Book publishing. And everything else.

I’m Always Blo – Breaking Down Boxes

Yeah, no bubbles were blown today.

I’ve unpacked the last of the boxes from the house. I have some pictures to put into storage, others to hang on walls, and I’ll bind up those boxes tomorrow. All my appliances and tools are here. The light bulbs are in all the lamps. All the yarn is gathered in. (What remains is Kid Yarn, which I’ll eventually retrieve and store.) I bought the produce I want to stock my kitchen with – tomatoes, avocados, peaches, etc. I took a delivery from FreshDirect which included flowers that DIED IMMEDIATELY NEVER DO THAT.

Tomorrow is the first day of my first full week in the apartment. I’m going for a mani-pedi in the morning, after all this boxing-in and boxing-out and schlepping and dragging. Then it’s yoga class. Then a stop by the Italian specialty store for some of their amazing mozzarella. And then home to put up pictures, vacuum with my Dyson – and take a lovely walk in Clove Lakes Park, where I am told there is a heron. REALLY want a photo of that heron.

And then Monday it’s back to work. I await a couch. I will soon order side tables, and a coffee table in the form of a storage ottoman with trays, once the couch arrives and I figure out how everything works together. My theory on furniture is, move in with what you’ve got, see how it wants to arrange itself, and order accordingly. All the pieces have to live happily alongside each other. My bedroom is really harmonious. It’s all these different pieces, gathered over the course of my adult life, and they’ve all decided to get along. But I had to get a new nightstand because the old nightstand quarreled with the new bed. You have to listen to your furnishings, or you get a bad environment.

Bernardo helped me return extra boxes to U-Haul, and took away the AC I’m not going to use. I have a dehumidifier coming; in a basement apartment, it’s already cool – it’s the humidity you have to worry about. A busy day – but Saturdays are like that. I’ll have a soak in a bit, after I configure the Apple TV, and then continue my marathon of Miss Fisher.

Man Plans, God Laughs

Well, instead of creating more peace today…

I puttered around the apartment in the morning, continuing to put things right. Then, in the afternoon, I emptied out the house of the remainder of what I need to live here – as well as providing a backstop for Bernardo so he could go to the gym; I got Gina off her van and gave her a snack as I was reconnoitering. So I arrived back at the apartment in Bernardo’s car (which is a Rav4, so big hauling capacity) with a zillion boxes (mostly of yarn), dumped them, returned the car, went for a swim and had a beer, and came back to the apartment kinda pretty tired.

Peace will have to come tomorrow. Tonight I made my first solo dinner in a long time – tagliatelle, with a tomato sauce made from garden tomatoes and cream, with pecorino. It wasn’t much, but I haven’t been eating much, and I ate it all while watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. There will be more deliberate cooking. Soups (I love making bean soups), sauces, curries (once my reflux is better). I bought a load of containers for freezing, and have a store of Ziplock freezer bags as well.

So it was busy. But good. Progress continues apace. I’m not used to this – I’m not used to a positive move-out. But it’s going well, all things considered. It continues to go well.

All Manner of Thing

I keep going back to Julian of Norwich‘s revelation, which was popularized by T.S. Eliot in his Four Quartets. Or, as my mother says, “Everything will be okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

Today was very okay.

I purchased housewares. I love housewares. I love setting up a place with a combination of new things and old things I love. I’m really following Marie Kondo‘s principles: if I don’t love it, OUT IT GOES. That’s a great place to start when setting up a new household.

I’m also not investing that much in “pieces” right now. I suspect I’ll be moving again in several months, just because this is not necessarily a fit place for wintering. (I mean, it could be – but I might rather not find out. We shall see.) So no photos for now. I’m not doing window treatments or anything else till I know I’m in a more permanent spot.

But it’s beautiful and I love it. And after all that work, I went over to the house and Bernardo made an amazing dinner of balsamic-encrusted London broil with a lovely salad, and a brown rice that he’d cooked with chicken broth and sautéed green pepper.

Tomorrow I receive a grocery delivery, and go back to the house to retrieve some things. And then I focus on setting up the audio system with the TV and the Apple TV, tying up boxes, and continuing to make my environment peaceful.

And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
By the purification of the motive
In the ground of our beseeching


I bruise like an overripe peach. Thanks to this move, I am covered with them – little ones on my legs and the inside of my arms, a HUGE one on my upper left arm near my shoulder. I wear these like badges. Full-contact moving, as Brian O’Leary says. I seem to do everything full-contact.

I’m nearly done. I think I’ll finish most of it tomorrow. And then Bernardo and I will have to figure out our new routine – when I’ll be over for dinner; when we’ll have nights to ourselves. But we did this in Brooklyn for many years. I think we’ll be okay.

So onward. Bernardo came over tonight to do some emergency repairs on my windows. Things are all open now, and I can breathe better. Me and my bruises will be going to yoga soon. And I can’t wait.

My Own Bed

I thought I was too tired to blog tonight. But I was wrong.

We moved the heavy stuff today. Bernardo “hired” the son of one of our friends, who then refused payment. I was so touched at all his efforts; he’d helped his step-grandmother move the day before. And he’s the sort of kid who doesn’t distinguish step- vs. blood. It’s all family. It’s all ohana. His parents are both like that, which is why we are all so close.

I spent the afternoon and evening putting a bed together. I’ve never had a proper bed of my own before. I had futons before I married, and when I got divorced I returned to futons because I was conserving space; my kids got the beds. (When they were with their dad, I slept in the beds, but that’s not the same as having your Own Bed.) Then I moved in with Bernardo and shared his, and bunked off to the spare bedroom when my asthma and menopause came on and turned me into a midnight rotisserie.

Now I have a proper bed. Soon I will have a proper bath to soak my back and knee. It’s cool and dry here, and I’ve made sure it’s as dust-free as possible (thank you, James Dyson); it’s only a couple of degrees higher than it would be if I had AC, and of course we’re coming into nighttime. Tomorrow we’ll continue to continue – Bernardo will install the AC, the Bose systems, the TV, the AppleTV. I’ll put the kitchen, bath, and closet together. I am very bruised; I look like an apple that’s been kicked around. I kind of don’t want to go to yoga until some of these clear up.

But it’s all good. All is well. All manner of things will be well. And I think Bernardo and I love each other more than ever. Love is so very precious. It is the best thing we humans have going for us.


On days like today, my lungs slowly turn into wet cement bags and my trachea swells up so much that it pushes against my esophagus and I develop a gaggy cough. It is 90-something and New York City humid, and has been for the last three days. I finally capitulated to my need for oxygen and turned on the air conditioning.

My new place is cool and dry. It’s a sunken first-floor apartment – up to its eyeball-windows in cool, cool dirt. While I am getting an air conditioner for days like today, I scarcely need one, so the bill will be low. And it’s dry. An oscillating fan should do most of the heavy lifting.

The predictable things are happening – I had to run to Ikea to exchange a bed (the picker had given me full- instead of queen-size), and the air conditioner I DID order turned out to be the wrong sort. I regret to say I am relying on Amazon for much of this move (I know, I know, I’m sorry) – part of its devilishness is that it makes things SO DAMN EASY for its customers. Yes, I read the New York Times article. I read the articles in response to the New York Times article. I have previously read Hamilton Nolan’s articles on Gawker about warehouse workers.

And yet. I fall onto the path of least resistance and compromise my conscience because I am In A Hurry. Tomorrow is moving day.

Bernardo has lined up the 22-year-old son of our friend Kim, and I’ve hired the van (again). Tomorrow all my books, clothing, and furniture will zip around the corner. Smaller things will come in dribs and drabs as time goes on.

Bernardo explained to John, Kim’s husband and Bernardo’s best friend, that we weren’t breaking up, but that I really needed “space”. That’s true enough – but in terms of square feet I’m trading a three bedroom house with a finished attic and basement for a two room apartment – with a kitchen the size of an iPhone, and a bathroom. It’s less about physical space and more about emotional and psychological space…and autonomy. When you live with someone who has tremendous needs like Gina does, you don’t get much autonomy. (Bernardo’s not taken a proper, Gina-free vacation since 2008. In ten years, he’s spent one night away, while I stayed with Gina. But Gina is also a massive source of anxiety for me, in ways that – because he’s her father – Bernardo doesn’t feel so much.

I consider us all a family. I still feel strongly that I am Gina’s stepmother. But the notion of “family” is a fluid thing. In the eternal words of Lilo, “Ohana means family. And family means nobody gets left behind.” Including me.

The Meaning in Small Things

I think that, at times of great transition, we see a lot of meaning in small things.

I’m honoring this transition with a full week’s vacation to get everything done. It’s a way of saying to myself: “This is real. This is happening. This is important. YOU are important.” Women almost never do this. We squeeze in self-care. A mani here, a pedi there.

Mani-pedis are not self-care. A small part of self-care is self-indulgence, sure. And being aesthetically pleasing to ourselves is healthy. And I’ll get one after everything’s moved in and set up. But that’s different from saying to yourself, “What you’re going through right now is big, and even you will respect that.” Because we minimize our needs, and our desires, to privilege those of our kids, our partners, our partners’ kids, our bosses, our colleagues.

And yeah, this has been written about ad nauseum. But respecting ourselves and addressing what’s not working is the LAST thing we do, and the reason it’s been written about ad nauseum is because even feminists can’t always internalize the message. There’s too much around us to pull us off the path, too many hyperactive wolves pleading with Red Riding Hood to “pay attention to meeeeeeeee”.

And it’s not about deserving. I actually don’t really believe in deserving – with the exception of “I worked really hard today, I deserve pizza”. But in general, I don’t think anyone deserves anything. Wealthy people certainly don’t deserve their wealth. Poor people don’t deserve their poverty. I don’t think that looking at a problem through the lens of just deserts is a helpful way to go about things.

But I believe in self-preservation. I believe in self-respect. I believe in dealing with oneself deliberately, and not spending time with what doesn’t add grace to our lives.

Today I did the ritual clean-out. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I like it, but it is a way of taking ownership of my space. I clean off the previous tenant’s residue, and lay down my own personality. I scrubbed every surface. I vacuumed with my new teeny Dyson, mopped with the Swiffer I bought my kid years ago that she used once.

And while I was on the phone wrangling with Ikea, I heard a thud from the closet. When the call was over, I went to see what it was – the Dyson had keeled over, and the little canister had opened, dumping onto the floor everything I had swept up.

“Oh,” I thought, “I’ll just get the broom and sweep that up.”

But the dirt was so fine. It was DUST. And the broom just combed through it. I had to power up the Dyson and re-sweep it up. And it got every bit (well, granted, I didn’t have a microscope, but I assume if it got it the first time…).

It was a small thing. But it was an affirmation to me. The dust allergy that is largely behind my asthma is going to have a tough time surviving with that thing in the apartment. Sure, we could get a Dyson in the house. But I can’t clean a whole house every couple of days. It would be all I did. That little pile of dust – resulting from two rooms, plus a bathroom and a kitchen – told me I was on the right track.

Tomorrow, the Internet comes to the house. Tomorrow, I drive back to Ikea with the wrong bed parts and exchange them for the right ones. Tomorrow I scrounge some more boxes from someone (maybe even Ikea) and finish packing up my objects and my clothes. Tomorrow we confirm that the kid across the street can help me schlep boxes out of the house and into the home.

Tiny and Fast

I am a tiny person.

I’m maybe 5’2″ if I am really aspiring to it, and I’m 123 pounds (as my Fitbit scale told me this morning).

Today I discovered that a tiny person has no business driving a U-Haul van.

I thought it would be simple – I’d rent the van, drive to Ikea, buy all the pieces that make up a bed and a couple other things, take them over to the apartment, and then return the van. Man plans and God laughs. It was all I could do to freaking park the thing in the Ikea lot, and I took up more than my fair share of space.

It turns out that the bed I had my eye on is so amazingly heavy to a tiny person that she needs A SHIT-TON OF HELP. I couldn’t even steer the cart. I even Leaned In. Fortunately, folks (MEN WITH MUSCLES BIGGER THAN MINE AND I DO YOGA 5 DAYS A WEEK) were helpful. The guy-who-helps-you-load-your-car wanted me to back in, and I said, “I can drive this thing but I can’t maneuver it like that,” and he wrote me off as a Female Who Is Helpless and loaded my car for me.

I tipped him generously.

And I got the van home. And Bernardo loaded into it the stuff that had come from Amazon while I was away – carpets, a vacuum, a mattress. And, in the late afternoon, he drove the van and I drove Gina over to what is fast becoming my new home.

Gina was pretty cool, all things considered. I had told her what was going to happen, but for reasons of her own she desired it to be a party – she was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t. But she sat in the folding chair we brought her, and ate the chips that Bernardo put into a baggie for her. She explored the apartment – especially the critical areas like the fridge and the cabinets (potential food homes), and by the time she was done, we had brought in everything from the van (with Bernardo CARRYING THE HEAVY THINGS SOLO YOU SEE WHY I LOVE HIM HE EVEN TURNED MY CAR AROUND SO I WOULDN’T BACK OUT ON THE BUSY STREET). We drove back, had beers and swims, and here we are.

He likes the apartment. That is important to me. He knows how I work – I move into a space, make it all homey and clean, and then dwell. People feel better after being in a space like that. So even though it’s kind of “meh” from the outside, it’s going to be a nestle-in sort of place once I get everything where I need it to be.

Tomorrow I go over and do the big vacuum/mop/bathroom clean. And get more boxes for more books – I did 3/4 of my shelves today. It’s an experiment in relationship-ing. But it’s unfolding very lovingly so far.


There is no manual for self-care. Oprah’s built an empire out of the idea, but of course every “self” is different.

I am moving.

Bernardo and I are very much in love. But my asthma, chronic pain due to tendonitis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and (quite frankly) mild clinical depression are incompatible with living with a young (beautiful) adult with profound autism, anxiety and OCD.

She and I each need to spread out, claim space, breathe easy. So I am renting an apartment that is essentially around the corner from the house. And this weekend, next week, and next weekend are all about that.

I’m an odd tenant for this building. It’s a cheap apartment. Steel doors, industrial-looking, little things busted here and there. The landlady is quite nice, but like all land-people she won’t invest a dime in the building that won’t turn revenue around for her. I understand this. I can make improvements and take them off the rent, if I want. Or not – just putting up with it till I can upgrade (when Scamp is out of college) is not so bad.

Bernardo is being enormously supportive. He is actually helping me move; he wants me to feel better. Perhaps someday we’ll recombine. In the meantime, he’s being miraculously cheerful. I’m not used to not being screamed at, when moving out of someone else’s house. My divorce with my kids’ dad was acrimonious. So a lot of the emotions I’m feeling now are triggered by that very negative experience (my older daughter is feeling some of the same things, from her perspective; we’ve compared notes). It’s dredging up a lot – and there are physical results from it. I’m learning to read my body’s reactions to things as signs of stress, because my brain has a really hard time acknowledging it. (Oh, no, the water’s just a little bit warmer than it was – the frog is definitely not boiling!)

Like any self-respecting New Yorker, I have a therapist helping me through this. That environment is also hard-core. Every week I go to Bayley-Seton – a mental health facility that primarily sees people with very few resources (including prisoners). I like going there, though. It tells me that, as a nation, our mental health is something to be taken seriously. It tells me that I am the same humanity as the man in the Superman suit waiting with me in the waiting room. I don’t want to be reckoning with my stress and health in a posh environment that tells me I’m a special snowflake. We’re all on this earth, this country, this city, this ISLAND, and we are, in one way or another, in this life together. It’s REAL.

My therapist has seen it all. Her clients, in addition to people like me, are meth-heads, prostitutes, abused people, johns. She has an accent like Fran Drescher and the thousand-yard stare – and no time for bullshit. She’s rearranging the cells in my brain and I can feel it; she is a ninja.

I’m looking at this all as a weird frontier. And I’m blogging about it because…I don’t know anybody else who’s done this before. Declare your love for someone and suddenly not live with them? And stay together?

If anyone can do this, I know that Bernardo and I can.

Travel Season

Work travel comes in waves. I’m in Pasadena now, which is a welcome climate shift from the iceberg that is Staten Island. I’ve been walking a lot here, as much as I possibly can. Thanks to the Super Bowl, The Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony” has wormed its way into my brain and refuses to leave, so I play it while I walk (among other things). A quick trip to Whole Foods ensured that I have food that agrees with me. Say what you want about global commodification – and I hate it – it does offer the comfort of knowing you can get what suits you no matter where you are, so it’s one less thing to worry about.

In another week, I go to Seattle. And then again two weeks after that. And then to London. And again to London two weeks after that. And then to Arlington. And then to San Francisco. Which takes us till June. I’m basically experiencing winter on a part-time basis.

This is okay with me.

My goal is to find yoga studios wherever I am and to make the time to go to sessions. This can be difficult, because there’s the expectation that you’ll socialize – heading for drinks right after work, etc. And I’m okay with that – I love my colleagues, and now that I’m working from home, I want to spend time with them when I can – but it’s tough to find a yoga class during a time of day when I’m free…never really knowing when exactly that will be. It might vary from day to day!

But at least there’s the walking and thinking. And I’ve been feeling much better. And the projects I’m working on are thrilling and challenging, and really give my brain a workout.

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