Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Life goes on. Plans change. The sting of disappointment has lessened. The irony of David being unable to go to the Middle East to pay our bills because of our bills has not been lost on us. Instead of getting mad about it, and feeling defeated, new plans are emerging. Other options discussed. This had been our solution for so long, so for it to be off the table was hard at first. But life is forever moving forward. I cannot look back at an option no longer there. Everyone keeps telling us, "oh....that just means something better will come along". After hearing that 8 or 9 times, I thought, "do you know something I don't know?" Maybe that is indeed true. Something better will come along. I cling to that. It gets me through the day.

Since we are short on money, on the weekends, we have been rediscovering our area. The place where we live. It is breathtaking here. Beautiful farm fields, and mountainous areas. Streams. Waterfalls. Quaint little towns. Stores and businesses we normally drive by, we are  taking the time to visit. We had a picnic and let the girls play in a creek, after visiting Dingmans Falls, a beautiful FREE waterfall, and boardwalk trail through the woods. We go there every year. We thought we would be there in time to see all of the mountain laurel in bloom. I do believe that is happening right now, though. Worth the drive.

Holley Ross is another annual pilgrimage we make. The store is filled with such great pottery. And when we took the trip, there was no one there. Behind the store, is an enchanted forest. A swinging bridge leads you to a trail through the forest. There is a lake, and a stream. A small waterfall. And even spots to dip your feet in the chilly water. Again, FREE.

I remember, when money was tight when I was little. My parents would herd my brother and I into the family car, for a "ride". We would drive out to the eastern tip of Long Island. Sometimes the South Fork, but mostly the North Fork. This area of Long Island is dotted with, now vineyards, but back then, it was farm fields. And here and there, a small little town. We would just drive, and pass by ice cream stands, and restaurants. It was a bit torturous. I recall wanting to stop at gift shops and have something, anything, purchased for me. I get it now. My parents didn't have the money. We were just being together. Talking, and taking in the sights, and sounds, and smells of where we live.

I remember one "ride" in particular. We had been out all day, and by the time we got back on the one lane road to head back home, the sun was setting. I can still see the flat land dotted with tall black silhouettes of telephone poles. The sky was a brilliant orange. I looked over the front seat, and my parents were holding hands. My father's thumb was stroking the top of my mother's hand.Their faces glowed pink from the setting sun. I saw their love. I felt safe. We were together.

I hope my girls will take that with them. I hope they will know how sweet life is, and how much we have.

I hope they will look back when they become them, and have happy memories of being us.

Monday, June 27, 2011

New day

After several days of going from a feeling of desperation, to complete disbelief, and add way too much wine from self medicating those feelings, which then adds anxiety, a calm has set in. It is typical that our plans fall apart. It really is. Things, however well planned out, have a history of not coming to fruition, through no fault of our own. Really, this was just par for the course. And today is Monday, and the sky is blue, and the sun is shining, and my coffee is especially delicious. So while my family still has a roof over our head, and cozy beds to sleep in, I'll take it, and stop questioning when the next catastrophe will be.

Last night, capping off an amazing weekend of family walks through forests, and window shopping, and singing Katy Perry songs at the top of our lungs in the car, David and I put the girls to bed, and watched "Whose afraid of Virgina Woolfe". I had never seen it. Mostly because I dismiss most black and white movies. I know I am foolish for doing so, but normally, they bore me, and I stop paying attention all together. I have never seen Casablanca. David is horrified at the list of movies I have not seen. He made me watch Sabrina a few years ago, and I really was filled with dread all day, but I LOVED it!

I watched the movie last night, I will admit, unwillingly. In fact, it was a Netflix movie that has been sitting on top of the television so long, that Netflix emailed us, wondering if everything was OK, as we had not returned the movie. They certainly got their $7.00 worth from us this month.

The movie was amazing. Elizabeth Taylor was incredible. Watching her made me feel a little sad. She kept drinking and smoking during the movie. I kept looking at her beautiful mouth, and feeling strange that she is dead. But she was such an incredible actress. So was Richard Burton. You could tell that they really did both love and hate each other. The chemistry was jaw dropping. The whole movie was disturbing and sad, and made me feel at times, that I was watching something real. A lot of times in movies that are old enough to be black and white, I always think the acting seems so unnatural. The way they speak to one another is so odd. So forced, and overly dramatic. Not this movie. It seemed real. It seemed possible.

I love when a movie or a book resonates with you, you wake up thinking about it. It is nice to have other things on my mind other than the normal impending doom that I normally feel. I have a lot of things cooking in my mind. I feel that change is on the horizon, yet again. It might not be for the better, but every day, I look at my family, and feel the love from all of the people in my life, and I am thankful. Our problems are monetary. That's it. I think that I have it so good in so many other facets of my life, that I have to suck up the bad. And the bad can and has gotten pretty bad. But we can take it. I know we can.

Happy Monday. Yummy coffee. I see more black and white movies in my future. 

Today I feel like anything is possible.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I had started to relax. I started feeling stress leave my body and being replaced by relief. I saw a teeny tiny flickering light at the end of the tunnel. I even started to look forward to writing about my family getting out of this financial nightmare that we are in. I was excited for the new chapter we were about to begin. It felt like things were about to fall into place for us. It was a feeling I have not known.

David is not being deployed. At the 11th hour, he could not get his security clearance. What prevented this final step from happening was his credit score. The very reason he was going to Iraq has prevented him from going. Having a foreclosure on your credit is very bad. So much so that apparantly, he is considered a security risk. So, that is that. The relief we thought would come from this is not coming. The seperation our family was willing to endure will not be happening. The foreclosure will continue. The pile of unpaid bills will continue to be unpaid. The new chapter in our life will not be starting. We are still in this awful chapter. It just won't end, despite every effort on our part.

Yesterday, I was devestated. Today, I am angry. I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine when David was laid off 3 years ago, and she said to me, "Don't you think the news of unemployment and the terrible economy is really being a bit inflated by the media?" I recall having to bite my tongue. I told her that everything she was reading in the newspaper was real. What she saw on the news was happening. People are having a hard time. People are out of work. David was unemployed for over 6 months. It devestated us. We are still paying for it. He has a job paying him much less, but thankfully he is employed. Yet all of that has effected our today, and now, our future. It is a hole that we were getting ready to pull ourself out of, but ironically, the very reason why David was going to the middle east is now preventing him from going. We just slipped futher down. The whole thing is mind blowing. To say we are disappointed would be an understatement.

A few months after I had that conversation with my friend, her husband was laid off. They had to move out of the country for work. You have to do whatever it takes to keep your family whole. I guess we are going to have to really put our heads together to figure this one out. Just when we thought we were going to right our ship, we have hit some choppy sea, yet again. I read something yesterday. I went to bed thinking about it. I kept waking up through the night, hearing it in my head.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."  -Mark Twain

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I googled the quote "The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray". On Yahoo answers, someone wrote that basically, it means that no matter how well you plan something, always expect the unexpected. Just because you think you've done all you can for something to go right...something can get messed up. They suggested to always have a plan B.

We don't have a plan B. This was it. This was going to change everything.

Things have gone astray.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


When my Dad was a Firefighter in NYC, he often worked 48 hour shifts. I remember being aware he was not with us, but not preoccupied by it. Really I think I was just not pleased being home with my Mom. She didn't like being left alone with all of us kids. She always seemed "tense". I get it now. When I have had too much time alone with the girls, I turn into the babysitter. Just barely making it to bedtime. Just trying to keep everyone somewhat managed, and safe." Tense" would describe me well.

I don't recall longing for my father while he was at work. I knew he would return, and looked forward to that. Memory is wrapped up in so many senses. For whatever reason, I always recall if the sun was shining or not, when looking back through time. If the leaves were green. If the cicadas were deafening that hot September night. Whether or not my Dad had shaved before leaving the firehouse. If he smelled like soap or smoke. His bear hugs, and laugh. The happy return. That is what stands out in my mind. Not the sad departure.

And my mother's relief. It was palpable. Our family unit, back together, safe. It always felt safe. I keep trying to put my self in the girls heads. How this separation will be for our family. How it will feel for them. What they will take through time from this. 6 months is a long time. Way longer than the 48 hour shifts that are my only point of reference. I fear the tension in my head that I know will come along with this. And the sadness, and the loneliness, and the fear.

But I am beginning to really welcome the good in this. Not just financial relief. That is, after all, why we are doing this. I want my girls to see their mother differently. Maybe a little lighter. Not always being the heavy. Not always saying no. I want the girls to see that I am capable of not just being their mother. But I can pick up the slack, and hold down the fort, and wear all of the hats, and every other cliche you can think of. I want them to know that I am capable of being so much more to them, than just this one role that I have cast myself as. I want us to get through this, and maybe, not be so sad about our time apart. I want us to enjoy our time together.

Maybe they can look back at this with a couple of really good memories. And a feeling of knowing they were safe.

 And one happy reunion.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


We go nowhere. Our house is where we spend most of our time. Like most. Each Spring, I hunt for flowers. Cheap flowers to plant in pots on both our front and back decks. It makes our house look and feel nice to be in. The least expensive I have found, and the hardiest flowers that grow in my wooded conditions here, are Impatiens. I buy a few flats of them every year, and have anxiety attacks for days about the frivolous spending. Literally, days. And I care for them that much more, partially due to guilt of the expense, and also knowing of the predators that are out there. Deer. Everywhere. Unafraid, and hungry. I spray religiously every week, a mixture of rotten eggs, garlic, and mint. It is awful, but keeps them away. And, it isn't cheap.

I ran out the other day. It has been raining on and off for a few days now. I was lying in bed last night, and I heard the dog growl quietly. I then heard a bang. It was our garbage can. I thought it must be a raccoon. Then I remembered that I had not sprayed in about a week, and all of the rain had surely washed away the awful scent on my pretty flowers, leaving them vulnerable. I lay in bed wide awake, listening to the pouring rain, and hoping that our flowers would make it until the morning.

Charlotte harvests seeds. I don't know where her fascination with plant reproduction began. She will pick seeds out of her green beans at dinner. We have an avocado plant growing on the back deck, and a lemon "bush". She saves her orange seeds, and each Fall, takes apart cone flowers and saves all of their seeds, and insists on planting them each Spring.

She saved pumpkin seeds this past October. From a pumpkin given to her at school. She waited, and waited for the weather to be warm enough to plant her giant mixed bag of seeds carefully dried and saved all winter long. On the front deck, we have an old wooden whiskey barrel. It was here when we moved in, and every year, I add about half a flat of Impatiens to it, and they get so big and bushy, they spill over the sides. I only get white Impatiens. They look so pretty, along with all of my clay pots scattered around the entry way to our home. I love pulling out of our driveway, and staring at our little house before I pull away. I love coming home to it each and every day. I enjoy watering them, and I always scatter a few morning glory seeds in the pots, which dazzle us with their giant flowers. This year I scattered some moon flower seeds in there too.

Charlotte wanted the whiskey barrel. I didn't want to let her have it. I loved the way my Impatiens look in it every year. She wanted a garden. I relented, and truth be told, I wasn't happy about it.

Charlotte planted pumpkins. And each day, they have gotten "vinier". Thicker and greener. The leaves getting plumper. I have to admit, I was getting a kick out of their progress. I joked with David that we would indeed be having pumpkins here in the Fall. I sprayed them with the stinky deer spray to protect them. To keep them growing.

David just kissed me goodbye before he left for work. He said that all of the plants got eaten last night. I felt my blood pressure rise. I  knew I needed to spray them. I didn't want to spend the money this week on the concoction It simply wasn't in the budget this week. I thought they would make it through.

I don't know who is going to be more disappointed this morning. Me, or my sleeping farmer.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Exhausted. I am so tired from staying up late (that would be 10:30 around here) and squeezing the life out of these days together. We get up and go go go. I am feeling more anxious each day, as we are not adhering to our regular way around here. David keeps telling me to relax, and just enjoy, but I feel so uneasy. Like all this fun stuff is just trying to keep us busy and not talking about being apart. But I keep thinking about it.

On Friday we found out, that due to a paperwork screw up, David will not be leaving until July 10th. I was both happy, and disappointed. We had all been mentally prepared for next Sunday, so to have it pushed off for two weeks due to a glitch in the system was a bit irritating. The girls were happy. Don't get me wrong, I am happy to extend our Summer together by two weeks. I just know that it is prolonging the inevitable, and I just want to get it over with.

I cleaned the house for the first time since last we have just been letting everything slide.....and everything is in order. Dinner menu is planned for tonight. Tonight, a movie and regular bed time. The rush of getting it all in has lost it's novelty. We, for the next two or so weeks, shall just be.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Monday night Mojitos. Stayed up way too late. Kids playing hard outside, getting disgustingly dirty. And tired. I am trying to enjoy David while I have him, and our tiny slice of Summer, but I keep feeling anxious. Like I am doing something I am not supposed to. I wish I could just relax, and be calm.

Each sunset is one day closer. We are just trying to stretch the life out of the day.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Time is ticking. David leaves in less than two weeks. I can't really comprehend that, but I keep thinking about it. Constantly. I woke up this morning, and on CNN, they reported that 5 US soldiers were killed in Iraq. The largest loss of life in months. It is such an awful place that he is going to. I asked him not to go the other night. Yes, are house is in foreclosure. Yes, we are broke. Yes, we have a pile of bills we can't pay. Yes, food and gas are getting more expensive, and our health care costs continue to rise. But it just doesn't seem right to send him all the way, to, what to me, sounds like hell on earth, just to try and hold onto what we have. It shouldn't have to be this hard.  

I think about him being there. Alone. Away from his family, and every comfort of home. I would never be brave enough to do it. Yet, he is happy to have this opportunity. He is willing to do this, and hasn't complained once. I am so very proud of him. I am in awe of his selflessness.

I recall one late fall evening, long ago. I was riding on the late bus, on my way home from a long day at school, and field hockey practice. I was in junior high school. I remember looking at the orange sky, and the silhouettes of trees, bare,from having lost their leaves. I was sitting alone. I remember vividly thinking to myself, that I needed to remember this moment in time. Every detail I committed to memory. My shirt was blue, and had the number 19 on it. I wore cleats. I had my hair down. I remember thinking that before I knew it, I would be an adult. That the years of junior high, and high school, and college would whisk by, and in the blink of an eye, this moment would be over, and I would no longer be young. I kept thinking at that very second that this was brief, and soon, I would look back at that bus ride, and be in disbelief at how quickly it all went.

I think about that moment from time to time. I think about that girl, sitting there on the late bus, trying to be athletic. Trying to fit in. Trying to become someone, and just wishing I could get to the point of being there. Through the years, I have visited that evening on the bus, in my mind. Through my decade of being carefree, and wild, living alone in NYC. To the day I slipped into my wedding dress. The first time I held my baby. The day I placed my new drinking glasses into the cabinets in my house that David and I bought. The night I had a miscarriage, and couldn't understand why I felt indifferent about it, and questioned my ability to disconnect so easily. Days turn into months that pass into years. It all goes so quickly.

When I visit that late bus in my mind, I think about how very much I still feel like that  young girl. How very alone and scared and insecure I still am. How the future still frightens me with all of it's "what ifs". I just want to close my eyes, and commit every bit, every glance, and touch, and smell, and kiss, and sleepy morning, and giggle, and hurt, and just wake up 6 months from now. I wish I could fast forward through certain times of our life, and press pause on others.

 Last night, I had a dream that I was wearing snake skin shoes. They were speckled red and black. I walked into a gymnasium with David and the girls, and there on the gym floor was a red and black speckled snake, with legs like a centipede. It was long, and fast. It rippled across the floor, and caught sight of me. It raced toward me, and my shoes. I am not a snake, I thought, panicked. Please go away. I started to run. David told me to run as fast as I could toward the Exit. He was shouting, and laughing. Why was he laughing? I was terrified. I ran as fast as I could. I couldn't get away from that awful animal fast enough.

I am so incredibly afraid.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I had not taken the time to notice how very regimented my family is. Bedtime for the girls is 8:00 on school nights, and 8:30 on weekends. A fresh vegetable is served with dinner. Fruit is offered as snacks. Homework is done as soon as they arrive home. Beds are made upon exiting them in the morning. Teeth brushed twice a day. Toys put away. TV time very limited. Family cleanup is after dinner each night. It has all become a rhythm. It is just what we do each day, like most families, I suppose.

David's departure date is drawing near. Suddenly, our life, and plans, and daily life have been sent in so many different directions. The girls go from being sad, and in disbelief that David won't be home for the summer, let alone the first day of school, and Halloween, and Christmas, to being scared that something bad will happen to him. I feel the same way. While I am trying to think about the end of the six months that he will be gone, I am discounting the time in between completely. I keep looking at our outdoor furniture and think ,Why did we even put it out? Will we really use it? Will summer even matter this year? And then I think about the time we still have together. These few weeks, to cram it all in, and enjoy every bit of one another, "just in case". It is an awful feeling. Like Sundays. I have never liked Sundays. No matter what you have to do on that day of the week, Monday looms, and you can never quite relax.

Trying to fit a summer into three weeks has made me feel like I am walking on egg shells. Our regimented daily doings have been pushed aside. We are both, for the sake of the girls, trying to just be relaxed, and carefree. Letting them stay up later, and consume ice pops, and play into the darkness of the late day. Beds unmade. The house not as tidy as we like it. Yet it all feels fake, and contrived, and like a Sunday wedding, I am not having as much fun as I would if it were on a Saturday night. I am too busy being consumed with fear. I am too busy thinking about what is about to happen.

I keep looking for signs from the universe that it is going to be OK. Like a pat on the back, disguised as a cool breeze. Olivia picked up a penny in a parking lot the other day. It was on tails. Before I could tell her not to grab it, she had it in her hand. "Were doomed", I thought to myself. We are tempting fate. I cringed as she put it in her pocket. All that bad luck, riding around in the car, and coming home with us. I wanted to cry.

But I got a letter from a friend. It made me sit back, and take a breath.  She said to me the most comforting words. Nothing special, just real encouragement. She said we will do just fine when David is gone. She said to keep fighting for our family, and our home. That I will be surprised at how much patience I will have for everything during this separation. She advised that I keep it in "low gear". I especially liked that part. I have been feeling anxious about being in low gear. Like I am doing something irresponsible. I feel like I have permission now.  

And she said to keep my eye on the prize. And so, I will. Unmade beds, and all.

I got my cool breeze.