Thursday, December 30, 2010


The New Years of 1999, I left town. I was working at Chloe, making buttloads of money. The Y2K rumors were running rampant. I recall being told that Shea Stadium was being filled with EMT vehicles, and body bags, as mass pandemonium was about to break out, due to massive system failures around the world. No one knew how to fix the dates on computers, so this was going to somehow result in mass casualties. (Never understood that.) I even saw a woman on the news advising us to all get a Y2K survival kit together. Water, and canned goods. Batteries. A radio. I didn't understand why we would need all these items. All I knew was I wanted to party down, and I was going to do it outside of the New York City limits.

I headed to Southampton with my friend Josh, and we went to stay with my partner in crime, at the time, Lilee. Wild girl. Still is. She grew up a blue blood, with tons of old money. Filled with private school education, and years of horse jumping, yet she could drink and swear like a sailor. Loved her. Still do. 

We went out to dinner, my treat, to a restaurant on Main Street called 75 Main. It was a hangout of mine. We had a 7 course meal, complete with wines to match each course. We also had a few bottles of champagne. At midnight, we went to Agawam Park. It is a beautiful little park, right on a lake, that is right next to the ocean. They were setting off fireworks. It was freezing out. I had on skinny black cigarette pants, and a tiny black sleeveless camisole. I topped that with a vintage pink, long Indian coat, with heavy gold embroidery running through it on the front and back. I had on Sergio Rossi black mules, with feathers on them. I looked like a million bucks, but I was so cold, and didn't care, even a little. Drunk from wine, and champagne, and watching the beautiful fireworks that cold winters night was so exciting. I felt young, and free, and inside, delighted at what the upcoming decade would bring. Going from 1989 to 1999 had been a decade of amazing things for me. Change, and growth. I could not imagine what the next decade would have in store for me. 

The past decade brought me the love of my life. A man so dedicated to my well being, as much as his own, that I still pinch myself. I had three children. Me. I did. I carried three babies inside of my body, and here they are. Evidence of us being here, on the earth. I look at all of them, and I see myself and David, staring back at us. It still astounds me. We moved and started a life in a place where we didn't know anyone. We have known struggle, and fright. Sadness, and despair. But we have had moments of happiness I never knew possible. 

We say a family prayer each night before we eat dinner. I still listen to my girls reciting it, with their hands together, fingers clasped, and delight in what has happened to me in these ten years. These living, breathing, creatures, that are little droplets of our love.

And with both fright, and hesitation, I cannot imagine what we are now headed into. We are being forced off our path. But we are about to cut a new one, and I cannot wait to see what is around the bend. 

I love you David, and Olivia, and Charlotte, and Molly. 

Happy New Year.     

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Christmas of 2010, put into the record books. I have to say, it was one of my best, if not, the best. I went into it filled with dread, and what unfolded before me was sheer bliss. I felt that the last week was like looking into a snow globe. It swirled, and sparkled, and reflected light in a most mesmerizing way. It was beautiful. From start to finish. I loved it.

The days after Christmas have always been a bit anti-climactic for me. All the rush, and excitement, and then it is over. I just went into my refrigerator and found a package of chives. In my head, I cursed, and thought that really sucks. I was supposed to mince the chives finely, and sprinkle them on top of the goat cheese scalloped potatoes that I made. I went out of my way to get these chives. Silly, I know. No one knows. It didn't ruin the meal. The meal was actually really good.  Except maybe my potatoes would have been just that much better with chives garnishing them.

And, we weren't wearing silly paper crowns. The kind you get in Christmas crackers. I looked all over for them too. There were none to be found. I thought that would really complete the Christmas picture I had in my mind.

I got a few of those Christmas moments though. We went to church on Christmas Eve. It was packed, and due to my compulsion to always be on time for everything in life, we were twenty minutes early. We got a great seat. I was super excited that we did. On the alter, was a whole stable set up. The service began, and it was just as I had imagined it would be. Mary and Joseph, and Shepard's, and wise men. Children playing animals. They even had a real newborn baby. And the baby was asleep! It was magical.

And then they turned out the lights, and came down the aisles, and lit small candles for everyone to hold. We let the girls hold them. The entire church began to sing Silent Night. It was a moment so powerful for me. I looked down, and saw my little girls faces aglow from the small candles they were holding, and I thought to myself, this is it! This is Christmas! Roll the credits now, and let the snow flakes begin to flutter down outside right now! It was everything I had ever envisioned. My beautiful family, my husband with tears in his eyes. It was perfect. I couldn't have asked for more.

We got home, and we had decided to just have frozen pizza for Christmas Eve dinner, as it was quick and easy, and I was cooking a "picture perfect" meal the next day. The pies were small, so I put three of them in the oven. When they were done, I took out the cheese pie successfully. As I reached in with the spatula, the pepperoni pie became a little wobbly. I thought I had it, but it fell, face down, on the hot inside door of the opened oven. Cheese, and pepperoni oozed everywhere. David happened to be standing there watching the whole thing. It was like it was in slow motion. I couldn't believe my eyes. This was not what I had envisioned for Christmas Eve. Cheese began to burn, and smoke. It was a mess.

But the funny thing was, that after David and I cleaned the whole thing up, and got everyone fed, and continued on with my picture perfect Christmas, complete with the building and decorating of a Gingerbread house (although, I forgot to serve them hot cocoa in their Christmas mugs) the moment that the girls thought was the best from Christmas Eve, was when "Mom exploded the pizza".

So, today, that is where I will leave it. Our life is so far from the picture perfect image in my head. Sometimes, it looks more like a connect the dots. But it is really great. And each day, I am trying to focus on the beauty of what I see, as opposed to what sucks.

Who needs chives anyway?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Each year,  my father went into the attic, and took out all of the boxes containing our Christmas ornaments, and decorations. Opening these boxes always made me happy. The smell of the ornaments, and tissue paper, and even the same old boxes, all had one scent. I have never smelled that smell ever again. It was the smell of Christmas, on Tulip Grove Drive. I can still smell it in my mind. I used to always put these fake gingerbread ornaments to my nose, thinking that they had to be the one that caused that nice smell, but it wasn't them.

We had a Nativity set that I loved. It was my job to set it up by the front door. I put the stable up, and arranged all the key players around the empty manger. My Dad placed baby Jesus in the manger every Christmas morning. Until then, it stood empty. My other job was to cut slivers of construction paper into "hay". I always chose yellow paper, although one year, we didn't have yellow, so the hay was purple, which upset my aesthetics, and annoyed me the whole season.

They "hay" was put into a basket, and placed below the Nativity scene. For every good deed my siblings and I did, we were to place a piece of "hay" in the manger, making a soft place for baby Jesus to lay on. We were not to tell anyone of the good deed we did, and we were to try very hard to do at least one a day. I loved looking at all the hay pile up, everyday. It made me happy to know that secretly, we were all trying to do something good each day.

Being that it was the "honor system", some of my pieces of hay in the manger, were debatable. Some days, I couldn't think of whether or not I did a good deed, so I would throw one in figuring I must have, and just forgotten. Other days, if I held a door open for two people, that equaled two pieces of hay. The intention was there I suppose. And every Christmas, the manger was full, and piled high with both good deeds, and intentions.

What I didn't know what was going on through these Merry Christmas seasons, was how hard it was for my Mom and Dad. My father, being a NYC firefighter, and my mother, a stay at home Mom, really struggled. A few years ago, my Dad told me that every Christmas, the City of New York gave all the firemen there uniform allowance. My Dad said it was quite a bit of money. Maybe close to $800.00. With that money, the firemen were supposed to purchase things for both their dress uniforms, and their equipment. Well, you can guess that the timing could not be better for this money to come in. My Mom and Dad would buy Christmas presents, with that money. They would buy our tree with that money. They would give us a Christmas feast with that money.

To think about my father going without important equipment for his job so we could have Hot Wheels, and Hess trucks. Dollhouses, and bikes. I guess these are just the things we do for people we love. We will go without, so our loved ones will have more.

 It is love.

 It is selfless.

 It is an unspoken good deed.

This year, I know of many people in my life who have quietly placed hay in our manger. You have made it a soft place. Your good deed has been so quiet yet it has spoken volumes.

Thank you.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Last night, we watched "Meet me in St. Louis" with the girls. I had never seen it. David loves old movies, especially black and white ones. I am embarrassed to say that I don't have a lot of patience for black and white movies. My favorite part of the "Wizard of Oz" is when Dorothy opens up the front door of her house, and she is in Munchkinland. The color part starts, and that is when the movie begins for me. David adores old movies, and sometimes, on Saturday mornings, he and Olivia get up early together, and watch them. He has passed on this love for them, to her. Luckily, "Meet me in St. Louis" is in color.

Older movies take a while for me to get into, simply because of the proper way they speak. The way they pronounce everything. No one speaks like that anymore. I can't quite put my finger on what the "accent" is. Uptight, maybe. But the longer I watched the movie last night, the more I liked it. Judy Garland, was never beautiful to me. Sort of odd looking. I kept staring at her hands, and her lips, and her gigantic eyes. She to me, is so tragic. She plays such happy women, on screen. She was such a tortured person.

The scene at the end of the movie, when she sings "Have yourself a merry little Christmas", made me get a lump in my throat. I looked at David, and he had tears in his eyes. I feel like we are just raw with emotion lately, and everything that is slightly touching, or sad, makes waves of emotion come out of us.

I watched a story the other morning on the Today show. It blew me away. It was about this really good looking college football player. He wanted to be a lawyer, and eventually a judge. He played baseball as well as football, his whole life. He got into a fight with some strangers, on a street. He and his friends were jumped. Witnesses said that these men kicked his head so many times, it looked like they were punting a football.

He is in a coma. He has been for over a year now. His mother and father are his full time caretakers. They have dedicated their life to taking care of their son. He lives in what was once their living room. It looks like a hospital room now. From morning til night, and through the night, they are his nurses, and physical therapists. They administer medication to him. They talk to him all day. His father watches football with him, and reads the newspaper to him. They never leave his side.

They interviewed the parents, and they were asked how they felt about what had happened to their son, who was filled with so much promise. The father looked so sad. He said that he hates what those boys did to his son. If they had just given him the opportunity to shake their hands, and introduce himself to them, they would have known what a good person he was, and that he was not a violent man. His mother was asked why they take care of him, the way they do. She said that she couldn't imagine her life without her baby boy.

This Christmas, in one of the most difficult periods in my family's small history together, has been stressful, and difficult, to say the least. It has been filled with anxiety, and sadness. But, it has been filled with miracles. People have extended such kindness and generosity to my children, and David and I. It has removed the dread I went into this holiday season with, and made it into one of the most beautiful, wonderful Christmas' I have ever experienced. I am thankful for all that we have. I am blessed to have this life. I am privileged not to know tragedy. I have healthy children. I have a husband that, despite all of my flaws, adores me. I have old friends and new ones that enrich my life. I have a supportive family. I am rich in so many ways.

I know this post is a bit rambling. I sit and type, and never have a plan. Some days it makes sense to me. Some days, it is all a bit fractured. I suppose what I am trying to say is that the family of that young, beautiful, man ought to have some of the blessings that I have undeservedly received.

They deserve to have a Merry Christmas.

I hope sooner than later, David and I can repay the kindnesses we have received.

Sometimes, all you hear about is the bad out there, and it sours you. Sometimes, you can fall into really feeling sorry for yourself.

There is so much good stuff, when you finally look for it.

Sitting, looking at my beautiful family, watching our movie together last night, made me see it, crystal clear.

Right there, before me.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Yesterday, the clouds of uncertainty, swirling above our heads, slowly blew away. All the anxiety about losing our home, dissipated. David spent almost three hours on the phone, with Citimortgage. He had called a non-for-profit group, and they called the lender, and they all had a conference call. For almost three hours, David spoke with the bank. They will not budge. They will not help us. We also found out our home is worth less than half of what we owe on it. We also found out that we will most likely have to move out around May, of 2012.

Shockingly, I am OK with this. I have been trying so hard to hold onto something, that is essentially sucking the life out of us. We have outgrown this house two children ago. We have one little bathroom. One living room. A tiny kitchen. 3 little bedrooms. That's it. There is nothing more to this house. I have no fight left in me. I don't care. I can honestly say that I feel like a new, and better chapter for us, is right around the corner. I can feel it moving toward us. In my mind, I am already thinking about a home with more than one bathroom. What a luxury. I am thinking about a home with a play room. I am thinking about how I would decorate the girl's bathroom. Maybe a garden. I would love to have a vegetable garden. And a cutting garden. Lush with flowers. Cone flowers, and snapdragons. Foxgloves. Oh foxgloves.

When we first looked at this house, there was a metal sign nailed to a tree at the end of the driveway. It had the number of the house on it, and it said below that "Foxglove House". I thought it meant something to the previous owner. When we moved in that summer, David pried it off of the tree and tossed it by the garbage cans. He started cleaning up around the property, pulling weeds, and such. There was an abundance of one type. Big leaves, close to the ground. I thought that they looked like something that should not be pulled. David swore up and down that he knew these were just weeds. I thought that they were purposely planted. He won the battle, and proceeded to pull up well over 200 or so of these weeds.

He filled garbage bag after garbage bag. I thought nothing of it, until one or two of these "weeds" that were overlooked, grew into the most beautiful, speckled, pink, and purple, Foxgloves. It made me cry thinking about how beautiful the house must have looked, with all of the grounds, completely covered with these magical looking plants. It was upsetting. Someones hard work, and attention to this land before us, removed and tossed, in about an hour.

It happens that quick. Change. All of your hard work. All of your attention to detail. Setting up a home that you have already visualised since being a child, taken away. I remember roaming through this house, and each of it's empty rooms, 8 months pregnant with Olivia. The possibilities made me giddy.

We tried for many years to replant Foxgloves. Every Spring we would buy several and stick them in the grounds. They never took. Not one of them. We had altered the landscape, I suppose.

We will do that somewhere else now. And through my tears, I am smiling.

This is not our ending.

This is yet another beginning for us.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NY night

I once went to a black tie affair at the Plaza Hotel in New York. It was a formal gala, honoring Philip Johnson, the renowned architect. It was in the Grand Ballroom. The same room where Truman Capote's Black and White Ball was. It was really something to attend such a grand affair. Brooke Astor was sitting at the table with Philip Johnson. It was really magical.

I wore a long grey, wool silk, slip dress, with a matching evening coat. I had on black pointy toed stilettos. I carried a small, jeweled, evening purse. I must have been about 26. My hair was up, and my eyes were smoky. I felt wonderful.

The night was filled with dancing, and champagne. Lots of champagne. The dinner was delicious, and the candlelight made everything glow and sparkle. The gold walls reflected the light. It was an honor to be a part of it. I felt like an impostor.

But I had one too many glasses of champagne. And then I believe we wound up in the Oak Room at the Plaza. After a blurry cab ride home, I remember spilling the contents of my little jeweled evening purse onto the seat of the taxi to pay the driver. I thought I had collected everything, but apparently, my apartment keys drove off into the night. Did I mention it was winter, and freezing out?

I became a bit panicked. I was unsure what I was going to do. I walked down the block toward my building. It must have been about 2 a.m. I buzzed the apartment of the man next door to me. He was in his twenties as well. He and I had only exchanged brief hello's, but I knew my window was open, and we shared a fire escape. This was the only way I would be able to get in without paying a locksmith.

He took a while to answer, and his voice was both sleepy, and angry when he finally picked up the intercom. I, was of course, over served, so I must have sounded goofy, to say the least. I explained that it was me, his neighbor. I asked him to buzz me in, and could he please open his apartment door. The buzzer sounded, and I pushed the leaded glass door open, and clicked my way down the hall, to the back stairwell, and hiked it up the flight of stairs. He slowly opened his apartment door, unsure of why I needed him to do so. Do you know, I smiled, said hello, and told him that I was going to need to go out his window, onto the fire escape. As I was telling him my plan, I walked right into his apartment. Totally breezed right by him. I didn't even know his first name. This was the most we had ever spoken to each other. He looked shocked. He looked a bit annoyed. He even protested, but I insisted everything was fine, and I walked right into his living room, threw the window open, and in a long gown, and matching coat, climbed out of his window, carefully balancing myself on the grates of the fire escape, hoping it would hold, as it was over 100 years old, and told him, thank you and goodnight. I opened up my kitchen window, which was always opened a crack, as the steam heat in the building made my tiny home hotter than hell, and I fell onto my kitchen floor.

I saw that man just a handful of times after that. Sometimes, I would be about to leave for work in the morning, and I would hear his door open, and I would wait to leave, watching him go down the stairs through my peep hole. I kind of felt silly. Like he thought I was wacky, or something. Maybe I was. I mean, I must have been.

But do you know, whenever I think of that night, I still crack up to myself. And I know, somewhere out there, that man must have a memory of me, crawling out of his living room window, in a gown, and stilettos, into the winter night.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Sitting at the bus stop this morning, the car began to make a bubbling, gurgling, noise. The temperature gauge shot up to Hot. I started shaking. I was afraid something was about to happen, like the car was about to die. I drove home, and called David. He too, is now filled with stress about this. I went on-line, and googled what it could be, and of course, a million scenarios came up. Some with a small price tag. Still others that we cannot afford. I am so worried about this, on top of everything else that I am worried about. Layer upon layer of worry. Like a stinky onion.

I have to see the goodness in my life. In our life. Someone is providing Christmas for my children. Without this help, there would not have been much for the girls. I will never be able to explain what this has meant to us. I am overwhelmed with thanks. I feel undeserving. There are no words.

Our tree is up. It is beautiful. I kept tearing up as the girls put ornaments on it, and Molly removed them. Where will we be next Christmas? Here? Will we be happy? Will we be OK?

I can't worry about the car today. I have to just focus on what we have.

 We have enough.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Tonight, I would like to be 24. Just for the night. I would like to still smoke too, just for tonight. I would like to stare at the clock longing for it to be 6:00. I would like to take my familiar route, up Madison Ave. to 78th Street. Walk over to York Avenue, and peek into brownstone after brownstone's ground floor kitchen's along the way.
I would like to make my way, all the way to the river. #539. Key in front door, up the one flight of stairs, and unlock the solid wood door, installed many moons before I was even born, and enter my tiny apartment. I would like to throw down my stuff, change my clothes, freshen up my makeup, and hair, check my messages, and decide on which plan that I made, with numerous people, sounds like the most fun.
I stop to pick up two packs of Camel lights, and hop in a cab.
I am young.
I am beautiful.
The possibilities are endless.
What will I have? A beer? A cocktail? Start off with a smoke. Definitely.
Tonight, we are heading to Arlington Elementary school. It is the annual spaghetti dinner, and gift shop. The girls are really psyched.
The PTA mom's really don't know who they are dealing with.
Inside of my mind, I am still 24.
Just for tonight.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Part I

I asked David a few weeks ago why moss was growing on the roof of the house next door. He said that when a house sits empty for a long time, with no heat on inside of it, moss will grow on the roof. Nothing is warming the roof from within. That struck me as sort of spooky. It also made me sad. My neighbor Barbara, who used to live right next door to me, lost her home to foreclosure. She had been unable to keep her head above water after her boyfriend moved out, and she then lost her job. She had stopped paying the mortgage over 4 years ago. She stayed in it for a bit, and had to move out only because she could not afford to keep the utilities on. She had no water. She packed up her things, and took her teenage son, and left. She gave us the keys, and told us to take whatever we wanted. I took a cake stand. She had always made us the best coconut cakes, and always brought them over in a glass stand, with a cover. I loved it. She left it behind, so I took it. I felt bad walking around her empty home. She couldn't afford movers, so she left everything behind. Furniture, and dishes. Rugs, and candles. Everything that makes a house, a home, was abandoned. David and I didn't feel right about taking anything. It made us uncomfortable. But when I saw the cake stand, it reminded me of too many good things. I proudly display it, and love when I bake a cake, and place it under it's domed cover. I think of Barbara.
I see her house everyday. I can see it from Charlotte's bedroom. It sits, empty. Moss is covering the roof. Weeds and baby oak trees are growing from the gutters. Feral cats come and go from under the deck. There is a black one, with yellow eyes, that I see, daily. We exchange glares. I dislike that cat. He is sneaky, and up to no good. He has run across the street, in front of my car on more than a few occasions. David found a dead squirrel last week, with it's eyeballs missing, right by our front deck. I don't feel compelled to put food or water out for that cat. He can take care of himself just fine.
I see Barbara's house everyday. When I see it, I get angry. It has been empty for years. No one from the bank has ever come to look at it. No notices posted. No padlocks. I often wonder how long she could have lived in that house for, before they came and made her get out. I think she would still be there today. Yet it sits. It is quiet all day, and it is hauntingly dark at night. I think about what it looks like inside the house now. Spiderwebs, and probably mice. Maybe the cats have gotten in by now. Has rain water come in? How do the rays of the sun look, in each room? I often find myself following the sun around my own home. The light here is brilliant. It rises and shines in my kitchen windows, and splatters it's squares of light everywhere. I follow it from room to room sometimes.
I have begun to think about what my home will look like when we are gone. Sometimes, when it is just Molly and I here, and she is napping, I listen to how quiet it is. I look at the light, and where it lands around the house, and think about how it will always shine in these various spots around the house, long after we are gone. I have begun to notice all the things in my house, these last few days, that have made it a home. It has made me angry, because I don't want to be forced out of here. It has made me wonder how much time we have here. It has made me question why the bank just won't work with us, and take a payment we can afford, instead of eventually allowing moss to grow on the roof.
It has made me want to appreciate every little nook and cranny of it. Floors, walls, doors, and all. My life became whole here. I don't want to forget any of it.

Part II

Monday, December 6, 2010


Sleep finally arrived close to 3 a.m. last night. Just as I dosed off, David woke up. I smiled to myself and thought he was taking over my stressing shift. I know he was waking up, and getting out of bed, because of worry. I was happy to be relieved.

I had a dream that I couldn't sleep. It was the oddest thing. And just as I dozed off in my dream, I woke up, at 6:54 a.m. ready to begin my Monday. I saw Olivia's shadow in my doorway. I motioned to her, but she left the room. I got up, and followed her. She was in her room, with the lights on, her bed made, and all of her animal friends lined up, just so. I think she was coming to wake me up. She is such a good girl. You have no idea. I cry some nights, just thinking about her, and how deeply she feels. She is me. I know when and what she is worried about. I see her constantly trying to make everything better for everyone. Some people tell me that we have done such a "good job" with her, but I have nothing to do with the way she is. She is a flower, opening up, right before my very eyes, and each and every day, I am startled at what I see. She is amazing.

I kissed her good morning, and she held me tightly. I could smell her scalp. I could smell my girl. We walked out into the kitchen together, and it had snowed overnight. It was so pretty. The early morning light made everything look blue. Olivia was so happy to see the snow. I was so happy to see her happy.

Today, I am thankful that I got to go to the grocery store, and get fruit, and vegetables and all the things that my family needs. I am going to make Swedish meatballs for dinner. I am going to keep thinking about the new position David is beginning, and the opportunity it means for us. I am going to keep thinking about the kindness given to me last week. I keep smiling every time it comes into my mind, and I feel grateful.

My friend wrote something to me recently. I keep reading it, because it is one of the most beautiful things any one has ever said to me.  Here it is:

"To my friend Erin:  we never know what the year will bring. We start off with daunting things --too much, not enough, too far, too short--but we finish the year, no matter what, as if our feet were on a conveyor belt pulling us toward December. You said that I landed in your life like a butterfly. Yours is a mind that thinks of fluttering, cellophane wings wringing blue and red stains from sunlight like colored glass. Your hands drag a plain, stiff brush through ordinary pigment to make soft petals and glistening stems. Your girls are beautiful. These things are yours. Every single day. No matter what."

Middle of the night

I have been unable to write. Mentally unable to. My mind has been racing. Each time I sit and try to type, my hands cannot keep up with my thoughts.

It is after midnight. I am lying in bed, and the baby is curled into the small of my back. She is so warm. David is sleeping. The house is still. I have been lying here, listening to my heat, just running and running. It makes me so stressed. I am afraid that something will break. I am terrified about something that hasn't happened. I wish for one consecutive week, I could just remain positive and happy.

I have received a kindness this past week that has moved me beyond words. I will never be able to express how it has touched my life. So I will simply say thank you.

David learned this week of a job that he is being detailed into starting tomorrow. The pay will be more, starting in the new year. The news is amazing. It is answered prayers.

Yet, I lay here, and worry that a machine cannot last forever. I keep thinking that my thinking about it, will doom it for certain.

Tomorrow, I will try for a better week.I have so much to be thankful for. Far more than what I am worrying about.