Friday, May 14, 2010


Happy hour on a Thursday provided a much needed break from a week of hectic intensity. I walked into Earl's with my shoulders back, walking tall. Flip flops, jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt set me apart from the after-work crowd. I'd worked from home. Ha! to you wearers of slacks and pressed button ups. That's my every other day. My old friends have become casualties of my east side work-crazed life. I was meeting a new friend. A fellow east sider. I sat down at the table and was quickly introduced to her friend and two men sitting at the bar nearby, then more as they came and went. I smiled as I sat quietly looking around me watching the people. This is the scene. Martinis and red wine, buddies from work, old friends and new, people in their thirties and above. I ordered a Stella Artois. It's a rebellious phase I'm in. Resisting the fakery, overeffort. I decided when I was in Vegas for the first time in January and then again in March and watched women young and older trotting around in 5-inch heels with their asses and chests hanging out while guys walked around fully dressed with sneakers or leather shoes on, that I didn't want to look like those women. Not that I ever really have, but there is a certain ridiculousness in it. You can look hot with clothes on, and you can look fashionable without dripping effort, so simple has been my theme of late. It's a phase. I already know that, because I miss the high heels. But I like being different. I ooze confidence because I'm not looking for my outfit to substitute personality. An older new friend and her friend are blingers, or Rhinestone Cowboys. Gigantic rings, necklaces, even rhinestone shirts. Bling. I went to a wine tasting with her and another friend and one of the pourers asked where my bling was? I smiled, don't need it. I'm me. And I like me, and I don't need garnish. A piece of cheesecake is just as good without the pointless sprig of mint.

From Earl's we went to the roller skating rink. Yes, you read that right. I freakin' went roller skatin', yo!! If that doesn't rock your face off I don't know what will. I tied on the same tan roller skates that women have been tying on since the place opened years ago and shakily pushed off first one foot then the other. Round and around the rink I went smiling ear to ear at the roller dancers who form lines with fancy steps and special day glo shirts that pick up the black light. It smells the same as the roller skating rink my dad managed in North Pole, Alaska, where I owned my own roller skates and won races and limbo. It was my every weekend. My body has forgotten much of that ease on skates. I fell twice trying to skate backward, but I've decided I must return, next time with flask in hand, a larger group and an awesome theme costume. Ah, yeeeaah. Did I mention I had a VIP pass to the rink? Oh yes. VIP all the way. It's the only way to roll.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Where Are You Now?

6 am in New York City's JFK airport. I'd been in the air nearly 6 hours. An aisle seat.

Damning myself for being too scared to take the Ambien I'd been given just hours before takeoff (have you heard the horror stories?), I tried to rub the sleep out of my eyes to look for my driver. Ah there he was, my last name scrawled in black marker across a Carey-branded sheet of paper. He chuckled at the obvious exhaustion with which I carried myself up to him, and I stood wearily by the baggage claim as he hustled to retrieve the car.

Oh, did I mention the white knuckled landing conditions? Friday morning's landing put me right in the middle of the storm as snow and wind pummeled the Big Apple. The plane may have slid around on the runway a bit, and I may or may not have peed my pants just a little. I was hard pressed to stay awake on the drive to the city. Listening to the comforting tones of the driver's explanation and exasperation at the unplowed roads and his upcoming job to Massachusetts (it's gonna take me owas!) lulled me into closed eyes and a wish that this had been my cross country experience rather than the extreme discomfort that is a red eye in coach on the aisle no less.

An hour after landing, he dropped me at the Sheraton New York, just blocks north of Times Square. I dragged myself to the reception desk, fantasizing about the comfy bed into which I would soon be falling. Oh, why oh why hadn't I the foresight to ask for early checkin? Hours, they said before a room would be available for me. Hours. 7 am in the City? No sleep? Starbucks called to me. I pulled out my trusty Android device and tapped Starbucks into Google maps and practically ran the few blocks north to a grande extra hot skinny cinnamon dulce latte. The first sip was a bee line to cloud nine. I perched on a stool in front of the window as New Yorkers scurried by in the snow on their ways to work and dragged out my laptop, reluctantly diving into work. Hours disappeared and the last drops of my latte became an icy dreck. So I packed up my laptop and braved the blizzard again to walk back to the hotel in hopes that my room would be ready.

It was, but there was no time to sleep. The West Coast was waking up and with that came email after email, conference call upon conference call. And the snow kept falling and my exhaustion was mounting. I couldn't believe that I had come all the way to New York City to hang out in a Starbucks and a hotel room. What a crime. From desk to bed to easy chair to desk to chair to bed, I was like one of those scenes from a movie where they speed up the footage as time goes by. Night fell and I still had hours to go before I could break. I grabbed the Room Service menu. Could I really let my fist real meal in NYC be room service? Why not? Breakfast had been a Starbuck breakfast thingy and lunch had been trail mix from the mini bar, so why not order a $22 BLT? Damn my three friends for being entirely unavailable - one in Vermont skiing (jealous!), one in Philly visiting a friend's newborn baby (jealous!), and the other working (same boat!). So much for knowing people. A Chicago friend recommended a place in the Village - buuut I can't remember the name and I didn't go, because it was snowing, and I was determined to walk everywhere. Another friend recommended Junior's. He had me at cheesecake. So my $22 room service BLT turned into a $20 Chicken Salad BLT and piece of New York cheesecake accompanied by a stroll into Times Square. If you like bright lights, do I have a place for you? Just like Piccadilly Circus, only I prefer Piccadilly Circus to Times Square because it's in London, and in the stack up of cities I've been to, it goes London, London, London, Chicago, NYC. And so, I walked to Juniors and they sat me all the way in the corner, because what else do you do with girls eating alone in a big restaurant on a Friday night. I wondered what I was doing there too.

I stared at my phone, refreshed my Twitter feed repeatedly, posted a picture to Facebook of my corner vantage point on the restaurant and wrote something witty about putting Becca in a corner. Oh, and I eavesdropped on the two young British chicks sitting next to me waxing poetic about putting themselves out there to find the perfect guy. Overrated, I wanted to say. It's not all that life's about, I wanted to say. Here is my long list of mistakes, I wanted to interject, learn from them. And then I chuckled to myself wondering how I'd gotten to the place where I thought I might know better. I don't. Except, I do know to stay single, at least for now. This fool isn't rushing in anytime soon.

And then I took my cheesecake back to my room and worked until 1 am when I collapsed for good in a vow to catch up on sleep and refrain from touching my laptop for the entirety of my Saturday.

And that was my first day ever in New York City.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How to make a phone call

At the stoplight, I checked my side mirror at the car behind me, as I always do, and felt as though I were gazing into a window on the past. The driver sat in her car sobbing, mopping up her tears with a white Kleenex and saying what appeared to be "Oh, my God!" if my lipreading skills are to be trusted. My heart broke for her as I empathetically remembered over and over doing the same thing. Was she alone? I peered as hard as I could in the rearview mirror and right side mirror, but in the dark, rainy night could only make out the shadow of a male shape. How could she be so clear and he so..not? I watched her cry and cry in the two minutes we sat at the light, and after it changed I drove toward the ramp to I-5 South. She kept going straight, and I blamed him. If the cause for her distress were anything other than him, she would not have been driving...he would have made her pull over and either comforted her immediately or taken over driving until she was no longer so upset.

I kept thinking about that woman long after I got home, wondering why the tears, how she happened to have a Kleenex when I never do, and what happened next. Was I right in my assumption that it was the man's fault? In my experience, it always is. From my dad, to the Swine, to Steve, to all the men who hurt the women that wrote to me with their stories when I before I erased this blog because of the Swine back in 2006, I have tale after tale of male-induced horror stories. There are good men, I know, just why so far and few.

But that wasn't meant to be the point of my story. The point of my story is, yet again, that I am happy about the new chapter. The one where I'm not the girl sobbing beside an impassive male or because of a awful betraying male.

In other news, yesterday I had a moment that was hilarious to me:

We just moved into a new place in a town just south of Bellevue, Newcastle, it's called. And we now have a home phone, where before I only had a cellphone. Because Audrey is now old enough to stay home for short periods of time by herself, I want to make sure she can contact me or the police in an emergency. I called her downstairs, so I could show her where the phone was and the list of numbers. "Do you know how to use it," I asked. "No, what do you do?" she said picking up the phone. "Dial my number," I told her, and she punched in the corresponding keys "How do you make it call?" she asked staring at the handset. I laughed..."It's already ringing." "It is??" and she hung the phone up to her ear, "Oh yeah, it is." We heard my cell phone ringing from my room upstairs. "See, that's all it takes." "How do I make it hang up?" she said looking at the handset again. "You just put it down," I answered. "Really?" she said incredulously putting the phone back in its cradle. And with that I taught my daughter how to use an old-fashioned land line...where you don't need a call or end key. How awesome would it have been if we had a rotary phone?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mmm, mutton.

Tonight Audrey and I watched the Men's figure skating short program and made slight fun of the Russian guy (how great was it when Dick Button said he'd cast him to be the evil agent - he really wanted to say evil Russian guy, but couldn't because that's not PC) because he has awful hair (and I secretly wished he would bite the big one because he won so big lat time that he's the Yankees of men's figure skating). And we spoke again how she had never watched the winter Olympics before. I said, "Well, yeah, it was four years ago, you were practically a baby."

Audrey laughed and said in exasperation, "Mom, four years old isn't a baby!"

"That's right, four years," I said smiling and then again, "Four years..." And it hit me. I wasn't with her four years ago. That was why she'd never watched the winter Olympics with me. I wasn't with her last time. Four years ago. And it all crashed on me. Funny how that happens. Four years ago. I've wondered over and over recently why I barely remember the Olympics at Torino when I can clearly remember so many other winter Olympics. And bam, it clicked. Four years ago, the Olympics started the day after Oliver was born and ran till just days after he died. I wasn't with Audrey, and I was with Oliver and then I wasn't with Oliver. Those 16 days of Olympics were a shadow to the events that colored my existence.

I sent Audrey upstairs to get her pajamas on, and I waited for the wave of memories to pass before going upstairs to read aloud another chapter of Ronia, the Robber's Daughter. We laughed hysterically as her dad told the sheep that they didn't know what it's like to have a dead child before he realized that he always eats their children.

New memories of joy and laughter pave my heart.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Does the Olympics Have Singing?"

Because I was in Dallas enjoying their biggest snowfall in recent decades from a hotel conference room on Thursday, Audrey spent the night with my mother. I was devastated when my Friday morning flight was canceled due to the horrible conditions, but my agency quickly rebooked me the last ticket to Seattle and I was able to make it back in time to pick Audrey up from school.

Driving through that South Seattle neighborhood always fills me with a sort of pathos. It's not unlike many other neighborhoods in the city, in fact it's typical Seattle, but going there is like taking a plunge into Swineville. When the Swine first moved there and Audrey began going to school there in 2008, I got lost often trying to find his house, trying to find the school. Over and over I would get lost, and I didn't feel safe, and I felt like I was in another world. So engulfed in my Bellevue bubble, and not traveling as often as I do now, I found myself shocked by the abrupt contrast between where I live and the long street I had to drive to get to Audrey's school and daddy home. On the Eastside it's Beemers and Blondes. In Seattle, it's just reality. And I preferred denial. I didn't want my daughter to go to school there, I wanted her to have the far superior top education the school my district could offer her rather than the poorly ranked alternative school her father won the right to send her to. An alternative school offering community rather than scholastics and somehow that's okay.

Going through boxes of my old memories I found some school work from 1988. I was 8. I had long paragraphs of neatly written cursive giving a review chapter by chapter of a book we'd been asked to read. Audrey is 8. It's funny, by the time I was 8, by 1988, I'd lived in so many places including Ireland and the Phillipines and gone to 7 different schools. It's a wonder I learned anything. But I am not comparing myself to Audrey, I was also in the fourth grade by that time, so it was fourth grade level work I was looking at, and she is in the second grade. But I also found stacks of honor roll certificates, awards of achievement, letters from the two South Carolina Senators congratulating me on my college scholarship, and I can't help but fear that she will never have a taste at that success because of her father's choice in schools that do not value academic achievement but rather "seeds of change". Which is all well and good, except that's not the way the real world works. Oh, I know how all of this sounds, but I don't care. I have a smart kid, but she has a dumb dad and is going to a dumb school, and I'm not with her enough to counteract the effect, so pathos it is.

The parents at the school know the Swine and they know the Warrior Princess. They've seen me. I'm the one that shows up to events now and again, keeps to herself and wears makeup and business attire (I once heard one mother comment negatively on my high heels to another mother...le sigh, Seattle). They don't know me. We have about as much in common as sushi and beef jerky. Except one mother, the mother of the child that happens to be Audrey's best friend, how serendipitous. She too wears makeup and business attire (we are an army of two), and she too abhors the school and would pull out her daughter if it weren't for her kid's dad. Yes, pathos it is.

Friday afternoon, I swooped in, picked up Audrey and we drove back to my Bellevue Bubble. I told her about the snow in Dallas and she told me about her roller skating party. We snuggled and ordered pizza and watched iCarly.

This afternoon we watched figure skating and marveled as Audrey oohed and aahed as the pairs glided over the ice. How had we never watched figure skating together? She loved it. And after watching the Olympics all weekend, she looked up at me tonight and asked, "Does the Olympics have singing?" and I grabbed her up in a big hug to soak up her innocent adorableness. "Because it seems like one big talent show," she continued. Yes, that it is. But no singing, and no paragraphs of painstakingly written cursive. There are all kinds of competitions in life. It's one big talent show. And it's our duty as parents to provide the foundation for our children to be successful in whatever path they choose.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

February 9, 2010

I woke up in a bed that was not my own in a hotel room not far from here - one of two hotels I would sleep in this week. I threw open the shades and looked out on the view of things that are familiar to me. And I got dressed in an outfit I wouldn't normally choose for the office. I didn't think of it and the day went by in a rush of typical busyness.

My hair is shorter than it was, but longer than it's been.
My heart has more scars, but it's more whole than it's ever been.
I smile more. I have "happy points" and muscles and friends.
I sketch and play the piano and sing and laugh.
I live.

I thought of it the day before and I remembered it the day after, but it was the first time I wasn't pummeled with emotion the day of. The day after I felt so guilty, but also relieved. While he'll always be apart of me, the loss of him no longer paralyzes me. Last year I had lunch with the father so we could console each other, and I left that lunch feeling icky and it was the last time I ever saw him. And I feel good about that. This was the first year we didn't reach out to each other. The connection is really dead, and it's as if he never existed.

The ashes sit in a wooden box on my piano, but I no longer have any pictures around. I don't like questions, explaining is too complicated. It was nine months that made twelve days. He would have been four.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

the lines

"This is Rebecca."

"Mom, where are you?"

I looked at the time...12:40. Ha! Turns out that it was early dismissal Wednesday. Le sigh. Warrior Princess had picked up her sick son and assumed I was picking up Audrey, because Audrey told her so. And though I had an amazing mass of work to do and a conference call that I'd already rescheduled twice that day, I crammed my laptop into my bag, grabbed my keys and bolted for the elevator. This mother-of-the-year had a kid waiting in the rain and another mom was taking said kid to the city library to await my arrival. Just great.

As I drove, I tapped out a text to Warrior Princess asking her what had happened. Gotta love miscommunication. Le sigh again.

Flying into the library, I collected my daughter and we made the trek back to our new home. I immediately dragged out my laptop and jumped on the yet again rescheduled conference call. Boxes still litter my rooms and Audrey stared at me for a while, as I listened to my agency present the newest round of creative. All I wanted to do was toss away my phone, slam down the lid to my laptop and grab Audrey in my arms and twirl around till we collapse in a pile of laughter and twisted legs.

Instead, I wrote emails approving this and sending on that, and she put together the giant floor puzzle of the United States.

But then we ate dinner and watched iCarly, our favorite show, and after her bath came the absolute best part of my day. We cuddled together in her new bed, in her new room and cracked open a new book, which she received for Christmas. And I read to my darling child with all the enthusiasm I could muster complete with special voices and accents. We laughed together as Ronia, the Robber's Daughter smartly defied her surroundings and sat on tenterhooks when the harpies nearly got her. Audrey snuggled deeper into her covers, and I knew it was time to say goodnight, though I could have read for hours more. "What's the name of the next chapter, Momma?"


And we collapsed in laughter again. These are the moments I treasure. The readings. The analysis of the characters actions. At the end of chapter two, Ronia encountered her first child. And as I drove Audrey to school this morning, we tried to figure out where this other child came from, and how Ronia'd never met him before. Then I couldn't stop waving as Audrey ran up to the playground. I wished I could stand with her till the school bell rang. I wished that I didn't have to rush to the office to start a non-stop day of meetings, conference calls and catching up on emails during the five-minute transitions between it all. But more than that, I wished that it wasn't really 7 days until we will see each other again. 7 days until we can read chapter 3, till we can laugh and hug and twirl and sing.

And that's why the next 7 days are filled with my other life. The one where I go to the gym and work all night or hang out with friends and meet new ones and never mention my child. The next 7 days, I'll wonder about Ronia, but I won't peek in on chapter 3. The next 7 days, I'll wonder about Audrey, but I won't call her as often as I want to. I shouldn't have to call my daughter. Mothers aren't supposed to have to call their children.