Saturday, September 25, 2010

Going out in style...

When I die, Sig Other will buy a Rolls Royce with the money left him by my life insurance.  We’ve discussed it at length.  It will be a convertible.  It might be vintage and it might be chocolate brown and shadow gray with tan interior.   He will, of course, be sad that I’m gone.  He will, of course miss me.  Surely, he will be downright inconsolable as he drives his shiny new car.  But he will also be able to finally afford it and so will experience his grief in style.  That is, of course, before he takes his next wife.
These are the sorts of conversations we have about the future.  I will die first and he will get the car of his dreams.  It all seems very simple.  We don’t talk about what would happen if he should die first.  We used to.   He used to tell me that it was my responsibility to arrange his funeral – a grand affair at the Hollywood Bowl where the Philharmonic (guest conducted by Zubin Mehta) would play Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as his body burned on a pyre center stage (Sig Other’s body, that is.  Not Zubin Mehta’s).  But now we just talk about the Rolls Royce. 

We’re lucky, Sig Other and I.  So far (and I write this knocking superstitiously on all things wooden around me), we have our health.  As do most of our friends.  But we’re getting older and at some point, time and fate will step in and do what they do.  I hope we handle it all rather elegantly.  I hope we manage to sail through with little pain and a modicum of dignity.  But mostly I hope my sweetheart gets his Rolls Royce much, much later in life…

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Best Friend B has a glorious female offspring with bouncy blonde curls and an extraordinarily sunshiny personality.  Baby N is funny and sweet and curious and unabashedly friendly.  And Baby N is also slightly self-centric as is fitting a girl of her age.  At twenty months, she is thoroughly convinced that the world, quite rightly, revolves around her.  And so whenever we take walks together or venture out into the world or even sit quietly in a restaurant, she will point to any nearby stranger and asks, “who’s that?”
“Ask” may be too gentle a word in most cases, for in truth, Baby N is truly demanding an answer.  If ignored, “who’s that” may be repeated several times and in fact, may even be shouted directly into the offender’s face until an answer is proffered.  Sometimes the stranger is entertained.  After all, Baby N is truly adorable.  And sometimes the stranger is simply taken aback.  Baby N’s demands can be jarring.  Its not often one sees a child so young who is also so adamant. 

But Baby N is a determined young lady.  Pity the fool who takes her kindly nature for granted, for she is an indomitable force when pushed beyond her limits.   Sure, Baby N is charming and sweet and largely good-natured.  But force her to walk one way when she prefers another, or pick her up when all she wants is down, and God help you.  Likewise, refuse to respond to her little-girl need to know exactly who is entering her bubble, and suffer an endless string of “whozzat” until she gets a satisfactory answer.

Mostly, Baby N is an endless source of entertainment and fascination for me.  She is pure, unadulterated narcissism.  The world is her domain and anyone in it must be explained – nay – justified.   I’m not sure at what point pure narcissism transforms – at what point she will become aware of other people in her looking glass.  I’m delighted to watch her grow but sad to know that someday she will know the world was not made only for her. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

The bitter and the sweet...

Its an odd thing to say, but I love Yom Kippur.  It is, in fact, my favorite day of the year.  Its strange really – the idea that the day of atonement, a day of fasting and prayer that most people think of as a chore or as penance – the idea that this day could be my favorite among so many (notwithstanding my birthday which is still one of my favorite days of the year despite the march of time).  But I do love it.  I love its solemnity and its quietude.  I love a forced shutdown and I love the ritual of it all.  I love the time spent learning and talking about stories from the Torah. 

I did the 10Q this year.  The 10Q is a sort of hippy-dippy Reboot questionnaire – one question each night between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – one question to answer about something in your life, something personal, something intimate.  The answers can be anonymous and they are locked away in the 10Q vault.  One year from now, an email will arrive as a reminder of the questions and our answers.  One year from now we get the opportunity to see how right we were in our predictions, how far we ventured from our imagined paths, how little we accomplished of our stated goals.  Its very Jewish, actually, this idea of recording these things and locking them away.

I fear I don’t have great expectations for the year ahead on a macro level.  I predicted the housing market would not recover.  I predicted war in Israel.  I predicted a distressing amount of damage to the Democratic party and a lack of recovery for the California education system.  On a sunnier note, I predicted that Child One would get into a wonderful university and that Sig Other’s business would continue to thrive. 

What I cannot predict, and what I dare not think about, is what will happen in the minutae of the forward movements of the days – today, tomorrow, the day after.   I cannot predict who Child Two will be one year from now any more than I could have told you a year ago that he would be the marvelous young man he is today.  I cannot predict the little things that make seemingly insignificant moments carry such weight.  

Child One broke up with her boyfriend tonight.  Her tears and sadness were assuaged first by coffee ice cream, and next by an email announcing that she would be the invited speaker at a fundraising event for a major philanthropic organization in one month’s time.  Her tears of sorrow over the boy were replaced instantly by tears of joy at her success.  A beat later came acknowledgement – if she could be made happy so easily by this achievement, then perhaps the boy had not been so important to her after all.  Indeed.   All things worth considering as we begin 5771 and hope that we have been written in the book for one more year. ..

Monday, September 6, 2010

Please sir, may I have another key?

Sig Other and I never took a honeymoon. Its not that we didn’t want to.  But life takes over (or as Best Friend B says, “Man plans and God laughs”) and we just never found the time.  We’ve tried a few times to take a couples vacation, but just haven’t been able to swing it.  There was the time we planned a romantic trip for two to Rome.  But then Child One asked to come along.  And when your teenage daughter ASKS to spend time with you, “No” is a thought that never enters your head.   But the summer has been a long one and time off scarce, so I finally managed to plan a few days off, alone with Sig Other on a weekend when the children were scheduled to be with BioMom. 

Cut to Fancy Adult Camp – a luxurious, adults only resort high on an idyllic cliff top overlook fog (er, um, I mean spectacular ocean – somewhere down there).  Fancy Adult Camp is a no car zone.  Guests go from room to spa to dining area to meditation pond via a meandering road shaded by canopies of cedar and redwood trees.  Fancy Adult Camp smells good.  And when you check in to Fancy Adult Camp, they give you one key.

The one key thing didn’t really occur to me as I breathed in the clean Pacific air.  It didn’t occur to me as I marveled at the blissful view and listened to the sound of utter relaxation.  The one key thing didn’t really strike me until about twenty minutes after settling in, when I wanted to go one way and Sig Other wanted to go another. 

One key assumes you and your partner will be spending all your time together.  One key assumes you book side-by-side activities and presupposes a sort of 100% romantic symbiosis that I hadn’t planned.  One key does NOT assume that you will want to go to the pool while your Sig Other naps, it does NOT assume that you will want to hike around the property while your Sig Other downloads a document from the one corner of the hotel with decent Wi-Fi.  It does not assume any alone time factored into romantic couple time. 

The one key policy made me realize I may not be so good at this whole relaxing vacation thing.  Padding down the path alone to the meditation tub in my green robe and fuzzy slippers, I felt a little self-conscious.  It felt somehow wrong to be solo on a path in a couple’s retreat headed to the meditation pool.  I realized I wouldn’t be doing any meditating.   I would be reading.  On my iPad.  A lot.  Sort of the opposite of meditating really.  I wasn't looking inward at all.   I was planning to look outward.  A great deal.

But then I got to the meditation tub and saw there was only one other person there.  Another woman.  Alone.  No Sig Other in sight.  And she was reading TATLER.  I felt better and settled in for a read, a lot less worried about the napping Sig Other and our one key.