24 Hours in DC

“Washington, D.C., with its wide streets, confounding roundabouts, marble statues, Doric columns, and domes, is supposed to feel like ancient Rome (that is, if the streets of ancient Rome were lined with homeless black people, bomb-sniffing dogs, tour buses, and cherry blossoms).” ~ Paul Beatty, The Sellout

I traveled to Washington, DC last week for a case I had been working.  It had the distinction of having reached the highest court in the country.  I had the honor of being invited to watch the oral argument that was to be heard at the Supreme Court of the United States.

I flew in on Tuesday evening.  I woke up on Wednesday morning to soft falling snow.  Washington, DC is funny in that the city becomes paralyzed with a mere few inches of snow (slush, really).  I was afraid that our hearing was going to get postponed as the rest of the city operations were closed, but fortunately, the Supreme Court was tough, and they remained open.

The rest of the city, however, was a ghost town.

My 17:30 flight back to New York was delayed, so I decided to just cancel the flight entirely and book a 15:05 train back home.  It was a good move, and I was home by 19:00.

There really is no place like home.

There Will Be a Fish

“Chance is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish.” ~ Ovid, Heroides

Last year, I made a life-changing decision to try one more time.  One last attempt, I told myself.  I fought with myself for weeks, oscillating back and forth from “should i do it?” to “I will definitely do it!” and I did definitely do it, and looking back, I am glad I did.

It was not easy.  I felt as though I had to swallow every last shred of pride and dignity that I had left, and I had to stop my mind from going back to those dark years of my life with him, but I somehow managed to pick up the phone, dial his number, let it ring, hear him answer, and simply talk to him.

The first few minutes were awkward, strained even.  But I was determined.  I had to let him understand that I was not reaching out to him for any other reason other than to try to bridge the years and the distance and the time lost between my daughter and her father.

He did not believe me at first.  Too much time had passed, he said, and he didn’t see the sense of it all.  Deep down I felt that he was scared.  Scared to make the effort, scared to feel the fatherly feelings towards his daughter, only to find her rejecting him in the same way he had rejected her all these years.

I begged him to try.  Not for me, but for her.  Because no matter how we felt for one another, she was innocent.  And she deserved to meet him at least one time in her life.

I told G that I had contacted her father.  She immediately wrapped her arms around herself and her body stiffened.  I felt her bracing herself as I summarized my phone call with him, and told her of our plan to meet.  She was silent.  She looked apprehensive.  After a few seconds, she said, “Ok.”

She met her father for the first time on a cold night last January.  It was anti-climactic in every way.  There was no big crying reunion scene between father and daughter.  Instead, it was an awkward and tense evening that left all of us emotionally drained.

If one were to ask me that night how I would envision the next year to be between us, I never would have imagined the situation that it is now.

Now, one year later, after many rough months of ironing out of differences and building trust, she divides her time between her father and me.  Sometimes she is with him (and his new wife and her son), and other times she is with me.  While he and I will never be friends, we get along better now than ever before.  It is a relationship born out of the mutual love we have for our daughter, and while far from perfect, it is better than I had even hoped.

I am proud of myself for giving him one more chance, even though I felt at the time that he never deserved it.  But G deserved it.  And I’m glad that I fought for her chance.

Twenty Nineteen

“Where did feelings go when they disappeared? Did they leave a chemical trace somewhere in our minds, so that if we could look inside ourselves we would see via the patterns of neurons some of the important things that had happened to us in our lifetimes?” ~ Evelyn Lau, Inside Out: Reflections On a Life So Far

So, here I am.  Back again.  It is now 2019.  I cannot believe that the last time I was here was in 2017.

Much has changed since the last time I wrote.

For one, I am significantly older.  In many ways.  Physically, emotionally, mentally.  2018 was the year of growing up.  I left a great job in the early part of last year, and went on to an even better job.  The new job is challenging and has brought me to what I thought were my limits, but I have been able to shatter previous ceilings and reach for higher elevations.  It has been an exhausting but rewarding ride, and I have graduated to the next level of my career.

Last year was also the first time that I noticed the middle-aged pouch developing around my midsection despite my attempts at healthy eating and moderate exercise.  I had to step up my game, and so I decided to join a gym in October.  This week will be my third month, and I am proud to say that I have been able to workout at least three times a week.  So far, I have not lost any weight, but I feel better and my clothes fit nicely.  My posture has also improved, and the increased circulation seems to have brightened my complexion.

Mentally and emotionally, I have made significant strides.  I am less depressed and I feel more positive in general.  I have been battling bouts of depression my entire life, and I am sure that I will have those down cycles again, but for the moment, I am grateful that I am feeling good, and without any chemical help, thank you very much.  Consistent exercise and eating well have been effective at healing my mood swings, and I will do my best to stay on track.

For those of you who have been following me from the very beginning, my daughter, G, is turning twelve in March.  Remember how I used to call her Baby G?  Well, she is now Tweeny G.  She is almost as tall as I am. She is spunky, smart and quick-witted, and unfortunately for me, good with the clapbacks.  There have been moments when I have pictured strangling her for how she talks back to me, but deep down I am proud that she is a person who will not accept BS or abuse from anyone.

I promise that I will do better in coming back here as often as possible.  Please let me know if you are still around.  I hope to reconnect with all of you.  Cheers!

Reaching for a Star

“All these years I’ve had a story in my mind, the story about us that never really existed. And because of that story, I’ve kept you framed up on the wall in a little box of nostalgic moonlight.” ~ Cathleen Schine, The Love Letter

You and I went away once, to Puerto Rico – a Wednesday through a Sunday kind of trip.  We were not alone though.  We had a whole group traveling with us, mixed genders, but no actual couples.  We were all merely friends, vacationing together under the warm sky of Puerto Rico.

Our friend, P, had a sweet deal with the hotel.  The Ritz Carlton, no less.  Our group of nearly twenty, divided among five rooms, for about $25 a night.

I stayed close to you, like a shadow.  I made sure to be paired in the same room as you, and when it came time to choose a partner for the scooters we rented, I made sure that you had no choice but to pick me to ride behind you.  I held onto you as we rode through Old San Juan, and as we passed through the cobblestone streets, I had wished that you were mine.

At night, we ate and drank, laughed and danced, and talked as if there no were yesterdays or tomorrows.  We swam in the hotel pool and walked on the beach.  We took pictures together, our smiles framed by the gorgeous backdrop of Puerto Rico.

Sunday came too soon, and it was time to leave and go back to reality.  On our last day, we stopped at El Yunque, and you took pictures of me and our friend, M.  You even gave me your photo roll and asked me to develop the photos.  When I picked up the photos, I saw that you had taken several shots of me.  My heart swelled with happiness.

But we were back home.  While the magic and chemistry still flowed strongly through me, it had all but left you.  You were distant and far, and I knew then that I could never have you.

We remained friends throughout the years, but mostly because I persisted and kept maintaining contact.  You were simply too polite to just not respond.

I contacted you recently, after having lost touch for many years.  We texted briefly about the trip we took in Puerto Rico.  You had mentioned that it was a great, memorable trip.  And just like when we had returned from Puerto Rico, you became distant, and just like before, I was left wondering why.

You are like that bright star in the sky, the one that hangs low, so low that one could almost feel as though they can reach you, but just like all the other stars in the sky, I can aim to reach you, but I will never actually be able to catch you.

Time to Move On

“I always feel as if I’m struggling to become someone else. As if I’m trying to find a new place, grab hold of a new life, a new personality. I suppose it’s part of growing up, yet it’s also an attempt to re-invent myself. By becoming a different me, I could free myself of everything. I seriously believed I could escape myself – as long as I made the effort. But I always hit a dead end. No matter where I go, I still end up me. What’s missing never changes. The scenery may change, but I’m still the same old incomplete person. The same missing elements torture me with a hunger that I can never satisfy. I think that lack itself is as close as I’ll come to defining myself.” ~ Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun

I decided that I will move.  Again.  The home that I built for myself and for G, was a home that I built when I was still in love.  It was a home that I furnished and filled with love back when I still had dreams of a future with my ex.  Now that that dream is no more, I have new dreams, new goals and new desires.  It is only fitting that I move onward and forward, and let go of everything that still ties me to the past, and to him. After all, I never really wanted to move there.  I had a beautiful pre-war, rent-control apartment that I gave up in order to move in with him, in his hometown.  Before a year had passed, he had managed to cheat on me and get the other woman pregnant.  G and I were left alone in our new apartment, tucked away in a suburban borough, and far away from where we were accustomed.  I felt like a cornered lamb, defenseless in a foreign cage, with nowhere comforting to run.  He had baited us to leave our city life with promises of a loving suburban home, and once we were settled and finally felt at home, he took out the butcher knives, and hacked away at our dreams and trust, and we were left like cut up little pieces of anguish and heartbreak.

Because we are strong, we managed to make the best of our lives, and to triumph, despite it all.  G has managed to become one of the top students in her class, and I have similarly advanced in my career.  The hurt and ache only drove us to strive harder.  But, it is time to let go of everything and start anew.  If she and I were able to succeed in spite of all the negative forces surrounding us, how much more prosperous we could be if we left all that behind us.

Deadbeat

“For every father who steps out to get a pack of cigarettes, never to be heard of again, there is a child who grows up with an inerasable sense of abandonment, despite any success they may achieve in life.  I hope it was worth the smoke, you deadbeat motherfucker.” ~ Beryl Dov, 50 Shades of Green: Poems and Aphorisms about Time, Aging and Childhood

I cannot know how she is feeling because I grew up with both my father and mother.  I saw her crying in her room last Friday and when I asked her what was wrong, she said that it was the night of the father and daughter dance at school, and she said that she had been dodging questions from her classmates as to the whereabouts of where her father is.

She knows where her father is.  He is in Brooklyn, less than ten miles away from where we are.  He has never made attempts to see her.  Prior to the new year, she even sent him a “friend” request on a social media site.  Not only did he not accept her request, he even took the extra step to block her.

She cries, not because she longs for him, but because she cannot understand why her own father, her own flesh and blood, wants nothing to do with her.

I cannot understand it either.

Venezia è Bella

“But maybe every life looked wonderful if all you saw was the photo albums.” ~ Liane Moriarty, What Alice Forgot

As I had mentioned, I finally had the chance to upload my photos from Venice – over a thousand!  I will spare everyone from that, however, and will only post a select few.

Our holiday was nothing short of fabulous.  It was a quick holiday – only five nights and six days, but we managed to pack in a lot during that short time.

We arrived at the airport in the early afternoon and took a shuttle bus into Venice.  Upon arriving in Venice, we had to take a water taxi (vaporetto) to our stop, Rialto Mercato.  We stayed at a very charming AirBnb apartment near the famous Rialto Bridge.

Throughout our stay in Venice, we managed to take a few guided tours that included St. Mark’s Basilica, the islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello, and a simple guided tour around the heart of Venice.  G even met a famous Venetian painter and bought a few of his paintings.

We also took a day trip to Milan and to Lake Como.  My only regret is that we didn’t have enough time to see more sights.

Single Parent Life

“Don’t be ridiculous, Charlie, people love the parents who beat their kids in department stores. It’s the ones who just let their kids wreak havoc that everybody hates.” ~ Christopher Moore, A Dirty Job

The life of a single parent is hard.  It is damn hard.  There are many days when I wonder how I can possibly do it all – wake up, make her breakfast and a lunch to bring to school, race to get her to school, race to make it to work on time, race to pick her up from afterschool, bring her to her scheduled activities, go home and make dinner, spend time with her, do household chores, exercise – and still stay somewhat sane.

On Monday night, she asks me if I am going to her spring concert.  “Sure,” I said.  “When is it?”

“Tomorrow night,” she answers.

“What?!  Tomorrow night?  Why are you just telling me about it now?”

“I forgot,” she retorted.

I told her that because I was not given ample notice and that I already had other things planned for Tuesday evening, I would not be able to attend the spring concert but that I would still drive her to school so that she could perform.  She seemed content with that.

On Tuesday, I drove her to school in the evening and I picked her up after the concert.  I asked her how it went, and she said that it went fine.  She then mentioned to me how “Ally’s mom and JJ’s mom were there and they recorded me and told me how great I was.”  I told her that I would ask them for a copy.

When we got home, she asked, “What did you do the whole time during my concert?”

I told her that I had made dinner and some other household chores.  She said, “That’s it?”

I answered, “Yes, that’s it.”  I could tell she was angry that I did not attend her spring concert, but after all the prior weeks preparing for her Communion, I really was not in the proper frame of mind to attend her Spring Concert, especially considering that she had failed to mention it to me until the prior night.

She then blurted out, “I wish you were like other moms.”

I told her that I wished that I was like other moms, too, and that I wished I could get the help that they have — a husband or a family to help them with everything since I was alone and doing all the work of bringing home an income, making sure that she gets to/from school, eats three times a day, and has activities she can do to keep her mind and body busy.

Some days are just damn hard.  Yesterday was one of them.

Communion

“Love and Compassion are the true religions to me. But to develop this, we do not need to believe in any religion.” ~ Dalai Lama XIV

G had her First Communion this past Saturday.  In her words, she feels “good.”  I am proud of her.

We had a small luncheon after Mass at the neighborhood Greek restaurant.  After lunch, we went to visit the local firefighters as the city was holding an open house at all the firehouses around the city.

It was a great Saturday.  Sunday was not so bad either as I finally had time to upload my photos from my recent trip to Italy.  I’ll be posting those soon – cheers!

Unfinished

“It would be much better if I could only stop thinking. Thoughts are the dullest things. Duller than flesh. They stretch out and there’s no end to them and they leave a funny taste in the mouth. Then there are words, inside the thoughts, unfinished words, a sketchy sentence which constantly returns … It goes, it goes … and there’s no end to it. It’s worse than the rest because I feel responsible and have complicity in it. For example, this sort of painful rumination: I exist, I am the one who keeps it up. I.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea

I have about a dozen unfinished (and unpublished) entries on here.  I sign in quite often, write a few paragraphs, but then inevitably become distracted, get called away, or otherwise become unavailable (mentally and physically) to complete my thoughts.
A few weeks ago I started to write about MJ, a friend with whom I was enamored but inexplicably never took an interest to me.  I contacted him via text message after over a decade of no contact.  He has not changed. He is still not interested in me.
Then I wrote another entry, also unfinished, about a book that I had borrowed at the library:  A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles.  I had almost finished reading it, but the book was due back at the library with no opportunity to extend the loan because another patron had already requested it.  Apparently it is a popular book, and there is no mystery why.  It is a great read that sweeps you up and back to a time of wealth and classic beauty.  Would you believe that the book is in such high demand that I am on a waiting list to borrow it again?  I might just buy the book as it is worthy of any book collection.  Plus, I am quite anxious to find out how the story ends.
I also have an enormous amount of photos to upload.  I finally sucked it up and bought a DSLR camera. Now that I have been tinkering around with it, the photos I take with my phone are no longer adequate. The difference in quality is just too apparent.

Plus, I was in Italy recently.  Venice, no less.  I took over a thousand photos from my one week holiday.  I’ll be uploading those photos from my camera soon, and hopefully will get a chance to share them here.

Cheers!