Not so long ago, it used to drive me absolutely crazy when my 3 kids would be all together, creating a ruckus, laughing hysterically downstairs in the main floor family room as they either watched TV or played video games. I go to bed much earlier than they do (they are teen/young adults) and was desperately trying to get to sleep!  I always envisioned the Grinch, in that part of the How The Grinch Stole Christmas, where he talks about the “noise noise noise!” and the drums are banging on his eardrums. I used to think that the noise would never end -and to anyone with young kids, let me tell you that it will and it happens kind of unexpectedly. While  you probably cannot imagine it now as your young children are running around screaming, crying, laughing and making the general mayhem that children do- not only will it become quiet one day… you will feel that quiet – and let me tell  you – it feels strange

My son moved out a year and a half ago and the house has become definitely quieter – the girls just don’t get crazy together in that same way. He didn’t move far, just downtown, so that he could be closer to the university and so he does come home most weekends for a day/night (laundry and a good meal -Lol!). The funny thing is that, even though they are essentially all grown-up, when he comes home they all revert to being 8-10 years old. The level of “crazy” goes up and so does the sound.

The funny thing is that, now when I lie in bed, the loud squealing and laughter that used to drive me around the bend and keep me awake actually lulls me to sleep…yet another bittersweet parental realization.

There is nothing like the loud laughter of a houseful of kids…..who knew?

After much disappointment in certain people over the years – people who always have a negative response when you talk to them or get together –  or even when you pass them by with a casual “Hi – how are you”, well I have finally come to the conclusion that for the most part, these people don’t mean it -they don’t aren’t even aware that they are doing it. I think that there are some people who simply who need to live in a certain state of crisis. I know this sounds odd but think about this in  your own life…the person who, no matter the conversation seems to be  having some terribly difficult  situation that it impairing their day-to-day.

At first I silently lost patience thinking that they were constant complainers and then it dawned on me that this was not the case. I began to realize that it was just that they needed a certain level of Crisis to feel normal.  Crisis, no matter how big or small makes these people  feel alive and can even strangely make them productive and energized.

Now, I am no psychologist but this has to stem from somewhere deep down inside – from somewhere long ago in their lives…maybe even before they were born. Maybe this is something that it is inherited, something that exists in the very cells that make up who they are and it might be the only way that they can survive and get through this journey of life.

It’S exhausting and I think that you need to limit your involvement because the problem is that from the moment you say Hello – they cast an invisible line out and within moments begin to reel you in …and if Crisis is not your mode of operation, it will drain you…but you already know that – because you’ve been on that other end. The most difficult part is when you truly care about the person and cutting them out of your life is not possible – or desirable….but self protection is a must. You have to find a way, a method, to protect your heart, your soul and psyche…you need to find your own line – only instead of casting it out, you need to draw it – as they say…in the sand – and take care not to step over it….and you’ll be ok.

Awareness is always key, isn’t it?

Emotional Backpacks

September 12, 2015

I think that for women, in particular, the disappointment of realizing that someone who you have always regarded highly and have invested in, has no loyalty – it is so disheartening; it shatters everything that you know.

I have some incredible, truly Angelic girlfriends that have been in my life for 20+ years and have been my lifeline – my saving grace – my safe harbour in the many storms of life….and I know how blessed I am to have them. Without them, I truly would not be the woman I am today.

In the last two years, since my father has fallen into the cruel hands of ALS, and my mother into grief’s dark shadow – I have had incredible support and I make such an effort to not bring this dark cloud into conversations, as much as possible, unless asked – because, let’s be honest, your friends can only shoulder so much and the point of friendship is to share equally in each other’s lives and to have fun…it should not be a constant state of “poor me”. I truly get that.

I know that I am not alone in the revelation of the friend who is the emotional siphon – forever in need of advice, sympathy and your shoulder – and most of us never see this clearly. Then, one day we suddenly wake up. I don’t know what the straw is that finally breaks the proverbial camel’s back – but we wake up and open our eyes and see that perhaps this person has become – for lack of a more eloquent term – dead weight. Weight that we have been carrying on our backs like a backpack, in the form of excuses – excuses because of the history.

You realize that they have never honestly shared in your joys, consoled in your sorrows, supported in your various ventures and adventures. You have been the sounding board all these years and basically, just so that they could hear themselves speak, loud and clear…you’ve been the mirror that they could look into and adjust themselves accordingly.

I guess its true – you are never too old to learn something new. And while at first glance it can be a painful realization – within scant moments this becomes something so easy to let go of. Taking off that Emotional Backpack is such a relief. You take a deep breath in and find yourself moving forward at a fresh new and easy pace, wondering – what the heck took you so long?

Breath deep – hold your head up and smile….it’s a brand new day!

The Big Move

August 30, 2015

After a lifetime, the day finally arrived when the Rental sign went up as we had to make The Big Move – moving my parents from the home they have known for over 60 years, into an apartment. My father can no longer go up and down the unique curved staircase that I used to slide down to reach the walkway. My father can no longer walk at all…thank you ALS. The time had come to seriously downsize and move forward to a living situation that will give my parents a new sense of independence.

The house was originally my grandparents’ home – a place I stayed every other weekend with great joy. Later, as a family we lived there all together for 5 years while my father got his new company off the ground (we later moved 4 doors down). Then, many years later, my husband and I moved back into the house with our two children and also welcomed our third baby there – creating yet another series of memories.

So – on Thursday, furniture was loaded onto a truck – leaving me and my mom behind to go through cupboards and closets and pack a 62 year marriage into boxes. Clothing, dishware and long forgotten items hidden at the bottom of closets all had a story – many of which I heard from the first time. While packing away her cookbooks, 2 handmade Valentines fell out, sent to her by my father (who has always been an artist and musician, apart from his profession as an Ad Man). I ran my fingers over the simple, hand drawn cards imagining the 23 year old young man, courting the girl he had fallen desperately in love with…imagining him anticipating her surprise and delight at receiving a cute, romantic Valentine at her office.

Wedding gifts, barely used….dishes from my great grandmother’s wedding in 1893 (on my mom’s side) and dishes that graced our own family table while I was growing up. A hundred – no a million memories….and only a scant few that I could own myself, but I appreciated every single one shared. I met the young young couple my parents were (and still are, in their hearts) through those memories…but I suspect that I have always known them.

Later that night, after having moved all of the essentials and settled my parents into their new home – my husband and I went back to the house to see what was left to finish in the coming days.

I walked though the front door, as I have all my life and held back the 5 year old’s urge to call out, “Hi Granny” down the hall. I could almost smell the overly well-done toast and coffee which was my grandmother’s dinner ritual. As I moved though the house my steps seemed to slow – I stopped in the doorway of my old room and ran my hand along the molding where I split my lip open at age 2 on the night of my grandfather’s funeral…I stood in that room remembering how my little sister and I used to use the “telephone” we had made out of toilet paper rolls all taped together – as if no one could hear us! Then onto the vision of my own two daughters in their beds, set up the same way, only one of them was in a crib. I continued on to the back room, my mother’s “office” and saw pre-teen me sitting with my Grandmother on her bed, laughing together hysterically as I tried to read the Hungarian/English dictionary (of course looking up as many rude words as it held) and sharing my discovery of The Beatles…and how she showed so much interest….flash forward and I saw myself, the young mother, laying with my 7 year old son on his bed reading Harry Potter every night. Finally, the kitchen – heart of the home…my sister and I doing dishes every night, probably making quite a mess as we would be fighting or laughing, depending on the day. Simultaneously – me, cooking and creating crafts and changing the curtains and table cloths to suit the seasons when it was our turn to live there as a family.

Once we got to the basement I could hear and see me with my high school girlfriends singing into hairbrushes to The Partridge Family, which would have been spinning on vinyl. Suddenly, I had no strength left and melted into my husband’s arms, sobbing. There is truly a lifetime in those walls…my immigrant grandparents from Hungary, my newly engaged parents, my pre-teen self and finally myself as an adult and own little family.

The parties, the laughter, the tears….all embedded in the walls…walls now waiting for another family to add to the layers.

Hold Onto Your Nips

August 7, 2015

Yes – I said “Nips” – as in nipples. I am sorry – but have you ever shopped at Costco? The fresh produce department is set at the unbearable temperature of sub-zero, winter/spring/summer and fall. Last weekend, I grabbed my husband’s arm and exclaimed “Oh my gosh! I can see my breath!!” and proceeded to exhale a rather impressive cloudy puff…..problem is, it wasn’t MY husband’s arm I grabbed. Thankfully it was too damned cold for me to blush.

After the mad dash, as if I was in some grocery contest, and hoping that I was actually purchasing the things that I needed – I tossed the items in our basket and then ran over to the rotisserie chicken section to warm up, and I wasn’t the only one…ok – yes I was – I just wrote that part to make myself feel better and sound saner.

I get it – they want to keep their produce perky and fresh….but other things are feeling perky and fresh in there too…and not all of them pretty!

I’ve just pulled out my sweater and tossed it into the backseat of the car and am now ready for this week’s shopping adventure (oh yes – with me there is the good chance that it will indeed be – an adventure).

Slow and Steady Fire

August 2, 2015

Almost 30 years later …hmm – where’s the romance? I think it’s probably stuffed somewhere in between the unfolded laundry and the moving boxes at my parents’ home.

Sadly, Romance just doesn’t have it’s own place here these days. Generally I am really ok with it – I get it – this is the Phase of Life we’re in right now.

Sometimes, though – I long for those seemingly endless evenings spent on our balcony on Gamble Street where we lived 30 years ago. We imagined so many incredible things on that balcony…but… not everything.

I never really believed that my parents would get older or sick and that I would have to take over, and I am sure that my husband never imagined that either.. We were two young lovers sipping cheap wine by moonlight and deciding where and when to eat – or even if we should ;) The whole world lay at our feet – at least we thought so, from the 10th floor up.
Here we are 29 years later – three children and aging parents…when did we become middle aged because I swear that we were just…25 ish years old…okay, truthfully a little more little ” ISH” than 25.
We have survived many more years than so many of our friends…and yet we still stand strong – sometimes divided in our thoughts on how to handle things, sometimes annoyed at the little habits we’ve acquired…but we still stand strong.
I still roll over in the night, comforted to feel him sleeping (and snoring!) beside me…and I still walk downstairs every morning, eager to greet the new day with him and share a cup of coffee.

I think that when you are young and starting out and knew what lay ahead – you wouldn’t take another step – not because it is so terrible but because it is so far away from the dreams you are dreaming on your own balcony…your own studio apartment…or whatever your beginning point is..

But let me say this – it is the slow and steady fire that keeps the heart warm…yes, you need to stoke it – but sometimes, when you need to – you can rely on the embers.

Glory Days

July 6, 2015

I’m listening to the Load Out Song by Jackson Brown and dear God – do I ever I wish that I had written that song…but then again, maybe I did – but only in my mind. It is so incredibly descriptive of my former life…I can smell the smoke and whisky in the air, and that rank perfume of those well-worn carpets.  I can taste the leftover sandwiches sold on the shelves of those motel diners – still don’t know if they were tuna or ham sandwiches all I know is that they were the appropriate shade if beige.

I see the smiles and hear the laughter of the roadies as they set our shows up and tear them down…almost no difference in a day…”Check Check” – rings in my ears during sound check – those scant few hours before any show – be they on the big stage or the local club stage and honestly, every performance is  literally the same – it is musicians and singers desiring to bare their souls for whatever reason – be them creative or healing.

All I know is that when I hear that song, I want to grab my suitcase and jump into a beat-up van…I want to have some crazy town anticipate my arrival , where I know that they are waiting for us…waiting for us to take them away – for a night or maybe forever.

Oh my…those were the days…I am smiling now remembering that those were indeed the days

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