Monday, August 30, 2010

Trail of Tears

Beanie goes to college.

Ever since Beanie’s graduation at the end of June, she has been on the goodbye tour. All of July she went to graduation parties. Come August, some of the kids who were playing fall sports began to leave and the goodbyes started.

This past Saturday was Beanie’s turn to leave. Thursday her boyfriend came for dinner. He is leaving for 6 months training having joined the Air National Guard. They agreed to break up as they were both about to start new chapters of their lives. He stayed overnight, they went for breakfast, she came home sobbing. I looked at her and started to cry too.

On Friday her best friends came over. Beanie has been friends with L since preschool, K since kindergarten. They brought a bunch of junk food and went downstairs to stroll down memory lane, cry, and swear forever friendship to each other. I got very teary saying good bye to them, L leaves today, K is going to college locally, lamenting that she will be all alone. I have known them for 15 years and I love them as if they were my own. Everyone left crying.

In the wee hours of Saturday morning Martha, who obviously could not sleep, spooned up behind me and asked “she’s going to be okay, right?” “She’ll be more than okay, she’ll be great”, I answered. And then Martha started to cry. In all the years I’ve known her, I could count on one hand the number of times I have seen her cry. I just held her until we really had to get up.

We drove two cars to be able to hold all her stuff, Beanie riding with Martha. The move in itself was massive organized chaos. Beanie’s roommate is a fashion major which will hopefully rub off on my daughter who spends 80% of her time in basketball shorts and tanks. We had anticipated the goodbye there being the worst, but it wasn’t too bad. Leaving her at numerous sport’s camps at college campuses since she was 14 really gave us a lot of practice. She said goodbye to me and Martha and asked to have a few minutes alone with her sister. Peachie swore she wouldn’t cry. She did.

I was doing okay Sunday until when I passed by her empty room. Tears welling. Then I went grocery shopping. I kept reaching for things - Beanies’ favorite cereal, her favorite cookies, etc. Yep, started to lose it. Later L and K came back to our house with ice cream to cheer us up. I forget we are not the only ones who will miss her.

Beanie is having is having fun. She went to her first frat party Saturday night. We skyped her last night and she had 10 people in her (very tiny) room. I have no doubt that she will totally enjoy her college experience.

Today the pool needs to be vacuumed. Crap, that was Beanie’s job. I guess its mine now.

Yep. I am going to miss her.

Friday, August 27, 2010


If you are anywhere near the northeastern US on Saturday, and hear the faint sounds of weeping and wailing somewhere in the distance, that would be me. I will be leaving my first born daughter at college for the first time. Name any human emotion - and I am feeling it. Fear. Yep. Jealousy. Yep. Love. Oh yeah. Anger. Only at the fact that she didn’t stay 4 years old forever. Pride. Overflowing. Sadness. Oh yes, deep sadness, I will miss her terribly. How do mothers do this?

Also on Saturday - the USA will be playing undefeated England in the Women’s Rugby World Cup for bragging rights and a tie for top spot in Pool B. I have a bet (food, of course) with Haizey on this one, who will actually be at the game (she is one lucky woman). So, if you live on this side on the pond, I expect to hear you cheering.

Don't you wish you were there . . .

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Conversations with my Daughter

Going out last night, I tried on a pair of pants that had been too tight for awhile. But I have lost about 7 pounds so I thought I would try them again. I put them on and went into Beanie’s (18) room to get her opinion -

Me: Be honest, are these pants too tight?

Beanie: Do you want the kid answer or the mom answer?

Me: Give me the mom answer.

Beanie: The pants are fine.

Me: Okay, give my the kid answer.

Beanie: Those pants make your ass look hot.

How am I ever going to let this treasure of a child go away to college?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


1. What's your favorite Dr. Seuss book?
Green Eggs and Ham

2. If you could live in any home on a television series, what would it be?
I really don’t watch much television but now if I’m home, I will watch Modern Family. I would like to live with Cam and Mitchell. Well, maybe just with Cam.

3. What's the longest you've gone without sleep?
Twenty four-plus hours. College and babies do that to you.

4. What's your favorite Barry Manilow song?
Not a fan at all but if I had to choose - Ready to take a chance again - as it nicely captures a point in my life when I chose to let myself be happy again.

5. Who's your favorite Muppet?
Sesame Street: Elmo
Non-Sesame Street: Rizzo the Rat and Bean Bunny

6. What's the habit you're proudest of breaking?

7. What's your favorite website?
The web cam from the beach where I grew up. I usually have it minimized in the corner of my computer so I can watch the beach all day long.

8. What's your favorite school supply?
Sticky notes

9. Who's your favorite TV attorney?
Again, I don’t watch much TV.

10. What was your most recent trip of more than 50 miles?
Boston - Took my daughter for a college visit.

11. What's the best bargain you've ever found at a garage sale or junk shop?
A first edition, gold leaf copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning poems. 25 cents.

12. Where were you on September 11, 2001?
At work. The fire guys have a tv in their office and I watched events unfold from there. One man, knowing I am from NY, quietly reached out and held my hand. When the first tower came down, I went home to start checking on family who live and work in Manhattan. All my family was safe but a close friend of ours lost her brother.

13. What's your favorite tree?
Hard to choose. We have a beautiful dogwood in the backyard that puts on quite a show of white flowers in June and then red berries in fall.

14. What's the most interesting biography you've read?
I really enjoyed John Adams: A Life.

15. What do you order when you eat Chinese food?
Some kind of garlic shrimp and fried rice.

16. What's the best costume you've ever worn?
My girls had a halloween, mystery dinner and I dressed (and served) as a butler.

17. What's your least favorite word?

18. If you had to be named after one of the 50 states, which would it be?
Maine. I’m kind of used to one syllable names.

19. Who's your favorite bear?
Winnie the Pooh and of course my youngest daughter who we always called Peachie Bear.

20. Describe something that's happened to you for which you have no explanation.
Threatened to be kicked out of church.

21. If you could travel anywhere in Africa, where would it be?
Egypt. I would love to see the pyramids.

22. What did you have for lunch yesterday?
Toast with humus and a pear. (Yep still on the diet)

23. Where do you go for advice?
Depends on the problem. Mostly my mom for family or household stuff. Friends for most everything else.

24. Which do you use more often, the dictionary or the thesaurus?
The dictionary.

25. Have you ever been snorkeling? Scuba diving?
Snorkeling, yes. Scuba diving, no.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


When you look at me, am I incomplete?
Am I missing something everybody else can clearly see?
when you look at me...
- Sarah Bettens, Grey

Much of my therapy lately has centered around my ever growing awareness of being incomplete.

For many, many years I thought that people looking at my life would be envious. A have a very satisfying career, a long term relationship with a woman who loves me, two beautiful and accomplished daughters, a warm and loving home, great friends. I have it all.

Yet I have always known, somewhere deep down, that this is a house of cards - a very shaky structure that remains upright only by balance and friction. And once things are out of balance, the whole thing collapses.

It was with this knowledge that I put myself back in therapy. I wanted my life to be built on a better foundation, one that could not be easily knocked down by one rape trigger, one insensitive comment, one memory, or any other external incident that would often throw me back into that hole or have debilitating effects on those who care most about me.

Using this analogy, my therapist assured me that we would take apart the structure and rebuild it, stronger and healthier. She did not give me any false illusions that it would be easy or without hazards. She told me we would have to break it all apart, painfully, look at each card, every memory, every response, determine whether it was worth keeping or can and should be discarded. Ugly and scarred cards that could not be discarded would have to find a way to fit in better, supported by beautiful and healthy cards. And when it was all back together, my life would be stronger and better able to withstand the assault of outside influences and my own destructive patterns.

I am now in the midst of the hardest therapy stuff I have ever encountered. Partly because my house, my self, all those parts that I have always clung to, have been scattered to the wind and I am desperately running around trying to pick them up (still wanting to cling to things even though I know some of them to be unhealthy). But mostly what is hard is the realization that things have been stolen from me that are necessary for a truly healthy foundation. Gone forever. Things I can’t even name, but I know they are missing. And no matter how many times I tear it down and try to build it back up, I will always be missing pieces that are essential.

I do not mean for this to be a morose post. It is not my mood or my intention at all. It is just me, grappling with a new revelation, a clearer understanding of my brokenness. For many, many years I have tried to convince myself that I was whole again. Now I see that I will never can or will be. And I am trying to come to terms with what that means for me.

When you look at me, am I incomplete?
Am I missing something everybody else can clearly see?
when you look at me...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Weekend Recap

I am just coming off a 5 day visit with the women of my family at our lake house. We have been doing this for the last 5 years and I think this was the best visit ever. I noticed some changes as we have all gotten older:

- Now that my daughters are older, their relationship with their older cousin has gotten closer. The three of them had their heads together most of the weekend, giggling, telling secrets, driving into town to do some shopping.

- I asked my niece to drop the “aunt” and just use my first name. She is now more of a friend than just my sister’s daughter. I like it.

- Now that everyone knows their way around the house and the town, I didn’t have to do a thing. Everyone took care of their own needs, got their own drinks, towels, etc. When Peachie had to come back home for a sport’s meeting, she drove herself there and back. I really didn’t have to do a thing all weekend.

And some things never change:

- My sister showed up stating that we were going to do a triathlon everyday - walk around the lake, kayak and swim. Not quite. We accomplished more of a daily uniathlon. Just like every year.

- I still have to suffer through the jibes of an older sister - when I brought a plate of english muffins out for breakfast - “I see your cooking skills have improved - now you can actually toast them”

- and the probing of my mom - Have you found a church yet? No. Are you ever going to finish that PhD? No, I don’t think so. (Why, no matter how old I get, do I often feel like an inept little girl in my mother’s eyes? )

And every night when we went to bed, she would tuck the covers around me - sweet dreams baby girl. You too mom. Don’t forget to say your prayers. Yes ma’am. (And sometimes it feels so good to be that little girl)

This weekend I am going on a short backpacking trip, just one night. I can’t believe it is already mid August and this will be my first trip into the Adirondacks. Where has the summer gone? We are going to one of my favorite places - a less than 5 mile hike to a beautiful mountain lake that has a sandy beach. I can pack light and detox from family and junk food. I will spend the weekend watching peregrine falcons and go skinny dipping under the stars.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Women’s Weekend

From Sunday to Wednesday the women of my family will all be coming up to our lake house for our annual get together. Me, Martha, our daughters, my mom, my sister, and her daughter. My sister loves this weekend because she doesn’t have to wear underwear or makeup or cook. This, of course, is my life all the time so it doesn’t seem as out of the ordinary to me as it does to her.

What I love is that the three generations really get to talk to each other. Not like the holiday visits where the host is always in the kitchen, and everyone else trying to help, and the conversation barely touches the surface - How ya doing?, How’s the job? Eat dessert and its time to go.

For four days we will eat fudge for breakfast (under my mother’s disapproving eye). Every morning my sister and I will take a long walk around the lake (to work off the fudge) and chat about the meaningful (and less) things in our lives. The girls will play cards and checkers with their grandmother. My daughters and my niece will take the kayaks out for hours and share their secrets together. My mom and I will sit in our adirondack chairs, sipping our afternoon tea, and talk about the mysteries of life while watching the ducks swim around the lake and neighbors wave as they sail past. Every evening we will give in, put some real clothes on, and go into town for dinner, because, of course, I do not cook. And my sister will take my girls around town to do some shopping. We will come home, and toast marshmallows under a star filled sky and then watch chic flicks - traditionally Mean Girls and at least one Audrey Hepburn movie. And my mom and I will sleep in the same bed and tuck each other in at night.

It is one of my favorite weekends of the year.

A few pictures of my hard work last week -

I am so looking forward to some relaxing time . . .

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Report Card

Probably the biggest thing my father taught me was the value of education. He did not have a chance to go to college when he was young as he was his mother’s sole support. I watched him earn his degree part time while working full time and supporting three kids. A man who grew up poor, he would always say “education is the one thing they cannot take away from you”.

I tried to instill the same sense in my daughters. They knew that school was their top priority and in order to have other privileges or play sports, the school work had to come first. And they have come through with flying colors, and grades.

The other day I was in the attic looking for a storage trunk Beanie wanted to borrow. And in that trunk I found a folder of all my report cards that my father always saved. I sat down, kind of teary thinking of my dad, and started a long walk down school memories.

For some reason I thought I was pretty smart in High School. Apparently not. I failed my French regents? A 79 in physics? Wow, my daughters would have been grounded with those grades. And of course I made the mistake of showing them the report cards and now I have lost some credibility with them. In fact, they are still making fun of me.

My absolute favorite was my kindergarten report card. It is a strange predictor of my life to come. I got an A (almost always) in things like ‘I listen attentively’ , ‘I follow directions’, and “I take turns and share”. Yep, still do.

I got a slow start (N - not yet) in “I am interested in number and reading activities" but quickly caught up. And I am still a slow reader and problem solver. But I get there.

The one thing I never got better at (P - part of the time) is ‘I rest quietly’. Being at rest is still a problem for me.

How sweet to unearth this wonderful snapshot of me years ago. And to realize how as much as things change, they still remain the same..