BREAKING NEWS: At about 5 a.m. on January 27th my grand-daughter Freida Miriam was born. She’s doing very well, as are her mother, father, and beautiful brothers Art and Noam. This – in the end – is what it’s all about huh? Grandparents are doing fine too! This morning, when Art climbed into bed with me at 7 a.m. I tried to explain to him what retirement meant … simple story – Baubie doesn’t have to go to the office any more. He gets it! Thought it seemed like a good thing. I agree.
Many years ago my dear friend Iain Davidson (who began as my professor – and definitely wasn’t on my friend list – and then became my Ph.D. supervisor and finally one of my dearest friends) recommended that I read the book Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality: Reading from the Journal of Polymorphous Perversity. I read it sitting in the airport in Toronto waiting to fly I don’t remember where. What I do remember is – just like the woman in the video clip – laughing out loud at the propositions it espoused:
Fact: One hundred percent of all dead patients showed a marked reluctance to pay their bills.
Fact: Well over half of all Americans alive today have experienced childhood directly, a syndrome marked by a) dwarfism b) knowledge deficits and c) legume anorexia.
Fact: When Ms. Cinderella left her glass slipper behind at the stroke of midnight, she was clearly acting in a state of rebellion against the dictatorial regimentation of the domineering fairy godmother.
One of the chapters in the book was titled The Deja Vu Phenomenon. Three or four chapters later, was another chapter with the same title. It was only half way through reading the same words for the second time that I suddenly had that “ah – ha” moment and realized I’d just read this. A tip: if you laugh out loud while reading in an airport waiting room people will move away from you!
Well, these last few days I’ve been having a few moments that I’d characterize the same way. Not really deja vu, just suddenly going back to “visit” earlier stages in my life when I was in the midst of what can only be described in some metaphor like “the eye of the storm” transitions I think.
That nonsense about moving from elementary to high school being “the transition years” has always mostly left me wondering just how misleading we – in education – can sometimes be when we get “on the bandwagon”. Leaving high school was a bit harder but because it was all mixed up with getting to leave London and getting to go out and be “on my own”, and travelling to Israel (okay, not the Sorbonne, but easier to have my Jewish parents subsidize). I remember sort of losing days from time to day during that initial period of freedom but not unpleasantly. My 20th birthday was tough … seemed like youth was over and only old age and its incumbent responsibilities lay ahead. But the first real transition I struggled with, I suppose, was going from being single to being married. I was too young. I had little sense of who I was myself much less what kind of person I should partner with … if at all. What eased even this shift, though, was just how expected it was. A marker of my generation I suppose; I was on the tail end of girls marrying quite young (and we were called girls in the day, as they say).
Going from it being just the two of us – children ourselves, parading as adults – to being parents was … well … like taking the controls of an Airbus and just heading, full steam, for the end of the runway. You give it everything you’ve got and if you’re lucky the damage is limited, love wins (as it says on my license plate) and everything turns out fairly well. You hope. Again, this was an expected transition so there were lots of other young women I knew going through the same changes at the same time and, consequently, plenty of support and lots of books to read to tell me what to expect .
Traumatic, heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, arenalin-overdosing transition came next – going from being married to what I refer to as “Phase 1” divorced … and all of the shifts that means both as an individual and as a parent (Phase 1 is akin to shellshock; doing everything with a degree of automaticity on your side). Nothing actually had prepared me for this. All of my dreams about raising a family included two parents, not just one. At night, after the kids were all in bed, if I wasn’t teaching or doing assignments for a course that I was taking, I was likely watching television. And one of the shows that I most liked to watch was One Day At A Time.
Do you remember that show about a single Mom with two daughters. I can still sing along with the theme song (join me if you’d like):
This is it. This is life. the one you get so go and have a ball.
This is it. Straight ahead and rest assured you can’t be sure at all.
So while you’re here enjoy the view, keep on doing what you do
So hold on tight we’ll muddle through .. one day at a time.
Do you see what I mean about deju vu? When I sit and watch One Day at a Time now, with a cup of tea in hand, well … in many ways I don’t feel that much different than I did when I watched it the first time around. The laughter that frequently fills the room, the pure joy with which I watch this program while noticing the snow falling outside my window; I’m grateful for today and I’m grateful for the TV shows that have helped me get from one day to the next. So many shows. Any that were special to you? Any that helped you on your journey?