March 10, 2016
Last night I had the pleasure of celebrating my mom’s birthday with a good friend who I admire as both a creative and an entrepreneur. We went to see Neal Brennan’s show 3 Mics in Noho. The comedian went to each different mic to share emotional stories, stand up and one liners. As a creative person who has not been exercising her muscle, I found myself laughing and nodding in agreement throughout the bits.
Neal talked about his critical and nasty father who admitted that he did not really love him and specifically omitted him from his will. His dad apparently tried to control his children with money. On his death bed, his father called him to his side trying to get him to plea to be reinstated in the will. What a shmuck. To spend his final moments with his son trying in a messed up power play versus sharing a sweet memory is a complete waste.
It made me realize that for all of my dad’s nonsense and controlling techniques, he was not such a bad guy. On his deathbed, my dad made jokes and celebrated his family. He never missed an opportunity to tell me he loved me or how proud he was to be my father. Yes, he tried to control me with his money both when he was alive and, as my mom promised, from the grave. While he told us one thing and his will said another, my siblings and I are treated equally, making for a united front that has only brought us closer together.
Brennan talked about the vulnerability of doing stand-up as opposed to being creative with another person whom he could hide behind. Somehow the security blanket of having a celebrity beside you gave him courage and now in an effort to live more fully he is branching out on his own. His dad’s narcissism and his desire for approval influenced his work. I remember writing spec scripts and sharing them with my dad, then being disappointed when he did not find time to read them.
We should all be so lucky to lose our parents. It’s the right cycle of life. And when it happens, there is a sense of liberation. I see how my brother has been able to thrive without the shadow of my dad following him. His wife commented on how it was not until my dad’s final year of his life that my brother garnered enough courage to say no directly to my dad. No hiding or evading or stretching the truth as to why he would not be at his beckon call. He regrets not being able to do that sooner. Personally, I credit my husband with helping me stand up to my parents and not be so dependent on their approval.
All of this on what would have been my mothers 68th birthday. I know she would have been pleased that I went out spontaneously to see a great show. More importantly she must be so pleased that my brother sister and I have all broken free from any chains she or my dad may have held.
September 17, 2015
On a hot Wednesday in Soho I was looking to dock my bike sharing Citibike when I came upon the West Broadway station. The rack, on the opposite side of the street looked full though it was hard to tell as a non-descript van was parked in front and the a swarm of people crowded the street.
I disembarked and crossed the street. As I did, three men dressed in black with ski masks and guns stormed the jewelry store in front of the docking station. Before deciding to fight or flight, or rather where I should flee, I zoomed out. In that white van which I had barely registered was another driver dressed in black with a ski mask. During traumatic events the brain absorbs more details which is why it feels like time is moving slowly, and in those split seconds I debated whether to ditch the Citibike or run on foot. I further zoomed out and saw that all of the bystanders were simply standing. In fact one was waving me to move along. Then I noticed the cameras and production crew filming a scene from Blue Bloods.
Upon sharing this story I have had several reactions: my sister who lives in Colombia gasped with each detail that emerged. My stepfather a New Yorker for thirty plus years guessed the film crew. A friend that evening could not believe this had taken places merely hours before and it was not the first thing I had shared that evening.
I have not seen the show so I cannot attest to how realistic it screens but I can promise you being caught in the set I experienced genuine fear.
August 17, 2015
The pendulum of children’s moods swings far and fast. A child can be completely content making up song lyrics and the next devastated and inconsolable because you drove past a McDonald’s without stopping.
My therapist reminds me the children’s job is to push and push and push. Testing boundaries is inherent in their nature. As a parent I am supposed to remain still and stern. A concrete wall which does not crumble. And yet.
My kids wear me down, can break my spirit and completely exasperate any sliver of energy. And yet.
They can also delight, entertain and surprise me with their incredible insight. I enjoy my children. When we laugh together I try to perpetuate it. Joy is laughing with a child. True joy is laughing with your children.
I lose my cool with the kids, more often than I would like. Since nobody enjoys losing one’s cool, no amount is pleasurable.
The other night, a mom who’s energy, enthusiasm and dedication to her children I admire told me I was an excellent mom. This is the same mother whose home I I have been trying to send my son for a sleepover to have a little break. What makes a mom excellent?
As with anything, there is always room for improvement. Perhaps wanting to improve as a parent is a sign of a good one. I began reflecting on what I do with my kids, and it is plenty. And yet. There is plenty I do not do. I am fortunate enough to create a balance where I am able to be with my children and still have an identity distinct from mother and wife which helps me appreciate my many roles. A happy mother is a good mother.
While my 6 and 8 year old were assembling Legos this evening, I asked how each would rate me on a scale of 1-10. My oldest nearly said 10 and while she was thinking about it, my son said 10. Then my daughter said about a billion.
July 17, 2015
My views on religion began in Sunday school and were fed to me. Over the years and through so many communities I now must decide how I will incorporate Judaism into my children’s lives.
I want temple to be something they enjoy and not begrudge attending, as I did. I was raised that Orthodox Judaism is the ideal and everything else was less than, a diluted version of the religion. It took Judith Plaskow a Jewish Feminist scholar to in a college seminar that many sects of the religion think differently. Piety is not everyone’s goal.
Judaism is unique in that it is as much a religion as it is a culture and identity. I want my children to embrace their identity and know their roots. Our ancestors were slaves. We were ridiculed, exiled and slaughtered for our beliefs. If not for the grace of G-d we too could endure this. We should learn what it is that our forefathers fought to observe.
It should be a blessing and a pleasure to remember our fortune and celebrate our heritage.
I hope my children can embrace this.
October 3, 2014
I hate wasting. It’s only recently that I stopped saving soap the scraps.
I’m trying not to eat my kids uneaten macaroni and cheese. It’s okay to throw this out.
It’s one of my indulgences; I am fortunate enough to not *need* to save a quarter glass of Tropicana.
Times are good. I recently splurged on a new pair of pajamas via NordstromRack.com. Why pay retail? Why leave home?
Thus, time to bid farewell to an older pair of sleepwear. Would someone, somewhere want a four year old pair of NordstromRack.com hand me downs? Perhaps the a village in Tibetan deconstruct the clothing to weave elaborate blankets sold by Richard Gere.
Is it insulting to offer them to my nanny?
One of the reasons I let the previous nanny go was because she did not receive hand me downs. My daughter has beautiful clothing she’s outgrown? I am involved in my community. Her predecessor smiled and thanked me for giving her that sliver of soap.
So I lump in a pile with my very mildly stained Diane Von Furstenburg sweater, a ratty jog bra and my kids underwear.
material could be recylced into blankets for
October 1, 2014
Women still earn less than men for the same job. A NY Times article highlights the pay disparity is not because women choose fields that pay less. Perhaps it is the expectation that women will leave the work force once they have a child and therefore it does not make economical sense to invest in them. Or as Sheryl Sandberg reminds us, women are less likely to negotiate as aggressively for raises and perks.
A graduate of a women’s college, I was taught that these differences should not exist nor be tolerated. In several of my business dealings, older male colleagues have patronized me. One restauranteur put his arm around me and reminded me that he has been in the business for over twenty years and he knows what he is doing. And yet the plumber tells me what he is doing is not sufficient given the tender age of the building and its plumbing equipment. I smile and nod, let out some comment that he will have to cope with the ramifications should the mechanics backfire because of neglect.
Is this what the owner, a man old enough to be my grandfather – or at least Great Uncle, needs to say to maintain his ego. My mom would say let it slide. The younger me would not; perhaps I’d equate his condescending tone with a polite tap on my ass or reference to an equally inappropriate irrelevant issue. The current me agrees with my mom. No need to engage in a fruitless contentious discussion. And the best revenge, I communicate directly with his son, the real owner of the business.
In these situations, I may let some comments slide, but I continue to stand my ground, channel my mom and be a strong business woman who is not intimidated by male colleagues. Amy Cuddy advises striking a power pose to fake it til you make it. And so I try. I pretend. And I refuse to be a statistic.
September 30, 2014
I just finished reading I’m Having So Much Fun Without You about a husband whose wife discovers he had been cheating for seven months.
Spoiler Alert: The mistress leaves to get married and his wife leaves him.
He does not so much regret the affair as he does his wife discovering it. Both he and the mistress loved engaging in this fantasy parallel life that does not involve taking out the garbage.
To have the fantasy is okay; to act on it and jeopardize everything is not worth it.
Since a recent surgery kept me barely mobile for two weeks and then tack on another week of healing, Hubby and I have been on a sexual hiatus. During this time he went to Los Angeles for two nights. If I’m aware how long it has been, my able bodied husband must be feeling the void.
What if, what if he went to Los Angeles and had sought physical satisfaction elsewhere? It would not mean anything, just that he was horny and he seized an opportunity. I would not want to know. I cannot imagine my husband doing it but if for some super stupid reason he was tempted with a brief escape, I do not think it would enhance our relationship in any way if I knew. It would only hurt both of us more.
A New York Magazine article I had read a decade ago mentioned a couple who stayed together after a dalliance and when they would fight, however many years later, the scorned partner would remind the other of the affair. It never goes away.
And how could one night, weekend, month of pleasure via a deceptive escape be worth the future of your family.
Personally, I’ll find other indulgences