I’ve Never Gone Through a Breakup (And I Wish I Had)

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Photo by Nate Butler

I’ve never gone through a breakup with a boyfriend. I’ve had a few of them — five, to be exact. The sixth guy I dated ended up being my husband. But I’ve never had a breakup, not a real one, not one where you both decide that things are not working out, or where one of you walks out, not one that breaks your heart into tiny little pieces.

Sure, I have experienced sadness and heartache, but usually because we had to say good-bye, not because we broke up.

I met my first serious boyfriend at the beginning of my senior year of high school. He was a college student, a foreigner in my home city. At 17, all of that seemed so sophisticated — his independence, his money, his relaxed schedule, his distance from his parents. My parents weren’t happy, but I was delirious with the first taste of love and sex. Perhaps not such a great thing when you are supposed to be finishing high school and applying to colleges.

I see that now, but of course back then all I could think about was spending time with him. Someday I’ll have to apologize to my mom.

The rest of the story is on xoJane!

To red shirt or not — one mother’s decision process

One more year. I have one more year.

Until about six months ago we lived in Maine where the birthday cutoff is October 15. My son was born on December 31, so I was watching other parents around me agonize over the kindergarten decision with a smug look on my face. And then we moved to Connecticut. The cutoff date here is January 1 and my smugness was suddenly all gone.

Is he ready for this? Am I ready for this? We spent the summer talking and thinking about little else. My son was evaluated by the school, I talked to friends and relatives, everyone who was willing to listen and give advice. But of course in the end, the decision was up to us.

Is it just me, or is this decision much bigger than any others I’ve had to make as a parent? The earlier ones seemed to have sort of an expiration date, even if the stakes were high. Natural birth over drugs and C-section, breast or bottle, staying at home or going to work—these all really applied or had their biggest influence for a few years at the most. I never worried too much about these decisions, because I felt like the effects would all even out in the long run. Will a child live life at a great disadvantage because I had a shot of something to take the edge off the pain of childbirth or because he wasn’t breastfed? Probably not. But the same does not feel true for school. Lives do go astray because of the wrong kid, in the wrong school, with the wrong teacher, at the wrong time. You don’t breastfeed for 12 years, but you do go to school for at least that long and hopefully longer.

 

The full article is on The Washington Post

The Accidental Immigrant

My twentieth high school reunion was held at a restaurant right across the street from my former school in Budapest. I wasn’t sure why I wanted to be there so badly. I didn’t love high school—who does?—but what’s worse is that I barely remember it. I have no memories of, well, of anything really from that time, except for one boy I had a huge crush on for four years.

But this story is not about that.

I was repeating the tale of what I’ve been up to for the past twenty years for about the fifth time that evening—this time to a former teacher—when he asked me, “So, did you just decide one day to move to America?” At first I wasn’t sure why the question shocked me. But then I realized that it was because it assumed that there was a decision involved, a moment in time when I said “no” to staying in Hungary and “yes” to becoming an American.

But really there wasn’t. My trip to America wasn’t driven by war or famine, by financial difficulties, or political unrest. I didn’t have to come to America. And I certainly didn’t have to stay.

Read the rest at Full Grown People

Americaversary

I meant to do this yesterday, on my true Americaversary, but you know how it goes… We spent the past two days in NYC and by the time I had a moment to sit with my thoughts when we got home, I was too tired to put finger to keyboard.

But I feel like I should mark time with this post, even if it’s not going to be a very elaborate one. (For that, keep checking Full Grown People that will publish my essay on the topic soon.) So, 20 years ago yesterday, I arrived in America. Clearly, I didn’t know back then that I was here to stay. It’s weird to think back to that time, to starting college, to being by myself for the first time ever. But I made it through. I wasn’t alone in it at all — my family and lots of friends helped me get to where I am.

It’s a complicated thing to be an American and it’s even more complicated to love America — especially these past two weeks or so. But there is a reason people from all over the world still come here searching for success, happiness, opportunity. There is still magic here, even if as an immigrant you end up with a sort of boring, average life like mine. (Ok, maybe my life is not that boring or that average.)

Yesterday I took Sam to see the Statue of Liberty. He wanted to go and it was an awesome experience to share. I am not sure how much of it he understood — I feel like he was sort of storing information in his little brain for further exploration at a later, unexpected time. He was more excited about the gift shop than the plight of immigrants. He is a true American, isn’t he?

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So this happened….

I don’t care what anyone says: seeing your name in print never gets old. Sure, online publishing is awesome and quick and popular. But nothing beats the feeling of crinkly newspaper print between your fingers. Love it.

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My 4-year-old loves toy guns and I don’t know how to parent that

mcmullinThere was a standoff in our living room this morning. A group of knights attacked a group of pirates right there by the coffee table. There were several casualties, including horses that needed immediate attention while armed policemen waited nearby. There were reports of slain dragons, a princess who fainted, and a child was driving the rescue truck. A police helicopter was hovering over the scene.

It was mayhem.

This type of violence is not uncommon in our living room these days. My son is 4 and a half and he likes to play with soldiers and pirates and policemen. And swords. And guns.

I grew up in Europe where I knew exactly one person who owned a gun. I never actually saw said gun, just heard that one of our neighbors liked to hunt. The  police came to question us before issuing his weapons permit.

In fact, I never saw a gun until I met my father-in-law a few years ago. He lives on a farm in central Pennsylvania, and the cabinet next to his bed is filled with shotguns. He uses them to hunt and to shoot sick animals or unwelcome groundhogs. One time when we were visiting, he left his shotgun casually leaning against a car we wanted to drive. Seeing my husband pick up and move the gun made me queasy and uncomfortable. What if it goes off? Do guns do that, just by accident?

Read the rest on The Washington Post site!

NY, NY

It is such a cliche to love New York, no? Is there anyone out there who does not find it magical, inspirational, annoying, and irresistible? I mean, sure, there might be some people who hate the place, but I haven’t met that person yet.

For the first time in my life, I live close enough to “The City” that it’s not really a big deal to pop in and out for a day. It is awesome. I love it that on the roads I travel most around my neighborhood there are signs pointing to New York City. It is always tempting to make that turn and just head there for no reason.

I was sort of joking when I suggested to a friend that we should go bra shopping in New York because… well, because why the hell not? Thankfully, she took me seriously and on Friday we took off and spent the day shopping, walking, talking, eating.

It was glorious.

In no particular order:

1. Number of bra and panty sets purchased: 3
2. Last time I owned matching bras and panties: Never.
3. Earrings: 1 pair
4. Fancy hair thingy to get away from boring ponytails: 1
5. Size of steak we shared at Wolfgang’s: Who knows? It was ginormous.
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6. Manhattanhenge! 

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7. And on the other side of the street: crazy Moon!

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8. Cigarettes smoked: 2
9. Last time I smoked a cigarette: 15 years-ish, at least.
10. Blisters on feet after walking all day: 2
11. Frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity: YUM. Must be some kind of witchcraft.

And finally: finding a new friend in a new city and traveling so well together: totally and completely priceless. Calendar marked for our next trip!