattoo’ed dude, said, “That’s great. You have two girls, right? And a son?”

Indeed, I do. I’m so lucky. My brother says, “Don’t say you’re lucky. Say you’re blessed.” Ya, that too.

The rice and beans were delicious. And I took a long nap.

IMG_6950.JPG

I find so much beauty in the flowers in Riverside Park. I love taking pictures with my phone.

IMG_6819.JPG

Blue sky, nothing but blue sky, and sunflower.

Frozen in the Pediatric ER

Standard

The good news is I finally saw Frozen. The bad news I saw it in the emergency room with my littlest angel Coco and her ruptured ovarian cyst. (Although there was some concern, it might have been an ovarian torsion that righted itself.)

She was in a lot of pain.

It was about one in the afternoon. I was getting dressed after a spin class, a swim and a lovely hot steam room at the Y when I saw a text from A. “The school nurse is trying to reach you.” I knew it was bad because usually the nurse just keeps calling, she doesn’t phone your emergency contact.

I say usually because over the years I have had dozens of calls from the school nurse. Apparently, my kids enjoy the homey, comfy bed in the nurse’s office. So I don’t panic when I see the nurse as an incoming call.

This time I did. I was right to.

Coco was in a doubled-over, throwing-up kind of abdominal pain. She was wheeled into a car service with her 12th grade brother and they met me at the pediatrician’s who took one look at her and sent her to the pediatric ER — she recommended Mt. Sinai or Columbia Presbyterian. I chose the latter because we had such great results when Hayden required surgery for his fractured collar bone there – his little league injury. (And it’s the hospital where Chris goes for his Parkinson’s.)

In the waiting room, at 3 pm, we had to decide whether to hold Coco’s birthday party which was scheduled for that night. It looked like even if she recovered from the pain, we wouldn’t get out of the hospital in time. We postponed.

Over the next 24 hours, Coco had several tests — C/T scans and sonograms — and several doctors — pediatricians, surgeons and gynecologists to make the diagnosis of ruptured cyst. At first, it looked like appendicitis. But they could tell there was fluid in the abdomen which was likely causing the pain and the remnants of the burst. The fluid will be absorbed by the body over time.

We also had two visitors — Jacob and Sheila — both of whom are pals from church who live in the neighborhood. We were so happy to see them. They both really brightened our spirits.

We were in ER, first in the hallway, then in a room, until about 4 am. We moved to the children’s floor in the wee hours. The nurses who work with children are the best — patient, funny, smart. The doctors were wonderful too.

Throughout the night, I got very little sleep, curled up in a big chair with an upright chair by my feet.

But at one point in the morning, I snuggled next to Coco on her bed/stretcher. There is a feeling when you’re curled up with your child when you feel you are almost free-floating in a bubble. You are one tight unit, together and contained. The Mama Bear instinct really kicks in when your child is sick.

I joked with Coco, “I’m going to miss going to the bathroom with you when we get home.” (I helped her walk to the bathroom every time. She had to drag her IV pole, like walking a big, unwieldy dog.)

We did get home, about 24 hours after arriving at the hospital.

My husband had been visiting his sister in the Adirondacks for a day, he was scheduled to stay a few more. (And honestly, I had been looking forward to being single this weekend — attending the school homecoming, a conference at New Work City and a concert with Coco’s old friends). But Chris returned last night, a loving presence to the kids.

Coco’s recovering at home now; she’s not quite her spunky self. We will follow up with a gyn in a couple of weeks.

So, yes, Frozen was a good movie. Don’t wait until you’re in the ER to see it.

PS About the confidentiality of this blogging, I did ask Coco for her approval to post this. She also approved these pics.

IMG_7139.JPG

IMG_7143.JPG

What do you call yourself?

Standard

I need a new business card.

So I went to LinkedIn to see what to put on my card. Also, I wanted to update my publications with that recent newspaper commentary.

I noticed I called myself a Communications Consultant and I thought Multimedia Journalist sounded better. And Blogger sounded better than Writer. Consultant was better than Freelancer.

Also, I was Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Boot Camp for Writers, but, in a way, that sounded like I owned a health club so I changed it to Creative Director.

And then, I saw that I hadn’t really done justice to my teaching. Yes, I’m an Afterschool and Substitute teacher. (Today I had so much fun teaching science and digital music!). Should I name the fabulous schools where I work? And what about my recent work art handling at the art gallery? Do I mention that? How about my videography work at Columbia University? Too part time? Is it all just too confusing?

I confused myself. I don’t know if we find out who we are by looking at what we do.

So I decided to resolve this by staring at Facebook and taking an online quiz, over at 16Personalities. I did the Myers Briggs test years ago, when I was splitting up from my exhusband, in 1991? And I was an ENFP then, and I’m still an ENFP.

They tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle where everything is connected – but unlike Analysts, who tend to see that puzzle as a series of systemic machinations, ENFPs see it through a prism of emotion, compassion and mysticism, and are always looking for a deeper meaning.

ENFPs are fiercely independent, and much more than stability and security, they crave creativity and freedom.

… Few personality types are as creative and charismatic as ENFPs. Known for their idealism and enthusiasm, ENFPs are good at dealing with unexpected challenges and brightening the lives of those around them.

Awww, that was really fun. It did explain me — even my weaknesses — too many jobs and talents! (I was a little worried when I noticed that Robin Williams was an ENFP too.)

I wonder if I can put ENFP on my business card. Nah, that’s just silly.

I may not know who I am by what I do. But I do know how to have fun.

Here’s a fountain near my house. It has nothing to do with this post.
 

IMG_6982.JPG

Extraordinary Meal Planning

Standard

I stave off uncertainty by systematizing.

We have always been very loose about dinner times and meal planning. But we always aim to sit down to dinner together.

Since this school year’s launch, we have set a goal to eat dinner at 6:30 every night. And now we have a dinner plan:

  • Meatless Monday
  • Taco Tuesday
  • Prince Spaghetti Wednesday
  • Comfort Food Thursday
  • Fish Friday*
  • **Clean the Refrigerator Saturday
  • **Sunday Supper

*Friday might be pizza. (The kids don’t like fish).
**Saturday and Sunday might be FFY, Fend For Yourselves. 

So far, so good.

Chris loves to eat but he takes forever to cook. And he is a messy cook. So having this schedule get keeps him moving and motivated. (I think the Parkinson’s meds have affected his executive function/planning.)

Besides, the kids are starving when they walk in the door from various afterschool activities at 6:30 pm. (They leave the house at 7:35 am — long day!)

Last night, it was FFY, because the girls and I went to see Pippin on Broadway for their birthday. How fun was that! The understudy was on and I can’t imagine the real lead, Kyle Dean Massey, could be any better than the understudy, Mike Schwitter. (Chris’s friend John Dossett played the king! Other highlights: Rachel Bay Jones as Catherine and Lucie Arnaz as Grandma Bertha.)

I think the message of the musical is find the extraordinary in your ordinary.

It’s a highlight of the day to eat dinner together. It’s the ordinary.

IMG_7116.JPG

IMG_7115.JPG

Messy Life

Standard

My bedroom is messy. My desk is messy. My work life is messy.

When I signed on with my personal ass-kicker Patty Golsteijn, minimalist, at New Work City a couple of months ago, she told me to work on my novel before I checked my email or social media stream or anything else. Every day. Just do that. And I did. Mostly.

Then, every Tuesday morning, during our Collaborative Motivating (cotivating) session, several of us would report to each other and to Patty on our goals. We’d commit to our next goal in person and on a Google spreadsheet.

I like being accountable. And productive. It’s why Kelly and I called our writing biz, Boot Camp for Writers.

It turns out, I also like doing my own thing too.

  • Going off the grid.
  • Running out for coffee with a friend in the neighborhood.
  • Going out to dinner.
  • Reading and liking my friends’ Facebook posts.
  • Bingewatching Parks and Rec with my kids — I was laughing so hard last night, I literally couldn’t breathe — the episode where Leslie runs for mayor and has to walk out on the skating rink — OMG! So funny.
  • Going off on tangents.
My apartment looks so nice when it is decluttered.

My apartment looks so nice when it is decluttered.

So to motivate myself, I signed up for New Work City’s IndieCon conference this Saturday. Patty will be there. I hope she gets me back on the grid. Or at least gets me to cut the crap.

Here are a couple of pics of my beautiful apartment. I always make it look nice when I am about to have a party or people over. But parties leave a mess and then I’m back to where I started. Sigh.

I’m overwhelmed. I guess I’ll just head over to Facebook to like some posts. Or maybe go out for coffee.

Ready for a party.

Ready for a party.

Twenty-five Seven – Getting Published

Standard

 

my kids sleeping. when they were little.

my kids sleeping. when they were little.

  • Sleep in
  • Flip through a magazine
  • Lay by a body of water
  • Write more
  • Chat on the phone

This reminds me, I wrote an essay — a  tribute to sloth in an overachieving culture wherein I advise you to:

  • do less
  • stay off the grid
  • aim low

This appeared in this weekend’s Times Union commentary section. Proud.

Maybe if I had a second extra hour, I’d spend that time querying other magazines and newspapers with my funny, short essays.

I sent that essay to the newspaper as part of my challenge to query 7 places in 7 days. I may challenge myself with that again. But maybe in November, because in October my challenge is to post every single day. And besides that, I’m a little lazy.

Need. more. coffee.

This post is in response to the Daily Post:

Good news — another hour has just been added to every 24-hour day (don’t ask us how. We have powers). How do you use those extra sixty minutes?