The Visit

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This weekend son came to visit.

 

I am especially excited because this is probably the last time I will get to see son before his wedding day.

 

Turns out his Friday night bus is late. So I will not get to see him tonight because I have to go to bed to get up early.

 

I will see him tomorrow after teaching my class.

 

Tomorrow comes. I get home from teaching and son is awake!

 

“Hi son!” I say.

“Hi mom.” he says.

And he gives me a hug.

 

In a few moments he brings me two gifts: One for Mother’s Day and one for my birthday, which is not yet but soon.

 

There is a coffee mug with a Cherry tree on it. When you put hot water into the mug, the tree blossoms! And there is an adult NYC coloring book, since he knows I like these things.

 

“Thank you!” I say. “That was very thoughtful.”

“Well, thank fiancé.” he says. “She is good at reminding me about these kinds of things.”

 

Soon it is time to go pick up daughter on her work break. While we are driving, I ask son, “Should I open the window and yell at those people over there?”

 

Heh.

 

“No mom” he says. “Please do not do that.”

 

We pick up daughter. She is waiting outside the bank. I can tell she is happy to see son.

Really, I miss them together.

 

When we get home, daughter begins the music blasting. One Direction comes on, What Makes You Beautiful. Daughter starts dancing wildly around son, waving her arms and jumping up and down.

 

HA! I have taught her well.

 

Son is standing like a statue but I can tell he is trying not to laugh. What the hey, I decide to join in the fun. I get on the other side of son and start jumping around too.

 

“Woo!” I say.

Son does not really look that pleased.

Ok, we stop.

 

We take daughter back to work and go home to go for a walk or maybe a bike ride and then BBQ.

 

When we get home son says, “There are only two bikes.”

I say, “No, we have MY bike down in the basement although I don’t know if it is exactly working right now since someone left it chained to a railing in Brooklyn when they moved.”

 

Philly says, “Do you have a helmet for it.”

I say, “Son probably chucked it.”

Son says, “Yes he did.”

I say, “What an asshole.”

 

Yes, I really say that. He is almost 25. He can deal with it.

 

We go for a nice long walk with Zelda the dog. We talk, we look at the creek. We climb down and try to skim some stones into the creek. Philly is the first one to get a stone to skim. Then he gets one to skim like four times in a row across the water.

 

You can tell he is from around these parts.

 

Next on the skimming is son.

“Good one!” Philly says.

 

I am trying but mine just keep plopping into the water. FINALLY, I get down lower and get a good flat stone and it works! I skim!

 

“Hey! Hey!” I say. “Did you see?? Did you see?? I did it!”

 

I am very proud of myself.

 

Soon we begin the walk back home. I say something I cannot remember right now to Philly, who is a lawyer you know. He gives me a counterpoint.

 

“Can you ever not have the counterpoint?” I ask.

 

Philly laughs.

 

Because he knows most of the time he starts his sentences with, “I am not sure I agree with that…”

 

We are almost home. Son and I are planning on looking through boxes and bins in the basement for a binder of some family pictures and records of the family lineage that my mother had given me years ago.

 

I do not know where this binder is. I have looked. But I am not a very patient looker reader. Son is much, much better at the patience thing.

 

We begin THE DIGGING. We come across many, many photos from my past. Elementary school, high school, punk rock days, pink mohawks. The Painted Desert, The Grand Canyon. Italy. Mexico. We dig through several boxes. I am getting tired. I am ready to give up.

 

Suddenly, son says, “I think I found it.” Real calm like. He opens up a gray binder. Inside are pages and pages my mother has written on family history. There are pictures labeled from three generations back.

 

I tell son, “That is my Great-Grandmother.”

 

We go upstairs. We begin the preparation for THE BBQ FEAST. While we are preparing I begin to jump around near son and make chicken noises.

 

Son says, “Don’t do that mom.”

I say, “Why not?”

Son says, “Because you are a 55-year-old woman.”

 

Reader, you are never too old to act like a chicken. Just saying.

 

We eat. We watch the baseball game. We talk about the little girl who got hit with the baseball the other day.

 

“This is why you should only watch baseball games from home.” I say.

 

Really, people get hit with baseballs all the time. It is dangerous out there.

 

We begin to talk about THE INFINITE. I tell son, “I do not wish to talk about the infinite. It creeps me out.”

 

“Really?” Philly asks. “I had no idea.”

 

“Yes.” I say. “It kind of haunts me thinking of things with no ending.”

 

I do not want to talk about this. I point to a little finger puppet we have on a shelf in our living room. We call it THE GUY. It is a puppet with its arms raised and its mouth open with little jagged teeth showing. Sometimes when Philly wants to make me laugh he mimics THE GUY. I try to get him to do THE GUY now. But he will not.

 

Instead I do THE GUY.

 

Son says, “Oh my god mom! YOU are the one who haunts the house.”

 

I think of giving him the finger but oh ok, I do not.

 

After we eat the BBQ FEAST, we go inside to watch sports. The Yankees are on. But we are Mets fans. We watch the Yankees anyway.

 

Son tells me, “The Yankees don’t let their players have facial hair.”

“Really?” I say.

“Yes.” he says.

“Are there other teams that do that? “I ask.

“Nope.” son says.

 

Philly says, “They look like eunuchs.”

 

BAWAHAHAHA!

 

“The Yankees are hairless eunuchs!” I say.

 

We change the subject. I tell son how much better it would be if we all lived closer together. I tell him this is how it should be. This is how it was when I was growing up. This is how it is for fiancé’s family.

 

I move closer to him. But son does not like too much touching. And so, he moves away a little bit.

 

“Hey!” I say. “You moved away!”

“I did.” he says. “You know I don’t like too much touching.”

But then he moves a little closer, anyway.

 

I tell him, “Hey, guess what? Philly was going to buy a tent so we could sleep in the yard.”

 

“Yes.” Philly says. “For your birthday.”

 

“Well.” I say. “That would really be more for you than for me.”

 

I am not much of a camper. I need very specific conditions to sleep well. Including a white noise machine.

 

“Listen to all that racket out there. Tree frogs. Dogs barking. We would have to run a line to the tent so I can run my white noise machine.” I say.

 

Philly is just shaking his head.

 

It’s getting late “It’s time for me to go to bed.” I say.

And off I go.

 

Next day comes and we are going over to daughter’s place so son and daughter can play ROCK BAND together. ROCK BAND is a family tradition. Before we go Philly and I have a little talk with son about his upcoming marriage. And about marriage in general. I try to share some of what I have learned in my life without being pushy. Philly shares too. Son tells us how he sees things. It is a nice talk.

 

We head over to the daughter house. Daughter has CATS. Son and I are allergic to cats. We put a cover on the couch before we sit down. Son mostly stands up, playing the guitar part of ROCK BAND. Daughter and son are very good at this game. They put the setting on HARD and they get scores like 98%. I myself am not very good at this game.

 

Daughter says it is because I did not grow up playing it.

 

Not too long and it is time to take son to the bus which will carry him back to NYC. He has all of his belongings in the car. Daughter decides to come with us to say goodbye to son. When we pull up to the bus station, I get out to walk son inside.

 

No matter how many times I do this my heart always sinks a little bit when I give son a hug goodbye and look at his face and begin to walk back to the car.

 

Like I always do, I turn to look back for one more peek.

 

I will miss you son.

I have enjoyed our visit.

Your humor.

Your thoughts.

 

See you soon.

See you soon.

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Knowing

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Yesterday Best Friend from Brooklyn came to visit me.

 

It is morning and I have to teach a class, but that is ok because BF is coming a little later in the day. I am very excited to see her and her husband. I have not seen them in a long, long time.

 

This is a very sad fact for me. I used to see her almost every weekend when I lived in Brooklyn. We would meet to go for a run in Prospect Park. Sometimes afterwards we would go to a meeting.

 

Did you know reader that BF is the one who twelve stepped me into the rooms of recovery? She saw I probably needed help and maybe program would help me. Without her, I am not sure where I would be today.

 

So BF and Husband are coming. I get home and do a few things and pretty soon they arrive. When they are walking up to the house I fling the door open and Zelda the dog runs out to greet them.

 

“Hello!” I say.

“Hello! They say back.

And I give BF a big big hug.

 

We sit down in the living room to chat for awhile before we get on our way to the city to walk around and eventually eat. We talk about NY real estate vs. Philadelphia real estate. And the kinds of buildings one finds in each city. We talk about public transportation and bike riding and bike locks.

 

Soon we arrive and park near the Magic Mosaic Garden, which we plan on going to after we eat.

 

We walk. We notice things. I think we are walking to Dimitri’s, but we somehow wind up at the Famous 4th Street Deli. Have you heard of this place reader? They give you A LOT of food. A LOT.

 

The food comes in giant mountainous plates. I cannot finish mine but Philly and BF and Husband all finish theirs. I get a TO GO bag. When the check comes Husband puts his hand out to pay. I am not sure what the right thing to do is but I hand the check over. Really BF and Husband are very, very generous. Over the years they have done very many things for me. Including throwing parties or me with delicious food they have made and taking me to THE BEACH CLUB.

 

When we are leaving Philly says, “Ok, we will pay for the museum!” And we walk over towards the museum. But when we get closer we see a big line and a sign that says SOLD OUT.

 

“WHAT?” I say.

“Yes.” Door Guy says, “Holiday weekend. “We sold out at one o’clock.”

 

OMG. I cannot believe this. We are reduced to peeking in through the cracks to see parts of the winding mosaics.

 

I am so disappointed.

 

But still, we can see a little bit through and BF takes a few pictures.

 

We walk back to the car to begin the drive home to hang out for awhile. When we get there Philly takes Husband down to THE MAN CAVE to share his recording equipment while BF and I sit in the kitchen and talk about everything that has been going on, mostly with me, which is a lot. BF asks me many questions because she really cares about me and wants to know what is happening.

 

I answer her as best I can. Some of the questions are hard for reasons I cannot go into here. Suffice to say I have a little cry at the end.

 

Soon it is time for BF and Husband to get on the road. We say goodbye at the door and my heart breaks a little.

 

After she leaves I text her: I don’t want you to go.

She texts: I am in your heart.

And I feel a little homesick for Brooklyn and all the friends I left behind.

 

I sit and think for a moment. How good it feels to be known by someone. I have known her 30 years. To be listened to. To listen. To understand another person deeply.

 

I know I am very lucky to have such a person in my life reader.

I hope you have one too.

Yes I do.

First Day

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The other day I volunteered at the hospital.

 

I have been waiting to start this volunteer job. It has taken time for the Volunteer Office to find a day and a placement for me.

 

Finally, I get the call.

 

“Hello?” I say.

“Hello!” Volunteer Coordinator says. “We have a position for you.”

“Great!” I say. And she tells me all about it.

 

I will be working in the Family Waiting Lounge. My job will be to help families waiting for their loved ones in surgery, and to talk to them and see if they need anything. I think it sounds like a good position.

 

A few days pass and it is time for my first day. I am nervous even though it is a volunteer position. I want to do a good job.

 

I arrive and Volunteer Services Lady walks me over to the Family Lounge. I am introduced to Lounge Coordinator.

 

Lounge Coordinator says, “Come with me. I will give you a tour.”

“Ok.” I say. And I follow her down the hall towards the first set of elevators.

I think: Ok, ok, I can remember this.

 

Next we go to two OTHER sets of elevators. We wind around the halls of the hospital. Hospitals have a lot of hallways. Have you ever been in a hospital reader? Perhaps you know it is like a maze.

 

I have a little clipboard with me so I can write directions down. We are moving so fast I can hardly keep up. We go to the basement, to three different recovery floors, the cafeteria, the pharmacy, two floors of operating rooms and to the office of THE BADGE GUY.

 

The Badge Guy will be in around 2pm to give me my official Hospital Volunteer badge. I will come back and see him later.

 

We begin our walk back and I begin to feel a little nervous. I am not sure I can remember all these places and how to get to them. What if I get lost?

 

When we get back to the Family Lounge, Coordinating Nurse is waiting for me. She shows me the boards up in the lounge, which show families where their loved one is: Pre-Op, Operating Room or Recovery. She shows me where the coffee and water and little refrigerator are located.

 

CN tells me, “Don’t worry. You will get to know your way around.”

I think: I am only here once a week for a few hours.

But I do not say anything.

 

Next she tells me to just walk around and see if anyone needs anything. So I do. I talk to Nice Lady who is waiting for her husband to come out of surgery. She looks a little worried but when we talk she seems ok. I talk to Sleepy Lady who, it turns out, has been here since 5AM. She is not very happy at the moment.

 

Next, Coordinating Nurse comes over and asks me to walk a family to one of the sets of elevators so they can go up to recovery.

 

“Sure!” I say. And I look at my clipboard to see which way to walk.

 

We begin walking but somehow I wind up at the wrong elevators. The family is supposed to go to the 9th floor and these elevators don’t even have a number 9 on the button panel.

 

Ugh.

I turn to the family. “Sorry, it is my first day.”

 

“No problem.” they say.

And we walk back, managing to find our way, eventually.

 

I go back to the Family Lounge. I tell Coordinating Nurse, “Ok, I got lost.”

CN asks, “Did you turn at the Emergency Room doors?”

I say, “I did not see any doors labeled EMERGENCY.

“Oh, they are not labeled.” she says.

 

Ok, I feel a little better now.

 

The day goes on. I successfully walk a few more families to their respective elevators. I talk to a few more people. One guy says to me, “What do you get for this? A pat on the back?”

 

I take a little break and have a snack. I wander around to see if anybody needs anything.

 

And then it is time to go home. I get my personal items out of the cabinet.

 

“See you next week!” I say.

“Thank you” CN says.

 

I think all in all, it was a good first day reader.

Yes I do.

All the Mothers

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The other day daughter texted me.

She texts: Mama?

 

I know when she calls me Mama she needs to talk.

I text: Here.

 

She goes on to tell me some of the latest happenings in her life.

We text like this almost everyday.

 

With son it is different. We have more structured communication, as is son’s way. We Facetime once a week, usually on Sunday.

 

It is not how it used to be, back in the day when we all lived together. But this is the job of a mother. Raise them the best you can, and then let them go.

 

It is not easy for me, this letting go.

But I am slowly getting used to it.

 

This year son will get married.

This year daughter will apply to PhD programs.

 

I am very proud of them, venturing out on their own, forging their way.

 

I think about all the mothers I have had. All the women in my life who have been my guides along the way, who have supported me, nurtured me. Teachers, friends, the mother who raised me. Aunts, sponsors, spiritual guides.

 

I am so grateful to all of them, especially today.

I take a moment to remember them all.

 

To all the mothers.

Thank you.

Drive

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The other day I drove for Lyft.

I know, right??!

 

I have been thinking about doing this driving for Lyft thing. Some part of me feels a little scared about doing it. So I wait. I set myself up and I get the Lyft sticker in the mail. I tuck it away for later, maybe.

 

Maybe.

 

Maybe turns into yes this week. I say to my sponsor on Monday: “I am going to do it!”

My sponsor says, “You can do it!”

 

I get out the LYFT PACKET and put the stickers on the KIA.

 

I wake up the next day and plan my first ride. At 4pm when demand goes up, I will switch myself “ON” in the Lyft Driver App. I will get in my car and start driving around for rides.

 

And so I do. I get in the car at 4PM. I switch myself ON. I expect rides to pop up right away. I do not know why I expect this. I think about what area I should drive to in order to be most likely to find rides.

 

I decide to go up the hill to the next little town. I get there and YES! A little circle pops up on my phone with a name requesting a ride! It does not tell me where my ride is going. It only tells me where the pick up will be.

 

I hit the ACCEPT button. A map pops up to show me how to get to my rider. I follow the map, which is a little bit confusing, and arrive at my destination. RIDER gets in. Rider gets into the FRONT seat. I am not expecting this either. I move my bag to the back.

 

“Hello Rider!” I say.

“Hello!” Rider says.

 

I tell Rider, “Guess what?! You are my first ride for Lyft!”

“Wow!” Rider says. “Really?”

“Yes!” I say.

 

We talk during the ride. I know this will not always be the case. It is a nice conversation. Rider is not going far. I drop Rider off at the destination.

 

“Bye!” I say.

“Have a good first day!” Rider says.

 

While Rider is walking away I do a little internal dance: I did it! I did it!

 

I am only planning on driving for two hours. I get a few more rides and have a few more conversations.

 

I think: This is fun!

 

Next day I decide I will drive again for a few hours. First Rider I pick up gets in and quickly reveals we will be going into a bad neighborhood. Since it is the middle of the day I feel ok. I realize at this time however that this can happen at anytime. And since you do not see the destination when you accept the ride, it is just a fact of driving.

 

The OTHER thing I realize on day two is you do not know how long you will be driving. I pick up third Rider of the day. Rider gets in and we start to go. Soon we are getting on the expressway.

 

Hmmm. I think: I wonder where we are going at RUSH HOUR.

 

So I ask, “Where to?”

Rider says, “To the Phillies game.”

 

I am not expecting this. I am driving on the expressway to the Sports Complex at rush hour.

 

  1. This can happen too. I do not know if there is a part of the app that tells you how long the ride will be. I ask this question of Lyft. I wait for an answer. Meanwhile I join a Lyft Drivers Group and ask: Is there a way to tell how long a ride will be before you accept the ride?

 

I get 36 responses to this. Some of them helpful, some of them less helpful.

 

Currently I still do not have a clear answer. I do know one person who drives for Lyft and once got a RIDER going to NYC!

 

Personally, I do not wish to drive that far.

 

Anyway, turns out traffic is not too bad for my Phillies game ride. I get Rider to the stadium. Rider gets out and the app on my phone says Rider has tipped me. I feel happy. We had a nice ride together.

 

I call Philly. I ask him, “Guess where I am?”

Philly says, “Where are you?”

I say, “The Phillies game!”

 

But now it is getting later. I need to eat dinner. I turn my app onto DESTINATION MODE, which will only give me Riders headed in the direction I am headed.

 

45 minutes later I am home. Philly has just arrived.

“I drove again!” I say.

“Yes you did.” he says.

 

I smile.

 

I did not know if I would enjoy driving people around.

But I do like it reader.

Yes I do.

Must Do Stuff

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The other day I went to yoga.

 

Since I just had surgery it is a questionable decision.

 

I go to yoga because I need to move my body. I do not know how people manage to stay still and heal. I have never been able to do this. I need to move my body.

 

And so I go.

 

Oh ok, I go a few times. Each time I go I try to modify my practice, to do a little less, to keep my head above or in line with my shoulders.

 

But this last class I am feeling feisty. I do the downward facing dog. I forward fold. I even do a partial tripod.

 

I do not recommend this.

 

Turns out doing these things results in a lot of sinus pressure. It does not feel good.

 

I go home and spend some time on the couch sitting still. I think about sitting still. And my need to move. I used to read to be still a lot more than I do now, due to Lasik damage, a topic perhaps best left for another blog.

 

Do you have this problem reader? This MUST DO STUFF problem? I know it is not good. I know I need to cultivate stillness more than I have. Even though I am much better than I used to be.

 

But it is not all bad. I HAVE rested. And I have not run, save one morning. I have napped. I have meditated.

 

I think about the Cave Yogi I sponsor in India. He sits and sits. He has dedicated his life to sitting. I think about how different his life is than mine.

 

I do not have the answer reader. I wonder how you feel about stillness? Not intellectually how you SHOULD feel. But how you ACTUALLY feel when you have an extended period of time to be still?

 

I hope you will tell me.

Yes I do.

3AM

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The other day I had sinus surgery.

 

I cannot believe how much this has taken out of me reader.

I feel I will need to keep this blog brief.

 

My surgery is scheduled for 6 AM. I get up at 3AM so I can have coffee since I am allowed to have clears two hours before. Since I know my ARRIVAL time is 6AM, I also figure my actual surgery time won’t be until at least 7AM. Which means a whole extra hour of drinking coffee if I wish.

 

When we wake up, Philly and I go out to look at the big moon. It is very quiet at 3AM. Just birds are singing in the night. No cars are rolling by. No buses. Just the night flowers in the night air.

 

The time goes very fast and we are on our way. When we arrive we are the very first patients there. Actually we are the very first PEOPLE there besides the security guard. And so we sit in the lobby, waiting for personnel.

 

In comes Nurse #1.

“Come with me.” she says.

And she escorts us to the third floor where my surgery will happen.

There are papers and kiosks to be filled out. When this is done Nurse #2 comes out and says, “Come this way. I will be your nurse.”

I go with her but Philly has to wait until I am all set back there. So far this is going very smoothly. I get in my gown and get warm blankets put on me. Resident comes to talk to me. Anesthesia comes by to insert my IV lock and talk to me. Doctor makes a very brief appearance.

I am ready to go back. I know from the scheduling desk that I am the first person on the schedule.

 

But wait!

I see them escort a different patient back to the Operating Room!

What the hell!

 

I ask Philly to call my nurse over. Nurse says she will check in with Scheduling. She comes back. And it is TRUE! They have taken this other person before me. I did not have to be here at 6AM.

“Why?” I ask her. “Why?”

“Sometimes this happens.” she says. “A doctor will move the schedule around. Maybe the other surgery was going to be quicker.”

 

Ugh.

 

I wait. It is NOT quicker. I ask how much longer.

Nurse comes back and tells me, “It could be up to an hour.”

You KNOW that means more than an hour.

OMG.

 

It is after 9AM before they finally take me back to the OR. But once I get there it goes fast. They slap me onto the table, one medicine goes in, I think a mask might be involved but I can’t remember, another medicine goes in that burns like hell and I am out.

 

The next thing I remember it is almost 1PM and I am in recovery. I think they wake me up. The surgery was two hours! I am nauseous. And in pain. More pain than I thought I would be in. It takes awhile in there. I am moving slowly. I have stents in my nose that are really uncomfortable. Besides my actual sinuses hurting, I also seem to have a migraine and my eyeballs hurt.

 

Nurse tells me, “When they operate inside your head a lot of things hurt.”

 

Somehow I get out of the rolly bed and into the recliner chair. I have ginger ale and graham crackers. When I am well enough, Philly goes to get the car and around 3PM I am on my way home.

 

I wish I could tell you what happens when I get home but the anesthesia has stolen my memory. I remember being very, very tired.

 

And I remember having some kind of really scary panic attack in the middle of the night on the first night I was home.

 

And now it is today. A few days after. And I am STILL exhausted. Maybe after they take these horrible stents out of my nose I will feel better reader.

 

I don’t know.

Sinus surgery is no joke.

 

I am glad it is over reader.

Yes I am.