Current Status:

HunkyDoryIt’s a weird and wonderful thing to be a living family that spans two centuries. My husband and I come from the 1970s, while our kids are born and raised in the 2000s. They have never known a world without wi-fi, on-demand TV and artisan pizza.

They casually FaceTime their grandparents half a world and ten time zones away, and when they say goodbye they do not marvel like I do at the technological wonders of 21st century connectivity. They believe most minor problems can be solved by Amazon, and they know they had better stay on top of their homework and their grades because we can access all that information any time we want with just a few key strokes.

Sometimes I long for the simplicity of the late 1900s. Handwritten letters, cameras with film and rotary dial phones meant life was slower and less immediate. Less reacting, more thinking.

Also less connection.

If there’s one thing I have embraced with arms flung wide in this new millennium it’s the seemingly limitless power to connect. Over broadband and wi-fi and satellite. Through text and email and social networks. With hi-res photos and hi-def video and hundreds and thousands of weightless words flying like so many graceful cranes through space.

It is in this infinite space of connection that I encountered Kelly, a fellow blogger and now friend. Kelly writes the often hilarious and always real stories of her life with wit and heart at Just Typikel. I admire and aspire to her humorous and pragmatic approach to life’s inevitable chaos and I was delighted when she tagged me in a blog challenge. More fun ways to connect! 

Four names people call me other than my real name:

Nix. This shortened, affectionate form of my name is my favorite. It means we are friends and comfortable with each other, and really I wish everyone I know would call me Nix. Or Nick. That works too.

Mom. It’s usually Mom, sometimes Mama, hardly ever Mommy. I will answer to all. But not if they whine it.

My darling child. Obviously only my mother calls me this, and usually at the beginning or end of a conversation. It is a sweet reminder that someone else on this earth is responsible for me.

Crazy. This is recent and has everything to do with my impending swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco in shark-infested waters.

Four jobs I’ve had:

English tutor.

Waitress. For maybe a minute.

Client Services something or other.

Event Planner.

I always wanted to work in a book store. I still do.

Four movies I would watch/have watched more than once:

Pollyanna. This was my sister and my favorite movie when we were kids and we can still recite the entire movie by heart, complete with tone and inflections.

Grease.  Another favorite. Another one we know by heart, including all the Travolterrific dance moves.

Say Anything.

Dirty Dancing.

Clearly I heart the 80s.

Four books I would recommend:

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell. I still love reading this to my kids. The hands-off mommy owl reminds me of me.

Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life. Kate Atkinson could write gibberish on toilet paper and I would love every word. This book is magnificent.

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. Read it. Now.

The Martian by Andy Weir. This is the last book I read and I loved it so much I insisted my 14-year-old son read it. I forgot the opening sentence is, “I’m pretty much fucked.” My son was hooked.

Four places I have lived:

Pretoria, South Africa: My hometown.

Grahamstown, South Africa: My college town.

Ra’anana, Israel: The place I grew up.

San Francisco, USA: Where it all began.

Four places I have been:

Austin, TX. I love Austin for the fun, food, friends. And red boots.

Nashville, TN. Country “Music City.” The perfect place to wear red boots.

Sydney, Australia. My family has a real affection for all things Aussie.

Edinburgh, Scotland. Kilts, Highlanders, accent. Och, say no more.

Four places I would rather be right now:

I can say with complete honesty and utter surprise that there is nowhere I would rather be than right where I am.

Four things I don’t eat:

Tongue.

Pork.

Shellfish.

Eel.

Four of my favorite foods:

Hamburgers.

Truffle brie cheese.

Hot, buttered toast with jelly.

My sister’s chocolate cake. Especially the frosting.

Four television shows that I watch:

Nashville

Orange Is The New Black

The Good Wife

Anything with Jon Hamm.

Four things that I’m looking forward to this year:

The end of Halloween.

Swimming from Alcatraz… Tomorrow!

Reading Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel, Purity.

Winter break at home.

Four things I’m always saying:

Wash your hands. With soap.

Sorry is sorry.

#FWP (as in First World Problems).

Oy.

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, where writers and bloggers gather together to share their versions of a completed sentence. This week’s prompt was, “In 1,000 years from now…” Hosted by Kristi of Finding Ninee, and co-hosted by Lizzi of Considerings and Dana of Kiss My List. In 1,000 years from now perhaps someone will stumble on this old-fashioned blog post and wonder why the hell people needed to wash their hands. With soap.

I am tagging three wonderful bloggers to answer these same questions and to keep the connection going as long and far as possible:

Kristi of Finding Ninee. Kristi is the engine behind Finish the Sentence Friday and an extrordinary blogger whose thoughts and words squeeze my heart every time and leave me feeling all the feels.

Dana of the wonderful Kiss My List. I wish I lived next door to Dana or at least within driving distance. Her “moderately snarky,” always entertaining, unique approach to everything is always just what I need.

Jason Gilbert’s The Blog That Killed JFG is a masterpiece of exquisite photographic essays that weave wit and humor with everything that is raw and real. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with here (no pressure JFG ;)).

Why I’m Terrified To Escape From Alcatraz

Alcatraz

I’m struggling.

To find the words. To form the sentences. To capture the thoughts. To get underneath the feelings, and plumb the deep salty waters I am swimming in.

I am struggling.

To separate the excitement from the nerves, the adrenaline from the dread, the determination from the apprehension.

I am struggling to harness the power and strength, my power, to pull it away from the fear, the worry, the panic. Even as my legs propel me forward, and my hands slice neat and even strokes through the cold, choppy water, my heart beats an unsteady rhythm: Won’t make it. Can’t make it. What if I don’t make it?

I am struggling to write it all down.

In one month I hope to swim from Alcatraz – that Alcatraz, the once-upon-a-time prison, the iconic Rock way out there in the middle of the Bay – to San Francisco. I will join 100 swimmers, some of them visually impaired, to raise funds and awareness for That Man May See, the support foundation for UCSF’s Department of Ophthalmology.

I am inspired, determined, excited. And terrified.

I’m not quite sure why.

I mean, for all the reasons one would think: it’s cold, there are sharks in the Bay (not great whites, I’m told, but little ones), the weather, the distance. These are all legitimate reasons to make my heart pump a little more erratically, to cause me to swallow hard a few times, to feel queasy and constricted even when I’m not wearing a wetsuit.

But that’s not it.

I talk about this swim with my family and friends. I truthfully say I am nervous and also excited, energized and really scared. I think about it all the time. I plan my days, my meals, my sleep around training sessions in the pool and in the Bay. But I am struggling to write it all down.

So. This is my attempt to name my fears, here on the page, in the hope that when I stand on the boat anchored at Alcatraz in 31 days and look across the water toward my favorite City by the Bay, I will know what I am swimming through to get there:

  1. It’s far. The freezing temperature (it’s not quite freezing and the impending El Niño promises water that is warmer-than-usual), the sharks, the dirty waters (my swimming partner came face to face with a dead bird last week)… these are not the things that have my swimsuit in a knot. I swim in a wetsuit, I haven’t heard of a shark attack during an Alacatraz swim (maybe I’m naïve), and I’ll take a shower afterwards. But when I look at that island standing stoically in the middle of the Bay, it seems very very far from anywhere. I know it’s a perceived distance. The actual distance is less than a mile and a half. But I am someone who tracks each mile, each step, each stroke. I watch the tiny airplane inch its way across the satellite map on flights, I check my Google Maps continuously whenever we drive somewhere, carefully noting how much further, how much longer till we reach our destination. On November 1, I will be in the map with no way of measuring how far I’ve come and how much longer till I get there. I will have to pace myself, track myself, trust myself.
  1. There are great big invisible forces in that Bay. Nature is strong, powerful, much larger than any life, and I will be floating somewhere between the unseen wind above and the hidden currents below. What if, what if, what if? I watch my hands slice through that murky green water, I hear myself count the strokes in my head, one two breathe, one two three four breathe. I realize it’s not only the wild elements that have power. There is force in those hands, that breath, that body too. And if I focus on my own strength and power, I will move forward.
  1. I’m a crappy swimmer. This is the one that stops me mid-stroke, the niggling thought that I’m not a good enough swimmer to take on this challenge. I’m not fit enough, strong enough, fast enough. It’s a version of the insecurity that often lurks just beyond my reach: I’m a shitty mom, an uncaring friend, an insensitive wife, a lazy volunteer. And if I let it come closer, close enough that I can touch it and feel its tentacles creep up my arms and around my neck and squeeze my heart, I will be paralyzed right there in the water. I’m not a terrible swimmer. I am an okay swimmer. I can kick my legs and move my arms in rhythmic strokes and keep myself afloat and breathe when I need to breathe.

These are my fears. To write through them is to name them and own them, and to know that this is what I will be swimming through to get from Alcatraz back to shore. So. I will trust myself, believe in my own power… and know that I can do it.

If you’d like to support my swim and That Man May See, please click here.

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, where writers and bloggers gather together to share their versions of a completed sentence. This week’s prompt was, “I can’t believe it took me so long to realize that…” Hosted by Kristi of Finding Ninee, and co-hosted by Ivy Walker from uncharted, and Roshni from Indian American Mom.