Friday, July 30, 2010

Time for Change

Finally, finally, things are starting to calm down.

This past week was the one time of the year when all three boys are at camp. No one to take care of, no one to drive around, no one to tell to get off the computer, please, and go outside.

It is a glorious week.

Ben comes home today, and I'm hauling him up to Downeast, or Amish country as he calls it. He can be as miserable as he wants- or not. Personally, I have a book idea that is fun, goofy and I'm going to see if it makes sense by starting in on it. It will incorporate a lot of what I've been doing the last few months, in a fictional way.

Fiction- the way to save yourself from getting sued.

I am feeling that I'm at a crossroad again. Do I continue with the kind of work I've been doing or do I change course, and try something new.

Or go back to the old. I miss writing. I miss it a lot. I almost can't remember how to start a story anymore. I'm going to try- might not get anywhere.

Lately, I've had a fear of my email inbox. Always something that isn't good coming up. Or another request for time, or money, or both. Along with patience, this life's lesson is about saying No.

Graciously, of course.

I yearned for so many years to be "good enough" in the eyes of my mother. That what my work was meant something. I had no right to say no- it was my responsibility. Now I've met the President of the United States, the Governor of my state knows my name, and I'm often involved in work that leaves me in high levels of decision making.

All good, right? And it is. I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunities I've been given.

Then I look at my kids. Ben is 14- almost 15 years old. He'll be leaving home sooner than I realize. The truth is, I have 8 more years with my kids- Jake's only 10. This part of my life will be over.

I do not want to have regrets. Was I too stressed out for months on end to spend time with them? Yes. Did I say yes too many times that adversely effected them? Yes.

Along the way, I've made some great connections with people. I don't regret it but I also have to wonder what my reasons are- at almost 50 years old, it seems like it might be time to drop the need for outside approval of my worthiness to live in this world.

I had a dream last night that I was stuck in Afghanistan with Jake. We were desperately trying to get out of the country, and there was fighting all around us. At one point, I told him that we were going to leave all the stuff we had behind- none of it mattered. We just needed to get out.

Perhaps it's time to leave all the stuff behind- it's time to get out.

The one conversation I keep having with my sister about her cancer is that you never know. You simply never know when the other shoe will drop. No oncologist in the world will tell you a timeline. We decide how to live every day.

It's really the only thing we have any control over.

The only thing that keeps ringing through my head is simplify. Action, drama, movement is all a rush - until it isn't. And then you're stuck on the rollercoaster with no way off until someone else pulls the switch.

It's been my favorite mode of living, it seems, for a long time. It's time to change.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


After placing all the plates down on the table and calling the kids to lunch, it occurred to me the rhythm here is similar to when the boys were little.

Except that they slept until 9:30 this morning. Believe me, that never ever happened when they were little.

I made breakfast, cleaned the dishes, cleaned the house, and took the boys out to the new grocery store.

It's really quite nice. There was an enormous giggling moment at the sausage section- I'm not quite sure why the store made sausage was so... long and wide. They stopped giggling when I asked them if that's what they wanted for dinner.

We got back and they immediately asked for lunch- and I made what they wanted, placing the cut sandwiches on the plates with a pile of cut fruit in the middle. While they sat at the table laughing, I cleaned up the kitchen.

Then it was nap time. Sure, only I took a nap but still, the rhythm was complete.

Feeding, cleaning, a special event, then feeding, cleaning, and napping. The big difference now is that they talk and talk and talk and talk. Non-stop chitter chat about everything from the last game of BS they played, to how their Aunt Toni was telling them what nut cases Jeanine and I were about their food being organic when Ben and Zachary were babies.

Until Jake was born, and then we were eating at McDonald's.

Oh, you all had McDonald's when you were little. You didn't go through toddlerhood without a happy meal.

Geesh. I'm not THAT mean.

I found them all sitting in the hammock after I finished the breakfast dishes. Ben was teaching Jake and Zachary all the lyrics of some song they like.

I know it won't last. The current game of BS being played next to me on the porch is about to erupt in violence, as did the game of Go Fish last night. Of course, after Go Fish, we did silly dancing moves.

Even Zachary danced.

It's the four of us again. Sure, Jeanine would be home at night, but the days were ours to fill. Strollers have been replaced by short real life in the car driving lessons. Sippy cups of milk replaced by snapple ice teas.

Food is still organic whenever possible- they may not realize it but it is.

I love this rhythm. I believe it is possible elsewhere, but requires work and effort to not be distracted. Here? There is no choice.

Just one more reason why I love it so much.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Downeast... again

It's beautiful. Ok, it's foggy and chilly but right now that feels great.

I don't care what my kids say, the minute they start driving down the road to the house? their energy perks up and they start talking about all the stuff they do here... even mr. ben boy.

Yuh. They hate it. Yuh.

At a low point, when I was feeling really bad about spending the money on this place, that it was our "baby" to save the "marriage," Jeanine reminded me we gave the kids an experience they would never have had in their lives. We'll sell it, sure. But not for a while.

I've invited many folks and few have come. It's not for the weak, I suppose. It always hurts my feelings a little because it is so special to me. Even Jeanine hems and haws. Bah I say. Bah.

Part of what has been difficult this week has been a power and privilege play. I have hurt a good, dear friend. I never meant to. It kills me to think I hurt her.

I never see myself as powerful. I understand I'm privileged. Somewhere in there, I need to make a connection that I'm missing. I'm often embarrassed by my privilege. But it's there. Hiding from it doesn't make it not so. Nor does it mean I have to give it all away to be a "good" person.

why is that so hard for me?

Not going to figure that out tonight. No mussels for dinner this weekend, it's red tide. There is a good boat for sale that I may just go ahead and buy. I so want a boat to go play on. have since I was a kid staying on Canadaigua lake. It's a boston whaler, sturdy and not prone to tipping. It's the boat Bob and Mary, the lobsterfolks, used last year to pull traps, which makes me think it's way too big but... it would come with their help and guidance.

They make me smile so much. Raspberry ripple, you know. Haven't found any yet but still looking.

Donald told me the big news- a new hannaford supermarket was opened. At least everything will be in date- maybe. We passed the blueberry fields and the portapotties were being brought out to the tiny cabins for the migrant workers. Ben is starting to understand about his privilege. We had a good talk about what it would be like to have to live like that. I reminded him his great grandmother, grandmother and great uncles lived in a boxcar, and followed the seasons to pick whatever was there, whatever they could make money doing.

He reminded me that his other grandmother never picked a thing and was related to George Washington. I said, yup. You got both worlds going on. Be true to both.

My sister reminded me the other day about how far he has come. How hard it was only a few months ago. I look at him and am so grateful we are where we are.

Jake asked me, as we were settling in, if Walter and Allan were going to take their stuff from here. I said we hadn't decided what to do about that yet. Soon, people up here will see the car in the driveway and stop by and ask about them. I'm not sure what to say. They all accepted our weird family with open hearts. And now it's broken and I feel the failure. This place, all the homes down here, are old old old. families own them for generations.

And here we are. New, and already broken.

Sadness. The sign with all our names on it is still in the magic shed (it's the all purpose shed on the property that has always had everything we needed in it- tools, wicks, oils, buckets, ropes, ladders... a friend deemed it the magic shed because whatever you needed magically appeared.)

Do I burn it? Or do I toss it in the pile of other shit here, some totally useless, for the next owner to find and wonder about. There is so much in this house, the dome, the shed, that covers the 110 years it's been here. The captain's quarters sign, AB Seaman and spare signs, from the shipwreck the wood to build the house was scavenged from. Books from the early 1900's, old wood toys most certainly coated with lead paint, and all the antique lanterns we light every night.

Maybe it just belongs here as part of it's history. I don't know. I just don't feel as vengeful as I did a few months ago.

One of the propane lights broke and was leaking gas. Yikes. A burner on the stove is clogged. A-yuh. I'll get to it. No sign of porkchop- I don't really care. I don't have a garden. There are plenty of trees for it to munch on. Live and let live.

Mind you, I throw the fish I catch back in the water, too. I don't really have the heart to kill things. Except mice. I can kill a mouse. Well, not personally. I'd be shrieking too loud.

Maybe that would kill them. hHmmm.

For now? A glass of wine in front of the fire. Yes, a fire. It's not cold but there is a chill. A game of gin with Jake. Light the lanterns- it's already getting a little dark. I'll make some dinner, and when it gets truly dark, everyone is ready for bed- even if it's 9pm. I love that.

I'm in downeast. Again. It is where my soul rests for a while.

And the boys... even though they complain? Seem to find some peace, too.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Reader's Digest Version

Ok, Ok, Ok.

I am VERY sorry.

I owe all of you about eighteen posts. All today. All funny, too.

Over the last few months, I've been involved in an incredible experience of searching for a new Executive Director of Mass Equality. It has been a roller coaster ride, mostly for personal reasons. The search itself has been exciting. I am crossing my fingers and toes that it ends tonight successfully.

Big happy update on my sister: Her numbers are great, she's feeling better and is even considering a trek to downeast to watch the waves. Big reality check: it's been a hard month prior to that. She was feeling pretty awful prior to a change in the chemo, and pretty sure she was about to die.

I did not believe she was about to die. I understood she was feeling really crappy but that chemo is a chemistry guessing game, and tweaks here and there can make a world of difference.

We had a few rough conversations. I went down a dark hole of feeling like I was not good enough, not doing enough because... well... she told me that.

We worked on how to communicate better. How to be clear about what she wants- and what she needs. How I can be clear about what I can and cannot do. It's not easy for either of us to do. We're going to try.

Thankfully, a new chemo tried, and lo and behold, it (knock wood) is working. Of course, I knock wood, she thanks God. All bases are covered.

We're off to Downeast tomorrow. The one thing that consistently comes up for me, is my horrible evasion of conflict. I need to sit with that for a while. It is my biggest challenge, has been for years.

Yes, Yes, Yes. I will write more later. This is the reader's digest version of all that's been going on- I can do better and I will.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Can't Remember

Did I post this already? Can't fucking remember...