Saturday, December 29, 2012

reflect and renew and a few wishes - hello 2013

kissing goodbye 2012... for better and worse...
I've been on a tear to finish a manuscript which means long days and nights at the computer in between anything else I might be doing.

And I've had a head cold (doesn't that sound old fashioned?) for weeks. A two week + head cold.

And, of course, there was the little matter of the holidays.

Which is my way of saying that my thoughts are disorganized and discombobulated and I feel unready to make my usual resolutions.

Yet, I feel the year end is an important time -- an opportunity to reflect, and a clean slate to renew.

So, I thought I'd at least take a few minutes to reflect on a very few of the highlights of my year (honestly, there have been MANY)

and to renew my determination in a few of the areas I didn't quiet live up to my own hopes and expectations this year (honestly, there have been MANY).

Happy Reflection:

Highlights (these are MY personal highlights, not those of my children - that their highlights are my greatest joy should go without saying):

look, I even got my own star... :)

the title page of the script.

-- and (yes, it's still totally pie-in-the-sky at this point, so the truth is, I'm not so much "excited" as I am flattered and enjoying the fun of it).

Of course, there were other wonderful highlights too,

a school visit in Pennsylvania, and a few in NYC, as well as a bunch of Skype visits to classrooms around the country giving me a chance to connect directly with my readers;

the day to day humor and joy of connecting with my friends -- both virtual and in person;

and the blessing of living near the water, and extending our open water season to nearly seven months of regular daily swims...

West Neck Beach where I frolic with the Pod
to name a few.

But there are places where I've failed miserably and hope to do better this year.

Renewed Commitment:

  • More writing, less facebook. Sad, but true. I love my shiny facebook friends, but I need to be more focused and less distracted from my writing. I had hoped to have my "next hopeful" manuscript [working title In Sight of Stars] revised by the end of the summer, and have a new one I started that I was liking in rough draft by year's end. Instead, I am still trying to finalize the former and haven't touched the other. It's nobody's fault but my own.

Not to mention that I hoped to revise Swim Back to Me, and maybe send it out there once again.

Yes, I've done some good writing, and had revisions due to my editor in between, but the lampost and I both know I've procrastinated a great deal, and I'm not getting any younger.

  • More yoga. Less almost going to yoga.

  • Less talk, more action. Helping people. Contributing to the larger world.

  • More reading, less mindless TV;
                                                                                and, dare I say,

  • I've got a few bigger swims to tackle...

Well, I've got a lot more where that came from: disappointments that I want to turn to opportunity and personal improvement, but the bewitching hour of my headcold is getting the best of me.

I can't end 2012 without making a few wishes:

  • gun control
  • a kinder gentler nation for my kids,
  • and that you all have a year without suffering.

Happy New Year to all!

Please don't drink and drive. Pretty please, with a cherry on top. <3 p="p">
xox gae

Thursday, December 13, 2012

where water and wonder meet

i love artistic people.

i love the creative spirit.

i love when i connect with someone's work so deeply that I try to inhale it, internalize it, make it seep in through my pores.

(although it simultaneously pains me that i can't possess it wholly, wrap myself in it, make it happen through my fingers, or my lens).

no, i am not above coveting.

speaking of which,

this is lori.

photo credit: lori landau
she is where water and wonder meet.

she is, among other things, a poet, an artist, a friend.

i have known her since i am 15.

as teens and college students, we wrote poetry together as we pined for boys, made sense of the world, yearned for more. i have always coveted her words.

now, i also covet her art.

i admit this. oh, how i do.

last night, i was lucky enough to attend the closing of her show Works in a Series at the New York Open Center  (a meshing of her work from Elemental Soul and Nature of Mind). Did I mention the photographs are all of water?

Truth is Nameless, archival print
credit: lori landau

that was one of the many that made me hyperventilate. . .

you can imagine how i was mesmerized. . .

this is also lori
At the end of the show, lori spoke a bit about her creative process and what moves her as an artist and a photographer:

"Every photograph, every painting, and every drawing I do starts from the same place: that small, nameless force inside that seeks connection to myself and the world around me. . .

Art making is not an act of doing—it is a way of being in the world, a way of filtering all of those ordinary moments we all have—of being mindful about the little things: the way the light touches the top of the mountain when the sun is coming up. . . the sound of the ocean when you realize that it is breathing just like you are."

the audience listened, rapt, as she continued:

Breath of Light, archival print
credit: lori landau
"I don’t think you need to make art to get this. You just need to open to the experience.  

Both making art and viewing it are acts of deep listening, of deep feeling.
I know that you get this . . . 

We are all vulnerable. We all want to understand a little more about mystery.

We want to touch it. We want to be it.

We all want to matter."

when you look at lori's photographs,

you feel,

you connect,

but moreso, there is a certain tranquility, coupled with a stirring,

that allows you to open yourself, breathless,

to be moved.

in this way, her art matters.


If her photographs are tranquil, her paintings demand a bit more,

they pull and push,

they promise comfort, but house pain.

they evoke our own discomfort

but offer a path to calm.

top left Yama; top right: Dharana
middle left: Vyadhi; middle right: Tapasya
bottm left: dhyana; bottom right: Samadhi

4 x 5 paintings acrylic on canvas

credit: lori landau

". . . my desire is to do something with my feelings, to rise above them, to transform them, to transcribe my own interior. I consider my camera, pen & brush an extension of my hands, a translator of the “everyday me” a way to evoke the idealized part of myself. . . The photographs and paintings here rain into my heart and my hands from somewhere other than self, but I recognize myself more clearly when they arrive."

This particular show of Lori's closes today, but there will be more, trust me, and when there are,

you should go see them.



be moved.

"Photography and art remind me that
like water,
everything is constantly changing. . . 
(they) are a visual documentation of where I have been,
the only way,
other than memory,
to hold on to something. "
- gae


More about Lori:

Writer, artist and photographer Lori Landau’s work explores the intimate connection between meditative and creative states. As a certified yoga and meditation teacher, Landau is deeply inspired by the Buddhist concept of interconnectedness. A spiritual nomad at heart, her work
symbolizes her exploration of sacred mystery.

Her articles and poetry have been published in a wide range of magazines, books and blogs; most recently, in the upcoming An Anthology of Babes: 26 (or 30) Women Give Motherhood a Voice." In addition, Landau is a visual artist, whose work has been exhibited in several group and solo shows. Her concept-driven and interdisciplinary art spans a range of mediums, including photography, drawing and painting. Landau regularly uses her art and words as a platform to raise consciousness about both global and meta issues.

You can find more of her work on her own blog,, as well as the women’s section of
Finally, her new monthly column for iPinion will debut this Sunday! 


Monday, December 10, 2012

Missing Loehmann's

The good Loehmann's used to be in Huntington, a solid half hour west from my parents' house, where I grew up in Smithtown.

If you don't know Loehmann's, you are not a Jewish girl from Long Island.

If you don't know Loehmann's, you are not your Jewish-from-Long-Island mother's daughter.

Loehmann's was a dream maker: the place you could spend hours trying on, crying, laughing, until you found that perfect item or six that made you feel pretty, presentable, ready to face the world with your new wardrobe. The place you shopped for something to wear on your first date. The place you wept over braces, glasses, thunder thighs, too-big-boobs, unruly shopping hair, or the dilemma of finding something that would nicely mask the mild curvature in your spine that would require you to wear a scoliosis brace.

Loehmann's was the place that patient men -- fathers, husbands, unwitting boyfriends -- sat waiting, lined up and uncomfortable, in the hard plastic penalty chairs by the door, as the women they "represented" disappeared for painful hours into the bowels of the dressing room, only to reappear occasionally wearing the same item in a different color, or a size up or down, to ask the dreaded questions, "What do you think? This one, or this one? Does this look good on me?"
mom and me, undoubtably that sweat suit was my
80s idea of high fashion, but the sneakers are cute, no?

Remember, these were the days before iPhones and iPads. How my heart bleeds for those men...

Now, I say there was a good Loehmann's. . .

Several years after we started frequenting the far west (wonderful, wish-fulfilling) Loehmann's, a new Loehmann's opened east of us, a mere ten minutes or so from my mom's.

We were excited at first, but it quickly became evident that there was no comparison between the old Loehmann's (good!) and the new one: Bad. It was as if they were two different stores.

Disappointment, but no matter. We were troopers.
We would just have to continue to travel a half hour in the wrong direction to the good one.

There was this one time, however. . .

I was home for the weekend visiting (I was fresh out of college and, well, did I mention I could be an uber-bitch when I was younger?)

My mom and I donned proper shopping attire and off we went.

To the good Loehmann's.

The usual excitement popped and crackled in the air.

Our brains swam with images of hand knit sweaters.

That new-tag smell permeated the air.

Three-quarters of the way there, we got in an argument. Who remembers about what? Something stupid, don't ask me.

(total lie, I remember. . . oh, how I remember!)

Suffice it to say, things quickly decompensated. I mean things in the car got ugly.

My mother veered off the road into some other shopping center, and turned the car around.

We drove in silence toward home. Which was better than the prior screaming.

At the exit to our house, my mother kept going, the tension still thick in the car.

Tentative, afraid (was she dropping me off far from home where I'd have to hitch a ride back to the city?), I whispered, "where are we going?"

She turned and glared at me, the fury shining in her eyes.

"The bad Loehmann's," my mother spat at me.

And so we did.

We bought nothing.

A fine punishment, indeed.

This Sunday morning, driving home from dropping my son at Driver's Ed, I passed the old good Loehmann's, a sense of intense longing permeating my soul.

I mean, I know the store has been long empty. . .

But this time, as I passed, it had suddenly morphed into a mega Tool store.

A mega-fucking tool store.

Don't the Gods of all things good know that tools are the farthest thing from fashion?

There was something so bracing about seeing that tool store there. It left me feeling lost and old and forlorn.

I miss Loehmann's.

I love my mother.

Thank goodness for Annie Sez.

email exchange with my mom this a.m.
- gae

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Post-Hurricane Lamentations and Thankfulness

Bodies of water nearly merged where once they were separate
West Neck Beach, Long Island
Photo: The Water-blog, Carol Moore
Hurricane Sandy blew through here, razing homes, yanking down power lines, changing the shoreline forever.

Our power was out for 11 cold days (house down to 46 degrees by the end of the second dark week), and, yet, we were so very lucky compared to so many others.

Despite the downed trees lying across roads like so many dead bodies left to decay, lost of any of their once-magestic magnificence, and one hatcheted school vacation, there is little evidence of the utter destruction it left in its wake.

Go a few towns over, and that is not the case.

We haven't spoken in over twenty years, but I keep wondering after my high school boyfriend who I know has a family in Lindenhurst.

Here, things have gone pretty much back to normal.

Me, out front, getting an endorphin rush the other day,
with a few friends from the West Neck Pod. Photo, Carol Moore.
But for the occasional effort to donate non-perishables, warm clothes and blankets, my life has returned to its usual mix of parenting, writing, swimming, and entertaining my falsely-perceived masses on facebook.

Of fretting over how gray my hair has gotten (very), or how much more my knees can possibly continue to sag (hopefully, not much more).

And, over larger things, too, like the departure of my first child, in less than a year, to the cruel hard world of college.

How will he fare?

How will I fare without him?

Over my younger son's self esteem, having gotten cut from the high school basketball team. And, no, that Michael Jordan story holds no magic for anyone anymore.

And, yes, over which quinoa recipe I should make for this year's Thanksgiving Table.

My three boys at last year's Thanksgiving table.

I'm going with a fig, arugula, orange and goat cheese quinoa, drizzled balsamic reduction. I may toss in some pomegranate seeds -- a symbol of renewal -- for good measure.

I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. Especially this year, though it's always been my favorite holiday.

I have a good, easy life of which I am endlessly cognizant, grateful.

For which I am eternally thankful.

Well, except for the sagging knees.

- gae

p.s. A very happy Thanksgiving to all my readers. I am so appreciative that you stop by here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Submersion and reconstitution

me, emerging from the water on
November 11
a whopping 39 degrees. . .
Some days I could be convinced to move to warmer climate.

Write on the beach,

bask in the sun,

swim in the open water in nothing but a bathing suit and goggles.

New York, post-hurricane, is hell right now. People suffering. Moreso, on this gray, gloomy day.

A dead tree, toppled by Sandy, is blocking my view of the street.

I'll get back, but the hurricane knocked me off my path.

My revisions are due soon on the book still (temporarily) known as Frankie Sky. College apps are due for my oldest son. . . the man who is taller than I am, who sleeps in the other room.

How did he get big like that, my son?

How did his childhood speed through here?

I tried to stay alert, and present and focused, to soak it all in, to take my time and enjoy it and make it all last. But, alas, I find myself awakened like some aging Sleeping Beauty, to it disappearing beyond reach, the tail end fading off in the rear view mirror.

I know there is life after the kids leave home -- after 50 -- but, still, I don't know how I got here, on the verge.

Waving goodbye to a whole part of my life that was just stretched out before me.

How often in this blog do I long (whine? God, let me not whine) for the days and weeks back, to slow time down. To stop it from blurring by so fast.

How often do I douse myself in water, hoping the submersion will preserve me, reconstitute the days and years that have simply flown by. Or, at least my ability to ground myself, and the will to accept they are gone.

a few short years ago. . .

- gae

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Honor, Remembrance, and How Time Flies. . .

(me, left on the windowsill, my sister, right)
The day my dad returned from
Viet Nam (Mash Unit Chu Lai, '66 -'67)
Yesterday --

two weeks after Hurricane Sandy raged through here flooding, destroying, changing the landscape of New York/New Jersey/Connecticut forever

(not to mention knocking out our power for 11 cold and difficult days)

-- I spent a "normal" day in the city with my parents, my sister and her girlfriend (who is like a sister to me now).

It was an invigorating, special, throwback day to my childhood/teens/twenties.

Two plays (one really stellar one)and a delicious dinner, all the treat of my parents.

The occasion, my sister's 50th birthday.

The last time she was taller than I am . . .

I can read that over and over again, but still, it remains unfathomable.

My sister is fifty, and soon, I will follow.

. . . and, us, horsing around recently
in my father's gardens. . .

Beyond that, my older son is 17, and next year at this time, he will be long gone to college.

My dad with me at my birthday, last July.
My father, ever strong and youthful, turns 75 this March.

To see him, you would not believe it.

But there it is. 75.

It is Veteran's day, a day that always makes me want to honor, yes, all veterans, but especially my dad. But, for a writer, I am, once again, at a loss for truly meaningful words.

Nothing I write here will ever come close to explaining the strong but gentle, capable, loving, generous man he is.


There is no father who ever loved his daughters more, protected them better, was more loyal and true to his family.

We are so lucky that he returned from a year of hell in a MASH unit in Viet Nam to raise us.

He is anti-war.

He is a Veteran for Peace,

and yet it's hard to imagine him without that year that so much changed and shaped him.

Time flies.

Damn, how it flies.

I honor this man in his uniform,
in his hospital scrubs,
in his jumpsuits,
and leather pants,
in his (leather) speedo bathingsuit who taught me how to dive and swim.

This man who came to every single recital, every competition, every play, every honor and celebration that mattered in my life.

This man who stood over the dining room table admiring, as my sister and I made endless arts and crafts.

This man, who put other people's children through college when they could not.

This man who fixed badly crushed and broken bones with hands gentle enough to heal flowers, with the patience and skill that embodied Premum Non Nocere,

this man who has always known there is No Free Lunch, yet always offers one.

This man that can find my sister and me in a crowd,

in a dark room,

in a snowstorm,

in a hurricane,

in distress.

This man, who always kept us safe and warm,

and still does.

My dad is truly the closest person I've ever met to invincible.

And so he will always remain.

- gae

p.s. thank you to all the Veterans who have so bravely served our country. May there be no more wars. . . and only peace and love.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Will the Real Me. . . and Pen Parentis Literary Salon...


This is me right now, well, last week.

I will be HERE on November 13, at the PEN PARENTIS LITERARY SALON.  7 pm.

According to the website, this is the me that will be there:

The day I had my author photos taken.
Was my hair ever that blonde?
Who the fuck is she?

Or, her:

Okay, I kinda miss her. Was that only three years ago?!

How about her?

this is what happens when you buy $10 red hair dye.


yes, those are reading glasses >:(


this may be photoshopped, for sure...


Would the real Gae Polisner please stand up?

Well, one of us will be there.

HERE. At the Pen Parentis Literary Salon. On November 13. At 7 pm.

And, I may (may, may, may...) actually read in public for the first time from a piece of my women's fiction. I'm thinking about it. Though the thought sort of terrifies me also.

Especially, if you'll be there listening.

Eh. No big deal.

You'll likely never recognize me again.

I probably should stop changing my hair.

- gae

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bye, Bye Birdies

Bobo and Taha, our ex-cockatiels
I'm not an animal person. I wish I were.

Partly, I'm not good with noise, smell or mess. I joke at times that I'm borderline autistic in my senses -- to the point of discomfort, at that.

Also, I'm terrified of them being hurt or injured. I overempathize maybe. But I can't bear the thought of the suffering. And I have all I can handle to try to keep the humans I'm responsible for from suffering.

Suffice it to say, I don't make a good pet owner, and I know it.

Now, you should know, I grew up with pets. Cats and big dogs. As a little girl, I was definitely devoted to our first dog, Maverick. But, as I got older, I got less tolerant of the drool and the smell and the hair. I enjoyed an occasional cuddle with the kittens, but I couldn't clean up cat vomit without gagging. Or, scoop poop from the ground or their litter.

I am just not cut out for poop scooping.

And the good goes in hand with the bad.

People think I don't like animals. I do. I just love them more from afar.

I get how that truth doesn't seem reasonable.

At any rate, fast forward to my two beautiful boys who, by the time they are toddlers, want what every kid wants: a cat or a dog. Except, I'm not a good pet owner, and, anyway, Son Number One is allergic. Badly, badly allergic.

The parade of non-cat or dog animals begins.


hermit crabs (RIP);

bunny rabbits (oy vey, what was I thinking?!), and, then


And one supposedly hypoallergenic dog (Not!) in between.

I didn't even want a freaking dog and I wept for days when we had to give him back.

Sobbed, I tell you.

Some of you might remember the weeping.  

Son Two with Taha recently
At any rate, the birds lasted here for nearly six years. It was a good run. Honestly, I think and hope we were actually pretty good owners.

BUT, they never got the attention they seemed to crave, or I felt they truly deserved.

They would love nothing more than to be out on my shoulder all day -- and guess what, I'd let them be, except for the constant liquid poop thing. . .

Still, we gave them a decent amount of attention, as best we could.

But, the boys are getting bigger, and the older leaves for college next year.

And he is the person in our house who has always been best with the birds.

So, the other day, when a chance conversation came up with a friend  -- her partner was BADLY wanting a bird; she had owned one previously that had died, and her heart was craving another -- I felt maybe it was karmic, and I jumped on it.

Last night, with the boys' consent, we packed their cage and brought them to their new home.

So, today, the spot with the bird cage is empty, and Taha and Bobo are gone. I keep turning my head to the sound of phantom tweets.

And, yes, I have shed a few tears.

I can only imagine how it will be when the boys' bedrooms are empty. I mean, I never even minded their poop.

But, in the meantime, I am grateful. I know the birds have a wonderful -- better -- new home.

And, of course, life marches. And birds fly.

With love and gratitude to Carol and Carole.

- gae

Friday, October 12, 2012

This is Not

I dropped my boys off at school this morning.

They rushed out, swept into the sea of moving bodies.

A train came, slowing my path home. The 7:27 that bothers me every time.

Still, three minutes later I was home.

I pulled into my driveway and stared at my small brick house trying to picture it, one year from now, my oldest gone.

Four years from now,
with only my husband and me in it.

Where is the time where little children roamed the rooms,
drew on chalkboards,
made stick puppets,
cuddled safely in my arms?

Where is the woman with babies, with toddlers, with children rushed to baseball games, tennis lessons, piano?

Where are the pancakes and Big Book of Trains and boys in the snowman pajamas?

How are so many meet-the-teacher nights gone?

Whose house will this be, with no small boys to tuck in?
To teach to be brave?
To set free?

Whose house will this be, if I am the mother of these boys
and these boys are

This house is not me
without them.

This is not a house.

N'est pas un pipe.

- gae

Monday, October 8, 2012

Of Glitter, Ashes and Remembering

I usually reserve personal stuff
(and certainly dumb,
and/or ridiculous stuff)
for my private,
non-author facebook page.

But, today, inspired by a quote
a reader loved
from The Pull of Gravity
(which she had posted to her Tumblr page),
I shared a bit of personal stuff
on my facebook author
that went like this:

(if you click on the photos, you can see them larger).

I love social media. I love how it allows us to connect with, and move each other, so swiftly. It's a distraction, too, for sure. But today, with these memories -- and my mother's touch for knowing how to create such a memorable ceremony -- swirling in my heart and brain, I was happy for a chance to share.

- gae

Monday, October 1, 2012

Needing Time to Slow Down While Wishing it Away...

Okay, fine. The title of this post is a lie.

I never really wish it away.

In fact, I'd probably make a deal with the devil to have it go backwards for a while.

But, the more I swim and need water, the more I need December - April to just go away.

Is that so much to ask for, to have longer days packed into a seven-month year?

But I'm teetering on 50 here (holy fuck), and I need time to stop, slow down. I need time NOT to fly, or months to disappear.

I need to wish 2014 to stay looming in the FAR distance, even though I won't see my next YA in publication until then.

Competing interests, wouldn't you say?

Indeed, I feel like one of those push-me-pull-you's
from Dr. Doolittle,
wanting time to fly almost as badly as
I want it to stand still.

And yet, I know better.

As I sit here and type, my eyes keep darting up to this sweet little
art project my youngest brought home to me what
feels like five minutes ago. . .

Five minutes ago, I put it up on that shelf for safe-keeping (and viewing) until I could find a better spot for it.

It must've been November, for All Saints Day or Day of the Dead, in elementary school, at least five years ago.

Five years in five minutes, I tell you.

Five lousy minutes ago.

Yeah, I'd make that deal with the devil in a heart beat.


I need somehow to embrace the cold, dark chill in the morning and feel productive, rather than melancholy and dull.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fall Rush

Me, two winters ago. Time to chop my hair off again.
The old "change my hair" trick...another distraction. ;)
It was June.

It was August.

Now September is nearly gone.

Life is giving me a headrush.

The start of a school year is always a busy time...

add to it, my youngest has taken up a new sport in the mix (golf), and my older has college apps looming over his (my) head, and Drivers Ed.

My revisions on my next book were turned in and I'm waiting for feedback from my new editor at Algonquin (*gulp*). In the meantime, that starts the clock running on the four months until I can turn in my next option book. I don't want another big gap between books if I can help it, and I've got miles to go on those revisions (and would like a back up in place, to boot).

While my "paid work" has been slow, I've also been reviewing the movie script (!!) for The Pull of Gravity movie, if that ever comes to fruition and I have a bunch of book-related stuff coming up including a school visit in PA, and some local, Skype, and NYC events.

And, of course, have still been trying to get in the open water almost daily. . .

West Neck Beach under moody September morning skies
Which means

fall is rushing by.

As always,

life is rushing by.

Lately, faster than ever.

One of my favorite photos of Holden from a few years ago,
taken by my talented friend Rick Kopstein.

I want to stop every parent with a small child who passes by, and shake them, and yell, "Pay attention to every second! Every moment! It will be gone before you know it! You think you know, but you don't know. You don't know!"

I remember people telling me that. I sensed the urgency in their voices, and, I promise you, I took heed.

But, the truth is, even paying attention to every second with wonder and gratitude, won't make it last longer, or slow time down.

I want time back, but it doesn't work like that. Life keeps marching forward.

My beautiful friend Jennifer once wrote to me in a letter (in our early twenties!): "There are only two truths: the first, that you can never let go, and the second, you can never hold on."

I never forgot those words.

How right she was.

- gae

Monday, August 27, 2012

It Just Was. . .

The other day
with three other swimmers,
I swam five miles

It wasn't an ironman
or some other superhuman feat

I am no Diana Nyad
or Craig Dietz

But much of the swim was against current,
and at times, the current was "endless," and more than tried me,

and, other than a gracious kayaker or two around me,
for most of the swim, I was alone.

The other day,
unafraid and undoubting,
I swam five miles in the open water,

a feat, three years ago, I would never have dreamed I could have done.

When I reached the shore, there was no one cheering,
though the two other male swimmers, already back,
said, "good job."

When I stepped out of the water,
there were people on the beach
sunning, being, enjoying the end of summer.

My legs wobbled as I walked out, and my tired arms shook a little
as a father, unaware of what I'd just done,
asked me to snap a photo of his family.

The other day, I swam five miles,
without crowds or hype,
or fanfare,

and, so far, without any photos to prove it.

It just was.

Something more I did
one day
to prove to myself that I could.

- gae

p.s. thanks to Rob Martell, Rob Ripp, and Annmarie Kearney-Wood for making the swim with me, and to the amazing kayakers who spent their Saturday watching out for us. <3 p="p">

p.p.s. If you'd like to read a more detailed account of the swim, Carol Moore did a lovely job here on the water-blog.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

To Dream, Quiet or Extreme: Inspiration is Contagious, a Thank You

I've spent the past two days obsessively following Diana Nyad as she made her fourth attempt to be the first person to swim without a shark tank the 103 miles from Havana to Key West.

You heard me: 103 miles.

She didn't make it.

I know she cares, but I don't.

She swam in shark and jellyfish infested waters for over 51 hrs, no wetsuit.

Oh, and did I mention tomorrow is her 63rd birthday?

Diana, swimming through her second night in shark and jelly-filled waters.

Me, a few summers ago,
trying out my new wetsuit
This Saturday, I attempt my first five-mile swim. And, yes, it seems piddly next to such an accomplishment.

I have to remind myself that it is an accomplishment. That merely two summers ago, I was fearful of the unknown -- of even stepping in.

And that I barely finished my first 5K.

Honestly, a 5K is easy for me now. A no-brainer. I do them -- or close -- on my own (with Pod friends) recreationally now, all the time.

But there's a big difference between a 5K and 5 miles (er, 2 miles, to be almost exact).

Still, absent some unforseen circumstance (weather, cramps, bites (um)) I have no doubt I will make it.

In fact, I'm both excited and already feeling like it's not enough.

And, yes, I know that last sentence might be a bit skewed, but it is me. It is how I feel.

Me, this summer in mynon-wetsuit longsuit
Maybe it's not always the best way to be, but it also keeps me striving.

It's the voice that pushes me to try new things and do more.

Do I want (need) to swim 103 miles? No, of course not (well, not yet ;)), but I do want to keep pushing myself. I don't want to become complacent.

And I do want to be brave.

And bravery hasn't always been my strongsuit.

So, thank god for Diana.

She's a personal hero.

She's a constant source of inspiration.

She's proof that age is just a number; that you can always
dream big and do more.

- gae

*not sure of exact mileage. Will amend when I find out. It's over 50... I think close to 55.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Holding On for Dear Life

with my West Neck Pod family (I am behind the camera)
hanging a wreath and saying a prayer. . .
Last night, I attended a boating safety meeting at Town Hall in Huntington. My motives were mostly selfish -- as swimmers, we are often terrorized by the speedboats and jetskis that come zooming toward us inside the speed marker lines, hulls raised, completely oblivious.

The meeting itself had a different purpose. It had been called to try to "do something" in the wake of the tragedy that had occured on July 4th in our harbor, a tragedy that took the lives of  three little children, Victoria Gaines, Harlie Treanor and David Aureliano.

What I hadn't expected so soon after the tragedy, was to see a mother of one of the children, Lisa Gaines, sitting there two feet from me, clutching a framed 8X10 photograph of her daughter.

Throughout the meeting, I studied her pained, exhausted face, feeling her grief, and wondering how she had gotten herself up and dressed to attend, let alone walked, talked and breathed in the four intervening weeks since she lost one of her children. As a mother, I knew at least part of the answer was that she still had a child at home.

At any rate, after the meeting, I had a moment to speak to her. Everyone was talking to her about boating safety and new laws, all of which is why she was there. But I wanted to tell her something else.

I wanted to tell her how peaceful the water is, how blissful, and comforting on a July morning, to assure her that, as terrifying as it can be, she could hold on to another truth now: that it is also gentle and lulling and calm.

The waters of the harbor on a July morning

And I promised her that we think of those children every single time we swim and offer comfort, and hold them in our hearts.

This morning, when my alarm rang early at 5:30, I truly intended to swim. But one of my children had crawled into bed beside me, warm breath, golden hair.

Suffice it to say, I turned off my alarm, wrapped my arms tightly around him, and went back to bed.

It's okay. I know Lisa would have understood.

- gae

p.s. here is the beautiful blog post my friend, and Fairy Pod Mother of the West Neck Pod, Carol Moore wrote for The Water-Blog recapping our memorial service.

July view, looking up during a swim.

- gae