Wednesday, September 28, 2011

kid-love: Jeffrey

I never need to think "Jeffrey who?" because there was always and ever will be only one Jeffrey.  I sometimes use the shorthand "childhood sweetheart," but that's not really accurate.  We weren't in kid-love.  It was a little more complicated.  We were eight or nine when we met (he's a month older) and saw each other every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day for five or six summers, and even now and then in-between.  Our families spent the summer in a small bungalow colony, 30 families, and pretty much all of the kids interacted with all the other kids.  There were certain age groupings, and some loose, gentle cliques; for instance, I hung around most with the kids of the five or six couples closest to my parents.  (My parents' clique was far and away the smartest and funniest, and they actually referred to themselves as "the In Group."  It was the mid-late sixties, but, you know:  )

So Jeffrey was part of all of this; his parents were one of several couples who spent time with "the In Group" but weren't really of it...or maybe you'd say they were secondary members.  And so Jeffrey and his brothers were pretty mainstream kidgroup players.  He and I had one of those hate-you things, classic boy-girl kid stuff, and always made fun of each other and teased and said mean things.  Boys and girls did play together, especially games that required a lot of players.  And these were really bonafide running-around-outdoors games like tag, kick the can, and hitting tennis balls off the handball court wall.  But that boy-against-girl thing was always there -- not that we played games in same-sex teams, but there were always squabbles that came down to "boys are SO stupid!"

Jeffrey and I were a particular pair in the boy-hate-girl-hate-boy facet of the kid social scene, and it was like that for years.  And then, of course, it dawned on both of us.  Things changed.  We used to do a little off-to-see-the-Wizard routine that was a thinly veiled excuse to hold hands.  We wrote a few letters in-between summers one year.  (He lived in Manhattan and I lived in Brooklyn, but at that age, unless our parents were having some kind of kids-included get-together, we simply didn't see each other between summers.)  We were sometimes shy with each other but it was clear to us that we shared a secret.  That transition was a tremendously awkward thing, maybe because the connection between us was so powerful and so weighty.  I've heard adults say, "I fell in love with my best friend."  I supposed it was something like that, except we didn't really know that kind of love when we were friends, it was an early friendship, and it was first love.

Did it get a little dim between summers, and did I also "like" boys at school?  Of course. But the summers began to mesh with my other life when I went to his bar mitzvah.  There was the business of dressing up, of picking the best gift I could think of (even then, I was obsessed with giving the perfect gift), of consciously looking forward to seeing him.  I remember how much he loved the gift (double live Judy Collins album, y'all), and what I wore (orange and white dress, orange tights -- early 1970's, y'all).  And even though there was still a lot of awkwardness and shyness, and not yet any kissing, we smiled at each other a lot and stole glances and we knew what was what.

About six months later, his family moved to Florida.

There is more to say about Jeffrey, I suppose...I've seen him three times since then and the last time was about 30 years ago.  We always had a very special feeling for each other, but never got to, ahem, express it physically.  I'm been web-searching him for years, but there are many, many Jeffrey Solomons out there who are not my Jeffrey Solomon.

Why he is particularly on my mind right now is that I dreamed about him a couple of nights ago.  I dream about Jeffrey maybe once a year, and he's always so real in the dream, so very much himself, his face precisely as I remember it, and the feeling is always the same, too.  I'm always wondering about Jeffrey, wondering how he is.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

work, play, all the rest

Work:  very hectic.  Classes started this past Monday; suddenly everyone's around, and there's always something for me to do.  Lots. The fall intern I'd hired during the summer punked out on me at the last minute, so I didn't have one before the start of the term.  We weren't getting much yield from, so I had the idea of e-mailing half-a-dozen psychology departments at good local colleges  I got around 50 applications, and I believe it has only been circulated in two schools so far (Hunter and Baruch). 

Then I cleared the decks and interviewed four on Thursday and three yesterday and I have one more on Monday morning.  I'm looking for two.  There's one I'm absolutely going to ask.  The problem is that two other really good ones have the exact same times available, and I'm trying to split it up a little because three people in my tiny office is a lot; there are only two computers, and there isn't necessarily non-computer work every day.  There's one prospect who does have opposite days available, but I don't want to choose him just for that.  There's someone I like a couple of notches better.  I just have to decide if the guy with the good schedule is really who I want. The more coverage I have, the more other stuff I can do. 

I'm going to a couple of workshops on fundraising topics, which are both half-day affairs, and I'd like to at least have a warm body in the office.  I'm sometimes away from my desk to attend a meeting; I take minutes for the Board and the Executive Committee, and Fundraising has been asking me to attend their meetings.  I'm not sure why I keep having ideas they love; I've really never been involved with fundraising or development.  I think it's a mix of my education administration experience and my publicity experience, with a little writing skill thrown in.  I recently made a suggestion that we call our graduates "alumni" instead, which has a connotation of continued connection rather than here-and-gone.  Everyone went crazy for it.  A few months ago, I mentioned scholarships.  Who at a school hasn't thought of scholarships?

Play:  not much play, but I have a little time to kick back this weekend.  I just got paid on Thursday and I'm already stressed about money, but I'm putting it somewhat aside.  There's just not that much that can be done.  So I've been doing some of the things I like.  I have a lot of things I enjoy online:  my blog reader (I subscribe to quite a few blogs), a few games at, watching Netflix.  Facebook.  Tonight I ended up spending a couple of hours on YouTube; I was looking at something Barry had linked to from Facebook, and before I knew it, I was deep into My Favorites and also finding some new stuff.  I've posted quite a few of My Favorites here.  Some of them I love to watch over and over.  I actually posted three to Facebook, or I tried...Facebook sometimes eats my posts.  I know that one got up there:  Joe Flood singing "Miss Fabulous."  What?  you don't remember that one?  Well, then here it is again:

I was feeling very acoustic tonight.  Kind of mellow, although the Joe Flood song does totally rock, even on fiddle and bass.  Found a couple of new videos I liked a lot, although my favorite one wouldn't do anything for anyone who isn't crazy about old-timey/bluegrass music and familiar with the late lamented Wretched Refuse String Band.  It had one of their old recordings with a photo montage in tribute to the late lamented Richie Shulberg (aka Citzen Kafka), and some of the old band photos included one of my old sweethearts, who played with the band in the 70s.  Big sigh.

I'm not sure I really have that much to say tonight, but I wanted to slap something up here.  I hate to go too long without posting.  No earworms lately, no earthshattering events, nothing too outrageous. 

There was recently some serious flooding, in the wake of the pseudo-hurricane, in my old stomping ground of Binghamton, NY, which is unlucky enough to be at the conjunction of two rivers (Chenango and Susquehanna).  Apparently the nearby town of Owego was particularly hard hit, and I know someone who lived there.  I haven't been in touch with him for about eleven years, and I called and left a voice mail about a week ago.  Haven't heard from him yet, which is a little worrying, but I imagine it's very hectic all around there.  I'd just like to know that he and his family are all right.

I may have mentioned that I'm back in therapy.  Actually, I guess you'd call it analysis.  Back in the day, when I worked at another analytic clinic, it wasn't considered analysis unless you went three times a week.  Now, our students are required to do part of their analysis at twice a week, part at once.  So even though I'm going only once, I'm seeing someone analytic and I'm on the couch, so there you go.  I guess I'm about a month in now, and it feels good.  It's good to be able to spill things out and have someone look at them with me.  I guess when it gets hard, it's less pleasant, although I've already done a fair share of crying. 

I talked some about V., about the fact that I still do think of him and miss his friendship, or the illusion of friendship. My analyst thought it was not out of line not to be over it yet.  Three years, I guess, isn't that long to get over someone who was in your life for over 30 years.  Also, there was a time where I was hugely wrapped up and intertwined with his friends, family, fans...I was connected to a lot of people through and around him.  I'm only in touch with a few of them anymore.  There was something unpleasantly obsessive about the whole thing at times, but sometimes I enjoyed the large "family" that extended out to the west coast and back.

NOW I remember what I wanted to write about:  a certain prejudice.  I'm one of those violently liberal people who can't stand prejudice, based on race and especially based on religion.  I think I disappointed a close friend by refusing to hate all Palestinians and all Muslims.  I eye people very closely when I hear anything that smacks of bigotry.  But I realized today that I do have a problem with one particular group of people, and that's the Russians who live in the US, particularly here in Brooklyn.

We lived in Brighton Beach for about seven months, and when we moved there, I was really excited to move to the big beautiful apartment, to be so close to the boardwalk and ocean, and to have the opportunity to be around a different culture; I even thought that perhaps I would learn some Russian.  Uh-uh.  I cannot describe how insular the Russians who live there are, and how extremely rude and unpleasant they are to non-Russians.  I did not encounter a single person of whom that was not true.  I don't even remember being able to have any conversation at all with any Russian person there, not a chat in a grocery store or subway station, nothing.  In fact, in the stores, we could not get waited on until every single Russian person was waited on, even the ones who came in after we did.  It was as if we were living in a different country, and were entirely unwelcome.  And last summer, I suffered a very bad haircut at the hands of a Russian haircutter who was very brusque and curt and who did not give me what I asked for.

It came to mind today because Barry and I went to an an optometrist today to get po' people glasses (we can each get a free pair of glasses through Medicaid, which we only have until the end of the month), and it was very crowded, we had to wait an hour past our appointment time to be seen, and I believe that every other person there, customer, staff, and medical, were Russian.  No one was nasty to us, but just spending over two hours listening to Russian and English with heavy Russian accents really affected me.  I got cranky and didn't know why.  I guess I have to say, honestly, that I do not like Russians.

Then again, a friend of a friend was saying, a few months ago, how much she hates Canadians.  Canadians?  It seems her job requires her to deal with a lot of Canadians, a lot of her company's clients are based there, and she found all of them rude and conceited.  I guess, as much as you may not want to have that kind of opinion of a large group of people, your experience informs that kind of thing.  I actually rather liked Russian people before moving to Brighton; there were quite a few living in the apartment building where we'd lived in Midwood, and some of them were really nice.  Even the ones who didn't speak much or any English smiled and were friendly.  I guess Brighton just ruined it for me.

There's a new reality show on called Russian Dolls:  half a dozen rich tacky Russian girls in Brighton.  I laugh my ass off.  They're about as stupid and obnoxious as the Jersey Housewives, except they dress and groom in even worse taste.  THIS IS WHAT IT'S LIKE.  There's also a DirecTV commercial with a nouveau riche Russian guy that I find fairly hilarious -- although I also think it's kind of stereotyped and in bad taste. Go fig:

I'm a fool for that tiny giraffe, too.  

Well, I think it's time to watch a movie I downloaded today.  It's not, ahem, generally available for home viewing yet (if you get my drift), and I hope it's a good copy. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

things that dance on my head

Money (lack thereof) is dancing on my head, and depression is dancing on my head, and I'm sure they're in some way related.  I keep ending up in these situations a week or a week and a half before payday where I have $100 to last 10 days, or $45 to last a week, and none of it is due to carelessness.  We just don't have enough coming in.  So the least little pressure in any part of my life makes me cry -- or sometimes it doesn't have to be pressure.  I cry when I leave home in the morning, and I cry when I get home at night.  I cry at work.

Work is fine but crazy-busy coming up to the first day of class (Monday), and my fall intern punked out on me, isn't coming.  But I'm also worrying about what kind of health insurance they'll be able to provide, since the clock is ticking on our Medicaid (we only have it until September 30).  Any kind of co-pay is simply going to murder us.  Barry is already going to food pantries a few times a month.

Then again, I sometimes stop eating almost entirely when things get like this.  My appetite just vanishes, although I do eat well maybe once every couple of days.

I saw the GYN last night (boys, you may want to stop reading here), hoping to finally get hormone replacement therapy to help my lichen schlerosis, among other things.  Girls who have joined since I last wrote about this (boys, I repeat:  you really don't want to read this) is a condition frequently found in post-menopausal women when the vaginal skin gets dry and thin, there is often pain and bleeding, and the skin turns whitish (the "lichen" part).  This is now the fourth GYN I've seen in this practice (mostly because of scheduling, not because any of them was bad).  I've had one cream that didn't do anything, another that helped symptoms, and the last doctor recommended hormone replacement therapy.  HRT appealed to me a lot because I figured it would either help or slow things like dry skin and thinning hair.  But my regular doctor said that my liver enzyme counts were high and he didn't want me to start the drug.  So I lost ten pounds, took another blood test, and was pronounced good to go.  (My liver enzymes tend to go up when my weight is high.)  So the doctor last night gave me a prescription for the HRT -- YAY!  He did, however, say, "They told you that you shouldn't be eating tomatoes or spicy foods, right?"  no, none of the other three doctors had told me that.  Suck-o.  Just when the good tomatoes are out, too.  There's another fine excuse to cry.  And believe me, I'll be crying a lot of Medicaid won't cover the HRT.

I'm having dinner with Robin tomorrow night -- I tried to cancel earlier in the week because I didn't have the money, but she said she'd pick up the tab.  I don't have money to eat out.  I don't have money to buy The Herbal Remedy, which I think I'm giving up anyway -- or at least cutting down to weekends only.

Even though Barry does quite a lot around the house, I'd gladly take on half of those chores if he got a job.  I'm really sick of him not bringing any money in.  It puts a huge burden on me, and I always have to be the bad guy, saying he can't buy soda, or chips, or ice cream.  He still doesn't get the food-isn't-entertainment thing.  Food is to sustain you, if you can get it.  We can get enough food to live, but not for fun.