But still.... (or, "I really should be sleeping right now")

Just back from dinner and hanging out with HF at his-I-mean-our fantastic apartment. Sigh. If I could ever unpack my own house, I have dreams of a place as welcoming and lovely as that place, although let's not kid ourselves that I would ever be able to keep it that uncluttered, but still.... I could have a reasonable facsimile of welcoming and lovely, albeit less tidy, couldn't I?! YES! (We'll see.)

Took a buncha pix of ESB and water towers (cisterns?) today and yesterday, which is fab, and I can't wait to see how they'll turn out. Walked around a bit this evening, waiting for HF to get out of the salt mines, and resisted buying anything but a watchband at Macy's Herald Square, yay me, and you have no idea
how many purses that place has, so you really should applaud me!!! I know I've told you how much I love NY, but still....

So, I forgot to say the other night that I met Brad on Friday night after work for a pint, which was great. It's unbelievable to me that we've known each other for nearly 25 years, but there it is, man. Whoa. Next visit, I'll have to meet Charlotte -- it's a little ridiculous that she's a toddler and I've only seen her in photos! -- and see Karen, which will be fun too. As it was, he had to bail after only about an hour and a half. Yes, yes, I know he has a family to get home to, but still.... it was way too short to catch up.

Had breakfast with Schmoopy this morning; he's interviewing at Moody's and is so great that I know he'll get the gig in their product marketing group and will leave us, but it's a really first-rate opportunity for him, so I can't begrudge him his upward trajectory. But still.... I'll miss him!

Lunch with Ron @ Pig & Whistle was nice; I was mocked for my springtime attire but paid him no mind. It's so fun spending time with him, even if I do feel it's borrowed.... (I'll spare you the "but still" there if you promise to act as though you read it anyway.)

I must go to sleep now, since my flight is at o'dark fifteen, but I'll backtrack and regale you with Saturday night's adventures another time. Kiss kiss, and pleasant dreams, y'all.


Chag Sameach (Happy Passover, y'all)

Just got back from a great seder at Noofie's house in Jackson Heights. The Jewish mothers were outnumbered by their children and nieces and friends' children, but just barely. Noofie, Mom, Stephanie, Vicki and Shirl were the adult members of the group, and Roland, Neil, Cara, Robin, Jennifer and I represented the "kids." Noofie usually has the seder catered, but this time, the lamb, salmon, chicken, latkes, veggies, and full complement of seder paraphernalia were all done by "the kids" -- I may have ruined my dress frying potato pancakes but frankly it's a very small sacrifice 'cause OH MUH GAWD were those things faaaaaaanfreakin'tastic!!!! (The trick, in case you've now got a yen for latkes, is to really really really squeeze the living daylights out of the grated potatoes and onions, so that when you add the beaten egg and flour you're really creating almost a dough-y product to fry.)

Spent the day with Mom apart from a quick run to Duane Reade by MadSqGar this morning and a skip across town to drop off a care package (and two umbrellas -- ha ha) for HF, who is home sick. Colored Mom's hair, which looks great -- she has excellent hair, and the color really freshens and brightens her face, plus which it's so healthy to use those semi-permanent colors, it's amazing. We had "the talk", too, or at least part I of it -- the rest is going to come tomorrow. I just can't deal with the ledger, is what it boils down to. Earlier postings that may make you think differently notwithstanding, I am a good daughter (comes from being a good person, which is exactly what she raised me to be), and I'm tired of being made to feel otherwise, just because I moved to California and got married and am happy! I know: how dare me! What. Everrrrr.

Time for bed, after the call home. Spoke with HF earlier, poor sick baby, and he was very very cute in his appreciation of the care bag -- said it choked him up. Sweet. Pleasant dreams, my friends. Peace.


My brother!!

Isn't it funny how you get to the advanced age of 38 (er, I mean 32, of course) and still manage to find people with whom you just "click" immediately??

My work managing litigation matters for my employer, a financial services company, means that I interact almost daily with outside counsel at about a half-dozen reputable law firms around the country. So I "meet" people on the phone who are doing work for us, and sometimes I get to know them and make friends, etc. It's how I met Rob and HF, for example, as well as other people I like a lot but spend less time with.

So recently, working on a couple of cases back east for a former subsidiary of ours, I "met" this lawyer named Will. He's my age, from California, works in DC and VA, nice married guy with a great sense of humor and a startling and uncanny habit of saying the same things I do and thinking the way I do. I've begun to joke that we're evil twins, separated somehow in the cosmos, only to meet as adults.

Here's just one example, which I found hilarious and hope you enjoy. I had dinner last night, as you know, with Dad; Terry; Terry's cousin; Susan, and Julia, right next door to HF's office building, after I went to a seminar on New York's rules of civil procedure (which change annually). Trying to connect with Will during the day, unsuccessfully, I left him a voicemail telling him I wouldn't be available after whatever time because I was having dinner with my Daddy. I then paused, and added, "By which I mean my father, not some sugar daddy or anything gross.... Now, I know you're laughing at that, so you can stop!" and a couple of hours later, I get this message from Will, in which he starts laughing midway through, saying, "And yes, you were right, I appreciated the clarification that you were having dinner with your father and not your sugar daddy, and I was laughing right when you said I'd be laughing, and it made me laugh even harder!" Nice.

Other nice thing, that I just thought of anew upon waking: walking home with HF last night, window-shopping along Mad. Siiiigh. And have I mentioned lately how much I love NY?!


Estoy de vuelta a la manzana grande, mijos

Back in the Big Apple, for the non-Spanish readers in the audience. Just got back from a rawther long day, but so excited to be here, as usual, that I could stay awake for another 12 hours and not even notice!

Arrived on time this morning on the red-eye from San Francisco. It's simply amazing how different the overnight crowd is from SF than from LA. This was made even more apparent when our arriving flight dispersal through JFK crossed paths with the arriving LAX red-eye, with its bevy of blondies and their
Juicy matched ensembles, Birkins, pneumatic ta-tas and Ugg boots splashed out all over the dawning NY day like so many Barbies dumped out of a big ol' Malibu Dream House. Meanwhile, the SF flight, self included, staggered out into the grey dawn, all clad in black and comfortable (if spendy) shoes, clutching laptops, cellies, Blueberries of one model or another, and all our black luggage, making beelines for taxis in the queue while the Barbies struggled to read the dozens of printed names in the hands of the United Nations of limo and town car drivers awaiting their pampered clients. (Don't get me wrong: given the right circumstances, I'm all about the car meeting me at the kerb -- hello, London! -- but at Kennedy it just seems a little too precious, considering you never wait more than 3.5 minutes, if that, for a cab.)

Anywho: got to Lili's, showered, and fell into bed for what I thought would be a refreshing 3-hour snooze before work. Shyeah. Did I mention I didn't bring an alarm clock, so I had to keep my phone on? Susan called. Twice. We made dinner plans. HF texted. I had a question, so I texted back and he texted back. Eli called. Ok. Nap over, went into work. I could so work in the NY office -- I love it there! -- especially since it's just a 7 minute walk to 875 Third Avenue! That's where I went for lunch, meeting HF and having a delicious and entertaining lunch at
Bunchberries. Saw both Eli & Robbo at the office, in passing. They are, of course, all, as fabulous as ever.

Had a good, productive day at work, although it's definitely nutty to be 3 hours ahead of everyone back in CA (I know, I know, I travel enough that the time difference shouldn't even register by now, but still, it does). Met Dad, Terry, Susan, Julia and Terry's cousin Linda for dinner at
La Gioconda, which was quite good despite the rather lackadaisical service. Dinner was fun, and Julia looks extremely neat with pink hair (blonde + Crayola red + 2 weeks' hair-washing = pink!), even if Dad hates it.

What did I ever do before texting?!?! Dunno. Anyway, text msg to HF brought him downstairs and we walked him home, taking Madison from 52nd to 37th, admiring purses and shoes and architecture on our way. It took about an hour to go about a mile, which gives you some idea of our pace: pokeyyyyy! We had a good walk, though, and I left him on his corner and took a cab back here, where Mom awaited me, sleeping. Woke her up to chat for a little while, then settled in to document the day.

There it is.
I LOVE NEW YORK, like craaaaaaaaahaaaaaahaaaaaazyyyyyyyy. But now I've been up for a wicked long time, and tomorrow's a workday, so it's off to phone Bryan and go to sleep! Peace & skyscrapers, baby!



It didn't work. I could count to a thousand and my anger at my dear mother would be unabated right now. I detest being manipulated. Words cannot express how angry I am at attempts to press my buttons or maneuver me or what-fucking-ever it is that she thinks she's playing at now. Days like this, frankly, she's lucky I even take her calls. Yes, yes, I'm well aware that she's the only mother I've got, and believe me when I tell you that I do love her, but this shit is unimaginably infuriating.

Here's the Reader's Digest version (yeah, I know: you'll believe it when you read it): I'm going to NY Wednesday night at my mother's express command. Her bosom friend Noofie is ill and has been ill for a long time and it's fairly dire or certainly could be, and when I was in NY last month, Mom said, "Can you come back to go to Noofie's seder?" and I agreed, readily. No hesitation whatsoever, gladly. Etc. I'll be working in our NY office, but I'm taking Monday off and have only made plans for Saturday (yaaaaay: shopping day with Eli & Elaine & HF, and Mamma Mia that night with HF, whom I'm...dragging...to the show), although admittedly I was going to go to the Yankees' game Friday with Rob but we've changed it to Monday dinner so he can stay out of the doghouse. Ok, yes, that's a story for another day, too.

ANYWAY: I get a call from Lili, at whose apt. in Chelsea Mom and I will be staying together. She says, "I'm very concerned about your mother. She's not returning phone calls [a fact that I'd already noticed, vexedly], and when I spoke with her the other day, she said she's not coming to New York. I wonder what's the matter with her." Note, gentle readers, that my mother had not bothered to call me to tell me she's staying home.... But you can bet your arse that she knew perfectly well Lili would call me. And having known me for 30-some (shaddup) years, she also knew perfectly well that I would call her, in turn. Which, against my better judgment, but with resignation, I did today at 5:00 from SNA, whence my flight to SF was to leave at 6:05.

The gist? She's not feeling "up to" going to NY, psychically. Psychologically. Whatever. Nothing's wrong with her, mind you, that a good small steady dose of antidepressant wouldn't fix right up. But she doesn't like the side effects, so she won't stay on a pill. Look here: if you're talking about the side effects of lithium or something, where you literally can't function, or it gives you seizures, or radically changes your personality, ok, then, don't take the drug. I can totally understand that. But don't tell me there's not some prescription medication out there to take the edge off depression, which would make your entire perspective on life change for the better, that's not worth suffering a little sleeplessness, or having to alter your diet, or feeling "jumpy" for a bit. I wish I could be sympathetic to this, and not sound like a callous bitch, but I'd be lying if I said I understood it or, in fact, countenanced her refusal to do what she can to make herself better. (In anticipation of a flurry of counters to this, let me say that she has been diagnosed with mild depression, the kind the new pretty pills are specifically made to treat; it is her stubborn unwillingness to change her life at all that precludes her from getting effective -- or any -- treatment. Not ok. Not if you're gonna lay it all on someone else, at any rate. Unh unh.)

After trying to find out what it was specifically that was making her feel unable to go to NY, I gave up. I just said, "Well, Mom, I'll be there, and I'll be at the seder, and it will be great to see Noofie and her crowd. And while it's not my place to tell you what to do or judge your behavior, since you're the mother and I'm not, I know what you would say to me in this situation, and I would like you to think about that. If one of my oldest friends was fighting for her life, you would tell me to stop being a selfish baby and get my ass to New York. That's all I want you to consider." Then I got off the phone. Called HF -- interrupting The Contender, OH MY GAWD what was I thinking?! -- and flew to SF.

Got up here to a vm on my mobile, wherein she told me that she's coming to NY Thursday afternoon, but will I pay for her fare (of course I will -- what a question!!), and will I "try to" make some time to spend with her -- as if I hadn't already specifically said I would do just that. But here's what has me sooooo steamed: between....literally....every....single.... word.... of.... her.... message.... there.... was.... this.... enormous.... shrieking.... gasp.... for.... air.... as.... she.... left.... a.... 3.... minute.... message.
Literally. EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. punctuated with a sort of asthmatic-on-their-dying-breath shrieking sort of sound, like she couldn't get air. My mom doesn't have asthma. Nor does she have any sort of heart ailment (she recently had an ekg and a stress test, both of which, unsurprisingly since she's only 63, she passed swimmingly -- yay!). What she does have, she says, because I called her to say "Do not EVER leave me a message like that again, EVER EVER EVER", is anxiety attacks. She says. So she gasps. I said, "Wait 'til the attack passes before calling me. Thanks." 'Cause ya know what? Those same little sweet antidepressants that would control the lows? They'd work for the anxiety attacks as well, friends, and that's the truth.

There. Now you know how mean and awful I am, and what a dreadful daughter. Sorry to burst the bubble when you were all so in love with me 'til now. In my defense, I'll just say that as her only child, there's no one else in the world to share the load here. And since menopause, this kind of episode is the tip of the iceberg. Unreal. Peace.



Just got an e-mail from Mihal!!!! Too flooded with tears of relief and rapture to type much more than this, but although she's still got CLL/SLL, her lymph nodes have been described as merely "pesky," and she should be able to live symptom-free for decades (DECADES, do you hear me?!?!), with only a yearly CAT scan and a healthy awareness of and respect for whatever it is her lymph nodes are doing from day to day. So, she does still have cancer, but as she says "as a chronic disease it's equivalent to having asthma or migraines or a small cancerous skin spot. It is not life threatening! It is best left with nothing done. No treatment, no medicines, no operations. NO ACTION NEEDED."

Thank you thank you, G-d, assorted other peoples' gods and goddesses, everyone who loves Mihal (or loves me and reads the blog) and put out good energy for her. Hallelujah and let us sing and laugh, and throw our hair around and by GOD dance dance dance!!!


Reflections on Friendship

I always feel a little weird when using the word "blessed," because it seems a little presumptuous to me to assume that because you've got good things in your life, you've been smiled on by Fortune or by G-d or have some other reason for thinking you're in a bit of light and warmth denied to other people. But I suppose it's not like you're the only one who's blessed, if you are, or think you are, because like love, there's plenty of blessing to go around. I like the sense of "blessed" best that speaks of endowment or favor, rather than the hallowed sense or anything conferring the religious implication most people think of; can we agree that here it means the more casual or serendipitous sense of the word? Good.

Anyway, all this is by way of saying that one of my life's greatest blessings has been friendship. Whether from the love of childhood friends like J, M or B, college friends like T, L, M and J, old friends like A or P, or new friends like D, D and H, I marvel at how full my life is thanks to these people who share it. I love my family, of course, and I adore Bryan, but it's amazing the difference that having a family of friends makes, isn't it? A panoply of personalities enriches the world around us, and it keeps you young, I think, to laugh as hard as you can, and to have someone to hug and hold hands with and the someones with whom to have inside jokes and secrets and share even your inner snarkiness and not-so-pretty traits.

Here are what some dead people have said about this esteemed group, far more eloquently than I can:

Honest men esteem and value nothing so much in this world as a real friend. Such a one is as it were another self, to whom we impart our most secret thoughts, who partakes of our joy, and comforts us in our affliction; add to this, that his company is an everlasting pleasure to us. --Bidpai

Friendship! mysterious cement of the soul!Sweetener of life! and solder of society! -- Robert Blair

L’amitié est l’Amour sans ailes (Friendship is Love without his wings). -- Byron

When Zeno was asked what a friend was, he replied, “Another I.” -- Diogenes Laertius

A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, sir, should keep his friendship in a constant repair. -- Samuel Johnson

And best of all, from Polonius's farewell speech to Laertes:
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel.
Hamlet. Act i. Sc. 3. (That's yer Shakespeare, in case you're not hip to the Bard.)

Peace to you; call your friends. Tell 'em you love 'em.


Happy Spring!

What color is Spring in your head?

Is it green, for the freshness of buds and shoots, for tulip stems and minuscule beads in Gerbera daisies and the lapping edge of water melting in iced-over ponds and streams? Is it the pink of pale cold mornings that warm into softness when the sun comes up at last? Is it the yellow of the sun growing hotter as each day unfolds? Or is it the blue of the sky welcomed back with disbelief? It could be the blue, though the green of which I speak is the one known as Spring green, so maybe I'm talking through my hat, as usual.

Once, Jim Budinetz asked me what I missed about Boston, and, upon reflection, it boiled down to four days.

The first day is that day when the air is first soft, back "home." Anyone who's lived on the Eastern seaboard or anywhere in New England or New York can identify this day: it may or may not be after March 21, but it's that day when the damp cold bonechill of winter gives way one morning to a warmth in the air, which might not actually be warm, but has that squishy gentle feeling to it, like you could take off your coat and be perfectly comfy in your sweater and scarf. It becomes easy to breathe again, that day, and your hair feels good. Your face feels good. You might skip, because your heart is lighter, even if you don't know why.

Second day is in July or August when the humidity and oppressive heat have been sitting on the whole city for about 10 days straight, and you're ready to climb out of your skin from the nasty sticky gumminess of your own body. Then, the sky goes darker and darker at midday, to nearly black.... A cool breeze wafts in, hinting at the promise of relief, and at about 2:30, the skies just split open, releasing more water than you think it's possible for clouds to hold, and there are just sheets and sheets and sheets of rain and booming thunder and crackling lightning just out of arms' reach, and it lasts for about 7 hours and just as you're ready for bed, it dies down and moves off and you can go blissfully to sleep with the windows open, thanking G-d for thunderstorms.

Third day is that October day, near Hallowe'en or the Head of the Charles, when the softness in the air vanishes, and crispness takes its place. It's the first day your nose freezes a little if you breathe in too deeply, without expecting it. Your sweater has to be supplemented with a hat and gloves and a wrap or scarf, but you cheat winter for just another few days because it's not quiiiiiite cold, and doesn't warrant a coat. The sky is a stunningly vibrant almost-painful blue, and the leaves are in full flame and gorgeous, and it has its counterpart on the West Coast, perhaps in December, though. And without the exquisite foliage....

December is usually when the fourth day happens: the first real snowfall. The air has been damp and cold and asthma-inducing for a couple of weeks, but nothing's happened, and then you might be on your way home from the T stop and realize it's snowing.... And it's sticking! And you stop in the middle of the sidewalk and just listen to the almost-indistinguishable shoosh-shooshing of the snow falling and blanketing the darkening city and muffling traffic sounds and all the hurly burly of urban life. And after you've walked through it, and made your way through your evening at home, you look out the window at bare trees now frosted with sugary ice, and the world just gleams and seems so cozy, it's amazing.

Living in California is fine, although I don't like Orange County much and would rather live in a city on the East coast if I could live anywhere.... (Well, ok, if I could live anywhere, it might be London, but it would have to be with a heretofore-undiscovered trust fund because it is damned spendy there. Makes NY look cheap by comparison!) The funny thing for me about CA is that I never imagined I'd still be here: I thought I'd stick around, go to law school, then move back to Boston or NYC. Meeting Bryan, living with him, marrying him, kind of changed that plan. I guess we'll see if the West coast is forever; it kind of depends on whether I do go to law school, whether Bryan's willing for me to take the NY bar rather than the CA bar (hell, I'd do both, just for the flexibility), etc etc etc. These are just airy fairy gossamer dreams, really, but I like to think about the what-ifs of life, sometimes.

What are your favorite days of the year?