From The Core- One Year Anniversary!

BLOG-ONE YEAR AND COUNTINGIt’s been a year! My first From The Core post appeared July 28, 2014.

I was scared and unsure:

Would people like what I wrote and how I wrote it?

 Was I ready for the world of social media?

 What if I made a grammatical mistake?

Well, I did make errors. Some I was able to fix, others I wasn’t.

And remarkably, I survived.

Reader comments kept me going.

Some of you responded directly on the blog site, some on Facebook, some on Instagram, some by private text message and many in person: at the grocery store, at parties and on the street.

(You’d be surprised how many people are hesitant to comment through social media. I was happy to learn, I wasn’t the only inhibited one.)

Tuesdays became my favorite day of the week as I woke to other bloggers liking my post and tracking how many people had read.

I heard from people I hadn’t talked to in 20 years, from people all over the country and yes, even an old boyfriend.

My work was read in Australia, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Spain, France, Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Israel, Lebanon, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and more.

A special thanks goes to my friends and family who let me write about them, their outrageous stories and vulnerable moments.

All year, friends teased that they had to watch what they said in front of me for fear they’d end up in a post.

I heard everything from, “Shhh, she’s going to write about you” to “It’s good Corie’s not here.” (Yes, people repeat these things to me.)

Looking for material or attempting to drum up good conversation, this blog has been the impetus for many a dinner table debate.

Over the course of this year, I wrote about topics that mattered to me.

Equal rights- Gay Marriage

Empathy- Still Alice

Marriage- Why Are So Many Marriage Essays Going Viral?

Parenting- Parenting Gone Well

Friendship- Friendship Matters

Sex- Masters of Sex

Education- Doodle Power

Addiction- Monkey See, Monkey Do

Writing- Writing: It Could Come Back to Bite You.

The Environment- Earth Day 2015.

I wrote about topics that peturbed me slightly- Pouting Face Emoji

And things that annoyed me greatly- A Tip for My Uber Driver.

I wrote about what I found comical- Braces: The New Chastity Belt and Are You A Control Freak Parent?

And things I feared- Fear: The Good The Bad and The Ugly.

Writing about these topics made me focus on them, and in writing Gone Girl No More, I faced my apprehension, put myself out there, and finally got headshots!

Daring greatly (I'm a Brene Brown lover) I'm posting them here.

Help me choose the new From The Core photograph so I can get rid of the blurry one on my About Page.

HEADSHOT #1

HEADSHOT #1

HEADSHOT #2

HEADSHOT #3

 

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the night my husband asked me to marry him so this is kind of a double anniversary for me.

And it’s appropriate that my blog about relationships and my marriage share an anniversary because as long as I’m married to my husband, I’ll always have plenty to write about!

Wink Emoji

P.S. Thanks for reading!! And don’t forget to pick a headshot favorite!!

Let's Talk About Sex

BLOG-Let's Talk About ItI was never one to talk about my sex life. I thought discussing sex was distasteful. Where did I get that notion?

According to the New York Times article, Let’s Talk About Your Sex, I’m not alone. Even couples therapists don’t talk about sex.

Or at least, they didn’t until recently. And shockingly, couples therapists aren’t required to have any training in sex.

But there are provocative voices emerging in the field of couples therapy and the questions these therapists are asking and the ideas they are probing are gaining my attention.

A few months back, in a blog post titled, Your Brain and Love, I recommended Stan Tatkin’s book, Wired for Love. The premise of the book is that if you understand your partner's brain and attachment style, you can defuse conflict and build a secure relationship.

I am now reading Hold Me Tight, by Sue Johnson. She is the developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy and believes we are emotionally attached to and dependent on our partners in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing and protection.

Both books emphasize safety, loyalty and attachment as the foundations for intimacy.

But the New York Times article also mentions therapist, Ester Perel, who I wrote about in a blog post called, Desire and Marriage: A Pardox? She believes that the current conversation around intimacy and sex are limiting, that while an affair can be an act of betrayal it can also be about expansion and growth.

Dr. Nelson, the author of The New Monogamy: Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity, is also noted.

Both Ester Perel and Dr. Nelson believe that a marriage is not over after an affair. They are broadening the conversation, not speaking in absolutes, asking important questions. They are curious, studying.

In regards to an affair, Ester Perel speaks about being an investigator as opposed to a detective. A detective wants to know where and when and with who. An investigator wants to get to the meaning of the affair.

The New York Times article attempts to position Sue Johnson against Perel and Nelson and I’m wondering why we feel the need to turn their ideas into opposing ones, a battle of it’s either this or that.

Why can’t we look at their ideas as this and that?

All of the therapists mentioned above are adding to the conversation about what it means to partner with someone you love. They are changing the dialogue, challenging old rules and supporting new ways of being in relationship.  Some of their beliefs (like how an affair can draw a couple out of deadness or that your couple bubble comes first, even before your own children) can feel frightening or downright outrageous.

But they are talking, stretching our beliefs, and I admire that.

Not too long ago sex wasn’t taught in school. People feared that talking about sexuality would encourage kids to have sex prematurely. But some were having sex anyway so why not educate them, give them information that could prevent them from contracting a disease or getting pregnant.

Dr. Nelson trains therapists to ask a couple about sex in the first session. “If you’re not talking about sex, you’re perpetuating the idea that they shouldn’t be.”

So in an effort to move out of darkness and into possibility, I agree, Let’s talk about sex.

Writing and Rejection

Thankfully, my novel has been getting good feedback. Really good feedback.

But I got a rejection email this week.

BLOG-REJECTION STAMP

Okay, I’m being dramatic. But that’s how it feels sometimes.

Nobody likes rejection.

And yet in the writing world, you are told, again and again, how getting rejected brings you one step closer to publication.

In On Writing, Stephen King says, “The nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing.”

Click on this link to see a list of best sellers rejected numerous times before they made it.

It is unbelievable to think that Gone With The Wind was rejected 38 times before being accepted. The novel went on to sell 30 million copies.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling received 12 rejections in a row before being accepted. The Harry Potter series set records as the fastest-selling books in history with combined sales of 450 million.

And more recently, The Help was rejected 60 times before getting published. It has become a worldwide best-seller.

It’s always tough when a rejection letter arrives but there is something to be learned: a building of muscle, gained knowledge, a repertoire of experiences that brings you, little by little, closer to publication.

This is my favorite personal rejection story. I refer back to it when I feel discouraged.

As recently as five years ago, short stories were submitted for publication to literary journals by “snail mail”, a term referring to mail delivered by the U.S. postal service.

In my Brooklyn home, there is a mail slot in the front door and every Saturday the mail is delivered at the same time, which coincides with when my family eats lunch.

When the flap on the mail slot hits the frame, it makes a loud clang. For years, every time I heard the sound, I jumped up from my seat at the table and ran to the door to retrieve the mail, hoping I’d get an acceptance letter for any of the number of short stories I’d submitted.

More often than not, I found rejection letters, which is not uncommon in the literary world. Sometimes the rejection is standardized, and on sliver of paper no thicker than a pen, and sometimes there is a note, cordial and encouraging, but nonetheless, a rejection.

Now and then, there was an acceptance letter and that intermittent reinforcement, just like a win at the slot machine, kept me hooked. And so today, even though correspondence with literary journals happens through email, when the mail slot clangs against its frame, I have to stop myself, a Pavlovian response, from running to the door.

The craving for feedback from editors and the desire for publication is intense. And so one summer when we moved to New Jersey, and had our mail forwarded, it was quite distressing when all of it was lost, and I didn’t receive a single piece of mail for over six weeks.

I worried that my dreams of publication would go unrealized if my response letters were gone for good. All that hard work: the writing and editing of the story, targeting appropriate journals, preparing cover letters and stuffing envelopes- all of it- a waste of time.

When the mail was finally found, my husband picked it from the post office. He brought it home in a black trash bag, the mail filling the bag like fallen leaves.

I set the bag on the kitchen counter and separated the bills, newsletters and invitations from the self addressed stamped envelopes that I’d sent to editors around the country.

I opened the letters, hopeful.

Note that it was unusual to receive all these responses at once but because of the mail mishap, I got this particular view.

In response to a specific short story, I got three replies, and I lined them on the counter next to one another.

1. A standard rejection letter. 2. A note saying my short story had potential and that if I was willing to do significant revisions, I could re-submit the story. 3. An acceptance letter.

One story. Three points of view.

BLOG- Black and White Fall Down2

 

Draw, Sing, Dance, Shout from the Rooftops: Je Suis Charlie

BLOG- Je Suis CharlieI’m writing this post because I can. I have that right.

And yet, I have to admit, I’m scared.

I’m scared to google: Charlie Hebdo.

I’m scared to go to a kosher supermarket, a synagogue, a yeshivah.

I’m not scared to the point where I won’t actually do those things; but I do them with forethought.

For months after 9/11 the only way into Manhattan was by subway. As the Q train sped across the Brooklyn Bridge, I put my hands over my face, my head in my lap and prayed. My friend, Susan, took one look at me and said, “I don’t believe what I’m seeing. Are you crazy? What do you think is going to happen?”

I didn’t know.

What I did know was that on the morning of 9/11, while phone lines were still intact, I called my husband, hysterical. I told him I was watching TV and that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I said the building was going to go down. Even as the words came out of my mouth, I didn’t really believe what I was saying. My husband told me I was being ridiculous, that the building would not go down.

But it did.

Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical weekly newsmagazine named after the American Peanuts character, Charlie Brown. The magazine is known for its provocative cartoons mocking political leaders and religious extremism.

All extremism- Catholic, Jewish, Muslim.

“Charlie” is pro-freedom and believes that the best cartoons make people laugh and think.

Extremists don’t want people thinking independently. Education is like kryptonite to extremists. (See: Teach Children and Change the World.)

Twin Pencils It’s true that Charlie Hebdo cartoons have been inciting havoc for years, and after seeing images, I agree that some are racy and even disrespectful; but in a free society, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to look. You can boycott or protest- you can write, draw, dance, march, sing your opposing point of view; but you can’t murder.

Voltaire, a French philosopher and advocate for freedom of religion and freedom of expression said, “I hate what you are saying, but I shall fight so that you are able to say it.”

Friday night, at our Shabbat dinner table, my family talked about the killings at Charlie Hebdo, we talked about the murders at the kosher supermarket and we talked about the march in Paris for solidarity.

I brought up that in response to the supermarket incident, a women commented online, “Why should anyone have sympathy for a group that thinks that regular food out of the regular grocery store is unfit to eat.”

Thankfully, someone wrote back, “That is an incredibly racist and ignorant comment.”

But the questions we are left to grapple with are:

How do we deal with such hatred and naivety?

And how do we fight terrorism while protecting our civil liberties?

Before the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, the magazine was in financial trouble and did not have a huge following. Weekly, the magazine printed 60,000 copies with less than half being sold. But since the massacre, one million copies of the first issue were planned. It was then increased to three and later five million copies. In the end, seven million copies were printed. Ironically, just like with the film The Interview, terrorists have called worldwide attention to, and spurred interest in, subjects that might have gone less noticed.

And as a result of their heinous crimes, we have joined together, and in that solidarity there is commitment and strength. Who knows what will change, or if anything will change at all; but every small act matters, and if the terrorists hadn’t attacked Charlie Hebdo, I probably wouldn’t be writing this post, mostly, because my dedication to freedom of speech wouldn’t have been on my mind; but also because if I didn’t address my own fears in writing this, terrorism would be working.

While I’m not as brave as the editor at Charlie Hebdo who said after an attack in 2011, “I’d rather die standing up than live on my knees,” I embrace his sentiment, and this post is my banner, my contribution to the fight.

I am freedom.

I am Charlie.

Je Suis Charlie

Teach Children and Change the World

BLOG-EDUCATION On October 9, 2012 the Pakistani Taliban shot 15 year old Malala Yousafzai in the head. She was on her school bus.

On April 14, 2014 Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist organization, kidnapped 276 female students in Nigeria.

On December 15, 2014 the Pakistani Taliban killed 141 people (132 of them children) in a school in Peshawar.

Terrorists understand that education corrodes extremism.

Terrorists understand that education is the most powerful force to transform society.

That’s why they keep attacking schools and school children.

It is unthinkable and utterly disturbing.

In a New York Times piece, What’s So Scary About Smart Girls? Nicholas Kristof writes, “When terrorists in Nigeria organized a secret attack last month, they didn’t target an army barracks, a police department or a drone base. No, Boko Haram militants attacked what is even scarier to a fanatic: a girl’s school. That’s what extremists do. They target educated girls, their worst nightmare.”

In a more recent essay, Kristof states, “I’ve concluded that education may be the single best way to help people help themselves.”

So what’s my point?

Is it that…

A. American leaders should know this too and should invest more in education both domestically and overseas?

B. Individuals will find power in getting educated?

C. Parents must educate their children?

D. All of the above.

Malala Yousafzai miraculously survived and is now an activist who speaks on the rights of children. She brought worldwide attention to the mission: BRING BACK OUR GIRLS after the kidnappings in Nigeria.

Sometimes, I feel helpless because it seems there is little I can do.

But in an effort to be a part, albeit a small part, of the solution, I support Room to Read, an organization that envisions a world in which all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world.

It has been said that the most influential of all educational factors is the conversation in a child’s home.

What’s the conversation at your house?

Mothering, Mindfulness and Motivation

  The Little Engine That Could

 

Nisa walked away from her village alone one night, leaned against a tree and gave birth without crying out in pain. I learned about Nisa's life and the !Kung tribe from Africa's Kalahari desert as a freshman at NYU in a class called Cultural Anthropology. Nisa’s story seemed remarkable to me. Up until then, I had few narratives of childbirth. Most were from television where women screamed at the top of their lungs on a hospital bed with doctors, nurses, bright lights and sterile instruments all around them.

And then there was the story my mother told about my own birth. She’d been put to sleep and drugged so heavily, that when she woke, she was afraid to hold me.

Nisa’s birthing experience had a great impact on me. I figured if she could do it, I could do it. And so when I found myself pregnant just one year later, I decided unequivocally, to have what was referred to then, and now, in America as a natural childbirth. (As if childbirth wasn’t inherently natural.)

My husband and I took classes with one of the authors of The Birthing Book by Catherine Keith and Debra Sperling.

I can’t remember if it was Catherine or Debra who taught the class but I do remember she was amazing. I studied her book diligently; and nightly, my husband and I practiced:

Cleansing Breath. Slow Chest Breathing. Shallow Chest Breathing. Modified Slow Chest Breathing. Combined Pattern Breathing. Shallow Accelerated- Decelerated Chest Breathing. Rhythmic Pattern Breathing. Advanced Rhythmic Pattern Breathing.

I breathed. He timed. We both took it seriously.

I was more than prepared on the night I went into labor. It was 1984 and at the time, epidurals were given routinely. The general thinking was you’d be crazy not to get one. Nurse after nurse, attended to me throughout the night and each one warned that since this was a first baby, the labor would be long and intense. They strongly recommended I take the epidural. Over and over again, I declined, reminding myself that if Nisa could do it, I could do it.

I was cautioned that I couldn’t change my mind and get an epidural once my labor passed a certain point (around 7 centimeters) because doctors worried a woman wouldn’t be able to feel enough to push when the time came.

Through each contraction, I breathed and as the contractions got stronger, I changed my breathing to match the pain. My husband was a great coach, supportive and encouraging.

At seven centimeters, panic kicked in. Incredibly in touch with what was happening, I knew I was entering the transition phase. The pain was excruciating and soon enough an epidural wouldn’t be an option.

My body quivered and I lost it, forgetting about Nisa, and all that I’d wanted. I begged for an epidural.

My husband, resolute, cupped my shoulders, his face close to mine, “Stay focused,” he said. “You can do this. Breathe!”

I can’t say I wasn’t a bit resentful at the moment thinking: that’s easy for you to say but I did get it together, and succeeded in having a natural childbirth.

(My children love to tease me about this. They are amazed that I delivered naturally; mostly because they think it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing to do; but also because I carry on so much when I stub a toe or get a bruise. For some reason, I handle major surgery and natural childbirth better than I do a paper cut.)

And so my son, Jack, was born. That was thirty years ago today. (Happy Birthday, Jack!) It is shocking to me since I still feel like I’m thirty years old; and I can’t help but wonder (okay I’m a cliché) where the time has gone.

Jack was the kind of child who when someone hit him, wouldn’t hit back. He was gentle and good-natured.

When he was around ten, he went to Oakhurst Day Camp, known for their amazing swim program. Jack excelled at swimming and was offered the opportunity to become an Oakhurst Swimmer. This was a really big deal, an accolade, he wanted.

On the morning of the swim test, we got up early so Jack could take the test in the camp pool before the other campers arrived. He wanted eggs for breakfast. Then he wanted more. I told him I didn’t think it was a good idea to eat such a big breakfast before a rigorous swim, and that I was worried he’d get cramps.

Being the kind of mother who can’t deny a child food, I acquiesced. I did warn him, however, that if he got cramps it wouldn’t be my fault. (Although since I was the adult in the relationship, it technically was my fault.)

Thirty minutes later, the swim counselor in her navy one-piece bathing suit, a whistle dangling from her neck, clicked a stopwatch and told Jack to begin. He treaded water and did laps. A few minutes into the test, he swam to the side of the pool where I stood, his eyelashes wet, his big brown eyes, dejected. “I have a cramp,” he said.

I told you seemed like the wrong thing to say. So I didn’t.

“Okay,” I said instead, “you’ll try again next week.”

“I don’t want to,” he said.

“What do you mean you don’t want to? You really wanted that award. What happened?”

“I just don’t want to,” he said.

So I was left trying to figure out how to proceed. Did he really not care about the award? Was he scared he’d fail? Did he really have cramps? And, maybe most importantly, what was my motivation in this? Did he want to be an Oakhurst swimmer or did I want him to be one?

And those questions seemed relevant because disinterest in the award was different than doubting if he could get it. But either way, my intuition told me that he’d started something and he needed to finish it. Quitting seemed wrong. I’m a pretty easy-going parent in general, and don’t make my kids do much of anything, but this felt important because he’d wanted it; and I didn’t want him to give up on himself.

It took some convincing, but Jack went back the following week and completed the swim test successfully becoming an Oakhurst Swimmer. This felt like a win on so many levels.

I started this post with the story of Jack’s birth and what stands out to me in these two narratives (me delivering naturally and Jack completing his swim test) is that sometimes we get afraid, and we doubt ourselves, and what we are capable of.

There’s a difference between being pushed into something you don’t want to do and being nudged gently into something you do want to do. It’s important that we learn to motivate ourselves; but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have someone at your side, cheering you on, reminding you that you can do it.

Writing: It Could Come Back to Bite You

Photo of flowers in brick I keep hearing the same thing over and over again in regards to my blog.

“You’re so honest.”

And, as if I didn’t understand this the first time, I get, “No, but you’re really honest. ”

I interpret this as a warning. And after ten posts, I’m feeling it. Shut down. Censored. And I’m having trouble writing.

I go back. I reread. I don’t know what everyone is talking about. Don’t we all fight with our spouses? Don’t we all have medical concerns? Don’t we all go to the bathroom?

Okay, I’m sorry to bring that up again but I’m fighting against censorship here. I had 3 posts lined up for last Tuesday and according to my friends I couldn’t post any of them.

As I developed the piece, Desire and Marriage: A Parodox, my friend said I could not post anything that had the words stool softener in it. “No guy will ever look at you again!”

When I repeated this to a different friend, also married for over two decades, she said: “No pun intended but who gives a shit.”

Later when I told my husband I was worried about revealing too much, he thought about it and said, “It could come back to bite you in the ass.”

The jokes were endless. Even punctuating with a colon got a laugh.

Then, there was this other piece. I’d written it with passion, okay, I admit it, I was a bit irate but I didn’t think it showed. Just to be safe, I checked with a friend and after reading it, she said, “I agree with you one-hundred percent but you can’t post that. You don’t want to be known as The Angry Blogger.”

All of this to say, I got stuck.

I called Alison #2. I named her Alison #2 because she is the Alison who is teaching me about social media. She is the Alison who is a writer and has her own blog, Very Curious Mind. I named her Alison #2 so as not to confuse my friends who know of the original Alison, Alison #1, the writer and author of The Adults who worked with me for years on my novel. Both Alisons are smart and brazen. Both Alisons have been vital to me: part teacher, part muse, part therapist. They’ve helped me fight through my fear. Alison #2 reminds me that writing what others won’t say is part of what artists do.

And I don’t get it really. What’s the problem? I go back again. I reread. I look at other people’s blogs, and see how bloggers sometimes disclose how much they’d pay for a haircut or purse, there are pictures of their children, the insides of their newly renovated apartment, their perfectly organized closet.

Now, those things seem private. Those are things I wouldn’t share.

So here’s what I’ve come up with. I’m comfortable (mostly) revealing my feelings, sharing my thoughts, but my spending habits and a photo of my headboard are off limits.

Maybe it’s just that I’m willing to look less than perfect. It’s what makes us human. I’m not ashamed to say I fight with my husband, I mess up with my kids, I forget to call my parents. And while all of that is true what is also true is that I would do anything in the world for them.

“I believe we don’t chose our stories. Our stories chose us. And if we don’t tell them, then we are somehow diminished.” (Honor Moore quoted in Dani Shapiro’s book Still Writing.)

I am reminded that I need to work hard to ward off my inner (and outer) censors.

My father says that as a kid, I always had to get the last word. Maybe that’s why I write.

Maybe that’s a flaw I shouldn’t reveal.

And maybe it simply doesn’t matter.

Attachment Theory: Letting Go Of My Uterus

Screen shot 2014-08-29 at 1.54.22 PM I’m attached to my uterus.

I’m attached to a lot of things. People mostly.

But I’m sentimental so I get attached to my clothes, my books, and yes, even my uterus.

Sometimes what you resist persists, right?

Life has a way of teaching us what we need to learn and so my children have grown and I’ve had to work hard at healthy separation, I live with two daughters who steal all my clothes (especially when I’m out of town) and we had a fire in our house a few years back- bye, bye books.

Now it’s my uterus that’s on the line. I’m scheduled for surgery in 2 days to remove a 10 cm (that’s the size of a grapefruit) fibroid (a non-cancerous tumor) from my uterus. The discovery of this fibroid was one of the scariest days of my life. (More on that in another blog post.)

Not wanting to part with my uterus, I’ve put this off for years. The surgery is considered elective but I’ve grown tired of regular sonograms, more than my fair share of scares, feeling six months pregnant and having to leave the dinner table doubled over with cramps.

Maybe I should have done this sooner but like I said, I’m sentimental and my uterus has been good to me. Five children have grown in there. I don’t take that lightly. So it seems reasonable that I’d be attached. Plus, it seems perfectly normal and logical to be attached to all my body parts. Doctors talk about removing a cervix, ovaries and fallopian tubes as if they were manicurists removing nail polish.

“When the fibroid goes, my uterus goes too,” I explained to my oldest daughter. “And the problem is?” “I want my uterus.” “That’s weird. You don’t need it.”

And of course, she’s right but need is a funny word. My uterus feels connected to my youth and so there is a sense of loss. Plus, why’d I grow the fibroid in the first place? Unresolved emotions. Pent up anger. Who knows? I will tell you this- fibroids are common. Forty percent of women get them. But they are most common in African American women, women who are obese and women who eat lots of red meat, especially ham. I am none of these.

I tried to explain to my daughter that I didn’t believe you could just cut these things out. It’s the size of baby’s head. Coincidence?

“Okay, that’s super weird. And gross,” she said. “Just get it out. It’s a foreign something growing in your body.”

But that’s just it. It didn’t feel foreign. And for a long time, I wasn’t ready to let it go.

Along the way, I’ve had to fight to keep other body parts. Literally argue. Up until recently a woman’s ovaries were thought to do nothing after menopause (just for the record, that’s still years away) and were taken out without much discussion. It is now known that ovaries actually continue producing hormones for years. Hormones that I want! I had a similar debate over my cervix and fallopian tubes. All of which are staying.

As my mother says, with not a small amount of disdain, “You have to be your own doctor.” The point is you must do research and ask questions.

One doctor wanted to morcellate the fibroid, cut it up into small pieces so I wouldn’t need a big surgery in order to get it out; and a different doctor said morcellating wasn’t a good idea.

Turns out, even though the numbers are small, it is possible to have one bad cell, which once exposed could spread disease. (Yes, getting that information was one of the scary days.)

So it has taken time but I have accepted that my uterus will go. There comes a time for things, and when the right moment presents itself, you know.

When my youngest son was three, my mother asked, “When are you going to cut the umbilical cord?” Like I said, separating is difficult for me but I did separate from him; and now he lives on his own, holds a steady job and plays drums in a band.

Everything in due time.

Stand Up Comedy at Omega

I stood on a stage in front of a few hundred people at Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, bright lights in my eyes. “I don’t know what I’m doing here,” I said to the audience. “I’m so not funny.”

But I’d signed up for stand up comedy in an effort to change that and performing was our final project.

“I did get my friends and family to laugh,” I told the audience, “when I broke it to them I was doing stand up.”

My husband and children think you have to be mean to do stand up.

At dinner, my daughter said, “Mom, you’re like Tinker Bell, and Tinker Bell is so not funny.”

Our dinner table is like that. A battlefield. My children can be mean. They get that from their father. By comparison, I fall short. Recently I’ve tried to pick up my game, and the other night, I threw a spoon at my husband. I confess we fight a lot. I read in an Astrology book that we’re a perfect match- our verbal sparring foreplay. Personally, I’d rather a back rub.

We are Syrian and my husband has dark skin. So do my kids. My husband thinks they look like him, and says I was just Fed Ex. He admits they have my ears, which isn’t a compliment because before I was Tinker Bell, I was Dumbo.

My family fights about everything. They will debate, with vigor, if potatoes are better mashed or fried, if vegetable soup should be more vegetable or more broth. My kids are so mean they even make fun of vegetables. Imagine needing to be one up from a vegetable. Organic vegetables are the worst. They want meat: thick steaks, hamburgers, BBQ. And the terms hormone-free, farm-fed, and free-range piss them off. My family’s all brawn.

They don’t believe in global warming and littering is just practical because as my youngest son says, “When I don’t litter, my car gets filthy.” When I gasped, he said accusingly, “I know you love water bottles.”

And it’s true. I sneak them into my closet, pretending there is only one, and I admitted that on the stage at Omega which was way more daring and scary than doing the flying trapeze earlier that same day. But I’m changing.

I gave birth naturally 5 times. Nursed them all. I made homemade baby food. I was an elementary school teacher. I had the patience of a Saint.

But no more! Now the music on an ice cream truck makes me cringe -- nails on a chalkboard. Children splashing in a pool, irritating as ants at a picnic.

So you see, I can be mean. As the old Syrian saying goes, if you put a cucumber in a pickle jar, you get a pickle.

And just so you know, the audience at Omega laughed throughout my Stand Up routine. A woman came up to me after the show and said, “That was great. You should start a blog.”

I laughed and said, “Now that’s funny.”