I think I finally caught my breath…
Category Archives: Lark Street
Well, guess who gets to be the bad cop? Yes, yes, I know, if the shoe fits, blah blah blah. Whatever. Give me a second, please, while I take another
swig swallow sip of wine, ok? Exhale. Sigh.
You know how kids like to play their parents, especially in divorce situations? Yes, you do, you must have seen it before. Child, typically a teen, decides that the demise of their parents’ marriage provides them with the perfect opportunity to slack off? Well, it is a crap situation that requires parental attention and communication…something which isn’t always easily managed as a former couple transitions to a new normal of shared parenting done in an isolated, yet equally invested fashion. Maybe it’s a natural impulse for a child who wants to ensure that his recently apart parents maintain an open dialogue. Perhaps it is a symptom of adolescence. I don’t know for certain, but I do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is exhausting and demoralizing. Ugh.
Most of us are familiar with that cliched police interrogation technique – the whole good cop/bad cop thing, right? Well, guess which officer I get to be? I’ve always been the calendar keeper, the planner, the appointment maker, the initiator, shall we say. I have a knack for making, and keeping, a schedule and taking care of things. Naturally, it has fallen to me to be the one who checks in on the boys’ grades and initiates contact, when necessary, with their teachers. And the reward for my attentions from my child who is treading seriously close to the line between living up to his potential and being a rebel without a cause? Well, let’s just say it is sort of the opposite of gratitude.
It would be so much easier to be hands off. I would prefer to devote my attention to celebrating the wonderful talents and capabilities of my children, but it seems that a different type of focus is being demanded at this time. Well, if I have to be the one who enforces the law in these parts, I’ll do it, with or without the assistance of a deputy. Don’t you doubt it.
Check out Joe Keegan’s blog over at the TU for some tips on cleaning glass shower doors and his impressions of the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark. I had a blast taking care of his party and was tickled to be included in his post. I’ve been reading his blog, which deals with the painstaking, but not annoyingly so, restoration of the home he shares with his family, for a couple of years and I’m always happy when he posts a new entry.
PS. I’m not the soap scum of which he speaks.
Saturday night was the 16th annual Last Run in Albany. This is absolutely one of my favorite races of the year – festive, fun and filled with friends. This year, my friend Lisa got herself together and registered before the race reached its 1500 runner capacity and we had a blast! The course for this run is fantastic – up State Street, across Willett and into and around the park. It is such a treat to run through the holiday lights display and if the spirit of the season doesn’t touch you, well, it’s time for you to slow down a bit then. The mayor was there to get things started and I was really pleased by the moment of silence he requested for the Newtown, Connecticut victims. Well done.
As far as the race went I took 14 seconds off my time from last year, which is fine considering it is impossible to really run until nearly 3/4 of mile into the race. That being said, I have to admit, I don’t run well with others. I like to run my own pace, whatever that is, but Lisa and I found each other easily after the run and got up to some of our usual antics. Trust me, enough said. Can’t wait until next year!
Winter WonderLark, continues to be my favorite annual Lark street event. My little guy and I have gone three years in a row and we always have a good time. When I pitched the plan to him late last week, I mentioned the race with all the Santas. He looked at me blankly. When I refreshed his memory with the UAG’s gingerbread decorating festivities, he perked up and immediately began listing all the decorative (and edible, natch) candies he enjoyed in years past while decorating his house and/or cookies. I learned two things from this exchange – 1. He has an excellent memory for details relating to candy and 2. He apparently has not yet been traumatized
enough by the sight of a couple of hundred under-dressed, fun folks racing by us as we shout encouragement and take photos.
Here’s this year’s set of pictures:
Maybe I’m simple or I have a low threshold for happiness. I’m not really sure, but what I do know is I had a fantastically, perfect weekend. As the weekend progressed, I mentally inventoried each special little thing that cumulatively gave me one of my favorite birthday celebrations ever. Noting 46 of these items was an easy feat to achieve.
- Early morning surprise drive-by with birthday wishes
- A Happy Birthday text from my son. (He was upstairs when he sent it to me.)
- Birthday cards at work
- Facebook birthday messages, especially when they contained the word “inspiring.”
- A pedicure and manicure to begin my weekend
- The tuna roll I inhaled
- A gigantic salted caramel mocha sipped pond-side in the sunshine
- Thoughtfully selected, thoughtfully wrapped presents.
- Reading a funny book aloud with a friend
- Receiving a handcrafted card from Quinn
- Listening to Quinn explain the handcrafted card he gave me. It involves superpowers, popcorn falling from the sky and the sentiment that he “lives” me.
- That run that I took as the sky began to darken and the sliver of moon that led me back home.
- Finding the perfect thing to wear for my birthday dinner.
- Reading a special card.
- That parking space on the corner of State and Lark.
- A tasty sparkling rose from New Mexico, Gruet.
- The pasta that was worth every moment of self-denial, house made tagliatelle with a cinghiale Bolognese at the bar at the Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark.
- The tasty glass of Spanish granache that accompanied my pasta and the beautifully rare hangar steak that I enjoyed as my main course.
- The creme brûlée
- The glass of tawny port I sipped with desert
- The enjoyable conversation I shared at the bar with friends
- Neil Young playing during my meal
- Getting a good night’s sleep
- A beautiful morning on the first day of fall
- The soccer game beginning early
- Getting every single chore out of the way prior to my friend’s arrival
- Driving my friend’s stick shift Beetle. I’ve still got it!
- The sunshine topping off my apricot glow, poolside under a mostly blue sky.
- That dive into the pool which simultaneously took my breath away and confirmed that I was alive.
- Laughing with Will about the disparity between how men and women perceive 4 inches
- Being presented with the sickest cake I have ever tasted – Civitello’s Italian rum cake.
- The hot tub!
- Joining the Decades Party.
- Popping that bottle of Prosecco knowing we wouldn’t be driving any place.
- Watching that rain storm creep in.
- My boy making popcorn for movie night.
- Walking a couple of laps in the misty rain.
- A friend stopping by for a night-cap.
- That cake…
- Sleeping soundly in a cozy bed with the windows open.
- Breakfast from All Good Bakers.
- Seeing the faintly yellow reflection of the leaves out my window.
- Another piece of that cake…
- A nap as the sun shined onto my first-flannels-of-the-season made bed.
- A walk through the Honest Weight Harvest Fest in Washington Park
- My run, all 5.66 miles of it, and the best hot shower I could imagine.
Now, when your special day comes around again – be sure to celebrate it. Indulge yourself. Feel special. And, if you need any ideas for having a memorable time, feel free to borrow any of mine. I’ve been blessed with plenty to share.
Sixteen years ago, Lark Fest fell on my 30th birthday. I remember it was a beautiful late summer day, mild and sunny. My two best girlfriends had come to visit for the weekend and I was excited about so many things in my life. I was spending the day with my friends and sharing “my” city. The evening’s dinner plan was for a party of 10 to celebrate my birthday at the restaurant that had done a marvelous job catering my wedding and I couldn’t wait to see what the “Peters” at the now long gone, Unlimited Feast were going to feed us. And, of course, there was the fact that I had received exactly what I most wanted for my birthday. I was pregnant.
I remember that day so vividly, exactly what I was wearing, (a cool black maxi dress), and what I purchased from the craft vendors (a beautiful piece of pottery). Lark Fest was fun. There were families and students and couples all having a good time eating and admiring music and crafts and other merchandise. I don’t recall it being overly loud or crowded and I know we had a great time.
In later years, I brought my older boys to Lark Fest. They enjoyed the buzz of the crowd and the array of food available, although it seems they nearly always chose hot dogs rather than something more exotic. In the last 10 years, though, Lark Fest changed for me. I don’t know if it was when I began working Saturday nights at a restaurant on Lark that began souring me on the event. We used to have to keep our door carefully locked as we set up the restaurant to prevent drunk people from coming into the restaurant to use our bathrooms. Getting to work was a pain in the ass and getting my guests to the restaurant was virtually impossible until mid-evening because the street is generally closed to traffic for a minimum of 1.5 hours after the conclusion of the event. Maybe it was my impression that virtually everyone I observed walking by the restaurant looked drunk. And not in an “I’m having fun but may have had one beer too many” sort of way. It was definitely more of an “I achieved my goal of getting shitty drunk.” Gross. The families I remember seeing strolling the street were no longer a presence, elbowed out by college and high school students. It had changed. It wasn’t about music or crafts or food. It was about drinking. Period.
Lark Fest this year promises to be a different experience. It absolutely has to be because the residents and businesses of the Center Square and Hudson Park neighborhoods have demanded a change. They’re tired of intoxicated people destroying their property and urinating on their stoops. The inconveniences of a single day event (the noise, the inability to move their cars during the day, etc) are really not the major issue – it’s the lack of respect shown by so many of the attendees to the business and home owners who have so graciously shared their neighborhood.
The word on the street is that Lark Fest is in serious crisis mode. The folks who live and work 365 days a year in the neighborhood are done
being pissed on indulging an event that has brought more damage in recent years than festivity to their street. The police will be stationed at every cross street to prevent alcohol from being brought into the festival and they promise a crackdown on the underage and excessive drinking. Hopefully, there will be more bathroom facilities available and the attendees will use them. And maybe Lark Fest will regain that special place in my heart as a day to inspire excitement rather than dread.
What are your thoughts or memories of Lark Fest? Are there any you’d like to share?