Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Turning Over a New Leaf... Spinach Leaf That Is.

I have very righteous news to report. I have spent the last eight days actively trying to improve my physical health. This may not seem like much to some, but for this gal, who has spent the last 33 years of her life on a gradual weight incline, it is tremendous. I have attempted this before, and eventually end up forgetting that I am trying to be a healthier me, and relapse into the carb-smothered lazy pool of life. Well, for now I am doing it, one day at a time for as long as I can. Today I am eating spinach salad and running on the treadmill. And it feels awesome, like I need a large medal or something. Maybe I'll make myself one.

The funny part about being a person who is neither naturally thin or fit, or fitness inclined (if I'm being honest) is that I completely forget about how unhealthy I am for months at a time. I sometimes walk by a mirror and think "Who is THAT?" and then am sent into a momentary panic when I realize that "Oh shit! It's me...uh oh". Other times I am completely shocked when I am running around with my kids and am completely out of breath after two minutes. "Who's lungs are these? Certainly not mine..." I try on clothes at the store that are three sizes too small for me and then am outraged when they don't zip up "Who makes these pieces of crap anyway?" I think I might have a problematic case of inflated self-esteem, it sometimes keeps me from keeping it real. Or maybe denial is a powerful and all-encompassing force.

Well, I hope this time it lasts, one spinach leaf at a time. I want to be a healthier mom for my kids, and I want my pants to zip. I don't want the heart attack at 50 like my mom, or the diabetes that runs so rampant in my family. I may be back into the grilled cheese soaked haze of my regular life next week, but for now I am feeling righteous and I am trying, and that's all that matters.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bad Citizen

I write this post with only one eye open, as I may have stayed up too late last night with some of my best girlfriends acting just a tad too rowdy. Today is what Jane and I call a "Bad Citizen" day, where all you can do is lie around and watch bad TV, and it takes everything you have to muster up the energy to toast a bagel and bring it to your lips, in hopes that the carbs will absorb some of your pounding headache. It's really not that bad today, but I think many of you can relate to the feeling.

I can't remember all of the specifics of what our conversation rolled on about last night, but I do know that I (per my usual) made an outstanding number of travel plans. I often do this when I have drinks, with each cocktail I make another plan to fly off for a girls' weekend in New Orleans, or rent a beach house on the Cape, or head to South America for a month of backpacking. Huh, lofty goals. I also, apparently, am independently wealthy.

So, if I made a drunken travel plan with you please do not expect me to necessarily show up as I a). may not remember it and b). probably can't afford it anyway.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Notes From the Super Lame

I am coming to realize more and more that I have to admit when I suck at things. As my friend said to me the other day when she was relating to this feeling "I just suck at life right now". 

I don't suck at everything, but there are some things that I really, really suck at. Little things that I find so totally overwhelming that I cannot possibly get them accomplished no matter how hard I think about them. Like The Bills that pile up around me and stare me down every morning when I get up. I don't pay them, or deal with whatever bank juggling needs to happen, instead I just smoosh the pile together and turn them over. That'll show you, Electric Company, if your envelope is face down you can't possibly make me pay you right this minute. Ha. Take that. Not even because I don't have the money, but more because I just don't want to. 

Also on a sucky note are the areas of clutter in my house that are slowly starting to take over the entire place, the crap slithering out across the hall and up my leg until it threatens to choke me if I don't admit RIGHT NOW that I am a teesy little bit of a hoarder. This is the kind of thing I suck at, figuring out where all of that shit is supposed to go (hint: the trash) and getting it there. 

I also cannot call people back who probably deserve to be called back. Nope, can't deal. Pretty much if you don't text and we haven't spoken in a long time, it's too hard and it's not happening. I don't walk my dog (or myself) enough. I can't possibly clean out the fridge. I don't really care if my daughter hasn't washed her hair in a week (a week!), which is the same amount of time it takes me to empty the litter box. I came to work last night realizing only after I'd been there half an hour that I wasn't wearing a bra (thank god it wasn't so busy I'd needed to run down the hall or somebody might have lost an eye). 

I am sucking at these regular things so badly right now that I wonder if there is ever a time when I am on top of my game. Maybe this is the top of my game, and that is so sad I want to weep, but not really, because that's too hard. Instead I will just shrug it off and assume that at some point the greasy hair, cluttered hall, or the stench of the fridge when they cut off my electricity will snap me out of it and force me to pay some bills. Until then I will just keep on sucking.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Coming Home

My family and I just returned from ten days in my husband's home coutntry: The Dominican Republic. I too have spent a lot of time in this heat washed, rough-edged paradise even prior to meeting Francisco. We both think of it as home in many ways, so I have been looking forward to this trip for months, albeit with some nervous anticipation.

It surprises many to know that my husband does not travel well. Even (or maybe especially) to his country of birth where his family still resides, he is shaking with anxiety pretty much until we reach the airport to return home. It's weird, but I'm used to it, so this time I was prepared to handle his jittery nerves. He is anxious about the poverty, he feels guilty for those he cannot help, he hates to make arrangements to shepherd us from one end of the island to the other, he is terrified that we are going to be robbed. He doesn't sleep, he barely eats, he's really just a man meant to stay home. Unfortunately, his family cannot come to visit us, so travel he must, and we all grin and bear the vibrations from his shaking legs.





I hadn't been to the DR in two years, so this time when the plane touched down I was awash with feelings of homecoming. The smell of frying plantains, motor oil, and mangoes assaults you when you set foot into the night air, even at the airport. The DR is definitely third world. It's dirty, people drive like lunatics, and the houses often resemble shacks with scraps of tin patchworked together to attempt to keep out the rain. It's gritty, it's often slow and disorganized, and as soon as you spend any length of time there you can't help but fall in love. I have been in love with the DR since the age of 16, when I stepped out into the night air with nine of my exchange student peers and felt the exact same way I did last week.



We spent a few days at my mother-in-law's small cement house in the rice fields in the center of the country. Hot, buggy, and completely devoid of anything to do, I am usually itching to get out of there after a few days have passed. This time I felt like I could spend a month sitting on her porch in a hard plastic chair, drinking rum from a metal cup, and watching my kids play cards with the neighbors. We moved on to Sosua, a beach town on the northern coast where a rental house awaited us, with room for all and a pool in the backyard. It was, even by the stuffiest gringo opinions, quite fabulous. My mother-in-law and another family friend stayed with us, and we were joined by several friends and family members throughout our week.



Sosua is one of the grittiest of tourist towns, a haven for European tourists and Haitian prostitutes. There are parts of town one doesn't frequent at night, and there are beautiful stretches of beachfront just waiting for you to sit down and soak up the sun. We spent many days on the popular Sosua beach, where Francisco is famous for once having owned a bar. Sofie never tired of trying to weasel pesos out of anyone within earshot to visit the many crowded gift shops laden with cheap trinkets marked up 400%. Everything we bought broke before we made it onto the airplane, but it always feels good to infuse the local economy.



I finally got to spend two glorious days with my long lost surrogate daughter Sindy, a girl I have known since she was a small child and considered my own for many years, but whom I had not seen in over 10 years. When she stepped off the bus we embraced and both cried tears of long overdue joy. It was amazing to experience her upbeat, adorable self now as a young woman coming into her own. She is beautiful in many ways, and it was relieving to see with my own eyes how well she is doing. I cried for a long time after she climbed the bus to make the long trip home, happy to have spent such a lovely time with her but sad for the many years of her life I missed.



People in the DR are poor but unfailingly upbeat. They can be in the throes of poverty and tragedy, and still there will be laughing and dancing in the streets. Music flows from every window and cheers of friendly hellos call out from passing mopeds. The people, the sunshine, and the strong run makes for a pretty good time, and I was surprised at how much I did not want to come home. Granted, it was only 12 degrees when we landed in New York, but there is usually a small part of me that is relieved to return to my own bed, and a familiar routine. This time however, I felt nothing but pissed off and sad as I packed my things to return to the north. I feel a sense of longing to be back there that I haven't felt since my early years of traveling to the DR, when I would work for weeks at a job I hated just to make the money for my plane ticket so I could feel the familiar feeling of homecoming. It's hard to find a balance now that I am grown, with too many responsibilities to pick up and leave at the first whim, but a burning desire to be embraced into a culture that I love. Maybe it's time to play the lotto...



Thursday, February 13, 2014

When the Cat's Away...

So who is this cat you ask? That would be Francisco, who shoved off early yesterday to lay up at his mother's house in the Dominican for a few days before our official vacation begins. I encouraged him to go early for several reasons, the most important being that I think he could use a few days just laying low and catching up with the family in the country side. The second (and notably more selfish) reason is that sometimes spouses need time apart. And we are those spouses. We enjoy vacationing separately, I'm happy to have a few days off from my mate, I think it's good for our relationship. But usually it's me doing the traveling.

I was initially very excited about having a few days at home with the kids. We have had a fine time hanging out at home (because of course it's a snow day, our new normal course of action for this winter). The trouble is, I find myself more envious of his good fortune of being somewhere else. This is not right, I am the one who is always cavorting off to hither and yon, and he stays home. I can't believe it, but I am kind of jealous, and I may even miss him just a little tiny bit. Christ, what's happening to me? I do know that he misses his family tons when he's home, and it's been over two years since he last visited. I can't imagine staying away from my family for that long, I can certainly understand why he would want to have as much time there as possible. I hope he's living it up (but knowing him, he's sitting on the porch all day and in bed by 9pm).

The ironic thing is that I didn't plan our trip for us all to leave yesterday because I thought it would be better for the kids not to miss too much school, and then we have a snow day. Ha! I guess I'd better hurry up and make some plans to make the most of my carefree few days off from wifedom. I did manage to make the house extremely clean today (with the help of my adorable minions), but that is really not fun (just ask my kids). Perhaps I need this feeling of envious longing to appreciate Francisco more when he returns, don't tell him, but I just might.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Vacation Planning from the Sick Bed

I'm not feeling well today. I woke up fine but about two hours into my morning I was struck down with chills and body aches, and a sort of internal freeze that just can't seem to warm up. Ew. I have absolutely no no no no time for this, but what mother does really? When the mother ship goes down, the place flattens. Dishes pile up, children go without showering, the world falls off it's axis. But that's not my main issue today, let their stinky butts be. Today I had all sorts of plans to GET SHIT DONE.

We are leaving next week for the Dominican Republic, to visit Francisco's family for the first time in two years, and to have a family vacation. Hooray for tropical vacations. If you know me at all this should come as no shock, I live for tropical vacations. Really. I haven't even gone on this one and I'm already scouting out sites and devising a savings plan for the next. This time around we have great plans to actually do some touristy sightseeing, something I have never done in my 17 years (!) traveling to this wonderful country. Some spots I'm hoping to check out on the North Coast:


http://www.oceanworld.net/index.php

http://www.monkeyjungledr.com/site/

We are staying with my mother-in-law for a few nights but focusing our trip mainly on the coastal town of Sosua, a haven for German ex-pats and now a lively and bustling town filled with hilarious people and colorful venues from which to sip on rum-filled pineapples. That's pretty much the requirement. Sosua also has the added bonus of being the town where Francisco lived for many years, and still is home to many of his family members.



Sosua Beach



Gift shops selling cheesy overpriced crap abound on the beach in Sosua, and these vendors are not taking no for an answer.


The most exciting part of our trip is that I will hopefully be reconnecting with a huge piece of my past life in the DR. A girl that I have cherished for almost her entire life, and helped to raise in my time living there, is coming to see me in Sosua. Sindy was five when Jane and I first moved to the DR, and we have forever thought of her as our daughter. I haven't seen her in over 10 years. She has a little girl of her own now who I am dying to meet. I am shaking with excitement at the prospect of this reunion.



Sindy and Me, 1998



All grown up with her beautiful little girl

So today was supposed to be my day of buying the mundane things on my list, getting our toiletries and camera bags packed, tying up the odds and ends before three hundred nights of work and then hurrah! Off to the airport. Thwarted by nature's cruel joke. I'm sure I'll figure out a time to get it all done (I always do), but I was so hoping to avoid the last minute mad dash to Walmart. Perhaps the deadline will inspire me (or the thought of jetting off to the equator without 50 SPF).

Friday, January 17, 2014

Affirmation At An All Time Best

I often mention how much I love my job. I feel very lucky to have stumbled into a career, and a work environment, that is both satisfying and stimulating. Although nursing can be exhausting, and some days I can't imagine mustering up the energy to go back in for another shift, the overall feeling is that I have found a place that is not only a job but a home. Whenever I forget why I love it so much, I have a moment that brings it all back and refreshes my memory.

Yesterday at work I received a true affirmation of why I do what I do. A few weeks back I was lucky to care for a woman in labor who I had met several years prior, at the birth of her first child. When she arrived at the hospital, already in the throws of labor and working hard to get through each contraction, her face lit up when she saw me. "I remember you!" She cried, a smile gracing her glowing face. "I remember you too!" I replied, and I did. There are some births that stick with me, and this woman's beautiful delivery of her first son was one of these moments. I was delighted to be able to care for her again, and witness her gracefully bring another life into this world.

When she called me yesterday, this woman was seeking lactation advice. After a short chat I was about to hang up when she said "Wait, I just want to say one more thing". She then choked up as she thanked me for caring for her and helping her through her birth. She told me that having me there made her experience easier as she remembered me so well from the first time around. She praised me, she cried, and I cried. This simple affirmation of the work that I love so much made my day, and my week. How beautiful to hold someone close and encourage them through one of life's great miracles. You never know if that woman is going to remember you the next day, or the next year, after long nights in labor can make your memory a haze. Her words were like a sunbeam warming my soul. No matter how much you know you are doing the right thing, it is always wonderful when somebody unknowingly confirms this for you.