Let it be

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Yesterday, everyone was up in arms because we were expecting a lot of snow. Today everyone’s annoyed that we didn’t get enough. Really now – in light of everything this city has been through in the past 20+ years, is being over-prepared such a bad thing?

I loved last night. I loved going out in what was purported to be the start of something huge, walking around in the quiet still of New York in a snowstorm – which is often the calmest New York that there is – and getting a sliver of a glimpse of a long ago version of this city. Loved that Louie was leaping and bounding through the snow – closest I’ll ever get to participating in the Iditarod. I had four things scheduled for today that were all cancelled/postponed. And so?

And so I had a day to do other things. Things I wouldn’t otherwise do because they required my being home and indulging in home-based activities without feeling like a shut-in. I’ve worked very hard in recent months to create a more structured, productive life – and it’s slowly paying off.

This said, I commend and deeply appreciate the city employees and restaurant workers and news teams and photojournalists and everyone for whom a day like today was supposed to be means anything BUT a day off. The parents who had to figure out child care because schools were closed. The doormen and security guards. The department of transportation. The mayor and governor – and everyone else.

Our city does so well in times of chaos, meteorological and otherwise. Nothing makes neighbors speak to neighbors like a storm or broken elevator or blackout or serial killer.

I remember the Summer of Sam. I was six and my sister told me we needed to dye our hair blonde because he was targeting brunettes.

I remember, that same year, seeing a car in the street behind our house that had caught fire and my young mind deciding that cars could just catch fire at random – made road trips a lot of fun for my parents, I’m sure.

So I have a bunch of food to cook and cash in case the ATMs had stopped working and a new Brita filter.

And whatever. Life is unpredictable. And blaming the people who allegedly try to keep us safe for over-preparing us is, in my opinion, absolutely not the point.

Roasting a chicken tonight. Sorry vegans. And mashing those potatoes I bought.

I think we should keep the lesson of preparedness and concern for our neighbors and appreciation for those who have to work no matter what through anything the skies throw our way.

I have a dog who feels cooped up to sell to the highest bidder. Just kidding. Dog is my savior.

 

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hashtag self-promotion, because it’s what we all need to do.

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Dog and I just went for a walk and saw the most beautiful snippet of sky – and I didn’t have my camera(/phone/stopwatch/alarm clock/music-playing device/dictionary). However, if I had had (pronounced “hed had”) it, it’s likely I would have missed said snippet. Alas, I’ve deprived my Instagram followers.

Remember when seeing a pretty sky was just that?

On our way back home a woman asked, “Is he friendly?” to which I answered, “To people, yes.” And she said, “You know, there’s an app coming out that will tell you as a dog approaches whether that dog is friendly toward people or dogs or none of the above.” I probably said, “Wow!” and then I proceeded to ask her questions about the app – we spoke for a few minutes and I asked, “Wait – is this your app?” And it is.

I need to invent an app.

The best laid plans …

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The title of this post, which is the more common phrasing, is actually a variation on the original wording – “best laid schemes” – from a poem the 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote to a nest of mice he’d just found in his barn. I might have made the barn part up – he stumbled upon a nest of mice somewhere.

I had big plans for the start of 2015. Huge ones. Had all gone accordingly, I’d certainly have written in this thing more than once, and I’d have made further headway on my novel, the essays I’m crafting in my mind, the other career ventures I’m pursuing (about which more later, as my mom would say), the great clutter purge I’m planning, and my health and fitness goals. However, I awoke on New Year’s Day with a cold and, two weeks later, I’m still battling it. It’s nothing glamorous or romantic like consumption, it’s a f-king cold that never really amounted to anything but won’t completely leave me alone. We’re getting there, though.

In some ways this was good timing, for I’m very susceptible to holding tight to the notion of fresh beginnings and many times I’ve thrown myself full force into one, created the new, improved version of my life, only to burn out and find myself right back where I started from. So although my 2015 is off to a sluggish start, this has afforded me the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my thoughts and to develop a plan for implementing the aforementioned changes, rather than give way to my impatience and leap without looking.

A few weeks ago a friend was visiting from LA. On his last night in town, some derelict stole his jacket off the back of his barstool – it happened to be one of the coldest nights we’ve experienced this winter. This was not his favorite jacket, nor was it one of great monetary value, but it was his. He did everything he could – gave the bartenders his info should it turn up. He asked me how to get past the annoyance of the experience and I advised that he just accept it, realize that the person who stole it is probably not living a terribly peaceful or productive life, and view it as an opportunity to let go of a piece of the past and make room for something new.

Over the past few years I’ve developed this somewhat zen-like mindset – and I know it’s one that annoys the shite out of some people in my life – but I’ve had to do so. Because as I’ve said many times, I have too many bad marks in my past, too many potential regrets, and holding onto them and to the messy emotions surrounding them was only holding me back, keeping me mired in a version of myself that wasn’t working. It was in figuring out how to let go of some of this stuff that I’ve cleared the way to becoming the person – late bloomer that I am – that I am meant to be. A lot has slipped through my fingers – mostly because I’ve let it – and I realized in December, as my birthday approached, how easily I could fall into the mindset that what could have been is of more value than what might be. There is no use in going over all the ways my life might be different had I not done X or had I done Y, unless doing so will illuminate how I can make things work better from here on out. The point is I am here, now, a sum of my experiences and wisdom and, more important, aware that there are myriad possibilities for the future. That all is not lost – was never lost – I just took an unorthodox path to get to the place where I am today.

A lot of people in my life are going through challenging times, job-wise, family-wise, love-wise, in some cases all three – and while we can’t change the specifics of our circumstances, I think it’s helpful to recognize that it is possible for things to get better. This often requires letting go of longstanding ideas of what our lives are supposed to look like. I didn’t plan to be a childless 44 year old still figuring myself out and still working on my first book – but this is who I am, among many other things. And there is infinite possibility within these parameters. I have friends who’ve been professional musicians for their entire adult lives, and who didn’t plan to still be struggling at this point, didn’t plan for the record industry imploding on itself, for fewer and fewer venues to exist in New York, and for those that do to pay their performers little, if anything. I have friends who are single moms despite their efforts and expectations that things would be otherwise.

But here we all are. It’s easy to mourn the past and fear the future – it’s very easy. It’s a lot harder to accept the things we can not change (to borrow another phrase). But it’s the only thing we can really control – how we weather the storms. If we don’t learn to do so, we risk missing the good stuff, because there is good stuff amidst the wreckage of our dreams and expectations. Sift through the wreckage and you’ll find reinvention. There are people who love us – every single one of you is loved, deeply, by someone, or by many someones. There is no limit of new things to learn, and we are fortunate to live in a time where we can learn a lot for free. Really. It’s amazing, actually – with a few clicks of the mouse we can learn Spanish or yoga or the history of the world. We can broaden our minds, and that is a luxury. There are blue skies and pretty views and funny cat videos if that’s your thing. There’s music and art and beauty and light all around us. When we focus so tightly on what isn’t working, we lose sight of what is. Life is imperfect and unbalanced, but it is rich if we let it be.

I wish so much for you all in 2015.