Friday, February 22, 2008


You go away on vacation. It could be a weekend, a business trip, or in my case ten glorious days in an artsy fartsy European city remembering oh yes, I am a creative person capable of all manner of things and a wanderer in my heart. And then, you come home. And its all familiar, but the weight of the tasks at hand, the lunches, breakfasts, dinners, snacks, all healthy and inexpensive, what, and kids and my rehearsal schedule and the mail and the shopping and the laundry and the housecleaning and.... it just buries you. You look around at all the pieces of your life and start to wonder what you need to get rid of. One week of living simply out of a backpack is a very good way to get down to what is important. And I am finding it hard to put away the lenses I was using in Germany to look at the world. I had a really small footprint there, and I was so rich. But meanwhile, I am missing a permission slip, two birthday invitations, and my husband and I are handing off children like batons in a kind of marathon relay to the weekend.......

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Car Trip

As my eldest and I get ready to go on a big trip (see the link with our trip blog) I am reminded of our fall travels. I am always telling my kids, sometimes you win when you just show up. My youngest is now the state champion in her class for long track speedskating because no one else from our state made it to the competition! Anyway, I am reprinting an essay from our last travels:
I have discovered one of the secrets of life: you basically get a high score if you just show up. Birth, weddings, funerals, all the big transitions, well, you just can’t phone it in or cover it in an e-mail. Bottom line, whether you are the protagonist or your garden variety witness, you just gotta be there. Forget the clothes, the manicure, the nice car. Just get there and BE.

So last weekend, I shoehorned 5 kids and my girlfriend/copilot into the mini van and drove 9 hours to the wilds of upper New York for the most ancient of rites of passage: A Bat Mitzvah. I have barely seen this girl in years, this angel who took the bimah with confidence and soulful artistry and transformed, yes truly transformed before my very eyes like a magic trick and took me along with her. But before I could be transformed, it was my job to show up. Now you need to know, showing up may not be the easiest thing you ever do: I HATE TO DRIVE; I took 2 days off of work and left my house (and my husband) in a condemnable state; one of my children is obsessive compulsive and cannot deal with anything new or different Ever, No Matter What, never, and the rest of the kids in the car needed to do a bucket load of mandatory homework which they proceeded not to do for 18 hours in a car with Nothing to Do. Along the way we hit something quite large on a stretch of middle of nowhere highway in the pitch black. I have come to decide it was not a bear. More likely an exploded semi tire that took out a piece of my front bumper. We nearly ran out of gas. We saw Niagara Falls and Lucille Balls hometown and the oldest billboard in America. We ate way too much really great food. We got very little sleep. We bought pumpkins at a farm with a view of fall color splashed mountains in the background. We bought orange hats. We swam in the tiny hotel pool and made waffles at the continental breakfast. We talked and played cards and drank espressos and wine with people who have known us too long to be impressed with our habitual bullshit and who already know our life stories so we can cut to the chase. We told stories. We packed an inordinate amount of living in a few short days. We caught up.

We showed up.

When you show up you get paid back in memories that you don’t have to file and that never fall in value like my IRA did last week. When you show up it’s the best there is.

Another daughter of our hearts has been ushered unequivocally into the rapids that lead to grownup. She knows she has friends shooting the rapids with her. And we adults, a lusty band of imperfect but fabulous Characters got to bask in the unseasonably warm fall sunshine and the love and the tolerance of one another before we were back, after 9 straight hours of interstate driving, to the piles of laundry, the bills, the car body estimate, and the soul deadening day gig……I learned I have a friend I can road trip with, and that’s a deal you can take to the life bank.

May you have many opportunities to show up.


My children have been out of school for two snow days so far, a day when the furnace at school blew up and before this shortest of months ends, they will be out for a conference day, for a presidents day and for mid-winter break???? In the spirit of gratefulness, I will consider each and every one of these days-at-home a Holiday, and you can never have enough of those.
We are a family of many holidays, because life is simply too short not to celebrate.
If a month has a decided lack of ready made days of remarkableness,
We make them up.
This week alone, we have Super Bowl Sunday, Mardi Gras and Chinese New Year
And a Snow Day!!!
A bumper crop I would say.
All requiring Special Foods, ritual activities and traditions To Be Followed.
On Super Bowl Sunday, you must eat specially selected junk foods,
And leave the room during the Game not the Commercials.
Mardi Gras sees the consumption of small crustaceans and the wearing of heaping quantities of beads.
Chinese New Year is firecrackers and dim sum and a hold in the hand dragon.
Snow days necessitate the building of a snowman, hot chocolate and the parent on duty blowing their stack...
But we have other, less noticeable holidays
Last day of school, and first meal at Superdog,
Custer Street Fair Mojito night
And The Most Fireflies in one evening Night.
There is the Renaissance Dinner which is celebrated on a cold winter night when you think Spring will never ever come and you are bored out of your mind
And there is the end of camp season barbecue.
We gather with people we like,
We celebrate.

Monday, February 4, 2008


Like most who are feeling the pain of this economy, we did not go broke. We did not experience some tragic catastrophe that radically changed our class and income level in a short time span, no, we are ever so slowly sliding down the ladder of comfortable, and O.K., to struggling, almost without noticing the descent. My husband's business partner stole some money, the lawsuit began gnawing at our lifestyle. My salary stopped keeping pace with inflation, the tax reassessment was stunningly larger than anticipated. Technology reorganized our business and made expensive capital improvements essential with little steady work in sight. Insurance costs and deductibles soared. Gas prices, heating costs, the cost of a gallon of milk all increased. I cut back, let the sitter and the cleaning lady go, stopped getting milk delivered. We gave up meat and then gave up organic food. I stopped buying new and began to troll the half price days at the thrift stores. Kids lessons petered out. I have to say, our lack of consumption is making me very Green. I am forced to be incredibly creative. My family and I have to work together as never before. We work harder and wait for the wind to change.
I know that discretionary income allows you to solve problems--it would be so nice to buy dinner ready made instead of facing the same 4 ingredients which everyone has already told me they hate. In a country where the Have A Lots flaunt it daily in every media there does not seem to be any sort of benefit to being a Have Enough. I doubt I am the citizen all these adverts are geared to. I am just trying to get by...

Friday, February 1, 2008

Rule of One Thing

someone reminded me about my rule of one thing, for those snowdays when you are trapped in a house with a bunch of kids and all hope of getting your list done flies out the window (or lies buried under a stack of soggy snowpants)

The Rule of One Thing

About 14 years ago, in the midst of the biggest theatrical project of my life, a commissioned from scratch look at the Don Juan myth from the woman’s perspective, a musical written by the actresses, I had my first child. No problem. I thought I would bring the baby to rehearsals. I thought she would grow up with my dance company. Nobody told me about colic. Nobody mentioned that leaking breast milk down the front of your opening night cocktail dress is totally uncool.

Nobody told me toddlers chew on theatrical electrical cording and don’t want to sit through mama’s rehearsals. Nobody told me how much a new person is a totally new person completely uninterested in following my agenda.

That baby is a womangirl now, and nobody told me that in the garden of children I would end up with an orchid, not a daisy, and that she would be dragging me to Berlin in the middle of winter to support her career as a film maker. And silly me, I gave birth to two more of these marvelous martians and I am still figuring out what planet I am on and trying to learn to breathe the air here and figure out the languages and customs.

I have been trying to figure out for the last 14 years who the heck I am today, this minute, because that’s about all the coherence I ever get—one cotton picking minute. It seems like just about every day is a big life transition: first tooth, first day of school, first bully, first date…Its all so much. And I will tell you the one thing that helps me when it starts to be toooo much. It’s the rule of One Thing. All you have to do today is one thing. Pick it. It could be making the holiday cookies for all the teachers. It could be the laundry. It could be sitting and sipping the coffee instead of losing the cup until its cold or worse, moldy. (Today its getting the plumber to come out again because if I have to go one more day having to empty a bucket every time someone flushes the toilet, I am going to go insane) Caress and love that One Thing. Revel and enjoy your One Thing. Make sure sometimes the One Thing is getting together with a friend (check, did that Friday) and sometimes its reading a great book, (check, did that on November 22). And try to make most of your One Things just to be with this person you brought into the world. And realize that someday the house will be too quiet and it will stay too clean, but by then you will be too old and tired to care….

Having children is a form of surfing. You have paddled out to the Big Wave. You cannot control it. You cannot hang on to it. You can only ride it until it passes you by and spends itself upon a distant shore. It will wash over you and set you spinning. You will learn to surf the crest of it. Cowabunga!

May you have a lovely one thing today

winter blues

My inner curmudgeon
Has scuttled out
Of his
Into the grey light of every day
And is flagrantly living in the open.
Drawn forth by
the Bleakness and
Interminability of
this winter.
My heart chills,
My mind dulls,
Ice Crystals form on my better judgement.
Talons of misery
Lock on
To vital organs like hope.
Crankiness flows in every vein.
I speak in snarls and moans.
A permanent frown anchors my jaw.

My inner curmudgeon
Has eaten, buried or bludgeoned
My ever hopeful self
My sunshine self
My wish I was again self.
I am a crusted black splattered snowdrift.

The kids are out of school AGAIN because no one can get anywhere. It took well over an hour to get dug out enough to get to work (my job knows no SNOW days). I am so far behind I can see my own butt running backwards. I am soooo over winter now.