Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Re-post because the trick is always love

“There is a trick to flying. The angels told me." He smiled at my wide-eyed awe. "You need to forget everything you know as a human being. When you are human, you discover that there is great power in hating the earth. And it can almost make you fly. But it never will."

I frowned, not quite understanding him. "So, what's the trick?"

"Love the sky.”

—Anne Fortier, Juliet

Photo: My husband and my son, York's Beach, Antigua 1992

Too much

I can't talk about Tamir Rice. Such a child. I can't take it in.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


"Listen to this," my son said, reading from his phone. It was something he found on the inter webs: "One day your parents put you down and never picked you up again." For some reason, contemplating this made me brood. My son won't let me take pictures of him. The one above is months old. Usually, he grimaces and scowls when I raise my camera so I point the lens  at him less and less. He walks through the house in all his sleek crackling athletic glory and I snap a photo with my mind's eye. It will have to do. I go back and try to find the moment in mothering him that makes him so prickly with me sometimes. Down that path, I find a multitude of moments I wish I could do over. But that's like wishing I could still pick him up and carry him in my arms.

My daughter's glory is if another sort, radiant, laughing, light pouring off her. Perhaps she is simply more forgiving of her mother or maybe it's that we don't at this moment live together because she's away at school most of the time. Besides, our children's personalities are distinct, there from the time they were born. My girl and two friends since seventh grade and the Oliver Scholars summer immersion program met up with some fellow scholars last night. They're all 21 now. The nightlife of the city has finally opened up to them. My daughter lets me take pictures of her. I try and try to capture what I see when she walks into a room but I always come up short. Still, I'm grateful for how good natured she is with my attempts. Here's a snap from last evening, a little blurry, but so her.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sunday after Christmas

Christmas was quiet. We barely got dressed for the day. We opened gifts, then dawdled and dozed and finally tidied ourselves, went to the store, and cooked the feast. We ate at close to 10 pm, just the four of us and a friend of my son's. We ate turkey and stuffing, honey ham and a corn and cheese soufflé, the plates balanced on our knees. My daughter made a caramel apple pie, the crust flaky and perfect. We drank port, which made me sleepy. Earlier, I'd worked on an editing job that's due this week, which made it, really, just like any other day. I tried not to think about it being Christmas, the first without my mother. I called my aunts, my brother, cousins.

This morning, I woke with relief that the dreams I'd entertained all night faded to vapors in the daylight. Still, the vapors clung. Then came the news from my husband's brother that one of their aunts had died on Christmas day. Our elders are taking their leave, reuniting with beloveds on the other side. I walk slowly and breathe mindfully. I sit at the dining table scrutinizing puzzle pieces to quiet my churning brain. My daughter joins me and we have a chatty and companionable time showing the puzzle that no matter how it tries to hide its connections, we will persevere. 

This was what it looked like at about 9 a.m. on Christmas morning. The vibe didn't change much throughout the day, which made my husband happy. He said the laid-back pace was just the day he needed. On Boxing Day, we sent a happy birthday video to my niece in Jamaica and my cousin from Trinidad arrived to spend the rest of the holidays with us. Her mother died when she was in her early 20s; she said that every Christmas since then has been melancholy. Now I know how she feels. But we go on. After all, we can't stay under the covers and pretend the day is not happening. We do our best for our loved ones. We find our joy, in them.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My loves

“I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.” 

―Neil Gaiman

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

There is no try

That's a truck I saw on the street. Make a difference. 

I'm trying.

Do. Or do not. There is no try. 

The wisdom of Yoda.

Until I looked it up I thought it was said by Mr. Myagi in The Karate Kid.

I'm churning this morning. On the outside I look and sound normal but inside I'm unsettled. Christmas is days away and as always, I have the odd sense that I'm failing at it, failing to create the tinsel decorated, egg nog and cookie Christmas I see in the movies, and quite frankly, saw in my own home when I was growing up. I am completely flummoxed by the gift giving aspect of things this year. I cannot think of anything truly perfect (with one possible exception) for my loved ones, and a part of me wants to climb under the covers and whimper is it January yet?

I've realized in recent years that I have entertaining anxiety, because my mother was such a perfect hostess, so elegant and sure, but the run up to the event itself was always a mad flurry of getting the details just right.

I just got tired writing this post.

I have nothing to write, really. I'm feeling very ...  quiet.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Yuletide week

Going to dinner tonight with longtime friends to celebrate the season. Two generations, pot luck, and a couple of significant others thrown into the mix. Our kids are growing up.

I am happy to be here with all of you.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


My son's ultimate goal (in addition to being a paramedic-firefighter with the FDNY) is to coach the USA track and field Olympic team. This week he took the first of a three stage certification course with the organization. The coach who taught the course began talking about the nation's number one high school long jumper who last year was clearing 24 feet 6 inches. The instructor was saying his success was as much about native talent as about creative coaching.

What the instructor didn't know was that my son was this athlete's coach! At the break, my son went up to the instructor and said, "I just want to introduce myself, my name is ______ and I'm the jumps coach for Xavier." The instructor clapped him on the arm and said, "So you're that guy!" and then told him, "Whatever you're doing, man, just keep doing it because you're doing amazing work."

My son loves coaching. I can see how lit up he is just entertaining the possibility of being on the inner Olympic field. Could be he was born to do this.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Bae = Before Anyone Else

My niece is in Zanzibar with her bae, after a stopover in Dubai where they rode camels and she wore a burkah. She captioned that photo "Playing in the sandbox." My daughter just arrived home from college for the winter break, and my son and I are chill. All three are in relationships with such lovely people that I suspect their grandmother must be pulling strings from heaven. Meanwhile my lovely man, my bae, is in full on Christmas mode—the tree, gift glee, egg nog, the Christmas dinner menu—and I have no plans at all but to watch the Survivor finale with my girl.

My husband asked me the other night, "What does bae mean?" I told him it's an acronym for "Before Anyone Else," even though it's really slang for "babe" but when you're too lazy to say the whole word. I like the acronym definition better.

All my baes are in a good place, which means I am in a good place.

It really is just that simple.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Glory, Gloria

Our choral group sang our holiday concert yesterday, on an unseasonably warm 60 degree day with Santa Con happening all over the city. Santa Con is when people dress up in Santa outfits and drink themselves silly at bars across town. You can't walk two steps without seeing the red-suited throngs. In the midst of this, family and friends came to our concert and applauded us generously. Here's a cell phone video my sweet man made of one of our songs, "Gloria in Excelsis." In my head and heart, I dedicated this one to my mom, Gloria, who I imagined was listening from whatever realm she now graces. It's a poor sound recording, not well balanced, so please don't judge our little choir by this clip. We actually sounded pretty good for a bunch of amateurs.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


What is it about December, or it is me? I'm so sad lately, so close to tears all the time, and I think it must have to do with this being my first Christmas without my mom. I've been thinking about her a lot, and also my mother-in-law, Aunt Winnie and Aunt Maisy, all the elder women powerhouses of wisdom, humor and perseverance, no longer on this side. The void they left is an ache that never leaves. I wish I could talk to my mom right now, get her gentle insight.

I am stupid and prideful sometimes. I allow things to matter that maybe shouldn't, and in the moment nothing can convince me that this thing that is upsetting me is really of very little consequence in the grand scheme. And then when the dust clears, I wonder why I bothered to speak on it. Except at the time my feelings were hurt and I thought I had to stand up for myself. And now, it's just not worth the estrangement that has followed in its wake.

It's just my husband and me here most evenings, and that is companionable and good, a steady center in the midst of the internal storm. Could Christmas really be coming around the bend in two shorts weeks? Soon my girl will be home for the holidays, and that will be good, too.

But all the rest of it? Well, I feel lost. I have no heart for the unresolved. I want to sleep through it all. I am having the hardest time getting out of bed in the morning. My body aches and aches and I suspect it's not purely physical.

My curser's been acting weird in blogger lately. It's disappears so I don't know where I am on the page. Anyone else having that issue? Maybe it's a metaphor.

My phone is out of storage. Time to back up those thousands of photos on my computer.

The photo up top is from our road trip to Ithaca last weekend. The mood seems right for this post.

I have nothing of any consequence to say.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Life as it is

Just be okay.

Just be okay with whatever it is.

This situation that is making you sad, that sits like a rock at the center of your chest, let it be what it is. Even if it never changes, never gets better. Just be okay with it.

Hold the sadness. Look for the thing it is trying to teach you. Breathe out your acceptance of things as they are, people as they are, life as it is.

Every moment is new. Even the ones in which you are filled with longing for things to be different than in the moment before.

Do what is in front of you to do. You can only manage yourself.

Let everything else be what it is.

Just be okay with all of it. Tears in the quiet, encumbered breaths, the places prickled with wishing.

This is life.

This is life.

Be okay.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Winter dance

The man and I are upstate, where our girl will be performing with her dance troupe tonight. We came to be in the audience. We drove the four hours north chatting and listening to Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle sing Christmas carols exquisitely. It's a quick overnight trip. Short and very sweet.