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…..)
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?”
“Can I go now?” Spring asks. And then, Winter takes a sabbatical.
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.”
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.”
Tree hugging is nice. And there’s nothing wrong with nice. Especially when it takes you to a happy place.
Joined hundreds of thousands on Sunday after church to march.
These ladies from Code Pink were there — looking awesome and fiesty femininsty gorgeous. Their message? War is not green. Yes. And tons of kids. And patient parents. We had to wait on 72nd Street for about an hour before we could feed in to the march. Here we are passing by Columbus Circle. It felt like the march opened up here and we could look around. All the humanity. I like their sign that said, “We have solutions.” It wasn’t just a march where people pointed out the problems. Although there was some of that. Vegans educated us on the reality that cows are a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. There was a lot of music. But, as in any march, my favorite is “We shall overcome!” I melt when I hear that at a march.
There were a lot of young people. We all walked for hours. So fun.
I am a lighthouse. I stand tall, watch for shipwrecks, give light.
Earlier in the day, we’d walked to the lighthouse and I said, “Let’s walk out on the jetty.” But we didn’t.
In the morning, my mother stretched in the bay. I think she missed her daily Chicago yoga when she was visiting me on the East Coast. At the bay beach, mom was bitten by little bugs and wanted to go to the ocean side and so we did. She left for the airport at lunchtime.
That night of the full moon, we climbed the lighthouse steps. I told the girls, “Go ahead! Scamper up! I am going to take my time.” I got dizzy in the spiral staircase. But I love spirals.
All the metal, echo-y steps were the same. Looking up and looking down were the same. It was hard to orient myself.
I think I would like to live in a round building. When my son lived briefly in a yurt at camp, he said there is nowhere to hide when there are no corners in your cabin, so campers were more engaged in conversations. And he said, that campers were closer to nature, and could hear people talking outside the yurt.
Maybe round structures like yurts and lighthouses are more a part of the elements. Round buildings fit in better with nature, like tree trunks and whirlpools. And spirals.
The girls stopped in a windowsill and asked me to take their pic. The flash blinded us.
While standing in line, I thought about the last time I was at Barnegat Light with my son. We kept singing the jingle, “Stronger than the Storm.” And I thought, maybe I don’t always have to be strong. Maybe it’s okay to be weak or vulnerable. What’s so great about being strong? That’s a very male quality. How about I value a more female quality — being soft and round, like a mother?
Yes, I know the sun sets and the moon rises everywhere. I just don’t notice it. Maybe I am not a lighthouse after all.
Do you feel like you “get” social media, or do you just use it because that’s where all your friends and family are?
I get social media. But to get it, you have to give it.
I am Facebook, Twitter, Instagram girl, but I put myself out there. I’ve seen studies that show the more engaged a social media user is, the happier she is.
Some people complain about social media, “I don’t want to know what you had for lunch.”
I admit I occasionally report what I’m cooking. When I recently updated my FB status, “Making chili, meat and vegetarian,” several cyber friends in several states were also making chili. Coincidence? I dunno. But it was interesting and fun and I felt less alone in my solo chili-making kitchen.
Sometimes I overshare. That’s me. I overshare IRL too.
As a wife of someone with Parkinson’s Disease, I feel connected to friends and family through social media. Apathy is a side effect of my husband’s disease. On social media, I can’t tell if people are apathetic towards me. I try to notice only the thumbs up, the cheers, the interactions that lead to deeper sharing. I affirm people, just like I like being affirmed.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve connected in person with two different high school friends who were visiting New York. I wouldn’t have stayed in touch with them without Facebook. When we got together, we talked about deep stuff — how we felt different, theater, how we parent, what’s new with our siblings, how we work.
Of course, it’s scary to put yourself out there and swim in the social media community pool. It’s easier and safer, emotionally, to lurk, dangle your feet in the water.
But I was. I was somewhere fab. Making every day fabulous is one of my life goals. (Thanks to my former colleague, Klay Williams!)
Compare and despair. I try to post awesome pictures of me and the kids having a really good time out in the world. (See below!) Because a picture of one of my kids staring at the phone, laptop, or TV is boring. I post about things, people, and events that I want to remember. I don’t want to remember boredom, bickering, apathy, and negativity.
I want to remember doing cartwheels on the beach. I want to remember bike riding. I want to remember making each other smile and laugh.
I loved climbing the tree to my platform. You climbed up three bricks of wood nailed into the trunk to get to the spot. I think one of my brothers and my father had nailed that platform into the V-shaped gap about 12 feet up. I sat on a two-foot by two-foot piece of wood, my platform.
To be an artist or a writer, I’ve wondered if it’s necessary to be an outsider.
From the platform in the tree, I could be on the margins of our big suburban house, not far from the action. But far enough away to be alone.
Having three brothers, all around my age, I was the only girl for many years, I was, at times, lonely, different, misunderstood.
There was no way a tree could misunderstand me. The tree was simply a tree, asking for nothing. I appreciated the non-judgmental nature of a tree.
I had sinus headaches regularly. The pediatrician took pinpricks on my arm weekly, until he, a George Castanza kind of guy, determined that I was allergic to mold and dust; trees and grass. I was especially allergic to Oak and Elm, the two kinds of trees in our suburban Chicago yard.
I rarely climbed the backyard tree as I got older and started high school. Instead, I hung out in the kitchen of our next-door neighbor Mrs. Zimmer. She administered my weekly allergy shots. We talked a lot. I felt understood. I remember once we talked about Zoroastrianism.
I liked our backyard tree; I liked my adult friend; I liked relief from my sinus headaches.