Parenting, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Turning Lemons Into Lemonade

I just got some bad news. As this school vacation comes to a close, I just learned that there is—-yes—another impending vacation, in April! That’s less than two months from now! Y’all, that is downright cruel. I have sat here all week, taking photos on my couch, looking at gorgeous pics of cheer in Florida, Canada, Turks n’ Caicos, and the New Hampshire mountains, and I finally powered through to Sunday! Now, I find out that this same thing is happening in a mere seven weeks? NO! I can’t do it!

But, maybe I can! Maybe this stay-cation has been a real eye-opener for me.

My week hasn’t been bad, actually. In fact, I’ve had fun with my kids doing, well, really nothing. I’ve learned to enjoy some of the simple things, like when the bath water turns purple with a Crayola bath ball. Or, when we bust open an LOL doll and find out that it’s an Ultra Rare one (like Baby Yin, the Ying/Yang little brother).

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I’ve also learned some other interesting things, like heating up grilled NY Sirloin Steak on day two really feels like you’re chewing on a tire and doesn’t taste good, no matter how much A1 you put on it.

I learned that I should not sit down with hot coffee in my hand, unless it has a lid, because the dog will jump up on me and spill scalding java down my leg and stain my cushions, which are now in the washer on “delicate.” I also learned I don’t know what the hell setting to wash cushion covers on.

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I learned I really love the “Love Songs” channel on Pandora, especially that “Once I was 7-years-old” song by Lukas Graham that makes me feel decrepit and like my life is whizzing by.

I also learned that you should try on tank top blouses from Target before purchasing them, because you might just end up with a midriff, something you wouldn’t be caught dead in after two children.

I learned that I might actually be over the show The Bachelor. Like, I might have aged out, and I’m a little startled by this. It’s kind of like a bad breakup, with all the bachelors, really, and Bachelor Nation, because I’ve been with them for almost 20 years. I’m over it.

I learned that you can’t scrape plaque off the inside of your son’s teeth with a fork, and you might have to go to the dentist.

I learned that I need a handyman to come for like fifteen hours and fix the multitude of things that are broken in my house, including the light fixture in my kitchen that I unscrewed to change the bulb, and it broke and now looks like a deadly live wire.

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Vacation was actually quite enlightening I realize now. Perhaps I should look forward to another great life study in April, a mere….seven weeks away!

Uncategorized

When Life is a Ping Pong Match

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I spend an awful amount of time making my next move, jumping ahead, not being present. I’m like a game of Frogger, hopping in and out of lanes, dodging cars. Just this week, I lived in two different cities, scanning Zillow for homes, imagining my new yard, friends, and restaurants I frequent. It’s like a game of ping pong. I ping over to a new imaginary life, then pong back to my actual one, realizing this is where I am, the choices I made, and this is where I have to remain. It’s what’s best for the kids, for me, for now. Until next week.

I think about removing the apps from my phone, the ones that take me to other places in my head. My phone is then naked, devoid of stalling mechanisms. Only the weather app, and the health one  denoted by that cute little pink heart that, when you click on it,  shows how little I’ve moved today from my desk, remain. That heart becomes not so cute anymore. Maybe I should delete that too.

I read articles on the web, about what other people are doing, and I wonder, “Can I do that too?” I go to Wikipedia and trace backwards from someone’s fame, someone’s viral post, to see just how they got there. I “Scooby Doo” it, I say, like when Velma works her way backwards in her explanation of how they found out Mr. Jenkins from the bank was really the ghost of Fox Manor. I unmask these famous people and think about what it would be like if I wore their masks. How can I get there?

I then pong back to my life.

It’s okay I’m not famous, I tell myself. I don’t have to prove myself. I am love-able just the way I am. For now.

I just read a book about how to be healthy and recapture your beauty and inner glow. It’s got all those suggestions about detoxing and eating flax and fish oil and green tea. Green tea tastes gross, and I want a breath mint after the first sip. I drink it anyway. The book said that the secret to living a long, healthy, happy life (really, all I actually want–I think?) is to live simply: get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, don’t engage in too much screen time, don’t eat too much or too little, smell the flowers, blah, blah, blah. It seems utterly impossible. I close the book and return it to the library.

I pong back. Ping. Pong. Ping. Pong.

 

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

You Can’t Deny Who You Are

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“If you can do anything else in the world, do it,” my acting teachers said. They meant as a career choice. Like, if you can not be an actor, if it’s not a part of the fabric of your soul, wherein you are unable to do anything else in the world, then be an actor; otherwise, find something more lucrative and less disappointing to do. It will only make you miserable.

This irked me. It seemed like some sort of challenge, one I wasn’t sure I could match, but which I would damn well try to. Of course I couldn’t do anything else, I’d think. Why the hell else would I spend seven years trying?

But, down deep, in the wee hours, around 3:05 a.m., I wondered…maybe I could.

And here I am, no longer an actor. I get it now. I saw there was a way out and other things I could do for a living. However, what I’ve also learned is that once you’re an artist, whether it be an actor, a writer, a painter, or a musician, you’re always an artist, whether it’s your job or not. It will always be a part of you, an avocation perhaps, instead of a vocation.

I tried to deny my artist when I quit acting. I wanted to be a regular person, whatever that means. Well, no. To me, being regular meant going to work from 9 to 5, coming home to the kids, eventually going to bed, and doing it over again. Oh, and not looking back.

I’m not looking back, because if you look back, you’ll be going that way.

However, I now realize I need to have some sort of art in my life. I need to express myself, I can’t help it. Hence, I write this blog, and I wrote my book.

I remember when I got a new puppy, a hunting dog, I wondered what to do with her, because I didn’t like to hunt. I thought she’d be fine not hunting, despite her giant, capable nose and her magnificent ability to chase. We would take walks in the woods, and she’d play around the house, and I avoided taking her hunting. But, ultimately, the dog found ways to hunt. She’d uproot mouse dens, kill rabbits in the yard, and give any type of critter a run for its money. She couldn’t help herself; it was in her nature.

I read somewhere that not allowing your natural talents to express themselves is like denying an artistic child a set of magic markers. You can choose not to give him the markers, but, when you do, you will see his best self come out. He will make beautiful pictures, and he will be happy.

I’m happy too now, when I’m writing and doing artistic things.

I’ve realized I can be an artist and a “regular” person at the same time!

And, that, as Robert Frost wrote in The Road Not Taken, that has made all the difference. 

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Motivation, Self-Help, Uncategorized

If You Look Back, You’ll Soon Be Going That Way

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I carry a fortune around with me in my wallet, one I got from a cookie at the Chinese restaurant on Christmas Eve. It reads: If you look back, you’ll soon be going that way. Wise words. Living in the rear view mirror is not a good thing, something I often struggle with. It’s like I want to correct what was wrong, rework it, like your brain does when it dreams (or so I’ve heard). I often wondered when I’d dream, why all the characters in my dreams are figures from my past, none in the present. It’s because I want to change it. I want to do a redo, but, unfortunately, I have to accept what’s done is done. And, on top of that, maybe be happy that those negative experiences happened so they could bring me to a more positive future.

My brother sent me this quote today, which relates:

The broken thing you keep trying to put back together, can’t even compare to that beautiful thing that’s waiting to be built.

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I feel like I have made so many regrettable life choices! I want to shake my former self, yelling, “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING??” Like, why would I choose to be an actress, of all things, as a career? Seriously. Like that’s the worst prospective career choice, ever. BUT, I can look at it this way now: had I not tried it, I’d be wondering, “I wonder if I could have made it…I’m talented…maybe!” Now I have a retort when someone says, “You’re so funny! You should be on TV!” I can say, “Oh, I tried that….” and here we are…I don’t regret that. I used to lament that those years I spent hitting the NYC pavement could have been better spent climbing the career ladder, but, hey, I’m just different. I never like to walk the straight-and-narrow.

I’m bent.

Oh, one of my favorite things to do is recycle old relationships that went awry, hoping to change history. Like, I’d recycle old boyfriends, seeing if it would end differently. Guess what? It never did! Or, I’d focus on friendships that just dissipated, wondering, “What did I do wrong?” And when I’d reconnect, I’d realize, oh, yes, this is why we are no good for one another. 

Recycling is for paper goods, not for people.

I realize now that when I wrote my novel, Honor Girl, I was trying to rework my past. I was trying to fix what was broken, writing what I had hoped had happened. This is contrary, of course, to what people think when they read it and assume it is my life and what happened. It is not. It is perhaps what I wished had happened… I was working things out in my head. Writing helps that way. Try it. That’s also why I blog: I’m working it out.

I am going to try to work on looking forward, living a dog’s life. That way, I can focus on what I’m building, not what’s broken.

 

 

 

#marriage, #relationships, Parenting, Self-Help, Uncategorized

Cherish What You Have

 

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I stood at the bus stop twirling my daughter’s braids this morning, wrapping them around my index fingers, when a friend me asked what my plans were for the weekend.

“Oh, I’m on the loose!” I exclaimed. “My kids are staying with their dad,” I smiled.

My children weren’t listening, so I felt it okay to share this with glee.

But as the words fell from my mouth, what was meant to be something very happy  turned darker and sad upon landing. “Well, I mean, I have plans with some friends tonight…but I’ll see them at soccer tomorrow.” (I added this last bit to make myself feel better, even though the mother could care less).

The weekend landscape lay vacuous before me. I would miss my children.

When I first got divorced, I would claim the upside (if there even is one) was that I finally had a moment to myself. I was able to read a book, go for a walk, hang out with friends…drive around. I could roam CVS for face cream, go to the Starbucks drive-thru without ordering Cake Pops, and watch my reality TV for hours without having to turn it off to play Barbies or color.

But, as time has elapsed, three years now, I don’t so much await those free moments anymore.

“What are you going to do this weekend?” I asked the mother back.

“Well, it’s his birthday, and we are going to take him to Lego Land and go to the race car track,” she responded. Her son gleamed. I could tell he was pleased.

It occurred to me she might be envious that I was going out with friends for the evening. But what I  wanted to tell her is: “Oh, honey, no. Cherish what you have. You have your whole family intact, going to Lego Land!”

“I would trade in a heartbeat to have that,” I’d say.

My children sometimes wish aloud that we all still lived together in the same house, so they wouldn’t have to “miss someone.” I’ve thought about it, how that would work, and it simply can’t, for obvious reasons.

“Oh, it’s fine,” I tell them. “You’re so lucky you get TWO houses, and get to spend time with both your mommy and your daddy! Not many kids can say that,” I reply.

I look forward to a break today, but my heart’s just a little bit heavy– even when the weekend sits before me like an open road.

I’d rather be playing Barbies and twirling my girl’s braids.