family · gratitude · holidays

Blended.

12.18.18My mom and her boyfriend have been together for a decade or so, she having gotten divorced from my dad about 15 years ago, he having been divorced for longer.  He is a mensch and we’re all very lucky to have him in the family, despite the absence of any government certificate saying he is so.

They’re coming out for a few days right before Christmas, and J and I are getting to plan for their visit.  It’s exciting (to be able to host a pair of full-on grownups, meaning not ones satisfied with a futon mattress on the floor… although at the moment we don’t have much better!).  It’s stressful (to have a week of work and then family drop in right at the end of the work day on Friday).  And it’s heart-warming (to feel that the integration of our families together has begun).

J’s met them both on two trips back East, so there’s none of the trepidation of, “Will they like each other?”  (They do).  It’s more the nerves of, “Oh crap, what are we going to do with them for 4 days?!”

So, the researching of Oakland’s mural and gallery walking tours, a Point Reyes lighthouse visit, our favorite pizza place (Zachary’s—and I don’t care if it’s an “abomination” of pizza!).  My dash this week to the two purported “good” bagel places in the area to taste test, to ensure the New Yorkers are amply satisfied with our West Coast fare!  A friend’s low-budget Christmas-special show, a trip to the zoo that is SF’s Union Square on Christmas eve.

Wearing as it is to feel “on” for 4 days, I gotta say all that sounds pretty rad to me.  And I’m grateful that our “families” have the marvelous fortune to get along as well as we do.

Happy holiday season, folks.

 

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family · finances · goals

Family Meeting

12.17.18I asked J if we could schedule a “family meeting” for this weekend to set down our goals for 2019… and he agreed(!).  So, yesterday afternoon, all cozy as the wild wind blew rain and leaves around the house, we took out our calendars and J began to take notes.

I wrote in his back-country ski trip; he wrote in my Spring and Summer breaks.  I added in his birthday; he told me he still had mine on his calendar, that he hadn’t erased it from when we split up earlier this year.

Then we turned to our travel priorities for the year: the local weekend trips, maybe back East for Thanksgiving, the Paris trip for his mom’s 70th birthday… and how that would work best for us—since “Paris with your mom” doesn’t quite ring like “vacation” in our ears!  So, what would we need to do to help us all have the kind of trip we’d want?  (Hint: 3 days all together, then go off with your own person, is what we’re thinking!)

After that, we talked about our vehicles: are they in a good state for the upcoming year?  Mine is, his isn’t.  What does he really need?  If it’s to tow motorcycles to the track, as he’s planning to do, can he use the one he’s got which needs significant repairs or should he buy a new one?  So, we put an action item in the notes to research motorcycle trailers with brakes.

We talked about the house, if it’s meeting our needs or not.  If yes, how to improve upon the situation, if no, what steps to take to change it.  This precipitated talking out his career plans and that if, as he’d like, he’ll be moving into his own venture soon, we’d need to keep cash out-lay pretty low.  He’s got a call with someone to talk about home options in the area that would improve our financial circumstances, and if there aren’t any, then we stay, but don’t do any major home improvements.

Then, we came to another piece of business: whether or not to attempt to have children this year.  (And his leg immediately began to jiggle!)

While we’ve spoken of it before and, as a teacher, I laid out the timeline that would make the most sense before, it was time to really ask: Will you do this with me?  Will we do this together?

Because of my financial situation right now, I’m able to save quite a chunk of money (even after setting aside a large portion for retirement).  I could be apportioning this savings toward the first year or two of child expenditures.

So, do I?

It’s a huge question and even though he’s been the one more “deer in headlights” about it, I began to feel my own adrenaline rush.  Because it would mean trying in the summer, this summer.  *rush of adrenaline as I type!*

There wasn’t a resounding, “YES! I totally want to and can’t wait to have children with you,” but his answer was: “I’m in it to win it, babe.”

We’d spoken yesterday about the difference between “a default” and “a choice” when we were talking about the house, and the same applies to kids.  I can’t allow bringing humans into the world be a default for him, just because it’s “part of the package.”  It’s unempowering for him, and it’s distancing for me.  (This isn’t, “Guess what, I bought tickets to the opera,” here!)

As our business meeting came to a close last night, he on the couch next to me, darker now outside, we snuggled and agreed that we have a pretty good plan for next year…

and you know what they say about plans*;)

 

*If you want to hear G-d laugh, make a plan.

 

 

family · prosperity · travel

Suicide Bird.

4.4.18

This is the fictional band name my mom used to describe the musical acts she doesn’t like on the Colbert show.  (HA!)  We were on the phone yesterday and again today about my summer plans and particularly how they might overlap with hers… as we’ve attempted for many years to no avail.

We’ve made some small trips together—to Sedona, and many times her visiting me in San Francisco or me her in NYC—but over the last few years, particularly as I have summers off now, we’ve tried to formulate a plan to go abroad together.  Neither of us have been to “The Continent” (though she’s been to the British Isles twice).

About 2 years ago, we tried to make a plan to go on this trip throughout Italy, but my job wasn’t pleased about my taking days off near the beginning of the school year, so we had to drop it.  Then last summer, I was switching schools and didn’t have the travel funds.  Which brings us to this year: Now that I’ve confirmed my summer job/professional development, I have some “extra” funds — and Molly Wanna Vacation.

When we spoke yesterday, she was very hesitant about confirming anything.  Which felt very typical.  I began to feel a little despairing of ever getting to go on a “real” vacation with her.  She’s turning 70 this year, I just had 5 years cancer-free—it felt like a momentous year for us to do something fabulous.

But, I’m learning, not everybody has the money to do something fabulous.  Or at least, a) what I consider fabulous, and b) when I want to do it.

It feels a little snobby to realize that things I want to do in life are out of reach for some people I love (especially when for so long I was the decliner); but it also feels like a wake-up call, or at least a vibrating phone alarm.  It’s not snobby to want nice things (fabulous things), and my feelings aren’t borne out of judgment (believe me, I’ve pushed into my feelings to root out that truth) — my feelings are just simple acknowledgement of the reality of my current situation and of others’.  And sometimes, those do not align.

Sometimes those with whom I’d love to adventure with aren’t available.  Sometimes that’s due to limitations of time, sometimes money, sometimes interest.  And so I’m left with the open question of “Who’s Next?”

Who are the people I’ll need to meet who can join me in adventures that are feasible AND of interest to us both?  (As clearly not every person will want to accompany me to SF Opera’s CarTUNE afternoon where they’ll screen old Looney Tunes that have an opera reference.  “Kill the Wabbit” anyone?!)

My mom and I spoke again this morning after she had some time to process, and it’s starting to seem that a “real” vacation to Europe is possible for her, for which I’m exceedingly grateful (it’s the rare 70-year old who will readily come up with “Suicide Bird”!).

But there will be times when I can’t have my cake and eat it, too — sometime soon, I may have to take my cake to go.

 

adulthood · family · love · service

Collecting Grown-ups.

Diane, Manny, Howard, Ralph, Max, Rhoda and Ruth
Diane, Manny, Howard, Ralph, Max, Rhoda and Ruth

There is a curious trend in my social life lately: the appearance of older men.

I don’t mean in a romantic sense, but supportive, creative, interesting, helpful people, who happen to be men, who happen to fall logically into a model of fatherly or grandfatherly figures.

As for my own father, we haven’t spoken in months.  But boundaries, parents, duty, love, and obligation can be another blog… or several.

Yet, in the absence (of my own making or not) of an actual non-judgmental shoulder-to-lean on with wise, bolstering words to live by with stories of travel and far-flung adventure from times of yore father, I find myself being buoyed by just the type of love and support I’ve been missing.

Recently, I helped my 90-year old friend clear out decades of junk from his house and put it up on a craigslist ad.  While I sorted his old china and hauled pieces of moldy ikea furniture to the curb, he stood in the near-autumn sun, white-haired and tanned from his daily sun lamp, and told me about the time he and his wife were picked up by the police in the Ukraine, behind the Iron Curtain, in the 70s.  How a gorgeous Russian woman waltzed into the scene and argued for their release, so that they were then driven, inexplicably, right to the airport they’d been seeking.

He told me how he met his wife over a piano playing Chopin in Berkeley, their subsequent whirlwind courtship leading to a honeymoon trip to a Warsaw house concert in Chopin’s own living room.

My grandparents all passed before I got the chance to learn their stories.  To learn and ask how they met, what it felt like to be a child then, how the world worked before me and this and us.  I feel I’ve collected a friend who can connect me to that wisdom and joy and near-forgotten universe a grandparent can give.

The neat thing to me about gathering these new friendships in adulthood is that they’re…unadulterated…by familial angst and don’t depend upon one person to give me all that I need.  I get to have the love without the drama, the support without the strings, and I feel like I get to give them something they might have been missing, too.

abundance · compassion · deprivation · family · love · motherhood · recovery

Maybe Baby 2

I have been looking at porn.
This porn comes in the form of a Facebook page for local moms who are selling or giving away baby stuff. 
I’m on this page because one of my best friends is pregnant, and I have hopped so far aboard her baby-train, I’m surprised I’m not morning-sick myself!
In the past few weeks, I’ve begun reading a book on pregnancy that she read and loved (The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy), crocheting baby bibs, buying scrap fabric for burp clothes, and practically stalking her to ask if she wants a breast pump I found online. 
As I spoke of in my 2014 blog post “Maybe Baby,” I am not sure whether I want children. 
As then, I am not in a serious relationship, and I still am not willing to go the motherhood route alone, so there’s no real reason to question if I do or do not. But, reasonable or not, that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it. 
With every article on our drought, the cost of living, the planet’s imminent demise, the expansion of the stupid class — I am convinced for a few moments never to bring children into this hateful world. 
And with every true breath of fresh air, every warm hug, every belly laugh — I am convinced for a few moments that I want another human to bear witness to this world’s incandescent beauty. 
I am the age my mom was when she carried me (33), and then my brother at 36. I have been emailing and asking her all kinds of questions about her pregnancies since I began reading the pregnancy book — what was your morning sickness like? what does pregnancy feel like? did you have food aversions? stretch marks? hemorrhoids? (god help us, she did not!)
I have had the liberty and the luxury of asking my mom these questions, and too, my friend who is pregnant, does not. And I am very aware of this fact, and I think it has spurred my devoted interest in her pregnancy — I want to be there as much as I can, because I want to make up for any absence she might be feeling (real or imagined, to me, since I haven’t spoken to her about it yet). 

I was on the phone with my mom this morning, telling her that I feel my heightened interest in my friend’s impending mommy-hood is also that she’s my first local BFF to be pregnant. One of my other best friends in Long Island had a baby last year, and I was able to be there for a few days when the baby was a month old, but that’s all. There wasn’t the same imminent babyhood. 
I told my mom that I’d been thinking about my very best friend from childhood, a woman I’ve known since we were 3 years old, and how I can’t imagine what it will be like if and when she gets pregnant across the country from me. And I began to cry. 
Of course, it’s about her, my New Jersey friend, and it’s also about me. About how I’ll feel, if and when I also choose to have a family — assuming I’m able — so far from her and my own family. 
This is big business. This mommy stuff. 
And I am wanting to prepare to make that decision in a realistic way — so I have doubled-down on my work around intimacy and relationships (or in my case, habitual lack thereof). This morning, I told the woman I’d been working on these issues with by phone for about 6 weeks (a stranger whose name was passed along to me from a woman I admire) that I have reached out to someone local to work the rest of this stuff with. 
And I have. I will continue this relationship work with this local woman who has known me for nearly 8 years, who has seen me at my best and worst, who can call me out, see patterns, and provide so much space for my feelings and vulnerability that I can practically swim in them and still feel safe. 
Yesterday morning, this same woman (as we were talking about what my issues were and what I wanted to work out) said that she’d always felt for me that my issue was around deprivation. 
… 

She’s very astute. 
And it’s also funny to me because it’s one of those things that doesn’t come into focus about yourself until someone else (who knows you well) reflects it back. 
I am very aware of this time in the generation of women around me. My friends who are certain they don’t want kids, ones who know they do, the ones who can’t, and ones who, like me, are unsure.
It’s a particular, cordoned off time in our lives. And I’m holding the space for that, leaning into the grief of potentially not seeing friends change their whole lives, them not seeing me do the same. I’m aware this is “future-tripping,” but it’s fair to acknowledge my feelings around it, anyway. 
I’m allowed to not know what will happen (for me or for my friends), and I’m allowed to have feelings either way. 
Today, what that looks like is picking up a bitchin’ breast pump for my best friend. Continuing to do the work toward an intimate relationship with a man. And letting myself be both sad and happy for and with my peers. 
auditioning · career · family · procrastination · progress · theater · trying · work · worry

Meet the New Year, (not quite the) Same as the Old Year.

there’s so much and little to tell you: 

i have to decide whether to ditch work and attend my annual women’s meditation retreat next weekend. how to tell my boss when I asked for that sunday off — originally for the retreat, but now for an audition — that I really do need that time. and I’m taking monday and tuesday off for my friend who’s visiting from canada. 
that the couple who were the subject of the “day before christmas” poem/blog came to visit me on tuesday, and took me out for sushi, and it feels like i have this sort of surrogate parental couple right now. even though they live in vancouver. we exchanged all our information, i got a happy new year email, and i’m going to talk to him about mediation. like, becoming a mediator, and what that would look like. another career goose chase maybe, but worth looking in to. 
that my mom is having trouble sleeping, and doesn’t want to change her work schedule even though she could. that she’s having health issues that she could address, but procrastinates on. 
that two years ago, right very now, I was waking up in lahaina, maui, hawaii. in the bed of a school boy whose parents graciously invited me to stay and kicked their son to the couch, so a bald and chemo-riddled me could have a vacation from a cancer. 
i have to call the student loan people so they don’t raise my payment from $67/month to over a thousand, but being my mother’s daughter, i haven’t yet. 
I am excitedly waiting for the indiegogo campaign to end and for the funds to be sent to me, so I can write this final check to my landlord for my back rent accrued while i was sick. and to watch that number in my budget line fall to zero. 
i am looking forward to my first real paycheck from the retail store, but as i’ve figured the numbers, amazingly, i’ll have earned the exact amount i would have if i were working at the desk job i quit in october. 
though i wouldn’t have that back-rent money, because that only came about as i was sitting in a cafe with a friend in november, looking for work, him too, and i mentioned the wanting to art again and the potential art studio upstairs, and the back rent. and he said, you should do a kickstarter. 
so, i wouldn’t have that, or at least not now, if not for being unemployed and sharing with a friend who was also spending a mid-day cafe work-search. 
i have a script to read and a song to rehearse for two auditions this month. 
the first is because a friend from mockingbird suggested i try out for this one company in town, and i said i wasn’t good enough, and he said i was and i should and made me promise. and so i did. you know, just a few weeks later!
it’s a classical play. i’m nervous, as i’ve never done one before. 
the second is another musical. and, i’m nervous! but. i’m excited for the role i’m auditioning for. it could be a lot of fun. 
they would run consecutive to each other, one closing, and a few weeks later, rehearsals for the other beginning. so it could work. but not with this sales job. i think. assume. project. worry about. 
but then, too, i have to remember the whole “from thanksgiving to thanksgiving” thing/blog: to not worry, to trust, to at least notice I’m worrying and begin to try to trust. 
i have all these collage cards i still want and need to make, holiday cards and thank you cards. but with the constraints of buses and bart and standing and … (*breathe*) from thanksgiving to thanksgiving. 
i flaked out on my NYE plans. i think i may have disappointed my friend by doing that. but it was a day off for me. i got loads of stuff done early, and by the late afternoon i was home and cozy, i didn’t want to leave. even though it’s a 9:00pm ball-drop! i had to work yesterday, and yadda yadda excuse excuse. i just didn’t feel like getting all dolled up. though i’m sure it would have been fun and my FOMO-meter ran high. 
instead i stayed home, and it was lovely. i know it won’t always be so quiet. but it was nice. 
i have a lot and same old happening right now. i don’t know if any of it is interesting to you, but today is more a state of the union address:
all is well, amorphous, covered and uncertain. 
i have friends and opportunities and procrastination habits and work issues. 
i have a warm home to leave and come back to. 

and two auditions to get ready for. 

Happy and Healthy New Year, Friends. You rule. 
authenticity · family · fate · love

Retail Christmas: A Family Tale

‘Twas the day before Christmas and all through the store
not a creature was stirring, it was really a bore. 
But some time in the day as I walked back from lunch, 
a gentleman remarked, Gee you don’t hunch. 
What great posture you have, and a convo was struck 
as his wife later joined and we talked cardio stuff
He and I spoke of their trip from Vancouver,
his wife in a fight with their my-aged daughter
I listened and shared; it was strange to be sure
to stand in the racks of not-quite couture
and be talking about things that do really matter
and not prattle on with plastic-smiles, idle chatter.
I gave words of wisdom that were passed on to me
about just showing up and letting her be. 
We even talked of my dad, how things there are rotten;
he said try again, love is never forgotten. 
I have my own opinion and still question his advice
it was odd to talk about this, but somehow quite nice. 
Out came his wife, and we put things on hold,
I said a kind goodbye and to stay warm in the cold. 
But as the wife handed me her card and I entered her digits
She shared she and her daughter were really quite in it. 
I didn’t mention I knew, and just made the suggestion
Tell her you love her and are there to listen. 
We smiled, it was strange, and out of the norm
to be talking real life in this capitalist storm. 
A few hours later, my feet throbbing with pain,
I couldn’t wait to get out and back to the east bay. 
When a coworker said there’s someone looking for you,
around the corner came the wife & her husband, too. 
“I wanted to tell you,” she started to sob, 
“I took your advice while I tried on some bras.
“I texted my daughter I was hurt, but am here,
and, Look! She replied!” her face stained with tears.
I read from her phone, while her husband looked on
a bit happy and startled at her goings on.
“I wanted to tell you, I’m so glad we met,
I wouldn’t have been ready before what you said.”
We teared up, exchanged hugs in the DVF stacks,
a slice of what matters near a discount sale rack. 
They left that day a little lighter it seemed,
and I wondered if this is what ‘meant to be’ means. 
I don’t know why I’m there, in the overpriced store,
but for a minute I’m reminded what humanity’s for. 
And maybe it’s not to sell lots of clothes,
to perfect my eyeliner or hike up my hose. 
Instead I was given the gift of what’s real: 
On the day before Christmas, I helped a family heal.