Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
D came over yesterday to stay with Molly. This is, I suppose, part of our sharing custody. Is it weird? Yes, it is. But mostly, I think, because he's something or other that doesn't feel natural to me. I can't put my finger on it, and I'm not sure what the source of it is. If I were to list (which, can't you just tell, I'm about to), I would say it's either:
a. He's wary of being sucked back in by our coupleness. I feel at times as if he's brandishing the sterling cross before me. I told him that. He didn't respond.
Whatever....not much I can do about it. Not anything, actually. Except breathe.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Of course this trip has been in the works since the winter. But yesterday I decided that I absolutely had to get my hair cut. I went to Chris, at Something or other Spa and Salon. I picked him because he was incredibly freaky, and freaky is familiar to me, coming from West Hollywood. Chris would have fit in very well at one of the leather bars there. How he manages in Elk Grove, I'm not sure. I told him I wanted something 'edgy.' He wanted me to define edgy. "You know, edgy. How do you define it." We discussed etymology and I guess we were each satisfied, because he picked up his scissors and began.
I don't have a photo of what I looked like at the end. I have, as well, managed to repress the few glimpses I got in the mirror. Suffice to say, I had a bundle of hair in the back, some awkward tendrils at the nape, and a long curving payess jutting out from the front of each ear. The whole mass was such a gooey glop of product, product and then more product that I had to get in the shower when I got home.
D arrived today to stay with Molly and said, "oh, you decided to cut your hair." He was trying his best to be diplomatic, and really he was, but one of his strong suits as far as I'm concerned is that I trust his judgment about how I look. So I asked him, and he answered: "Well, it's kind of wild." I was thinking I could get away with a mop-of-curls, je ne sais quoi look, but maybe I was a bit overly optimistic. "Do I need to get it cut again?" "Yes," he said, and D isn't a man who is affirmative that often (mostly he likes to hedge). So I hied myself to SuperCuts, where Verushka applied her magic scissors to my head.
Is it better? That's debatable. But it is what it is, isn't it. And that, ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, is my Zen for the day.
I'm taking my laptop, of course, but last year the wireless connection at the hotel died from time to time, due to hundreds of women tap-tap-tapping away. This hotel in Chicago is much fancier, not to mention expensive, but what that will mean connection-wise, I'm not sure. So you may get full-blown posts or I may be updating on my Treo.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
The clashes from the crashing Tilt-a-Wheel yielded the following sparks (with apologies to the late Marlene Marks, who used to keep my metaphors in line. But Marlene's gone so now there is no one to squelch my urge to, as she once put it, "put the bow on the box.")
1. The Debate: I Twittered it, and you can read my comments, such as they were, there. I've avoided reading any commentary today; isn't my own opinion enough, for god's sake! Which is:
- Hillary--looks good. She's witty, warm, strong, smart and there's no doubt she could conquer the world.
- Obama--eh! He is long on slogans and short on substance. I don't get what the fever about him is.
- Edwards-- I like him too, and he's got passion in the right places, but I think he's stronger on domestic, than foreign policy--and god knows we need a savior out there in the world.
- Biden--can't keep his foot out of his mouth. I'm sure the NRA guy appreciated being called nuts, which maybe he is, but still, Joe, not nice, not nice.
- Dodd--he comes across as mad, rather than impassioned, which I found somewhat threatening.
- Richardson--another one who comes across as mad
- Gravel--really furious, really scary
- Kucinich--I just want to bat this guy. He's like Howdy Doody--yap yap yap.
- Cooper, Youtube & the debate: loved it. Not just for the clever videos, but for the ones that put the metal to the pedal (is that right? or is it the other way around? and what does it mean, really?). I thought it really gave the candidates a chance to do more than sloganeer and some of them took it. Not Obama, though, Or Kucinich. I have loved (in the most filial way) Anderson Cooper since he was hosting The Mole. He is my kinda journalist: a human being reporting what he sees and feels and thinks.
3. BlogHer ought to put me on as a Contributing Editor to write about life at the far end of the baby boom. They have superb coverage of most other aspects of any woman's life, but there's no one talking about those of us who are war babies. We're not Elders and we're not, even if we are, Mommy's. Our issues are unique, and I don't see anyone covering them. So Jory, Elisa and Lisa--how about it?
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Me in 10 seconds? Holy shit. Would that be the witty me or the wise one? The goofy me? Or the shy one? The academic? The shrink? The political junky? The newly-single woman? Too many choices; too little time. I'm a writer, and my blog is my magazine. Kinda like Life, except my byline's ByJane.
No comments at all on that post. Had I really been that offensive? What was I doing writing a whole essay on my breakfast when I hate to read other people's posts about what they ate? Oh, Jane, you are swiftly slithering down the pole to b-o-r-i-n-g.
I tried not to take it personally, which is the way I take everything these days, and I tried to be mature, as befits one of my age. So I logged on this morning to try again, this time a post on yard sales (another fantastic topic, doncha think?). Suddenly a screen I'd never seen before popped up, and what to my wondering eyes did appearing but a Comment, waiting for my approval before posting. So that's what Moderating Comments means.
I've turn that option off, by the way, so please do feel free to comment. Please, please, puhleaze--it's awful quiet over here.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Last night I finally got up and had some toast and a glass of milk. And read Time. (nb: Time is a much better magazine than Newsweek; have you noticed that too?) And did not fall asleep upon my return to bed, so that's the old drink-a-glass-of-milk theory down the tubes.
I pulled the bacon and eggs from the fridge, lucky me to have stocked up last week. And put the bacon in the microwave for 10 seconds--what, you thought I was making it fresh? Puhleeze, don't you know there is pre-cooked bacon on your grocer's shelves. I pulled open a drawer to get the little yellow plastic ball in which I nuke my eggs only to realize it was in the dishwasher. Dirty. So of course I hauled its sorry ass out of there and peered into it (kinda like I would peer at the crotch of dirty underwear to see if they would stand a second wearing when I was in college--are you sensing a motif here?) and saw, much to my regret, too much schmutz to be able to ignore.
So I returned to the freezer where I pulled out another tasty treat: a frozen gluten-freeze organic buckwheat waffle with some sort of allegedly wild, allegedly berries. I fried that in the toaster, since the microwave was occupied reheating the almost full Grande Drip that I got yesterday morning at Starbucks but didn't finish. Finally, as the chefs on the cooking shows say, I plated my food, pouring Real Maple Syrup on my waffle, and sat down to eat, with a napkin no less.
In all fairness, I must finish this culinary expedition exposition by telling you that the absolute best of all the dishes before me was the day-old coffee. Hey, wanna come over for breakfast tomorrow?????? I'll wash the yellow egg ball.....
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
But I am so not in a pithy state of mind. (Can we please set that to music and have Jamie Foxx do Ray Charles singing it?)
My mood is [puts-spit on finger to the air] pissy, I would say. When one has so completely fucked up one's life, how else should one feel. One would ask. And one would have no answer.
I am down and out sad. Okay, there; I've said it. And now what? I don't know. That's the problem: I don't know.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I just watched Leahpeah's interview, now on Alpha Mom, with Amy Storch of amalah.com--and I had an Aha Moment. Amy was telling Leah about the day when she first started working at home full-time and she got so furious with her infant son that she wanted to shake him. She didn't, but the depth of her feeling so scared her that she realized she needed to put him down and leave the room for a minute to calm down. Then she realized that whatever other mom's could or could not do regarding the number of children they could effortlessly handle while still chopping wood and pumping gas, she had met her limit. The solution for her was to get childcare. Amy wrote about it on her blog and the response from women who had felt the same and what they did was overwhelming, she says.
So, here's another response from a woman who felt the same.
The backstory: Miss B, my niece, had the wisdom to be born right in the middle of December, just in time for Christmas vacation. Thus, entire village--namely, my mother, my father, and me--was there in situ during the early weeks of her life. Holding her, feeding her, diapering her; you know, all that stuff. When it was my turn to do the middle of the night feedings, they wheeled her bassinet into the den where I was sleeping on the sofa bed. Now, I am the baby of the family, of all the cousins, in fact, so I had never really spent a lot of time with a newborn in the middle of the night. Certainly I was a dab hand at babysitting, and I prided myself on how I could calm my crying charges. But this middle of the night thing--well, really, how hard could it be.
Let me tell you, short and sharp. Hard.
Miss B was a pacifier baby, which was all to the good as long as she was sucking away. But when she'd fall asleep, those little cheeks would go slack, and, plop, the pacifier would fall out of her mouth. Which would wake her up and cause her to wah wah wah, where's my paci in that relentless way that only a newborn can do. This interfered, as you might imagine, with my sleep. And by dawn of the morning, I was ready to kill her. I tried to think of a way of attaching the pacifier to her mouth. When I was a kid, I had a doll whose hair bow was stuck into her polyvinyl head with a straightpin. I couldn't pin the pacifier to Miss B's cheek. I couldn't do anything. Everytime I'd lie down and start to fall asleep again, she'd be all wah, wah, where's my paci. I remember getting up for the umpteenth time, and standing over her cradle, filled with such, such--a strong desire to shut her up any way possible. I remember the feeling in my arms as I held them by my side with my fists balled. I was shaking with the repressed urge to pick her up and--what? shake her? swing her against the wall? hit her?
In that instant I knew, viscerally knew, how moms end up hurting their kids. I had walked half a block in their shoes, and I was wise enough to know that it was the fact that I had choices, that enabled my repressing that urge. I did not have a house full of other kids. I was not the only one responsible for the baby. I was not post-partum. I did not have a husband nagging and bills waiting. I could, and did, say to my sister and my mom, "nope, not for me. The middle of the nights are yours."
I also did not think, specifically, directly, consciously--ooooh, better not have one of my own that I can't hand off to someone else. I don't even know that I suspected how that night might have played a part in why I just never got around to having kids. Until today. Until I heard Amy tell a similar story about her baby. Until I heard her say that this was a common experience. Then, I realized that I had not known it was common. My mother never expressed such frustration; nor had my sister. I thought I alone was the uncommon woman. I thought, I guess, that I was unnatural, deeply flawed, not Mother Material. So I protected my unborn children in the only way I knew: by not having them.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
2. When I'm feeling out of sorts, no one else has to suffer. Although when I'm feeling out of sorts, it's maybe because no one else here.
3. I'm old enough to eat candy for dinner if I want to.
4. I'm smart enough not to.
5. I have a whoopy-de-do kitchen that faces my mega mega screen TV, so when I'm feeling out-of-sorts, I start cooking and watching moronic TV. A & E reality shows about dwarfs. And small female entertainers. (Does A & E have size issues?) It's a good thing that there are a seemingly endless supply of these shows as I'm just not in the mood for anything that may provoke, even in the slightest, an unwelcome thought or feeling. Nah, that's not true. I'm just incredibly shallow. But then I'm also incredibly over-educated. Are the two related??? Go read HerBadMother; she expressed it perfectly (as is her wont).
6. My mother modeled the cook-when-you're-feeling-punky activity. I just realized that when I wondered why the hell I am spending so much time in the kitchen. Cooking. For myself. When I rarely did so when D was around. And I'm making incredibly fresh, nutritious dishes, that I concoct myself, out of just the two or three things I happen to have in the fridge. Today it was golden beets, two kinds of zucchini, fresh garlic heads that I roasted, peeled, sliced and diced and mixed with some great northern beans (or should that be, Great Northern Beans), olive oil and white balsamic. I'll let you know how it is....
7. My hair will not look very good for BlogHer '07, so no one will have to worry about my tresses out-tressing them.
8. I made it onto Second Life today. For a second or two. I have a deep fear that once in, I won't emerge. But today I got in and out. And for that I am thankful.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
There is a way of moving through life in which what happens becomes a foreground so overwhelming that nothing else is noticed. One moves from moment to moment, reading one’s life as narrative only. The background, all those elements that belong to the senses, are blotted out.
Yesterday was the funeral. I can tell about it, narrate the events. I can point to the oddities. That the setup for a traditional funeral, the folding chairs, the dais, the lectern, were all ignored, or perhaps rejected by the mourners. That her eldest son stood throughout on nearby gravestones. That the eulogy began, “she was a tough old broad,” and devolved to a retelling of old hurts and angers.
But all that is sterile, intellectual. It has neither color nor feeling. The sky is neither blue nor overcast (it was in fact blue). There are no sounds, no smells, no understanding or awareness. I don’t believe this is a case of life lived in the moment. I think it is a problem of life lived as a narrative.
This happened and then that happened. She said, he said. It is the equivalent of a genre novel, say a mystery, in which all of the elements of fiction that create a full-bodied literary experience are sacrificed to plot. It may be a darn good read, but there is no life to the thing once The End is reached.
On the other hand, there is that state of heightened awareness. It wasn’t that things suddenly had great significance, but that time stretched enough for me to see and hear and think and take note. It seems to me that this is the truth of living in the moment.
To live life as a narrative requires two things: the ability to observe, to remain intellectually alert no matter how provocative or evocative the situation. I stand in the midst of this family who have come to bury their mother, a woman with whom I have had a relationship as mother-in-law for over fifteen years, a woman who’s life has touched me in a way I cannot even articulate, but which has resulted in the only strong, organic, consistent writing I’ve done in years. Not seven months ago, I buried my own mother, the woman who was the linchpin of my life.
Yet here that day is what I observe: the oldest son has chosen, unconsciously I’m sure, to stand on the gravestones of someone else’s father. I know this because the Mason’s emblem is prominent in my mind, while I could kick myself for not registering the dead man’s name, birth and death dates. What telling details they would make for my narrative. (Here I must stop and ask myself what narrative I was creating that day: funerals of the rural non-Jew? Repressed sons? Disappointed women?) There is a solitary pot of flowers, baby calla lilies, sent to the funeral home by whom no one is sure or seems to care. One stem has been broken, and the bloom flops like a broken wing. (This detail now makes me want to cry, and I see that my narrative has much to do with the thing in my mother-in-law that has always touched me: what I read, when I create her narrative, as the supremely disappointing life of a woman at the hands of the four men she lived with, three her sons, two of whom are standing now at her graveside).
The sons are awkward in this situation. They have chosen not to have clergy (“Ma wasn’t much for ceremony”) and so it is all up to them to create whatever eulogy they intend their mother to have. “She was a tough old broad,” says the eldest.
“Yeah, she sure was,” says the youngest.
“But she had a hard life to contend with,” says the daughter-in-law.
There are few others at the graveside. Two grandchildren, out of five. A second daughter-in law who is already burnt yellow from the liver cancer that will kill her in two months. A former daughter-in-law whose attendance was not required, or even perhaps desired. She injects the single note of religion into the affair, some talk about Jesus and about the hereafter. She seems to go on forever, although it was probably only a minute or two. The eldest son scuffs his heel on the edge of the gravestone he stood on. The younger looks blank, and his left nostril flicks up ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly. The grandchildren merely look embarrassed. This was not a family of religious note, and even the short sermon was, it seems, inappropriate. When it was over, there was a palpable feeling of relief, and a chorus of muttered “amen…yes, indeed…amen.”
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Once upon a time, Hugo was the light of my life, or at the very least, of my yard. Hugo is the fellow who guided us through the landscaping of our front and back yards.
He was patient and funny and understanding of our horticultural quirks (D is an oak tree fanatic; I'm a lilac girl myself) and our quarrels over which plant, when and where (there is, I now regret, little that we couldn't find to argue about). But Hugo was loyal and noble, through it all, a proud emigrant from somewhere in Mexico and yes I believe he had a green card, although his Guys, as he called them, I believe do not. He was also cute, which doesn't hurt a bit, as far as I'm concerned. Even if he did wear a crucifix that would trip a nun. But still, Hugo is what the American dream is about, and he has built a thriving business doing landscaping and lawns all over the area. Perhaps that was the problem.
Hugo and his Guys would come every Friday to mow and weed and do whatever it is they had to do to make the back and front look good. I left it up to Hugo, since I really considered it His Garden. Since I think he considered it His Garden as well. Fertilizing? Let me do it, Senora. Just leave me the plants you want put in and my Guys will dig and plant what you want. You don't have to do nothing; I will do the garden. Don't worry. Just tell me what you want. So I didn't worry, and the first year or so, I left it all to Hugo, who was faithfully here every Friday with his Guys. He did whatever I asked, and then some.
Then, oh maybe seven or so months ago, Hugo started showing up only on the occasional Friday. His Guys still came, but there was no way for me to tell them what I wanted because I speak no Spanish (okay, I can ask for rolls and butter, which is another story entirely) and they spoke no English. None. Nada. We would try to communicate, but perhaps my gesticulations are confusing. We would approach each other with smiles and openness, lots of nods and buenos. But I could tell by the blank look on the Guy's face, his slack mouth and vacant eyes, that nothing, nada, had gotten through. Even though he was nodding and saying Yes, Missus (to show he knew we were speaking English after all).
So I would have to call Hugo at home, and he would have to come over after church on Sunday, tromp round my yard, noting the weeding the Guys had not done. Or the trimming and pruning. Not to mention, where was the fertilizer? And the grass seed he promised? And what happened to the grapes that D has asked him to tie up? Or the poles for the overburdened fruit trees? And what about the lights that didn't work on the $700 lighting system he had installed for us. When would these things happen? Yes, Missus, I'll get my Guys to do it. It's not good enough, Hugo, I told him. You've got to have someone on site who speaks English. I understand if you can't be here every time, but I have to be able to talk to your Guys. Yes, Missus.
He Yes, Missus-ed me for another six months or so. Meanwhile, more and more I took over the gardening chores. I bought tools and implements, and dug a bit and planted tomatoes. I figured out the electronic watering gizmo when the grass in the front started to look really, really, brown. And I bought fertilizer stakes and pounded them into the ground around the fruit trees. I deadheaded the roses, tied them up when the wind blew them over, and got down on my hands and knees and pulled out every weed that was encroaching on my property. Of which there were many, since where we live was once, in the not too distant past, farmland and cow pasture. The things that grow in such places are still in the earth here, waiting the slightest opportunity to return. Mother Nature will win out, you know.
Finally, about a month ago, I called Hugo. Your Guys are doing a terrible job, I told him. They are here for 5 minutes to cut the grass and nothing more. This can't go on. I'm going to have to find someone else. He was contrite. He apologized. He thanked me for telling him and he said mine was the third such phone call he had had recently. I will come out tomorrow and we will fix this as you want it. Please, senora.
Tomorrow never came. That is, a month or more of Fridays have come and gone since that phone call, but Hugo has never appeared. Instead, his Guys have come every Friday and ripped through the lawn mowing. They did do some weeding. And pulled up flowers I had planted. And deadheaded the roses when I wasn't looking. When I first looked at the bush, I thought the thing was dying, it was so sparse and spindly. That's when I saw what they had done. Chomp, chomp, chomp--cut the branches back wherever there had been flowers. Deadheading roses isn't exactly brain surgery, but any fool knows that you cut the stem just before the first five-leaf growth. No, the Guys hacked the roses, and it will be a long time before they recover their fullness and beauty.
Obviously I had to break up with Hugo. Despite my liking him, despite him being so cute (despite the crucifix), and despite all he had done to make my landscaping look so good. Two weeks before the end of the month, I told one of the Guys. This one claimed to speak English. Sort of. So I said. "Two more weeks, then no more. Tell Hugo." The Guy nodded mournfully.
The last Friday, I was sure Hugo would show up. I had his check for him, after all. But, no, he had foresaken me. This is the end, I told the Guy. What shall I do with Hugo's check? The Guy said I could give it to him, and he would give it to Hugo. Not in as many words, but that was the gist.
And then, the next Friday, I heard a familiar sound. The roar of the lawn mower; the whine of the gas (outlawed in LA) leaf blower. I look outside and there were the Guys. Doing their five minute number on the lawn. I was befuddled, not to mention pissed. Had I not made myself clear? I rushed outside, which took me just as long as it took them to finish mowing, and waved my hands, saying, "No, no more. I told you. No more. The end. Finito." Was the Guy's English that awful? Or, was it selective? Was Hugo involved any more in the whole thing, or had he given the Guys our account? I'm beginning to think that's what he did. Maybe he lost us in low stakes poker game. Or sold us to the highest bidder down at the gas station on Florin where all the Guys hang out every day. I'll never know. And I'll always wonder.
For now, I figure I have a couple of weeks to find someone to mow the lawn. When I walk Molly in the morning and I see a gardener, I yell, "Do you speak English?" If he can answer reasonably, I take his name and number. The rest of the gardening--I've been doing it myself for months, so I'll keep on. I like it, actually. I always have.
Part II--The breakup with James tomorrow soon.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
(*I'd like to thank my college roommate, Harriet, for both of these metaphors. If they seem somewhat dated--well, you know how long ago I went to college)
I tell you all this so you have some idea of what I endured during those 6-7 hours down to LA. And the 6-7 hours back home. Alone. By myself, that is. The radio--oh, the radio gets for most of the trip a choice of Spanish-speaking stations, Country & Western or Save-Me-Jesus stations. I don't speak Spanish. I like C & W, but it's all a bit too tragic for me these days, so I spent some considerable time listening to Pastor Whatchamacallit trying to convince me to give up my life for the Lord. Or, at the least, send him, Pastor W, a donation so he could pray to the Almighty that my sinning soul would be saved. I was unmoved, beyond noting that these guys are all heavily into the Old Testament,and they are also overly-partial to Paul, who as best I can tell had lots to say about women and hair. But then I'm Jewish, so I may have misunderstood.
All of this--yes, I have a point and I am getting to it--is to say that I spent some 13-14 hours by myself in the car, and something odd happened. My point of view began to change. On this whole thing, this marriage stuff, with D. After a couple of hours of regurgitating my plaints, poor me, bad him, oh woe, I suddenly had what might be called a chiropractic adjustment of the psyche. I started, maybe just out of sheer boredom, to think through the whole thing again but to see it through his eyes. Oh wow.
Suddenly, all the stuff that he was saying and doing made complete sense. I got It. Really got It. And I saw how much of all we have and have not become has been because of what I wasn't, rather than what he wasn't. Basically, I saw that I have been over the years so focused on ME ME ME and what I should have or want or need that I stopped seeing him. Stopped hearing him. Stopped being with him.
This is huge. D has said from time to time that I can be an obnoxious asshole. He's right. I can, and I have. There is something incredibly liberating about realizing this. Maybe because realizing my culpability also realizes my self-determination.
Friday, July 06, 2007
- Taken to lunch by my sister, BIL, and Kayla. Thought we were getting sushi. Sushi restaurant closed for American holiday. Ended up eating Mexican. And this was fine, since I have been in California long enough to get a palate, however small, for Mexican food. It's only taken about 25 years! And I still don't get the heat factor. After two mouthsful (or should that be mouthfuls?) of something hot, my taste buds spasm and nothing I put in my mouth after that has any flavor. So what's the point, I ask? None, I answer--and try to avoid any but the mildest dishes. Don't be giving me none of that salsa stuff; I take my chips plain, like my men.
- Taken to dinner by my sister, BIL, First Niece and family. Lobster. Yes. And oysters. And chocolate cake.
My birthday presents were:
- gold bracelet from sister and BIL
- paisley wool shawl from sister and BIL
- little enamel box in shape of a popcorn wagon from First Niece and family
- sweater from FN, etc.
- Pokeman coloring book from Kayla
- Pokeman cutouts from Sam
I have much to report from my trip. I will save that for tomorrow....
I am catching up on blogs that I missed while away, but definitely wanted to wish a happy happy happy birthday to all of you who are fellow Cancers. Did you know we're in for a rocky six months relationship-wise? And I wondered why all this was befalling me. It's in the stars, kids!
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
hey, I've missed you all. My computer doesn't work at my sister's house and my BIL is doing major geneology (or whatever retired people do) on his, so I haven't been able to post. I'm at Oldest Niece's now, waiting for the July 4th spread. Tomorrow AM I go back home, so look for sincere and rigorous posting after that.
Till then....smack a yankee doodle for me....!
Sunday, July 01, 2007
ob·du·rate /ˈɒbdʊrɪt, -dyʊ-/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[ob-doo-rit, -dyoo-] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
|1.||unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubborn; unyielding.|
|2.||stubbornly resistant to moral influence; persistently impenitent: an obdurate sinner.|
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 200