This has been a summer of loss. Another member of our family passed away yesterday – a woman who I grew fond of and who ironically, grew closer to our family by reading this blog. She used to comment here regularly up until recently when she became ill and would email wondering if I was ok when I didn’t post everyday. After it was clear that she wasn’t up to traveling to Washington this summer as she did every summer where we’d meet, we talked about meeting up in Hawaii instead next summer where she lived. I thought about her yesterday when I read that Hawaii was bracing itself for 2 hurricanes, but I didn’t expect this bit of news quite yet. Marie, I’m sorry that we won’t have a chance to meet up next summer as we talked about in our emails.
My side of the family had been spared the devastation of loss up until my brother died. In that respect we’ve been fortunate, but I think it’s also why my brother’s death was so profound. Everyone felt the shock of it during our memorial at the cemetery when our whole entire family gathered for our first funeral. We have a family plot reserved for several members of our family, but nobody expected that the first name to be etched on a grave would be one of the youngest, or that our 92 year old grandmother would survive her grandchild.
In a lot of ways the last 2 weeks have been harder than the 2 months following the initial shock. That’s why I embraced office life this summer even though the idea of working in one would have been a deal breaker for me in the past. I don’t really think about things other than the work when I’m there, but when I’m home, I often find myself just staring into space. I know my mom feels the same way. Certain days just catch you off guard though, and I found myself crying on the subway Monday morning on the way to the doctor’s office rather randomly. But…I thought I was starting to move past all this? But no. When you live through a tragic and traumatic death, there really is no easy way to move past anything.
A friend of mine recently asked me if I felt like an only child now. My answer was yes, I do.
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Can a bag change your life? Seems silly, but at the moment, I feel like this Madewell tote has. (by the way, this post is neither sponsored, nor was the bag comped. Sometimes I feel like you need to clarify these things these days). ANYWAY. Some things about working in an office have changed since the last time I worked in one, which was a 6 week gig when I was 7 months pregnant with C. For one, everyone carries their laptop to the office every day where I’ve been working and I found myself lugging mine around without an appropriately sized bag to carry my computer in. I was using various cheap canvas totes everyday when I started looking for a sturdier bag. Aside from the fact that is was big enough to hold a laptop, I wasn’t totally convinced that this leather tote would be the answer when I bought it. It was a bit of a splurge, but I’ve been carrying it around everyday, and after a month, I’ve decided that I LOVE this bag; it’s the best purchase I’ve made in a long time. It doesn’t make carrying around a laptop any less heavy, but it’s been pretty damn perfect so far for everything.
The other thing that’s changed about office life is that people just group chat with each other about everything all day long, even though the team sits in close proximity to one another. We have meetings when we need to brainstorm/ review/ discuss, otherwise all communication is basically in chat. One of the reasons is so that everything is archived and on record, but still! Texting the person next to you to see if they’re ready to go grab lunch? So weird, and yet 2 months later, so natural. What.
During meetings, the whiteboard is used for note taking, and then we all take photos of it on our phones to save the notes and share with one another. Technology is funny. It’s interesting to observe how it’s changed our behavior.
Speaking of lunch…I was never an out to lunch every day kind of person when I used to be an office worker bee. I’d either bring food from home or buy salad making ingredients for the week with my coworker and we’d make our own salads. It’s been kind of fun eating lunch out a few times a week since it’s something I never do, but now that’s it’s been 2 months of lunches, it’s getting expensive and some of the novelty has worn off. I’m also not used to eating such a huge meal in the middle of the day. I work with all guys (that’s a tech startup for you) and the ordered lunches are big and there are unlimited snacks in the kitchen and with all the sitting and snacking and eating all the day long…well, you get the picture. Makes me want to jog around the block a few times.
But the coffee! Ironically I was not a coffee drinker at all when I lived in the NW. It was working in an office 14 years ago that made me the coffee drinker I am now. Learning how to make an espresso or a cappuccino on a $13,000 La Marzocco machine (I googled the price. I had to) is all kinds of win. Getting the foam just right is challenging, but I’m working on it.
One thing that hasn’t changed? The AC. Offices are as cold as ever. No matter what outfit I’m wearing to the office, I’ve got a wool granny cardigan on. Makes that moment you first walk out of the building and into the heat of a summer day pure bliss.
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I heard on the news that a 10 year old girl drowned at Coney Island a day after our visit last week, climbing around the rocks after life guard hours. She and her little sister were pulled by people nearby, but she did not survive. I was just staring at those same rocks the evening before.
I think I’ve become more sensitive about adolescent pressures and the growing independence of the kids since the summer – not that those 3 things necessarily relate to each other, but they’ve all been on my mind lately. I wrote about independence a few months ago, but I struggled this morning thinking about middle school next Fall and the possible logistics of getting the girls to different schools at different times. I know that it’s still a year away and we haven’t even started the stressful middle school application process coming up in the Fall, but this was the thing I fixated on this morning. Ultimately, the kid will have to get to school by herself, like the majority of middle school kids in our neighborhood, but at this point in time, the concept of her walking around anywhere without me is something I can’t wrap my head around.
Sometimes I just want to hold on to my kids for as long I can, but I know I can’t protect them forever. After what’s happened recently, I have a new fear that didn’t really exist before, but they need to learn how to be independent too – to be able to navigate themselves in this crazy world, to learn how to cope with challenges, stress, peer pressure, and to learn how to survive. You can’t do any of those things for other people no matter how much you want. Isn’t that ultimately our job as parents? Our kids are growing up in a very different world than we did and most certainly will be adults in a world different from ours now too. We’re facing stuff as parents that no other generation has had to deal with before. In a way, we’re adapting and experiencing rapid changes in technology simultaneously so there isn’t as much hindsight knowledge to reflect on that might help inform us. Mostly, I think technology and the internet is positive and good, but we live in some weird times and there’s a lot of ill intent out there; childhood also feels shorter somehow.
P.S. That mural which has been the backdrop to so many photos I’ve taken of the girls over the years is being dismantled because of the structural integrity of the bricks. No one seems to know if it will be repainted again. Of all the things that have been disappearing in NY lately, this one made me really sad.
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These days, I come here and don’t know what to say. Are people blogging anymore? If I’m going by the handful of personal blogs I read, I might be tempted to answer no. I wonder what’s changed, whether we’re sharing in other ways or choosing not to share much at all anymore.
I’ve been distracting myself with work this summer, piling it on and saying yes to a lot of projects (but also no, too). I suppose it’s avoidance, keeping busy. It’s been good and what I’ve needed, but in the last week I feel like I’ve hit a wall and I have lost all energy. Maybe I took on too much too soon. Suddenly, I’m craving the space to do nothing and sit and search through decorative pillows and side tables on the internet if I wanted to. One day after dinner when I headed back to my computer to meet a deadline, Mia asked me, “why don’t you just say no to work if you’re so busy?” I laughed because it seems reasonable and logical enough. The kids are like mirrors, telling it like it is and reflecting back what they see without any judgements. I just think I need to find a better balance, but isn’t that always the question?
Now that we’re looking into August, it’s that time when we feel compelled to cram as much of summer as possible in the next 4 weeks. We’ve been going places, seeing art exhibits (Jeff Koons at the Whitney Museum above), swimming whenever we can, and taking advantage of the free events in the city. Despite everything that’s happened, I think it’s been a full summer for the girls and every once in a while, I still catch my breath and think that we’re lucky to be able to raise them in a city where they can be exposed to so much.
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…seems to be ambling by faster than usual. I suppose there was also a lost month in there. As we go about our usual summer activities, I’m struck by how mild the weather has been, save for a few hot muggy days here and there. I’m not a fan of sleeping with AC on, so it’s been a pleasant thing, snuggling under a blanket with the windows open; the evenings have been downright cool.
The girls are in and out of camp these 2 months and when they’ve been home, always ask “what are we going to do today?” I was the same way as a kid–always needing to know what’s next–and it drove my mom crazy. But the days with them at home have fallen into a comfortable, leisurely routine. I watch them and admire how close they are, even for siblings, and sometimes feel pangs of sadness that I don’t have that anymore. Some days are still met with disbelief that he is gone. Other days I feel kind of like a jerk because I’m obviously not the only person who has ever lost someone. In that respect, although I know this thinking is ridiculous, grieving feels a bit self indulgent, particularly when you feel like you need to move on with life. Things are still complex; I think about him everyday.
It’s easier to forget about things when I’m at the office. I forget that I’m angry or sad, but scrambling for childcare when this was unexpected has been a challenge. Maybe we’ve taken for granted this flexibility that we’ve created because we’ve always been around when we’ve needed it. I haven’t given it much thought since the kids started school years ago, but the stress of childcare has bubbled a bit to the surface lately. Working parents – in office, out of office, work from home – it’s all a challenge in its own ways.
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