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.

This is a difficult post for me to write. But maybe it will help me to deal with the feelings I have and will continue to have for probably quite some time. I can’t help but cry as I type because today, Zoe and Steve packed up the car and set off on their trip to California. Zoe came back from San Francisco to go through her belongings and Steve has been busy selling equipment and also packing. He will be spending part of his time at the property in Laytonville and also part of his time in Spain.

And I will remain in NYC, my home. And my dogs are here with me. So the family that we worked so hard to create and to nurture has not survived and as with many families we are all moving on to our own lives. I have no idea how all of this is going to eventually turn out. I know that tonight, I feel very sad and alone. And I also miss my mother. She was there for me all my life and now suddenly, in just the past eight weeks, she is gone. It’s almost too much in some ways and it’s also probably exactly the way it was meant to be. A clean slate, a new beginning, a letting go of the past and an acceptance that there will be a completely new life coming up in the future.

Living in the present sometimes doesn’t feel so good though. I wish I could skip this part. Over the years I have watched so many friends go through divorces and seen their pain and tried to empathize, but I think it’s just something you can’t understand until you are actually going through it. The loss of a parent, no matter how old that parent, no matter how prepared you thought you were, still hurts.

I do know that I am not alone with these feelings. There are so many people who have more stress than they’ve ever had. People losing jobs, homes, marriages, friends, fighting for their lives, trying to keep their health insurance. I guess the gift in all of this is knowing that we are simply part of humanity and life can be challenging and also beautiful.

Today is a good day for the two journalists who left North Korea with Bill Clinton. I am happy for them and so relieved for their families.

And I will make myself something to eat and watch a movie and sit with Lucy and Lola, my somewhat smaller, but still beloved family.

I think that one of the greatest gifts of being a human being is having other human beings in your life to give you love and support. (And to also give love and support to them as well.)

I just spoke to one of my dearest friends – Charley – I’ve known him for almost thirty years. Is that even possible? We met in an acting class and became scene partners. I think he is one of the most talented people I know, he’s funny and a great writer and musician and actor and I love him. He’s a dear friend and even though we haven’t seen each other in a few years, I always think of him and his family and I miss them. They live outside of Portland.

He told me a great story about Lily Tomlin and her one woman show. I really needed to hear this story. On the night he went to see her on Broadway, she suddenly started to cough and couldn’t stop. She had to get water and she was miked and it was really awkward, but she kept the audience involved and after those few moments of difficulty, the audience was even more with her and she recovered and continued the show.

I was telling him how nervous I am about performing again and just hearing that story about Lily Tomlin and remembering that everyone gets nervous – even comic geniuses – and that you don’t have to do it perfectly. That coughing or dry mouth (which is what happened to me) and feeling your heart pounding out of your chest, or having your hands shake, or your knees shake, or whatever is shaking, is perfectly acceptable because we are human beings.

It wasn’t exactly fun. It was rather difficult and as a friend of mine said yesterday, who has been through similiar rough times: “There’s no way to get through it except to go through it.”

Saturday night was the worst. I finally emailed my brilliant therapist, Michael Eigen and he wrote me this:

“You are feeling what you need to feel.

Nothing lasts forever.

Meanwhile, you are being asked to continue growing, perhaps in ways you can’t fathom or imagine.

You are not done meeting yourself or meeting others.

Now, one small step after another, or for a time, no step at all.”

That helped. Also, he encouraged me to feel my anger. That it was entirely appropriate. I think that when I feel very sad, it’s often repressed anger.

And then on Sunday, after running into a friend at Unity, I decided to go to the Mama Gena graduation for the latest mastery class. It was just what I needed. It lifted me up, reminded me to look for my pleasure every day, to know that I am not alone, that I am part of an amazing sisterhood of women everywhere, and to dance.

And my thoughts are with the citizens of Iran, who are going through such a difficult period in their history. And Iraq, and everywhere, there is so much suffering.

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.

Well, there’s no denying that this is a difficult time for me. Last night I went to a place called Friends In Deed. It was created almost nineteen years ago in response to the AIDS crisis and it has grown over the years to include any serious illness and caregivers, essentially helping anyone who is grieving about pretty much anything. I went there a couple of times when my mother was in Jacob Perlow Hospice a few years ago and it helped. They have what is called “The Big Group” – it’s based on twelve steps principles of sharing and anonymity, but there is a leader, unlike AA or Alanon meetings.

It’s a safe place to open up about what’s bothering you and I like the leader of the evening sessions, Cy O’Neal. She started FID, along with Mike Nichols.

I don’t honestly remember much of what I said when I shared, I think I mostly cried. And I did try to write down what Cy said. I think it was something like this:

It does seem that the old adage “when it rains, it pours” generally is true.

When you look back on a really traumatic situation from your past, you realize that as bad as it was, you also got something really important from the experience.

In my case, a few years ago, when everything else was pretty much falling apart, I eventually got a solo show out of it, the knowledge that I am pretty strong, that most friends are there for you when you need them, that I have a relationship with something, I’m not sure what – but it’s a power greater than myself (not a guy with a white beard – but something). I learned that feelings move through you and it’s better to feel them than to avoid them and that my mother and I have a deep connection of the heart and even though she has driven me (and pretty much everyone else who knows her) CRAZY sometimes, I will always love her.

That stepping up and taking care of someone who is ill is worth all the sadness and the anxiety. In the end, you know you did what you had to do.

And if you need to take the time to grieve, it’s okay, it won’t last forever.

I’m not so good with crying, I’ve always been able to express my thoughts but actually crying or showing emotions has been uncomfortable for me. But now I seem to have no choice in the matter, so I just let the tears come.

And I want to add that I am grateful for all the support and phone calls. It seems like almost my entire high school class has been sending me love on Facebook. I don’t remember some of them and I am amazed at their interest and I’ll take whatever I can get. And although sometimes I think this is too hard, I know I’ll get through it.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I have found my optimistic attitude fairly annoying lately. A little smug. For the first winter in I don’t know how long, so far I haven’t been hit with my usual Seasonal Affect Disorder symptoms, which usually include not wanting to get out of bed. Ever. I have been exercising every day, I meditate, do my spiritual reading, reach out to friends, keep looking for work and I’ve been writing. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours walking in Central Park, which was so beautiful. I am grateful for so much in my life. I also generally do well in a crisis and right now, we have a huge crisis, worldwide — on our hands — so big it’s impossible to really grasp. But if I limit the amount of time I spend watching the news, or even listening to NPR, and I mostly read my favorite op ed writers: Krugman, Collins, Dowd, Rich, Herbert, a few editorials, letters to the editors, the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast, so far it I can handle it. So far.

Yesterday I read Pema Chodron and this is one of the quotes from “Start From Where You Are.”

“Gloriousness and wretchedness

Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction.

On the other hand, wretchedness — life’s painful aspect — softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you haven’t got anything to lose — you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.”

My beloved dog, Lucy, who is about to turn 13, has another hematoma in her ear. She had two surgeries last year to remove hematomas in each of her ears. The surgeries cost around $750. We can’t afford to keep doing them. As I write this, sitting on our bed, Lucy is sleeping on Steve’s pillow. (I’m about to change the sheets.) I love this dog.

This is a difficult time. But I guess it’s just life. Maybe it’s like a hangover from a really wild party.

I was just meditating and some sad feelings came flooding over me. I don’t think that’s supposed to happen in meditation, but maybe it is.

I’ve been here before. I know it doesn’t last, but when you’re in it, it’s not fun and it definitely makes me miss the ability to eat a giant cupcake or to go shopping without being overwhelmed with guilt. Those two addictions are pretty much off the table, although I do slip up now and then. The other day I bought myself a watch for a hundred dollars, simply because it was reduced from $380 and I thought, “Wow, what a deal. Can’t pass that one up.”

So – back to the blues. My beloved dog, Lucy, is sick again. She’s 12 1/2. We got her from the ASPCA when she was 4 and although it wasn’t love at first sight (she was cowering in her cage), as soon as she came out she climbed in our laps and started licking us, then we knew she was our dog. She is simply a kind, sweet, adoring, loving, neurotic god (oh, I actually wrote that) DOG, who has been with us through more ups and downs than the Cyclone at Coney Island. I remember leaving her in our loft on 9/11 to run up to Zoe’s school to pick Zoe and her friend Willa up, wondering if we’d ever see Lucy again. (We weren’t sure what was happening at that point.) She’s been there for me while I’ve been the primary caregiver for my mother for the last 7 years. She’s been there when we all took turns being seriously depressed. She’s moved with us three times in the past five years. She’s tolerated sharing us with Lola, who has a bit more of an outgoing personality than Lucy.

The last time Lucy had surgery, this past summer, I was reading a brochure in the vet’s office about dealing with the death of a pet. I will try to bring home a copy today if we’re at the vet’s office again. At the time, Steve’s father was dying and I was reading this brochure and thinking that as much as we love humans, and we obviously do – our animals are with us every day of our lives, through all kinds of struggles, they’re often the one constant in our lives and they love us unconditionally (unlike any human I know.)

UPDATE: Just came home after two hours at the vet. Lucy’s got a pretty bad urinary tract infection and another hematoma in her ear. She has blood in her urine and was throwing up this morning, but hopefully with the antibiotics she will be feeling better in just a few days. I brought home the brochure about losing a pet, the one that really got to me that time I read it in the vet’s office. Here is the quote: “For some, losing a pet can be a truly devastating experience. The animal was an important family member who provided unconditional comfort and support over many phases and changes in a person’s life. As you begin to reflect on what has happened since your companion came into your life, a certain chapter in your life closes. As animals commonly live for 15 to 20 years, these life chapters often include major transitions such as becoming an adult, moving homes, changing jobs, marriage, children, relationship endings, etc. Obviously then, may memories are associated with a pet, all of which come to the surface when the pet dies.”

That really got to me.

So aside from feeling sad about my dogs’ eventual deaths (Lola’s only 6), my concerns for my daughter, and money issues, and worry about my family and my friends’ health (Steve has to have eye surgery soon) and I always worry about my own health, and let’s not even get into the election…and the environment and the war and the economy and and and…

…wondering how I got here in my life, to the place that I am at, which doesn’t feel so good right now. I just don’t quite understand it.

I think that one answer may be yoga. I think I have to continue with my meditation and find a good yoga class because at other times in my life yoga has helped me. I also know that this feeling will pass and that life is really about the ups and downs and all the challenges. And that all the answers are inside of me (according to that book I recommended a few weeks ago) – even if I don’t really have a clue about how to find them.

I think I’ll do a few yoga postures and start with Downward Facing Dog, in Lucy’s honor. And if any answers come, I’ll let you know.

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