Friday, May 26, 2006

Kitty on the Tracks!!! Oh No!

Don't panic, it's just a stuffed animal - but one that is very precious to my 10 year old son. He's one of those little Beanie Baby type tigers, very worn and shabby from years of peeking out of pockets and backpacks and being taken to the park. He's one of Connor's very special toys.

In other words, Kitty is "real" from a Velveteen Rabbit point of view.

A couple of days ago Connor took Kitty to school and lost him. He was dejected about it but I encouraged him to ask around and look in the lost and found.

Last night, Fernando offered to pick Connor up from school and take care of him so that I could go wedding invitation shopping with Amye. I got home after Connor was asleep and basically Fernando and I went straight to bed without much conversation.

This morning, I had the following conversation on the way to school with my son. Keep in mind that while Fernando is a complete prince, he especially dislikes crowds, heat and stuffiness, waiting in lines, and (thus) taking the subway during rush hour. He is normally the soul of patience and tolerance but these things just make him cranky and irritated and you can just FEEL the slow burn happening. He needs fresh air and space like most people need oxygen or water.

C: Mommy, guess what?
J: What?
C: I found my kitty yesterday!
J: Oh honey! that's great!
C: And then I dropped him on the train tracks on the way home.
J: Oh no! Really?
C: Yes, but then the subway men came and picked him up for me with a long stick.
J: Wow! that was nice of them.
C: Yes, but it took a really long time. Like an HOUR. We waited forever. I guess they were busy doing other subway stuff.
J: (picturing the scene) Oh boy.
C: And Fernando said that if I ever dropped the kitty on the tracks again, we would just leave it there.
J: (giggling)
J: Ahem. Was Fernando mad?
C: Nah. He was really annoyed though.
J: I'll bet.
C: And you know how I said my kitty needed a bath? Now he REALLY needs a bath.
J: (realizing) EW!!

I just sent Fernando an email to report this conversation and here is his reply, which made me absolutely crack up and get all misty at the same time:

Oh, you should have seen Connor's face as he stepped out of the train and realized his kitty had fallen through the gap. He was heartbroken and the tears flowed. Oh boy. I felt like there was no option but to take a seat and wait for the subway guys. Luckily we both had books.

I don't think he'll drop kitty again.

And oh, yeah, kitty was sleeping with the rats. And what did Connor do as soon as kitty was back in his hands? Yup, held him up to his mouth and gave him a big kiss. YUM! He did it so fast I couldn't stop him.


Good deed #1 - my fiance takes such good care of my son, physically and emotionally. When I realize it afresh I am just stunned with joy. They really love each other. He has made such a HUGE difference in our lives. I'm so grateful.

Good deed #2 - thank you "subway men with the long stick!" I'm sure you did have other "subway stuff" to do, but how kind of you to rescue my son's little stuffed buddy.

And is giving someone a belly laugh a good deed? I think so. So thanks to both Connor AND Fernando for that. What a riot! I'm STILL giggling.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Happy Anniversary Shelby!

This morning I got a random phone call from my dearest friend Shelby. She was walking down the street in Manhattan and in between getting splashed by passing taxicabs, she told me that she had just realized tomorrow (May 25) is her ten year anniversary of moving to New York City, and wanted to tell me.

I've been meaning to post something about Shelby on this blog for months. The challenge is to condense the magnitude of all her goodness to me in a readable form. Upon further reflection this seems like an impossible task... but I'll give it a shot for her anniversary. It feels like a message from the universe, and I try to pay attention to those.

Shelby and I became friends in Omaha in 1992. For fourteen years, sometimes from a distance of 2000 miles and sometimes from across a kitchen table, she has been my best pal, staunch ally, beguiling partner in crime, challenging critic, travelling buddy, teacher, roommate, co-parent, sister, inspiration, and boon companion.

When I was going through an incredibly painful and difficult divorce, and panic stricken about being on my own, she sent me a brand new leather tool belt ("you can do it!") When I was sad and feeling like I had lost my mojo, a package arrived with sparkly disco underwear for me. When I was lonely and afraid, she made phone dates with me to make sure we kept in touch. When I royally screwed up and wounded her feelings, she royally chewed me out and then forgave me. When I wanted to hide and avoid confronting things that scared or upset me, she held my hand and made me face them.

When I really needed fun, oh boy, did I get it! Together the two of us have cut a legendary swath through Omaha, New York, Florence, London, Paris and Dublin. When we go out on the town together we are famous, indestructible, gleaming, self-sufficient, magical, the coolest people on earth. We kidnap people, and they feel grateful. She has helped me completely exorcise the hideous demons of high school unpopularity and geekhood.

When I desperately wanted out of Omaha, she offered to live with me and my seven year old son if we moved to New York. For two years, the three of us shared a home. It was messy, chaotic, challenging, scary and a lot of fun. She made huge adjustments - Connor's dirty underwear alone would have sent most people running for the door. She became, and continues to be, hugely important in my son's life ("Aunt Shelby!"). We live within walking distance of each other to this day.

When my ex-husband died, she was right there to commiserate and grieve, comfort me, help me pack, and be available on the phone during our interminable trip home for the impossibly wrenching funeral. When my car randomly burst into flames the day after I returned from said funeral, she stood on the sidewalk with me hugging me and patting my back as I laughed hysterically. When my mom died six months later, she and our friend Rebecca flew to Nebraska to be with me during the most profound grief of my life. When the time came for the two of us to split up housekeeping, she helped me look for an apartment and move. She offers to feed my cat when I am out of town. She and her husband take my son to the park, and keep him for the weekend when I go on a trip. Connor knows no greater joy than to be with Aunt Shelby and Uncle Andy.

Don't get me wrong, it's not an evil one-sided friendship (at least I hope not!!) - I know I have been a blessing in her life as well; we both enjoy helping each other and we love each other to bits... but I'm not sure Shelby knows how deeply I value the things she has given me.

Among all the many blessings she has showered on me, two big ones stand out.

First among all of them is the gift of her sincere friendship and love, through so many turbulent years. She knows me really well, better than almost anyone, with all my issues and all my gifts, and loves me no matter what. She has taught me so much about how to be a good friend, and it's a lesson I desperately needed.

Secondly, MY GOD!! - she gave me New York City, the source of so much happiness in my life. Because of her I get to experience the flat out JOY of living here. I've learned so much about myself and about the world, I've had the best food ever, I've discovered the beach, I've mastered the subway, my son is getting an incredible education, and I met my soul mate. It's a breathtaking gift - the gift of a new life.

So happy anniversary, dear. I love you so much. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Excellent News!

I received this wonderful email from my dear friend Amye this morning:

Dear friends,

I have absolutely wonderful news to report to you all! As many of you know, my older brother Jimmy was diagnosed with a rare and ravaging form of leukemia (CML) a few years ago. He’s been through almost every treatment available (with the exception of a bone marrow transplant) with no success. Last year he started an experimental treatment, his last option before the transplant procedure, at John Hopkins in Philadelphia. I’m getting weepy as I write this, but we just got the news yesterday (on his birthday, no less) that Jimmy’s quarterly test results report no cancer cells in his body. He is cancer free! This is a step better than remission because his body shows no cancer cells or remaining cancer proteins in his blood or marrow! We are not totally out of the dark yet, and he will always be ‘in treatment’ for his disease, though a few more years of negative test results will put us all at ease. But that’s the future, and right now, I am so happy for my brother and his wife Kim and daughter Madison. On a grander scale, Jimmy’s cancer-free status is a major step forward in the treatment of leukemia for all those who suffer from the disease, and hopefully this drug will be available to others very soon because of great results like my brother’s. I feel like I have received the best news in the entire world, and I really wanted to share it with you as you have all been a major support to me as my family deals with Jimmy’s disease. It really is a glorious day!

Thanks again for all of your prayers and support!

XOXO ~ Amye

This is truly thrilling news for Amye and her family. The good deeds of the doctors and scientists who continue to work so nobly to eradicate diseases like Jimmy's are truly inspiring.

What Amye doesn't mention in her email is that she has changed her whole lifestyle in the last several years due to her commitment to be Jimmy's bone marrow donor if he ever needs her to be. This included difficult achievements like quitting smoking and changing her eating habits - both of which were very hard struggles for her, but are things which she did and continues to do out of love for her brother and his family. Because of this and many other reasons, Amye is one of my personal heroes. I'm so grateful to have her as a friend.

It doesn't rank quite up there with donating bone marrow, but she is also an incredibly gifted artist and she is helping me with my wedding invitations. So that's another good deed.

Hurray! for Amye and the doctors at Johns Hopkins!

Sunday, May 21, 2006


He should be called JOY.

I fortuitously reconnected with Joe, my college boyfriend's roommate, a couple of years ago. We met in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1986, and now I live in New York and he lives in DC. I detected him on Friendster two years ago and after an unconscionably long separation, we renewed our friendship with a drink at the Plaza and dinner at Orso. Since then we have kept in touch via email. Thank God for the Internet!

Last weekend, my beloved friend Thomas graduated from Georgetown with an MFA. I cannot even express how delighted and proud I am about his achievements. Over a dozen people flew in from points west to celebrate with him, and my friend Jill and I took the Greyhound bus from NYC to DC to whoop it up with our Omaha peeps. When I called Joe to see if he wanted to hook up, he was so excited to see me, he offered to pick us up at the station and provide me and Jill (whom he had never met) a place to stay for the weekend.

Joe showed up at the bus station in his tiny Audi coupe (human origami was required for the person in the "back seat" = "shoe box"), and he drove us with a flourish to the art gallery where the party for Thomas was being held. After helpfully unfolding us he then proceeded to accompany me and Jill into a party where he literally knew NO ONE, charmed every soul, enjoyed himself thoroughly, and then when the party ended kidnapped me and Jill to a tremendously cool and fun little bar for more laughter and conversation. We were then magically transported back to his impossibly hip house, and put to bed in one of the most comfortable beds upon which I have ever slept.

In the morning, we were charmingly plied with delicious French press coffee, and had the delightful task of exploring one of the most delicious, tasteful, interesting, and amusing homes I've ever been in. And then there's the sweet friendly dog, DEVO. And the yard sale the neighbors were having, and the beautiful park across the street. Joe's yard is full of clover and I made a fairy circlet for Jill's beautiful curly red hair.

Joe then poured us into his tiny car and took us away for brunch. We sat outside in the sun at a quaint Belgian cafe, drank Bloody Marys and ate crepes, and for an hour or so were the happiest and most delightful people on the planet. It was sheer bliss. When we left our server thanked us and called us "my favorite brunch party of the day." By the way Jill - thanks for brunch!

Then we were chauffeured back to the bus station. Hugs, kisses, and promises of eternal friendship were exchanged on all sides.

There were so many good deeds of the weekend - all the wonderful people who came such a distance to celebrate with Thomas; my friend Jill and I deciding to support each other in our desire to show up; my darling Fernando taking care of Connor so I could go; Thomas himself, doing such a good deed FOR HIMSELF by pursuing his dreams; the bus drivers, in both directions, paying attention so that all the passengers could sleep, or talk, or read, and reach our destinations safely without paying any attention to the road.

But the biggest and most noticeable gift of the weekend was the generosity and love of my old friend, who is so wonderfully kind and funny. His cheeky, mischievous, loving, wise, tasteful, honest, good-hearted, sarcastic, impudent, and witty soul delights me no end. He made everything lovely. Thank you sweetheart!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Brian's Big 5-0

Since I started this site I've mostly been posting about strangers doing nice things for other strangers. But something happened last weekend that reminded me of how goodness surrounds me every day, in my most intimate friendships. How fortunate I am to exist in this environment of kindness, generosity, and loving actions!

My dear friend Brian, whose daily service to others will be immortalized by me in another post very soon, had a birthday last weekend. He wasn't very happy about turning 50, in fact was feeling quite morose and glum, so his wife Rebecca sneakily organized the most BRILLIANT surprise party for him. She invited a billion people and everyone who could come, did come, wreathed in smiles, bearing gifts and good will. Our friend Andy watched the kids in the afternoon so that Rebecca and I could dash about to the grocery store and run errands... Shelby came over to help Rebecca slice, dice, and get ready... and dozens of Brian's friends from every era of his life showed up to celebrate his birth. Many of them drove long distances to be there. Everyone proceeded to have a fabulous time - especially Brian - and especially Rebecca.

I think what I will always remember most about this party is the pure love and joy coming off Rebecca throughout the evening. She was simply incandescent. She was obviously pleased to successfully pull off such a spectacular bash, and delighted to be with all the great people who attended - but most importantly, she was rejoicing in being able to give this amazing gift of laughter and loving company to her dear husband. Her eyes were just shining, and she was laughing and smiling and beaming at everyone and especially at him. It was really beautiful to see the abiding love between them, exposed for all to see. (Getting all misty writing this... imagine that!)

I've been lucky enough to be close to this family for the last three years of my life, and it has been and continues to be a huge privilege to know them. Thank you for including me in your lives, dear ones. I love you!