Friday, November 30, 2007

40x365: #44 ~ Josh G.

So smart. So smug. Your wife, you said, not a blood relative like your mom, so loyalties were spread accordingly. Dating you taught me how to stay detached, stay myself. Crazy, but one of the best relationships in my past.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

40x365: #43 ~ Carlos M.

No me gusto la turbulencia. And thus began a crazy affair. I'm still not sure how I would have made it to my hotel without you to translate. I suppose half my bed for the week was a fair trade.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

40x365: #42 ~ Jeff B.

Born again, you showed me religion, though I didn't choose yours. Dating you, however briefly, taught me what true happiness is. Friendly's late shifts then a long distance semester, I have never met a person more content in this world.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

40x365: #41 ~ Rhonda

Lifesaver, voice of clarity, my therapist. Thank God for you, helping me end a bad relationship and avoid (or truncate) many others. What a luxury to spend 50 minutes with you each week. Except sometimes your couch smelled like B.O.

Monday, November 26, 2007

40x365: #40 ~ Ms. Chickatel

Hard to remember much about my kindergarten teacher 35 years ago. I know you were gentle, I know you were elderly (which probably meant you were 45). I picture you like my grandma, and when I do, I feel happy.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

40x365: #39 ~ the other Dan F.

Quiet, mild mannered secretary to the dean. Always so kind, so on top of the scheduling. Who could have known you were secretly a technological guru, destined for a high profile future of magazine writing and sold-out conference talks?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

40x365: #38 ~ Dan F.

Dad to my high school best friend. So money conscious, so arrogant. Your superficial comments made me feel so awkward, I can only imagine what it did to your own kids. Actually, I know. And it makes me very sad.

Friday, November 23, 2007

40x365: #37 ~ Betty

David's grandma, still going at 90-something. For someone who says she just wants to die, you have serious staying power. I wish we lived closer so Eli could learn from your Yiddish; I wish we could bring him to visit.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

40x365: #36 ~ Jerry S.

Also a constant Thanksgiving guest, childhood best friend dad's. I never got you either, turns out you were in the same boat. Disappeared one day, weeks later the call from a state trooper. Suicide, with tax bills in your wake.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

40x365: #35 ~ Pat S.

Mom to Ted, you also showed up every Thanksgiving. Your "walks in the country" through our suburban neighborhood in your oatmeal wool cabled cardigan always made my teenage eyes roll. I suppose by comparison to Manhattan it was rural, huh?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

40x365: #34 ~ Ted S.

Every Thanksgiving, you arrived with your family. You were the youngest, I was next in line, so we played. You were odd, probably very nice. I hear you work in marine biology now. How odd, if our paths ever crossed.

Monday, November 19, 2007

40x365: #33 ~ Tim

Once the best friend of yesterday's x365, now you've somewhat disappeared. Funny, charming, quietly brilliant (hidden by humor, always), now you're a Ph.D./M.D. somewhere in New York. I wonder if you have gray hair. How strange that would be.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

40x365: #32 ~ Keith

My first memory of you, you were lying on your dorm room bed, staring at the ceiling. So awkward and reserved and yet we connected. A triathlete, you are so strong physically and seemingly so emotionally vulnerable. You're my friend.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Dear Eli #1

Dear Eli:
We're entering your third holiday season (fourth, if you count New Year's Eve and New Year's Day of 2004/2005, your first and second days of life), and what fun it is. You are at this remarkable age where you have no recollection whatsoever of last winter, and you have incredible anticipation of this one. Yesterday I got to explain to you that for the next month we'll be shopping for a lot of presents, and then watch you as you thoughtfully made your way through the outdoor store in search of something for your Uncle Tom. Santa Claus is still a complete mystery to you, and that's probably because we don't talk about him much. You have an interesting background where that's concerned because we're Jewish, but my family is not. We won't ever have a tree in our house, but for as long as we're able to, we'll spend Christmas morning at your cousins' house. Some people will tell you that Jews shouldn't celebrate Christmas - and I'll probably have a harder time with that than you will, since I chose this religion and I'm constantly feeling like I have to measure up - but the truth is, you can do anything you want to do. Christmas is a happy day and you should spend it with people you love, whether you celebrate the religious aspects or not.

Your birthday is coming up too, and the way I figure it, this is probably the last year of your childhood where there is no birthday list, no anxious anticipation of the pile of presents at your party. All you've asked for is a moonbounce and a purple cake with black icing and sprinkles, and I can deliver on both of those things. When you heard there would be goodie bags for your friends, you asked if you could have one too, and the answer, of course, is yes, absolutely. I hope you love being a New Year's Eve baby, I really do. It's not the birthday I would have chosen for you - too much hooplah leading up to it, and you'll never get to bring cupcakes into school on your big day - but there is something to be said for being born on a day where so many people around the world are gearing up for a big party.

But before all of that happens, there's Thanksgiving. It'll be a small one this year, with just your two of your grandparents and us. I don't think you'll eat any turkey - you're still pretty much a vegan at this point, almost entirely by your choice - and of course you won't have any pie (we know how you feel about pie), but maybe you'll try the sweet potatoes, or maybe you'll just eat some bread and then get very happy when you realize "a la mode" is actually French for "break out the ice cream."

All of these holidays, now more than ever, symbolize the ending of one thing and the beginning of another. This year, I see my little toddler fading away and I see the beginnings of a wonderful little boy. A preschooler. As your Aunt Janet would say, a dude. And I say, bring it on. I'm ready.


40x365: #31 ~ Megan B

Took a long time to get to know you, but I'm glad I waited. Great mommy, meticulous seamstress, devoted friend, fun shopping partner. You deserve that baby so much; what a hard road you traveled. Can't wait until s/he's here!

Friday, November 16, 2007


That was quite a month. I think I mentioned - before the chaos and general insanity began - that I managed to drum up some freelance work. I sent out marketing materials for my book indexing business (one advantage to being a former academic is knowing plenty of people who will write books in the future) and it yielded some editing (and later, indexing) work. For the last six weeks or so I have been helping an old colleague edit a book, the topic of which was so closely connected to my own research that it may as well have been my own. And, to sum it up, it was awesome (and tiring).

At first, it sort of made my head hurt, this whole "thinking" thing. It had been a while. But then I got into a groove and I was just digging it. Sure, I neglected Eli a bit (two days ago, in the heat of the final crunch, he was introduced to the joys of Blockbuster, which I utilized to plant him on the couch for a morning) and he didn't love that every spare second brought me to my computer, but given that I pretty much just covered his preschool tuition for next year, I think he'll forgive me. Which brings me to the other awesome part: this whole working thing? They pay you for it. You work, and then they give you money. It is remarkable how easy it is to forget how good that feels. But now I remember. And I'm hooked.

Money has been so tight for us recently that the money I just earned is pretty much already spoken for (preschool tuition, some car repairs, things like that) but in the midst of it all I did manage a couple of splurges. First, instead of regular coffee, I got lattes - not every time, but often enough. (That had been a place where I cut back. I just love going out and buying a hot cup of coffee but couldn't justify $4.50+ for a drink, so I went to the regular American stuff.) Yum, lattes. And, I also bought myself a pair of expensive jeans. Oh, how I love my jeans.

There's a store in Boston's North End which has a reputation for being able to find the perfect pair of jeans for your body. So, one weekend afternoon when there was a lull in the work, I took off in search of my destiny. Unfortunately, the first pair was a miss. I got them home and just though, "eh." So, I took matters into my own hands and emailed the store owner (hey, if you don't want emails, don't put your address on your store's site!). She was very gracious and told me when she'd be there and said she'd be happy to help. And help she did. I love, love, love my ridiculously overpriced denim.

Somehow, another benefit of all this work was some clarity in thinking about the whole grow-this-family plan. We haven't made a final decision yet, but we're leaning very heavily toward raising Eli as an only. Lately I've been increasingly aware of the sense of relief (combined with a healthy dose of disappointment, but still) that I feel each month when there's no pregnancy. I know I'd still be thrilled if it happened, but there's a part of me - a significant part of me, it seems - that would look forward to a family of three. That, combined with the fact that the largest age difference we would like is four years, and the fact that I will be 41 in four months, has led us to believe that we'll probably try for a few more months and then call it a family.

Oh! And I was talking with the woman for whom I was working all these weeks about raising an only child, because that is what she is currently doing (a 15-year-old daughter) and her solution: get a dog. It might sound ridiculous initially, but think about it: She was saying that her therapist's opinion is that her daughter needed not to be so much the center of things, needed for someone else in the family to also "need." A dog accomplishes that. And for some reason, when she shared this with me, a weight was lifted, as if I suddenly knew how I was going to pull this off.

Anyway, that's where things stand right now. I'm looking forward to getting back to this blog in a meaningful way, and with that in mind, I'm changing formats a little - or at least introducing a new one. It occurred to me that I often put off writing because I feel like I'm writing to "you," (the small group of people who find their way here), and then I suddenly feel pressure, and I just don't write. My primary purpose in writing anything is so that Eli has a record of what his crazy mother was up to way back when. So, from this point on, many of my entries will start with "Dear Eli." I thought about switching blogs, primarily because I had all kinds of fun ideas for titles (like "The Eli Papers") but I'll stick with this. I want the option to have other kinds of posts and he's already going to have weed through about 12 different on-line sources to get the whole story (if he even cares), so it seems the kind thing to do.

So, coming soon: Letters to Eli.

And p.s., no that is not my butt in that photo. Ha! As if.

40x365: #30 ~ Rob

Ex-boyfriend from years ago. Sure, you cheated and you resented me, but I moved to California because of you and who can complain about that? Plus, you were damn smart and funny. Counting Crows, Jeep Wranglers: forever linked to you.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

40x365: #29 ~ Cate

My first online-to-real life friend, thanks to (those were the days). Turns out, you had a little problem with the truth. Should have known it when you said you could see army tanks from your condo window.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

40x365: #28 ~ Ellen

Best friend through junior high, what fun we had bike riding all over town, comparing notes on boys. You fascinate me now, Ph.D. in nursing, fire juggler, Burning man big shot, your hippie wedding in the woods. So much yourself.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

40x365: #27 ~ Jane

Provider of my first post-baby job, I have loved the last two months - hello my old self - and hated the last two days. In these final moments, your disorganization and last minute requests will be the end of me.

Monday, November 12, 2007

40x365: #26 ~ Detective Dan

Like Mr. Clean meets my brother-in-law, you seem to be cop-about-town, popping up just about everywhere. I like knowing my local officer - makes life feel small-town. Thanks for the tour of the station this morning!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

40x365: #25 ~ Amy B.

College roommate, artist who makes art I don't always understand (like that bed-in in New Zealand?), funny gal with a brilliant mind, I love you for always sending an email or giving a call, for always keeping in touch.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

40x365: #24 ~ Bupiti

Next door neighbor who I see how the window as I type, blowing your leaves away. You cut down all your trees and changed the neighborhood landscape. Too bad. But you seem very nice otherwise. Can your daughter babysit yet?

Friday, November 9, 2007

40x365: #23 ~ Jenny S.

My OB, or better put, Eli's. A hug at every visit, true compassion, and fabulous medical care to boot. You can't be my doctor anymore - gone to Africa to make a difference - but I'll always remember all that you did.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

40x365: #22 ~ Monica W.

Eli's occupational therapist, you seem almost a contradiction. Where I expect bunny sweaters, you wear $200 jeans. Not at all a judgment, just a realignment of expectations on my end. He sure adores you and we love you for it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

40x365: #21 ~ Meredith K.

Another high school friend, and yet all I remember about you is your hair down to your butt and that you lived in a ranch house and had your own bathroom. Funny what the teenage brain retains - not much, really.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

40x365: #20 ~ Pilar S.

Dark hair, dark eyes, dark clothes, a poet. Old and wise before your time, an intellectual in high school. And oh, how you didn't fit in. You would have been fascinating to talk to - if only I was smart enough.

Monday, November 5, 2007

40x365: #19 ~ Aunt Betty

Wife of Uncle Charlie, so pretty, so proper. I remember your white hair, your penciled eyebrows. Apparently you were a pack rat, a house full of too many beautiful things. A child doesn't see it. A child sees only kindness.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

40x365: #18 ~ Uncle Charlie

Goodbye, daddy's oldest friend, you left this earth the other day. Silly childhood memories of you, your gold Nova coming up the driveway, the olives-on-toothpicks my sister and I insisted on serving you every time. So long ago.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

40x365: #17 ~ Lisa J.

High school friend. You ran. And you ran and ran and ran. You were so thin then, but I didn't know enough to do anything about it, to say anything about it. I hope you're healthy now. Really, I do.

Friday, November 2, 2007

40x365: #16 ~ Josh

Ah, my old boss. Your desk always spotless, your pocket list of "funny things to tell my wife tonight," your 9:30 bathroom run, newspaper in hand. Wish I could say you taught me something; at least you made me laugh.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

40x365: #15 ~ Mr. C.

My high school math teacher, the subject of my college essays. You found a cheat sheet under my desk and believed me when I said it was not mine. Your trust was sobering. I still feel lousy about that day.

the ultimate in naval gazing

Today's theme over at Picture This is Mama, which offers the perfect opportunity to focus on myself for a frame or two. As I read Tracey's description, I thought to myself, "What defines me as a mama?" Not a difficult question, it turns out. It's my belly, which has become somewhat of a roadmap of my life. My belly button is a marker of my distant past, my connection with my own mama; my less-distant past represented by the now mostly-closed piercing just above it. My slightly stretched violet tattoo is a touchstone, a connection with a different time in my life, when I only dreamed of being a mama myself and thought I'd be young forever. And, of course, in the past this belly was also a home, a cocoon for my Eli. In the present it is rounder, softer than it used to be, but those newer qualities are hard-earned and cherished. And then there's the future, when it may again - someday - be a place for a bunch of tiny cells to stake a claim at the core of my heart, the center of my universe. Whether that happens or not, my belly is what it is because I am who I am. And who I am is a mama.