Friday, May 22, 2009

Two of a Kind

Yesterday, around 5pm, I found out that we were having friends for dinner, friends from New York that we haven't seen in...almost six years. Yeah. Luckily, when I asked if they'd prefer enchiladas or baked ziti, they said baked ziti, which meant Fai was cooking and not me! Yippie!

So after frantically cleaning the house and helping Fai (and by helping Fai, I mean burning the mozzarella, peeling it off, sprinkling new mozzarella on top and watching it melt...) I thought about the last time I'd seen this family...

It was at Uno's pizza in Astoria, Queens. Their son was four and they'd just found out they were expecting another...

So then they came, with this strapping, engaging ten year old, and a beautiful five year old daughter.

And that daughter and Anjali....yeah. You couldn't tell they were two years apart in age, they were best buds from the first second! We hadn't even made it into the living room before Anjali had showed her the basement and the two of them had started pulling up toys!

And the yelling! And the laughing! And the "I'm not your friend any more!" followed by the making up! Then finally, the hug goodbye....

Two of a kind, for sure!

And I now have a new appreciation for ten year old boys, he let those two little girls jump all over him! (Literally...)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Five little Positive Things

So I've just come out of high-stress mode, and am still adjusting to everyday life. It's like when you've been in a car wreck, even when it's over your adrenaline is still going. Last night, as I was going to bed way too late (like, one in the morning!) I had a random idea. I turned on the light, grabbed the note pad I keep next to my bed, and jotted it down.

Five Positive Things.

Five goals that I though would make life a little happier. In the morning, when I looked at them again, I though perhaps I might have gone a little overboard. Seriously, how could I fit those five things into my already busy day? So I revised, and cut back a little. The same five things, only a little less.

Five Little Positive Things

For example, one of the original five was an hour of exercise each day. That's been changed to a little exercise each day. Today, I did twenty minutes on the treadmill. Not much, I know, nothing compared to what some of the more health-oriented of you do, but for me it's a start.

So far I've done three of my five things today, and I know I'll squeeze in one more today. Tomorrow, I'll strive to do all five. We'll see how that goes. So far, so good!

Little changes. Little things. :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Today I am grateful for little moments of peace.

This past weekend and Monday I moved my mother into assisted living. I also realized that she's developing some sort of dementia along with her MS. I don't think she recognized my sister.

Emotionally, this was a really rough trip to Florida. Financially, it was doubly hard. Our car died, and we had to purchase a new one. Time-wise, it was chaos. Like in January, I spent very little time with friends and family.

Then there was mother's day...

In the morning we packed up my mom's stuff, then went to have lunch with my grandmother and dad. That's when I got the call that she could move into the assisted living facility on Monday.

With all the immediate things cared for, we did something impractical...we drove down to St. George's Island on the Gulf Coast. My little sister, Caroline, who is 15, came with us.

My dad use to call 98 the Redneck Rivera. a winding stretch of highway with breathtaking views of the Gulf. And also of local color. Fishing shacks and piers, little mom and pop sea food restaurants, old motels. There's a restaurant there we're really fond of, we ate there on our honeymoon, it's called "That Place on 98". Yep.

Several years ago, the year Florida was cris-crossed by three hurricanes, this stretch of the panhandle took a real beating. It's been almost two years since we last drove down that way, and I was surprised that the scars are still there. In years past, that area rebounds quickly. Now there are building still boarded up, messages to God still spray-painted on the boards. Abandoned buildings, long stretches of land for sale, and there among it all, building. New town-houses, new rental property, new luxury vacation communities. The forgotten coast is forgotten no longer.

"This is good," said Faiyaz, "It's going to be great for the businesses around here."

I agree. But inside I miss the old coastline, the one that didn't look like a tourist attraction.

I love St. George Island, I love the sand, not too white, I love looking out at the wide expansion of water ahead, I love the waves, gently, but you can still feel the power behind them. It was late afternoon when we got to the public beach. The water was still a little cool. I thought Nadira would cry, but she seemed to love it. Anjali had a blast. My dad met us later. He cuddled with Nadira, and Faiyaz walked with Anjali looking for shells. I walked out into the water, as far as I could and still touch. I looked behind me, at my beautiful family, then out across the expanse of water. I was filled with gratitude, and sorrow. I thought about my mom, how much she use to love the beach too. About how much I do to help her, and all the things I can't help her with.

And I felt, as I always do in the Gulf, how small I am in this great big world. This is not a bad feeling, it helps me put myself and my petty problems in perspective. I love that kind of insignificance, of just being a spec in the large Gulf. Think of the Gulf of Mexico, it seems so large when you're in it, but when you look at a map, it's a small bit of water compared to the great oceans. So there I was, a spec in a small pool of water surrounded by the great oceans, on our planet that looks so small when you're far out it space. And it felt good. And I lifted up my feet, closed my eyes, and let myself float aimlessly for a few minutes, enjoying being a spec. I had come full circle. I was at the beach I had visited with my parents as a child, I was there as a parent with my children. I am the caretaker of the woman who once cared for me.

I thought about that a lot as I drove home. On road trips I always take the night-shift. I love how the interstate thins out at night, how it's just me and the road and whatever is on the radio. I talked with my dad at 2 am, he told me I'd make a great truck driver.

Confession: I dislike country music, but on long road trips, when I'm driving at night, I always listen to it, bellowing out the song in my own tone-deaf way. I think it's because most country songs have linear story lines that are easy to follow when you're tired, and keep your interest.

Today I'm disoriented. I keep thinking it's Tuesday, or even Monday. Over the past month and a half, I've spent so much time on the phone trying to set things up for my mom, and so much time just worrying about my mom, it feels strange to have that done with. I'm still worrying, worrying how long shell get to stay there, worrying where she'll got next, but I know this is needless worry, and it doesn't have the same urgency.

Soon I'll start working on my book again. Things are going back to normal. There's laundry to fold, dishes to do, and a whole lot of unpacking.