Friday, July 06, 2018

Priorities and such

Let me start by saying that we are in Cartagena, and it is spectacular and we have been speaking Spanish and eating delicious food and delighting in the culture and all around reveling in the Caribbean.

So you don't think I'm an utter Philistine.

Because what I really want to show you is this fabulous outfit I bought.
My super fashionable friend Leigh once told me, "I always feel that if I don’t have a touch of cartoon character in my daily wardrobe, I’m doing it wrong." She said this and I was all, yes, yes, and more yes.

I saw this outfit, and I had to try it on, because look at the tigers loitering in the jungle! It's by a Colombian designer called tr3s. I'd link to their site but all that comes up is it's under construction.

Now, I don't know if the top is a little too much for me, but I adore the stitching and the details. I also don't know quite where I can wear a dressy shorts outfit. You know?

But I would very much like to wear this with platform heels.

I love everything about it. Everything.

As Colombians say, "Divino!"

Also, this the only place in our Airbnb to take a photo into a mirror that doesn't involve standing on a toilet. So, here I am, chair standing. And please ignore the terrible humidity hair because it is possibly twice as humid as DC here which I think means approximately 7 million percent.

---
India saw this top in a children's boutique on our walk home from camp.

She peered in the window and asked if we could go in. And then she spotted this top, and she wanted it.

It was expensive for a kid's top, and I said we had to think about it.

She talked about it the next day, and the next. Could we go back? Could we buy it? Finally I said she could buy it if she were willing to spend her own money, saved from allowance, birthdays, etc.

The third day she said she was willing to spend her own money, and we bought it.

She couldn't be more delighted.

Nick likes to say she's her mother's daughter. I love her fashion sense, and I love that she gets in my closet and tries on boots she loves and cannot wait to fit them.

One day she's going to wear all my favorite things better than I do.

---
We arrived and Jordan immediately became obsessed with World Cup stickers.He has a pretty amazing backdrop for hanging out with his sticker book.

(Also, we rooted for Colombia on Tuesday, and we were crushed, crushed at the very last minute.)

Anyway, if you've not done this, you buy a book that has pages for all the teams, with spaces for each player. And then you buy packets of stickers with the players in them.

When Jordan is feeling generous, or wants to engage his sister, he offers for India to open packets for him. They can and do spend a good deal of time doing this.

These stickers are expensive, and he was willing to spend his own money on a box of stickers.

One morning last week he woke me up sobbing at 6:20 am. "Mama! Nigeria isn't stapled!"

I understand there are people in this world who are their best selves at 6:20 am. I am not among them.

I walked him out of the room and said, "Tt's OK to cry about this, but you need to cry somewhere else so you don't wake up India. Also, in the future, do not wake me up before 7:00 in the morning unless you're bleeding or the house is on fire."

The next morning he woke me up at 6:40 and said, "I know I'm not supposed to wake you up, but..."

We've been rising early is what I'm saying.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Kind of an incredibly big huge deal to me

My dear friends,

I started this year with a personal goal of getting an essay published in a publication that pays.

I've gotten rejections, which don't feel good but are to be expected.

Sometimes I wonder if I should keep blogging, because I have so many friends who used to blog, but haven't for years. I wonder if I should be making myself write and submit more essays for publication, rather than spending the time on the blog. But I like LG and it keeps me writing, and there are so many stories I tell here that nobody would be interested in publishing.

So.

One night after work a couple months ago, I was waiting for the light to change at the corner of Connecticut and Q. I checked my email  and almost stepped out into traffic.

There was a message from an editor at the On Parenting blog of the Washington Post. She liked my blog. Would I be interested in writing a piece for them?

Would I?!?

It is up today, and you can find it here.

My essay is about talking to my kids about the fact that my dad died by suicide. It is, as you might expect, deeply personal, and I'm so proud to have this piece up at the Washington Post.

Truly incredible people were willing to talk to me. They so generously shared their time and their expertise. I learned a lot that I will use with my kids, and I hope I conveyed my story and the advice  in a manner that's accessible and helpful.

If it resonates, I'd love it if you'd share.

Hugs,

Lisa



Thursday, June 28, 2018

In case you've ever wondered, this is what my brain looks like

Around midnight last Friday, the night before the kids and I left for three weeks in Colombia, this was the state that I was in.

I kept having one more hurdle to get past before I could organize and pack. First, work travel. Then, I was writing an article (which, when published, I will tell you and everyone I've ever met about). Next, the Overnight walk.

And finally it was the weekend and we were leaving on Saturday afternoon and ohmygod it was becoming increasingly clear that I was not going to fit all of our everything into Nick's designed for manly suits work suitcase.

And we had so many shoes. Did we need so many shoes? Yes, and I wasn't even taking all the shoes I wanted to take...

I rolled garments into tight little rolls, and filled as many of those efficient packing cubes as we had. And still, no fit.

So then I realized that at this point my children are old enough to be helpful when they're willing, and I could enlist them to roll one bag.

So I added a rollaboard, (rollerboard?) and off we went with what I thought was a rather reasonable amount of luggage.
The kids were semi-cooperative in the airport, except when they weren't, at which point they were fighting and sliding on the ground in the middle of the terminal. I decided to pretend I didn't know them.
And then they decided to see if they could fit into the overhead compartment. My first inclination was to snap at them and tell them to get out of there right now! But desire to take pictures won out, so I did that first.
We flew Copa, which sadly had no back-of-seat movie screens, but did have lovely staff. My children ate all of their airplane dinners, with no complaints.

We had a stressfully brief layover in Panama City, and arrived in Cartagena around 10:30 Colombia time, which, when the US springs forward, is one hour back. Jordan immediately lay on the floor next to the conveyor belt, thus causing my head to melt.

I'm no germaphobe, but two airport floors in one day is at least one too many.
And now here we are, and we've already been to my kids' favorite restaurant (pizza! mural!) and gotten Jordan a soccer shirt because tomorrow Colombia plays Senegal. Vamos, Colombia!

I'm not gonna lie, I'm beyond delighted to be here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Sometimes I think that I know what love's all about. And when I see the light I know I'll be all right...

Philly SOLO!
Dear friends,

Saturday night we walked 16.7 miles through Philadelphia in the Out of the Darkness Overnight walk, raising funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

This year I had so many names on my shirt. Each name was a loved one lost, or a loved one who struggles. I have people I worry about who I put on there.

So many generous people--so many of you--contributed to my walk without hesitation. In fact, gladly, with kind words, words of gratitude, when really, I'm the one who is grateful.
So many loved ones
I offered to carry names on my shirt and in my heart, and people gave them. People thanked me, but in truth, it was my privilege. It's no small thing to carry someone so dearly loved. I do not take it lightly.

My new and lovely friend Melissa lost her dad, Miguel, when she was young. She couldn't do the Philly walk, and gave me his name. Our two dads, with the same name.

I thought about people's brothers, boyfriends, parents, children, friends and relatives. The ache of the loss makes me cry, even now, as I type.

I would never compare my loss to someone else's, because all our losses are the worst. Losing loved ones is brutal.

But with suicide there is an extra layer of why. Of whether or not you could have done something. And, even now, of stigma.

I talked to people who kept quiet for decades. Who lied about what happened, because that was more acceptable than the truth. Who are asked why they're not yet over it. Who get chastised by family for being open about a decades-ago suicide loss, because there are adult children who still don't know, and family members want to perpetuate a fiction.

You might not think that a suicide event would be fun, but my teammates are high energy, passionate, hilarious. Cari, who I'd met along with her amazing mom Connie, organized everything for the Philly team. I'm so grateful to her for adding that to her super busy schedule.
Starting out strong
Jen carried the Philly SOLO sign most of the miles, until it got left next to a porta-potty.

I wove in and out as we walked, talking to new people, hearing new stories, or picking up on old tales. You know I'm not one for small talk, and I find the emotional intensity satisfying.

We share our stories, our burdens, our snacks.One even offered to split her Xanax with another.

This year the Philly team was called Philly SOLO, but it was the same incredible team I walked with last year. This year, though, I got to walk with lovely Tiffany, who contacted me before the NYC walk because she was an LG reader, and she's the reason I joined SOLOS. There were members I hadn't met on the DC walk last year, and new members.

Laurie was unable to make this year's walk, and I carried her son Nathaniel with me, and she was with me in spirit.

Nick had been planning on driving Jordan's camp trunk up to NJ, so I asked if he could do so last weekend, and drop Betty and me in Philly on the way. In theory, this was perfect. It didn't take them out of their way, and we'd leave in the morning and I'd be there in good time for the team lunch.

In actual fact, I-95 is Gehenna on wheels.I don't know why they don't have on-ramp signs that say, "Abandon all hope..."

Then we stopped at a rest stop, where India cheerfully announced, "This is where I puked on Jordan's foot!" In fact it wasn't, because the rest stop where she puked on Jordan's foot is much bigger, and has a poorly staffed Dunkin Donuts, whereas this one has a delightful Peet's Coffee.

In any case. We then had to eat. Jordan's bagel was too hot. He was thirsty. Why did it take so long to get water?

ETCETERA

I was growing increasingly agitated as the hours wore on and it was looking like I was barely going to arrive in time to drop bags at the hotel before the team lunch.

At some point Nick pointed out that I was overly anxious.

And in my head I was all, "Don't stab the driver, Lisa. Breathe. The number one rule of being a passenger is don't stab the driver."

Out loud I'm certain I was shrill and bitchy, as happens when I am anxious and someone suggests I need to calm down or dial it back, which just makes me DIAL IT UP TO A MILLION.

In any case, Nick and the kids very kindly deposited us at the hotel and Betty and I got to the lunch not terribly late, and I relayed my anxiety and everyone said, in different words, that it's such a high anxiety weekend and they get super stressed out beforehand as well.

One of my teammates also said she's not a lawyer, but the advice she'd like to give me is never to stab anyone. "Just think it quietly really hard," she said.

Not a single person thought I was making too big a deal of it. It is hard for all of us.

I am so open about mental illness, about losing family members to suicide, and about my own struggles with depression. And I'm comfortable talking about all those things.

But I'm usually the one leading the conversation.

Being in a big group of others who talk about the same things, who live and breathe these issues, who casually mention that running daily decreases their ainxiety, who have been told to "get over it" or made to feel aberrant by STILL being upset about the suicide of a loved one...being surrounded by these people feels like exhaling after holding your breath for a long time.

It feels like a strong hug. Like sliding into clean sheets after a hot shower. It's a relief. It's a pleasure to all be together.
Hard to get all our feet in!
And! I got to see my delightful friend Joy, who I met the night before my first walk in 2013, and walked with in DC and then four years ago in Philly.
Joy!
Joy's friends come out and cheer, and bring a dog to pet. They drive to different spots on the route. I think because of my neon pink tights, they always spotted me and encouraged me. This encouragement feels amazing.

We started walking at sundown. The first 10.5 miles were fine. And then around 1:00 am, we all sat down in a field and had midnight snack. We took off our shoes and changed our socks.

After that, the city was dark and quiet. Walkers spread out. The energy and excitement of starting out had dissipated.

I saw walkers I'd noticed earlier and wondered if they would make it, who were still walking when we approached the finish line. Honestly, at a certain point, I wondered if I would make it. Like me, they put one foot in front of the other and kept moving forward.

The team stayed together well into the walk, way past the halfway point.
Almost halfway!
I can't think of another event like this. There's something particular about walking through the night, pushing through the dark and the quiet, keeping going even when you're tired, and your feet hurt, and you'd rather lie down and sleep. I keep going because I committed, because it is important to me. And because I know that if I just continue to move forward, eventually, I'll get there.

The last several miles, I lost my team and walked alone, though I was never alone. And I don't mean that in a Jesus carried me kind of way. I mean, there were other walkers.

We walked into Sunday, Father's Day.

I crossed the finish line alone, and hobbled up the steps to find my luminaria. This year I found all three. I was so tired I was off balance, and nearly fell off the steps several times.
Walking toward hope
But I found them. They were glowing, surrounded by others, dearly loved and dearly missed.
Travis
I saw old friends, made new ones, and had a beautiful time. Next year I'm heading to wherever it is on Friday, so I can have a good sleep and eliminate the stress of rushing on a Saturday. Plus I want to spend more time with my people.

This is a club I never want you to join. But being a member, walking is helpful; it is healing. As my friend Joy said, "Walking doesn't fix grief. Nothing fixes grief. Walking together on the journey of life is all we can do."

I'm grateful to walk together, and to feel that we are never alone.

I'm thankful you're on this journey with me, and that you've so kindly and lovingly supported me in so many ways.

Including donations that have not yet been credited to me, I raised over $4,500. My team raised over $31,000. I feel proud of raising this for such a great organization, one whose mission resonates so strongly with me.

Thank you for all your support, in so many ways.

Big hugs and much love,

Lisa

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Morning smiles like the face of a newborn child

"Mama," my son said, as we lay side by side in his bed before sleep, "are you afraid of anything?"

The room was dark and quiet, and as I thought about my response, I said, "Am I afraid of anything? Hmm."

I'm terrified of somehow losing my kids, like in a car or plane crash, and having to face life without them. I'm scared something will happen to Nick. I know one day my mom will die and I worry about it. I'll be so devastated, I'll fall apart completely.

I'm scared to look in the mirror in the dark. I have been since second grade, when we played Bloody Mary at my house in Bangladesh. If I have to use the bathroom at night, I hurry in and out, looking straight ahead, making sure I don't glance in the mirror.

The other night it occurred to me vampires don't have a reflection. So looking in the mirror, you wouldn't even if know one were behind you.

Clowns, clowns frighten me, ever since Poltergeist. I read Steven King's It years and years ago, and that added to my clown terror. I couldn't watch the movie trailers.

I'm afraid of turbulence, I'm afraid my plane will crash. I worry about not having enough time with connections, and missing my next flight.

The idea of sink holes makes me anxious, although Nick has assured me that DC is built on rock.

I'm scared of accidentally backing into a geyser, although I've never yet been to Yellowstone. I'm scared of tsunamis and super volcanoes and being in the Pacific Northwest when that one giant tsunami earthquake liquefies the entire area.

At night, in the living room, when I'm the last one to bed, I fear a hand will reach out from under the couch as I walk by.

Also, rabies. Good lord, the rabies.

I'm afraid I'm not special. That actually, I'm just plain ordinary.

"Sharks," I said. I'm pretty scared of sharks. What about you?"