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Monday, April 25, 2011


Yesterday was the sixteenth anniversary of the death of two young men who were very important to me (and to many other people), and of a third, whom I didn't know, who left behind a widow and two small boys.

My boys, my young men, were climbers. Fraternity brothers, climbing partners, and friends. Theirs was a yin-yang friendship. They were opposites with a shared passion for rocks, fear, and accomplishment, and admiration for one another. Hard to know one of them without knowing at least something of the other; impossible to know either without loving him.

These guys, so much younger than I am now, with their third partner, made their assent. Details elude me: name of mountain, for example. But the point was, it was a first assent of the north face of an Alaskan peak. They travelled a bit late in the season, aware that the changing temperature made avalanches a greater than usual risk. They made it to the top, called home, spoke to family, then started down. They never made it.

Great guys, great young men. I am thinking of you, and of your siblings and widows, parents and children.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


The husband is due back from Hawaii today. He has been at a conference, and oh, dear, I've read enough David Lodge to know what kind of shenanigans go on at conferences. Despite the time difference, he has managed to catalogue to me every event he has attended and every contact made. I get it, he's feeling guilty.

As well he should. Since he's been gone, I've dealt with a gas leak, discovered the need and arranged for installation of a complete heating and cooling system, taken a child to the doctor, felt a bit under the weather for a day myself, listened to and smelled the aforementioned installation, which is yet unfinished. And my hair appointment got cancelled.

Meanwhile, I'm contemplating Success and Failure, my novel, and a new short story. It's a bit herky-jerky, this creative part of my life. Not just the creative part, all of life. For a writer, it's important to have a routine; but having a routine is really, really hard, especially when single parenting. The routine is like an old jalopy: hard to get going, such a relief when it's finally rumbling along; then, just when the engine starts to purr, a wheel falls off. Last night, for instance, when I remembered it was time to blog, the 7th grader was in tears over blow drying her hair, and the 3rd grader was bent over the sink, spraying saline up her nose and gagging. Hard to be contemplative under those conditions.

I took a minute and listed everything I'm trying to do in my life. I tried to make broad categories. Here's what I came up with, in the order they occurred to me:

  • make friends/a community 
  • mindfulness 
  • find paying work
  • finish novel 
  • write interconnected short stories 
  • parent
  • spouse (as in "to spouse")
  • make home Home
  • stay fit 
  • blog 
  • therapy dog work 
  • volunteer at school 
  • take care of my mother;
  • read and stay up-to-date on news 
  • send stories out
Quite a list. I'm sure most everyone has a similarly long one. Each category breaks down into several sub-categories, too. On days when I make no progress in any one of them, I feel very frustrated. So it goes, I guess.

I blogged, today. So I can put a little tic next to that item.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Not Safe

Today I clicked on the "Stats" tab on my blog and discovered more visits to my blog posts than I thought. Thanks, people!  Stats also told me which posts were read most. I probably shouldn't have found that info, though. I'm feeling very conscious now. The post on Independence got the most hits. Well, I don't have another one like that, do I? Racking brains for kid related information...

My 7th grader last week confessed that while we were trusting her and leaving her unsupervised at music school two years ago, she and her friends were entertaining themselves during their break by pouring water through the vents in locked lockers. Retroactive anger doesn't have much use. I was left to cringe aloud at the stupidity of her behavior. Locked lockers at music school probably contain, you know, instruments and sheet music. Presumably instruments tucked nicely into cases built to withstand the streets, subways, buses - and cups of water of NY. Still.

Never mind. She could have been doing so many other, worse things. Or stupider things. Like sticking things up her nose. My sister did that when she was nine or ten, far too old to be excused. She stuck a berry up her nose while at the pool with a friend, then was too embarrassed to tell anyone. When she got home, she confessed to me, breaking into tears. I, being a sensitive, thoughtful teenager, laughed heartily and called my best friend. Eventually, I tried to pry the berry out of my sister's nose with my mother's tweezers. (Forgot to mention that, mom. Sorry.) When that failed, my sister became hysterical. I decided Mom needed to know, so I called her at her office. Mom came home and took sister off to the doctor or the hospital. They returned later, my mother amused there was an instrument designed to remove nasal obstructions, presumably because there are so many stupid people out there.

The lesson to me was that it's the careful people who end up doing the really dumb stuff. We spend our lives making sure, for example, that we can retreat down the rungs of the jungle gym before advancing up another step, don't run too fast over rocky ground, always wear seat belts, eschew skiing, sky-diving, bungee-jumping, and other assorted behaviors. Always look both ways before crossing the street, etc., etc. Then one day, the urge will not be suppressed. There's a lovely bush full of hard red berries. We know we ought not eat them, but what would it feel like to...?

Despite this knowledge, I spent several years yelling "STOP" as my children raced or rolled or scooted headlong down the streets of Manhattan. "Not Safe," was my two word reason for denying many an activity, and I even remember watching with stomach clenched in fear as my first child gummed a Cheerio at 6 months and choked. Food = Not Safe. Hmmm. Problematic. My kids are basically cautious. Which of course makes me worry what asinine things they'll decide to do when they are old enough to know much better. If it's as simple as pouring water over an instrument through a locker door, I'll have gotten off easy.