Thursday, April 2, 2009

April Fools! It's April 2nd

I can't express how touched I was by all of the lovely messages about my hiatus.

I've spent the past month on the following things:

Moving my mother from NYC after she's spent 63 years of her life there. During 48 of those years she lived in the same apartment building. She still has many, many friends from her building, her block, the neighborhood; during her going away party she had neighbors, long time work friends, shopkeepers from the neighborhood, waiters and waitresses from a favorite neighborhood restaurant, grandchildren of friends.

An eighteen-year-old friend of hers came down from the Bronx, where she's now moved, and brought her homemade cupcakes the day the packers came.

At her last dinner out at her favorite neighborhood restaurant, she received impromptu tulips from a waiter who ran out to get them, a special dessert with a good luck message from the chef/owner and our whole meal on his partner brother.

The folks who worked in my mom's building are amazing. It's this lovely crew of guys we've known for years. One has a son exactly C's age (to the day) - we've compared pics, and our boys, over the years and passed on advice. A doorman in our building is a classically trained musician, was reading about Caravaggio as we left a week ago today, and we've exchanged facebook info, so we can keep in touch - he's going to pass my facebook stuff onto any of the other folks there, who I don't already have "friended". Everyone wants to keep in touch.

Mom's new place is great. The staff are wonderful - friendly, kind and so, so helpful. She's met some new friends and is happy to have a group to have dinner with. She loves seeing her tall, gangly grandson. She's getting used to actually living here in Ann Arbor.

And she still misses her friends all the time, I think.

On another note, I helped run an annual benefit to raise money for my son's high school theater program. It was an insane amount of work, and in the Michigan economy, we managed to clear $2000, but given the hundreds of ours a few of us spent, I'm not sure at this point I feel it was worth it. We have some new ideas for next year, and hopefully we'll have more than the skeleton crew we have this year. Is anyone else finding that it's hard to meet other volunteers these days?

I know we're all busy, but this country was founded on folks helping each other out - I think we need to start really looking at that.

It was also the planning period for where I teach, and believe it or not, my school year is also winding down. My students are checking in constantly with questions about last essays and creative projects, how to do better on tests in prep for the final exam. My classes are set for next year as long as I get the numbers: British Literature, Shakespeare and "Creative Writing 101" - a class for those who might like to write to try things out (everyone else welcome, too, of course).

And I owe some folks a recipe.

Well, this post was much longer than I'd planned. I'll be catching up on both reading and posting slowly - my mother's still very much in transition, I need to really FINISH some writing projects, and life just keeps rolling, rolling, rolling.

What have you all been up to over the past month? I hope it's been a good one.


Luisa Perkins said...

Oh! It's wonderful to hear from you again. I'm glad your mother is settled; what a huge transition for you all. The loyalty, decency, and love of New Yorkers for one another is unparalleled; I'm glad your mother had an appropriate send-off.

I couldn't agree more with you about our country being founded on the principle of community.

Let's be in touch! xoxoxo

Eleonora Baldwin said...

Welcome back, Jen. Glad to hear you've been busy. Community is life! Ciao

Charity Tahmaseb said...

Aw, Jen, the 'net just wasn't the same without you. Good to have you back!

Korie said...

Good to see you back.
Sadly, right before I leave and probably will get behind on blog reading :(
But I'll be checking my reader for your posts.

Don't suppose you have an extra post lying around for a guest post at my place?
I'm trying to keep the space active while I'm in the states.

Jen said...

Thanks for all the well-wishes, Luisa. BTW... I'm planning to come into NYC in later spring or early summer to come hang out and actually see people, so I hope we can finally get together then. This trip was very quick and I had to focus on Mom.

I agree Lola - community IS life!

Thanks, Charity - it's good to be back. ;-)

Lilac, I'm sure I could guest post something - e-mail me and let me know what you need. I hope you and CB have a fabulous trip home!

Goofball said...

Wow what a huge change that must have been for your mother. What a bummer the USA is such a huge country and that NYC isn't next to your door huh.

It must be so emotional for her to move and leave her familiar neighbourhood behind. I'm glad she got such a warm goodbye. I really hope she settles in well in her new home, making new friends yet not losing all contact with her NYC friends!!

Take care Jen. I'm very glad to see you back online!

Dru said...

Welcome back and I'm glad the move went okay. I'm sure your mother will enjoy her time there.

Right now, me and my sister are looking at place in North Carolina that will appeal to my mom. I really need to move her from her current location.

anno said...

It's good to see you here again, and it was good to see your mother, too. Here's hoping that the adjustment to Ann Arbor goes just as smoothly as the move. Welcome back!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Glad to hear that the move went well and your mom likes her new home.

It must have been very emotional for both of you.

Some people think NYC is a cold lonely place but reading your post reminded me of the neighborhood feeling I had living there.

Nice to have you back.

Unknown said...

Best wishes to your mother in her new home.

I'm pleased you noted the bedrock of this nation is one of cooperation and help, not the much touted "rugged individualism."

thailandchani said...

Well, it was good to see you pop up in my Reader again!

I agree with Greg .. above. "Rugged individualism" is hopefully on its way out!


April said...

So great to hear from you again!
I know I say this almost every time, but you're an amazing person, Jen.

hotmamamia said...

Welcome back and I'm glad to hear that you will now have your mother some ways that is very comforting. You can just leisurely go thru my little bloggie entries to catch up....glad to be able to read you again!

Jen said...

Hi Goofball - it was a huge move for mom, but I don't think she'll ever lose contact with her friends - she's really good at keeping up with people.

Dru - good luck with that - it can be a huge challenge! Also, I don't know if you saw my note to Luisa, but I really am planning to hit the city soon and actually SEE people this time.

Anno - yesterday turned out to be our "glitch" day, but it all worked out in the end. I'm hoping to have her into her actual space by this evening. It was great to see you the other day!

NYC - thanks so much! I really believe that NYC is one of the friendliest places anywhere - you just need to reach out and get to know folks. I hope you've had a good month.

You know, Greg, I think of the barn raisings, midwives, folks that rode west together. Individualism, yes, but also always with a helping hand.

Couldn't agree more, Chani! Also, I'm certainly looking forward to reading you again, too!

Thanks so much, April. ;-) I don't know what to say.

Hotmama, I think you may be disappearing now that your wonderful daughter and future SIL will be visiting - yeah!!! I can't wait to get back and read what you've been up to, also.

peter said...

Welcome back. All is well over here.

Brittany | the Home Ground said...

Jen! I've missed you so. It's so nice to hear from you again. It sounds like your mom had a truly wonderful community of friends in New York. And I'll bet she'll create on in AA, too. And I love Caravaggio. Amazing painter! Yes, the end of classes... mine too! And I'm sending my teachers questions too, haha. Enjoy your weekend!

Jen said...

Hey Peter, glad to hear you've had a good month.

Brittany, when is your semester over? What will you do over the summer?

Brittany | the Home Ground said...

May 3rd is the end of classes. Then, there is review week. Then, the next week is all preparation and setting up for the Student Exhibition. So, my semester isn't really over until May 15th. Then, I'll be working as much as I can in the summer. And, hopefully, my teacher will let me have studio access, because I would like to start selling art :)

Ivy said...

Glad to see you back and it's good to hear that there are people still caring.

Susan @ SGCC said...

Welcome back, Jen. Sounds like you've had an action-packed month! I'm glad your mom is settled in her new place. It must have been hard for her to make such a change.

So excited to hear that you'll be teaching creative writing. My daughter is very interested in writing and signed up for the Creative Writing class at her school. Unfortunately, they cut the class along with several others, because we all know that anything "creative" is just not important! ;)

23mkr said...

Surprise from someone who has never left you a comment, and we've been out of touch for months. Yes, life is hectic and you are certainly taking on your 'fair share.' I hope April allows you to catch your breath a little or at least enjoy the spring sunshine that may start to warm us here in AA eventually.

I would love to catch up with you, one of these days. Sit and have a cup of tea, talk about the boys, homeschooling and changes in both of our lives. Take care and know that you cross my mind often, I just never do a thing about it - which is horrible on my end and I really need to be better about keeping contact. Take care, M

Oh said...

Bravo on getting your mother there! It will be awesome. I know. My Mom arrived here in STL from NY, and though she left so many behind, she loves it here and has so many friends already.
Our moms are true pioneers!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Welcome back Jen, so glad your mom is doing good!

Jen said...

Ivy - yes, many caring people - like you!

SGCC - That's really sad. Our classes are set up somewhat by demand, so I have enough students to run the class. It should be fine.

Hey MKR! I didn't know you even knew about this. Yes, we must get together and catch up. It may be a few weeks before I have any spare time, though - I have to catch up with everything. Thanks so much for the comments and well wishes.

Oh, I'm glad to hear that. In my mother's case, physical issues drove her here, but she seems to be making friends and doing well so far.

Thanks so much, Proud Italian!


What a great update. Your mom is clearly, a wonderful person who is a good friend, which is why so many people love her.

painted maypole said...

welcome back. what a month!

volunteers do seem scarce, i agree.

Jen said...

Thanks so much for the warm words about my mom, Widney. She does seem to make friends easily.

Yes, PM, it sure has been! Looking forward to slowing things down a bit.

Meg said...

Welcome back. I know the transition might be rough, but because it includes a grandson and a loving daughter, I think it'll be a positive one.

Becca said...

Welcome back...
I wish you and your mom well in this transition. I know it's for the best, but I'm sure it's been hard for all of you.

Congrats on the fundraiser...I've been involved in a number of those over the years. Sometimes, I've felt as if it would have been easier to just write the check myself. Although as you say, the spirit of working together for a common good is an important aspect of these things as well, especially when youth are involved.

I hope some down time is in your future!!

Heather said...

I found out that I'm pregnant, so that's my excuse for being flaky. Yours is much, much more legitimate!

I love reading about the way your mother has touched so many lives. We should all be so lucky to leave such a legacy when we move from our neighborhoods. :)

Jen said...

Meg, thanks so much for the kind words! We're doing our best. Her son-in-law has been a great help, too. ;-)

Becca, thanks so much. And yes, I agree, sometimes you just want to write the stupid check. We'll see how the organization goes from here.

Heather - CONGRATS!!! That's wonderful news. And yes, it's a great excuse for being flaky or anything else. ;-) Take advantage of the excuse for all it's worth.

glamah16 said...

After a few years of voulunteer burnout, Im am being roped back in. I know its going to be hard but Im more selective where I put my valued time. $2,000 is phenom! Glad you are there for your mother and she knows that you are. :-)

Leslie said...

Jen, I HAVE MISSED YOU. Glad you're back in the blogosphere.

Jen said...

Glamah, thanks so much! I also have so much to catch up with in terms of all of your new writing endeavors!

Thanks so much, Leslie - I've missed you TOO!