Friday, September 28, 2007

Second Blooming

A friend told me this story:
One day, I was agonizing with my therapist. “I've wasted my life. I should have owned a business by now. I should have applied myself, should have done everything I could to make my dream happen. Now it’s too late. I'm too old.”
That’s when he smiled. “Oh, really,” he asked. “And how old will you be if you don’t do it?”

We have plenty of time.

It’s not too late. Whether you are 45, 65 or 85, as long as you’re alive, you have time—Even if you have just one year to live, it’s not too late. Preposterous? You say? This "book" IS preposterous. For it’s all about making the impossible into the tangible. Lassoing your dreams at any age.

Times have changed, that’s for sure. There’s a myth that when our mothers were fifty, they looked forward to bouncing grandchildren on their knees and a comfortable decline into old age. My mother didn’t fit that model. Did yours?

My mother’s generation went a little mad, ushered in the feminist movement, encounter groups and EST. My mother painted all morning, sipping martinis and listening to folk songs on national public radio. My mother held art shows in our home, inviting her friends—artists, flamboyant yet soft-spoken gay men, doctors—to view the splashes of color, shape and form that covered the walls of our home.

My mother and others of her generation exploded the myth of the stay at home little wife. Though she was painfully shy, my brilliant and determined mother taught my sisters and me to look into our own hearts and find out what was going on in there. And at age 78, she’s still doing this.

Thanks to those pioneers, today’s fifty-year-old woman isn’t declining into old age. She’s starting a business or training for a second career. She’s exploring her creativity, volunteering her wisdom, building and innovating. She’s just beginning to experience her power. That’s how it’s supposed to be.
I had a dream. I was an old woman, about to die. I was sitting outdoors, just outside of a great lodge with big, open oaken French doors. Wrapped in a white wool shawl, I stared at a blazing fire in a circle of women.
When I awoke I understood…

Back before the industrial age, back, before the age of Discovery, circles of women would gather to exchange wisdom handed down for centuries, generation to generation. From these experienced elders, young mother learned to care for their children’s coughs, bloody noses and skinned knees. New wives learned the secrets of marriage from more experienced sisters. At age 12, women were welcomed Into the Red Tent where they learned to care for therselves during menses.

Of course, we can’t go back to circles around fires—except on the occasional workshop weekend at a conference center. We wouldn’t want to give up penicillin or radio or cars.

Still, we need to go back, to reach out our hands and pull the archetype of the wise woman forward through time.
Wise women are needed now—to help other women reinvent themselves and our world. Wise women are needed, to temper and soften and hold onto men – to listen to their wild ideas, to forgive them for their mistakes and help them to come home, too. Wise women are needed to tell their sons, fathers, uncles and husbands, “It’s okay to rest; take time to listen; get off the treadmill, it’s okay.”

“Death of the old form and new life or birth are fundamental to initiations.” Jean Shinoda Bolen. And our world is in a time of intense initiation—initiation into a new cycle of consciousness, a new way of perceiving ourselves and our world—into a global community, a worldwide circle of elders, guiding society into this new age.

When I use that term, “new age”, I am not only referring to the cosmic shifts astrologers have been predicting for the last hundred years. I am talking about a new age in which technology is moving information at the speed of light, a new “flat” world where, as author Thomas Friedman explains, a working class teenager with a laptop and an internet connection has access to the same information available to the CEO of a multinational corporation. This levels the playing field for accomplishments never before conceived of. I can get this story to you without spending a penny. You can read it from anywhere in the world.

At the same time, this new age is a time of challenge; for the flat world also gives access to those with less noble intentions, and that teen in England may potentially make a connection to Harvard University or Osama Bin Laden.

This is a time when our choices matter.
Will we install solar panels in our homes and office buildings? Wlll we allow wind farms to be developed off our coastlines? And how will we fuel our cars? Indeed, in this new age, will we even drive cars—or is some new mode of transportation being dreamed up by some teen in Australia or Katmandu right now?
The world is changing… so are we. How will we choose to live our lives now? Now that we have that chance to bloom again?

The earth is calling me through my feet – I can feel her drumbeat building… gather the women into circles and share the wisdom.

Please visit my other blogs and share yours.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

a glitch in my idea... and a solution???

So, I have discovered that people will only be allowed to subscribe to one of my many blogs. And that was annoying... so I thought, maybe I'll just put a little note on this page when I post to the other blogs or something... not sure

or maybe what i really need is a website... but it is so complicated to work with... and this is so easy

idea I had

Im thinking of breaking this blog into separate subjects, like columns in a magazine, my most comfortable venue. Ive named a few new blogs and I'd love your feedback, if you have any.

They are:

Second Blooming: Thoughts about regeneration at midlife, youthening, aging, anti-aging, completing cycles

The End of Men: Thoughts about raising our parents, about the end of the world, ahem, and all the prophecies and what they really mean (archetypally, mysitcally). And about DAd and Mom and elder care and the nursing home business and so forth... what I mean is, this one is about death and caring for our elders--and about the ethical and moral issues in play.

FIlling our Emptiness: On the ways that Americans (and others) have lost the ability to work the sometimes uncomfortable edge of real feeling experience and so, when we feel anything that feels too good or too bad, we turn to addictions (food, television, empty activities, self-destructive activities (cutting, anorexia, sex addiction, drug and alchool abuse) to stuff down and numb out our feeling experience.

Your Sacred Story: Exploring the mystery of our life path; discussions of mission and destiny; themes and patterns in the life cycle. This is my Master's Thesis project. Very deep (if I do say so myself)

Bee Priestess: Exploring the meaning and magic of dreams; dream interpretation; a possible forum for exchange of dreams; developing a personal dream vocabulary

Transformation by Fire: Exploration of the way that hardship and challenge transform us; alchemy; sacred fire; the fire we had in our barn; Kail and other fire deities, etc.

FLOW: My whole living, fitness, diet blog
FLOW MENUS: My yummy recipe blog
EAT THIS: My food addiction, food obsession blog

and...

What would you do with 330 million dollars? A blog about creating a master plan for your life, even if you dont ever win the big prize. This one is just for fun...

Monday, September 24, 2007

End of Men: water, goldfish, wheels

One of Laura's goldfish died yesterday. Arnie told me when I stopped by on my way to the hospital to sort through Dad's things to see if I could find some missing financial papers. I did. And I picked up his wallet, which was in the glove compartment of his car.

He's given the car to Max officially now, having offered and then withdrawn it several times over the past five or six months. The car, a 2002? Toyota, tricked out with a handle that Dad used in the last year or two of driving to hold onto the wheel with his good hand, is such a perfect metaphor for this time and these two men--passed across the bridge from elder to younger... as one stops driving forever and the other has just begun.

Catching up... August 25, 2006

Today, Katie got her schedule for 10th grade in public school. Today we saw the illusionist. Today, Pluto was cancelled as a planet.

In the parking lot, I asked the angels to give us a good spot in the upper level parking lot between Barnes and Noble and Legal Seadood as sson as we go there. I asked it out loud, as I always do. And as soon as we pulled up, there it was. But someone else was pulling into it.

Katie laughed, saying, "I guess we have to ask for a spot that no one else is pulling into."
Max said, "Oh, let's just park anywhere. I hate this."
And I said, "Max, your negative vibe is making it hard for me to hold the vision.
And he said, "I do not have a negative vibe. I just want to park!"
That's when the man with the limp walked out and led us to our spot.

This does not make me right. It just means that we got a parking spot.
And that I am driving my son crazy with things that, for now, he doesn't care about one bit.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Thank Heaven

Just got this from my friend Julie who likes to forward things...

Sunday September 23 - Moon in Aquarius

The Sun moves into Libra today and life becomes a little more delightful. Why? Because Libra is the sign associated with the planet Venus (as is Taurus) and when Venus is active, life is just that much more fabulous, darling. Venus rules love and charm, pleasure and chocolate. If you're still in recovery mode after last week's ups and downs, do anything you fancy to indulge yourself. It's the perfect way to celebrate the return of the Sun to Venus' sign.

The End of Men: Rose essential Oil

Just before my first client arrives, after I have cleansed the energy in the room with my bells, lit the oil diffuser, filling my airy space with atomized particles of rose essential oil, after I have listened to an hour-long meditation CD (twice--once, while I scrubbed the floors and counters with orange cleanser, again, with my eyes closed, falling deep into meditation); the phone rings and I, foolishly, pick it up.

It's the hospital. Sue, the Social Work Supervisor, is calling to tell me that my father's "health insurance has denied his claim and that we are goign to have to do something fast to get him into a nursing home or... " she trails off.
"Or what?" I ask.
"That's what I am going to have to ask you?" she says. "Camille (dad's jr. social worker) says that you said that if need be, your father could stay with you."
"I did say that," I tell her. "But you should know what that would be like. There is no room for him. My husband and I sleep in a closet outside of his home office. My children occupy two tiny bedrooms at the top of a steep stair. It's an old house with one bathroom, off the kitchen."
"So where would your father sleep?"
"On the sofa," I say. "Or we could bring in a hospital bed, I guess."
We talk about Medicaid forms and I promise to visit that afternoon (I was going to anyway).

And then my client presses the buzzer and there is no way I am going to be able to reclaim my "sacred space" before opening the door. I let her in and she bursts into the office, close to tears, saying, "I'm sorry Im a little early but my father has been in the hospital for two weeks and Im a little overwhelmed."

"I see," I say, amazed how my clients' lives so often parallel my own. "I'm sorry. Do you need a few minutes to collect your thoughts? May I make you some tea?"

We face each other across the white painted table Max and I found in a thrift store and set up together one year ago and she gives me her precious story to hold and examine. For the next two hours, I place myself in service to the spirit that flows between us, through us, and within us. For two hours, I am cleansed by my work, by her stories.

I feel blessed and held and truly supported as I hug her goodbye. I have fully served her and in the process, I have been healed as well.

I love this work I do.

End of Men: Disintegration

My mother is moving today. I know I will be blamed--by the circle of my mother's friends and supporters--for not "being there" to help her but the truth is, I am not there. I do not want to see the lost house, or the new, not-my-home condo where she will live from now on.

I know that this is childish and selfish and for now, there is nothing I can do about it.

I have spent the past month being pulled apart like a wishbone by the opposing needs of my divorced parents -- my mother's overwhelming need for help with packing, sorting, labeling and selecting things for a yard sale, letting go, reviewing and discussing as she lets go... and so on; my father's equally enormous need to be managed through the accelerated deterioration of his body, his expulsion from apartment into hospital and then, nursing home... and the vast and breath-taking amount of paperwork required to make that happen.

Which is more important? Who has the greater need?

Three days ago, when she called to ask me about Dad--who was lingering in the hospital for the tenth day--I cradled the telephone between shoulder and ear, trying to bring dinner to the table before 9 pm, trying to stabilize my own home, my own family.

As I pulled open the oven door to remove the beautiful halibut I'd purchased at Trader Joes and rubbed with olive oil and Homa's special fish seasoning, and laid carefully into a Pyrex oven-safe baking dish to broil with new potatoes and onions, the cold front of the kitchen met the higher temperature of the oven and the baking dish suddenly shattered, spewing white hot tempered glass all over the kitchen floor.

"What was that?" Mom shouted, hearing the explosion and my shriek of suprise.
"My Pyrex baking dish just exploded!" I said.
"That's not supposed to happen!" Mom said. "Are you hurt? Are you allright?"
"Yes," I say. "I just have to hang up now; I have to clean it up."
"You should call them!" Mom said, as I knelt, still cradling the telephone with my shoulder, to pick up the fragments. "That's not supposed to happen. You can get your money back. You can get a new dish. You must let them know!"

When Matthew came into the kitchen, to help me pick up the pieces, he said something about a vacation, I don't remember whose and I began to cry, quietly... remembering that I was supposed to go to Paris this summer to study at Chartres and write in a small apartment I'd found that Id been saving up for, that I could afford. I was supposed to go to Paris, it was my 50th birthday gift to myself and I'd been planning it for three years... But I didn;t go because, just as I was about to complete the plans and send the money to the various places it needed to go, my parents' lives erupted all around me, land mines, shattered glass and a vast vortex of need opened up beneath my feet, swallowing me whole.

There was glass all the way across the room, by the front door, by the refrigerator. There was glass inside the oven and under the cabinets and in the broom closet. Perfect little squares of glass.

I feel as if I have been walking through a war zone, the healthy nurse, wrapping head wounds and blows to the heart with soft, gazye sheets of understanding and patience. I feel as if my own blood has been taken from me, transfused for the more needy, my own skin stripped to graft over gaping gashes in a war that I have never understood.

But now I must lie down and I cannot be there. Now I must "be there" for myself.

I am exhausted--fatigued in body, and soul-empty, ovewhelmed by their age-old bile, their dusty rooms, their well-rehearsed grievances, their unspoken secrets. Sorting through their half-packed boxes of old leaves and pressed flowers that fall, disintegrating, from the pages of old books. Ancient relics of dried cellulose, too fragile to be touched, nothing more than memory and air...

Disintegration... that is the word for today, for my world. Disintegration, and my period returns with a vengeance--I bleed so heavily, going through three times my usual protection for twice as many days as I have bled in years. I bleed like a teenager, like a hemorhage, I am bleeding. there is glass all over the floor.

"You should tell them," my mother's words echo in my head.
"I keep sobbing," my father's words burn in my ears as I drive home in the middle of the night.

I am burnt to a crisp by fire, 10 horses lost, I am walking through a white hot world stipped of everything, my home, my community, my family, my skin. Barefoot over broken glass. That is where I am today. Disintegrating and writing pathetic poetry in Panera. Away from home.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Contemplating Death

I received this thoughtful piece as a press release for a new book. I like alot of what the author is saying and I will be discussing similar themes myself in future. For now, here he is...

Contemplating Death
By Michael A. Singer
Author of The Untethered Soul

It is truly a great cosmic paradox that one of the best teachers in all of life turns out to be death. No person or situation could ever teach you as much as death has to teach you. While someone could tell you that you are not your body, death shows you. While someone could remind you of the insignificance of the things that you cling to, death takes them all away in a second. While people can teach you that men and women of all races are equal and that there is no difference between the rich and the poor, death instantly makes us all the same.

The question is, are you going to wait until that last moment to let death be your teacher? The mere possibility of death has the power to teach us at any moment. A wise person realizes that at any moment they may breathe out, and the breath may not come back in. It could happen any time, in any place, and your last breath is gone. You have to learn from this. A wise being completely and totally embraces the reality, the inevitability, and the unpredictability of death.

Any time you're having trouble with something, think of death. Let's say you're the jealous type, and you can't stand anyone being close to your mate. Think about what will happen when you're no longer here. Is it really all that romantic that your loved one should live alone with no one to care for them? If you can get past your personal issues, you'll find that you want the person you love to be happy and to have a full and beautiful life. Since that is what you want for them, why are you bothering them now just for talking to someone?

It shouldn't take death to challenge you to live at your highest level. Why wait until everything is taken from you before you learn to dig down deep inside yourself to reach your highest potential? A wise person affirms, "If with one breath all of this can change, then I want to live at the highest level while I'm alive. I'm going to stop bothering the people I love.

I'm going to live life from the deepest part of my being." This is the consciousness necessary for deep and meaningful relationships. Look how callous we get with our loved ones. We take it for granted that they're there and that they'll continue to be there for us. What if they died? What if you died? What if you knew that this evening would be the last time you'd get to see them? Imagine that an angel comes down and tells you, "Straighten up your affairs. You will not awake from your sleep tonight. You're coming to me."

Then you'd know that every person you see that day, you'd be seeing for the last time. How would you feel? How would you interact with them? Would you even bother with the little grudges and complaints you've been carrying around? How much love could you give the ones you love, knowing it would be the last time you'd get to be with them?

Think about what it would be like if you lived like that every moment with everyone. Your life would be really different. You should contemplate this. Death is not a morbid thought. Death is the greatest teacher in all of life. Take a moment to look at the things you think you need. Look at how much time and energy you put into various activities. Imagine if you knew you were going to die within a week or a month. How would that change things? How would your priorities change? How would your thoughts change?

Think honestly about what you would do with your last week. What a wonderful thought to contemplate. Then ponder this question: If that's really what you would do with your last week, what are you doing with the rest of your time?

Wasting it? Throwing it away? Treating it like it's not something precious? What are you doing with life? That is what death asks you. Let's say you're living life without the thought of death, and the Angel of Death comes to you and says, "Come, it's time to go."

You say, "But no. You're supposed to give me a warning so I can decide what I want to
do with my last week. I'm supposed to get one more week." Do you know what Death will say to you? He'll say, "My God! I gave you fifty-two weeks this past year alone. And look at all the other weeks I've given you. Why would you need one more? What did you do with all those?" If asked that, what are you going to say?
How will you answer? "I wasn't paying attention . . . I didn't think it mattered."

That's a pretty amazing thing to say about your life. Death is a great teacher. But who lives with that level of awareness? It doesn't matter what age you are; at any time you could take a breath and there may never be another. It happens all the time -- to babies, to teenagers, to people in mid-life -- not just to the aged. One breath and they're gone. No one knows when their time will be. That's not how it works.

So why not be bold enough to regularly reflect on how you would live that last week? If you were to ask this question of people who are truly awakened, they wouldn't have any problem answering you. Not a thing would change inside of them. Not a thought would cross their minds. If death were to come in an hour, if death were to come in a week, or if death were to come in a year, they would live exactly the same way as they're living now.

There is not a single thing they carry inside of their hearts that they would rather be doing. In other words, they are living their lives fully and are not making
compromises or playing games with themselves.

You have to be willing to look at what it would be like if death was staring you in the face. Then you have to come to peace within yourself so that it doesn't make any difference whether it is or not.

There is a story of a great yogi who said that every moment of his life he felt as
though a sword were suspended above his head by a spiderweb. He lived his life with the awareness that he was that close to death. You are that close to death.
Every time you get in the car, every time you walk across the street, and every time you eat something, it could be the last thing you do. Do you realize that what you're doing at any moment is something that someone was doing when they died?

"He died eating dinner . . . He died in a car accident, two miles from his
home . . . She died in a plane wreck on a trip to New York . . . He went to
bed and never woke up . . ." At some point, this is how it happened to
somebody. No matter what you're doing, you can be sure somebody died that
way.
You must not be afraid to discuss death. Don't get upright about it.
Instead, let this knowledge help you to live every moment of your life
fully, because every moment matters. Thar's what happens when somebody knows
they only have a week left. You can be certain that they would tell you that
the most important week they ever had was that last week. Everything is a
million times more meaningful in that final week. What if you were to live
every week that way?
Copyright © 2007 Reprinted with permission by New Harbinger Publications,
Inc. From the book Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
http://www.newharbinger.com/productdetails.cfm?SKU=5372
Michael A. Singer received a master's degree in the economics from the
University of Florida in 1971. During his doctoral work, he had a deep inner
awakening and went into seclusion to focus on yoga and meditation. In 1975,
he founded Temple of the Universe, a now long-established yoga and
meditation center where people of any religion or set of beliefs can come
together to experience inner peace. Through the years, Singer has made major
contributions in the areas of business, the arts, education, healthcare, and
environmental protection. He has previously authored two books in the
integration of Eastern and Western philosophy: The Search for Truth and
Three Essays on Universal Law: Karma, Will and Love. visit
www.untetheredsoul.com for more information.

Friday, September 14, 2007

What would you do?

I have just stumbled across a website/blog that I absolutely love and I want to share it with you. It's called The Buried Life and you can access it at http://blog.theburiedlife.com/. I will add it to my links list to the left of this page, too.

I'll let their publicist explain them to you... cuz I dont have time:

"What do you want to do before you die? Inspired by a poem they read in English class that talks of achieving the unusual goals that get buried under day-to-day life, four passionate Canadian college students have embarked on a mission dubbed The Buried Life Tour (www.theburiedlife.com). Their mission is to accomplish 100 items on a list of things they want to do before they die, while helping at least 100 strangers they meet along the way also realize their dreams.

"The Buried Life Tour makes its U.S. debut in a retro 1970 purple bio-diesel bus on a two month, 10-city tour to fulfill more items on their list while inspiring others along the way. The group started their movement in an effort to challenge Gen-Y’s collective apathy and lack of passion. Committed to “walking the talk,” they’re leading by example through accomplishing their life dreams.

"So far, the crew has crossed several items off their list, including opening the six o’clock news (#1), leading a parade (#2) and spending the night in a haunted house (#45). Items they’re still attempting to achieve include dancing with Ellen DeGeneres (#79), throwing out the first pitch at a major league baseball game (#36), and competing in a soap-box derby (#70). The complete list of the group’s life goals can be found at www.theburiedlife.com/list.

"The quartet has created a website to chronicle their adventure and chart their progress. The tour has generated a cult following throughout Canada and the U.S., and has inspired hundreds of individuals to go out and live life while reaching out to help others. Their complete adventure is being chronicled in a feature-length documentary anticipated to premiere in film festivals worldwide in fall, 2008. They also have many clips on YouTube.com including the following video link: http://youtube.com/watch?v=oSFZ3heabVc&mode=related&search=

Have fun!

Then answer my question at masterplan.blogspot.com

Changing the Subject

I am about to change the subject. You may have noticed that my last post was not about my father, or my mother or my family home being sold or even about Max going to college. It was about a fire that happened to us in May, 2007. A fire that seared and changed everything in my life. A fire that must be documented.... out side of my journal, I mean.

So I am changing the subject.

I will begin posting all of my hidden works. The books that I have been working on for several years... because I must get them out into the light. They feel moldy and old just sitting there, and I want to infuse them with new life.

What I noticed, so far, about blogging, was that my work 1) sounds better to me when I put it on my blog than when i read it as just "something I am working on". It sounds and feels more complete and more authoritative.

Blogging my "old" work enlivens it, freshens it, like throwing open the windows in spring.

So that;s what I am about this week.

But I will also keep you posted on the Dad and Mom show, as it plays out.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The End of Men: The End of Men

Four years before the cosmic clock ticks out, in the year 2012, as predicted by the Mayans (TK WHEN) this hurrying makes a kind of “sense”, as if we are coming to the edge of something, a waterfall of time, and the waters are hurrying over the edge. Will this be the end of men? Will Armageddon come?
On a micro level, I am preparing to say goodbye to my son who will graduate soon. We will pack a trunk with his belongings and send him to college, and I will begin to live without him for the rest of my life. There are prom tickets, a class play, a music festival, a graduation party to distract me from this heart fire, the searing sadness that licks at my heart. But I know it is coming.
I am preparing to say goodbye, also, to my father, who teeters on the edge of life itself. And the question I have been asking for the past 30 years, should I stay with my husband? comes up again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

THe End of Men: Poker II

Yesterday, when I visited Dad at the hospital, five or six months after that last post was written, he told me, "I cry alot. I go into this altered state where I am so deeply immersed in a memory, something from my past, something with one of you girls or your mother or some friends. I can feel every detail--it's all so real it';s like Im really there. And then, I wake up and the reality of what is going on with me, my body, where Im living, being so isolated, no one visiting, is so overwhelming..."

He continued, tears filling his eyes and his facial twists betraying every emotion he was trying to disguise as his memory leapt around, collecting images and rejecting them. " I'm not going to play poker this friday night and I'm not going out for bagels and the Sunday Times and Im not going to work at Camp Edalia this summer and I'm not going to swim in the ocean with Beth or build sand castles in Nantucket with Jenny. Im not going to Parkwood to watch you swim and Im not going to act in any plays any more and Im not going to ... " are here he choked up... "do anything with your mother."

"I know it wasnt a good marriage at the end, it wasn't a real marriage. But at the beginning, we were good friends." And now Im crying, too, and holding his hand, the hand with the IV needle taped to it, the hand that still works... the hand that he uses to pull the other hand, limp and lifeless, up and onto his belly to rest, patting it gently as one might a kitten or tiny baby.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The End of Men X: Water

Dad won’t move to a nursing home. Won’t stop driving. He won’t sit in a wheelchair.

The first few times I visited him at Laura’s, we talked about his new place, how it was going. But then, Dad seemed to want to talk about his memories and I offered to help him record them by interviewing him on tape and later, typing them up for his memory book.

We did that twice, after that, we both seemed to want to process our feelings about Mom and how she’d broken up our family. Dad misses Mom terribly. His eyes fill with tears when he talks about her—and his little black and white cat, Mookie. I know that sometimes, he stops by the house to see them, on his way back from work.

Laura and her partner, Arnie, who is also Dad’s friend, share a condominium in a pleasant, quiet neighborhood near Union, New Jersey. “He’ll be comfortable here,” Laura said as Matthew and I carried Dad's belongings up to his new room. It was bright and sunny and clean—nicer, in fact that his room at home had been. Laura had filled it with green and living things.

She explained that Tom, another boarder who lived in the next room, was a certified home care aide and would be helping Dad to shower and preparing and serving his meals.

“I’m going to make him shakes with organic berries and protein powder,” Laura narrated as we moved Dad’s suitcases and the couple of boxes of books and papers he’d packed into his room.

Her eyes glistened with hope and eagerness; she couldn’t wait to start healing him back to normal. “We’ll rebuild his nutrition. He’s been living on Ensure and cookies,” she said. “He’s lost so much weight.” Her implication was that no one had been taking care of him, that he’d been sitting neglected all day while Mom, who Laura perceived, had abandoned him in favor of her own interests, was gallivanting around the world with friends telegraphed the story she'd been told by Dad.

She seemed to believe that Mom was traveling, working, hanging out with art friends and that my sisters and I, three busy working women, simply didn’t have time for him. This was not remotely accurate--and smacked of manipulation (on Dad's part).

Still, this wasn’t the time to talk about his stubbornness. The way he pushed help away, translating any suggestion into an attempt to reduce his freedom. The way he resented the very people who took care of him—as if, somehow, the limitations of his corrupted and insulted body was their fault.

This was not the time. Perhaps there was some magic afoot here. Perhaps, Laura would fill the veins of his body with nutrition and the arteries of his soul with conversation—and bring him to healing, untwisting his spine with tender care and friendship. “We don’t really understand torticolis,” she told me. “Maybe he was twisting away from all the…” she stopped, editing herself. “Maybe we can straighten him out a bit.”

Maybe indeed. I have witnessed some miracles of healing. As editor of an angel column, I’ve read thousands of letters about things other people might not believe. But I will never doubt that they are possible.

“We’ll have our theater group meetings at the house,” Laura glowed, as she hugged me goodbye. “If we work it right, he can still be a part of everything. He can be happy here.”

“This is too good to be true,” I reported to my sisters and my mother. With her halo of wispy white hair—tinted with stripes of bright pink--Laura even looked like an angel. I reported the diet plan, the theater meetings and we breathed a collective sigh of relief. Laura had promised, “I am hoping to keep him here and take care of him until the end of his life.”

The third time I came to visit Dad at Laura’s, I went downstairs for a while and found Laura in the kitchen. We talk about Dad and about her kids and about the house and how nice it is that she has taken him in. Then, Laura asks me about the goldfish.

“Do you think it looks sick?” she asks me. We peer into the small bowl, watching the bright orange fish flash around. I also see the cat watching it.

This is the second fish, Laura explains. The first, purchased on a whim carried carefully home in a plastic bag filled with water, died after only a week. When she saw it float to the surface of the small goldfish bowl, Laura was surprised by how deeply she felt the loss. “I felt as if I’d let it down,” she told me.

She went to the pet store and asked questions about food, water quality and oxygen. She learned that her fish had been a special kind of fish, and that it needed a different fish food. She came home with a brand new goldfish, a new kind of food selected by the trained salesclerk, a little sack of blue gravel which would help for reasons I don't quite understand, and a small water plant that was, she told me, supposed to do something to oxygenate the water.

When I returned two weeks later, the second fish had died.

Deeply troubled, Laura returned to the pet shop and returned with a small tank, different food, and another fish. This time, the salesclerk suggested that the tap water she was using to fill the tank was probably causing the problem. When I got there she was pouring filtered water from a Britta pitcher into the tank.

On my next visit, the third fish was showing signs of trouble.

“She’d kind of obsessed with the goldfish right now,” Dad told me. He wasn’t making fun of her. His comment sounded concerned and loving. “She takes things so hard,” he continued. “I’m worried about her.”

Downstairs, while Dad used the bathroom, Laura showed me the new bubbler the salesclerk had recommended. She was very upset because when she put the bubbler into the tank, the third goldfish had somehow gotten caught and churned up a bit in the gushing stream of bubbles. “He hasn’t been the same since,” she said, squinting into the tank. “He used to be so active, so full of life, Now he just lays there. Does he look sick to you?”

“I can’t really tell,” I said, trying to help. “Maybe he’s just shaken up. Maybe he’ll be okay in a day or two.”

”He’s stopped eatingm" she said ominously.

“Laura is having a drama with a fish,” Dad tells me when I go upstairs.

“I know,” I say. “She told me.

“It’s not about the fish,” he says.

“I know,” I say, she told me.

Two weeks later, when I returned to visit Dad, the tank was empty.

Has anyone thought to blame the cat? I wonder. What in the world will she do when she loses Dad?

The End of Men IX: Poker

There are three old men who congregate at the little round table by the window of the restaurant where I go to write and eat a cheese soufflé and sip iced tea. They are each handsome in that way of men who are 60-something and take care of themselves; men who have lived a pretty good life and are settled into their silver hair and their leathery, sun-browned skin.

Most weekend mornings when I arrive at 8 a.m. with my laptop and my paper bag crammed with scribbled-on paper, they are already here. And every time I see them they remind me of my dad.

They remind me of how he used to look, how his bright blue eyes used to pierce through the brownness of his summer tan. How his ear-to-ear grin shone toward me like a beacon welcoming a ship into harbor.

Their voices remind me of his—New York Jewish, with that edge of the wise ass, the joker; and the way they congregate together around that little table, reminds me of poker night and how, every Friday evening after dinner, Dad’s friends would come by to play cards, drink beer and fill our house of women with the smell of cigar smoke and that other thing that men bring into a room with them—that thing I cannot name but can feel when they’re around.

There was Meyer Salko, the comedian, wise-cracking and chomping on a cigar as he dealt the cards. Milt Ebner was over 6-feet tall and yet, one of the gentlest men, in voice and manner, I’ve ever met. Milt would chuckled softly, stacking chips or picking up cards as his friends carried on. Marty Abramowitz, built like a wrestler, loved to provoke the women in the next room with baudy comments, as he sorted chips and took swigs from a green glass bottle of beer. Now and then, Mark Handelman (my favorite) would join the game—but he lived in Brooklyn or some other far-off land and couldn’t often make it. And then, of course, there was Dad.

I don’t know how to describe my father, where to place him in this scene. I’m too close, nose pressed up against the glass of memory, trying to catch the details. I can see how happy he looks, his curly black hair kind of mussed, the collar of his blue button down shirt open as, grinning, he reaches for his cards.

The game moved from house to house and there was always, somehow, the memory of being with the mothers in the other room, the mothers and the other kids who were like cousins to me: Shelly Salko and her little brother, Adam and Jill Abramowitz, Stuart Ebner, who’d remodeled an old Jaguar with leather seats and a real wooden dashboard.

It was beautiful.

Last year, as Dad was deciding whether to stay with my mother or to move out, I asked him, “Where would you want to live if there were no limits on cost, location or accessibility?”

“By the ocean,” he said, immediately wistful, as if my question had sent him tumbling into a dream. “There’d be beer in the refrigerator and an endless poker game in the kitchen and I could play or not play—and the people would be funny and warm and,” he added, “they’d probably be Jewish. As it turns out, I like Jewish people.”

Mom was selling their home, they’d legally divorced, the papers were in her name. She’d told him that. a)he needed to stop driving and b) it was time that he moved into a nursing home. Dad was not ready for either of those conditions and was looking around for options. I’d offered to take him in, though I couldn’t imagine where we’d put him in our crowded house. Neither could he.

“Ideally,” he kept saying, “I’d live in an efficiency apartment with a live-in aide. Someone who’d cook and clean for me in exchange for free rent.” The problem with this plan was that Dad could no longer shower himself, feed himself, and it was becoming clear that soon, he’d be unable to walk.

He struggles to stay on his feet, to continue driving. There is so much he cannot do now. Yet he must keep moving.

Dad started using a cane a year ago. More recently, at Laura’s house, he is using a walker to shuffle between his bed, the bathroom and the wooden chair where he sits to watch TV.

Until last month, when he had his first (and last) fender bender, Dad was waking up early three days a week and driving himself to work in Melville, Long Island, two hours each way. He couldn’t get himself to the car. He couldn’t get the key out of or into the ignition so his aide, Katie was doing all of that for him, starting the car and driving it around to the side of the condo where he would slowly, make his way to it and climb in.

After the accident, which Katie witnessed, she finally joined the ranks of the many people who’d refused to help him drive anymore—and finally, Dad "decided" to stop driving.

II
There is a cat at Laura's house, and Im hopeful it will help Dad to feel less homesick, for I think he will miss Mookie, the feral kitten he and Mom adopted a few years ago; and who became, those last few years at home, his only real companion. Perhaps that's why Dad seems a bit of a cat himself these days. He does just what he wants to do, regardless of the consequences to anyone else.

When we asked him to stop driving two years ago, he said, “It’s none of your business.” When we said that, in fact, it was our business because if he killed someone we would be held liable (in Heaven and on earth), he told us, collectively and individually, “Butt out.”

“Maybe we could report him, anonymously, to the police and suggest they take his keys,” my husband and I schemed.

“Perhaps we could “lose” his keys,” we daydreamed. But in the end, when I sat down again to discuss our concerns with Dad and promised my family I'd take his keys away, he burst into tears and I couldn’t do it.

A wave of memories had washed into the room: I remembered the time when he’d told me, “I always wanted to be a truck driver”, all the times he’d driven me to college near Buffalo—nine hours each way—and how he’d seemed to love doing it.

I remembered trips to the camp he directed in Bear Mountain, singing with Mom and my sisters in the backseat, the windows of the wide green Plymouth rolled down. “Put your hand out the window,” he’d instructed. “Feel the wind against it. Feel how it pushes against your hand. That’s how an airplane works. The faster you go, the more resistance you get and that lifts the wings off the ground.”

I remembered the six-hour drive to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where we’d driven right onto the ferry bound for Nantucket. That reminded me of the seagulls on the top deck and how they’d grab bread right out of my hands.

I remembered lifts to school, and lifts to friend’s houses and the few times when just Dad and me would drive to Kreiger’s Ice Cream Parlor for a hot fudge sundae. Dad would order wet walnuts. I’d ask for extra whipped cream.

All of those car trips, all of those miles rolling under his wheels. I couldn’t do it.

As I drove away, I imagined Dad letting Mookie jump up on the table and into his lap. I imagined her licking her paws and letting him clumsily stroke her head.

A few weeks later, on Thanksgiving, ABC aired an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” in which an elderly man with spinal stenosis crashes through an outdoor marketplace, killing several people. “Isn’t that what your father has?” my sister-in-law asked. The room was silent as all heads turned toward me.

What in the world am I going to do?

Dad has never used a cell phone, operated a computer, surfed the Internet. It is almost as if he lives in another world.

The surgery that was supposed to arrest the progression of the condition that was twisting his spine like a DNA helix only made it worse. Dad had entered the hospital with more hope and enthusiasm than he’d mustered for anything in years. Afterwards, he sat at the post-surgical rehabilitation center(aka nursing home), in pain, angry and belligerent with the staff, weakened by the surgery and the long days of isolation.

It was there, at the nursing home, that I started to detect the presence of a new Dad. It flickered on and off like a loose light bulb, alternating between Dad the Buddha, a philosophical wise man and Dad the baby, a tantrum-throwing child who berated the nursing staff and insisted on being spoon-fed. (“He need to feed himself,” a nurse told me, her thick Caribbean accent made it hard to understand. “He be home alone soon and then what he do.”)

Dad, the Buddha, lived in the airy world above the other residents. (“I’m not like them. They’re old.”) and sat for hours on the terrace overlooking the train station, he was philosophical and wise, until his catheter started burning—then, every few minutes when urine flowed, he’d shriek in pain, shouting and cursing like a Tourette’s sufferer.

I was exhausted by these visits. After just half an hour, somehow, all of my energy had been drained out of me.

“Please call Dad,” I whispered into my cell phone--reaching across the country to my sisters in California (and Brooklyn) from the terrace overlooking the Great Neck train station.

They did what they could, within the parameters of their geography and their own particular relationships to this man, this mystery, this bear at the top of the stairs.

We all did.

III
About two years ago, I spent the night in my sister Jenny’s old room, for some birthday or holiday celebration. Dad was sleeping in my old room across the hall where he’d moved when he and Mom separated.

I heard him stumbling to the bathroom and opened my eyes just as he tripped—on his own foot, the right getting caught under the left—and slowly pivoted to the ground, landing with his head in the laundry basket on a stack of folded towels.

“Oh, my God!” I rushed to help him to his feet.

“Don’t worry about it,” he called face-down in the basket.

What was I supposed to do? Leave him there, turned upside down like a marionette with cut strings. Of course, I leapt from bed. Of course, I helped him back to his feet. Of course, I worried about it... all night.

The next morning, as my kids crunched on corn flakes and I nursed a cup of tea with organic cream, Dad described another fall. He’d tripped on a scatter rug in the kitchen and fell, cheek first, into the cat’s food dish. “Mookie didn’t like that!” he joked, as Max and Katie stared, open-mouthed, not knowing whether it was okay to laugh.

A few months later, he fell in the driveway when getting out of his car and, unable to rotate himself even to his side, lay on his back in the driveway, watching the clouds going by. “It was a nice day,” he laughed, telling me this.

“How long were you there?” I asked, horrified.

“About an hour,” he said. “Maybe a little longer. I knew someone would pass by eventually. A couple of kids from up the block went by and I called to them but they didn’t hear me. It was the garbage men who got me up.”

After that, my sister subscribed him to the Life Alert system. Now he can push a button, which he wears suspended on a thick black cord around his neck, and speak with a dispatcher who’ll call for help—the police or a neighbor—to stand him back up.

Every time he falls, I get a phone call—often at one or two in the morning, after everything is okay. This disturbs me, making me feel these things at once: I wish I’d been there and, I am so glad I wasn’t.

Even with all these challenges, Dad was determined to keep working, keep driving and he was desperate to stay out of a nursing home.

When Mom convinced me to convince him to visit one, the prestigious, impossible to get into Hebrew Home for the Aged on New York’s Upper West Side, I drove him there. They insisted he sit in a wheelchair and as I pushed him along following the tour guide, his head began to loll forward. Each time it did, one of the tour guides would ask me, ignoring Dad as if he weren’t there, “Are you sure you don’t want the Alzheimer’s tour?”

“He doesn’t have Alzheimer’s!” I must have said six times—to the same three people. When we left, I agreed with Dad. He didn’t belong there.

He decided to move in with his friend, Laura, a Registered Nurse, who’d become, over the past 15 years, his best friend. She’d encouraged Dad to join her theater troupe and I’d never seen him so alive. “Who knew that all this time I was an actor?” he once said to me, eyes bright with the kind of passion people beam when they’re in touch with a part of themselves that’s been repressed or sleeping. In their productions, Dad found himself cast in scenes from Streetcar, TK, TK.

“That’s how he used to talk to Mom,” my sister Jenny once said following a particularly troubling—but beautifully acted—portrayal of a troubled marriage.

“Really,” I asked her. “I don’t remember that.”

I remember a different Dad than my sisters do.

Yesterday, Dad lay on his bed, too weak to do the work I’d come to help him with. He’d been anticipating my visit all week. Last Wednesday, I drove to Union City, New Jersey, setting up my computer on the little card table beside his bed. He dictates and I type. We are keeping his promise to complete a report he was working on. Dad longs to work.

The report, held in his head, for he can no longer hold a pen to write notes, and the promise to complete it, haunts him. He lies against the pillows and tells me about his life—as I sit with him, I feel my own rhythm slowing down to meet his. Like a record player shifting from fast to slow speed >>>>

Normally, when I first arrive, it’s hard for me to simply sit, to listen and respond. I flutter around the room, tidying this, moving things about. I shuffle through my papers. While he shuffles to the bathroom with his walker, a process which takes almost half an hour, I run downstairs to make a cup of tea and check my cell phone messages.

IV
For about a year, ever since Dad decided to have all of his teeth pulled (“It’s easier,” he said. “I can’t brush them. The dentist is a big hassle because I can’t keep my head still.”) he’s been unable to chew solid food. While he was living at home, Mom would pulverize whatever food she was eating—lasagna, chicken stew, soups, spaghetti and meat sauce—in the Cuisinart and he’d eat it through a fat plastic straw. As he became more and more feeble, and his hands were less and less functional, he had to be spoon-fed (or he did not eat.)

At Laura's house, he is being fed a detox protocol, gallons of water, juices, flax seed, herbal supplements. He also drinks chocolate Ensure (toxic with chemicals, sugar and nothing his body needs except for calories), eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Oreo cookies and bananas. All he wants is sweets. "Im not sure he can really taste anything else," Laura suggests.

Last week, at his 80th birthday party, Laura told me, “Your father hasn’t eaten anything in three days. He says he has no appetite. I’m worried about this. He’s depressed and sometimes old people do this, will themselves to starve…” She does not say “to death” but I hear it.

V
A few days later, I begin a juice fast. Losing 20 pounds in 23 days. I suppose this is related though I dont really see that it matters. My pants are looser and my skin is clear. In the process, I began to experience a "healing crisis" as the symptoms of every injury and ailment Ive ever had surfaced (briefly) and dissolved through my skin, What I mean is, one morning I woke up with poison ivy. By lunch it was gone. Another day, I woke up with a lyme disease ring on my thigh, it dissolved in front of my eyes, and Katies. Are you sure you werent leaning your other leg on there? Katie asked. "No," I had to admit. "Im not sure." Then, all my joints started to ache. This symptom has not gone away as quickly and it worries me. I keep googling "achy joints, caffeine", "Achy joints, healing crisis". I avoid googling for:"achy joints, arthritis", "Achy joints, father projection", "Achy joints, multiple sclerosis", though I think about it.

VI
These old men at the restaurant talk about politics a lot. As I sit at the next table, where the electrical outlet for my laptop is situated, I overhear snippets of conversation about George Bush, NAFTA, and Israel. They talk about travels, peppering their conversation with references to places they’ve been: “Mystic is a charming town..”

“When I was in Haifa...,”

“Well, in Turkey,” one man says, “What can you expect.” I try not to eavesdrop but I am fascinated and can’t help myself.

Their cadence and pattern of speaking sounds exactly like Meyer, Milt and Marty—and Dad.

“You know they make a different kind of clam chowder in Rhode Island,” says the man in the blue zip neck sweatshirt. The one with the neatly trimmed silver hair, gold watch and glasses. “There’s Manhattan, the red one. There’s New England, that’s the creamy one. But in Rhode Island the broth is clear… as clear as sea water.”

Yesterday, a thirty-year-old woman joined their table, flirtingly engaging them in a lively discussion of what sounded to me like mountain climbing in Nepal. After comparing notes about altitude sickness, hiking shoes and restaurants, she sighed, suddenly quiet. “My father died last year,” she said, eyes sparkling with memories and tears.

In these beautiful, kind men, she has found a glimmer of someone she loved very much. I watch as the man with the glasses reaches tenderly for her hand just as she’s withdrawn it to brush her bangs behind her ears. Awkwardly, she returns her hand to the table and he reaches for it again, patting her wrist.

This is what reminds me of my father. This worldly manliness translated into a simple gesture of tenderness so minutely calibrated that, for a moment, we are all connected in this father-daughter dance. With tears in my own eyes, I return my attention to my own table, my own thoughts, having intruded long enough—a silent participant, borrowing a father in a sunny restaurant in New Jersey.

I am borrowing fathers a lot lately, as I have been doing for some time. My own father hasn’t ever been completely available to me. These days, he seems to be time traveling, misty-eyed and vague, he talks of the past with a clarity and a memory for detail that’s astonishing. Other times, like this week, there are glimmers of another kind of father.

As I told him about my awful Mother’s Day and my difficult marriage, he listened, focusing his attention on my story. He offered wise counsel, without taking sides.

Later, when I realized I’d monopolized our time together with my sad story, the very thing I’d promised myself on the way over I would not do, I apologized, saying, “I didn’t mean to unload all of this on you.”

“It’s not a burden to me. It’s a gift,” he said. “And anyway, that’s what fathers are for.” This comment unleashed a new wave of tears, but they are good rich tears. We have connected again across so many rivers—time, illness, and uncomfortable absence from one another’s lives. We are, for the moment, for the time we have left, a father and daughter again.

I cry all the way home. I cry as I write this down. These tears are good and healthy: salt water—scourging a wound.

Dad will be 80 this June. Mom and I are planning his birthday party. I visit Dad at Laura’s to get the list of guests he wants me to invite. His list reads like an outline of his life: Meyer, Milt and Marty. Mark Handelman. Nat and Wendy, Sherman and Lorraine, the Berthens.

Laura has offered to host the party and I have offered my home, as well. But when I ask if he wants to have the party in Great Neck, if that will be painful for him or pleasant, he smiles as if it’s all the same to him. “Great Neck will be fine,” he says. “Let’s make it easy for people to get there.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Plastic and Water (revised)

Can we talk for a minute about how, everywhere I look, someone, dressed in a way that suggests that she is both affluent and fashion-forward is carrying a big ugly tote that says, This is not a plastic bag--and a little plastic bottle filled with water.

Can we talk about this? About the way that that little plastic bottle, once drained, will, at best, make its way to a recycling center where it will be reprocessed into anoher useful, but equally impervious product, some indoor-outdoor carpet perhaps, or a polar fleece jacket. At worst, that plastic bottle will join hundreds of thousands of other bits of abandoned emptiness in a great mountain of landfill. (A nationwide report shows that plastic accounts for two million tons of US landfill.) And there it will sit, glistening, impermeable for thousands of years.

What to do?

Last year, according to the website, www.filterforGood.com, "Americans threw away 38 billion plastic water bottles, about $1 billion worth of plastic. That's a huge waste, especially considering 1.5 million barrels of oil - enough to fuel 100,000 cars for a year - were used to produce the bottles. And that's not even including the oil used for transportation" of the bottles.

In San Diego's North County Times, Third District Supervisor Pam Slater Price write, "The Container Recycling Institute calculates that if the nationwide average of beverage container recycling were 80 percent, the savings would be the emissions equivalent of taking 2.4 million cars off the road a year. The Institute also says that if the recycling content of plastic beverage bottles was 25 percent nationwide, that would save enough crude oil to run electricity in 680,000 American homes a year." http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2007/08/08/opinion/commentary/23_22_228_7_07.txt

Americans spent nearly $11 million on bottled water last year despite the research which suggests that bottled water might be no more pure that tap water -- and that at least a quarter of the bottled water sold might actually be tap water!

We are all trying. It's just so confusing. I mean: At the grocery store, when the checkout clerk asks, "Paper or plastic?" I stand there thinking, "Hmmm. Which is better? Sacrifice more trees (paper) or puff up another dozen plastic bags? Last month, I FINALLY bought a pile of reusable grocery bags, chiding myself for not doing it sooner.

There is so much to do... and it feels, sometimes, as if it makes so little impact.

At my son's college, Hofstra University, where thousands of parents assembled last weekend to deliver their teens to school on freshman move-in day, there was not one recycling bin in the entire food court and yet... every single meal was served in a plastic tray (with a clear plastic lid.)

What to do? Should I embarrass my son (Oh, Lord, on his very first day of school!!) by marching up to the manager of the food court and demanding to know why? Should I quietly slip my own plastic packaging into my roomy handbag and take it home where I can recycle it with the glass and other plastics?

Should encourage my son to start a student movement for recycling? That's how it's done, I know. College students are responsible for most social change. Vietnam. Tianamen Square. The 60s. But my son is not the organizing-a- protest type. He is the type who wears tee shirts that say things like: So Rich, So Bored, the type who likes to shop at the mall.

To be fair, I am not much better. I comingle paper with plastic. I eat at restaurants where they serve my iced tea in a styrofoam cup. After a party, I don't put my plastic forks and spoons in the dishwasher, though I could.

In the New York Times Magazine section today, I read that as one of the conditions of acceptance of his new job as "co-head" of Columbia Records, Rick Rubin had made the "strong" suggestion that the record label be the first to discontinue using plastic "jewel boxes" to package CDs. I was impressed. I was also surprised. I'd thought those had been done away with long ago. In our house we buy our music in a completely "green" way, through ITunes. But that leads to other problems, the collapse of the music industry, to name but one.

In the NY Times Book Review the same week, journalist Alan Weisman imagines "The World Without Us," a future in which all the humans disappear from the earth and are replaced by... nature. Cities would collapse, replaced by rivers and vegetation. Wild animals would march back through the streets of Manhattan, now overgrown with green and transforming into tributaries of the Hudson River and Atlantic Ocean. And yet, thousands of years hence, long after every vestige of mankind has disappeared, save a few of our more permanent creations--bronze statues, for example--there would be plastic... little bits of the stuff cycling through the digestive systems of marine animals forever.

If only we'd known, all those years ago when Mr. Robinson whispered, "Plastics," into the ear of Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman's in "The Graduate), that the shiny, impermeable stuff would become our worst nightmare, strangling seagulls, choking marine mammals, clogging landfills. What would we have done differently?

What can we do now?

As Tom Chapin sings, "Styrofoam is bad, it lasts a thousand years. A packing peanut's born and never disappears." What Tom Chapin taught my children (and me) 15 years ago has led to little action and lots of guilt.

It's the same reason, I suspect, that we can't mobilize a "movement' to save Darfur or get out of Iraq or solve any of the many pressing issues of our time: We feel overwhelmed; we are terrified by what we have done to ourselves and, we believe that we are powerless to change it.

After all, what can I, one little mom with a blog, really do about the heaps of plastic in the landfills? What can you do?

Well, at least we can do this... buy a Nalgene bottle at EMS or Campmor and fill it with tap water. We can order a home water filter to make our tap water taste better and fill that bottle again and again. We can teach our kids (including my son, if its not too late) that water is water is water and that, unless he and I and all of our friends and theirs, stop carrying little water bottles around, we will be living in a plastic world--and so will our grandchildren.

And then we can do more... one step at a time. If you're ready, click here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The thing is...

You have to keep writing. You have to post every day. And that is what makes this a good way for me to work my craft. As a journalist, I have always been a little bit hesitant about putting my "real" work out there. It's personal and doesn't always paint me in the best light.

Blogging, and its requirement to post something new pretty often, has tuned up my thinking. It makes me work more efficiently. It also drives me nuts as I live my life constantly on the lookout for something to post. But thats not so bad. I never run out of ideas.

oops

I didn't mean to post that plastic and water piece just yet. If you read it and were baffled by it, forgive me... I'm working on it and will get it back out there when it's complete.