Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gratitude, root canal and 2010

Well, this very challenging year ended with a crown that broke while I was away in the country and a root canal this morning.  

My days in the country with my friends were relaxing and fun and the root canal was totally easy.  

Interestingly, years ago, when I was in my twenties, I needed a root canal when I was visiting NY.  My friend Ruthie knew an endodontist who was just starting his practice.  He didn't even have his own office, he was borrowing someone else's so he could fix my tooth.  I don't even remember his name, but I do remember that the office was cluttered and he was nervous.  He screwed up the root canal and a big box fell off a shelf and landed on my head.  All in all, it was a pretty depressing experience.

This time, I went to my friend Maxine's husband, Dr. Paul Rosenberg.  He's been an endodontist for many years, probably close to forty.  He teaches at NYU and travels around the world giving clinics and speaking.  He did the root canal in less than an hour, there was no pain, no discomfort, he suggested I get a milk shake afterward since I had forgotten to eat breakfast.  I went to the Shake Shack and got a chocolate shake with peanut butter and he just called to check on me - I haven't had one moment of discomfort. 

Mike, the therapist I've seen over the years, said to me today, "Robin, you have been swinging through the jungle this year grabbing vines" (hands, warm and friendly hands).  I love this metaphor because Sheena, Queen of the Jungle was my heroine growing up. I used to put my mother's bracelets on my upper arms and watch the show every Saturday night. 

Having this blog as a record of this past year and writing through the pain has been incredibly helpful.  Meditating and praying has changed my life.  Gratitude keeps me grounded.  (Even as I fly through the jungle.) 

I hope that I have been as helpful to my friends over the years as they have been to me. As they say in Friends In Deed, quoting Pema Chodron, "things fall apart and things come together."  

I feel like I'm coming together, slowly.  To everyone who's read this blog and commented, thank you for the interest and support.  


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Et tu, Susan and Tim?

Last night I heard the news: after a twenty-three year relationship, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins are separating.  At least they don't have to get divorced, since they never got married.
Yesterday, someone told me that in a recent NY Times op-ed there was a statistic that something like eighty percent of people in their "middle ages," whatever that is, are married.  But in New York City that number is dramatically lower.
I have heard of more couples separating in the last year than I can ever recall.  I also know of many people who are not happy in their relationships, but aren't going to leave.  The reason I know this, is that when you announce you are getting divorced, suddenly everyone confides in you.  I also heard from a friend yesterday, that out of her four grown kids, two are now getting divorced.  
Another friend recently told his wife if their relationship didn't improve he wouldn't stay.  Another couple hasn't really spoken to each other in about a month. 

I think that the myth we are sold on marriage is distorted and also that people show one face when they are dating, and after they get married, they very quickly become who they really are.  I do know couples who deeply love each other, and think about how they can show that love, and are supportive and genuinely enjoy each others company.  What a gift. 

I don't know if I'll find someone to share my life with again.  I know that my living arrangement with my friend has taken the edge off and I feel more relaxed about the future.  I wonder what Susan and Tim would say about their separation - did they grow apart, as so many of us do?  Even with the perfect life, the great careers, the multiple homes, the money, all the kids, and the fame?  Did one of them find someone else?  The message is we're all basically the same...humans struggling, trying to find connections and good lives.  No one is immune from loss, sadness, illness, death.  Even Tiger Woods has to do some major re-evaluating of his life choices. 

As difficult as life can get, it's also fun too, and the difficult times pass.  It's been about a year since I first mentioned the idea of separation and each day gets better.  I keep going where it's "warm", even when the wind chill is fifteen degrees.  Going where it's warm is about turning to friends who are supportive and really care about you.  I am grateful for the friends I have, every one of them. 

I'll be away between Christmas and New Years, up in the country, enjoying nature.  This has been a very difficult and extremely good year for me.  I hope that Susan, Tim and everyone else who is going through these major life changes can find peace even in the painful times. 
Do you think Tim Robbins will post his profile on 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Years ago, Michael Eigen wrote a book called "Toxic Nourishment."  I've been thinking a lot about toxicity these days.  It seems to be everywhere, especially in our government, in the lobbies, special interests, all of it seems to be so anti-humanity. 

I was having a discussion yesterday with two friends after seeing another really good film "Invictus."  (At least they are still making some really good movies.)  We were talking about how after all the years of talking about preventive medicine, doctors still don't counsel people seriously about the need for regular exercise, eliminating processed foods from their diets, meditation, cutting back on the prescription drugs in favor of at least trying other remedies, i.e. amino acid supplements, tryptophan, roots, B vitamins, Cod Liver Oil (I'm serious) for vitamin D, etc., using acupuncture, yoga, chiropractors, as a way of maintaining our health. 

I was also thinking about toxic relationships.  Maybe they don't have to be toxic if people could communicate their true feelings, but the toxicity builds up over time and eventually there doesn't seem to be much you can do to fix it.  As my friend B reminded me, in the not so distant past, most relationships didn't last that long.  Women died in childbirth, people died of cholera and the plague or whatever fatal disease was around.  It wasn't unusual for someone to have multiple wives or husbands in the course of a lifetime that averaged fifty or sixty years, if they were lucky.   

I guess what I'm trying to say is...what?  We poison our bodies and our minds and then we're trapped, trying to figure out how to let go of those toxins.  Awareness is the first step,  acceptance, and then action.  I'm not sure which is the hardest. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Yesterday afternoon I went to a screening of the movie "Precious" and after the showing, there was a question and answer session with the writer of the screenplay.

I haven't been able to get the movie out of my mind.  I just watched an interview with the young woman who played Precious, Gabourey Sidibe, who had never acted before.  She was so astonishing and heartbreaking and seeing her on a talk show, she couldn't have been more different than the character.  The story is about a 16 year-old, illiterate, obese girl who has been abused by both her parents in such a horrific way that it breaks your heart.  She's pregnant with her second child from her father, and her mother is monstrous.  The film was adapted from a novel called "Push" by a woman named Sapphire, who worked with young girls and wrote using stories she heard about their lives.  

The writer of the film, Geoffrey Fletcher, did a wonderful job of adapting the novel.  He incorporated a number of dream sequences and one of the things that works well about the film is the rhythm, it could feel unrelentingly horrible, but by interspersing these fantasy sequences, it lets us breathe.  The cast is fearless and surprising.  I won't tell you who is in it, part of the pleasure of the film is seeing people you wouldn't expect to be in it.

It's so powerful, moving and devastatingly honest.  It brings up so many prejudices and shows us the kind of abuse that goes on every day, all over the world.  

I don't know what else to say but see it.  It isn't easy to watch, but it's necessary.  And it's unforgettable. 


Friday, December 18, 2009

The divorce diet

I promised someone that I would put a bikini shot on my blog.  The best thing about a divorce is that no matter what you eat, you lose weight.  So here I am in a bikini in South Beach, after not wearing a bikini for over twenty-five years.  At least.  There's always a silver lining.  
p.s. I'm sure I'll have hundreds of followers now.  

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The sorrow and the chocolate

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. ... Kahlil Gibran

I heard that quote and it resonated for me.  Most of the sadness I've felt this past year has been for people and situations that have given me delight and pleasure. 

It's natural to grieve those losses and also natural to move on when they are no longer there. I am comfortable living in today - even though today actually was a bit stressful.  My wonderful loft mate, Abigail, has bronchitis and was seriously dehydrated and nauseous in the early afternoon. After several conversations with her doctor (fortunately he's my doc too), we got her some Gatorade and compazine and by around 6 pm she came back to life and we were able to watch three episodes of "Curb Your Enthusiasm."  I fear I am becoming too much like LD.  Seriously.  Standing on line at the drugstore (three different ones to get the Compazine suppositories) - only to be told (erroneously) that her health insurance had been terminated, it was all I could do not to have a LD kind of fit.  But fortunately for me, I was able to bring up some detachment and get everything worked out before I had to yell at everyone in the entire drugstore. 

I did have to stop off for a giant chocolate chip cookie at the new City Bakery Birdbath, which is in the old Vesuvio's on Prince Street. I love NY. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Today is my anniversary

...or it would have been if we were still married.  (Well, we are legally, but not in reality.) You know what?  It's good!  We loved each other when we got married twenty-four years ago, and we had a beautiful daughter and a good life. And now it's over and we're each living the life we want to live and it's all exactly as it should be.  I have had a great day so far, I worked on a video for a friend about global warming and alternative energy sources (she interviewed people and asked us questions - it was fun and challenging.)  I met a man for lunch and I'm going to meet another man for a drink.

I'm happier than I was a year ago and I'm sure my ex is too.  All I need is an income, for my play to get produced, my dogs to live a few more years, love in my life, my own home, my daughter to continue thriving and for the economic situation in this country to turn around.  Peace all over the world would be very nice too. 

I am so grateful for all the miracles in my life and for my friends and the love and support I receive every day. 

The lovely man I met for lunch today had a heart attack a year ago at 55.  He is grateful to be alive.  It's a reminder that each day is a gift, even the challenging ones.  

p.s.  I met a nice man tonight from and then I spontaneously stopped by the Apple store and Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker and Marc Lawrence happened to be there to talk about their film "Did You Hear About the Morgans?"  They took questions from the audience and I asked Lawrence which filmmakers inspired him and he said the same ones I love: he said Billy Wilder "The Apartment" is one of the best films ever made, Woody Allen - "Annie Hall" a perfect film and James Brooks' "Broadway News."  These are all my favorites too. And Hugh Grant is so charming and funny, it was a pleasure to see them all.  

The bottom line is I had a very happy un-anniversary. 

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gratitude, even for the cold

This morning I took the dogs out for their walk and the wind chill must have been about 1 degree because it really sucked out there.  I had on many many layers of clothing, my down coat, a warm scarf, a hat and gloves and still it was really really cold and bitter. I was trying to get them to do their business, I was feeling a bit well, angry, that living in the city in the winter and having two dogs to walk is not exactly what I would call fun.

And...I love my dogs and they are my family and I worry about their health and they are the most loving creatures in the world.  And funny and excellent company.

So when I came home I was doing my readings and one of the things I read had to do with affirmations.  Sometimes I get really tired of people's positive affirmations and their constant cheerfulness.  It's boring, honestly.  Sometimes I want to say "haven't you ever heard of a kanahura?"  (Spelling?)  It's a Yiddish word that means roughly, if you brag too much and talk about something great, your life will turn to shit.  As in "My husband and I have the perfect marriage.  He loves everything about me."  That means in six months you will find out he's been schtupping your best friend for the last seven years.  Or "My ankles haven't been bothering me for months" and then the next day you break your ankle. 

Still, in an effort to ward off the evil thoughts that have been consuming me as I walk the dogs in the wind chill of 1 degree this morning, and in the spirit of the reading I did, I will share some positive affirmations from Melody Beattie's book "The Language of Letting Go." 

"I love myself....I'm good enough....My life is good....I'm glad I'm alive today....what I want and need is coming to me.... I can...."  

Now say that out loud and then spit three times and toss salt over your shoulder.  Or is it pepper?  

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

In the company of women

I love when women feel safe enough to be really honest about what's going on in their lives.  My Mama Gena "Pod" - the group of "sister goddesses" that was created when we all took Mastery last year is the only "pod" that has stayed together past Mastery.  I think that is due mostly to our leader, N, a Harvard Business School grad who has created a supportive and caring climate that has enabled us to continue meeting every few months and have group phone calls.  Many of us went to Miami last month and we just always have fun together. Opa, the Greek restaurant where we all danced on the tables, remains one of our favorite experiences. 

Every one of us has challenges - two of us are going through difficult divorces, one has a husband with a serious and undiagnosed illness, one is starting up a new business and it's been a struggle in this economy, one was out of work for a few years, one is learning how to date after being divorced for several years.  We have the tools we learned in Mastery - to call each other for support, to "spring clean" (pick a topic, talk about it for fifteen minutes, get everything out and have one other person listen without judgment), to make gratitude lists, take dance breaks, be of service, seek pleasure in each day and allow ourselves to sit with sadness, if that's what we're feeling.

But last night there wasn't too much sadness as we all got dressed up and met at the Harvard Club for a delicious dinner and shared our stories - and were reminded how powerful sisterhood is.   

And I had Hasty Pudding for the first time in my life.  It's made with cornmeal and molasses and I don't know what else, but it was pretty tasty. 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Out of the cold

Well, not quite a hundred percent out of the cold, but much much better.  These viruses are hard to beat, I'm grateful that I didn't have to go to work (since I don't have a job) and could rest most of the time.  I had absolutely no energy, but today I walked a bit and vacuumed and went to Friends In Deed, so it was a very productive day.  And I am feeling better, just not completely.  I'm missing a party for the Writers' Guild tonight because it's on 125th Street and I don't have the energy to schlep that far. Tomorrow night, a group of my Mama Gena women are getting together for a reunion at the Harvard Club and I want to feel well enough to go to that.

I have to say that I'm on and it struck me today, as I was reading some profiles, how difficult it is - and also brave I guess - to put your "ad" for yourself on-line and hope that someone really special finds you.  I know that many people have found their partners on these websites, but I'm just not sure it's possible.  

I do have good news...really good news.  It appears that our play that had the reading this past summer in the Berkshires is going to have another reading in Manhattan this coming March.  The director, Matt Penn, is going to direct again and I don't know who the cast will be, but I'm sure they'll find great people and I'm looking forward to it.  They're searching for a venue that will hold about 150 people. 

I'm looking forward to feeling healthy again - walking the dogs in the cold, with a cold is not fun.  I enjoy walking them most of the year, but December - March is really rough.  Today, Lucy dragged me into the jewelry store Me & Ro (she has excellent taste) and I had fun trying on some very lovely jewelry.  Mary Louise Parker wears all their jewelry on "Weeds" - so I guess I'd have to be a drug dealer to be able to afford it.  

I would think that there would be many people in the city who love dogs and would love to take them for a week or two during the winter?  No? 

Friday, December 4, 2009


Okay, I have to admit after 5 seasons of grudgingly and only occasionally enjoying "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and after reading my friend Mia's strong support of the show on her blog ("Under the Stinkwood Tree") - I ordered season 6 on Netflix.  And since I have a cold which is slowly improving, I thought it couldn't hurt to laugh....but would the show actually make me laugh?  Or would I just find him annoying as I often do? 

The first episode, Larry and his wife invite a family, who have been displaced after a huge hurricane, to move in with them. I laughed my ass off.  (Which actually isn't hard to do, since I've lost about twenty pounds this year.)

But seriously, this is funny.  Thanks, Larry.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How do you just have a cold?

A good friend of mine, C, came down with a cold the same day I did and we've been talking on the phone.  Last night, we both had fevers and felt terrible.  I was completely stuffed up and had chills.  I went to bed and slept pretty well, but at 6:30 a.m. my dog Lucy needed to go out for a walk, so I got out of bed and walked her and Lola.  It was a beautiful morning, the rainstorm last night had passed through the city and we enjoyed the walk.  I returned to bed and slept past ten a.m.  I can't remember the last time I slept that late.  But I woke up and felt markedly better, no fever, less stuffy.  I think I'm doing better, but I just spoke to my friend C and she sounded really terrible.  She went to the doctor and he said she has a sinus infection and probably the H1N1 virus.  He put her on an antibiotic and suggested chicken soup and tea and rest.  Then another friend of mine, M, called just now and she was knocked out for three days and went back to work today. 

I am not used to resting this much, but I discovered the show "Glee" and have watched a few episodes.  My brilliant daughter Zoe recommended it to me.  I watched Larry Gelbart on the Archives of American Television and it was fascinating to hear his opinions on all the people he worked with.  I even watched a little bit of the tree lighting in Rockefeller Center.  I'm trying not to panic about work and what I'm going to do.  

First things first: heal myself.  This year has been a rough one and I'm quite happy that it's almost over.  I can't keep up with the news right now: more troops to Afghanistan (not pleased about that) and the health care debate in the Senate, and everything else I've been too distracted to pay attention to and too tired to stay up and watch Jon Stewart.  

At least I can breathe.  Literally, being able to breathe is a big deal.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Letting go

This entire year, when I thought I couldn't take any more stress and I'd probably get sick with something at any moment, I somehow managed to avoid colds, the flu, whatever was making the rounds.

But this weekend, I finally couldn't dodge the bullet and now I'm dealing with a pretty bad cold.  I picked up plenty of chicken soup at Zabar's on Sunday.  I've tried Sambucal, Zicam, Sudafed, Umkca, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, my nettie pot, tea, showers, steam, and my conclusion is it just has to run its course.  I feel better after using the nettie pot, but half an hour later I feel terrible again.  I have no energy and I always get depressed whenever I get sick.  

To fill up my time, I've been watching long interviews with Tom Fontana, Carl Reiner and Mary Tyler Moore on a fascinating website called Archive of American Television.  The interviews are between 4-8 hours.  I even watched a few minutes of the interviews of the headwriters of "The Young and the Restless," one of the soaps I used to write.  I couldn't take more than a few minutes of Bill Bell and Kay Alden, but I do find these long interviews fascinating.  Tom Fontana wrote two of my favorite shows, "St. Elsewhere" and "Homicide, Life on the Streets" and someday I'll have the stomach to watch all of "Oz."  And Carl Reiner's advice from his watchmaker father was: never force anything.  If it's not working, stop trying, turn it around, give it some time, think about it, let it go. I like that.

I guess being sick is a bit like that, you can't force yourself to get well, you just have to let go and stay with the discomfort.