Friday, August 2, 2013

A New Year, A New Attitude

It is 2013 and the past eight years have been the toughest of my life.  My life is such a mess that there are times when I don't know how to get through the next minute.  Really.  I am at a point where my survival is minute-by-minute.

2013 has brought a yearning in me.  I want to enjoy my life again.  I want to smile genuinely, look forward to something, feel contentment, and be at ease.  The trouble is that I have forgotten how to do these things.  I have been so unhappy for so long that everything is a burden, my worries overwhelm me and, though I am lonely as hell, I want to be left alone.

A voice inside me tells me that it is a hopeful sign that I want things to be different. 

Since I don't know how to get to the place I would rather be, I have decided to just journey and hope I wind up there.  My journey is going to be reading all that I can on changing my outlook, healing my wounds, forgiving those who have hurt me, finding my faith in God again, and moving toward my goals.  At this time I cannot afford a therapist, so I will cull the Internet for articles, quotes, prayers and advice and use this forum to comment, journal, and hopefully, grow.

I have to believe that moving forward has got to take me away from where I stand now.  Baby steps are better than no steps at all.  I just can't remain where I am right now.

The Captain of My Ship

I am single.  I have been single longer than I was married, plus a few of my dating years thrown in as well.  So, as Valentine’s Day approaches, I have no sense of anticipation for whispered affections over an exquisite meal, flowers sent to work to vex my female cohorts, or hearts-and-flower cards in my mailbox.  I am invariably left out of Valentine’s conversations at work as well.  I don’t really mind, I guess no one wants to risk making me feel unhappy because I am single.  But I am not unhappy.  Not really.  Oh yes, there are some times when I wish that I had someone to go out with, to read the newspaper over a brunch of bagels and coffee with, to visit museums and antique stores with.  But for the most part, my singledom has been hard-won.

I have loved.  I have felt what it means when you say “you complete me.”  I have loved passionately and soulfully.  I have loved excitedly and I have loved calmly.  I have also been hurt.  When I’ve loved, it has been so absolute that the rejection of it has left me with no breath.  I have felt physical pain that has doubled me over from the realization that I’ve been passed over.  The psychic scars are with me yet.

I am single, but I am living my life on my terms now.  I no longer have to compromise.  I can live my life according to my values and principles.  Some may say that I am rationalizing a lonely life, but I know how far this tree has bent and it feels great to stand tall and move with the wind.

I look at how far I’ve come, I remember how much I’ve experienced, and I know that whatever I do now, it will be because it is best for me.  Being the captain of my ship does not just mean that I must go down with it, it means that I can chart its course. 

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My Aunt Maureen, the Nurse

My aunt Maureen died this weekend. She was a nurse. I remember when she received her nurse's hat. It was white and crisp and we were all called in to see it in its hatbox. We stood around admiring it like we would have if it were a new baby.

I was pretty young at the time, but I remember it clearly. We were proud of Aunt Maureen for being a post-college graduate. Her hat was the symbol of her achievement, determination, her courage and her devotion.

Much later, when I was nineteen, I had surgery for a kidney problem. My Aunt Maureen volunteered to be my private nurse. My parents did not have to fear that I was not well taken care of late at night, or between nursing shifts, because my Aunt Maureen sat with me every night until I was out of the woods. My hospital stay was 21 days. I don't remember exactly how long Aunt Maureen stayed with me, but I remember that her no-nonsense approach and vigilant watch made me feel loved and safe.

Nurses don't wear hats much anymore. They should. Dignity, respect, compassion are all embodied in that hard-earned symbol of achievement. I had an Aunt Maureen who wore one proudly.

Facebook or World-wide Billboard

I am a mother coming to grips with the fact that her two sons have reached their teenaged years and have little or no time for her. Despite this, I feel that I cannot abdicate my position of seeing them to adulthood safely. So I keep abreast of what they are doing by asking questions disinterestedly so that it doesn't seem as though I am prying. I look at the house caller i.d. to see who has been calling them. And I have taken to looking at their Facebook pages to learn more about what they are up to.

As I was perusing my son's facebook page, I realized that there are many adults who have facebook pages linked to his: one of his junior high school teachers, several cousins and my own two sisters. I was completely nonplussed. There, once I went to her spot, were my sister's children (my own sweet nephews, thank you) in diapers and milk moustaches. As I scrolled down, it became quite clear that despite her youngest being two years of age, my sister was in the depths of postpartum psychosis. What other reason could there be for her to have rap videos on her page, pictures of backyard beer bashes, and an array of pictures of diaper-clad toddlers standing on furniture? Why would she think this was suitable material for the world to see? And what would my parents think? We were raised by the junction that you do not air your dirty laundry in public.

I think facebook is dangerous for kids. There is too much pressure to "one-up" each other and post pictures and comments that are lewd, dangerous or at the least, sophomoric. It is hard enough to be a teenager without adding this to the mix. But I think facebook is downright undignified for adults.

I believe that whatever our public profile is, less is more. It does no one any good to know that at 12:15 pm on July 6th, my sister was having her "first cup of coffee." Nor was it necessary for her to post, on July 19th, that she would need to decompress after seeing her family for the first time in over a year. Some may argue that one person's circumspection is another's repression, but I'll take being discreet over sloppy any day.

I recognize how much fun it can be to get in touch with people you have not seen in a long time. I also get the need, as we reach forty, that we feel we have to justify the kinds of people we have become. Facebook can be a great tool in measured doses. You can show that roommate who drove you nuts that you are doing just fine, thank you. It might also be restorative to show the one who got away that you've recovered from your heartbreak. But to fill people in, constantly, with the minutiae of your day is tedious for those who read it. It also seems a bit narcissistic. Really, is it necessary for people to know that you are watching the Food Network? Again?

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Baby Step...

It has been a long time since I posted anything here. If this blog were a house, there would be squirrels living in the empty rooms. So much has happened, and yet nothing has happened which is probably why I haven't written. It doesn't seem like it is worth it to post if there hasn't been a whole heck of a lot of growth. I have never given myself credit for baby steps, and I really should. If not for the baby steps, I would be nowhere. It is just frustrating that my life is the personification of "same fight, different day." Of all of the cliches that my life has embodied, that one, while not being the saddest or most tragic, is certainly the one that will test my sanity. So here is a baby step back to posting and maybe it will be easier to do now that I have written even this little after all this time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Audition

My son has wanted to be an actor ever since the day I took him to see a production-for-children of Peter Pan at the local playhouse. The minute the play was over, while the other kids were probably talking about what they wanted to do for the rest of the day, my son was talking about what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Despite his young age (only 7!) he articulated his feelings perfectly. He said, "I want to do what they did." I thought it was adorable.

Years went by and he was still speaking about becoming an actor. It was not anything that I had planned for him through my pregancy, and his baby years. I can remember rocking him in the wee hours of the morning, whispering softly into the downy hair covering the dimple at the top of his head, "you can be anything you want to be: a doctor, a lawyer, a scientist, the president of the United States." For me, it was clear: he was brilliant, beautiful, and blessed by God. He would do amazing things.

In my defense, I got it half right. He certainly has done amazing things; just not the things that I had envisioned. On Saturday, he amazed me once again. He auditioned for a spot in acting conservatory. They estimated that roughly 600 people would be auditioning. There are fewer than 25 openings. The odds took my breath away. I was a basket case. I was jittery. I could not control my anxiety.

My son was just...well, amazing. He greeted every single person as though he had known them his whole life. He was friendly to the others auditioning, laughing and commiserating with them. I saw him mentally preparing, but not once did I see a doubt creep in. He was ready, he was prepared and I was so proud of him. The consummate professional, he did not allow himself to feel anything until it was over. Then he and another prospective student laughed with each other over their nervous energy.

Now we wait. It is extremely hard for me. I know that my son would be an asset to their conservatory. But the conservatory would offer so much to my son as well. His pursuit of his dream has sometimes made him a misfit. Most boys his age cannot fathom the commitment he has to make to the company when he is involved in a play: every weekend, 15 hour days, time spent learning lines during the week, blocking, choreography, run-throughs. As his mother, even I have had a hard time with it.

Being a part of this conservatory would give my son a place with like-minded people. I pray that they could see what a great fit it would be.

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's October, For Heaven's Sake!!!

I walk to work. It is 16 long avenue blocks in the city and at a brisk clip it takes me twenty minutes. I like the walk, I like the view, and it is the only part of my day that I am not listening to someone, or figuring out what to make for dinner while I'm supposed to be listening.

As I was walking toward work the other day, I realized that it was October already. Having grown up in the big city, October means a lot of things to me: Halloween, pumpkins and apples, the time you finally get to wear all those cool back-to-school sweaters you stocked up on, and it is the month when the landlords start sending up heat to their apartments. This stopped me in my tracks. I had to do some mental calisthenics to make sure I was in my right mind. Yes, it actually is October; yes, it is the time of year when the landlords start sending up heat; and yes, last night I ran my air conditioner. Something is not right about this.

Not only was I not wearing a new sweater, I was guiltily wearing an obviously "spring" outfit that I should have packed away in the spare closet by now. I had actually had the thought, when getting ready for my day, that I hoped no one "in the know" would see me in my floral skirt and linen-like camp shirt so far past Labor Day. But with temperatures still in the eighties, I just could not bring myself to wear something more seasonably appropriate.

Many will say, and they are certainly right, that we should rewrite the fashion laws, among others, to more accurately reflect modern times. But I am a creature of habit. I grew up with certain heuristics, rules of thumb, and I have steadfastly held on to them. And that is why, knowing that I ran my air conditioner in October has been gnawing at me lately.

My friends say that warmer weather all year round will be delightful. No more bitter winds and slush to slog through. It feels wrong. When my older cousins abandoned calling the parents by "Aunt" and "Uncle," I could not. It felt wrong. When my doctor said I could call him "Peter," I could not. It just felt wrong. And I don't care how hot it is or how much I needed to run my air conditioner in October, it just feels wrong.