Blah, Blah, Blah

Blah, blah, blah.  Not even chocolate tastes that good.  What’s up?  I don’t know. Everything is fine.  No blues or reds or greens – just grey. Plain low-fat oatmeal.  I’m not going anywhere with this. I don’t know what is going on. I’ve had this feeling for a little while now, and I don’t know why.  I’d like to blame it on January. I hate January. I wrote a whole story about my feelings for this month. It was quite witty, and I do say so myself.  While this January has been on the warm side, there is still the darkness. I told my wife I may have S.A.D. She laughed – thanks Florence Nightingale.  She’s probably right.  Depression can stem from a chemical imbalance and is a serious issue. Thankfully, while I may suffer from an imbalance, it’s not chemical. Thus, I can’t be labeled. Yes, I’ve had the blahs before, but who hasn’t?  However, there is no trend.  

Life has not been terrible – far from it.  Firstly, you got the basics – health – family and meü, working/paying the billsü, house ü. My family and I recently went away for the night. My wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary.  Bruce Springsteen released a new single, an album is on the way, and tour dates have been announced.  All good things that should contribute to a joyous contented me.  Yup, yup, yup.

I don’t know what to do. Maybe, there is nothing to do about it. Maybe it’s okay to be a little sad, bummed, or depressed.  There was an Everybody Loves Raymond episode where Raymond discovers that Debra likes to be by herself sometimes and have a good cry every once in a while. She is convinced it is a good cleansing while he thinks she is unhappy. Funny episode.  Anyway, I am not suggesting that. It sounds pretty feminine to me and besides, I’m not much of a crier.  Our society places so much emphasis on – must be busy, must be happy. However, I think it is natural to feel a little down every once in a while. I read a book about optimism and the psychologist noted that everyone gets down at times. However, optimists bounce back quicker.  Therefore, I’ll continue living and a remedy will avail itself.  After all, I believe happiness is a choice.  As part of my treatment and desire for happiness, I’ll keep right on eating that chocolate. You never know which piece might do the trick. I’m a good patient.


Do you ever look at the real estate section?  Nearly every classified listing of a property notes that it is spacious. The property could be next to a dump, an after hours club, or a prison but if it has space then well, you have to consider it. We all want space. I need my space – don’t get too close.  Space – the final frontier.  Give me space.

My wife’s elderly aunt is, unfortunately, unable to care for herself. She is in a home and seems happy there. The aunt, who is in her 90’s, lost her husband last Spring.  The couple, who met at a dance when they were in their late 40’s, was married for nearly 40 years.  For their whole lives as a couple, they shared a studio apartment in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. They knew the doormen and raved about how wonderful they were every time the subject was remotely broached. These same doormen became surrogate caretakers as the couple grew more frail.

While they were past having kids, the couple took great joy in their families including their nieces and nephews. Both of them, however, shared a true love and passion for Manhattan. They prided themselves on walking and went everywhere in the city.  Along their travails, the couple picked up a lot of stuff – programs from Rangers games, restaurant menus, and newspaper clippings. They were collectors – scrapbooks, letters, pictures – you get the idea. Well, remember, they were in a studio which even an over-zealous real estate agent would not describe as spacious (prime location would have to suffice).  So, the small studio seemed smaller due to the clutter that comes from a hoarder in a small space.  My wife and other family members have been painstakingly going through the many collections struggling to decide what to save and what to throw away.  It has been an emotional journey.

So while many of us pine for more space – an addition would be so nice – for our various gadgets and things, this elderly couple is one to think on. They had a small space with way too much stuff.  However more importantly, they never complained about their not so spacious apartment because it had enough room for each other. Memo to self: space for others is the most important space and don’t save the old bills.

I’m An Individual

There is a funny scene (many actually) in Monty Python’s Life of Bryan. Bryan calls out “you are all individuals,” and the crowd calls out “yes, we are all individuals.” Bryan then calls out, “you are all different,” and all those listening chant, “yes, we are all different.”   One man calls out, “I’m not.” Of course, in an ironic dry way which is classic Monty Python, they are mocking group dynamics and the herd mentality. While we all pride ourselves on our individuality, we are often judged as a group or in comparison to others. 

My wife and I have two children. The boys are two and a half years apart. They have a lot in common – both are silly, have brown hair, occupation therapy issues, and love hot dogs.  The children look alike and people have even confused them for each other.

Being the youngest of four boys, people often compared me to my brothers. As parents, it is natural and oh so tempting to compare your children. Well, despite my experience, I do fall into the trap of comparing my children. Why isn’t he walking now? His older brother did.  Why does he have to be so anxious? His younger brother is so easy going.  Well, I know why. Despite having the same genes, they are individuals and so different. 

This afternoon those differences were on display. We took a family trip to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. We were there for two plus hours. My older son was fascinated and enjoyed many of the displays.  He stared at the fish, chastised my wife for not being more kind to the insects, and happily went through the touch tunnel. My younger son quickly grew bored. Few of the displays interested him all that much.  When he occasionally engaged, he would grow frustrated. He was ready to leave within the first hour.

So, while we may have nurture in common, our nature remains specific to us.  My children are perfect examples of this.  They both can stand up and say, “I’m an individual.”  I just wish they would both sleep late.

Commitment Issues

The first thing I look at when I consider if I am going to watch a movie is the running time. When I pick up a book, I always note how many pages it is. When someone asks for a favor, my first thought before responding is how long will it take. I guess you could say I have commitment issues.

Later this week, my wife and I will mark our 10th wedding anniversary (those interested may send gifts to Larry Bernstein care of You ever hear people say things like: every day has been wonderful or it seems just like yesterday, etc.?  Well, you haven’t heard it from me!  Our marriage has had its challenges.  We’ve been through family passings, job losses, and financial stresses. We’ve argued over big things and small things. We’ve gone to bed angry.  I am not writing this to complain about my wife (she reads this) or our marriage. We have had plenty of good times as well, reasons to smile, and moments to remember. In other words, we have lived a life together.

We met through mutual friends. They figured two writers who like to travel – let’s give it a shot.  It wasn’t quite love at first sight – we broke up after a few dates. A few weeks later, some organization was sponsoring a Friday night dinner that we both happened to attend.  One thing led to another, I walked her home, and we decided to give it another try. A few months later, we broke up again. We were getting serious, she got scared, and I was pissed. A coworker, who I haven’t spoken to in years, convinced me to calm down, give her space, and let her come calling back.  Wise words – she called a week later, explained herself, and we were engaged a few months after that. Throw in a bunch of good dates, some great laughs, and several things that are private, and there, in a nutshell, you have our courtship. 

People like to give advice and much has been said what it takes to make a good marriage. I’m no expert, so, therefore, I’ll just say what seems to make ours work – well, function at least, is we can laugh together, deal with each other’s wackiness (I have to do most of the dealing – just kidding dear), and share many of the same values. Perhaps the biggest thing for us is we know how and when to give each other space. These are some of our tools which have enabled us to enjoy life together. Now, it’s time for us to write the next chapter in our love story.  I’m committed.