A Life in Transition

I’ve suppose I have always been a wanderer. This time I’ve moved from WordPress to Blogger. Come visit my new site at http://loveandotherdelights.blogspot.com/

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You Get A Car! And You Get A Car! And…

Okay, I lied. There is no car giveaway in this post. It’s just lately I’ve had gift giving on my mind. The thing is, I am a mental shopper. For any person in my life, I have the perfect gift picked out and wrapped in recycled handpainted paper and a pretty bow. But, it’s only in my mind. In reality, my bills are mounting and my meager paycheck can’t bear the weight. It’s like those old school paper towel commercials where they would compare the strength of the towel and the knockoff brand would inevitably break up into tiny scraps on the floor. Yeah, the knockoff paper towel is my paycheck and that leaves little left for the amazing gifts my friends and family so deserve.

So this year, I’m determined to do it right. I’m starting early and doing my research. I am on the hunt to find EPIC gifts at haiku prices. And because I want to give gifts to each and every one of you, I’m going to share my findings…

This is, Melissa’s Favorite Things!

Project Repat sells handcrafted bags, infinity scarves and ties made from recycled tees. Their products are ethically produced from the tons of tees that are sent to developing countries. You know, like the millions of Super Bowl tees made for both teams before the game. And when the NY Giants win (yeah, I said it) what do you do with the other team’s? Send them to Africa and pay crafters a fair wage to make fun and one of a kind products that are then ‘repatriated’ to the US to be sold for around $25. And in a nutshell, that is Project Repat. Oh, and did I mention you can send Project Repat your old tees to be refashioned into customized pieces? It’s the perfect gift for the sorority girl or sports fan in your life.

SneakPeeq is an online shopping destination stocked with an everchanging inventory of unique housewares, lovely clothing and jewelry, plus food! Signing up is free and each day you’ll have 20 ‘peeqs’ into discounted prices, some as low as 70% off. As you explore the site, ‘peeqing’ prices and sharing with your friends, you’ll gain points that earn you badges. Each badge will earn you even more discounts to be applied to future purchases. It’s a fun site to explore but If you see something you like you’ll have to move quickly, items sell out fast and each day brings a new group of designer ware. Last minutes shoppers bewarned, this is definitely a shop early site since most items will ship out at the end of the sale. I purchased a small quirky print for my walls on April 2nd and it was on my doorstep by the 23rd, but for $2.00 (that’s including shipping) there’s no complaint from me.

Teeki produces activewear and bikinis from…are you ready for it? Recycled plastic bottles. Their fresh designs and, ahem, ‘camel toe free’ cut will have your yogi in a stylish and worry free ustrasana. A pair of yoga pants runs between $45-$60 and is made from around 25 plastic bottles. That’s priceless, if you ask me.

Haiku Bags has a lovely motto: Thoughtful, Simple, Meaningful. And their bags are exactly that. The Haiku Pouch has a spot for all the essentials with a threeway strap that works as a crossbody or small handbag. Or you could use it as a wallet, the perfect oasis for your own belongings in the chaos of a diaper bag. The Haiku Pouch is $49 and can be purchased online or a select retailers. I came across the Pouch at REI and could visualize how useful it would be for a backpacking trip through Europe. I suppose the fact that I was in the hiking section of the store had something to do with that fantasy. Back down here in reality, this Pouch is darn near organizational perfection. Oh yeah, and like the Teeki products above, all the Haiku bags are made from recycled plastic bottles.

It’s a wonderful feeling to give a gift that you can trace back to a name and place. Like these, Guzel Papatya Earrings handcrafted by Hasan Bey in Izmir, Turkiye. The name of the earrings translates to ‘Pretty Daisy’ and they were made using traditional Ottoman design. This piece is handmade chic along with the rest of the items from Back Roads Imports, and every purchase supports Turkish artisans.

In my opinion, MoMA Store is just as entertaining as the museum across the street, if only for the fact that I can pick up and drop a piece without being tackled by a security guard (I swear it was an accident). This is the place to go for form follows function with a little ornamentation thrown in for good measure. Like this piece, the Fingerprint Bookmark Band which for $7 will not only mark the page of the book, but also the line. It’s a perfect gift for those night readers in your life who can’t seem to finish a book despite opening it every day for a month only to realize they have sleepily been reading the same line every night.

And considering I just wondered if there is a Fingerprint Bookmark Band for the internet, I think this is the best time to call it a night. Happy shopping and Iyi Geceler!

 

 

(Oops, I forgot to mention that no part of this post is sponsored. I just really, really love these products.)

Steady As She Goes

I believe I will find peace the day I actually scrub the milk stains from my couch.

On this day I will listen to my conscious tell me my son is playing so quietly in his room, and I will know that it’s not an observation, it is a warning. And I will make it into his room and grab the paintbrush dripping with red paint just as it is centimeters from the walls.

That afternoon, I’ll receive a check from ConEd in the mail for an overpayment on my electric bill.

And we’ll return our books and DVDs to the library on time. Dollar-a-day fees be damned.

My husband will come home from work with not only boss’s praise, but this time a pay raise.

I’ll have a three course meal on the table in fifteen minutes, having selected from a choice of dishes that I had prepared and frozen over the weekend.

This will be the day my son realizes bedtime does not mean it’s time to initiate a search and rescue for a toy that has been lost for weeks but suddenly he can’t sleep without.

::Big sigh::

I keep telling myself I’m on the brink of serenity. It’s just a few more inhales, exhales and ‘what the heck is this stain?!” away.

But until then, I wonder…are library fines tax deductible?

Finding Peace in the Spin Cycle

I have always hated doing laundry, I’m just not that good at it. All the sorting and waiting and folding, and then there’s that stuff about detergents and water temperatures. I vaguely remember a line my mom once told me, something about a cold, dark room….or was it a warm, dark space?

Although I do clearly remember grocery shopping with my mom when I was about 18 years old, a good three years into me being responsible for my own laundry. She sent me for some laundry detergent and when I returned she gave me the mom look and said, “This is fabric softener. Sweetie, is this what you have been washing your clothes with?”

Yes, it was.

But now that I’m responsible for the fresh scent and crisp appearance of others’ clothes, the pressure is really on. I dread each day’s addition to the laundry pile; every work shirt, every spilled coffee stain, every preschool runny nose that I have no tissues for (I have zero shame using my shirt).

I have found myself crying alongside my son after a bad dream, So not only did he wet his PJs but also a whole set of sheets?That’s two separate washers.

So each week, in the diligent fashion of a responsible housewife, I haul my load to the laundromat which is usually filled with other women trying to wash out food stains from superhero t-shirts and looking for socks that are really too bright to get lost but small enough that they elude. Along with these women, I have become a purifier of cotton and denim. We calmly wait in the white light of fluorescent bulbs and sit in silent meditation until a dreaded thud, thud thud pulls us back to this mechanical washing ground. Calling us to be contestants in a laundry game show, Is the sound coming from Dryer 1, 2, or 3? The prize? A forgotten toy in a pocket that, at best, is intact but warm. At worst, has melted and spread it’s gooeyness to the rest of the laundry.

This has become my sangha, my community. While I still am unsure of color sorting, is gray a white or color? I have become confident that my son’s sheets and germy clothes are definitely to be washed in hot water. And I’m learning to enjoy my time at the laundromat.

Well, at least not dread it.

Encyclopaedia Mamannica

My four year old thinks I’m a genius. Truth be told, I haven’t made many attempts to dissuade him, but the guilt is beginning to wear me down. I have to come clean.

I don’t know anything about Beaux-Arts.

I can barely pronounce Amenherkhepeshef, or for that sake sarcophagus.

I would rather be anywhere other than the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach exhibit, but since I have no choice in the matter, “Let me tell you why they are calling hissers.”

I don’t know why a baboons backside is red.

I can’t tell the difference between oil and acrylic paintings.

And heck, since I’m sharing my knowledge confessions…up until two years ago, I thought the Pacific Ocean was freshwater.

So yes, it’s all a fraud, I’m just a fast reader with genetically blessed vision. I can read off facts from the information plaque before we’ve even made it to the glass separating us from the snow lion. And did you know that a snow lion can jump as far as 50 feet?

But soon enough, he’ll be reading on his own and the jig will be up. And not long after that, I “just won’t get it.” (Presumably, this will be followed with “Leave me alone!” and probably a slammed door). So until then, I’ll hold my little guy’s hand and let him believe that, of course, I know all about the life cycle of a cicada.

Mommy Asana

I recently began practicing yoga again. But not the hippies-in-a-hazy-room yoga of my wayward university days. This is a structured and guided study of forehead to knee and ujjayi pranayama in a 100 degree room. My twice a week class is the first time since my son was born that I’ve had any sort of ‘extracurricular’ activities away from home. And while I still believe childbirth to be my body’s greatest accomplishment, I am still amazed each time my eyes find the back wall in Ardha Chandrasana.

Despite my absence from the mat, I found my body to have still maintained the flexibility of my youth (and by youth I mean, my pre-mommy days). I study daily, reading and practicing asanas, and can feel myself becoming more balanced each day. I thought it would take much longer to regain my strength after four years away from the mat, but just a few weeks back into it, while holding Virabhadrasana III in class, I heard my instructor say, “Beautiful, Melissa. Relaxed forehead, easy breathing. You look like you could hold this pose forever.” And I felt like I could.

Moments later, while lying in Shavasana, I realized why it was so easy for me to get back into yoga. It was because I had never stopped practicing at all.

I’ve spent the past four years learning to control and soften my breath at the risk of waking a sleeping baby with even a deep exhale. I’ve learned how to relax my facial expression even though inside I’m gagging. You barely even ate, now there’s vomit EVERYWHERE. I have truly accepted that nothing is permanent. Not sharpie marker on the walls, stickers on the furniture, or the dreaded “I don’t like you, Mommy” phase. But most notably, I have mastered the ability to balance with heels up, knees bent, and arms out wide enough to comfort a crying child.

I call it Mommy Asana and it’s the most beneficial posture there is.

I Concede

Just moments ago, I sent off my 500th resume in just over a year, and at this time I can’t help but reflect back on the potential jobs and disaster interviews that have shaped my last year.

Of these 500 resumes, I have been invited to an interview seven times. Of those seven, I have been offered a position three and half times. There is still some confusion over that half offer, because even though I felt strongly about having “nailed” that interview, two days later I received a voicemail for “Laura” happily offering her the position. Then that Friday, another voicemail asking for me, correct name and all, to get back to them regarding the position. And then there was the high end retail job near Union Square. The manager asked me where I saw myself in five years, and I replied “Surrounded by beautiful things.” I was offered the job that day. But the shift was from 9:45am-7pm, five days a week. Calculating in the 45 minute commute and necessary day care expenses, the $7 an hour just wasn’t going to get me where I needed to be financially. There was the interview at a sweet bakery that reminded of a Polly Pocket I used to play with as a young girl, but the manager was less than enthusiastic about me and even commented that she didn’t believe I had enough personality for the position. Just last week there was the startup company that asked me, “Don’t you think you’re over qualified for this position?” Perhaps, but the $8 an hour for twenty hours a week work is more than the $0 an hour I would have been making during those same twenty hours, so I the thought of being ‘over-qualified’ was no concern to me.

The thing is, I have written so many personalized cover letters and reviewed my resume so many times that I’ve become more aware of my responsibilities at previous jobs than I even realized while I worked there. After 500 applications and e-mails, I’ve been able to increase my wpm and kph speeds to a speed that is searchable on its own. But unfortunately, typing quickly (and forgive me for tooting my own horn, but accurately) are apparently not sufficient enough skills for getting hired.

I’ve ordered my own background check. I’ve cleared most of my cyber identity. I practiced words like “receptive” and “industrious.” I bought a great interview outfit complete with heels (!!) and visualized and role played possible interview scenarios. I’ve listed pros and cons and mapped out five year plans tracing the possible paths should I get hired.

But it was today, as I clicked “Send” and watched my 500th resume disappear into the unknown that I stopped to think, “What the eff am I doing?” This isn’t me. Heels? Really?

So employers in the New York City area, I concede. This isn’t working out for either of us. To be quite honest with you, I just want to spend my days wandering the streets of this city, of any city, really. And I want to write about how amazing it is to live here. And I want to write about how amazing it is to be a mom. And as long as you coop me up in some office, away from my wanderings and, more importantly, from my family, I will begin to resent you. And then it will just get awkward. So if you see a resume cross your desk with my name on it, I give you my permission to go ahead and shred it.

Anyway, I hear Laura would be a great employee.

The Joy of Friday

Most Friday mornings, I peek in on Malik still sleeping and am comforted by how peaceful he looks. I’ll think about letting him stay home from school so he can just stay longer in his dreams and I’ll visualize a whole day of pure awesomeness. Lions at the zoo, crafts at MOMA, cheese pizza for lunch, and maybe even a movie to end the day. And then we would head back home where we’ll fall into fits of laughter talking about everything we did, until he closes his eyes peacefully back to sleep.

But then each Friday morning, as he starts starts stirring in bed slowly waking his morning bird self just after the clocks ticks 6am, the reality will sneak up into my daydream.

Trying to motivate him to get his shoes on faster so we can leave the house early, But we’re going to see lions!, then trying to entertain him on the hour and half train ride to the Bronx Zoo. It is the only one with lions. Convincing him that the zoo is HUGE and there is a lot more to see than just said lions, We’ve already come all this way, we might as well look at more animals. Realizing he is tired from the train ride and half mile we have already walked so, yeah I guess we’ll just have to come back another time. Entertaining him on the hour train ride back to the city where we decide to go for pizza first before MOMA and then making a detour to Dylan’s for some sugar energy now that Malik is sleepy from lunch. Then over to MOMA where we stand in line for twenty minutes. I’ll walk him around the museum pretending I can’t find the children’s room just so I can get a peek of some of the exhibits and then we’ll head downstairs where I’ll read Taschen books and he’ll tape together strips of newspaper. Then I’ll remember that I have the same Taschen book at home and a small pile of New York Times that has yet to go out to recycling. Then we’ll head over to Starbucks to wait out the last few minutes of Ibby’s shift at work and I’ll listen as Malik makes up stories about living in India and his secret life as a super hero. Then he’ll say those words that are just so sweet at home, but make my bones hurt when I hear them in Midtown. “Mommy, I’m sleepy. Can you hold me?” So I’ll pick him up as I catch a glimpse of Ibrahim outside and by the time I get out the door, Malik’s head is on my shoulder and his eyes closed. So as a family we’ll go through the turnstiles and ride 45 minutes back home. Along the way Ibby will say that if Malik had been able to stay up a little longer then we could’ve grabbed some merguez sandwiches from my favorite place in Astoria. But maybe next time.

So each Friday morning at 6:05am, when my little man continues his journey back from his dreams, I’ll quietly move around the kitchen, making breakfast and packing his school snack. Around 6:30, I’ll hear his footsteps creak the floorboards and his little voice from the room, “Good morning, Mommy. Today do I gotta go to school?”

“Yes, Little Man.”

“Tomorrow, do I gotta go to school?”

“No, tomorrow is Saturday.”

“Then tomorrow, can we go to the park by Baba’s job so I can climb the mountains?”

And I’ll realize how easy it is to keep him happy.

So we’ll leave home and I’ll drop him off at school. Then I’ll wait out the rest of the day in this quiet apartment. In the afternoon, I’ll head back to the school to pick him up and watch as he walks out the doors with his class. As he’s making his way towards the gate, he’ll see my face among the other parents and flash the biggest smile, turn to his friend and say, “My Mommy’s here!” and I’ll realize just how easy it is for me to be happy, too.

Lucy Loves Al Literation. 4ever

Lucy Lou loved lemon drops
Licorice and lollipops
And if it weren’t for cavities
All at once she’d eat all three

Lucy laughed at limericks
And danced her way through labyrinths
She’d fill her pockets with pieces of lace
And only wrote in lowercase

Lucy loved the library
It’s where she’d spend a rainy day
She’d look up words like leisure and loquacious
Solve logirithms and long division

Lovely Lucy loved to wander
She’d make her way from here to yonder
But she never feared to be confused
For she always knew her latitude

 

Diplomacy at Home

I met my husband while I was a clerk in a video rental store. He was a frequent customer and, though he had never said a word to me, I knew from the first day I saw him that we would marry. One night, I dreamt that we were riding bicycles together and when I woke up the next morning I was filled with a determination to speak to him.

I wasn’t exactly the assertive type, so the thought of asking his name actually made me nauseous. For most of my shift that night, adrenaline would rush through my body every time I heard the ding of the front door. Finally, near closing time, he walked in and began his video rental search. He was wearing blue track pants, and I could hear the swish, swish of the fabric as he made his way through the aisles. Occasionally, I saw him look up over the the video racks towards the front of the store and my stomach tingled with excitement. Tan skin, black hair, sea-green eyes. He was beautiful.

I made every attempt to act normal when he stepped up to the counter. Did you find everything you were looking for? This is a great one. Enjoy your movie. I didn’t know how to stray from the workplace script. As I handed him his receipt, he finally said his first words to me.
“How was your hurricane?” he asked awkwardly.
“It was good.” Actually, it was horrible. Our city was still recovering from the two week blackout and devastating damage of Hurricane Wilma, and I was sick from my diet of ramen noodles and canned beans. “How was yours?” I asked.
“Good. What is your name?”
I pointed to my name tag, “Melissa, and yours?”
“Ibrahim.”
“Where are you from?”
“Turkey.”
“Okay, well, nice to meet you, Ibrahim. Enjoy the movie”
“You too.”
He walked out the store and I watched him as he made his way to his car.
“I do!” I yelled out, to the amusement of my coworker and the discomfort of my next customer.

Eleven months later, we married. It was a small ceremony held in the Florida room of my mother’s house. We planned it in one day. I found my dress at a designer discount store but ran out of time to look for shoes. I was, literally, a barefoot bride. It was a short courtship and we still had a lot to learn about each other’s culture but we were young and in love and the challenge of blending our histories didn’t even faze us.

One month after we married, I was pregnant. And just two months shy of our one year anniversary, Malik was born. We moved into a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen so small I could reach each wall with my arms not even fully extended. When we signed the lease, the only furniture we had was Malik’s crib and dresser. We collected hand-me down pieces and each night slept on a pull-out loveseat in the living room.
At the time, it was all we could afford. Ibrahim was working two jobs and I stayed at home taking care of Malik. We became familiar with the overdraft policies of our bank and were frequently cashing in our loose change. We were both university students trying to squeeze studying into our schedule and although Malik was our motivation to graduate, he was also our distraction from studying.

But our biggest challenge since Malik’s birth has been figuring out how to encourage his sense of identity. One day, when Malik was just a few months old, Ibrahim and I were in the financial aid line at school. Standing behind Ibrahim was a student with a Turkish flag printed on his black tee, “Türk müsünüz?” Ibrahim asked him. “I’m sorry?” the student replied. “Are you Turkish?” Ibrahim repeated in English. “No. I’m not, but my mom and dad are from Turkey.” Ibrahim was frustrated with the response and in the car on our way home he vented, “If your parents are Turkish, then you are Turkish!” he yelled angrily.

We questioned how we could instill in Malik a pride of both countries. We realized that the difficulty of teaching Malik to be a Turkish-American was in understanding what it meant to be either. As an American child, I was raised to be independent and encouraged to move away from home when I grew up. My husband was taught to be obedient to his parents and encouraged to support them as they aged. As parents, we are trying to build a bridge between independence and obedience. We have become domestic diplomats, promoting and defending our cultures.

It seems we are infinitely making plans to move to Turkey. We talk about styaing for one year so that Malik can be immersed in Turkish culture. We want to teach him his history as an American and as a Turk, not as something to be recited, but as a catalyst for understanding the diversity and beauty of his existence.

Ibrahim once told me that American kids are the only ones that throw balls, all other kids of the world kick them. We used to joke that Malik’s first word would be “football” and we would ask, “Which one?” In reality, Malik’s first word was “Baba,” the Turkish name for dad, and when we give him a ball, he throws it right back.