Thursday, May 27, 2010

It is the thursday before Memorial Day and the skies opened up with a driving rain. Not a warm, summer rain like you get in the rest of country, a cold winter rain.

I have decided that more than ever I need summer. I always look so forward to summer. Kyle will be a senior in the fall and Will a freshman in high school and I can honestly say I'm excited for them both.

So, I will take a break from my computer for the next few days...I know I'll cheat and have to see what my favorite bloggers are writing about but I will try and not write. I will observe.

Have a great long weekend everybody!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Screwing Up Your Kids and Getting a Chuckle out of it!

May 24th was the Great Festival of the Gypsies that takes place every year on the same day in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France.

Saint Sarah is the patron Saint of the Gypsies and on this day, Gypsies from all across Europe come to honor her.

It is customary to leave a note at her pagan altar--your wish, your hope, your prayer.

Since I couldn't go to this lively event I decided to light a candle to Saint Sarah and leave a prayer by the flaming light. Why I wanted to honor Saint Sarah must remain a mystery right now. But I wanted to and so I did.

The candle glowed brightly in the cut crystal glass.

First Tom walked through the door. Quickly I explained that I hadn't lit the candle to commemorate anyone's birth or death. "And nobody died," I told him.

Kyle walked in next. Again I was quick to alert him, "Don't worry, nobody died."

Will was the last to enter. He looked at me with his big green eyes (well one's green and the other's brown). "Nobody died, sweetheart. I'm just leaving a note of intention for Saint Sarah."

"But you're Jewish," he reminded me.

Than I had a funny thought.

I tend to light candles for all those people I have loved and lost, on special days like birthdays or anniversaries and, of course, the day they died. And when someone I know dies, I light a candle for them.

That's not the funny thought.

What got me chuckling is the image of one of my son's walking into a lover's home, the lovely young lass having filled the house with beautiful scented candles, looking forward to a night of love bathed in the soft glow of endless candlelight.

And then my kid's reaction--blood draining from his face, "Who died?" he'd ask his lover.

And she would know then that I had screwed-up my kids for sure.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Am I Honest and Scrappy?


I just got off the water. Doesn't that sound romantic? Well, I did. And it was. My husband and I sailed around our tiny lagoon on our $200 Sunfish. And I felt like I was a Jewish Kennedy.

I feel guilty for indulging in this perfect luxury. Yes, I know it's a sport. But I usually sit at the bow and watch my husband maneuver the winds. I threw on my green sweat pants and a beat up old UCLA sweat shirt, the one with holes on the elbow and the rip on the left side of the pocket. I placed a big floppy hat on my head and black sunglasses over my eyes. My hair is stringy straight and I wear no make-up. Not to sail. I look like hell but nobody would know--because of the smile on my face.

The winds were up and we sashayed through the water--fast at times. Really fast. I smiled broadly. The boat keeled on its side and my feet dangled in the cold water. Romantic. Perfect. Just Tom and me.

Before we began our sail, I spoke with a friend of mine who was interested in hearing about my life. I spent most of the time telling her about my writing. I told her that I worked until the kids came home and my days felt a bit chopped up. She reminded me that I would miss this time when the kids were gone.

I thought about this for a moment or two. Not that long ago I would have found this tremendously sad. But not today.

I recognize that big change is coming and I will miss these days so very, very much. But I am slowly evolving. I know I need to make time for me now. This is my life.

Part of what I'm working on right now (a rerelease of my father's autobiography) involves me going through boxes and boxes of old photographs. Photos of me as a kid, of my mother and of my kids. Thousands and thousands of memories.

I stopped dead in my tracks. There were endless pictures of my two sons. Pictures in albums, loose pictures, negative saved. I realized that I took so many pictures of my kids because I was sure that something bad would happen and all I would have or they would have were pieces of matt paper, to remind them or me of what once was. It all felt so incredibly morbid.

The Empress over at was dishing out awards the other day and she gave me the honest and scrappy award, daring me to come clean.

I was born to be free but have always battled my fears. As a result I am certain I have lost the best part of my spirit.

I could feel it this late afternoon as my husband caught the wind in our sails and took us everywhere and nowhere--freedom. Fast and free. The way I want to live.

The way I once was, a long time ago before circumstance and sad endings creeped into my joyful being. Fear of the unknown or in my case, fear of the known.

Honest--I watched my Dad die. I watched his kidney's fail then his heart. Then my sister. First her heart, then her kidney's and finally her lungs. Then my mother, her mind. Things failed all around me. All around me things fell apart.

Scrappy--Kyle was in my stomach when Georgie's lungs finally failed for good and I had no choice. Everyday had to be a miracle because I had a lot of living to do, for a lot of people I adored and who adored me. Morbid. Yes, because too much recognition that every moment is precious means that you live in a world where you know that everything can be taken away in a moment. Morbid yes. Free no.

Scrappy--I sail on a lagoon in an old boat and I enjoy every minute of it. I have grit. And guts that I seldom give myself credit for. It's time I do. I look at the picture I posted of myself and that's the girl inside of me. I've always been there. Free

So Miss Empress, your highness, is that honest and scrappy enough? Thanks for the challenge. My personal challenge is to try and be a little more free everyday. A little more honest and scrappy!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Our Collective Virtual World!

Well, I'm not entirely sure why I started blogging. And I am not sure what I expected to get out of it. Back in August, as school began again, I worried about my place in the world once my kids had left the nest. I just started writing.

Then I began Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way and my life took an unfamiliar turn. I committed to something new and I stuck with it. This is so contrary to my nature.

I knew nothing about blogging. Really nothing. And then all this happened. Not all at once. Slowly, over time.

I found myself visiting at today and low and behold Bruce from was sitting in. He wrote a magnificent piece about our virtual salon.

The thing is I only met Bruce yesterday when he came to visit my blog. And he came because he too was part of Jen and Sarah's 'five for ten' at A connection was made.

But I didn't know that that connection was made a long time ago, when Bruce was a child and he watched one of my Dad's horror films, Mr. Sardonicus. Apparently my Dad's film left an impression on him. And today, it was Bruce who left an impression on me.

We are all strangers. But we have come to know each other profoundly. And even trust each other. It is inspiring and somewhat odd. But I have always liked odd and this feels like home.

What has amazed me is the quality of writing, the collective spirit, the support and the incredible number of people writing about things both personal and profound.

And I find myself a bit overwhelmed. Bruce wrote about something I learned about a thousand years ago, back in college--Marshall McLuhan's concept that "the medium is the message." I didn't fully understand his concept when I was a 20-year-old college student. Today I understand it completely.

And I feel lucky. I have lived to see very many different mediums--and I wonder what Mr. McLuhan would think of all this. Something that so profoundly connects us all. Something where truly the medium is the message. Connection!

But like with most things, there was a leap I had to take. I wrote not knowing if anyone would ever read my words. And I'm not entirely sure it really mattered. I wrote because I had to. For me. It has changed my life and in fact given me a life. And I am so thankful to the medium and to all of you.

I am really curious what made you all start blogging. I really hate that word. What made you all start writing on websites? I am deeply curious. And what is your take away? Do write for yourself, to build a community, to make connections? Why did you start and why do you continue? Do you ever want to just stop? Feel like you have nothing left to say? And then what happens that makes you continue? How did you make your first connection? My came through

I am delighted to be part of what Bruce calls our "virtual salon." Thank you.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Yes I Can!

Can I have a life once my children leave home?

Yes I Can!

Can I stop fearing life so much that I start living it?

Yes I Can!

Can I store my bad memories back into the recesses of my mind and embrace the good ones?

Yes I Can!

Can I start working out?

Yes I Can!

Can I embrace my children as young men and delight in their own adventures?

Yes I Can!

Can I lust for my husband?

Yes I Can!


Can I continue to dream?

Yes I Can!

Can I stop calling myself old?

Yes I Can!

Can I start admitting that I am a writer?

Yes I Can!

Can I make things happen for myself?

Yes I Can!

Can I handle the hardships that await me?

Yes I Can!

Can I live a life filled with ups and downs as I strive for a little more peace?

Yes I Can!

Can I say no more often, free from guilt?

Yes I Can!

Can I live abroad one day soon?

Yes I Can!

Can I appreciate each and every one of you who spend the time reading my posts?

You Betcha!

Can I enjoy the day without the fear of what tomorrow brings?

Yes I Can!

Yes, you betcha, affirmative, no problemo, of course, agreed, all righty then. Yes!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lust On My Terms!

I step out of my well worn underwear that doubles as a turtleneck. Next I undo my overused bra that is used for comfort, obviously, because it provides no support whatsoever.

I quickly step into my brand spanking new navy blue silk undergarments--bra and tiny panties. I am amazed that my breasts actually sit where they are suppose to.

Then I throw on my skinny jeans with a crisp white tee shirt. I add a belt with turquoise stones and a pair of large silver hoop earrings.

But I'm not done yet. I slip my bare feet into a pair of black stilettos with forest green soles--a signature of the expensive brand.

I feel good. Inside and out. I feel like I could re-capture that lustful spirit that seems far away and long ago.

I stop. I look at the bottom of my shoe. The green sole of my designer pumps reminds me of something.

I think for a second and then it comes to me. The green light on Daisy's dock. The illusive light that represents the demise of the American dream. This gets me thinking and that usually means trouble.

Why do I need the outside to look sexy, for the inside to feel lustful?

My expensive designer shoes all of a sudden remind me of Daisy. Not a character I like very much.

Why have spent too much money on black stilettos and squeezed my large derrière into tight ass blue jeans and bought a bra that harnesses my well worn, droopy breasts?

It is all wrong. I have to be me. I step out of my jeans and crisp tee. I throw off my expensive shoes with the green soles. I undo my uncomfortable bra.

I breathe. A long deep, comforting breath.

I throw on my old comfy jeans, take off my stupid earrings, throw on my well worn tee and a pair of flip-flops.

I am ready for a night of lust. My way. No illusive green soles at the end of my dock. No siree!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Life is About Living Now!

Hardest topic for me.

This post. Memory.

One. I feel envy for all you mommy’s blogging about your life with your little children. A living, breathing, written memory for you to cherish. I can’t seem to remember much when my children were little. Little things filter through my mind. Their crooked smiles, the way they tucked their little hand in the back of my neck when I was holding them, my husband carrying them to bed when they fell fast asleep in ours. Now they have grown and I have forgotten so much.

But I will never forget how much I love them. But the look on their face when they ate their first piece of chocolate—I can’t remember. The first time they found money under their pillow from the tooth fairy—can’t remember. The first time they caught a baseball in the outfield—can’t remember.

I wish I could. I wish I had written about it.

I do remember my 17-year-old giving his 8th grade graduation speech, his sweet hug and kiss every single night, his screams of excitement when the Yankees won the pennant. I remember him climbing into his tuxedo for prom.

I remember my almost 14-year-old waving at me from a wakeboard behind a ski boat with a smile the size of Lake Tahoe, his patience and dedication as he reads my novel over and over again with so many helpful points, his smile every day as he approaches my car on his segway. I will never forget my son sailing me around the lagoon on his sunfish with the wind in our hair and the sun on our backs.

Or will I?

Two. My Mom lost her memory many years ago. MANY. And she sits in her chair without a memory or a voice suffering with Alzheimer’s.

“Does she know you?” everyone asks.

I have no idea. She senses me. Does that count?

A whole life of memories she doesn’t remember or does she?

She lost her husband and a daughter I hope she can’t remember that.

But all the other stuff. Where does it go? A whole life, filled with sweetness and light, with horror and grief. Where does it go?

I have become the memory for too many people. My mother, my father, my sister. I am a vessel filled with important memories that I can’t let die. Yet I can’t remember what my little boy said to me on his first day of school. I can’t remember the look on my little boy’s face when he took his first step. I can’t remember how they smelled after their bath.

But I remember my father dying. Clearly. And my sister sticking her tongue out at me in the hospital, angry that I was letting the doctors do awful things trying to keep her alive.

On those sleepless nights, and there are many, I want to remember the good things and not the bad. Turn off the switch of too many bad memories and let only the good ones filter through.

Why are the painful ones so vivid? It doesn’t seem fair. I can remember them in detail. Paint pictures, summon up feelings, re-create scenes.

The good memories are fading. I don’t want them to, because I need them desperately.

But life is not about memories. No. It’s about living and creating more memories.

Life is about living. Memories pull us backward, through time and space, sometimes unkindly, sometimes to help us remember and go forward freely. But life is about living. NOW.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Health and Love: What Happened to Happiness?

I am the most afraid of this topic. It is one thing that shapes my world for better and for worse.

When I was growing up, my parents always told us that only two things in life were important, health and love. This was drilled into us. It was THE message. THE one resounding message from my childhood.

Happiness wasn’t mentioned because it seemed obvious that with health and love comes happiness.

I have wrestled with this conceit for over five decades. Yes, FIVE decades. That sounds like a long time to wrestle. But I have tried to seek out help. I really have. But I continue to struggle, and here is the absolute truth. Bare all, conceal nothing.

I live my life happy but in absolute fear that my happiness will be taken away. In a heart beat, a blink of an eye, a flip of a coin, my world will shut down and my happiness will be gone.

I have lived long enough to see how bad things destroy happiness. I have lived through some of these tough times. Have watched my happiness flutter away and disappear. Too many times. Too easily. But this is life. And it changes on a dime.

But I have also lived long enough to KNOW that happiness can be there through tough times, unhappy times if, IF, if happiness is equated to peace. And to me, I think it is.

I am the least peaceful person I know. This is what eludes me. I have met a few people who seem at peace always. I want that. To me that looks like happiness. It looks like no one can take it away. I just don’t know how to get there.

And perhaps I worry a bit, that my highs won’t be quite as high if I am in that peaceful spot. But I think I would trade the highs for the sacred gift of peace.

Instead, I live my life fearful. And I can’t seem to do a damn thing about it. I talked about courage on my last blog and realize how closely linked courage and happiness really are.

And so I ask YOU out there--readers, writers, thinkers, does it take courage to be at peace?

Is this the piece in peace I’m missing? Was I born this way or did life make me this way? And can I change?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Courage through Generations!

I am not very good at following directions, and I am equally bad at attempting anything technological, but after reading Jen and Sarah's blog and the clever idea they have put into motion, called Five for Ten, I am determined to try to be a part of the conversation. Today’s topic is COURAGE. So here goes…

I have thought about courage a lot in my life, probably because I think I’m devoid of courage. Much like the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz, somewhere along the way, I lost my courage.

But then two things happened.

A wise Dutch friend of my mother told me something that made me think. Tony was his name. Sadly, he died last year. Tony was a resistance fighter in Holland during World War II. Then he moved to Los Angeles and became a nudist and an activist. I say nudist first, because I met him when I was quite young and the nudist part has been emblazoned in my memory. When we would visit Tony at his tiny beach house (really the only shack in Malibu), my Mom would give him that look that said, “Cover that thing up, old man.” And he always did.

He taught me to swim in the ocean in really rough waters. He told me to dive real deep and let the waves pass over my head. He also told me precisely what to do if I was ever caught in a rip tide. I have a healthy respect for the sea because of Tony. But it’s one thing I’m not afraid of, probably because Tony gave me information that allowed me to have a semblance of control.

But I’m wandering. What Tony told me, before he died, has stayed with me. He told me, my Grandfather, a man I never met, was the bravest man he had ever known.

This surprised me. I had heard many stories about my Jewish Grandfather and nobody ever described him as brave. Kind, yes. Compassionate, definitely. Creative and hard-working, absolutely. Devoted to his family, forever. But brave never came up.

Then Tony continued speaking in that honest, guttural way that all Dutch men seem to share. They never say what they don’t mean.

I wish I could recall the precise words, but I can’t. But I’ll never forget the message. He said that Georg (my Grandfather) by nature was not particularly brave. In fact, he worried about everything. And he feared constantly. And then he was trapped in Holland during WWII with a big Star of David attached to his arm. And despite impossible odds, my Grandfather hid resistance fighters in his home and guns and ammunition in his attic.

What made this significant to Tony was that this man (my Grandpa) went against his nature. And against staggering odds did things that put himself and his beloved family at terrible risk. And to him this is what made Grandpa Georg the bravest man he had ever met.

My other life lesson is from my young son, handicapped with a condition called Trevor’s Disease which has made his life less than easy. He can’t move his left ankle or knee and his leg is considerably shorter. He has to wear a big shoe to walk.

I remember seeing people with huge shoes when Will was first diagnosed. I couldn’t imagine anybody having to live like that. We have been through many surgeries and none of them have been successful. One day soon, when Will stops growing, the disease is supposed to stop spreading. We are hopeful about a prosthetic knee and even an ankle some day down the road. But in the meantime, my son stuns me with his bravery.

I have his jeans made to fit over his shoe, so it makes it a bit more difficult to see the huge shoe hiding under his pants leg. But Will doesn’t seem to mind the stares and comments. Summer is rolling around and that means shorts. He couldn’t care less. He wears his shorts and doesn’t seem to mind the curiosity of others.

But it breaks my heart. Again, he’s brave and I’m the cowardly lion.

He fights like a real lion in everything he does, from fencing to wakeboarding to skiing. But the real test of his manhood and his bravery is the way he handles his challenges. Head on! He doesn’t even blink.

The bravest thing I’ve ever done is given birth to a very brave boy. He must get it from his brave great Grandfather, Georg.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

My kids asked me what I wanted to do for Mother's Day. I couldn't give them an answer. What does a mother want on Mother's Day?

At one time, long ago, I wanted to sleep late.

At one time, long ago, I wanted to watch my children play happily with each other.

At one time, long ago, I wanted to leave the breakfast, lunch and dinner to my husband.

At one time, long ago, I wanted a home-made card and perhaps a gift made out of tissue paper.

But what do I want now?

I want all the mothers I have met in the virtual world and in the real world to know that I'm happy to share this blessed time with them. I want to wish them a Happy Mother's Day. I want to tell them they inspire me in many ways, every day.

And from my children? On Mother's Day? What is it I want?

A long hug. That's what I want. One that says I'm right here next to you. Right here. Right now.
And I'm not going anywhere. Right Now.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Numb and Lonely

Yesterday was so exciting for me. I was really delighted for Will and his victory. But then something strange happened.

I went numb.

I can't explain it entirely but I shut down. It was the strangest feeling. I didn't feel myself at all. I was quick to think that it was gnarly hormones, but I knew this was different.


I didn't feel anxious or depressed. Numb.

Almost like I couldn't endure anymore worry. I needed to tuck it away someplace and not let it nip at my ankles for one afternoon. Just for one afternoon.

I went to bed and the tears began to flow. Seventeen-years-ago I went into labor and had my first baby boy. SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO TODAY.

It was a bittersweet day. I bore a child that I have loved with every fiber of my being. But my sister had not lived to see him. BITTERSWEET.


I had to move forward. I had no choice. I had lost my best friend in the world, my big sister. She was supposed to be there for me forever. And she died.


She would have been there in the room with me when Kyle was born but she was dead. Instead my mother was waiting outside with my dear friend Judy. They tried to fill in the gaps.

My mother sat there fully aware that she had just lost her oldest daughter and she was about to meet her grandchild. I had the best medicine for her. But she had developed Alzheimer's.


I put one foot in front of the other and loved my baby. I loved him more because he didn't have the love of his Aunt Georgie. And I know how she would have spoiled him. And I know how she would have loved him.

I had to keep her alive for him.


People showered love upon me and Kyle on this blessed day. They knew my loss. Our loss. They tried to fill in the pieces.

I've done the best I could. Now, he is practically a man. Georgie would be proud of him. But he lost out. He lost out.

She didn't. I have to believe this. She sees him, knows him, loves him. I have to believe this.

Not numb now. Tears stain my cheeks.

Today on my son's 17th birthday I miss my sister so very much.

Dear Georgie:

I wish you were around for the journey. I need you so much everyday, for so many reasons but mostly I need you to hit me over the head and tell me to get my head out of my derrière and not be afraid of life.

Thanks for everything you ever did for me. And I'm so sorry that I didn't make your death any easier.

I know I don't have to say I love you because you know that. Unconditional love.

I will try and ride the proverbial wave you always told me about. I will hear your voice in my head. And I will fill the house with laughter. And I will continue to put one foot in front of the other and not judge myself too harshly.

You wouldn't recognize how old I have become. Your little sister. Your sister who knew you better than anybody else. The sister you understood better than anyone else. Unspoken love and friendship. Together forever. Old and a little less NUMB.


Our baby is seventeen today. But you know that.

Sunday, May 2, 2010




Resilience 101

My young son is a fighter. He has guts and resilience. More than his old mother. Right now he is fencing against eight other great fencers to be one of the few selected to go to Nationals in Atlanta this summer.

Nationals is a huge deal. My oldest son is going. Will has gone twice before but this year he has to qualify. The last few years, just showing up to the tournaments qualified you for Nationals.

And I'm sitting here, holding my breath.

Will can't move his left ankle or knee and this leg is much shorter than his right one. So you can imagine how much harder this is for him.

He just fenced all the fencers and beat 3 of them. Then he went up against a better fencer for direct elimination--and he lost.

Now, he has two more bouts to see if he beats one of them and qualifies for a trip to Nationals.

I know he will be fine if he doesn't win. But I want him to win so badly. He loves to compete and despite his handicap puts himself out there every single day. I know this would mean the world to him. But I also know that he will take the loss in stride like everything else.

But my heart breaks as I wait. And I wait wondering what this all means to him. Through my lens, I worry. But Will understands his handicap and deals. But at some level, doesn't it bother him terribly?

We all have handicaps. And Will has learned at a young age how to face challenges and overcome them. But I would just love to see him win something. For him. He loves sports and is so athletically inclined.

So, I wait. Baited breath and all. And I'm proud. And I love him so very much.

Tomorrow, my older son runs for student body president. He is putting himself out there in a really different way. And for him this is a big deal.

But if Kyle doesn't win, I know that he will learn from the experience. For Will, I'm just sick of all the learning and resilience he has had to bare. "Enough," I want to scream.

Win or not, he is the ultimate winner to me.