We’ve Been In Lock-Down All Day

The Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect 2 has been Arrested.

My emotions are so mixed that I’m in a really weird state. But most of us are after this surreal day in our normally fairly peaceful city.

I never thought that I would experience a day like today, where Boston was kept closed and people asked to stay home from morning til tonight. Businesses, public transit, sports events and streets were cancelled and closed until the bombing suspect could be apprehended. Thousands of law enforcement officials spent the day scouring parts of Boston for the 19 year old suspect, after his brother, suspect 1, was killed last night. 

Thank you, Law Officers, for your efforts and the seriousness with which you took this situation. It could have ended so much worse, with more loss of life. I’m so glad that the man hunt is over. I’m so  relieved that this person was caught and caught alive for questioning.

The more I hear about him the more I am shocked by the choices he made to pretty much end his life. His life is over, his path is cut. Why? What a waste in so many ways.

On the bright side, Boston showed what a city can be like that is united, strong, and caring and generous. I’m usually glad that I live here and now I’m more glad.

 

 

Diary of a Messy Writer

Was there ever a writer writing within a neat house?

Was there ever a writer who looked over their screen or typewriter or notebook onto a smooth expanse of wooden floor that gleamed freshly mopped? I imagine that expanse of floor easy to test for cleanliness because it is free from toys and shoes, bags and bins of laundry. That floor contains only the furniture it needs and fresh, fluffy rugs. I imagine all surfaces dustless, which is easy to see because there are no items plopped there and forgotten; no piles of unfolded clothes, no stacks of magazines that are half folded back to the articles that were read and halted midway.

There are no backpacks slumping full of stuff that has to be sorted and emptied. There are no matchless gloves waiting to find their mates, no Lego squares swiped from the corners they fell into, and definitely no cards from holidays months past that still haven’t been put away.

No. That writer looks out over thriving plants still sparkling with the dew of their watering. That writer can enjoy the view to their backyard through clear, fingerprintless glass.  There are no dishes blocking the sink and no laundry piled almost to the ceiling. That writer has found a way to meet and enlist the aid of the writer fairy. The one that those in the know pray to exchange the dirty sock they leave beneath their pillow for an overnight zing of a cleanup. I’ve heard tell of such a fairy, but remain skeptical about making such a pact. Are all fairies good, as we tell our children? Or are there some who’ve fallen from grace, looking to make a bargain? So far I’ve resisted finding out.

Instead, I communicate to the world over my laptop that needs a dusting and a good wash cloth. (New yellow sticky: Clean laptop!) I look out over rooms that no one on a good day who loves me to bits could call clean. My husband insists that we are clean, that is, not dirty. Ok, but why doesn’t that distinction comfort me?

I can choose a small hideaway to close off the clutter. Or I can brave the airy main room that affords a panorama of every jumbled and messy pile. Either way, the collective muddle calls out: ha ha! We’re staying another day!

I’m not one of those ostrich types who can pretend it’s not there—the tissues my daughter threw on the floor crumpled into delicate balls after a night of sneezing, the kitchen floor on which I can distinguish at least 3 strange colors, the table I promised myself I would give a good scrub after the latest playdate with markers that didn’t make it onto paper.

You would never guess that I am naturally a very neat person, and that I hate clutter. I even have problems with things out of place. Something as simple as a disorganized room gives me vertigo. I’m a spatial thinker and my mental picture of my home is something that is ready for a photo spread in Architectural Digest. I’m a designer and I could create that space.

But alas I don’t. Not when I’m writing, that is, and since I want to write more than I want to do anything, I have learned to put showroom quality—or any quality above ‘not dirty’—away. It’s not easy. My second most happy thing to do is design. But I’ve got to adhere to priorities or I have learned that I turn into a semi-happy and often depressed designer who can’t find time to write.

Right now I’m settling for a happy most days writer with a pinch of weekly clutter anxiety. Top of list when I become successful is a cleaning person who can do all the things a writer fairy does, minus any suspicious pacts.

Right now I trade being a clean and frustrated writer for a messy and actually writing writer. If you are a clean writer with kids, all I can say is WOW. Excuse me while I close my jaw.

Right now, like most of us writers writing out there, I’m just winging it. I’m a five minute sort here, a ten minute scrub down there kind of person. A 10 at night food shop and 11 pm making lunch for the next day kind of person. A water the plants with bathwater kind of person. A try not to trip over the recycling and not put away boots kind of person. A filling up pages with thoughts and stories and dreams kind of person.

Here’s a great list I’m inspired by

25 ways to be a Happy Writer

My Sisters – A Valentine

All counted, I have nine sisters in my family. My two closest and dearest sisters are Marissa, my blood sister and Tara, my life sister. Both sisters augment my existence in very different ways and both sisters are essential to my daily happiness. I don’t want to imagine life without them. I love each of them dearly.

When my little sister was born three years after me I was given the job of looking after her. My mother tells that when Missa was a toddler my mother’s words to me, “Help her” echoed jubilantly in her little ears so that she went around parroting “help her, help her.” I never had a problem with that standard tax on elder sisterhood. We grew up close, sharing most things—a room, clothes, friends—most hours of our sprouting lives. We are undeniably different and I’ve always wondered what she would have been like without me. Without me to define herself against, what would she have defined herself as?

My sister does a lot that I could never do. She’s a nurse’s aide and—I find this harder to imagine—she loves this job. If I tried to be a nurse of any sort, I would leave pools of tears in my wake. She has three kids while I can barely see straight to raise one. That’s bravery and kiss-it-to-the-wind that my logic oriented brain can’t compute. Marissa possesses the thick-skin and steely stubborn genes that evaded me. These same traits can drive me batty even as I admire them.

Differences aside, I would do a lot to keep us close. My family makes the 4 hour drive up to Vermont once a month. I try to assess the patterns of her phone availability, as well as share mine with her. I try (try try) to recognize—before it’s out of my mouth—that my helpful advice in her ears is probably criticism. I take my auntie role to my niece and nephews seriously. If you’re ever up in Vermont and meet a nice, diminutive, black-haired lady named Marissa, you’ll see—my sis is awesome.

When I met Tara twenty years ago we were in many ways babes just hatched into the nest of Emerson College with all the other artsy, Broadway-bound, geeky fuzzy chicks. We thought that because we’d left one parents’ home we were all growed up. When we caught our sage teachers sharing winks behind our backs, we were offended. What we didn’t know was that we were on a course that includes many homes: childhood, college, singleton, decent salary, partnered, with kids to name the doorways most walked through. Yet we were the most dewy-eyed and wet-behind-the-ears as they come. It took my mother many hours, weeks and months of list-making, buying supplies and phone calls for her to handle my leaving home. I thought she was being very Sicilian. Ahhh youth. Now I know different. Now I can see what she saw.

At Emerson we thought ourselves the artiest of the arty; Tara with her shaved head and me in black-rimmed glasses and combat boots. We birthed a women’s art group that gave us opportunities to learn some good lessons. We wavered and circled, and leaned on other friends more. But as the years rolled out, over hills and down valleys and round long bends, we’ve always found a way to meet up in a parking lot or land with bags in hand for a brief, sweet interlude before she falls asleep, because she is the morning person. I’ll be talking and she’ll get that drawn out effect to her words and then she fades.

We’ve worked like blacksmiths hammering out the red gooey blob we began with. We’ve sweat and honed and somewhere during our baby-mama years we realized that we are as sister as sister can be. There is no other word for what we share. When you’ve been through the worst catastrophes and storms and you are on the other side still talking, that’s when you realize nothing can come at you that will break your link. That’s sisterhood. That’s trust.

I’ve also acquired three sisters, who came to me as presents through marriage. There are my husband’s two sisters, who I almost never see. The Foley family is from Dublin and once they got their degrees they scattered to the wind. I have always wished it was different. I’ve always wanted to share more of their lives, but that Atlantic Ocean is wide.

A happier sisterhood is what I share with Lora. Last year my brother married this Oklahoma girl after a couple of years of dating. When I met Lora I had high hopes that she would become another close sister. We met for tea. We share a zillion likes in common. I semi-secretly believe that my brother likes her because, although there are some major differences, she’s a lot like me. However, achieving this idyllic alliance has been more problematic than I bet on. There was the infamous couch incident.

There’s also contrasting lifestyle, which can be easily broken down into: they have a life (aka they have no kids) and we have no life (aka we have a 5 year old). Apparently, rarely the twain shall meet.  Yet, I admire Lora and am thankful that she sees my brother’s awesomeness, even if he never learned to clean. I have hope for Lora as a possible real sister one day; only time and distance from the couch incident will tell.

My last set of sisters hail from very different tribes came to me by that mark of modern life: divorce. When my parents divorced o so long ago they each married again and we gained two new step-families. My mom married an older WASPy dude and my dad married a younger Puerto Rican chica so you might visualize some of the differences. It’s the stuff of a sitcom for sure. Between these blended marriages came my distant sisters Nidia and Jessica, two young girls, and Meg and Erin, of our age group.

I could not imagine more varied sister experiences than with these duos. Yet they are all great women who I’ve been happy to spend a small amount of time with over the years at the odd family gathering big enough to merit their travel from Florida and San Francisco to New England. Basically we see each other at weddings, sashaying in our satin dresses, holding up skirts as we Macarena, clinking champagne glasses and escaping for late nights in diners to play catch up. It’s been wild watching them grow alongside us over the years and comparing notes of progress from teenagers to adults, kids to mothers ourselves. Our connections read like a pack of tarot cards in my head, one for each bi-yearly meeting over the past 20 years.

My sisters—parts of my tribe, submerged and known, cool and affectionate, distant yet sharing the most intimate of connections.

Yet… my sister list is still incomplete. I need to include friends who were sisters to me over the years.  We shared our New Jersey childhood as our area sprang up around us from old farms, fields and dump sites.  Most of our parents were immigrants, one skip away from their New York landings. We shared bathing suited summers at the pool and beach, skeet ball, cotton candy, Sicilian pizza and rollers coasters that Sandy hurled and left in the sea.

We shared bowling and roller skating to Led Zeppelin’s All of My Love and Dire Straits’ Roller-Girl. We pretended we were afraid on Monday dates nights so we could experiment with closeness to the other sex. We played a lot of Pac Man and passed through the sieve of dozens of teachers like awful Mrs. Ledbetter. We tried out for cheerleading although we weren’t friends with anyone on the squad and so of course were not chosen. We admired and feared the learned Dr. Godbold.

We strolled down cobbled Amsterdam streets and splashed our bikes through rivers of puddles. We practiced guttural Gs, and danced and split jars of peanut butter. We shared lofts and dresses and art school and writing groups and umpteen rehearsals. We sold theater tickets and were volunteer ushers. We were adventurous and flirty, young and mischievous, and our dating life generally sucked.

We’ve stayed tried and true. Or our glue dried and our pages pulled apart. But the parts that touched still show signs of where we pressed. There were sisters I met like flash floods; we were together intimate and hourly, until the torrent of our sharing burnt away; the DNA of those cinders is coded with some of the best times of my life.

My sisters, close sisters and blood sisters. Far and distant and lost sisters. The sisters who I ended badly with. The sisters I want to know better and the sisters I’ll never understand. And the sisters yet to come, still waiting farther up along the way. Happy Valentine’s Day. Love to you from my dot on the map, traveling all of the routes to the separate strands of your lives.

–I don’t own any of the photos I’ve taken of sisters from the web. Thanks to the people who took the pictures and posted them on the web.

I like this: Edible Boston

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The Edible Magazines are part of the Edible Communities http://www.ediblecommunities.com. 

These magaziness are published all over the country and my local version is Edible Boston http://edibleboston.com. This publication is one of my favorites. It’s laid out beautifully, with great foodie photos, reams of locavore information, and local food people of every stripe. The focus is on local food, local producers and the local people who make them. Did you get that? In case you didn’t: local.

I find tons of new foods and new places to try here. This is one of those rare magazines where you like to read the ADS. They are a map of prettily wrapped foodie choices in a box. Yum!

The articles run the spectrum of healthy, consciously grown food. If you have any interest in food products that are good for you as well as good for the environment AND the community, this is the magazine for you.

Plus, the secret of healthy food is that, despite lore that it tastes like cardboard, real healthy food is almost always better tasting, juicier, creamier, spicier, moister, richer than industrial complex food. I dare you to try any of the recipes and foodie spots highlighted in Edible Boston–or your Edible version–and see if I’m right or wrong… tell me your outcome if you do take the dare. happy eating! mangia.. eet smaakelijk.

 

 

Almost Unknown

Hel-lo Out there! I know I won’t be read by almost anyone yet as I am just a-starting out fresh. I don’t know much about this brave new world of BLOGGING but I am willing to try it. I plan to go slowly. I do have a lot to say, hopefully helpful to others. I used to be a writer but I’ve been out of the scene for a while and when I used to write, blogging was not on the scene. Not like it is now. So… in short….  we’ll see.

I don’t have a book to review yet, so I’ll just put an open, pristine book up. Hopefully it will fill up.

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