Thursday, March 24, 2011

Back To The Familiar...

Back in NYC after almost two years.  It feels good to be back so far, minus the taxi dispatcher with an attitude.  Taxi Dispatcher: "You have six!  That cab only seats five!" And she said it again when I was about to walk to another cab.  Mumbling and grumbling under her breath both times.  No "hello" or "Excuse me?"

The baby doesn't count, lady.  He's sitting on my lap. And there are five of us...  Please don't try to make me look stupid when you were slacking and not paying attention to your job. New York attitude is back with a vengeance.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

PYHO: Coming Home...

As I begin to write this, the song "Coming Home" by Diddy who was once P. Diddy and is now Diddy- Dirty Money runs through my head.  It's all about returning home to the place where you came from - going back to your origins, your roots.  At least that's how I'm reading it.   I'm feeling a little nostalgic as the song's chorus goes through my head.  Maybe because soon I will be returning home.

In about 24 hours, we are heading back to New York City, a place that was once home.  I'm excited to be going. I'm excited to see old friends and their families.  I'm excited for the boys to see the city again, and to soak in the city's energy.  They're old enough now to retain the memories.  Hopefully the busyness and the constant noise of the city won't affect them too much.  I'm looking forward to revisiting and getting reacquainted with the place that was home to me for over thirty years.

It's been almost two years - 21 months to be exact - since I've been back there.   Things most likely have changed.  We already know that The Husband's favorite Cuban-Chinese restaurant, La Caridad's located on the Upper West Side is no longer there.  We had several dates there -- it was a favorite haunt of ours.  And I've heard that the Barnes & Nobles where I used to frequent a lot is no longer on 66th and Broadway.  It's closed.  That bookstore was a second home to me.   Hopefully the one on 84th store is still in existence.

Like I'm really not trying to be sentimental, and yet here I am, close to tears.  I think of a line from the movie, Grosse Pointe Blank, where John Cusack says " can't go home again, but at least you can shop there."  It's one of the funniest lines in the movie, especially because he pulls up in front of his old house and it's been turned into a little mini-mart along the lines of a 7-Eleven.  That line resonates with me because it expresses the point so well that things change, and home won't be exactly what it was when you were living there.  I feel that way about New York City.  Home is no longer what it once was.   And that's usual and pretty typical of any place where we've spent our childhood and early adult years.  And yet I'm still affected...

I love that my two older boys get to see NYC see the subways that they talk about often and love .  They'll actually get to ride them, now and remember the experience.   Hopefully we'll make it up to the Bronx and the neighborhood where I grew up and where the Grandma still lives and I can show them the house I grew up in.  We can show them the new Yankee Stadium and they can ride that 4 train past it just like they see on t.v. when we watch the Yankees play baseball at their home stadium.

I'm looking forward to walking along Riverside Dr. near Grant's tomb and Riverside Church  - the area where I used to work and the setting of one of my novels.   Maybe we'll hit the Chelsea area of Manhattan where I used to live as a single woman, where The Husband courted me for a year.  We'll see those restaurants and diners along 23rd Street where we used to have lunches and dinners - is  the Empire Diner still there on 23rd and 10th Avenue?

As I write this, an anxious pit settles in my stomach.  What else has changed?  What places will we go to that will not be there anymore?  Because, truthfully when those places close - the La Caridads, the Barnes & Nobles' - those symbols of our old life, the slices of evidence of what we used to do and where we used to be back then, disappears as well.  All we're left with is the memories-- and the memories tend to get fuzzy over time.   I mean, I rely on those symbols to rekindle the old memories.  I need to see Grant's Tomb because it triggers my memories of the days when I worked near there.   Otherwise, I begin to forget what it was like back then, and I don't want to forget.  I don't want to forget the place where I came from, grew up in, and lived a good part of my adult life in.

So...I'll try to go with no expectations, just an open mind to the way the Bronx and Manhattan I used to live, work and breathe in - is now.   Enjoy the city as it is, with the Husband and the boys.  Can't wait to show the boys the big public library on 5th Avenue between 40th & 42nd streets with the two big stone lions sitting in front.  With the few days we have there, I'll soak in the city, enjoy it and take a package of Kleenex with me to carry along the way because, you know, The Husband might just get teary-eyed.  

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Home Day

Spring break is in session and I am excited for the break.  I don't have to drive anywhere today.  Wahoo!  The Bates Taxi Service is off this week.  Below is the result of the family, minus the husband, in-house:

In the moment, the 6 year old is testing out his new red Chuck Taylor's.   It's 10:22a and we are all home, minus the Husband who is predicted to have a long, stressful day.  It is Spring Break and I am glad of it.  It felt good not to wake up before 7.  The little things...

I just finished putting a shirt on the 3 year old and am trying to get back to fundraising for their school.   The 3 year old is now running around the family room, testing out his new black Chuck T's.  He's running particularly close to the crawling baby.

The baby is now at the cat's carrier playing with the door, swinging the door back and forth while the 6 year old is flying his superhero plane back and forth.  There's a crash between the 6 year old and the 3 year old.

"Guys, guys!" I say, drill sargeant-like.  "Be careful!"

They're running and flying again.

The baby is now grabbing onto my chair.  He wants up and I give him what he wants.  Now he's trying to grab a tall glass bottle from the shelf next to me.  We're wrestling.  Goodness, he's strong.
A couple minutes later he's back on the floor and he's going...It really is time for his nap and I will put him down, when I get the energy to get myself up out of this chair.  That's a hard one.

"Can you read this book to me?  Can you read this book to me?" That's the 3 year old.  And now the baby is going for the cat water bowl.

"I got him!" yells the 6 year old.  Thank goodness because I am not making it out of this chair fast enough.   The baby screeches and gives his Big Bro a look that says "You betrayed me."

As I carry the baby away, it goes on.

Yes, the first day of Spring Break today and the boys are all home -- running boys, crashing planes and one crawling baby getting into everything -- Nice.  It's good to be home.

A minute later: "Hey!  No, no, no, no!" Me to the baby as he goes for the cat's water bowl again.
" I got him!" My 6 year old yells running towards the little bugger.

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Future

I rode up on an elevator with Tommy, my handsome stud of a boyfriend.  I straightened my blouse and fixed my skirt, then looked at him.  We shared a smile.   We arrived twenty minutes early and  feeling extremely turned on by each other,  we decided to make memorable use of the extra time in his Land Rover parked downstairs.  It was hot and amazingly intense,  just like the other times.  

We were on our way up to see a loft apartment.  This was my dream almost fulfilled. I'd settle in with Tommy in a cool urban loft apartment in my dream location and just work on my writing career. Tommy was a musician but his parents were well-off, and since he was their only boy, he was lavishly spoiled.   We would be together, not necessarily married. Who needed a piece of paper when you had love and heart connecting you?   This would be my future and I couldn't wait for it.

The elevator doors opened to a large room with dark wood floors, exposed brick walls and a long row of tall windows running across from one side to another.  The sun shone brightly in, lighting up the beautiful room which was decorated in rich brown and red tones.

A woman around my age walked up and greeted us.  "Hi, I'm Rebecca, the Strattons' assistant. Dominick and Theresa will back any minute.  They apologize for being late but asked me to show you the place in the meantime while we wait for them."

At the end of our tour, Dominick and Theresa still hadn't arrived, so Tommy and I talked with Rebecca while we waited.

"What are you guys doing this Sunday?" she asked.  Sunday would be Valentine's Day.

"Romantic stuff, " I said and looked at Tommy.  He grinned.

"Would you like to start off that romantic day with a morning celebrating love?" She went on to invite us to a church service hosted by the Performing Arts ministry of her church.


The service was amazing, the music top notch, the messages moving, the congregation filled with people whose made their living  in the arts yet did it with God in their lives.  My heart swelled.  I turned to Tommy.  My excited smile met his reluctant one.

We started studying the bible that Sunday.   Another cool dimension to add to our sparkling future together.


It is nine months later and I am preparing for my date that night.  I am living a new life and Tommy is not a part of it.  Our relationship ended three days before I was baptized and became a Christian. He couldn't commit to having a chaste relationship and I couldn't continue to have an adulterous one.   We rescinded our offer on the loft apartment and I moved into this small apartment with a new roommate.

I slip on my last earring when the doorbell rings.  When I open the door, a sweet, wholesome face topped with red hair smiles back at me.  Christopher.  My current boyfriend.

"Hi," I say breathlessly.  He holds the most beautiful bouquet of deep red roses.  He doesn't kiss me, just hugs me instead.   The shared kiss on the lips we are saving for that special moment.   There will be wedding bells in my future and my being dressed in white will be more than just a tradition.  It will actually mean something.  

As he hands me the roses, I smile.   Little did I know the future that awaited me that day almost a year ago when I stepped into that loft.


This is a fictional piece inspired by a writing prompt from the Red Dress Club where you were  to write - fiction or non-fiction - about a time when you took a detour. Where had you intended to go and where did you end up?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Baby is Crying...And My Heart is Breaking...

You, my one year old baby, are crying...and my heart is breaking...

Your screams split through the night silence and my heart clenches.  I so badly want to go to you and pick you up from your crib and hold you and snuggle until you are comforted but I am so tired, and I just need some time alone.  I'm exhausted and yet I'm feeling guilty.  I feel like I really should go to you but I need my quiet to continue to remain sane.

It tears at my heart to hear you scream and cry. I feel like the worst mother in the world.  I feel like I should know better, after having two other children, how to soothe you but in these moments I feel so helpless.    I've tried everything but I still needed to put you down.

I need to leave you to cry so that you can soothe yourself.  So that you won't need me as much.  This is the first step of independence for you and I need to help you achieve it.

I need to leave you to cry so that I can gain a little independence myself from you.   You're my last baby and I tempted to hold on tightly to that babyhood.  I don't want to let it go and yet I must.

You gaining your independence means you're moving more away from the baby that was born to me a year ago.  Even now, I look at your face and see you fast becoming a little toddler.  Though relatively still a baby, you are not the baby of six months ago.   And that breaks my heart.

And so you continue to cry and my heart continues to break but I know it's for the good.  You will get tired soon and fall asleep and innately realize you don't need your mother's arms to rest.  I will drift off to sleep too, getting the rest that I need so that I can be  one hundred percent present for you tomorrow when we'll be together.  Then I can once again soak in the baby that is you and you can once again nestle in my arms.

But until then, I will bear this pain.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

One Amazing Birthday Week...

More from my darling sons whom I've nicknamed "My Butterscotch Babies"...

Noah, Rhys & Owen: One Amazing Birthday Week...: "Last week was a BIG BIRTHDAY week. Noah turned 6 and Owen turned 1 on the same day: March 3rd. A Bowling Birthday Bash for the alm..."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Mud Mounds

Grace steps out onto the back patio, then sighs.

Ugh! So gross.

She stares at a mound of dark brown mud mixed with green and red play dough. It sits right in the middle of her terracotta colored tile patio.

How many times has she told Christopher not to build his mud mounds on the patio? Keep the mud and dirt where it belongs, in the grass. In the amount of time and effort it takes her boy to fill his bucket full of dirt from the grassy part of the yard and haul it over to the patio, he could build two mounds out in the grassy area. A whole little mud town, even.

Grace shakes her head. How her little five year old loves mud. How she hates it. It is gross. She hates how the brown stuff can get everywhere: in the cracks in the tiles of the patio, in the corners of the rooms throughout the house, underneath fingernails – mostly Christopher’s. It drives her nuts. But for Christopher, mud is the best thing ever. He usually wears the biggest grin when pushing his fingers through the wet, almost black mushy stuff.

She thinks of that grin now. Wide, toothy, his rosy lips stretched wide. Beautiful. How she loves that grin. She smiles. It has been a long while since she had seen that grin. Months. She stares at the horrible, misshapen dark mound – bumpy and gooey in its consistency.

Since last summer, she thought.

Since before the cancer, and the chemo. The diagnosis came in early Fall and the months that followed were scary, stressful and lethargic ones. Ones where Christopher couldn’t go out to play most days because he was sick and just tired from the chemo. Days where he could barely get out of bed or hold his cup of water to drink. Playing in the backyard and making muddy mounds was definitely out of the question.

It has been nine months and summer is about to begin again. The rounds of chemo treatments have ended, and the prognosis is good. So far, no cancer left in his little body. In remission. The best words Grace had ever heard in her life.

She stares at the brown mound. The misshapen, gunky blob is beautiful, she realizes. So beautiful. The creation of a boy who had the energy to make it again, who could play outside once more.

The memory of Chris carrying the two small containers of play dough out into the backyard appears before her eyes. Watching him then, she knew what he was about to make. She could imagine that wide, toothy grin of his on his face as he made his new mound.

This mound. Normally, she would quickly scrape it up with the outside dustpan and deposit it back onto the grass. But not today. Today, this beautiful mound, a precious sign of her son being healthy again, would stay.

Grace turns and walks back into the house.

This post is a work of fiction based on a writing prompt from The Red Dress Club where we were asked to write a piece about something ugly - and finding the beauty in it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

This Bronx Baby Has A Second Home...

In my effort to continue navigating through these blog waters, I have made it over to Facebook where this precious blog baby of mine now has a page.

"Oooh, a new way to connect and share," I think. I'm loving it.

And I've even figured out how to put a little Facebook button on this blog so stop on over, say "hello" and share a few words. You can even click the "like" button. You know this Bronx girl would appreciate the love.

Also, and most importantly, if your blog baby has a page, please, let me know. I would love to stop on by as well, as I travel along, on my way to discovering new friends.

Hope to see you soon!

This Bronx Girl - Present Day

"Thank you for this lunch, in Jesus' name. Amen!" Rhys, my 3 year old says quickly and loudly.

"Good, eat up!" I say as I grab a small bowl of cheerios and put it in front of the 11 month old who is sitting in his baby seat. I sit down in front of the computer and take a sip of the coffee that I bought this morning from a coffee drive-thru on the way back home. I put it on the desk and click on the mouse. The pages from my novel appear on the screen and I begin reading through them, correcting grammatical errors, rearranging sentences. I look to the hard copy that is my novel which is sitting on the desk beside the keyboard, then back to the screen with a laser like focus, working to block out the sounds from The Sid the Science Kid t.v. show that my son is watching.

I take a sip of coffee from time to time. Really good - my white chocolate mocha with a pump of raspberry.

A high-pitched scream fills the air. I turn around and see the bowl, empty of cheerios turned over on the floor. I get up quickly and grab the bowl, filling it with cheerios again. I put it back in front of the screaming baby and sit back down in front of the computer again. A couple of minutes later, I click "Save" on the screen and breathe a sigh. I click on the next open document. A list of the names of parents who ordered magazine subscriptions through the boys' school. I was in charge of organizing this project.

"Mommy, more milk please." That is Rhys. Several minutes later, after giving the second cup of milk to my boy along with another helping of cheese crackers, I close up the school document and click on the remaining document that is open on the computer screen. After a quick read-through and some copying and pasting the document into an email, I send it - these book reviews - to my magazine editor. Finally, those are done.

I glance at the clock on the computer and turned toward Rhys who now sits on the floor playing with his tanker truck.

"Time to go buddy," I say to him. "We have to pick up your brother."

"Nooo," he wails.

"Yes," I say and sigh. The battle begins as I watch the baby toss his blue bowl across the room. There is fifteen minutes of chasing the 3 year old, putting on his socks, shoes and jacket, grabbing the baby, changing his diaper, giving him snuggles and then placing him in his brown car seat, me looking for my shoes, looking for the car keys, which always seem to disappear, and once finding them, sighing, grabbing the diaper bag, then opening the front door and bringing both boys outside to the car.

Now I'm driving along rural roads, past the cows in the open field on the left, and the farmer's market on the right with a sign attached to a fence, stating that they sell organic tomatoes. I make that right turn at Baseline Rd. and drive along towards my son's school and the Rocky Mountain range in the West, noticing the snow-covered peaks and reveling in their majesty.

This prompt is inspired by a memoir prompt from The Red Dress Club which asks "when meeting someone for the first time, what do you want them to know about you? Describe a scene that shows your true self."

Critiques welcomed.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Embracing Adversity

Today, I am emotional about an incident that occurred yesterday involving my son and another kid. My son is on the outside of friendships often. Alone on the playground, playing by himself, often. I worry - will this incident be another thing that will keep him from being included in a circle of friends?

I can barely put into words how sad I feel for my son at times. I am sitting here crying in the car. It's hard watching your child face adversity: the teasings, the tauntings, being made fun of, being excluded and being told that he can't be a part of this kid's or that kid's group of friends. What makes it especially hard is to see how much he wants to be a part of a group because he is such a naturally social being. He thrives on interaction. Honestly, all he wants is that special friend - the one he can play with every day on the school playground. He wants that special relationship - the special connection that comes with having a best friend. He actually had one, until that friend moved on and became someone else's best friend. He's still hurt over that one.

His adversity.

"This is good for him," my Hubby says "though it's painful for us. He needs this. Especially because he is so sensitive. He needs to go through this in order to understand his own sensitivity and work through these hard moments. The adversity will only make him stronger."

But the adversity our son faces is painful. Not just for him but for me (and said Hubby) as well. Why does it have to be?

How my heart breaks whenever I've watch him walk up to a cluster of kids and ask to play with them and they reject him. One time, at a park, a couple of years ago, I saw him approach three different kids playing within the same group and they each rejected him. I finally had to step in. It was discouraging to see. Heart-wrenching to watch the sadness take over his face.

But I know that Hubby is right. These moments of adversity will make him stronger. I think about the pain I experienced when I was a kid - a good part of that stemming from being a victim of abuse. It has made me stronger. At one moment in my life, strong enough to leave an abusive situation.

Embracing adversity.

I need to do it. And embrace it wholeheartedly. For my son. I need to put on my "Mommypants" (as inspired by Cheryl at Mommypants) and do what I have to do help him to embrace whatever adversity comes his way. I need to put my own personal emotions aside or work through them, turning towards the storms that adversity brings and face them head on. Embrace them and hold on tight. Persevere and not give up.

And then, hopefully, my darling boy will become my stronger (and sensitive) boy, who will grow into that strong, self-confident man one day because he has faced adversity and survived.

And his mother will become a stronger woman as well.

Have you dealt with your child being teased or excluded? Have you become emotional over it (or is it just me)? How do you handle those moments when it happens? What do you tell your child? Please share, because this emotional, protective mama would love to know.