Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The slowest move

Every day I try to pack for at least an hour to prepare for this move out of a loft I lived I've lived in for two years with my husband, my daughter and our two dogs.   I should be pretty good at this by now, we moved three times in the past six years.  We moved out of a loft we owned in Soho that we had to sell because we needed the money.  We moved to a lovely rental, an upper duplex in a beautiful brownstone in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, and then again, after a year, to the lower duplex in the same house.  You would think that just moving downstairs would be easy, but it required about the same amount of work - boxes, movers, disruption.  And the only thing different about this move is that I am not keeping much, and rather than just throwing everything into boxes (as one of my friends suggested and dealing with it another time, when I'm not so emotionally raw) -  I am trying to discard many of the things I've carried with me over the years, that I no longer need. 

And that is not an easy task.  I find that I am dealing with more emotions in the last six months than I probably have in most of my life.  And as painful as that is, it's also healthy, to feel so much and to let it just move through me. 

Yesterday, my little dog Lola was sick and she could hardly move, she was vomiting most of the day.  Also it was Yom Kippur, so I fasted from sundown to sundown and lit candles for both my parents.  By the end of the day I was so worried about Lola (I did call the vet and listened to their advice - watch her, give her Pepcid - she vomited that - no more food.)  This morning she seems a little better, at least so far.  I missed talking to Steve about her, since he adores Lola, but I know calling him wouldn't have helped anything.  So I called a few friends and got through a difficult day that was filled with anxiety and hunger. 

And I continue packing and grieving.  Occasionally, I do have good memories of the past and I'm proud of all the work I've done to get ready for the move.  I'm also excited about my new life.  But change is always difficult and it's the first time in my life that I haven't had a mom to talk about it with.  And also the first time in twenty-five years that I haven't had a partner to help. 

But I'm pretty strong and the phrase "this too shall pass" reminds me to just keep packing and doing the work, and the rest of it will all sort itself out. 

And I do have to say that I've had two wonderful gifts this week.  I got to see "Wishful Drinking" with Carrie Fisher on Sunday, which I enjoyed.  My friend had to go out of town and she gave me her ticket. And tomorrow night, I have a free ticket to "God of Carnage" with James Gandolfini, Hope Davis, Jeff Daniels and Marcia Gay Harden.  Thank you Karen and Barbara.  I love you both.  And Barbara, I hope you feel better soon.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A transformative moment

Last night I went out to dinner with the friend I am moving in with in a few weeks, Abigail. She is also a writer and perhaps the nicest person in the entire world. She brought over some things for the stoop sale my friends Anita and Megan and I are having today. We're selling books, household things, clothing, all the stuff I want to get rid of so my move is easier. Although it is sad to let go of my books, I'll be living around the block from a public library and I will be fine.

Abigail and I went for sushi and had fun talking about relationships (she and her husband split up over fifteen years ago) and men and life and sex and work. We have known each other since our kids were four years-old and they are now twenty-one. The four of us went on a vacation to the Yukatan in Mexico when we barely knew each other and had a fantastic time, but that's a story for another day.

When I came home after dinner, I continued going through my belongings, tossing out what I don't need, reading old emails, looking at photos and then I went through my jewelry to decide what I wanted to sell. A friend called while I was sorting the jewelry, so I was distracted and probably less emotional about deciding what to sell.

As I was looking at old papers, I found an article about Daniel Gilbert, the Harvard professor who wrote "Stumbling on Happiness." I cut out the article over a year ago (April 22, 2008.)

In the article, Gilbert says that at one point in his life he went through so many crises at once, his mentor passed away, his mother died, his marriage ended and his son had serious problems in school - but what he found that: "the truth is, bad things don't affect us as profoundly as we expect them to. That's true of good things too."

"People have an inability to predict what will make them happy - or unhappy."

Gilbert says that if you "take a scale from 0 - 100, people, generally report their happiness at 75. We keep trying to get to 100. Sometimes, we get there. But we don't stay long."

"We certainly fear the things that get us to 10 or 20 - the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, a serious challenge to our health. But when those things happen, most of us will return to our emotional baselines more quickly than we'd predict. Humans are wildly resilient."

"Wildly resilient." I love that.

He says that most of us are great rationalizers. "We expect to feel devastated if our spouse leaves or if we get passed over for a big promotion at work.

But when things like that do happen, it's soon, 'She was never right for me' or 'I actually need more free time for my family.' People have remarkable talent for finding ways to soften the impact of negative events. Thus they mistakenly expect such blows to be much more devastating than they turn out to be."

And then he goes on to say, "We know that the best predictor of human happiness is human relationships and the amount of time that people spend with family and friends.

We know that it's significantly more important than money and somewhat more important than health. That's what the data shows. The interesting thing is that people will sacrifice social relationships to get other things that won't make them as happy - money. That's what I mean when I say people should do 'wise shopping' for happiness."

"Another thing we know from studies is that people tend to take more pleasure from experiences than in things. So if you have 'x' amount of dollars to spend on a vacation or a good meal or movies, it will get you more happiness than a durable good or object. One reason is that experiences tend to be shared with other people and objects generally aren't."

"You'll always have Paris" is so true. I certainly feel it as I discard so many things that I thought would bring me happiness, a necklace, a book, a coat - and they never did.

Reading the article made me realize, that as difficult a period as this has been (mother died, marriage ending, daughter moved away from home, have to move, need a job) - it's also been an amazingly transformative experience too. I have spent more time with friends and in social situations than I have in years and I have found that my friends have really shown up for me. I'm so filled with gratitude and, although I do at times feel grief and sadness, I also feel happy. My sister and I even had a great talk the other day and that felt really good.

So last night, the song "You Send Me" popped into my head. I played it and danced around the loft to Aretha Franklin. As I danced, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of well being and joy.

I guess last night I hit 100 and today I'll be back at 75.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Turning on a dime

That was the message I received last night when I dragged myself out of my loft, after struggling with grief the entire day, and going to a cocktail party. I took a shower, put on make-up, a nice top and a pair of jeans (I even brought high heels with me) and I showed up.

I arrived in the middle of the host's speech (this was a party for a group of writers) and right behind me was Nora Ephron. All I can say is, within ten minutes I was having so much fun - and it seemed that everyone there was engaged in lively conversation. I think if you take a room and fill it with mostly TV and film writers, there's going to be lots of talking and laughter and people enjoying each other's company. The party totally lifted me out of my malaise and reminded me how happy I am when I'm around people. Some of my favorite screenwriters were there, including Richard Lagravanese, who wrote and directed "Living Out Loud" one of the best films on divorce. I wanted to tell him how much I loved it, since I've watched it at least three times recently, but he left early and I didn't have the chance. Maybe next time.

This morning I read this daily meditation in Melody Beattie's book, "The Language of Letting Go" and I wanted to share it. Somehow these readings always seem to be exactly what I require:

"Allowing Ourselves to be Needy

We can accept ourselves as people who have needs - the need for comfort, love, understanding, friendship, healthy touch. We need positive reinforcement, someone to listen to us, someone to give to us. We are not weak for needing these things. These needs make us human and healthy. Getting our needs met - believing we deserve to have them met - makes us happy.

There are times, too, when in addition to our regular needs, we become particularly needy. At these times, we need more than we have to give out. That is okay too.

We can accept and incorporate our needs, and our needy side, into the whole of us. We can take responsibility for our needs. That doesn't make us weak or deficient. It doesn't mean we are not properly recovering, nor does it mean we're being dependent in an unhealthy way. It makes our needs and our needy side, manageable. Our needs stop controlling us, and we gain control.

And, our needs begin to get met.

Today I will accept my needs and my needy side. I believe I deserve to get my needs met, and I will allow that to happen."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Grief is spoken here"

This week seems to be a difficult week, not just for me but for a few of my friends. One friend found out that her closest friend has brain cancer and probably will not survive. Another friend's daughter tried to commit suicide this past week. Fortunately, she is still alive, but the guilt and grief my friend feels is overwhelming.

I know that a lot of the sadness I'm experiencing is not just about the present, it's a holdover from my past. Having my mother die and the marriage end, as well as my daughter moving away from home brings up feelings of abandonment that are very old. And packing up my life, finding old photographs of my mother, of our family, photos of Zoe growing up, old letters, cards, memories, is not easy. I think it's all part of the healing process though, to feel the pain and move through it.

The other day, I knew I needed some extra support, so I went back to Friends In Deed for their noon big group. After I spoke, the group leader said, "Robin, if you had only had your daughter move 3,000 miles away - you could claim your seat here. Or if you were just going through a divorce - you could claim your seat here. Or if you'd been a caregiver for so many years and then lost your mother, you could definitely claim your seat. But to have all three happen at once, is terribly difficult and for some reason, it's frequently how life happens." I listened to other people's stories and knew that I was part of a group of people who knew how much suffering is a huge part of our journey. Unspeakable losses and pain were expressed by everyone who spoke, along with acceptance and even some laughter. I liked when the leader said, "Grief is spoken here." He compared it to American tourists traveling around the world and being annoyed when people don't speak English and understand what they are saying. Not everyone understands grief, nor can they be expected to, nor can we be annoyed when someone doesn't know how to respond.

My childhood wasn't easy, but many of my friends went through the loss of a parent, or a divorce in their family and I couldn't really understand what they were going through. I think my first real glimpse of pain (not just of loneliness, because I felt that most of my life, but of loss) came when I had a miscarriage in my fourth month. I was already thirty-five at the time and I was afraid I would never be able to have a child. I remember only one person really understanding that this was a death and he encouraged me to grieve. I didn't even really know what that meant, but I let myself feel - and eventually it passed.

These days I feel good for weeks at a time, like riding gentle waves of life and then suddenly a tsunami hits and I feel overwhelmed. This morning I made a few calls, and meditated, and re-read my favorite Pema quote for early morning blues: "When you wake up in the morning and out of nowhere comes the heartache of alienation and loneliness, could you use that as a golden opportunity? Rather than persecuting yourself or feeling that something terribly wrong is happening, right there in that moment of sadness and longing, could you relax and touch the limitless space of the human heart? The next time you get a chance, experiment with this."

In the big group the other day at Friends In Deed the leader mentioned "When Things Fall Apart" by Pema Chodron. He reminded us of her message, that life is about things falling apart and then coming together again...and falling apart....and coming together again. I guess we have to give ourselves the space and go through these cycles and to know that the coming together is inevitable. And also to remember all that we have to be grateful for, even after a tsunami. I managed to get out of bed and walk the dogs this morning. We are all grateful for that. And just the knowledge that we're not alone is also comforting.

"Grief is spoken here." It's not where we live, but it's definitely understood.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Musical interlude in Gourmet Garage

I was feeling pretty good today (the weather was perfect) and then I went to Gourmet Garage on 7th Avenue in the West Village to pick up something for dinner. I've lost weight these past few months and everyone keeps telling me to eat. This happened to me (only) once before, loss of appetite, weight loss. People tell you how good you look and you really can't take in any compliments.

Anyway, I picked up a chicken and some apples, tasted a few olives and was trying to find something else that looked appetizing, when the song "Why?" by Annie Lenox came on in the store. It's a beautiful song and it filled me with despair. I quickly paid for the chicken and the apples and ran out.

I walked a few blocks to the subway and tried to change my mood. As I walked I was thinking, who am I? Where is my home? For so many years Zoe and Steve were home - it didn't really matter where we lived, they were home. I was Zoe's mom, and a wife, and a daughter, and a writer. And now, Zoe is in California, I'm no longer a wife, and my mother is gone and I don't feel much like a writer. I decided that when I got home, I would play "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, which remains the best song about divorce ever made and I would dance.

I got off the subway in Brooklyn and called Zoe just to say hello. We had a good conversation and I felt better. And then I came home and played "I Will Survive" and danced, well, not really. I tried to. I ate some chicken and green beans and a couple of cookies.

And then, just now, I was thinking, so what if I feel bad? It's perfectly fine to feel bad! These days, most people are feeling a little bad and if they're not, they're probably drugged.

My dear friend Julie keeps inviting me up to Connecticut to pick apples and I have other tempting offers. Right now, I'm focusing on packing and allowing myself to go through the feelings of loss and grief as well as happiness, which sneaks up on me.

As I pack, I keep finding pieces of paper that have quotes I've saved over the years. Here is one from Nelson Mandela: "The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hold on

Yesterday I went to my wonderful acupuncturist, Dr.Borgna and here is what I learned:

When you are grieving, better to do it with people than alone. In some cultures, there are professional mourners, who come to funerals and help people cry and wail. I could do that. I do prefer to have someone around me or on the phone. Now I know why, it's much healthier.

When you are going through difficult times, always wear a sweater or a scarf, because your lungs are more vulnerable to infection, viruses, etc.

I need to eat more protein, including bacon and eggs. My favorite health foods! Healthy bacon and eggs, organic, etc. He said I've been eating too many carbs, pasta, brown rice and salads and need more meat...fish or chicken.

I need to do a form of Tai Chi and soon.

My amazing friend David has been sending me the most beautiful videos and each time they uplift me and make my day. I tried to embed the one he sent me this morning, "Hold On" by Sarah McLachlan, into the post, but for some reason I couldn't. So if you have a few minutes, I suggest you go to You Tube and take a look at it. It's beautiful.

Thank you, David.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I wish I had a good Pema quote to write here, or something really profound to say. I'm very much in the "one day at a time" mode right now and grateful for all the friends who are seeing me through. I have a few friends coming over in the next couple of days to help me pack. I took a long walk in Central Park today because it helps me to stay calm.

I just went through the NY Times' website and got agitated again. The banking industry is still a mess, the health care debate seems to have gone into total insanity (thank you Glen Beck.) I started reading Matt Taibbi's blog and I want to continue reading more of his work. He's an investigative reporter for Rolling Stone. A friend introduced me to his work, so I've started reading his blog.

Mary Travers and Patrick Swayze died in the past few days. I remember the first time I saw "Dirty Dancing" - I was pregnant, I think. It was one of those movies I went to alone in the afternoon. I forget which theater it was at, maybe the Paris? Anyway, I remember getting so excited and when the movie was over, it felt like every woman in the theater was totally turned on. I don't even remember if any men were there. I've probably seen "Dirty Dancing" at least a dozen and I could watch it a dozen more. There's no plot really, just really great dancing. He was a wonderful dancer.

And who didn't love Peter, Paul and Mary?

Several friends have told me recently that they are thinking about separating or have already separated from their partners. I feel for them. The emotions are all over the place - fear, anger, relief, excitement, loneliness, sadness, grief, loss, happiness. Dear friends I haven't heard from in a long time are showing up for me and I'm trying to show up for my friends who are taking this difficult step. I guess that's the sweetest part of life - the love and support we give each other in troubled times.

I am filled with gratitude for all of my friends. I don't know what we can do about Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh, except hope that enough people in this country are too smart to fall for their manipulations and lies.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2001

I didn't realize when I wrote earlier this morning that today was the 8th anniversary of 9/11. And I didn't want that to pass by without saying how it seems so long ago, yet I can remember every detail of the day.

Zoe called me just now and I was so grateful to hear from her. It's a hard day to be away from family. I remember being at my gym that morning and watching the television, then leaving the gym and actually seeing the World Trade Center after the second plane hit, with both buildings on fire. And I remember someone in the small crowd outside the gym saying, "It's a terrorist attack."

I remember running upstairs to the roof of our building and watching it all. Our neighbors and Steve and I were there and then we went to pick up Zoe and Willa.

I remember the smell that lingered for at least a month.

I am thinking about all those thousands of people who lost their family members at the World Trader Center, the Pentagon and on the plane.

Better and better

That song came into my head and I was trying to remember what movie it came from. Recently I've been watching some old movies about divorce. (I wish I could remember all the titles, but I can't.) I watched the First Wives Club two nights ago and a couple of months ago I watched "Starting Over" with Burt Reynolds, Jill Clayburgh and Candace Bergen.

That song "Better and Better" (if that's the title) is what Candace Bergen sings to Burt and it's very funny. It's a good movie. I think that the one scene people remember most is the scene in Bloomingdales, when they're looking for a couch and Burt has a massive anxiety attack. A crowd gathers and his brother, a psychologist, played by Charles Durning, asks if anyone has a Valium and almost everyone takes out their pill bottles to offer one.

I need to watch comedies these days, although I'm still hooked on "The Wire" which is a brilliant show. And actually, McNulty, played brilliantly by Dominic West (he's very sexy) is going through a painful divorce, so aside from all the brilliant police work and excellent characters, that storyline runs like a thread through the seasons.

All I can say is I am doing better. I still feel sad, lonely and angry sometimes. And...more and more I feel excited and joyous and alive. This is a good time really. I can move forward and live the life that is more authentic for me.

I met with my writing partner yesterday and showed him some Pema quotes. I loaned him the pocket book that I usually carry with me all the time. He loved the quotes I showed him. We have to work on a re-write of the ending and that is my focus these days. I'm hoping that we will have another reading with most of the same cast members that we had in at the Berkshires Playwrights Lab. (Or better yet, a workshop or a production.) That, finding work, writing, moving, seeing friends, taking care of the dogs, writing letters to the White House regarding the public option for health care, solving world peace, buying a few clothes that fit me, and having some fun, are my priorities right now.

When I started writing "Scrambled Eggs" almost all of my friends were going through perimenopause. Now almost all of them are dealing with divorce, relationships that are struggling, or trying to survive a difficult economy without it affecting their relationships. I think that divorces seem to be rising in part because of the financial uncertainty of the times we live in. I just heard that a friend of mine got pushed out of an amazing job in an organization she has worked at for over thirty years. She's too young to retire. In her case it's not the money that she's worried about, it's that she loves working and being productive. I know she'll find something eventually.

Next up: "Scenes from a Marriage." Anyone have a Valium?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gratitude/a day at a time

Every morning I read a few daily readers and this morning, in One Day At a Time in Alanon, I read this entry, which I thought was worth sharing:

"Here's an eye-opening, mind-opening, question to ask myself: What am I doing with what I've got? Instead of crying over what I don't have, and wishing my life were different, what am I doing with what I've got?

Am I so sure I'm doing everything possible to make my life a success? Am I using my capabilities well? Do I recognize and appreciate all I have to be grateful for?

Actually I am the possessor of unlimited resources. The more I do with them, the more they will grow, to overshadow and cancel out the difficult and painful aspects that now get so much of my attention.


Isn't my life full of potential good that I'm not using? Couldn't I bring it to fruition by changing my attitude? As a beginning, I will apply liberal amounts of gratitude for even my littlest advantages and pleasures. When I build on this precious foundation of present, tangible good, things will continue to change for the better.

God, make me grateful for all the good things I have been taking for granted."

Life is definitely interesting now. I'm feeling both excitement and fear simultaneously. I think it's all perfect and I'm focusing on the gratitude I have for my community of friends. And my dogs.

I am looking forward to Obama's speech tonight on health care. I hope that enough people who are in favor of universal coverage will rise up and let Congress know that we will not tolerate living in a country that cannot offer quality health care to ALL its citizens.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Oudin and the Open

There's something really special about the U.S. Open in New York City. We love an underdog. Melanie Oudin is so totally likable that you can't help but be thrilled to watch her win. I heard that she was incredible the other night. I just happened to turn on the match with Petrova just now and it was fantastic! She lost the first set, 6 to 1, and then came back to win the next two sets. New Yorkers go crazy when they find someone with that kind of determination and she's only seventeen. I can't wait to see her next match. I was actually invited to go to the Open tomorrow night, but my friend ruptured her Achilles, so we won't get there this year. Next up is Federer and Robredo, a Spaniard. I hope Robredo has a chance.

Today happens to be the 25th anniversary of the first date my husband and I had together. We lived in L.A. at the time, went to see a film called "Sugar Cane Alley," had dinner at a restaurant called Le Cukoo, and ended up sitting poolside at the Bel Air Hotel. It was a very romantic evening. Today probably isn't the actual date, but it was Labor Day in 1984 that we met.

I read this entry this morning in "The Language of Letting Go" by Melody Beattie.

"Powerless Over Others

Stop making excuses for other people.
Stop making excuses for ourselves.
While it is our goal to develop compassion and achieve forgiveness, acceptance, and love, it is also our goal to accept reality and hold people accountable for their behavior. We can also hold ourselves accountable for our own behavior and, at the same time, have compassion and understanding for ourselves.

When we claim powerlessness, we are not claiming irresponsibility. We have no power to control others, what they do, what they did, or what they might do. We're stating that we are willing to end an ineffective life based on willpower and control. And we're beginning a spiritual, mental, and emotional journey in which we take responsibility for ourselves.

We are not victims. We are not helpless. Accepting powerlessness when that is appropriate enables us to begin owning our true power to take care of ourselves.

Today, I will avoid making excuses for my own or someone else's behavior. I will let consequences and responsibility fall where they belong."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

One for the seasaw

Remember how it felt when you were a kid and you had no one to go on a seasaw with you? So you'd push yourself up and that would be fun and then you'd hit the top and come crashing down. That's a bit how I feel these days. It seems to be worse in the morning when I wake up around 5 or 5:30. I wonder if I have low blood sugar because everything feels dramatically horrible to me, before the sun rises. Even when it rises it doesn't feel that good until I get myself going. Some days getting myself up and out of bed seems impossible, but fortunately, walking the dogs is probably good for me. The fact that it's summer helps too. And I usually hear from a few people overnight or early in the morning, so that always cheers me up. I find it quite ironic that one of my complaints about my husband was that he was always either traveling or wanting to travel - or alone in his studio - so I felt quite lonely. And now I actually am alone. Pretty much all the time.

My friend John said, it's like emptying a closet. It feels empty at first, but then gradually it fills up again. I literally am emptying closets, and file cabinets and book shelves and it is hard to let go of things, but I guess it's lucky that I've never been too attached to "things." I love my bike, my dogs and the photo albums. I'll also miss my fantastic bed, which I will sell, but better to start new.

Pema Chodron on loneliness from "When Things Fall Apart":

"Usually we regard loneliness as an enemy. Heartache is not something we choose to invite in. It's restless and pregnant and hot with the desire to escape and find something or someone to keep us company. When we can rest in the middle, we begin to have a non-threatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down."

I would never choose to go through this, but I think in the end, I am going to be a much different and more compassionate person. And I will probably be more appreciative of my life.

In terms of what's happening in this country, I cannot believe that parents (I think it's mostly in Texas) are upset that Obama's going to be addressing school children this week.

Are they nuts? What's wrong with them? I don't even know how to address this. Morons?

And then there's the whole front page article today in the Times about Wall Street and the idea of life insurance "bundles" like they did with mortgages?

What?? Are they kidding? Is anybody home? At the White House, in Congress, anywhere?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

September mornings

Sometimes I read what I wrote early in the morning and I think how pathetic is that? I really am doing okay, I just have periods of feeling blue. It's totally natural and thanks especially to reading Pema Chodron, I know that it's fine to feel the sadness. Usually, as the day progresses I start to feel better, or sometimes I have a good talk with someone and occasionally I get a bit emotional, but then I feel okay. This afternoon I went through boxes of old papers and threw piles of scripts away that I don't need anymore and that felt good. Sometimes I just have to do something productive, even when I feel like wallowing in self-pity.

I do have to say that I looked at this blog from last year to see if my life was so much better - and actually it was worse. It was just when the stock market dropped over 770 points and everything seemed to be in freefall. We were in a huge world financial crisis, with the government taking over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and banks and investment companies were failing. Sometimes it pays to look back and remember on top of all that, last year Sarah Palin was running for President. (Opps, I meant Vice President.) YUCK.

Although for me personally 2009 has been a difficult year, every year has its challenges.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I'm so lonely

I should put on Linda Ronstadt like I used to, in my 20's, and really wallow in how lonely I am these days. And actually, I'm no where near as lonely as I was back then, but it is a little strange after living with two other people most of the last 20 or so years, to be alone in a large loft with just my two dogs. We have some good conversations, but they never want to go to a movie or see a play.

Basically, my new life is starting, but not as quickly as I would like. I'd like to be back in Manhattan - by tonight - all unpacked and settled. I'd like to be really dating, not just going for coffees or talking on the phone. I'd like to find a good way to make money, because money is necessary and I like it. And if I had more, I could go to the theater, travel and do things that I really do enjoy, with friends or by myself.

I think it's true that no matter how lonely you are when you're alone, it can be less lonely than living with people.

I think I need to talk to myself more. "Robin, what would you like for dinner?" "Leftover eggplant parmiagiana." "Sounds good. Let's heat it up." "Great." "Dessert?" "Cookies?" "Perfect."

I'm in season two of "The Wire" although I fell asleep during the second episode last night. I guess what I would love is more like an episode of "The Twilight Zone" -- I would fall asleep watching the second season of "The Wire" and wake up a year later watching season six (did it run for six seasons?) ...in a great apartment in Manhattan, with a new man in my life, madly in love, involved in some fantastic money making venture, Zoe is happy and thriving in San Francisco and I'm still thin. And a great new health plan has been passed, that has mandatory coverage for every American.

I think I'll meditate on all of that. But first I have to walk the dogs.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The challenges of meditation

I don't know if you meditate, but I try to take at least thirty minutes or so every morning in quiet meditation - which for me is actually an oxymoron because although there's no outward noise, the noise in my head is deafening.

I start like this: "okay, breathe. Inhale, exhale, good, deep breath, maybe I should count my breaths...one...two...three...that was really interesting meeting that woman at the subway station yesterday. An information architect is what she said she is....what is that exactly? Web design is what it seemed like to me...I really liked her...what was her name? I got her name and number to talk about work....oh, shit, back to the breath.....inhale, exhale, one....two....three.... four....what was that dream about President Obama I had last night? ...We were on his private helicopter, going back to the White House...that must mean sex, flying....I asked him how he made decisions, how he stayed so cool and he said he didn't have any problem making decisions. That the last one he made he just went to the internet and read about the issue (he told me what site he went to) and then he just said, okay, this is my decision and then we talked about how nice it is to live in a place with a swimming pool and screening room and so many people looking after you....oh God, how long was that? Ten minutes? I wasted ten minutes? ....one, two, three.............four....inhale.....exhale....."

And on and on it goes. I probably have five full minutes of mediating for every thirty minutes of mind meandering. I doubt I'll ever get it right, but I guess the point is to just try.

Yesterday was a very happy day. Sometimes I forget how capable I am of being genuinely happy and excited about the future, but yesterday I was. I saw friends who helped me think about job possibilities, looked at an apartment, had a delicious lunch (or lun-ner - "late lunch") with a dear friend, ran into an old friend and a new friend on the street, enjoyed the gorgeous weather, walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, got an invitation to a cocktail party later in the month, walked the dogs, wrote a gratitude list and went to sleep.

It's hard to believe that a week from tomorrow is the 8th anniversary of 9/11, or that I'm still dealing with so much loss in my life. I guess the good news is that increasingly I do feel optimistic and I hope that the economy continues to improve so that there are more jobs available. I love that I can meditate any time of the day or night, even if I don't do it perfectly. Next up will be yoga. I need to get back to that, hopefully next month. And remembering to breathe.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In addition...

... I forgot to mention a few things in the last post. First of all, I was up in Cold Spring, NY, for six days with a friend and it was the most wonderful vacation I've had in a long time. It rained, it was cold, but I feel so happy when I am in a beautiful setting, surrounded by nature and quiet, I didn't care about the weather or anything else. I am so grateful that I had that time to relax and just get away from life.

During that week, Ted Kennedy died. We didn't watch the funeral, but we did watch several shows about his life. I didn't know that he spent years going to read to a young woman every single week and that he tried to be like a dad to his nieces and nephews and a grandfather to their children. He made mistakes in his life, but he certainly accomplished a great deal and affected millions of people's lives in a very positive way. We will miss him.

And then the story about the young woman who was abducted eighteen years ago in California is pretty horrific. I haven't been keeping up with the news and last night I started to listen to the story on CNN, but I had to turn it off. Nothing worse than listening to terrible news right before you fall asleep.

Gently removing the bandaid

Late yesterday afternoon I returned to the apartment and bookshelves were emptied, closets were cleaned out, artwork moved around and several pieces were taken. It made me sad and just as I started to cry, a friend called. She too has been through divorce and she was so kind. She told me her husband left her (after they'd spent half their lives together) at the end of December a few years ago and she spent January and the rest of the winter alone, in the dark and in deep mourning. That sounded really rough. Sometimes as I'm walking the dogs late at night I think, well, it could be worse. This could be January - and truly, I am enjoying being here alone with them and having the space to myself. It's just when the reminder that this dream of marriage and family is over and the reality hits you in the face that it really hurts.

This morning I am having trouble getting out of bed, I have ten more minutes to get the dogs out (my morning routine is meditate, drink coffee, read, write and walk dogs by 8 am.) But no one cares if it's 8:15, so I may be moving a bit slower today.

Another friend of mine is dealing with the same abandonment issues now as she and her husband, who have been living in separate quarters in their apartment, are getting closer to physically separating. If this issue of abandonment is part of your childhood experience, I think it's much harder to deal with in your present life. My mother got sick when I was a teenager and went out to California to stay with relatives for a few months. I felt abandoned and alone, especially when my father went out there too. I got through it, but it left some scars.

Fortunately, I am not really alone. I have good support systems and life has a way of working out for the best, so much of the time. If only someone could come and walk the dogs and let me go back to sleep.