There were squabbles about dishes, “tone of voice”, how long ten minutes actually is, who Sophie likes best in the afternoon, when stores should open, the Cuomo’s, and a heated conversation about Zoom versus FaceTime.

At the end of it all, I don’t anything any of us remembered anything that was said.

What my family did this weekend was argue, over anything, and then retreat to our rooms, the woods, the shower, or gaze for an extended period of time into the refrigerator, and sulk.

It’s Sunday night. Katy and I worked things out with conversation, and a plan for the week ahead to help us communicate better.

Colin came downstairs and offered me some cold French fries and kissed me on the cheek. He then asked if I could feed them to the birds. I explained to him the birds are sleeping and gave him an icy look. He put the leftover potatoes away, and said “Good night, mom, I’m turning the tv down now.” For some reason, I believed him, though his behavior on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, would indicate this will be a challenge.

Sheldon is downstairs flipping through every tv channel because he is still working on understanding the concept of TV OnDemand. He offered to come upstairs and help me carry my water class, and eyeglasses to our room. He is lonely, and would like assistance with the remote.

This is a time for chocolate, technology, yin yoga, helping your neighbor, coloring the sidewalk in rainbow pastels, planting a garden, and spending time with the people and animals we love.
We have a lot of time with these people, so sometimes we might get a little, or a lot, irritated with them.
But this is not the time to hold a grudge.
Life’s too short, and sleep is hard to find.
Sweet dreams, my friends.
Love,
Jules

Day Forty
There is nothing like the moment in the kitchen after the dishes are done, when I’ve left a zoom call with friends, and I’m waiting on my daughter to come downstairs to watch tv.
I wonder why Colin’s so quiet? I
I wonder why Katy’s taking so long?
Is the dishwasher making a weird noise?
Does Sophie look more tired than usual?
These moments are when I think, I really need to do yoga or consider drinking more wine.
We’re on Day Forty, my friends. I”m still looking at Facebook, waiting on Kate, which is what I was doing quite a bit of the time before all of this.
I should go see what Colin’s up to.
He’s probably making masks out of surgical tape and medical gauze or cleaning the linen closet.
I’m going to check, anyway.

I will remember the nervous eyes of shoppers at the grocery store, faces hidden behind surgical masks, walking with friends from a distance, and as the news got worse, walking alone, and writing about moments of grief, terror, and anger on Facebook and finding connection in the conversation that followed.
But what I will remember most is this-
every night, about twenty minutes in advance, I scream upstairs, where she hides for hours, behind I closed door because she says I am noisy, “KATY?”
We do a dance class online, and for some reason, it really matters to me that we do it “live”.
When the music has started, she is usually looking for her sneakers, or finding her yoga pants.
When she arrives, the first thing she does is close the curtains in the living room. I move back and give her the spot directly in front of the lap top. She uses my only pair of free weights, I use a jar of tomato sauce and a can of peaches.
For an hour, we dance. Actually, by the time she gets there, it’s more like fifty minutes.
One night, we had a disagreement, probably because she was late. When she arrived, I told her I wasn’t going to make her stay, she could go back upstairs to her FaceTime and homework.
Katy looked at me and said “Mom, I look forward to this.”
So do I.
Waking up is hard. Sleep is impossible.
But for a little less than an hour, almost every night for 28 days, my daughter and I have shared a tiny space in our living room and danced.
I hope you have a person, a song, or a memory to help you thru.
Love,
jules

Day 18 Also Known As Friday, April 3rd

Katy and I did yoga on mats this evening.
When the teacher called “child’s pose, Katy would say- “yessss”, under her breath, her response to plank the third time was “how much longer IS this?”

I was told I needed to face her during goddess, Kate didn’t want to look at my squatting backside a foot away from her front side. Sophie the Dog came over during shavasana and kissed in my foot. Even in the middle of yoga, in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of the floor with my daughter, I am ticklish as hell.

After yoga, we had dinner. We’ve started eating salads more than I’ve ever eaten salads, to balance out the ice cream and the popcorn that’s become part of our weekly diet.

Also introduced recently are two workouts a day, also in response to the extra snacks and especially on days when there’s chocolate.
By two workouts, I mean dancing around my living room to pop music, and later dancing around my living room to hip hop music waiving three pound dumbbells in the air.
In other words, I’m not randomly doing side planks for minutes at a time with hip dips thrown in for giggles.

I’m searching for intelligent stories like a person on a first date or someone who just had their first shot at a party.

I think a lot of people are searching for intelligent stories, or even words. Given we are not able to do much, all many have to offer are memes and video clips from talk show hosts recording in their living rooms.

I don’t have any memes. I know the Katy yoga story isn’t that fascinating unless you are considering doing yoga with your teenage daughter. Go for it, just shower first, if your living room is small.

All I have tonight is a suggestion- if you don’t want to exercise, try moving a little. It doesn’t have to be running, or jumping jacks. It doesn’t need to involve burpees or barbells, burning calories or building biceps. It just needs to feel good.

You don’t need much time, any coordination, or shiny yoga pants with a really cute print, (I’m getting some when this is over if I can find them on sale.) My daughter closes the curtain when she hears I’ve turned on an exercise video.

It makes me laugh, and it embarrasses the hell out of Kate.

However, since she is, on occasion, is willing to join me, it’s probably a pretty good idea.

Kate is a very smart girl.

Ritual helps.
Katy and I meditate every morning. We’ve tried ocean breath, slow yoga, a guided visualization that let me found my own happy place, which was on the Cape with a cocktail in front of pool watching my daughter play in the water.
I’d really like to be on that lounge chair, holding a Pina Colada, wondering if I applied enough sun screen, watching Katy and Madeleine. In no time, I’d jump into the cold water, and twirl them around under the surface while they laughed.
Summer will be here at some point, I think.
It’s been incredibly gloomy, the weather in New England is far too appropriate for the current state of the world.
I don’t know what summer will look like, and I try not to think about it by gobbling up new stories and the Facebook feed, exercising to videos online, or tucking my ears between headphones, and TURNING UP THE VOLUME
to a ridiculous level so that there is no room to think about
what’s going to happen next.
At the end of the day, we find our way to the television. We make popcorn in the microwave and add butter and maple syrup. We watch Mrs. Maisel, and marvel at the beautiful clothes, sparkling actors, and shiny view of New York City in the 1950’s. We appreciate watching beautiful people kiss, hold hands, go to the store, share drinks, squeeze together in a cab.
Katy, my sixteen year old, has started calling me mamma, especially if she wants an impossible burger, or hair dye. Especially right before she goes upstairs to bed. She leans in and hugs me each night, presents me her cheek.
There are blessings in all of this,(I know, and I’ve counted the blessings, but I do need to remind myself of this,) and terror, and sleep is hard to come by.
I’ve got the days figured out, mostly.
Nights are long. We’ve taken to leaving the light on, and leaving the phones in another room.
Sleep well, my friends.

Julie

Comments

My world was huge when I was in my twenties. I spent time in Boston, New York City and New Jersey, going from place to place, friend to friend, sofa to dorm room to home, with the ease of someone in their twenties. Boston had school and work, New York City was, well, New York City, and I had a boyfriend in New Jersey. I packed light, lost a lot of stuff, and borrowed even better stuff from the patient and/or clueless people in my life. I think I still have a cashmere sweater from my mom. She is neither patient, nor clueless, but she is unfailingly generous, and the color wasn’t good on her.I don’t know if she knows I have it. Please don’t tell her.

I got older, Boston became home. The boyfriend relocated to my apartment in Allston, we spent a lot of times at clubs in the city. Often, we would hire a cab to take us to Walden Pond when I missed the suburbs.There were frequent invitations to the Cape, I’m not sure why, neither of us was  particularly charming, attractive or well off. But we were happy to head out for a weekend with little or no notice, so I guess we were the people to call when a new people were needed, vacations can get boring when you’re spending time with the same people you have breakfast with all year.

In those days, I moved a lot. I liked to stay up late. I liked to invite my friends over to stay up late with me. Landlords don’t appreciate tenants that stay up late, especially on Monday and Tuesday nights, and have friends that are happy to join them for endless games of scrabble or alcohol fueled conversations about what we were going to do the next day, even though all of us knew the next day was going to start around five o’clock in the evening.

Within a year of settling in to a new place, I’d receive the eviction notice.  I lived in Allston, Brighton, Brookline, the South End, Bay Village, the South End, the Fenway, all within ten years. Finally I landed in  in Dorchester Ma, in a huge one bedroom owned by one of the friends that liked staying up late. I was living with a different boyfriend and running a profitable business from my apartment. I still went out two or three times a week to clubs or dives most nights, the cab fare was just a little more expensive.  I visited Block Island a couple of times a year, I talked to mom on the phone instead of visiting  NJ.

When the stick turned pink, and the proposal came, we drove up to NH to take our vows. We were going to get married outside. I was seven months pregnant; maybe I hoped I could hide my huge belly behind a tree. There were bugs. We got married in the foyer of the inn next to the reception desk. There was a family of five, just coming back from the lake, wrapped in wet towels, wearing flip flops, with the two youngest brandishing sand pails, that volunteered to be our witnesses. By the time the family was thru with the wedding cake- I had to offer them something and hadn’t even thought about a reception, the cake was gone. No slices for the freezer.

After child number two, we moved to Milton, a small town in Southern Massachusetts, right off the highway. Lots of woods, huge municipal swimming pool, good schools  and public transportation five minutes away from the town center. We drank the Koolaid and bought the house. My world, my big, big, world, became even smaller.

There were no last minute trips to the Cape or nights out at the club. Spur of the moment day adventures to Walden were few. Packing a bag for two small children to spend a day forty five minutes away at a pond  is more complicated than the packing I did when I was relocating to a different area code. Two cans of bug spray, three kinds of sun block, diapers, socks, extra socks, water, juice, hats, sun glasses, books, coloring books, books for me, change of clothes for all, wipes, snacks for him, snacks for her,  and Ativan for me. I think I miss packing for the lake less than the joy of car seats. If you don’t know, you might. Good luck.

I’ve lived in the big world, or at least a corner of it, in the Northeast part of the United States. Then I had kids, and my world shrunk to whatever space they occupied.

They are teenagers now. Now that they are older, I suppose I could expand my universe a bit, visit an old haunt, head to New Jersey for a weekend to see some high school friends, head to the City for a Broadway show.

The truth is I’m happy at home with just one, actually two, human glitches.  The teenagers are, quite often, here too. The space is cluttered with  chatter of youtube, the streaming of sound cloud, socks, (you can smell the stench in New Jersey) smudged plates and pizza crusts, unfamiliar voices that usually respond to whatever question or comment I make like they aren’t quite sure who I am or why I am bothering them, large and very florescent shoes, backpacks, hair products, cereal boxes, which must randomly distributed throughout the house so they will never, ever go hungry, even if they find themselves in a hallway,- sometimes there isn’t any room for me.

The Cape isn’t an option on a Monday night, I have work in the morning. Clubs are out. I don’t want have friends over at three am, I don’t know anyone anymore that likes to stay out until three am, and as I recall, things didn’t really get interesting until three am.

So when I need to escape, I pull on a yoga top and yoga pants. I wear the yoga pants because everyone wears yoga pants, I wear yoga tops because when you spend a lot of time touching your toes, or doing that downward dog thing yogis are so fond of, a yoga shirt stays on your body like a one piece one size too small. I wore a tee shirt once, and spent the entire class confronted with the fact that I need to eat less food, plank more, or buy a yoga top. I bought the top.

I actually have my own yoga mat. The fact it is the same yoga mat I started with about six years ago is a miracle. I lost Colin at Canobie Lake Park, I lose my parking card so often the sour face attendant gives me a high five when I hand it over. I have six different novelty key rings, with the trackers that make the funny noises in a drawer somewhere. If they ever turn up, I could probably play a song with them.

I go into class. I take off my shoes and silence my phone. I step on my mat. I sit on a block, ( why do you need to sit on a block you might ask? I don’t know, but everyone else sits on a block, so I sit on the block like the sheep that I am, see comment above about yoga pants,) We breathe and I wriggle a bit, on our blocks until the teacher begins.

We move through the poses, each time it’s different. The music changes,  I take classes in  vinyasa flow, meditative yoga, hot yoga, whatever is offered whenever I get there.

I listen to the teacher. I move my body. I arch my back, I lift my arms, I balance on one leg, I breathe.

I am at home inside the space of my mat. Even at the end of class, during savasana,  (time for muscles to process all the work is the party line, I just think it’s a power nap,) I am thinking about dinner, work tomorrow, if I will ever be able to support my entire body on my elbows, whether or not it’s worth it give up pasta, but I am not wondering where I want to be next.

I’m on the mat. There’s plenty of space for me and all that I am on a flat piece of blue rubber, slightly ridged, two feet by six feet, in Milton, Massachusetts.

It took me a long time to get here.

I walked away from church at First Parish Milton today after listening to a sermon by Reverend Hank Peirce holding these prayers close-

Every day, I will try to choose faith. I will choose joy. I will choose trust and love and hope.

This is about the big world we live in- I will apply it to the future and all the people that share the planet with me. I will make these choices even on days the news is grim, the alerts are high, and Facebook is screaming in capitol letters to do the opposite.

This is about my corner of the world, about the face I show my children. I will try to find trust for them when I don’t want to;  I will let them go while my heart screams to keep them close. It is believing that someday they will learn not to leave their peanut butter knives on the counter and their clothes on the stairs.

It is believing in who they are now and who they are becoming, even though I don’t know who that will be. They have choices, too. I will honor them.

It is about them knowing when times are tough that my door is always unlocked.  I am here and our home is open to the world. I want them to have the gift of belief in the future even when the right now sucks.

door-open
Right now, right now is Sunday afternoon. My son is bringing me coffee after keeping me up half the night

My daughter is playing her flute.


I’m going to yoga.


I am so grateful for now.

 

birds-nest-314490_640

So much of Facebook is filter and crow. Tonight I’ve had a few beers and I’m feeling a little dangerous so this was my most recent entry.You will notice there is some crowing but I left the filter off.
My Day.
Mango, Banana Carrot smoothie.
Church. A conversation about the devil and some amazing words from Parisa Parsa.
Friends at church and hugs and promises and amazing coffee. The faces there are family, chosen family. I know why I chose them and I am constantly in awe of the fact that chose me.
Home.
Yoga. With Nathalie Bellemare Elfer. Our downward dogs were so true to the canine spirit of the pose they are going to put us on a poster for the amazing benefits of yoga for middle aged women. Or on the cover of Love Your Pet, Be Your Pet, not sure which.
Home. Pork roast in going to be in the oven a looooonnnnng time.
It smells good, it’s making me hungry.
Time to visit the inlaws, drink beer and watch basketball.
The kids are sick, so I really should leave the house, drink beer and watch basketball. That way they’ll rest.
Basketball. Two beers. Phone call from Colin. Nice job, leaving us home alone while you party.
Made me careful way to the store, long conversation with the clerk about Keebler versus Pepperidge Farm.
Cab.
Home with cookies.
Roast for dinner tomorrow.
Tonight it’s cheese toast and chocolate chips and water. Lots and lots of water.
I could have just told you I went to the gym.

The other night, Colin was sprawled on my bed, watching basketball. He looked up at me. He smiled. He spoke- “mom, come here. I want to watch basketball with you.”
I swooned.

These are interesting times in our house. With Colin, I am often the source of great amusement, for what I wear, what I know and don’t know, (who is Kendrick Lamar?) and how I text.

Then he wants me to listen to a song he loves, or offers to lend me his basketball sneakers to go to zumba class.*

My daughter is 10. She went to see a teacher got married and needed to ask the next door neighbor for eyeshadow, my selection wasn’t flattering to her skin tone. And while I was making dinner tonight, she marched up to me in the kitchen, in front of the stove, thru her arms around me and declared it was time to snuggle.

I packed up all of Colin’s boy clothes last week. A thousand hats, he never wore one. Fifteen different teeshirts from basketball camp and summer camp and football practice. Little boy pajamas with dinosaurs and fire trucks and skulls.

In the midst of all these changes I’ve been on a bit of a cleaning bender. The hard thing is, Colin is thirteen. Katy is nine. They are used to my bi monthly half hearted attempts to get the house in order. They listened to the speech. They made their beds. They put the clean towels into the linen closet instead of on the floor in front of the linen closet. This all lasted about three days, every couple of months. Before.

When Back To School struck this year, I decided we were going to get the house in order. And that meant all of us. I regard clean clothes perched on the stairs the way I used see Sophie’s poop when she’d been left home too long. Socks in the hallway send me into a frenzy. And stuffing all of the offending articles into the closet and then closing the door doesn’t work anymore either. In the old days, I wouldn’t open the door. Now I do.

And of course, along with Back To School, the New Leaf Cleaning Policies, there are all of the Back to School Activities- swim team, football, youth group, flute lessons. And there is my job. And my other job. And two classes at Quincy college. And dinner, and friends, and the gym.

I have to go to the gym. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling with asthma. Mostly at night. My lungs wheeze, it sounds like I have a choir of Who’s from Whoville singing in my chest. I can’t catch my breath. Yoga seems to help. And an extended time spent in the sauna after yoga helps even more.

It’s not surprising, I guess. My family has started careening forward towards the next part, the part where I have to learn to let them go. I can clean, watch basketball, burn dinner while I cuddle on the couch, zumba till the teacher throws me out, and it’s not going to slow down. And when I do slow down, when I lay me down to sleep, I lose my breath.

It returns. And I go back to sleep, and wake up to the most charismatic of canines, Sophie. Sophie groans when I first reach down to say good morning. And then she wags, not just her tail, her whole body. And she shivers, and sighs, and wedges closer to my body. I know she really, really needs to get outside. Even so she will stay in bed in bliss right next to me until I have to pry myself away and return to vertical.

That’s how things are right now in our house.

*Don’t ever wear basketball sneakers to zumba. Ever. They are incredibly hard to dance in, and more important, they look really, really stupid.

Since school started, my world has been gobbled by too much stuff. That’s always been the case, or at it’s always been the case since I started writing on Word press. But this season, there were two new additions that have left me little room to breathe, much less ruminate between breathes and create entire meaningful sentences to those outside my immediate family. (My immediate family might tell you that I don’t create meaningful sentences for them either.)
I’ve become, um, hooked on yoga. It’s not the same as hooked on Phonics, or hooked on drugs, or even the off and on addiction to caffeine I’ve had since I was twelve. I joined a gym right next to my house. There are all different kinds of yoga classes offered right before work, just after I drop Katy for swim team, classes in the pre dinner hour, (while it roasts, I bake in warm yoga at 95 degrees.)

I even bought a mat. Every time I enter the room, filled with all of these beautiful, long limbed, gumbyesque women, all ages, shapes, ethnicities, I find a spot in the middle of them. I roll out my mat, I go the closet for a block and a strap, I sip water from the fountain, I run to the ladies room to pee, and then I find my way back. I find my way back in a sea of gumbyesque long limbed rainbow of x chromosomes, and there is always room left in their midst. Of course, there is always room left. Like I said, I reserve a spot, as soon as I drop my mat.
I am learning from yoga. I’ve only been going a little more than a month, so I’m probably not qualified to share it with you, but let me just say, it’s a good place to find myself six times a week. When I am in the room, on an island of blue fabric, listening to my own breath, matching my breath to everyone else’s, absorbing the teacher’s measured instructions, and reminders, and gentle suggestions, I am an island. I choose what to feel, how to move, what to hear, how to place my body, and then how to move my body. The beginning of a love affair with yoga is selfish, it requires for me to listen hardest to what I am telling myself and it doesn’t lend itself to quick posts on facebook, or ruminations on word press.
And that has been the perfect place for me to be right now in the midst of the other addition to this little life of mine. My son is now thirteen. Since school started, since the first hairs sprouted on his upper lip, and so far, I’m the only one that’s seen them, things have gotten complicated. The other day, I mentioned a song to him. It was by eminem, a song he’d written about missing Dr. Dre. For those of you not familiar with the midwestern rapper, Mr. Em wasn’t bemoaning a missed appointment at the health clinic.

Regardless, my son, my son who once declared I was the coolest mom ever just for knowing how to spell me Em’s name, looked at me with utmost scorn.
“Mom, that songs been out since, like, 2004. You call yourself an eminem fan?”

No, I never called myself an eminem fan. I like some of his music and I know how to spell his name. For the record.

Next day, he called me on the phone. I was on my way home from driving Katy to swim team, after working out, after working. I was hungry. And he said the words:
“Mom, dinners on the table.”
Dinner was on the table. Colin had reheated the turkey taco meat from the night before. He had sliced a tomato in half and put a head of lettuce in a bowl. He had heated some taco shells he found behind the microwave for forty minutes in the oven until they were as solid as a cookie sheet.

I ate the turkey tacos. And then I ate the pizza that my friend brought over out of the blue. Unsolicited. I sort of swear.

He is the coolest son ever. He is capable of making me a card that would make a dead mom weep, (get that hip reference to the rolling stones. Probably not. I guess Colin’s right. I try too hard.)

Things are complicated right now. I go to yoga, where I’m just starting to figure out where my butt should be in downward dog, and have just accepted I’m probably never going to be able to hold my body up on my elbows.

I come home to my son. One minute, he smiles and I swoon. Before the minutes over, he tells me he was smiling because his friend on the phone just offered him the chance to by a used pair of sneakers for only $125 dollars, “I mean, mom, why would I smile at you. You gave me crap when I MADE YOU DINNER! I mean, it might take time before I recover from that…” And he’s joking with me again, and smiling. Nope, that smile was for his sister. She just said she would do the art work on the front of his book report.

Sometimes I go to yoga twice a day.