Writing my son’s college essay (in my mind)

Dear Prospective College Admissions Officer -

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I can only imagine how many of these letters you must read and how difficult it must be to evaluate potential students from mere words and numbers on a page. Since neither words nor numbers adequately describe my oldest son, maybe I can offer some assistance?

To satisfy the need for percentiles and numbers of measurement, let me offer this – he was 5.5 weeks premature and, at one time, weighed less than 3.75 lbs. His father and I were advised that he was at risk of never recovering from the health challenges he faced and that, even if he survived, he might never walk. He crawled at twelve months and finally walked at 17 months. He was a willing participant in speech, OT, PT and special education services beginning at the age of 18 months, never complaining about the demands made upon him, the leg braces he wore or the frequent doctor’s visits.

Early in my son’s elementary career he was diagnosed with ADD and prescribed medication, which he continues to take. In the ensuing years, his dosage has been adjusted but he has also developed coping mechanisms and skills to increase his self-control and capacity to stay on task. His study habits and commitment to academic endeavors are remarkable and his grades in recent years reflect his strong work ethic.

While standardized tests are not my son’s strength, his passion for history has clearly been documented in his mastery of the NYS Regents’ exams in history. While his math and science scores have not been as stellar, I couldn’t be prouder of his decision to retake state exams to improve his transcript, despite his guidance counselor’s assurances that the importance of the grade ultimately was negligible.

My son has tackled the college search process with realistic independence, researching academic requirements and offerings, along with campus activities and opportunities. He has scheduled his own campus visits and participated in the process with excitement and enthusiasm and welcomes the new opportunities which will be available to him on campus.

In addition to his interest in history and government, my son is curious about the world.  He is an experienced traveler and witnessing his response to some of the world’s wonders has been one of the most rewarding gifts of parenthood.  He truly is one of my favorite travel companions and his choices, in terms of foreign locales to visit, have broadened my world immensely.

In closing,  if you’re looking for a student who shows their worth when they are faced with a bubble sheet, your institution may not be the right one for my son, but, if you’re seeking students who demonstrate their abilities when faced with challenges, my son may be exactly who you want to join your academic community.  Like his father and I, you’d be lucky to have him.

 Sincerely, a proud parent

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Filed under Boys, Education, moms, Schools

Don’t cook tonight!

How about eating for a good cause instead? New World Bistro & Bar is generously donating 15% of tonight’s sales to the DelSo’s very own Normanskill Farm. Why not save that bunch of kale and box of Annie’s for another night and instead head to NWBB for something a bit more interesting? The Normanskill Farm is a magical place right here in our own neighborhood and any improvements made to their property will benefit the entire city. This event will help to provide funds for bringing animals back to the farm.

Not just Jeter either.

Not just Jeter either.

Like these!

So, what do you say?  Meet you there!

 

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, drinking, Eating, Events, Food, Local, Normanskill, Recommendations, Restaurants, Uncategorized

All these lines on my face getting clearer

imageSometimes I feel like my face is a science experiment. It seems like in the last couple of years my cumulative years of living have really started to display themselves – on my face. There are new creases and wrinkles, evidence of the passage of time and, most especially, of living.

I have mixed feelings about this. Sometimes, I nod my head and acknowledge the aging process as the gift that it is. We all know the alternative, right? I try to embrace the changes thinking of each tiny line as a beautiful souvenir. Often it works.

Yesterday, though, I was at hot yoga, working hard for a standing balance pose and I noticed a difference in the appearance of the skin on my knees. It looked a little…crepe-y. Not saggy, really, just not taut. It bothered me.

Personally, I am not interested in availing myself of surgery or other medical interventions as an attempt to fight off time. I’m certainly not above spending more than I ever could have predicted on eye cream and moisturizer (with sunscreen, of course), but that’s all I’m really comfortable with. At this time.

I’ll continue to exercise, drink lots of water and slather that tender skin under my eyes using my ring finger, which is reputed to be the most delicate. I’ll keep working on my standing split and accepting that it’s what’s under the skin that counts the most.

Where do you draw the line?

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Filed under aging, beauty, musings, yoga

Twelve ways to be popular – in 3 easy steps

1. Get yourself invited to a party.

2. Stop at Cheesecake Machismo and select 12 individual slices arranged into a Frankencake for $40.

3. Prepare to be the most popular party guest.

Image: cheesecake machismo.com

Image: cheesecake machismo.com

I love Cheesecake Machismo. I don’t get there too often because I have no self-control when it comes to their cheesecake. If you were at my brother’s house last weekend, you’d know exactly what I’m talking about. Seriously, I don’t like peanut butter stuff yet still went back for a second forkful of the slice of PB cheesecake.

Beginning last Friday, I ate cheesecake every day this week, except for Tuesday when my stomach was feeling a little off. I’m pretty sure my belly ache that evening was actually the result of withdrawal, kind of cheesecake dts.

Of the slices I sampled (11 out of 12), my favorite was the green tea and chocolate. Or the caramel pumpkin. Or, maybe, the cookies and creme. Who am I kidding – my favorite flavor is the one on my fork.

Time to eat that last slice.

 

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Filed under Albany, Eating, favorites, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, upstate New York

I think the cops are watching me…

…and I’m okay with that. My usual running route is a 5-mile loop around New Scotland Avenue and Whitehall Road. Often I see a police cruiser drive past, usually more than once, and I always feel reassured by their presence. It’s comforting to know that there are police officers around observing the neighborhood and keeping an eye on things. This is what I expect from public safety officers.

Image of properly parked car: alloveralbany.com

Sunday night, following the Ray Lamontagne show at the Palace, my friend and I returned to her car which was parked on North Pearl Street. It had been a long day and we were both ready to head home. Unfortunately, we couldn’t simply get in the car and go because Chrissy’s car was double parked in its space. She leaned on the horn, hoping the other driver was nearby, but there was no response. We waited.

After about 5 minutes, during which time 2 police cars drove past, I called 911 to explain the problem. I know, I know, it wasn’t an emergency, but it did seem the fastest way to get some assistance especially since the drive-by cops weren’t responsive. The dispatcher was pleasant and said they’d look into the situation. We waited.

I got out of the car to look around, noticing there were 3 police vehicles parked slightly down the block behind us. I gave the car next to us a second look and realized it was probably an unmarked police car. Hmmm. Looking to the nearby storefronts, I spotted the glow of flashlights in a nearby (closed) business, Buddha Tea House. I went closer and peeked in the window. Yep, lots of cops. I knocked on the window and got the attention of an officer. At the same moment, the man who owned the car behind us arrived and quickly pulled out, enabling us to do the same.

Okay, I know being trapped in a parking space isn’t tragic. There certainly are worse things that can happen, like this for instance. Still, it bothers me that our law enforcement officers thoughtlessly inconvenience residents and visitors. If the situation were an obvious emergency one, fine, but that did not appear to be the case.

So, the cops are watching me and maybe I’m watching them.

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Filed under Albany, concerts, Local, musings, Rant

Not all heroes wear uniforms, not every prince has a throne

DSC_0029Today is my brother’s 50th birthday.  I know I’ve said it before, but my brother has  been the one constant in my life.  This doesn’t mean that we didn’t have our times of conflict.  I recall darts being thrown at my feet to encourage me to vacate his room and spats over typical sibling bullshit, but, ultimately, if I ever needed anything, I’m talking protection, advice, $, he gave it to me.

Having only one sibling, and about a half a parent, made for an independent life.  There are times when weeks, maybe even months, have passed without my brother and I speaking.  Like some sort of German standoff, I may have even consciously not called him just to see how long it would be until he called me.  He always wins.  It doesn’t really matter, though, because when I do finally break down and dial his number, he almost always answers.

The thought that there is only a single person in the entire universe who shared your childhood is sobering.  Without my brother, I’m the sole keeper of legends and memories – a pretty weighty responsibility for the child with a reputation for being a bit wild.  Even though our recollections aren’t always (ever?) identical, the comfort of knowing that he was there, we were in it together, is reassuringly grounding.  The world feels like a safer place with him it.

Our mother complained that the boys in her family (and there were a lot of them) were treated better than the girls, they were considered “princes,” while the girls were more scullery maids.  As a parent, she continued that tradition and, if you’ve ever met the Lilly boys, you know I’m guilty of the same thing.  DSC_0014
On a Veteran’s Day a half century ago my brother was born.  His uniform is more lab coat than camo, his throne the same stool he’s been sitting on for at least 35 years, but these details do nothing to diminish the fact that, to me, he is a hero and a prince. Happy birthday, TJM!

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Filed under aging, birthdays, family

Going Wild

I read.  A lot.  On any given day, I need to be prepared to “booktalk” titles, both fiction and nonfiction, with students in grades 6-12.  Intense, right?  This year, so far, I’ve read 55 books with a focus on titles of interest to middle school kids. After a couple of realistic novels about 6th or 7th graders, I generally need to cleanse my reader palate with something a bit more satisfying and tasty.  Something a bit, shall we say, Wild.

Yes, I know everyone read this book months (years?) ago while I was busy reading A Monster Calls, but that doesn’t diminish the impact this memoir had on me.  There’s just something about a female firsthand account of trying circumstances which I find completely captivating.  Imagine that.   

Cheryl Strayed’s recounting of her solo hike along the Pacific Coast Trail is an absolutely inspiring work of nonfiction.  I grew up in close proximity to the Appalachian Trail and have always been fascinated by the idea of trekking its length, but certainly not alone.  The physical and mental strength required to complete an accomplishment such as either of these is remarkable to me.  When you factor in the emotional state Strayed was in when she began her quest, her successful completion of her goal borders on the miraculous.

There were a number of passages in this memoir which caused me to pause, process and reflect, but none more than this:

“…it occurred to me for the first time that growing up poor had come in handy. I probably wouldn’t have been fearless enough to go on such a trip with so little money if I hadn’t grown up without it. I’d always thought of my family’s economic standing in terms of what I didn’t get: camp and lessons and travel and college tuition and the inexplicable ease that comes when you’ve got access to a credit card that someone else is paying off. But now I could see the line between this and that – between a childhood in which I saw my mother and stepfather forge ahead with two pennies in their pocket and my own general sense that I could do it too.”

Maybe I, too, can will go Wild someday.

Other inspiring autobiographies by women:

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Filed under Books, Recommendations, travel