Monday, October 31, 2011

Weather, Whims, and Waiting

Washington Square Park, NYC 10/28
sleet and roses
<-------- that, my friends, is sleet.

It snowed the other day in New York.

Not in Alaska, mind you.
Not even upstate, northern New York.
But on Long Island and New York City.

It snowed wet, cold, slushy stuff that rained down on my head, soaked my jeans through to my legs, coated the streets of NYC with just the kind of hazardous, slick, gray sludge a person like me can kill herself on.

I cursed the weather gods, as I ran from the LIRR to the subways, to Washington Square Park, trying to get my kid and his friend to their Saturday NYU math class* on time.

By the time we got back on the LIRR to go home, my jacket was soaked and frozen, and my toes were all but numb.

I don't remember a time when it snowed in New York in October. And I'll be happy if I never see such time again.

And, yet.

This morning, still October, the car thermometer reads 33, and the lawns are covered in a definitive blanket of white frost.

In another world, in another lifetime, that might be pretty. But, for me, in my world, it means only one terrible thing:

there will be no more open water this season.

suited up, mid-october at
West Neck Beach
I can do waves and wind and water at 53 degrees, if I can emerge to sunshine and temps above 45 on dry land. But I cannot do wind and water at 48 (the last reported temp before the snow and frost of this weekend) and emerging to dry land temps below 40 degrees.

I wish I could, but I cannot.

That means, for this season, I am out.**

I knew it was coming. I tried to brace myself.

In an effort to release land-based endorphins, I may have even bought some bright red hair dye on impulse and worked it through my hair.

Don't kid yourselves about it; I'm not sorry.

Even if I know, perhaps, I should be.

My hot-cherry red hair is making me very, very happy.

As happy as I can be on dry land.

So it's likely not going anywhere soon.

And, yes, fine, we'll see what color it turns when the chlorine starts mixing in.

In the meantime, I'm back to waiting. My Frankie Sky revisions are with my agent. He said he would have feedback to me soon. Then, if approved, we go back to the other waiting. The harder waiting.
Waiting for the editors to say yay or nay.

And, don't I know how often the nays have it.

But, really, what choice do I have?

So until then, me n' my hot-cherry red hair will be here, on dry land, or immersing myself in the chlorine. Waiting for good news. Waiting for spring. Waiting for another open water season to begin.

*please note that my son is taking said class at HIS request. I would NEVER suggest anyone take a math class on a Saturday. ;)

** hope looms eternal: as I finished typing this blog post, an email from my swim buddy appeared in my inbox promising temps back up near sixty this week. Could one more open water swim be  possible . . .?    ;)

- gae

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween Riff (Sugar Rush)

Me, last night, with the treat my sweet hubby delivered
Reeling from a sugar high (after weeks of not eating any) and inspired by a copy of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven (reprinted way below) that serendipitously arrived in my email box this morning, I penned my own version of some early Halloween terror.

I invite you to join me in the comments and create a little Halloween homage of your own.

Definitely treat over trick.

- gae

Once upon a Tuesday, teeming, with the thought that I was dreaming,
when consuming pounds of creamy, malted chocolate balls galore,
should my sugar-coated teeth, my growing thighs felt underneath,
this memory, now, so vague and brief, it barely lingers at my core. . .
“Tis only fair, you see,” I muttered, “to mix some sweet amidst the bore,”
only this: a sugar fix, and nothing more.
Ah, distinctly (I was sober), it was in the bleak October,
sent my husband like a gopher, to the aisle in the store. . .

Eagerly, no, not a Spartan, sent him for the whole damned carton
Tried to cease, but played my part on, part on asking, yes, for more --
Now, the fear of scale uncertain, holes in teeth will soon be hurtin’,
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating, of my heart, I stand repeating,
"'Tis some minor weakness leaving, exiting through every pore,
Calories to soon be leaving, through my every pore.
Twas only candy, nothing more.”

The Raven
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!
-Edgar Allen Poe

Friday, October 21, 2011


Gae at West Neck Beach 10 21
Despite high winds and chilly air hovering
only around 55 (not counting the wind chill),
and a marineforcast reporting 3 ft waves and
a small craft advisory, a few lucky Pod members and I
snuck away at 10:30 this morning for
an open water swim. 

The wind gusts in the parking lot were so intense
they snapped our car doors shut as we tried to emerge,
so we opted for stretching on our wetsuits on the alee side, before even attempting to venture to our usual changing spot at the lifeguard station, to get our swim caps and goggles and remaining supplies on.
Carol Moore changing at her car
The waves (and white caps) were kicking. Just trying to get my hair conditioned and under my swim cap, left my fingers numb. We fretted aloud about the water temperatures.

Luckily, the sky was too pretty to turn back, so we waded in tentatively, our girly screams and f-bombs peppering the air as the cold swept into our wetsuits. Then, as always, we put our heads down and started to swim.

It was one of the most exhilarating swims I've had to date. When we'd swum our day's course, it was hard to force ourselves out. My wetsuit drying on my stoop makes me happy to have seized the day. As always, I am never ever sorry I went in.

Here are just a few reasons why:

convinced yet?


Monday, October 17, 2011

The Pieces of Me

Some days I feel frantic, others lucky, to try to push myself to do more, be more, than I originally thought I could be.

I am acutely aware of time ticking.

Of days passing me by.

Of seasons changing from summer to fall
to winter once again.

I want to grasp life -- to embrace it and make more of it -- but some days I just don't really know how.

I try not to say no out of fear.

I want to take in the small moments, make them indelible, hold them captive, tiny photographs in my brain,

while grabbing the huge moments with gusto, a big, shiny, sturdy brass ring.

I swim.

I write.

Now, I even teach.

I lawyer. I parent. I wife. I love.

Sometimes none of it feels like enough.

Sometimes, all of it feels like too much.

I am so many pieces. I am exhilarted. I am lacking. I am fulfilled. I am numb.

I let the waves embrace me.
I hold on for dear life.

I let go as much as I can.

I am acutely aware of time ticking
and the days passing me by.

- gae

Monday, October 3, 2011


Girls of October
( photo: Carol Moore)
I'm feeling it this morning: the cold, harsh reality that summer cannot --

will not --

hold on.

I see my breath in the air.
(Cannot, will not, hold on).

I know this. And yet I keep trying.

Why do I try, when I know there's no holding on?

I need acceptance. I just need to breathe and transition to the chlorine.
And, yet.
The open water has become more and more my Prozac. I don't want to transition. It feels like such a damned metaphor.

It's Monday. It's October. It's cold.

And, I can see my damned breath in the air.

And all I want is to swim.

I want the bright hues of summer. I want to run my toes in the sand, to feel the sun on my face, to stroke under blue skies, through the waves, through the bliss, through the promise.

But this morning, there's no promise. Only cold, gray skies. And no mistaking my vaporous breath in the air.

- gae