Inside every 24 hours there is a fall, winter, spring and summer. (Sometimes inside every 60 minutes, sometimes in every 60 seconds.)

If when winter comes you don’t contract and recede, you are lost.

If you contract during your winter moments and look only as far in front of you as, for example, a wind in a blizzard would allow, you may get a tolerable experience out of those moments. In winter, you need your winter eyes.

If you have a lot of time on your hands, you may find this way of perceiving time helpful. If you have that much time, you can also do what I’m going to do now, which is to make a list of the things I do that my mother also does. Most everything on this list chills and worries me, for my future especially, especially if I try to fight it in a winter moment. It’s possible that by now I’ve fought every last similarity between us, and what’s left – the following – cannot be changed or rewritten:

1) I make mountains out of moments and then complain in writing about my climb and descent.

2) I make toast with butter, eat a few bites standing up at the kitchen counter, and then leave the room.

3) I take vacations alone.

3.5) I’ve been known to take vacations using money which I didn’t “earn.” (i.e., father’s, grandfather’s, inheritance, etc.)

4) I don’t mind vacationing alone if the weather is good.

4.5) When traveling I would rather spend money on a hotel room than sleep in the home of a friend or acquaintance.

4.75) I like first class service and accommodation and want an oceanfront room, but I generally feel guilty, am confused about tipping, and am no good at pretending I’m comfortable in or entitled to this luxury. (My mother and I have never discussed this. We don’t talk much these days, actually. I assume she’s the same way, though how she handles it in her behavior and mindset I’m not sure.)

5) I can eat oatmeal for dinner. Actually, my father does that, which is because my mother doesn’t cook much.

6) I don’t cook, or at least nothing special, except when I secure a guest for dinner, and then I have 3-5 meals I can cook and they seem generally well-received.

6.5) Cooking, as a form of self-nurturing and fundamental contact with Self and Earth is one of the first things to go when my mood goes; a lot of take-out happens in my apartment. ( For mother who lives in suburbia there are a lot of Prepared Foods from gourmet markets, as well as meal replacement or snack bars high in sugar and some kind of fiber. Also, I believe the cleaning lady cooks lovely meals and brings them over in Tupperware.)

7) I obsess over famous actors, including, as my mother does or did once, Patrick Stewart.

8) I once walked out on a date in a movie theater. I told him I was getting a snack, took my coat. My mother left a date in a movie theater once, and likes to regret it. She likes to wonder if the Elia Kazan she walked out on was the one who became the director. My guess is she remembers his name wrong and/or the spelling. In fact, he would have been about 50 when my mother was in high school, but generally it’s not inconceivable that my mother dated a budding Hollywood figure. My mother’s first cousin, Marty from Brooklyn, once took Rhea Pearlman on a date, possibly to the prom.
8.5) When I receive a postcard for a discount Broadway ticket, I know instantly if it’s a show my mother will take the train up to New York for. I know based on the film actors in the cast; at least one of the actors has to be a seductive, charismatic, sensitive man. It’s often a play I’ll want to see.

8.75) It’s painful to me to know in a flash what my mother will think and want. Like my mother, I have a brain that can tilt perilously towards someone else’s urges.

8.85) My mother’s urges and thought processes have never been particularly helpful to me. (You can ask my mother about her mother. I have no idea what she would say now that her mother has been gone almost a decade.)

9) I obsess over famous actors, but have in fact had a quasi-affair with one of them, have been on stage with another one, and have made strong eye contact with a number of them, including F. Murray Abraham. I passed F. Murray Abraham on the midtown block where he was doing a Broadway show a few years ago. We passed each other because my mother had come to see his show, and I was on my way to meet my mother and her cousin, Marty’s sister Millie, at the stage door, where, it turned out, F. Murray had just spoken to my mother. Millie had introduced them – Millie knows F. through her job as a personal assistant – and, Millie tells me, F. called my mother “Baltimore,” as in, Nice to meet you, Baltimore. My mother froze up. Millie loves to tell me that my mother froze. My mother tried to rewrite the event in conversation with me, to play it that she “just didn’t feel comfortable.” It’s never easy to feel comfortable. However, when I passed F. Murray on the way to meet my mother and Millie, F. looked first at my half-bare navel (it was a matinée in spring) and then into my eyes. 

10) I’m drawn to fake furry things, like jackets. My mother and I both, it turns out, have an off-white fake-fur hoodie. I also like gold lamé things and things with sequins, we both do.

11) I am desperate to express myself and be someone.

11.5) I am tortured.

11.75) I’m drawn to light-to-medium prescription anti-anxiety medication.

11.85) I’m self-involved and generally when faced with a new experience or a complicated request my thoughts first turn to how it will affect my own comfort level and what’s in it for me.

12) My mother and I are about the same weight and height, and because we both accumulate fat and water in the same place on our frame, I’m terrified that I’ll end up a tiny-framed 60-year-old with 3 pounds of cottage cheesy fat over my abdomen. That’s why I go to a personal trainer. (Though I know that worry and anxiety have a lot to do with producing that kind of fat. Also, I stand taller, after 6 years of Pilates.)

13) I’m introverted, either by nature or what you could call “nurture,” but have spent years if not un-earthing my natural state than at least manufacturing an alternate state so I can behave in public as social people do.

13.5) The last time I stole some of her light-to-medium sedatives – recently – I portioned out the small stash so it lasted about a week in New York. I found the pills to be addictive, socially disruptive, and life-sapping; with those pills on my mind and in my system, time and darkness closed around me for days, on and off, until I realized it was the pills and took the last to get rid of them.

14) I like cats. But I don’t let mine get fat and sick and arthritic. And I don’t leave opened cans of wet food out on the kitchen counter, or bowls of dried food on the floor until it gets stale and then throw it away. Nor do I leave the canister of sugar open on the counter. Or a sliced lemon, tender flesh tipped up to the air.

15) I like sugar. I like cookies. (I like cake, would eat spoonfuls of icing.)

16) I like old Sesame Street albums where Bert and Ernie sing.

17) I like feeling protected.

18) I tend to say things out loud that are hyper-personal, hyper-critical, or knee-jerk negative.

18.5) I say fuck a lot.

19) I like to be home alone.

19.5) I like thinking that I’m unique and impossible to pin down.

19.75) I think of myself as fundamentally unlovable or at least unreachable. (I think of love and intimacy as rare miracles, but I never stop searching for them. I think you have to live in love or it will always elude you.)

20) I like to take very long walks alone. Walk and walk and walk. I’d rather move than sit still.

21) You can see my moods revolving inside me moment-to-moment by looking at my eyes.

22) But I don’t think I’ll ever dye my hair or cut it short. I don’t think I’ll ever take a miniature armoire (as you’d find inside a dollhouse) full of pills on a daily basis. I doubt I’ll ever have my mother’s dental problems, nor do I expect to go through as many surgical procedures as she’s undergone. (Tumor – possibly benign – removal; nerve interception to block chronic pain; uterus removal; bypass, double, more?) I think I’d make it through one, maybe two, procedures, after age 60 but hopefully not until age 70, and then hope to just let it all go naturally the way it needs to go.

22.5) I like to feel protected, but I don’t want that protection to come in the form of pills, surgical invasiveness, or avuncular medical instruction.

23) We both look 5-10 years younger than we are.

24) We both have a thing with Bambi’s mother dying – we both cry. (There’s a Disneyworld story here, but I won’t share it right now.)

25) I’m prone to raging jealousy (of women, but also of men.)

26) I’m happy to eat pancakes for dinner or pizza for breakfast.

27) I like Star Trek – but that’s my father again. He liked the original, I like Next Generation.

28) I consider arguing to be a legitimate and productive form of intimacy.

29) I’m insecure about receiving positive attention.

30) I like Spanish guitar music. But who doesn’t?

31) I fantasize a lot. I like to think that I’m highly sexual, and yet I’m not often sexually active on a consistent basis. (I honestly don’t know about my mother’s sex life, but it just can’t be that great.)

32) I sigh a lot.

33) I’m alone a lot.

34) I have a huge smile when it’s natural.

35) I have a temper.

36) I like to be right all the time and want to get my way.

37) I like bright pink and bright blue. I like glazed shiny ceramic things.

38) I am thrown easily by good-looking macho men who have even a thin veneer of confidence and use predictable tactics of seduction and flattery.

39) People think of me as “independent.”

40) I like Schubert Impromptus; the Edith Piaf movie with Cotillard; Simon and Garfunkel.

41) I resent men and crave their protection and sexual energy and attention; I want Superman.

42) I have plenty of free time with which I can do mostly what I want, with little consequence either way.

43) I have a strained relationship with my mother.

44) I don’t have a fake smile or a fake sunshine voice. (I do, actually, but I can’t always trigger the fake sweetness when I want it. I can’t remember her ever producing one.)

45) Many of my thoughts are fear-based and bounce around like gnats in the air thus affecting my line of logic.

46) I’m afraid I’m saying or am about to say the wrong thing.

47) I study people – in person, on stage, on screen– to see how they act and what moves them, mostly to determine if I’m normal and if other people are more alive and happier than I am.

48) I’m impatient and selfish. (My father told me that when I was a little girl.)

49) I like being told what to do. I also don’t like it.

50) I have squandered years, decades, failing to love myself.

51) I’m a romantic.

52) I’m in conflict more often than at peace.

53) It takes small easy things to make me feel at peace.

54) I picture myself alone on the Moon; I assume everything is better someplace else or in someone else’s life. A quiet, far away, glowing silver-blue place.

55) I don’t orient easily or completely to my surroundings or myself.

56) I enumerate my own qualities, positive and negative, aloud and in writing, because I’m afraid I’ll lose track of myself if I don’t.