Monday, August 31, 2009

Taking care

The past five days have been spent in a beautiful house in Cold Spring, New York, relaxing, reading, taking long walks and feeling some painful feelings. I wish I could skip the grief, the fear, the letting go, the worry, all of that shit, but I can't. The only way out of it is through it, so they say.

It's hard after twenty-five years to overturn one's life and start over again. It's hard to let go of the structures, the routines, the good times, the fantasies and come to terms with what's real. I know that half of all marriages end this way, at least in this country, so it's not like I'm breaking new ground here. It's just new ground for me.

The support I've received from people who have been through this is amazing. It feels like anyone who knows what this is about is only more than happy to listen and offer advice and comfort. And I even heard from a friend the other day whose relationship just ended and I was able to help him as well.

I guess the message is that we are not in any of this alone, that there are people who help us through every day, and I am grateful for all the blessings in my life. Especially this past week, sitting the beauty of my surroundings and listening to the sound of the trees and the wind.

And - I've been watching "The Wire" with a friend and we've been mesmerized by the brilliant writing, acting and directing.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Robin and Pema

Well, Pema doesn't have any recipes I can follow...although actually she does, for life, not cooking. I was sitting on the Q train, heading home from Manhattan, feeling a little blue about going home to just the dogs. I pulled out my pocket Pema Chodron and turned randomly to a reading and as always, it resonated for me:

"A magical golden key

Being satisfied with what we already have is a magical golden key to being alive in a full, unrestricted, and inspired way. One of the major obstacles to what is traditionally called enlightenment is resentment, feeling cheated, holding a grudge about who you are, where you are, what you are. This is why we talk so much about making friends with ourselves, because, for some reason or other, we don't feel that kind of satisfaction in a full and complete way.

Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realizing that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have. Our wisdom is all mixed up with what we call our neurosis. Our brilliance, our juiciness, our spiciness is all mixed up with our craziness and our confusion, and therefore it doesn't do any good to try to get ride of our so-called negative aspects, because in that process we also get rid of our basic wonderfulness. We can lead our life so as to become more awake to who we are and what we're doing rather than trying to improve or change or get rid of who we are or what we're doing. The key is to wake up, to become more alert, more inquisitive and curious about ourselves."

That comes from "The Wisdom of No Escape," one of my favorite Pema Chodron books. It's kind of a relief to think that allowing ourselves to be truly who we are, warts and all, is the path to enlightenment.

I like that! And I don't have to cook a thing.

Back online

This has been an interesting week. My computer was at Tekserve, the Apple repair shop in Manhattan and I have been unable to get on-line. I can see how addicted I am to my computer and the Internet. I replaced that addiction with watching "The Wire" (I'm on episode seven, season one) and I've been enjoying that. I saw two movies "Julie and Julia" and "500 Days of Summer." I didn't love the former, the food didn't even turn me on, but I did really enjoy "500 Days." Maybe because so much of it reminded me of Zoe. She loves Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who doesn't like Zooey Descanel? There are several Regina Spektor songs on the soundtrack, they mention Belle and Sebastian and Minka Kelly from "Friday Night Lights" has a small role. It was about love and loneliness and I thought they did a wonderful job writing an interesting romantic comedy - not that easy to do these days. I hope Zoe gets to see it soon.

I've had a headache for most of the week, is it computer withdrawal? The horrible heat and humidity? Whatever it is, I have been reading "When Things Fall Apart" again - and will probably quote something later when I get home.

Thank you, Tekserve, for giving me back my beloved MacBook. And for friends I've seen this week, who are keeping me company and giving wonderful support. And always, my dogs, Lucy and Lola, who are such wonderful companions. This has not been an easy time, but one day at a time, it seems to be manageable.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Living Out Loud

This 1998 film by Richard LaGravanese really worked for me last night. I was not in a great mood. I let someone upset me after what had been a very good day, but that's my own fault. Fortunately, I had received this film and it was exactly what I needed to see.

In the film, Holly Hunter's character is going through a divorce. She's lost and in despair and she starts to have a friendship with Danny DeVito, who's the elevator operator in her Fifth Avenue coop. She's also looking for her "purpose" in life and trying to remember her authentic self...after realizing she lost herself in her marriage.

There are a few really great scenes in the film. One is when she calls for a male masseuse and receives a sensual massage from a very handsome young man. And then another scene where she takes Ecstasy, kisses Danny Devito passionately in the elevator and then goes to a lesbian club and dances. It's a very sensual, fun dance and I watched it twice. (I danced once.) The scene is on You Tube, "Living Out Loud Ecstasy Scene" - but for some reason I couldn't upload it to the blog. My other favorite scene is when she's sitting with her ex around a table at a real estate closing and she throws pieces of a muffin at him and a glass of water.

I'm in the process of listening to LaGravenese's commentary about the film, which is very interesting.

One lesson I have to learn is not to let what people say upset me. I do know it's important, but I haven't quite figured out how to accomplish it. When I do figure that out, I'll let you know. And it also relates to the ending of my play....although I'm not quite sure how yet.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Well, I have to say, after so many years, almost twenty-four, that was spent as a wife and the mother of Zoe (of course I'll always be Zoe's mother), it is very strange to be living on my own again. I was writing about it this morning and I wrote "alone" and then a few moments later I wrote "free."

I feel both alone and free. I am free of the constant worry about my own mother now and the stress of being responsible for her care. Zoe is living in San Francisco, in a lovely apartment with roommates (who are both away this month) and she will be looking for a job. It's all very strange and this morning I was reading in one of my daily readers about walking through the sadness. I wish there was a detour I could take, a way of avoiding the feelings, but there really isn't.

It's a challenging time. I've seen four movies in the past three days, they are great distractions - "Taking Woodstock" - at a Writers Guild screening with my friend Lisa. James Schamus, who wrote the screenplay, spoke after the film. Yesterday I saw "Funny People" which was too long for my bladder to handle, but I thought it was good. And then today I watched "I've Loved You So Long" with Kristen Scott Thomas, which was one of the grimmest films I've seen in a long time and"The Tall Guy" with Jeff Goldblum and Emma Thompson - thanks to my friend Annie who recommended it. It was written by Richard Curtis, one of his early films, and there are some very funny scenes in it (especially a sex scene.) In the next week or so I will be on a marathon of "The Wire" which everyone says is the best thing to ever have been on television. This is my way of handling pain, I guess.

And then there are Lucy and Lola, my dogs. I am so grateful that they keep me company and take long walks. They both seem to be falling apart a bit physically, but then I am too.

Thanks to Pema Chodron and my meditation practice (such as it is), I am feeling the feelings and "leaning into the pain." And I have to say that it isn't pleasant. But I was thinking about other friends who have gone through this and they've all moved on and are doing relatively well. I spoke to one friend tonight and she just started having hot flashes, so I'm grateful to be past that. I don't know what is happening in the world, but every time I watch the news I see these morons talking about health care and attacking Obama's plans with ridiculous concerns like killing old people, fueled by conservative organizations, so I am sticking to movies. And "The Wire." And I guess I should see Julie and Julia, since people seem to like it. And who doesn't like French food? That's a good diversion. And the weather is glorious - it's a beautiful summer night. Life isn't all that bad.

I also was reminded that so often several things happen at once - the loss of a parent, the end of a relationship, job loss, whatever. It just seems to occur that way.

Monday, August 10, 2009


A friend of mine who is going through similar life challenges suggested to me that rather than feeling we're on a roller coaster these days, perhaps surfing would be the better analogy.

All I know is that today it was tough to get out of bed. I'm glad I have to walk the dogs because it is a beautiful morning and I enjoyed the walk. But getting up and moving was difficult.

This past weekend I went to my high school reunion - I don't even want to say how many years it's been because it seems impossible that so many years have passed and we are so old. Of the five hundred or so people from our class, I think about eighty or so showed up and they all looked pretty good. People came from as far as Greece and Israel. I found it enormously stressful to try to talk to people and have any kind of meaningful conversation. I was there for approximately eighteen hours (slept eight of them) and the rest of the time was spent trying to cram in listening and talking and yelling over this supposed to be fun?

I had a few really good connections with people and enjoyed seeing them again. It seemed a lot like high school in some ways. I felt both snubbed and appreciated and the only upside is that at this age, I really don't care. Well, maybe a little...actually.

The guys from this high school, mostly the athletic ones, have an annual reunion and have stayed very close friends. Some of the women do that as well, but I am not included in that group. I found a few of the men were able to openly talk about their feelings and their experiences. Many people had been divorced at least once and were on their second marriage. My old friend Sue said to me, when I first arrived, "Everyone is a bit worried about you...having just lost your mother and separating from your husband."

When I heard that, I wanted to get back on the train and go home. Let's just say it wasn't an easy night.

Zoe and Steve are now leaving Utah and headed to Nevada. They seem to be doing well on their cross country trip.

I'm here in Brooklyn, trying to ride the waves. I know that eventually it will get easier. I'm sure it will.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Goodbye to my family

This is a difficult post for me to write. But maybe it will help me to deal with the feelings I have and will continue to have for probably quite some time. I can't help but cry as I type because today, Zoe and Steve packed up the car and set off on their trip to California. Zoe came back from San Francisco to go through her belongings and Steve has been busy selling equipment and also packing. He will be spending part of his time at the property in Laytonville and also part of his time in Spain.

And I will remain in NYC, my home. And my dogs are here with me. So the family that we worked so hard to create and to nurture has not survived and as with many families we are all moving on to our own lives. I have no idea how all of this is going to eventually turn out. I know that tonight, I feel very sad and alone. And I also miss my mother. She was there for me all my life and now suddenly, in just the past eight weeks, she is gone. It's almost too much in some ways and it's also probably exactly the way it was meant to be. A clean slate, a new beginning, a letting go of the past and an acceptance that there will be a completely new life coming up in the future.

Living in the present sometimes doesn't feel so good though. I wish I could skip this part. Over the years I have watched so many friends go through divorces and seen their pain and tried to empathize, but I think it's just something you can't understand until you are actually going through it. The loss of a parent, no matter how old that parent, no matter how prepared you thought you were, still hurts.

I do know that I am not alone with these feelings. There are so many people who have more stress than they've ever had. People losing jobs, homes, marriages, friends, fighting for their lives, trying to keep their health insurance. I guess the gift in all of this is knowing that we are simply part of humanity and life can be challenging and also beautiful.

Today is a good day for the two journalists who left North Korea with Bill Clinton. I am happy for them and so relieved for their families.

And I will make myself something to eat and watch a movie and sit with Lucy and Lola, my somewhat smaller, but still beloved family.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

It was a good week

Last week, starting on Sunday when I went up to Great Barrington for the first read through (although actually, recalling that - it was very difficult.) The first read through didn't go so well and the lead actor, Amy, came up to my room and we went through the whole script, so actually the week was a roller coaster, or as my friend Jodi says, it was like surfing.

The reading of the show on Wednesday night was great - I really enjoyed watching the amazing actors work. And they inspired me for my own show, although I have to say Thursday night was easy and fun (although....terrifying) and Saturday was pretty good and tonight was hard. I felt like I didn't do well at all, but you know it's not really about me. That's what I try to remember. If one person in the audience got something good out of it, that's all that matters.

I'll write more soon, I just want to say that I am so grateful for now remembering that this week was fantastic and not easy.