Sunday, November 15, 2009

she did wake up

because one eye got a bit swollen because of the mascara from yesterday.

i asked her if she had the feeling that everything would be ok. because, "it will be ok. no matter what happens, it will all be ok."

she said, "no, i don't know if you will die or not."

me: "but even if i die, it will be ok. you will be ok. there will be people to look after you."

zarina: "no, i don't feel like that."

i need to re-think how i am nurturing her. my acupuncturist, mona chopra, asked me a lot of questions the last time i saw her. asking about my fears and questions in life. the last fear - and the only one i don't have, deep down - is that everything will NOT be ok.

she laughed and said, "that's good! because in chinese medicine, that is related to your kidney, to the core of your being. that is the most important thing to know. if you have that, the other things will fall into place."

i truly believe it will. it will be ok.

and i can tell you, too, if you're reading this, that it will.

not that you won't lose your money or your home or your loved ones or your family. or even your own life.

but that no matter what happens, the balance will come back.

that it will be ok. that you will find a way to thrive despite all the external shifts and changes. and i truly believe that in every horrible, devastating earth-shattering situation, you will find some great truth and meaning for yourself.

every time, i fall through that glass floor and i am lying sliced open amidst the shards, something bigger and more important comes through the wounds.

it will be good.

past lives

woke up in a void this morning. so much has shifted in my life that i am no longer sure what i am doing here. i feel like i am walking on glass. something transparent and quite possibly not there. the shift has made me lose my grounding.

then i read the ny times sunday styles of the times section - i rip straight to it every sunday - because of the emotional rawness, after the shiny world of advertising, there is something so compelling about the pages that seem still drenched in the blood and pain and revelation of the people who wrote.

one of my friends said, about some of my blogposts, shocked, "you really bare your soul..." a question, a statement. i have no other choice. being a writer, if you do it properly, is (for me) self-exposure. it's ripping off all those skins of civilization and propriety and self-protection and laying bare the damp, pulsing emotions and hurts and successes and disappointments, that connect you to every other human soul.

midway through the article i started crying. partly, the content - the loss of a parent - the anger, frustration and love one fights and works through in becoming an adult. and the thought of loss in general.

i was thinking about abortions. thinking about babies i'd lost or given up. thinking of lives i'd betrayed. promises not kept. i've never recovered from them.

i am very much pro-choice. and i made my choices. not that they were the right or wrong ones. or that there is a place for those children in my present life.

but so many times, i felt i had no other option. i felt coerced by others, by society, by fear, situations beyond my control. the sadness and anger and frustration - towards my own parents, my ex-husbands, past boyfriends - like a growing cancer, had reached its tentacles so deeply inside me, curling in and out of all my organs that i can't detangle it. the sadness began untrenching, melting slowly into streams of tears.

and i thought about my flesh and blood babies, the ones who live with me, the lanky teenagers who once lay soft and dimpled, cuddling against my arms in the morning. thought about those achy mornings when my head throbbed and my eyes burned after being up half the night as those tiny bodies kicked and writhed in my bed, or as they nursed or cried for bottles or simply comfort after a nightmare.

those soft babies are now full of sharp edges and often hostile space as they find their own way to adulthood.

this morning - these days - i miss the babies.

i'd sent sasha and rara to james' to give me a chance to re-focus, to think about my human form, my purpose, to heal and concentrate on myself. i haven't heard from them yet. they are probably eating waffles with james and his girlfriend and her son.

so i crept downstairs and snuggled into bed with zarina. i hugged her sleeping form. how is that teenagers can sleep like logs? so heavy the weight of their late-morning slumbers that they can sleep through earthquakes and barking dogs and ringing phones and grocery deliveries.

when zarina was about 2, she decided that she needed a big girl bed like her sister sasha and she re-located from the crib (and our bed) to the bunk bed in the girls' room. every night, she'd be put to bed with her sister.

and every night, at about one in the morning, she'd creep back into our room and come to my side of the bed. she'd tug my shoulder or my arm and whisper, "it's me." as if i'd been waiting impatiently for her since i'd tucked her in and listened to her prayers.

in the darkness, i'd pull her up into bed beside me and she'd sleep in a variety of positions - many of which included slightly strangling or suffocating me as she stretched across my body. most of which would not have allowed me to sleep had i not been so exhausted already with a full time job and two small children and a husband who was so often weak and unwell.

this morning, i lay in her bed and hugged her and, looked at the smeared traces of mascara around her eyes, the red adolescent lips, the muscular shoulders she got from me, the powerful ballet dancer's legs.

i thought about holding her when she'd had a seizure when she was a year and a half - a few months before she graduated to bunkbed. her soft body was suddenly stiff and gray, her eyes rolled back in her head, her mouth foaming and green with vomit - i grabbed her in a blanket and ran down the street to the doctor's office, breathless and dizzy with panic, the blood rushing to my head so hard i could barely see.

every ten minutes, i fed her one teaspoon of the syrup of canned white peaches - a surprisingly little-known but very effective remedy for dehydration during a stomach virus - until she sprang back to life, the color rushing to her cheeks like persephone in the spring.

now here she is, impossibly huge and uncontainable, strong, thriving and increasingly self-aware.

given the doctors' currently omnious diagnosis of my health, i worried that if she woke found me sobbing beside her, she'd be terrified.

however, i needn't have worried. she is a teenager on a sunday morning after a night of "hanging out" with her school friends. nothing like her mum would or could wake her.

and eventually, i stopped crying.

and i came back upstairs to make some oatmeal and a cup of tea.

and think that maybe why i am here is to write.

because without the writing, without the art, the conversation and the stories, without the connection with other humans, our lives are fragile and incomprehensible and unexamined.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's about love

someone asked me to think about my purpose in life. what am i here for? what do i want to do?

and while i was lying on the table with needles hitting various nerves in my hands and feet and stomach, i thought about why i was here. what is important for me? what touches me so much it makes me cry?

for me, it's about love. it's about compassion. it's about forgiveness. it's about the kind of love where you dissolve, where you love someone else more than you love yourself. where you are willing to put aside your own desires, your frustrations, your anger, even your judgement to love someone else unconditionally.

it's the way a mother loves a child, especially a baby, when it feels like every single one of your needs - even the immediate physical ones - becomes secondary to your being a lifeline for another being. for a new life.

i'm not sure how it works, but it's the way when you hold a hurt or angry or frustrated child and feel her body melt in your arms, it's the love that makes her go from brittle and bony to soft and yielding.

for me, it seems to be best expressed through motherhood though i've tried it in relationships - perhaps i still believe it in relationships - though it only works when both people are willing to love body and soul. otherwise, i find, you are eaten up by the ego of the other. in my case, perhaps i wasn't patient enough to see it through, until my partner came round full circle. perhaps, he would have.

i think my purpose is to be loving, to be caring, to be nurturing. sometimes, i wonder if i've gone too far - if i work so hard that i appear to be invincible, so resilient as to be superhuman - and if there are too many people who see me as an all-powerful mother figure, people who ascribe powers to me beyond my capabilities. people who see me as so powerful their mission is to knock me down.

but my purpose again.

to bring love into my world. to move away from anger and hostility rather than fighting it. to heal and help people who are open to it.

i'm not sure what that means i can do. love alone can't do much. but without love, or passion or commitment, not much can be done anyway.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


lying face up on my bed staring up at the skylight.

my favorite place in the entire apartment.

feeling so incredibly lucky.

amazons are all at school and i have my 45 minutes of cleaning and washing done. i can walk, breathe, think and remember (most things).

and the light is just so beautiful.

time to yourself. quiet time to let your thoughts wander aimlessly has to be life's greatest luxury.

there's not a sound in the apartment short of the constant hum of muffled machinery and traffic that is new york.

i block my ears for total silence and instead am deafened by my heartbeat, the blood pulsing through my veins, my lungs expanding and contracting, my mouth and throat consecutively swallowing.

i open my eyes, take my hands off my ears. i am better present.

an aware presence in the moment.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

flashback amazon tv friday morning

on a happier note, friday morning before halloween.

wow, it's practically a week already!


"Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance." - Confucius

yesterday morning (after bleeding so much the night before that despite 3 pads and a wad of paper towels, i came home with blood squashing in my boots), i was so wrecked i could barely get out of bed.

the current diagnosis thrown in my (emotionally irresponsible) ob-gyn is uterine cancer. which weirdly, i don't believe. in fact, i don't believe i have cancer at all. i have decided that it is mind over matter. if i believe i'm well, i will be.

so when the amazons went to school, i sat down at the computer to look at the mid-term school reports to prepare myself for the parent-teacher meetings on friday. i started with sasha. one teacher after another said she didn't turn in her homework assignments. she didn't participate in class.

my head started throbbing. we've had learning diagnostics, psychological help, tutors four days a week - all this stuff i am saving pennies to afford - and sasha keeps saying she has already finished her homework. she chats with her friends online til midnight and then says she is so exhausted in the morning she has to drink coffee and it makes her dizzy. last night i just unplugged the internet at 10pm.

but they were all complaining that they had homework to do online and needed to access websites.

add that to toby biting sasha's face on sunday - someone suggested a dog trainer - my car still being in the shop, my bank accounts all overdrawn and my credit cards maxed out and i got so dizzy i could barely catch my breath.

last night at dinner, i tried to ask sasha what her reasons were. of course, the answers were all the same excuses i've heard over and over again - i turned the assignment in late, the teacher wasn't paying attention, the teacher doesn't like me, i asked for help but no one helped me.

i probably should have been filming but i am at a loss. any child psychologists here? maybe she DOES need ritalin. but i hate giving my kids drugs.

15 minutes of meditation before i went to meet adam fuss at bubby's - hoping for some clarity - and suddenly so nauseated i couldn't eat more than a few bites of broccoli.

time to finish washing the breakfast dishes, making beds, clearing up.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

night of (shattered) illusions

i don't know if there's any place where halloween is explored in all its manifestations than nyc.

there's the liberation of the mask - the people who do strange and uninhibited things while hidden.

there are those who dress up to reveal secret desires - exhibitionism, sadism, masochism, sexual ambiguity.

and the ones who are silly, who dress up like fruit or hotdogs;

there are the intellectuals - or the ones who believe they are clever - who have to explain that they are the most recent black hole or swine flu vaccine. costumes that have to be explained are like sentences written by young men in creative writing classes, "what do YOU think it means?" it's sloppy, it's lazy, it's a cover-up for a last-minute idea that you threw together that doesn't quite work.

there are all those bright, professional young women wandering around the street at 4 in the afternoon in g-strings and impossibly high-heeled shoes when just that morning they left the house in tidy j.crew or banana republic suits and unremarkable aldo pumps.

and the parties begin days in advance - building to a complete decameron by all hallow's eve - the debauchery covered by the fact that everyone has metamorphized into the mask.

as for me, i was a wood sprite or a forest fairy - and i was one of those sloppy last-minute dressers because i bought my accessories for discount prices on ebay and they didn't arrive 'til an hour before the party and the shoes i had planned to wear were just too uncomfortable for me to walk to the lower eastside.

i suppose, in the midst of my disintegration, i secretly wished to be pretty and effervescent, innocent and airborne.

and i thought i got it right until i showed up at the green halloween party and discovered that more or less everyone was festooned with silk flowers and ivy and my ricky's butterfly wings were not nearly as lovely and chic as so many of the ones around me.

the only pleasant thing was that as the evening wore on and people became drunker, i got more and more compliments on my costume, until i (wisely) standing beside the tequila bar became one of the most photographed and congratulated members of the party.