Saturday, August 29, 2009

Forgive me...

Perhaps I failed to mention, Child One is now a driver.  It was with great anticipation that I awaited the day of her test at the DMV.  And I admit that I pushed her to make the appointment, pushed her to get her license as soon as she was able.  And now, Child One is a driver.  And I am no longer necessary.  Yet more proof of my middle-aged insignificance.  Child One goes where she wants, when she wants, as long as it is before the State of California 11pm curfew.  And as long as the lady who lives in the GPS of the Prius knows how to get where she wants to go.  And so she goes.  To horseshows.  To the frozen yogurt place.  To her friends’ houses.  All the places I used to drive her, she now drives herself.  And I face Saturday and Sunday mornings with no plans.  That should bring blissful excitement.  I could sleep in, get my nails done, go shopping.  But in fact, all it brings is a sad longing for a moment in time that has passed and cannot be replaced.  Drive time.  Singing show tunes on the ride from Friday afternoon pick-up or chatting on Saturday mornings about what to cook for dinner, who was mean in school or what the latest fashion choice is at school.  I miss drive time.  I miss the little girl I used to chit-chat with in the car.  That round little girl got replaced by a slender young woman with a driver’s license.  And the young woman is delightful and interesting and loving.  But the little girl is gone.  And I will always miss her.

The 43rd Year, continued

Its been a while since I’ve written anything that has to do with the essential nature of this blog – that being the feeling of complete insignificance that the coming of my 43rd year brought.  But last weekend, I experienced that feeling again.  Last weekend, I read every word of every article in the New York Sunday Times Magazine – an issue dedicated to women’s issues.  One article in particular struck me as it was about women in third world countries – the circumstances under which they suffer and the assertion that the world would no doubt be a better place if these women were educated and given the opportunity to thrive.  The article also talked about how a tiny loan through a microfinance organization can and does change a woman’s life.

I microfinance.  I first started with a donation to an organization called FINCA.  And then my friend, John, gave me a gift certificate to  John’s gift sat unused for weeks while I got caught up in the trivia of my daily life.  And then one day about six weeks ago I logged on.  Kiva allows you to choose – not only the country you want to loan to but also the individual.  And so I scrolled through lives of people in Congo, Nicaragua, Ethiopia.   I chose two recipients – one woman who was starting an embroidery business and one who needed money to buy an extra goat for her already successful goat milk business.  And I felt good.

But the articles started me thinking – what can I do OTHER than making a loan here or there via Kiva or sponsoring a child through PlanUsa or some other organization?  What can I do to make a difference?  The frustration of 43 is that I feel I should have done something significantly more important by now – significantly more impactful.  This is NOT a plea for accolades.  I know I’m a great stepmom, a great friend, a great wife.  I’m good at my job and have made both decent and shitty movies.  And that’s all fine.  But surely there must be something more.  I’m not the MOST powerful woman in Hollywood but I am surely also not the least.   It is not possible that I cannot come up with some way to focus my energy, my contacts, my passion toward something that will do some good in the world – something that involves more than just writing a check.  If I can create awareness (and then inspire OTHER people to write checks), isn’t that the best use of my 43rd year?

 And so on this unbearably hot day, I am considering the future.  On this day when the air smells like the city is a giant garbage barbecue, I’m trying to figure out what’s next.  I fear I will fail.  I fear I lack follow-through.  I fear I won’t find a way to do enough.  Maybe there is no way to do enough.  But that’s what I’m thinking about on this day of my 43rd year…

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Still life with pedicure and Daffy...

I am not fond of a duck.  I know it sounds odd.  I’m an animal lover, a vegetarian and a general supporter of all things nature-related.  But ducks are birds.  And birds are dirty.  I don’t know where I got this idea.  And I have no scientific evidence to back up the notion that birds are dirtier than any other wild beast.  Deer are certainly tick-infested.  Coyotes and raccoons rummage through garbage and sewage.  But ducks (and of course gulls and geese and crows) are the focus on my fear.  Yet here I am (picture above), swinging blissfully in a hammock next to a creek leading to a bay surrounded by ducks.  And I have to admit, up close, they’re pretty cute.  They don’t have fleas or mites swarming around them.  They didn’t leave piles of duck poop in their wake.  They didn’t even try to bite my toes.  They were just cute.  And waddly.  And very, very happy that my friend Bob was calling to them in a Daffy Duck Disney voice (although on second thought, it may not have been his goofy voice at all but the bread crumbs Bob was throwing from a fancy Citarella bag that got them all amped up).  So I’m changing my mind about ducks.  At least for today.  Today I’m relaxed and happy and in my favorite place in the world.  And I will consider being fond of a duck.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


This is the breed Sig Other wants to add next to our happy household of four-legged creatures. The Weims and I are not so sure...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Showing up.

My ex-husband is a selfish guy.  I know this not because of the way he treated me in our marriage.  I know this not even because of the way he treated me in our divorce.  I know this because of the way he treats other people.  Yesterday was the funeral of the son of mutual friends – mutual friends that I have stayed in touch with and that he has not.  Not because I won them in the friend lotto of divorce, but simply because I’ve stayed in touch and he has not.  But the funeral came around and my ex-husband showed up to the service.

This morning, our friend, the mother of the boy, asked if my ex came to her house afterwards.  I didn’t see him, I said.  But today I got an email from him, saying that he had left directly after the service because he was “too broken up” to stick around.  Too broken up.  He couldn’t have been more “broken up” than our friend.  She was present and devastated and profound in her strength.  He couldn’t have been more “broken up” than those who were close to the boy.  I don’t doubt that he was upset, don’t doubt that he was moved and grieving.  He loved this boy – this sweet, broken boy who overdosed at the age of 22.  But in a world of pain and grief, in a community of people coming together to help a mother deal with the death of a son, you show up.  You get over your own pain, your own grief, your own hurt and you pull it together long enough to show up.  That’s what friendship is.  That’s what love is.  That is what it means to be truly present.

None of us knew what to say to Pam yesterday.  None of us really know what to say to her in the future.  I saw her at lunch today and conversation moved from the mundane to the profound and back again a hundred times over the course of twenty minutes.  But you show up.  That’s what friends do.  You show up and you say the right thing.  Or you say the wrong thing.  Or you say nothing at all.  But you show the fuck up.  Because that’s what being a grown up is all about. 

Sig Other shows up.  Compassion is not his strong suit.  Sensitivity to others is not a natural fallback for him.  But he has extraordinary presence in the face of adversity and pain.  And he knows how to show up.  Over and over, time and time again, he shows up.  At weddings, at funerals, in good times and in bad, he is there – for me, for my friends, for his friends, for family.  And this is one of things I love about him most.  I consider myself ridiculously lucky that I picked wisely this time out and am partnered with a man who knows that showing up is more than half the battle.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

NK with love

My friend’s son killed himself last night.  Overdosed.  Accidently.  On purpose.  Who knows.  The end result is the same.  He’s dead.  Early twenties.  And, statistically, that’s all he’ll ever be.  A young man who died of an overdose in his early twenties.  But he was more than just a statistic.  He was a young man with a story.  A story that began with heartbreak and ended in tragedy.  And despite a family’s worth of effort to rewrite his story – to shift the paradigm of history that led to this moment – his story ended as it began.

I am heartbroken for his mother.  Heartbroken for him.  For his brother, his grandparents, his girlfriend, his mother’s boyfriend who was a father to him for over a decade.  Theirs was a relationship spent in a wrestling match fraught with the tension that comes between two people caught in the cycle of drug and alcohol abuse – one who has survived the worst and the other in the midst of it.  I’m shocked.  I’m paralyzed.  And I’m helpless.

I’m not in the inner circle of this boy’s world.  I’m the outer circle – part of a group of friends that cares deeply but is no longer in the daily lives of the parents due to circumstance and distance.  We live on opposite coasts now. So we speak irregularly.  But we still care about each other.  And I still remember the young man as a boy.  I know the sound of his gruff hello and can still feel the awkwardness of his hug when I came to visit.  I know the joy of his infrequent laugh and the warmth of his smile when it appeared.  I also know the frustration of his mother, struggling to understand his deep pain and dealing with the uncertainty of his future.  I know the depth of the lows she felt worrying about his struggles and the elation of the highs she felt fleetingly, hoping that he’d overcome his problems.  What I don’t know is what to do now.

I’m not inner circle.  So I’ve called.  I’ve emailed.  I wait – wait for the call that will notify me if there is to be a memorial or funeral.   I hope – hope that someone will call if there is anything I can do to help.  I know – know that none of this will take away the agony of the loss of this boy.  I write – write into the ether that exists somewhere between gaudy voyeurism and the catharsis of the written word.  And I sit – sit with my heart ripped open and think about my friend who is going through the unfathomable: the loss of vibrant young man, the loss of her son.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Summer lovin'

When I was a kid, my parents never fought.  And I thought that’s what love was.  Love, to my adolescent mind, was a state of agreement.  Two people locked in a world of pleasant co-habitation.  It wasn’t particularly passionate.  It wasn’t particularly affectionate.  But it was always very nice.

As a young adult, disagreements or arguments or genuine passionate fights were the mark of trouble – a relationship with discord was a relationship in decline.  Any fight with a lover, boyfriend or husband was a calamity.  I had no familiarity with a world in which a fight was just a fight, no way to process that sometimes disagreement could lead to greater understanding or a broadening of horizons or a deepening of a relationship.  An argument, to me, was the end.

So it is with great relief and much amusement that I enter my mid-40s reveling in the acknowledgement that, sometimes anyway, a fight between partners is just a fight.  I write this after coming home from one of the more delightful dinners of the summer – close friends on a Sunday night sharing delicious food and appropriate amounts of wine.  There was a gorgeous tomato tart, perfectly roasted potatoes, grilled summer zucchini with mint and feta, asparagus and salad and some pretty damn decent desserts I’d made thanks to luscious ripe peaches and bountiful figs at the farmer’s market.  And there were some fights.  One couple snapping at each other, the other struggling to unwind from the tension of a day spent with bickering children and in-laws.  And a toast to family – our family of friends, not related by blood but bonded together by shared passions, deep respect and true delight in one another’s company. 

What was so beautiful about the evening, so perfect in a way, was not the ample and amazing food, was not even the constant overlapping and lively conversation.  What was perfect were the little moments of discord here and there – the freedom among partners to not pretend that everything was ok.  This family, this mix of people not related by blood but bonded by affection, has enough comfort to admit to imperfection, to not pretend that everything is always nice, to respect that years together sometimes leads to tense moments that are less than ideal.  And that, in its own way, the acknowledgement of the imperfection, made for a perfect night.