Tag Archives: Regina Spektor

Hey, Remember That Time I Casually Mentioned Breastfeeding to My Spirit Animal?

Standard

It’s been over two years since Emily weaned. I don’t write about breastfeeding or nursing anymore, unless it is in response to a comment on my nipple trauma post, still my most popular post on this blog.

It gratifies me to know I’ve left even a tiny mark on the world of breastfeeding health and lactivism.

I miss nursing, but I don’t really feel the urge to write about it anymore.  And unless I am doling out obnoxiously unsolicited advice to a new mom, I rarely talk about it.

Well, that’s not entirely true.

Since I nursed Emily until she was a little past four, when she naturally weaned herself, she remembers her time at the breast.  She occasionally mentions it to me.  She reminisces, and even wishes she could still be a cozy little nursling.

It is also gratifying to know my daughter has happy, safe, sweet memories of nursing and will hopefully grow up with positive attitudes about breastfeeding.

But I digress. . .

What I really wanted to tell you about was meeting my all time musical idol a few months back.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a HUGE Regina Spektor fan.  My obsession for her cannot be stifled.

Regina is a Russian immigrant who came here as a child to escape religious persecution for being Jewish.  She is a classically trained pianist who writes insanely creative songs in the indie-anti-folk-alternative genre.

You might know her as the singer who wrote and performed the Orange is the New Black theme song.  She also recently did a cover of While My Guitar Gently Weeps for the animated movie, Kubo and the Two Strings.

Her presence in the world brings me joy and hope.  It’s no hyperbole to say her music changed my life.  It may have even altered my DNA at a molecular level.

Regina toured this past year, and I got to see her three times.  THREE TIMES you guys!!!

I saw her in my home state, and in New York City at Radio City Music Hall in March. Then I got to see her in November in Northampton, MA. Through a confluence of rare and unusual events, a friend managed to obtain  backstage passes to meet Ms. Spektor after the show in Northampton.

OMGOMGOMG!!!  I know, right!!!

It was going to be really hard to play it cool, but that was the plan.  The entire show was like an out of body experience, and she sang Loveology and Pound of Flesh and Flyin‘ and a bunch of other oldies I’d never heard live before.

Oh, and also my friend and I were in the second row, just so, so, so close to this woman who has more artistic energy in a fingernail clipping than most people can imagine in their entire lifetimes! The show was unreal, and even if I’d never met Regina that night, it still would have pretty much been a perfect experience.

So, we stuck our backstage passes on our lapels after the show and waited in the appointed spot for the tour manager.  There were people hanging around who didn’t have backstage passes, and they didn’t even try to hide their envy as they asked how we got “on the list”.

Finally the tour manager came to get us, and he led us down some stairs to a chamber that was all brick and basement and lacking in any glamour or glitz.  And there she was.  Regina Freaking Spektor.  My spirit animal.

She greeted us with genuine warmth and kindness that set me instantly at ease.  She was soft spoken and almost shy.  We chatted about this and that and fuck tRump!

I got to tell her how I’d seen her at RCMH and how I heard her speak about Purim and the importance of resistance and how meaningful and prescient this had been to me at the time.  I shared with her that I worked for a Jewish agency and she seemed truly delighted by this little fact about me.

While we were talking, her tour manager came up to her with a bag of lentils.  She thanked him and turned back to us.  “If you ever need to make a heat pack in a pinch,” she said. “Lentils work great!  Stick them in a sock in the microwave.”

“Rice in a sock works good too,” I added.

“Oh yeah?”

“Sure,” I offered confidently.  “Came in handy during breastfeeding.”  As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I was sure I’d said the most flagrantly awkward thing on the planet.  Who meets their idol and starts talking about breastfeeding?  I apologized with a little laugh.

“No!” Regina said with a pleasant and unflappable grace.  “That’s so real.  Breastfeeding is real.  I remember. . .”  Somehow we got on another subject and then she signed my poster for my daughter and me.  Love and peace and fun.

She gave us hugs and we took photos together.

The whole encounter didn’t last more than ten minutes and then my friend and I were on the road back home.

I haven’t posted here in a long while, and I haven’t posted about breastfeeding in a longer while.  It occurred to me that this was a sharable little nugget.

I’m always searching for ways to integrate all these random bits of myself; to reconcile all of the parts of who I am to make something whole and awesome.  There is me as an artist, woman, mom, wife, worker, and friend.  There is me as someone who hopes and hurts and heals and hides.  There is me as a sexual goddess being, created of life.  There is me who is very private.  There is me who is very proud and enthusiastic.

In a way, it is so totally perfect that I managed to casually weave a thread of one of my life’s greatest passions into my tiny interaction with my greatest hero.  It felt awkward and crazy and just right.  To me, that’s what my integration is all about, and it was received with gracious humor that night.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/stifle/

In Which I Wax About Music

Standard

This year, as usual for the past few years, there was $30 of iTunes gift cards in my stocking.  These little cards are one of my favorite presents.  I could listen to music every minute of every day and still crave more.  It is like a magic elixir to me, a panacea for any psycho-spiritual crisis.

Lately I’ve been playing a lot of the Ani DiFranco channel on Pandora.  There are days I am actually excited to get in my car and start off for work for the music I can pump out of my crappy Corolla speakers on my commute.  Some days it inspires.  Others it comforts.  Still others, it takes me back to distant memories and moments, recapturing the sensation of the past.  The Ani DiFranco channel plays a constant stream of Tori Amos, Alanis Morrisette, Tegan and Sara, Tracey Chapman, Alana Davis, Natalie Merchant, and other folksy-punk-rock chicks I adore.

20131230-073232.jpg

I’ve obsessed on music for a long time.  If I looked at the criteria for addiction and dependence in the DSM, I’m pretty sure I could be diagnosed with Music Dependence.

I got my first “real” vinyl record at the age of eight–  Michael Jackson’s Thriller–  a Christmas gift from my godfather.  Much like Clara’s gift of the Nutcracker from her old godfather Drossylmyer, I was transfixed!

Prior to Thriller, I had childish music of the sort all little kids have taught to them at church and elementary music class.  I listened to Thriller endlessly, in a sort of out of body rhapsody.  I didn’t understand any of the sexual innuendoes of Billie Jean  or what could possibly be meant by “mama say mama sa ma ma coo sa” (I still don’t!), but the music made my flesh glow and want to move, or just sit perfectly still in front of my record player.  Entranced.

The Compact Disc Player became popular and affordable when I was in high school.  There was a chain of record stores called Strawberries that started selling CDs.  I remember going to a Strawberries in a local strip mall the summer I turned 16.  I had gotten my first CD player for my birthday and eagerly paid about $16 for a CD of Sinead O’Connor’s The Lion and The Cobra.

Like it was yesterday, I recall holding that slim plastic case, still wrapped in cellophane, between my fingers.  It was like holding 60 minutes of freedom and serenity.  I could not wait to get it home and listen to it.  My boyfriend and I listened to that disc dozens of times.  I must have played Troy and I Want Your Hands On Me until they were permanently imbedded in my DNA.

My high school boyfriend and I broke up, but The Lion and The Cobra has stood the test of time with me.  I still have that disc, although it is in a box in my basement now, since all the digital files have been downloaded to my computer and then to my iPod.

My first iPod was bright pink and about the size of a deck of cards.  My husband (then my boyfriend) gave it to me for my birthday nearly a decade ago.  He told me it would hold about 1500 songs and immediately I knew that was not enough.  I set to the task of transferring every disc I owned into the computer.

And then I discovered iTunes.

20131230-073159.jpgOver the past decade I’ve used Pandora and iTunes in a delightfully harmonious relationship.  I discover new artists on Pandora on the many various channels I adore, and then skip merrily over to iTunes to peruse and purchase.  Songs or albums are expenses I can almost always justify–  music nourishes, heals, and awakens my soul.

The music I like can best be described as eclectic.  Sometimes I’m a lyric kinda’ gal (think Tori Amos), other times I got for pure musicality (think Nine Inch Nails).  I continue to love 80s and 90s alternative (Depeche Mode, and my all time fav the Cure), but also love grooving to reggae and ska.  There is no voice in the world as gorgeous as Peter Gabriel, and on a sunny spring day, there is nothing like driving around with the windows down and some Grateful Dead.

I went through a country phase.  I went through a classical phase.  I went through a Harry Belafonte phase.  I went through a world music phase.  I went through a phase of listening to musicals.  It’s all good!  The only music for which I really don’t care is Screamo, hair bands, and hard rock.

Since having children, I’ve listened to a ton of “kid” music too.  Some of our favorites in that genre are Raffi (such a beautiful soul), Elizabeth Mitchell (soothing and kind), the Wiggles (just plain fun), and the albums put out by Bare Naked Ladies and They Might Be Giants for children (favorites with Jack).

What I listen to

What I listen to

Songs are vitamins, or medicine for certain ailments.  Feeling frustrated and angry?  Listen to a few classic Ani DiFranco tunes to feel validated and strong!  Feeling sad or distraught?  Listen to some of Regina Spektor’s more whimsical tunes to brighten your mood!  Feeling quirky?  Bjork will help you accept all your little warts.  Feeling awesome and want to feel even more awesome?  Peter Gabriel is your man to plug your soul right into the center of the universe.

Well, you get the picture.

So, I have $30 of iTunes burning a hole in my pocket (she says quivering with glee!).  I have my ears on some Lana Del Rey, and have also contemplated adding some vintage Teegan and Sara to my mix, but just haven’t decided if I want to make the commitment.

Receiving that iTunes gift card brought back memories of standing in line and holding Sinead O’Connor’s first album in my hot 16 year old hands.  And holding that tiny piece of plastic, with its magic code on the back that will unlock any song for which my heard desires, feels equally liberating, enchanting, and sustaining.

What was your first album?  Do you love music?  What album do you plan to buy next?  

I Have It All

Standard

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to an article in which Drew Barrymore talks about why women can’t have it all.

In the online article for People Magazine, Barrymore states, “It sucks when you’ve worked really hard for certain things and you have to give them up because you know that you’re going to miss out on your child’s upbringing, or you realize that your relationship has suffered.”

She goes on to say, “I was raised in that generation of women can have it all, and I don’t think you can. I think some things fall off the table. The good news is, what does stay on the table becomes much more in focus and much more important.”

Part of me responds to this by saying, “Mmmm hmmmm!!  Sing it girl!”

Another part of me is not so sure.  It begs the question, what does “having it all” mean exactly?  I used to think I would have it all when I owned a house, had a car with heated seats, and could afford to take my family to Disney or Hawaii once a year on the money I earned in my private practice.  Ahhh, then I could say I had arrived.

Well, none of those things have happened in my life, nor are they imminent.  So now what?

We all have heard about age being just a state of mind.  I wonder if the same could be said for the theory of having it all–  that what we have or do not have is really just a state of mind.

My husband and I married and rushed into having children because we were in our 30’s and our clocks were ticking.  We live in a modest apartment and drive ten year old cars.  We have an amazing support system however, and lack for nothing essential.

Had we put off having children, we may have been able to save up and buy a house.  But had we put off baby-making, we would not have these two precious beings who were came to be at exactly the right time.

When our son was born, we pulled out all the stops to send him to the best daycare in the state. Sacrifices were made to do this, but no price could be put on peace of mind regarding our child’s safety, and he was adored and intellectually stimulated.

We both also decided to cut back on our hours at work so we could each spend one day at home with our children.  We did this at huge financial sacrifice, but we agreed that spending time with our children was more important than anything we could buy.  We figured we would have time to work, buy, and pay for crap, but our little ones would only be little for such a short time.

We could never buy that time back in the end.

During Jack’s time at the daycare, we were invited to a number of birthday parties for his peers.  Some of these shindigs were held at homes that were seven times larger than our apartment.  Homes with four car garages.  Homes with huge pools with waterfalls.  Professionally decorated homes.  Homes with gyms and televisions the size of an entire wall.

While we had fun at these festivities, I always left thinking, Well, that made me feel like a “Have Not.”  I would return to my small domicile feeling like I did something wrong in life, like I should be living larger.

But why?  

Are material possessions important when my children are healthy and happy?

What would make me feel I’ve arrived more than the sound of my daughter’s laughter or the curl of my son’s amazing eye lashes?  20130701-145011.jpg

It is really hard to balance everything.  I can’t lie.  There are so many times when I wish I could just stay home with the kids, and there are other times when I wish I had more energy and motivation to focus on my career.

It would be nice not to worry about my financial state, to live in a home big enough so that my husband and I don’t bump into each other and grumble about it 100 times a day.  It would be nice not to work so hard knowing that my paycheck is spent already every week before I even get it home.  It would be nice to take my family to a tropical island.

I fantasize about buying new curtains and a dining room set, but if I scale down my expectations and focus on what is really important, it becomes evident I need nothing more.

My favorite line in song comes from Regina Spektor:  “Love what you have, and you’ll have more love.”

Buddha teaches that attachment causes suffering.  Nuff said.

This center of balance does not always come to me, but when it does, I feel an amazing and complete satisfaction.  When I can set aside my greed and envy, it feels lovely to love what I have.

Lately I tell myself, I have it all, at many moments throughout the day.

When Emily and I take a walk and see a patch of beautiful flowers.

When Jack gives me extra hugs and asks me to lie with him at bedtime.

When we are all at the table eating dinner, sharing about our day.

When I am at work and bear witness to a client making meaningful connections.

When my husband and I have opportunities to teach the kids about kindness and love.

When I hear a song I like in the car and catch my daughter bopping along and clapping to it out of the corner of my eye.

When I over hear my son helping his sister set up and play with a toy in the other room.

When I see the green sprouts of sunflowers Jack planted stretching up to the sky.

I have it all.  I have it all.  I have it all.

Regina Spektor, Mindfulness, and Candy Crush

Standard

If you know me at all, you know I am addicted to music.  One of my favorite musicians is a gorgeous and quirky Russian gal named Regina Spektor.  She is imaginative, whimsical, and poetic.  Most of her songs are fictional, and the lyrics are complex, so I generally have very little clue what she is singing about.  But boy do I love her anyway!

Something about her music makes me feel like I am alive and dancing in the very heart of the universe.

Regina Spektor-- musical goddess

Regina Spektor– musical goddess

She has a song that makes me think about mindfulness.  The lyrics, “It’s like forgetting the words to your favorite song, it was so simple, you were always singing along. . .  You spent half of your life trying to fall behind, you’re using your headphones to drown out your mind!  It was so easy, and the words so sweet, you can’t remember, you try to move your feet. . .”

As much as I like to believe I am in the moment and mindfully aware, so often, I am seeking to fall behind and suffocate my own mind.

This week I have been playing Candy Crush Saga like a fiend.  It has gotten to the point where I don’t enjoy it anymore.  When I close my eyes, there is uncomfortable vertigo.  All I see behind my eyelids are bright, shiny pieces of candy clacking around in weird patterns.

Even when I play, I start to feel constricted and itchy from my inside out, like I am lined with fiber glass under my skin.

I’ve been using this little game to “drown out my mind.”  To some extent, it has been a helpful distraction.  If you read this post or this post, you know that it has been a stressful week.

But the fact that I am starting to dream in Candy Crush is icky.  I just don’t feel that a free iphone app should hold that kind of significance in my subconscious.  I might have to delete it from my iphone. . .

Blech- it makes me dizzy and itchy

Blech- it makes me dizzy and itchy

It makes me wonder what other things we do to distract ourselves from being aware during challenging times.

Religion.  Wine.  Sex.  Therapy.  Gossip.  TV.

It also makes me wonder what we, what I, could be doing to more productively deal with life during these stressful times.

For me, music is wonderful stress relief.  Music makes me feel connected, centered, and comforted.  So, I definitely will not be deleting Regina from my music library!  But I think being aware of how we use technology of any kind is important, because there is the tendency to use it as a crutch and then get pissy and nasty when it is not there for us to lean on.  Kind of like how I get when the Netflix is out of order.

So, tonight, I vow not to surf five TV channels while playing Candy Crush and trying to hold a conversation with my husband.

I will NOT multitask.  I will pay attention to my uncomfortable feelings, thoughts, and urges as opposed to holding them underwater with both hands while whistling a happy tune and trying to tap dance.

Some of these uncomfortable feelings and urges may have to do with trying not to play Candy Crush. . .  yeah, I think I am definitely going to delete that crap off of my phone.

I’m Not “Done” Having Babies, But I Have To Be

Standard

Every month I hold my breath and wait.  I wait for that one week that has come every month since I was 12, with the exception of when I was pregnant.  I wait for that week both hoping and praying that it will and will not come.

I have two beautiful children.  A boy and a girl.  Both unique in appearance, personality and gender.  Perfection.  Two children who are healthy, strong, and smart.  How could I possibly roll the genetic dice again and get so freaking lucky?  What I have is so much more than I ever dreamed.

And yet. . .

There is a part of me that wishes for more.  There is a part of me that longs to feel another little being swim inside me like an otter under my ribs.  There is a horrible, gluttonous part of me that is not satisfied with the treasure before me.

For many reasons, my husband and I decided to not bring any more children into our world.  We just don’t have the resources of time, money, and space to give to another little human.  The physical, mental, and emotional energy we are exhausting with the two children we have is more than I could have ever imagined.  Not to mention the toll that parenthood takes on a marriage.

And at almost 39 years old, who can say that my “mature” eggs would be capable of producing another miracle.

For the most part, I have accepted this fate.

WARNING:  The following is not P.C.  Consider yourself warned if you chose to read ahead.

Somethings do make me feel bitter and angry.  I work in a profession where I have to watch parents and children who genuinely despise each other interact in ways that shock and disgust me.  I’m talking about moms who tell their own ten year old to “fuck off ” right in front of me!  Some families have five or more children.  These children grow up in abject poverty, chaos, and fear.  They bear witness to community, domestic, sexual, and substance abuses on daily basis from infancy.

I watch a mother become pregnant with yet another little being for whom she can not and does not want to care, and I feel rage.  Rage that these tiny humans were conceived without thought or love.  Rage that they are subject to violence, drugs, and mistreatment before they are even born.  Rage that they are then born into a world where they are not held enough, fed enough, sang or read to enough.  Rage that a human who is born intact out of a mother’s womb will then be have their spirit pulverized before my eyes.

It is almost more than I can bear to watch this cycle and know that there is very little I can give to their situation besides my gentle guidance and encouragement.  

How the hell is it fair that one woman can bear and mistreat seven babies, and yet, I am limited to two?  Or worse still, that there are women out there desperate to love and cherish a newborn, yet struggle with infertility?  

It is not for me to judge how many babies a woman gets to have, and I am not foolish enough to think I know the universe’s plan for all of those babies.  I know I’m jaded, but I don’t see the flip side of the scenario- large families where babies are welcomed and adored- often, if ever in my profession.  In my personal life, my friends have mostly limited their families to one or two children as well, again because that is what we can afford mentally, financially, logistically.

The other reason I want to keep having babies is because it means I am still young and fertile.  Child bearing is an incredibly mysterious, powerful, and sacred time.  But that time has passed for me.  I’ve had my turn.

It has struck me on more than one occasion lately that the next stop for me will be menopause.  How can that be?  I’ve only just become a mother in the last six years, and I am already knocking on the door of  Crone-hood?

When I really tune into my desire for more babies, it is partly this pure biological imperative.

There is another part that is not about having more babies, but being able to go back in time and experience again the babies that I already have.  I want to push Jack around in the shopping cart as a two month old,  have him smile up at me from his infant carrier like I am the only person in the universe.  I want Emily at seven months as she sits in the grass, clutching an entire peach and sucking on it like there is no tomorrow.  Jack laughing his head off at Kipper The Dog for the first time at 18 months.  Emily only a week old, kicking her newborn legs as she looks up at her mobile.  I want more of the babies that are already living in my house with me.

There is a line in one of my favorite Regina Spektor songs that saves my sanity almost every day:

“Love what you have and you’ll have more love.”

When I think of the love that I have, it is plenty.  In this crazy country of excess and super-sizing it is almost hard to remember what matters most- being present and aware of the love and potential in just this moment.  When I think of this quote, I can bring myself around 180 degrees.  It doesn’t matter to me what others have and what I don’t have when I think of this quote, and I don’t need to be angry or bitter.

Gazing at Jack and Emily until I feel almost blind, I know that there will be times where I don’t feel quite done bearing babies, but I have to be, and that’s okay.