Galileo, Galileo

Originally published November 3, 2015, this is a look back at where we were… and how far we’ve come on this journey…


For Halloween, we flew out to Ithaca, New York for some grown-up trick or treating with my best girlfriend, E, and her husband, D.

Actually, we really flew out to visit Cornell University with Z; the trick or treating was a bonus. D had done his graduate work at Cornell, so they happily joined us out there (they are also Z’s godparents).

As I’ve said before, we are in the thick of college-shopping.  Although Z is only a junior, we all wanted a better idea of what was out there in the college world so we started earlier this year, and it’s been an adventure from start to almost-finish.  Z has an impressive line-up of colleges he’s narrowed his search down to: out of Big 10the five contenders, four are Big Ten schools here in the Midwest (Northwestern University, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Ivy league logoUniversity of Iowa), and an Ivy League in upstate New York (Cornell).  All have astounding physics departments, with equally impressive campuses, housing options, student activities, and research opportunities. They include state schools as well as private; large, small, and medium-sized student bodies.

After each visit, Z declares that university to be his new “favorite.”  We’ve heard that four times now, and I don’t doubt we’ll hear it later this month when we visit the last (for now), Iowa.  T and I are impressed with each of the schools for various reasons, and would be hard-pressed to rank our own favorites (ok, truth be told, T is a die-hard Michigan fan, having done his own graduate work there).  If Z is accepted at all five schools, I don’t envy his position to choose — but what a fantastic problem to have!  I really do feel that whatever decision he makes, it will be a winner for him.

Realistically, do I think he has a shot at the Ivy League?  After visiting, yes.  It’s a long shot, but after listening to the Dean of Admissions and two faculty advisers talk about what they look for in an applicant, I believe my child does, indeed, fit their bill.  Of course I’m biased.  But honestly, I can see where he would be a very good fit there.

What ultimately convinced me was serendipitous: while we were waiting for one of the tours to start on Friday, Z mentioned he wished he could see what a college physics class was like.  One of the student admissions guides overheard him, and said “let’s see what’s going on this afternoon.”  Lo and behold, an Intro to Physics class was scheduled later and Z was invited to show up and sit in!  We re-tooled our itinerary slightly for the rest of the day so he could take advantage of this awesomeness.  So, while T and I caught up on our email and people-watched for a while, Z walked into the giant lecture hall, and concluded he’d entered Heaven.

He LOVED the professor teaching — Z said he was animated, used props, humor, and he felt the prof was TEACHING, not lecturing.  Z caught on right away to the day’s lesson: it’s what he is studying in his AP Physics high school class right now.   He couldn’t stop talking about that visit for the rest of the weekend.

What this taught me wasn’t just about the University itself, but about the course my child has set for himself: it’s the right one.  He is, indeed, head over heels for physics.

CornellAnd it illuminated the truth that the best fit for him will be the university that sees his passion and excitement for the subject matter and research possibilities, realizes he would be a tremendous addition to their college, wants him to become their student on his journey, and will match his passion for learning with their own passion for teaching.

After all the spread sheets and pros and cons lists have been created, after all the hard admissions work has painstakingly been done, and the FAFSA filled out accordingly, what if he isn’t accepted to his first choice, whichever that turns out to be?  I will be disappointed for him and my heart will ache that this is something Mom can’t fix.  But I’ve also learned in the last several years that we all end up where we’re truly supposed to be if we trust in ourselves and take advantage of the choices before us.  If he learns that over the next several years instead of in his 40s and 50s, he’s going to be ahead in this game called Life.

During this process of “college shopping,” we’ve had a lot of fun, and I hope he looks back on these weekends we’ve taken to tour different communities in different states with fondness, if not downright laughter.  I joked at the beginning that we went to Cornell to go trick or treating…well, we made him a deal: we would take all the tours and go to all the meetings he wanted while we were there for the long weekend, and in return, he would be our Designated Driver for a few hours to tour the Finger Lakes wine region, just north of Cornell.  He happily agreed.

vineyardsSo this past weekend, we flew to upstate New York; had a great welcome dinner with E & D; participated in all the talks and tours Admissions offers; visited several Finger Lakes wineries (which is the best kind of grown-up trick or treating); discovered Uncle Joe’s Bar in Ithaca which turned out to be a designated University of Michigan saloon, complete with cowbell and lots of friendly people, and watched UoM win on a big screen on one side of the bar, with the Mets on another (home state crowd not happy with that loss, nor the eventual outcome; our condolences); and all with good friends who are really family.

QueenThe most fun, best moment for me, though, was all five of us in the car belting out the entirety of “Bohemian Rhapsody” at the top of our lungs as we barreled through the winding, rolling countryside at dusk on the way back from the wineries with my son driving, and me riding shotgun.  Pure happiness all around.

I don’t know how many more trips like this we’ll have, but I’ll happily take that seat whenever he’ll have me.

Until Friday, Friends.  Cheers!


Actually, Love

love-actually-posterLove, Actually is my favorite Christmas movie.  I know I’m not the only one who feels that way, but to some people it seems like an odd choice.  It does show some depressing snapshots of love: love gone wrong, gone sour, just… gone.  But those are real situations, that’s real life.  No one’s love is 100% at its best 100% of the time.  Every relationship faces hard decisions and rough patches.  If you’re lucky, you and your partner agree that your relationship is worth the hard work during those hard times, and together you make it work.  Sometimes it’s just agreeing to wait out the difficulties. But ultimately, you make those decisions because you both feel it’s worth it.

cinderella-hailing-a-cabAnd sometimes, you just have to accept that someone just doesn’t want to put forth the effort.

That’s when you, and you alone, have to decide if you’re going to put more time into that relationship, weighing the pros and cons.  Can you put up with what will be happening?  Can you live without what is missing?  Can you condone — and forgive — certain behaviors?

A lot of the time, people do decide “this is worth it” and continue to have faith in themselves and each other to power through the hard times.  And happy times come again, and there is some smooth sailing.

happily-ever-afterThere really isn’t any such thing as “happily ever after” though, because Life happens.  It isn’t static, captured forever in a bubble at the peak of happiness.  It isn’t just your life, or the life of your partner; it is, indeed, a question of how other people’s lives intersect and affect yours, isn’t it?

the-endAnd besides, how do you know when it’s the “end” of “happily ever after”?  When could anyone possibly declare “This is the ultimate day of ever after!”  What if tomorrow is better still?  And what happens when you hit a rut during the happy? Do you automatically declare that’s the end of ever after?

Life has a rhythm of its own.  And although it sure feels like it sometimes, Life really isn’t out to “get” anyone.

I suppose what it all comes down to is that Love, Actually is a realistic snapshot in its portrayal of different kinds of love, in different kinds of situations, at different stages of love.  And although I am the first to admit to being a hopeful romantic — I collect fairy tales, for heaven’s sake! — I am also a realist.  I know relationships of all kinds take a lot of work, a lot of patience, a lot of compromise, a lot of disagreements, and sometimes just knowing that you can’t win certain battles and knowing when it’s time to give in gracefully (I, personally, am still working on the “gracefully” part).

love actually heartI love so many people in my life, and juggling everyday things — and some extraordinary things at times — sometimes makes me forget all the love in my life.  But it’s not really forgetting, it’s just that love sometimes is in the background, obscured by fleeting moments of things deemed “important.”  But it’s always there, actually.  Love.

Until next Friday, Friends.  Cheers!drawn heart



But Siri said…

I know the analogy “life is like a journey” can be a tired old cliche, but as a parent, it really is the best metaphor you can use.

crazy-carBe warned: this journey is a road trip, and you didn’t pack enough snacks, everyone needs to go to the bathroom exactly 2.36 miles past the last rest area and/or McDonalds (even though you asked “Does anyone need a bathroom break?” long before you reached the exit), someone gets carsick, the GPS isn’t working, and you threw out the old, ripped, mis-folded and mashed-up paper map when you were scrambling through the glovebox looking for napkins.

And naturally, there’s always someone who thinks they know best when it comes to the best route, and/or your family.  Whether it’s your mother, father, pastor, neighbor, pharmacist, plumber, mechanic, or the person who bags your groceries at the market, there are people in your life who don’t know when to keep their advice to themselves.  It’s just like having Siri on 24/7 and you can’t switch her off.  It will happen from the time you announce you’re going to be a parent until well after the kid(s) are older and have started their lives apart from you.

Keep smiling, say “thanks,” and move on.

You owe those people nothing more than that when unsolicited advice is thrown at you, much like when you decide that the scenic route looks far more interesting than the main highway and Siri responds in thamapt frigid voice “Recalculating.”  Yeah, your mother may purse her lips and shake her head when you do things your own way, but she’s not driving this bus, is she?

What happens when we screw up?  (because we all do)  Well, apologize; fix what you can; move on.  Really.  I used to beat myself up about all manner of things.  Not anymore.  Kids have remarkable memories.  Believe me, they’re going to remember far worse and more embarrassing moments, and will happily blurt them out at the most inopportune moments in the future on this trip we call Life.

And guess what?  No one is going to need therapy!  Because “normal” is, after all, just a setting on the dryer.

You’re driving.  At least until the kids are 16, right?  Even if you’re winging it (likecountry-road me), you’ve got a general destination in mind, and although you might not have the most direct route mapped, you’re getting there.  In the meantime, let someone else drive once in a while; crank up the tunes and sing along; look out the window; be glad you’re taking the scenic route, and enjoy the ride as much as you possibly can whenever you can.

Until Friday, Friends.  Cheers!drawn heart


Have some more

My Dad’s mom, “Gramma,” came over from Germany when she was very, very little.  Although the family left the country, they brought their traditions with them, german-dinnerincluding recipes and a penchant for cooking enough to feed a small nation.  Gramma was always encouraging us to “have some more,” something she herself didn’t have — “more” — growing up in the early part of the 20th century on a midwestern farm.

“Did you have enough to eat?” was always asked at the end of every meal at Gramma’s, and always followed by dessert regardless of your answer.  If you were lucky, it was Gramma Pie (also known as homemade apple pie) which was the absolute best as far as us 10 cousins were concerned.  Gramma continued to make those pies into her 90s because she knew we all loved her cooking, and that was the way she spoiled all of us.  Gramma Pie wrapped us all in a big, comfortable hug from that tiny little woman.

It wasn’t until later in my own life that it dawned on me that cooking and baking with love and from scratch was one of her many unspoken ways of saying “I love you.”

She never wrote down her recipes — cooking and baking were second nature to her.  But I watched her on several occasions, making those pies.  And somehow my young brain etched a general outline into memory, so that years later, after Gramma had died, I was able to create a relatively close facsimile of Gramma Pie.  For many years after, I experimented, and one apple-pieThanksgiving, I remember my Dad bragging about my pie to other guests gathered at that dinner years ago: “This is as close to her Grandmother’s recipe as anyone in the family has been able to get!”

I don’t cook or bake nearly as much as my Gramma did.  My family is smaller, and I don’t enjoy it as much as I believe Gramma did.  For her, I think feeding her family as well as she did was a source of great satisfaction and pride for her.  And when the question “Did you have enough to eat?”  was met with smiles, happy groans, and a chorus of “Yes!” she knew she had taken good care of all of us.

So, I got to thinking about other ways we say “I love you.”  Even in everyday phrases we use, we say them because we care.  Things like:

Put on your seatbelt.

Where will you be/with whom/what time will you be back?

Don’t go!

Do you need anything while I’m out?

Have a safe trip!

Get some sleep.

I’m thinking of you.

glass heartAnd showing our love can come in wrappers other than hugs:

Writing a note on a card where they’ll find it first thing.

Washing their car unexpectedly.

Doing their laundry unasked.

Taking them to lunch.

Making a donation to their favorite charity in their name.

Buying their favorite movie on DVD and watching it with them(multiple times!)

Sitting by their bedside when they’re ill.

Going to a concert/sporting event/lecture/play you know they like, even if you don’t (and not complaining even once).

Putting down the electronic device(s) and making eye contact, actively listening.

Calling or texting in the middle of the day just to say “I love you.”

Sharing and passing on family traditions.

Regardless of how we all say it, the important thing is that the ones we care for KNOW it.

I hope you, my readers, know how grateful I am for you!

Bis Freitag, Freunde.  Prost!drawn heart

The Final Five

final five gymnasts

Marta Karolyi’s “Final Five” U.S. gymnasts gave her the ride of a lifetime at the Rio Olympics.  Gold medals galore and a glorious ending to a brilliant career.

At our house, the “Final Five” means something else entirely:  the final list of colleges Z has narrowed down to which he will be applying this fall.   But there’s more in common between the two than you might think: map of US

Golden moments.


Tears (ours and theirs).

Waiting for scores (from judges for Marta; from ACT and SAT here).

Days when you wonder “what was I thinking getting into this?” (gymnastics for Marta; parenting for me).

All while teaching and leading and cheering and nudging and cajoling and loving our teenagers.  She even has a special look: the “Marta stare,” which she gives gymnasts when she thinks they can do something better.  Mine is just called the “Mom look.”  Same thing.

Marta and I, yeah, we have a lot in common.

Until next Friday, Friends.  Cheers!acceptedgold medal


Fairy Godmothers have nothing on Moms

Originally published in November, 2015, I find myself thinking a lot about these wishes again lately…


fairy godmothers“Sleeping Beauty had three fairy godmothers who bestowed one gift each upon her in the form of a wish — but couldn’t manage to keep the girl away from a spinning wheel in 16 years.

When I was pregnant, I dreamed about what my child would be like: what he/she would look like, sound like, everything.  Of course, we all want our children to be smart and healthy, kind and successful, and SAFE; at the beginning, we tend to think in these broader strokes.

Then, as a new parent, my life was filled with so many new things besides a baby: crib latches, bottle temperatures, learning to fold strollers one-handed while holding the baby and diaper bag in the other, navigating the grocery store half asleep, play-group politics, pediatrician recommendations, my own changing body, and a million things more… I was grateful to just keep up.  Although I never really forgot all those “wishes” for my child, I just never got around to writing it all down.

I say a mother’s wish is worth 100 fairies’.  So here they are, in writing now (give me a break — remember, I said, at the time, I was happy to just keep up).

wishing star

In no particular order, these are the 12 things I most wish for my child:

Kindness.  Above all else.
Understanding.  Of yourself and others.
Integrity.  Do the right thing, even when it’s hard.
Love. Yourself, others, our World.
Health.  Physical, mental, emotional.
Wisdom.  Physical, mental and emotional.                                                                             Resilience.  Always.
Creativity.  In whatever you do, think outside that box… or rectangle, or circle, or parallelogram…
A Sense of wonder. For everything.
Friendship. Be a good friend and you’ll have good friends.
Gratefulness.  For who and what you do have.
Be owned by at least one rescue pet at all times.  It’s good for your soul.

Nobel prizeNaturally there are other things I wish for Z, like nice manners and a Nobel Peace Prize;  actually, those may very well be covered by the list above. But these are things I’ve learned are most important to me as we both grow older, and I hope they are, or become, important to him.

I wonder how different this list would be if I had written it 16 years earlier?

What are your wishes for your children?

Until Friday, Friends. Cheers!


*** If you enjoy “I feel like I’ve forgotten something…” please “like” the page and SHARE it with your friends! ***

Gracie’s summer vacation

Ahhh, family vacations.  Those wondrous, happy forays into unchartered places to experience 24/7 togetherness.  “Why should it be limited to just the people?” we wondered aloud last spring as we were planning our summer vacation.  “Let’s take the dog!”


“Let’s go bye-bye,” they said.  “It’ll be fun,” they said.  At first, it is.  Gracie loves watching Mama pack her bag with her favorite toy, her travel bowl, and snacks.  Excitement supreme reigns as she watches her bags go into the trunk with her people’s suitcase-things.  And she is beyond thrilled when The Boy gets in the backseat with her.

But after a few hours, Gracie the dog is not amused.

What is to be gained from driving in the car for a whole day?  Sure, there are multiple stops along the way, and it turns out this place called “Michigan” has some splendid roadside parks. But they all look — and smell — pretty much the same after a while.  At the hotel, the family is split up for 2 nights.  “Where did the boys gIMG_2721o??”  Gracie sits by the door, staring.  Not moving.  Occasionally she barks at any noise on the other side of that big bad door; breaks into her happy dance when another member of the family miraculously appears.

This is what her people call a “vacation.”  She doesn’t see the appeal.  “Is this what you do every time you leave the house with those suitcases?”

IMG_2723Back in the car for just a “quick ride” to some big water her family calls “Lake Michigan”.  She walks across the rocks, down to the water.  The people wade in.  She looks at her people as if they’re stupid.  “C’mon in!” they coax.  She very tentatively walks into the water up to her elbows.  That’s it, that’s as far as Gracie wants to go.  “Why are we doing this?” she wonders. “Will ‘vacation’ be over soon?”

Back in the car AGAIN and drive to a town where there are people, and dogs, and food, and cars, and parks with big trees.  “Big deal.  We have all that at home,” Gracie thinks.  “But it makes my people happy, so I’ll go along.”

After one night, Mama makes her sleep in her kennel (something about Gracie’s barking in the middle of the night is annoying), then it’s back in the car and drive another long ways.  But this timeboat when the family gets out, there are BIG boats and LOTS of people.  Gracie and her family walk on something Mama calls “a dock.”  It MOVES!  It bounces up and down a little bit when walk on!  Then up some stairs and big engines started — Gracie can feel the vibrations through her paws.  Then she gets bored,FullSizeRender(1) and lays down and goes to sleep for the 16 minute trip across the blue, blue water next to the big, very long bridge.  But Gracie doesn’t take notice of any of that.  She gets agitated, though, when she hears two little yappy dogs down below, and then it’s to bark back “You’d better not come up here.  I’m not in the mood.”

busy streetSuddenly everyone is getting off the big boat, and there are EVEN MORE PEOPLE!  And carts with suitcases!  And DOGS!  Gotta protect the family!  Mama is pulling backwards on the leash.  Gracie’s new harness grabs more of her body, and she is forced backwards.  Then the family climbs up into some kind of car with open sides — Mama calls it a “carriage”.  Gracie can see out both sides, and the SMELLS!  Gracie gets in trouble for rolling in what that smells like at home.  The car starts moving, but there is no steering wheel or engine.

Then she sees them.  They are animals, she can see that, but they are coming closer.  They are SO BIG!  She has never seen any creature this big moving before!  Bark!  Lose it completely and BARK!  “Horses,man driving carriage” Mama says.  “Those are HORSES?  They don’t look like the horses at Puppy Camp-Kennel!  These are huge monsters!”

Gracie needs to get a grip, and she knows it.  She’ll bark at some people on bikes.  Look!  More dogs!

Then OMG…

“OMG!  What do you mean, these monsters are DRIVING OUR CARRIAGE???”  Hysteria.  Complete and total lack of control.  Gracie can’t comprehend this.  “OMG, must save the family — there are MONSTERS driving us!”

IMG_2735Finally!  Out of the carriage, and the boys take Gracie off to the grass (and away from the monsters) while Mama goes in a big white building.  She finally comes out, and we go to a patio.  Out of the big magic bag, Mama fishes out Gracie’s water bowl, a big bottle of cold water, and some doggie snacks.  We’re sitting in the shade.  Gracie takes a short nap while the people talk.

“A walk!  We get to go for a walk!  Ooooh, what’s that over there? No wait, what’s that?  Ooh ooh let me smell that!  Oh, now into a building and up some stairs!  Into a much bigger room than that last one — oh look!  There are two sleeping rooms and a bathroom and a little room that connects all three!  This is MUCH better: I can see everyone’s beds.  Aww, my people brought my bed and my dishes along from that other place!  Oh, my family loves me.  Gracie’s a good girl!”

IMG_2732This place has wonderful outdoor smells, and there’s a big patio outside so that Gracie can go outside and take a nap, just like at home!  Gracie can smell the woods, and the water, and critters — and those monsters.  Those monsters are all over this place!  Usually in pairs.  Gracie goes for lots of walks here since there isn’t a backyard with a fence to go potty like at home.  But it’s hot and sticky outside, so we find shade whenever we can.

During some walks, Gracie crosses a bridge, and sometimes the great big monsters walk up and wait for people to get off and on their carriages right by that bridge.  Being up higher than the monsters makes Gracie feel braver, and she sits with her head between the bridge posts and watches them from just above their giant heads. This is one of her favorite things to do on her walks now, and she does her best to convince the family to walk over to the bridge so she can look for the monsters below.

blond horsesOn one walk, Mama and Gracie find a new path.  New smells!  New people to greet!  The path comes to a small road and then MONSTERS!  The monsters are coming!  Mama makes Gracie “sit” and “stay”.  Gracie trusts Mama, but better keep an eye on her anyway to keep her safe.  They watch the pair of monsters walk slowly by, leading a carriage with lots of people riding in it.  These monsters clop slowly past Gracie, and she gets a good sniff this time.  “Hmm.  They kind of smell like the horses at Puppy Camp-Kennel,” thinks Gracie.  “I suppose they could be Very Big Horses.”  She doesn’t bark this time, but her eyes are big and round and she watches their every move.

IMG_2736Mama explains to Gracie that they are on an “island” and that’s why there’s water all around.  And one day, Gracie decides she’ll wade in up to her shoulders.  The family gets excited when she does that.  But she has no interest in “swimming.”

Then comes the day it’s time to leave the island.  Gracie can tell because everyone is putting things in those suitcase-things.  She leads Mama around to be sure she packs the travel water bowl, bottle of fresh water, and snacks into Gracie’s very own travel bag.  Gracie supervises the rest of the packing, and then there’s time for one more walk.

Gracie walks her family back to the big white building where they arrived, and they sit in the shade.  Pretty soon two of the Very Big Horses come up, steering a carriage.  They stop for a drink at the two big water holes by the flowers.  Gracie gets uhorses up closep her courage and wants to go closer.  The Boy walks her over to the front of the horse on the left.  Gracie is SO curious!  The horse* lifts his Goliath-like head, and water drips from his chin.  He bows his head to look at this smaller fawn-colored creature, and Gracie almost touches her nose to the Great Goliath’s nose, but she suddenly becomes shy and backs away.

Then Gracie bravely leads her family onto the carriage, and sits quietly this time to watch all the people and bicycles going by.  At one point, she thinks she’d like to jump down and run alongside the carriage, but Mama very firmly says “No, you’re not a Dalmation.”  As the Very Big Horses keep clop-clopping their way forward, more and more carriages begin to appear, and then we’re in the hustle and bustle of the middle of town again.  We get ohorses comingff the carriage and walk along another dock — Gracie is certain she sees things swimming in that water!  Back up the stairs and the big engines start again.  The blue, blue water is jumping today, so this ride is bumpy.

And <sigh>, back in the car again.  Mama says we’re in the Youpee now.  People make funny names for things.  Another long drive, but at least we stop at some beaches to run on!  The big lake up here is SO much colder than the one by tIMG_2740he island!  Mama says it’s because it’s the biggest and deepest of these Good Lakes.  Gracie is pooped when they get to stop and go to sleep.  Another night where part of the family disappears.  Gracie thinks she’ll be petulant and pushes Mama off the bed.  Oops — back in the kennel!  Another day, another drive.  More stops, but this time in a place called “Wisconsin.” Are we forever doomed to move from place to place?  Will Gracie ever see her yard again?

Gracie decides to lay down with her toy Moose for the drive, and maybe even pretend to be asleep when the car stops again.  But, wait: could it be?  “It smells like my park… it smells like my neighborhood!  IT IS!  IT’S HOME!”  Gracie is even excited to see her cats.  She checks out the house — everything is just like she left it.  She rings the bells to go outside.   Then she rings them harder, louder, because everyone is upstairs taking things out of the suitcase-things.  Once outside, she patrols the fence border at a trot, nose to the ground, ears up, checking and double-checking to be sure there was no breach by anything bigger or fiercer than a bunny.

Satisfied that the perimeter is secure, Gracie returns to the porch to recline and survey her yard.  Milo, the dog from next door, runs up to the fence, wiggling and wagging, excitedly welcoming Gracie back.  She is too tired to go back across the yard, so she barks a “hello” and Milo is IMG_2787happy, grinning his toothy doggy grin.

“Vacations are exhausting,” Gracie says to herself as she lay her head between her paws.  “I hope I don’t have to take the family on one again any time soon.”

Yep, Toto said it best:  there’s no place like home.


*Horsey conversation overheard in the stables later:

“Hey, did you see that four-legged, blond creature back at the hotel?”

“Yeah, was it a dog?”

“No, didn’t have a tail, and it’s ears were huge!”

“Too small to be a full-grown deer…”

“Too big to be a fox…”

“What do you think it was?”



*** If you enjoy “I feel like I’ve forgotten something…” please “like” the page and SHARE it with your friends! ***

End of the beginning

end of the world t-shirtAs R.E.M. so eloquently stated: It’s the end of the world as we know it.  But I don’t know if I feel fine… You see, it’s the beginning of the end of the beginning of the world as we know it here at our house: Z started his senior year in high school last week.

As many parents have discovered before me:  holy cow.

We work so hard to give them roots and wings, and then the ungrateful little ragamuffins want to actually use those wings?  Wait, that wasn’t in the manual…

It’s a time wrapped up in mixed emotions and the “lasts”: “last” school clothes shopping day; “last”school supply shopping list; “last” first day of school; “last” school picture; “last” first day of school dinner out;  “last”…   Not that he won’t need things at college or eat, but he’ll do that wherever he lands.  By himself and with new people.

proud momI’m so proud of him — he’s achieved so much, and challenged himself; made such good friends who are good people; he’s walked the walk and done the work to apply to colleges.  He’s a good person.  Kind.  Intelligent.  Healthy.  Strong.  Talented.  Funny.

But I feel resentment.  I resent that the time went by so, so fast.  Why didn’t anyone tell me?  (oh yeah, they did — I just chose to not believe them).  Infant to toddler; to preschool then kindergarten; then onward to elementary school, and then off to middle school.  It all rolled along just as it should have.

And then we hit some kind of time warp-wormhole because high school is just about over and it can’t be because it just started!  What is it about these last 3 or 4 years that just pick up speed and charge ahead, careening towards graduation day???

I cop to some guilt about being excited to have an “empty nest”, too.  Usually right after I cry a little bit about how much I’ll miss my son… If you try to understand how you can swing so easily between feelings, you’ll lose (what’s left of) your mind.  I don’t pretend to understand it; I’m just along (semi-reluctantly) for the ride.empty nest

Until next Friday, Friends.  Cheers!


*** If you enjoy “I feel like I’ve forgotten something…” please “like” the page and share it with your friends! ***


I’ll have what she’s having

Nora1Fun fact: Nora Ephron and I share the same birthday.

I first experienced Ms. Ephron with her film “Heartburn” in 1986, based on her semi-autobiographical book by the same name, starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson. Although, I confess, at the time, I was struck more by the credit music by Carly Simon, prompting me to buy one more of her albums just so I could listen to “Coming Around Again” again and again.

I had seen “Silkwood” with Meryl Streep and Cher (1983). Then came Nora’s “Sleepless in Seattle” (’93), “You’ve Got Mail” (’98), “Julie and Julia” (’09), and a score of others interspersed throughout those years.  But, for me, the definitive “When Harry Met Sally” (1989) is the best of her films, and is still arguably one of the most sincere and realistic films about friendships between men and women ever produced, not to mention just all-out fall-down funny and touching and real.  One of my all-time favorite movies, period.  That movie, that point in time, is when Nora Ephron really hit my radar.

But it wasn’t until mid-July this year when I finally sat down with a book by Nora.  I was trying to understand this form of writing I stumbled upon — and apparently have been doing — for over a year.  The week before we left for a long-weekend trip to northern Michigan, I Googled “personal essay writers” and was hit with list upon list and more lists and “next pages” of lists.  I wanted a woman’s perspective.  So naturally, it was Nora Ephron.

I was at Barnes and Noble for over an hour in the small, hidden-in-the-back, out of the way “Essays” section (I didn’t even know there was such a section until then; did you?).

With a lot to do before the trip, I decided I’d wait to read my chosen coursework until we were “officially” on the trip.  Which means, once we get on the road or to the airport.  Mostly because at that point, there is nothing else I can do to get myself/child/partner/pets/house/car in order.  In this instance, we had decided to fly since it was just T and me; and, because in the previous five weeks, between the two of us, we had already made the driving trek to Michigan five times (various business trips intermingled with family visits), with one more to go (our summer family vacation; and no, we don’t normally get to spend so much time in our home state.  It’s just worked out that way this summer).  So with great anticipation, I cracked the spine on my primer when we arrived at our gate.

I Feel Bad About My Neck is the book I chose to begin my education.  And it was a post-doc level course.

Nora2I laughed so hard and out loud on the plane reading it, I think T was actually pretending not to know me for the entirety of the flight.

When we landed, I reluctantly put the book away for later.  We were there for reasons other than relaxation, and it wasn’t until bedtime that I had an opportunity to extract the book from my carry on.  While T finished up some work on his laptop, I lay in bed, laughing; folding over page corners for reliving later; thinking “me too!” more times than I could count; and wondering how in the world this woman had exactly the right words in exactly the right order to recount periods in her life with such exquisite perspective.

I sighed when I finished — much like after a wonderful meal that fills you, not only with food, but with gratitude that you had a seat at that particular table.

“I may as well just stop writing now,” I said to T.


“I will never write like Nora Ephron,” I said.

“Well maybe it’s something to strive for,” he replied.

“No, you don’t understand,” I replied earnestly.  “I will never write like Nora Ephron.”

At that point, he decided to just nod vaguely in agreement and leave me pondering this slim volume of wonderment.  (He’s a wise man.)

I decided to do a little background research on my new-found teacher, and that’s when I discovered I have the same birthday as Nora Ephron.  That must be some cosmic sign she is to be my muse, right?  (Of course, there are lots of other people who were born on that day in May.  Including one of my ex’s much younger girlfriends.  Some people think I must be offended by that in some way.  Not really.  I had that birthday first.)  I was on a first-name basis with Nora by then, so it was an OMG moment for certain.  I posted it on Facebook.  I tweeted on Twitter.  I shouted it to my family (“Who?” said my teen).  Ok, I was getting carried away.  I can see that now.

But it’s NORA FREAKIN’ EPHRON!  And she’s one of the most brilliant writers ever, whether it’s for print or movies — geez, she could write directions for an oil change and it would be awesome.

Much of my life goes irrelevantly on, in spite of larger events,” she wrote.  As the song goes, “I know nothing stays the same…”

And yet she still believed strongly that “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”  Hell to the yes!

At the same time I was voraciously reading Nora’s essays, I picked up a copy of a book T’s mom had told me about regarding the history of the feminist movement.  This happened to coincide with Hillary Clinton’s nomination as the first woman to head an election ticket by a major party.  AND, guess who was quoted throughout the book?  Nora.

Nora3So how timely and apropo was my discovery of Ms. Ephron?  From needing some direction as to my writing future to commentary on women in politics, Nora came into my life at just the right time.

Nora would have been 75 this last birthday of ours.  But the world lost her marvelous voice in June of 2012, to stupid leukemia.  I don’t have many regrets in my life, but I do regret not having discovered this remarkable woman earlier.  I would have written a letter to her, in the most fan-girl of ways, saying all these things I’ve learned with help from her.

In retrospect, however, I do believe I came across Nora Ephron exactly when I should have.  Any sooner, I may have just chuckled and moved on.  In that time period, from when she left us to my discovering her on that bookshelf at Barnes and Noble, I have changed in so many ways — I think for the better.  Nora has given me so many master-classes in not just writing, but in how to look at the world through a different lens; finding humor in places I didn’t know I could; accepting myself fully for who I am in every way; looking back through the history of the Women’s Movement and learning things I never even guessed at growing up in the 70s.

NoraI know nothing stays the same, but it’s ok, she assures me.  Because if things don’t change, we’re actually all the worse for it.  So the changes I’ve weathered, the changes I invited, the changes I made willingly and excitedly, even the ones I didn’t — they’ve all made me who I am now, and have led me to discover my writing anew and shown me where I can fit in to the literary world.

Thank you, Nora.  I needed that.


Until next Friday, Friends.  Cheers!

drawn heart