Monday, April 30, 2012

look out below

Here is what happened.

The project I've been working on for the last 6 years is no longer.

The project I was hoping to start next week is bust.

The little pink line I was hoping for this month wasn't there.

The other day, I was in the pool, watching a little boy try to jump from the diving board.  His mom was standing by the edge, cheering him on.  His dad was in the water, waiting for him with open arms.  The boy stood there, and stood there.  He moved to the edge of the board, and moved back.  I couldn't stop watching him, and I'm pretty sure everyone else in the pool, even the ones doing laps past me so quickly I could have waterskied behind them, was watching too.
"Jump," we said, silently, in unison.  "There's someone there to catch you.  It's going to be okay."

He didn't see it, of course.  Just like I can't see that despite being 35, and wondering what on earth I'm doing, it's going to be okay.

The only difference is, I know there's someone there to catch me.

So today, instead of working, I went to the park.

I lay down in the grass and said "Fuck" a bunch of times.

I met a friend for dinner.

I made pancakes for dessert.

My life preserver - imagined though it may be - has floated away.  But there's one thing to be said for being 35.

I'm jumping anyway.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Everything I've Ever Done that Worked

Tony is away, and although I didn't specifically agree that I would have dinner with Mama Greek while he was gone, she didn't really give me a choice in the matter.

"You coming for dinner tonight or tomorrow night?" she asked over the phone, a few days ago.  And that was that.

There are about 100 things I'd rather be doing, but I drive over, mopily, Ruble in tow.  Her favourite "movie" has begun when I arrive, which is actually a Greek soap opera.  I'm pleasantly surprised when she keeps it on, and as we eat, she explains the plot.  A woman, it would seem, is in love with a man, who's married, so she decided to marry another man, because he "has good job make good money." Then, when the woman and Good-Job-Good-Money man were at the altar, Married Man swooped in and ruined everything.

"She left her husband to church!" MG rages.  "You can't do that!  Young people, they think that love?  When you married, you don't go round round." (Round round is Mama Greel Speak for having a roving eye.)  "You married now, Natalie," she points out. "You not go round.  Tony not go round round."

                                               image from

Later, the woman drops in on the married man and yells at him for not leaving his wife.  

"But his wife pregnant," Mama Greek explains.  "I hope he stay with her."

We pause as the couple embrace passionately.  

"Love too much," Mama Greek adds, which means "they love each other so much."  She looks at Ruble, who's sitting at her feet, as always, waiting for his onslaught of treats.

"I love you, Ruble," she says.  "Really love you.  Not like them."

Lesley Garner wrote "Everything I've Ever Done that Worked" as a sort of "recipe box": life lessons she's picked up along the way, so she could come back to them when the going got rough.  Which is exactly why I write.  Except I usually forget the "coming back" part.

Driving home tonight, I realized that for me, one of those things is Mama Greek.  No matter how much I resist her, and how much she gets to me, I always feel good after spending time with her.  I've made her happy, and she's made me laugh.  I wish I could have an automatic pop-up reminder of this - in my face - the next time I mope about having to go over.

Then again, since I don't have any choice in the matter, I guess it's just a lesson I'm going to keep on learning.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Magic Chalkboard Monday

"Time is all you have. And you may find out one day that you have less than you think." 
                                                                          - Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"It's important to think. It's what separates us from lentils."

- Jack Lucas, The Fisher King

It's also important to watch The Fisher King.  Or, if you've seen it, to watch it again.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Sunday night, as usual, we head to Mama Greek’s for dinner. What’s not usual is that Tony’s cousin, Dimitri, is visiting from Greece. He is invited, along with two of the other, local cousins. 

It’s the first time they’ve been at the house since Papa Greek died. 

 In fact, it’s the first time Mama Greek has really entertained since then. We arrive early so we can “help,” but she doesn’t let us do anything. Instead, she opens and closes the oven door, piles plates, frets over the potatoes being too cold and the spanakopita being too crunchy. 


Mama Greek spots me making salad dressing and leaps over. 

“You need oil, Natalie?” 

At this point, Tony and his mother really get into it. As usual, they are yelling in Greek, so I retreat to the living room, play fetch with Ruble, and resist the urge to hide under the couch. 

“Why you not say nothing, Natalie?” Mama Greek calls out, once things have somewhat calmed down. 

 “Because I don’t understand what you’re arguing about,” I call back. 

“I wanted to open the back door,” Tony informs me, storming out with a spray bottle. “She says the glass is dirty and people will notice, and I’m trying to clean it.” 

 That’s right. The Greeks are fighting about Windex.

Despite its shaky start, the evening is a success. The cousins pile in, armed with wine and kisses and stories. Have I mentioned how much I love my cousins-in-law? 

“Drop the in-law part,” they always say, and they have made me feel like family from day one - feeding me in Montreal, putting me up in Greece, supporting me when I needed it, installing shelving in my house. I am thrilled to be related to them. 

I’ve brought a DVD over – a documentary about a local Greek restauranteur, who returns to Greece for his first vacation in 32 years. I’ve been wanting to watch it with Mama Greek, and I know the cousins will love it. The only problem is, we’ll have to watch it in the basement. Where Mama Greek refuses to go anymore, unless it’s to get something – or to clean - because that's where she and Papa Greek used to sit together at the end of the day, watching TV. 

“Those were the best times,” she tells me.

Hesitantly, I show her the DVD. To our surprise, she nods immediately. 

“We watch downstairs,” she declares. 

“Are you sure, Ma?” Tony asks. “We don’t have to.” 

“I’m sure.” She points at the photo of the restauranteur on the cover. “Is he better cook that me?” 

She sits between Tony and I on the couch. But as soon as the movie starts, she lights up. As it turns out, she knows both the restauranteur and his wife, whom, she tells us, has since passed away. As she watches, she laughs, clutching Ruble, and gives her usual running commentary. 

“Oh ho ho!” she says, impressed at images of the food. 

“She was good person,” she says, when the man talks about his wife. 

 “Beautiful,” she says, at the shots of Greece. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her so happy.

Later, back at our place, I walk into the bedroom to find Tony in what I call his “Britney” outfit. To give you a visual, my 225-pound husband has a selection of undershirts that aren’t long enough – much like Britney in her schoolgirl days. He wears them to bed, revealing a good two inches of gut and a lot of hair. Some nights, this infuriates me.  Tonight, he’s also wearing black socks pulled up to his calves.  He looks about 80 years old. 

I am infuriated. 

You know that feeling? The “I-can’t-believe-I’m-supposed-to-have-sex-with-you-and-only-you-for-the-rest-of-my-life” feeling?  What happened to making an effort? I want to yell. Remember when you USED to care about what I thought of you?  But something tells me to stay quiet, and for once, I listen. I sit down on the bed next to him. 

“You look sad,” my husband says. 

I shrug. “I sorta wanted to… you know.” 

“I know,” Tony says. “I’m sorry. I’m really tired, and not feeling well, and…” Tears well up in his eyes. “And I really miss my dad.” 

Sometimes, it’s so easy to forget what’s going on for another person – even if it’s the person you’re closest to in the world. Sometimes, it’s much easier to just take things personally.  Needless to say, my tears come, too. And in that moment, I go from anger to love - Britney undershirt and all.

Friday, April 6, 2012

not a chocolate jesus!

Being half-Greek now, I'll be celebrating Greaster, which - typical - is a week after normal Easter.  Then again, Greek Jesus probably called his mother every day.

Happy Easter.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

the exact opposite of how i feel

Hoping posting this will remedy that.