August 3, 2011

Because you were wondering...

by Veronica

The downside to not working outside the home is - it really is about me all the time. Am I hungry? Cold? Do I feel like working out? Should I go grocery shopping? And lately, I'm the soul inhabitant here, so things get even more specific...lights on or off? Change the sheets or wait and do it when I wash towels? Sit on this side of the table or that side? Spread out on the couch or curl up in the chair? Tell the blogosphere how ridiculous I am or not? The upside to working at home: all the food in the conference room is mine.

So, Veronica, Jr. is wowing them in NYC. After weeks of organizing the same 2,000 magazines and picking dried milk out from crevices in the office fridge, she was given a big, juicy plum of an assignment: act as personal assistant to the Executive Director flying in from L.A. to oversee a one day shoot with Sarah Silver (photog of the moment) for Swarovski Crystals - to be published in "W" magazine in October, November and December. Veronica, Jr. fetched water, food and walked Ms. Silver's dog. She dropped a net on the model on the count of 3 and hung around until nearly midnight while the model tried to wash off the purple body paint. When we Skyped, not one of her toes was touching the earth; even after a 16 hour day excitement and a sense of the potential future coursed through every fiber of her mind and body. A beautiful sight to see 12 hours and 7,000 miles away.

I sat down to write about how I just ruined tonight's dessert because I suck at reading directions then got sidetracked about how self-absorbed I am which led me to thinking about my daughter and how awesome she is and now I'm over my dessert fiasco and have to go make the pizza dough...which, thankfully, has few steps involved.

July 30, 2011

Cranky Crazy Pants

by Veronica

I think its happening - that descent into menopausal madness. Yesterday someone said the word, "bridge" and I had a momentary flash of "What's that?" Right after I gave out the wrong phone number for my husband, which came after I couldn't remember my own phone number. About a week ago I had my first real hot flash. Thankfully, I kept myself from asking everyone around me, "Is it hot in here or is it just me?" And...I found my first gray hair...down there. Ew.

I remember after my daughter was born, my hormones all askew, I cried at Hallmark commercials (the one with the red-headed sisters re-uniting when one shows up at the other's house? Did they really re-unite, or did the old arguments raise their scabby heads over tea in the kitchen and the sister slammed the door on her way out?) The other day I cried (well, got teary eyed more than cried) at a scene in my audio book (Ken Follett's Fall of Giants) while running on the treadmill. Picture that - a 48 year old woman, huffing away on a treadmill, crying. Ah, well.

Then, I was scheduling some things on my calendar and realized I had written two or three emails to people who hadn't written back. In fact, people I haven't heard from in quite some time and I had the ridiculous notion to make a list of these names. Make a list! And then do what with it? W-A-C-K-O. Except I wouldn't do anything with that list because I'm just too tired - or as the websites label it - I have fatigue. Not all the time, not disabling, but certainly annoying. See that stack of dishes? Not if I leave the kitchen! Laundry? Just don't go in that room either.

Maybe its not fatigue but boredom! Sudden Newsflash Inspiration Thing: I don't think menopausal women have hormonal fluctuations - I think they have Acute Boredom Syndrome. I don't want to do dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, food preparation, dusting, toilet-bowl scrubbing, or cat-box cleaning not because my estrogen is waning like the moon, but because thirty years later, I just feel like doing something else.  I'd like to see some research comparing menopausal symptoms of women who can afford "cleaning ladies" v. those who have to manage their own chores plus a part/full time job. I wish I could get funding for a study like that because I'd hire a cleaning lady and monitor my "fatigue" while she's cleaning and grocery shopping. Then I'd chart my mood swings while laying by the pool or playing tennis before lunch with friends. I'd use the time spent getting a massage or mani/pedi to manage my irritability, dizziness and anxiety. Finally, while curling up with a book before bedtime, and actually staying awake long enough to read more than three sentences - the same three sentences - I'd note whether or not my sleeping habits are disordered.

My over-40-sisters, fear menopause no more! Use paper plates, ignore the dust, and invest in 30 pairs of underwear so you only have to do laundry one day a month. Get outside and read a great book, go for walks or tea with friends; take a cool shower then lay naked in front of a fan, eat ice cream for dinner and do some yoga. And quit reading the news. I'll tell you what's going on: famine, wars, weather related disasters and people are still getting married and having kids.

Yes, our bodies are changing, and so should our priorities. And on that note, I'm off to not feel anxious or care about hot flashes. 

June 24, 2011

This Space for Rent

by Veronica

How terrible that this little blog has been left on its own for so long...this is why I buy fake plants.

Nothing specific to report so I'll give some updates.

Veronica, Jr. is settled in NYC and, despite her one-week-old iPhone 4 being stolen while she was at a free concert, hiking subway stairs in heels, and spending six to eight hours every day doing mindless intern office work, she's living the dream! One thing I like about Veronica, Jr. is she's never quite satisfied. You know the type? They want one thing - and they get it, only to discover it isn't exactly what they wanted and now they're planning for the next step up. That's my kid. Me? I think being one of seven kids (in the middle) made me a "go along, get along" kind of person. I order Diet Coke - no Diet? Okay - whatever you have is fine. Veronica, Jr. wants what she wants and if they don't have her selection then she'll take nothing, thank you very much. And, I'll take the Walmart version of anything (almost). Her? She knows every name brand out there and can spot it at 20 paces facing into the sun.

Mr. Veronica took me to Guam while he was on business. Hong Kong, approximately 35 square miles, has a population of 8 million. Guam is approximately 212 square miles - 178,000 people. I felt like I was in a ghost town when walking down the street, I missed the people! Which is sort of funny, considering how frustrating it can be walking down a street at mid-day in Hong Kong. We arrived early Wednesday morning and left late Sunday night. I managed to work in just over 20 hours of pool/beach time. Not too shabby, eh? The beaches are beautiful - some of the sand is pink and the water is always that ridiculously clear blue color that you see in travel brochures. And! I found a small piece of coral in the shape of a heart.

We traveled with another couple, Sue and Bill, Sue works with Mr. Veronica, so Bill and I had some time together. I have met Bill a handful of times, always at dinner at our house or their house, with other coworkers. He's very intelligent - one of those guys that knows a lot about economics and can tell you why we shouldn't print more money to combat the recession in monosyllabic words; he has a fun sense of humor - just saying "Three Stooges" makes him giggle. Bill and I hung out at the pool, played some tennis, shared a club sandwich and fries. Its an interesting dynamic, getting to know someone of the opposite sex in a strictly platonic situation, and sort of involuntarily. Its awkward at first, trying to find common ground - what do we have to say to each other? We are only together because of our spouses, who aren't actually present. But, over the three days we had together, we found quite a bit to talk about - especially economics and religion. We talked about how we met our spouses and why we fell in love with them. We all returned to HK and within a day or two, Sue was back on the road, leaving Bill alone in HK. He emailed Mr. Veronica about playing tennis (they battled it out this morning and are already planning the next skirmish) and has come to dinner (he brought the salad). And that is how friendships start and, hopefully, last.

Two of my favorite shows are starting their summer seasons, with another starting up soon. Currently playing: Drop Dead Diva and Men of a Certain Age; in the wings: The Closer.

And now, I've watered this little corner of the earth, with whispered promises of more loving attention in the near future.

June 3, 2011

Good News

by Veronica

Veronica, Jr. got an internship in New York City. Yay! She's wrapping up her last week of classes with finals next week. She'll get a few days in Cleveland then her dad will drive her back to NYC. And I will be the proud parent of a woman following her dreams - how lucky am I?!

Growing up, I was one of seven kids - five boys, two girls. My mother told me (and my sister) that she wished she had all boys, she didn't like girls. I know. That's harsh. She was also very close, best friends, in fact, with her mother. She and I just sort of co-existed. When my grandmother died, my mother said, "I hope you and I can be good friends like my mother and I were." I was seventeen at the time and had resigned myself to the fact that there really wasn't any way for us to be "friends." We had some very bumpy times, my mother and I. But you know, I went to therapy, dealt with the crap and moved on. By the end of her days, we had a genuine love for and appreciation of each other.

(When she died I had this amazing dream. I don't know if you're like this, but after someone close to me dies, I always dream about them coming back - not like resurrecting from the dead, but coming back to see me and talk to me. I've lost two brothers along the way and in both cases the dreams have been just social. For example, Terry showed up in a park and we hugged and hugged and then sat on a bench and talked and talked. Such a beautiful dream. So, I wondered what it would be like when my mother came back to me. I've never dreamed anything like this: I'm standing by an open window and a steady breeze blows into the room and it turns into a strong current that begins to solidify and wrap itself around me from head to toe; it undulates around me and courses through me. I'm completely taken over by the force of this wind - I can feel my hair blowing around my head, my breath is caught up and taken away, I am enveloped. This wind, this energy, this is my mother. She is surrounding me, filling me, giving me her energy and life force. In the human world she had multiple sclerosis and was physically incapacitated for the last twenty years of her life. But mentally, she was rock solid. She had so much energy and life, she had so much left that she passed it on to me.)

When Veronica, Jr. came along I was thrilled. I would have the chance to create the relationship with her that I had wanted with my mother. And we are very close. Its a wonderful, trusting relationship that we have worked to develop. We've had our fights, our breakups and makeups. Mostly, though, we've had our laughs. No one makes me laugh like my kid. Here is a prime example of one of our conversations:

Mom: Wow, I can't believe you're going to be 24!
Junior: I know! Me, either! Wait, how old are you going to be?
Mom: 48. Let's not talk about it.
Junior: Oh - wait, is every kid half the age of their parents?
Mom: (thoughtful pause, actually, really considering this question).  I don't know. Wait. What? Well, I don't think so - I mean in a year I'll be 49 and 25 isn't half of 49. Right? I mean, when you were 5 I wasn't 10.
Junior: Oh. Right. Ha! Obviously that doesn't work.

Yes - that's a real conversation between the two of us. And we've had so many ridiculous conversations that I truly believe we'd be a hit on Sirius Radio if we'd ever remember to record these things.

The good news is, I won't miss her when she goes to New York. We've learned to live apart from each other and that makes this moment all the sweeter. Our world has grown to encompass the entire planet (thank you Skype and FB!). We are together no matter where we are and for that I am so thankful.

Way to go, Pookie!

May 27, 2011

Being Neighborly

by Jamie

I love my neighbors across the way, a couple in their 80s who were both born, grew up and raised their family on this hill that we share. We keep an eye on each other and when the weather is good we’ll pause in our gardening to shoot the breeze and swear at the folks driving too fast down our back road. They both have a wicked and wry sense of humor and often the best gossip around, though they are never cruel or petty. I’ll bake cookies for him because he has a sweet tooth. She and I leave mysterious bags of iris rhizomes, tulip bulbs and seed on each other’s doorsteps—trading flowers. They are good, kind, loving, hard working people who live their golden years in a haze of gardening, mowing, family get togethers and grandchildren.

They drove by last week on their way, I thought, to a usual Sunday dinner. I waved and asked where they were off to. She told me over the car engine that her eldest son had come home from the hospital to die. The doctors couldn’t do anything else for him. They were going to lunch at his family’s home.

I looked at their two beautiful and weather-worn faces and felt the true meaning of the word “heartbreak” in my throat. I raised my hand to my face because I realized I was crying as they drove on past.

I finally found them at home a couple of days ago sitting on the porch swing which faces to the north and a spectacular view. As usual both she and I were covered in mud from working in the garden. Her knees now almost useless from arthritis, she crawls and rolls around weeding and planting, then sits for a spell. I gave both of them a hug and said I was so sorry and is there anything I could do to help and that I was keeping their son in my prayers.

Of course, the words “Is there anything I can do?” are usually offered in the kindest manner. But there is nothing I, or anyone, can do to ease their heartache as they watch their son, now in his early 60s--their first baby--die over the next few days. We sat and swung and the breeze wafted over us and she talked quietly about what had happened. He gruffly expressed his grief, as many men will do, through outrage: at the doctors, the hospitals, the way things are done now. Tears would well up in her eyes and I held her hand and we talked about how beautiful her iris are this year. She gets too much sun on this side of the house and they often wilt and die. But the rain has kept them strong and hearty. The colors are lush purples and joyous pinks and yellows.

Their son’s hands shake now as the disease eats his lungs and spine. She goes over every morning and rubs them. “I told him if he doesn’t like it, tough!” she says and laughs and tears spill over her cheeks and she looks out into the achingly beautiful spring afternoon and clasps my hand hard.

As I leave they take me around the garden to look at flowers like we always do. They need the reassurance of the things they’ve always done or perhaps they sense that I do. I ask again is there anything at all I can do. She says just someone to talk to now and then.

Such a little thing when I want to do so much, but I’m off now to do it.

May 25, 2011


by Veronica

I had decided to try online dating after seeing all the happy eHarmony commercials on television. My then-current relationship was ending and I was intrigued by the prospect of meeting a lot of men without trying on ten different outfits, dealing with mascara and trying to dehumidify my curly hair. Also, I was living in a small college town and had no real way of meeting men who would be able to look past all the twenty year old females to see the virtues of dating an over-forty woman.

My memory is vague on this, but I think I joined eHarmony in late January of 2008. Wow. Three years. Okay. So, within a short amount of time, say, six to eight weeks, I met a man named Brian. We emailed back and forth for a few weeks and then moved onto phone calls. Its interesting to watch relationships develop over emails. I don't have his anymore, but when I did and would read them from the beginning, it was better than keeping a journal. His emails, my responses, jokes that developed between us, revealing personal secrets because there is emotional safety in the faceless email; emails that nurtured our silent hopes that we were creating something sturdy from the delicate layering of our stories.

Brian lived about forty-five minutes away. We met halfway on our first date at a barbeque restaurant. You should know I'm not a big believer in "love at first sight." Lust? Yes. Love? No. Except for babies and kittens. Brain was handsome enough; tall, slim, blue eyes, blond hair. Great hands. I love muscular hands on a guy. We had dinner and then he asked if I'd like to sit at the bar for a nightcap. What I remember most is his ability to tell a story. He wasn't clever or loud or boastful, just truthful and unassuming. Eventually we left and said goodnight (hand shake) in the parking lot. I know, but I've turned into quite the germaphobe at this phase of my life and can't imagine kissing a stranger on the lips. Just ew. (I won't share a toothbrush with my husband, either.)

After a few dates it I learned he was only separated and that caused some delays until he had filed for divorce. He had two small children; he and his wife shared parenting - so the kids were with him for a week at a time plus he helped coach their sports leagues. Brian was quite busy being a father and sorting out his life post-divorce. Our dating became weekends at his place because he also had pets that couldn't be left unattended. I didn't mind driving over to his town and getting out of my little house. We went to ballgames, movies, dinner. I helped him move into a new house from his little apartment and we planned a vacation. We discovered we could leave messages for each other over and communicated several times a day. Then, something changed. I don't know what - to this day, I have no idea. We were at my friend's house for dinner and the next morning he showered early, and despite our plans for the day, left without any explanation. I tried not to text, call or email him to death. I had enough self control to be patient. But within a few weeks, he called a halt to the relationship via email.

I was devastated. I had no idea what I had done or didn't do or could have done or should have done. I was baffled and he wasn't going to budge and tell me. I finally gave in and sent the awful begging email that no woman/man should ever send. Its okay to write it, just send it to your best friend so they can stop you from making an ass of yourself. Of course, that just made him clam up and that was the end of that. I had a few other dates and those are noteworthy just for their hilarity - but that's another post. I ended up joining another dating website, and guess what? Within a few weeks I was matched with Brian, again. At this point some months had gone by. We actually got together and it fizzled as fast as it started. Again, I have no idea why. 

I met my husband on eHarmony some time after the last "what just happened here" date with Brian. Mr. Veronica and I met in April of 2009, were married in December, 2009 and moved to HK in September, 2010. Yeah. Wow.

I have promised to be honest on this anonymous blog so here is the deal: I never forgot about Brian. I thought of him often after our two tries. Mostly I wanted him to explain to me what IT was - why didn't things go further? What was the issue and why didn't I get a chance to solve it? Or change it? Make it better? Why was he so reluctant to be honest and straightforward? Here is the gift Brian gave me: I had to let it go. It didn't matter why or what or who. And now, from a distance, I can see all the things you do as a objective observer: he was newly divorced dad of two small kids, he wasn't emotionally ready for something serious and so committed, and - he had terrible communication skills. He could tell a story but he couldn't share his thoughts.

I never contacted him after the last date and he's never contacted me. If you read my last entry there is a brief sentence in which I tell you that I took my daughter shopping for an interview outfit. We happened to be driving from her college town to Cleveland and stopped at a mall halfway between the two places. This mall also happens to be near where Brian lives. As we left one of the stores, we passed two guys (one quite tall, the other clearly younger - my brain registered "son"). The "dad" was staring at me. I mean STARING. Staring like I had one giant eye in the middle of my forehead. I looked right at him, took in his hair, eyes and the very serious look on his face and kept right on walking and talking to my daughter. We got in the car, drove to Cleveland, I flew back to Hong Kong with my husband and it took another day or so for me to realize - it was Brian.

Here's the milestone: I didn't even recognize him and once it registered that it was him, I didn't really care, except to acknowledge I didn't really care

May 20, 2011

What Astrological Sign is the Jackass?

by Veronica

My daughter, Veronica, Jr., is at university and has nearly completed a degree in Visual Communications from a very well known program. She is currently looking for an internship and has decided nothing less than NYC will do - and understandably as she is interested in fashion photography. Daily, hourly, she trolls through websites looking for any kind of photog internship that will get her to NYC for this summer - the summer that begins in just a few weeks.

On a Thursday she got a hit - someone wanted to interview her! In NYC! She exchanged a few emails with this woman - A___ B____ and set up her appointment for Monday at 3pm. Her dad offered to drive her to NYC on Sunday, spend the night, and get her to the interview. Her stepdad and I took her shopping for an outfit for the interview, then drove her home to Cleveland to meet her dad for the ride to NYC. On the way we discussed interview etiquette, possible questions, how to answer the difficult ones. Veronica, Jr. spoke reverently about A.B. and her status in fashion photog land. Veronica, Jr. had done quite a bit of research into A's background and knew where she went to school, what her degrees were, who influenced her work, etc. She recited the job responsibilities verbatim and had brought her laptop in case A. wanted to look at her online portfolio.

Here is the conversation I had with Veronica, Jr. about the interview:

Mom: So - of course, I can't wait to hear everything. Start at the beginning.
Daughter: Well, I was all dressed up and when I got there, she was like, working and in a flannel shirt and jeans, other people were there working and dressed all casual.
Mom: Okay -but still, its important to look professional on interviews...
Daughter: Right, right. So...we started talking and she asked me what my astrological sign was..
Mom: I'm sorry?
Daughter: Yeah - so I said 'Gemini' and she said, "Oh god - not another one! Geminis are so irresponsible.
Daughter: So....then she asked about my portfolio - what online site I used and I said Flickr and she said, "God! I hate Flickr! Why do  you use that?"
Daughter: So then she said, "Well I guess we'll move onto the second part of the interview. I'm going to send you a photo to photoshop and you send it back to me." She said she'd be making her decision very soon, so I don't know what that means.
Mom: How long did this interview last?
Daughter: About 10 minutes all together.
Daughter: Yeah and then Dad was waiting outside and we headed home. Sean drove me back to school....

Now, Dear Reader, you know me well enough at this point to know I'm not really speechless. Except, I am. I'm heartbroken, disgusted, teary-eyed (even now!), disappointed, frustrated, and hateful. Thousands and thousands of dollars spent on tuition, camera equipment, laptops, printers, books, film. Years of study, work and peer/professional reviews of her work. A new interview outfit, people stopping their lives to get this "irresponsible Gemini" to an interview in NYC - after she worked three shifts over the weekend. Imagine this stoopid kid who doesn't understand how the world works. Did I tell you she and this woman exchanged emails? Is it entirely out of the realm of possibility that A.B. could have asked IN THE EMAIL about her astrological sign and saved some time and money?

Ten fucking minutes.