A group is being formed to support single women who are involved in the process of egg freezing. We welcome women who are considering, have already begun or have completed an egg freezing cycle. Join to explore key topics, share thoughts, questions and experiences, and to connect in a mutually supportive atmosphere. Meetings are held close to Union Square, with free street parking nearby. The first gathering is scheduled for Wednesday evening, May 23rd, with a fee of $30 per meeting. Confidentiality fully respected. Please contact Izetta Siegal Stern, LCSW, at (212) 691-1266 (or firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions, or to pre-register as space is limited. This group is sponsored by the American Fertility Association.
On Monday, I returned to Paris again to embark upon a few of my personal goals: become fluent in another language and to live abroad. This is supposed to be one of those adventures of a lifetime, right? So far so good on the adventure part…
My flight was on time and arrived without issue, but I noticed that I walked right out of the Airport without an entry stamp. It seemed odd to me, but I recall that happened to me in Switzerland one time and everything was cool. I hope this won’t prove to be problematic if I decide to visit surrounding countries. Soon I plan to go to Amsterdam and perhaps Montreaux. Time will tell if this will be problematic!
Before I left, I realized that it would be a good idea to get another piece of my castor wheeled Avolve (TM) luggage–one that matched my other two pieces so they could be tethered together. As I pulled my three pieces off the baggage claim, I admittedly poked my chest out a little further, proud of myself for having the forethought to invest in this baggage arrangement. Then I flit through Charles de Gaulle effortlessly.
Approaching the airport transportation signs, I remembered from my trip in December that I needed to hop on the RER to make it to the city. Another great decision, or so I thought, was to purchase and load a prepaid phone prior to departing the States. This way I was able to notify the fam of my arrival in Reykavik and finally in France.
And this is when my plans become a little unhinged…
- Didn’t bring any maps. Why do I not ask for help? I tried to make my way into the city (with 120 lbs of luggage) on public transportation (for the environment and my somewhat frugal nature). That should not have been a huge problem because of the elevators on the RER. Unfortunately I got off too early and left the station before realizing I was not where I was supposed to be. Further I needed to meet my landlord at a previously specified time. Getting back on track? No problem–Paris maps are easy to read. Maneuvering my 3 new Metro trains with 120 lb of luggage? Stupid. No elevators and beaucoup flights of stairs. Needless to say I was making several trips up and down flights, praying that one of the famed pickpockets wouldn’t pay me a visit.
- Phone doesn’t work. Remember I was supposed to meet my landlord? Well, my train mistake made me an hour late. For some reason the dang phone wouldn’t place a call! I could text, but for some reason could not place calls. Fortunately, the landlord received my text informing her of my delay. The one call I received cost me $30! 3 days into the trip and I was informed by the phone’s customer service that their phones don’t work the same way in Paris—you are supposed to omit the 0 when making cell phone calls. How was I supposed to know that? Inconvenient, but shouldn’t be a problem because the apartment I rented has internet.
- No internet. I am an addict. I can’t imagine life without internet. Ok perhaps I can, but I would need to be weaned of it. I just got access at my apartment today and have been just like a hungry person placed in front of a smorgasbord.
- No sense of direction. Fortunately, I printed out some of my confirmations before I left. I knew that Accord Ecole was on rue de Poissonniere and on the first day of class, I marched out of the door and immediately made the wrong turn. Before I knew it, I had stumbled upon the Moulin Rouge. I seem to do a great job at selecting the opposite way I need to go! It also seems like this trip has started on that note. Lets hope the days improve–after all this already the end of week 1!
The Circle of Life (written April 13, 2009)
The Lion King is, in my opinion, one of the best musicals running on Broadway. Perhaps it has lost some of its luster after having been open for 10 years already, but when it debuted, it was like nothing else seen before. I saw it for the first time about two or three years in to its run and was completely blown away. Having just returned from my first trip to southern Africa, I was in disbelief at how accurately Julie Taymore captured the essence of the savannah on stage with people.
The musical also struck a chord with me for another reason. My mother was dying, and I was still trying to deal with it. So the waterworks came on when the cast performed, The Circle of Life. Ever since, when ever someone close to me is nearing death, this tune repeats in my head both consciously and subconsciously. Somehow I am able to derive the meaning of the song without knowing the specific lyrics.
It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Yesterday, we learned that my mother’s mother is nearing death. She has been going down hill for a while, but really started deteriorating in the past week. It seems like we [my family] are becoming old hands at handling long, drawn out transitions. Of the last five people in my immediate family to die, only one went peacefully in his sleep. Everyone else had horrible conditions at the end. My grandmother is a victim of congestive heart failure, but the complications of that included several strokes, kidney failure, a partially collapsed lung and liver failure. She can nolonger speak, but we believe that she is partially conscious and can hear.
There are few things worse than watching someone that can’t speak or control their movements. Crying because that’s all they can do. And I find myself wanting her to die just to end the suffering and feel terribly guilty as a result. It is so devastating to see the effect that illness can have on strong individuals. My grandmother raised four of her own children plus several others, as was common in her day, pulled tobacco in Virginia summers well into her 80s for extra cash, sewed expertly without patterns, raised pigs and chickens and her own vegetables. In fact, I literally saw her pull the head off of a live chicken with her bare hands in preparation for dinner. In an effort to teach me the ways of the land, I watched her drain it, defeather it, clean it, dismantle it and fry it.
Through despair and hope
She always looked toward the positive, even though she suffered in life terribly. She never spoke of her youth, but word has it that the segregated rural South did not fare well for her or her family. She is preceded in death by her daughter, son, husband, and all of her sisters and brothers. She even watched her best friend die of a heart attack last year while they were on their weekly fishing trip in the woods.
Through faith and love
She even stayed positive after she was sorely disappointed and mistreated by her home church. Always one to turn a negative into a positive, she was willing to love again after the death of my grandfather and found another wonderful husband. She stayed strong during the extended bouts with cancer suffered by two of her children and focused on her grands and great grands. Recognizing the importance of family after her first husband’s death, she hosted Labor Day cookouts for our family and close friends. During all of this, she stayed faithful to God and loved her family.
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
I think as she goes through this most uncomfortable journey, I feel like she is already being etched in my memory. And my memory seems to be getting rather crowded of late. The person at the hospital is not how I want to remember her. And I am sure she doesn’t want to be remembered this way. I guess her time on this Earth and in our lives is approaching an end.
In the Circle
The Circle of Life
AFTERWORD: My grandmother went to be with God in August of 2010.
I haven’t been blogging for the past few months, but recognize I need to get back into it. A recent conversation inspired me to re-blog a post I made on another blog a few years ago, while I become reinspired….Enjoy!
#3 of today’s observations include the merging of two interests of mine that have possessed me as long as I can remember. I grew up with a tremendous amount of pride in my ethnicity and culture. My education at the Lab School included black history year round. One of my most notable middle school projects dealt with the evolution and migration of the races. As I got older, I got more exposure to African culture and have thus expanded my sphere of interest to include Africans in the diaspora.
Parallel to this interest, I have always been fascinated by European social systems. This is probably due to the fact that I watched the marriage of Princess Di on TV with stars in my eyes and expectation in my brain. As a little girl I read the typical fairy tales and learned about princesses and witches, kings and queens. I would imagine myself in the story but deep down would realize that these stories weren’t ever set in Africa, where my ancestors were when these tales were first told, or contained characters that looked like me. In fact, it was as if my ancestors didn’t exist!
However, I knew that the Bible spoke of people from Nubia and the descendants of Ham. From studying Latin for four years, I also knew the span of the Roman Empire. So why did Black people fade out of the picture after the fall of the Rome only to reappear during the slave trade? Hence my interest in finding black people during the Renaissance and the Dark Ages. What kinds of lives did they lead living in Europe at that time? Did they live separate from townspeople? Or were they completely integrated? When I was in West Africa 2 years ago, I did learn something that I must have missed in school–the Portuguese got the bright idea to use Africans in South America in 1472!
Some evidence suggests integration and a non issue. It has been rumored that Beethoven was a black man…some say a Spanish Moor. I started playing piano at 6 and played until I was about 16 and Beethoven was by far my favorite composer. Coincidence? Who knows? But there appear to be letters and documentation that refer to his features, suggesting that he is of African descent. Poet Laureate Rita Dove writes about George Augustus Polgreen Bridgewater, and Afro Polish child prodigy violinist that was a contemporary/competitor to Beethoven, writing Bridgewater out of the Sonnata Mulattica. Didn’t really seem to be that big of a deal (I recognize that this isn’t really the Renaissance period, but we didn’t just come on the scene during slavery!)
All that being said, I went to the Ufizzi Gallery today in Florence and counted every painting with people of color and made a note of their role in the piece of art. Why is this important to me? Because it is from these images from which some ideas about who we all are have been developed. Modern power structures were based on this stuff (can you say Medici family?) Understanding as much as I can about this stuff informs me of what I should accept or reject. Or at least helps me to understand why things are the way they are.
Check out the “Adoration of the Magi” by Lorenzo Marco, Cosimo Roselli (1420-1422) This is one of the three pieces that had non European Magi that I saw. The other two were by Gerard David (1490) and Andrea Mantegna (1463). Do you realize how many “Adoration of the Magi” images their are in Uffizzi? Lots.
Little irritated at how people of color that are actually in the piecesse were portrayed. Andrea Mantegna painted two pieces that had representations of people of color. The first was “Magi”. In the portrait of Cardinal Carlo de Medici, Mantagna paints the illegitimate son of Cosimo the Elder and a Circassean slave.
Check out the “Martyrdom of St. Justina” by Paulo Caliari Veronese.
Now I knew I was on to something…as I was googling background on the Medici, I came across Alessandro de Medici, first Duke of Florence and first black head of state in the Western World. Evidently there IS controversy in the art world about these “blips” in history.
Check this out…
This is just Florence! I haven’t even gotten to the Vatican Museum yet!
Now is the time for extraordinary actions and extraordinary living. It is time to push boundaries, exist outside of my comfort zone and dream big. It is time to challenge the status quo, to dare to change something and to expect the unexpected. Nothing is impossible. Now it is time get to work.
Its the time of year when reflection becomes the topic of conversation. News programs recall the most notable events of the year; entertainment shows list who we’ve lost and radio station countdown the top songs of the past 12 months. It is only appropriate that I too take a look at what has happened, celebrate, course correct and move forward. Last year at this time, I was a bit vexed because I had paid over $3000 to celebrate New Year’s in the arid air of Dubai and the trip was canceled due to the major snow event that paralyzed the east coast on the day after Christmas. My youngest sister offered to let me crash in her corporate apartment in NYC for the New Year, which was very thoughtful. Her apartment was so close to time square that we had to request permission from the police to access it during the day on New Year’s Eve. I wasn’t in the mood to celebrate, though. She and her then fiance went salsa dancing. I stayed back in the apartment, sulking, but thinking about what I needed to change.
Over the course of the next few days, I devised a list of what I didn’t like about myself and what I wanted to be different. I was successful in moving east and starting school and even surprised myself by moving forward with ideas that I have spent a lot of time talking about. The critical moment for me, I think, was taking action and giving notice at my job. Having worked in some form of behavior change for the past several years, I was familiar with lots of tricks of the trade. I first learned about the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior change when I was working on developing a program to reduce obesity. I even traveled to Rhode Island to meet with the model’s creator, Prof. James Prochaska. Outside of work, I have used the model to help me lose weight by myself. It basically stages people based on their readiness to change, and as they move towards changing their behavior, they progress through this sequence of stages. The stages are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance and termination. The concept really works if implemented at each stage you are in. You just have to make sure that your environment is conducive to you being successful in your current stage and moves you to the next. I failed in the maintenance stage. I didn’t set up the appropriate support environment for my self to deal with a stressful boss. I shifted to prioritizing work over my own health. For this move, I think the past few years have focused on precontemplation, contemplation and preparation. I needed to get things in order to the point I was comfortable walking away from the job. Finally taking that one action has helped to change my mindset about life–these days it seems exciting! I really don’t know what to expect over the next six months to a year, but I feel like 2012 will be a good one!
I am still working on my resolutions for 2012, but will post them at the dawn of the new year!
Parisians pride themselves in their ability to titillate the senses. They did not disappoint in the Chanel holiday window displays at the Galleries Lafayette. Leveraging visually rich displays, they also incorporated automated marionettes to bring the windows to life. Take a gander….