Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004


I am so burnt out. Completely and totally tapped out. I have nothing more to give. To anyone. And yet...And yet tonight I'm supposed to be at a PTA executive board meeting. I was up until 6 am Monday morning, and I still have two more chapters to finish for the deadline that passed on Monday, and then the final three, plus intros, toc, acknowledgements, a glossary and god-only-know-what-I'm-forgetting due in just over two weeks. I have two more bipolar patients to interview. I have three interviews with scientists for work this week, and a list a mile long of things I am expected to have done asap. I have a parent conference with N's teacher on Thursday, at the same time that I have a work-related event I'm supposed to be at. Em has a swimming lesson tomorrow night and a gymnastics lesson on Thursday, and wants me at both. She's reacting to my stress and complete unavailability by starting to have nighttime stomach aches again. I have a very good friend who's going through a very hard time--a very, very, very hard time--and I want to be there for her, and yet I can't even find five minutes to call her, much less BE there.

I hit a breaking point yesterday, as all this kept piling up on me. And I mean that literally, I think. My editor sent me an email yesterday pushing me on the deadlines and telling me to let him know if I needed anything. and I actually replied by saying that I needed a time machine so i could go back about four months to the point where he told me about these deadlines, and laugh uproariously at him and walk away. (OK, I softened it by saying I was mostly joking, but still...) Obviously, something in me broke. And it hurt. I was in pain all day, all night. But today, I'm numb. Now I'm just kind of looking around me, smiling a vacant sort of smile, and wondering just when the crack in the foundation is going to turn into a cataclysmic failure, and just what my life is going to look like when it's in rubble all around me. Maybe then it will be quiet, at least. Maybe then I can just find a quiet place, a rock I can crawl under, while I wait for my limbs and mind and sanity to regenerate.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Good People

I live in this land out of time here in Los Angeles County. When we first considered moving here, we used to take drives up into the foothills and go up and down streets, just to get a "feel" for the place. The first time we came up here on a Saturday night, at around 8, and realized that the entire town had shut down, we just couldn't get over it. "Maybe it's Vegas night," Baroy laughed. "The entire town went to Vegas for the night, and they're all out there, gambling and drinking and carousing."

But no. This is Small Town America, right smack dab in the middle of Big City LA. (Well, on the outskirts, really. But that doesn't work as well.) That has its up sides and its down sides as everyone well knows. But I really love it here. I feel comfortable. Sure, we're the only Jewish family in the school, best I can tell. And at the annual picnics in the park on Fourth of July and Memorial Day and Labor Day, there will be more "Vote Republican" booths than you can shake a stick at. But I can deal with that. At our last house, where diversity ruled both ethnically and politically, our garage door regularly got tagged with graffiti. There were gunshots heard nearby more times than I like to think about. Here? Those teenaged ruffians regularly TP the house down the block. Baroy and I like to joke about how it doesn't just seem like another era here--it actually IS another era here. And that suits me just fine.

So I wasn't surprised, today, to get an envelope in the mail from a woman who lives just a few blocks away. In it was my driver's license. The license I lost on Monday when I went running. (I had it in a zipped pocket, but then I started messing around with something else, and I forgot it was in there, and...well, obviously, it just dropped out while I wasn't paying attention.) I wasn't surprised, but I was really, really pleased. Had this happened in my old neighborhood, I'd have been down to the DMV the next day replacing that license, knowing it was gone forever. But here...Baroy and I both said, 'give it a few days. Someone will probably drop it off in our mailbox.' And someone did. With a note attached, and a name.

Thank you, Rebecca Bailey. You're good people.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

A Request

I'm deep, deep, deep into deadline number three--and number four, the final deadline, comes fast on its heels. So don't expect much from me in the near future. Certainly, don't expect anything of substance.

Still, I have a request. For you. Yes, you. The only thing that's keeping me sane right now is occasionally playing in my mind with all the things I'm going to do once I again have time, glorious time. Time to spend with my kids, and time to spend with my husband, and time to spend--gasp--with myself, doing things I enjoy, or doing nothing at all. Near the top of the list is reading. Reading a book. A book that's not about bipolar disorder. A book that's not about anything I'm supposed to be reading about. A book that I'm going to enjoy. SEVERAL books that I'm going to enjoy. Heck, I have something on the order of $100 in gift certificates to Borders, Amazon and Barnes & Noble burning a hole in my pockets, both real and cyber. Which is where the request comes in.

What should I buy? I have a couple of books sitting waiting for me--Gabriel Garcia Marquez's autobiography, a collection of short stories by a Native American writer whose name presently escapes me. I like memoirs, and I like fiction. I'm not a big fan of sci fi or thrillers or detective novels in general, though if there's a compelling reason, I'll give it a whirl. I'd prefer to spend the money on paperbacks, unless there's some book I simply MUST own (like the Marquez autobiography), and I don't care about reading a book the minute it hits the market and the best-seller lists or whatever. So...who are your favorite authors? What's the best book you've read recently? What's your all-time favorite? What should I run screaming from at all costs?

In return, I give you this piece of advice. Carrie Fisher's latest, "The Best Awful," is, well, awful. No best about it. I was reading it because it's a thinly-veiled account of Fisher's own battle with bipolar, and I was hoping to find bits and pieces to include in the book (with permission of the author and publisher, of course). Besides, I love Carrie Fisher, and loved Postcards from the Edge, which I actually read well before seeing the movie. But, really, this thing is so absolutely painful, so poorly written, so...It's a huge disappointment, is all. Don't waste your money.

Now, pony up. I need ideas, folks. I need something to hang my impatient little hat on for the next few weeks while everything goes to heck and I try to meet the Impossible Deadline.

Tanks. I preciate it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Crazy Eights

Eight years ago today, I walked down an aisle in a dress I'd bought on Melrose Avenue--the very first dress I'd tried on--and held hands with Baroy and spoke vows and merged lives that were, to all extents and purposes, already merged. Still, it felt profound. It was profound.

I still remember so many details of that day. We did what I like to call an invisibly cheap wedding...while we spent a good amount of my stepfather's money and a couple of thousand of our own on food and a 'real' hall and flowers, we went with a DJ instead of a band, and we had a videographer, but asked him just to turn over the raw footage at the end of the day. (After all, neither of us really needed the sappy background music he'd have added later, and he might have cut some key moments that we now really cherish in that overly-long bit of film.) And we didn't have photographers, but rather put a bunch of disposables on the tables and let people have at it. It was fun. We have zero photos of the wedding party and only a few of the wedding ceremony, but we have all these great, happy, amateurish shots from the party, and everyone was represented in them, and we didn't have to miss half the fun posing out in the garden.

I remember Baroy's best man, Don, being wonderfully solicitous of me. I remember him noticing that there were trash cans visible outside the panoramic windows just beyond our chuppah, and going out there and moving them himself so I wouldn't be upset by it. I remember my sister, swollen with nearly eight months of pregnancy, waddling down the aisle as my matron of honor. I remember the rabbi--my step-uncle--calling me Linda, which is my mother's name. I remember signing our ketubah and our civil marriage license in green ink, in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

I remember the mountain of shrimp and the lake of cocktail sauce in the room they ushered us into after the ceremony was over--a 'gift' from my stepfather, who knew of Baroy's fondness for shrimp cocktail. I remember how bubbly and sweet the champagne tasted when I kissed it off Baroy's lips.

I remember the two of us deciding that we didn't want to miss the cocktail hour, and so we sneaked into the room where it was held, and everyone pretty much ignored us, because we hadn't been 'officially' introduced yet. I remember walking into the reception hall, transformed from a chapel in under an hour, and just grinning wildly. I remember having the Best Time Ever at that party, surrounded by people I loved.

There's so much more, too. Little gossipy moments, like when Baroy danced with his friend J, who has a tendency to be inappropriate, and our friends staged an intervention just around the time she was shimmying on his leg. Significant moments, like when my Uncle Sy said the blessing over the challah, the only one of my grandmother's siblings to be able to make it to the wedding. Funny moments, like when the clueless DJ took that significance and made it a travesty..."Amen, ladies and gentlemen, amen," he intoned in his very best AM-radio baritone. Oy.

Eight years later, we've had a couple of rough moments. There have been a couple--but only a couple--when I've wondered about our viability, wondered whether I wanted to be in this relationship. Mostly, though, I'm happy, and grateful, to have found someone with whom I fit so well. Baroy laughed at the card I gave him this morning, which said something like, "You don't complete me, because I was already complete, but you make me more, and you make me better." But it's true. It's not like I wasn't a real person until I got married. But I'm a much different person now, a much better person. And I think that's better than completion. I think it's more real, and more lasting.

I love you, Baroy. Happy eighth, even if you won't be reading this...

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Ode to the B-Dog

Yesterday was my 5 year anniversary at this job. Things have been crazy here lately, what with major resignations in the school for which I work, and with all sorts of political issues and scenarios and concerns being bandied about. And I've had this book on my mind, and my work, well, not so much there. So I didn't realize it was my workaversary until last night when I had to write the date down somewhere.

There are things I despise about my job, most of which have to do with spinning my wheels and getting absolutely nowhere. But I have a great office. An incredible office, really. (Although it's missing someone lately...cough, cough, Mary Ellen, cough, cough.) And it's all due to my boss, B.

B gets it. She understands how to get the best work out of each of us. She's everyone's friend, but she also commands respect. Not the fear kind of respect, but the kind where her opinion matters, and letting her down is simply not an option.

B makes me laugh. I found a pin on my desk yesterday that says "Always Reaching For Success." Now, B knows how much I absolutely despise those trite 'successories' places, so when she saw this, she got it for me. I laughed for about half an hour. Then I put the pin on. And it's on again today. And B and I both know that I will make a point of wearing it every day I'm in office until the joke wears thin. She would expect nothing less of me.

B likes to gossip. She knows what she can and can't reveal, of course--she is probably the most trustworthy and dipolmatic person I know--but when she can tell me stuff, she does. Because she knows I love gossip almost as much as she does. Many's the night where we're the only ones left in the office and we just chat for half an hour about who's doing what to whom and why it's wrong. It's delicious, and fun.

B has two children, so she knows what my life is about. She understands when I leave a little early to get to a school function. She encourages me to take time off if I can, and spend it with the kids. She's devoted to her career, but she's also devoted to her children. We may not have exactly the same priorities, or the same resources, or the same commitments, but overall, she's a great role model.

Sure, B has her downfalls. Our office takes on way too much work, and though we give lip service to the idea of prioritizing, that doesn't always happen. So I'll find myself working on something really unimportant, and having to let important stuff slip away. I won't even pretend that I never walk away from her office rolling my eyes or wanting to mutter under my breath.

But, overall? The best boss I've ever had, hands down. And I'm not alone in feeling that way. I remember one of my first days on the job; I went out to lunch with several of the other people from the office, and they were all talking about how great B is. And I couldn't help but laugh, because I'd never, ever been in a situation like that--one where people talk behind the boss's back, only to praise her. Clearly, B's doing something right.

So, thank you, B. Even though you don't read this blog, I feel the need to sing your praises. This job could feel like a pair of golden handcuffs, but it usually doesn't. I'd quit in a second to stay at home--don't get me wrong. But I'd miss the office. I'd miss the people. I'd definitely miss B.

Here's to the next five years...If they have to be, I think I'm really glad that they're going to be here.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

A Room of One's Own

I'm still here. I'm still breathing. I'm still really, really behind in writing my book. Therefore I'm still not going to be updating that often for the next couple of weeks. But, as long as I'm here...

I had lunch the other day with the incredible Tamar of postscript fame (she's linked over there in my blogroll), and at some point or another in between telling her how to run her life ("You need to put your essays into a book! That's your next project after you finish your novel." "No, no, you shouldn't read a book about book proposals; *I'll* tell you how to write your book proposal!" "You really should move to TownWhereILive; come up one day and I'll show you around and find you a house and a real estate agent and, and, and..."--gee, TC, obnoxiously overbearing much?) I mentioned that Baroy doesn't know about my blog. More specifically, I haven't told Baroy about my blog. And it wasn't until I saw the look on Tamar's face that I realized that actually IS a little odd.

First I need to say that I love Baroy. I really do. He's good people. I have my gripes, of course, but who doesn't? Overall, he does his best, he loves me and the kids to pieces, he's interesting to talk to, and we laugh a lot together. We've had our ups and down, mostly financial, but nothing earth-shattering.

So the reason I haven't told him about my blog isn't because I need it to vent about him. I can do that elsewhere. (Though I will say, to be honest, that there are people whose blogs I read where their spouses do read, and it seems as if sometimes they use the blogs as a way to say things to their spouses that they can't otherwise say. And that makes me uncomfortable. So I guess that's maybe way in the back of my mind as one of the possible pluses of not telling Baroy. But it's not THE reason.)

So what *is* the reason? You know, I'm not really sure. I sort of stumbled my way through my reasoning sitting there with Tamar, and I think what it is is this: The whole stalking thing has had this huge, enormous impact on me and my life. But the truth of the matter is, I'm not the one being stalked. Baroy is. And I think that in some ways it really bothers him that I've made it all about me--well, actually, all about the kids, but the freak out and the doctors' visits and the tranquilizers and the antidepressants were all for me. And poor Baroy can't process this himself, because I'm all needy and upset and unwilling to talk about it, and freaking out everytime he brings it up. And I don't like to bring it up to him, because he get all 'male' about it, and assumes that if I'm upset, I want him to DO something about the problem, when all I really want to do is say, "oh, woe is me, I went a little crazy, and my life will never be the same, and I'm feeling sorry for myself, and you're the only one who might understand." So I guess that's part of the reason I made this little place for myself: because I really can't talk to him about this. But I can here, as much or as little or as fully or as cryptically as I want to. And I don't have to worry about his reaction, or what he might do, or how he might feel, or what I might be stirring up for him.

And, yeah, it means that I CAN vent about him if I want to. But mostly, it's so that I can talk about the stuff that I don't want to talk about to him right now. And maybe it's also a teensy bit about not always having to tell the absolute truth about everything, being allowed to tweak a story to make it a little bit better without someone chiming in to say, "Hey, that's not quite what happened there, you know..." Yeah, maybe there's some of that, too. But only some. Really. Trust me.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

I'm Late, I'm Late...

...for a very important deadline.

Let's see. I had the second five 'elements' due officially on February 26. Didn't make that. Got an extension until March 2. Didn't make that, either, though I did send in three of the five items, which I guess is better than nothing. (Actually, that's not necessarily true; I remember my graduate journalism program, where our quirky and much-beloved director put signs in the stalls in the bathrooms that read, "Better Never Than Late." And indeed, turning a piece in after deadline earned you an F. Turning it in unfinished at least got you a grade. You'd think I'd have learned some enduring life lessons from that, but no.)

So right now I'm working on 'element' #4, which is actually chapter 7. And then I have to get to the last element, which is going to be chapter 12. And I've got to get them done before my editor hires a hit man for me. Not that I'd blame him.

Anyway, just wanted to let you know why posting's so light right now. It's not that I don't have more than ample angst to share; it's just that I have less than ample time in which to share it. But, I'll be back. Soon, I hope.

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