Friday, May 27, 2016


Last night our choir gave our family and friends concert in the beautiful sanctuary of St. Peter's church, and my darling husband came as he always does, and this time so did my son and his girlfriend, and my friend Leslie who has been to every single one of these concerts since I joined that choir, Voices of New York.

My son said it was the first time he'd ever seen me on stage performing and enjoying myself, and that he loved it. He said he was so proud of me, which touched my heart.

And then, when we all came home after the reception, there was this in the mail from our daughter.

And inside, in her never-learned-cursive-takes-after-her-dad handwriting, was this:

I chuckled at the parenthetical. Did she think we wouldn't know it was from our daughter?

My son said, "Wow, it never occurred to me to send such a card." I said, "You give other gifts, my love, each of you in your own way." It's true. I feel like the luckiest mother in the world. My heart is so full.

And now we're off, heading north for the weekend to see our daughter graduate college! See you on the other side.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Picking up the cap and gown

I personally think she's adorable.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


I'm hard at work behind this screen and must give my whole wordsmithing self to that right now. In the meantime, here are some random snaps of the city I live in, and love.

And for good measure, a quote from Mary Anne Radmacher: “Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it's the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

Lunchtime on the High Line

Leslie, laughing on Riverside Drive

Harlem church at twilight

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Love and learning

She called me on Wednesday to say she had just taken her final college class ever, and now all that was left were papers and projects, no finals. She sounded exhilarated, but admitted to some ambivalence about leaving her college years behind. "All I had to do for the last four years was go to classes and learn," she said. "I mean how much better does it get than that." Her brother had a completely different view when he made the same call three years ago. He had no ambivalence whatsoever about being done with college, though he knew he would miss the social part. But when the classes and papers and tests were completed, he felt as if a great weight had been lifted. 

And then he moved back to the city and went right back into a classroom setting to qualify as an EMT. Learning is easy for him when it's active and relates to emergency medicine because he's dedicated to the idea of being a first responder. He'd be an excellent emergency room doctor, but won't consider medical school because he can't imagine adding so many more years of classrooms to his life. And yet, before the FDNY called recently, he'd actually begun to think about becoming a nurse practitioner. He seems to have put that idea back on the shelf in favor of his original dream—becoming a firefighter/paramedic. "I love school more than he does," his sister reflected. "I love the feeling that my mind is going to explode with what I'm learning. I wonder if that means I should go to grad school? But to do what?" 

I am in that place of wanting to know the good and purposeful outcomes so I can watch the movie of my children's lives with a sense of peace. But that's not how it works. I get to have all the suspense as it happens, and I have to just trust that they have the tools and the grit and the humor to meet their challenges, and make it all come out okay. (My daughter's friend since first grade, who is also about to graduate, took that picture of her. She gave me permission to post it.) 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Good things

I kind of love those rain boots in the Cornell University bookstore. After four years of that bookstore supplying my daughter's study needs, she will graduate in just 19 days. A part of me wishes she could be sheltered longer, because those four protected years of schoolwork and life lessons and fun with friends have simply zoomed by, and now the so called real world awaits. It's a sign of emotional health, I suppose, that both my kids seem to have made/be making the transition without too much angst. There's more angst in me if you want to know the truth. But that might be just my habitual response to all new phases of life, mine or my loved ones. Speaking of new phases, my son, who you might know has long dreamed of being a firefighter/EMT, received a date for his intake interview with the FDNY. He still has a few more hoops to pass through, but he was a happy young man as he set off for work this morning on his bike. I notice he's finally wearing a bike helmet, after years of my asking him to do so. I see this as a sign that his frontal lobe executive function is finally coming on line.

Sunday, May 8, 2016


My girl just left to go back to school and I miss her already. It was a mad dash getting her to the bus on time, her dad drove her, and the traffic in midtown was terrible, but she made it. And then she was gone, the day just a little less bright. It was good having her home for the weekend. I am having a quietly teary day. I miss my mom, though no one has mentioned her today. It's my second mother's day without her, so I suppose I should be all used to this by now. I don't know why I'm even bothering to post this. My Blogger feed has mysteriously stopped updating. Here's one more reason to feel sorry for myself, as if I need reasons: I've gained back almost all the weight I lost. I feel like an addict. Every night I promise myself that tomorrow I'll do better. I'm not really eating much differently than when I was losing, but I suppose even a ten extra calories daily can burn the house down. Wrong metaphor, of course, since the problem is actually the opposite of burning. My body seems to be stubbornly rebounding. There was a piece in the New York Times about the physiology of how that happens. Depressing as hell.

I want to run away.

Saturday, May 7, 2016


All my babies are home! My son is back from his travels. My daughter and my niece are here for the weekend. And my son's girlfriend is here too. The house feels happy and lively. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the last three weeks of companionable peace and wry humor with my husband, and the neatness and order everywhere. But we live for this, too, these now grown children in our midst, hoodies and socks thrown everywhere, shoes piled up in the hallway, the stories and the laughs, everyone together again.

My son got up and made eggs for everyone, while my husband was mixing up dry rub for the brisket he plans to smoke tomorrow. He's doing ID day at the museum today. It's a kind of antiques roadshow for science, where the public can bring their found items from the natural world, rocks and fossils and other specimens and have the museum scientists identify just what it is they're holding. My man is the ichthyologist on call, and he'll be fielding questions live on Facebook at some point, because social media is a part of everything now. And then later tonight he's doing a special behind the scenes tour of his department, showing off the ancient cealacanth and cleared-and-stained fish and other weird groovy things in their world class ichthyology collection.

Last night he and I went to a party at a live music jazz bar to celebrate a friend's birthday. The bands were amazing and the venue was kinda cool, with LP album covers papering the ceiling. I recognized many of them from my own youth, before CDs, before iTunes. Stevie Wonder's iconic Songs in the Key of Life, Isaac Hayes, Roberta Flack, Nina Simone, Quincy Jones. I still have many of those albums sitting in red plastic milk crates in storage. Remember those milk crates, and how perfectly LPs used to fit inside them? I'm dating myself, I know.

Anyway, while we were there our son's flight got in from Prague. His girlfriend met him at the airport with a big welcome home sign she'd made, with glitter and everything. I won't quote it because it was an inside joke (and also out of respect for their privacy) but as my son always says of her, she's a keeper. My daughter and niece adore her, too, and that's something, the sister stamp of approval. It's a charmed moment in time, as I am actually very fond of the people my three are seeing (I'm including my niece here). I don't know where any of this will lead, of course, but knock on wood.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

By definition, a paradox

My mom used to say a paradox is a truth standing on its head. Well, I think we have one for the ages. Can anyone can explain to me:

How is it that in an ostensibly democratic election process, the presumptive nominees of the two major political parties have the highest unfavorable ratings in the field?

How does that work exactly?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Another birthday

My son was in Vienna on Monday night, so it was my birthday there six hours before it was my birthday here. I was in choir rehearsal when his WhatsApp came in, wishing me happy returns of the day and sending me a picture of himself smiling. He never lets me take pictures of him, so this was a big concession.

My friend Jackie was in town just for the day, passing through from Cape Town, South Africa where she had been vacationing. Another friend, Lisa, came over in the evening, my husband made dinner for us all, and we chatted and laughed and sang happy birthday and ate cake and toasted my day with a good Malbec. It was all very low-key and easygoing. I was with people with whom I felt completely myself, and with that, another birthday was tucked under my belt.

My son gets back on Friday evening, my daughter is coming to town for the weekend, and my niece will be here too, so we'll celebrate again in some small way, maybe nothing more than a ritual birthday tequila shot. And now, back to work. We are always grateful for work.