Archive for March, 2013

Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all biblical on you. I have my fond memories of Sacred Heart Church shrouded in purple, singing in the choir, fake green grass in a basket, biting off the head of a chocolate Easter bunny. And later, hiding colored eggs and candy around my friend’s yard so all our friends’ children could come in their little Wellies and hunt for treasure. Spring is in the air, robins are bobbing their heads.

And hospital and health and safety workers are on the job year round, 24 hours a day. For them, pausing for a big family dinner, let alone searching for jelly beans, doesn’t really happen. What happens is saltines and peanut butter at the nurse’s station. The Bride is working, and so is Bob. And here’s what happened at my daughter’s ER.

A man in his 30s walked into the waiting room and promptly collapsed in a chair. He lost consciousness, nobody even heard a chief complaint. When they hooked him up to an EKG it was obvious he was having a major heart attack; I think they call it Vfib? My doctor daughter had the biggest guy in the room, a tech, pound on his chest while she got the paddles ready. The pounding didn’t help, so she shocked him with the paddles, and he converted but unfortunately he got belligerent and pulled everything out, then passed out. She shocked him again.

And he came back to life. He was discharged from the hospital yesterday.

He has a wife and 3 children and probably will never meet my daughter. And it made me think of the husband of a friend of mine in Pittsfield, MA. In his 30s too, he woke up one July 4th morning sweating, and instead of going to the ER, he took a shower. That is where he died, while his wife tried calling his doctor and finally called an ambulance, before 911. She had a new baby and a toddler so I made baked ziti for the shiva. And I helped her collect pictures of her husband for her children, because i know what it’s like to lose a father so young.

On this Easter morning, Christianity teaches that rebirth can happen to all those who seek God, who walk humbly. As my dear friend Eve quotes:

“I cannot help but think, on this Easter morning, of how many times I have been resurrected. Like so many others, I have known moments when I thought my life had entered a tomb. I saw that great stone rolling between me and the hope of any future I could imagine. But then, through God’s grace and healing, I emerged into a garden to find people who cared for me waiting, waiting for me to return to life. I pray, therefore, for all of those who have been resurrected like me. I celebrate this new life with all of you who have stepped out of the grave into the light of Easter.” S. Charleston

Many thanks to all those emergency personnel who are working today, and just a little note to the Easter bunny – really, you need a break?
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Why is it I’m always drawn to any story about reinvention, or finding your purpose? The woman who worked in a cubicle for years, is now selling goat cheese she makes on her farm. The ex-Governor of NJ, Jim McGreevey, is now advocating for lost women in the prison system and trying to be ordained a priest. For some of us, it’s that small intuitive voice we’ve been ignoring for so long that just has to surface. We’ve been devalued, ignored, unfulfilled. For others, the change doesn’t start within, but comes as a shock, maybe through loss or circumstance. In every life we hit a crossroad, what will you do now?

I thought I would share my son’s story this morning. If you’ve been following along on my journey from the Jersey Shore to the Blue Ridge, you know that we left my then 20 year old behind in college. I think in retrospect, he went to college to please his parents. It was an excellent program at The College of NJ (TCNJ), a new synthesis of computer engineering and design that was planning to include the music department in its curriculum. The Rocker had been in a band almost since he could stand. We insisted he study the violin for 2 years before he acquired his first Fender guitar, at the age of 9. It was the first thing he picked up in the morning, and the last thing he touched at night. He has perfect pitch, so if he heard a song he could play it. And we had wonderful neighbors in Rumson, band rehearsal was always in our garage.

One day when the Bride (who is 5 years older than her brother) came home from college, she sat out in the garage on an old couch and watched that first band. When she came back into the family room she was teary, she said she gets it now. The joy, the passion, the camaraderie. She had always excelled at everything she tried, but she still didn’t know what her major would be in college, what she wanted to be her life’s work. For her brother, there was no question. Music flowed through his fingers and possessed every fiber of his being. I shouldn’t have been surprised when he left TCNJ to play guitar with What About Frank. When the band changed their name to Parlor Mob, it was like a rocket ship took off from NJ and landed in LA at Capitol Records.

But the music business today is fickle. Labels have no time to nurture artists. When Capitol dropped their contract, Warner Brothers signed them to Roadrunner Records. More of a boutique operation, they thrived for years touring Europe twice. You can hear their music in TV shows and at professional sports arenas. We were so proud of the Rocker. We’d tell new friends our daughter was in med school, but the conversation shifted when they learned about our son the Rock Star. I went to some of their shows, and the vibe was amazing. Kids singing along to their songs, rapturous. Their last album “Dogs” was voted “Best Rock Album” in 2011 by iTunes. I was picking out my Grammy dress.

And then slowly, over the past year, the rocket ship paused. One of the guys got married, another wanted his own solo career, and Parlor Mob ended. Like any good mom, I worried, what’s next? Since the Rocker had always done session recordings with friends and performed live in other bands, I knew he had many contacts in the business.

Today my son the Rocker is composing music for film. It’s a new start, but in the same old business, where he can call the shots. His purpose was and always will be to make music, and his talent is celestial. Maybe I better start looking for an Oscar dress.

David is pictured above, looking ahead with Aunt Caitly

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Remember those first cell phones? Clunky things you had to charge in your car. We had a friend, an orthopedist in Monmouth County, NJ, who would pace along the Sea Bright beach each summer over 20 years ago talking on his gigantic cell phone. The long antennae would wave at us in the sea breeze. We all thought he must be hugely important. When did we go from doctors trading in their pagers, to plumbers to housewives and now kids carrying their lives around in their hands? At our Seder on Monday night, a 90+ year old gentleman named Gene, a family friend forever who still goes into his office every day, fielded two cell phone calls in the midst of songs and Haggadah. I guess no one told him about cell etiquette, although we were all taking pictures with our cells.

Traveling back to the Blue Ridge, Bob and I were listening with one ear to some of SCOTUS’ arguments in the car about same-sex marriage. BTW, I so wish they would place cameras in the Supreme Court. The phrase that caught my ear and eye was Justice Samuel Alito saying, “Same-sex marriage is younger than cell phones or the Internet.” Well yes but…, the internet is even older than that, and we all know how old sex is, straight, gay or even slightly crooked. It’s about as old as the oldest profession. What’s new is trying to separate our civil society from biblical or religious laws of any kind. In fact, that’s about as new as our country!

Only ex-Solicitor General and conservative thinker Teddy Olson seemed to make any sense of it yesterday saying, “You could have said [of interracial marriage] — you can’t get married, but you can have an interracial union. Everyone would know that that was wrong.” Which begs the question, how is a same-sex legal union different from a marriage? Is a label really that important? Olson compares Prop 8 and all same-sex marriage laws to the civil rights struggle. After all, Lincoln DID free the slaves, but it wasn’t until we saw dogs attacking people on a bridge in Selma that America got the message – so saying one thing IS fundamentally different from doing another. And in my mind, saying California was wrong in imposing Prop 8, the ban on gay marriage, does not go far enough

“Homosexuality, Olson maintains, is much like race. It is not a matter of choice. ‘We are what we are,’ he says. Indeed, he likens the Proposition 8 case to Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 case in which the Supreme Court unanimously struck down a law that made interracial marriage a crime.” http://www.npr.org/2010/12/06/131792296/ted-olson-gay-marriage-s-unlikely-legal-warrior

1967, the first year of college for me in Boston. 1968, the year I marched down Commonwealth Avenue in protest after Martin Luther King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. We all know what basic human rights are – the right to love and marry anyone we choose – someone of a different race, religion, clan or even sex is a fundamental right in this country, is it not? Do we have a Taliban telling us what to wear? Do our parents arrange our marriages? We can walk into a town hall or a church or a “chapel” in Vegas and walk out married. Half of us can choose to divorce, we have the right to try that wedding gown on again and again. I watched my step-father, a judge, marry people in our parlor! Love is Love and we are who we are. Cell phones have evolved, and so must we.

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Why is tonight different from all other nights? This is one of the questions we must ponder at Great Grandma Ada’s Seder. Jewish people everywhere will recall their exodus from bondage in Egypt while eating matzoh and other ritualistic food. This holiday is equivalent to Christmas in terms of importance, only without all the gifts.

Since the dinner begins at sundown Monday night, we are traveling back to NJ today. In the past, I would drive up to help out early, being a kind of kosher sous chef to Ada and cousin Sue. We’d dice and slice, polish silver and set the tables. There were usually 30 odd family and friends expected.

I remember the first Seder with my baby Bride. It was her introduction to cousins that felt more like sisters over the years. Now it’s the Love Bug’s turn. She’ll meet her NY and CT family. Can we all sing The Circle of Life.

So tonight (Monday) will be different. Chopped chicken liver will probably be on your list of new foods to try baby girl. And Nana will make haroses just like I’ve been doing for 33 years. Maybe it won’t be so different after all.


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Did you hear the horrible news? A famous high end retailer of yoga wear, Lululemon, a store I’ve visited in Green Hills once or twice with the Bride, is recalling its pants. It seems they are too see-through for the average yogini!

I’ve often felt like yoga pants aka sweat pants was my uniform of choice. I’m not proud. I like the elastic waistband – best invention since, or before, Velcro. They never require dry cleaning or ironing. They come in a wide range of dark colors. And most importantly, there’s a little spandex and something called dri-weave. Pants that stretch and breath, what liberated 21st century female would ask for more?

Yoga pants are equivalent to the perennial housecoat my foster mother Nell wore in the 50s. Made of cotton with maybe a touch of that newfangled polyester, with snaps up the front, what could be easier? Especially when you never learned to drive, so the “house” coat was aptly named. Still I always thought donning an apron on top of the housecoat was redundant.

I nominate yoga pants to be the official fashion statement for Women’s History Month! After all, you can always show up at a meeting, go to the grocery store or pop into a gym (or yoga studio) at anytime. It literally means freedom for millions of women around the world. Unless you’re French. Then you must dress on your way to and from the gym.

Here is the beautiful little Bug with her favorite toy right now. She is my workout this week; I lift her, I tote her, and get down on the floor and do yoga stretches with her. What would I do without my yoga pants? Which are thankfully not opaque. Vraiment.


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It’s all coming back to me now. You’ve managed to get your 6 month old on a pretty good schedule. She wakes up with the birds, breakfast nursing and then a seamless day of fun and learning with a scattering of naps in-between.

But wait, something happens; she gets a cold or maybe a grandparent comes to visit.

Bob tells me it’s my duty to spoil the Love Bug. I can play by the grandparent rule of non-stop indulgence. I remember when Grandma Ada would visit, or maybe we’d leave the Bride with her for a stolen weekend. It would always take a few days to get her back on that schedule.

Cut to the year 2013. And I have morphed into my Mother-in-Law. Would you like to wake earlier, go to bed later, fine no problem. You want to be held ALL the time? Why not. It’s all become clear to me now. Ada was raised with a “governess.” That’s what we now call a nanny, although i always think of Julie Andrews when she talks about her childhood. The Sound of Music in Brooklyn.

Ada also had live-in help while raising her 3 young sons. So actually, she got to be the spoiler early on. She lived on an Army base in Alabama, all the officers’ wives lived a charmed life. Today, the charm lies in getting enough sleep.

This Tuesday the Bride is working a 9 to 5 shift. Highly unusual in the life of a young ER doc, a normal weekday shift. It’s her least favorite because it’s the one shift that equates to less time with her baby Bug. But that’s OK with me, more time to cuddle and sing, more time to play and try some more new foods. Like mashed potatoes and avocado!



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May the wind be at your back, and all that. I’m keeping it short today since I’m back in the Music City. We’ve got our green on and I cooked up some corned beef and cabbage for the medical duo. Our mission for today is to find this little Love Bug a high chair. Could a baked potato be in her future?

The Flapper gave me many tips for baby care when she came to visit the newborn Bride. The one I took to heart was that you should feed a baby a potato a day. I figure that one got off the boat from County Mayo with an Irish ancestor.

So top ‘o the mornin to you and yours. It seems our little Bug is settling into a pair of big Irish green eyes, and her hair is turning copper if you ask me. We’re letting her Mama finish her charts from yesterday. Waiting patiently since we’re headed to brunch with the girls.

Happy Saint Paddy’s day! Go get your green on and do a little jig!



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This may be hard for our Western minds to grasp, but in order to find our bliss we need to abandon hope. I know, it’s not very intuitive, not even very Obama-friendly, but this is what Pema Chodron, a famous American Buddhist nun has to say about it:

“Hope and fear is a feeling with two sides. As long as there’s one, there’s always the other. This is the root of our pain. In the world of hope and fear, we always have to change the channel, change the temperature, change the music, because something is getting uneasy, something is getting restless, something is beginning to hurt, and we keep looking for alternatives.”

This was the place I was stuck in for a year between the births of my two children. I experienced 3 miscarriages in 1 year, the last after 20 weeks. There is no real way to explain it, the feeling that your world has shifted, that your body can’t be trusted. I was adrift in a world of hope for a new baby, and the fear that I would lose another. I stopped driving over bridges.

Let me step back and explain. The Bride’s friend from medical school, married a woman who then decided to enter medical school; they are a lovely young couple with a new baby just a couple of month’s younger than the Bug. Anna started blogging about being a new mom in medical school, about her decision to start a family in order to get the jump on fertility. It’s a lively and compelling read. http://annainmedschool.com She was recently published in the New York Times – bravo Anna!

Now Anna has written about her friend Julie. Julie has also experienced 3 miscarriages, she writes eloquently about her decision to adopt here http://julienapearphotography.com/blog/?p=1126. She and her husband are sending the word out into the universe and I was humbled by her proactive and personal blog post:

They were told “…that the most successful way adoptive parents are matched with birth mothers is through word of mouth. So today’s post is my plea to you: please help us grow our family! We have been through hell, and have come back from it stronger and more capable than ever. Erik and I are madly in love (together eight years this month!), we have supportive families and friends, a beautiful home to grow in, and we’ve learned through brutal experience that we can make it through a crisis without completely falling apart.”

Between hope and fear is resilience, is never giving up. Julie has stepped bravely into that space. They will make wonderful parents one day. If you know of a woman who may be looking for a loving home for her unborn child, here is Julie’s contact info: erikandjulieadopt@gmail.com

My rabbi told me to imagine that I was a trapeze artist, and God was my net. He helped me to let go and abandon fear.

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Let’s be clear. We’ve had this debate before, and it just leaves us with bad feelings. What is the future of feminism? Why do we women always want to be so darn likable?

The latest slant to this round of “Pin the blame on the woman,” comes from Sheryl Sandberg in her new book, Lean In. Granted she is speaking to a certain class of women; those on their way up the business school food chain, graduates of the Ivy League with plenty of support and mentorship. She wants little girls who were previously called “bossy” in preschool, to be acclaimed for leadership skills instead. I get that. The Bride’s preschool teacher pulled me aside one day and gently asked me to talk with her about her tendency to “lean over” to her seatmate’s art work and offer help and criticism. She was supposed to adhere to the rules, only care about her own work. Harumph.

What was i supposed to do when her Grandma Ada offered her money whenever the elementary teacher checked the box that read something like, “Always raising her hand, too talkative.” Don’t you know children were to be seen and not heard, that being quiet and still was the goal? Things hadn’t changed much from my Sacred Heart days of carefully folded hands on the desk in fear of a smack to the knuckles. Sandberg stresses the importance of choosing the right life partner, and wants you to ask, “What would I do if I weren’t afraid?”

I was talking to Grandma Ada about this and she said “Oy.” The day before she had attended a lecture with a man talking about his philanthropic work and his travels around the world. Ada was sitting next to his wife, and asked her the loaded, mind-boogling question of the century – “Do you work?” Now my MIL received her PhD at age 65 and is still counseling patients at age 88. Softening the question she added “outside the home” and the young woman (who was my age) turned to her and said. “No.” She took care of the children and the home so that Mr Wonderful could do what he did…well she didn’t phrase it that way exactly.

Let’s be clear. I graduated high school 3 years after Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique. She too was criticized for speaking to the well-educated, suburban woman. Men had returned from WWII and women went back into their homes and felt something was missing. This growing discontent sparked the second wave of feminism, after all we had the vote, what more could we want? Young women today are surprised to learn that we couldn’t wear pants on the streets of Boston, that we had to get a credit card in our husband’s name, that we were asked how fast we could type at every job interview. That we couldn’t even get a prescription for the new wonder drug…the birth control pill, unless we were married. We wanted our daughters to have it all, and now that they can, some are just saying, “No Thanks!”

Along with the increase in pay, they may not want to sacrifice time with their families. Many of the Bride’s Duke alums have opted to stay-at-home with their children, for now. Lucky for them, they can afford to do this. When my daughter was considering her medical specialty, the ability to have more time at home for her future family was a factor. I wonder how many men consider this when they choose a speciality? And just why is this a crime, leaning out for awhile? These women with a full-time 24/7 staff at home (nanny,cook,maid), a loving husband who does laundry, should not be saying to our daughters, “Look at me, I went back to the office 2 weeks after my baby was born.” Well la dee (expletive) da!

It’s about time for feminism’s third wave. Equal pay for equal work, it’s not really too much to ask. If working women, from the cleaning staff, to hospital corridors, from teachers to the board room keep pushing the envelope, if they learn how to negotiate for family leave along with pay hikes, if they keep raising their hands that glass ceiling will be shattering all over this country.

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Today is day 4. My hope is running out since we live on the borderline of 2 counties, deep in the woods at the end of a power grid that supports 7 homes. Obviously, those big white Rappahanock and Dominion power trucks are busy servicing developments with hundreds of homes, so we sit and wait.

The good news is that we installed a generator right next to the heat pump when we built this house. So really I can’t complain. We have heat, hot water and even lights in certain rooms. My refrigerator is still running and so is the microwave; I can even cook on top of the gas range once we light a match. What isn’t hooked up to the generator? The laundry room, the ovens, the outside lights, my office. You might say the soul of the house is in stasis – my aviary. So I plug in the laptop in the kitchen overnight, and write upstairs on battery power.

We adjust, we accommodate in a crisis. I asked Bob if the dogs slept with us in Rumson after the NoName storm, when we lost power for 6 days in December. I remember the kids piled into our big bed since we had an electric blanket hooked up to a portable generator. Did the Corgis jump up and snuggle with us on those 2 dog nights? It was an adventure when we were living in the Berkshires and a Noreaster swept through. Cooking on the woodstove, cross country skiing in the backyard, we felt like pioneers, like rugged, sturdy New Englanders, even though we were both suburbanite refugees.

When the Bride was born, the Flapper came to stay for awhile. I proudly told her that we have this ingenious, solar powered clothes dryer. It was the 70s, passive solar was all the rage, along with woodstoves for ex-hippies. My Mother looked at my clothes line, and promptly called up the hardware store and ordered a Maytag clothes dryer. That’s the way she was, in fact listening to all the latest interviews with Sandra Day O’Connor on her book tour, I am reminded of the Flapper. Yes, she was that acerbic, that opinionated, that sure of herself.

Listening to the Justice tell Terry Gross that “NO” being discriminated against as a woman lawyer, being told by the 40 law firms she called out of law school that they didn’t hire women, and then taking a job for no pay and being put in the same office as the secretary had absolutely no effect on her deliberations as a Supreme Court Justice was downright stunning. Did you hear this on NPR? I loved this lady, she doesn’t look back.

This weekend it’s supposed to be somewhere in the 60s, and the crocus that had just popped up before the snowfall, will open their pretty blue flowers to an early spring. Bob said the Corgis didn’t sleep with us, that we invited them but they eventually jumped down. I guess it was too crowded. Since I was behind on the laundry when the storm hit, today I’ll be collecting quarters and heading to the nearest laundromat. I wonder how the Flapper did all the laundry for a family of 7 (not counting me in this) on a Monday, and the ironing on Tuesday. Do I even know where my iron is? I need to start packing for my next trip to the Music City, where I will whisper to the Love Bug about her tenacious and powerful Great Grandmother.

Here is the view since the storm hit:
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