There are lots of unhappily married people in the world so statistically I know there is nothing unique to me. 50% of all unions end in divorce. (When you are married to an Aspberger male, which I suspect I am, the number climbs to 80%.) Over the years, my spouse and I have increasingly grown apart leaving us with little beside our kids to unite us. Neither of us are bad people- we just no longer function well as a team.
Last winter we were offered tickets to a play and on a chilly Saturday night we made our way to the city. For the past few years, whatever time we spend together, finds us enmeshed in an awkward silence and this occasion was no different. Leaving the theater I wanted to stop and photograph the lights and cacophony of Times Square. Later at home, while reviewing my images, I noticed my spouse traversing the frame with the usual grim resting face which has become his normal around me.
That's when I knew for sure what I must do to create a better life for all involved. What a strange and twisted road this has become.
My nuclear family is in a state of re-assembly. The eldest of the brood is living 300 miles away in another state and seems to like her life more days than not. My middle is living at home while working and going to school locally and is the light of my life many days and my youngest is upstate slogging through his freshman year but apparently managing to maintain himself as a college student. My husband is living downstairs in the "guest bedroom" as we wind our way through the initial judicial process with the goal of agreeing on the division of our modest assets as I imagine my future life where he and I are are no longer residing under the same roof.
Given that mom (me) served dad (my spouse) with divorce papers back in September, it is more than awkward navigating his continued presence as an odd specter who appears on occasion to fix himself something to eat or make a little small talk before he heads out for his series of engagements (usually involving massive amounts of exercise). I really was dreading Thanksgiving this year. We have no relatives nearby, too complicated to travel and I knew my freshman really wanted to come home, chill out and see his friends. I suggested to my future ex-husband that he might want to make his own plans for the holiday which was readily accomplished and he announced last Monday that he had invites and was going to be out.
In the end, I bought all the fixings for this festive meal and managed to pull off a respectable feast for my two younger kids who appeared content to eat all the predictable foodstuffs with relish, helped prepare the meal even, and looking at their faces lit by the glow of candlelight I got to feel the flush of gratitude for what was there and apparent.
The goal then is to remember to breathe and stay true. Determination is the fuel that guides me and courage will spur me forward. This year, despite the election, my unraveling marriage, and the world series even, there is lots to be thankful for.
I'm experiencing something weird on this blog. Someone ( (I know? Don't know?) has been clicking on the same unrelated set of posts for over a month regularly. I see their views when I look at the stats. This is not a random pattern of behavior- rather I imagine, a stealth way of letting me know they're watching. I'm in the process of ending my marriage, and as many will attest, it's an unsettling experience to find yourself so at odds with a person that at one time you thought was your partner for life. I get that half of all marriages end in divorce. I respect the odds and how things play out. But I don't like this sense of being surveilled.
I didn't choose to seek my divorce on a whim. My spouse and I have evolved in to different people over the years, and we are no longer able to function happily as a team. Going our separate ways will ultimately lead us to better places.
So for now, between the state of our country and the state of my union, it's better to lay back. Pay attention to what matters, be kind to family, friends, colleagues and strangers alike and be especially kind to myself. Here's hoping for peace on this blog and in the times to come. If I seek solace in silence, now you'll know why.
Forgive the quotation marks as I proceed with my own divorce while watching "Divorce" on HBO. Aside from the obvious interest, it is filmed in my neck of the woods and a great local business, whose owner is a friend of mine, leased her store to the production company to serve as the art gallery that Sarah Jessica Parker's character opens in an unnamed Hudson River town- making her story resonate even more with mine.
Due to my similar course, I am touched by the moments I have shared with the heroine. It's strangely cryptic to find myself a viewer and a participant at the same time.
I had the pleasure this week of visiting The Glass House in New Canaan. To commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the opening of the property to the public, the artist Yayoi Kusama was invited to do, among other things, cover The Glass House in red dots. (I wrote about her 2012 Whitney Museum exhibit here...)
Immersed through our tour guide's words in to the world of Philip Johnson I was inspired by his thoughtful buildings, the wonderful landscaping and his curatorial talents. Yet the highlight was Kusama's dots sprinkled in her signature style on this iconic landmark and looking both outside in and inside out.
(In 2010 I visited The Glass House for the first time. You can read about that here.)
You can't help but think about your life and all the events that make you "you" on your birthday and this year was no exception. My middle daughter opted to go out and about with me and we made our way to a tasteful launch party in Norwalk, Connecticut for a beautiful terrace covering called Renson. Very elegant!
Sarah and I wandered the home furnishings store, Lillian August, who sponsored the event, admiring as we strolled. It was fun to photograph my girl in such luxurious surroundings and snap away. Thankful for the many pleasures that life allows as a new year (for me) begins.
I am returned from taking my son to start college, having organized all the many required items and then helping to get him situated. Arriving, we were greeted by clusters of dazed families with their freshly minted freshman leading the way. Unloading our boxes, plump suitcases and shopping bags, we were relieved to find a crew of friendly student volunteers who dispatched your cargo to your room effortlessly. My son was quickly situated in his dorm and we were headed out to find the few remaining items we overlooked. The local Walmart was abuzz with parents and their poised offspring loading up carts and wandering the aisles.
Driving up my son chose his favorite activity when stuck with mom in the car, he dozed, thereby avoiding the need for any active exchange. Behind the wheel I contemplated his sleeping form with excitement for him and melancholy for me. I'm not going to pretend that this hasn't been a tough year, yet my son has mustered his determination to succeed and I couldn't be prouder.
(for an earlier Delivery- a love story click here)
I'm a fan of catchy titles and sleek packaging and this novel by Rumaan Alam drew me in immediately. Given the allure of affluence and appearance, who doesn't aspire to be rich and pretty? The story takes place in and around New York City, a locale near and dear to my heart and the plot revolves around two young women, long-time friends whose lives take very different paths. As someone who came late to motherhood I witnessed the trajectory of my day to day concerns having less and less overlap with my gal pals who passed on bearing offspring, Now, with my kids mostly grown and flown it's not hard to find an uninterrupted hour or two. A very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Because not every story has the happy ending that you envision I am trying to keep it real in the land of personal narrative. I am in the dark waters of marital woe where whatever affection once existed between my spouse and myself has long left the premises and what remains is the determination to end our partnership amicably.
The details that have led to this dissolution aren't particularly exciting or unusual-we've simply grown apart- nothing unique in the scheme of things. But we made some beautiful kids together whom I love dearly- here's hoping happier days lay ahead for myself and my children.
Our beautiful girl Sarah turned 20 yesterday. Another milestone and another opportunity to reflect on how much I admire and adore my children. I'm not exactly a Number 1 Mom but I try after my own fashion. Enjoy this next decade middle child! You are a special young woman destined to make your mark in the years to come.
Due to the restrictions imposed by our youngest offspring, no photo was permitted to give you an inkling of his handsome appearance in cap and gown. The lengthy commencement ended on the darkening football field awash in people, recording devices and balloons. My many years on Sleepy Hollow High School property as a parent have reached their conclusion. Always a lot to savor and appreciate as life carries us all forward.
This summer promises to be one of transition and there is no shortage of grumpiness and irritation with one another at home. I recently met a card-reader at a local event and she gave me an intriguing piece of advice to use pink words. When I inquired what she meant she expanded. "Be nice. Try to filter out the negativity. You know, focus on the pink words."
(The world lost a very special individual yesterday whose life cast a long shadow in the world of sports, politics, human kindness and culture. He will be missed.)
marriage and children, when my life revolved around photographing for
clients, looking for work and trying to enjoy singledom in New York
City, I got hired to cover a press event where Mohammad Ali was to
introduce a commemorative coin in his likeness at the Waldorf Astoria.
The proceeds from the coin's sales were going to a fund he had created
to help end world hunger. I headed up to the hotel and met my friend
David who had also been hired to create the promotional materials for
the launch. I wasn't sure what to expect except that it would be well
attended and I would get the chance to photograph a world famous athlete
whose position as a pacifist I had long admired. Stepping into
the elevator I was aware of footsteps behind me and riding in the same
car was Ali himself. He had a few people in his entourage- at this point
in his life (the mid 80's) he was in good health and immediately
started chatting up his companions. He was imposing in size but his
manner belied a caring soul and I knew I was in the presence of
greatness. Later, signing autographs I stationed myself at a much closer spot. Ali gestured to me and my friend. "Is this your
boyfriend?" as he pointed to David. Bearing a mischievous smile he said
"Well, I am going to kiss you and make him jealous!" He stood up, put
his arms around me and gave me a polite kiss on the cheek. Releasing me
as quickly as he had embraced me, he sat down, gave me a wink and went
back to the business of meeting his fans. And I floated
away on some kind of celestial cloud. For days I felt a magic from
having been near him and the delightful aura of his charm. I have met
some notable folks since then, but as yet, none can compare to how
special, in those few brief moments, he made me feel.
I found myself near Morristown recently and dropped in on my friend Andrea Lekberg at her establishment The Artist Baker.
I always enjoy visiting Andrea and the chance to savor her culinary
offerings is a treat! And there, packaged for sale, were my most recent
kitchen towels designs for her shop.
I like seeing my work in the market place and it took me back to the years of seeing my images on HUE's packaging in hosiery departments all over the map. Another reminder that you never know where life will take you next.
Coming home from dropping my son off at school, I saw a visitor perched on the sill as I approached the house. Sitting at the door as if seeking to gain entry, a toad sat patiently. I was pleasantly reminded that in order to find a prince you have to kiss your share of toads. Wishing luck for all in their search for love.
I found this image in my files that I took many years ago when I lived in Cleveland Heights after college. Funny how the station wagon parked in the driveway was such a powerful symbol for me. At the time it epitomized all that I craved, home, family and connectivity. I was completely naive about the dilemmas many face in their nuclear world, where people don't understand each other, mom and dad no longer get along, and the kids are adrift with the urgency of achievement in a hothouse of unexpressed frustrations. Still, we live in a surface culture of appearances- and as long as everything looks good- isn't that all that counts?
As changes loom ahead, I am forced to face the pain held within the confines of my childhood. We all have buried losses and disappointments of our earlier years and I understand now my need to create poignant images even then as a way to circumvent and diminish the pain of what cannot be easily resolved.
Yesterday they broke ground for Edge on Hudson, the new development on the former General Motors site in Sleepy Hollow. It's been dormant for almost 20 years (to the day) and the question of its next incarnation has been the subject of much speculation among us, worried that our property basis would never be robust enough to keep our taxes from continuing on a skyward trajectory.
The property changed hands December 2014 during my term on the Board of Trustees so I am well versed in the plans of the new owners. Yet the Village has been awaiting the stirrings of actual construction while enduring meetings, experts and reports followed by motions to the Town (unbeknownst to the Village) inciting mild accusations flung in one direction with protests of good intentions only returned.
The distinguished notables assembled on camera to create this symbolic moment. Here's hoping that what is to come will succeed on more levels than anyone thought possible.
I've been on the go and neglecting my to-do list so a trip to a favorite nursery with my friend Liza spurred me to purchase some annuals for the upstairs window boxes. This time of year errand running beckons to freshen things anew. Nothing like the return of better weather. (and I love double impatiens)
some point in the season, the neighborhood cherry tree's blossoms
descend, blanketing beds and yards with silky petals and installing a
temporary sea of pastel color. Yesterday's rain flattened their delicate
presence and rusted their hues. Always glad to have committed these
moments to memory before time and events effect their change.
I'm trying to drink in the signs of spring that surround us. Plants are bursting out of the ground, the trees are sashed in greenery and our neighbor's cherry tree is aglow in its annual display. After a busy day, it's a welcomed sight outside my bedroom window.
I attended a conversation recently at Leslie Tonkonow's gallery between Laurel Nakadate and Rick Moody about Laurel's evocative photographic project Stranger and Relations and how this series came to be. In real life, Laurel and Rick are married and she is expecting their first child. Listening to their thoughtful exchanges was poignant and lovely and made the wonderful images she created even more vivid and compelling.
I appreciate every opportunity to learn from talented people. Food for the heart, the mind and the soul.
The ground under my seat brings back the pleasures of sitting outside. Spring's arrival did not come a moment too soon! As I contemplate a move in the year to come, who knows where 2017 will find me...
This evening I made my way to Arts Westchester to attend a talk by the Gorilla Girls, a collective of determined and dynamic women who seek to challenge the status quo to raise awareness of the lack of women, people of color and marginalized populations all ignored by the cultural institutions of our time.
Years back, their subversive actions in the forms of billboards and posters shattered the complacency of the art world. Why were there so few women artists represented on gallery walls? At auction, women's work commanded prices that reflected their lower status in the business of buying and selling art.
Most days despite whatever difficulties cross my path, I am grateful that my daughters are not forced to wear burkas and enjoy the same civil liberties of my son. As long as women are valued less than men, that gay people, people of color and transgendered status have less economic opportunity than whites and experience social injustice, gatherings like this remind me that our skewed society requires reform, awareness and change.
(and their provocative thoughts reproduced below...)
I''m working a regular routine now and I'm starting to get the hang of it. Spending more time away from the house than in it during the daylight hours and I'm meeting a lot of people, visiting firms and retailers and learning a different industry. Sometimes you can teach an old(er) dog some new tricks.
I've been absent on the blog and busy with life, tedium, and on-demand television (and today's return of my favorite fictional power couple, the Underwood's.) The family hums and thrives, mostly each going in their own direction.
My seasonal job at a major retailer wrapped today. As many of my shifts were from 5 to 9 a.m. it was a little rocky on the sleep cycle. (My term as Village Trustee ends soon- beginnings and endings abound.)
I lunched with an old friend last month and the topic of working for his company
came up. Monday I embarked on this new chapter- so glad I did. There's masses and masses to learn.
(Above find a recent nail polish painting-layering shapes and colors. Food for the soul.)
Contemplating Valentine's, the people in my life often delight and
frustrate me simultaneously. But when their love flows freely, I am
rich beyond measure. This year's message eludes me and sends me
searching through my files for inspiration and ideas.
The blizzard found us curled up at home watching the snow swirl and fall. I'm in my January revel of binge television and my newest discovery is Nurse Jackie whose many memorable characters and complicated narrative arcs keep me glued to the screen when life allows.
Today, the husband is off skiing and the sun is shining. Tasks and chores beckon. My son and I spent a good hour shoveling as the world returns to a semblance of normal. A good opportunity to remember all the wintry days I shared with my family and the delight of the photographs I was able to make.
We are in the funk of January and the cold grey weather turns my thoughts inward. Working from home, I begin the day cleaning the kitchen and the return to order boosts my mood. Domestic harmony has a huge influence on my ability to concentrate.
I'm committed to eliminating paper chaos this year and an intimidating array of boxes are gathered for my attention. Yet hibernating beckons and closing my eyes on a Sunday is an irresistible response to this cold grey afternoon. Sometimes inertia gets the best of me.
Facing year 7 of this blogging adventure, I waver in my sense of purpose. There continue to be numerous things that happen, along with the places, people and things that I photograph for personal reasons or professional ones. I worry about repetition, the lack of greater meaning and why anyone should care. In the meantime, hopes for a better 2016 in my little corner of the world and in yours'.