Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Thoughtfulness of Friends

Yesterday was one of those days when everything around me seemed to be crying for attention. It was my car's turn on the way to pick up the kids last night. How in the world did my brake pads get to 0%? And did you know that the daily rate for a car rental in the Bay Area starts at $150 this week? As usual, I appealed to my parents for help. My father drove me home - about 45 minutes one way - but not before my mother told me that when she's in her nineties, she'll run in the other direction when she sees me coming. I don't think she'll be running very fast then, so I'm not too worried.

And both my girls had another breakdown last night. This is exactly why I signed them up for boxing classes recently. We never joined the French gym for various reasons, and I was thinking punching bags were the antidote to our daily drama. The kids love the boxing, and it's so empowering. However, to release the intense emotions bubbling under the surface, we apparently must fully experience them first.

After getting schooled by my responsibilities and burning out the extended family, I was reassured to know that at least I always have my core friends who know just what to say when I need it most. I have no idea what I have done to deserve their thoughtfulness.

Exhibit A: Last night's email from my dear friend, Amy.

Ho Slutbag -

I just got around to reading your July 14th blog and I have to say, that your wedding was about me, no? And you forgot to mention my insulting toast.. for that, I am insulted. and for the record, if I weren't married, your grandmothers would find themselves (censored). That's right. (Censored.) That's what I (censored).

And for the record #2, I have changed.. it's not all about me. It's about my clean pool and me, and maybe Yack as a distant second... oh, and Pants too because he cleans the pool.

You missed out this weekend. So there.

I don't know what the namecalling is about, because I can promise you I'm chaste, especially when compared to that Amy and her filthy mouth. I don't really know how I ever became so tight with that sick puppy. All I can say is she better stay away from my grandmothers.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Life as It Is

I’m not going to lie - we’re still adjusting to the split custody arrangement. Daisy is at moments overcome by flashes of anger. Violet cries in anticipation of the next switch. On the nights I don’t have them, a passing siren can leave me sleepless for hours. I promise the kids it will get better, and they want to know when. I totally understand.

I have to look back to where we were a year ago to see the progress. I try to imagine a year into the future and can’t. I would take uncertainty over stagnancy any day, but clearly, it’s time for new goals. For the better part of a year, my goals were all in the category of Stability: Step 1. What else is there when going through a divorce while moving, reorganizing a family, and starting a new job?

But there was a subtle shift in July that seems to suggest when is now. I can’t help but associate this shift with our best dolphin sighting ever. During a walk on the beach at sunset last month, Violet had been complaining that it was not fair her older sister and dad had seen a dolphin the day before. Actually, she said it was “no fai-yeh.” She had tried and tried to see it too but never did and never had. She was taking it pretty hard.

A few minutes later, I pointed out a school of dolphins swimming parallel to the coast. Violet was immediately flustered because she didn’t see them. Daisy claimed she could but was looking in the wrong direction. A baby dolphin jumped out of the water, I kid you not, and both girls missed it.

We gave up, turning around to head back down the beach – and so did the dolphins. I made the girls stop and face them. The baby dolphin came flying out of the water again AND EVERY MEMBER OF OUR PARTY SAW THE WHOLE THING. Do you even know how rare that is? That memory was instantly golden. And it might have been a baby porpoise, so what.

The girls and I are endlessly busy, and there is a list of people I need to call. I’ve lost a set of keys and haven’t been able to get to my mail for over a week. I missed a couple bills last month due to poor organization. And yet, the stress is somehow dialed back a bit. The kids are noticeably more relaxed and confident. There is healing where there were health issues.

And that is why I’m starting to think about the future again as well as those philosophical questions that have no bearing on the daily grind, such as what I would do with my time if money wasn’t an issue (what would you do?). Interviewing seniors and writing about their lives came to mind. My 98-year-old grandmother’s health is declining, and she’s not as articulate as she once was. I wish I could have asked her more questions, but maybe she wouldn’t have felt comfortable answering them honestly. I wonder if it’s the type of sharing that’s best done with strangers. Imagine the history and wisdom waiting to be explored.

Last night, I went to the visiting Picasso exhibit in the city with a friend. He pointed out something I would have missed - it was so simple and small next to the large graphic canvasses. A bike seat with handlebars attached was mounted to the wall to resemble an animal skull with antlers. I have long been fascinated by art made of repurposed materials. It’s another pastime I would add to the list if time and money were abundant (as well as my own artistic ability). But on a more practical level, it’s a type of creativity that inspires me in daily life. I aspire to alter my perspective on life as it is, rather than wait for what the future might bring.