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Pokemon Go – Away!

It wasn’t even a week ago that my kids discovered the new Pokemon Go app (I wrote about it in Parents here). I watched them run around the corner excited and laughing, following their phones to discover the hidden Pokemon lurking all over our neighborhood.

I walked with them, amused and happy. My boys were engaged in an outdoor activity and getting along – no one was hitting anyone with a stick, no one was taking the ball away from anyone, and no one was crying that his brother cheated at something. I didn’t even mind that their devices were at the center of their attention. It still felt like a huge step up from them ignoring me while staring at our X-box in the basement. We were outside in the sun, wandering around and bonding like a family.

It seemed everyone we saw, from kids to moms to teens to grown men were all playing this game. Even when we went to dinner, we ran into waiters on break doing the same. It felt strangely like the world had gotten a bit smaller and we were all on the same team. Although as my son reminds me, there are different teams – blue, yellow and red.

I loved everything about the app last Saturday, Sunday and Monday. We strolled, we talked, we caught Pokemon, meeting friends and making friends all doing the same. But by Tuesday my boys, already pros, figured some ways to cheat, or at least how to cut down on the exercise part of the game, my favorite part.

“Hey Mom,” My middle son asked, “It’s kind of hot out. Why don’t you drive us down to the water, and we’ll walk around. And then we can drive to the library and then to the train station.”

These were all Poke hot spots to get free stuff. I eyed him skeptically but his big green eyes gave nothing away. It was kind of hot out. “Okay,” I conceded and they all cheered.

We drove to the water and my boys had me drive back and forth in the parking lot and then back around the block – Go left! No other left! Keep Going! You missed it! Go back! – The phone glitching a number of times before they were all satisfied that they had received adequate Poke loot. Next we head off to the library where they walked around the parking lot for a full three minutes before jumping back in the car. “Done,” My oldest announced, “Take us to the train station.”

“Excuse me?” I said, annoyed. We were no longer bonding. I had become the chauffer being bossed around, pretty much my typical life.

“No!” My youngest suddenly cried. “Mine isn’t loading!! I didn’t get anything!” He made a lot of grunting and whiny noises as I drove around in circles trying to find a good spot to help his phone – I mean my freaking phone! – work.

“Let’s just go,” My oldest compassionately suggested and my youngest screamed at him. After ten minutes of 8 year-old meltdown, the ridiculously overloaded server kicked in.

With the app reloaded and my youngest receiving an egg, some balls and yet another Pidgey; the Pokemon that needs some birth control since they are literally everywhere – “Mom! Don’t move there’s a Pidgey on your back!” – We head to the train station, a center spot in town.

My children run here and there collecting free stuff, capturing some Pokemon and almost running into people, while I yell for them to be careful of the street. It is around 5pm and others lurk doing the same. You can spot them immediately, hovering over their phone in little groups or staring at it as it directs them. There is also a ‘Gym’ at the train station. My boys have announced that it is weak and they are all excited to take it over.

“Guys we have to go,” I say, dampening the fun but I am hot and tired and needing to get home and start dinner. They ignore me, loitering near a grown man in a wrinkled suit tapping his cell madly.

“We’ll just stay here at the Gym,” my oldest says. “Pick us up when you’re done.”

It’s not a Gym I want to yell. It’s the middle of a street! And you are stalking a strange man! And I want my phone! “No,” I say calmly. “We’ve had enough Pokemon for right now. It’s time to go.”

My youngest starts whining. “My game froze again! They got so much more guys than me!”

“To the car!” I command and they grudgingly follow.

We repeat this experience all week; them obsessed, nagging and begging, and me driving with phones glitching, batteries dying and them whining and crying in frustration.

Then there are all these stories out there of people getting robbed or walking into trees, but I honestly don’t think there’s any real danger. The app is awesome, creative and fun, but I do worry a bit that this craze has obsessively overtaken my children and my town. It’s like a cult of zombies out there – Must find Pokemon!

I really wouldn’t mind if the app would just Go away, but it seems I stand alone. Everyone else is out finding Pokemon.

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Yup, quality family time in the great outdoors.

And while you’re waiting for your kids to lift their heads, check out my book, Secrets of the Suburbs – the perfect sexy fun beach read! – available on Amazon. Just click HERE!  And…  Murder Across the Street, click HERE. Yes! The suburbs are crazy! Sex, Murder and Pokemon, Oh my!

Why I finally published my book

I find myself in a place of genuine discomfort.

After years gaining confidence and finally growing comfortable sharing my real life journey freelancing online and here on my blog , I have decided to start publishing some of my fiction. It’s harder than I expected.

But it’s not like coming to the conclusion to publish was easy either. I spent years – years – writing fiction. I remember finishing my first book in my mid-twenties, a romantic suspense novel of love, murder and revenge. I was so proud to have completed it but then came the problem of selling it. I sent it out to agents and editors and then sent it out some more, receiving mostly form letter rejections but also an occasional personal letter (they wrote letters back then!) offering some kind, positive feedback before crushing my dreams and my soul.

I pretty much had the exact same experience with my next book and my next. So I edited and revised, continuing to write and submit to those agents and editors, thinking that I wasn’t good enough, but hoping that maybe one of them would think I was.

But then a funny thing happened. Or a few funny things. I somehow became middle-aged and started giving a shit less about being traditionally accepted. I realized that I, someone who could barely turn on a computer, had somehow managed to build a social media platform. That many of my fellow online writer friends were self-publishing and just maybe I could too. And that while my fiction wasn’t going to win any literary prizes, it was fun, engaging and entertaining; and many people would like it.

The idea started to take shape and grow, slowly and carefully, like a bubble, until finally one day I said, I’m doing it. I’m going to put a book or two or maybe even three out there in the summer sun and let it fly, because I did it and because I’m proud, and then I’m going to move on, start fresh and write something completely new.

Still, writing fun, sexy beach reads presents a challenge in small town suburbia. I worry about what people will think of me. Even worse, I worry that people won’t like it; that judging eyes are everywhere whispering about my craft, my character and my content. But as difficult as that is, I know it’s part of the gig.

So I need to remind myself to be brave, to keep putting myself out there and to stand behind my work; that I can’t worry what people think of me, only what I think of myself. Because pushing beyond our comfort levels is often what makes us better.

It’s not an easy lesson, but like my writing, I’m a work in progress.

Secrets of the Suburbs. Now available on Amazon. Click here. 

Also available for the Nook and Ibook.

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So hot, you’ll think it’s summer!! Oh, wait…

 

Murder Across the Street. Coming Soon….

Pre-order Here! 

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From toddler to teen: A mom’s short retrospective

From toddler to teen: A mom’s short retrospective

2002

Love. Love. Love. Your drool is adorable, your poop, a topic of conversation. Never leave my side. Stay forever in my arms. You are mine. I am yours. Before you, life had no meaning. Before you there was nothing.

2005

Oh my baby. My poor sweet child. Don’t be sad. It’s only for a couple of hours. Everyone goes to nursery. Why? I don’t know why. Good question! Why?!! No don’t cry. You’re making me cry. Okay one more hug. Okay one more. Okay, Just one mor-

Yes, I know he’s going to be fine. Okay… shut the door.

(I’ll just be sitting here.)

2007

First day of Kindergarten. Can’t…. even….. speak.

2008-10

What’s going on, my love? Yes, I would Love to play dinosaur battles with you! Yes, I want to color! Yes we can build a set-up! Yes, I will even listen to the really really long and convoluted story about the dragons you are breeding on your video game and all 112 words you have made up for your own secret language. Tell me. I am fascinated.

2010-2012

Of course! Have all your friends come over! Everyone is welcome! Five on five wiffleball/soccer/football/basketball in the yard? Fabulous! Manhunt through the house? Movies? Wii? X-Box? Great! I’ll order a pizza! Who wants fresh baked cookies? Weeeeee!!!

2013-2014

Uh okay, of course I’ll drive you to your friend’s. Again.

2015

Me: Can I make you pancakes?

Him: Shrug

Me: Hey that was a good game you played today!

Him: Grunt

Me: Who did you hang out with at the party yesterday?

Him: Eye roll

Sigh. (Both of us)

2016 –

How are you? How’s school? What’s going on? What’s new? Are you happy? Are you sad? Are you comfortable? Do you have friends you like? Do they like you? Are you feeling okay? Do you need anything? Want anything? Can I help you? Hello? Are you listening? Hello…

I’m here.

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And always will be

 

*Now that I have you all sapped up, go check out my latest essay over on Scary Mommy – Underneath His Teenage Scowl. Originally titled, It’s not you, It’s me. Okay, maybe it is you,  but just a little.  :)

 

I’m Not Going Anywhere, Kid.

They say there’s always one born to drive you crazy. That would be my 10 year-old, a whip smart, manipulative, feisty and sensitive boy who only takes no for an answer if it’s the answer he wants.

We’ve just gone a round or two over putting away his clothes. It was a simple request that should have taken five minutes that I gave more than a full day’s latitude before putting my foot down. But instead of compliance with a loud sigh, we spent a solid half hour in a heated battle of wills.

“It will take you five minutes.” I maintained calmly. “Let’s not continue this waste of time. Go get it done so we can move on.”

“There is no purpose to it!” He insisted, always looking to debate. “I like them on my floor… It’s my room.”

Back and forth we went until I stopped. “No more discussion. I’m telling you what you need to do, and if you don’t there will be a consequence. Last warning.”

He wasn’t happy but finally complied. Fear of losing his device carries weight. It’s possibly my only real leverage.

Not 15 minutes later, my quills from our recent clash barely settled, he wanders back into the kitchen bounce, bounce, bouncing his basketball with a smile that makes me wait for what’s coming.

“Hey,” He greets through bounces that feel like it’s my head banging against a wall.

“Hey,” I reply, standing up a little straighter, eyeing him.

He takes his time, drawing it out.

“So mom, why don’t you work?”

I’m confused, thrown off. I thought he’d request macaroni and cheese or an M&M yogurt, if he could skip Hebrew school or if 2, 3 or 4 of his closest friends could come over, but this…

“What do you mean? Taking care of you boys and daddy and the house and everything is a lot of work.”

“Yeah, but it’s not a real job.”

I’m trying hard not to be defensive but my heart is shattered all over my kitchen floor, along with some lost morning cereal and crumbs. I suck.

“Taking care of you guys is a real job.”

He looks at me smug, like I should know better. “Not really.”

All of sudden all the stay-at-home vs working mommy wars are right here in my house coming from the most unexpected of places, from one of the people I revolve my world around.

“So you want a nanny to take care of you?”  I am a wounded animal, a wounded domestic animal.

He shrugs, “I wouldn’t mind.”

UGH. He’s killing me. I bend down to pick up Cheerios and wonder if I’m paying for the battle over the clothes. Or maybe he would like to see me working. Whenever I show him essays of mine or talk about publishing a book I wrote, he is proud. Maybe he wants to be able to show me off.  But more likely, he’s the cat and I’m just a mouse that he’s toying with.

“Your brothers would mind,” I counter. “They like that I pick you guys up and come to all the school stuff and bake brownies. They like that I’m here to help with homework and hang out.”

“You could still do that if you worked.”

“Yeah. Well no. I couldn’t do all that.” Another piece of my self-worth crumbles to the floor.

“Well the nanny could.” He’s not letting up for one second.

We’re at an impasse and I’m ready to get a job just to spite him. Visions of Nanny Ratched play out in my head.

I sigh. It’s time to change the subject. “So are you hungry? Do you want macaroni and cheese?”

“Yeah,” he says. “Thanks.”

As I put the pot on, he pulls his homework from his book bag and I watch his bowed head, busy at work, scribbling off answers. This is my job. This is where I love and need to be. He can push all he wants.

The water is boiling but I am not.

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You’re stuck with me tough guy. MWAH!

Cancer sucks but you’re beautiful

Monitoring stations divide the functionally open room; chairs and beds strategically positioned in every corner and in every chair and bed a body. I pull her plaid rolling luggage carrier filled with snacks and warm booties and we make light small talk while following the kind, ample bodied nurse, softened even further by the box of chocolates my cousin hands her.

This treatment my cousin has not scored a bed and she reclines in her waiting chair, seeking maximum comfort in a place with minimal comforts. Removing her soft cotton slouchy cap from her newly shorn head, she sighs, relieved to be uncovered, momentarily enjoying the coolness of leather against her scalp.

Not too long ago I watched them buzz it off, or what was left of it. Her once richly luxurious hair fell in dark thin clumps onto the floor in her kitchen while I manically swept, worried the hair would trigger unstoppable tears to fall as well. Amazingly they didn’t. She was already all cried out.

How did we get here? To this chair, in this cool, efficient room where my beautiful, vibrant cousin who manages her life and work with the power and fierceness of a clap of thunder and her 2 ½ year old like a soft cloud filtered by sun sits before me hooked up to drips and portals and an amazingly bright smile.

She looks herself, pretty with sparkly earrings and lipstick. I remember all the times years ago watching her artfully apply a streak of black liner or curl her lashes with an apparatus that resembled a director’s chair. Four years older, she walked all the paths of adolescence first – from makeup to boys to drinking – and her sister and I followed with her as our guide.

It’s been decades since I watched her transform her face in the magnifying mirror; a little girl standing behind her admiring her maturity, confidence and skill. I feel much like that girl now, seeing her here, admiring her beauty, her courage and strength. But unfortunately Cancer is not something lipstick can cover.

No one can truly understand what it’s like to live through the pain and discomfort, the emotional turmoil and sleepless nights, the phone calls telling and retelling a story that makes you sick, the people who disappoint you and the hope and doubt that constantly wage war along with the medications inside you.

While most of my days stream by with carpooling and homework, running to the supermarket or gym, my cousin endures one treatment to the next fueled on pharmaceuticals and kisses from her daughter.

But I see that sunshiney day in the not too distant future when this will all be past. Instead of talking in between fluids and poisonous, life-saving drips, we will laugh between sushi rolls and Chardonnay. She will be well and move on to enjoying the frustrations and difficulties of everyday – the annoying woman in front of her at check out, negotiating with her two year-old to go potty, working her job while managing her household.

There will be nothing new and exciting to discuss beyond what we ate for dinner, where we went on the weekend and our beautiful, wonderful, sometimes pain in the ass children.

Life will be typical, average, ordinary. And we will celebrate.

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Time For My Big Girl Pants

 

From my storm door I fog up the glass watching my middle son race around on the neighbor’s lawn. Our neighbor’s daughter is with him, but of course she’s in long pants and a winter coat and he’s in a pair of shorts, beaming as he crunch, crunch, crunches over the frozen grass.  Last winter of course, we went through the same. It’s a thing, my older sons tell me, but looking around all I notice are appropriately dressed kids. Not that this is something I stress over. They wear their hoodies. And if they’re cold, well, they know the draw to pull.

My youngest boy wearing pants and a jacket (clearly the smart one) lingers in the house with me, timidly watching the cold from the inside and waiting for that strip of yellow to rumble up the block. Usually my middle son screams, “Bus!” and on his signal we bolt through the door, out into the street where the belabored vehicle idles, creaking its doors open, panting exhaust fumes.

They step on and I follow their little faces and wave, almost immediately losing my 5th grader to his posse in the back seats. But my 2nd grader hangs with me, his brave smile pressed up against the tinted or possibly just very dirty windows, barely concealing his anxiety at leaving his home and me before the bus heaves up, heavily turns and makes its way to the next stop.

On a cold day like today, I am back in my house within seconds, relieved, closing the door to the outside, hunkering down in the quiet and sweet comforts of my steaming coffee, a pile of clean laundry to fold and hopefully a warm voice on the other end of my phone. I spend a lot of time hiding myself away. I used to say that I needed the time and space to write and while that’s true, a writer needs to write, life’s injustices have kept me on hiatus for months keeping a steady force field between me and my computer.

I haven’t been happy about it, although my son has. He is now free to play his Minecraft while I am free of his long faced, soulful pleading. It’s been a relief of sorts, to not feel the pressure of myself to perform. In the beginning with all the other stresses going on, I welcomed it. But quickly that free space got gobbled up with new and old problems and people…  cousins with BRACA diagnosis, one fighting cancer and the other going thru a preventative double mastectomy and hysterectomy, friends who needed an ear and of course my unwell father. And just like that, day after day slowly slipped through my fingers and I lost myself as I focused on others.

So I guess that’s where I’ve been all these months, if you’re even wondering, fogging it up on the inside. But lately I feel the crushing weight of my father’s immeasurable needs has lessened because I lessened them, and here and there the inklings of misplaced energy and discontent sparkle through me. It’s time, my dulled senses snap, to say hello again and find my focus; to get invigorated, get out and feel the fresh air.

But I’ll be doing it in pants.

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That’s my boy!

 

And in case you missed, here’s the essay that secured that my middle son will never wear anything but shorts in winter. Read What’s up with Boys and Shorts in Winter.

And also, if interested, here’s the last article I wrote for On Parenting on Washpo. They Grow Up so Fast, so What’s my Rush?

Yay! I wrote something.:)

 

Wildcat Down

For years I’d jerk awake, hearing her morning cry and think it was one of my babies. Even with my boys aged 13, 10 and 7, the sound instinctually propelled me from bed in a state of semi consciousness ready for nursing, throw up, a bad dream or whatever. About a ¼ a second later however, too exhausted to even roll my eyes, I’d mutter, “Be quiet, Buzz!” at the feline padding around my room, a small stuffed animal hanging from her mouth and immediately fall back to sleep. FullSizeRender (16)

Back when she was a kitten, the truth is, I didn’t like her much. Even though I cupped her six week old body in my palms, feeding her through a tiny bottle in my New York City apartment, she never really left the bodega where we found her and remained stray and wild at heart.  If she saw skin, she would go for blood. Early on, I recognized the merits of heavy socks and learned to tread lightly, especially if I needed the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Buzz relished the surprise attack, actually causing two of my cleaning women to quit screaming the words ‘gato loco’ as they rushed past. It was true. My gato was loco. But she was also frisky and sharp, and occasionally allowed me the privilege of stroking her smooth charcoal coat.

When I had my son, we immediately purchased a netted crib covered. Either Buzz realized she was on thin ice or instinctually knew that babies were babies and allowed them a free pass to roll around without fear or occasionally rip at her fur with no recourse.

I should have known since all her adult life she carried little Beanie Baby stuffed animals around, often moaning as she did. I am forever guilty of denying her motherhood, so I accepted her stalking attacks as payback.

Nineteen years is a long time to love a cat that I wasn’t even sure I liked. And I know she lived a good, long life, but it’s so odd now to be woken by silence.

A week ago, I found her always agile body unable to eat, drink or hold herself upright. She lay limp, surrounded by the stuffed animals she loved to carry. But I refuse to think of her that way. Instead I will remember the screaming cleaning women, her sleek, royal demeanor, her sleeping in my hair and laying all over my keyboard and know that my dangerous, beautiful wildcat is now stalking loftier pastures ready to pounce.

Three weeks ago, holding her own.

                Love you, my crazy cat. 

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