Thursday, January 27, 2011

tea, cookies, and snow.

We walked into the General Greene after perusing the Park for a good hour and a half. It's not every day you get to stop in at 3pm on a weekday for tea and cookies. Just for the sheer novelty of it, it had to be done.

Exhilarated by just having had laid in the snow for 10 minutes straight before beginning to freeze, gazing up at the blue, blue sky and watching the white cloud pass while being engulfed in fluffy powder all around, we entered the restaurant happy. "It's SO beautiful outside" I proclaimed to the man behind the counter selling the cookies. "I love it, it's pretty and fun! So nice! Like a winter wonderland!" I kept going, as if his forced smile and slight nod meant I should continue.

After what probably seemed like an eternity to the poor man (wearing a great pink shirt and a burley white mustache), he interjected, "Ya, if I didn't have to shovel my car out this morning it would have been nice."



snow day.

4:40am the news came. 19 inches of snow covered our big urban concrete jungle.
completely caught by surprise, unlike the last false alarm where everyone went out the night before in anticipation, this day was like a little gift. a small slice of heaven.

and i enjoyed it. unlike last year when i was swimming in a sea of reports on the day Bloomberg announced NYC schools closing, today i decided to feel it. be in it. enjoy it.

and it was breathtaking. the park was covered in blankets and blankets of clean white. the trees were lined, as was every straight edge surface, with a mountain of white. it was so brilliant. kids were playing in the park - families sledding down the side of the hill. remembering my own childhood and days upon days of sledding with my cousins, my dad's home-made sleds in hand, the pure happiness. you couldn't help by be a little blown away by the beauty of today and the playfulness that came with it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2 days!

only 2 more full days until she comes. it feels like so short but so much has to happen before that 4am wake up on Friday morning to drive to JFK.
only 2 more days until i get to hold her again - until she makes her first trip on an airplane!

the room is all set up for her arrival. little baby portable crib in place, tiny snow suit waiting. stuffed animals and books ready, standing guard.

all i need is 2 days to pass.

she was so happy

i dreamt last night of my grandmother. it was the first dream i have had of her since her passing.
i feel asleep, straight passed out, at 10:30, on the couch.
and the dream came somewhere between 11 and 2:30am. woke me up eventually.

she was so happy. her face was full. her smile radiant. her body composed. her expression serene. she was so happy.

we were in our old house in reno, nevada. the home i was born in. i remember the tacky plaid design of the sofa, which we later had upholstered. she sat and laughed a lot in this dream. but most interestingly, she was telling me about people. but of people who have already passed. she told me how my grandfather was doing and about another family friend who she loved who has passed in 2006. and she smiled and laughed as she spoke. he cheeks were full of life. her color bright. her eyes shining. she was so happy.

and then i woke. it was so erie in the house. dark and shadowy. and i sat for a minute and just recalled the dream for fear that i would forget it come morning. her smile. her happiness.


i didn't do anything this past weekend but 'be'. i stayed home, i cooked, i baked. all set plans were cancelled and i just allowed myself to 'be'. i think that brought a sense of calm i hadn't allowed myself to feel in a while. i think that released a certain energy that allowed me to be receptive to other things. i don't believe in signs. but i do believe that things happen for a reason and that we can make choices that allow us to be healthy and happy or we can make choices that don't. and those choices, whatever they are, effect other things. just 'being' allowed me to feel in a new way. and it was refreshing.

and she was so happy. and that happy was contagious.

Monday, January 24, 2011

real good food.

Tonight I had the most delicious meal after a weekend of nothing but pajama's. My friend Allison and her friend Maggie have taken it upon themselves to visit the restaurants in "The New Brooklyn Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from 31 Restaurants That Put Brooklyn on the Culinary Map" and then try and replicate the meal they ordered. Tonight's feast came from Prime Meats, a Court Street restaurant that I had never been to before.
From brussel sprouts cooked with bacon to a delicious red cabbage salad, it was a culinary extravaganza. If she wasn't wearing yoga pants as she served this meal, I woulda thought I was in a 5 star restaurant for SURE.
I love having friends with such good ideas.

Friday, January 21, 2011

what she left behind.

one of the most incredible things about the passing of a loved one are the words of love and kindness that come pouring in. in the instance of Maman Houri, it came pouring in from all over the world. many, many had met her. but even more felt like they knew her through the stories that her children and grand-children had shared throughout the years. in that way she touched so many hearts. her youngest grandchild wrote, "The fact that everyone i have ever met loves Maman Houri speaks volumes in itself, but it speaks more to the kindness and selflessness that always eminated from her. She was always the first to welcome someone, always making sure every guest in her home was taken care of, always making sure that all her grandkids had enough food, namely ghelgheli. This caring, but sterness, always made her the rock of our family."

i guess the recurring theme for me, as I reflect on the type of life my grandmother led, and the impact she had on all those with whom she came into contact, was that of onrushing love towards everyone. one of my other cousins wrote, "Throughout your life you were like a mirror reflecting the divine qualities of love, tenderness, and compassion. These qualities were especially salient when directed toward your grandchildren."

constantly that love was directed at us. constantly she shone as an example of how to be kind, how to be patient, how to be filled with love. she drew her strength from her love for her Creator. "I recall passing your room in the mornings and evenings and catching a glimpse of you seated on the edge of your bed, eyes closed in deep meditation."

all i can do at this point is continue to reflect on that example and hope, beg, and pray that somehow her example wore off on me, if even a teeny, tiny, bit. i am so ever thankful for her influence. i am so grateful that i have a family who all recognized those qualities in her and each and all strive to emulate them.

when the pain of loss subsides, it is overcome with an incredible sense of gratitude. i like that emotion much better.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


i just realized i didn't write a single thing in 2010. not a single thing.

lots of old stuff - that i now look back on and find either witty or embarrassing. i guess it's good to be reflective once in a while.

but now, now. i've decided to turn over a new leaf. there will be no drought in 2011. already an abundance of thoughts inspired, if you will.

and even though this is mainly just my own personal journey, sometimes it's nice to hear someone out there reads and enjoys it.

so yes, no entires in all of 2010, as though the year didn't even exist (although i must admit some pretty amazing things happened in that year) which have led to a newfound energy to once more write in 2011.

who knew i did well with odds?

What do they wonder about...

The First Grade is doing a 'Neighborhood Study'.
Today when they walked in they had to write one thing they are wondering and want to know about their community/neighborhood.
I sat next to one of them - his chubby fingers gripped around the pencil and his body still as he concentrated on the words he was writing. His braids fell to one side and his brows furrowed as he tenderly wrote each letter.

"So what do you want to know about your neighborhood, what are you wondering about?" I ask.

He lifts up his head and stares at me. "What I want to know is how we all got our different colors."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Scheduling Time to Grieve?

Anyone who knows me knows what an insane scheduler I am. From showers to dinners to work obligations, it's all scheduled. So you can imagine how extremely hard it is to squeeze "Grieve" into the calendar. Between yoga and a presentation on "Understanding Your Children's Sexuality" to prep for at school, fit in "Grieve"? Impossible.
That's what sucks about this whole thing - you can't plan for it. And perhaps that's what makes it so hard for me. No control over when it can happen.

That's why it hits at the oddest times. That's why when a child runs down the hall and throws their arms around me I sometimes burst into tears. Because I have no other time to cry.

It's these times of writing that allow me that space. So to whoever the reader is out there, thank you for taking the time and being a part of that emotional journey with me. If even for a minute. If even through cyberspace.


4th grade hearts

Yesterday I was working with an incredible group of students.

"So what is it in your community that makes you feel sad, frustrated, or disappointed?" They set off thinking. I played classical music in the background as they poured their sweet 4th grade hearts into answering the question. The room with filled with a quiet reverence. They mulled over that and many other questions regarding community and their role in it.

"Pssst..." The silence was interrupted. A young girl in the corner calls me over and waves her hand ferociously indicating that I bring my face closer to hers. "I don't want to write down what makes me sad about my community. I'm kinda nervous."

"Ok, can you tell me what it is and then we can talk about how to make it easier for you to write your thoughts?"


"Shootings. Shootings make me sad and disappointed in my community."

She looked up at me with so much hope as if to think that somehow I was going to tell her that those shootings weren't real. That while she was in this safe place, where things like that couldn't hurt her, that those other things didn't exist. But there was nothing I could say to make her reality less real. Nothing.

"I know honey. Those things are sad to me to."

black mud

It's pretty when it first falls. So calm and so peaceful. Covering everything in a blanket of all white. And in that moment, everything looks so incredibly magnificent.

And then. It melts. Leaving puddles that only certain shoes can tread through. Pools of slush.

And what was once beautiful becomes a huge pain in the ass.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Not a Wedding

Have you ever planned a wedding? Flowers. Center pieces. The program. The invitations. Travel plans. So much needs to get done. But generally, you have months, nay, years, to get it all done.
Not with a funeral though. You have days. A few, short, 24 hour days to get it all done. The same things just shorter time. And then, and THEN you are supposed to grieve? Where is the time for that? Not there.
So you hear the news, and you hit the ground running........
Burial time, pick the coffin, who will read, when do we prepare the body, who will welcome everyone, who is getting the food, what are we doing to make it special, who are the pall bearers...and the list goes on and on and on...
No time to think, just do. On a time line, so must get everything done. No. Time. To. Think.

And then it all just happens. Like some sort of surreal dream. And you thank GOD for your family who loves and supports you through it. And you let yourself cry, and you let yourself remember, and you allow yourself to just feel.

But it's not enough time. And so then you go back to life. The life that you knew. But it's not that life. It's different. It feels different. And you just now start to realize the loss. And you just now stop worrying about table cloth and framed photographs and how windy a day it will be. Because it's all over. And you are back in a life you once knew, trying to understand why it feels so different. And wishing you were able to call her, just once, to hear her wish you happy and well. But you can't. And all you are left with is the satisfaction that you made that day the best that you could. For her.


I guess no one really talks about how hard it can be, losing a loved one. People are, of course, so gracious and so kind when they find out. A tilt of the head, a look of pity in the eyes. And you know they understand, or at least try to. I'm sure I made that same face a million times. And it helps, it's nice to have that pity, if even for a moment. Feel bad for me, I just lost her. But that can't be constant and shouldn't be. What IS constant though is that underlying numbness. That feeling that you want to happy but you just aren't. That emptiness that you just can't quite shake. And don't get me wrong, it isn't intense all the time. But it's there. Waiting to be acknowledged, waiting to be addressed.
But where? Where do you address it? In the middle of work? In the middle of hanging out with friends, giving a presentation, interviewing someone? When?
So you let the feeling just sit there. Just sit and wait, and inevitably grow stronger and more intense. You're not quite sure what to do with it in those times. And when it rears it's head you mainly want to tell it to go away and mind it's own business. But it won't. It's there to stay. So you somehow, SOMEHOW need to figure out how to coexist with it.
It's harder than you think.