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Interview with Elaine Schreibman

I don’t know about you, but all this social distancing and isolation has inspired lots of personal life evaluation. Thinking about what’s important, what I’ve accomplished in the past, and what’s to come in the future. Please join me for a conversation with a dear friend of mine Elaine Schreibman. We met when I went back to school for a degree in Secondary English Education (I was her student teacher) and we have never looked back. Elaine has had a full life, full of tremendous ups and downs. Although we talked way back in December (doesn’t that feel like years ago?), our conversation feels right for the current time. We get pretty philosophical as we look back on our lives and ask how to find meaning. We tackle disappointments, often in our own choices, and discuss family and health challenges. And we always come back to learning from our experiences and moving forward—with friends by our side, of course! Elaine is a wonderful photographer and her own photographs grace the interview. Please see her website for more information. And now, my friends, here’s my interview with Elaine.

 

Diane:  Okay, let’s talk about this interview, Elaine. Do you know why am I interviewing you, my dear friend?

Elaine:  I have no idea.

Diane:  Your life has been like nine lives, right?

Elaine:  Sometimes I think so.

Diane:  Right, and you are always bouncing back and have such a positive attitude.

Elaine:  I don’t always have the most positive attitude in the way you think. The reason I have a positive attitude is because I really don’t like being unhappy.

Diane:  Okay, well that works. The intention may be different, but the outcome is the same. Right?

Elaine:  Right. I don’t like being unhappy, so I pretend I’m happy, to make me happy.

Diane:  Can you convince yourself that you’re happy? Is this like a fake it ‘til you make it kind of thing?

Elaine:  Maybe. I don’t like feeling some of the feelings that really bring you down. Then I say, okay, I have to find something positive and move on to the next thing to feel good.

Diane:  Got it. You’re chasing pleasure and avoiding pain?

 

“Everybody’s Got Something. What’s the Point in Wallowing in It?”

 

Elaine:  I’m definitely avoiding unhappiness. I’m not chasing happiness but trying to put it there.   

Diane:  This is very interesting. We’ve never talked about this. “Avoid” is like a dirty word, you know what I’m saying?

Elaine:  Yeah. I’m not running away from it.

Diane:  It’s not denial.

Elaine:  No. I’m definitely honest with this shit. Excuse my language.

Diane:  I know you are. So this is a real strategy?

Elaine:  Yes, it’s a strategy. I just don’t like being unhappy. I don’t like being with people who are unhappy, though you know I love being with people who have issues. It’s just … It’s boring. Listen, everybody’s got something, what’s the point in wallowing in it because it’s just going to waste time in your life.

Diane:  That’s right. You’re from the school that says “life’s too short.”

Elaine:  Yeah, and it is too short, by the way.

Diane:  It is.

Elaine:  Don’t get me started.

Diane:  I wouldn’t want to make you unhappy.

Elaine:  I’m 68 already, I can’t believe it.

 

What Have I Done in the Last 68 Years?

 

Diane:  Wow. How are birthdays for you?

Elaine:  They’re meaningless. I have no way of connecting the numbers to myself.

Diane:  Okay. When you hear 68…

Elaine:  It’s only when I say, “Jeez, she’s 85.” I think I could probably have another 22 years and then I’m thinking, what am I going to do in the next 22 years? What have I done in the last 68 years?

What the hell is… Don’t get me started, Diane. Has my life really been worth anything? I’m going to be here today and gone tomorrow, what mark did I leave? I didn’t leave any mark. I have these three kids. My oldest barely talks to me. My son is too far away, and my youngest, not so young, still finding herself. Soon my husband won’t even remember that he married me. You know what I mean? I don’t know.

It’s weird in that respect. I don’t go there. I’m going there right now because we’re laughing and talking about it, but I really don’t go there because other than this damn leg thing, I feel very energized. Much more so than people half my age.

Diane:  You are. You are like Energizer bunny.

Elaine:  Yeah.

 

“I Really Should Go into Psychoanalysis”

 

Diane:  What about this leaving a mark stuff? Can your life have meaning just by living an honest, decent life where you do your best and you have relationships with people?

Elaine:  I think that’s enough. That’s all I’ve ever thought was important. Then, every now and then, something will trigger, and I’ll say, “God, all of this will just be gone and what will it have meant?”

Diane:  What does it mean?

Elaine:  I don’t know. It means it’s not comfortable to think about … I really should go into psychoanalysis.

Diane:  It’s funny, one of the last women I interviewed, Nicky Mendenhall, talked all about her psychoanalysis.

When you look at other people’s lives, you are not judgmental at all.

Elaine:  My daughter, Mayan thinks I am, but she really knows I’m not.

Diane:  Kids have to. If they thought we weren’t judgmental, they’d have to listen to our advice.

When you see another person, who didn’t do anything on a grand scale, who won’t be remembered by the masses but who touched their friends’ lives, their family’s lives. Maybe a teacher who touched some students’ lives or in whatever job, touched people. Do you feel that’s a good life, that’s meaningful?

 

“I Question the Mark I Will Be Leaving Behind” 

 

Elaine:  Well, here’s the thing. (I’m going to need therapy after this.) There are days that I look at other people and I say, wow. They were with all their kids. They were all together in the house in Florida and the kids came down and they have a grandchild and … It all looks so wonderful. Or, I look at friends who are out there doing great things in the world, making a real difference in people’s lives—not just their family, but society. Big things. Feeding people in Ethiopia, fighting against trafficking of women and children. These are some of the things my friends are doing.  And they are passionate and non-stop.  And, I feel simple. Just living my life, trying to get through. Mundane worries. When I look at what others are doing, I question the mark I will be leaving behind.

I look at my life these days and say, “God, this is too quiet here. How did this get so quiet?” I’m not a quiet person. I want the noise, lots happening.

I’m at that passage now where many of my friends are having grandchildren, their kids are married. Certainly, mine are not, God knows if they ever will. I could go on forever. What could I have done differently to create … the societal norms. I don’t have kids getting married. I don’t have kids having babies.

 

This is Not How I Envisioned It Would Be

 

Diane:  You also don’t have kids getting divorced.

Elaine:  That’s true. I don’t have kids getting divorced.

Diane:  It’s so interesting because I think for a lot of us this is an important issue, and we never talked about this on the blog. I’m glad we’re talking about it now. Our families, I bet even a lot of people’s families who would make a beautiful picture postcard, also look and say, “this is not how I envisioned it was going to be.” There are things under the surface that they wish had been different. For some of us, it’s out there in the open for the world to see.

You mentioned your leg before. Can you just mention what your surgery was?

Elaine:  It was a spine surgery, laminectomy and synovial cyst removal. My L4, L5, L3 L4 had to be opened up, a cyst had to be removed, two herniated discs had to be cleaned up, blah, blah, blah. For six weeks I wasn’t allowed to bend, twist or lift. Try to sit still without bending, without twisting, doing nothing. Yes, I could read, yes, I could watch TV, yes, I could write. I did write a little, but it became depressing.

I’ve been in touch with a lot of old friends.

Diane:  Isn’t that wonderful?

Elaine:  Yes. Look at you and me, I haven’t spoken to you this many times in a long time, and I had a friend who I hadn’t spoken to in I think 12, 13 years. A cousin I grew up with called me on Saturday. He’s never called me before and he’s a cousin I had mad crush on when we were teenagers!

There’s that, but still, I look at my life and ask, “What do I accomplish?”

 

“I Hold Myself a Good Deal Responsible for Not … Being More Mature, to Get a Hold on What Was Falling Apart in My Little World”

 

Diane:  What is this “accomplishment” thing? I think it’s part of ingrained American culture stuff. I’m not knocking accomplishment, but why does it have to be something that you can touch, that you can show … Do you know what I’m saying?

Elaine:  Yeah.

Diane:  Isn’t us talking like this an accomplishment? I don’t know, is it?

Elaine:  Well, it’s important for me. That’s what makes me happy.

It’s the whole cycle. I have my husband who, forget about it, has been battling depression, apparently for years, and now early onset Alzheimer’s.

I have a daughter who will not talk to me. How did that happen? I know how it happened for her, and I almost understand it. But that enters into the accomplishment bit. Didn’t I grow up in the era when keeping a good, solid, loving and “successful” family together, was the woman’s role? Kids who did the good school thing, the best college thing, and then the Main Street job thing? The house, the cars, the education.

You and I know, the house, the cars, and even the education got shortchanged in the muck of the money disasters. And I hold myself a good deal responsible for not knowing better. For not being the person who would have seen through the materialism of the 80s and 90s to stop. For not being more mature, to get a hold on what was falling apart in my little world.

 

“The Other Choice Would Be So Sad”

 

I think that’s where the feeling of “failure” or not accomplishing anything worthwhile comes in. I feel like that was my failing all around. I was stuck in the chaos of my own family mess. And, in spite of being full of the most intense love anyone could have for their children, it was a mess. And, there are scars. And I never got past trying to make that better, much less feeding those starving in Ethiopia. Do you know what I mean?

Anybody that remembers me when it’s all over will say “she was very loving, and she was a very…” People give me this bullshit line. “She was strong. She was so strong.”

Diane:  I wish people could hear your voice right now.

Elaine:  You’re strong because what’s the choice?

Diane:  There is a choice. You just don’t know there’s a choice because strength is what you choose, and it’s wonderful.

Elaine:  The other choice would be so sad.

Diane:  Yes, but many people make the other choice. They really do.

Elaine:  I do get up in the morning.

Diane:  I have to share the story of how we met. Me, crazy me, decide I want to be a teacher at, I don’t know, in my 40s. I went back to school and we’re all in this auditorium talking about student teaching. Everyone’s raising their hand and asking, “How do I make sure I don’t get into a high-needs district? How do I make sure I don’t get into a high-needs district?” Then I raised my hand and I ask, “How do I make sure that I do get into a high needs district?”

 

I Remember We Clicked the Second We Met

 

Elaine:  You’ve never told me that.

Diane:  I didn’t? That’s when they said, “Honey, don’t worry, if you want a high-needs district, you won’t have a problem.”

I remember reaching out to you because they told us to reach out to our cooperating teachers, and I said, “Can we meet, can we talk?” You said, “I’ll meet you when you come to school.” And I said, “Can we talk about what we’re going to do?” You said, “It’s not a problem, we’ll figure it out.”

Elaine:  You must have said, “What a bitch!”

Diane:  I didn’t say, “What a bitch.” Maybe I did. I don’t remember saying that, but I might’ve, now that I think of it.

I remember we clicked the second we met. At least you clicked for me, I don’t know if I clicked for you.

Elaine:  My God, Diane. We had grabbed lunch. It was about 11:00 o’clock, so I knew you for maybe three hours. We were walking back from the cafeteria. I have a vivid memory of that area where there were all windows. You might not remember, but it’s in between the cafeteria and the main hallway. That was the second I fell in love with you.

That was when you told me you were a widow and something else. I remember that moment, and that was it.

 

“I’m Not Good at Being Fake”

 

Diane:  That was it. Then you would introduce me to everybody, and you’d say, “Hi, I want you to meet my student teacher, Diane. She’s lovely.” Then you’d add, “Not that I want a student teacher. You think I want a student teacher? That’s the last thing I want, but she’s lovely.”

Elaine:  What an idiot.

Diane:  No, it was so funny. I loved it. That’s one thing about you, you are honest to the bone.

Elaine:  I’m too much?

Diane:  No! Have you ever not been honest? You’re incredibly honest. I bet it gets you into trouble sometimes.

Elaine:  Yeah, maybe. I’m not good at being fake.

Diane:  I think that’s so important. It probably helps you manage because you don’t lie to yourself either.

Elaine:  Isn’t that the truth? I really don’t, and that sometimes for me is not good.

Diane:  Maybe not in the moment, but it’s never a bad thing. It lets you see what’s on your plate. Sometimes we look at things and our perspective is a little off. Maybe there’s a different way to see things, but you really know how to reframe things. Things can feel so heavy, and then you’re like, “Well, whatever. This is what I have to deal with, so now let’s figure it out.” You know?

 

“I Like to Move On, So I Can Keep Going”

 

Elaine:  Yeah.

Diane:  Not even fix it. You’re not about fixing it, you’re like, “Okay, what do I do now? To move on or take the next step.

Elaine:  True. I like to move on, so I can keep going. You can’t keep going if you’re stuck in something.

Diane:  That’s right. Do you realize what a wonderful quality that is?

Elaine:  And so? God, this easy life I’ve had. (sarcasm!)

Diane:  Do you mind sharing some of the stuff in your life?

Elaine:  Where do you want me to start?

Diane:  From the womb, I don’t know.

Elaine:  The womb . . . I actually had a wonderful childhood. I spent my summers in Mastic Beach, LI. Oh my God, with all my Italian cousins every summer, all summer, on my great grandmother’s the farm. Oh my God, that was the best.

Diane:  Your mother was Italian?

 

“Christmas Lasagna and Turkey at Aunt Margie’s … Friday Night Lighting Shabbos Candles”

 

Elaine:  Yes, Roman Catholic.  She converted to Judaism when she married my father.  Mine was a very middle-class Jewish upbringing.  My parents were very social and very involved in the synagogue life. But, because my mother was a Catholic Italian, we had the other side of everything. It wasn’t a religious thing. It was the Italian culture that was so extraordinary. It was amazing. We’re talking Corona, Queens, when Corona was Italian. We’re talking the names:  Uncle Rocky, Uncle Vinny, . . . My mother’s name was Filomena for God’s sake. Sunday meatballs and spaghetti at Aunt Helen’s. Christmas lasagna and turkey at Aunt Margie’s. Yet, Friday night lighting Shabbos candles eating chicken and matzoh ball soup in our house. It was crazy, but it was wonderful.

Then the summers. Twelve beds back to back in an attic. That’s how we slept for an entire summer. Then of course there’s everything else. The great grandmother died.  My great grandmother never spoke a word of English. She wore black her whole life with those big black shoes … God, such an image. The heel of the shoe pushed down like a mule. She pushed the back down because her heel hurt.  (No sneakers for women in those days!)

Diane:  She wore black because she was a widow?

Elaine:  She was a widow, but she wore black, for whoever died, her whole life. She wore black for everybody, and there were so many funny stories about that.

I had a great childhood. Then I had a boyfriend. We got married. That didn’t work out. That was quick. That was silly. I shouldn’t have married him. He was a nice guy, but he wasn’t for me. It was two years, boom.

 

“My Father Used to Bring Me Cases of Tuna Fish, So I’d Eat”

 

Then I went into the city and had a ball. I was a swinging single, I thought so anyway. I was hot and had this great studio apartment. I was fabulous on 64th street with no money.

My father used to bring me cases of tuna fish, so I’d eat. Then I met Dore. At first, I didn’t really want to go out with him because he was too “unsophisticated.”  He’d just come from Israel. He had a beard and wore overalls. It was awful. I don’t know how it evolved. I know I got sick and I was afraid of losing my job as Admin Asst in the research department.  (Btw, it was life before the internet.)  So, he offered to bring my work to me.  And that is how we became friends.  At this time, he was still a driver for the president of the company, so I was not at all interested in him.  Not at all! At that time, I thought I was going to find some rich Wall Street guy and sail off into the affluent sunset.  Funny, that in the end, I had a few moments of the picture with Dore.

Somehow, we got together. Friends said, “Oh my God, you’re so happy when you’re with this guy.” I kept calling him the “farmer.” Then we got together, and we had a ball. And, he soon became a currency trader.  We were living large, Wall Street money, living, living, living, ridiculous living. Bergdorf knew me by my first name.

We married, and all was wonderful. Busy, social, tons of friends, travel, incredible picture.

 

You Wanted a Baby? You Had to Be Home to Answer the Phone”

 

We started trying to have a baby. We couldn’t get pregnant. We were doing in-vitro before insurance paid for it and before they were doing it in New York. I had to go to Virginia. I used to stay in Virginia for a month at a time. I think I did in-vitro something like 11 times.

Diane:  Wow.

Elaine:  It was terrible. That’s one of the places where all the money went. I would have to stay in a hotel and rent a car and then Dore would fly in for the couple of days that we needed his sperm. I flew my mother in to keep me company, I flew my sister in to keep me company.

Anyway, it didn’t work. Then we decided to adopt, and actually it was wonderful. Not at first because it was a very, very difficult process back then. You had to install a separate phone line, put advertisements in newspapers throughout the country. And then, stay home to receive any calls you might get, because nobody had cell phones then.

You wanted a baby? You had to be home to answer the phone, so I was home. No sooner do we set this all up, Dore got transferred to the foreign exchange desk in London, England. I toyed with putting the process on hold, but Dore discouraged that.  He was right because we didn’t know how long we would be there.  He went on ahead.  I stayed home to take the calls and within 2 weeks I had connected with Marnina’s and Jake’s birth parents.

Diane:  Why did you decide on two at the same time?

Elaine:  The lawyers suggested we do that, “If you can afford it.” Because you never know.

Diane:  The parents could back out?

 

I Adopted Two Kids Because I Wanted to Make Sure They’d Never Be Alone”

 

Elaine:  Of course, anything can happen. In the end, we adopted two babies within 3 months of one another. Marnina was born in March. Then we continued to work with Jake’s biological parents. When I say work with them, I mean talk to them every day on the phone. You couldn’t pay them any money, but you paid the doctors in the hospital and bought their vitamins and groceries.

Marnina’s biological birth mom wanted to move out of her state because she didn’t want her family to know.  We moved her into Arkansas. She was in Texas. We flew the father back and forth every weekend so he could stay at his job during the week.

After Marnina was born, we went back to London, and it was heaven. Then three months later, I came back to the states for Jake. I left Marnina at my mother’s with, of course, a baby nurse because, of course, my mother needed a baby nurse.

Diane:  Your mother needed the baby nurse.

Elaine:  You knew my mother.

Diane:  I did.

Elaine:  I went to Texas and adopted Jake. It was just so wonderful. I adopted two kids because I wanted to make sure they’d never be alone. Dore was an only child and he felt the same way.

I thought they’d be the best of friends, and now they don’t talk. Why did that happen? I hate it, but it’s out of my control. It was out of everybody’s control. I so wanted the picture of a happily ever after family.

 

I Don’t Really Know When It Started to Turn”

 

Diane:  Yeah. I don’t think “Why?” is a particularly useful question when we think about the past. You can ask it a few times and maybe revisit it a few years later, but then you really have to just put it to bed.

Elaine:  This one you have to put to bed because this one is so sad. I kept them together in nursery school because she was so shy, and he was so outgoing. They needed each other. By the time they were in sixth grade or seventh grade, wow, did that blow up.

Diane:  It happens a lot. Siblings relationships can be tough.

Elaine:  I guess so.

Diane:  Where were you living?

Elaine:  We came back from England when they were almost three. We came back to Manhattan because we had our apartment in Manhattan, but we didn’t stay here long. We bought the big house in Greenwich, and we lived a very big life for a little bit of time. I don’t really know when it started to turn. We were having a ball. We were very social. The kids had lots of friends. We had this gorgeous lake in our backyard. Did you ever see the big house?

Diane:  I didn’t, but I remember, I know somebody who lived on the same lake.

 

“I Had the Swans, Are You Kidding Me?”

 

Elaine:  Hers was a pond, girl.

Diane:  Hers was the pond.

Elaine:  Ours was a lake.

Diane:  You had the lake.

Elaine:  I had the rowboats, the kayaks-

Diane:  Really?

Elaine:  I had the swans, are you kidding me? We had a real lake with our own little private Island out in the middle of it that we would to row to. The kids would get off and go around. My God. It was wonderful. It was idyllic. Marnina was a nature freak. She loved it. Jake was so physically active that it was wonderful for him.  And, Maayan loved just running after them. There were sleepovers and play dates. I wasn’t working, whatever. It’s probably a bunch of bullshit, but it was…

Diane:  It was like a fantasy.

Elaine:  Yes. It was. We had beautiful birthday parties, my God. I would invite every kid and every parent. We’d have over a hundred people. I’d decorate the whole house. I would literally change the entire house. I had the Little Mermaid party. Every window had blue cellophane and fish hanging from it.

My God, I can’t even … That was the life. Then one day Dore told me he was no longer working at AIG, but at the time I didn’t really know what that meant. That’s when I decided, maybe I’ll go get a part time job at the GAP on the Avenue.  (Greenwich Avenue)

Diane:  Really? So you were there that long ago?

Elaine:  I’m at the GAP almost 23 years.

Diane:  Wow. What about photography? When did you start that?

Elaine:  In Greenwich, but not for money. Not right away. I was taking pictures of all the neighbors’ kids.

 

Cognitively Impaired. A Fancy Term for Alzheimer’s”

 

Diane:  Then things changed financially, dramatically.

Elaine:  Dramatically. I came up with a brilliantly stupid idea. I was not willing to give up the house. I just couldn’t do it. It was my whole life’s picture. The kids were going to grow up there, come back with the grandchildren. The lake. Don’t even ask.

Then, I said, “All right, we’re going to rent a house in Stamford so the kids can stay in the same school. We’ll rent out the big house.” That way we could recoup and give Dore a year to get his feet back on the ground. No go. He was a mess. I didn’t know what he was doing. I thought he was trying to restart his career.  Years later, he told me he had been driving the car to the beach to sit and cry, if not sleep.

Diane:  Do you think he had a breakdown?

Elaine:  Yeah, and depression. Don’t think that doesn’t relate to cognitive impairment. Depression can exacerbate and even trigger cognitive impairment.

Diane:  Tell us a little bit about what’s going on with him now. What’s his diagnosis?

Elaine:  Cognitively impaired. A fancy term for Alzheimer’s. He’s in the moderate stage now. If you give him a Starbucks card, he’ll look at the card, won’t understand why he has it, put it away and use his credit card. Trust me, it’s terrible. It’s just terrible, terrible, terrible.

Diane:  How do you manage? How do you get through that?

Elaine:  I’m not getting through it well. Everybody says, “God gives you what you can handle.” Stop giving me so much to handle already!

 

That Was What I Call My Coma Years”

 

Diane:  I know.

Elaine:  I had a good run for about 12, 15 years. But after that, I mean the teenage years with the kids? I couldn’t see straight. Then, it got even worse, foreclosures that came upon me because I had no idea we were not paying.

That was what I call my coma years. We had to sell Greenwich, taking bridge loans to stay there while we were trying to sell. I loved that house more than I should have loved anything that “couldn’t love me back.”

Then, New Rochelle. Thinking all was ok, only to open the door on as Saturday morning to be served with foreclosure papers. It was also the year I was battling breast cancer and had taken a full-time teaching job in Freeport. It was such a hard time. (The kids were in 7th and 4th grades.)  Luckily, we sold right underneath the foreclosure.

That’s how we bought the house on Long Island. Foreclosure, kids out of control, we move to Long Island.

Do you remember the stories? Jake was in South Oaks. He was in LIJ for two and a half weeks in the lockdown facility.

He was a mess. Seemed my breast cancer, the chaos of moving, did him in. Jake suffered the most.

It just went on and on for several years. Then he went into the Israeli Army.

Jake is actually doing very well now. That choice changed his life for the better and we are extremely close. Marnina has never forgiven me for the chaos he caused and all the attention he received. I get a knot in my stomach, because none of that can be changed. Not sure any of that could have been done differently. It was what was happening, and it was hell.

 

It’s a Really Hard One, This “For Better or For Worse, in Sickness and in Health.”

 

Diane:  You’re an example of moving on when life throws you whatever it throws you—I can’t even call them lemons, honey. You don’t wallow in that pity place but do what you can do to make things better. Do you see that in your children? That was a gift that you gave them.

Elaine:  Well, perhaps. Marnina remains very angry at me, but she is very successful in her life. Very focused, hard-working, responsible.

Diane:  She has her own life now.

Elaine:  Yes. And Jake admires that I stayed with Dore. He also thanks me over and over again for “saving his life.”

Diane:  It’s a really, really hard one, this “for better or for worse, sickness and in health.”

Elaine:  When Dore told me we had to leave the big house, I called my mother on a pay phone in Westchester.

“Are you crazy?” she asked. “Take those kids by the hand and you run. You get the hell out.” And I’m thinking, to this day, “Ma, you knew it, but I’m an idiot. I couldn’t. I had this thing for better or for worse. Oh my God.”

You don’t run away. You keep going. Jake always tells me how much he admires that I didn’t run away. He doesn’t know that I thought about it. I’ve never told him that.

Maybe you’re right with Maayan?

Diane:  She’s another one who picks herself up.

Elaine:  All the time because she keeps-

Diane:  She also knocks herself down. But, hey, no one will ever say she didn’t live a life.

Elaine:  My God, yes. It’s so different than me, but she does pick herself up. I don’t like to rock the boat so much.

My pet line to her is that she “so lives outside of MY comfort zone!”

 

“I Got Back to Where I Want to Be for the Last Chapter—Manhattan”

 

Diane:   Bring us up to speed. You’re in Manhattan now. You’re in your dream place.

Elaine:  It’s a stretch. I have to work very hard for us to stay here and I’m worried about tomorrow, not tomorrow, but five years from now because I have a lot on my plate. My husband’s going to need a lot of care. We’re not insured for anything like that, but I try not to go there too often.

Diane:  You know what? No one knows what tomorrow will bring.

Elaine:  I got back to where I want to be for the last chapter–Manhattan. And this is it. This is my last hurrah. I’m not moving again. I had to get here, and I did. I will do whatever it takes to stay here. That’s it.

Diane:  I believe you will. If anyone can do it, it’s you. You may have taken a few detours, but you got there. You got there and I’m so happy for you.

Elaine:  You know what? I could cry now having you as a friend… I do have wonderful, really good friends. I know that’s what got me through my life.

Diane:  Friends make all the difference.

Elaine:  I don’t know how all this happened and how it evolved. When I really want to be sensible, I say what I went through really did make me who I am, and it surely made me a better person than the airhead I was.

Diane:  And it’s going to make a beautiful book, my dear.

Elaine:  I’m not sure I can do it. Every time I write a few pages, it starts to get too heavy.

Diane:  Then it’ll take you the next 10 years. You’ll do it a page at a time.

A page at a time. A day at a time. Thank you for this trip down memory lane, for your honesty, your friendship, and for lots of laughs! Whatever goes on outside, we can always laugh. Love you!

 

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please post a comment or send me an email.

See you in two weeks!

XOXO

Diane

 

10 Comments

  1. Greta Holt on May 26, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    Stunning.

    Elaine has an honesty and vitality that few can match. Tell her to move out here to the Midwest-Upper South, where ‘the livin’ is easy’. No, don’t freak her out. My Long Island relatives were more than amazed, perhaps appalled, when my LI dad found his Indiana sweetheart and married her.

    I am truly humbled by Elaine’s resilience. Thank you.

    • Diane Gottlieb on May 26, 2020 at 1:39 pm

      So true, Greta! I haven’t met many with Elaine’s honesty and vitality–she is a rare one!

  2. Caterina Severini on May 20, 2020 at 6:23 pm

    I enjoyed Elaine’s life story. It is inspiring and honest! I agree with you Diane, it would be a great book! Hope to read it one day.

    • Diane Gottlieb on May 26, 2020 at 1:37 pm

      Elaine’s story is so inspiring and honest, Caterina! I will definitely give her another nudge to write that book!

  3. Nicky ( Nicola) Mendenhall on May 18, 2020 at 3:21 pm

    Denise said it all so well! I agree with everything she said. I was breathless reading – I almost said listening to this interview – it seemed so real. I think I accept my life experiences more because of reading this! I wonder why it is so difficult for us as women to realize that we are strong?

    Thanks for the shout-out when Elaine mentioned psychoanalysis ! I love that she said that – being in Manhattan, she probably knows people who are in analysis and I envy her for that. I feel alone here in IA when I speak of my memoir about my decade in Freudian psychoanalysis but when my book comes out in October, maybe others will admit to being on the couch too – or at least reveal the changes that can happen because of deep work.

    • Diane Gottlieb on May 18, 2020 at 3:24 pm

      I’m glad, Nicky, the interview made you “breathless!” And, yes, the more we can come out honestly about our experiences, whether they are with foreclosure or psychoanalysis, the better we all are for it! I’m sure your book will help a lot of people.

  4. Linda Rochester on May 18, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    I enjoyed this life story and about the strong friendship that holds us up through hard times. Thanks for doing this, Diane!

    • Diane Gottlieb on May 18, 2020 at 3:21 pm

      Thank you, Linda, and great to hear from you! Friendship can hold us up through just about anything!

  5. Denise Polis on May 18, 2020 at 1:29 pm

    I appreciate Elaine’s raw honesty and openness about her life. It’s a story of many of our lives really. Our physical beauty and our good health are temporary. Our security, our control over our lives and our children’s lives and our future are an illusion. Life is about impermanence. Constant change. Losing loved ones. Losing jobs. It sounds very sad, but there is inner growth that happens through all this with the right perspective. You gain humility, compassion, gratitude. You learn to savor each moment. You begin to appreciate every bite of food, every breath of air, every flower you see, every song you hear, every hug you feel. You learn that all you really have in this world is yourself. Everything external is temporary and a delusion. You learn to love yourself. Be happy with yourself. Feed your mind, body, and soul with love and beauty. That’s all we have, along with humor about the absurdity of it all. As far as lasting contribution and legacy to the world, I believe her great grandmother achieved it. Her great grandmother’s spirit is alive through the experiences and memories she created for her family. One’s spirit lasts for generations even if they are physically gone. That’s what we want to leave of ourselves.

    • Diane Gottlieb on May 18, 2020 at 2:08 pm

      Oh, Denise, such beautiful words! Thank you for this comment. I couldn’t agree more.

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