Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thanks 2010. Really.

I am not a New Year’s Resolution kind of person. Like most people who work hard at being unique—I tend to avoid activities that appeal to the masses. See also—The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and necklaces with charms that represent one’s children.
Also, I’ve given up my share of bad habits, so for me, any day I’m not smoking crack* is considered a good day. And by good day, I mean, a day where I don’t have to vow to eat more roughage or increase my exercise.
You see, I used to spend much time, energy, and $ trying to improve myself. I guess I got to a point where acceptance and self-love became my goal. Varicose veins? Bring ‘em on. Bitchy to my husband? Who isn’t. I mean, I consider the trade off with aging is, I give up perky as a personal adjective, but I gain composure. The kind of poise that comes when one knows and accepts one’s self. Even the messy parts.
Said another way, I fear, for me, it’s a slippery slope from promises for self-improvement to self-flagellation; thus, I choose—take me as I am. A hot-tempered, impulsive, Oreo eating, inconsistent exerciser, who can’t fold fitted sheets for shit … You get the picture.
Although—if I were to make PRETEND resolutions … hypothetically speaking, my list would probably look like this:
Cook more healthful meals for Mitchell and the kids
When I feel over-stimulated by the demands of certain humans, replace that yelling strategy I’ve honed so well, with an entirely different approach. Like deep breaths. Or reason.
Read more to my girls, while they’ll still let me.
Turn off the TV for certain humans, since it appears that they lack the ability to do so, which is actually sort of sad.
Engage in anonymous acts of kindness.
Blog more than 6/year.
Stay away from online scrabble.
Eat more roughage.
Read minimum of 7 hours/week
Call my father more often.
Ditto for sister.
Complain less.
Stop bossing certain humans. Even when he’s driving.
Restraint or pen, tongue and SEND.
Take less cabs.
Remember how grateful I am.
Express love.
Oh yeah, and write every day

In closing, I will say two things: I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year and—*I never smoked crack.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fear of Blog

I feel like I've just gotten out of a long relationship, and I'm a little squirelly about dating again. (I did not get out of a long relationship. I'm very happily married.) Should I really write a blog post? What if I don't feel like it tomorrow? Then I'll feel all sorts of pressure, and then where will I be?
Also, my fourth child just came into my office and said, "I want to cuddle you so much."
Sorry blogosphere. My heart is somewhere else.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Language as a family experience

Is it June already?
My last post was in early April. I will spare you the phony self deprecating b.s. and say this: I worked my butt off on those darned revisions.
Which brings me to my point.
And how I have got to cut that mess out. I mean, over the weekend, a certain seven year old I know said to her sister, "That sucks ass." And while I do not condone blaming one's mother ad nauseum, I take full responsibility for my offspring's potty mouth. I get it. We reap what we sow. The apple and the whole tree thing. Monkey see, monkey blah blah blah.
Here is the problem. Swearing is so goshdarned necesary for a woman like me. First of all, it's ahem, making love funny. I think in part because the unexpected often is, and when a petite-mother of four-lady such as myself (stop laughing female dogs) sprinkles her discourse with a four letter word every now and then -- the result can be comical. And, well, let's just say, I'm a comedy lady of the evening. I will alter the truth (see best of craigslist) if it ups the funny factor. And, swearing often does just that.
But there's more.
Anger. Let's not forget that pesty emotion. Because, this little lady (insert evil laugh here) has a temper, and when a certain someone spills vitamin water (vitamin water, what the making love?)all over the couch where he/she is not allowed to consume anything other than saliva (his/her own) I have been known to let the expletives fly.
Plus, my husband and I, though we are a soft spoken people, we occasionaly irritate each other, and when that happens, I tend to clarify my perspective using emphatic language. Unfortunately, the emphatic language at my fingertips is often foul.

Moving on, let's not forget about the unexpected stubbed toe? Or fingers slammed in the bathroom door. When that happens over in my neck of the UES, those little making lovers come spewing out like a bowel movement storm.
Here's a thought. Perhaps it's genetic. Lots of bowel movement is. As I said earlier, I don't like to blame mothers; but perhaps a penchant for the profane is hereditary. I mean, have you met my mother? Though, truth be told, I've even got her beat. And my kids ... they're not far behind.
So the day is here. I must curtail my verbiage. And being one who likes to live in the solution, I have a plan.
On our month long trip down the west coast, I am going to give out nightly badges for the family member who swears the least that day. And since we Soodaks are slightly competitive, I am thinking this just might work. Though I do anticipate a problem; and it is this. Said legacies will want a prize (I mean other than the goshdarned badge) and I really don't want to go there. So I better brace myself for that discussion. Come up with a reasonable retort. Perhaps something like, I am concerned about our family's reliance on material possessions to make us feel whole. Often in life it is reward enough to know one has done a job to the best of her/his ability. Let's marvel in the progress we are making during this special family time that we are fortunate enough to be having. Because, when you think about it, family is so important. And how we speak not only reflects who we are as individuals but who we are as a collective whole. And I would rather communicate to the world a sense of gratitude and love. And that-- my beautiful children-- is better than any silly prize, don't you think? Don't you?

Or I can just tell them their attitude sucks ass.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Open Letter to an Author

March 25, 2010
Dear Amy Bloom,
Instead of working on revisions, I am writing you. I think you’d support me in this because last Thursday night when I asked about your writing life (just after the first guy asked about your use of four letter words) you said you start your day managing business correspondence, then, if so inclined, speak to your best friend, sister, children. You didn’t use that expression-- so inclined, but I imagine for the most part, you only speak to people if you’re compelled. And I mean this as a compliment.
My kids are young so I pretty much have to speak to them even if I’d rather not. Until I had children, I didn’t know how much alone time I needed. Some people confuse this sort of admission with maternal ambivalence. Isn’t that an awful expression? I think so.
When you mentioned your sister, I momentarily wondered what it would take to get to a better place with my sister; but then I pushed that out of my mind, because really, I wanted to listen to every morsel you had to say. Anyway, before I settle in today to make art, or fail to make art, or fail better to make art—I am writing you.
I was moved by your reading and inspired by your question and answer.
But first-the reading. I had already read The Old Impossible, in fact, I’m only half way through Where the God of Love Hangs Out, and declare this your best. Don’t get me wrong, I loved, Come to Me, Love Invents Us, Away, (haven’t read Normal- don’t know how I missed it. I will.) But William and Claire’s love affair is one of the most moving I’ve ever read. (If I have time, I hope to perfect that sentence. It serves my point, but is so mundane, you might miss it.)
As I listened to you, one thought I had was … I must slow down when I read. I am so anxious to find out what happens next, that some of your majesty gets lost. And by lost, I mean not fully appreciated, because I believe I ‘get’ every sentiment I’m meant to. (I know why your characters use four letter words.)
But more than my reading The Old Impossible quickly, I think I was so moved listening to you because I knew the ending. Perhaps this is an obvious law of literary fiction; if so, I never learned it. For example, hearing William say he’s not going to operate heavy machinery has quite a different meaning once I knew how they’d settle in to their loving, albeit Percocet induced, sleep. I get that. I get how necessary it is to minimize consequences when we’re lying to ourselves. Or maybe that’s just me.
While reading about the nuanced, imperfect Claire and William, I loved finding the clues as to what had happened since the last story. Because I knew how things resolved for them, (or her) listening to you was all the more emotional. If not for the fluorescent lights, I might have wept. I try never to weep under florescent lights. And also your fans; I prefer to weep alone, which is more diagnostic than I care to reveal. I mean, we barely know each other.
Now onto the question and answer part of your reading. To borrow from our shared clinical social work training, the Q and A was valuable in both process and content. When you didn’t say to the first gentleman questioner, clearly Sir, to ask such a thing tells me you have no (fucking) idea where I’m coming from, leads me to believe that I have some work to do before I attempt a public reading. Perhaps some publicity training would serve me well. And Welbutrin. (Forgive me. At times my boundaries are askew.)
I’ve recently attended four readings and have found there’s always at least one doozie of a question. When Sarah Blake read from The Postmistress, which takes place in 1940, one poor bastard asked what were the causes of World War II. Okay, in his defense, he was all of ten years old, but still. You know what happened? The audience laughed an oh-to-be-so-young laugh, and then all eyes landed on Ms. Blake and waited for her answer. Which she did well, by the way. Way better than I could’ve. Then again, my book is about an Upper East Side woman’s quest for her artist self, not the Blitz. And as toxic as the UES is; it’s not that.
When my debut novel comes out in 2011, I hope to read just as you did. Poised. Strong. Clear. When you finished reading, you didn’t try to save the audience from our silence as we garnered the courage to raise our hands. Okay, I’ll give the four letter word guy that; he went first. I waited, even though I’d known for a week what I wanted to ask: what did you require (and at what age) to take your writing seriously and what is your daily writing ritual.
Thank you for your answer.
I didn’t stay for the signing. To be honest, I don’t really get signings. I own all of your books, (except your essays, which I’ll remedy) however, for me, having your signature isn’t going to make them more valuable than they already are. Also, my son had called. Twice. He was having trouble completing his History homework (New York’s role during the Revolutionary War). Translation: it was time to go home. Which was mostly okay, because, as you can see, I had more to convey than a quick hello. Not to mention, I tend to get tongue tied when I speak; another notch for the get publicity training column.
Besides this wonderful delaying tactic, there is a purpose to my writing you; I wanted you to know that you are mentioned in my book. Two women- only one successful, are discussing what it takes to make art. A room and money have been noted. So has a Nanny. They will discuss the importance of possessing a willingness to fail as well as the impact of a satisfying affair.
And you come up.
She took a long slow sip of coffee. “And you know what else?” she asked, as if I wasn’t hanging on to every word.
“I read an interview with Amy Bloom. She started writing in her late thirties. She said that if she didn’t take her writing seriously, no one would. This completely inspired me. I started my novel that night.”
“Really?” It almost sounded too easy.
“You’d be amazed what can happen when you have a role model,” she said. “What about you? What do you need?”

Wish me luck Amy Bloom. More importantly, keep making art. And thank you. A deep down, hearty and earnest thank you. Because, at the risk of being redundant, you’d be amazed what can happen when you have a role model.
Rebecca Land Soodak

Friday, April 9, 2010

Author Bio: Rough Draft

Rebecca Land Soodak lives in New York City with her husband and children. This is her first novel. She has no literature, nor has she read War and Peace or Pride and Prejudice. In fact, she is not certain she has used the word NOR correctly in the prior sentence. (Or would previous sentence sound better? Moving on.)
She worries she uses parenthesis too often, but is fairly confident she has mastered the semicolon conundrum; that is, she likes a good semicolon. (Always has.)
What the author is trying to say is: this whole writing every day for the past 19 months (save a day or two) has really been ... a crazy fluke. Kind of like John Travolta's character in Phenomenon. The one where this guy can suddenly do all this cool shit, only to find out it's because he has a brain tumor! That's right; (spoiler alert)he's dying. DYING. Yikes. (come to think of it, my hip has been killing me lately. If it continues for another three years, I just might see a Dr., maybe.)
In closing, the author would like to remind everyone that she couldn't possibly be a writer of any significance because she married someone who makes a lot of money. Must I spell everything out, people? Wealthy women (who have procreated) and live on Manhattan's upper east side are NOT literary forces to be reckoned with; especially if they overuse parenthesis, semicolons and/or write about women, children, sex and art. Sorry. I don't make the rules.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not Your Story To Tell

Whose story is it anyway? As a writer, the world is my oyster. As a wife and mother, not so much. What I say impacts the people I love. Even if it's not about them per se.
I heard Amy Bloom, perhaps my favorite author, read last week. She said when she sits to write, she pretends no one else exists in the world. (The World!)And I think you can tell. She writes nervy, nuanced pieces about seemingly real, often sexual, always emotional-- people. Perhaps that is why she writes mostly fiction. So she has the freedom to honor the depths of her imagination. However, as any fiction writer can tell you; people always assume the story has kernels of the truth. Whether that is true or not (I'm going with not) to explore the layers of unconventional humanity takes courage.
Let's dig deeper.
Hypothetical situation. You're a woman. You have a lot of interests. You love your husband. Your kids. Art. The city where you live. People watching. The drama and sentimentality of an imperfect healthcare bill. Hip hop. Romantic comedies.
You were never the kind of mother who fretted over a tumble at the playground. Sometimes you don't get your kids flu shots-- not out of calculation, but apathy and disorganization.
You're a go with the flow mom.
You don't know when the geometry test is, or exactly what day spring break ends.
But you do know your kid's best friends, favorite character on their favorite show, the last time they cried and why. You know their quirks. What will piss them off. Or make them laugh. Or both. You are involved, but respect their independence. Their privacy. The value of them being bored. Even, of lying.
And then one day, your first born is mugged.
He calls you right after it happens. He's made it to his destination (You didn't really want him to go, but you didn't want him to miss out either, so you said yes.) He tells you he just got his phone taken. He's with his friends now. There were two guys. Bigger than him. One asked the time, the other grabbed him from behind. He's fine now, but you can tell, if his friends weren't around, he would cry. He doesn't want you to over react. Or scream. Or cry, which is exactly what you want to do. But he wants you to make him feel safe again. He doesn't say this; but you know.
You remember many things at once. You remember about pushing him into this world. How hard it was. How your very kind midwife, doula, best friend, husband, all looked at you and said, you can do it. He's coming. I see him. One more time. And you loved their voices. You needed their voices to help you help this baby be born. Until the moment he was. And they got him to you and you held him, still bloody and you said, shhhhhhh, because you knew more than you had ever known anything, that this baby needed silence. Shhhh, you said it again. And then you moved in to say something to him, but really, you just felt his cheek on yours. You didn't speak aloud, but you told him, he was okay. You were there. And he was.
You remember the time he was pushed at the playground. A bigger two year old didn't follow the routine: wait on line, climb up the ladder, slide down the slide. This deviant pushed his way up and past him, and your boy looked at you in utter confusion. What is going on, your boy seemed to ask. He knew the routine was Wait on line, climb ladder, slide down; so why this chaos? Using little words for your big boy-- you explained the world to him. But the damage was done. There is disorder.

Your boy is on the phone, waiting for you to tell him what to do. You hear his friends being silly in the background. You want to kill them. How can they have happiness in their voices when you know that your boy has just been scared.
Go to your friend's house you tell him. Call me from there.
You call your husband. You are prepared to tell the woman who answered the phone that it is an emergency, but you don't need to, he picks up right away.
XXX has been mugged you say. You answer his questions. You tell your scared/logical husband where your son is. You formulate a plan. Then you sob, my baby's been mugged.
I'm coming home your husband says. You are glad.
Parents whose children have died come to mind. Children with cancer, abducted children, victims of car crashes, overdoses, pedophilia war-- all swim in your mind. You feel for the first time in a very real way: that love hurts too much. It's unbearable, you think: this not being able to protect your baby.
Your husband makes it home in record time. While driving to get your boy, he cancels phones, fights with companies about policies. He does what he does--tries to fix things. You both know; very little can be fixed.
You thank God. You really, really thank God, the whole time not wanting to bring too much attention to how fucking lucky you are. You beg God not to let cancer, abduction, car crashes, overdoses, pedophilia and war come anywhere near your litter.
You even pray for the boys who mugged your baby. If they had hurt him; you would not have done this. But you are grateful. Things could have been so much worse.
You knock on the door. You want your kid. You are surprised his friends are not all talking about what has happened. In fact, they are watching TV. Eating pizza. Boys are not like girls, you think.
In the elevator, he doesn't want to talk. You think this is because he doesn't want to cry.
You can tell he is frightened, still. This makes you want to hurt someone. He is as tall as you, but you want to envelope him. Make him hold on. Make him not let go.
You do stupid things. You buy him a new phone. You should take him to the police; but you don't until the next day.
You balance your need to swoop in and process, with his need to watch Japanese animation and separate.
You notice he doesn't eat much for dinner.
You fail to notice, neither do you.
The night takes care of itself. You talk to your mother. You take a bath. Your husband and you keep looking at each other; feeling lucky and nauseous at the same time.
Your son keeps coming in to make contact. Talk a little. Then not talk anymore.
You want to tell everyone you know. In time, you do.
You notice some people speak about the economy. Others, self defense. You feel foolish that your kid has an expensive phone. Annoyed when someone mentions an old study about criminals all picking the same photos of an easy mark. You hope no one tells your kid about this.
You don't want him to take side streets. Or go out alone. Or go out at all.
But you know this would not be good for him, so you make him meet his friends. You make him go out without you.
You know, as you've never really known before: you are powerless.
Because you are an artist, a writer, an extrovert; you want to share your experience.
Because you are a mother; you know this is not your story to tell.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Playing With the Big Boys

This post first appeared in the comments section of Lisa Belkin's New York Times parenting blog- Motherlode.
Thanks Lisa for continuing this conversation. I, like some have already said, was surprised to hear that you didn't think the article disparaged women, though your point that the Conference Organizers calling themselves--Bloggy Bootcamp didn't cultivate an aura of legitimacy—is well taken. (My sister-in-law raised this on my blog, as well.)(Sorry Cinnabar) ( … though I will forgo the link.)
I would like to speak to the topic of the Women’s Movement.
A million years ago, I was a Women's Studies major. I began to view our culture through a lens that considered access to power, and noticed time and again, that which is associated with women is devalued. One lesson learned from that time was this: what goes on in one woman's home, office, courtroom and vagina is not only her private experience, but one that could (and should) be spoken about in order to transform, i.e the personal is political.
Sadly, what is associated with women, in this case, mothers who blog (about many things, including mothering) is chided and trivialized. “Heed the speaker’s advice, and you, too, might get 28,549 views of your tutu-making tutorial!” I suspect most young women, if given the choice between being associated with the successful blogger Mendelsohn refers to, or the NY Times reporter who mocks the tuto scholar, I’m guessing many would go with Mendelsohn.
I think the blogosphere is our modern day consciousness raising opportunity. And as more women have success in this dot com (if you will) then perhaps one day, we’ll make it to the business section; which is no better or more important than the style section. Except, you know, it’s where the big boys play.

Monday, March 15, 2010

At Least They're Consistent

In case you missed it, The New York Times covered a technology and networking conference in the Sunday paper. Only surprise, surprise ... it disparaged wealthy, white women. (And was covered in the Style section as opposed to, business, technology, Metropolitan, blah, blah, blah. Read it for yourself.

Below is my post reprinted from Lisa Belkin's blog, motherlode.

The tone of Jennifer Mendelsohn’s article was patronizing and trivializing. With regards to wealthy white women, this is what I have come to expect from the NYTimes. It is socially acceptable to disparage this group, particularly mothers. Mendelsohn even made one blogger’s feat of accruing 28,549 hits sound moronic. I’m not sure why these women – both the successful bloggers and those hoping to become so, are so worthy of our disdain, but Ms. Mendelsohn (and the editor who came up with the headline) have done a great job at making a networking conference that teaches ways to make money by using modern technology sound like something to be avoided and/or ashamed of. No surprise there.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Universal Truths of Facebook

The time suck gateway to hell that is FACEBOOK.
I am relatively new to FACEBOOK. Somehow or another, my name was listed a year or two ago, and I’d occasionally get (and ignore) friendship requests, but until two weeks ago, I was not an active participant. No friends. No posts. No profile. Like ten minutes after perfume has been sprayed, I was there, but not really.
Then a magical thing happened. I accepted my son's request. I figured if I'm lucky enough to have a thirteen year old who still deems me worthy, I ought to jump on that shit.
Anyhoo, accepting his request triggered the FACEBOOK lords to notify my mother ... and poof, I accepted her request. I guess I figured if I'm lucky enough to have an over sixty five year old mother who still deems me worthy, I ought to jump on that shit as well.
And so it began.
In sharing my concern that time spent on FACEBOOK might be spent more productively (revisions people, revisions.) I’ve heard from several sources, that this is a passing stage, and in fact, in time- will level out. This I find heartening. Perhaps I am not unique and there are universal truths or stages most FACEBOOK devotees go through.
Phase 1: Shock and Awe
The sudden awareness that this is where everyone has been hiding; honing witty banter, catching up on scrabble games and comparative analyses of which woman from Grease you most identify with. (Rizzo, must I spell everything out.)
Onslaught of intruding thoughts including but not limited to a friend’s son’s birthday party or a former colleague’s extraordinary luck in scoring those Michael Bouble seats. Can facilitate increased communication with old pals, however, such contact may require answering inquires about your mother’s recent Mah Jong game and how her jello mold came out. (She won; was nonplussed about the mold.)
Digression: There was a popular joke that circled the playgroup pack called the Toddler Credo. It went something like this: If I want it, it's mine. If you have it, and I want it, it's mine. If I ever touched it, it's mine.
You get the picture.
Phase 2: The search for ‘friends’
If I ever slept with you, I'll search. If I wanted to sleep with you, I'll search. If I almost slept with you, I'll search. If you once told fellow eleventh graders that we did it, I'll search.
This is a very informative and time consuming task. Interestingly, this compulsion can strike when least expected. (It’s going to be a great day, they’re playing Layla on the radio. I love this song. Didn’t ol’ what’s his face like Clapton? Or was it Neil Young. I wonder what ol’ what’s his face is up to? … wait a minute, when I get home, I can search.)
Which brings us to Phase 3
The ability to check FACEBOOK updates and posts via handheld device. (Not to be confused with another handheld device.)*
Phase 4
Consider the possibility that any of these fond, faint memories have searched for me.

Phase 5 (Can occur in conjunction with all previous phases)
Evaluate profile photo from every angle. Consider wrinkle ratio and whether that parka makes me look fat (I'm a size four people, swear.)
Phase 6
Wake in middle of the night and resist urge to post recurring dream about terrorists and/or the majesty of a night sweat.
Phase 7
Write blog about FACEBOOK.
And finally, Phase 8
Assess pros and cons of twitter.

*Please note, under no circumstances am I interested -or have ever been interested- in making contact with any of these folks, either real or imagined. I am a happily married woman. **
**How’d that sound honey?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I'm Far Too Busy to Write

I have a cold, which means I can't write today. Plus, I heard Sarah Blake read last night (The Postmistress, Amy Einhorn Books) and she's a much better writer than me, so I think today, I'll sit this one out.
Also, my babysitter is off until Thrusday and even though my bunnies are at school for another hour, I should probably pace myself, what with the cold and all.
Besides, these revisions are complicated. There are pages and pages to sort through, and my desk is kind of cluttered which makes the whole matter tremendously complicated.
Not to mention I haven't seen my dentist in a while, and the other day, when I ate something cold (or was it hot??)I felt this subtle pain, which makes me think, today just might be the day I should look up said dentist's phone number so that should I want to schedule an appointment tomorrow (or the day after) I'll be way ahead of the game.
And let's not forget the fish. I've never made this kind of white fish before and all day my head has been spinning with olive oil and lemon vs. egg and bread crumbs. With these pressing matters, can you blame me? Can you?
And finally, let me point out that I am still recovering from the Oscars. Not only did I get to bed far too late Sunday night, but every year, (as certain as Joan Rivers nastiness and George Clooney looking self important and serious) I have had to talk myself off the artistic ledge. (She wrote a screenplay? Why haven't you written a screenplay? Tomorrow Missy, you should wake up bright and early and write a screenplay?)
So there you have it.
Busy, busy, busy.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Happiness Once Removed

There was a great line in the show Men of a Certain Age. Forgive me if I butcher it, but it goes something like this:
Happiness comes when you have something to do
something to love and
something to hope for.
I 'do' a lot of things.
I 'love' a lot of people, (and I love to do a lot of things, so I figure that puts me way ahead of the game)
But right now, I'd like to focus on the something to hope for part.
My debut novel will be out in Fall 2011, assuming I actually make those revisions. But for the sake of argument, let's say I do. And poof, my book winds up on a shelf at a store (yes, virtual counts) near you.
Then what?
While I wrote the thing, I was brimming with hope.
Hope to finish it. Hope to find an agent. Hope to master the revisions said agent suggested. Then hope upped the ante. Hope for a real live publisher to buy it. Which led to hope that I'd master the revisions said live publisher suggested.
And now that each of those hopes have been fulfilled, I'm left waiting for the big pie-in-the-sky hope that most authors dream of.
That someone actually buys the thing.
And by someone, I mean, lots of someones. Like, enough someones that I earn out that advance. Enough someones that the professionals invested in this project say, yee haw, I knew this book was a winner. Enough someones that bookstores sell out, need to reorder, advertise my book in their window.
Hell, enough someones that my book lands on the bedside stand of some fictional TV character. Like that Law and Order Detective, Mariska something. You know, the one who was conceived when her father raped her mother. Or maybe the blond wife on Modern Family. No, no, the girlfriend of Ray Romano's character on Men of A Certain Age.
You see my problem? For me, hope is crazy's cousin.
But not to worry.
Happiness just might be once removed.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Who am I? Who I am.

In many ways, my life resembles the little girl dreams I had for myself. I am married to a man I adore (though trust me,sometimes I fucking hate him) and we have a gaggle of healthy kids with big personalities. There's drama, excitement, love, laughter and passion. And that's before breakfast. We have enough money that anything somewhat reasonable is within our reach (the occasional Prada bag; no ponies) and even some unreasonable things (the occasional Prada bag, unlimited pony rides).
We live in my childhood fantasy place-- New York City. And I know how to do things like pick out a fine Brie or give directions to tourists.
But don't misunderstand. Even though I always wanted these things for myself, none do I take for granted. And in fact, none feel altogether natural. That is, there is always a part of myself sitting on my shoulder saying, how 'bout that? You know how to pick out cheese. Way to go girlfriend. You did it.
But there is one character trait I never imagined I'd master. In fact, it wasn't even in my realm of aspiration, and frankly, I am somewhat stunned that it seems to be sticking around a while. You see at first, I thought it was fleeting. Like when I was a teenager and borrowed a friend's stonewashed jeans. I looked cool for the sixteen hours I wore them that weekend, but alas, I had to give them back and go home and attempt geometry homework.
But this. This has become me, and I doubt anyone from my whole life would've ever thunk it.
And it is this: I can spend many hours completely self contained and alone. And not even New York City kind of alone where you're surrounded by people and constant stimulation. I mean alone-alone. The kind where you're in a house, in (what feels like to me)the middle of no activity. The TV stays off and except for every third hour or so, so does the music. As described in yesterday's post, there is some talking to myself, but that's as much for entertainment as anything else.
What I do do during all this alone time and silence is-- create. Starting several years ago (four? five?) I began to paint in earnest. And a bit after that ... write. This drive to make art (easy now naysayer bitches who trashed my work in the Times comment section)has changed me. I am completely immersed. Entirely self sufficient. To borrow a cliche', the experience feeds my soul.
And finding this part of myself and having the privilege and ability to pursue it ... for this I am grateful.
And more than a little surprised.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Revision Update in live time

Greetings ol' Blog Followers (Davetta, Sarah, Mom)
Live update from Isolators Island (I.I. mateys)
I've begun to talk to myself. It started off slowly with things like, wow it sure is cold in here and, dang I look old; but I fear last night, there was a turn for scary. I found myself muttering from room to room, why did I even write this novel? And- I'll tell that editor lady she can do her own damn revisions. I even started referring to myself in third person. Look at ol' Ms Thing. Thinks she has what it takes to write a novel. Have you notice how old she looks?
You know, garden variety fear.

But alas, today is a new day. Anything is possible. I'm well rested. I've had my eggs and coffee. I downed a few Tylenol (Perhaps I'm too well rested and a tad late on the caffeine uptake). Regardless: I'm good to go.
But first I'll check facebook.
Then I'll move on to some whiteheads that beckon me.
Oh hell, I owe my loyal blog followers an update, don't I?

You know, it occurs to me that blogging, literary feats such as my patient novel, the lure of the mirror where I am free to ponder whether my eyelashes are thinning ... these are all the same thing. Mind achingly essential while utterly meaningless.

And then Ms Thing was ready.

Monday, March 1, 2010

So kiss me and smile for me ...

I am about to do an extraordinary thing. I am going away for a few days to work on my revisions. If you are a mother of a brood as I am, you know, this is a miracle. Now, let it be said, one child is going on a school trip, which given our family dynamic, makes my leaving a possibility. Between my husband and our wonderful Saint (I mean sitter) they should be fine. Feel free to drop off casseroles or wipe their faces should you see them in the school yard (or on the street ...)
Here is my prediction:
1. They will be on time for school and the truth will be revealed. I suck at getting anywhere on time.
2. All bedtimes will be at least 1.5 hours later.
3. Someone will forget to brush her teeth.
4. Someone will lose a beloved possession.
5. Someone will fall asleep on the couch while webkinz mans the fort.
6. Someone will blow off his homework and do whatever it is he does on facebook.

In order to write this essential post, I instructed a family member to check the food in the oven once the buzzer goes off. If it's hot, I said slowly, remove it. If it's not, cook it some more and reset the timer. I am not lying when I say, the buzzer went off and that someone yelled to a family member, go ask her what we're supposed to do when the buzzer goes off. I yelled up to them, if it's hot, remove it. The reply, you wonder? HOW DO I KNOW IF IT's HOT?
And there you have it.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Way to go New York Times ... again

I woke up this morning and leisurely embraced that famous ol' rag of a paper while sipping a latte in my 400 thread count kingdom.
Yeah. Right.
After running out to the grocery while my husband manned the domain (read: slept)feeding fifteen, (sometimes I exaggerate) loading one thing and emptying another, I returned a call, typed up my seven year olds' latest song (about love and being seventeen) encouraged one kid to start his homework, found the 3x5 note cards, swept, negotiating with my 13 year old about going to a movie vs. coming home, assisted my daughter's in washing their hair and picking out the day's clothes, I sat down to read the Style Section.
I'm a writer, (At least my publisher and agent think so. Fooled them.)so imagine my interest in Jan Hoffman's article about writer, Gretchen Rubin's latest, The Happiness Project.

I'm not a huge fan of self help books (anymore). Perhaps because I read my fair share (and my husband's) and lo and behold, I have a life I love. But hey, I get that some are better than others, and The Happiness project sounds clever enough. If nothing else, it made me look around my home and consider the possibilities of a life uncluttered. See, dreams are good I tell you. Good for soul. Good for the country. But I digress.
It was this little morsel of brilliance that I felt compelled to mention. In my mind's eye, I wouldn't be doing my job if I let this one fly. I mean, who else is going to speak up for wealthy white American's with vaginas. We are the forgotten ones. The ones it is still okay to bash. Our crime? You wonder, though it is so obvious. Our crime is: Having help. To the stake, bitches. To the stake.

Readers may not realize that she doesn’t live on the generic row of low-rise apartment houses on the cover of the book, suggesting the West Village or Park Slope in Brooklyn. Her triplex is in a neo-Georgian building on the Upper East Side.

And to those who may feel daunted by how she does it all — the charts, the reading, writing, exercising, volunteering, socializing, parenting, scrapbooking and glue-gunning? Relax. She has a sitter and a housecleaner.

Thank you Jan Hoffman. Thank you. For a moment there, I thought this former- Yale Undergrad/editor in chief Yale Law Journal who had researched Boethius, Schopenhauer, St Therese of Lisieux and Tolstoy might have had something interesting to say on the topic of (guffaw) happiness. But you, sister, have set me straight. This Rubin is a fraud. She lives on the UES people. She has a sitter. A housekeeper. A rich, white, Wall Street man in a suit father in law.
Wake up America.
I, for one, wouldn't be caught dead reading such low brow in public. In fact, I prefer the scholars. (Especially the ones in hard cover with even harder penises.)
I'm far too busy for Happiness fluff. There's the rest of style section after all.
So, ahem. No. I will not be running out to get my copy. I have standards.
Then again, there's always my kindle.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I Am Woman

With four saucer sleds in tow, I hustle my bunnies across narrow sidewalks en route to Central Park. I take in tree branches swathed in snow, which would have been entirely beautiful if not for one falling on a man two days ago-- killing him.
Pushing those images out of my overzealous, anxious, mind- we trek on.
For those of you who’ve never witnessed snowy Central Park on a Saturday, it is sight to behold. Hundreds of kids and their parka-clad parents make their way to the already speckled hills. The energy is electric. I swell with pride that I have gotten my posse to this particular space in time. Maybe I am one of those functioning mothers after all. Perhaps anything is possible. Crock pot meals. Bike trips down the coast. Knitting mittens for kids who won't lose them.
But truth be told though, the bustling urban landscape is a tad frenetic for my taste. Especially because of my ... issue. You see, in winter crowds, I tend to regress to my seven year old self, which by definition means all boys starting around age ten become terrifying little snow ball perpetrators to be avoided at all cost.

"Put the snowball down mother fucker. Put it down." I hear my voice
"Mom, calm yourself."
"Easy now. And no one has to get hurt."
"Mom, shhhh. You're embarrassing me."
"You think I won't ...?"
"What's with her?" asks the friend.
"Flashbacks," my first born answers, dropping the white weapon of mass destruction.
"Thought so," I say, walking away.
Across the vast plains, there is a collective sigh. Or maybe that's just me.
Regardless, I walk taller, taking pride in the fact that the park is a little safer, now.
We can all feel it.

Friday, February 26, 2010


I'm not going to lie to you. For one thing, that's no way to start a relationship, even a virtual one like ours. I figure if you're worth talking to at all (again, virtually)I might as well tell the truth. However, the truth is not always so easy to convey. It's often layered. Nuanced. It takes time. This is why I suck at cocktail parties. And mingling. But I digress.
Back to truth telling.
Here is one problem. I am not always so good at figuring out how much truth to tell. (See linkage.) And even when I have untangled that tricky web I like to refer to as appropriate boundaries--I am faced with another quandary. Whose truth is it, or said another way, if it involves another, is it my right to deconstruct (read confess)?
Allow me a hypothetical.
Let's say the other day a certain mother I know screamed at her children. Perhaps she said something like, I'm done! I cannot take another minute. You, Mr. are on your own. Charge your computer or don't charge your computer. Take your phone, or don't. (Pacing frantically, possibly flailing her arms.)Miss the bus; make the bus. Makes no difference to me. I'm out. Done. Who needs it? Not me, Mr. Not me. (Finds coffee, sips coffee. Refueled, continues.)It's a privilege (pauses, not sure where she's going with this) a privilege ... to have someone following you around picking up the pieces. A privilege.
Dream sequence fades to black.
Do you see where I'm going with this? Say this mother decides, hey, why not blog? I'm smart. I can stand still. Why don't I put pen to paper (Virtual people, virtual.) and spread my seed for all to sow (Last gardening metaphor. Promise.) Maybe I'll bond with other mothers. Maybe I'll unearth (oops. WTF? I live in Manhattan.) some sage (Really?) wisdom and someone will be the better for it? If nothing else, I'll have a legit excuse to delay those revisions beckoning in the corner.
But alas, I'm back to this:
Whose truth is it to tell?
So for now, this whole blog thing will be an experiment. If it disrupts my life, I'll bail. Scadattle. Adios. Pack up. Ship out. Move on. Delete.
And in the meantime? Let's just say, for the most part, I'll speak the truth. My truth (Virtually.)