Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Auld Lang .. yeah I have no clue what that means either

Once my birthday passes in July, only child all about me, the year always seems to fly by. That wonderful season of summer is almost at an end by that point and then the frantic madness of school starting, fall activities like apple picking (full confession I do it only for the donuts that are hot and awesome, the rest meh I have no real desire to recreate a pampered version of Grapes of Wrath but I did mention the donuts right?!), kids after school activities, Thanksgiving,  present buying, wrapping, meal planning/ cooking/serving, returns post holiday -- no wonder the year flew by.  The shortening of daylight also makes me feel like the days are ready for sleep at around 5pm.  

Then there is New Year's.  At some point in my life it was all about sneaking booze (slightly nauseous just remembering it) in a shampoo bottle (combo of every type my parents had in their house taken in small quantities - lucky we didn't burp bubbles) to the basement of my parents' friends house, kids in basement listening to their music, adults upstairs listening to some of the same and much of it not from my father's stash of mixed tapes he made for the occasion every year (he really would have made a good DJ - knew the balance of dance, downtime and refresh songs).  They danced and told inappropriate jokes, in retrospect probably much more off color than ours, we did same.  They played poker we -- well we talked about boys I think and stuff that was SOOO important to us then that now honestly I can't even recall.  Probably about stars we liked and hair like Farah's we wanted. 

Then it was about just not being with my parents past a certain point, yeah I will cheer with you Dad/Mom and then go out, there were basements now with no parents upstairs, booze flowing freely, bad choices being made and lots of kissing (some good, some booze helped to dull the bad experience).  It was still somewhat innocent. 

Finally on to the clubs, overpriced and crappy drinks, loud music - oh it was awesome.  The times required big hair, lots of makeup, heels that would kill your feet until you took them off (purses and shoes thrown in middle of girl group dancing), maybe the occasional meeting of someone, rarely serious, determined to stay out until daybreak (NYC kid so places closed at 4, then go to after hours bars) ending in consuming of large amounts of greasy calories in a diner, cheeseburger deluxe with shakes and fries with gravy and melted cheese.  Slept pretty much until Jan 2nd for a good part of my 20s.

The clubs give in to dinner dates, to house dinner parties.  Until you come to my stage now - back to house party, only now we are the parents upstairs (telling much more off-color jokes than our kids who are by far more conservative than most of us were at their age - is that like their Michael P Keaton rebellion with parents like us ?), listening to music while they do whatever it is they do in the basement.  Believe it requires electronic and virtual texting and devices to speak with people who are sitting next to you.  There is usually a movie they make and weather permitting maybe a game of Manhunt outside.  The kids fight to stay up and we the parents often fight the urge to sleep and actually see the ball drop.   Still not sure any of the words as we sing the Should all acquaintance be forgot ... auld lang - what the hell does that song mean anyway?  I wake up early on Jan 1st .. now. 

The years boy they sure seem to fly - I couldn't wait to get older - I can't wait to not feel older now.  I make no resolutions, I am the girl who cannot understand the adult coloring book phenomena after all (coloring inside the lines stresses me -- tells you all you need to know).  I make a list of things I will like to do, some of it continued from previous years and much of it just learning to enjoy the moment.  It is about my kids more than about me, what will the next year mean for them, about them. This year has been a crazy ride, thank you to so many friends who read this and to the strangers all over the world too.  Let's meet here next year, remind each other of how much more alike our wish for a good world is and be kind to another.  Cheers - raise a glass, make the most of what is left of this year and let's get it on for 2016 ... see you then.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

'Tis the Week before Christmas

And all through my house
Every creature is stirring
Including our Guinea Pig in his edible house

Scrunched on the sofa, boys taking up more space, we taking up less
Scanning through our DVR to pick what to watch
From the classics like Rudolph, Frosty and Polar Express

 I am still wrapping and hiding presents from prying eyes
With bows, colorful paper and where did I put the tags?
Can't wait to see the boys open these with awe and surprise

Last minute shopping, hopes that what I bought
Will be well loved and enjoyed
And just what they sought

Enjoy Christmas, the season of good gifts, love and cheer
Raise a glass of eggnog
And make the most of what's left of this year

I love Christmas time as you can see - because it is the birth of a man who spread the word of love, compassion, acceptance.  It is the winter solstice.  I love the decorations and the decorum - the gift wrapping and the ripping open a present.  There is something kitschy yet endearing about all the Christmas music.  I am an atheist and I love Christmas for all the good feeling it can give you - if you cannot enjoy this then that says more about how little you want to see about what's good in this world and we all could use less negativity right about now.

Let me hear you exclaim as this window is closed out of sight
Merry Christmas to all
And to all a good night

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

There is a tween in my house ..

So back in the previous century when I was growing up you were either a kid or a teenager.  There was no "tween" designation though we all were one at one point. 

Yet I think tween is the perfect word for what I am seeing with my child these days.  I have an 11 year old son and parenting him turns out to be quite the exercise for me.  

He is at that weird stage, as if teenager time will be any less so?!, where he is not quite hormonal all the time but just when you least expect it.   He is sort of starting to smell - especially around the feet area - but not quite ready to shower without prompting and by prompting I mean me telling him to do it or else.  He is pretty tall and hungry a lot - like a lot - but I worry when I see a belly.  He has a tear in his voice when I bring up said belly regardless of the amazingly well way I said it, I did so do not get all smug thinking I did not.  I mentioned it in the context of how we all could eat a little better - he was not amused.  He has a tear in his voice at times in ways that I as who really try and keep my drama to  a minimum do not - I am not that girl even though I am sensitive so his reaction to me saying he needs to turn off Netflix leaves me puzzled, he is ready to cry but doesn't and it's just freaking Netflix which will be there exactly where you left off ?  I mean really, what would he have done if he was growing up when I was and walk away from a tv show meant you lost that last part forever ?!!    Then there is the "push my limits" time - complete with eye roll and passive aggressive questioning or defiance.  This one is hard for me as I want to get up in his face Astoria parent style and I do not.  I want to though because his answer for "why would you do ...insert totally obvious bad choice here?" is "I don't know" said in the tone of "I don't know so wish you would fuck off".  I know that tone I used it -- but in my teens. 

He is also becoming this person who has all these "things" he does with friends that I do not know every iota of, just enough to keep me feeling like it is all still stuck at video game and drool from afar after girl talk.  They also seem to find it totally amusing to curse with one another ... but smart enough not to let us parents hear it lest we unleash our set of expletive why they cannot use expletives. 

Yet through it all he still wants to come for a Sunday snuggle, or put head on my shoulder while we watch tv.  He wants to get all the younger kid attention his 9 year old brother gets. He still acts often like the child he still is and is so much more innocent than the teenager he will be allows him to believe he is. 

This season we navigated video games he wanted for Christmas .. he went on line to find persuasive arguments that went like this:
"You trust me right?" 
Me "yes" 
Him "well in that case you know I know the difference between video game and reality and violence in Call of Duty is not real and you know I am not a psychopath so will not think killing people is actually ok."  
Pretty good argument -- Me "yes I do know that but since you are not a psychopath why would you even want to play a game that allows you kill people ... doesn't that worry you that you may actually be tapping into a darker psyche."  
Pause .. pause... shake of head and he says "this is not over but you have a point I think I have more research to do."
He thinks he is old enough but he is not and I have the tough job of knowing how to help him stretch the rubber band and not hold him back from knowing how to make decisions that are really bad.   

It is the differences I see between the 9 year old and the 11 year old that really help me know I have a tween.  The 9 year old is still so thrilled with the kiddie stuff .. while the 11 year old has to look to see who is hearing him say that something is cool if it is kiddie stuff.  I am getting glimpses of the older self the 11 year old will be and I have to say while it makes me a bit misty for how quickly time is going I am so thrilled to see the man he is exhibiting.   I love his independence and his willingness to let me know that he is getting bigger and I have to learn to help navigate that independence not curb it.  I like that he still wants to hang out with me and consults me on things because that builds on what I want most for both of my kids - that they know no matter what I am here and we can figure it out together.  

As the mother of a tween boy I want people to know that he is more fragile than he appears and will be mortified and angry when he reads this, that he is not quite the player that at times he may want you to think he is, that he is just learning to navigate the feelings he is having that are physical but still can hurt him, that he is going to tell you he is a man but he is just one in training, that he will learn to treat you and his body and sex with the awe it deserves because you are both way too young to have anything else to do with actual sex as tweens, that he may get his first real kiss right about now and that it will be magic even if it's sloppy and bit gross, that he still loves body function jokes and most of all that he really is a kid who is unsure what the world expects of him but knows that it seems to be expecting something. 

A tween .. maybe it's prep work for the teenage years for both of us .. maybe it's just extended angst .. maybe it's just time to get a little less stinky ... but most of all it is just another great chapter in my motherhood.  

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Dear Santa - me again

Every year I ask my boys to write to Santa their wish gift list.   Every year I beam when I read it. 

They are boys who are truly fortunate and they are given a nice home, activities, vacations and plenty of toys (electronic and other) but they are also 11 and 9 and who are exposed to seeing things that are more than they need. 

It is hard, not going to say in today's world as I am sure parents have struggled with this for a long time, to balance your want as a parent to give them the world, to have an explosion under the tree of gifts that their eyes grow exponentially from when they come downstairs vs the balance to not go so over the top they are beyond playing with anything. 

I have done that - one year I ordered at the beginning of December, why you ask? because I got pushed into trying to be someone I am not.  The person who orders, wraps and is all done by week two of December.  That is not me.  I am spontaneous, excellent results oriented procrastinator.  So what happened I got all those lovely things, I hid them and about December 16 panicked that I had not bought things and went shopping.  The result, impressive as there were no duplicates, ridiculous once I started wrapping and bringing up from the basement where I was doing said wrapping on 12/24.   The kids were thrilled - they had gotten more than they could have ever expected - but they crashed after present 5 and it was time for a break.  I mean you know you over did it when you need a break from present opening.   

So I embraced my result oriented goal attaining procrastination style and shop last 2 weeks before Christmas.  I do have to pick up small stuff in homage to the Jewish heritage from their dad's side as we do faux Hanukkah, dreidel song/latke/gifts/menorah out but we have yet to ever try and say anything about it.  As an atheist for me it is all about joy of giving and enjoying the time with the family.  For them it is one more part of who they are - a mashup (to use a term the kids use these days) of so may things that make them lots of things and none of one thing except themselves. 

My kids lists - I cannot imagine, though I smile and nod, when people tell me the lists are long.  I struggle with my sons' because they contain about  4-5 things, 2 usually are books of some kind, and the rest are usually like video games or a characters for the video games.  How am I supposed to fill the granparental need to buy stuff from a list so short?  I usually smile, deep breath, and get a little misty every year.  They are awesome in their understanding, which they have told me, that they are already fortunate and that any gift they get is just a bonus.  I guess those times at Target when I said no to impulse buys and told them I only had enough money for the stuff in the cart made an impression.  This year they wrote extensive letters to Santa asking (no prodding on my end and they both did it) him how he was, saying they thought it was nice that he delivered gifts but who buys him gifts and asking him if he wants to leave a note about what he wants so that their mom could ship it to him.  PROUD mom moment.  

It is all good to indulge our kids as we can as long as we know we are raising kids who appreciate the lollipop as much as that iphone they got considered by many much too young.  It is ok to teach them joy and enjoyment and enough extra to make a gift seem special.  I do not want to tell them about starving children, wars, materialism and all that other stuff that some people just love to throw out to suck the joy out of every holiday.  What's the point ?  They hear about that enough, sadly.  Who wants to live with just enough to get them by - that's a grey world and I am fuschia girl, well ok fuschia but dressed in black as am NYC woman. It is all good to have a foot long list and not get everything on it just as much as it is to get more than you thought you would. I am not parenting to make socially conscious kids who eschew the awesome feeling of having and doing things just for the pure pleasure it gives you.  

Dear Santa

This year I wish that every gift makes someone smile.  I hope that everyone gets at least one thing they do not need.  Can you also drop off a little sprinkle of common sense as you fly over the world? Mostly do not stop being the magic of Christmas - however, you celebrate this season do that - celebrate the wonder of giving, getting and get a little frisky under the mistletoe -- life is better when we focus on enjoying it and good kissing. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Does this brie make me look fat?

I would love to tell you that I have some holiday pounds to get rid of -- but that would be a lie.  I just looked at the Amy Schumer naked pic and here are first thoughts that I admit to popping in my head

1) Why would she do this ?  Look at the rolls on her belly
2) If she would have sat up, turned uncomfortably, airbrushed, held breath then she would have looked so much better
3) Oh man - I barely look in the mirror never mind pose like this
4) Getting over myself and knowing it is all self-loathing issue
5) Her shoes are pretty awesome
6) The girl has great hair
7) Wonder if I borrowed from my 401K to pay Annie Liebovitz to take my pic would be considered a good idea
8) Fuck them - she is sexy and she likes to eat and not obsess over her weight - which I am trying to do -- those are nice shoes
9) black and white pictures are slimming

All within the space of a minute.  That is how my brain works.  I am surrounded by beautiful, fit women - I like to eat, and I like them.   I want to lose weight, I am pretty healthy and hell I can keep up with the tennis lessons but did I mention I would like to keep eating super tasty food even in smaller quantities rather than large ones of the "cleansing kind", do not want to drink any part of my meals - except as wine or Bailey's and most of all I am not seeking Victoria or her secret just not the struggle that it has been especially since I turned 40.  Speaking of which does that mean at 50 it all reverts back to say my 30s???

It is not holiday pounds and it is a struggle but the biggest fight is me, myself and I vs the mirror and the things it does to mess with my head.  It weirdly gives me confidence - I don't have to worry about the extra pound since it has friends that already are present.   I don't have to be the sexy one in the room because hell I am super funny.  It has improved my conversational skills - along with being an only child - you learn that unless they are ogling you (in a respectful or not way) you want to be noticed you better be well rounded, pun intended, along with being well...round.   It has made me a terrific shopper and accesory queen - you are not looking at my love handles if my rings distract.  I get to eat when others just look on.  These pounds, maybe some will go, are not a holiday trimming they are part of my reality 365 days a year.

So I looked at brave Amy - and no I have not borrowed from said 401K to have Ms Leibovitz take my picture will instead explore more black and white iPhone shots - and thought she is sexy.  She is not just the funny one.  She is all that with a bag of chips to share.  We do not all have to look the same - we are different - and beautiful - and not so beautiful and we need to learn to accept and love our pounds, kilos, stone (ok British friends this is by far my favorite method of telling people my stone as it is always a small number and let's face it no one else has a clue what the conversion is).

Someone finds each and every one of us to be a hottie - how about we start by feeling that way about ourselves?!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What do we have to be grateful for?!!!

Even if you are a glancer, you know a skimmer of news, in the past week and maybe even a lot of the past year it is so easy to think "what do we have to be grateful for?".  

After all there are atrocities, big/small or somewhere in the middle, happening all the time.  Our politicians sound either like snake oil salesmen with a touch of preacher revivalist thrown in or wait what they didn't or don't read reports unless the report is giving data that only confirms what they think.  There is still death and disease and a host of really ludicrous conspiracy theories on these things, our lack of science understanding is frightening.  The environment is compromised unless it's not because if I don't understand it then it is not true, see previous point.  

What do we have to be grateful for?  I mean from everything you see on most media; races hate each other, religions are battling each other while of course telling everyone how theirs is the one of love and of course the one to follow, whoever you love someone may have a problem with it.   

Yet here we are in the week of my favorite holiday - favorite, ever one of those things that I think every country should adopt (Canada already does I know) and regardless of what you think of it's origins it is a great holiday.  A GREAT HOLIDAY people.

Here is what I have to be grateful for and what I want my kids to take away from this holiday

1) I am grateful for every day - I learn something from every day, maybe it is a small fact or maybe a game changer but there is not a day that something new does not peak my interest

2) I am loving being a mom and seeing my kids and their friends prep to be a better generation who can contribute to the world - they are not like us, or like our parents, I do not look at that as negative but rather as the next step in how people keep changing 

3) I am glad that isis and it's like minded counterparts in any religion are not the majority - THAT'S RIGHT NOT THE MAJORITY - and that while they keep committing heinous acts the majority of us can say no not in my name and fight them with weapons but also without resorting to their ignorant rhetoric

4) Differences - considering how much I have moved, that I come from a country that was never quite homogeneous, that my favorite place is a city that is know for having no "one" of anything it makes sense.  I do not like to eat the same food, keep the same hair color and even traditions I like to infuse with some change.  I love how we all look different, smell different, sound different and most of all somehow overwhelmingly live with our differences 

5) I have choices  -- and I will fight to continue to remind people that we all have choices - we can choose to be better or choose to be bitter.  We can choose to limit others or we can choose to grow with them.   I am grateful to live in a country that still allows me speak and vote and yell about those choices 

6) Music and art and books and makeup and shoes - and all those things that I do not need  - how wonderful they all are and how lucky are we all when for a moment or more we can appreciate not having things just because we need them but because something is beautiful about them to us 

7) The beach and cities - my places that give me solace, one with the roar of the ocean and one with the roar of crowds - both vast - both different - both where I find my sweet spot year round 

8) Singing and dancing  - like a mad woman, loud and wild and all over the place every chance I get 

9) Great kisses -- those smoochy ones I get with my weekly Sunday snuggle with my boys as well as those that make me blush when I think of them ... what a great invention kissing is and when it is good oofta - THANK YOU 

I am always thankful to my friends, both new and long time, male and female, those etched into my very soul as well as just the casual acquaintances.  

My favorite holiday because it reminds me what can so easily be forgotten among the negativity - that we all have something to be thankful for.  Happy Thanksgiving 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I've always wanted to ...

Maybe because of the Paris attacks this blog which I started sometime last week has become even more relevant for me.

We hear it all the time - live each day,  love deeply and tell people you love them that way, dance and sing and do whatever it is you want to do because there are no promises for tomorrow. Yet do we really do it ?

I've always wanted to ... I think of how many times someone has said that to me and it is usually followed by "but I".  These are rarely huge things - like climbing Mt Everest  - rather they are things that somehow do not fit in with the person's other parts of life.  I lost count of how many times I had said this phrase but then I met a few people who pushed me to try these things and I am so grateful that they gave me permission to not be perfect but to be unafraid.

Recently a friend of mine said to me that he had always wanted to draw, he doodled a lot, and yet he had never really done it.  I bought him some drawing things but that is not what was holding him back.  He is a brilliant man in so many ways and really well rounded but underneath that there is this thing he wants to do, that is really bit out of character with the other parts of his life and that is holding him back.  He may hate it if he tries it but I just keep telling him - try it, you may be amazing and you will feel amazing for having tried it even if you are better off doodling.

I went to an art exhibit at MOMA and one of the women I went with told me she would love to sculpt - I asked what kind of art she did and she laughed and said she does nothing creative.  She has it in her if she has always wanted to try it ... she is smart, funny and confident but this, well this outside of what the world sees in her or what she projects I should say.  I told her to take a class... she may do nothing more than to find out she may like to look at it more than to sculpt or she may find out she has always wanted to do it because it is in her to produce some great creations.

For me I always wanted to paint - so I started in my 30s full on oil paintings and I love it.  In my 40s I started a blog and tennis, both because as I mentioned it to a friend of mine who basically reminded me that if I want it I should go for it.   As I get older I realize that there are things I have always wanted to do but have been too restrictive with myself to try them, too hard on how I will not be outstanding in it and most of all too hard on saying it is ok for me to do something that is for myself even though I am a full time work outside the home mom in the past 11 years.  There are more things I've always wanted to do and slowly I will try and get to them - as I got older I care more about teaching my children to embrace trying and failing just as much as trying and succeeding.

I look at the world that seems so often filled with endings and there is a realization that we all have choices.  We can choose to be hateful, afraid, angry and destroy.  We can also choose to say we want to create, to build, to be enjoy.  My friends are truly special people and yet I wonder if at times they too need reminding of this fact - that they can try those things that may not be what others associate with them but that they have always wanted to -- imagine how many inventions, artworks, musical pieces, technology would not have been a reality if their makers didn't say well I am going to do it because I have always wanted to.  We find it so much easier to not put ourselves out there, to not follow some thought because it may lead to us not being good at it but who cares ?  It is for ourselves that we should do these things if they become lauded then that much better but if they do not I feel like it is still a win for the fun of trying it.  Go ahead have fun ... be silly .. be in love .. be creative ... play video games ... take up that sport that you have always wanted to ... learn to photograph.... or learn to relax -- if that is what you have always wanted to do.

What is it that you have always wanted to do that will make you blush if you told anyone, maybe glance around before saying it and what is stopping you from changing that to "Boy am I happy that I started [ insert your thoughts here ] because it was what I have always wanted to do it."

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Couch Confessionals

We all have that picture of a person laying down on a couch, a therapist sitting slightly behind their head making their inner most confessions less scary since no one is staring at you.  I have been to therapists, my humble (well maybe slightly biased considering my master's is in psych even though I do not practice) is that everyone could use therapy once or multiple times in their lives, and never once has the couch 1) seemed that inviting, both time leather and nice but not quite kick up feet up on 2) have they asked this of me.  They usually like to sit watching you a bit because you see therapists are a bit on to us what we usually start saying is not really what we want .... most people who see a therapist try the "let me see what I can get away with because holy shit why I did come here approach".  They are on to us so they usually watch you and even though at first they will let you think you are fooling them, though at the prices charged not sure who is the fool for paying and not actually using the service at first, but you are not and eventually from their chair you will make eye contact and you will let go... or you won't in which case either switch therapists or really stop spending your well earned money and their time because you are just not ready.

As I ponder these things, and yes my mind goes non-stop, I was thinking of the couch as a place of good family interactions, peaceful times sharing a cuddle with a family member and of course as the place where when you first get a boyfriend (at your own apartment - before that it is usually a couch that is not in plain sight) and you snuggle, kiss, get adventurous.  

I have a lot of memories of times on the couch with my Dad.  He laying down on the couch, me on the floor next to him (my choice, I loved sitting on the floor and watching TV as a kid, did it even when no one was home).  We watched scary movies, past my bedtime on weekends, with Chiller Thriller theater - channel 9 and a 6 fingered hand coming out of the grave .... they were not brutal but they were frightening for my young self, we both could not get enough.  We spent time watching TV shows there, or him asking me to be the remote (you know if you are past 35 what that means - you got up, you changed the channel, you waited there until they found something to watch, you messed with the rabbit years - luckily there were only 2, 4, 5 (was not a real channel), 7, 9, 11 and 13 as channels.  Yet we found a lot to laugh at, we watched the news he made sure I was an ardent Republican with no ideas about those Democrats (one step away from the Communism he escaped from if you asked him ) until we watched TV and he was appalled to see me like some of those Democrats, probably why I will never be one party or another I see good in both, I see crap in both (there goes another therapy session - why daddy influenced my politics).   He paid me to massage his scalp and his aching calves (when he owned a deli and stood all day), capitalism at it's best supply and demand (those jeans I wanted were not an entitlement, work and reward still drives me).  I did not appreciate how good those two things felt until I was an adult.  Yet one of my poignant memories of my Dad and me on the couch is one that makes me well up.  He had been hit by a car, badly, and we were on his couch (the latest wife - who I did not dislike,  boring but she was good for him because she took care of him and let's be honest I always was grateful for the wives/girlfriends for being there for him because he was not easy even if some of them were people I was glad to see go).  She too had been hit by the car but he was a mess, he had lived as if the diabetes he had was not going to need taking care of after he and my mom (who managed it for him, who he fought against for managing it) divorced.  Until the last wife he had let the disease define him while he swayed between anger at any of us who told him what not to do and at us for not understanding he had a serious disease (very typical of diabetics - add in his other issues and well times they were interesting ... I did mention therapy right?).

So there we were my Dad, over 6 foot at his youth, always skinny, curly hair gone gray and sightly too long, his olive skin bit grey undertone, dark circles (family trait thanks for passing along to his mother ... thank you concealer) very dark,  cheeks slightly sunken, nose (thank you for not passing on) looking very prominent and me in my 20s and being there for him and hoping he would be ok.   We were listening to Ray Charles, talking music and suddenly my Dad started to cry.  Not something usual in my house with him.  I moved closer, held his hand and started to cry of course.  He knew he was dying, I did not and neither did anyone else, because it was a feeling he had.  He felt that the car accident had pushed him over the edge.  He talked about mistakes he made in not taking care of himself, about feeling badly about latest wife who now would be a widow and then he talked about how he had not always been the greatest dad.  How he was really proud of me, that he hoped I would find fortune in America and most of all that he loved me.  Yeah yeah I am crying writing this.  Ray Charles stopped and one of his favorite songs came on "What a wonderful world" as sung by Louis Armstrong.  We sat there, my Dad and me, me comforting him - and we were back to before I had grown up and to when I was a little girl and I loved sitting next to him, me on the floor, him on the couch sharing a moment.   He died not long after that -- a heart that could not recover from having worked so hard along with his other organs against the diabetes, the car accident may have pushed him over the top but he had climbed up to that edge for years.

The couch - it is where I kissed men I dated passionately and with abandon, where I just sat and was held or held friends and lovers during tough times.  It is the place I sit to discuss how to get over all that I worry and don't stop thinking about if I see a therapist.  It is the place where my boys and I squish together, not super comfortable but we wouldn't change it, snuggle time watching tv together.  All of those memories are my couch confessionals but that moment with my Dad stands out because we shared so much, some good and some just awful, but in the end on that couch we shared what was most important to the two of us music and knowing we loved each other.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Homework and headaches

I grew up in a time and place where parents were either not home, out working, or did not speak English well enough to help us with our homework.  Yet the expectation was that it got done and that you got good grades, for many of us there was no discussion on "if" college it was that "when" you finished high school you went to college and if not you found yourself a job.   They did not have the cultural knowledge, the financial means often to do college visits and the like ... we did these things with the help of one another and a guidance counselor.  That was life in an immigrant neighborhood for most of us and you know what we learned really early on how to navigate school, the consequences of not doing well in school and how to get ourselves on track for post high school.  We did that because we had to.

Now my own kids and their friends have to navigate pretty much nothing because we as parents set up social things, school things, activity things.  These kids from a young age have a Hollywood star worthy personal assistant system.  This is not all bad but it is in some ways.

Throw in homework and there are nights when my head spins.   My kids do their homework, reluctantly, and seem to rely on reminders.  My older 11 year old son  - well with him I decided that I was going to teach him responsibility (ulcer and twitching eye be damned).  I am not going to check the correctness of his homework, I am not going to spend time correcting said homework with him, I will not erase the sloppy writing ... no I am going to do what my parents and those of my friends did.  I am going to set the expectation and only if he asks for help will I help him -- his progress reports will reflect if he is asking for help or doing poorly and we will have rewards and consequences if he did not ask for help and the grade reflects a lack of doing it or understanding.  That is my theory .. now my reality is (eye twitch at full blast) it is KILLING me because his writing is sloppy, what don't you take pride in what you hand in? is what is going through my mind, he rushes through writing and it lacks description (you know the hour + long description that I can get on any one YouTube video). So far his grades are good but there are a few where, see kiddies with great power comes great responsibility  - my parents had no computer parent portal to see a daily recap of my assignments and grades, they just had the quarterly report card where things could be mended to be good - so when I see INCOMPLETE on a homework then commence annoyance.

My younger son may be loving a book but if he is timed reading well we could not risk the wrath and potential for lightning strike of a higher being if say he reads 5 - 10 min longer than is required.   He still gets the erase your sloppy work and I see his snarky look .. I just don't care.

I get it and before all of you holier than thouers speak up - I did my homework with the tv on but I was that annoying kid who learned in class and absorbed in a way so that it did not need extra studying .. this led to a lot of A-s and B+s that could have been A+s but hell I was not going to you know possibly miss a social interaction to do the dreaded study.  Then I got to college and holy shit was I unprepared ... cause you need to study there.  I got it, I suffered,  I learned to study.  I know homework is not fun but isn't that part of the lesson for these kids 1) do something because it is required 2) take pride in doing something at your best 3) ask for help.

How will they navigate life if they do not learn to be self sufficient and know how to get assistance if we fix the homework or even worse in my humble opinion try the friend route here with them "Oh yes homework sucks let me see if I can get it reduced -- complain about how unfair it is --- the system and the man are out to get us".  You can be all about those things but for my kid that is not the point, special needs kids are a different story and I applaud you doing all those things to make sure your kids reach their potential.  Lazy habits are not a disability -- they are a result of what has been called helicopter parenting ... we take care of it.

I am working and learning to live with eye twitch, no guy on train am not winking at you, and hoping that as a parent I am doing the right thing by trying to make them more responsible in this thing called growing up.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dinner Conversations

I cannot remember how many articles I have read based on a variety of studies that all came to the same conclusion, not always the case as you may have noticed with studies, and that conclusion was that families that eat dinner together and have dinner conversations tend to have children who are healthier weight, better in school, less likely to succumb to negative peer pressure and more likely to achieve and not get involved in drug abuse.

My own childhood consisted of many dinners together, even if it was not always with both parents and there were nights were my mom worked late so dinner was bit later or on my own but then I kept her company on those nights.  It involved the age old "what did you do in school today"..."nothing" but then somehow it went either really well and at other times depending on my dad's mood really poorly.  The times that it was good it went from nothing, to a little something, to non-stop talking.  The times it was not good it went from nothing, to food stuck in my throat, tears held back and parental fight about how my father should leave me alone at dinner time.

Yet it was there - I am pretty sure most of us did not have the novel like conversations about the influence of Socrates on theology but in my house we did talk some politics, some history, some music, some pop culture and some current events along with jokes and without knowing it the art of dinner conversation.  Most parents, where I grew up, were busy people working hard to make a start in the States (being and living in a neighborhood of immigrants) and did not have time for discussions on Dickens but did want to eat and talk with their kids.  In a busy day it was a time to slow down and be together before kids ran outside or to another tv or to their room to listen to music or read.  I know the myth these days is that our kids are on their devices but to some degree we had our own even though they were not the same as theirs.

I am not saying this meant we did not do things that we should not have, or that we all got great grades but I look back at most of my friends from then, my friends from high school and we all did really well (there were some exceptions but hey I grew up in a city with a LOT of people so not surprising).  We did become achievers and we did do better than our parents and we bounced back from our mistakes.

Was it because we had dinner with our parents ?  Were the kids who fell through the cracks the ones who did not (my personal study says that was more the case than not) have this family time?  It was not always pleasant and often it was stressful for many of us with parents who were much less likely to use the time to encourage growth but instead believed in fear goals .. you know the ones ... "if you know what's good for you, then you will fill in the blank".  We did not always have parents who could relate to our experiences which were so different than their own but they did want us to know they were paying attention.

In my experience with people I know most of us are home at dinner time,  some of us cook, some of us get take out and some do a little of that prepared meal that is just easier on any given night.  I try and have dinner with my kids every night,  the TV was on in the background often when I was growing up and that actually added some discussion, it is often on in the background in my house and I find that my boys do go from "I did not do anything special today" to talking non-stop if I allow for them to tell me about things that interest them, I know things about Halo that I would have not ever imagined.  These are memories made but more than that it is actually the foundation that we are building between us of a safe place for them to come and test new ideas on, to try their limits and even to get guidance.  It will not stop them from bad choices because those are lessons in life that we all must learn to get over but am hoping the studies are right and it will make it easier for them to make better choices more often than not.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Inclusion Class

When we first got the placement letter for my 4th grade son this year I noticed it had 2 teachers' names on it.  I live in a town where this could mean a number of things.  The first which I know was not the case could be that he was in a dual language class.  I know that was not it because he is in 4th and that starts earlier and after much debate and research, I admit my parenting geekness but it is all with good intent, I had already decided that it was not a program I wanted my kids in but is a good option to have.   I still think we should teach kids another language other than English much earlier than we do in the States, maybe starting in 1st grade, as a subject, conversational first and add grammar later.  Two teachers could also mean collaborative class - which is basically 2 classes combined with two teachers.  Neither son would do well with this - the oldest is much too social and the youngest does not have tolerance for that much chaos.   I did what every overbearing mom does in the internet age - I emailed the school and of course checked the town Mom FB page for info.  He was in an inclusion class.

I who proudly and diligently have gotten services to help my older son with his fine motor issues, I who could care less really what people think about this except if they are going to be mean to him in which case forget that we are in Westchester 'cause Queens girl will give you a beat down.   I who really pride myself in being self-aware and who befriends people based on their actions not their appearance or beliefs.  Me -- all that -- well I actually took a deep breath and did not know if I was happy about it.

Why the PC police will ask.  Why some of my friends will ask.  Why am I acting this way I actually asked myself.  It is because if it is different and unknown or veers off the path and if you do not admit that you have your own questions how will you ever get comfortable with it?  I did not know what this meant for my son, who has worked on patience in the classroom because he used to ask out loud how many times a teacher had to explain something if he had gotten a concept already, my son who up to 4th grade had learned fairly quickly and then drifts if you do not challenge him and who is working on being ok with just waiting it out because that's life.  

Maybe it is that anything that is an impact on what your expectation is for our children, that veers from the path you think they are on, that is not the way you anticipated it gives pause to parents.  We want to protect them, to make sure they are the best at whatever they choose to be, that the world which is ever so harsh to them is kept as soft as possible for as long as possible.  We know that what gives us pause can translate to mean behavior in children and adults.

So here I was and in just a few hours of receiving the letter and getting my information, official from school it is an inclusion class, unofficial from other moms "she is a good teacher, my son was in an inclusion class for many years and it was great it was like having 2 teachers for 23 kids" and after reflecting on my own thoughts I was comfortable.  I was comfortable and actually thought how good an opportunity this was.  

My son would benefit because he needs to learn to be able to work at the pace of a group, slower or faster than him, and if he needs help then he needs to learn to ask for it.  It would teach him that people who have educational needs are his peers not "special needs" label on top of a body.  It would mean that kids who would have felt ostracized or not have had help now were part of a community as they should be.  

Inclusion is not only about the kids who have extra help but it is a great lesson for our kids on how to be kind to others who are not like them - to accept people for who they are and their actions not by a label that is attached to them.   My son is doing well, he did not the first 2 weeks.  Not for any of the reasons I thought but because his non-inclusion teacher was a bit standoffish.  I am not one that needs hugs in the classroom but I saw what he meant at back to school night.  - she seemed to just be not engaged.  The special needs teacher on the other hand was totally upbeat,  maybe that's why they are a combo.  That has since changed, maybe she needed time to get to know the class much like they needed time to get to know one another. 

Does my son realize that he is in an inclusion class ?  Yes he does but he could care less and in fact invited one of the kids (there are 3) who he has befriended to his birthday party.  It has given us a good opportunity to talk about how to be with people who are not like us and in a town as diverse as mine it seems that the only thing that doesn't fly is being mean to someone based on who they are.  It still happens because drama and school are just a part of growing up but much less for the reasons I see in other places.  

As a parent I guess the biggest thing I learned was that we are all imperfect in some way and isn't that what makes the world so much more interesting?  Kids and adults are not one thing; not their race, not their sexual orientation, not their religion or lack of it, not their limitations, not their successes - they are the sum of all of these things.  The only thing we should not be inclusive of is mistreatment of others in the name of these things.   Now I think - "What a wonderful gift this has been for my son -  to be in an inclusion class!!!"

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

No this is not gluten free gmo free paleo organic - but it is free

How important is it to you that something you eat is vetted by the current fad police?  Do you have kale chips that were farmed by fair trade, locally sourced, organic certified made at home ?  Maybe you are more like me you try your best to buy and cook better for the family but do not think that eating the odd McDonald's is the path to one of Dante's circles of hell.   The fact that I had to choose from a plethora of images on this subject actually made me chuckle.

I have tried for years to be more environmentally conscious - I used to say no thanks to bags in the 90s, my friends rolled their eyes.  I tried to use Chinese newspapers for wrapping paper one year - oh that went over well with my Eastern European family - NOT.  I have embraced recycling from the first appearance of the blue bin.  

I had my first son tested at the very young age of 2 1/2 for spectrum disorders - he is a non-specified spectrum disorder child which means his fine motor skills are weak but he is social so they are not sure where to put him except that it got him services that helped him pretty much get his fine motor skills to average.  It was about this time when he was stymying (flapping his little hands and walking on his toes) when I decided to do a lot of investigations.  I had a typical reaction of course - what had done this to my beautiful boy.  I read everything from scientific studies to Jenny McCarthy.  I vaccinated and realized that it wasn't even remotely possible that is what caused him to be part of these spectrum disorder children.  I learned to also understand that he and his friends are different but not less and instead of placing blame and acting as if getting and spreading a deadly disease was somehow better than accepting who he was was not how I was going to parent.  Yes I got him services, yes I still work with him but more because I want the world to be less difficult for him.

It was about this time though that I was pretty dismayed at some of the factory farming practices I did find out about.  It makes sense that if you eat locally sourced foods they will be fresher, more in season and picked ripe rather than chemically require some intervention at each step of the process.   I went back to my roots, my European/NYC borough roots - bought more at farmer's markets and if a local farmer told me he was organic but couldn't afford the certification it is good enough for me.  

I am still on the fence about GMOs -- mostly because the nay sayers really make fairly non-scientific claims which leads me to think many are just joining the fad.  I am in the process of trying to understand this better. 

Gluten - unless you have celiac or irritable bowel syndrome your eating of this substance is a choice not a dietary need.  Nut - allergies are a real thing so those we should be sensitive too. 

I prefer to give my kids antibiotics only if they need them rather than through their food ingestion of animals that were dosed with it.  

All of this to some degree makes me feel like what we are not doing is addressing a fundamental issue - these are all very upper middle class or higher socioeconomic choices.  These product choices  that no one would deny are less chemically laden, have no growth hormones which is proven to get passed through  (does obesity increases come to mind for anyone else) and are overall a better food choice are made partially financially.  You cannot afford to eat this way if you are making minimum wage, if you are not in the higher income brackets, because this is all much more expensive.  So you are not a bad parent, caretaker, partner because you choose the Hungry Man dinner - you did the best you could with the money you may have -- or maybe for one day you needed to go off course but you could afford to go back to organic, or a cleanse  - eye roll, right away.  This is what bothers me the most.  Also let's face it food should also taste good and no I do not want to live forever munching on what a friend of mine calls, nose wrinkled, grains that taste like Cardboardios.  Basically a vegan, sugar-free, fat-free lifestyle is not quite life - will take some fresh baked bread with a slab of butter anytime over that.  

Yet in spite of my beliefs on these subjects what I cannot stand more than anything is the uber liberal obnoxiousness about it all.  It is based on a judgement system that "they" are so much more informed than you can be and that if you do not adhere to this well you really should not be trusted to make any decisions for you and your family.  Oh please - get over yourself - you are as preachy and easy to dismiss as the far right arguments on why climate change cannot possibly be a real thing.  Both often have nothing to do with science or fact but with a belief that their way is that of the chosen people.  

I want my politicians bullshit free, organically evolving, intelligent and to be grown ups - our children demand it.  I would like food to be a source of nutrition and comfort not worry and it should be affordable for all of our children.  Parents are responsible for raising their children let's give them the best choices to help on that path.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

There are no words

I am not sure how to tell my kids anymore how to deal with school shootings - I just don't.  They have seen it happen in their under 12 year old lives multiple times, in multiple places and with one common theme - they are scary, sad and not going away in the current climate.

The debate on this does not focus on the victims, the parents of the victims or potential victims or how to realistically address this.  The easy fix appears to be usually to make gun laws that are on the books federal and enforce them, to reduce the number of weapons one individual can own, remove assault rifles for all civilian buyers.  Maybe you add in registration, courses, insurance kind of like you have with cars.  There is no real justification in my mind for the number of guns in the US, one for every resident of this country -- over 300 million.  There is also no real argument in the 2nd amendment which has not been upheld multiple times by the Supreme Court and then was upheld in recent times.  You want guns I am ok with muskets - to keep in line with the time the amendment was signed into law.  

That alone will not fix it - that will help a lot - but it will not fix it.  We have a mental health system that needs to be more available too, though I think this is a worldwide problem and no where is mental health really being addressed as much as it should be.  

We have a problem where the same people who fight tooth and nail against government telling them what to do with their firearms have no problem trying to use that same government to regulate women's choices for their bodies.  

Along the way it seems like the media wants us to believe we have lost our empathy - that the people who like to categorize us in to us v them are winning.  That we do not care about one another, or our children but instead are a bunch of judgmental fundamentalists who want nothing but to say no to anything that threatens to question the belief system they have. 

Somehow we are lost in these arguments and partially that is why we are still seeing these school shootings - because at the base of this whole problem is actually the real issue.  Term limits and campaign reform.  When our politicians are beholden to millions of dollars from any one entity because they need that much money to keep getting re-elected to the same office they no longer want to work to what is right for the people except for those people writing the checks.  So those writing the checks have two main interests the first being that they get their money's worth for their own personal gain.   The second is that they ensure that their belief system is the one that gets pushed through.   In order to do this they have to ensure we are distracted and divided.  

After all if we stopped to think about it no matter your color, your background, your socio-economic status, your relationship and who it is with status would not matter if we asked do you want our country to do better, do you want opportunities, do you want our children to learn of school shootings as a thing of the past that we solved, do we want great healthcare and a system that sustains innovation not imitates other systems with their own issues - do we want our children to be the next Greatest generation?  Well yes we do - we also as a majority worry more about these things and how we are going to balance the need for our government to do this without asking our government to be the biggest crutch we have.  We want them to be our physical therapy not our permanent cast.  

So I have no words to tell my sons that this will get fixed because we need to demand that we all have the thing we have so cherish - a democracy and for that we need campaign finance reform and term limits.  We have our votes and we have our ability to speak through them -- until we do the tragedies will be our future. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Do we even want it all ?!

Another week and of course another article about motherhood and working.  This one was well intentioned but then again I am hoping even when I do not agree that at it was well intentioned from the author's perspective.  

The subject was how hard it is to be on a career track with goals once you become a mother.  I agree it is hard.  It is hard when moms are working just to make ends meet.  It is hard when you make a choice or finances make a choice for you to stay home and raise children.  Mostly it is just hard to be a mom - sorry Dads I know that you have your own challenges and expectations but this is a mom's perspective and maybe if you are a Dad you read on to see how many of us feel. 

What irks me though about all of these articles, it could be the chip on my shoulder, is that they are about having it all, doing it all and doing it perfectly.  Yet in the same vein we are somehow being made to feel bad for wanting to do it at all never mind perfectly.

I am a woman who is not defined only by the fact that I gave birth or by the choices I made to how many children I had.  I made those choices and weighed my personal options as to why I had my children but that is a part of who I am and not all there is to me.  It took me years to be ok with saying that and even as I write I can imagine how annoyed or angry or sanctimonious someone reading this will get.   I love being a mother and it is by far the best part of me but it is not all I am.  When will society learn this ? Maybe that is why the whole anti-choice, anti-birth control platform irks me - we are not just breeders. 

The article in the Times was about how it is hard to continue on a career path when you cannot always travel for work, or stay late because of child care.  It pointed out that it is more often than not the mom who stays home with a sick child.  Then there is my personal pet peeve all school meetings are now during the day - which means that at least one parent will have to take off from work and you guessed who they found that was usually I bet, I guess though if they were at night teachers who are moms would be faced with the same dilemma.   I get the other perspective too, I mean if you are a colleague who doesn't have children by choice or by timing why should you always have to cover the away business trips, the long hours in the office? 

Childcare is expensive and so involved these days so it is not that you have to get home, you have this idea of what meals to plan, to serve, to check homework, to plan events, to buy or make cupcakes for school functions, to ensure that every paper is signed, that field trips are covered ... even when you live in a place like I do where the moms in town never hesitate to live the motto "it takes a village" and help out you still want to be there for your kid because they too expect it.

Yet most of us have other wants .. we want to read, or watch tv uninterrupted, go to a movie with our friends, go for a drink, be creative, rest, run, play tennis, go to a play or whatever and many times we wish we could do it spontaneously.  This happens with work, just to be able to call up and say hey I need to work late tonight without having to follow up with a carefully orchestrated back up plan and often an apology for wanting our careers or more simply our time to be the other parts of ourselves.   Many dads I know are good at back up and pitching in but that is just it - with an exception or two they are backup and partially feel like they are helping you out when they do it.  We see them that way too a lot of times but we shouldn't.

We need to be ok to wanting it all at whatever measure we want it, just like we should feel ok to want parts of it only.  We are not better people for being mothers nor are we worse than those women who chose or could not have children.  I am fortunate to work in a corporation that has come leaps and bounds since I started 17 years ago (yikes yes I started in the gifted Kindergartners program) where we can work from home and be able to take that child to the doctor, or see their mid day performance, or take a day off with pay to be a chaperone.  I am grateful that no one rolls their eyes that I do not take week long travels and that we embrace a lot more webex even if it partially because it is more cost effective, who cares we all benefit.  It is the way I manage my team and whether they have kids or not if they need to balance work and life I encourage it - it is not just the right way to be it is actually great for productivity.  We need more companies to embrace this for their sake if not only for ours - to understand that the more we empower parents to be good workers and be there unapologetically in what their life's passions are the more they will work to move the business forward.  The more successful women are in any society the hight standard of living and economy that country has - this is fact not wishful thinking that can be seen in model after model.

So I do not know if we want it all - I want lots of it because that is who I am.  I want to succeed for me -- to do things that have nothing to do with my children - to be there for my boys in their hearts and confidence at all times.  What I mostly want though is to see women stop being pushed to have it all or to have none of it and to be empowered instead to be able to have opportunities in life, in work, in love to be the best we can be. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"Without music life would be a mistake" Nietzsche

I grew up with music in my life.  I cannot remember a time when my Dad was not playing music and my mom introduced me to opera.  At a very young age they had me take piano lessons and I learned to appreciate the classics - never learned to appreciate the practice part though.   

Music is the background narrative of my life.  I escape a bit in my music - okay more than a bit.  It is what I turn on to clean my house, to start my day and at any chance I get.  I am that girl that would sit patiently with her radio turned on, shushing and begging for quiet so I can press record at the exact moment that a song came on to my boom box, JVC - silver - I loved that thing.  I bought big ear phones so I wouldn't get in trouble for listening to music at very loud levels when I was growing up and among my buying staples as I got past the age of 12 were 45s, 33s and Marlboros.  I had priorities. 

I hear a song and it may remind me of a special moment or have been playing during a significant event (good  - Theme from Mahogany for my 8th grade graduation or bad event - Proud to be an American playing after 9/11 will make me cry still).   It can even be that I do not like the actual melody but may love a lyric or two.  Sometime the lyrics are ok but the beat takes me back, short skirt, hot, sweaty, pressed up against someone, darkness, thumping rhythm- man I miss dancing.  It is the connection I made with people who can talk about music as much as me and it is the disagreements that are settled with "Nah just listen to this again" about a song we don't agree on. 

Music and songs are associated with people for me .. they are tied in my mind and they sing my feelings.  I am of course a highly talented singer -- in the shower, along with music driving in my car and of course when others are a bit drunk at karaoke.   Sometimes a moment and a song are just perfect together --- driving in a car with someone I care for and the lyrics go "long time since we been together"... or the fun of singing really, really loud along and not caring at that moment how you sound because you are making music with whoever is in the car with you.  It is what I need to have on when I paint and boy am I gone from the present and floating when that happens between the painting and the songs.  It is what I put on to write.  It is what I need to remember and to forget. 

I just can never understand the people, and I know some, who don't listen to music - who can't recall lyrics (I may forget what I walked into a room to get but put on a song from 20 or more years ago and this girl belts it out without missing a word) - who don't get transcended when aria in Madame Butterfly has her giving up her child, I cry at that one every time.  

My life can be told in the songs that were popular at a given time, or that my father played, or that I learned to appreciate though they came many decades before me.   I have passed this on to my kids and I love singing along with them.  

"Music to me is like breathing, I don't get tired of breathing, I don't get tired of music" ... The Genius - Ray Charles 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Battle of the bulge

If you have ever read this blog before, THANK YOU,  you know already I love love love fashion (if you have not welcome to my online world).  I love to look at magazines, update my wardrobe, mix Target pieces with Tiffany accessories and I believe that I pull it all together pretty well at this point. 

It is a struggle to love fashion though if you are a calorically challenged person.  I look at some items and realize the price tag is too wide and my wallet is too thin  - that I can live with because I will buy a piece rather than an outfit and find something so close among the masses, pret a porter if you want to feel better, that it will be on point.  It is harder to work around the fact that if you leave a the land of the single digit sizes your choices start to become slimmer .. pun TOTALLY intended.  

I look at belts - love the things - however, my waist or what should be my waist and I have never bonded with a belt except maybe for a few brief moments in the 80s when those double belts hung seductively around our hips.  Even at my smallest weight belts did not go I just do not have that lovely dip the same way a lot of people do.  I could admire them on others, my VBFF wears the double GG Gucci belt with a casual and sexy elegance that would make the design house proud.  

I have struggled with weight as long as I can remember - I can almost mark times of my life by the diet fad; early 80s hot water with lemon fad (cause it "melted" fat), late 80s give up fat go for carbs and put in the Jane Fonda workout of course dressed in similar duds in front of my tv, 80's/early 90s Slim Fast cause 2 shakes a day and a sensible dinner (by which point I defined sensible as a slice of pizza - cheese, carb, veggie sauce ) were what I needed, 90s cabbage soup (that lasted a day yuck), the bagel a day, Weight Watchers, fat is good again carbs are evil to present 2000s gluten gluttony will kill you, fat no/fat/no carbs/carbs debate, give up whole food groups and processed food especially food color must go.  If an alien where to come down and read this they would leave in a hurry because obviously we are NUTS (they are good for you but fattening but good for you). 

Along this journey I have been multiple sizes - there is a size that I have never been, unless it is my Calypso shirt and 0 is for small/medium and the thing is cut big, and even when I die my skeleton will still not fit into that lovely size 0 shirt I had eyed while alive.  I have made up my own diets - most successful for short term were the bagel a day diet, smoking, eat one day and not the next and breakups (those would initially start with large increase from living on Hagen Dazs for a week as sole meal).  Those are as crazy as they look, you drop pounds fast but when the delirium from hunger and the inability to take a deep breath from smoking kick in you turn into human vacuum and pretty much find every pound you lost and it brings friends. 

I hate struggling with weight and I will say Weight Watchers was by far the best and most successful, can we also say normal, program.  Yet as I get older I find it harder and harder to lose and instead fist pump at not gaining.  I love food and good food and believe it all temporarily effective but ultimate bullshit to give up anything forever, except bad food and all the crap they have to put in "diet" food to make it taste like food.  I cannot drink my foods, that is reserved for my nursing home days and hopefully then they put some pina coladas on the menu and the only Shakeology I ascribe to is the one you get from an ice cream store or when a Shakira song comes on and these hips don't lie. 

Amazing when I look at pictures, boy how I wish I was as "fat" now as I thought I was in my 20s and 30s.  In my mother's mind she has often tried to "help" me by pointing out that my weight gain is not good for me... yeah thanks you think?!!  She tries with good intent it never is taken as such.  If you have struggled with weight you know your moments of intimacy have a thought of what does (insert body part or whole body) look like to the other person, do they find them as gross as I do?  The term "well do something about it" yeah thanks, appreciate that brilliance cause of course I never have thought it. 

I came to make more peace with my body after children - not because of the granola thought process that well my body housed these awesome people - but because I just do not have as much time to think about it.  I live in an area where most of the mommies around me are dedicated to keeping their bodies in great shape - and I mean dedicated - and others worry about their weight so much that it is sadly an indication of how tied to their worth they think it is.  My children make me conscious of helping them eat in ways that they will not have this struggle in life and teaching them to think about being able to do things and not be encumbered by weight issues.  

I have battled the bulge and continue to do so - but I battle it more now to make sure I am healthy. It cannot be my obsession and I am so much more comfortable as I head toward 50 with who I am at any size because it is who I am and there is so much more I want to accomplish and do then focus on the scale or the tag that no one will see in my clothes.  I want to eat Weight Watchers style because there are no evil foods but only too big portion sizes.   While all of that is true I also want to continue to find those lovely fashions in sizes that are not only 0 - much like I know certain things do not go with my age I know certain things do not go with my size but what does should be out there .. much like the elusive truth in the X Files I know that these fashions are out there. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Home really is only where the heart is

Between the news on the refugee crisis in Europe, a book I just finished on the mess that is known as the Middle East, 9/11 anniversary and my upcoming participation in the Race for the Cure my range of emotions just really is off the charts these days.  

I am a refugee - an immigrant - and I feel the pain of those folks who are just leaving everything they have ever known, their birth country with it's traditions that are comforting and familiar because it is no longer home it is the rubble, literally or metaphorically, of the life they and their parents thought they were going to have.  I looked at the scene on the train and it brought me back to a trip I took with my mom years ago.  We went back to visit family in Romania and took the train to meet my Dad in Germany.  It was not the nice trains I took this summer in Europe.  It was an old fashioned train and there was a feeling of oppression and menace on it through every stop, every army uniformed checkpoint that we went through via the Easter bloc countries.  The people wanted to be intimidating and though we had US passports you held your breath every moment they looked at you or asked you a question - you felt it lift as soon as you crossed into Austria.  It was a sensation I had not thought about until I saw the scenes on tv - those people not guaranteed safe passage and I cried. I cried because as one who leaves a place you never again feel you have a place of your own 100%. You make a life for yourself but can move easily from place to place because permanence is not a given.  You can make friends easily maybe or maybe you are just going to hold on to what is familiar to the point that it makes you a stranger in a strange land.  I love moving and for the longest time, until I read an article in the Times written by a fellow Romanian refugee who left about the same time I did, I did not realize it may be because for me home can change and I learned to embrace that without ever adding special attachment to an actual housing place. 

This leads me to 9/11 because as much as no one apartment or house has ever been something I am not prepared to give up my refuge was NYC.  It is where I grew up, where I loved to embrace everyone being different and yet having the same needs, loves, ambitions, anger.  We are New Yorkers and to me no other city represents a refugee rebirth more than this one, a city that itself has been broken and battered and rebuild itself.  I enjoy the traveling but there is something of a comfort in NYC for me - because it was the land that welcomed me when I first had to leave my birth home maybe or because it is everything my city of birth never was.  I remember the 9/11 attacks and they are still a raw wound for me because it reminded me again how easily you may have to leave because a place is not safe.  I will not forgive those who did this ever for that - for making me feel that the place that was my home could be so damaged - that my people could be so hurt.  My parents ran and took me from the dark and truly destructive people who made life much like that train ride, oppressive, intimidating, hopeless.  The terrorist of 9/11 reminded me that they could always come to me.  Yet this time I did not run - I actually did not even leave the island at first - because there was hope in the humanity that I saw that day in my fellow refugees known as New Yorkers.  Maybe because we are a city of people who have fled hardships before we did not wish to inflict them upon one another.  We are known for our toughness, our scariness, our dirty city that is really those things in small part and in large we are just the same inside regardless of the multitude of languages we express ourselves in, the beauty of the expansive colors of our skin and the wonder of the cultural traditions we meld together.  No terrorists, you cannot take that from us we have lost so much before we ever got here and we know how to rebuild.  I will never mention their names - the names that will forever be on my lips will be those of the brave firefighters, police, average people who gave their own lives to help others - they should be remembered, those who committed the crimes you did nothing to add to the fabric of society you only tried to destroy it - tried not succeeded. 

On Sunday I will run in honor of the many women I know who have outrun cancer and in memory of those who could not find refuge and were killed by it.  I will run in the Race for the Cure because it is amazing to see people give of their time and money to run together in a world that seems often bent on chasing us away from all that we know so that we are running apart.  

This is an emotional time for me and people supporting a man whose very platform is to remind us that we are refugees who should not find shelter in a country that was founded only to welcome those kicked out of other places just breaks me.  I cannot fathom why he has support, he is not speaking against "the man or the establishment" he is the the man and the establishment and one that has denied opportunities to all but his cronies.  He is everything my parents ran from - who does not embrace democracy but dictatorship - because anyone who is going to run on ideas that his way is the only way is nothing more than a dictator.  

Those refugees are me - and that fear of displacement, that belonging to two places yet not really to either 100% will follow those people forever.  Those towers that came down were me again on the run from those who wish to make my home unbearable.  I Race for the Cure - against cancers of the body and also against the cancer that is known as hate among people.  I am a refugee and maybe we are the answer in some ways - for those without borders can build places that are homes made of where they chose to lay their hearts.