Monthly Archives: August 2010

Ocean beach. What does happy look like?

You chase waves and they chase back. Aug. 2010

Sister and brother. Aug. 2010

Braiding and securing without a hair tie. That bandana, now lost at sea! This was the braid I did before she decided to have me cut 6 inches of hair off. Aug. 2010

My gorgeous girl. The first one. Can you tell she loves a beach day? August 2010

Surf, after a storm. August 2010

The surf, the girl, the braid. August 2010

Sometimes you have only to look at your own photos, taken less than two weeks ago, to know that everything is really, really ok.  And it is.

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Exhale

I can now.  One thing about waiting for bad news is that eventually the waiting can be harder than the news itself.  Did I use this title previously?  I don’t know.  I wrote directly but also rather obliquely, a couple of times over the summer about being on pins and needles, holding my breath, waiting to see if I would lose my job.  The waiting, the fears, the tension waiting for something hard to happen or not was the mood of the summer.  It was a hard summer.  Maybe you’d even say an incredibly hard summer.  Then just two days before I left on vacation,  I did get laid off.  I did. 

Tomorrow I go in for one last time– to pass some things on to my colleague.  They are keeping her.  My colleague is a woman, also lesbian, also a mom, also Jewish, also with integrity and humor.  She is younger than I and she  was a law clerk when I was the legal director at another organization.  We met when she was in her early 20’s 15 years ago.  Then she left town and began her career elsewhere.  Then she returned to work with me as an attorney at my old organization– an AIDS service organization where I headed up the legal program serving people with HIV for almost 13 years.  And then, and I am nothing but flattered and very grateful, she came two years ago to work for me in this organization.  She and I have quietly grown to be very close friends, allies, co-conspirators as we worked hard and laughed a lot and complained from time to time, together.  A little like Dorothy and the Scarecrow– I will miss her far and away most of all.  I will miss our daily friendship, our shared sensibility and our very (in certain ways) intimate contact, as Jewish working mothers trying to put it all together and talking about lots of it along the way. 

The future looms big and unknown.  This job, or rather the office, was never a home in the way others have been, and it was an odd set of contradictions.  I loved many aspects of the work.  I learned a lot and grew substantially in many ways.  I got to do some things of real significance that I had not done before.  I worked hard.  But something was never really fully right and I was never able to be fully myself.  In many ways I was always off kilter and holding my breath.  I will see what it feels like after I turn in my keys and walk out for the last time.  But for now I can say this, as uncertain as the future is– which is uncertain in these times– I feel like my soul is slowly returning to my being– as I ponder the fall probably without paid work at all and surely without this job.  I feel like my soul is pouring back into myself after hiding myself in some way during the workweek for many years.  I was out as a lesbian, as a Jew, as the person I am, but I wasn’t myself somehow.  There wasn’t room.

These are complicated times, and complicated issues.  Don’t get too comfortable assuming it is “for the best” nor too comfortable consoling me about what a terrible thing it is to get laid off in this economy.  If you ask me is this a good thing or a terrible thing, I would have to say– yes.  Many people have a hard time holding these seemingly contradictory things in a mind at one time.  But that is often the situation.

Tomorrow is the first day of school for my daughter, the fourth grader.  I see myself writing more in the coming weeks.  I see myself writing more about work and writing, about schools and the lovely and the horrible things about seeing your young person back into a school for the year.  I see myself walking her to school and often picking her up.  I see myself reading with her and her hopefully growing happier, easier because I am around more. 

I will, as I have promised, write about my Bat Mitzvah especially now as it looms closer and closer.  I will not have long days with time on my hands–if that is what you are imagining, but I will have a little time to think and write and see people.  There are many people who have offered, but a few old friends in particular, not all lawyers either, who have said they will get together with me and help me think and imagine not just what I can get next, but what I want next. 

I will breathe in and breathe out and hopefully figure out interesting things about the coming weeks, the next job and the next big chapter of this life.  I will love to hear from you.

Home again

Well, I thought I would write and post on this blog while I was away.  But I see I did not.  We returned last night.  Vacation– well great– and not so much.  I was terribly sick, still am.  Two days of antibiotics that were prescribed at an urgent care center haven’t completely cleared this up.  I also seem to have sprained my ankle, quite mysteriously– I do not remember injuring it but here it is, barely walkable.   My partner was sick too– really sick and is still.  I am at work and she is home today, hopefully taking care of herself.   So that’s the bad news. 

But still there was the ocean which is really an amazing thing to get to be near– my daughter and her brother running in the waves, playing hard.  At home together, liking and loving each other, getting down to the spots where they don’t like each other so much, or rather where it feels that way in the moment.  But we did well.  Our last evening together we went to the beach– and it was all blueish lavender.  Really.  The sky, light blue/ pale lavender with a slim line of pink, the deep, dark water reflecting sky, so that even the water seemed a light blueish lavender, even the sand seemed that pale blue color.  I miss Lake Michigan which figured so prominently in my growing up.  I hope I will live nearer a big body of water like that again in my lifetime.  It is endlessly beautiful and also endlessly interesting, changing.  And I loved being around my daughter and her brother.  Loved being with my partner and not being in such a hurry all the time.  Loved being with daughter’s brother’s two moms too.  Loved the first nights before I started coughing when I got long, long night’s sleep each night. 

So there we all were, all 6 of us and all the interesting things we all 6 of us get to do and figure out together.  I do not like being back in the grind, not particularly.  I do not like having no food in the fridge.  But I hope (and I can probably make it so) the beach bag will linger in the front hall awhile.  I hope I will open things up as I empty our suitcases and that there will be little gritty piles of sand on the floor to remind me where I’ve been and what it is like to go slow.   I will keep a few things out of the wash so that I have that sunny, sun lotion smell a little longer before fall and going back to school and all that.

Sick means I am too tired to try to write the greater meanings or even the greater questions I had.  But soon.

Mama and Daughter. Hard at work. From the spring archive.

Concentration. Spring 2010.

Both of us; working together, daughter very deep in concentration. I hope it will always be this way.  For her to be able to enjoy her work.  For me to enjoy mine.  For us to work together always.  On things we love and enjoy.  Together. 

 

mama writes longhand. daughter takes a break from drawing to shoot photos.

Protected: Preview of the week to come. Brother. Sister. Thanksgiving 2009.

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Sister. Brother. 4 moms. An ocean beach. Photos to follow.

This is the post about what happened and what is to come.  I have written before– I cannot really recall how much, but some, about our uncommon family configuration.  Two moms.  One daughter.  Brown daughter, white moms.  Adoption.  A family.  

Nine is so different from three or four or six even.  But still.  Snuggling and chasing, school, reading, math, permission slips, longings for things we buy and things we decide not to have in our household.  Outings, friends, family and swimming, cooking, games, staying up late and falling asleep early.  Easy laughs and tenderness.  Big upsets.  

Important things to think about, to figure out about love and racism and talking and education and when to push and when to just let it be.  Losses and sadnesses all the way around at different times.  Each one’s sadness for different reasons, at different times, though we try our very best to reach in there for each other. 

Lunches and snacks packed and unpacked.  Packed and unpacked. Packed and unpacked.  Lunches.  Snacks.  Days when one mom or the other hits it all just exactly right and the other’s off.  Some days even, when we both hit it just right.  And then there are days when neither does. 

Another adoption in another city, another two moms and son.  My daughter’s brother.  22 months younger than she is.  His big sister.  The revealing of each other’s families a year and some months ago.  Tears.  Anger.  Excitement.  Fears.  Many questions.  Some answered, some unanswered still.  A first meeting last May and then a second in June.  More and longer time together; September, November, December.  An easy, uncanny bond.  So now we are four moms and a girl and a boy.  Sister and brother. 

There is no name in English or any other language that I know of for the relationship between these two sets of parents who happen to be four women, who are the parents of two siblings.  There is also no name that I know of for the relationship between me and my partner and their son– my own daughter’s brother.  And vice versa.  But here we find ourselves.  A family.  They are not my sister with whom I am so close we often can’t tell who started laughing– herself or myself.  He isn’t my nephews both of whom I was with by the time they were 21 days old.  But he is something to me that I do not have a name for and they all are family, big time.  For real.  Big time.  Did I say big time?

This year we are going to the beach together.  All six of us.  Seven days.  One cottage.  It will be extraordinary.  And quite ordinary.  You know, sunscreen.  Sandwiches.  Wet bathing suits.  Sleeping more than I do at home.

My daughter already curls up next to me and says, I want some time with you, Mama…  Cause I won’t want to spend time with you when my brother is there. I’ll just want to play with him.  She explains yesterday, to a friend who is an optometrist, doing an eye exam on her, “when my brother is around we get up at 6:00 just us and go to play on the swings.  we play all day.”

On a different but related front–I got a netbook for my birthday.  2.6 lbs.  It arrived yesterday.  My advancing techno capacity.  So I can send word and photos of our family trip and adventures at the beach.  I’ll keep you posted.  I’ll send photos.

My very wonderful, complicated, smart, but not- smart- about- everything, 19-year-old housemate pulled me into the Facebook era.  Just a few days ago.  I now have a Facebook page which I will not–at least not now, share or link in any way to this blog.  There are both practical and literary reasons I have opted for at least some degree of anonymity here.  Setting up the Facebook page seemed to me like a complicated set of decisions and a process.  He accomplished it all in a few minutes as I was getting ready to leave the house.  Minutes after he did the initial set-up –I think fewer than four minutes– I had 12 Friend requests.  12.  My housemate was visibly impressed with this instant response and I must admit, I am sensitive to this– it takes something to visibly impress him, at least for someone my age.  I was proud.

He sees me here at home, with my daughter– packing lunches, cleaning up the kitchen, playing hard with her, nagging her, getting ready to go and coming home from work, schlepping groceries up the stairs.  There is a lot about my life and particularly the depth and breadth of my connections to other people; to many different communities of friends and beloved people who are not visible from evenings with me here at home.  And although I often feel deeply lonely, I am close to a lot of people.  I am close to some people in ways you only can be at a certain stage of life.  People who were part of my world when I lost my father.  People who have lost jobs, parents, spouses, even children and whom I have listened to, cared for.  People I’ve worked with for 15+ years now.

Once the page was set up, I promptly connected with one woman I was close to in high school.  My initiative.  I submitted a Friend request.  I sweated for a day or two about whether she might reject me– as in “not Friend me” back.  After a couple of days, she Friended me back.  Whew.  She is someone I was close to for a particular period of time, not throughout, and someone who had loads of both clarity and integrity.  Not the easiest thing to come by in my book– either then or now.  This correspondence pleased me a lot– maybe I’ll see her again when I return to my hometown, where she has recently returned after years far away on the west coast.

But as a few days passed and my attention was pulled to sit for longer periods at the computer to look at Facebook, I felt lonely and distracted.  I couldn’t focus on this blog.  So I started to write a post about why I hate Facebook, about what is wrong with Facebook.  Not a particularly profound thing to say for someone my age.  I will give you that right off the bat.

Then I remembered the Beatles.  I was very, very young–when the Beatles rose to astounding popularity in America.  I actually remember many things about the rise of the Beatles’ stardom but I remember two things in particular.  One was that I loved their music.  Loved it.  And  I still do, especially the earliest stuff.

I also remember being aware, even though I was a child, of the strange and near hysterical level of upset, of vitriol, hatred even, on the part of some adults about the Beatles’ (yes, for the time it was) “long hair”.   Long hair on boys.  I think even then, I wondered how adults had so much time on their hands as to be so wound up about something that was really as irrelevant as the hair cuts of four young men, boys really.

And I did like the Beatles hair, but that isn’t the point either.  While I could write about gender and gender roles and create an analysis of why in the hell so many adults were so deeply bent about the Beatles’ hair, the connection between that time and my at least partial reaction to Facebook is this.  I think I should do a little more listening before I become one of those ranters about younger people’s’ culture and innovations.

I am not saying, “I’m too old to have credentials to weigh in.”  No.  I do get to actually think about it– use my own mind.  I don’t believe that once you turn 30, or 40 or 50 you lose the right to think and weigh in about things that affect younger people.  But maybe I should listen and watch and learn how this works for a number of people before I write an essay with a conclusion.

With respect to some of the important things on my mind; the liberation of young people, an end to racism, a shift in things so that people don’t have to struggle so deeply with preventable things– like poverty–depression, other crises–  I know our ability to solve these problems is dependent on each of us having deep, real, personal, human connections.  Deep connections that take real time.  So in the end I may decide that Facebook is more of an impediment than it is a true connector.

But as I talk to my younger friend about how he uses Facebook, and as I watch him text constantly, but never spend a minute watching TV– I figure I have more to learn from him–as he does too, from me  and my dozens, probably hundreds, of friends.  Actual, real friends.

And just one more thing, predictably.  For the record.  Paul, George and Ringo– all on Facebook.