Saturday, March 21, 2020

Question for our times: Video Conferencing Preparation

Hi! Dusting off the blog to ask a community question:

If you teleconference at home, do you check out your outfit and background on your set-up's camera before you start your day?

I check to see if my top is see-through or looks weird, and I look at the background to make sure there aren't any wadded up tissues or other visible evidence that I'm not a great housekeeper.

We spent time last weekend making the room behind me look as neutral and professional as possible.

Not shown: the side table overwhelmed by nebulizer paraphenalia, and my purse and the file boxes.

So, questions. Do you do this? And also, do you think the pajama shirt I'm wearing in the top picture is okay for professional video conferencing?

Finally, here's a picture of the Sargasso Sea I took when we went on a cruise to Bermuda in 2018. When I'm feeling penned in now, I just look at that horizon and breathe deeply (or as deeply as my asthma lets me.)

Yes. It really was that blue.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Learner's permit

My son holding his temporary permit

In Virginia, you can get your Learner's Permit at 15 years, 6 months. That was yesterday, but there was a two-hour wait at the DMV, so we got there before they opened this morning.

And now I'm all verklempt.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

My grandmother's latest poem

My grandmother (who is in her late 90's) writes poetry and has been published in magazines and elsewhere.

Her latest poem got shared around by family, and it's beautiful. Evocative. Heart-breaking. Joyful.

She gave me permission to share it with you here.


I’m saying goodbye to my body,
long ago disdained
for size of breasts, shape of legs,
now nudging me downhill all the way.
I’m saying goodbye to my body,
ancient collaborator with
the smell of new-cut grass,
the thrust of arm throwing a ball,
the velvet feel of East New York’s slates
under my speeding roller skates,
the taste of June’s wild strawberries,
the pull of dancing à la Isadora, à la Martha,
the glory of May Day marching,
the sight of Jenny Lake in the Tetons,
of broom in bloom in the Luberon,
the sweet oasis of Shabbos,
the pride of menstrual flow,
the head-loosening orgasms,
the glow of babies suckling, the mindful heat of Emily’s poems,
the hug of Sons and Lovers,
the startle of “Sunflowers” hanging in a school,
the wake-up of Mozart’s G-Minor,
the movies subtitled, French and Soviet,
most of all, words, words, words,
jousting among us until 2 o’clock in the morning.
I’m saying goodbye to my body and
its first-time joys,
now recycled into memory.
I’m saying goodbye and thank you.

©Ruth Dropkin
June 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

My grandmother's memoir of her oldest sister

My grandma wrote a beautiful memoir of her sister Emma. Emma was the oldest of four daughters born to a rabbi and his wife. They immigrated from eastern Europe in the early part of the 20th century.

Here it is, just as she typed it, with her hand-writing on it. Published as 5 jpegs with her permission and also the permission of my cousin, Emma's daughter.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Fifteen (posted a week late, oops)

Silly, charming, taller than me, all hoodies all the time. Was in THREE plays since his last birthday!

Here he is in his high school's production of Radium Girls, playing The Reporter (photo courtesy my friend Erin)

Here he is in the red hat playing Nathan Detroit in his summer camp's production of Guys and Dolls. (photo courtesy my friend Erin, again)

And, of course, he was Iago in his middle school production of Aladdin last spring. 

He went from blue hair

To gold hair

To pink hair 

And back to blue.

He's got a great group of friends, and a terrific sense of humor. I'm proud to be his mom.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

So it turns out that one of my favorite muscles has been making me miserable for nearly four decades

Hi! My name is Liz Miller and I have had TMJ for 37 years, ever since I smashed my face into a step in the pool at summer camp and chipped a tooth.

(Hi, Liz!)

In the early years, my mouth would get stuck open, and a chiropractor taught me how to get it back to a position where it would close. But that's all I ever did about it. Through the decades, I've had tension headaches that felt like they started in my neck and wrapped around my head like a big old rubber band of pain, but I never associated them with my jaw.

Various dentists had asked me, "does it cause you pain?" And I'd answer that it only hurt when it would get stuck open (rare) or when it would snap and make me bite myself when I was talking or eating (frequent). And they would mention bite plates and surgery, and I just...never thought it rose to a level of needing to do something about it.

But this year our family has pretty good insurance with a high deductible, and what with one thing and another (including stuff that needs to be done every five or ten years), we seemed like we might go over that deductible, in which case, why not actually do some end of the year medical giving to ourselves? So....I asked my doctor for a referral to an oral surgeon, who told me to get a bite plate (on its way) and some physical therapy.

The physical therapist (who is AWESOME, BTW) measured all sorts of things including how far I could open my mouth without the joint popping out, and how far I could turn my head, and nod my head, and lean my head to each side. And then he had me start doing neck stretches, and shoulder and neck strengthening exercises. "Wait!" I said, "My problem's with my jaw."
"Actually," he replied, "It's with your  sternocleidomastoid" (he also had me do exercises opening and closing my mouth with various levels of resistance).

And I am here to tell you that I hadn't realized how much pain I was living with until I didn't have as much of it anymore. My tension headaches have receded, I have better range of motion, I don't bite myself as often.

It's amazing.