Terrorists…the clue is in the title


We left two days before the latest troubles broke out; before public opinion across Europe and the greater world, once again, but more loudly, was spewing ‘Death to the Jews’; before I felt I had to defend a nation and a heritage that I belong to, but don’t often define myself by; before I could even download any of our incredible photos of the most joyous of holidays ever. Our two weeks found us discovering a land where Jews, Muslims, Christians and Catholics live side by side harmoniously. And in Jerusalem in particular, where everyone’s spirituality resonated from the ground up, inter-crossing and interconnecting through the Arab markets, the holiest of Churches, the glorious golden Mosques and the sanctity of synagogues. The chanting, the praying, the aromas, the heat…all the night’s chorus for us to infuse our soul; a symphony of a blessed land at each sunrise and sunset.

I am not normally political and I am not religious. I am a human being; a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother. I am also an American and a Jew. I believe in God as a higher power but not often defined by my religion, which is why I am often at odds with being a practicing Jew. Nonetheless, I am outraged at the treatment Israel is receiving on the world stage and unfortunately on my own, small personal stage as well. Friends, both here and in London, seem to discuss the Gaza conflict with me assuming I have a bias towards Israel because I’m Jewish and therefore won’t accept or understand the Palestinian plight. And these same people don’t see the antisemitism in that simple comment.

I am indeed outraged but not because I’m Jewish, because I’m a human being who requires my government to treat me as such. The plight of the Palestinians is deplorable and the videos and photos shown by the global media make me horrified and afraid for them. They are indeed victims, but the aggressor to blame isn’t Israel, it’s their own government, Hamas.

Hamas is a terrorist organization voted into power who have neglected to care for the people they rule over. They have had thousands of tons of materials brought into Gaza for years for the sole purpose of building a network of cross border tunnels with the singular goal of killing as many Israelis as possible, instead of building a foundation for their people; hospitals, homes and schools. Israel left the ground there in 2005. What would Gaza look like if they had spent the same energy creating something on their own soil rather than trying to destroy Israel?

Gaza is 49 miles south of Tel Aviv. For us Los Angelenos, that’s not even LA to Laguna Beach. Standing on the beaches in Tel Aviv where the Med is met with a booming hotel business and a boardwalk of boarders, bikers, joggers and excitement, one can imagine what could have been for the same shimmering shoreline just a short car ride away. Same warm salty sea; same white soft sand, same sunsets. I was constantly amazed at how small Israel is. We drove only a few hours north of Tel Aviv and we were entering the Golan Heights – looking across to Syria and seeing the border hospitals set up there by Israel. We traveled south, with the Jordanian border following us to the East and saw how the Israeli soil had been irrigated and farmed and the Jordanian soil was left as dust. This continued all the way down to the Red Sea, Israel making lemonade as one friend pointed out, as her neighbors just had lemons. 27 Nobel Peace Prize winners have come from this tiny country. 27. Israelis are resourceful, intelligent and forward thinking. A race to be despised? Is it the green eyed monster? Why do so many people innately hate the Jews?

Every night we were in Israel we lit three candles in honor of the teenagers that were taken by Hamas. To be honest, we thought that the unbearable saga of news about them would go on for months – that they were kidnapped to be traded for Hamas prisoners. Then the candles went from a sign of hope to a symbol of despair. And then retaliation. A few Israeli extremists avenged their deaths by taking an innocent Palestinian boy and murdering him in a terrifying way. The difference between the frightening events? Israel is punishing these men through their court system and condemned their actions publicly. Hamas celebrated their ‘soldiers’ in the streets and most likely hid them in their bloodied tunnels. Saying that Hamas use their people as human shields is not just a saying…it’s a war strategy. They built their tunnels under hospitals and schools; they instill fear and punishment as a way of life; they publicly murder those who disobey, or even think they disobey, their mandates.

Why the world thinks that Israel is the only threat to this terrorist organization and not simply the first on the firing line, I don’t know. Israel, the only democratic nation in the region, has a right and an obligation to defend itself, especially when the tactics used against it include suicide bombers. It continues to use their missiles to protect their people while the Hamas strategy uses their people to protect their missiles. And when they release footage of Palestinians lying dead from an Israeli air raid and the world blames only Israel, the strategy seems to be working.

The eye for an eye mentality does not lead you to peace; but how can Israel negotiate with an organization who denies their existence and whose stated mission is to see Israel wiped off the face of this planet? And why social media ‘friends’ endlessly focus on the Jews instead of the greatest religious group under persecution today by ISIS, the Christians, is beyond me. Where are all those posts? Surely we are all so inter-connected now with the Internet that there has never been a better time for democracies around the globe to join forces in the campaign against terrorists. Terrorists…the clue is in the title.

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If These Walls Could Talk

For the first time in over 16 years, I’ve been home alone. Husband is back in LA and my sons are scattered. My mind is so used to multi tasking that it took me some time to settle; to recognize that once I put myself to bed, that’s it, I just need to go to bed. A few weeks ago Husband caught me so upset and wondered what was wrong. I told him that our eldest was going to go to college soon and that our lives would never be the same. He tried to be caring through his laughter and wonderment that I could be bereft of a situation that isn’t going to happen for two more years! I looked at him equally incredulously wondering how he couldn’t feel the same way.

Empty nest. Now here I am in London, in our home, alone. It’s only for a night or two and my eldest does come back during the day, a bit. But it’s like a trial test for me to see what I feel like when they are all gone. Answer…alone/ish. It’s not a real test when I know next week will be loud and chaotic again, but sensing the nest emptying makes me feel a bit nervous and sad, if I’m honest. Husband’s been telling me to make sure I look after myself during these years so that I have my own sense of Self when they all go. How the hell does a full time mom do that?

The dilemma is in the title of the job description – Full Time Mom. Like any other job, it leaves time for hobbies and ‘other jobs’ on the side and often left unfinished. No moaning here, just reality check on what is possible for me, anyway.

Having said that, the quiet allows me to think longer than a minute and carry those thoughts to words. I haven’t written in a while because I haven’t had time to get into that zone of reflection. LA end of school year followed straight into our trip to Israel for my son’s bar mitzvah with his cousins, bnei mitzvah it’s called. We traveled there for two weeks with our whole family and some great friends. Insanely beautiful country; both the people and the place. Israel is rich in flavors and colors and culture. The troubles there leave you walking away profoundly sad for all the common ground shared that is a missed opportunity for peace. Much of the people we met were non political and wishing for peace. They had kids and dreams and hopes that don’t involve hate or judgement. The radical few dictating the future of the masses resulting in sirens in daylight forcing you to take cover. This should not be.

And now here in London. Our tenant left unexpectedly and even more of a surprise was the state she left our house in. It’s too annoying and disgusting to dwell on but needless to say, it’s taken a month to fix everything and get our family’s energy back into these walls. My conflict with renting this house remains; I don’t want to. The reality is in the obvious financial gain and the hopes that the house is better off with someone living in it. I look around the space as I sit here on my own and actually sense that these walls can talk. They are telling me of the disrespect of the last tenant and her groupies that lived here, and are wishing for better people next time. It’s madness I know to project emotions from plaster board and brick. But there is a soul to this house, this ground, and I can feel it.

Maybe I’ve been home alone too long? Think it’s time to venture out and get a coffee and stop talking to my house. It probably thinks I’m crazy.

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All these years I have focused on the life I lead in my two countries: USA and the UK. And during my obvservations, my mind looks to our homes, schools and raising kids, the culture around us in each place and then feeling placed or displaced during our moves. But the real divide and then, common ground, comes from Husband and myself; he is UK and I am USA in our core habits, rituals and upbringing and our marriage is what happens when common ground is discovered.

For example: I like to shower. Most hotels around the world will profess that Americans want a good shower in the bathroom and not a tub. We have no desire to soak in dirty water and it takes too long to fill. Husband likes to bathe. Drawing a bath is a ritual that all of my British friends and family do. He farts around the bathroom, literally speaking sometimes, waiting for the water. Even if he takes a five minute bath, he will wait 15 minutes for the tub to fill up.

I like to wash the dishes by running the water and cleaning them if we aren’t using the dishwasher. Like a shower, in fact. Husband likes to fill the sink with water and let everything soak…like a bath. We have huge domestic arguments over how to properly wash up and save water. We both feel the other way is ridiculous and inefficient. He gets water everywhere and uses my nice DRY towels meant for DRYING as sponges and soaks them through. Just the mere sight of my lovely dish towels sopping in wet makes me crazy. But then I stop and remember that there are men out there who don’t ever wash up and so what’s a little puddle and ruined French towel?

Then there is the school issue: I put my foot so firmly down about not sending our boys to boarding school that I wore my heels out; Husband went to boarding school and would still send them there if he didn’t fear I meant over my dead body. I hear about A levels and GCSE’s and don’t really understand the time frame and structure and Husband still has no idea what a 4.0 is.

Sunday lunch; it really does always involve gravy and is almost never at lunchtime. Whereas salad really is considered a meal at lunchtime in LA, one would never present a salad as an entree for a Sunday lunch – or really as a side dish either. And now the car…for our newly licensed son of 16. To buy or to lease and what kind of car? The common ground we share is that the car has to be symbolically unpretentious, safe and constitute a ‘box standard’ version of a starter car (for the privileged, of course – yes, I know the irony in this). But Husband quotes his father and tells son that he graduated university after being a ‘bin man’ all the summers leading up to it to earn the money to buy the piece of shit car himself! He could, and I quote, see the bottom of the motorway from the inside of the drivers flooring, and he was still thrilled to have it.

I, on the other hand, believe in leasing a new car, full of warranties and MPG. We seem to agree to disagree at the moment. No worries other than our eldest watches this ping pong match and wonders if anyone is actually going to win? Meaning…is he EVER going to get ANYTHING that he can drive????

And finally, the dogs. Scarlet born on the streets of London and rescued from the Battersea Dogs Home. Rusty born in the hills of Malibu and rescued from Star Paws. Scarlet is street savvy dog through and through; will show her canines if she feels threatened, is cunningly aware of whose ass to kiss and takes no prisoners when she wants something. But, she’s a bit lazy and not so sure of this hiking kick we seem to be on at the moment. Rusty, on the other hand, has golden hair, gallops up the mountain looking for more and more ways to exercise, plays around the house licking everyone and everything near him…he will lick your entire leg if you let him…thinks he’s tough and yet would never survive being outside alone past midnight.

The differences are indeed seeped in our culture; the common ground is the magic. Like purple; blue and red makes purple. I’ve always thought that was cool. It’s become a favourite color of mine and now I know why.

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Licensed to drive. 16 and licensed to become independent. My son facebook’d that simple phrase at 3:30 pm yesterday from the Santa Monica DMV. He passed his drivers test and I nearly passed out. First off, we were using my nanny’s car and she arrived 30 seconds before our appointment time because she was getting her car fixed. Not a feeling of confidence for the safety of her car, I must admit. Note to self; check the bloody nanny-mobile before kids get in it rather than after a year! Then it was the simple act of dealing with a government office that made my heart race. You always feel like you’re gonna get it wrong or worse, done something illegal; I check out the officers in the room and feel their eyes on me, like they know I ran that last stop sign or don’t have my registration sticker. My hormones weren’t helping me and I tried so hard to remain calm and smiley. “You’re going to do great. The DMV makes money off of you becoming a driver…they want you to do well….” I said reassuringly to my son. But I was so nervous. In fact I was too nervous, which told me it was more about the moment in front of us rather than whether he would pass.

I remember the day I got my license. I drove to the top of Greystone Mansion parking lot that overlooked the city of angels and thought to myself ‘I can be anything, go anywhere’. And with that, I drove straight down Sunset Boulevard with The Police tape playing in the stereo all the way to the beach and put my feet in the water. Why? Because I could. And now, here I am all these years later. I cried at the DMV. My son was pretty mortified but he too was flushed and full of emotion. It’s a moment for sure in the life of an LA teenager. My British friends think it’s completely insane to let a 16 year old drive, the same way I think it’s insane to let a 16 year old drink. Good thing the 16 year olds can’t do both in the same country!

I’ve been panicking these last few weeks about each of the boys growing up and moving out. It’s not entirely rational because I still have two and a half years before my eldest is off to college. It could be that I’ve spent a lot of time recently looking through old photographs. They were so small and each photo brings all of the sentiment behind the camera to the front of my heart, all over again. And now I have two sons who are taller than me. At 5’4 it happens quicker than I’d like, but looking up into their eyes is a strange wonderment.

I’m having a hard time navigating the snoopy vs good parenting issue with my sons social lives. The ‘they sayers’ tell us to know everything, have access to all social media, phones, up until high school (secondary school). That it’s our responsibility as parents to do so for all the right reasons. But I would like to add another point; boys don’t talk. All the girl mom equivalents to my boys know so much more than I do. They know who likes whom; who is cheeky and who is pleasant; who is racy and whose parents are insane. They seem to have the whole thing figured out because most girls talk. My eldest was in a band of teenagers – four boys and one girl. Every time we wanted to know what was really going on we asked the girl mom because none of the boy moms knew a morsel of descent information.

I don’t want to snoop and I don’t want to force my boys into awkward conversations, but come on…I get nothing from the eldest, strange and inconsistent questions from the second; strategic answers from the third and the little one tells me everything but changes the entire story mid way through so I can’t believe any of it. (Currently five girls have a crush on him yet at the same time, all the kids in his class hate him – both stories told last night).

I want information. I want gossip. I want to know more than my instincts tell me because I don’t get to meet and greet most of the teenagers in my teenagers’ lives. I want to know how they are feeling, what they are thinking, if their heart aches. I realize that I am acutely aware of how they are just by looking at them, but I still want details! One of my sons has a higher emotional intelligence than I do – he has his own zone, his own way of seeing and dealing and feeling. But he too chooses not to talk. Husband isn’t worried about these things in the slightest. I tried voicing my concerns with him and watched as his eyes slowly glazed over. He answered my question of how men really deal with their emotions with the yawn that proceeded the glaze. He wasn’t being rude; he was being honest.

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Husband Wants Another Baby…

We all spent Christmas in London piled into a one bedroom flat in the middle of town. It was hilarious; bonding, cozy, loud and indeed smelly (one bathroom for six people!). We were able to be with our English family and friends and dive straight back into our UK life. Even the boys’ accents shifted in two short weeks. It was the first time we were all together there for some time and it felt comfortable, connected and part of our lives. The parallel universe at play once again.

And when I was with my British bezzies, the subject of hormones dominated. Who still had them; whose were raging, fading, dominating and whether or not we could still have babies. Discussing intimate details of the female body is a valuable conversation to have and to share. This is where British women can defy the stereotype and really get personal, which is fantastic. We women need to tell each other what the f*ck is going on because Lord knows no one seems to have the hormone chapter summed up in their books. There are contradictory stories given from doctors, articles and other women and frankly I can’t remember what I know.

I could pack it all in, hormones and all, and just get pregnant. Let the hormones really rage! But I can’t imagine that’s a good reason to try for a baby – it’s better than dealing with the prospects of being peri-menapausal. Ha! I wonder if a peri-menopausal woman can get pregnant??

Husband wants another baby. He’s been saying this, well, ever since we had our first. I’m not sure if he relies on my saying “no”, although I did say “yes” four times, or if he truly wants another. I am 45 and with four healthy sons I don’t feel as though our family portrait is missing a face. Everyone and their mother asks if we want a girl. The truth is, I have curiosity about what it would be like to have a daughter; what I would learn from her, what I would feel and what she would be like. But the take away from having four of one gender is that each brings to the table something completely unique and because of that, I don’t feel bereft of having a different experience. So, it isn’t a sense of incompleteness in not having the girl; just curiosity.

Which is not strong enough to get pregnant! Enter the puppy. I said yes to the puppy a few months ago. I’ve never had a puppy and training him to sleep through the night without crying or peeing, made the baby scenario become a very distant conversation.

But at a recent doctor’s appt, I discovered that apparently I am very fertile, still, and the only thing my doctor wants me to remember and keep remembering is just that; fertile ground still, Jen, fertile ground. With all my talk of my progesterone, or lack of, she can give me creams or pills to mend that but they are NOT birth control. I can still conceive, not just the plan but the baby.

When I asked her to explain, once again, what the female cycle does each month, which hormone controls what and why the heck am I so bloated all the time, she looked at me like I was a bit thick (thus the emphasis on fertile ground, still). I can tell she thinks of me as one of those women who walks into the office with a tummy ache to discover she’s pregnant. In any event, I wrote notes to try and remember so I could share my info and also apply it to myself when symptoms arose. But that’s just it; when symptoms actually arise, fear and moods swings take over and I can’t remember what it was I was supposed to do/take/ingest/ to make things better.

I think that if I were to be honest, it’s easy talking about not wanting another when I know I still can try for one. It’s going to be much harder to accept the reality when my life shifts. Whether in London or LA or frankly anywhere in between, this conversation, this shift, is being discussed. Some don’t ever notice their hormones and others can use them as a legally proven motive for destruction and terror. I fear I will fall on the side of craziness and so subconsciously am preparing myself by discussing menopause before birth control at the doctor’s office.

Husband wants another? Well wouldn’t that be funny…

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The Space Between The Visits

Husband left again this morning for Vancouver. He’s been able to come home nearly every other weekend since August, and even for longer than two days. What is most difficult is getting used to the warm body beside me, both physically and mentally, and then having him go…again.

We have figured out how to love and protect each other during our time apart. It comes down to desire, really; the desire to love and protect. Whether in London or in LA, when Husband isn’t here I feel just that bit empty; filled to the brim with the boys but empty in my heart because of the ache that takes his place. I have become very precious about our time together and not wanting to waste any of it. Time away from each other highlights everything and for me, it’s emphasizing the ticking clock of LIfe and the need to feel him more often.

It’s been valuable for me to know that I can raise our boys with strength, happy times and fulfillment without leaning on Husband and equally valuable to know why and how I need him. I used to think it empowering to know I could do it all on my own if needs must, but now I find it empowering to realize where I need the help. Oddly enough, as the boys get older, the help sometimes comes from them.

Husband arrives back in two weeks from his last time away in Vancouver, for now, and London awaits us all. We’ve been listening to BBC radio in the mornings on the weekends. The boys love hearing the football updates from English broadcasters and I appreciate how world news is actually about the world and not just Southern California. It’s funny how all of us hold onto our English roots through sound. My IPHONE voice is English; the boys play FIFA with their British counterparts via Skype; our family anthem is Yellow by Coldplay. I don’t think these are coincidences; I think they matter to us all.

In the preparation for the holidays and our family trip back to London, we all get a bit more British. I start making shepherds pie, the boys start wearing their Liverpool/Man U jerseys; Husband connects back to his UK working life and plans are made with friends in London. Christmas there is insane and parties, dinners, teas are all planned way in advance. This will be the first trip back all together without our house to return to. We are renting a tiny one bed flat in Covent Garden and I am convinced it’s going to be fun. Slightly outrageous for all of us to pile in together, but I still have boys who see the adventure in it. Long may that last.

I rely on these trips to feel our Englishness, not American, not a visitor. So far this year that hasn’t happened. It’s all tied to the house rental, I’m certain, so no need for major analysis. I’m just hoping that by staying somewhere completely different, a place that doesn’t resemble a family home but more of a sexy pad, we can all discover other gems of why we love London, feel Engliush, and put them in our back pockets upon our return.

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Puppy Love

Would it be weird to say that the smell of a young pup is the same as a baby child? Less the hair up your nose and a flea or two. We have a 10 week old puppy. I’ve never had a dog from this early on before and the sleepless nights, the crying when you walk out of the room, the need for quiet and calm and the never ending pee/poo cycle is oh so familiar. But that smell; it’s oddly reminiscent of inhaling that magical scent of one of my boys while they were nestled into my arms having a nap. And then doing it again. Suppose it doesn’t say much about the smell of my boys.

The new addition to our crazy life is Rusty. Rusty dog was named in honor of Husband’s dog at university; the one who was lost by his flatmate one night, and said flatmate was excommunicated from his life forever. Cut to 30 years later and a new Rusty dog is bouncing all over our family. Scarlet, however, is not amused. She sort of tolerates this new bundle of energy but makes sure through growling and dog ‘mouthing’ that she is the Alpha Dog. I thought I was supposed to be the Alpha Dog? The housekeeper who is usually persona non-grata with Scarlett was all of a sudden overwhelmed with affection and love from her. I had to laugh at the dance routine Scarlet was now performing for all who enter our domain to demand attention.

The trainer came over the other day for the boys and I to learn a few tips. Ten minutes in, my little one started a chase game around the house that made both dogs go completely mental. I started to sweat with embarrassment pretending that I was in complete control – not of the dogs, of course, but of my son! I couldn’t get him to sit still until I finally growled at him and used human ‘mouthing’ (mouthing the word sit-the-crap-down) and he finally acquiesced…barely. Then boredom set in and three out of four sons left to go upstairs and play with their balls…soccer balls. See, no real difference between puppies and children.

I do love him, though. Yes, my son as well, but this little puppy. He’s exhausting and demanding for sure but there is something so sweet about the look in his eyes every single time I walk into the room. I’m a friggin rock star in his world! My boys’ eyes still light up every once in a while, but it usually takes my standing there for a lot longer than a minute for them to notice.

It’s been a great tool as well, having this puppy. Our family routine became just that, pretty routine, in terms of the animals and the boy’s chores. The cat either gets virtually ignored or gets fed seven times a day and sleeps in someone’s bed. Scarlet gets walked by me and poo picked up by boys after some loud reminders. “I’m giving this dog back to the pound if you don’t pick up her poo right NOW!!!” comes to mind….Every book you read – I don’t read them, frankly, tangent, I don’t think I’ve ever read a single book through to the end on child rearing, sleep training or how to talk to a teenage – says that giving kids chores and responsibilities around the house makes them appreciate their life and honor their household more. I actually agree whole-heartedly with that notion and thus the puppy gives me numerous opportunities to grind those ideas into their gorgeous skulls.

I’m such a great mom. Oh shit, the dog just peed on my carpet. Boys!!!!!

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Summer 2013. We’ve been unmistakenly waterside this whole summer. Starting with the Pacific Ocean surrounding us in Kauai, to the Thames River, the North Sea on the British East coast, the Atlantic shores of New York and now here, on the Pacific West coast of Vancouver. It’s been a priviledge to have all of these visuals to put in my memory bank.

We went to Science World today – the most insane interactive Science museum we have ever been in – and there was this machine where two of you sit on opposite ends and place some elctron/metal things to your forehead which reads your brain activity and the object of the machine game was whichever brain was more relaxed, the ball in the middle of the two of you would roll to the other person, and you would win.

My boys were obsessed with this machine and so I sat there giving each of them a go to beat me. My son finally asked, “What are you thinking of that is relaxing your mind so much?” And it was easy. The waters of the summer.

There is so much endless chaos in my life and these weeks of discovering a different family rhythm, together, not living in parallel with each other’s schedules, but sharing a common one again has been deeply fulfilling. I love it; the boys love it, and even Husband finds solace in us surrounding him during his Skype conference calls with the UK. It’s hilarious watching my little one scramble under his feet so as not to be seen in order to get his ‘guy’ from under the table.

The level of activity with the boys is tremendous; their energy and desire to scramble, kick, grab, punch, climb, hit, run, skate, swim…leaves me breathless. I sometimes wonder what other girls or women would want to do in an afternoon and if it’s just me who wants to sit more than run, watch more than participate.

We go into a restaurant, a nice one, for dinner, and their level of activity doesn’t really change. My first thought is ‘please don’t hit each other, play fight or throw anything across the table’. It’s not that they aren’t well behaved and savvy at how to fine dine, but their instincts are all boy and the swirling energy they share can escalate in one-point-two nano seconds to a full blown tornado with silverware and glasses torpedoing everywhere.

“Which restaurant do we hate the most” is often a quote from Husband before deciding where we are going to eat that night. It’s a joke, of course, but potential destruction is never totally far off. I romanticize every time we go out that we will chat together and laugh and sit and wait patiently for our food. What usually happens is I give my Evil Eye from the moment we sit down and grab the bread basket after they’ve attacked it before the waitress can even set it down properly. My little one starts quoting SouthPark which I know puts me in that shameful mother category and I down my first glass of wine like it’s medicinal.

But we have had some great evenings this summer with food. Mostly when the equilibrium between hunger, tiredness and brotherly love is at its most zen. And for a moment in time, sitting at the table is relaxing, and a chosen activity. And I have learned…even eating dinner according to the Book of Boys is an active-ity.

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The other day I realized what it was, the phenomenon I was feeling. As all of my five boys were sitting on the couch with their hands, well, yes…I realized that my house has too much testosterone in it. I am the only female. The only one who really wants to talk; the only one who really wants to express my emotions; the only one who likes soft silence and taking a pause.

We were having a dinner on Saturday night family style and the moment the food hit the table, it was whoofed down with a burp and a fart and a giggle; and then dinner was over. Just as I was deciding on what to drink, it was all over. I grew up with two brothers – I know how fast one has to eat to get your fair share. Or at least dish it out onto your plate to save it. I know the strategies of not talking and just shoving/grabbing/pushing one’s way to the center of the table to each dish available. Five naan bread turns into nada really quickly.

But surely I can pour a drink and sit down before the end is in sight?? Just as I was saying, ‘So, how was your…’ boom slap (as young one would say), the hunger games began and after a few swallows, they were gone. I allowed it because it is summertime. Summer is that wonderful inter-phase of time where all is possible and usually nothing gets accomplished and lots of rules are broken. One son has summer school which would have been the bane of my entire July if I hadn’t found a carpool and booked a ticket to London for three of the weeks. That commute each morning nearly killed me week one, and it was Husband who decided that ‘perhaps I needed to hire someone to help’ after I would arrive home from a two hour commute each day screaming at everyone, anyone, maid/cat/dog/postman/whomever!

His generosity had more to do with surviving my stares then spending the money, I’m sure. But I digress… anyway…it’s the next night and I sit in a house having just fed 9 for kids’ dinner and it is still SO LOUD. They – the male race – seem to get louder and louder as they grow. And smellier and smellier. I use lovely perfumes, light candles, dim lights, create moods in our four walls that get completely ignored and overlooked. It’s three-two-one-it or zombie killing wars or just good ol’ fashioned fighting.

Lord help me when one of them gets a girlfriend. I am going to obsess on spending time with her. I know it’s going to be weird. She’s going to think that I have no life. But I don’t have a life, a life that involves quiet contemplation or lots of analyzing and chats in our home. The sweet smell of female energy does not exist beyond me. So I will track her down in the house, make her talk about everything with me, cook with me, rock out to songs with me and even take walks down to the bluffs with me. She will break up with my son not because of him, but because of his looney tunes mom. And I will feel…

Shitty. That’s why my obsession with Unknown Girlfriend will remain silent and I will live with this crazy, insane amount of testosterone on my own. Cuz we all know that out of four boys I’m bound to have at least one girlfriend whom I love and one that I, well, I don’t dare say it. And with that, I await the next chapter of what testosterone brings into my house with bated breath. It’s summer, after-all, and it’s only just begun.

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The echoes in my house resonate with me. Even the robins’ songs outside the glass doors find their way inside and bounce around a bit. It’s nearly empty, but for a few tables and chairs. And Brian of course, our plant, that will most certainly die if he’s moved one more time. It’s an empty vessel awaiting the energy of another carrier.

I have been through a week of owning my emotions, and letting them go. It’s been difficult to express why I’ve had as hard of a time as I have had with storing all of our things in this house. Living these two lives to the fullest has always been my greatest desire; the way I choose to create. Having the boys feel as much a part of this country as the US took passion and then a lot of energy on my part once we moved back.

We still don’t plan beyond a year, which is why it remains only for the next year. And what I’ve really come to realize is that life is full and crazy for most of the people I know. Their kids, their work, their travels. And so my trip back here wasn’t marked by anything other than mid flow, mid thought, mid sentence connections. No welcome home or bon voyage. Just dinner at 8 and meet you down the lane for a walk. It’s perfect because it feels so authentic.

The disconnect from the house is one thing but there is no disconnect from the people who make up the fabric of my life; our lives, here. That is what I learn with each visit, in both places. It may take a few days to find my feet, but I always do. It’s like a small shift takes place inside of me and I pay attention to the subtle but different nuances of my self. These two lives allows me to push my own boundaries and check in with myself to see what it is I really see. Like wearing different clothes, or shoes, and how that makes you feel a different side of yourself. London and LA wrap themselves around me in unique ways and my perspective shifts and grows.

I am back now in LA and wake up each morning to emails from my tenant as she sorts out the needs of my house. I am trying to keep the barrier up and not allow myself to picture her things there. She is lovely, thank God, and hopefully her energy will add and not take away. I am so insane with the boys’ schools that my anxiety has gone about London which is a good thing. This summer will be super strange for all of us and it will be interesting to see how we all feel living in friend’s homes. Will not having our house pull on our heart strings, or will we be able to re-tune?

I vote for singing.

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