Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Last Decade or So

I slipped in a quick cup of coffee with my friend Mark yesterday in between dropping off Jamie to his cartooning class, and my karate class. Just saying that gives me pause and makes me grateful of the arc of the last decade of my life. Next Saturday says Bye Bye, 30's! Mark is a former student of mine, and seeing him reminds me of the ten years I've put into teaching at the New School. Dropping off Jamie at cartooning reminds me that this is the big year that he's mainstreamed into his general ed class without support of his own teacher. He's won a chess tournament at school, raced through half a dozen Warrior books in a month, gotten to have doggy friends without going to the hospital for asthma attacks.

Reach back a bit further into the last decade and there I am, pregnant and getting surgeries for blood clots that nearly killed me (and Jamie). It's been a decade of taking care of my health in a way that I'd not ever had to think about before, and I marvel at the fact that at the beginning curve of my thirties, I almost died, and here at the end, I'm pretty close to getting my yellow stripe on my blue belt in a traditional karate class. I just wear more padding than other students when I fight, and they all know not to make contact with me beyond light sparring on shins and forearms since I can still bruise wickedly and wouldn't want any internal bleeding. I've managed that, and spiritually belonging to a family run Japanese dojo has been a huge community boom for me.

I've seen New York change so much in the last decade. Bloomberg, in many ways, has made the city nicer. I love our new dedicated bike lines so I can fly down them on my foot-powered scooter (wearing helmet, of course). I celebrate the beautiful High Line and Hudson River Park. On the flip side (and it's as flip side with a thud of a landing) I'm not so crazy about colorful tenements getting ripped down for hotels and luxury condos; not so crazy about NYU reshaping my whole neighborhood, apparently taking their full-on destructo cue from Robert Moses.

I've gone from full-time worker bee to happy freelancer! Writing! Say it again, I'm writing for a living. Hot damn! Freelancing allowed me to live in Paris for two summers in a row, and now I'm in my second semester of studying French at the New School. While I still have a terrible time understanding fast-speaking French natives, I know I could get myself around with a bazillion times more ease than before. And there will be a next time.

There are sad things that came along, too, how could there not be? I miss my father in law and sister in law, deeply, who both fought cancer long and hard in the last years.

On the happier side of the rainbow, I've reconnected with old friends, too, and I cherish these friendships. Some things feel almost too personal and sacred to go on and on about. How I've spent the last decade arm in arm with my love, who will go anywhere with me and do anything for me. So there's that...

Merci beaucoup, sweet thirties!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bye, Bye Jan Berenstain, Soother of Souls

In the wake of Jan Berenstain's death, I  remember how her rollicking bear family ushered me through some tricky parenting moments. I was lucky enough to have a treasure trove of Berenstain Bears books drop into my lap roughly five or six years ago, back when my 8-year-old was still a toddler. A neighbor had cleaned out her kid’s bookshelves. The Berenstain Family charged into my imagination once again after a long, long sabbatical: Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Sister and Brother Bear, and eventually “Baby Makes Five." Click over to Publishing Perspectives to read the rest...