Archives for September 2010

Do I Know You?


I walked down the hallway watching him as moved ahead of me. He was handsome in his navy suit. Far more well dressed than any of the men in my life, and then he turned and did a goofy dance that completely belied his appearance. Waves of lightness and love washed over me. At that moment I felt myself shift from the nothingness of a completely mundane existence to the realization that I was experiencing unequivocal love. It was palpable and intense and I tried with all of my might to focus on his face. I needed to see it clearly…to memorize it because somehow, I realized that this meeting was brief.

I struggled to stay there with him, but I woke to a snowy morning in February. It was 1997 and I was just four months away from a rather large wedding. I forgot all of that as I desperately clung to the remnants of my beautiful dream. Tears streamed down my face because I knew I didn’t fully see his face. I didn’t know his name and I’d likely never see him again. I couldn’t imagine living without the intense happiness that I briefly felt in my dream. I had never experienced such joy and letting go of that feeling of lightness to return to my dark place was unbearable. The dream was so unbelievably vivid. Out loud, and to no one in particular I asked, “Where are you?” Knowing that I couldn’t go back into that dream, that our meeting wasn’t real was devastating. I know …this sounds dramatic, but I just don’t have the words to express how intense that dream was. How happy I felt.

Day Dream – Pino

Even after telling myself that it was just another dream, I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was out there. As I talked myself out of believing in his existence, I came to the realization that those feelings of love and acceptance were so intense that I couldn’t deny them. I’d never had such strong feelings before, and here I was having them for a blurry, handsome man in a dream. At the very least I knew that if I was getting married to Steve, I was marrying the wrong person simply because that intense love wasn’t there. We shared no real connection except that we were really good friends who were attracted to each other.

Three days after the dream I still couldn’t stop thinking of him. I wondered where he was. I walked into the house that Steve and I had just bought and handed the engagement ring back to him. I knew that if nothing else, my “gut” was telling me that marrying Steve was the biggest mistake I could make. I stood in that house looking at him, scared to say goodbye, but not feeling any affinity to this place that was supposed to be ours. I willed myself to love him the way that I loved the man in my dream, but realized now that my love for Steve would never be as intense. But I did love him and I loved him enough to know that leaving would be painful for both of us. So instead of trusting my instincts and believing in the message of my dream, I chose to take the ring back. I listened to people tell me I had cold feet and I kept my dream to myself wondering if perhaps I had finally gone completely crazy.

For 2 years and 9 months I kept my dream to myself but never forgot it. I was married but very newly separated. I vaguely knew David. At work one afternoon, I was out of the office researching documents in his conference room. I was distracted by my recent separation, for the past few nights I had been staying at a hotel and was just beginning to realize that the road ahead of me was about to get very bumpy. David seemed to sense that I was in a bad place.

We left his office and began walking down a deserted hallway. He said something that made me laugh. For the first time in days, I felt completely at ease. I had momentarily forgotten what was happening in my life because there was something about David that made me feel safe. As he moved ahead of me, I noticed for the first time how handsome he was in his navy suit. We were laughing about something, I don’t recall what now…and he began to turn toward me. As I stood laughing and watching him break into a goofy dance, I felt like someone had knocked the breath out of me. I stopped laughing and stood staring at him with eyes wide open. He stopped his dance and with a look of concern, asked me if I was alright. I blinked in shock but gathered my composure enough to tell him that I was fine and continued walking.

How in the world do you tell someone you barely know that you dreamt of him almost three years ago? That you saw that very moment play out exactly as it happened before you even knew he existed? The hallway, the suit, the dance…nothing differed. It was him. I knew it was him.

The Stuff That Dreams Are Made, John Anster Fitzgerald

I don’t need to tell you the rest of the story because you know that we fell in love. Just days after that goofy hallway dance we were inseparable. I told him of my dream months later, after he knew me well enough that he wouldn’t think I was a crazy, clingy stalker chick. To this day I am amazed. I wonder how that dream happened. What or who placed it in my subconscious just before I was about to marry the wrong person?
Whether or not you believe my story is of little consequence to me. It happened and to this day I feel that destiny brought David and I together and there will always be a little bit of magic attached to us. He finally found me.


Here it comes. The monster is creeping in and I realize that I haven’t fed it in a few days. With all of the medications I was taking for my sinus infection, I forgot four doses of my daily 25 mgs of Zoloft. I hate that I seem to be stuck taking a pill for the rest of my life to keep the monster at bay. I feel like I’m being held hostage. It makes me angry but I have no one or, for that matter, nothing tangible to be angry at. It simply isn’t worth it to forgo the pill, so I have resigned myself to the fact that it will be an ever present morning ritual. Brush teeth, coffee, Zoloft, breakfast for the kids, school bus… the alternative is unbearable.

This morning Joe didn’t want to go to soccer. An offhand comment was made about someone else’s boys who play and if he doesn’t love it by now etc…well, that comment just hit me in the wrong spot. It fed my monster the wrong kind food which started a downward spiral of self-loathing and a new round of internal ass kicking. Why can’t Joe be like the other boys? What have I done wrong? It’s my fault.

Yesterday, I finally handed Joe’s Vanderbilt Assessments over to his pediatrician. It was his 6 year physical. Joe has been diagnosed with ADHD. I know, millions of kids are diagnosed each year, but I took the diagnosis to heart. I knew it was coming. I privately cried because I know that ADHD often results in depression later in life. I have unwillingly bestowed my internal hell upon my innocent son and I blame myself for passing on my mixed up brain to my beautiful boy. As I spoke to the pediatrician, I watched Joe painstakingly draw yet another intricate monster, absorbing every word the two of us said. He knows his brain works a little bit differently…he’s told me. He is an incredibly smart and observant little boy.

My head has been spinning ever since the assessment was completed and diagnosis rendered at 1:45 p.m. yesterday. As usual, my outward demeanor was composed. I discussed the course of action we want to take (no meds for now) with the pediatrician. I explained that I have the same condition and expressed my fears about his future mental health. Our pediatrician appreciated that I had done my homework on the subject. She is pleased that I can help him through my personal perspective but I’m heartbroken; mostly for him and, admittedly and a bit selfishly, for myself as well. I can already recognize that his comfort level is highest when he is in a small group or alone. Like me. I can already see that he is deeply affected by hurtful words and mulls them over far longer than a “normal” person would. Like me. I can already see his frustration and disappointment if he fails and how he internalizes the shame. Like me. Every time I see the pain cross over his little face (and I’ve already seen it), I feel it too.
To add to my arsenal of information, I went to the website “Healthy Place”. It calls itself America’s Mental Health Channel. There I found the paragraph that I was looking for…what I couldn’t verbalize to Dave, but why I fear for Joe and his future because it was my experience:
“One prominent theory is that the relationship between ADHD and depression may result from the social/interpersonal difficulties that many children with ADHD experience. These difficulties can lead important others in the child’s life to develop negative appraisals of the child’s social competence that are communicated to the child during the course of ongoing negative social exchanges. With increasing age, these negative social experiences and others’ negative appraisals can adversely affect children’s view of their social competence, which, in turn, can predispose them to develop depressive symptoms. An interesting study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology was designed to test this theory (Ostrander, Crystal, & August [2006]. Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder, Depression, and Self- and Other Assessments of Social Competence: A Developmental Study. JACP, 34, 773-787.”
That’s why I beat myself up about him not wanting to attend soccer today. I need to help him focus and, at the same time, I need to help David understand how my, no…our brains function. We need to teach Joe self checking skills, we need to help him learn to focus and stay on course, we need to help him channel his attention before he is left standing on the sidelines wishing he had joined in. We need to help him learn to be a part of a group and contribute to a team. We need to advocate loudly for him at school. He needs us to be his voice or he’ll become invisible. I need to make Dave understand the importance of these things that I know because I’ve been living ADHD and depression for my entire life. My ADHD was undiagnosed as a child. We now know that leaving the condition undiagnosed almost certainly results in recurrent depression (Bipolar Disorder) later in life. The two go hand in hand. What a lovely pair…

So as my façade of togetherness, still holding on from yesterday afternoon, began its slow crumble this morning. I realized that my own monster had awakened. I was suddenly getting caught up in negativity and internalizing harmless remarks. Dave and I argued about whether or not Joe should go to soccer and I desperately tried to impart that things are different for Joe. He’s not just another kid who doesn’t feel like going. My words just wouldn’t form in a way to make Dave understand, so I shut down, stopped coping and the façade crashed to the floor. My monster had broken through the restraints and made its first appearance in months.
Later, Dave called Joe downstairs for a family discussion about what it means to be part of a team and how we are expected to follow through on a commitment. I reminded him of our discussion with the doctor yesterday and I shared that I understand how he feels. On a level that he could understand, I told him that my brain and his brain work the same way sometimes. As he watched my tears begin, his own began to flow. Our eyes met in mutual understanding of the frustration and emotion that seemingly no one else in the house has to deal with or fully understand. He slid off his chair and came to my side of the table where we wrapped our arms around one another and hugged in silent understanding.
I’m off to feed the monster its pill and get it back under control before it becomes strong enough to completely submerge me in the depths of its darkness. Once I’ve beaten it back again, I will wage a war against the monster trying to get my son and try my hardest to keep him out of its reach.

Mean Girls II, True Confessions.

I’m always a bit surprised (and happy) when one of my entries gets some attention. Frankly, the number of readers for my Mean Girls post was off the chart. (Well, at least as far as my insignificant little blog goes.) It seems that by sharing my Mean Girl experiences, I struck a nerve in a whole bunch of women. When I posted that blog entry last night, I shut off the computer and wearily climbed into bed thinking that I was done with the subject. Yet, when I woke up this morning and opened my e-mail, I was greeted by an in-box full of messages. I was astounded by the number of women who wrote to me, sharing their own Mean Girl experiences as both teens and adults. I read messages from both old friends and complete strangers. All of us shared some version of the same experience. As I sat back and read, dissappointment washed over me and I wondered why? Why are girls so ruthless and cruel to one another? Where are the girls like the ones I read about in Ya-Ya Sisterhood? Where?! Sure those broads had some issues, but they sure new how to stick by one another over the years!

Later, as I rode the lawnmower around the yard, I began to wonder how many times in my life I was perceived as a Mean Girl. Afterall, I’ve always been pretty careful about who I befriend which might make me appear “cliquey”. I also tend to walk around with my head in the clouds, resulting in me passing right by someone I know without acknowledging them. I can see where this might lead someone to believe that I’m rather unfriendly. I have the habit of wearing an expression that looks angry when I’m lost in thought. This makes me look unapproachable…you catch my drift. Do those things add up to “Mean Girl”? I’ve come to the conclusion that no, these unfortunate personality flaws do not make me a Mean Girl. (Though, I might benefit from a shot or two of Botox to get rid of those angry looking frown lines.)

I delved deeper and I have a confession. I know for sure of a time when I was the Mean Girl. A time when I wasn’t just bitchy in response to someone else being bitchy, but I was a true Mean Girl. It happened during my freshman year of high school in the girl’s locker room following cheerleading tryouts. Figures, right? All you need to do is open the dictionary to the definition of “Mean Girl” and you’ll find the stereotypical picture depicting a bunch of snotty cheerleaders.

So there we were, a group of cheerleader wannabes running through a play by play of our try outs. We were congratulating each other for the jump or split or round off we were able to pull off. I was all hopped up on adrenaline following an afternoon of screaming, clapping and cartwheels and that’s when I made fun of a girl who wasn’t able to pull off a cartwheel in front of the judges.
As soon as I uttered those venomous words, I hated myself. I loathed myself even more when I rounded the corner and realized that she had heard every single word that had spewed out of my hateful, bitchy little mouth. To this day, I feel like a jerk…and I should. I’ll pass that story on to my girls as well, because I will never forget the stricken look on that girl’s face. To have so callously caused someone such humiliation and at an age where social acceptance was so important is just gross. Worst of all, I knew better. Perhaps being stalked by my own Mean Girls for two years was simply Karma stinging me in the butt as retribution for my own Queen Bee behavior. Lesson learned. Though, I’m sure that if I can still recall my hurtful words, so can she.
Doesn’t everyone think that entering the doors of their high school was like walking into a building full of pit vipers? I hated seeing friends get caught up in the scramble to climb higher on the social ladder. One day a girl would be completely normal and the next, she’d be following some Mean Girl around like a little zombie, mimicking her dress, hair style and even the whiny-voiced, sneering expressions worn by a few of the especially nasty ones. All for the sake of popularity, I watched as girls snubbed lifelong friends in order to be inducted into the “right” clique.

During a visit from a high school friend over the summer, she reminded me that some people referred to the less economically advantaged in our school as “Grubs”. I had forgotten that term and it underscored exactly how hideous teenagers can be. I shudder to think of how invasive bullying and teasing has become in this era of computers where under the cloak of anonymity people feel free to engage in hateful attacks. What will it be like when my little ones hit their teenage years?

Mean Girls

A couple of weeks ago, Gwen and I were standing at the cash register at Baby Gap minding our own beeswax when a mini-Mean Girl made her grand entrance. Build a Bear box in hand, this four year queen bee wannabe zeroed in on Gwen and headed straight into Gwen’s personal space. I stood back and watched as she belly bumped Gwen and then held up her Build a Bear box in some sort of weird pre-school challenge. Her face was a mask of nastiness as she moved her gaze to me and brazenly stared me down with her very adult expression. In fact, I imagine that if she was a full grown woman she would have been saying, “Yeah, that’s right bitchez! I got a Build a Bear…wanna go?” I swear. I’m totally not exaggerating.

I was slightly shocked and looked up at the mother who proudly stood back watching her precious little ball of love. Immediately I had Mommy’s number. She was a Mean Girl grooming her spawn to follow in her evil footsteps. I knew her well.

I spent a portion of 10th grade dodging a psychopath Junior who told me she was going to kill me on a daily basis. To me she was an Amazon, but then again I was 5’2” and weighed all of 95 pounds. This girl, who was definitely not right in the head, was sicked on me by two Mean Girl twin sisters in my own grade for some (still) unknown reason. Finally, at a basketball game I was summoned out to the hallway where the crazy Amazon and The Nasty Sisters were waiting to “kick my ass”. I remember thinking that they were all a bunch of idiots and go right ahead…we’ll see what happens to you for your random act of violence…until I was saved by a bigger and older friend. Those were the days, huh? Before “Bullying” became a buzz word.

That same year, on the cheerleading bus two more junior girls suddenly felt the need to grace me and my friend with their presence. As they sat in the seat across from mine, they turned to me and said, “You know, we used to want to kill you, but you’ll suffice.” I think I was supposed to be thrilled that the most popular girl in the 11th grade and a member of her posse were kind of deeming me socially acceptable. This might have been my invitation to become their lapdog. Perhaps they were ready to put me through their snotty hazing ritual meant to weed out those girls who they deemed “sufficiently acceptable”. The reality of the situation was that I didn’t give a shit and my response to their statement pretty much let them know that. Needless to say, I was back on the Kill List within minutes. When it came to this particular group of girls, I kind of liked being on their Kill List and didn’t feel like I sold out to be one of their herd. I’m proud of 15 year old me and my big mouth.

But that brings me back to the mini-Mean Girl encounter in Baby Gap. I try to stand back and let nature take its course in situations like this. Typically, Joe walks away when confronted. I don’t get that at all. Gwen stands up to the challenge. I get her.

As mini-Mean Girl continued her weird ritual dance of harassment via Build a Bear box and space invasion, I sat back and let Gwen do her stuff. I mean, if the mother is observing and not stopping her little animal’s bad behavior then I’m free to unleash the wrath of Gwen, right? Fair is fair. I’ll give Gwen some credit. Initially she stood back and simply looked at the girl as if she was a filthy animal, but three space invasions into the encounter Gwen let it rip. I saw it coming; my own little Norma Rae made it quite clear that backing off would be a really good idea right about NOW. As I leaned on the counter watching with satisfaction, the Mean Mom’s head whipped around, shocked that someone would dare respond to her daughter’s challenge. As soon as Gwen loudly uttered, “Stop touching me. I don’t like your face!” Mean Mom angrily met my gaze. My eyebrow rose in challenge and I welcomed her comment. She moved on with her little angel. Having observed the whole interaction, the lady behind the counter looked at me and whispered…”Well, weren’t they special?”

So here’s a little pearl of wisdom that I will share with my girls when the time is right: Mean Girls never go away. They will cross paths with you throughout your entire life. They’re a sad, nasty bunch. I was reminded of this last year when I encountered the most vicious of Mean Girls…the 50-something Mean Girl and her harpy real estate broker who I was forced to endure during the sale of our house. The ones who felt the need let us know that they were the Big Fish (in a very small pond). The same ladies who neglected to remove a childish Mean Girl rant about my family and home before they forwarded the e-mail on to our broker. Yup, they were a special treat.

For some reason, I’m not worried about Gwen…I’m even less concerned about Kate. Somehow, I don’t feel that they’ll be intimidated by the Mean Girls they encounter either.

One Person’s Trash…

Anyone who knows me well knows of my compulsion to stop at any random building sporting a sign that says “Antiques”. It doesn’t matter what my final destination is, I’ll try to hit a shop or two on the way and once there, I’m definitely planning to squeeze in at least one afternoon of treasure hunting. I don’t discriminate based on location. I’ve been in shops with price tags completely out of my realm of monetary possibility and I’ve been in scary road side shacks with chickens roaming freely amongst the junk.  You just never know what random, out of the way places will offer up some fabulous treasure waiting be added to my well-edited collections of…well, stuff. Now, before you assume that you have stumbled upon the blog of some poor soul just waiting for a camera crew to show and begin taping her own personal Hoarder’s episode, I will clarify by saying I am a lover of antiques. I’ve gone through several phases and obsessions, some of which I have outgrown and some that have hung on a bit.
Our recent trip to the Finger Lakes and my favorite shop, the Ontario Antique Mall, reminded me that I have been a lover of hunting for and locating old but beautiful treasures since I was a child. As I stood in line waiting to pay for my latest acquisition, a little girl came and stood behind me. As I watched, she secretively opened her small hand to examine her new-found treasures. I saw that she was holding a handful of Wade animals. Exactly the first kind of “antiques” that I collected as a girl…and the first that I could afford with my own allowance or birthday money. She wore an expression of satisfaction as we chatted about her new/old Wade creatures. As I told her of my own Wade collection, she sensed a fellow aficionado and proudly held out her hand to show me the lion, squirrel and horse that would be added to her shelf. I congratulated her on a successful mission.
In my 20’s I scoured antique shops and flea markets for pottery, blue glass and antique bottles. Sometimes, I even hiked into the woods to an old gully and dug them out myself. Let me tell you, there is something very exciting about finding a perfectly intact and corked bottle of whiskey, halfway gone and carelessly thrown into a garbage pit decades before I was born. I loved sifting through that dark, damp dirt on the forest floor and finding shards of old pottery. Ornate bits of someone’s good china that had shattered and been sent to the family trash heap. That’s how they did it years ago when there was still no plastic or tin cans.
At our house in New Hampshire I did some digging in the backyard, right outside of the barn and found beautiful bits of purple and brown transferware dishes and ironstone. I wondered why they were thrown away and what had caused that dish to break? Was it simply a casualty in a washing accident or did someone get really angry at her husband? One of the coolest things I found in the soil at our New Hampshire house was this:

What is it? Why, that’s a very talented seal balancing a ball on his nose. He also served as a swizzle stick at some kind of party for the former inhabitants of our house. I don’t really know anything else about this little found treasure. I like to imagine that he was part of an extraordinarily happy day. Perhaps he held an hors d’oeurve or sat proudly holding the cherries in a Shirley Temple as children squealed with delight at a circus themed birthday party. Whatever he did, he’s my souvenir from a happy house.
I also found these in my yard:
My found bottles were the result of a new garden bed on an old piece of land. I just happen to think that’s cool. They’ve been added to my collection.
Despite some enjoyable finds while foraging in dirt, I’m more likely to be found in an antique shop, thrift store or architectural salvage building. In recent years, I’ve been on the lookout for antique engravings and transferware. Black transferware…LOVE it! I have to have it but it’s a rare day when I stumble upon an affordable piece of black transferware (which is where the “well-edited” part comes in). Brown transferware…also love it and have had great luck finding it at incredible prices, thus have a sizeable collection. I started this collection during one of my visits to Brimfield about six years ago. Brimfield has been good to me.

The antique engravings and etchings are even harder to find because I’m really picky about them. My first engraving was this one that I stumbled across on EBay. It was love at first sight and there was no way I was leaving without it. As I recall, the seller was a rather religious gal and I was involved in several rather lengthy chats about being a good Christian before I obtained my sheep etching at a reasonable price. She was a nice lady.
The only bad thing about etchings is that they are so difficult to photograph well with my mediocre digital camera. In person, the detail is incredible.
My next find was really special to me because it shows a mother and her son on a beach. I later discovered that the artist is listed and well-known for his engraving and paintings of Montauk, Long Island beaches.
There is something about this engraving that speaks to me. Maybe on some level it reminds me of Joe and our shared love of the ocean. I think I’ll never grow tired admiring it.
Lately, I haven’t been hitting antique shops with any real regularity. My children are just too small to come along, but on the odd day that I have just one of them in tow, I have been known to firmly grab them by the hand and do a quick lap around a shop with my eyes peeled for etchings and transferware. On more than one occasion, Dave has been kind enough to pull into a shop that wasn’t on our itinerary and patiently sat in the car with the kids while I have a quick look. Have I mentioned how cool my husband is? He just “gets” me and I love him so. 
So last week, my mom was watching the girls while I drove to my nearest nightmare…um, grocery store. On the way, there is this little shop called The Mustard House that I’ve been dying to get into. I was about to do yet another wistful drive by when suddenly, my steering wheel yanked to the right! Before I knew what was happening, my minivan had parked itself right smack in front of The Mustard House. Alright, I thought, how long could this take? I’ll just do one of my signature quickie laps, scan the joint and go on my merry way.
Every once in a while, you walk through the door of an antique shop and get the sense that the gods of all things old and collectible are with you. The atmosphere is right and you know that today, serendipity is in your corner. As I crossed the threshold of The Mustard House I was enveloped in the cozy darkness of a 200 year old saltbox that whispered of the great possibilities within. Yes, I felt that I was destined to be there on that day and in that moment. But isn’t that always the way on the day that you stumble upon an unexpected treasure?
Despite the intense feeling that a treasure was waiting to be discovered, I was business as usual. I did my efficient “walk and scan” through the maze of rooms, checking the inventory of antiques and newer decor. Right away, my eyes came to rest on a brown transferware dish. A decent little score, it was in my hand before anyone else could reach for it…not that anyone was even in the vicinity but I’m very territorial when it comes to my collections. Dish in hand, I still got the sense that it wasn’t “the” treasure that was calling to me. I did another lap and truthfully, there wasn’t much else that I was dying to have. I try not to add too many random old objects d’art to our homes; otherwise the beautiful pieces that we have carefully collected just become clutter.
I resigned myself to the fact that my pretty transferware plate was the treasure of the day and made my way to the cash register. As I stood waiting behind a chatty woman purchasing two fake stuffed Halloween ravens, my eyes were drawn to the wall behind the desk. There, in an area not accessible to patrons, was the most fantastic and enormous etching I could ever have imagined. My pulse skipped a beat and my breath quickened. I was skeptical. While The Mustard House does have a great selection of antiques and vintage goods, they also offer reproductions. This thing of beauty that caught my attention simply had to be a reproduction. It was too good to be true! I tried to be patient, but the bird lady started yapping about flickering candles and how real they look on her fake fireplace. Outwardly I was the picture of patience, but on the inside I was screaming at her to take her dumb stuffed birds and move on already! Finally, she said her goodbyes and with some restraint, I was able to flash a pleasant “so long” smile in her direction. 
As I placed my dish on the counter, I asked if the engraving was for sale and was promptly invited behind the desk to inspect it. 
There I stood, salivating over this piece and raving about how fantastic it is, but as I glanced at the price I knew it wasn’t going to happen. Three kids and a mortgage tend to put a real damper on investing in antiques. I was having difficulty tearing myself away from the engraving because I knew that it would be a sad goodbye. That’s when the shop owner said, “I have another etching in the back that is also framed. It’s about the same size. Would you like to see it?” Whoever was in control of my mouth in that moment said, “Yes, please. I’d love to!” She came back minutes later with another enormous beauty.

Why, for the love of all things holy was this happening? The very last subject I could put on the table at dinner tonight was the fact that I had stumbled upon to two huge etchings and, “By the way, I simply must have them.” Dave would laugh himself silly.

The shop owner and I began discussing design styles and collecting. We talked about what we collected, magazines we love and it turns out that we have a lot in common. I asked her if she does all of the buying for her shop, which clearly she does. That’s when she said that she might be open to trading for one of the engravings. Uh….Done!
On Saturday morning I hit the basement and began unpacking boxes in frenzy. After all, those boxes have been sitting for almost a whole year. They hold collections that I’ve forgotten, so no longer feel compelled to possess. I took digital photos of furniture, transferware, tole, paintings, fabric remnants…you name it. She liked what she saw. She thinks we might be able to trade for both engravings.
So I say, out with the old and in with the new-old! Keep your fingers crossed that she’s ready to trade and that those engravings can be permanent fixtures rather than two beautiful, short-lived visitors. She certainly has a sizeable lot to choose from, my pictures only scratch the surface of what I have ready to go!

Don’t Stop Believing…

You know you’ve done it. You’re sitting around bored out of your mind, when a random memory pops into your head, causing you to start typing the ghosts of boyfriends past into the Google search bar. You don’t do that? Oh… Well, I do. But then again, I’m super nosey. So, today when “that” boyfriend popped into my head I Googled him. In fact, I Googled the Hell out of that boy! He was the one who felt it necessary to seek me out, make me his girlfriend and then proceeded to walk all over me for a few of my precious teenage years. The boy who, for some reason or another I allowed to get away with it. Didn’t we all have one of those in our dating repertoire?

I have to admit, over the years I have on occasion wondered what he looks like now. I’ve pondered where he is and what he has done with his life since my unfortunate (for him) departure. After all, he was that boy. He was my first (entirely one-sided and kind of obsessive teenage) “love”. The first one I foolishly envisioned as my future husband, whose name I scribbled on my notebooks, whose phone calls I waited for throughout my senior year. Those calls that he promised that caused me to miss out on real friends and fun times. He was the boy who got off on maintaining control at all times. He liked knowing that I was home waiting for him. He would break my heart, then come crawling back with flowers and false professions of love. He was good at it. He made me mixed tapes of 70’s and 80’s super ballads. He was a boy who had the best family, but who truly sucked. I’d like to say that if I could go back I’d act differently, but he was my first broken heart. He was necessary and let’s face it, I was a dumb sucker. I was that chick who made you want to kick her in the ass and yell, “get over it, he’s a complete dick!” If I could go back, I’d give myself a kick in the ass and then go throw eggs at his car.

But he was just so adorable! Those rosy cheeks and that pretty boy face that I’ve always been a sucker for. He was athletic and charming (sociopathic tendencies). He cheated and lied, but I always let it go. I was (an idiot) addicted. More than once, he emotionally tortured an elderly man in my presence. He’d tell me he didn’t love me anymore, but call me days later claiming that he was wrong and I was his everything. He’d beg me to come back and I always fell for him.

I will admit that my mom and I stood silently gawking at his present day photo, marveling at the man he has become. Our faces must have looked shocked and confused as we looked at the photo, searching it for a glimmer of the cocky, handsome jerk he once was. Okay, perhaps dissolving into belly laughs was uncalled for, but I for one couldn’t help myself. We laughed so hard that it drew my husband into the room. Even he stopped to marvel over the photo of this man who was once “that boy” who broke my heart.

So, boy turned paunchy dude with weird facial hair and square bangs…here’s to you. Thanks for helping me grow and become a woman. Thanks to your need to engage in outright rude and borderline sociopathic behavior, I was able to get you out of the way early on. I wasn’t forced to suffer through my 20’s like so many friends did, hoping to run into you in a bar somewhere and have a desperate broken-hearted sex. Nope, for once I was wise enough to run like the wind and left you behind up there in that mountainous region. I flew the coop and headed back south where I met another tragic story. But hey, at least you claim that you were the first…er, tragic story.

A Note to Self

Today when I woke up I decided to take the bull by the horns. I made an announcement to myself while we were brushing our teeth. I said, “Self, fall is coming and this year we’re going to love it!” Self raised a cynical eyebrow at me in the mirror. Her expression said,”Yeah. Good luck with that.” I ignored Self and silently told her she was being an asshole. Off we went to busy ourselves with our day and I gave Self the cold shoulder for the rest of the morning.

Later, as I stood waiting for Joe’s school bus to come over the rise of our quiet country road, I was lost in thought. I stood listening to the breeze as it rode through the lush green leaves in gusty waves. In fact, it was the lush green leaves that I was marveling at when…THUNK! An acorn fell from heights unknown and bounced off the crown of my head. I swear that tree was reminding me that I shouldn’t get accustomed to the greenery because those leaves will soon be falling. Did fall actually just send me a warning message in the form of thug acorn? Seriously?

It was right about then that Self piped up again and said, “I told you so. This fall will be no different.” I stood in the driveway rubbing the bump that was growing on my head and told Self to shut up. I laughed at the irony of that rogue acorn and began thinking about how my psyche is completely ruled by the four seasons. Fall should be terrific. It’s a season bursting with color and crisp, cool air that requires fabulous sweaters and tall leather boots. My hair stops being frizzy and my skin doesn’t break out in the fall. I can start whipping up all of those delicious cold weather soups and stews, pairing them with warm, crusty garlic bread. We can have roaring fires in the kitchen fireplace and make s’mores. We’ll be able to turn out the lights and sit in front of the crackling fire with bellies full of chocolate and marshmallow, listening to the wind howling outside. We’ll hear the rain coming down sideways against the windows and feel the biting, damp air as it winds its way under the door jams to chill our bones. The trees will become skeletons, shaking their barren branches at us mockingly. Oh wait…, I think I got sidetracked. I’m supposed to be thinking positively.

Fall. It also brings about the yearly celebration of my birth. Yay. This year I will be celebrating my 40th year of life. I love birthdays, just not mine. I don’t really mind the getting older part; it’s just that up to October 15th, fall is bucolic. The leaves are putting on their yearly show of color; the days are still sunny and pleasant. Yet, each year on the dawn of October 15th, the sky suddenly looks like someone dipped a brush in the dreariest of grey paint and brushed it right over the sun. I look around at the leaves and realize that the few that remain are desperately clinging to the trees and looking rather dead. The ground is wet and rotting leaves lay stuck to the driveway. It’s like someone took an eraser and wiped all of the color from the world. The only colors that seem to remain are orange and black.

I love Halloween. I seriously love Halloween, but as a kid my birthday parties notoriously had a Halloween theme. Once…, just once I wanted a pink party. I coveted a party so obnoxiously pink that it would make grown women puke. What did I get? Orange and black. Witch hats and bats. Spiders and apple bobbing. I’m writing this and it all sounds so fun now. What the hell was my problem?

I have pictures of me and my 9 year old friends enjoying a Halloween themed birthday party inside my big old farmhouse. In the background of those photographs the windows frame a grey, rainy sky. I don’t recall it bothering me at the time. I remember racing from the living room and into the center hall with balloons, sitting on them and laughing like little maniacs as they popped under our bottoms. We must have been so obnoxiously screechy and giddy, a group of 9 year old girls racing thru the house on that blustery day. How I loved those friends and I missed them so in the years that followed.
Those were incredibly happy times. I lived in a perfect little town, nestled at the edge of New York and Vermont. Fall was beautiful there with our horses and apple orchards. Sleepovers and innocence ruled. There were Saturdays when the school’s gym was opened up for roller skating parties and we all went together, happily skating the afternoon away in our Fair Isle sweaters and ribboned barrettes. Round and round we rolled with Hall and Oates, Donna Summer and The Village People. We were just beginning to notice the boys and the boy I “loved” was named Kyle Hunter. I’m not sure we ever spoke more than three sentences to one another.
Halloween was spent trick or treating in “town”, which was a tiny little village where everyone knew everyone. We walked up and down the road in our costumes, carrying our UNICEF milk cartons and pillow cases to collect donations and candy. I remember daring my neighbor to ring the bell of the old woman who lived in the grey house on the corner. She was rarely seen and in our minds, she was an old mean, hermit lady. Ringing her bell required hours of preparation. One needed to build up vast amounts of courage and I only did it once that I can recall.

Those fall days were incredibly beautiful. I don’t think birthdays and back to school became so difficult and gloomy until after I moved away. Maybe I left my innocence and happiness behind in that little town, along with my best girl friends. In my high school and college years I occasionally ran across some of those old friends. I was so jealous that they all got to stay there in that place. I wanted nothing more to be there with them, where everyone knew one another. I imagined them going thru their teenage years together as a kind of extended family. I was so angry, sad and jealous that I would pretend I didn’t know them if I happened to see them.

Anyway, this is the fall that I am taking control. There’s no way that I’ll let that negative old Self hijack the bus and drive us to Bummerville. In fact, I think I might just plan a party for the kids. Complete with witch hats, bats, spider rings and apple bobbing. And as I watch those little people having the time of their lives, I’ll think of my old friends and smile.

And Further More…

What an amazing summer I had. Epic…cathartic even. I really didn’t intend on sharing such personal information. Historically, the picture that I’ve attempted to present to the world is one of perfection and anything that might be embarrassing was brushed under the rug. Who was I kidding? As if people can’t plainly read the expressions on my face. I’m so bad at hiding how I feel. I can’t be fake.

I guess there’s really nothing better than a simultaneous visit from your long divorced parents to wake up the past and force some realizations. As weird as it was to be sitting at the dinner table alone with my mother, father and baby girl, I almost wish that my brother and sister had been sitting there as well. What would it have been like to share a meal with all of the people to whom I am most closely related? How odd that I would have to ask myself this question in the first place.

I sometimes feel that I no longer know my family. Sitting at the dinner table with my parents on that summer evening, I realized that I am a complete stranger to my entire family. Maybe not a complete stranger, but I often feel that way. I’m not sure they’ve ever really known me or understood me. I’ve always been slightly alien to them. I never quite fit in and at some point, I just stopped trying to. I love them, but I know that I’ll always be the black sheep. The odd fit. To them, I’ll always be a little bit “off”. For the longest time, I thought it was my fault, or just bad that I was unable to fit into the core of the Hadfield nuclear family. I tried so hard to be like them that I was suffocating. I made horrible choices in my efforts to blend in, but always remained an outsider. How sad to be stuck on the perimeter, so doubtful of my self worth and place in the world that I wished to completely disappear. I was so angry that I was born to begin with.

It doesn’t matter how much you love someone or a group of someones, sometimes they just might not get you all. It has taken me almost 40 years to realize that this doesn’t make me weird or crazy. I’m just me and I am finally beginning to appreciate who I am. I’ve stopped trying to make them understand me because it just frustrates and angers us all.

It really is amazing how words affect people. How what I wasn’t able to verbalize 10 years ago is so easily expressed now in my writing. Maybe it’s all easier to talk about now that I have some distance between myself and rock bottom. I didn’t start my blog with the intent of divulging my deepest, darkest places but I’m not going to stop it from coming out. Consider it a bit of verbal vomiting. The best part about my recent bout with up-chucking is that I feel even better. I’ve said what I had to say and I said it for me. In the process, I  unwittingly crossed another hurdle. Either you get it or you don’t. My writing may simply be words on a page or something more meaningful. I’m not forcing you to take a position either way.

For me, one of the most frustrating parts of depression is the lack of education on the subject. If your brother/father/son was diagnosed with diabetes, wouldn’t you read every bit of information that you could get your hands on? Wouldn’t you actively discuss the disease with him and seek the best method of treatment to ensure a good quality of life? Unfortunately, there is still a huge contingent that views depression as complete and utter bullshit. Just about the worst thing that you can say to someone who is suffering from depression is, “Snap out of it” or “What do you have to be depressed about?” Really? Like we want to feel this way? As if we would choose to open our eyes on a random morning to discover that the darkness has settled over us like a suffocating blanket as we slept. Given the choice, I would much rather bound out of bed with a smile on my face and meet my friends for lunch. Instead, when I open my eyes I know that I’ll have to struggle to pull myself out of that darkness enough just to get through the day. The worst part is that the world is the exact same place it was yesterday…when I was perfectly happy. It frustrates me immensely to know that happiness has just slipped through my fingers again. I don’t choose to let it go, it just goes. Thank goodness that I rarely feel this way any more. I choose to take Zoloft to keep the darkness at bay. Thank you, Zoloft and screw you darkness.

Having spent my mid-twenties in a perpetual state of intense depression, I see things far differently now. The world I am living in is a far more beautiful place than the one I inhabited 10 years ago. How lucky my children are, to be growing up with parents who love and respect one another. Dave and I truly have an incredible partnership and our children get to witness this. With the exception of my Uncle Joe, I’ve never known a man so filled with love and support. Do we fight? Sure. We’ve had some good ones. Who hasn’t? Have we gone to bed angry? You bet. I’ve been pissed off enough to give him the silent treatment for a few days. I know there has been more than one occasion when he’s been less than thrilled with me too. We’ve been married for nine years. We have three children, ranging in age from one to six. We’re tired. We can barely spit a sentence out without being interrupted. Yet, our children see that we love one another, that we truly enjoy our time together. They see us sharing private jokes and laughter. They see affection and teamwork. They see acceptance and they know that we will nurture their interests without judgment or laughter.

So there you have it. Some verbal vomiting has led me to some brand new self-acceptance and forced me to acknowledge some painful truths. Such is life. My life is incredible and I’m glad to be alive!

The Color Purple and My Claw Foot Tub.

Rather than sitting home and crying in my coffee that Miss Cookie was off to preschool this morning, I decided to channel my angst and I dove in head first to those yet-to-be-started and waiting-to-be-completed projects in the new house. Though, I can hardly claim that it’s our new house anymore, since December 1st will mark the one year anniversary of our move. No more excuses! It’s time to get busy and make this place ours. First stop, the downstairs bathroom.

Daffodils – Sally Eldon
When we moved in, the walls were purple and the bead board was a very vibrant green. Now, personally I never would have considered painting a room purple. Ever. However, in an effort to live in the house for a few months before whipping out the fabrics and paint chips, I dealt with the green and purple scheme. One day as I sat pondering…as one often does in the commode, I recalled the beautiful watercolor that my Mother-In-Law painted for Kate when she was born. It too had purple and green and yellows that screamed, “HEY! Put me in that purple bathroom!” It became my inspiration for leaving the purple on the walls and painting the bead board a rich creamy white (Benjamin Moore-Marble White).
Yellow House, Joanne St. Germain
To add a bit more yellow and pay hommage to my own mother’s artistic ability, I added one of her early watercolors. I love her yellow cottage painting.
Oddly enough, while we still lived in Boston I picked up a pair of vintage crewel bed covers on E-Bay. What’s so odd about my cool vintage crewel bed covers, you ask? Well…they have all of the colors in the bathroom, including that purple I never would have considered on my own. I originally intended on using them at the New Hampshire house in the guest room. Alas, that attic guest room never came to fruition thanks to kitchen renovations, a surprise baby and our imminent (and slightly hell-ish) move. Anyway, all that I did was pick up some clips at Lowes and I attached them to the bedcovers while Dave was kind enough to hang up a curtain rod. Viola! My vintage crewel bedcovers are now drapes, also fully lined. For once, I didn’t slave away at the sewing machine attempting to make custom window treatments. (But it sure looks like I did!)
The trim and the bathtub are Sherwin Williams-Cottage Cream. The coolest part about this bathroom is probably the claw foot tub that was salvaged from Ann Morrow-Lindberg’s family home off the coast of Maine. That, combined with the oak washstand turned vanity and salvaged wide plank pine floors make this a nifty little potty. I forgot to mention the tin ceiling tiles…
I’ve added a few finishing touches, like the chippy little gold bird and yellow porcelain towel hooks I found at Motifs in Portland, the old Atlas jar full of sea glass and broken pottery from our beach combing and an ironstone soap dish I picked up at Sage Farm in Hampton, New Hampshire.
So here it is…the finished project. Now off to finish painting that kitchen!

P.S. I really like this shade of purple.

I’ll Be Seeing You…

The surf is rough today. I hear the waves crashing as soon as I open the car door. 94 degrees usually brings throngs of tourists to the beach, but not today. They fled Vacationland and returned to their lives, doing a mad dash to ready themselves for the new school year. Our beach is suddenly vast. We don’t need to maneuver around families with tents, lounge chairs and refrigerator sized coolers to find our spot. We simply walk straight ahead, drop our bag on the sand and skip into the cool water.

The tide is coming in, driving the remaining beach goers back toward the dunes. The girls and I step into the waves. Holding hands, we let the water rush around our feet. Gwen screams with a mixture of delight and fear as the sea pulls at her tiny legs. I can see terror briefly wash over her features as she grips my hand tighter. She looks up at my face, as if wondering if I’m still there. I smile at her reassuringly, “I won’t let go of you Cookie.” Kate pins her baby legs to my hip and winds one arm through mine to hold on. She waves her chubby hand at the sea and wiggles her body in a delighted baby dance. Everything is good in this moment.

Grandma grabs her chair and sits, letting the water wash over her feet and cool her. Eventually, Kate and Gwen find an abandoned castle moat and climb in. As they spend their time running between the shallow waves and the sandy pit that will occupy them for the next two hours, we carefully watch them. They chase seagulls, squealing and shrieking with happiness. Tiny hands inspect seashells and drift wood. Kate’s tongue touches the sand and I see that she immediately regrets that decision. I watch my beautiful girls as they explore my favorite place.

As I stand observing, the sea beckons to me. I know that my beach going days are numbered. The hot sun is ready to take its leave and abandon us yet again. Much like me, the water will soon turn cold and gray. The sea is saying its yearly goodbye. I stand watching the waves, bigger than I’ve seen them all summer. They’re calling me to play. I walk forward and dive under a wave just as it begins curling over itself, ready to crash upon the heads of unsuspecting swimmers below. I pop up on the other side, unable to see the beach over the swell I’ve just escaped. I’m on the calm side. Huge swells lift me high into the air, and then drop me, hiding me. I can hear nothing but the sea around me and the faint screams of children as they run from the crashing surf.

Floating there, I feel exhilarated and truly free. I’m happy. I have a smile on my face that no one can see. As a wave pushes me upward, I see my mother carefully watching the girls and know that I have to leave my sanctuary and head back to the beach and the responsibilities that it holds. The sea begs me to stay, tempting me with a wild, happy ride and I lay back again. I hold my breath and dive underwater to listen to nothingness. I try to absorb the feel, taste and sound of it…of this moment, so that I can remember this feeling when the darkness begins to fall. The sea will turn dark as well. We share this trait.

In spring, as the sun begins to pull me out of my darkness, I’ll be drawn again to my ocean. Together, we will wash away the blackness. The sand will warm my feet and the waves will call me. My children will run, shrieking with delight. I’ll be alive again.