Sunday, December 6, 2009

I miss London. A city where you walk so much - a city where people do not complain.

One thing I noticed the most was that no one was obsessed with swine flu - no hand sanitizer, no masks. I returned to America recognizing the frantic nature of the country - and I wish it was not.

When I go to the gym, so many people are wiping the equipment with antibacterial wipes all the time. Really? How many people get terribly infected with viruses from the gym? It's silly. I wash my hands at least a dozen times a day.

I have 3 cats. Some would argue that pets are dirty & infecting. But so strange, my cats are NEVER sick - why is that? My animals are cleaner than my kindergartener. We constantly have to tell her to not do something because she's getting germs on her. And knowing how dirty this world is, I try to avoid yucky things - Lil doesn't get it. So I'll continue to yell at her for touching every tangible item in the restroom...

Saturday, December 5, 2009


What do I want to be when I grow up?

Not sure...

I have recently left a job where I had been for more than 5 years.

Some people do not understand the idea of leaving a job. Some people say they feel they want to leave a job too, but they are pushing through it.

I decided that I was not going to cope. Isn't it strange how our jobs hold us so much? We are so scared to leave them...we do not make decisions apart from them...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Do you know what you were supposed to do?

I believe I was supposed to sing. Not that I have an incredible voice - I have a good voice that people enjoy. But I feel the emotion - songs were not written to be sung by rote. I have written a couple of songs & it would break my heart if they were sung without feeling.

My heart is breaking - I want so sing..

Thursday, October 29, 2009


The 20th century came to a close with a shudder, but not with a bang. The bang came in September 2001.

On that day, two colleagues argued over the terror level of their perspectives. One had been raised in Qatar after his parents had fled Syria & the other was an African-American woman who had been raised in the DC area. He argued that these things were so common in the Palestinian neighborhoods that they were deadened to terror attacks. She argued that drive-by shootings & drug deals were so pervasive in poor black neighborhoods that they knew all about it.

They were competing with each other in a game that could not be won.

Tonight, I am finally watching Sophie's Choice. It is SO different than what I expected. I thought the whole movie would be depressing, angry, pitiful and awful. But do you know why I am enjoying this movie? Because it is REAL. As humans in any given point, we laugh, cry & scream. Sometimes, we're up, sometimes, we're down. Although Sophie has experienced horror in Auschwitz, she sometimes dances with her boyfriend. She laughs. Sometimes, she cries. Is she awful for laughing? Is she wallowing when she cries? Is it terrible that she is alive? That she has survived?

all of this has made me think about something we will lose soon - Holocaust & WWII survivors. If I look around at my friends, so few of them ever think about this important experience. Vietnam, sometimes, but that is SO different than WWII. One of the first biographies I read was Anne Frank's Diary - I am setting the stage to read this book to my daughter in the next year. She needs to know about the incredible humanity of the world and the utter sadness of the world. Although Anne Frank died in a camp, she is a wonderful role model for my daughter.

I beg of you - please do not forget the Holocaust - in forgetting, you become desensitized to why it happened.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October thoughts

Last night, the weather turned into October daughter had been cool yesterday morning for her field trip & ended up warm with long sleeves at the farm. Oh well. Learning how to feel uncomfortable...It's a life skill, right?

But it's not about the learning to feel uncomfortable - it's about how to deal with it that separates people. From the moment a baby is born, he or she knows about discomfort. It's the way you process it that makes a difference.

Our parenting process has focused on adaptation. When our daughter was little, she needed to be fed whenever she needed it due to her low weight. We didn't look at the clock...if we mixed a bottle & she drank it, then that was the right thing. If not, oh well. We probably fed her a little more than some parents, but she was fine. At night, she would start to get annoyed if she wasn't put in her crib around 8:07. She'd start getting grumpy at 7:50 and then by 8:15, she was fine. We fought through it with her. If we were at someone's house or a restaurant, we didn't have an internal alarm clock at 7:30 that said we had to start getting her ready for bed otherwise the Apocalypse was near.

My dad recounted a story of going to someone's house when my brothers & I were young and how he could say in a commanding voice - WE ARE LEAVING NOW. My brothers & I would get into the car without a problem. I would bet my mom doesn't remember it this way, but that's not my point. Luke & I tell Lily that we're leaving someplace to give her a 5 minute warning. I think that's personal courtesy. Luke tells me he wants to leave because he's tired. I tell him we need to go because I'm tired. Just because she's a child & we're the parents, does that mean we cannot show her some courtesy? Luke felt my dad was scolding us (as he was) for doing that, but it's more of a "Get ready to leave" than a type of "this house will be bombed in 6 minutes, you must evacuate" approach.

No question that when it comes time to leave, we will lay down the law and drag said child kicking & screaming. But do you know how often that happens? Rarely.

Our child is not a different species - she is a person. We usually approach her as if she is - wait for it - a person. When she responds poorly, we then kick it up a notch. And that happens - she has a shoe problem in the morning, where she decides shoes she liked 2 days ago FEEL FUNNY. We give her a chance to rebuckle or retie them, but once is it. After that, we walk down the stairs without her. Knowing time is short, she must figure out what to do. She always follows us down...

It doesn't require yelling, spanking or taking things away. Every once in a while, there are some things that do...But mostly, she knows she has disappointed us, made us boycott her presence for a moment or that we have moved on from this seemingly momentous episode in her life.

She knows that she has angered us & that makes ALL of us sad. But she knows we care less about whether her shoes fit than she does & we aren't willing to listen to it. So she moves on.

And while I do not want to be my daughter's friend, I appreciate, actually adore, when she says, I like you so much. I know that she wouldn't actually say that about her friends, given the age & competition of being a five year old. When she says that, I think she means, you are a good person, I like spending time with you & I think you're nice. And when she says, I love you so much, that is the icing on the cake of Lily.

And when I get scared that I am a bad mom & say that in front of Lily, she is quick to say, You are a great mom. And I wish for her perspective.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

5 year old questions

When my daughter was born, I had one question for those at the receiving end - Is it a girl? Sonograms had shown us the skeletal frame and we could see the 10 toes & 10 fingers. Didn't need to worry about that. But she had been modest (hopefully she stays that way) and we weren't 100% sure of the gender. We knew she'd be on the smallish side - born 5 lbs 12 oz, no surprise - but she was completely proportional, no issues, right? Her size was of some concern given that she had jaundice in a medium bad way, but they did release her when I was released. Prior to birth, that had been my biggest fear - what if I went home without my baby? But they did release her, with the caveat of daily blood tests to check the jaundice. I left the hospital with my lil' bear. My doll baby as many called her.

Tonight, I had to talk to her about some things. She has her swim lessons every Tuesday night and the winter swim team are in the other pool practicing for meets. When we walked in, I noticed a teenage girl with a metal leg. I hoped lil' bear would not notice...she didn't.

But when we were going to the restroom to change her clothes, we had to stop & let the swim team girls into the practice pool. That teenage girl did NOT have her metal leg on. Lil' bear immediately noticed & started to say, Mommy, why is she...We cut her off & said quietly we'll talk about it later.

Seconds later in the restroom as I'm helping her change - Mommy, you said we would talk about that girl. I had assumed I had bought us 20 minutes. NOPE.

I explained that something may have happened when she was in her mommy's tummy. She asked me if I had ever seen anyone like that before. I said yes, that happens in war sometimes. I did NOT mention that her pappy had personal experience with that aspect of war. (I thought about it, but didn't.) So she asked if that girl had been in war. I said no, she was too young & she was probably born with something wrong. Lil told me she was very sad. But I told her there was no need - that girl is ON THE SWIM TEAM. I have TWO legs and I was never on the swim team. (I was never on any team.)

Lil was very perplexed over her ability to swim. She tried to pretend what it would be like without a leg to kick in the pool. We'll probably get some questions about it in the next few days. I don't know what to tell her - but I tried to focus on the fact that this girl is doing what she likes to do.

Feeling sad is not a productive activity - empathy is an important skill though. I sometimes feel sad about certain people I see around town & feel paralyzed by that. I don't want Lil to feel it to that degree. We are all dealt some imperfect hand in this life - physical, mental, family, social, environmental. And you can't look at someone & say "At least my life is better than theirs" because I bet that girl has moved past her disability better than I've moved past my recent foot surgery.

Empathize with people, don't pity them. Pity is judgmental and self-righteous. Empathy is putting yourself in their place - but don't overwhelm yourself with it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sleeping & kitty cat snores

My cat Derby just let out a snore that is pretty impressive for a 14 lb cat. I think it proves regardless of species, guys snore more than girls.


Snoring to me indicates that most innocent & deep of sleeps. I realize that in truth it is usually part & parcel of sleep apnea, obesity, etc. But I am somewhat jealous of that depth of sleep & lack of awareness.

When I was little, I used to sleep over at my best friend's house about every other week. I had the hardest time sleeping. I had my Strawberry Shortcake slumberbag, but I was uncomfortable. I'd lay awake listening to sounds of her house - Sugar & Coffee, her cocker spaniels, getting comfortable as they settled in for the night. But I was jealous of Beth too - she fell asleep so easily.

Even at home, I would lay awake. When my dad lived there, I remember him opening the door to let some light in and how much that annoyed me. I'd wait a second & get out of bed & close the door. LIGHT=NO SLEEP. I was 4 or 5. Getting to sleep was a major problem for me. Once I was asleep, however, waking up was a problem. Everybody assumed that I had slept from 9 until 6:30 so I SHOULD be fine...but in reality, I'd get into bed at 9:05. I might try to keep the light on to test my mother's patience so as to read as much of the young adult novel I had gotten from the library that night. (My poor mom - forever shuttling me to the library!) I'd turn off the light at 9:15. I would TRY to go to sleep - but what does that mean? Closing my eyes? Meditating? Sometimes, I'd gather all the animals around my room into my bed, thinking that a cozy bed meant sleep.

In the end, I'd go into the hall bathroom. That's sacrosanct, right? Nobody's going to bother you in the bathroom. I'd sit on the tub, reading. I don't think for hours, but I'm sure I read for at least 30 minutes many a night.

There is something within me (I think DNA???) that has categorized me as a night owl. I love being awake late at night when the world is falling asleep. It's not that I'm not a morning person. If I'm awake at 6:30, I'm fine. Of course, it's the getting me awake at 6:30 that is the problem.

The hubby & the little bear are always up before me. But they're grumpy - they need their juice and their coffee before they can get going. The brain is clearly not functioning immediately. But according to the world, they're morning people. No, the morning person is my papa - he gets up early naturally & he's happy to be awake. I'm fine once I'm out of bed - just need the eyedrops to pop open my eyelids (LASIK is somewhat drying).

In this age of genetic engineering, I'd like to know what the gene is for insomnia & night-owlness. What other traits are on it?

Lil Bear totally understands that I need a few minutes to wake up - so she'll pretend to curl up with me and within 30 seconds, Mommy, when can we go downstairs? But she usually does this at 8:30 AM on a Saturday. So I think she may have that gene, but we need extensive testing for this hypothesis...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

At what age should you be honest?

Do you know why people love Simon Cowell but demonize him? To me, he exemplifies something about the British people that American lost - maybe it didn't happen right after the Revolution was won at Yorktown, but it began to happen as different groups with differing standards immigrated to the country. In addition to the melting pot of America, terrible things occurred like the Holocaust and minority repression around the world that made us so much more sensitive to others' feelings & needs. So, we began to keep things inside and judge ourselves.


We have lost the ability to be honest with each other. Do you constantly pretend to like people? Do you listen to their annoying stories and stay quiet when they make terrible decisions? Do you stay quiet because you are afraid of offending someone? Because you are scared of losing your job? Of losing a friendship? Of making waves? Do you make sure to have a smile on your face all the time?

As I've gotten older, I have gotten less patient with this social nicety. I seek out few friendships, because I am not a good friend as I dislike dishonesty. I cannot be all things to all people and I don't want to be. A couple people have called this "moodiness" - it is not moodiness. I am being unfriendly because I probably don't like you. I am brash, outspoken, ridiculously sarcastic and ...

oddly sensitive.

I take everything personally. But that is MY issue, not the world's. I need to look within myself to see whether something is true or talk to my husband or my best friends for their realistic understanding of who I am.

When I have discussions about American inhibitions with my British friends, they scoff. I've heard jokes about the British loving their dogs more than their human children. But I understand this. When my cats want to go away & sleep, they do so. When they want love, they come around. A smack on the nose when they jump on the counter, they yowl at you and come back 15 minutes later. (Anybody who knows me knows my cats don't get smacked on the nose when they get on the counter, but we clean the counter constantly, ok??) Barring outright abusive behavior (which is unacceptable), they don't take it personally...

But in America today, this is not the case. I will freely admit that I've felt like someone was angry at me and it bothered me. But it should NOT & that is something I need to overcome. In Cowell's case, he has often commented that he's being honest for the person's own sake. And I agree - more of us should do that. Do not lie to your child if they sing horribly - cancel the singing lessons and look into the piano. I've told my 5 year old daughter that her voice is not great - it hurt her. But you know what? It hurts a lot more when the entire country laughs at you at age 19. I did tell her that she's a good dancer and I'm not. So I sing (and dance OK), she dances (and sings OK) and we both feel successful at those talents and not disappointed in our shortcomings. Honesty does not have to be a four letter word.

And yes, I will cultivate more cat friendships than human ones...if my hubby lets me get more kitties!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Taking a breath

This winter has been difficult for me. But I am now more than halfway through my MBA program. Even talking about it, though, makes my heart start palpitating. My doctor says it's panic attacks, but if one isn't exactly stressed, why does it happen?

My favorite time is in the car, listening to a good book on my iPod. I adore historical mysteries preferably set in England. I did my history degree thesis on the evolution of the British constitutional monarchy, so I have a thing for England.

Right now, I am listening to C. J. Sansom's Dark Fire. I have always assumed my obsession with history is an escapist one. Although thrillers set in current day do envelope me, the idea of being in a world less like this one interests me. When things were simpler and we didn't spend hours in our cars...