Chapter XVII

because you never know someone from the very beginning


May 2013

A Few Lessons From Mom

It was Mother’s Day this past weekend – uhoh you forgot! Well, it’s always a good time to thank your mother. And in doing so, take a little time to jot down what you’ve learned from your mother. Here is my list (really, the tip of the iceberg).

  • Always start with a sensible haircut.
  • You can (almost) always get away with black shoes.
  • As you age, you are even more capable of trying new things.
  • When in doubt, balance your checkbook.
  • When frantic, clean and organize a drawer.
  • When hungry and tired, roast a chicken.
  • Take detailed notes when dealing with any doctors or nurses. You can hold them accountable and YOU need to know the details.
  • If you have the luxury to plan a funeral in advance of needing the plans, do it. It’s far better to have a plan you can just say “Go!” to than to have to formulate plans when dealing with the shock of death.
  • You are never too old to attend a wedding in Vegas.
  • Always assume today may be your last day but that you should care for your body and soul assuming you might live forever.
  • Sometimes friends are mean. And you need to be able to move away from them.
  • Build your own resources and capabilities. Never rely solely on someone else for credit, practical knowledge or all of your money.
  • Pick your time to leave and then leave five minutes earlier. Being on time and avoiding inevitable delays causes more stress than it’s worth.
  • Expect your kids to do well. Expect them to act right and make good choices. Use this as a guiding light when raising them.
  • Don’t be fussy.
  • Less is more.
  • Good humor is of the utmost importance – in general, AND in the form of ice cream bars in your freezer.

You’ve gotta love a mom who prioritizes ice cream as a great elixir.

What a great mom I have 🙂

Let Me Eat Cake

I have a love hate relationship with my birthday. What a cliché. It’s not that I am all torn up about getting older. I still feel pretty young but with a relatively solid sense of self (usually). I like cake. I love seeing friends and hearing from people. But no matter what I do, there is a part of me every year that is tempted to stay at home. By myself. In bed. Watching movies and taking naps. Let’s start again on May 4th.

It’s the nostalgia. That’s what it is. On a normal day I am present with work, family, friends. But on a birthday you are reminded of everywhere you have been, everything you have done, everyone you’ve met. You hear from a lot of people. For me that is a bumpy ride. I start with feeling the tussle of wanting more time to see people who mean a lot to me. And then I am transported to Hyattsville, Scarsdale, Greenbelt, Georgetown, London, New York City, Boston. Even Sodus. It’s a marker. I have trouble thinking about many of these places (people) and not becoming deeply emotional. It’s too much.

I tend to get very emotional. And quiet. How am I 41? How am I a college graduate? Better yet, how do I have an MBA earned many years ago at this point? Two kids, two cats and a house? Oh forget it. We own a car, for Christ’s sake. How does that even happen? I am old enough to have taken bike trips around Europe by myself. We make arrangements for schooling…for our five year old. I shop for my own groceries and my mom has no involvement in scheduling my dentist appointments. My little sister has a job, and a house and drives a minivan. My father is gone and has been for almost five years.

It doesn’t help that I work with a lot of young people. When I mention Depeche Mode half my office thinks I am talking about a flavor of ice cream.

How did this happen.

I miss parents on my birthday. I still have one. But what I mean is I miss the parents who decorated the dining room with streamers and sang happy birthday after giving me a ten-speed bike.

I miss being little.

I like where I am – I do – but on birthdays I miss being a kid. Maybe that’s what it is. Maybe that is why birthdays are quiet for me. I feel ungrounded. I am out of control and I am amazed at what is behind me.

I need to turn present and forward. Birthdays though – they tug me backwards. All of a sudden I have a desire to read everything Joan Didion has written.

Maybe that is why you get flaming cake on birthdays. Take too long to be in the moment – linger too long in the past – and your whole cake melts away.

I hope it’s chocolate 🙂

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