Monthly Archives: August 2015

Some Thoughts on My Daughter’s 20th Birthday

Twenty years ago, on August 24, I gave birth to a daughter. Frankly, I had never thought myself particularly capable of such a thing, but the pregnancy – with the exception of one miserable heat-wavy week in July when I didn’t leave my bedroom as it was the only room in our Park Slope apartment with an air conditioner – was almost a pleasure. All the ice cream you could eat! People gave you wide berth (literally) on the sidewalk and the subway! You always had an excuse to put your feet up! Apart from some preeclampsia, which ultimately led to a C-section to get my 9 lb., 2 oz. “big baby” out when inducing didn’t work, I didn’t mind at all the thing that I had dreaded back in my twenties, when I swore I would rather adopt than ever put my body through pregnancy.

The next fear, though, was how to deal with this tiny little screaming, pooping creature. I hadn’t known too many babies in my life to that point. I did do some babysitting when I was a teenager, but for older children and I was usually there after they were already in bed (which was a perfect excuse to invite a “friend” over for some rumpus in the rumpus room). I was the first in my family and in my circle of friends to have a baby, so none of them knew anything about infants either. My mother was around in those early days although she wasn’t as hands-on as I had hoped she’d be (judging by the stories I’d heard from family members growing up, my mother’s gag reflex made changing diapers my father’s and grandmother’s job), and also my mother-in-law, who actually LIKES babies, but she lived a good distance away from Brooklyn and couldn’t come out to take care of everyday tasks like baths and burping. (The less said about breast-feeding, the better. Despite my having larger-than-average mammary glands, they proved to be utterly – udderly? – worthless.)

I remember the day we brought Darian home from the hospital. My sister and I were having such difficulty dressing her in a newborn baby gown (which may have been a tad too small for my “big baby”, which made the exercise even more challenging), entirely too tentative and scared, enough so that my roommate – who had just had her second child – rudely pushed us aside with a “Seriously, ladies? Get out of the way! The kid will be having her first birthday by the time you get that on her!” Things got a little bit easier after my C-section scar had healed enough so that I was able to actually get off the bed or couch by myself instead of rolling around helplessly like a turtle on its back, but I never truly felt comfortable picking her up, or holding her, or putting her down, or buckling her into her car seat, etc. I was always afraid I would break her somehow. But I did enjoy the late-night feedings, sitting with her in my beautiful wooden rocking chair adorned with carved swans – a gift from our friends Wendy and Claude and Wendy’s parents – by the light of wee-hour TV, especially the talk show of a woman named Penelope Leach, who had all of the child-care answers that I was seeking.

In the first year of my daughter’s life, we moved three times – first to my mother’s house in Seaford for a couple of months, and then to Charlotte, North Carolina. My mother and I drove down in our Jeep Cherokee, with a dog and two cats and the baby in her car seat precariously surrounded on all sides by an overload of STUFF. It was a sunny January day as we drove, but the very next morning after arriving, Charlotte was hit with its worst ice storm in decades. The city was paralyzed and my mother had a difficult time getting the train back to NY, but there we were in our rental unit: We didn’t know a soul, so it was just me and the baby while my ex-husband went out to learn the realtor ropes.

Our third move that year was into our very own home in a new-build community in Indian Trail, a suburb of Charlotte, called Lake Park. It was quite pretty, and I loved putting on my headphones and taking Darian for long walks in her stroller. Those walks were the highlight of my early parenthood. One day we were attacked by a black swan that rose up threateningly out of one of the lakes for which the community was named, but otherwise our jaunts were uneventful and pleasant. I lost some baby weight and she slept. Without those walks, my worst struggles were at naptime, when Darian would scream bloody murder and freakishly stiffen her body in an effort to avoid lying in her crib. I was afraid that my neighbors would think I was abusing her (“Yes, officer, I was subjecting the child to nap torture.”).

But then, I had to go to work, and Darian had to go to day care, but when the relentless ear infections started, I had to entrust her to basic stranger babysitters. Being a parent – sometimes a single parent, when her dad went back to NYC for work – wasn’t all that enjoyable anymore.

In subsequent years, after moving back to New York, first law school and then my legal career kept me away from my child. Yes, I made sure to make time for soccer games, and parents’ nights at school to meet her teachers, and extravagant vacations – a Disney Cruise and Hawaii, for starters – but I felt like I was away from her more than I was with her, and that kind of broke my heart. What happened as a result was the spoiling. Shopping was the panacea: If she wanted it, I bought it, because clothes or a toy or whatever she wanted would have to take the place of me.

Predictably, there was some misbehavior, but thankfully nothing permanent or disastrous. High school was not a priority for her, which was something else that was completely alien to me, as I had always been a dedicated student; not only did I enjoy the act of learning, I also loved school because that’s where the boys and my friends were. She wasn’t terribly interested in school sports, so we never went to football or hockey games. I was a little worried when she wanted to graduate a semester early. There was no prom or cap-and-gown ceremony, which disappointed me more than I thought it would.

By then I was home more often, having adjusted my schedule to work from home a few days a week. In retrospect, perhaps it was having me around in the daytime, or maybe it was the result of a natural maturing, or it could have been that she didn’t like seeing where some of her friends were going (i.e., nowhere fast). But unbeknownst to me, while attending her basic classes at the local community college (which was a boon for my pocketbook, I must admit), she had applied to some of the SUNY schools and ended up being accepted at SUNY Buffalo. After a year there, she determined that she wants to work in the area of wildlife conservation, so she would need to transfer to another school that had a broader course offering in that field. Ergo, West Virginia University, where she’s now a junior (see last week’s blog post for a recounting of move-in weekend).

Somehow, my daughter has gotten herself on the “right” path at last, despite all my missteps and inadequacies. But I must have done something right. I once heard someone say that, on your birthday, you should really honor your mother, since she’s the one who did all the work and all you had to do was show up!! I have to say, this mother is overjoyed to celebrate 20 years of having my daughter in my life. I am so grateful that she’s well on her way to becoming the person I’ve always dreamed she would be –happy and fulfilled, kind hearted and globally aware and, most of all, true to herself.

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College Daze

My daughter Darian started her junior year at West Virginia University yesterday. As we had never visited the campus, her father and I also wanted to see where our kid was going to spend the next two years of her life, so we made a three-car caravan for the 8-hour trek over the span of two days from Long Island to Morgantown, West Virginia. They both left on Thursday; I followed on Friday. Darian arranged housing that would allow her to bring one of our cats to live with her, so I had Jojo in a cat carrier on the front seat and then, because my ex-husband is my usual dog-sitter and wouldn’t be available for dog-sitting for obvious reasons (i.e., he would be with us in West Virginia), I had to bring Munchie and Gizmo as well. In order to avoid freak-outs, the vet had given me a Xanax prescription, so I dosed Jojo with a whole 25-milligram pill and the dogs got half each. The dogs slept the whole way down, but Jojo meowed and howled and scratched at the door of the carrier, trying her damndest to bust out although where she thought she would go was a mystery to both of us.

Darian’s off-campus student housing resembles a singles apartment complex, with a pool full of beautiful people, a fire pit featuring an oversized Adirondack chair and a beach volleyball court. The complex is located next to a huge shopping center, with a Target and a Walmart and a Petco and a bunch of other shops, as well as a multiplex movie theater. Her roommate – a bearded ex-footballer who’s now a pre-med student – conveniently went home for the weekend so we were able to leave the dogs in her apartment when we went out to dinner and to do errands. One of those errands involved her lifeline (aka her iPhone): Evidently the T-Mobile network hasn’t made its way into the Appalachian Mountains, so we had to scramble to change her phone service.

WVU is split into two campuses (actually, I think it’s three, but only two for undergrads): the Downtown campus, which is literally in the heart of Morgantown, on the eastern bank of the Monongahela River; and the Evansdale Campus (which for some mysterious reason I kept calling the “Glendale” campus), which is closer to Darian’s residence and where all of her classroom buildings are located. We somehow missed getting her a student ID, which she had to take care of first thing Monday morning. In addition to permitting her entry into buildings and paying for her food, she’ll also need it to get on the campus bus or the cute little PRT, the people-mover rapid transit that scoots from one campus to the other. The whole experience was a little discombobulating, but I have every confidence that she’ll figure out where everything is eventually and make new friends. She’s got two years to do it, after all.

But what made our “Intro to WVU” weekend even more fun was meeting up with a friend from my own college days, whose son also attends WVU. I actually hadn’t seen her since she transferred out of Trinity College after sophomore year – she was going to take a year abroad, as many juniors did, and then come back and room with me and two girls named Isabelle for senior year. But she never came back, abandoning me to live on my own with the Isabelles. As she reminded me, we had actually seen each other post-graduation, when she was on Long Island for a friend’s wedding. But that was the lowest point of my life, which I have largely succeeded in wiping from my memory, even if it meant I also wiped out my last visit with Cathie. But we’ve managed to re-connect on Facebook, which is how I learned that her son was a student at WVU. So when my daughter was considering going there, I reached out and we happily renewed our friendship.

Cathie & Me in our Trin Hockey Jerseys

Cathie and me in our Trin hockey jerseys.

Before we met them for dinner, my daughter asked me, “How do you know you’ll still like her?” I had always remembered her fondly (once I got over the “abandonment” thing!), and seeing the kinds of posts she makes on Facebook (she’s a sports fan, an animal lover and shares my politics, to name just a few areas of common interest) was all the evidence I needed to know that our reunion would be fun.

The four of us had steaks and ribs at the Texas Road House (where the novice waitress spilled a large full glass of sweet tea all over me, for which I was fairly compensated with a free dessert brownie). Her son and my daughter hit it off fine, although I suspect they both tend toward shyness. They went their separate ways after dinner and she and I bought some hard cider and went back to the Econo Lodge with the dogs and talked for hours, catching up on all the things we’d missed in each other’s lives, going off on tangents and realizing how much we still have in common 30-plus years later. It’s great when people you liked years ago come back into your life and you like them just the same as you did then, despite the time that has passed. That’s the way it was with Cathie. I look forward to having opportunities to hang out with her again, which will hopefully involve a trip to Long Beach, which she actually used to frequent when she was in graduate school at SUNY Stony Brook back in the 1980s.

The blog format is wholly inadequate for me to recount my college experiences in all their debauched glory. I actually wrote a (very bad) novel that spanned freshman to senior years in a semi-fictionalized roman à clef, which may someday see the light of day in some configuration (or not). You spend so much of your time at college in various status of inebriation or panic or stress (and let’s not forget joy and laughter) that the relationships you develop in that environment get hard-wired into your emotions. I have a couple of those deep and lasting friendships (and hopefully can now include Cathie among them), and I hope my daughter will be able to enjoy the same. Because Darian only spent a year at SUNY Buffalo and is now a transferred upperclassman at WVU, it might be a little more difficult to connect with classmates, who might conceivably have been in friend clusters since early freshman year. But I don’t think it’s the duration that matters. Yes, I met my roommate Erika on the very first day of freshman year, and despite years of being out of touch (including two college semesters when she was studying abroad), I like her as much today as I did in those early times (ditto for our old college friend / her new husband Curtiss). It’s the same with my friend Nick Noble, Worcester’s favorite radio DJ, with whom I worked in the sports department of the Trinity Tripod. Frankly, I didn’t meet my very best friend from college, Sue Walsh Ober, until senior year (coincidentally, she was my neighbor when I lived with the Isabelles, so I spent a lot of time in her room escaping my own) and, as mentioned, I hadn’t seen Cathie since sophomore year.  Relationships that have developed at a four-year, live-away college retain some weird juju, because your college years are, in their way, fantastical and strange. Never again will you have that freedom, that sense of wonder and anticipation. Perhaps for some folks that heady feeling comes in the years following graduation, when you’re playing at being a grown-up in the “real world” for the first time, but I think more often than not those post-university years are especially traumatic, precisely because they follow – and are wholly unlike – the magical college time.

All this being said, I hope my daughter uses this special time in her life to pursue her dreams. For her, now is the best (and maybe only) time to do it. Unfortunately for me, I abandoned my dreams some time during the waning days of my senior year, extending into the post-graduation summer. In retrospect I think it had something to do with my father not being around, as he had passed away in November of my junior year. He had always been my guidepost and drill sergeant, pushing me to push myself, so I was basically lost when I returned home from Hartford.  I worked at the International House of Pancakes and got involved with a horrible man and suffered some of the worst things you could imagine. I’ve been trying to get back to myself — that person I was in college, with so much hope and promise — ever since.

Of course my daughter does not take my advice (or at least she doesn’t let on if she does), but hopefully she has heard (and seen, first-hand, the consequences of not heeding) my greatest message to her: Find something you love to do – now, while you’re in college, in that most special of times when the world is your oyster and the doors are open to the big wide universe – and you’ll never work a day in your life.

I Think I Love You

Most little girls seemingly have a crush that sticks with them throughout their lives. So when 65-year-old former teen idols want to make a few quick bucks they can go out on tour and have a ready-made fan base. For instance, I follow Peter Noone, of Herman’s Hermits fame, on Facebook because his posts are cute – he takes “selfies” from stage at his performances of himself and his audience but he often only gets the top of his head in the frame. He’s always posing backstage with his “contest-winning” fans although it’s unclear what contest has been won – perhaps on an Oldies radio station, if such things still exist. He was one of my first favorites when I was a kid. My beloved Aunt Linda, who was only 16 when I was born, often shared her music with me as I got old enough to appreciate it, which for me was around the age of 4, when my dad bought me my first Beatles album. We had both been mesmerized by them on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in February of 1964, and we sang those early classics for days (years! A lifetime!) afterward. We fell in love with the Dave Clark Five on “Ed Sullivan”, too, and Eric Burdon and the Animals, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Freddie and the Dreamers. (“Do the ‘Freddie’, Nan!”, my dad would always say. In later years, he would tell me to “Do ‘Janis’, Nan!” at random places like gas stations and the supermarket, and I’d have to wail like Janis Joplin. My father was a huge musical influence on me, needless to say, but that’s a blog post for another day.) But my absolute favorite from the “Ed Sullivan” show was “Herman” (Peter Noone’s alter ego), especially when he sang “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” and “Henry the Eighth” (“Hen-er-y!” we sang along). And he would bite his lower lip with his adorably crooked buck teeth and roll his clearly blue (even though the TV was black-and-white) eyes and the little girls (including four-year-old Nan) would squeal without quite understanding why he made us feel that way.

[An aside: I happened upon Peter Noone doing a free concert in the World Trade Center courtyard at the end of Dey Street one summer afternoon in 2001. I was finishing up my assignment as a summer associate at my current law firm, which was located on Broadway a block from the Twin Towers, and just happened to be wandering west during my lunch break. It was a gorgeous day, and he was in surprisingly good voice, and the crowd that had gathered was singing along. It turned out to be one of the last times I’d ever see the Twin Towers in person.]

The recent throwback tours by New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys are further evidence of that never-ending (largely female) audience devotion. I was frankly too old for both, although when I first met my ex-sister in law, who was ten years old at the time, she had a serious thing for one of the New Kids – maybe Joey? Or was it Jordan? — and I do confess that I had an unapologetic crush on Nick Carter (and kind of still do) when I was in my 30s.

My boy-crazy youth was so full of crushes – on real kids and teen idols alike – that it’s difficult to pin down any one favorite. I liked Barry Cowsill a lot, and a cutie whose name is lost to the sands of time who used to be the only American kid on a British Saturday morning kids’ show called “The Double-Deckers”. Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees (pre-afro) was definitely beloved, and Peter was my chosen Brady. Later, blond-maned, sleepy-eyed Leif Garrett was a deep crush, even though I was way too old for him at that stage (says the unabashed lifelong “cradle-robber”). My neighbor Lisa loved (and still loves!) Donny Osmond, but I never saw the appeal. (Too much teeth, I think.) In the Osmonds vs. Jacksons family battle, I always preferred Michael and his brothers to Donny and his, although I do like the Osmond’s cheesy classic, “Sweet and Innocent”, which frankly sounds a lot like a popped-up Jackson 5 song.

This past Saturday, I went to a free “concert under the stars” in a local park featuring David Cassidy of “The Partridge Family” with my good buddy Beanie Marini Martini, who was actually in the David Cassidy Fan Club back in the day and once (as an adult, with her husband holding a spot for her on line!) accosted him as he came out of the frozen food storage room at a Costco for a CD-signing event with an outstretched hand and a nervous “Hi David!”  Mr. Cassidy has seen better days – he is 65, after all, although he has clearly had some work done because his eyes are in a permanent smile squint – and he complained that his guitar playing was hampered by a sprained hand (if you’ll recall, Keith Partridge did actually play the guitar, for real, on the show). I think it might have had more to do with his storied problems with the adult beverages, but no matter – it was a beautiful summer night, with pleasant company and All-American burgers, and we all sang along with his more familiar songs. Some of the ladies in the audience – I might even guess half – had clearly been fan girls back in the day. There’s no denying that he WAS a pretty young man!

I’d love to do some research on the psychology of girlhood celebrity crushes, which probably started in earnest in the 1940s with Frank Sinatra (the bobby-soxers swooning “Frankie!”) but has probably existed in some form or another since the dawn of recorded time. Does it set girls up for a lifetime of disappointment? No real boy will ever live up to that first crush, because of course the crush is not a “real boy” at all. Not only do teen idols promote unrealistic expectations of love and how the males of our species ought to behave, but the publicity machines gloss over their human edges and foibles. As much as I think Justin Beiber is an entitled little brat, his run-ins with the law and attempts at being a “bad boy” at least have made him a little more REAL. (He’s even managed to get a cover and a large photo spread in the latest issue of my favorite magazine, Interview.) I think of my daughter’s little sister, who at 10 has loved the band One Direction for years (as well as a bunch of the boys on the Disney and Nickelodeon shows — they just churn them out, don’t they?). The “fixer” industry forcibly shoves rumors of gayness and drug abuse among One Direction members far under the rug so as to not alienate the little girls or, god forbid, require parents to explain things like homosexuality to their children – horrors! – although a recent slew of videos on the interwebs and Jimmy Kimmel’s show have demonstrated that kids show a surprising capacity for understanding gay marriage at a deeper level, without judgment: Hey, it’s just two people who love each other! So what if Harry or Louie or whoever from 1D is gay? Lance Bass of ‘N Sync came out, as did Jonathan Knight from NKOTB. Girls will still love boys, even if they’re gay. (Most of the prettiest ones often are.) It’s certainly no less unrealistic that such a boy could be her boyfriend than that he could be her gay friend!

* * *

Two post-scripts this week: We have a new family member – Mimi. I’ve loved Mimi for about a year now, ever since she first came into Posh Pets Long Beach Shelter as an elderly (13 years old) owner surrender (I prefer not to think about the people who abandon their pets at shelters – as far as I’m concerned, the only legitimate reason for the abandonment of a pet is DEATH). Mimi is a gorgeous tuxedo girl who sounds, when she meows, a little like the cat version of Marge Simpson’s sister Patty.  I’m pretty sure she was vocal and affectionate with everyone, but I always felt like she saved special joy just for me. Or was it pleading? “Please, nice lady who always pays attention to me, please take me home with you!” Well, I finally got the message. I’m just sorry that it took so long and I wasted a valuable year of her later life when she could have been getting daily chin rubs rather than weekly ones, and having the freedom to rove about on her gnarly old-lady legs to find patches of sunshine and comfy places to curl up in, which she never got at the shelter. Mimi is home now.

And finally, I thought this was so funny I really had to share: I follow a blog on WordPress called “Storytime with John” posted by an adorable, Craig Ferguson-esque comic blogger named, well, John. In one of his recent posts [http://storytimewithjohn.com/2015/08/10/a-smelly-trump/?c=15719#comment-15719], he likened Donald Trump to a fart: entirely unwanted and stinks up the room when introduced. Now that I think about it, doesn’t “Trump” even SOUND like a deep little unbidden toot?

Water, Water, Everywhere

I crave the sea, which explains why I live at the beach. But as was made abundantly clear two and a half years ago, living near the ocean is fraught with danger when, due to forces seemingly beyond the understanding of TV meteorologists and politicians, the ocean rebels against its shores and overflows with a vengeance.

The City of Long Beach is on the westernmost of the Outer Barrier Islands off the south shore of Long Island, at the very southern tip of New York State, bordered on the south by the Atlantic Ocean and on the north by Reynolds Channel. A large house with big trees that was on the corner across the street from my house was demolished after Superstorm Sandy and now I have a fantastic view from my front deck of the opposite bank of the Reynolds Channel. It was especially fun this past 4th of July weekend to watch fireworks from as far away as the north shore of Long Island. On clear nights you can see the Freedom Tower and the colors of the Empire State Building to the west. I’m praying that no one builds on that lot, but it’s waterfront, with a dock, so I am certain that some wealthy person is going to build a massive complex that totally obliterates my current pleasant sightline.

Barrier islands are geologically designed to deter the raging ocean waters from coming up on to the mainland (hence the name “barrier”), so it is unsurprising that Superstorm Sandy – and any hefty hurricane that batters the Atlantic coast as far north as New York – impacted the barrier islands first. They’re SUPPOSED to. Which might lead one to believe that humans shouldn’t build huge developments and expensive homes on barrier islands, but in recent decades they have tended to do so with frequency (and from the inception of insurance companies, they have been charged a premium to insure them). In fact, the charming bungalows of Long Beach’s West End (many of which, as an aside, managed to survive the last “Storm of the Century” in 1938, including mine, which was originally built in 1929) are being replaced by these 3-story monstrosities, some on double lots, because the updated building code requires any new construction in Long Beach to have no living space below eight feet. The New York Rising grant program being administered by New York State is enabling people to raise their houses – I am actually going to be taking advantage of this in the coming months (hopefully), and I’m sure will have plenty to report about it on this blog – but the whole nature of the area is changing. The West End features alternating wide and narrow blocks, and the narrow blocks are barely the width of two normal-sized cars (forget about those big-ass SUVs and minivans – they’re a real tight squeeze). A friend who lives on a narrow block complains that all the new 3-story towers lining the block have made it feel like he’s driving down a canyon. But what is the alternative? Suffer costly flood damage every couple of years? And with rising sea levels, I venture to guess that hundred-year storms like Sandy and the Hurricane of 1938 will probably be occurring more frequently than every hundred years. I suspect I will see another one (or more) in my lifetime, as will my daughter, who has made me promise not to sell the house so she and her potential children will be here for as long as the ocean permits. So of course I have to raise my house, but it will just be a bungalow on cement stilts, basically. That’s what they should have required in this neighborhood, in my opinion, but no one listens to my opinion, especially not about the parking situation. But that will be another benefit to raising the house: MY LONG PARKING NIGHTMARE WILL BE OVER. I’ll actually be able to go out in my car on summer weekends and also can feel comfortable inviting visitors and having parties! I will definitely be investing in a sleeper sofa and a futon when I re-furnish my higher house.

But truth be told, I don’t like to go IN the ocean all that much. I think that disinclination was the result of being stung by a jellyfish when I was about 12, which left a huge red welt down my leg that was on display when I wore my cute mini Nehru culotte dress on the first day of sixth grade. Also, as with my fruit-eating preferences, the water has to be PERFECT in order for me to enjoy a dip: temperature, of course; cleanliness; roughness. And inevitably I will get water in one or both of my ears that will give me a headache, cause endless one-footed hopping and finally trickle out a week later.

I also don’t like the sand, and the fact that you can’t eat anything at the beach unless you want the gravelly crunch in your teeth for hours afterward. And sand can be notoriously hot to walk on, especially the fine white sands of Caribbean beaches and, actually, Long Beach, NY, which has some of the powderiest (word?) sand I have ever trod painfully upon.

As far being ON the water rather than IN it, I can certainly appreciate seeing boats – especially sailboats – out on the waters, and I have enjoyed certain boat excursions I have taken, especially with my friends Wendy and Claude. But even though Claude is an experienced boatman and I always feel safe sailing with him, I am always reminded that boats (like cars) are instrumentalities of death if not handled correctly. Even ferries and massive cruise ships are not immune to disasters at sea (or even on shore, as the deadly Staten Island Ferry incident of 2003 demonstrated).

So why, you may ask, do I love living at the beach so much when I seem to dislike everything about it? The view, for starters. Maybe I’d be better off with a villa high up on a cliff overlooking the Aegean, like my friends Erika and Curtiss (although the climb with groceries or suitcases – or ANYTHING, really – is a bit tortuous). Their villa is within vertical walking distance of a gorgeous beach, but if the waters of the sea overflowed, it’s high enough up the hill to avoid flooding (although I guess a landslide is always a possibility . . . geez, I’m such a doom-and-gloomer sometimes!).

I also love the sound, and the scent, and the freshness of sea breezes. Even though I live two long blocks from the ocean side of the Long Beach barrier island, on most nights I can still hear the pounding surf and smell the sea air. The other night I took the dogs for a walk on the beach (illicitly, as dogs are not permitted on the beach, even after hours, which doesn’t seem right, but it’s certainly not a given that Long Beach dog owners would be responsible enough to clean up after their pets). The blue moon was so big and bright, it was as if there were klieg lights on and the water was glowing from within.

Another weird disconnect between my love of the ocean and my reality is that I’m not much of a fish eater. I like my fish best when it doesn’t taste, well, FISHY. I could take or leave it all – shrimp, lobster, crab, clams, any kind of white fish, salmon, you name it – and yet I am a firm believer that seafood is a legitimate form of protein for humans to eat. Not that fish can’t feel pain; I’m sure they do, despite most fish species having a sort of tiny prehistoric proto-brain. But they exist in such abundance that, if managed properly (and that’s a big “if”), there will always be a replenishment of the supply — barring overfishing and pollution, that is, which are definitely problems. (Check out a really well-done mini-doc about global overfishing in Episode 3 of Season 3 of the HBO Series “VICE”.) And of course I am not talking about marine mammals, which are some of the most intelligent creatures on the planet and should never be killed unnecessarily, for food or anything other reason.

Sometimes when I look out over the little bit of the Atlantic Ocean that I can see from Long Beach (which itself is only a small fraction of the world’s waterways), I marvel at how much water there actually is on our planet, and how beneficial and dangerous it is at the same time. And I wonder why there aren’t more efforts by the world’s engineers to come up with systems for getting water from where there’s too much to where there’s not enough. I was especially thinking about that during the winter, when there was so much snow up in Buffalo and Boston. Wouldn’t it be great if there were some kind of WATER pipeline (rather than oil or natural gas) that could transport all that excess water to combat the drought in California and the western deserts, or to be used to fight wildfires in the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains? What about more widespread methods of desalination? I’d much rather put my tax dollars behind those efforts than for wars over oil in the Middle East. Before long (as predicted in the Mad Max films), FRESH water will be the most valuable resource on the planet and SEA water will have been the cause of civilization’s destruction. Have you seen those horrifying computer-generated photos of what major cities (including NYC) will look like when they’re underwater? It’s pretty damn scary.

Ultimately, for the foreseeable future, I will continue to live here on my barrier island, hoping that the hurricanes and nor’easters have mercy on me and my house. And I dream of a time when humankind finally figures out ways to work WITH our amazing planet – and the water that covers over 70 percent of it – rather than AGAINST it.

A final thought, from a friend’s Facebook post today:  “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.”  Because I’m fortunate enough to live at the beach (at least for now), I can take advantage of the sea “cure” every day.