Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Friday, October 28, 2005

So THIS Is What It Feels Like!

I'd forgotten how much fun it can be to get immersed in a project that you enjoy doing. It's been that long. I mean, I enjoyed my book project, but only in retrospect; the actual doing-it part was sheer hell. Right now, however, I'm working on a really interesting new cancer Web site, to which I will link once it's really and truly live, and not only is the work engaging, but it's not all on my shoulders. The pressure isn't on me and me alone, like it was with my book. So while I'm staying up until all hours to get things done, I don't feel the weight of not getting it done the way I did before. I'm mostly doing it because, like I said, this stuff is interesting to edit. I think this site will have something new to add to the Web, and that it will make a difference, however slight, for people with cancer. So I'm motivated.

My other new job--managing editor of an alternative medicine magazine/journal for professionals--is probably going to be a little less engaging over the long term, simply because I am going to be the one responsible for deadlines and meeting them, for answering to others when things don't go as planned. But, right now, as I prepare to take it on, it's exhilarating. I have never been the top editor on a magazine before. I've done everything I'm going to have to do with this journal, but I've always had people over me on the masthead. In this case, while there are people over me in the organization, I am the name and the face of this journal. And as daunting as that feels in some ways, in others it's totally energizing. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do with this journal, and with how I rise to the occasion. Or not. But all other things being equal, I'm hoping to rise.

Now if only I didn't have to spend 28 hours a week or so at a job to which none of the above superlatives can currently be applied, I'd actually be ENJOYING my professional life. Maybe some day...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Yep, It's Just As I Thought. I'm Insane.

What exactly possessed me to think that I could hold down an almost-full-time job and then take on two demanding freelance gigs at the same time and still be a parent and a PTA board member and a Brownie treasurer and a newsletter editor and a wife and a friend and a...?

The good news: So far, the freelance gig I'm most deeply involved in is FUN. And I think I'm going to enjoy the other one, too. Plus, you know. Money.

The bad news: I don't even know what day it is. My house is a disaster. I haven't had a chance to take a walk--my only form of exercise--in almost a week. I'm maybe getting five hours of sleep a night.

The mantra: This too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass.

The reality: Not any time soon.

Friday, October 21, 2005


A week ago, Baroy and I fasted through Yom Kippur and attended services and were generally Good Jews, or at least Much Better Jews than we usually are.

Since that time, I have gotten not one, but two long-term freelance jobs, and Baroy got his first-in-a-long-time interview for a consulting gig.

Talk about your positive reinforcement. I think we'll be spending a LOT of time at temple from now on.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Guilt and Anxiety

In other words, same old, same old.

I've been quiet of late because, well, because my writing here seems really unfocused, and I don't feel like I'm saying much of anything, and I jump from issue to issue. But also because I'm feeling skittish and jumpy and anxious and ever-so-slightly manic in my life in general. I know where it's coming from; not from a mental illness or a psychological break of some kind, but rather because I'm currently negotiating with not one but TWO potential employers for part-time-but-long-term freelance-type jobs, both of which I'll likely end up taking on, but neither of which--not even when I put them together--will allow me to quit my job here. So I'm both excited by the prospect of new challenges and new subject matter and more money coming in, but I'm terrified that I'm getting in way over my head. I'm caught in that place between thinking that I shouldn't turn down something that sounds interesting, since it may be the first step on my way out of here, and thinking that I'm going to bury myself so deeply in these various project that I'm going to miss the REAL opportunity to escape when it presents itself.

If I do get one or both of these jobs, though, I'm likely to have some work for you struggling-writer types. Stay tuned.

Also, yesterday I received the long-overdue report from the developmental pediatrician who saw N a few months ago. I don't have it here in my office, and it really didn't say much that was different from the school district's evaluation (he's not on the autism spectrum, anywhere, but he has issues with peer relationships). The main difference was that she noted some real issues with some aspects of his speech--the same sorts of issues I'd pushed the school district to look at but they ignored. You know, pragmatic stuff like responding to a question even if he's not interested in the subject matter, or maintaining a conversation over a longer period of time than just a few back-and-forths.

But that's not the point here. The point is that in this eight-page, single-spaced report, only one or two phrases jumped out at me, and they are the ones that haunted me all night long, so much so that I couldn't fall asleep and ended up going downstairs and huddling on our futon couch for a few hours (and yes, it was as pathetic as all that). The phrases? "Attention-seeking behavior," and "looking for attention." Because, see, from the very very beginning, when N was a newborn, I worried about his not getting my undivided attention. I had a very lively, very smart, very headstrong 3.5-year-old in the house, and she COMMANDED attention. The little guy asleep in my arms or suckling at my breast? He just needed warmth and skin and milk. And I gave him plenty of that. But eye contact or speech directed at him and him alone? Not so much. So when it became clear that he was having some issues making his way in the world, and when I began to realize that he does have some difficulty maintaining eye contact and initiating relationships and carrying on conversations with people--all those things I didn't do so well at giving him as an infant--it preyed on me. And despite the subsequent months and months of having various people insist "it's not your fault," all it takes is the musings of a professional that his behaviors may indeed be coming from some place inside him that is lonely and unfilled and needy...well, all I can think is, not my fault, my ass.

Poor little guy. He's working so hard at filling in those holes in his development and his psyche, and he's doing such a great job. And I'm helping him, and doing a good job of it, too. But knowing that I had a role in digging the holes in the first place...just makes me sad, that's all. And if it's attention from me he's seeking, my taking on two new jobs right now isn't exactly going to do the trick with regards to helping him catch up.

Rock. Me. Hard place.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Christopher Who?

So, are or were any of you off today for Columbus Day? Were your kids? Is this still a national holiday? Is it possible to de-certify a holiday, as it were? Because I really wish someone would make up their mind about this one already.

Don't get me wrong; I'm totally with the whole we-are-NOT-going-to-teach-our-kids-that-Columbus-discovered-America mindset. Which sort of invalidates the whole concept of Columbus Day because it, unlike Thanksgiving, has not taken on any greater meaning in our culture than the veneration of a single man/expedition. So, yeah. Off with his head, or at least his holiday.

But could we at least all get on the same page here? I'm at work because, you know, it's not a holiday. Except, no mail. Because, you know, it's a holiday. A few of the kids I know are off of school for the holiday-that-is, while others are in school because there is no holiday. Best of all are the pussies who run our school district, who made today an in-service day, where the kids are off, but the teachers have to attend some kind of training session. Columbus Day? Oh, no. That's not why the schools are closed. It's just a coincidence, really...unless, that is, you care about such things, or you yourself are off today. In which case, yes. We made sure your kid could have Columbus Day off with you so you could hit the white sales together. Aren't we considerate?


Saturday, October 08, 2005


I know you're not going to feel sorry for me. If I weren't me, I wouldn't feel sorry for me, either. But here's the thing: I just got my royalty statement for my bipolar book (link to your right) and, see, the book? Not selling like hotcakes. Not even really selling like cold cakes, whatever those are. From January to June, it sold less than twice the amount it sold from its release date in December to the end of that same month. At this rate, I'm never going to see another penny from this book, never going to earn back my advance, either. I'm only about a third of the way there, and since things are only bound to slow down from here on out...


Friday, October 07, 2005


Life is getting ahead of me these days. There's so much to write about, and yet, I sit and stare at the blank screen more often than not, conflicting thoughts running through my head. (Is this something anyone would want to read about? Is it a good idea to write about that? Will someone be angry at me if I say what I'm thinking? Will anyone care?)

Better off, right now, I think, to just give the bare bones of the things that have been going on, rather than try to plumb the depths of my psyche.

1. A Half-Century of Baroy: My beloved turned 50 on Tuesday. He spent most of the day smiling, which is contrary to what he--and I--thought he would do. He loved the new HDTV DVD player I got him, he loved the half-knitted scarf Em is making for him, he loved the Rosh Hashanah children's services at our new temple (more on that), he loved the bottle of 12-year-old scotch I presented him with to make up for the fact that the day was too busy for me to make him a nice dinner. He got phone calls galore, enough so that the ones he didn't get didn't upset him. In fact, rather than looking at the negative (his formerly closest friend didn't even remember to call), he kept commenting on the positive, the calls and cards that surprised him because he didn't know the senders would remember. "I love our friends," he said, getting off the phone with Susanna and Doug. Even the earlier-in-the-week freakout he'd had over finances didn't spoil the day. Next up: Party on the 22nd. I'm copying what he did for my 40th, at his request, and hoping he'll enjoy that as well. He deserves it. I mean, man. Fifty years.

2. Our new temple continues to make me smile. I know this is just a honeymoon period, and once I know people well enough to hear about the politics and the feuds I'll be less impressed, but I'll take it for now. After watching Em volunteer to help open the ark, and then watching her and N parade around the room where the family service was held with the rest of the kids, all holding little stuffed, plush versions of the torah, beaming as if they'd been given a special award...well, that about did me in.

3. I have decided that if I'm going to be miserable in this job until I can find a way out, the least I can do for myself is allow myself to speak freely. There is no boss, still, so nobody's going to fire me for my 'attitude.' And at least now I don't feel like I'm going to explode. When something sucks, I say so. It helps a little. Not much, but nothing short of a new job will do that. (Anyone have a job for a really great science writer/essayist who needs to telecommute and needs health insurance? Yeah, me neither.)

4. We forgot to remind N to go to the bathroom before we left for school this morning, so it wasn't much surprise when he announced he needed to go when we were in traffic with no way out. He kept asking me if it was "OK" for him to pee in his pants, and I kept telling him that I wasn't going to give him permission.

"But I need to!" he said.

"What do you want from me, then?" I said.

"I need the voice to tell me, 'Go peepee in your pants,'" he replied.

"Whose voice?" I said. "My voice?"

"No, the voice that says 'Go peepee in your pants,'" he said.

"But whose voice is that?" I asked.

"My voice. Inside my head."

Greeeeeeaaaaaaaaat. Imaginary friends AND voices in his head. And another set of wet clothes for me to wash.

5. Driving back from the Little Gym yesterday with Em, I looked over my shoulder as I tried to explain something to her.

"Keep your eyes on the road!" she barked.

"What?" I said.

"You need to pay more attention to what you're doing. You don't want to have an accident, do you?"

My eight-year-old is a backseat driver. It's official. My mother's you-should-only-get-one-exactly-like-you curse has come true.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

On the Way to School, A Photo Essay by N

N was being cute this morning, as I drove him to school, so I pulled out my eensy-beensy, ever-so-lovely digital camera, and just aimed back toward this seat without taking my eyes off the road. This led to a very vocal (read: loud and persistant) request from The Cute One himself to be allowed to take some photos himself. And so, I present to you a view of the ride to preschool, by N, age 4.75.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Every now and then, one of my girlfriends gets tickets to a concert at Staples Center, in one of the incredible luxury boxes they have there, where there's food and wine and then a dessert cart comes around and serves you incredible, decadent desserts, accompanied by liquer in a chocolate cup. It's the kind of experience that's hard to pass up.

I tell you all this so that you don't snigger quite as much when I say that I went to a Neil Diamond concert tonight.

But wait, it gets worse. Out of the four of us attending the concert--of which I was the oldest at age 41--three of us had taken naps this afternoon. Naps. In preparation for a Neil Diamond concert. Because, you know, we might be out until 11 or something. WHAT IN GOD'S NAME HAS HAPPENED TO US?

Actually, it was fun, even if Neil, at age 64 and dressed in a sequiny track suit thing, DID attempt some sort of rap-like dealie around Red, Red Wine that may have scarred me for life. I know he wrote the song, but I still think UB40 would have a good case for a cease and desist order. But, really, what do I care? The only thing that really matters is that my tiny cup of amaretto in swirled white-and-milk chocolate was the perfect complement to the fresh apple dipped in caramel and nuts. I'll tell ya, Caroline, that was sweeeeeet.

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