Tag Archives: mommy

PDA | A Reheated Falafel or Mommy, an Origin Story

Breaking up is hard to do.

The summer of 2000 saw me break up with someone I’d been dating for years. Our lives were so interconnected at some point, there was no place where hers started and mine ended — especially when it came to friends and friend circles — there was just life.

Breaking up was hard. Unraveling that was damn near impossible. So impossible actually that we never did; we stayed really good friends. Out of respect for each other and also, I think, out of an acknowledgement that we were both too invested in that life and those people that nobody should have to be unraveled.

In hindsight that seems simple. In the moment, it was hard. I threw myself into my work obsessively. I was working on the eBusiness side of a large financial services company in downtown Manhattan and living in Jersey City.

We had incredible perks; one of which was a car service to take you home after hours.

I made heavy use.

I’d come into work around 8:30/8:45 in the morning. I was trying to be the first in and I’d set 9am meetings to set the tone for the day. As one of the youngest on the team, and easily the youngest manager (I had a team of 4), I was always looking at ways to stay ahead. I had to.

I’d come in early. I roll through the day. I’d then find a way to skip out for dinner and drinks with some friends; come back into the office and work usually until 4-5am. At which point I’d take a car home. Sometimes, at least twice a week, I’d have the driver wait for me downstairs. I’d run up to the apartment, shower, change, brush; and then have him bring me back into the office. This was such a pattern that I started getting the same guy to drive me; and he’d tack on 30 minutes and let me sleep extra in the car when we got to the office.

I thought I had it good. He had a family, was working the night shift, and I’m pretty sure he know that I didn’t have it good; that actually, I wasn’t in a good place and so he wasn’t being generous as much as philanthropic.

The car, while moving, or a movie theater with a movie playing, were two places I knew I’d fall asleep. Because everywhere else, anywhere else, I didn’t want to sleep.

I didn’t want to sleep. I didn’t want to lie down. I didn’t want to be home in that apartment. I didn’t want to stop doing things, anything, because doing so made me miss.

So I kept. I just kept.

It was frenzied. I’m notorious for not sleeping much. This was some next level operating fueled by avoidance, youthful lunacy, an aggressive desire to indulge, and a salary, lifestyle, and job that equipped me to do all of the above.

So I kept. I just kept.

This wasn’t a healthy lifestyle. I’d often go lengthy stretches without eating a real meal. There were a few points in my life where I physically felt my body get lean: 2000 (because of this), 2004 (before business school), 2011 (in Charlotte and before multiple surgeries), and this past COVID-induced quarantine (especially given that I can’t exercise due to knee and back problems — the fact that I’ve built muscle and lost a waist size is solid).

Nevertheless; I’ve felt myself go lean a few times. Sometimes deliberately; sometimes not. 2000, was not.

Avalon Cove

One night I came home on one of those benders and was ready to sweep into a transition from home to shower to back on the road, when I heard a voice call to me over our upstairs loft and fall perfectly at my feet as I entered our apartment.

Immediately as you enter the apartment, a small open kitchen was to your right. The first thing to your right was a cabinet; so the first physical thing you could add to the kitchen was therefore immediately past that cabinet on the right, on the countertop.

We used that first space we could influence to hold  a microwave.

Immediately as you enter the apartment, a bathroom door stood to your left. Then a closet door. And the first open space was reserved for stairs going up to the second floor which landed with a loft flanked by bedrooms on either side.

We used those stairs to go up and down.

What did you think I was going to say?

We used those stairs to go up and down. But words, sounds, traveled.

And on this early morning, words rose over the lofted balcony and glided to my feet; and in parallel, those same words descended those stairs and rested right at my feet. Actually, these words were so warm, so consuming, having come at me in every direction and way they could have, that they actually rested on my feet.

Caught me by surprise.

And shockingly comforted me.

Have you ever been shockingly comforted? You should try it.

Seriously.

You should try to feel it; and you should try to impart it on someone.

It’s an incredible feeling to simultaneously feel shocked and comforted. In order to do so you have to catch someone off guard, in a way they’re not expecting, and extend them an offer, that requires no convincing (because that would remove the “shock”), and the result of your actions has to leave them feeling comforted. Where their joints slacken, their shoulders relax, and the edges of their mouth lightly dispel gravity but without making a powerful statement, simply saying “I’m going to turn up a bit, just a heads up.”

Shockingly. Comforting. Words.

Now hugging my feet and making their way up to my ears.

A voice that was tired, sleepy, but simultaneously alert and so off-puttingly precise.

“Honey, there’s a falafel in the fridge. Open it. Take it out of the foil. Put it on a plate. And microwave it for 1 minute. Then eat it before you take your shower and go back to work.”

Guys. It was well after 3:30am and well before 6:30am.

Even if you’re preparing for this specific time and moment, nobody should be that precise in that time window on a weekday.

But this voice was. She was. It was my roommates sister who was staying with us in our loft. I knew her because … well she lived in our loft. But I can’t say I knew her enough to expect to be given, or be expected to follow any instructions at 3:30am.

Yet in honor of her precision; out of respect for her explicit instructions; I followed through, warmed up, and devoured a falafel.

It was a dope falafel. Which is really funny. Because …

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a reheated falafel. But they suck. They always suck.

They used to always suck, actually.

Except this time. When you’re shockingly comforted with precise instructions that fall at your feet, remove any thinking on your part, and fill a void in your stomach that’s so desperately calling to be filled.

It was a shockingly good and a shockingly comforting falafel.

She was precise. Mommy is always precise with her instructions. She talks in checklists. What you need to do to be a better you and for you to be a healthier you. With some people you get a prognosis. With others, you get a diagnosis.

With Mommy, you always get a prescription.

It took me a while to realize the power of that falafel. And by a while, I mean getting back into the car and heading back into work that same morning to realize that it wasn’t the falafel that was so wonderful. It was the prescription.

Mommy hadn’t filled a void in my stomach. She’d filled a void in my heart.

It’s been 20 years since that night that you went from roommates sister, to voice from the loft … to Mommy.

And you still find a way to shockingly comfort me.

It’s probably because no matter what you’re going through, I walk out of a conversation with you with a checklist. With a new ‘script. Doesn’t matter if we’re meeting at Variety, at a bar near your house, at the now defunct Argo Tea, or on the couches in your lounge. Doesn’t matter if it’s a 5 minute swing by that took 30 minutes to prep for; doesn’t matter if it’s longer and later at night.

None of it matters.

Except the ‘script.

For 20 years since that night you became Mommy, I want you to know that I’ve done my best to practice finding ways to be shockingly comforting. I think it’s shocking how discomforting I am and can be; but it’s not for a lack of effort, or on account of poor role modeling.

You crush as a role model. You suck as a nail model. But you crush as a role model.

I’ve gotten to a place where I actually feel my happiest when I’m able to shockingly comfort someone in some ridiculous way. Some unexpected way. Some simple way.

It’s been 20 years, Mommy. I’m still not healthy. I’m still finding reasons to avoid, to skip, to ignore. We all find reasons.

It’s been years since Charlotte and all that’s happened since and I’m also telling you right now that I’m past the videos and the #boom t-shirts and I’m dropping this for you because I haven’t had a falafel in a long-time (this quarantine is ridiculous on my food game!)

I’m dropping this because I felt like it was important to acknowledge one thing before I take that step into the second half of my 40’s.

Know this, Mommy.

If anyone ever asks me what my single favorite food is.

My answer is going to be one thing and one thing alone:

“A reheated falafel”.

Falafel

I love you, Mommy. You. Your ‘scripts. Your crazy reheated falafels. You #makemestronger. Daily.

Now. LEGGO!

 

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TMLFYI… | Promise Full

Mommy,

I’m excited that you’re actually going to take a vacation. You’ve earned it. For 6.5 months you’ve never been more than a few minutes away from me for more than a few hours. That’s extraordinary. That’s commitment. That’s who you are. That’s one of the things I know Daddy hopes I get from you (as well as your stunning and timeless good looks.)

I know you have some anxiety, also. Maybe I’ll start crawling? Or maybe I’ll say my first word? Or maybe I’ll start freestyling over a wicked beat laid down by none other than Eric B? Maybe I would have, but I want to take the pressure off of you and make sure you focus on you while you’re in Mexico. So here are some of the promises I’m making to you before you leave:

  • I promise not to crawl. If I do, you’ll never know. Because we won’t talk about it. We won’t photograph it. We won’t acknowledge it. So it won’t happen. But even if it does, it never happened.
  • I promise not to say my first word. Now, that means that there’s a high likelihood that my first word will be Daddy instead of Mommy, but I think you’re happy with that trade-off, right?
  • I promise not to immerse myself too much in hip hop culture. It’s a promise I’m making but I can’t be held responsible for Daddy and his desire to start playing those hip hop lullabies he got from his friend at work last night.
  • I promise not to walk. Mostly because you have to crawl before you can stand, and you have to stand before you can walk. Those lessons apply to me but apparently, they also apply to businesses looking to pursue hypergrowth — like where Daddy works.
  • I basically promise not to do anything new until you get back. I got you, Mommy. I totally got you.

The one thing I promise to do is miss you like hell when you’re gone, dream about you until you get back, and smile like hell the second I see you. I know it’s going to be the best and biggest smile you’ve ever seen, because it’s going to be driven by how I’ll feel when that moment arrives.

So go have a blast, Mommy. Have the time of your life in Mexico and squeeze every bit of fun and relaxation out of every moment. Because we’re going to have a lot of firsts happening the moment you get back.

Love you,

Anaiya

Mommy and Anaiya PNG

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TMLFYI … | Tortured

“Devices that produce soothing sounds in order to lull infants to sleep can be loud enough at maximum volume to damage their hearing, researchers reported Monday.” – NY Times

Every modern day toy we have for you is in some form, a new casing for a sound machine. Your MamaRoo. Your swing. Your playmat. White noise machines are everywhere. Your mom has been concerned about their noise level all along. My hearing is degenerating at a very steady (somewhat troubling) clip so the problem for me is that I actually don’t know when I have the machines too loud. Even when I have them cranked to higher levels on the dial they sound reasonable to me, which is pretty problematic.

I should be using more common sense. It’s one of the lessons I learn every day in every walk of life. I can’t expect others to determine what portions of food are right for me. What level of exercise I can tolerate. What sound levels make sense to me in a white noise machine or my headphones (I still think my headphones are pretty sick — Zik? — by the way.) I should simply be using more judgment when it comes to you, my munchkin. This is a place where I could stand to be substantially more like your mom. She questions everything. When it comes to you, I need to let her do that more. I need to get less annoyed with those frequent pauses. And I need to know that it’s all worth it for the times her questions turn out to be the right questions to ask.

I can’t only externalize, though. Last night was brutal.

I don’t have too many truly haunting memories. Seeing your Great Ba’s body before cremation. Your Fua Dada. September 11th (and actually playing back the evening of September 9th.) I’m sure there are a few others from before, but there’s a new one from last night.

20140306_004918Your freaking sniffles. I have no words. I haven’t been able to shake your sniffles all day. You see, you were having a little trouble eating yesterday. You’d get through about an ounce and fight us. It’s all because of your sniffles. You couldn’t breathe. We didn’t quite know until later into the evening though that it was your congestion that was making you fussy. When are we going to learn that when you’re being fussy you’re telling us something very clearly.

You woke up periodically crying. We salined the heck out of your nose. We pumped and sucked gook from your noose. Your mom even tried some humidifier and hot shower tactics to help. You seem better now. You took down 3 ounces a few times. But I will never forget you waking up at 4am and 7am and a few times in-between because you were just having a hard time breathing. Did you know your mom slept on her side literally cradling you from about 4am – 9am?

20140306_003503You’re a lucky lady. And I just hope I can shake those images of you. It’s a hard thing when you’re feeling this kind of love, I guess.

Kind of also makes me regret every fight I’ve ever had with your Dada and Ba-ji. Reflecting on any of those only makes me that much more tortured. A lesson that can never be learned early enough — more specifically, a lesson that no matter when it’s learned, is always a lesson learned too late.

Sleep easy, munchkin.

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TMLFYI… | Valentined

Munchkin, let’s talk about St. Valentine. Specifically, Valentine’s Day. It is about as controversial a non-holiday as you’ll have. Couples reject it because of the unnecessary commercialization of love. The truly romantic go Earth Day, where “Everyday is Valentine’s Day” if you really love someone. You have Gal-entine’s Day for women who embrace their single lives. Even the origins are called into question, from reinforcing the advent of Spring and bloom (literally) to bloody whippings leading to increased human fertility (slightly more abstractly, and dramatically more painfully.)

None of that has ever mattered to me. It all strikes me as trying too hard to avoid something that hurts no one. It’s a day where the world tells you it’s ok to show your love publicly, and where everyone goes out of their way to make it easier for you to do so. Why would anyone want to get in the way of that?

I watched a near parade of 20 something guys at work proudly carrying long-stem roses out of the office on their way to meet their dates for the event. Instead of worrying about where they were going to get BBQ for the day, another group was making a trek to a high-end chocolatier to pick up exquisite chocolates for their loves (no matter how transient or permanent.)

So today my love for you fully embraces the modern, Hallmarked definition of Valentine’s Day. You’re wearing an adorable heart flecked outfit (hoodie on top) that makes you even more

Anaiya Valentineirresistible. And the people around you who love you so much on a daily basis, have added cartoon-ish heart shaped love to their already excessive displays of affection for you.

What’s wrong with a day dedicated to love? I’d be happy to have more days dedicated to love, but does that mean we shouldn’t be happy to even have one? Let’s agree to spend our time debating and discussing things of true value, and otherwise embracing any thing (holiday, event) that inspires us to show how much we love each other. To keep it even more real, I sometimes run out of time to shower, I sometimes forget to eat, and I sometimes (often) forget where I put my glasses. Life gets busy. I don’t do everything I’m supposed to do every single day and I will be honest about it. I welcome any public reminder to make sure I stop and tell you and everyone I love how much I actually love them.

Let everyone else gripe about the value, merit and decision to participate in or reject the commercialization of Valentine’s Day. I see no reason to try so hard to fight momentum around loving you. We’re going to watch Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Woodstock because they make us laugh, and Valentine’s Day has given them an opportunity to do so in the context of hearts.

Happy (1st) Valentine’s Day, my lovely. I can’t wait for the next one.

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TMLFYI… | Overjoyed

You cried on and off from 5pm to 11pm, with a break from 9:30-10:15 so we could wrap up dinner and enjoy the climax and conclusion of Captain Phillips (awesome timing.) You took in an ounce and a half at 8 and then proceeded to spit pretty much all of that back up in fits and spurts. Your mom and I had to pass you back and forth several times, because every time you got comfortable, you spent the next (few) moments getting uncomfortable all over again. Thank god we have four hands between us.Anaiya Cough

I also had a cough. Everyone said it was fine to be around you so I rocked a mask. From the moment I enter the house until the moment I leave, I’ve got a mask on. And you toughed it out. I’m not even sure you’ll recognize me without the mask anymore.

After finally convincing your mom to try and go to bed (after about 24 hours of caring for you straight without much sleep), I fed you at 11:30. You took down your 3 ounces with conviction, and then you went limp in my Anaiya Drunkhands (let me tell you, one of my favorite feelings is knowing you are fully fed and comfortable, looking completely drunk like you do in the picture to the left, and therefore almost fully malleable in my hands) and were ready for a nap.

So we napped. I tried to put you down, and you wouldn’t have it. So you slept on my chest from 11:30 – 3:45 in the morning. We watched Jay Leno’s last show (his real last show, kind of like watching MJ’s last game, as a Wizard.) We watched an episode of Chopped. We caught some of A Few Good Men. And then we watched an episode of Shameless (don’t tell Mommy.) A little shaking and stirring on your end, enough for sugar and tea but not quite enough for a pisco sour.

I’d spend every night from 11:30-3:45 in that exact position for the rest of my life. Doing so would leave me over the moon … overjoyed.

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