Putting on the Ritz….

You don’t know what you don’t know.

You don’t miss what you never had.

But once you know you can never not know.

So it was for me.

Tom and I celebrated our anniversary at the Ritz. I had never been before. I adjusted quite easily to living in the lap of opulence, my every want catered to. It was quite addicting.

Yet old habits do die hard. The first day I tried to clear my dishes at the included-in-the-price-of-the-room Club Lounge that offered elegantly displayed delectable light fare all day ending with dessert and cordials in the evening. I discretely determined self clean-up was not protocol when I couldn’t find the Panera-like silverware and dish bins. The cloth napkins and glassware also informed me I would not need to decipher a multi labeled recycle bin, unsure of where to dump the paper, plastics and compostables.

So, I graciously rose from my seat, thanked the server and strolled out of the keyed door acting as if I had done this since birth. Once out in the dimly lit, peacock feather ensconced hallway, I grabbed Toms arm like an excited child insisting we did that again. What an elegant treat. And it was free…in a way.

Because of the two weddings, two weeks apart, Tom and I decided to postpone our anniversary celebration until we could put our hearts into it.

Supporting that decision was a gift from Lincoln — the car maker. We recently bought a Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and because we had to wait 8 weeks for delivery, Lincoln gifted us with an overnight stay at the Ritz and $350 for expenses. Not bad, huh?

So we drove our new car to Boston, a city I have flown into on my way to Cape Cod, but IMG_1083never spent time exploring. We walked Boston Commons, today resplendent with a magical carousel of sea horses, roosters, and rabbits, but where public executions once were held, women were convicted of consorting with the devil and expunged and Matoonas, an Algonquian, was tied to a tree and shot. We found the intersection of Joy Street and Beacon Street where Oliver Wendall Holmes proposed to Amelia Lee Jackson by asking her if she would take the long path with him. He went on to say, “If you take the long path with me now, I shall interpret it that we are to part no more.” She accepted, saying, “I will walk the long path with you.” Tom and I reenacted this conversation as we walked their path. We explored the harbor, got ice cream cones and sat to watch young, virile, boy/men practice their skateboarding stunts on the concrete pier.

When we returned to our room, on the 12th floor over looking the city, we were surprised by a bottle of champagne chilling in ice, two fluted glasses and a plate of dark and white chocolate covered strawberries. Next to strawberries was hand addressed note, written in the expert penmanship of a 2nd grade teacher, wishing us a happy anniversary.

I was enchanted.

And disturbed.

I don’t know how much the room cost but the room allowance on the Lincoln voucher was for $750.00.  One night here could feed a small village.

I wanted to a find monument in the commons apologizing to the women and Native American that died due to ignorance and hatred instead memorials to war heroes. I wanted to challenge all of us at the Ritz for spending this kind of money on an overnight stay. I loved the opulence and felt its seduction. I felt concern for the young children, drinking the orange and thyme infused water in the lobby, that they would think this normal fare. And perhaps it is for them, but, I wondered, what happens if they cannot support themselves in this manner when they reach the age of self reliance. Will they resent the Red Roof Inn they take their families to on their vacations?

You can take the girl out of middle class, but you can’t take the middle class out of the girl. And, sometime I just think too much.

I gave space to my contradictions, knowing more about myself as a result and then let it all go, enjoying the hell out of our brief stay. Grateful for the gift and the tale to tell.

 
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Sorry this is late, I was at a wedding….

How did I get old enough to have a son getting married? 00000010

How did he get old enough to be getting married?

I can’t say, exactly, how I feel about my oldest tying the knot — bittersweet is the first layer, but there is weeping underneath –I can tell you that our life together is flashing before my eyes, in a good way.

I remember the day after he was born. It was when moms still got a 3 day hospital stay and if you paid for it, a candle lit dinner for two. It was a fair attempt at reestablishing romance, but the donut I sat on was a physical reminder that I was out of commission for a while. Landon and I were alone in our room. I was holding him against me, nuzzling him. Out of the blue he lifted his head away from my chest — I didn’t think new borns could do that — and looked me straight in the eye. In that instant I knew we were in this together. His eyes said, “Here we go mom’”

A couple of nights ago I sat on the deck, alone in the dark, looking at the stars, missing Landon’s youth and my mothering of him. He was a sweetheart and he was a hand full. He took life at full speed, which meant several trips to the ER, firemen pulling him out of a mucky swamp sink hole before hypothermia set in, and looking out my kitchen window one winter afternoon to see a car fly pass with him being pulled behind it on ski’s.

Still, today, I hear stories. He and Jena will decide to tell me about-the-time-when…they pulled the mattress off the spare-room bed into the living room, piled all the couch cushions on top of it, then leapt over the loft railing onto soft heap below. Or when he and his friends jumped, repeatedly, over a bonfire they started in the driveway. Or when he took my SUV off-road. Or…the stories go one and on…

As my first born, most everything I did was an experiment. We were learning together. I taught him know what he felt, what he wanted and to speak up for both. I remember at one particularly difficult stage in his adolescence rethinking my approach, realizing there may be something to be said for the adages, children should be seen and not heard and because I said so…As a result of my parenting style, he could argue like a lawyer. We often thought he would choose that profession. He could out-argue me. And often did. I remember walking away wondering how I ended up saying yes when I was sure I meant no.

And he was a sweetheart.

He struggled with dyslexia and a gluten intolerance — before gluten free was even a term. Together we worked creatively to deal with these issues and they were very hard on him. My heart often broke watching him find his way. I remember one evening, when he was in the 3rd grade, sitting together on the edge of my bed, holding him after a particularly hard day at school, assuring him that it would get better and that I would not let him do it alone.

If I sum up how I mothered it would be that I had my kid’s backs. I read, as a young mom, that my job was to provide a safe harbor for them. That the world was going to beat them up, and they would need a place/person that would provide sanctuary. That was always my guiding principle. I hope they felt that.

So on his wedding day, as we had a moment alone, waiting for all the guests to be seated, I hugged him hard, pulled my head away from his chest, looked him in the eye and said, “Here you go Sweetheart. You have everything you need.”
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Notice, Notice, Notice

Since I did so well with the 21 day meditation challenge, I signed up for an 8 week mindfulness meditation class at the Center for Integrative Medicine at UPMC based on the work of Jon Kabot-Zinn. It is all about noticing. Not changing, just noticing.

 

I had wanted to take this class for a long time. Despite that I still felt uncertain if I should follow through after attending the introductory class. I told myself the class was going to be too big. I was going to be too tired. I reminded myself that I probably wouldn’t practice anyway, that it would be another thing I tried and then forgot.

 

I couldn’t make my mind up and I didn’t know how to decide. As I looked over the materials given in the intro class, it said a symptom of stress was not being able to make up your mind…hmmmm.

 

I decided to take the class. Continue reading

Everything I Need To Know I Learned in Drivers Ed

Well, maybe not everything. I learned some things on the play ground, some in the locker room and some under the bleachers. But, those are stories for another time.

 

Mr Anderson was my high school drivers education teacher. I remember having a crush on him. It was his calmness and concern for our safety that touched me. He felt like a protective dad. Since my father wasn’t, I took all Mr. Anderson had to offer.

 

He taught me, and my car mates, about becoming velocitized. (My computer tells me velocitized is not a word, as does my dictionary, but they are wrong. Just ask Mr. Anderson.) He explained to us, his newest batch of 16 year old drivers, that when you drive 50 mph for a period of time, your body adjusts to that rate of speed making you feel you are going slower than 50mph. So you increase your speed to 55. That feels fast for a while. Then it doesn’t. Now you speed up to 60…for a while…And on it goes until you hear yourself saying, “No officer, how fast was I going?”    

Continue reading

Smarty Pants

My sister-friend Heidi and I were checking in with each other this morning. “How is your New Year so far?” we took turns asking, two days into 2012.

 

“I’m failing miserably,” I confessed. “I wrote my 10 self centered resolutions in It’s All About Me last week. Since then, unfortunately, I have been more efficient than ever. I am caring about everything to the point of mild paranoia and I am talking to fill all silences. It’s like when I say I am going on a diet and then I eat more than I usually do.” Continue reading

Body Image and Beliefs

Last night Jena was in a production at Slippery Rock University.

Am I Pretty Now

A potent, graphic monologue written by  Jennifer M. Reeher, an SRU student.

Jennifers message?

How unhappy women are with their bodies.

She moves from the benign to the extreme measures women inflict on themselves to be considered beautiful by society. The production is infused with the quiet knowledge that internal pain can not be healed through external alterations.

The wisdom, tenderness and poignancy of this young woman’s offering to rethink beauty is moving.

Stay tuned for my series on Body Image and Beliefs

 

 

 

It’s the F*@#ing Flame… my last honeymoon story…promise

(On August 26th, in the Mexican town of Teotihuacan, the flame for the 2011 Pan American Games was lit and the runner began its route through Mexico.)

 

We decided to spend a day in Puerta Vallarta before we flew back home. We met a couple on the plane to Mexico that made us promise to, at the very least, take a day trip into PV because it is so beautiful. Old PV, not Nueva PV where all the oversized resorts live. They were adamant. It sounded like a good idea. They gave us the name of the time share/hotel they stay in, some places to shop and a great restaurant for dinner. We were convinced and folded it into our plans.

 

Since there was no shopping in PLT I was looking forward to do some shopping. I was also ready to leave our eco resort survivalist meets paradise location. I was also ready to speak English. My brain was tired from trying to speak Spanish, trying to understand Spanish and acting like I understood Spanish when I had no idea what was being said. I  was ready for a bit of civilization. Continue reading

Staycation continued

Day 4 Thursday

The last 3 days Tom has been traveling making my staycation solitary. I planned it this way. Time alone would afford me the luxury self indulgence. And it did, I just didn’t realize how much!

The subtle and not so subtle influence of another body in the house (even when I adore the other body) was incredibly disruptive to my internal gyroscope. I found myself no longer asking what I want, but following the strongest current in the room. This found me on the phone with appliance people, leaving a message for a plumber, and on the computer searching for a strapless swim suit so I don’t have tan lines on my wedding day. Important stuff, but did I want to do this today? This morning? I didn’t even ask myself, I just rode the wave co- created by Tom and I. Continue reading