The scent of books…..

3:39 pm

A distinct sadness comes over me when I find myself in a book store. A wave of emotion washes over me to be completely honest… a mix of nostalgia, melancholy, wistfulness, admiration, inspiration, loneliness, love and sadness. I could go into why, though I imagine none of it would be very surprising. I could talk about how it probably stems from being disappointed in myself for not having written anything, when for so much of my life it was the one thing I was sure about doing. I could say that I believed it was my destiny to write, and now I find myself so far from that goal, that when I am reminded of it, it makes me sad. I could talk about all of these things, but I won’t….

I look at all these beautiful books, breathe in the unique scent of new print and paper…and imagine that one of the authors can feel my sadness, and reaches out through an invisible plane, telling me “don’t be sad! You can do this! I will help you…I can keep in touch and remind you that you can do this, and you’ll see!” I stay in this lovely thought for a long moment, imagining what it would feel like to have someone who could do such a selfless and warm thing for another human being. I don’t let, for that long moment, real world thoughts creep in and ruin it; thoughts about how no one does anything for nothing, and no one can help you but yourself, and so on. But then…there they are, aren’t they? Sneaky little fuckers.

I shift my weight from one foot to the other, and get firm with myself. I breathe a little deeper and hold the breath in while the thought speaks clearly and without static: “you don’t need anyone else’s help. You were raised to be tough, and the truth is that no one will come along and take you by the hand and lead you to your goal. You need to stop dreaming about this helpful, inspirational guiding force and build some structure for yourself, to take steps and make this a reality. The more time you spend dreaming about this support, the less time you spend on working – and work is what it takes to do this. All of these people worked at it…not a single one of them got a call one day from someone who thought they were awesome and said, ‘I know you can write something incredible. Here, take this money and go for it, take your time. I’ll call you tomorrow to remind you how special you are.’ So, dry those watery eyes and go take this moment with you, using it as fuel to get yourself moving. And move you can: you are healthy and able bodied, with a clear mind and heart that wants.”


As I walk away from all of the books, I miss them immediately. Their scent grows faint and the whispers from their pages grow silent. I want to return – go back and live in all of their worlds for a few more pages, admire a few more photographs and feel the spine of one last hardcover. I hold the images of the various authors in my mind for just a few more seconds: portraits of ordinary people who succeeded in, simply, making something beautiful. I imagine talking to them, asking them to tell me their story, and how real those stories would be.

Now they are all behind me, far from where I can see or smell or feel them, and what remains is the clarity of the thought: you have to do something to know. You have to try. It is the only way. You build a house by placing one stone on top of another, by attaching one piece of wood to another. Piece by piece. The only thing left is to figure out how to hold onto the belief and the focus. Believe and do.

Faith and action.


Getting back into things…..

Well Hello Big, strange void that is the internet……

I just read a post on a blog that I love, The Wednesday Chef, about writing. Specifically she was referring to that feeling of not having anything to say, and finding that you are not writing, and then it becomes a cycle, and then you face a bigger challenge as the days and months blur together. Write. Just write anything. Pretend (no need in my case) that no one is paying attention and just write something. It reminded me how similar we can be….people…perfect strangers. It reminded me that we face similar struggles and that, perhaps most importantly, that it’s not “just me.”

SO after a very long pause I am going to NOT think, and just post something…. I am going to write this, and thank the Wednesday Chef…because lately I have been thinking a lot about how one would answer the question, “what does your mom do?” When I am someone’s mother, what will they say? Who will they see when they look at me? When I think of my husband and that question directed at him, the answer is clear and immediate: “An artist. A designer. An art director.” I admire that in him; the way these things are woven into his every fiber. He could be nothing but these things. But what has happened to my path? Am I in a place as a result of deliberate direction, or have I just wandered ahead in these past few years, loosing a bit of the original vision I once had for myself with each mile?

There is no time like the present to find the answers to these questions. I can try…and in the spaces in between purpose and question, I can just write. Write something. Write anything. If you do something everyday eventually you will get better at it. 10,000 hours…..

Death is Hard

It’s the strangest feeling…
I’m looking at my cat, sleeping peacefully at my side. He’s curled up, paw covering his mouth and nose, so that I can only see his soft white fur and his eyes closed tight. His breathing is slow and steady. I look at him and fight the tears. I look at him and in a childish way wish, deep in my heart, that he could get better and live longer. Nineteen years he has been my buddy, traveling with me from 13 to 32. I look at him, imagine life without him, and daydream that he makes a surprise recovery and continues to sleep at my side for a while longer. Memories run through my mind of times past, funny stories, battle scars and like photographs they flip in front of my eyes.
I’m looking at my cat, sleeping soundly by my side, and think about the last few weeks and the next few. I see his soft white fur, his steady breathing, and quietly wish that he could just go like this…peacefully in his sleep. No more suffering, no more decay, no more cancer, no needles, no dreaded moment hearing the veterinarian’s car pull up in the drive way – just peace.
In the same breath I want him to live forever and die in his sleep.
Death is hard.

August 27, 2011   9:59 pm


Today’s Helping Hand….

The fortunate thing is that these moments, despite how often we feel we may “waste” them, come every now and again….
“We need more creation, not more destruction. We need our artists more than ever, and we need them to be stable, steadfast, honorable and brave – they are our soldiers, our hope.”
Thank you, thank you…. I hope this finds its way to someone and makes them feel the hope and determination I feel right now.

An answer of sorts….


Anyone who knows me well would confidently tell you that I am afraid of getting married and having children. I have been with my guy for a very long time (more than ten years) and according to the state of New York I am actually married… But the idea of going through the motions just stops me in my tracks, and more often than not I just don’t think that much about it. The subject of children on the other hand, is front and center because that is one of the few decisions that as a woman you do not have forever to make. As every year passes I know that the time has come, and that sooner or later it will be do it or miss the train. Sorry…but that is the scientific truth. I am not going to be comforted by the fact Mariah Carey had twins at 40-something. I am NO Mariah Carey.

A good, good friend of mine has had her first baby and from time to time tries to get me to “talk it out” and help me find some sort of peace with my apprehension. Up until recently the best I could come up with was “I just don’t want to be sorry that I never had one.” I could verbalize that I didn’t NOT want one, but I couldn’t find it in me to say, “yes, I want to have a baby.” Then, sometimes the heavens shine a ray of light at just the right time and a moment of clarity appears.


Dear A….,

So, I think I have come to a better description of what I, we, were trying to say the other day when you asked me to tell you why I felt I wanted to have a baby. I think I managed to say a half sentence about something like, “being very loving and not so crazy,” and then the bit about “an opportunity lost”.

At some point over the last couple of days I thought back to last Thursday evening, when my sister and I had gone to have dinner with our parents to celebrate my father’s birthday. Under the circumstances it had be done delicately: not to celebrate too much or be too chipper as that would have probably made him break down crying, but not let the day go by without any sort of acknowledgement at all either. So we picked up food and had dinner together, I brought some sunflowers (along with these beautiful little white flowers that I have never seen before, but were so pretty that everyone asked what they were) and my sister brought the most perfect card ever. It was nice…it was perfect.

After dinner my sister and I were standing near the table laughing when my mother, who was standing back by the kitchen, looked over at us and shook her head with a wide eyed look on her face. Seeing the gesture – I made eye contact with her, which was as good as a question, and she answered, “I’m just so amazed that you’re mine. I look at you girls, how you are with us and each other, how beautiful and how funny, and I can’t believe that I made you; that you are part of me…all these years later. Its amazing really, you girls are amazing.”

This thought then led to my thinking about how much I loved my sister and how grateful I was for her, which then immediately led to thoughts of you, and how grateful I was that you were in my life. In one of those “slide-shows” that happen in our brains from time to time, I saw big brown eyes, shiny long brown hair, big silly smiles, a long drive on an amazing coast, climbing out windows with snacks and dogs and a bunny hopping around on the living room floor, a “that smells bad” face as you pulled a moldy pair of shoes out of the deep back corner of your closet in apartment five, running around in that big Victorian in Vermont we had all to ourselves, making faces at each other at the Medeski Martin and Wood concert…then venturing off into the back and looking at the details of the old theater, sitting up at the top of the fire tower, drinking wine….borrowing each others clothes, cooking together, walking together….an infinite number of words exchanged….

I am so much more complete because you exist.

If your mother and father never had you, if your mother never gave birth to you, never worked her way through the baby stage and the crazy times, the exhausting long days and the abrasive teenage years and gave up some of her freedoms, I wouldn’t have you. I thought about that for a long time, and then there it was. Having a child is giving that gift all over again…that someone might be so happy that you exist. That your life might mean so much to someone else…that love, that indescribable feeling of connection and companionship; that is (one of the reasons) why I think I want to have a baby. I imagine, naturally, that I will love my baby with all of my being, but it goes beyond that. It is the idea, the possibility that one person can mean something to so many people, and in turn find people whom they love so much; that amazing journey. If my mom and your mom didn’t do it, we wouldn’t be. Not just you and me, but we.

Love you…

A clean home…

My mother has always kept a very clean home. The kind of clean where you could be an occasional guest in her home, go into the bathroom and not be the slightest bit afraid when you accidentally drop your ring and it rolls behind the toilet. In anyone else’s house (who does not have a stellar cleaning woman) you would think, “oh shhhhhhit.” You would clench your jaw; squint your eyes as if it helps with the nastiness and, holding your breath, reach in to reclaim your valuable. But not in my mother’s bathroom….no sir, no ma’am. You can confidently reach back there, even sit down on the floor if it makes you more comfortable and take your time because back there – it’s clean. There are no forgotten corners in her home, where eventually someone must go and discover a pile of something questionably grey and sticky.


Lately I haven’t been home much. Between the holidays, my birthday and other people’s events, Juan and I have been out more than in, and when we are in we haven’t been all that productive. Without fail, when I go through a period like this, there comes a day where I just can’t take it any more and I need to do a proper cleaning. I need to spend a day, on my own, and tidy up, dust, vacuum, cook and organize. My mother, always the hard worker, is nothing but supportive and kind to me, saying things like, “oh honey…you work so hard, you’re always running around and doing this or that. Don’t feel bad! You deserve it; go out and have a good time, then make sure you rest.” I, quietly, always think the following:

Yeah, ma, right. This is coming from the woman who, with a weakening illness managed (at my age) to have a job, keep a home in tip top shape with no help at all, raise two kids, help them with their homework, keep close tabs on them AND cook every single day trying to keep her husband happy. All this and you could peek behind the television and find clean organized wires and no dust. Sure ma. I should rest…because I’m so busy going out and socializing after work. Sssssure.

No! What happens if you come over and drop something…..anywhere???? You’ll find…well, I just don’t want to say. But no ma, today is “clean up my shit” day. No funny business.

So today that is exactly what I am doing. I reached far behind the toilet, under the radiator and cleaned it all. I removed the light fixture cover and cleaned it (eeeew) and now, I am happy to say, that you can come over and drop marbles if you want, because no matter where they roll, don’t be afraid. It’s all good.

These moments will always remind me of her, and how I was raised. The best part of being an adult is being able to part with the difficulties of being a child and remember the core things that you now know made you who you are. Whenever I am tired or just lazy, and think that I don’t have time, I think of her and know that is just not true. It doesn’t mean that I always then do whatever it is that I am putting off, but that I know. Knowing, as they say, is half the battle. There will never be any room for denial in my life because my mother taught me, by example, otherwise. 


Success Disclaimer

11:01 am 
Some days, I feel the need to ask my “successful” and “do-er” friends to sign a disclaimer that they will still want to be friends with me even if I don’t do anything impressive or noteworthy with my life.
At 33, I battle the fear of loosing my focus on a daily basis, sandwiched between going to work because I need money to live and doing all the normal stuff that needs to be done for our lives to run smoothly (like clean clothes, towels and apartment, food to eat and so on). I have a few friends in my circle that are very busy people, always getting something done and pounding past those milestones like fucking champions. Their stories speak of houses, renovations, trips to the vet, new cars and car payments, refinancing, retirement investing, babies, children, second degrees, job promotions and salary increase negotiations. There are times when I stare at the phone, my faced all screwed and folded into a look of anguish: what will I say if I call them? When they are done filling me in, what will I say? “I made these amazing blood orange muffins the other day, my asshole boss at the job I said I was going to quit three months ago is still an asshole, I’m still working on “the change” we spoke about a year ago and hey, I’ve been posting to a blog no one knows about!”
Ah yes, the conversation of champions.
I mean, don’t get me wrong: I love these girls. They are no joke…good looking, strong, successful and amazing in general. But I do sometimes, in the irritating insecurity that plagues the girl part of me, want to just put it all out on the table: “do you want to talk to me if I don’t have anything impressive to report? Please sign this disclaimer that you will like me even if I don’t find my way. As long as I don’t go dumb and useless, you’ll love me, right?”
But nothing is black and white, and my memory reaches out to put a stop to my nonsense, recalling a certain moment past with one of my “power girls”:
We lay facing each other on a twin bed in her in-laws house with the door closed as I watched tears stream down her face. Her beautiful blue eyes were red and so sad, the injured girl in her breaking my heart. The pain we know from love is like no other, except perhaps for death, and I searched for something to say to make her feel just the tiniest bit better. When the sobbing slowed and we just looked at each other in silence, I told her that even though we couldn’t explain it now, I truly believed that everything happened for a reason. I told her how amazing she was, how proud I was of who she was, that she was part of my life…and that she was strong. Then I joked about myself: I pointed out that at least she wasn’t like me, wandering about life in circles, asking herself questions over and over and never making any progress. She had accomplished so much and had come so far from where she began. It was then that here eyes snapped to attention for just a moment, and sternly she said, “at least you’re happy. At least you laugh and can be silly, you move around in circles but see beautiful things: you’re living.”
That’s why we all need each other, like pieces of a puzzle. If we were all the same shape we could be side-by-side at best, but not united. With that I will go and be on with my day off, letting myself be proud for small things like eating a meal that does not contain cheese, actually putting all of my clothes away, putting the recycle out before midnight and crossing something off my list that has been there since last year.