My Lesson from the Newtown Tragedy

At a certain point in my early 30s – shortly after I had gotten divorced and came out from the self-absorbed haze of “why me” – I had a turning point when instead of saying “Why me?” I started saying, “what is the lesson here?”

I witnessed a taxi accident a few years ago, walking down the streets of Third Avenue in New York. With the bustle and hustle of rush hour, it was not uncommon to hear a car screeching or the familiar bang of metal colliding. Most of the time the slow traffic prevented horrific automobile accidents. But on this warm spring day, I turned my head after I heard a crash and watched as a 20-something girl jumped out of a cab, apparently in a complete state of shock, all while holding her bloody nose from falling off her face. “What just happened? Can someone please just tell me what just happened to me?”

I felt so badly for this confused and bruised young woman. She seemed to be on a first date, because a young man, not overly attentive to this clearly distraught woman, began to run around to the car in front of the taxi and try to figure out what caused the accident. I just watched this unpleasant scene, thinking, “What was the point of me witnessing this accident?”

I wondered about why was I meant to see this? What was my lesson?

From that day on, I wore a seatbelt in the back seat of every car, including taxis. Perhaps this was a simple lesson; perhaps it was one that will save my face one day.

But it seems to help me to say, “What is the lesson here? What can I take away from this to make my life better? What was the point?”

What are the lessons for a nation that witnessed a small town’s tragedy and sits breathless, powerless, helpless at home? After the fog of grief wears off; after that rotting feeling in your stomach and the perpetual lump in your throat goes away; after you’ve cried so many tears that you can’t believe it’s still getting to you – because these weren’t even YOUR children. What is the lesson here?

We can start up the talks about gun control and mental illness and even parental responsibility and accountability. We can make it political or religious or all things in one. We can go off on rants and we can be angry and we can be frustrated.

But that won’t change my life. Not my personal little life. Nope. I cannot change gun laws; I cannot help all the parents in the world with sick children. I can only help myself recognize there was a reason this event pierced my heart.

When, in a memorial service, President Obama said, “Newtown has reminded us of the most important things in life,” the lesson seemed blatantly clear.

I didn’t care about the laundry overflowing out of the hamper or about the dishes that needed to be loaded into the dishwasher. I didn’t care about the gray hairs that have covered my temples or the holiday cards that we decided to abandon because our standards were just too high. I didn’t care that my cell phone bill was late again or that I still didn’t file my taxes. I didn’t care about petty fights with the family and I certainly didn’t care about what any one else ever thought about my choices again. That was all just distraction from the real stuff.

I only cared about holding my children. I cared about kissing them and kissing them some more until they were pushing me away and wiping their faces off. I cared about hugging them so tight, like I could wrap my arms around them twice and if I squeezed any harder, I’d pop their ribs. I cared about tucking them in at night so cozy that I could climb right in bed with both of them and never leave. I cared about touching every little part of their bodies, savoring every delicious morsel of their silky skin. I cared about breathing in their delicious smells, filling up my lungs for all eternity so I would never forget their perfume of pure love.

I only cared about holding them and protecting them the way I had in the first nine months of their lives. Because once they’re born, they’re so much harder to protect.

When my son was born, it was like the mysterious question mark of WHY on this earth became clear. Our children are the answer to the why and the because. When their hearts start beating outside your body, your own heart will beat to an entirely new rhythm; a rhythm with purpose.

I don’t want to win the lottery; I don’t want that million-dollar apartment; I don’t even want that dream job that only exists in a hypothetical world. I only want the dream life I have right now. The one where my children are healthy and safe and comforted by the grasp of my arms around them. The one where I can dance around the living room in pajamas, holding their little palms in mine and then tuck them in at night. I want the life where I can watch my children open their holiday presents and I can hear them tell me I love you, sounding no less sweet the hundredth time that it did the first.

I want to hit pause on my life RIGHT NOW. Because today I am one of the very lucky ones and I don’t want to take one second for granted.

This tragedy will forever remind me that as long as I can tuck my children in at night, all is good. The rest is just background noise.

A Decade of Motherhood

My son turns 10 years old today, and while he celebrates turning double digits, the celebration is essentially all mine. Growing up, on my birthday all my parents’ friends used to call and “Congratulate” them on my birthday. I thought it was a stupid Russian thing; “It’s MY birthday – they get their own day.” But after I made it through the first year of motherhood, I realized why for every single first birthday party I attended that year, I hugged and congratulated the parents; I finally understood that is OUR holiday.

Today I will jokingly reminisce (just like my mother has done for every single year of my 37 birthdays) about my 45-hour labor. How long was it that the story went from being THE Most Dramatic Story of my arduous labor to a funny tale of 43 non-drug hours followed by 2 drug-filled nasty hours resulting in a 10-minute push out that changed my life. A seed was planted at his conception, but the bud sprouted when he was born. How metamorphically cliché and generic. But it’s what happened when you’re struck with the Motherhood Magic Wand. You see LOVE in a whole new way. The biggest hearts in the world expand. Exponentially.

Before you are a parent, you can imagine it, maybe even picture it vividly. I wasn’t able to do either. I never babysat; didn’t have many babies around. The last baby I was really around was my sister and that was over 3 decades ago. When my son was born, I didn’t understand these feelings. Motherhood. The all encompassing LOVE and desire to protect, to pour all of yourself into this tiny baby.

THIS I couldn’t have predicted.

Immediately he became my medicine – against pain, against sadness. His birth immediately answered Life’s Ultimate Question: Why? He was my eternal Because.

But as much as I fell in love with my son and Motherhood, it was not without its decade-worth of “lessons,” as we’ll call them. “They are our greatest teachers,” my cousin from Hawaii told me after his baby turned one. We’ve had everything from viruses to bullying with a divorce, 4 moves and a new sister in the process. Every day I fell more in love with my son. He was so special – and everyone noticed.

He is, at ten, what I hope to be – eventually.

He is kind and considerate, smart, inquisitive, loving, brilliant (did I say that already?), imaginative, articulate, sensitive, generous, selfless. The fact that I had anything to do with him brings me pride on a momentary basis – notably whenever I look over in his direction. 

At one, he would organize his Thomas the Tank Engine trains neatly in a row on the edge of his train table; I called it “taking attendance” but secretly worried if I was making him an OCD clean freak (nope). I watched proudly as he recited the names of all these wooden trains: “Percy, Henry, Gordon, Clarabelle, Scarloey, Sir Topham Hatt.” The faces were virtually identical to me amongst the dozens of trains that cluttered my house – but he knew every one. I remember thinking after he turned one, how will he impress me now?

At five he was doing Lego sets designed for children double his age. He would study the instructions like they were the architectural plans for the Vatican and he was reconstructing it. I was always so proud. How would he top that? Can I be any MORE proud?

The things that would spill from his lips amazed me with every conversation. So appreciative of the world around him, he thanked me for everything – from vacations to breakfast to medicine. If I could wrap my arms around him twice so I could squeeze all the breath out of him like a sponge I would – that’s how tight I want to hug him.

By nine, he had read all seven Harry Potter books three times. He is the reader I strive to become. He already has his own voice as a writer. Fourth grade has been the most academically and socially challenging one so far. But once again, he made me prouder than I ever could foresee, overcoming obstacles I could only dream to be courageous enough to confront.

This year they keep a journal at school and one of the writing prompts was “What was a gift that you received that you didn’t realize you wanted?” His answer, “My sister.”

How does he do it? If a cat has nine lives, a mother has nine million because every time I witness one of those moments; ever zinger I live through, it feels like an arrow to the heart, stabbing and exploding the loving shit out of me.

What have I learned in a decade of being a mother?

I learned patience. I learned calmer, slower, stop and smell the flowers and play with the dirt. I learned perseverance and strength and how to lug a 4-year-old in my arms while standing on a moving bus. I learned how to protect and defend and teach him to stand up for himself on the playground – and in life. I learned unconditional love – how the love you give is incrementally equal to the love you take. I learned the lyrics to “Beautiful Boy” after playing it for 3,650 days at nighttime. I learned what it was like to have a part of your body separated from you … and sent off to school in a bus way to big for his little legs. Then I learned how to lose him for half the week. (This was one of the hardest lessons.) I learned that their pain hurts me so much more. I (eventually) learned to trust others (with him).

Mostly I learned how to trust myself – because my instincts were those of a mother’s, and until I became one, I didn’t realize the strength in that.

Today Jacob Dylan turns ten years old and I will have been a mother for a decade. Today I will celebrate the day his birth bestowed upon me the title of which I am most proud: Mother.

Photo: 3.26.07; 5 years ago when he was just half-a-decade-old. I was feeling nostalgic.

A One Year Hiatus ... But Who Even Missed Me?
Maybe Just Me ...

I haven’t blogged in over a year. I just got annoyed at the whole internet, at social networking, at sharing my life with anyone. I just got disinterested. I wanted my life to myself; a private celebrity if only in my own mind, wearing a baseball hat and sunglasses and avoiding the media.

I hated my blog; every single thing about it. I was in a new head place, and instead of celebrating the technological journal I’d created that documented a [special and critical] period of my life, I was disgusted at its existence. I avoided visiting it, updating it, or telling anyone about it. When people asked about it, I waved them away and laughed it off.

Andrew said I should start updating my blog again; said it was a good habit and gave me a bit of sanity that I was otherwise lacking. I never stop thinking and those electrical shocks constantly exploding in my head are usually only grounded when I have the opportunity to write it down.

Over the last year I’ve had more to write about than ever. Was homeless, bought an apartment, lived for 3 months in the basement of my dad’s townhouse in Staten Island. Had one of those horrible renovations and ended up in court with the contractor. One of us had their license suspended (not me) in error. During our 3 months without an official address in the forgotten borough, I clocked over 100 hours driving my son to and from school in Riverdale. I read the first 5 books of Harry Potter. My son was amazing; my baby was becoming such a big girl – first words, first steps, first songs, first dances … but I didn’t want to blog about it.

I didn’t want to visit Facebook or tweet my actions. I wanted my family to myself – I didn’t want to share them with the other side of the keyboard. No one would appreciate them as much and I just didn’t want to be vulnerable anymore.

I kept writing – but I wouldn’t publish it anymore. Who cared? I did, I guess.

Everyday that went by without my blog being updated kind of felt like I bought a gym membership but never went; a Groupon unredeemed. After months I finally went online to see if the blog was even still there. The previous background of notebook paper was now replaced by a tiled image of question marks. Wasn’t that ironic … or appropriate? Blogger was inadvertently talking to me? My one year old, over my shoulder saw the question marks and started saying, “Mystery Mouse-ka-tool.” Talk about a mystery.

So I wrote this “post” not to justify or make excuses, but just for me to see – when I stopped; where I stopped; why I stopped …

I'm in a [I don't work a corporate job] Style Slump

Will someone please nominate me for What Not to Wear?

I have been in a major style rut for the last 18 months. When I first lost my job, with it also went the obligation to “dress up.” (But truthfully I wasn’t so upset about that.) Then I got pregnant – and for the nine months I spent hovering over or around a toilet, I wore nothing but maternity clothes in the form of oversized sweats.

So I was pregnant – that was my first excuse. Then I had the baby – and well, the wardrobe didn’t change. In fact, I am still wearing the SAME sweats I wore throughout my pregnancy (complete with paint stains and three inches too long) -- and not because I haven’t lost the weight. At this point in my life, elastic waistbands just trump the button/zipper combo. (OK so maybe there’s an extra five pounds lingering around the middle.)

I should note that I’m not a big shopper. Even if I did have money (of which I have less than zero), I spend the pennies on my kids, rather than on stupid clothes for myself. Especially since I don’t have to go to a “corporate job.” I’m the opposite of one of those women who has shoes and purses to match everything. My footwear is either flip-flop in the summer or Ugg boots in the winter. It’s these in-between seasons where my feet really struggle.

The way I get dressed in the morning would certainly make most Manhattan women cringe. I look over to the large, leather armchair next to my side of the bed (I knew it was a bad idea to put it there) and pluck whatever sweatpants and shirt from the stack, most already inside out and worn several times over. It is not usual that I would wear the exact same thing three days in a row to drive my son to school. I get away with this especially in the winter, where my over-sized jacket hides my embarrassing, draping schmatas. The parking lot attendant who works where I pick up my car has seen me in the black down jacket and furry boots for the last six months.

I wear make up rarely, even though it’s my only vanity vice. My hair care regimen consists of conditioning my long curly hair and typically putting it up within five minutes of showering. (Conditioner, for the record, is not a vanity product – but a necessity, without which, I would have a head full of frizzy dreads within a few days). The days I choose to wear my hair down are probably the same days I decide to wear make up. You know, events like date night, parent-teacher conference, or any other day where I’ll see another human that knows me by name (maybe that’s why I haven’t given my name to the parking attendant yet).

I do have some remnants of my old life. Translation: jeans with rhinestones around the belt; 3 colors of the same corduroy pants from the Gap; and at least two pairs of black pants – one extra wide and one extra tight. The Bebe satin “hot pants,” are also slightly splitting in the crotch area, but that does not stop me from wearing them. I have a pair of red cowboy boots that convince me I’m stylish and a few silk scarves that I used to wear as belts when I no longer needed them to hide the scar on my neck.

I don’t even carry a purse – or a diaper bag. I use a canvas tote from the Strand Book Store or a very deteriorated Vivienne Tam straw tote with embroidered butterflies on it (it has traveled the world with me since it weighs half an ounce.) Don’t let the fancy brand impress you; my aunt works for Vivienne and everything with the fancy label on it, came courtesy of my darling aunt’s good decisions during sample sales.

The ugly truth is nothing fits me like it used to. My body just changed. After my first baby (nine years ago next week), I put my pre-pregnancy jeans on within three weeks. This time, even though I was able to button my jeans (doing the famous jean squats and laying down on the bed to close them) – they resulted in a lovely muffin top.

Recently I had a revelation: maybe this is just my new body. I’m 36 years old, I've had another baby, and am clearly not interested in exercise that involves the free gym upstairs (that I’ve ignored for the entire time I’ve had access to it).

Maybe I can learn to love my new body … and buy some new clothes … in … gasp – a larger size?

Last week, in the 30-second elevator ride to the lobby, my mother and I continued our conversation about my body issues. We have had conversations like this for the greater part of three decades. I have been aware of body (and unhappy with it) for most of my life. Only now do I realize how ridiculous I’ve been. I let a little rendezvous with baby fat taint my entire perception of myself. A perpetual battle with my own brain and my eyes as a distorted mirror. I am every woman – fighting a battle of real life reflections against what we are shown as beautiful in the outside world. I digress.

Back to the elevator.

“I just don’t think it’s realistic to try to kill myself to get back into size zero clothing,” I told my mother. “It’s just ludicrous. I think I just fit into those pants when my thyroid was overactive.” I tried to justify it to myself. I loved using the thyroid excuse, when the truth was – even after they cut out half my metabolism – I was still wearing the same size clothing.

There was a third person in the elevator; a man in his 40s dressed in a standard Wall Street suit and loafers. He looked over at me, without trying to do the elevator eyes (he wouldn’t have seen much with me bundled up in my North Face Arctic Parka and clearly said, “A size zero is just too small. That’s just absurd.” He chuckled. I nodded with an, “I know, right?” to boot.

Having a baby girl has also shed some light on beauty and perceptions and the hyper-criticism that is taught and supported by our society.

When I wrote a short piece about how I view my body, my mother started crying. It broke her heart to know that her gorgeous daughter saw herself in such an ugly light. I scrutinized every inch of myself, looking only through a set of media-brainwashed glasses. I never considered how my words could sting her.

Now that I have a daughter, I understand my mother. Just like she predicted. (How long have you been waiting for that, mother dear?)

My 9-month-old’s baby pictures resemble mine to the degree that it’s frightening in a way that only genetic biology can be. At first I didn’t see it, but then there was a picture of my daughter that stopped me in my tracks. This familiar face was starting back at me – but how could the likeness be so remarkable? She was too beautiful to look like me.

How I’ve always criticized my baby pictures; scrutinizing them with the harshest judgmental eye. I was too chubby or too serious or my smile was too lop-sided. All of my baby pictures are black and white; my father shot and developed them in our bathtub in Kiev. I cherish these dearly – for the ingenuity it took to print them – and for the art they’ve become. These photojournalistic prints, with their curled corners, served as the springboard to my lifelong love of photography.

But instead of focusing on the captured moment; I just focused on the fact that I wasn’t a pretty baby.

Now I look at my Mackenzie Riley – certainly a cherub if I’ve ever imagined seeing one. She has these eyes that make people stop in their tracks; soulful, expressive, gorgeous. Her porcelain skin, her naturally rosy cheeks and her perfectly-shaped little lips (only one of which she likes to show since she sucks the bottom one).

I witnessed her coming to life and now I watch her grow. I feel her energy. Her gaze pierces my soul like a poem. She is what daughters are meant to teach you. She has given me the gift of new eyes; a renewed perspective.

I look at my pictures differently now. I realize that every picture is just a representative of one tiny moment in time – a split second immortalized and then we put it up for eternal critique – especially our own. Especially my own.

But even with my girl … I dress her up – much nicer than I do myself. I put the little barrettes in her hair and I tell her she’s pretty (whether we’re supposed to or not … if I don’t use it as a ‘compliment’ – is it still OK?).

So shouldn’t I give her a good example of a mom who takes care in herself and puts herself “together” – as my mom used to say: “Take yourself in your hands.” (Sounds better in Russian.)

In conclusion … if anyone wants to nominate me for What Not To Wear… here’s where to do it … and good luck getting a photo of me wearing my “outrageous fashion choices.”

Do You Baby Book?

After my cousin had twins 4 months to the day after I had my baby girl, we were comparing gifts. Kind of like, “How many baby blankets? What’s the most hideous outfit?” Finally I ask, “How many baby books did you get?”

She says, “What do you mean “baby books?” You mean How to Expect: The First Years?”

No, I clarify, “Like a book for you to write down all the stuff. The firsts. First laugh, first foods, favorite toy. A place to put their piece of hair, footprints. Come on, you must know what I’m talking about. The kind of book you fill it in ...”

“Really?” She genuinely sounds surprised. “Who has time to do that shit? I have two newborns.”

“Andrew’s baby book has every little thing written in it,” I explain about my boyfriend's book. “It says when he did everything. For instance, we learned he started eating baby meat at 3 months old.”

So then I realized that maybe we’re just immigrant kids; maybe this is just an American thing.

I had something that I kept track for Jake, 9 years ago … but I did it haphazardly and hated it since it was so imperfect. I hated anything incomplete. I realize that of course, in retrospect, it’s better to have anything rather than nothing. I look over the notes I never typed and my scraps of paper and old receipts of his birthday at Chuck e Cheese.”

But now with my second baby, I guiltily confess that I haven’t written anything down. I got one baby book as a gift and I didn’t connect to it – all frilly and Precious Moments and not my style. [IDEA: hip, easy baby books – or what – even an ipod app.] Her dad started a list of milestones on my laptop; I made a short list of the words se says so far (mama, daddy, milk, Elmo, Big Bird, bear, up, baba [grandma in Russian], meow, moo, this, that, ball, duck, purple, blue, and a bunch of others.

I have a good friend from college who has been blogging since her daughter’s birth about 20 months ago. I’m flattered when she tells me I was her inspiration. I always went onto her site to check in on what her baby was doing because she was my friend and I wanted to know about her life – but I wondered, would people who didn’t know the baby also want to read it the particulars?

So recently I started visiting her blog for a different reason. Whenever my 9-month old (that just happened yesterday!) does something – or isn’t doing something for that matter – I go back to her blog and see what her baby was doing this time last year. This is her completely detailed virtual baby book that documents her daughter’s songs, words, skills, snacks. I was using it as a resource!

I, on the other hand, had a hard time remembering the exact time my daughter was born. (I was really tired.)

So am I a horrible mother? Does it mean I don’t love my daughter as much?

I have another friend that has a pile of papers, about 6” high with details of her son’s naps, feedings and notes from the daycare. Every minutia recorded.

I have nothing but fleeting memories.

I should definitely write more down – about her – and for her.

Dying My Hair

Last week I decided it was finally time to color my hair. It had been months that the tufts of gray on my temples were bothering me. With the baby, I was always putting my hair up in a ponytail and the clown-like, white bunches weren’t funny anymore (no, they never really were).

Most people said they didn’t notice the gray – until I pointed it out, to which, they’d reply “Oh, huh. How about that? Well, it’s not so bad.” Or else they’d tell me how they’ve been dying their hair since they were 19.

I have never dyed my hair, unless you count the time I used Sun-in for the summer I went to the south of France. I was 15 years old and on my own for the first time. This was me being rebellious. I also ordered wine from restaurants since there was no drinking limit there. I guess that was even more defiant. The Sun-in turned my hair bright orange. It was not attractive, but for a girl who sported almost black hair for her whole life, the crayola-colored hued was kind of exciting.

By the time the orange finally grew out of my black, curly hair, I was graduating from high school – and since then, it’s become very prudish hair - sporting the same style and color for most of its life. But now the time had come to wash that gray right out of my hair.

I bought some natural hair dye and picked a dark auburn hair color. I figured it was as adventurous as I should get with my almost black hair. I picked a green box so it would help me psychologically pretend that this wasn't going to make my hair fall out. I made sure to pick a box that said, “No ammonia” and that it would wash out in 28 rinses. It also said it only took ten minutes.

I missed up the concoction and noticed that the goop looked rather purple. I suddenly visualized the older women who try to color their hair themselves and end up sporting a plum-colored coif for a month (the see-through kind). I followed the instructions and applied the glop all over my head with the rubber gloves and piled the purple-saturated black soapy hair on top of my scalp. It didn’t burn so that was a good sign. (Chris Rock’s Good Hair movie scarred me for life even though it was about black hair.)

I walked into the living room with the wet hair mess and the first thing my 8-year-old says is, “I guess you’ll be blogging about this.” (You see, he had also gotten accustomed to me blogging each night.)

“Maybe,” I told him as I shrugged and walked away, already thinking, “Duh, of course I’m going to blog this.” But to him, I say, “I’m not blogging every day anymore. It was just a one-month commitment.”

He then says, “So blog about how you won’t be blogging anymore.”

“That’s silly,” I tell him and silently gasp and shake my head at myself. Yeah, I do that. I blog about blogging and not blogging and blogging again … and here the 8-year-old was saying the hair dying was at least a story about something, rather than nothing.

We rallied back and forth, the 8-year-old and I. He generally has better come backs than I do; he already seems to use his male-dominated logic against my female-skewed emotion.

I washed the dye out of my hair after 15 minutes; I gave it 5 extra minutes for good luck – and because my mom told me the day before that she keeps it in for a whole hour. “We have very dark, thick hair,” she reminded me.

It took probably close to half an hour to get the water to rinse clean. That’s when they said to put conditioner on and leave that on for two minutes. The water in the bathtub was purple even after the conditioner rinse but I couldn't wait any longer; I was bored from being in there for so long.

Finally I emerged with wet sopping hair to see not much of a change; maybe a tinge of … purple in the light? What happened to the lovely auburn they promised on the box? I knew I shouldn’t have trusted the model’s hair color.

I blow-dryed my hair, determined to see the real color. I came out of the bathroom with big, frizzy, newly-colored hair … and I asked the boyfriend how it looked. “Well, it kind of has a shade of purple,” he says.

“What about the grays?” I ask, remembering the real goal of the exercise.

“Well, they kind of look copper. The ones that don’t still look gray, that is.”

“What?” All that and the gray didn’t even take?”

“I told you it would be better if I just colored them in with Sharpie,” the boyfriend answers touting the almighty male logic.

“That’s ridiculous,” I answer as I really wonder if that wouldn’t have made more sense.

“Why don’t we just cut them out close to the root,” he retaliates?

I think about this suggestion, wondering if it truly is a bad one; it seems to make sense. Who needs the half-broken silvery strands that wisp about above my ears?

I think about my friends who dutifully color and highlight their hair according to the calendar and I think to myself, "Please not me; I don't want to enter the hair coloring world. There's no way out!"

I've walked around with the purple-tinged, copper-wisped sides, hair for a week now. It doesn't bother me - it makes me feel a bit funky; an ode to crazier days in the east village, maybe. (Of course I never dyed my hair THEN.) I have a haircut appointment scheduled for March 23rd, when the hairdresser finally comes back from his two-month vacation to Hong Kong. I am going to do something different, I promise you. This purple hair is just a sign of things to come - my hair is ready to join the fast track to some adventure beyond "long bangs." Perhaps layers will rear their ugly faces ...

28 Days of Writing Followed By a Week of Nothing

It’s been a full week since I’ve completed the NaBloPoMo challenge. I did it for the whole 28 days, just like I did two years ago. There were things I liked about the challenge – and obviously things that annoyed me.

Most of what annoyed me was that I found myself sitting at the laptop around 9:30pm every evening saying, “Shit, I have to blog” and then often pounding something out that was not at all what I would have blogged about had I not been “forced” to put something up. Most times I like to work on my pieces a bit before I publish them – but not in February. I would write ‘em up and push them out.

The other thing I didn't like about it was that it was only up for one day. Sometimes I wrote something longer or poignant, and more essay-like than blog-like and that would be buried within a day. Pieces like the one about Jake and the one about the Facebook twins. Good reads, but all got buried in the daily blogerific life.

My blog is not just a mommy blog (please no!) and not just a hearts blog (that sort of faded to the background). It's a documentation of my life - and the pursuit (and stories) of me bringing it to another place. Sometimes, a challenge like this, deters the greater goal in lieu of establishing some healthy blogging habits. (Or maybe not?)

What I liked about it was that at least I was sitting down to write SOMETHING – ANYTHING – every day. I was at least exercising the typing muscles – the rewarding process of converting “blank page” to “page with words.”

It’s interesting, though, that after 28 days of doing it – and taking a week off – I feel like I’m substantially missing something. Maybe it is because it was an eventful life week (dyed my hair; parent-teacher conferences; play date with the cousin twins; oh yeah – and a SURGERY) – or maybe it’s just when you start scratching the itch, it becomes itchier.

My novel that lives in my head is exploding from within me – but there seem to be so many things on my life To Do list, that I push that one away. It needs to come out – for sanity, for resolution, and mostly to say I tried. I could type all about living my dream, but unless I put it out there – for judgment (to be loved or hated) – I’m only living a fantasy.

I look back at my blog and I see a month of consistency followed by a week of vacancy. This is blogging, for what it’s worth. This is the commitment I made – if only to myself. But I have to value promises to myself just as much as to anyone else.

I’m back. Again. I feel like this is a déjà vu blog post (like this and this) – and I’ve only been gone a week. Nonetheless, there are things to catch up on … didn't I say SURGERY?!

Oscars 2011: My Take

The Oscars tried to market to a younger audience – and they failed. The Academy Awards, as an institution, is not regarded as movie judges for the younger demographic. Hearing a movie is an Oscar-winner doesn’t draw them to the theatres; they are going to see the Twilight movies and the Harry Potter movies – and it doesn’t matter if any of them ever see a gold statue.

Anne Hathaway as a host was fathomable, but James Franco was just ridiculous. It was as if his agent offered him the gig and he didn’t want to do it – but they insisted on it. He seemed completely disinterested in the whole spectacle and his lackluster performance seemed to make Anne’s seem like she was trying too hard. There were moments when she was being sugary sweet and other times when it seemed like her true self showed (like when she high-5ed the PS 22 Chorus members after their performance). I would have rather seen more of the latter.

The Academy Awards is traditional Hollywood. It is respected by the generation that still remembers the foundation upon which the institution was based. But we are a few generations removed and it’s becoming more about how much money movies bring in rather than recognizing cinematic excellence.

The speeches were boring. Other than Melissa Leo who dropped the F-bomb, fewer winners are giving tear-jerker speeches. They get on the podium and rattle off a laundry list of names that don’t mean anything; it’s like pay back. “When I win the Oscar, dude, I’ll thank you on stage.” You have your stage for 30-seconds; I just wish they would use that time to say something more poignant.

On the upside, I enjoyed watching Anne Hathaway’s wardrobe changes. Like a slowed down version of Katherine Hiegel’s scene in 27 Dresses, she conducted herself like a lady of grace, and wore her gowns and coordinating hair styles beautifully.

Billy Crystal earned his applause. At that point in the evening, I think everyone was secretly hoping he was coming in to takeover. When he said he was going to fast forward to the best picture award, I was excited. Unfortunately he was kidding.

I loved Kirk Douglas, although at points I felt a bit nervous for him, and wished he had some subtitles.

Finally, loved the P.S. 22 chorus – not just because they were from the borough where I spent my adolescence, but because their teacher was the only one who brought tears to my eyes last night. He could teach a thing or two to the Academy-or the Governors or whomever. “You have to feel it,” he tells the children “and then you open your mouth. That’s what makes it beautiful.” He’s right. No one at the Oscars was feeling it, and though they are Hollywood’s most elite, they seemed less beautiful.

Anniversary Night Recap

It was the perfect night - as we knew it would be. The evening was exactly what this couple needed to celebrate their 6-year-anniversary. After careful consideration, we decided on an evening that was typical for us. We went to our usual sushi place in Union Square - and instead of going to see King's Speech, even though I knew it would win the Oscar, we walked. And walked some more - for almost 3 hours.

It was a quintessential winter evening, and what we wanted, more than anything, was to be together among the streets of New York City. Like many nights before. Like many nights to come. We meandered through Union Square and down to the East Village and the Lower East Side. We stopped in some random bars and decided not to stay in any, preferring to walk arm-in-arm through the bustling Saturday night streets.

We had to get home by midnight, so we walked in 11:59pm - not a minute sooner. We were smiling, having just celebrated [US] perfectly.

Six Years Ago Today

Even though we sometimes sneer at other people's Facebook status when they sound like romantic, corny saps - we both posted something in today's status. I think it says it all - even if we did say it to each other in witness of hundreds of people, most of whom only exist as "friends" on the virtual 'book.

This holiday, as special as it is, is celebrated by only him and I.

6 years ago the stars were lined up in the most perfect way - and my life turned onto the greatest road I never knew existed. Thank you, Love, for the 6 best years of my life.

My G- You have taught me how good love can be. I can't believe how fast 6 years went by--anxiously awaiting doing it all over again, today, tomorrow and the rest of my life. I imagine decades from now, waking up and still smiling when I see your face laying next to mine. I love you more each day. Happy Anniversary!