Sunday, January 30, 2011

I Can't Think of a Music Theatre Song about Goodbye? Really? Oh well.

My daughter is extremely loving. My daughter is extremely happy. My daughter will decide right away if she loves you- she probably will- and insist that you accept her hugs. She is extremely charismatic. Even as an infant, people couldn’t help but look at her and interact with her, and this is a trait that has only further developed with age. Her mission in life seems to be spreading joy, and even as a toddler, she wants to teach. If she is experiencing something she thinks you should experience she will take your hand so you, too, can feel. I would like to think that some of these characteristics come from me. I have been told that I am loving, and nurturing. That I am a natural leader and teacher.

But my daughter and I share another trait that I hope she will eventually outgrow. Neither one of us can handle goodbyes. I’m hoping this is not something she has learned from me. I don’t think it’s something I’ve demonstrated to her. But really. She. Cannot. Handle. Goodbyes.

Now let me be clear. It is absolutely typical for a toddler to have separation anxiety when a parent leaves. It’s also typical for a toddler to be afraid of strangers. But my daughter is special. She has anxiety separation from strangers. If we ride on the elevator with neighbors for two floors, and the new best friends get out at the first floor, but we’re taking the elevator to the basement, she screams and cries hysterically. Literal hysterics. And great big crocodile tears. It is heartbreaking. If a package comes for us, I sign, and it turns out the UPS man isn’t going to be her new brother, she pounds on the door and until she collapses in exhaustion. Dropping off our babysitter at the train station means at least twenty minutes of crying.

And it’s even worse when it’s Mommy or Daddy.

Ryan left for work today, and after a half-hour of banging on the ground, she looked at me and said “night night.” It wasn’t even close to naptime, but it was all more than she could handle, and she slept for nearly four hours.

For strangers or people who don’t know Lily as well, this whole thing is cute and endearing. “Oh, look how much she loves me!” Sure. If you want to feel special, go for it. But she has the same reaction to the pizza man.

To those of us who spend more time with her, it is sad, and a little funny sometimes, and I have to say, a little confusing. For the most part, she’s a tough chick. This is the only part of her life that seems to be difficult for her. She sleeps well, she eats well, she plays well- alone or with others. She just doesn’t like to say goodbye.

Interestingly enough, Lily only has trouble when other people are leaving her. If she’s the one leaving, it’s “bye-bye!” with a smile and a wave. She loves bye-bye. But if Daddy puts his coat on to go to the grocery store, you can bet she’s going to try to put her coat on too. It’s easy to be the one leaving. It’s hard to be the one left behind. And it makes me wonder. Is she that afraid people will never come back? Does she really connect to people that instantly?

But maybe she is. And maybe she does.

I am, unfortunately, in a world where people come and go. I don’t work in an office where people retire with a gold watch after forty years. I don’t live in a town where people are born and raised. Where they stay to raise their families. Where they’re buried next to their parents. (Well, OK. Technically I totally live in a town like that. But I am not yet fully-acclimated, and I don’t know that I’ll ever feel like I’m not a New Yorker in some sense.) I work in a field in which people do one show together. They spend all of their time together for six weeks. They share everything and feel like best friends. And then they go away. Maybe they’ll stay in touch, maybe they won’t. And that part of it just kills me. It’s part of why we started our theatre company- to provide a greater sense of community in a field that can be so cold. In a city where people live for months, or years, or a lifetime, but never know how long they‘ll be there, really. Not for sure.

So maybe it’s not that Lily is too young to understand people are probably coming back. Maybe she’s really got it all figured out, and she’s just too young to know she shouldn’t be so honest.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

When an Apple a Day Isn't Enough

We, the uninsured, are tired of being judged. Let me just put that right out there. We know protecting our health is important. We know we need to take care of things “just in case.” I mean, my book starts with getting health insurance. It’s important. We get it. We like peace of mind as much as the next guy.

We’re also tired of not being covered when we have medical expenses. We enjoy being healthy and going to the doctor.

And we are looking forward to Obamacare and whatever benefits it may bring.


Someday we’ll have healthcare. In the meantime, I have a possible solution. And I’m not even being snarky. It’s a real-live, honest-to-goodness solution, and I meant to share it last time I went, and I forgot. My apologies.

Uninsured friends- do you know about the Ryan-Chelsea Clinton Clinic? It might be literally saving my life today.

I found out about the Ryan Clinic a few months ago from a friend. I have thyroid disease. This MUST be treated. My prescription was running out. I didn’t know what to do. A friend of said friend had mentioned the clinic to her before, but it seemed too good to be true. But it’s not. It’s a real place.

I registered in May and got an appointment for a few days later. I was seen right on time. The doctor was really kind. And then I went around the corner and filled my prescription. For $7. My cost for the visit was $125. This is only because I am “out of borough.” Manhattan residents pay based on a sliding scale. The guy next to me today had a co-pay of $3.

But it’s my experience today that I most want to share.

I realized about a week ago that I was running out of my medication, and I knew I didn’t have any refills. I’m headed to Ohio tomorrow, so I called to get an appointment at the clinic. No such luck- the next available appointment was on January 27. I explained to the nice lady on the phone (she really was a nice lady) that I would be in the hospital by then. She suggested I try a walk-in. OK then. Sounds like a plan.

I sent my friend Lindsay a text asking her to watch Lily today so I could go. (Lindsay has saved me in many, MANY of these situations. She is Lily’s regular babysitter, but is also a friend and will lend a hand when needed. So publicly- thanks for that.) Off I went on the Metro-North. I arrived at the clinic around 11:00 and was told at the check-in desk that all of the walk-ins were gone for the day.

Naturally, I started to cry.

“Is it an emergency?” The guys asked.

“It is, actually,” I answered quite truthfully. My thyroid condition is well-managed and totally under control. But left untreated… well, no one wants that.

“It’s OK. Just sign in and talk to the nurse,” he said, smiling. Seriously. Smiling.

So I sat down, and I waited. I waited maybe- MAYBE- twenty minutes before a nurse called my name, took me into a room, asked me why I was there, and immediately closed the door when I started crying. (there’s a lot of crying in this story.)

I told her I tried to make an appointment. I knew I should have an appointment. And I couldn’t get there any earlier because I needed to have a babysitter, and I just really really needed my medication and-

A few clicks on the computer and a short phone call later and she had an appointment for me with a doctor who was ahead of schedule for the day. No judgment. She just… fixed it.

I was sitting in front of that doctor about fifteen minutes later.

“So, what brings you in today?”

“Well, first of all, I really need my thyroid medication refilled.”

“OK. I can do that.” Clicking on the computer, pulling up my chart…. And then… “And second? You said ‘first of all.’ So what else?”

Oh, look. I’m crying again.

I told her that I’d struggled with depression for a long time. That I’ve been off of medication for about a year and I’m realizing that’s probably not a great long-term plan. That I was in therapy forever, I have the skills, I get it, but only if my chemicals are balanced. Which… they are not, currently.

Very, very calmly, she started to ask me some questions. About my life, whether I have anxiety, that kind of thing. I told her I hadn’t had anxiety before, but that I started to have it pretty badly when I went from being a college professor to staying home with my daughter.

“Ah. So you lost your job.”

“No. It was a choice.”

“Oh!” she smiled. Because this is a legitimate choice, and she understands that. “And do you have a partner?”

“Yes, my husband.”

“And you can’t get health insurance through his job?”

“No. We can’t.”

“He’s an artist?”

“Ha! Yes! Yes he is! We both are!” And the thing is, she wasn’t saying it in an “oh, I see, you guys are dead-beat parents who don’t know how to take care of things” kind of way. (yes, we’ve gotten this attitude.) It was only “oh, I see. You guys are legitimately in a field which often does not provide health insurance.”

And THAT makes all the difference.

I left the clinic with two prescriptions ($27), two future appointments, and a renewed sense of hope. Please, check it out my friends. It’s open to anyone (I don’t even live in the State of NY, let alone the city…) and it’s a really solid option for us until we get this figured out. Or the government does. Either way. Stay healthy out there.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

All I Really Need to Know...

... I learned from ignoring the chaos in everything but the kitchen sink.

Hmmm. That might not be how that saying goes.

But it's how I'm feeling today.

I've been keeping that sink shiny for a few days. And here's what I'm learning so far.

*Clean can spread just like dirty does. My clean has spread out across the counter, over the refrigerator (inside and out) and wrapped around to include the stove. But I keep going back to that sink as a home base. Which brings me to...

*It matters that it's the kitchen sink. This is not random. I didn't get that before. I can't do the dishes if the sink isn't clean. And if I'm going to clean the kitchen, I'm obviously going to do some dishes. And it feels silly to spend money on groceries and put them into a cluttered, dirty refrigerator. I won't be able to see what I have. And in order to clean out the refrigerator, I'll be... washing some dishes.

*Baby steps are smaller than I thought. I am an accomplished woman. I'm highly educated. I look at my CV, and I'm impressed with myself. I am often a leader among women, and sometimes among men if they can get over themselves for two seconds. But "jump in wherever you are" doesn't mean what I thought it meant. I always interpreted it as "start today doing the routines you've already established for yourself." Which is fine. If I am healthy. But when I'm not, those routines are far too overwhelming, and I just give up. It's not "jump in where the routines are." It's "jump in where YOU are." And where I am is, frankly, dealing with a chronic disease that happens to be flaring up right now. I can't look at a day's-worth of routines. But I can look at the top shelf of the refrigerator. And after that, I might be able to look at the next shelf. And if I can't, I'll do it tomorrow and celebrate that really clean top shelf.

*Baby steps lead to more baby steps. I'll probably be able to look at that next shelf. Because the one thing I need in dealing with depression is to feel good about myself. In the past few days, I've looked at a few career things that I've been ignoring for a while. (Obviously I am ready to take the performing arts education world by storm, as I have a clean sink. I'm thinking of adding THAT to my CV.) And of course, dealing with things in my career, a place where I've had success... makes me feel better about myself. And just like that, another refrigerator shelf is clean.

*Sometimes I need to put the blinders on. I'm writing all of this from a living room that is an absolute disaster. Anyone with a toddler knows that this can happen pretty quickly, but it's been like this for days. If I were at my healthiest, I would jump in and get it done. But that's not where I am this week. Instead, I need to remind myself that the clean has spread. And eventually, it will spread to the living room. And I need to be nice to myself, and celebrate the victories, no matter how small.

*I have learned these lessons over and over, and will have to learn them again in the future. That's why it's called chronic. It keeps happening. And I need to be patient about that.

Reminding you, once again, that these are Flylady's ideas. :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Shiny Sink Strikes- well, shines- Again

I started following Flylady several years ago. And, as my last post stated, her methods often work for me. But her very first step- the Shiny Sink- I just... didn't get it. My apartment (and my life, or so it feels) is such a mess. Why in the world would I care if my kitchen sink shines?

And then yesterday, I was having another one of my... difficult times. For reasons I fully understand but don't need to disclose, my depression has gotten quite bad of late. It was bad enough that Ryan made plans for us to visit friends in Long Island just so I could get out. But there were hours before we left, and I didn't know what to do with myself. Ryan needed to take a nap while Lily slept, as he had been doing most of the child-rearing for a few days. And I started to get really nervous that I was going to have to entertain myself for a few minutes while he slept. I didn't want to watch TV, I didn't want to talk to anyone, I had already taken a shower, I just... didn't know what to do.

And that's when I thought of the Shiny Sink. Flylady has never really steered me wrong. I could give it a try, I suppose. So I looked up the Shiny Sink instructions. Step One, take the dishes out of the sink. You know what? I can handle that. I can take the dishes out of the sink.

And so I did.

And I'm also capable of filling the sink with hot water and adding some bleach.

And so I did.

After that it was just a matter of waiting an hour. And the hour was a little easier since Lily woke up and needed a bath.

And the last steps were easy. And they make the sink look really really shiny as promised.

And so we left to visit our friends, and I knew I had done something with my day. Something tiny. But something.

My shiny sink was calling me today. I wasn't feeling much better, and Lily and Ryan were cuddling on the couch watching Fraggle Rock. I wanted to make the cleanliness spread a little. So I unloaded the dishwasher. (although I have no idea who loaded it and ran it. It certainly wasn't me.) And then I took a few dishes, rinsed them, and put them into the dishwasher. And I did it again. And before long, I had six square inches of empty counter space. I was so proud of it that I sprayed it with cleaner and wiped it down.

And now, I have six square inches of clean, next to my shiny sink.

And this might seem like the most boring, tedious blog ever. But the truth is that it was really hard for me to do anything on my own. And emptying the dishwasher was a victory. And so was rinsing those dishes.

And THAT is why Flylady encourages people to shine their sinks. I sort of kind of get it now. And encourage you to shine YOUR sink. And check out Flylady at her website.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A New Year, a New Chance to Fly

I spend a lot of time not knowing what to do with myself. And please understand- when I say I don’t know what to do with myself, I mean this quite literally. I can be found spinning- yes spinning- around my living room, trying to decide whether I should clean or write or eat or sleep or change a diaper.

I work between four and ten hours a week. (work, as in outside the home, getting paid. I “work,” well… how many hours are there in a week?) This is an odd schedule for a Type-A such as myself. I enjoy structure. And schedules. And deadlines. And my most important job- being a Mom- demands flexibility. But there’s a difference between flexibility and lack of plan. And for a person who struggles with anxiety and depression, living in Lack of Plan Land is dangerous. So I sit around going crazy. And please understand, when I say going crazy, I mean THIS quite literally.

This is where I find myself today. A ridiculously messy home. Very little food in the cupboards. Mounds of laundry. Piles of paperwork. And no one to hold me accountable.

So I return, once again, to Flylady. I’ve spoken of her before. And as a reminder, these are HER ideas. NOT MINE. I would hate for their to be any confusion on this point, as this is a woman who has dedicated her life to helping people get out of chaos. Please visit her website and see what she has to say, in HER words.

But Flylady, in MY words, can be a lifesaver. She taught me how to organize my home, and my time, and my life. And she taught me how to do it in a way that worked for me. Usually. And she taught me that when I stray from the plan (as we’ll so often do, living with depression), I can jump back on board wherever I am.

And it’s not so easy. I’m a brat. I don’t wanna. No one is coming over anyway, we’re making it just fine. But I know that I am healthier when the apartment is clean and the cupboards are stocked and the laundry is clean and folded and put away and I know what we’re having for dinner. And it doesn’t make me less of an independent woman. And it doesn’t make me more of an independent woman. It just makes me happier and healthier.

I finished my Morning Routine around 1:15 today. Most of it, anyway, I’ll vacuum when Lily wakes up. And true, 1:15 is technically no longer the morning, but I am giving myself permission to be flexible. I am dressed to the shoes, and Lily and I have had breakfast, and we spent time together (she loves reading books, and I love that she loves reading books) and I spent some time on my own, and I wiped down the bathroom, and the living room is 15 minutes cleaner than it was when I woke up. And you know what? I feel better.

Remind me of that as I fight my afternoon routine with all my strongest inner brat?

And please check out the Flylady website. We’ll do this together.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes

My daughter is learning to talk. As a voice teacher and writer, this is about the coolest thing I have ever witnessed in my life. I have outlined her current vocabulary below. To me, this is fascinating. If it’s not fascinating to you, go read something else. is pretty funny. Try that.

Words that you would recognize, that mean what you think they mean:






No (or, N-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-no)



Bye-bye (used as the thing that is said when a person is departing, and the act of the departure itself)

Juice (not just something to drink, but juice, specifically. Always phrased as a question)

Shoe (used for shoes, but also socks and feet, always phrased as a question)



Hot (almost always accompanied by blowing on something imaginary, even if the thing she’s describing as hot is not food)

Yucky (pronounced yuh-KEEEEEEEEE with a giant glottal stop between the syllables)






Exclamations. This could go in the category above, but is fun enough that it gets it’s own category:

Oh no!

Uh-Oh! (these two are interchangeable)


Whoa! (these two are NOT interchangeable. “Wow” is reserved for the impressive or exciting, or when she just feels like saying “wow.” Whoa, on the other hand is only for things like almost falling down but then catching ones’ self. As in, “Whoa, that was a close one.”)

Boo! (It is important to note an expectation here. “Boo” is always terrifying, and the listener must exclaim how terrifying Lily is for having said it.)


Whassat? (What’s that?)

Whaaaaaaat? (always accompanied by hands held out, palms up.)
Note concerning these questions: they are generally completely out of context and do not refer to anything in particular. She just think it’s funny.

Words that are pretty close, and you’d get it if you really thought about it. Or if we were there to translate:

Nah-nah (night-night, or bedtime)

Bah (bath)

Daw (dog)

Da (dance)

Elwo (Elmo)

Dah (down. Yes, dog, dance, and down sound an awful lot alike. Context clues, people)

Peace (please)

Hep (help)

Buh (book)

Kee-kee or Kih-ee (kitty)

Bee-butt (belly button)

Num-num (food, or the way she feels about the food)

Words that sound sort of like one thing, and mean something else entirely:

Mooooooohhhhh? (more. This is her most common word for food, regardless of whether she has had any yet. Origin, I think: “Lily, do you want some more?” This word is starting to mean she just wants something. And it’s up to the listener to discover what that thing is. Always phrased as a question. Always.)

Bah (back. This is her word for containers. Origin, I think: “Lily, put that back.” Often she is explaining she wants not the thing, but the container that holds the thing. Or both.)

You’d never have any idea what she was saying, but it’s cute and she’s using it consistently and correctly so give her a break:

Kee-kew (Thank You)

Uh, *random syllable*, *LOUDER RANDOM SYLLABLE!!!!!* (One, two, three. That’s right, my kid can count. Uh, sort of.)




Baaaaaaaaaah (complete with vibrato)


Beep- beep

Vvvvvvvvv (the sound an engine makes)

Shhhhhhhh (which means be quiet but is also the sound of running water)

Zzzzzzzzz (the sound of zippers and bees)

And our favorite Lily-ism:

Deedle-eedle-eedle-eedle-eedle! (Which doesn’t mean anything except that she’s really happy.)

I would suggest printing this guide and keeping it handy, but a translator will be provided when you visit if you are not yet fluent in Lily.