I think it’s just winter.  Winter is a bitch.  Winter is a challenge.  I feel like I have a phantom limb, like something isn’t quite right, and yet…

I realized last night as I was throwing out the garbage that there were so many things I didn’t want to do when I was married and it had nothing to do with being lazy or just not liking doing them.  It was my passive aggressive way of getting back at my husband.  Now I actually enjoy all the chores that I avoided all those years.  It feels good not to walk around with all that underlying anger.  I feel lighter in some ways and sadder in others.  I even feel like cooking, which I haven’t wanted to do in years.  I was at the gym this morning, watching Martha Stewart (I have no say over what channels are on the tv’s) and she was cooking stir fried chicken and stir fried shrimp and I thought, “Okay, I want to cook that.” 

Last night I also went with E to Friends In Deed.  She just lost her best friend to cancer and has had several years of the worst crises to deal with.  She said to me, “Can I just say my litany? Just list it all?”  And I said, “This is the place to do it.”  

We listened to people’s stories and I think she realized just how many people have had too much shit to deal with.  I had to leave a few minutes early, so I don’t know if she did eventually share, but I hope she comes back.  FID was closed over the holidays, so it felt good to be in the room again.  As soon as we started to meditate, I could feel the tears welling up and then I felt fine again.  I think it’s working.  

Well, I have to say, thanks to the wonders of the telephone, what started out to be a pretty depressing night, turned out to be quite fun.  I’m alone tonight – my apartment mate Abigail went to see “Wicked” with the company who’s staying here.  So I’ve been home alone with my two dogs and I spent the night on the phone with several friends, who were also home and we laughed and I was able to remember just how grateful I am for friends and for my new home and for all the blessings in my life.

I’ve been listening to music and really enjoying how beautiful our living room looks – I promise to add a photo soon.  My camera died and I have to get a new one, so I’m looking around for an inexpensive point and shoot camera.  

I’m looking forward to our little Thanksgiving gathering tomorrow – no family, just friends – and plenty of good food.  I am so grateful just to be alive and to have survived a pretty rough year.  

As Cy O’Neal said to me in Friends In Deed, and my friend Joe said the same thing tonight: I have a blank canvas and I am now starting to fill it with everything that I desire: caring friends, a lovely home, my dogs, an always loving relationship with my daughter (even when she’s WORKING and BUSY), writing, my community, an interesting future.  

I’m grateful to have this blog to write and for living in a great city, a city I love, filled with so many fascinating people.  In February, I’ll be whining about the cold, but for tonight – it’s quite perfect. 

Remember how it felt when you were a kid and you had no one to go on a seasaw with you? So you’d push yourself up and that would be fun and then you’d hit the top and come crashing down. That’s a bit how I feel these days. It seems to be worse in the morning when I wake up around 5 or 5:30. I wonder if I have low blood sugar because everything feels dramatically horrible to me, before the sun rises. Even when it rises it doesn’t feel that good until I get myself going. Some days getting myself up and out of bed seems impossible, but fortunately, walking the dogs is probably good for me. The fact that it’s summer helps too. And I usually hear from a few people overnight or early in the morning, so that always cheers me up. I find it quite ironic that one of my complaints about my husband was that he was always either traveling or wanting to travel – or alone in his studio – so I felt quite lonely. And now I actually am alone. Pretty much all the time.

My friend John said, it’s like emptying a closet. It feels empty at first, but then gradually it fills up again. I literally am emptying closets, and file cabinets and book shelves and it is hard to let go of things, but I guess it’s lucky that I’ve never been too attached to “things.” I love my bike, my dogs and the photo albums. I’ll also miss my fantastic bed, which I will sell, but better to start new.

Pema Chodron on loneliness from “When Things Fall Apart”:

“Usually we regard loneliness as an enemy. Heartache is not something we choose to invite in. It’s restless and pregnant and hot with the desire to escape and find something or someone to keep us company. When we can rest in the middle, we begin to have a non-threatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down.”

I would never choose to go through this, but I think in the end, I am going to be a much different and more compassionate person. And I will probably be more appreciative of my life.

In terms of what’s happening in this country, I cannot believe that parents (I think it’s mostly in Texas) are upset that Obama’s going to be addressing school children this week.

Are they nuts? What’s wrong with them? I don’t even know how to address this. Morons?

And then there’s the whole front page article today in the Times about Wall Street and the idea of life insurance “bundles” like they did with mortgages?

What?? Are they kidding? Is anybody home? At the White House, in Congress, anywhere?

I should put on Linda Ronstadt like I used to, in my 20’s, and really wallow in how lonely I am these days. And actually, I’m no where near as lonely as I was back then, but it is a little strange after living with two other people most of the last 20 or so years, to be alone in a large loft with just my two dogs. We have some good conversations, but they never want to go to a movie or see a play.

Basically, my new life is starting, but not as quickly as I would like. I’d like to be back in Manhattan – by tonight – all unpacked and settled. I’d like to be really dating, not just going for coffees or talking on the phone. I’d like to find a good way to make money, because money is necessary and I like it. And if I had more, I could go to the theater, travel and do things that I really do enjoy, with friends or by myself.

I think it’s true that no matter how lonely you are when you’re alone, it can be less lonely than living with people.

I think I need to talk to myself more. “Robin, what would you like for dinner?” “Leftover eggplant parmiagiana.” “Sounds good. Let’s heat it up.” “Great.” “Dessert?” “Cookies?” “Perfect.”

I’m in season two of “The Wire” although I fell asleep during the second episode last night. I guess what I would love is more like an episode of “The Twilight Zone” — I would fall asleep watching the second season of “The Wire” and wake up a year later watching season six (did it run for six seasons?) …in a great apartment in Manhattan, with a new man in my life, madly in love, involved in some fantastic money making venture, Zoe is happy and thriving in San Francisco and I’m still thin. And a great new health plan has been passed, that has mandatory coverage for every American.

I think I’ll meditate on all of that. But first I have to walk the dogs.

Late yesterday afternoon I returned to the apartment and bookshelves were emptied, closets were cleaned out, artwork moved around and several pieces were taken. It made me sad and just as I started to cry, a friend called. She too has been through divorce and she was so kind. She told me her husband left her (after they’d spent half their lives together) at the end of December a few years ago and she spent January and the rest of the winter alone, in the dark and in deep mourning. That sounded really rough. Sometimes as I’m walking the dogs late at night I think, well, it could be worse. This could be January – and truly, I am enjoying being here alone with them and having the space to myself. It’s just when the reminder that this dream of marriage and family is over and the reality hits you in the face that it really hurts.

This morning I am having trouble getting out of bed, I have ten more minutes to get the dogs out (my morning routine is meditate, drink coffee, read, write and walk dogs by 8 am.) But no one cares if it’s 8:15, so I may be moving a bit slower today.

Another friend of mine is dealing with the same abandonment issues now as she and her husband, who have been living in separate quarters in their apartment, are getting closer to physically separating. If this issue of abandonment is part of your childhood experience, I think it’s much harder to deal with in your present life. My mother got sick when I was a teenager and went out to California to stay with relatives for a few months. I felt abandoned and alone, especially when my father went out there too. I got through it, but it left some scars.

Fortunately, I am not really alone. I have good support systems and life has a way of working out for the best, so much of the time. If only someone could come and walk the dogs and let me go back to sleep.

Well, I have to say, after so many years, almost twenty-four, that was spent as a wife and the mother of Zoe (of course I’ll always be Zoe’s mother), it is very strange to be living on my own again. I was writing about it this morning and I wrote “alone” and then a few moments later I wrote “free.”

I feel both alone and free. I am free of the constant worry about my own mother now and the stress of being responsible for her care. Zoe is living in San Francisco, in a lovely apartment with roommates (who are both away this month) and she will be looking for a job. It’s all very strange and this morning I was reading in one of my daily readers about walking through the sadness. I wish there was a detour I could take, a way of avoiding the feelings, but there really isn’t.

It’s a challenging time. I’ve seen four movies in the past three days, they are great distractions – “Taking Woodstock” – at a Writers Guild screening with my friend Lisa. James Schamus, who wrote the screenplay, spoke after the film. Yesterday I saw “Funny People” which was too long for my bladder to handle, but I thought it was good. And then today I watched “I’ve Loved You So Long” with Kristen Scott Thomas, which was one of the grimmest films I’ve seen in a long time and”The Tall Guy” with Jeff Goldblum and Emma Thompson – thanks to my friend Annie who recommended it. It was written by Richard Curtis, one of his early films, and there are some very funny scenes in it (especially a sex scene.) In the next week or so I will be on a marathon of “The Wire” which everyone says is the best thing to ever have been on television. This is my way of handling pain, I guess.

And then there are Lucy and Lola, my dogs. I am so grateful that they keep me company and take long walks. They both seem to be falling apart a bit physically, but then I am too.

Thanks to Pema Chodron and my meditation practice (such as it is), I am feeling the feelings and “leaning into the pain.” And I have to say that it isn’t pleasant. But I was thinking about other friends who have gone through this and they’ve all moved on and are doing relatively well. I spoke to one friend tonight and she just started having hot flashes, so I’m grateful to be past that. I don’t know what is happening in the world, but every time I watch the news I see these morons talking about health care and attacking Obama’s plans with ridiculous concerns like killing old people, fueled by conservative organizations, so I am sticking to movies. And “The Wire.” And I guess I should see Julie and Julia, since people seem to like it. And who doesn’t like French food? That’s a good diversion. And the weather is glorious – it’s a beautiful summer night. Life isn’t all that bad.

I also was reminded that so often several things happen at once – the loss of a parent, the end of a relationship, job loss, whatever. It just seems to occur that way.

I’ve heard this expression over the years and it can relate to all kinds of things, but in this case I’ll just be cryptic and leave it at that. Let’s just say I’m alone now and it’s not an easy time. I miss my mom, I miss Zoe, I feel lonely, it’s been raining for something like the past 160 days, the sky is gray and I’m sad. But as Pema Chodron says and my therapist too, feel it. I just talked to my friend Helene and she recommended eggplant parmigiana, which I think is an excellent idea. There’s a great Italian restaurant not far from here, so I ordered myself some and I’ll call Helene later and we’ll compare our eggplant parmigianas. (Is that the plural?)

Anyway, what else? Iran is a pretty terrible place right now. I hope they overthrow everyone and that’s probably not going to happen, but it’s amazing how many people are turning out and protesting. And they’re not sitting around feeling sorry for themselves that they keep going to the hardware store for oranges, they’re actually doing something significant..trying to get rid of those horrible disgusting leaders whose names I can’t spell.

Blah. That’s how I feel. This morning I was thinking how I haven’t really been crying that much. And on NPR, on the show Speaking of Faith they were playing spirituals, talking about a singer who had recently died, and they played “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child” and that did it. Lots of tears. The tears feel good really, I feel worse when I am just depressed and sad or angry, or whatever and I don’t cry.

Zoe’s in California and Steve is too. I’m so hopeful that she will get an apartment and a job in San Francisco and things will go well for her. I know that they’re having a good time, because they are at the land, the beautiful piece of property Steve owns with our friends Loren and Libbe and I’m sure they are having a wonderful time. It’s hard to be sad when you’re sitting in that gorgeous place, surrounded by nature.

I guess even though I feel sad, I do feel alive and I have support and friends who are there for me. And my beloved dogs, Lucy and Lola are here with me. Lucy is always sitting beside me or near me and she is my best friend.

And eggplant parmigiana is on the way. At least you can always call an Italian restaurant and get Italian food.

This morning I went searching in my drawer for one of those toothpick kind of things, the ones I got when I had to wear braces. These little picks attach to long handles and look like little pipe cleaners. Well, I didn’t find the small plastic case they come in, which annoyed me, but I did find the following note, written in my handwriting (I don’t remember writing it) and I don’t even know who wrote it, but it sounds very much like Pema Chodron to me:

“When you wake up in the morning and out of nowhere comes the heartache of alienation and loneliness, could you use that as a golden opportunity? Rather than persecuting yourself or feeling that something terribly wrong is happening, right there in the moment of sadness and longing, could you relax and touch the limitless space of the human heart? The next time you get a chance, experiment with this.”

I had that chance this very morning and after reading that paragraph, I felt quite a bit better.

Last night I didn’t wake up six times, filled with dread, as I did the night before. Last night I took a sleeping pill and then I woke up at 6 something and Steve was already awake. He’s going to Spain this Sunday to present his project to the Spanish bank that will be funding it. The show is about flamenco in the 60’s and 70’s. He’s curating the project, which has the photographs of 15 different photographers (including his work) and two filmmakers. He has to give this big presentation on the 12th of December and he’s very nervous, as anyone would be. But this morning he yelled at our daughter (I understand his feelings, but it wasn’t even 7 am), and then got into an argument with me. Yesterday he tried to fix my BlackBerry when I asked him not to and he broke it. So today will be spent waiting for a new one to arrive and then countless hours will be spent making it work.

There’s an article in New York magazine this week about loneliness. One out two households in Manhattan are single people living alone. I would never have guessed that. I think that overall, in all the boroughs of NY it’s one in four.

I lived alone for eleven years in Los Angeles. Aside from various boyfriends I dated, mostly I lived alone. I remember feeling very lonely a good deal of the time, but after a few years of living in the Harper House in West Hollywood, my wonderful next door neighbor Susie (she was Mary and I was Rhoda) filled that void. At least once a day we would get together and talk, or share a meal, or go somewhere together. My two cats, Max and Annie also kept me company. I began running at a park in Beverly Hills every morning, seeing the same people and running with a group of them. I studied yoga for a few years at Bikram’s first studio. I found 12 step meetings. I was living on the west coast, my parents here on the east coast.

Life was definitely a bit lonely, but so much less complicated.