Tuesday, July 28, 2020

How To Say Goodbye

There isn't much about mask-wearing, religious hand sanitizing, and staying home that I am getting used to. I do love the slower pace and I am so grateful that for the moment, I am not homeschooling my kids. I was only a bit antsy through the last few months, but now that there is another surge of COVID-19 spiking California's numbers, I am feeling some major cabin fever. When I get out on occasion to meet friends outside, I feel better -- almost a sense of normalcy -- but I get home and the feeling fades. When I need to get out of the house, I get excited to gear up to go to Target or Whole Foods, but waiting in line making sure people stay far enough away from me is stressful. Once I get in I have more personal space, but no matter what I do, there is always a moment inside where my mask makes me feel panicky. I can talk myself out of freaking out, but this errand which was, in reality, taken as an escape from being home, suddenly causes me to want to rush right back to what I was escaping. The real world is really tough to navigate right now.

There hasn't been a summer in my life that I can remember that I didn't spend back East. I keep trying different scenarios of how we could get back there for a getaway. I have seen friend's photos with them covered in protection that looks just shy of hazmat suits as they board planes to visit family. I have seen friends renting campers and traveling across the country. That requires a level of knowledge, planning, and money that I am not sure I have. I just can't find a way to travel that I feel comfortable with right now, so I feel stuck.

We have a house in Palm Springs that we rent out for short term rentals. We have had it for almost four years and when we don't have it rented, we use it as our vacation home. We love it there and have created wonderful memories over the years. When the virus first struck, the City of Palm Springs shut down all short-term rentals. All of our income from the house came to a screeching halt. We began bleeding money from both houses since we had to keep them both afloat while our incomes also stopped. We had to put our beloved little desert house on the market.

We didn't get many offers at first and then the City lifted their rental ban. We still had many restrictions on how much we could rent it, but I was hoping we could start building the rentals back up. We gave it a few more weeks to see if it would sell, all while secretly I was hoping any bids that came in would be too low to consider and we could keep the house for ourselves. Then after no offers at all, yesterday a few came in all at once. There was one that came in over asking, and we just can't turn it away. We bought this property as an investment and I went ahead and got emotional about it. I have a hard time saying goodbye to people, places, and things. I am clearly too sentimental about nouns and need to let go a bit more. I am attached and beyond sad to sell this house. I wasn't expecting this to happen and I am processing it pretty slowly. We are heading out today to say goodbye and gather our things. A few months ago saying goodbye to this house in of itself would have been sentimental for me, but losing the one escape from home that I feel safe enough to run to is making the goodbye that much harder. I suddenly feel more locked down than I did before. I realize as we make our way there how much my disappointment is trite in comparison to the losses that others have had as a result of this virus. With that perspective, I am going to enjoy this house a few more days and do my best to focus on how well it has served us.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020


One of the hardest lessons that my husband and I keep trying to teach our children is learning to roll with it. Dealing with disappointment. Changing expectations and learning to pivot. It's not an easy lesson to learn and not one I have mastered yet myself. It is an important life skill and one that I need to get better at modeling for them. Both my kids have a ways to go in this department. There are sometimes hours lost in a day to sulking, but I am not giving up hope. When I think about how far I myself have come, I'm optimistic.

In New York, at least in my family, every time someone loses keys, or can't find an item at the store that was just there last week, or misses an important phone call, the reaction is far from zen. Let's just say, the reactions are loud, irritated and often decorated with profanities. When my husband and I started dating, I witnessed quickly how opposite his reactions to mine were. We had concert tickets to see one of his favorite bands and the tickets were meant to be delivered to my apartment. I wasn't home when the delivery was made so the tickets were left with my neigbor. It took a series of phone calls to track down where the were left and by the time we found them, we only had a half an hour before the concert started. I called my neighbor asking if I could pick them up, but the problem was he was out for the night. I was so annoyed and disappointed about missing the concert. My husband however, just suggested we go out to dinner instead. I was upset for him. I didn't even know the band, but he loved them and was looking forward to going. How could he just move on to dinner? He should have been upset, and since he wasn't I took it all on.

I realize we all react to disappointment differently, partly because of what we were taught, but also partly because of hard wiring. I have, over time, relaxed in my reactions to having to go with the flow. I don't kick and scream, but I do often feel a wave of anger and sadness lift momentarily before having to take a deep breath, to tame the beast. In the last few days, I have seen my daughter walk out of the room annoyed that I said no to some sort of dessert, or I have seen my son cross his arms and shut down to having been denied my attention at the exact moment he demanded it. Both of their feelings are valid, but how long they are willing to stay upset is what we are working on now.

Never has there been a greater lesson in learning to pivot then dealing with a pandemic. Every aspect of our lives changed practically over night. Every single one of us has had to deal with a sense of mourning of life as we knew it. Birthdays, weddings, schools, camps, performances, projects and presentations all had to be rescheduled or changed to fit a computer screen. It is yet to be seen what the long term effects of being socially distanced this long will have. We have all had to be creative to keep our connections to people. There is a time for crying about this all, and I know I have shed a few tears myself, but rolling with it, is accepting it, and I have, at least for now. Hopefully, within a year or two, a vaccine will prove to diminish the risks of this virus. In the meantime, we have a lot of time to hone our pivoting skills.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Glimmers Of Hope

We are in it! Not a single person will forget what happened in the year 2020. At what seemed like lightning speed, we were all living with the threat of a deadly virus and with a mandatory lockdown. Schools, parks, businesses, beaches and pretty much every place but the grocery store were shut down in that jarring week back in mid May. What first seemed like a temporary situation, one that we could ride out with some down time, crafts and baking, turned into weeks, then months. As we all tried to adjust to our mood changes in this current situation, we watched as over and over again, the racism in this country rears its ugly head. This time, at least the world was paying attention.

In a time when all our emotions were already on edge, many of us collectively cried out at the injustices facing black lives daily in America. The murder of George Floyd pushed the world over the edge, but he is one of way too many black lives killed at the hands of ignorant whites. Many of us took to the streets in protest, which needed to happen and still needs to happen, in order for people to remember that we cannot let racism slip by like any other trending news story. The reality and gravity of the desperate need for change in this country has kicked up some dirt on some long buried nightmares. Young black people whose names and stories we never heard of are finally rising to the surface. Cases against criminals who walked free for murdering black lives are getting seen now for the first time ever. Families, who quietly buried sons, daughters, fathers, and brothers are getting to mourn for the first time with some hope for justice. The road is so long and there are so many years lost for blacks lives being pushed down that it feels impossible for them to catch up. In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, some people respond by saying "All lives matter." No one is saying they don't but if there is one person in a crowd bleeding and I give everyone bandages, those bandages are unused to the person who is bleeding. Black lives are bleeding. Literally. Thankfully, some of us are trying to stop the wounds. It is way overdue, but I am just a bit more hopeful now that people seem to be paying attention. We cannot let our eyes close to this anymore.

Covid 19 is still very much a real issue. Numbers are soaring, especially here in California. So much of the country opened up prematurely and it is showing in the rise in rates of people infected. The numbers are high, but there is some good news in the declining numbers of deaths. The death rate was predicted to be worse than it is right now. Evidence is showing that many people that are getting the virus are getting mild to no symptoms. Some people are testing positive for antibodies without even knowing they had the virus. That means that we are growing some version of herd immunity. There are of course risks and dangers to the unknown turns this tricky virus is taking. For example, blood clots, and side effects caused by an overtaxed immune system. We know that for anyone immune compromised, or elderly, this is a life or death situation, but there is hope for many that it is not as terrifying as we once thought.

On a personal level, I see such a change in the energy in my home since school is out.  For the time being I see a glimmer of hope when we get out of the house. I feel it when I exercise, when I eat a great meal, when my family finds creative ways to see people I haven't seen since the lockdown began. I feel hopeful when I read a great book, when I watch a great show, when I learn something new. I feel hopeful when I hug my husband and my children. I feel hopeful when I am having a hard time with all of this and I realize I am not alone. There is a lot of hope out there. It might take longer to get through this than we originally thought, but we will, and when I don't feel as hopeful -- and there are plenty of times I don't -- I will take those family hugs and hold on a bit longer.

Monday, July 6, 2020


So many changes this year, between entering middle school, navigating new teachers, making new friends, losing some old ones and then having to adjust to lockdown living during a global pandemic. My girl, is not quite little anymore and not quite a teen yet, but walking a tightrope between both those worlds. It is a challenge managing the feelings that come with being still a kid, but also getting more mature. It is hard for her to navigate the pull between wanting to be carefree and silly, or caring about how she is perceived by others. We just recently went through her clothes to make room for some new ones and the growth spurt she had this year seems to be more drastic than any other time in her life. All her pants are too short, her torso seems to have stretched, none of her shoes fit and she is rapidly catching up to me in height.  We went out the other day and I noticed she was wearing my shirt. This was a first and as hard it as it was to see my baby fitting into some of my clothes, I was also flattered that she likes my style enough to wear them.

She has always been expressive and outspoken, but this year she has honed those skills even more. She can be pretty convincing when she wants something. She does her research, states her claims and maps out why we should consider her argument. She already talks about when she can be on the debate team one day, when she goes to high school. She learned how to write a persuasive essay in second or third grade and never looked back. Today for her birthday we made our third trip to a barn to gather information before we brought home two baby chicks. Pip and Poppy have now evicted us out of our downstairs bathroom and have made themselves at home under the new heating lamp set-up just for them. Before we agreed to any of this, she had to find a place for them to go once they got bigger. She thoroughly studied all possible issues and answered any questions we had with a reasonable solution.

I am truly in awe of my daughter. She is bright, talented, sweet and kind. This time in her life is filled with the challenge of balancing getting older, being more independent while also being young enough to play with her brother, giggle like crazy, and still whine sometimes. Every single one of us is navigating this new, weird normal we are in. It is impossible not to feel overwhelmed or upset by it from time to time. I'm sorry any of us have to experience living through this, but I am especially sad for all of our children who need other children. I see a light turned on in my two when we do something social with their friends. We are doing everything we can to keep them healthy and safe right now, but we can't neglect how healthy it is to have them social as well. In the last few weeks, Covid and all, we have been giving our daughter a bit more independence with one of her friends. They ride their bikes to go have lunch in the park together, or even buy a snack on their own. They take small backpacks, with some money and hand sanitizer with them. As cautious as I was the first time I let her go, I knew she was also ready. Showing her that we trust her and allowing her to have an outing like this, has been really great for her and for us. She knows the rules about bike safety and she is with her friend so they both feel safer together.

When I used to think about having a daughter one day, I promised myself that I would make sure to build up her confidence when she became a teenager. The one thing about my own coming of age period is that I came out of it shakier than how I went it to it. I seemed to have lost a lot of self esteem by the time I got to my twenties. I didn't speak up to men when I should have and as a result I ended up feeling less of myself. I committed to this daughter that I hoped to have one day, that I would remind her often of her self worth. I would teach her to respect herself, and shout, scream and cry from the top of a building when anyone mistreats her. So here we are now, on the cusp of the teenage years and I am paying attention. This week as if right on cue, she came to me upset after comparing herself to the size of her friends. She is not a tall girl, she can thank me for that, and she is smaller than most of her friends. She is beginning to go through some changes physically, but not at the same speed of her friends and she is aware of that. She looks younger than she is, so she is often mistaken for being in fourth or fifth grade, which can hurt when trying to be perceived as more mature these days.

As I think about how her identity is changing now, I can't help but to reflect on how she has changed mine. Twelve years ago, my husband drove me down to the hospital through the streets of LA, it felt like the longest, most uncomfortable car ride I ever took. I knew we were heading for something scary, monumental and wonderful that Sunday afternoon, but I didn't realize that the next time I would enter the world again, I would be an entirely different person.

From the moment I held you, I loved you in a way I hadn't felt love before. I became a mother that day and when I laid eyes on you the first time, I didn't know your gender, or your name, but I marveled at this tiny human that I grew. I am so grateful that baby turned into the wonder that you are. You continue to change and grow in the most beautiful ways and I promise to let you know how wonderful you are, even if it might embarrass you now and again. Happy twelfth birthday!!