Saturday, June 30, 2012

Roberts' Ruling

I'm pleasantly surprised the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, 5-4, and kudos to Chief Justice Roberts for the way he parsed the special interests and ultimately came down on the side of reform. I didn't expect that. His decision was as narrow as it could possibly be. As some commentators said, he really threaded the needle, and word is that his decision to uphold had much to do with the extremism of the dissenters, his sense of historic moment, and the need to preserve the credibility of the nation's highest court as a non-partisan body in a toxic political environment. Everyone seems so focused on the mandate for individuals to carry insurance being identified as a tax. It's true Roberts' ruling did narrow the Commerce Clause in saying the individual mandate was not valid under that statute, that it was only valid if considered a tax, giving conservatives a place to hang their hats. But all of this is just semantics, by my lights. We're still going to get a health care plan that no longer discriminates against children with pre-existing conditions; that won't allow insurance companies to drop you if you get sick or limit the amount they'll pay for catastrophic care. And wellness care will no longer cost a fortune. I'm not saying the plan is perfect, but it's a start. As for the political fight ahead, well...

Official School Photos

The 71 graduates of the Class of 2012

Who do you spy in the background on the left?

Hold on to your hat.

You're about to leave high school behind you.

The ceremony was held in the Alumni Garden

It's official.


As my girl would say, Wheeeeeeeeee!

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Knowing love, I will allow 

all things to come and go,
to be as supple as the wind and 
take everything that comes 
with great courage.
Life is right in any case.
My heart is open as the sky.

Kama Sutra

Little girl, can you do what the Tao asks? 
Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself? 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Safe in the World

Oh what the hey. I'm opening up my blog again. I'm putting myself back out there, naked for all the world. It's like daring to stand stripped down before the mirror and say, Well, I see you there, and you know what, I think you're okay.

I attended a fascinating digital conference this morning for my job. The folks there talked a lot about efforts being made to bring more eyes to their websites, to get more people to link them, tweet about them, share them with the world. It's the mantra of new media, which is not new anymore, just the ever evolving status quo. And there I was, in the digital arena not just for my job, but also by virtue of having decided to blog, yet hiding out because someone loved a post I made and linked it on their Facebook page. Someone, an artist I know, was overjoyed to find what I had written about him, and he linked it. Why would I deny him the opportunity to share the evidence of how deeply his work affects people? And what sort of ego is it to think that someone who lands on that page will necessarily go on to explore the more personal posts here. And if they do, why not embrace that soul as an empathetic presence rather than assume it is someone who wants to poke holes in me. Where does this sense of not being safe come from anyway?

So I'm stepping back into the larger world. Shoulders squared. Heart open. It helps to know that some of you out there have my back.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


From poet Cynthia Huntington, in the comments on Ms Radish King's blog:

Radical loneliness is calling.


Not to romanticize loneliness or anything but this makes it seem more worthy somehow.

What is Real

I am emerging. I think. In some moments, it feels like that, but I don't know in the next moment if that's actually true. It seems sometimes that whatever I write here isn't true in the next moment. Or perhaps it is still true, like the sky is still true when it is hidden behind storm clouds.

My son and his girlfriend have been here since last Friday, exploring the city together, picnicking in Central Park, or cuddling on the couch watching Olympic trials and Prison Break on Netflix. My son is in such good spirits, it makes me happy to be around.

I had my follow up with the rehab doctor yesterday, who prescribed 4 to 6 weeks of physical therapy to address my lingering snapping hip syndrome. Who knew there was such a thing? I adore my new doctors. I am going to be a good little schoolgirl and follow all instructions.

Yesterday I also went upstairs to that therapy place in the building where I work. I made an intake appointment. It's in August, and even though I thought I needed therapy pretty immediately, I made the appointment anyway, because I'll probably still need a place to figure things out in August. A place to not be reactive and self-destructive. A place to process the firestorm inside so that I don't send scorching lightening bolts into my world. I don't want to wound people with my words any more. Even if I feel wounded.

I want to stop hurting. I want to be so wise about life that I no longer hurt, because I understand everything. I want to be like my daughter, whose very presence is healing.

Thank you all for being here, for clicking the link and climbing inside. Mary Moon, are you here? Did it work? I hope so. I think the reason I didn't stop blogging this week is that I would miss you all too much. And that will still be true tomorrow.

Monday, June 25, 2012


I made this blog private, I think only for a little while. Someone linked my blog on a very public Facebook page and I didn't want everyone who clicked the link to find me. Bear with me. Things are also a little hard right now. I am in a hurt fog and trying to find my way.

If you're here, please leave a comment and let me know the invite worked.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


sit still
sit in the chair feel what you feel
make yourself sit
do not try to outrun the grief
the losses pile up you are broken now
nothing is the same the hubris
you were not charmed after all
a thousand small slings
sunk deep in soft places
nothing flickering in the eyes
it feels like death
sitting here
chewing the words
feel what you feel
no sound

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Quiet This Morning

I always feel a little melancholy come summer. My kids are off somewhere immersed in warm weather experiences, and I frankly miss them. I'm finally getting used to it. This summer, my soul didn't fight the shape of things quite as fiercely as in past years. A year ago at this time, our family was in possibly the worst turmoil we had ever experienced, and I was the one who provoked it, I was the one who roused the sleeping dogs, put the dire spin on a passing mood, and now I think that I didn't know what I was feeling, I was hollowed out by what was happening with my mom, and my children leaving, and I was looking for an external reality that might offer a reason for how bereft I felt. And so I created one.

A year later, we are okay. Our son has been home several times, and will be here again this weekend. My heart expands every time he walks through that door, and when I see him and his dad engaged in their usual goofy interaction. And this summer, when it came time to drive our girl to camp, my husband was determinedly relaxed about the time we would leave, and I was the one birddogging everything to make sure we left early enough to allow him to drive there and back during his preferred window of time. It was not lost on me that we had exchanged where we stood, each one remembering the lesson of the previous year and wanting to accommodate the other. We didn't make a big deal of it, or even act like we noticed. But I did notice. And I was moved by the love implied.

On the wall in the photo above: Pencil marks noting the height of my children, and of various nieces, nephews and friends, and the dates on which they were measured. We'll never paint over that wall. There are more than a decade of stories in those pencilled marks, children we love who would say before leaving our home, Wait, you have to measure me. How much have I grown?

How much have I grown? A lot, it turns out. While my house feels very quiet this morning, and everything is neat and in its place, a sure sign that our kids are not in residence, I am managing. I am not wallowing at the bottom of a pit, sucking the air. I am putting one foot in front of the other and giving thanks for the shape of things. This is where I am today.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Every time I go searching for old photos, I run across fascinating artifacts. This is the woman my husband married twenty-six years ago. That's me a month after our wedding. I was twenty-nine. Aging sucks. Sometimes I study these photographs of my younger self to reconnect to the knowledge that this wonderful life of mine, it really happened. And is happening still.


My husband's mother, our beloved Nana, closed her eyes for good three years ago today. She was our glue in the most literal sense of the word, and we miss her terribly. We have not stopped reeling yet. Now it's on us to figure out our own redemption. Mom, we love you always and each other too.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cooking with Grandma

My daughter, at age 6, was right in the mix as her Grandma and her Uncle Charlie (Aunt Winnie's husband, now gone) made a wedding cake for one of my cousins in Aunt Winnie's New York City kitchen in April 2000. The fruit had been put to soak in wine months before, and the final cakes would be marinated in aromatic rum for weeks before being iced and decorated. I look at my child's expression and concentration in these just found photos and I see that truly, baking has always been close to her heart. Her dad took these pictures. You can see his communication with our girl in how she's looking directly at the camera, that is to say, at him. I also love how she's looking at my mom in the last picture, and how my mom is looking at my husband.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Nine months ago my left hip and leg began to hurt. It started on the day of my cousin's funeral last October, I remember it clearly. There was a sharp stabbing pain when I moved in a certain way, and the leg refused to hold me. It happened several times that first afternoon, and I would have to "work the joint back in" very painfully. It felt as if the leg had become dislocated from the hip socket and would not resume its proper position without an agonizing "crunch" somewhere mid-thigh. It was at its worst when I went from sitting to standing, or tried to swivel my body, or tried to lift my leg, or bent to pick up something. I would get stuck, halted in position by the pain, and would then try to unobtrusively work the leg back in, hoping no one noticed. I kept thinking it would go away, and I was embarrassed to talk about it, sure that the only response anyone would give was, Well, just lose some weight for God's sake. Of course if it were so damned easy to "just lose some weight" I would have done it years ago. Yes, I'm sensitive about it.

But back to the leg. The pain grew more and more intense and by the time I went to my uncle's funeral a week ago, I could not climb the shallowest stairs without pulling myself up by the railing. I laughed it off the best I could, trying to deflect people's concern. But I knew it was serious. And then at the repast back at my aunt's home, my cousin Helen took me aside. She led me by the hand into the garden and looked meaningfully in my eyes. I should note that Helen is a healer and an empath. She works as a physical therapist and her hands are pure magic but that is only the very beginning of her gifts. In the garden she looked me squarely in the face and said, "Something is telling me I am here for you this weekend. I feel it very strongly. So what is going on?"

There was so much love in her approach, so we began to talk about my leg. And the conversation, ostensibly about my aching leg, veered to the horrendous lumpy sinkhole of a mattress my husband and I have been sleeping on. We have to get a new one, I told her, but we need to pay the kids' tuition first. "Women always do this," Helen said. "They try to take care of everyone else before taking care of themselves. So what if you spent a couple thousand on a really good supportive mattress? What would happen to the tuition then?" We'd pay it, I said. "Exactly!" she answered, and in that moment, I resolved that the very next day I would go out and buy a really, really good mattress, one that properly supported my husband and me. And the next day, I did!

But Helen wasn't finished with me. She was just getting warmed up. She asked me where the pain had come from, was it really my pain to carry, who did I think I was relieving by carrying it? Somehow all of this resonated deeply with me, and I began to cry. Because what I began to understand was that this pain in my leg made me feel more connected to my mother, and was a physical manifestation of guilt and sadness at not being able to make it so she can walk again under her own steam. Helen said, "You don't have to carry this pain. You are not helping your mom one bit by holding on to it. It just means now you're both in pain and she surely would not want that."

Of course, she wasn't suggesting that the pain didn't have a physical source, that the cure was only metaphysical. She counseled me to go see a doctor and deal with it at once. In fact, I had already made an appointment with a rehab doctor, a physiatrist. I had been referred by my wonderful new primary care physician, who is sending me all kinds of places for follow up and generally taking good care of me. There is nothing like building a relationship with a good and caring doctor to get one over one's fear of doctors. So last Friday, I went to the rehab doc, and he and his PA were both so affirming and compassionate, and neither had a whiff of treating my pain as if it were my own damn fault for being so fat. Yes, this is actually what has kept me from doctors for years, the feeling that I would be judged for my size.

The doctor thinks I have bursitis of the hip, which is an inflammation of the bursa, the pillowy sacs that cushion the muscles and soft tissues and bone and allow everything to slide around freely. When he said the word bursitis, I felt a rush of truth, because my mother suffered with bursitis when I was growing up. She would be incapacitated for days, unable to move her left shoulder or arm. I remember feeling so sad as a child to see her in such pain. But the memory brought some relief, too, as if now I understood something and could finally begin to heal. The doctor gave me a steroid injection in the hip to calm down the inflammation, and I'm to go back in two weeks to see if there has been significant relief. If there has been, then he will prescribe physical therapy to strengthen everything and restore mobility, and if there has been no improvement, then we will have to do further investigation.

But I feel some reduction in pain already. The sharp shooting pain is now a dull ache. I can actually bend and pick things up without getting stuck and it's no longer excruciating just to climb into the car. But I need to mind the metaphysical emotional body as well. Because after waking up this morning and announcing to my husband how much better the leg felt, I then got on the phone with my mom. I was cleaning the kitchen as we talked, and she mentioned how incapacitated she felt at not being able to get around, and how disheartening that was and I suddenly noticed that as she talked, I had begun to limp again, and the longer we talked the more I was limping. The threads that bind us are powerful indeed. Silently, I thanked Helen for the gift of consciousness. It was as if she had helped prepare the way for healing, both physically, by prodding me to get a mattress that would not undermine the doctor's treatments, and emotionally, by making me aware of my instinct to hold on to the pain. Now I shall concentrate on the healing.

That's my cousin Helen, back in the day. 
She was daydreaming on the small patio 
adjacent to my room at 37 Paddington Terrace 
in Kingston, Jamaica. I left to go to college in 
New York six months after I took this photo.
I remember I was photographing everyone 
and everything that year, much as now.  
Helen lives and heals in Maryland now.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Proceedings

My son, since he wouldn't be here on Father's Day, gave his dad a card three days ago. On the outside it said, "Dad, I want to GROW UP to be JUST LIKE YOU." On the inside it said, "But Mom says I can't do BOTH." After his dad read it, they guffawed and high fived and jumped around and generally proved me right.

My daughter's plan was to make her dad creme brulee, which he loves. This she would have to serve to him on Saturday night, since his father's day would be spent ferrying her to camp, where she will be a counselor for the next five weeks. We don't own a blow torch, though, so she decided she would buy one and make that his father's day gift. These two. They give each other gifts of cookware that they've been eyeing for themselves. Everyone wins.

That's a new camera our girl is using by the way. It was her graduation gift. No longer will she have to commandeer her dad's grown up camera; she now has her own Nikon that she can take to college. As for me, I snapped the proceedings with my little red Canon Sure Shot, and will live with the rather red tones imparted by our kitchen and hallway lighting. Her photos of the creme brulee came out much better than mine.

And now our girl has gone to camp. And on its heels will be college. She got her freshman housing assignment yesterday. It's why I've been taking so many pictures of her this month. I want to record it all before she heads off to the next four years. It's how I'm getting ready for the next stage.

Good Fathers

Happy father's day to the best three fathers I've had the privilege to know: My dad, my father in law and my husband. Lightening struck three times in my life, bringing such gifts. I don't know why I should be so blessed, but there it is.

When this photo of my mom and dad and my husband and children was taken on Father's Day in 1995, my dad was already in a wheelchair, crippled by the cancer that had spread to bone, and would take him from us less than a year later. And yet his spirit was as robust as ever, he was still our center. I love this picture because it is one of the few I have of all of us. My daughter was one and my son was three, climbing all over the good fathers.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Our Graduate

Our girl graduated from Packer Collegiate High School on Thursday, June 14, Class of 2012, and what a glorious evening it was. Hard to believe prom and graduation have come and gone. Scratch that. High school has come and gone for both our children. We are extravagantly fortunate. I do believe this. And I am grateful.


I caught this faraway expression in my son's eyes 
during my daughter's graduation ceremony two days ago.
I wonder what he was remembering?
It was so good to have him with us. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nuts and Bolts

Today I walked into my office with a sheaf of stamped envelopes in my hand. While sipping coffee this morning, I had diligently filled out insurance forms for my aunt and for my husband, financial forms and health forms from my daughter's college, a verification form from my son's college and paid a bill for my mother. As I fed the letters into the outgoing mail slot, I realized not a single one of them had my name on it. I channel all these people.

Right now, I am anxious about my husband. He needs to make a doctor's appointment and he is resisting for some reason I no longer understand, since now I am all compliant and dutifully getting everything checked out myself. But yes, until very recently I wore that same cloak of denial, resisting hearing possible bad news, and then having to do something about it. So I understand. But I can't just let it go. I love my husband. I want to share everything that is to come with him. I want to play with our grandchildren and take trips with him and just putter around the house with him. So he needs to take care of himself.

Last weekend, at my uncle's funeral in New Jersey, my husband and my daughter had to leave the repast early to go to the airport to meet a friend from London who was arriving that afternoon. I stayed on so I could spend more time with my family, many of whom had traveled overseas to be there. There was laughter and the sharing of stories about family members here and gone, and I felt that sense of comfort and belonging I always feel in their midst. And yet, at a certain point as night began to fall, I just missed my husband. A part of me just wanted to be around him, almost like an instinctive yearning, to see him moving around the house, so capable and rooted. My play partner.

I want to say to him: You are not alone in this dance. You have responsibilities by virtue of the fact that you are loved—by me, by your children. You are so loved.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


She graduates in two more days. In three days after that, she leaves for her summer job as a counselor at a sleepaway camp by a lake. After that, it's home for a couple of weeks, and then off to college.

Last night was the Recognition Ceremony for her scholar program, which was a moving thing. The seniors, every last one of them headed to college, were pinned and celebrated, and in the same ceremony, the new class of scholars, freshly minted ninth-graders, were welcomed into the fold. It was such a poignant visual reminder of how far our children had come, because as we cheered the new class, we remembered when our own children were that gawky and striving, and now they were all so polished and assured.

My own daughter was a shy, reserved child when she entered the program. We, her family, knew her inner nature, we knew she was quirky and quick witted and optimistic, but it wasn't until she became a part of the scholar program that she began to push past her instinct to hide her light. Encouraged by her counselors and her peers, she began to take hold of the things she had been dreaming about, no longer afraid to stumble or be imperfect. She became a trier. And a doer. She began to understand the whole world as hers.

She mused last night she wants to do senior year all over again, that it has been a very good year. I told her she is a lucky one, it's a gift to be able to feel that way about any year of high school. But life sweeps us along to the next stage. And that, too, will be full of excitement and discoveries. May the good breeze always swirl around her. May that light she has never dim. And when times get a little challenging, this is Planet Earth, after all, I pray that as she rolls up her sleeves she will look for the absurd in her circumstances, and laugh a little. Or a lot.

Monday, June 11, 2012


I just found this photo on my daughter's school website. Already it seems like so long ago that her girls varsity soccer team went to the championship finals last November and lost in a heartbreaker. The game was exhilarating. This post is for Elizabeth, who now spends most Saturdays at her sons' baseball games. Dear Elizabeth, enjoy the heart-stopping plays and the camaraderie among families on the sidelines. Too soon, it will be over, but the memories will keep you smiling.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Where the moon hides

by Naima Penniman

I wonder if the sun debates dawn some mornings 
not wanting to rise 
out of bed 
from under the down-feather horizon

If the sky grows tired 
of being everywhere at once 
adapting to the mood swings of the weather

If the clouds drift off
trying to hold themselves together
make deals with gravity
to loiter a little longer

I wonder if rain is scared 
of falling
if it has trouble letting go

If snow flakes get sick
of being perfect all the time
each one trying to be one-of-a-kind

I wonder if stars wish 
upon themselves before the die
if they need to teach their young to shine

I wonder if shadows long
to once feel the sun
if they get lost in the shuffle
not knowing where they’re from

I wonder if sunrise and sunset
respect each other
even though they’ve never met

If volcanoes get stressed
If storms have regrets
If compost believes in life after death

I wonder if breath ever thinks 
about suicide
I wonder if the wind just wants to sit 
still sometimes
and watch the world pass by

If smoke was born knowing how to rise
If rainbows get shy back stage
not sure if their colors match right

I wonder if lightning sets an alarm clock
to know when to crack
If rivers ever stop 
and think of turning back

If streams meet the wrong sea
and their whole lives run off-track
I wonder if the snow wants to be black

If the soil thinks she’s too dark
If butterflies want to cover up their marks
If rocks are self-conscious of their weight
If mountains are insecure of their strength

I wonder if waves get discouraged
crawling up the sand
only to be pulled back again
to where they began

I wonder if land feels stepped upon
If sand feels insignificant
If trees need to question their lovers
to know where they stand

If branches waver in the crossroads
unsure of which way to grow 
If the leaves understand they’re replaceable
and still dance when the wind blows

I wonder where the moon goes 
when she is hiding
I want to find her there
and watch the ocean
spin from a distance
Listen to her
stir in her sleep

effort gives way to existence

Tuesday, June 5, 2012



The little sister was hyperactively excited to have her big brother home. He leaves again to go back to college tomorrow morning, but will be back next week to attend her graduation from high school. His girlfriend, who grew up in Shakespeare's town, will also be here. She is excited to go to her first ever American graduation. My son tried to tell her not to get her expectations too hyped, but she's determined to be thrilled, because they had no such ceremonies when she graduated high school in England, and her whole life she's watched this rite of passage in American teen movies, with caps and gowns and diplomas and music crescendoing and decrescendoing to underline the sweet denouement of all high school dramas. When I think about it that way, I get her excitement. I'm pretty excited, too.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


So prom went off, not exactly without a hitch. There was our collective gasp as we realized, while stuck in traffic, that our girl had forgotten the boutonnière for her date in our freezer. Again. You might recall she did this last year, too, but the day was saved by an extra lapel flower that someone had brought. This year, she had carefully selected a small orchid, and was rather pleased with it, so when we realized in unison that she didn't have it, and that to turn back for it would make her late, well, her super cousin and super brother swung into action. They jumped out the car, ran many many blocks back home to get the boutonnière, then took the subway to the Brooklyn Heights promenade, where the pre prom photos were being taken. They ran the several blocks from the train and arrived minutes before the prom goers were to board the party bus to take them to the hall where the ball was being held. ("Grand Prospect Hall. We make your dreams come true!" That's the ad for the place where the prom was held. It plays often on New York TV and the voice over lady rolls her rrr's in a particularly memorable accent.) Panting from exertion, my niece thrust the clear plastic container holding the boutonniere at her cousin, commanding, "Pin it on him now!" She couldn't, because they were in the midst of taking the photo above, but you can see the clear box with orange tissue in her hands. After, as our girl was pinning the lapel flower on her date, my niece supervised closely, saying, "I hope you know you are loved! And when I get married, you're doing everything!" My daughter was laughing but she was seriously grateful for her super siblings.

I didn't get any really good pictures of my daughter and her prom date, because everything was so rushed by the time everyone got there, and it was extremely windy, but there were a lot of cameras pointed at everything, so I think I will probably find some good photos when people have had a chance to upload them on Facebook. Here's a phone picture in the meantime. Notice the Brooklyn Bridge in the background. They kids seemed full of energy and excitement. I expect they had a ball.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Friday, June 1, 2012


There's a line in Girls, the new HBO comedy series about a quartet of twentysomething girlfriends in New York City, that keeps playing in my head. It loops trough practically every morning actually. One character is kvetching to another. She says, "The problem with having a job is you have to go every damned day whether you feel like it or not."

Lordy. Yes.

But my son arrives tonight for a few days. His love arrives from England next Tuesday. My niece is here. My daughter's prom is tomorrow. Another British friend of my children needs to overnight with us. And my brother arrives back in New York next week, along with assorted cousins and elder aunts (for a sad reason, but still). The merry-go-round is at full tilt. Whirl, baby, whirl.