Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year?


I feel like I just wrote this post...or maybe it is that a year in my life has not yielded much change. 2016 was not easy and I don't know why.  Everything felt hard, like I was moving through jello. Somehow no decision I made was easy...each one coming with what felt like consequences and then we spent the last 6 weeks of the year sick.  All four of us...off and on..sick.  Never all healthy at the same time.  But there was good too...ballet recitals and first days of school, holidays and birthdays and Saturday night movies nights and pizza at Romeos.  That is what I want to hold on to.  Not the feeling that nothing I do is enough...

So on to 2017. Tomorrow we kick off a new year.  One that starts somewhat arbitrarily...and one that carries with it all the weight of the lost hopes and goals of the year before.  My Facebook feed is already full of friends involved with MLMs telling all of us now is the time! 2017 can be your year!  And in my house, the kids and husband, dog and cats are asleep, a Law and Order SVU  marathon is on the TV and I have a paper to write.  It does not feel like a "special" night.  It did not occur to me to get a babysitter or let the kids stay up late to celebrate...

2017 is going to the be the year of contraction.  Pulling inward to have more time to spend on what matters and less time behind the computer screen.  I am going to commit to less and finish what I commit to.  Add heck...while we are being unrealistic I am also going to lose that last 20 pounds, eat better and run 5 days a week,

Happy New Year.  May 2017 bring you most of what you want, and all of what you need.

Meleena



Thursday, August 18, 2016

The milestones we don't reach

We celebrate anniversaries and birthdays. First steps and last days of school.  Facebook even helps us to celebrate the longevity of friendships by prompting us to create a video montage of the pictures we have shared of each other.  But there are few ways in the society to recognize the milestones we do not reach. The promotion we did not get. The children we didn't have. The marriage or relationship that did not go the distance.

I hopped on to Facebook this morning to find out who had made a healthier breakfast for their kids then I had and who had already been to the gym and who had already gotten a bonus at work...because I prefer to feel bad about myself in the morning before my coffee has kicked in...and there halfway through my feed was a picture of my ex-husband.  Facebook is recommending that we be friends.  Today. On August 18th. A date that given my lack of caffeine I had not yet realized.  But somewhere around 1pm I checked the big wall calendar in my office and realized the date.  Did Facebook know that today would have been our 15th wedding anniversary?  Is that how his picture and profile found its way into my news feed?

Once I realized what today was I found myself needing to process it so I weighed my options.  I could talk to my current husband about it  (seems like a bad idea), I could email my ex (maybe the worst idea)I could call a friend (I may still do that), I could post something about on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram (I compromised on the blog).  Because what can you say about the milestones you don't reach?  It has been 7 years since my marriage ended.  Since I separated myself from the man I had been with for 11 years and went off to build a life apart from us.  Then to build a life with another man...one full of children and animals and laughter and arguments about the mortgage.  And I don't think about the old life much anymore.  But then I am reminded suddenly and completely of that life, that version of myself, that relationship.  And I have this feeling in my gut that I have to rid myself of.

15 years ago today I woke up to a sunny day with a slight breeze in Bethel, ME.  My maid of honor was asleep next to me, my husband to be in the condo next door.  We did not see each other before the ceremony, and I remember standing at the end of the aisle looking toward him and thinking that this was it.  That I was looking at the rest of my life.  And so I promised before my family and friends, and God I suppose if you believe he is present at these things, until death do us part.  We ate steak and drank champagne and danced to a Radio Head cover of "Nobody Does it Better".  And we made it 7 years. 5 of them good.  So this was my pause in my day.  My moment to give voice to the milestone that will not be achieved.  To allow myself to feel sadness just for a moment. And then to move on and celebrate all the good that is here now.  Happy failure to reach our 15th anniversary Matt. May your life be everything you wanted it to be.  I know you wish the same for me.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Nostalgia

In one of the famous Mad Men episodes Don Draper  tells us that in Greek nostalgia means pain from an old wound.  It is  a place "we ache to go again".   Nostalgia has become a frequent theme not just in marketing campaigns but in entertainment, products and music.  We are presented with remakes of movies, resurgence of toys and yes repeating ad campaigns...all of which are just copies of the original...lacking authenticity as well as originality.  To be nostalgic for something we must first feel it's absence...long for it wistfully.

So when Coke re-launched #shareacoke campaign this past summer, they were hoping to capture again what they had last summer....people searching through shelves to find the right name. That in opening a Coke you were not getting a beverage but a moment in time. A "place were you are loved".  A reminder of a friend or lover or lost parent.   It worked last year...so why not run it again? Add more names and hope that people are still holding on to that feeling of nostalgia.  Except we are so inundated with it, so overwhelmed with it in advertising that it's hard to feel it anymore.  We are all so busy tweeting out the picture of the can with our dog or ex spouses name on it that we don't feel the nostalgia.

Time for a new strategy...one that is forward looking, not backwards. One that speaks to where we are going, not where we have been.  One that tells us it's OK to drink that coke...not guilt us into buying it. How can we be nostalgic if everything just repeats. ..a remake of Point Break, Full House, more Ninja Turtles and My Little Ponies, another aging icon espousing the virtues of Detroit.  I'm not nostalgic for the old days and I don't want to think about my bro or best friend from high school when I drink a Coke.  I want to be won over, convinced of the virtues of a product.

The thing that made Don Draper's character so amazing to watch was that he was able to not just see what was, but what was coming.  As we fall head long into 2016 I find myself aching for the unknown.  For what is coming around the turn ahead.  And I am hopeful, as a marketer, an author and a teacher that this year it will be something new.  Something worth aching to return to once it has past.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Resolutions

I hate these things.  Resolutions.  I never stick to them.  And I am never sure if, at the end of any given year, I am better off then I was when it started.  But I am here and there are children growing bigger and smarter every day.  And there are companies to run and work to do.  And I am here.  And when I look back, the one thing I am sure of is that every failure has brought me to this moment.

A wise shrink once told me that aspiring to be happy is a useless pursuit.  That happiness is an unsustainable state.  But instead we should strive for contentment.  Because in contentment we leave ourselves open to happiness.  I like that.  It feels attainable.

And I am reminded, because I am here, that in addition to all of those failures there were also a lot of moments of bravery.  Of deciding to jump.  Because I knew what life looked like where I was and it was time.  Time to do something different.  And that it isn't just me that is here.  That I didn't have to make those jumps alone.  I have been lucky enough to have family, friends, a husband who have stood with me.  And who have given me the confidence (and sometimes the push) I needed.

So I resolve, not for 2016, but for as many years as I am lucky enough to still be here, to be proud of where I have been, excited about where I am going, and present enough to be open to the moments of happiness as they come.

May 2016 bring you the peace that comes when you are content with your life and the courage you need to make changes.

~Meleena

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Little Moments

Life tracks back to the little moments.  The ones when at the time you don't realize the ripple effects it will have for years to come.  We celebrate our milestones, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays.  Mark the passing of the years with Christmas Trees and birthday cakes.  Count the grey hairs deciding just when it is time to buy a box of hair dye once reserved for teen rebellion.

We don't dwell on the missed phone calls, minor slights and coffee breaks.  But if we track back the course of our lives we will find it is those little moments that set the course.  And it impossible mostly to recognize them when they come.  To be able to see where they will take us.  Because our memories are flawed it is hard to look back on them with accuracy.  We forget the details.  And maybe that is for the best.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Accomplishments and Fear

My second book was published a few weeks ago now.  North of Boston, originally titled "I can't come to the phone right now" after my blog is a book of short stories.  That is the simple description.  But it is more then that.  It is a book of dreams and moments.  Nightmares and might have beens.  I used my friend's Facebook status updates to inspire my writing every day for nearly a year.  And what I found, in myself, was that I need to write.  If I don't something eats at my insides.

When my first book came out it was easy to distance myself from it...I wrote it years ago, it was fiction and so even if a character here or there was loosely based on someone no one would ever know.  But North of Boston is something else entirely.   And so with the accomplishment of having had it accepted for publication, came the fear that somehow I would be found out.  What if my father-in-law recognized himself in a story and didn't like it?  What if my best friend from my youth assumed something was about her?  What if my husband (or ex-husband) didn't like what I had written?

When you write, fiction or otherwise, you put a piece of yourself on paper.  And when you publish you take that piece of paper and share it with everyone you know, and the people you don't.  North of Boston isn't just a book of short stories.  It is a collection of snapshots of a life, some real and some imagined.  All viewed in the moment, without the perspective of past or future events.  Without the hope that things might get better on the next page.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Birthdays

Birthdays are an interesting thing as you get older.  They become a place of reflection, of considering what one has accomplished, of what one has failed at.  It can cause us to take a closer look at how we spend our time...to review just how much we have wasted in anger and regret, stuck in traffic and behind a desk.  How many first days of schools and little league games have been overlooked.  I spent time today trying to remember as many of my birthdays as I could and found that most are at best vague recollections and at worst completely absent from my memory.

I remember turning 4 and my mother finding chicken pox on me the day of my party and having to have it canceled.

I remember the year I turned 9 and my Hawaiian themed party was almost canceled because of the foot of snow that fell over night.

I remember the year I turned 17 and my mother dragged me up to a ski resort so my brother could snowboard.

I remember going to dinner at Rialto in Harvard Square when I turned 21 and drinking Bailey's on the rocks.

I remember turning 24 in Maycomb, Illinois and my students bought me a grocery store cake tat we ate with our hands in a hotel room.

I remember turning 30 perfectly.  Because everything I had planned for my life was laying in shambles at my feet.  Grilled cheese and tomatoes soup for lunch. An early dinner at Mooo.  Gifts so impersonal they could have been for anyone.

I remember turning 31 in New Orleans and eating Domino's for lunch with co-workers and the cake my husband had my nickname written on.

I remember turning 35 while on a business trip in Boston and the kindness of my co-workers.

So many gaps.  So many years that have blended together.  Do I dare say this will be the year that I try to slow down, live in the moment, taste my coffee, close my laptop?  Maybe I should start now.