Friday, May 30, 2014

Fitness Friday - It's not (just) about losing weight. It's about feeling better.

Sometimes I'll speak to groups of people (mostly women) about fitness, and I always start off by asking questions.  I usually bypass questions/discussion about whether people want to lose weight or if there is something about their body they could change if they could.  The answer to that one is usually "yes," and yet even with that powerful motivator, large portions of the population have a hard time adopting the habits that will bring about those results.

Instead, I'll ask people if they ever feel like they're too tired to do the things they want to do in life.  If they ever feel like they need more energy.  If they have a hard time getting motivated.  If they feel like they need an easy, no-brainer of a way to get a solid dose of really powerful nutrition every day.

And that's where people start to respond and ask me about how to join one of my challenges, or if I can help them.  Because as much as everyone wants to look good in that little black dress, what they want even more is to feel good.

I'm constantly astounded at how many people go through life feeling tired and crappy.  And far beyond my ability to help people look like swimsuit models, what I really can do through my fitness coaching is to help people feel better.

I saw this e-card on my Facebook feed the other day.  I follow a lot of trainers and fitness types, so my feed can be chock-full of stuff like this, but this one really spoke to me.

I make no secret of the fact that I struggle with clinical depression, and that I have ever since I was about 28.  And as much as I still work out to have a better body (let's be honest, right?), a huge reason that I work out and am so disciplined about it is because has virtually eliminated my depression symptoms and made it possible for me to go on the lowest possible dose of medication.*

It makes me feel good, and feeling good is everything.  It makes everything in life better and easier.  A friend of mine and I were talking about this, and she said something that really resonated -- that if you're not taking care of your health, then you can't be fully present in your life, whether it's for your job or your family or whatever.  

You can't plan your country's 500th anniversary and your wedding and then murder your wife and frame Guilder for it.

So for this Fitness Friday, think about how you feel.  Are you tired all the time?  Do you feel sluggish and unmotivated?  Do you crave crappy food that you know you shouldn't eat?  Are you unsure about how to eat properly?

If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," I would love to help.  Join one of my challenge groups and get healthier in a positive, supportive attitude.  Whatever your level of fitness, whatever type of exercise you like to do, I've got something for you.  I can be there every step of the way.

All you have to do is decide to make a change.  

Are you ready to feel good?  Contact me and let me know what's going on, and we'll figure out a way to get you where you want to go.

*Yes, I still get upset or depressed about stuff -- this past winter was rough because I was unhappy and dealing with stuff in my personal life -- but I don't have a problem with being depressed about shit that's depressing.  The problem is when the chemicals in my brain make me feel hopeless and worthless when there isn't depressing shit going on.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The lows and the highs

The worst times are when they're tired and constantly bickering, or, for some reason, on weekday mornings, right when I announce that it's time to put on socks and shoes and get in the car so I can take them to school.

Without fail, even on days when they have woken up in good moods and have fully cooperated in the eating-breakfast-getting-dressed process -- which is not a given -- as soon as I announce it's time to get in the car, all hell breaks loose.  Josie will announce that the outfit she has been cheerfully wearing for half an hour is no longer acceptable, or she will insist on putting on the one pair of shoes that I can't find.  Zeke will hem and haw and dawdle, or demand that we wait until he can find a particular book or stuffed animal, which no one has seen in months, to take with him in his backpack. I will explain, with a vocal level that rises along with that of my annoyance, that we don't have time and you're not allowed to bring toys to school anyway and you can't wear sandals when it's snowing and we need to get moving and we're going to be late and GET IN THE CAR THIS INSTANT!  RIGHT NOW!!  MOVE IT!

It is so. fucking. frustrating.

And the messes.  The endless, unyielding messes that always seem to grow no matter how much time J and I spend cleaning.  Going upstairs and finding little spots of baby powder at various places along the hallway carpet.  Or "I love momma" written in black sharpie on the bright glossy white door to the kids' bedroom.  Or the entire contents of the linen closet piled at the foot of my bed, which they use as cushioning when they're jumping.  An entire box of colored drinking straws inexplicably emptied into the bathtub.  Toilets constantly full of little turds because they never remember to flush.

And I'm not a particularly neat person.  I try to be, but it doesn't come to me naturally.  I am naturally cluttery (but clean).  But even my tolerance for clutter is tested by the constant chaotic state of my house.  When the kids are bickering (and lately, it's pretty often - a function of their ages, I guess) and the piles of dishes and laundry feel endless and I'm discovering yet another stick figure drawn in pen on the wall of the dining room, my level of agita gets to the point that all I want to do is go check into a hotel (anywhere - it could be in the middle of nowhere and I'd be happy if there was free wi-fi) and be by myself and not talk to anyone.

But then there are the moments when Zeke and I are up late on a weekend watching a movie after everyone has gone to sleep.  He's standing there naked, coloring a picture for me while telling me about all the words he can spell.  Every once in a while, he'll look at me and smile and say, "I love you, Mama."

And he's such a beautiful kid - twinkly blue eyes, spray of freckles across his nose, the same funky point at the base of his hairline that I have. That dimple.  His muscle-y little body.

He's got a hilarious sense of humor, and loves to tell me jokes to try to make me laugh.  He's sweet to his friends and to his sister (some of the time).  He's interested in the world.  He's incredibly social - much more so than I am - and is friendly and open with everyone.

And Josie is similarly delightful.  Impossibly cute, with a penchant for knock-knock jokes that make no sense but are nonetheless hysterical.  She has my bizarre memory for all things aural - she can remember songs, movie lines, books that she has heard only once, and recite them back.  I'll take her in my arms like a baby and tell her about the day she was born, and talk about how when she was born, I made a wish that she would be smart and funny and brave and beautiful and sweet, and that she has surpassed my wildest dreams.

They both have.

I was thinking about our upcoming beach trip with my family, and about how much they both love those vacations, when they spend all day running and playing the sand and swimming, and we go every night to get ice cream after dinner, and do puzzles and read books and watch movies.  And then they collapse, happy and tan and exhausted.
Beautiful children, made more beautiful by being asleep after a long, fun day at the beach.
Those times sustain me.  Because right now, I could use a hotel room to myself.  But I can wait for the beach.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Now I need to reread Catch-22

I read Catch-22 on a glorious boondoggle of a high school senior trip to Mahabalipuram, India, on the southern east coast near Chennai.  I remember our faculty chaperones being utterly uninterested in doing anything more than hanging out on the beach or relaxing with a cigarette and a drink at the hotel bar, and they were happy to leave us to do the same.  We might have had an "educational" excursion or two just to save face, but for the most part we partied and hung out on the beach and hooked up with our significant others.

And I read Catch-22, which I adored, from the very first line ("It was love at first sight.").

I only mention this because I was thinking about what Catch-22 means -- a paradoxical situation from which a person cannot escape because of contradictory rules.  In the book, the Catch-22 was the fact that the only way to get out of flying more missions was to claim insanity, but the very act of doing so was evidence of sanity.

This is all a very long and pretentious segue into telling you about how I was finally given medication, but only after being sick for 11 days first.

A little over a week and a half ago, I woke up with a sore throat.  Later that day, I realized it was nasal drip from my sinuses down to the top of my trachea.  Then my trachea would become irritated and I would start to cough.  Soon I had constant runny nose, runny back-of-the-throat, rasping cough, and resulting sore windpipe.  It was painful and seriously fucking annoying.

I called in to my doctor and talked to one of the nurse practitioners to see if I needed to come in.  I described my symptoms and the nurse said, "well, it sounds like a viral cold, and those can take up to 10 days to clear up.  So I would wait a little more [at that point it had only been 7 days] and if it's not clearing up, then give us a call back."

It didn't get better.  The cough persisted, the congestion in my head increased, I was exhausted the time, and I had a low grade fever that wasn't enough to send me to the hospital, but enough to leave me feeling like crap.

Finally, this morning, I had had enough.  I went to my doctor's after care place and was told that what had started as a viral cold had been festering long enough that it had become a bacterial infection.

"That tends to happen if it hasn't gotten better after 7 days."

So there's the rub.  They won't give out antibiotics if they think it's viral, but the time it takes to wait it out virtually guarantees it will become bacterial, so you eventually get the meds, but not until you've already been coughing up a lung for 11 days.

In any event, I now have super-strong antibiotics (for which they also gave me yeast infection medication, "because it's bound to happen with the strength of this medication" -- whee!!), prescription nasal spray, and prescription cough drops (which I didn't even know existed).

I will recuperate by digging up my copy of one of my favorite books.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Put your pitchforks down.

When I got home today, J informed me that his phone had been lighting up with text messages and calls from various people who have read my recent blog posts. I'm not sure why today was the day everyone chose to get in touch - what I've been writing about the past few days is recurring dreams and me going back to my family's last name, neither of which really have any bearing on him.

In any event, everyone is very concerned that my posts are an indication that things have gone south and that our amicable separation has hit the skids.  People want to make sure he's OK, and have suggested he tell me to stop writing.

We both had a good chuckle.

Because everything is fine.  Really and truly.  All is well.  We hang out when we're home, we take care of the kids, we do things with them on the weekend.  He'll be coming to the Outer Banks when the kids and I are there with my family.  We have a camping trip planned for the end of July.  We're working out the terms of the separation amicably, making sure that the kids will be OK and that we will be OK.

Seriously.  It's all good.

A couple of points:
  • J knows I write this blog, and can read it any time he wishes.  He doesn't usually, but any time I write about him, I always write it as if he were going to read it.  Additionally, whenever I write about anything that might be sensitive, I tell him about it, just so he has a heads up.  I did that with both the Out of the Darkness and the Gonna Build a Mountain posts.  He trusts me to be fair and to protect his interests.
  • Though some may feel like I am "airing dirty laundry" or violating J's privacy, I have to point out that I've been writing this blog for 8 years, and I've written extensively about our marriage.  I have never revealed anything through this space that he hasn't revealed to our friends.  He does not hide the fact that his childhood sucked and that he suffered abuse, and he doesn't have a problem with me mentioning it here. I have never gone into the details, as those are not my details to tell, where he doesn't share them with others. But in terms of the fact that it happened, he knows that I have written about it.  He doesn't have a problem with it.
  • When I write, I choose my words carefully and deliberately.  If you have read my recent posts and interpreted them as either a denigration of J or a sign that our separation has become hateful and contentious, then you're ignoring the actual words I wrote.  I repeatedly and unequivocally stated that my posts were expressions and explanations of my emotional state and my thoughts about what was going on, but not a criticism of J, and that I have nothing but high regard for him as a friend and a father to my children.  I have stated that we were so different in so many ways that it made it impossible to find common ground to build a life, but I have never said that his differences make him somehow inferior (and I didn't say that because I don't believe it).  Nowhere have I written, hinted, or suggested that we aren't getting along or that there is any acrimony between us, because there isn't.  
  • Don't ask me to take down my posts.  I won't.
J is heartened by the expressions of concern for him.  It's always nice to know that people care about you and worry about you.  But truly, everything's fine.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Say my name, say my name

In response to my dream post, a friend of mine with whom I went to school in Israel offered the following interpretation:
The first dream was that you, in real life, needed to get past something you felt unprepared to move past.  The realization in the dream that you have your degrees and don't need to take the test is your subconscious realizing you are ready to take that step, or have taken it and now need to reassure yourself you can do it.
The second dream is connected and I wonder if it started after the first dream changed [It did.]  The rooms and hallways going on and on IS a representation of limitless possibilities in reality and the fact that you find it delightful rather than daunting is another sign you are read to take the steps you realized you are ready for in the first dream. 
Gee, I wonder what steps I'm ready to take that I previously felt unprepared for?  Duh.

J and I have been maintaining the status quo, living together while we wait to refinance the house (so I can buy him out) and have a little extra cash to make the separation easier, but this feeling of being in limbo is beginning to bug. We've taken the initial step - the decision to split up - but I want to keep going, and there are steps I can take to keep the momentum going:  start separating our finances to make the eventual total separation easier, start drafting a separation agreement setting out custody, division of property, etc., and go back to using my own name.

The truth is, before we got married, I had no intention of taking J's last name - I like the last name I was born with, I identified with my family roots, and I was already practicing law and a number of the federal court cases I had litigated were published with that name.  Most of my married friends didn't take their husbands' names, and I just didn't see the point.

But then after we were married, I changed my mind, for reasons I don't really remember now.

And it's a good, strong name with a solid "all American" feel to it (even though J's an Aussie).  There's nothing wrong with his name.

Except that it isn't mine.  It isn't me.

It's much easier to do the name change in conjunction with a divorce decree, so I'm going to wait until we make it official.  But in any unofficial capacity, I'm going to go back to my given family name (I hate the expression "maiden" name - it sounds antiquated and stupid to me).  I already changed it on Facebook (and if it's on Facebook, it's really real, amirite?), I'm going to change my email and my Beachbody coaching profile and everything else that doesn't require a court order or a social security card.

I'm going to keep walking through those hallways and those doors, taking all the steps I'm ready to take.

Monday, May 19, 2014

I've got dreams, dreams to remember...

I've noticed people talking or writing lately about their recurring dreams, which is something that has always fascinated me.  There's a great old movie with Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman called "Spellbound," which I think I saw when I was at summer camp, about an amnesiac accused of murder (Peck) who is protected by a psychiatrist (Bergman) - the mystery of the murder and the guy's identity is unraveled by psychoanalysis of the guy's dreams.  It's been 30 years and I only saw it that one time, but I still remember the movie vividly because I was so fascinated by the dream analysis part.

Image from the movie Spellbound - the dream sequences depicted in the film
were designed by Salvador Dali.  Image from Selznick/United Artists/The Kobal Collection
For whatever reason, notwithstanding all the therapy I've had, no one has ever asked me about my dreams.  And maybe dream analysis is bullshit, who knows?  Plus any therapist probably would have considered my recurring dreams to be utterly prosaic - standard anxiety dreams (taking a test when you didn't realize you were enrolled in the class and haven't studied; realizing you're in public and not wearing any pants) that everybody has.

But lately they've gotten more interesting, at least to me.  Now I'll have the dream that I'm in high school or college and taking tests that I haven't studied for/didn't realize I was enrolled in, but during the dream I realize that I've actually finished school and don't have to be there at all if I don't want to.  I'll think, "for god's sake, I don't have to take this shit.  Not only do I already have my high school and college diplomas, but I have a juris doctor degree as well."  So I start out anxious, but then within the body of the dream, make myself realize that I have no reason to be.

Another one that I have ALL THE TIME now, and cannot figure out at all, is what I call the space dream (physical space, not outer space).  In the dream, I'm in a house - sometimes it's mine, sometimes it belongs to someone else - that just goes on and on.  Every hallway leads to another room, another space, and it's kind of delightful - I'm filled with a sense of limitless possibilities.

Or maybe it's my brain's way of telling me I should take out a home equity loan and build out my attic.

What are your recurring dreams?  What do you think they mean? 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Gonna build a mountain and a daydream, gonna make 'em both come true

Ever since J and I made the decision to split up (and indeed, well before then, when I knew I wanted it to happen), there have been two things that I think about a lot.  What will it be like getting back into the dating world?  And what will it be like having so much more time to myself, when the kids are with J?

The first question makes me nervous.  On the one hand, I definitely would like to meet someone that I can have a healthy relationship with.  I'm ready for romance, for conversation with someone with common interests, for the empathy and understanding that someone with common life experiences and background can bring.

One of the most fundamental problems J and I have is that, except for the children, we have nothing in common.  Our cultures, the type and manner of education we received, our family upbringings, our basic interests and desires, could not be more dissimilar.* We had great chemistry when we met, and I guess I was seduced by the notion that opposites attract and that we could overcome our differences.  That the love and happiness I had grown up with could fix the fact that his upbringing was so unhappy, filled with the kind of violence and fear and fucked-up family dynamics that I can't even comprehend.

In the end, our differences, and his demons, were too much to overcome.

Which is not to say that I will seek out only Jewish intellectuals who enjoy opera, bluegrass, literature and the outdoors.  Some differences are good - differences keep things interesting and allow for growth.  But for a relationship to work, there have to be some common frames of reference.

But I'm scared.  As exciting and fun as it can be to meet new people, it also means the risk of hurt feelings and unrequited attraction.  Worrying about whether he'll call.

It plays into the most basic insecurities - what if nobody likes me?  what if I really am a bitch-faced asshole troll?  what if the reason it didn't work out with J is that I'm unlovable and unworthy?

As for having more time to myself, I'm actually really excited about that part.  I love spending time with my children - I'm a responsible and attentive mother.  But I'm also excited about having time to spend with friends, or to go to happy hours or museums that the kids wouldn't be interested in.  Taking impromptu weekend trips with friends, or by myself.

I'm still in limbo.  It will probably be late summer before J moves out of the house and we separate for real.  Once again, I'm living two lives - the one I'm in, and the one in my head, when all of this new and exciting stuff gets to happen.  But it will happen, and when it does, I'll be ready.

*Again, I want to reiterate that I am not talking J down.  My point is simply that we are so fundamentally different in so many ways that it made finding common ground upon which to build a life exceedingly difficult.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song, and I'll try not to sing out of key

An interesting - and wonderful - thing about talking (or writing) about things that are difficult and that people don't often open up about, is that when you do, others who have been or are going through the same thing feel a kinship.  They realize they aren't alone.  They realize it's OK to talk about it.  They want the catharsis of talking about it.

Since I wrote my "Out of the Dark" post, so many friends, from all different walks of life, have reached out to me to offer their love and support.  And some also say, "oh my god, you are exactly describing what it was like for me.  It's like you're inside my head."

I've got dinner dates and phone dates and extensive email exchanges, all just from talking about what the past year or so in an unhealthy relationship was like for me.  It makes me feel like people have my back, and it makes me feel gratified that other people know that I have theirs.

I love that this blog has created another form of community for me, and is strengthening the community I already have.

The truth is, everybody's dealing with their shit.  Everyone has demons.  Everyone feels inadequate and lonely sometimes.  We all just want to love and be loved, and wish it weren't so hard.

In the last year, I've had a hard time blogging regularly - I was depressed and overwhelmed and feeling like I couldn't organize my thoughts to write about them.

Now that I'm feeling like my head is clearer and my mojo is returning, I can write again.  And I'm so, so glad. I love this little space on the interwebs, and the love it gives me in return.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


I know a lot of people who are very much into always being present and in the moment, and to not dwell on the past or the future.  To just be.

It's all very Crash Davis.

And I do try to enjoy individual moments of life - when I'm standing at the bus stop, I'll put my face up to the sun and enjoy the beauty of the day.  When I'm goofing off and giggling with my kids, I try to take a mental snapshot, because I know that all too soon they'll be surly teenagers who will be embarrassed to be seen with me.  When I'm working out, instead of thinking about how I wish the workout were over, I try to focus on the muscles I'm working, imagining them getting stronger, and I appreciate how physically alive and vital I feel at that moment.

But I can't do that all the time.  Not every moment is that memorable or noteworthy.  Trying too hard to be in the moment all the time is a lot of work, and more fundamentally, it doesn't always ring true.  The past happened, and takes up space in my brain.  Future events will happen, and to go along as if they won't, or as if they don't matter, a) seems silly, and b) doesn't seem like much fun.  Looking forward to something good that is going to happen is one of life's joys, as far as I'm concerned.

It's been a good year in this regard.  So far, I've been able to look forward to our spring break trip to Nicaragua (which was wonderful and relaxing).

the Nicaragua beach house - view from the balcony
Then there was my brother Sam's wedding (which I officiated - it was incredible to be involved like that) in Houston.

My dad, the kids and me in our wedding finery
Then there was my reunion in D.C., which was amazing.

*sniff*  I love these people.
Then I immediately went to my legal conference in Orlando, which I don't have pictures of because it's gross. I have many, many friends who love taking their families to Disney World for vacation, and all I can say is, I'm glad you had fun, but I truly don't get it.  

Next up is the beach with my parents in early July.  Ten days on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, hanging out with family and friends, reading lots of books, surfing, playing with the kids, getting a tan, relaxing.

And when that's done, I'll have to plan something else.  I'm thinking about climbing another Fourteener.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Things to do in Denver when you're snowed in

As is typical of a Denver spring, on Saturday it was 70 degrees and lovely, if increasingly overcast in the afternoon.  J was doing some side work, so the kids and I hung out with two friends of theirs, a brother and sister the same (relative) ages as Zeke and Josie.  Zeke and his friend Cole utterly fucking destroyed the upstairs of our house.  I'm talking, holes in the walls, entire linen closets emptied onto the floor, toys and blankets and shoes everywhere.  I keep waiting for Zeke's destructive tendencies, often fueled by an overwhelming case of "what will happen if..." (i.e., what will happen if I stick a fork in Mama's rubber inflatable stability ball? what will happen if I poke this pen into this stuffed bear? what will happen if I peel the picture part off the cardboard backing on these puzzle pieces), to abate.

Meanwhile, Josie and Maddie played with her stuffed animals, colored, and brushed my hair.

Gender stereotyping doesn't occur in a vacuum, y'all.

As is also typical of a Denver spring, the following day it started snowing at 9 in the morning and didn't stop for 24 hours. I would have been perfectly happy to spend a grey, wet, snowy day on the couch watching movies and eating popcorn, but the kids had energy to burn so we took them to the Denver Children's Museum.

They spent most of their time in this room that is kind of like a giant pinball machine.  You put plastic orange balls into contraptions and then guide them with levers and gears through a system of ramps and tunnels, until they are returned to this clear plastic bin that hangs over a carpeted area.  Every 5 minutes or so, an alarm sounds and the balls drop onto the floor for the kids to gather and play with again.

My kids decided to buck the system, bypass the pinball-game-like contraptions, throw the balls overhead into the clear receptacle, and wait for the balls to fall on them.

This strikes me as insanely fun.  I need one of these in my house.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

Dear Mom,

Last Sunday when Dad was driving me to the airport after my reunion, we were talking about our family and he said, "you sure do have a wonderful mother."

"I sure do," I agreed.  "And you really lucked out to have married her."

And even including the year I was fourteen and a total hormonal bitch, I don't remember a time when I haven't appreciated how extravagantly I hit the jackpot to have you as my mom.

In addition to all of the mom stuff that you did so well - taking care of us, making us feel loved and safe, keeping our worlds spinning with school, sports, plays, and all of that - you were always fun and funny and interesting and compassionate and reasonable.  You're bubbly and positive and smart.  You read to us and encouraged us to explore the world.  You played "duck duck goose" with us in airports when our flights were delayed and our toddler selves were getting antsy and bored.

Mommy with baby Wendy
Ours was the house that our friends wanted to come to to hang out.  I remember when we lived in Israel, I would get home from whatever I did after school and classmates of mine, who didn't have such good relationships with their parents, would be in the kitchen with you, keeping you company while you made dinner.

When I went away to college, I missed you so much.  Back then, there was no internet or email or even cheap, easy international calling.  Calling you in India meant shitty, crackly connections and 3 minute phone calls that cost 10 dollars.  When I went home for Christmas break that first year, I remember flying into your arms at the baggage claim at the Delhi airport, and hugging you and hugging you and hugging you.  Even now, I still choke up a bit whenever we say goodbye after a visit.

You remain my strongest role model.  I try to raise my children the way you raised Josh and Sam and me, being loving and consistent. I try not to worry about things that I can't control, as you always taught me.  In my professional life, now that I supervise employees, I think about you have always treated your employees with fairness and compassion, and use that as my guide.

You have that wonderful exuberant laugh that everyone can pick out of a crowd.

I love that we still talk every day, about everything and nothing.  I love that when we're together, we have such a lovely easy time together - cooking, going for walks, exercising, whatever.  I love that when we are together, I still like to crawl into bed with you first thing in the morning to snuggle and talk.

Whatever you did and continue to do, it works.  People LOVE you.  Every time I've met a friend or coworker of yours, they've pulled me aside and said, "I just adore your mom.  She's the greatest."

All I can do is agree.

You're my favorite mom.


Friday, May 09, 2014

The fundamentals

Yesterday Zeke came with me and kept me company while I did my hunting and gathering at the grocery store.  I forget how the topic came up, but we started talking about friends and friendship.

"Jackson and I have a lot in common," he told me.  "That's why we're good friends."

I chuckled at how grown-up he sounded talking about having a lot in common with someone.  "What do you and Jackson have in common that makes you such good friends?" I asked.

"Well, we both have bunk beds.  And we like chalk."

"That's good stuff.  Anything else?"

"We have the same rug in our bedrooms."

It's the little things, really.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Not that this is news.

The other day my coworker and I were on a bus taking us from our resort to get some dinner in downtown Disney* (a truly vile place), and, as women sometimes do, we started talking about hair.

She has this super-cute short cut that looks adorable on her, but said she gets bored with her hair and likes to change up her style from time to time.

That got us talking about this friend of hers who, growing up, had an unfortunate Jewfro that was not only massive, but bright red/orange.  We both lamented how awful it must have been for her.

"Afros are coming back, you know," she said.

"Jesus, please don't say that.  At least not as far as white women are concerned."

"I'm serious, I think they're coming back."

"Well, I think I've seen them in fashion editorials, but no normal person looks good in an afro.  Well, black women can rock them, but most white women definitely cannot."

"Remember when they used to be so popular?"

"Tell me about it.  Back in the early 80s, at some point my mother and her friends started getting perms that were defintely afro-inspired.  And then I followed suit.  I think it was about 1983."

"Really?  That's awesome.  Was it a true 'around your head' afro, or more of a Rosanne Rosannadanna type 'do?"

"Probably a combination of the two, but leaning more towards the 'around the head' deal.  After the hairdresser was done, I looked in the mirror and started to cry."

We laughed.

"It's crazy the way standards for attractiveness change," I said.  "But even under shifting standards, I look back at pictures of women from that time and think that there was some kind of collective cultural beauty-blindness going on.  Like no one could see how ugly it all was."

"It's just all fodder for Throwback Thursday at this point."

"Right?  And it really hammers something else home."

"What's that?" she asked.

I gave her a big smile.

"Men will fuck anything."

We both cracked up, but nodded in agreement.**

*We were there for a legal conference.

**Guys, don't be offended.  We were joking around.  I kid because I love.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Out of the dark, into the light

This past year of my marriage has been so hard.*

When J and I first got together, he was so sweet and adoring towards me, almost exaggeratedly so.  We were *that couple* - always schmoopy and all over each other.

But within a couple of years after we married, we started having problems.  I tried to figure out what was going on, get him to talk to me, whatever.  Nothing worked.

We had such an impossible time communicating.  During the most difficult times, no matter what one person said, the other person took it wrong.  I started to believe that there was something wrong with me -- that I really was the bitch-faced evil asshole troll that I was made to feel like -- so I would walk on eggshells around him all the time, hyper-analyzing every little thing I said and every little thing I did and every little interaction we had, so as not to evoke a bad reaction.  Rather than chat and engage the way I normally would, I withdrew as well, because if I didn't say anything, I couldn't be accused of saying something he didn't like.

I can't even tell you how emotionally exhausting it is to live like that.

Our interactions since we decided to separate have improved - we are cordial to each other, and I don't feel so fragile around him anymore.  But the reality is that I am still sharing a house with someone who doesn't love me or even act like he likes me very much most of the time.  

It's been an emotional desert.  

When J and I drove across the country before we moved to Hawaii, we spent a bunch of time in the desert - Santa Fe, the Grand Canyon, Utah, Nevada.  And while it was beautiful and striking landscape, I much prefer lush environments with humidity in the air to the brown, dry moonscapes that dominate that part of the country.  When we crossed from Nevada into California, I remember going through the Sierra Nevadas and descending down into Sacramento on our way to San Francisco and being struck by how green and vibrant everything was.  After just a few days, my eyes were so acclimated to the muted earth tones of the desert that the depth of color in the landscape shocked me.

That's how I feel after this past weekend in DC.  Suddenly, I was surrounded by people who were so excited to see me, who wanted to hear about my life and tell me about theirs, who couldn't stop hugging me.  Men flirted with me and made me feel beautiful and light and desirable again.  I felt like part of a family again.  My heart burst with all the color and feeling and energy, because I've spent so much time lately trying to stay neutral.

It's been emotionally overwhelming, but in a good way.  I weep at the drop of a hat, but I also feel like I'm quicker to laugh and smile.  I want to go around to my friends and shower them with love and let them know how much I appreciate them.  I feel pretty (oh so pretty, I feel pretty and witty and briiiiiiight... OK, sorry, couldn't resist).  I realize I'm not a bitch-faced evil asshole troll.  

I'm on the flight back to Denver right now (gotta love inflight wifi), thinking about the house I'll be walking back into tonight.  I'm so excited to see my children.  But I'm realizing that J and I need to get on with it. We need to get some distance from each other.  We need to actually separate.  Setting up a second household is financially difficult, but we need to figure something out soon.  

I can't go back to the desert.  
* I know that many of J's friends read this blog.  It is not my intention to make him out to be horrible, because he's not.  He's a good person and a wonderful father and we will remain good friends.  But our relationship was not a healthy one.  The point of this post is not to denigrate him, but to write about my emotional state over the past few years.  Though I do self-censor at times in order to spare feelings, I'm too raw right now to do it today.  This is my space and I need to use it the way I need to use it.  

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Life is good, wild and sweet, let the music play on.

It's a familiar feeling at this point.  The Sunday morning exhaustion mixed with a sense of longing and wistfulness, plus a hair of a lingering alcohol headache.  Trying mentally to race through and catologue snippets of conversations and laughter and songs and enveloping embraces from the previous two days, so as to not lose them, or the feeling they evoke.  Part of me can't stop smiling, the other part is on the verge of tears.

My India classmates gathered together in DC this past weekend for a mini-reunion.  About 45 of us gathered Friday and Saturday nights at restaurants downtown, and yesterday afternoon for a backyard lunch, to catch up and reminisce and try to recapture the magic that we were so lucky to experience in the late 80s at the American School in New Delhi, India.  We've been looking forward to it for months, and then it was a couple of weeks and then it was in a few days and then it was upon us and now it's over much too fast.

One of my friends remarked last week that when he told people he was heading to a high school reunion, people were like, "ooooh, great," with a note of skepticism.  And we know how unique our experience was - it's hard to explain that when we are all together again, we feel like we're home.  There's this happy love buzz that seeps into our nerves and our bones.  Yesterday morning, notwithstanding having gotten maybe 3 hours of sleep, I woke up way early because I felt like I was vibrating like a tuning fork.

We couldn't stop hugging each other.  Our cheeks hurt from smiling and our heads hurt from laughing.

My knees hurt from getting so into an air guitar performance of Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" that I literally dropped to my knees on the hard floor of the restaurant to hit the high notes at the end.

We took over an Indian restaurant, ate yummy food and drank Indian beer, and talked and laughed and danced until 3 in the morning.  As before, I see my friends the way they were when we together 30 years ago -- there is no gray hair, no middle-aged spread, no wrinkles.  It's a weekend of magical thinking. They are still young and beautiful to me.  The same crushes on the same boys resurface (and the fact that an astounding number of us are going through divorces and separations exacerbate it). The crazy memories from trips to Goa and bonfire parties in the woods and skipping school to go hang out in Agra feel impossibly fresh.

As my dear friend Lisa described a few days ago, back in Delhi we used to do this (admittedly incredibly corny) thing at parties when Lionel Ritchie's All Night Long would play, and we would get in a circle with our arms around each other and sway back and forth and dance together.  When the song came on last night, it was late - there were about 15 or 16 of us still at the restaurant, and we made a circle and put our arms around each other and started to dance.  I was looking around at everyone smiling and laughing, and thinking about how much I love these people and how much I love the feeling I have when I'm with them.  It was such an intensely wonderful, perfect moment.  And I burst into tears.

And then a few other people burst into tears.

Even the ones who were comforting me knew I was OK.  Everything was OK. I wasn't sad.  I was so happy that it was overwhelming.  I never wanted the feeling to end.

I'm sitting in Washington National Airport right now, waiting to board a flight to Orlando, where I'll be at a legal conference for the next few days.  And no, I'm not crying as I write this.  I have dust in my eyes. Really.

I wish it all wasn't over so quickly.  I wish we all lived closer together.  I wish I had kissed him goodnight.  I wish we all had another day together.  I wish we had time to dance to another song.