Monday, December 21, 2015

Mouths of Babes

We had a burst of energy over the weekend and put it to use in re-organizing our spaces in our basement.  We're not sure if we're ever going to join the crowd and get ours "finished" but our basement is sacred space just as it is right now.  We went basement-less for so many years, having chosen some urban habitats over suburban retreats that afforded such amenities as down below, up above and modern appliances such as our own washer and dryer.  I don't take any of this for granted and savor every minute I get to spend in parts of our home that expand the possibilities.  For Joe, it's a rudimentary but highly functional office space and for me, it is my long-awaited "studio" that area that is all my own, the one that allows me to go after my creative pursuits with gusto and to not have to clean up after one of my sessions.  I can walk into and out of my world and my husband who understands all of this better than almost anyone else, contributed to my bliss when he brought home just the right table.  He is THE most thoughtful person I've ever known and he never stops dazzling me.  He's my glitter, the soft edge to my external manifestation which, I must admit, gets taken for crazy more often than not.  If not crazy, then "not-soft", suffice it at that.

So, we have floors and walls, all made of concrete.  What more do we need?  I'm in Heaven and so are my "studio mates", Lucy, Phoebe and Cousin Helen, a frequent visitor.  Oh, and the Hotel Costes station on my Pandora adds to the feeling of euphoria.....or is that the spray adhesive or the metallic spray paint fumes?  I think I need a respirator! Not really.  I'm careful when I'm not flying.

The shift from my side to his side, gives me a view of the wall, the one that Lucy and Phoebe went to town on shortly after we moved in.  "Yes girls, you can write on the walls".....The birth of "Lucy and Phoebe Lounge". Some pretty little drawings but best of all, several good messages from the two people I want most in the world to "get it".





And then the very best of the best:

"Start where you are
  Use what you have
  Do what you can"

I think they've already got it.  How much more creative can they get?  I ask you.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Pop, Fizz, Clink!

I sit at my desk in the early hours of a new day and stare at a blank page here at my blog site.  I know all the while that this sounds trite and over-done, the blank page, the stare, the lack of inspiration.  I can't wait for my Muse much longer.  My need to write something is great and I fear that if I don't, I won't ever again and for me, that would be a huge loss of opportunity.  Because, you see, writing is an opportunity.  It is a license.  It allows us to take what lies within, beneath the surface of our daily lives and to bring it on.  As I write, I remember things.  As I remember things, I remember more.

My memories, they swing and shift like a tree in the breeze.  Family tree.  Distance has made it difficult to keep it fresh,  to pick the fruit after long winters.  My daughter has an apple tree in her backyard.  Together, with my granddaughters, I picked apples from that tree for the first time since they moved in, several years ago.  We thought the apples were not good for eating, that the tree had not been "cultivated".  The new generation proved us wrong.  They picked, we tasted, and we discovered that these are green apples, perfect for baking and making apple sauce. And so we did.

I've weeded out a lot of our Christmas ornaments, discarding, donating, and delivering to children those that they may have wanted to preserve. From now on, each new tree brings new memories. As I was going through the boxes, I found a card from last year.  It was sent by our son and daughter in law and it simply read, "Pop, Fizz, Clink!", glittered on a very Kate Spade pink background. And, easier than I could have dreamed, I dug down to find places in my heart that have been worthy of such words and have pushed aside those that were flat and unworthy of recollection.  There are moments in one's life that are on the Pop and Fizz list and moments that are on the boil and gently simmer for a long time list.  Pops and Fizzes are the marriages, the births,the graduations, the "firsts". Slow Simmers are the magic in between, friendships, great meals, travel, good books, music, art.

My life is filled with Pops, fizzes and clinks, the Slow Simmer of simple memories, the stories that still breathe today as they did when they were first told. As I sit here waiting for my Muse, my arthritic hands remind me that it's harder to get words to the page but still so important to keep trying, if only to wish the world some glitter.

Go do it.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Love, Unhidden

We've been enjoying some fabulous weather, the kind that we should be during the month of October. It makes me feel renewed, ready for so many of the life experiences the summer, with its humidity, allowed me to ignore.  Days that are bright with sunshine, a tiny chill in the air, beg me to get outside and running around in my car, doing errands without the dreaded return to a sticky seat in an overheated vehicle.

So, this morning, I ticked a few things off my list, made a few stops in between shopping for my father, visiting him for some inane conversation, spending an hour and a half in a class led by the
most irreverent, left-wing liberal, smartest man I've ever met and daydreaming of my great gal-pal, LH, ripping his lungs out after gauging his eyeballs from their sockets. And then on to Whole Foods before returning home.

It's days like this that keep me going.  I love the variety, the challenge of not having to decide exactly who I am or who I will be in the future.  Let it ride, enjoy the view (points), write essays in my head, pat myself on the shoulder for being able to put it all into perspective and to seek more and more information about what makes people keep going.

Oh, did I mention that my morning also included a trip to my beloved thrift shop?  Why, yes it did. And, as I was walking back to my car, I saw the most beautiful sight.  An older man, embracing a younger man as they were parting.  And I heard the words, "I love you.  It was so great just spending some time with you son".  Naturally, I had to but in.  "Is that your father?" "Yes, he's come thirteen hundred miles down the street to meet me for breakfast".  My words of wisdom, "Remember this moment.  You are very lucky because so few fathers say what yours is saying. Treasure this".  I could not help myself from the outburst of pleasure that their behavior induced.  It as such a treat.  A father and a son, neither of them looking particularly well-to-do, the son was a bit scruffy, and looked as if he might have had some personal challenges.  He just had that appearance.  You see it a lot around here. I can't be sure - I'm reading the book by its cover and could be off-target by miles but one thing I did know, they loved and cared for each other and they made me happy.

Hours later, after exiting the Whole Foods market and returning to my car with just a handful of groceries for which I paid a lot of money, I came across another couple.  (was it the weather?).  This time, it was a young man and woman, both dressed in chic black, black and black. They looked "smart" she wore short shorts over her black stockings. They hugged awkwardly and kissed as if they were leaving each going to go their separate ways.  And then I noticed the cause of the awkward hug. She held a lit cigarette in the arm that dangled at her side during the embrace.  This time, I thought it best to keep my mouth shut, my words, I'm sure would not be as appreciated as they were by the pony-tailed son in the tie-dyed shirt earlier in the day. I mentally spoke,hoping that maybe it is possible to read minds.

If you love her so much, why do you let her smoke?  Ugh. Go figure.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Just a brief note here.

I'm all pooped out, or shall I join the millions who probably professed that they were all "Poped" out by last night.

I amazed myself at how much viewing time I invested.  I'm not one to sit and watch CNN for any length of time, ever. But I was very much engaged and I don't know, maybe I was being "vigilant" as if I were part of the Secret Service, watching the crowds, waiting for a gun shot.  What would I do? Call the president?? Anyway, by the time he flew off last night, I was ready for him to leave but also very glad that he had come in the first place.

I was over joyed when he was elected, thrilled to say bye bye to Benedict.  I felt for the new guy, he obviously didn't want the job. But, the decision was not his.  It was HIS and turns out, it was one very good decision.  He's just what the doctor ordered, an incredible driving force for all humanity at a time when forces can't be driven fast enough.  Everybody loves him, evidenced by the millions and millions who turned out to see even the tail end of the tail end of his plane as it flew off into the sky or down onto a tarmac.  Momentous is the word that comes to mind.  Occasion is the other.  Opportunity joins them. So, now comes the bad part.

Where were the women???

Talk about "missed" opportunities. Biggest celebrations of Mass ever.  One million faithful attended in Philadelphia alone.  Could have called it the Final Judgement and saved a lot of angst for anyone who was ever born. Madison Square Garden in New York.  Huge. Lots of room for everyone but....

Not one woman on the altar.  Not one woman acting as Eucharistic Minister, at least not that I was able to find and I did look. The only women I spotted doing anything other than singing in a choir were those who carried the yellow and white umbrellas, accompanying the men who distributed Holy Communion, some three hundred and fifty-strong in Philadelphia.  Why weren't there any "altar women"?  God forbid that there might have been a female priest up there (they do exist....again....the Vatican thought they had killed them off centuries ago when they were important in the Roman Catholic church).  Pope Francis talked about women, alluded to their importance in the family but unless I seriously missed it, I didn't hear him say too much about their importance beyond that. Damn. What amazing statements could have come out of his mouth.  Think of the impact.  Think of how many people would have heard him. This would have been the time but.....

Instead, I honestly was embarrassed about the fact that the bishops all got dressed up in their fancy clothes, told jokes to the Pontiff, and filled the altars with men.  It made me feel as if women did not even exist, affirmed the total lack of acknowledgement that has gone on since the silly Canon Laws were altered to take remove them from any position of power or authority in the church.  In one of the last commentaries, a female journalist finally raised the question.  It could have been me.  She voiced my concerns beautifully, her voice strong with reason and authority, but I don't think she got an answer. Where were the women?  Holding umbrellas.

Missed opportunities, big time.  Come on Francis. Get with the program.  You can do it if anyone can. Just remember that  your namesake had one best friend back there in Assisi. One pretty great friend and she was, indeed, a woman.  Her name was Clare. He loved her and together, well, you know the story. So, Holy Father, when you ask me to pray for you, you better deliver because I'm expecting big things from YOU!! 

Friday, September 11, 2015

That Day, Again.....

I was going to allow myself some time this morning to write a fun piece, to recount a great little set of moments shared by three very old and faithful friends last weekend in New York.  I have written and re-written that little account in my head, several times since and almost found myself ready to share but then I found myself doing what I have done for the past fourteen years, thinking about another day in New York,one that need not be written to be shared.

I, like so many others, have written and spoken volumes on our personal experiences surrounding September eleventh. I, like so many others, need not read, write or speak of such memories for them to be just as fresh as they were by noon of that particular day.  As the day went on, more memories, many of them, horrific, became part of who we would become and I am left with finding new ways to keep my personal promise to never forget and today, as I reflect, I want to spend time remembering those things that, when I close my eyes and look backwards, I recall most vividly. Faces. Expressions of courage that surmounted those of panic, horror, shock and disbelief.

Soot-covered fellow train passengers come to mind.  They looked like statues as they joined us, the hundreds of other commuters as we traveled to the safety of our homes in utter and complete, bone-dense silence.  Alone in our thoughts but joined in our fear and our total lack of knowledge of the next steps as our world spun quickly into a new and very different place.  We didn't know at the time that we had changed planets, that fourteen years later, we would still be trying to get back to Earth. We didn't know that we never would, never can, ever. Can we?

In all of my New York City-Post-9/11 memories, the one that is most alive is that of the city the days after.  The order to restore order came from our commander, our mayor, who implored us to go on living, to not allow this act of terrorism to terrorize us. He asked that we carry on and that we do all of those things we had planned to if nothing ever happened.  Looking back now, I wonder if he also was in shock and grieving, and if he had entered the denial phase, attempting to recruit the millions so as to validate what he did not want to believe as true.

I had theater tickets for the Sunday following the attack, not quite one week later.
 The show was"Contact" and I went with a friend.  We followed the mayor's orders.  It wasn't my first time back in the city.  I had returned to work a few days before, when it was deemed "safe" to re-enter the zone, when the all-clear had resounded through the boroughs and we honestly thought it was over and we need not carry gas-masks in place of happy little purses.  At least that was what was expected of those of us who had to soothe and calm those in our charges.  I was not allowed to show signs of doubt or fear lest the people who looked to the company's healthcare professional lose confidence. So, I needed to be strong and resilient and I stepped up to the plate and wiped up tears and tears and tears, but not mine.  My office became a hallowed ground for so many who needed to run away from the reality of their losses.  Thursday and Friday of that week were two of the most challenging of my entire career.  Stay calm, Smile, Comfort and care. The worst is yet to come but for now, be soothed.

Arriving at the train station on my way to the theater that Sunday catapulted me into a new and surreal experience.  One that I can taste to this day.  Quietly, small hands-full of people moved about on their way to wherever they needed to be.  Everyone seemed to be best friends with everyone else, something that is rarely seen in New York City and certainly not at Grand Central Station where everyone is invisible most of the time.  It was a feeling that penetrated my body, my soul and, alone, I was able to finally feel the emotion that was trapped inside of my head for days, sorrow and a tremendous sense of not only loss but inadequacy.  I wanted to put my arms around the city, to embrace it and soothe it as I did the people who visited me during the prior days when, in my professional capacity, I was not helpless.  But now, my friend was hurting and there was nothing I could do to help. I found a phone, called my daughter and shared my grief before joining my friend and a full-house of others at the show.

Needless to say, extraordinary things happened during that time period, so many unexpected and filled with emotion.  For weeks, we took such good care of each other, still going through the phases of grief before we came to the acceptance phase, where we all would agree that things were different and would never be the same.  And, I finally allowed myself to cry, in public, without fear of the consequences, when the cast of the show, in lieu of a curtain call, held hands and led the audience in singing, "God Bless America". We all cried. I knew though, at that moment, that we could carry on and that we would eventually be okay again if never the same.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

School Days

It's Back To School time.  What a lousy weather pattern for this.  Hot, humid, dreadful days, tough to get through, to feel productive at home, no less in a hot, stuffy school building.  Is it me or has the climate changed so drastically since my school days?  I remember so well, the first days of the new year as a big fashion occasion.  We shed our shorts and traded them in for knee socks, corduroy jumpers, plaid skirts and Peter Pan collared blouses.  High school years found us back in our uniforms, a lighter weight version that we were to wear until the cooler days of late Fall arrived. But, back to school shopping was an annual event to which we looked forward.  I'm sure this brought tears of joy to the eyes of our parents who welcomed the return of the big yellow bus.  We had grown bored, tired of the lack of structure, and we were accidents about to happen.  Then, magically, we were transformed into obedient school children who went off, thinking that Seventeen magazine had nothing on us, and all of the creativity that we used in entertaining ourselves during July and August, got stripped away into what we learned most during our school days......conformity.

I detested school.  Hated every minute.  Dreaded the first day.  Dreamed about the very last day of the very last year of my education.  I remember that so well.  It wasn't until I reached high school that I had acquired a bit of tolerance for the whole thing and that had so much to do with the friends who I knew would be there, greeting each other on that first day and tearfully hugging each other, clinging to the last vestiges of our school years, our days of innocence, as we seized our diplomas and made our way onto the bigger picture.

I met my best friend in high school.  When we were fifteen.  On a bus.  Together, we made those four years into the finest of our lives.  And, creativity?  Well, I became president of my freshman class, a Student Council member, and a delegate to a special meeting of high school students at the United Nations.  The new idea that we brainstormed......."Pacem in Terris", the Papal encyclical of the sixties.  I also captured the prize for "Religion" that year.  It's one that I am most proud of.  I didn't get it because I knew the Bible or the Catechism so well. I didn't get it because I was pious or "holy" or leafing through "Do You Have a Vocation?" brochures.

I got it because I was bold and outspoken, ready to defend the rights of all people.  I was creative and I stuck to my guns, never one to hide behind the cloak of my faith.  My rewards were many and still are, to this day.  I still have my faith, I've passed it on to others, I still consider myself to be creative and I still have my best friend backing me up whenever I doubt any of the above.

And that woman in Kentucky, the one who works at the Registry Office?  Back to school woman!!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ode to Mrs. Young

 Writing in a hurry.  Sometimes it works.Using my little laptop,  notebook computer to write in a hurry, not so much but it is part of the whole area of change and I am still adapting, making changes in my home environment and eventually, I will learn to save what I have written every few sentences so that I will not do what I usually do, lose it all, never to be retrieved.

I love being a member of a writing group.  Keeps me on my toes, er, makes me "write" something, at least every two weeks.  In a few weeks, that will change again, and I will adapt again, to the practice of writing more often if only to be prepared for a weekly writing class.  Writing to a prompt, not an easy task.  I want to offer the next suggestion.  Mine would be "write about absolutely nothing".  Worked for Seinfeld. But, alas, today it won't work.  Today, I am prompted by another group member to write about a perfect day, one that can be realized, not one that would be only in one's mind, far from reality.  So, I have spent the past two weeks thinking about this, almost penning that a perfect day would be any day that was free of the humidity that has become an unwelcomed guest for the past weeks and weeks and weeks.  Or so, it would seem.   But, this morning, one that is clear and breezy and dry, oh I love you, dry, I am able to see through the trees, once shrouded in billows of moisturized air, and write on prompt.

It's fairly simple.  A perfect day?  One that would start and end without me having to clean or organize one, single thing.  I don't need Tahiti or Bali.  I just need to get up and not feel compelled.  I just need to get out of bed,  stare out the window and resist the temptation to pick anything other than a cup of coffee. It would be utter perfection, starting with that hour of the day, the day on which I do not wipe the counter and mentally start to list everything I've ever seen on Pinterest for cleaning granite.  I'd revel in the morning sun if only I could keep my hands off a sponge or paper towel.  If I could be so fortunate as to leave the damned broom in its place and not sweep the floor.  Oh, what a day if I could refrain from looking at the sun without thinking, "this would be a killer day to hang out the wash".  My life would be complete on this day if I could leave the bottle of Windex under the sink, the dust cloth in it's tidy holder, the soap dish in the tub, filled with the water it caught underneath it's little rubber thingee that prevents the soap from getting mushy.  Oh, what a day!

This compulsion, to be always at the ready, to be forever the cleanest gal on the block?  Ask Mrs. Young, the grade school nurse at Hawthorne Public School.  I actually have a lot to thank her for.
Were it not for her, I might never have become a nurse, determined to use my profession to never, ever make anyone feel dirty or unworthy.  I may never have been as aware of the need for good self-esteem and championed it as I believe I have done in my lifetime.  Without her, I  may have had hundreds of perfect days, really perfect days.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Italian Playing Cards.jpg

There is an Italian card game, one of the two most popular in the country, known as "Scopa".  The word translates as "Sweep" and the game, one that makes almost no sense, involves sweeping cards away from the deck as it gradually gets laid out in the center of the playing surface.  When I think of the word "Scopa", I wander over to another word, one with which I was much more familiar in my post-graduate nursing days, "Scopolomine", the drug that was combined with others to medicate totally unaware and unprepared women as they went through hours of labor.  It was part of a trio of drugs and it was the one responsible for preventing the nausea caused by its partners.  So sweeping and preventing nausea or "side effects" seem to go together.

When we were house hunting last Spring, our realtor found a key phrase for us.  It probably was her way of guiding us down the right path and it did very well to keep us in check as we had a tendency to wander off, switching our objectives rather often.  God bless that woman, for patience was one of her distinct virtues.  Her mantra?  "Five Year Plan".  She reminded us, over and over again, that we probably were not going to be in our current lifestyle for more than five years so when viewing homes, we were to keep that in mind. I only hope she was correct in thinking that we haven't yet begun to live exactly as we wish, that we are in a holding pattern, courtesy of our elder parents.  And so, we bought our condo with that wisdom and knowledge and with the idea that maybe it would survive the plan and would serve us for the happily-ever-after.  We're closing in on seventy.....who are we kidding?  But, I refuse to believe that we'll be anywhere near here forever.  I'm not that kinda gal.  I'm always looking over the rainbow.

So, back to Scopa and drugs and wise realtors.  

I didn't do too much "downsizing" before our move.  Honestly, I had already done a lot of that earlier, due to circumstances that pushed us into smaller and smaller spaces.  The thought of large rooms, big expanses of house, really do terrify me.  I can only trust my decorating skills and budgets so far. But, we haven't had the pleasure of a basement, all to ourselves, for a very long time and now that we do have one, we have lots of room to spread it all out.  Which brings me back to the Five Year Plan.  I don't want to move it ALL again in five years.  So much of it is "stuff", memorabilia, things I thought I HAD to hold on to.  Heavy burdens.  Responsibility for keeping things that nobody else in the entire family wanted or expressed a need for.  And now, as I look ahead to the rest of those five years, I'm feeling a sense of liberation.  I'm finally ready to part with Aunt Mae's dishes and her over-sized lamp, neither of them my taste. I'm going to toss out picture frames, old photos of police cars that my adorable husband thought important as memories of our trips.  Who uses CD's any more?  They're going bye-bye.  Books, they better be relevant and interesting or they don't make the cut.  

As I sift through the vestiges of our former lives, I keep the mental broom at the ready.  Sweep it all aside. Memories do not reside in "stuff".  And, some memories, well, I can live without them, trust me. I'm Italian. I keep hearing about the past, over and over, every time I meet a person who shares my heritage and I want to scream sometimes.  "Yes, I remember the holidays at Grandma's!" but I also remember Grandma telling me that she grew up in a house with dirt floors and maybe she did not want to remember that in the same way that I don't want to remember parts of my childhood or that my babies have grown up and moved away or that we are approaching our seventies.  But I will keep in mind my determination to not move as much out as we moved in.

So, on to the big soon as the damned humidity moves out.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

At the Show

There's a recurring thought that goes through my head, an image, as clear as any could be and it's from a very long time ago. For some reason, I reflect back to a childhood memory and see my grandmother.  She's alone. She's sitting in the dark.  She's swept away, into a world that is so beyond her front door and it's not the first time.  She practices a ritual, one that I have come to find out was not all that unique for her time and place. Her eyes are wide as large images are projected in front of her, allowing her imagination to soar and her heart to be filled with love, perhaps even pure lust at times. Once in a while, she invites me to join her, to accompany her on the short journey, and we board the elevated train together, filled with anticipation as we head toward her afternoon delight, and together, we enter her world of darkness and silence as we wait for the screen to light up and the "coming attractions" which will usher in the new matinee. In Winter, I nestle my head on the sleeve or her muskrat coat. In Summer, we sit up straight, both sleeveless in cotton.  We're at "the show" and for as long as I shall live, I will remember those times.

It wasn't always clear to me, why Grandma went to the show, all by herself, or why she never referred to her forays as "going to the movies". Nor did I always understand the plots and scenes but I will tell you, that watching Lawrence of Arabia with her was a most amazing experience.  I loved every minute and I'm sure she ate it with a spoon.  Wow. Talk about a gorgeous man with an exciting life and the scenery, the desert, the longing......for water of course.  I could not have been more than twelve years old and she was a happily married house wife after all. Worlds apart from the projections on the screen, miles from her home which, coincidentally, was located on Hollywood Avenue in the Bronx.

I often think of my grandparents and the world in which they lived as young people.  I know they came from lives of poverty, from towns in Italy that offered them very little hope for their futures, sending them across the sea after parting with their loved ones, in search of the better life that they eventually did find.  My grandmother made that trip when she was a beautiful fourteen-year-old. Her fate was sealed when she met my grandfather and married as a very young woman.  For the rest of her seventy three years, she lived her life in accordance with his wishes and they took good care of each other. They never relocated from Hollywood Avenue, the home in which they raised their children.  They returned to their birthplaces in Italy only once during that life time and kissed the ground when they returned to the states.

My grandmother's world was a small one, her education incomplete.  Her wisdom, amazing, making me only imagine what kind of a life she might have had were she able to attend school beyond the day she left her home for America, fully developed as a woman.  Self-satisfied and fulfilled.

And, as I grow older, I think more and more about those who went before me, about their lives and wonder what they might have thought about today's world, about technology and the many things we take for granted.  And I wonder if my grandmother was alive today, would she need the weekly escape to "the show" or would she have found a life of her own. Would she have saddled up her camel and ridden off into the desert or would she have returned home, washing Grandpa's socks in the sink, just as she did every morning?  I wish I could sit in the dark with her just one more time, to press my head against her fur sleeve and spend two precious hours with my wonderfully wise grandmother, together, at the show.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Good Thing

I spent almost a full two hours with my doctor yesterday.  It was my "annual" physical exam plus a follow up to a recent kidney infection that nearly put me over the edge.  My doctor is a wellness person, a brilliant, beautiful woman who has chosen to not allow insurance companies or anything corporate, whatsoever, to dictate how she will practice her profession. And, as a result, she has time to spend with her patients and the whole process of "going to the doctor" reinvents itself into a visit with kindred spirits. Her nurse and receptionist share her philosophy, making the long drive to her office on a Summer morning easy.  Yesterday, two third-year medical students from Boston University were "following" her and it became pay-back time for me, the mother of a B.U. undergrad.
Sure, bring it on, let's have a good time. And that we did. Dr. Patty dished out lots of good advice to her students, gave them the opportunity to participate and to learn and did an extra bit of demonstration when she told us all about a great exercise for balance.  Only in Dr. Patty's office, kids. Your attendings would not be impressed!

Now, in addition to the great medical care, I always get a bonus from my talks with Patty.  She's a good Jew, a convert, but her trust in the metaphysical world and her nod to spirituality, is everywhere. This is a woman who relies heavily on her innate wisdom when she completes the wellness circle and addresses things other than the kidney. And, she listens, so I talk and she never fails to come up with the exact right words.

I have so many random thoughts lately.  Having moved to a new home in the middle of Summer has not allowed me to concentrate on much more than positioning furniture and getting the "basics" done. The need to sit and just "be" has not been met.  I have temporarily lost my own life, the things that served me well as outlets for my creativity.  I'm here, with a blank canvas, waiting for my muse to show up. She does not like heat and humidity and has sent me tiny messages that say that she will be coming, to wait for her arrival and that she will be busy early in the Fall.  Until then, she's advised me to be mindful, to remember who I am and what's important and to allow my body to heal from the assault that it took, most likely as a result of not being mindful enough.

The new home is a few miles away from our last one.  We no longer live a minute away from my father but he does not understand that.  If he was aware of it, by now, he has forgotten it.  I still see him often, perhaps too often and I could do less were I to record my side of the same conversation that we have each and every time I do stop by.  I could have a poster of myself made, or perhaps a blow up version, one that would do just as well filling in for me as a visitor to his home.  When I think of him lately, the words "slot machine" keep coming to mind.  It's that simple. Slot machine. I pull down the lever, the fruits never match up so I never win.  The results?  Always the same. The same trite, meaningless answers.  No emotion.  No sign of caring.  Just a slot machine that doesn't ever pay out.  Good analogy, I think to myself.  Whenever I have been in a casino, I found it very hard to resist playing the slots.  My logic told me that it was highly unlikely that I would win, that the machine would just take my money, add it to the money already in there, and maybe once in a while, spit it out to someone else, but not to me.  But the urge to pull that handle, to maybe get a good response, that was a hard one to resist.

My father is not the father I once knew.  Oh, don't get me wrong, he never, ever was an easy man and always had a way of making me feel small and stupid but I married a man who didn't.  Period.
I finally conclude that the father I was given is dead.  He died a while ago, when my mother started to lose her hold on life.  He slipped away, as if he were hanging onto the edge of a high cliff and slowly, as he let go, he slid to the ground, rolled up into a catatonic ball of a once-person, and rotted away. So the man I so dutifully visit and call every day and take care of, is not even related to me.  I don't know him and frankly folks, I do not like him.

Dr. Patty softly spoke some words of truth to me, as she always does.  She leaned her head towards mine and here is what she said...."It's a good thing when we bury our parents". 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Brain Child

My mother in law and I were discussing an old recipe, one that a friend had given her and she had passed it on to me before I was married.  It was funny that both of us had the recipe on our minds at the same time making me wonder what vibes we each had picked up from the universe.  She had lost her copy so I sent her a fresh one and she called to thank me for doing that.  Neither of us had made the silly thing and my excuse was that I did not have a gelatin mold.

"Yes, you do.  I gave you one." Okay.  That might have been ten years ago. She's one hundred years old. So, she gave it to me when she was a mere ninety. I've moved three times since then and while I may very well still have the item, I'm sure it wasn't on the "priority" list of things to un-earth and find the right place for.  We're still looking for the marble top for a table that we moved four years ago.

The other morning, as I stepped out of the shower, I heard a beeping sound coming from my kitchen. As I went in to investigate, thinking that one of our new-to-us appliances had some kind of an alarm that we had inadvertently set the night before, I discovered that it was my cell phone.  The screen displayed a warning......"Tornado Warning. Take shelter immediately".  Seriously?  So, instead of taking shelter and possibly avoiding death at the prime of my own life, I called my almost ninety-four year old father and advised him, so as to possibly save his life, before setting down to watch the news and get a better idea of how long we all had.  Dutifully, I called him back, not long after the first call, insisting that he also sit down and follow the news.  "Why, is there bad weather coming?".  Who was that other man I had told of the warning only ten minutes earlier I wondered.

I just finished reading Lisa Genova's novel, Still Alice.  It's a wonderful but terrifying story about a woman who falls victim to early -onset Alzheimer's Disease.  Everyone should read it.  It made me so much more aware of how the brain ages, what goes on inside our heads as brain cells go through the intricate maneuvers that they do, on their way to a totally new place.  Why do I not recall the gelatin mold my mother in law did not miss a beat on?  Why did my father not remember having been told that a tornado watch was on?  What made that information shoot through with the ease of water through a colander?  What makes cats think every experience they have is brand new and yet they know if the slightest thing has changed in their environment before their owners do? Why can I know, without a doubt, that one of my kids is not happy? How did my own mother know that, never failing in her instincts, always ready with the exact right answers or advice.

Will my father remember that three years ago, today, he lost the love of his life and the best brain our family has ever known? He could not remember the phone call about the weather but I have a feeling that today he will remember every hour of the seventy years that they spent together.

God's peace, Angelina Ballerina.  We miss you and always will.

At my father's 90th birthday party

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


I was not an easy child.  No, I wasn't "naughty" nor was I a discipline problem, but I was not exactly a dream-come-true of a little girl and so much of that carried me through my developmental years, and into my early adulthood.  I've done so much of the self-analysis stuff and have filtered out the pieces that are no longer important to recall or to further analyze.  What I do carry with me however, is the understanding that change was never an easy task for me and I was not ever allowed to build up resistance to it or to master the skills necessary to come out of the end of a tunnel unscathed.  As soon as the words "I'm not happy" slid off my lips, my mother bailed me out without encouraging me to "give it a try" or "wait it out".  So, to this day, I am not well-equipped for changes and I do continue to wonder what it's all about.  Can't knock a gal for trying.

So much of it has to do with fear.  Fear of the loss of control.  Fear of the inability to manipulate my environment, on the smallest and largest scales. When I taught childbirth classes, many years ago, I carefully explained that it was fear that was at the heart and soul of the perception of child-birthing as a painful process.  While I knew that I could never, ever replace the pain of contractions, I knew that it was possible to mitigate this by breaking up that fear-tension-pain syndrome.  Amazingly, in a lot of cases, it worked. Loss of control.  Huge.  Change.  Huge.

It's been almost a month since we moved into our new home.  We worked together as a team, for weeks before and then, during the time of the actual move, and we're still at it.  We amazed ourselves at how hard we worked and how strong we proved we were, and are.  With only the assistance of a set of strong men who, on the move in day, transported our largest pieces of furniture, we did it all by ourselves and neither of us suffered so much as an ache or pain.  What validation!  We're in now, getting more and more "settled" in what I refer to as our "interim" move.  We have no idea of our future, we're not unique for who does?  But it feels better for me when I look at this new life as maybe not forever.

Each day gets better, feels more like "me" living here.  We're getting to know our new home and we're making friends with it.  The noises coming from our neighbor's and their weekends with friends on the patio adjacent to our bedroom window, are fading from my list of things that are going to rob me of my happiness.  Little did we ever expect that we would be forced into making our bedroom into a "cocoon" with special drapes that block out light and attenuate sound.  It's turning out to be an absolutely lovely place, getting more and more Zen each day and by the time the season is over and the neighbors have returned to Florida for the rest of the year, we will have created a space that would never have been had we not been forced to take control or our environment.

Change.  It's huge. I wish I had known that it was a process, that it required thought and dedication and that it was and always will be, simply a vector, a swift arrow that points to a better place and that control is never lost, it can only be given away.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Coming Soon.....

If only to have something familiar back in my life


I'll write about Tony Bennett and Lady GaGa


Governor's Island


Change and how it gets harder when we get older


Who knows what else but I'll write.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Carpe Diem

Finally, taking a moment, a breather from packing and cleaning, to get ready for an important part of my month, my writing group.  We're back at our beloved Cape Cod Chat House and we'll be meeting on this lovely morning to share what we have written.  This month, the prompt came from a group member who is getting ready to attend her fiftieth high school reunion.  The organizer of the reunion has asked her classmates to write a four-hundred-word-or-less summary of their lives in the past fifty years.  She's asked that they put down on paper what has been important, significant or otherwise meaningful.  I suspect that she was specific because she wanted to avoid the usual litany of "I did, I have, I am, I was".  So, in keeping with the word-limit, I'm ready for today and, after completing this exercise, I realize that I am so much more ready for this and all my today's, than I ever thought possible on that day in June, 1965 when I graduated from high school. 

Thank you Sister Mary de Lourdes.

It has been fifty years since my high school graduation.  Fifty years of life. A quick glance in the mirror reminds me that so much has changed.  I live in an older version of myself, in a world that has changed, exceeding the expectations of a seventeen year old, yet still holding the promise of more to come. It is a world filled with super-sped technology and I wonder at times where I fit and what have I done to contribute.
It was a wise Sister Mary de Lourdes, my high school French teacher, who, for some reason I cannot recall, handed out a short poem in class one day.  Little did I know at the time that it would become the platform for the remainder of my life, the framework for all that would follow. Somehow I sensed, from the moment I received that little gift, that while it might not always be easy, it would be worth the effort in embracing every word and carrying it all forth.
I still have my health, along with a number of great memories.  I live in gratitude, taking little for granted.  I am grateful for the wisdom the years have delivered.  I understand much more now and have achieved the confidence to recognize why I was chosen president of my freshman class in high school.
I value love and love giving it.  I enjoy sharing with others, giving over receiving. I have served others in ways that have been an honor and have gotten great pleasure from simply being there in times of need, offering strength and hope to those who thought they had run out of both.  My measure of success has emanated from the adherence to these standards, not much more. So, the past fifty years, while they have slipped away as proverbial thieves, have been fulfilling and successful for I have, indeed, lived in accordance with what Sister Mary de Lourdes hoped for each of her students and I am eternally grateful to her for sharing these simple words.
The glory of life is to love, not to be loved. To give, not to get; to serve, not to be served, to be a strong hand in the dark to another in the time of need, to be a cup of strength to any soul in a crisis of weakness; This is to know the glory of life.
(Author unknown)

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Don't give me up for gone.

I'll be back next week.

Starting the packing project along with the finalization of everything it takes to make a life-change and it ain't easy.

But it will be so worth it.  I promise.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Poet, Not

No,she isn't turning two, in fact, she's closer to turning ten. But, she and her sister have long been my muses and today, this just popped into my head as I prepare for a meeting of my writers group.  The prompt is "anything to do with poetry".  I really have a hard time with poetry.  I do love it and interestingly, I find that poems are among the very few things I can recall from my years of schooling.  I always wanted to become a teacher and "playing school" was one of my favorite past times.  Poetry was part of my imaginary curriculum and little Stevie Honneker was an excellent student. I used to march home with him, he lived up the street, an show him off to his parents, so proud of my accomplishments until the day I realized that they were not speaking Hungarian, that they were not calling me "Cubbina", something that I mistook for a word of praise in their language.  They were calling me "Chub-ina" because I probably was. Story over.

So, here it is,

Lucy Turning Two

It’s National Poetry Month and I am feeling the tug to do something about it
I know I am not a poet
I cannot write anything that is not true; my curse
I feel responsible as if it were up to me to rescue a cause that might be forgotten
to give it life, to breathe into it as if in my hands rested a balloon waiting for a birthday party to begin, for the children to enter, all dressed in their fancy clothing, ready for cake and ice cream and party favors at the end
And as I do this, I ruminate in and out of my conscious thoughts, waiting for the signal for the party to begin, and I am transported back in time
I see a beautiful little girl, cheeks rosy, eyes wide in anticipation, a room filled with balloons
a party atmosphere, stage all set
a little heart beating rapidly, wiggles and giggles
 a little girl, just turned two, about to welcome her entourage of bestest-ever friends, also two
I see them giggle and wiggle as they enter; eyes, like little torches, awaiting the feast about to unfold, cake and ice cream
the stuff  toddler dreams are made of
Through eyes clouded from my tears, I watch the child, drifting dreamily in her party dress, as she delivers to each of her little guests, a token of her appreciation
 the words, “thank you for coming to my party” pass through a tiny valentine
 sweet pink lips, too sweet to bear
Lights out, I see the room softly illuminated by the glow of two candles set upon that field of dreams and I hear a tiny chorus of happy birthday to a princess

as I watch as the first heiress to the family fortune of love push her tiny finger into the foamy sea of white butter cream as the rest of her days, still just a vision in the eyes of her proud parents, await their turn to become memories

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mother of the Year

In my morning ritual, I include a visit to two news apps on my phone. Both are New York papers, neither of them very esoteric but they do report the news adequately and most of the time, the articles are on a local level, either in Westchester County or NewYork City. I am shielded from feeling shamed about my choice of The New York Post over the New York Times, currently being a resident of New England.  The Post carries a lot of the same new articles as Times but reports them in a much juicier, less erudite style if I may.

Already  this week, there has been a lot of news, national and international.  Ashamed as I am, I must admit that I have very little knowledge of what's happening locally because my head will explode if I have to read one more article that tells me that kids are dying like flies from drugs and ultra-liberals have proposed an answer which, instead of being tossed into the first toilet passed, became a front pager.  The insane idea was to open "safe" clinics, staffed by nurses and doctors, where drug users could come, shoot up, and get not only clean needles, but after-care from professionals should they over dose.  I've worked as a nurse in a detox unit, helping drug users to safely do quite the opposite and find the idea of asking nurses and doctors to work in a "safe shooting gallery" offensive. And don't get me started on the time and funds allotted to training police officers and supplying them with Narcan while programs get cut from schools and teachers laid off.  Do not go there with me.

So, this morning, I read more about the terrible tragedy in Nepal, the loss of yet another thousand lives on top of the thousands about which we had already heard.  Unavoidable, no warning, nothing to grab on to, no way to stop it. Earthquakes and tornadoes.  Nature's most terrifying acts of defiance. I cannot imagine what that is like, such utter loss of control with such complete loss of everything as a result.

Next, in the Post, a lengthy article, written up in the style that draws me to keep reading and turns the Times readers away, furious and indignant because their intelligence was insulted.  Damned the scholars and full-speed ahead, I plowed into the headline, "Baltimore Mom of the Year: 'I don't want him to be a Freddie Gray".  This, in the aftermath of the death of a young black man in Baltimore at the hands of local police enforcement.  The online article warns of explicit content. Toya Graham, in exercising her maternal instincts, minced no words.  She's the mother who turned on the evening news and saw her own son on TV throwing rocks at cops in the streets during Monday's riots. She told it like it was and she's become a national hero after smacking some sense into her son Michael and dragging him back home without one thought to who might be observing her behavior. She referred to herself as a "no-tolerant mom," one who does not play "that", one who has done her best to shield her son in her home, grounding him in the past to keep him off the streets. At one point, she tells the news reporters that she knows she can't do this for the rest of her life and comments "Is he a perfect boy? No, he's not. But he's mine!" From her language and her actions, I'm kind of guessing she would be a Post reader but from her statements, I would love to see her on the Supreme Court. Videos of Toya Graham, taking action, have gone viral.  By now, millions of others have had the opportunity to observe, first-hand, the art of taking control. No, Toya did not have to deal with a tornado or an earthquake. She was not facing a tsunami, She had a kid, one who's future she's hoping will be a better one for her current stance and her courage to do what comes naturally. She followed her instincts and hopefully she's not only taught Michael, but millions of other Mothers and kids the lesson that there are things that we can change if we realize that we have to power to.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Clean Break

After seven solid years, a period of time that we set aside in our lives for "being available" and for retiring from what we were doing before, we're getting ready to move again.  The property selection and purchase have taken a lot of my time and taken me away from what I like best to do in the mornings, write.  But, there's always a story or a word in my mind.  I'm sure that the people who tell me that they "can't" write have the same thing going on, it's just that they publish their thoughts before writing them down, by speaking them out loud.  Once you've published, it simply isn't going to work the same way.  So, I keep the thoughts, juggle them around in my own brain, and hopefully, find myself with my fingers on the keyboard, ready to bring it all on.  While I refer to myself as a person who only writes essays and opinions, I somehow think I'm more of a memoirist in hiding.  So much of what I write is based upon what I am experiencing or have experienced and oftentimes, I use the tool to make more sense of it all or as my personal documentary.

This morning, my brain received another prompt.  As I waltzed around my living room with my dance partner, the dust mop, the words "clean break" broke through.  I was unusually happy to have received such a prompt and that I had the time to play with it, to wonder why those words had come to me.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about Proprioceptive Writing and for those who read that and still do not understand it, this is a classic example.  In processing the words, I ask myself what do I mean by them and where do they fit into a bigger picture or a future write.  I'm delighted to think that I have acquired the skill and that I can put it to good use.  That far surpasses my experiences in trying to learn Algebra or how to string pearls.

The day after we had the offer on our condo accepted, I visited with my father and during our conversation, I asked if I might take Mom's set of pots and pans on to the new home.  A few years ago, when she was feeling well, she bought a nice set and now, they sit in the kitchen cabinets untouched.  I figured it was a reasonable request, one made to a man who eats frozen dinners exclusively.  He said "I'll have to think about it" and my heart sank.  I became angry and bitter about the answer.  After all, I was there, having coffee with him, coffee that I brought, after doing his grocery shopping for the week, a chore I have done for the past three years without failure.  I politely replied that it was okay and vowed to not ask again.  The following week, after grocery shopping, we sat down to coffee again and now it was his turn to bring it up.  "When are you moving?" was the question.  I replied and then, "I don't want you to take anything from the kitchen".  I was not surprised but in an instant I got the picture.  It was a total epiphany in one tiny slice of time. And as I thought, a bolt of lightning went through my head and the words "when we die, we understand everything" appeared.  No, I wasn't dying, but all of a sudden.......I understood.  "Okay, Dad, I get it.  You want to leave everything just as it was when Mom was here, don't you?" He nodded and seemed relieved that his rejection of my idea was not going to be met with an emotion.  "It's fine. I think it is very sweet of you and I totally respect that". And then, I thought of the coffee pot story, one to which I had attached so much sentiment.  Not long after Mom died, I asked for the large electric pot to replace a broken one at our house. Why would he ever have need for a ten-cup pot? Instead, he told me to use his credit card and buy myself a new one. I seriously mistook the gesture for one in which he might have recognized all the favors done and thought it nice to have a new coffee pot in return. Alas, I was wrong, I understand that now.

I'm not Mom.  I don't want to be Mom. I look a lot like Mom but I'm Lynn and every time I show up, I bring a vision with me. Mom. Granted, some people who lose people they have loved, are happy to have carbon copies who are still alive.  My Mom was that good, that loved, that irreplaceable, my father's One-And-Only, and I'm a constant reminder of what he no longer has.  Sure, it's hard for him but think about how incredibly difficult it is for me. He probably would be happier were I to open the door and throw his groceries in.  He sits in his sun-room with me, drinks coffee, only to be polite or to have the minimum of social contact required.  He does not enjoy it nor do I.  We both do what we have to do and I'm not always certain that what we do is good for either of us.  He needs to really feel her loss, to really get it that she is not there and never will be. That she will not be clanking pots and pans around.  He still needs to grieve.

In orthopedics you learn that there are two basic types of bone fractures, simple and compound, that one is less complicated than the other and heals quickly. A simple fracture in totally internal, along clean lines. A compound or Greenstick fracture is one in which the bone actually bends, sometimes penetrating to the outside, and they are nasty little fellows.  They take more time to heal, cause more pain and more complications but eventually, they do heal, scarring is very likely to occur, and the affected limb might look different. My father has suffered a massive compound fracture.

I need a clean break.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Search Over

Just like the pilgrims, our search is over. And, we're probably just as surprised as they were when they first hit the shore in America.  Our ship was out there, floundering around for months.  We knew we had to find a new home, one that would make us feel free and happy, the owners once again of our own lives.  We had endured a cruel, harsh Winter and as we sailed through it, it was hard to keep the final destination in sight.  With the knowledge that we have a lease on our lovely apartment that will expire in July, we set out from our comfort zone and embarked on the journey that would eventually lead us to what we call our "Five Year Plan:".  We could have stayed on, signed for another year and thrown thousands of hard-earned dollars into the bucket of an already overly-endowed land lord.  It would have been so easy but also so bad for us.  Another Winter surely will come.  But, there was greater motivation.  We live in a lovely setting, we have a great view from the back of our apartment, onto a pond where we see ducks and turkeys and birds, so many birds. From the front of our apartment, the view is entirely different.  We see old people, a parking lot, garages filled with cars, most of them silver or grey, that never, ever move. I can't help but feel that we are surrounded by people who are just passing time, waiting to die.  They never go anywhere, their cars, parked in the garages attest to that.  Rarely does one see a light on through a window in the evenings, making it possible to imagine that everyone has turned in, called it a day, before the sun has set.  We're simply not ready to be a part of this scene and so.........we're moving.  A nice condo awaits us, on the opposite side of the Cape, in another town.  We'll be home-owners again and we're very, very happy.Very happy.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


When my son was selecting his college, he was very young.  A precocious child, he was skipped a grade in elementary school, making him younger than his classmates and, at the end of high school, perhaps a bit too young to start the rest of his life.  It was a situation with which I was familiar, having a January birth day that allowed me to enter school early after not even having attended Kindergarten.  It wasn't mandatory in those days and I was a fiver year old first grader, something that I know impacted on the rest of my school days if not the rest of my life.  In both cases, parental poor decisions might have been made.  Guilty as charged.
So, the selection of college came, scholarship was offered, and our young man went off to a school that was highly regarded by the Christian Brothers who drummed such choices into their flocks of students, and the result was a totally unproductive and unhappy first year of college followed by some very uncertain times in our house as we had to patiently sit back and wait.  We weren't quite sure what we were awaiting and as the weeks went by, I found solace in my old belief that there are some chicks that simply need more time in the warmer, that incubators in hospital nurseries were proof that living-breathing humans aren't always fully equipped for their solo flights using their tiny lungs without support, that their lack of fat would stop their lives should they come in constant contact with variations in temperatures too soon. I used these thoughts as a mantra, pulling strength from them as each day passed into the next, a summer that brought long and troubled days in place of the carefree ones usually associated with time between school years.  Instead of moving ahead toward fully responsible adulthood, we had to accept the fact that our first-born was slipping backwards, or so it seemed to us and all who knew us.  This surely was not the plan but what was the plan? Was there even a plan? I needed a new mantra.  I was the one who needed to formulate a plan, to find the ring to catch and ride the carousel to its end so I thought and I thought and I came up with this, which made all the difference.  Our son can't pack his bags for the rest of the journey because he does not yet know the destination.  When he does, he will collect all that he needs and be on his way again. I made this announcement to my husband and everyone else who was willing to listen.

Eventually, the bags got packed,the Internet discovered (no, not by Al Gore), and we, the anguished parents got to see the fruits of our labor of patience and understanding.  From the incubator emerged a young man who was almost ready for the real world. One who just needed that extra time to find that which would supply the passion to keep on going, a way to communicate that was new and almost unfathomable just a few years before.  Yes, he returned to school.  One of his choice, not the Christian Brothers in New Rochelle.  One that was exactly right for his needs.  And he did graduate and he made decisions outside the warm nest and today, he has a wonderful job as a software engineer for a large company.

I've used the same lines, the one about the kids who need more time, the one about not being able to pack if you don't know where you're going, many times over the years.  I hope that it helped quiet the anxious souls of other parents who came to me in the workplace seeking guidance or maybe I've had the privilege of using my wisdom to help more than one little chickie get through a scary day at a job that asked for grown up behavior from one who was still a child. And now, I find myself faced with a situation not that unlike the one my son was in twenty six years ago. We need to pack. We don't know where we are headed. The time is coming to make decisions and it's all so hard because we don't have anyone older than us who can push us back into the warming oven, give us the chance to breathe with assistance, to let our bodies adjust to a new age, a new way to live, a new place if that is the choice we make.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Home Fires

It's writing group week again and I have to prepare for Thursday.  We're meeting at my place and I'm hoping it will be a sunny morning. We'll gather around the dining room table, the one that is right in front of the ceiling to floor windows that make up the back wall of that part of the apartment.  No need to bring folding chairs from their hiding places, I have eight perfectly comfortable chairs that slide easily into their own places at the table.  That's why, when I saw it in the store, I made an instant purchase.  It was always in my head, that dining room set, and when the snap decision to buy it was made, it was easy to justify.  A place for the whole family.  The grandchildren will not have to sit elsewhere, not have to use odd chairs, but forever will have their own places at the table and there will be lots and lots of room for all.  I love that table.  It's my version of a farm table, not exactly rustic but not formal either.  It wasn't new when  we bought it, rather it was painted over by the seller, in colors that, in their neutrality, made a statement up against the backdrop of tree tops and the beautiful pond below. That table is as important as a family member, so important that during a house hunt, it became a deal breaker more than once.  There had to be a place for it, no matter what. Second in line is the fireplace.  If the table is my lifeline, the fireplace is my heart beat, my pulse.

The prompt for this week's write is the word "Home".  Sounds easy.  I find it to be anything but.  I'm having a hard time with that word but must admit, it has gotten me through some sleepless moments over the
past few nights.

I used it as a mantra for meditations that I counted on for a return to sleep.
 The opportunities were boundless.  Home improvement, home schooling, home equity, home maker, home base, home grown, home goods, home style, home land, home made, home page, home fries, home owner, home fires, home life, home plate, home cooking, home spun, home body, home plate, home, home on the range. You get it.  There are a gazillion more but I'll hold onto that fact and perhaps use it again when I am up in the middle of the night thinking about my safety and security again.  Maybe I'll meditate on a quest to discover why so many of my "homes" are attached to words like "life, plate, cooking, fires, base and maker". These came to me in a flash.  I had to sit and think of others while writing this today and it was taxing, so I stopped.

I'm just not sure what and where home is to me or even what I would answer were I asked, "So, Lynn, where do you call home?" It's probably best that I never become a contestant on The Wheel of Fortune lest I make a total fool out of myself and Pat Sajak for having asked that simple question.  I suppose the answer would and should be "Pat, I'm a New Yorker", and then I would need the next five minutes to drive home my point......bagels, lox, cream cheese, the Yankees, the Bronx, uptown, downtown, subways, taxis, pretzels with mustard, hot dogs from carts on the corner, the fruit man who doesn't want my pennies, sidewalks, beeping horns, marriage proposals from strangers on street corners, buskers, busking on subway platforms, buskers on the street, buskers in Grand Central Station.  Grand Central Station!!!!  Home is where the heart is.

I'm feeling conflicted and confused.  The Winter wraps are finally coming off.  I knew where I had to be last season. I was stuck and I missed my life.  I need it back.  We're looking for a new house now, waiting to find just the right one before lease-renewal time is here.  We're racing against other people who are emerging from their own Winter cocoons and the idea of spending twenty minutes in a house that has a For Sale sign on its front lawn, and making a decision so huge, is scaring me to death.  I'm not sure that I will ever be able to refer to a house as a "home".  I don't think I have it in me.  But I do have the fireplace and I do have the table and the chairs and wherever I go, they go and whoever sits at that table will define what it is that I call home, if only for that time they are there. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ninety One

Today would have been my mother's ninety first birthday. Damn, I just wish she had made it to 90.

I don't know where I was last year on this date, or what I was doing or thinking but for some reason the day came and the day passed but not before I placed a bouquet or flowers at the Blessed Mother shrine at the church where my parents worshiped for many years. We did not have nearly as much snow last year so placing a glass vase filled with flowers was not as out of the question as it seemed this year.  I have a different plan for honoring her with her birthday so close to Easter.  I'm sure she would approve and forgive me for not venturing out in the cold rain today.

I could write volumes, in fact, I'm sure that if I scrolled down over the hundreds of posts that I have completed here over the past years, I would find that I have already done that.  I've never been at a loss for what to write about my mom.  She really was an amazing woman and you would only have known that after meeting her had you not been an old friend or family member.  We always knew it.  She never, ever gave herself the credit that she deserved nor did she ever boast about her accomplishments.  My mother was one very beautiful woman and I know that she must have been told so many times over but she redirected the spotlight and was quick to point out the beauty of someone else. She'd stop strangers on the street to pay them a compliment, knowing that her words would carry weight in one's self-esteem department.  She never missed an opportunity to do that.  A compliment, coming from her, would have brightened the dullest of days, that's how pretty she was.  My father knew it.  She was a mere sixteen years old when he first laid his eyes on her and from that very moment, he knew he had found the love of his life.  The made a handsome young couple and as the years went on, they became role models for anyone who would ever fall in love again.  We thought my father would die within months of her death. We really did.

Alas, this is not a the proper forum for eulogizing Mom.  Her memory resides deep within my heart and always will be alive therein.  I'll never hold a candle to her but will always be grateful for any similarity.

I'm saddened but also incredibly disappointed that she did not make it too far beyond her eighty ninth birthday.  I'm also very proud that she made it that far.  Her final years were spent in pain and the knowledge that she would be leaving us at any time.  She had not one, but multiple cancers, all of which she faced with courage and dignity, oh my God, such dignity.  She taught us all a lesson in how to conduct yourself in the face of adversity and how to accept whatever God planned, with grace and faith.  I just wish she could have made it into her nineties because she so richly deserved to have made it after coming so far so well.

Happy Birthday Angelina Ballerina!

Monday, March 23, 2015

3 Days Before My Mother's Birthday

This is going to be a rough week.

It started out rough, a round trip drive to a birthday party in New York.  Fifty people, screeching babies, small, hot room.

Round trip drive on a sunny Sunday. No real traffic issues going.  Hated to end it and, on the first lovely day in a very long time, go indoors to face a crowd.  Not my favorite thing.

Trip home, glided right through as if Interstate 95 was opening her heart to me and as the sun set, I felt like I was driving on velvet and that a gigantic magnet was pulling me home. My home. Safe, warm and free from judgments, from the noise, the crowd. Blessed relief.

I remember my mother telling me that in all her life, she never had a surprise party.  In fact, I doubt that in all her life, she was ever the center of attention, that she always took a back seat, allowing her family to have places of honor. I remember how many parties she threw, how many little nice times she planned for my father's birthdays.  I remember the love she had for her grandchildren and the ways she honored them with special celebrations, carefully thought-out and personalized gifts.

And I sat in a hot and over crowded room, at a birthday party, wishing that God was better at  division, fractioning off time, as I watched the faces of those of us who had lost our own mothers, knowing what their thoughts were, and I cried all the way home.

This week would have been the week of my mother's ninety first birthday and I'm mad at everyone in my family who has forgotten her and everyone who tells me to "move on" in what direction I do not know. And I wish there were some way to bring her back to the Earth for one day, if only to give her a party.

It's going to be a rough week.  If you've lost a mother, you know what I'm talking about.

Friday, March 13, 2015


What good would a Friday the Thirteenth be without a little ranting and raving?  I was in such a Zen place last week at this time and find it hard to remember that feeling.  I write essays and opinions, the Zen just helps me flesh out more of what I want to say.  Knowing my thoughts and trusting myself are very Zen-like but there's nothing like a bee in this woman's bonnet to really keep me moving on life's conveyor belt. So, today, I do breathe in....hold.....breathe out.....repeat and an idea pops into my head very easily because it has been brewing, just waiting its turn to come out and hop onto this page.

You know all those papers you have to sign when you are at your doctor's office?  There are even more of them when you are admitted to the hospital.  I remember the days before that HIPPA stuff all started. For those of you who may not know, this is the abbreviation for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.  It is a federal regulation that essentially says that your medical records and all information regarding your health is private will be protected and that healthcare workers may not, under penalty of law, disclose anything about you.  In other words, years after the concept of medical confidentiality was embraced, it was revisited on a higher level, assuring Americans that the most intimate details of their medical histories were not going any further than their treatment centers of choice.  No faxes, no emails, no phone calls, no discussions. Nothing. You're protected and your healthcare systems are more careful than they have been in history, safeguarding your privacy.

If you are in the business of health care of have ever been, then you know about medical confidentiality. It probably wasn't even something that you had to be taught.  Common courtesy or common sense dictates that you don't go around discussing what you have learned about anyone's health matters.  I can recall being a young teenager, preparing for my Red Cross Nurses Aide certificate, being warned against about the harm that could be done should two little Candy Stripers discuss the "Man in Room 221" while on an elevator or even worse, on a public bus.  For God's sake, Mrs. Man in Room 221 could be within earshot and maybe she thought her Man was on a business trip. Or even worse, maybe she didn't know he was as gravely ill as you did. So, young ladies about to enter the nursing world were taught to never discuss anything for any reason and it stuck.  

My lessons in holding in confidence everything I saw or heard served me well when I became a corporate nurse.  Oh, the temptation to tell "all" has been a great one but I can't forget that Red Cross instructor, her sharp pointy finger aimed right at our heads. And, I won't. And, I never did, not even when my own job seemed to be hanging on the tread of disclose or disembark from your lovely position.  My answer always was "now you know I can't tell you that!" But geesh, if my walls could talk or yikes if the crew from "The Enquirer" ever showed up with a big wad of cash for a little story.  I held my ground and upheld the confidentiality banner, stopping many an email trail of "concern" for a sick or injured employee somewhere in some part of the Colgate Palmolive "family". We just needed to know our employee was safe, under care, getting better, transported to a facility.  We did not have to know all the details, and trust me, there were details.

So, today I emailed a well-meaning friend who has put us on a list of other well-meaning friends, asking him to please remove us from the list, to not send any more updates our way. A friend has taken ill.  He has been ill for the past seven weeks, in a hospital in Paris.  Mutual friends who are in Europe have been sending the updates. Here's the latest in what we do not need to know from people who, mind you, are not doctors:

 His color is almost back to normal and the swelling in his left arm has greatly receded such that his hand is looking almost normal in skin texture and color. 

I'm left wondering if the poor man has any idea that these people have violated his privacy to such a degree?  Do we need to know this much about his illness? Wouldn't we be pleased to know that he is progressing?  Why do we need these intimate details? I suspect that the reporters have some kind of a need to make themselves feel more important, to be on the inside, connected in some special way.I'm surprised they did not add "We walked on water to get to his bedside." And I'm left feeling very, very sorry for the man in the hospital bed, so far away from home and from his rights and I'm wondering if his friends who have done the deed ever gave a thought to HIPPA or just plain common courtesy and true compassion.  By the way, that which I cut and pasted from the email is NOTHING compared to what they have already disclosed.  All in the name of friendship? I wouldn't do that to my worst enemy.  I know that if I did, that very mean Red Cross lady would have me arrested. Isn't that what HIPPA is supposed to do?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thursday's Nameless Writers Group Prompt

Obstinate!  Obtuse!  Dense! Pig-headed! These words came easily to me as I looked at my father’s bank statement this morning only to find that hours spent on trying to cancel a pre-authorized monthly debit were in vain. I ended my ranting with the words to my husband that I have used so many times before in resolving issues on the telephone, “If we did our jobs that poorly, we would have been fired on the spot!”
I needed something to get me started and was finding it almost impossible to write anything interesting or, at the very least, amusing about the Chinese Zodiac symbol that has been my life’s companion.  I didn't even know it was my symbol until the most recent celebration of the Chinese New Year when a search on Google took into account the date and year of my birth and heartlessly spit out the verdict in the words, “You are a pig”.  Don’t get me started.

I've had pigs on my mind for a month now, since that lovely revelation.  Each time I call to mind these big, oinky mammals, I get a picture in my mind, and it is somewhat disturbing. You know the story about the little piggies going to market?  Well, one day, while sitting in the car at a rest stop on the Autostrada somewhere in Italy, waiting for my husband to complete a trip to the mens room, a large red truck drove up and slowly passed through on its way back on to the highway.  I don’t think it stopped. As I recall, if it did, it did so for a very brief moment because when my husband returned, it was gone.  I thought it very cute at the time, a truck load of big, pink, yes they were pink, pigs. They stood shoulder to shoulder, their enormous heads in a row, a few iron railings holding them in the truck, making them look as if they were standing on a hotel balcony, enjoying a view of the sunset.  I was so taken by the sight, one of those that I was sure I had not seen before and probably never would again, at least not in this part of the United States. Naturally, I took a photo.

I know I have that picture somewhere but if there is any area in which I really lack talent, it is in the storage of photos on my computer which in this case, is probably a very merciful thing.  After the first blush of enchantment at the sight of the pigs on the balcony, I realized that they were not on a holiday at all, that they were not going to the market to buy goodies, that this was a death trip and these beautiful creations had no idea of where they would soon end up as they innocently stood in place on the truck.

And, I can’t stop thinking about the scene and I can’t help but think about the millions and millions of other innocents and how lives become so easily ended because of perceptions and powers. And I know it isn't going to change and I wish that I could have flattened all of the tires on that red truck on that day in that parking lot and I am ashamed of myself for my love of pork and the smell of bacon and I hope that I am forgiven.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mirror Mirror

Edited....didn't you notice the errors when first you read this?  I did, in the edit-read.  Forgive me.  I'm not fully recovered from a weekend of no-editing-allowed-writing.

Here's the problem that comes with having short white hair.  Everyone thinks that all women who have that combo look the same.  It's a real problem.

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My Photo
Now you tell me, do we all look alike????

I look into the mirror and there are days, I swear my mother is the person staring back at me.  I always looked like her and as I got older, I did my darnedest to change that in a lot of ways.  As we aged, we started looking more and more alike.  As a younger woman,  not so much.  My mother was really beautiful. I see pictures of her as a young woman, her long brown hair and her blue eyes, and I can only think of her as a very pretty woman.  I was never pretty. My daughter is pretty, she looks just like my mother at the same age, only with beautiful brown eyes.  But I have and always have had, blue eyes and fortunately, that is what people notice and stop their gaze.  I guess I'm more aware and more sensitive to the resemblance now that my mother is dead and my father has only me, myself, and I in his world.  I just don't want him to think of my mother when he looks at me.  She was she and I am me and that's the name of that tune.

So, when I was told by an acquaintance that she was told by some mutual acquaintances that we could be "twins", I practically went insane on the spot.  The very idea of someone looking like my twin has not gone down well.  I don't know where to turn next.  After years of trying to look somewhat unique, this is what it has come to? Is it the white hair? Should I dye it? Should I grow it long, get a perm? Oh come on, help me here!  I do believe that there really are only so many combinations, resulting in lots of people looking like each other.  I mean, it's bound to happen. But why me?  Why is it that I get that comment from so many people, so many times...."You look JUST like so and so" and then there's the one I love most "Did anyone ever tell you that you look EXACTLY like Bea Arthur?....Look at her Honey, doesn't she look JUST like Bea Arthur?" I'm only more excited when they can't remember Bea's name and refer to me as "Maude". Oh yes, I'm a Maude if ever there was one. Sure thing.  Alongside that particular joy is the one that goes this way "I swear, I've seen you before. Do I know you? Have we met? You look JUST like someone I know!", always of course, stated like "Wow, there are TWO freaks now! You look just like the other freak."

I want desperately and wholeheartedly to look like myself, to be my own person, to walk in only my shoes, to have my own thoughts, to see things my way without having to explain them to you, to make my own choices, to love who I love, like who I like, don't like who I don't like and to be my own self.  Did I already say that?

Of course, this whole thing would have been entirely different had someone told me that she had been told that I could be her twin and that person was Helen Miran.  That would have been a whole lotta different story.

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Monday, March 9, 2015


It was EXACTly what I needed.  A full week-end away.  Over the damned bridge that so much of the time keeps us hostage in the Winter but, I must admit, also serves to shut us off from the rest of the world in the Summer, allowing us to have a well-earned front row seat at one of the best shows produced by Mother Nature.

Recently, I came within an inch of plunking down a bunch of money, getting on a plane, and spending a week at a retreat house in County Cork, Ireland.  My goal was to participate in a workshop, one that I was hoping would ultimately help me to become a better writer through the use of new listening skills.  I found the method, Proprioceptive Writing, through a search and found that it was to be offered this April at the lovely Anan Cara Retreat House. I shared the news of my find with another writer-friend and her interest was peaked to the level at which she did some searching on her own and happily announced one day that she had found a workshop in Portland, Maine.  Now, while the thought of being on a creative retreat in Ireland sounded sinfully good, I honestly did not look forward to leaving the country and exchanging my dollars for Euros.  I've had enough of both and am contented with my choice to stay in this beautiful country and reap the benefits of being an American for as long as they last.

So, Bev and I hit the road on Friday and we did not look back once,only stopping for lunch before we arrived at the lovely cottage she found for our stay, at Scarborough Beach, Maine.  After settling in, we set my phone's GPS and bounded off into the cold of downtown Portland.  It did not take me too long to start what I have been mentally doing for quite some time now.....wondering about life in this seacoast city.  Never having been to Portland, I had very little to guide me but my visceral thoughts.Being a sucker for cobblestone streets and artsy shops and tiny ethnic eateries, I fell instantly in love and very envious of those who call this place home. We poked around a bit, found the best-ever vintage shop, and at six o'clock, arrived at the Maine College of Art which is located right, smack in the heart of the downtown.  Room 200. Six places at a table.  Our instructor, Charles, friendly and welcoming.  Not one bit of intimidation, not yet at least, that would come later.  The other four students filed in, took their places, and for that evening, the entire next day, and half of Sunday, we wrapped ourselves in discovering PW. We learned to write our minds alive and I can't begin to explain any of it to you.

Let me just say that Proprioceptive Writing or the Proprioceptive Method as it should really be called, is not about "writing" at all.  It might be easiest for the reader here to Google the whole thing but even after you do so, it is highly unlikely that you will fully understand it.  I still have a hard time getting it all.  Even our instructor, one who has been actively practicing the method for thirty-some years, has a hard time explaining the metaphor.  Proprioceptors are in the medical world.  We began a practice of using something that is so far from the medical world, it's ridiculous.  Those who practice Proprioceptive Writing are not focusing on writing at all, and it has nothing to do with health.  Wellness?  Maybe.  Listening? Totally.  Learning to listen to thoughts, to give them a life, to question them, validate them, play with them, and find ways to use them or at the very least, trust them. What world does that belong to?  Hmmm.

So, in twelve hours, we did four "Writes".  The only scary moment came after the first of them when Charles told us that now, we must read out loud, what we had just written. Of course, I balked, not understanding that this was so much a part of the process.  He was reassuring, encouraging, but not demanding and, after the first person read, I held my hand up high and became the second reader.   Just as he had promised, nothing bad happened to anyone in this class just as nothing bad has ever happened in any other Proprioceptive Workshop, anywhere in the world.  Only good.  Good, good, good.