Casey's and Sloane's Blog
My desire for quiet is occasionally overwhelming. Our store plays lovely and fun music – which I sign and dance to! – but there are days when I sigh deeply when we turn it off. And mornings when I groan when we start it up.
This summer a friend invited me to swim at a lake. My initial delight was in spending time together. Then my mind latched onto memory of the silence that follows me into water. Both were thrilling and ultimately rewarding.
A few weeks later I was invited back, and I was so forward as to ask if we could swim in the dark, a secret pleasure I remember from my childhood spent in fresh and chlorinated water. My sisters, my parents, and my friends were muted while I explored the capacity of my lungs. The depths never scared me.
True silence was visited upon me that night. A slowly darkening night sky was mine to behold each time I smoothly crested the surface. Long, quiet minutes. An hour perhaps. The magic of friendship that night was when my friend retreated to the house and left me truly alone. I could have wept, and no one would have been the wiser.
Upon his return, we swam into the evening – two voices meeting each other in the dark. I treaded water until my legs were rubbery when I made it back to the dock.
My lungs have a diminishing volume with age, but my love of occasional and deep quiet is met in the embrace of silky, warm water.
p.s. Original painting by Philip Robl. Titled: “The Distance”.
In the last year, we – the Sloane & Casey “we” – have worked on making our store physically different. New vintage display cabinets, entire re-designs of artist displays, wider aisles, cleaner lines, and wider spaces. All while constantly bringing in new and more.
This has truly taken a year. We never went about it to be a shocking change for our customers. Like most things we do, it was gradual and organic in its completion. So much so that customers can’t quite put their fingers on it when they tell us “something’s different.”
Casey has abilities and strengths I do not harbor when it comes to displays in our store. This is fine with me, and I hold no grudges. Truly. She can “see” a new display before she even starts it. She relies on me to help her pull the larger pieces together and to remind her what is lurking and hidden in the display room at STUFF, and then she’s off to the races.
However, she has given me the one area of the store where I am allowed to do the displays that she knows will suit my analytical, spacial driven, and nerdy mind…the card section.
I love it.
Straight lines, themes, groupings. All the challenges are there for me. The fact that we order more cards than usually will fit in the area reserved for cards just makes me more determined.
I seldom ask for help. (If I ever need it, goddess help me.) I am sure I impress my sister with my competence and creativity, as she impresses me with hers.
We get new cards about once a week, and they are never the same design or artist. I look forward to putting the new things out. It takes me away from my other work and sets me free just a little bit from my regularly scheduled programming.
She says the card area would drive her crazy if she were in charge of it. Duh. I knew that before she ever said it. It’s our differences that make us so alike.
I was shelling on a beach yesterday. I kept finding bits of plastic – a lid, part of a pail, a grocery sack – and it struck me, what would happen if manufacturers woke up one day and stopped making plastic items? Just simply stopped.
I am pretty sure that the world would not come to its demise. Actually, it may even slow our demise. Although the reports I read tell a grim tale of how it is too late.
I like my food, drinks and such in glass. It seems more civilized somehow. But, I am bit old fashioned.
It was a passing day dream. I kept walking in the waves picking up gifts of nature that I collect, take home and sort into glass jars.
PS. Any item needed in the medical world made from plastic makes sense. But, prescription bottles could be glass.
PPS. I have stated very clearly that when I die my shell collection should be returned to Mother Ocean (after my daughter chooses what to keep of course).
It was wine night on my deck. Two good friends, a few bottles of wine and some snacks. I was ready for adult conversation. We were kid free. I was craving talk about subjects you save as a parent to talk about when there are no kids around. I know men believe that when women get together we talk about our “periods” and other “women stuff”. Not true! We talk about politics, world views, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. We are evolved women dammit.
Well…most of the time.
This night we were discussing our daughters “coming of age”. We are fast approaching this next adventure in parenting. One of my friends already has older girls, so we leaned in while she shared her sage advice.
We are still a couple years from the big, looming menstrual cycles. So, we somehow got into a discussion about deodorant. Yes, the day your baby girl needs to start wearing deodorant is a big deal.
My own childhood deodorant story is traumatic
I was on a much anticipated trip with 5 family elders. I was the only kid invited to go on their summer vacation. My grandparents, two great aunts and one great uncle all to myself. We drove in two cars to Colorado Springs, Colorado to stay for a week in a mountainside cabin. I rode alone in the backseat of a Duster with no A/C owned by my great aunt, Eunice. I would slide on a pool of my sweat when we made turns. It was bliss. I was on-my-own in an all adult world.
My great aunt, Eunice, a single woman, was the only member from that generation of my family that lived in Kansas City. All my other “greats” were in mid-Missouri. So, I was close to her. She was the “great” that took us to the Zoo and World’s of Fun every summer. We had bunking parties at her house. She made individual jello servings in little bowls with fruit when we visited. She took us shopping and lunching about town.
Eunice was generous and loving. Eunice traveled. Eunice was a “city girl” that lived in her own house. She was independent and worked full time. She dressed nicely and lived simply. I looked up to her and loved her deeply.
She was also very direct and pragmatic. So, when I was stinking up the cabin with my sweaty 10 year old funk, she told me, directly to my face, in front of a room full of my elders without any softness…no hug, no let’s “have a talk”, no warning. Just a flat out “you need to get some deodorant kid, you stink”, I was crushed. I was embarrassed. I was mortified. These were not subjects you discussed in public.
My grandmother Gladys, her younger sister, saved me. She called me into the kitchen under the guise to help her cook and then took me outside the mountain cabin for a short walk to let me cry and to give me a much needed hug.
She also took me the next day to get my very first deodorant.
As I sat on my deck with my friends I shared my story. I also shared my plans to guarantee that my daughter did not suffer the same humiliation. That when she was in her mid-forties sharing wine with her friends she would not have the same sad tale. She would tell a story of her remarkable mother that handled every situation with gentle, loving kindness.
The next day, out of the blue, my daughter walked into the kitchen and said, “Hey Mom, we need to go to CVS and buy me some deodorant. I am starting to get stinky pits.” I was speechless.
I laughed until tears fell down my cheeks. Check that off my parenting list. I thank my Mom and her generation of fellow feminists for championing women’s rights and a world where open, honest, frank discussion about our bodies is common place.
A page from my daughter’s journal.
I wish Eunice was still here. She and my daughter would get along perfectly.
PS. I will look for a photo of my Great Aunt Eunice and share it soon.
Last week my son made me cry. One sentence, spoken in jest. A teenager taking a chance at pointed humor. It hit hard, I blinked back tears and left the kitchen. A whole flight of stairs and a retreat to my bed didn’t save me from feeling bad.
OK. It was the second time he had made me cry, but the first time he won’t remember and it really doesn’t count. He was only a baby. After he had learned to stand – but not steadily! – I was holding him on my lap facing outwards and as he bucked his head flew backwards he cracked his head right into my lip. Much blood, substantially more tears.
Last week he was standing steadily in our kitchen. We had just finished a meal as a family. We were all joking around, and I was going down the list of things to still accomplish that evening. I had seen from the outset that the week we were standing in was going to be a bear. I had planned just about every waking moment and could easily, through my years of event planning and project management, stack the tasks in such a way that no duplicate effort would have to take place. For four people, over six days. I had experience behind me.
Personal objectives, professional challenges, HR meetings, details to finalize for a fundraiser for a treasured charity, preparations for the first floor of our home to be on tour, the yard and garden to make presentable for those who decided to tour, two dozen desserts to make. The list was endless, and I had made it so.
Where we chose to have breakfast together. A place he had never been. An adventure of sorts.
I was partway through that evening’s litany – one phrase included the statement, “we don’t have a lot of time this week” - when he said something along the lines of, “Yeah. That’s a lot, but I only have one summer to be seventeen.”
He was right. I had crammed so much into a week in preparation for the busy weekend that I had forgotten what was important. A touch of fun. A relaxed schedule. Freedom. You know, summer. As a teenager lives it.
His comment slapped me hard. I welled up, mumbled something, and took off. I wasn’t wanting him to follow me and apologize, which he did later. I just wanted to be alone.
When he found me in my room, he quickly said he was sorry for making me cry. His voice betrayed his sadness. I never made eye contact with him but told him that I was OK and would be downstairs later. He accepted that quietly, stated again that he was sorry, stood there a while longer, tapped the bed with his hand and left the room.
We didn’t see each other much the next day due to his work schedule and mine. Time passed, and I stewed in the guilt of not ever really accepting his apology for making me cry.
Two days later, while the two of us were at breakfast alone, I told him I was sorry for upsetting him the other night but not for crying. I believed he needed to see my tears. He tried to apologize again, and I touched his arm and he stopped. I told him he had been correct. That time was flying by and that I had been – at that time – focused on things that were calling to be finished. I told him that the truth hurts sometimes.
To speak it and to hear it.
I was out with my mother this past Saturday night. We had grabbed coffee and sweets at a local coffee house after dinner in a popular night-life neighborhood. As we were leaving we saw a young man in a black t-shirt with giant hot pink lettering that read, “Hey You, Take Off Your Panties!”
My mother and I had been discussing #YesAllWomen and the recent tragic events surrounding this outcry for women. And, there it was in GIANT HOT PINK lettering…a not so gentle confirmation…that #YesAllWomen are subjected to misogyny.
I went home that night and I couldn’t sleep, I kept worrying about this guy drunk, entitled and in search of women that would respond to him. I worried that women would resort to pretending to find it humorous to try and disarm or nullify any drunken aggressive response he may have in defending his stupidity and his “right” to wear that awful shirt. I could see other men all night slapping him on the back and laughing with him, while he blatantly showed his distaste towards women. I just hope that his personal billboard worked as a warning to women to keep their distance.
It isn’t funny. It has never been funny. It will never be funny. He and his shirt are tasteless, insensitive, heartless, mean and harmful to women and girls.
I wish I would have said something. But, honestly, I was afraid.
#YesAllWomen is a Twitter outcry that 1.8 million people (to date) began in response to the killing of 6 women in California. You can read a bit about it here or by searching for articles online.
Yesterday my mood meter swung unexpectedly and quickly from blissfully happy to deeply sad in a matter of minutes. Everything is okay. As my grandmother used to say, “no one died today”. It is just another big bump in my relationships journey.
I spent the evening at dinner with my father and my step-mom. We spent four short hours together at a booth table in a restaurant. Eventually the entire staff gave up on us ever leaving and left us alone. It was wonderful. The night flew by and we were all shocked to discover four hours had passed so quickly. My Dad has always teased me about how much I talk. And, even asked me last night what it is like to have so much boundless energy. He then expressed a concerned – as parents will – that I find quiet time for myself. I reminded him that I live with a nine year old that goes to bed by 8:00pm each night. So, yes, I have plenty of quiet alone time and I get a bit excited when I get to be with adults. He smiled.
When I returned home I checked my computer. There was an email that stated that my sister had shared a pin on Pinterest with me.
I clicked on and this is what came up…
I fell apart in a pool of tears. It was exactly what I needed. She knew that when she sent it. She knew I would cry. She knew it would wear me out and zap my boundless energy. And, she knew I would sleep the deep, heavy sleep that comes after an emotional release. I woke feeling groggy, but ready.
My sister rocks!
PS. I tried to find the original source of the image above, but sadly couldn’t. If you know the source, please let me know. I would like to give them credit for their words.
PSS. I am deeply blessed with a family that loves, accepts and celebrates me.
Towards the middle of my grandmother’s second battle with breast cancer, she realized she was never going to see Europe. My grandfather had recently died, she was weakened by treatments, but her urge to travel kicked in again on a morning in September. She had, for all my life, always been a woman in constant and focused motion.
I remember the day she asked me to take her to New York City. She called me and immediately upon my answering started in. “What does a room actually cost at the Waldorf-Astoria?” This query had to have been founded from my sister Casey and me telling her about our discounted adventures during a market we had attended a month before at the hotel she was asking about.
I didn’t really know where she was heading with this line of questioning, I figured she might just be nosy. But whenever she started with a question and not a “hello”, I knew she had been chewing on an idea for hours or days. I was intrigued and willing to play along. I didn’t really know what the room rate was, but I jumped online after hanging up and found out. By the end of our second abbreviated conversation that day, she all but said she wanted me and my husband to join her in “the biggest city I’ll ever set foot in.”
I’m not a fool. We went to New York.
We ended up sharing a room – her in one double bed and us in another. I think she wanted us close – and, if I remember correctly, the room rate was steep. She never intended on staying in any other hotel. Without ever having been to New York, the Waldorf was “her New York”. The hotel of queens and presidents and movie stars. Fancy balls, galas, and weddings. And her dreams.
I let her choose our agenda, but, seeing my once-vibrant grandmother lessened by disease, I knew we would need to hit the highlights and see the breadth and width of the city in ways that impacted the body softly. Looking back, the only thing we didn’t get done was a subway ride. Taxi rides, tour boats to Staten Island and around Lady Liberty, top-level seats on a double-decker tourist bus, three Broadway shows, a hot dog from a street vendor, and one special dinner after a show near Times Square. We accomplished a great deal. We went in early October, and the weather was delightful. Blue sky days and crisp nights.
The greatest memory from the trip happened in our room. She was in her bed, the one closest to the bathroom. She was on her right side facing away from me and the bedside light. I had seen her in this position every time I ever entered her bedroom as a child. My husband was sitting beside me reading in our bed, and we were both still dressed from our afternoon matinee. She had already declared herself “in for the night” an hour or so earlier.
Many minutes passed in the city that never sleeps, and night darkened outside our single window facing Lexington Avenue. I thought she was sleeping because her hand-knitted cap – to cover chemo-ruined hair – was firmly in place and she was still.
Out of the blue, I heard, “We need pizza.”
She was right, and my husband was delighted. It is his favorite food in any city, but “street pizza” in NY is the delicious pinnacle. I forged ahead with questions about specifics – toppings and sauces – and she said, “Get five pieces, all different, and we’ll share.”
We loved every bite, and she marveled at the size of the slices – each in its own box – and wondered how we would ever finish them. It really wasn’t a problem any of us spent much time contemplating.
Pizza may not have been the wisest decision for late night food for a survivor over 70 years of age – or for her descendent and her husband. Ours was the smallest room the Waldorf offers, and we filled it with the wonderful smell of pizza. And probably the hall as well.
Today I walked alone from a borrowed apartment in New Jersey. I traipsed to the ferry and made my daily move into Manhattan. Every day before this one on this trip, I have been in motion with a member of my family – husband, sister or friend. I was never alone. Until today. It didn’t last, the alone part. Somewhere in the watery region between New Jersey and New York, I was with my grandmother again. She joined me on the ferry, and the memories of five days spent in this city ten years ago overwhelmed me. It was the last trip she ever took.
I believe we all have our own New York, whether we live there full time or live in it as visitors. Places we must visit every time we can. Neighborhoods we move through because they take us back to the first time we were there. Routes considered and re-considered depending upon the time of day.
My son’s New York continues to hold awe and discovery.
My sister’s New York has the Twin Towers in it.
My mother’s New York gifted us fancy truffles every time she returned to her children.
And her mother’s New York was the Waldorf-Astoria.
My New York? I’m still trying to figure it out. But I’m willing to come as often as it takes to solve the mystery. It’s probably all of their New Yorks combined with mine.
p.s. All of these photographs were taken on my daily walks to and from the ferry on this most recent trip to New York. On the last day, there was a parade. You can’t beat that with a stick.
There are certain times of the year when the days move so fast and every day is so crammed full that a calendar – on paper or screen – can’t contain or corral it.
In my job, that’s every day from about Halloween to New Year’s.
As a mother, it’s the month before school ends.
Each and every day has a little extra task in it brought to me by my child. Over the weekend, it was potato salad for 75 people at a volunteer gig. Four dozen cookies for the teacher’s lounge. Nineteen gifts for a national youth exchange. Brownies for math class. None of this makes us a unique family, because every family I talk to is on the verge of having their neatly paced lives run amuck.
In early March, our family went to my youngest niece’s school to view the rainforest that had been crafted by her entire grade. I wrote about that magical day then. It was the camera shot I took afterward during “snack time” that hit home. I was already – two months out from the end of school! – talking to others about how “we’ll get to it this summer” and “that would be the perfect thing to do this summer.”
We were in the multi-purpose room of her school, and I saw physical proof of what I was already doing…packing the proverbial boxes on my calendar full for every day and every thing that needed to get done so that we could all arrive alive at summer. Unscathed. Whole. Ready for a slower pace.
Just a few more dozen cookies, many tests, a child’s three-plus-day trip to a science contest overlaid with his parents’ seven-plus-day business trip. Then the junior year of my son’s high school year will be behind him.
We’re almost there.