Category Archives: musings

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

imageI’m afraid of the impression we’re making, we Americans, as I browse my favorite dirty little secret website, the Daily Mail UK, and read the post titles about America’s Thanksgiving holiday. Titles with words like shopping and bargains and outrage. Sigh.

This is what we’re telling the world that we’re about? This is how we celebrate a holiday based upon giving, upon sharing?

We don’t vote. Our nation essentially provides a potential voice to every person in the land. Why don’t more Americans use it? We’re apathetic about important things but we talk obsessively about women’s asses – Beyoncé, Kardashian, Lopez, Minaj…

The violence in this country is often unbearable. Young black men seem to die with far too great frequency. Violence begets violence. The more methods of communication we create the less likely we are to communicate effectively. Connecting feels harder than in the past.

And, it’s Thanksgiving. The tree branches are piled high with heavy, wet snow, some still with leaves. The lighting is striking, a sky made of cotton. It’s beautiful.

And my son was accepted into one of his chosen schools.

He can’t wait to register to vote.

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Filed under family, holidays, musings, News, Observations, politics, snow

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

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

The song road remains the same

DSC_0011When I think back to my teen years two things stand out distinctly – and I’m not talking about sex and cheap beer.  No, in the small town where I grew up, a place with limited transportation options and even fewer entertainment opportunities, cruising (or walking) around listening to the radio (or cassettes) was our recreational past time. During my recent visit home, I discovered the familiarity I once had with the roads, be it on my two feet or four wheels, remains.

Decades have passed since I last resided in Greenwood Lake, yet the curves of the road continue to be as familiar to me as my own hand.  I consciously approached the village from the east.  I wanted to go over the mountain, the same mountain I had walked, hitchhiked and driven for years.  While there have been some changes along the side of the road, particularly in Sterling Forest, the twisting and curving path of that black ribbon snaking through the woods and between rocks, hasn’t changed.

Driving over the mountain flooded me with memories.  There was a fogged in night when my mother managed to negotiate the road with an open driver’s side door and the assistance of the double yellow line.  I remember a late night return from work in a blinding snowstorm which caused my coworker (who was driving) to slide off the road and into a ditch.  We were eventually rescued by a passerby whom we rewarded with bags of candy pilfered from the gift shop on the thruway rest stop where we worked.

At the top of the mountain there used to be a pull off spot to take in the view – and hang out partying.  We used to claim that on a clear night the lights from NYC’s skyline were visible from that vantage point.  I still like to think that they were.  One of my most vivid recollections is from a wild night of drinking with a large group of people from town.  When it was time to head back down the mountain, one of the guys decided he didn’t want to be in the car, he wanted to be on top of the car.  I watched in horror, from the car immediately behind, as he climbed out of the moving vehicle and stretched his body long, arms extended, gripping the lip of the roof while traveling 50+ mph down the narrow and winding road.  While he survived that escapade, he died from a self-inflicted gunshot a few short years later.  In retrospect, maybe he was trying to kill himself even then.

I turned off the mountain prior to approaching the village.  I wanted to drive down a different road, one I had frequently taken when I was in the mood to walk instead of hitchhike.  It was a good decision.  I was pleased to see that the area had remained essentially free of development and that the trees which stood vigil beside the road remained the most prevalent residents.  I wondered who else might remember the year those same trees were devastated by gypsy moth caterpillars, the sound of the leaves being munched impossible to drown out even with my Walkman blasting Van Halen’s Eruption.

 In my head, I can still hear both.

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Filed under aging, musings, road trips, upstate New York

Reflecting on 30 years

IMG_0314Despite my attempts at processing the hundreds of distinct thoughts and images in my head following my trip to the past last weekend, my mind is still in a whirl.  During my drive north, while I tried to assert a sense of order to all that had been stimulated in my head, I realized that the 30th reunion I had attended had prompted more questions than it had answered and I wondered if other alumni felt the same way.  I wished that I were better in those sorts of situations, more open to approaching others and initiating conversations.  I had wanted to feel a connection with those around me, a connection which ultimately I could only find in fits and starts.

I’ve attended each reunion planned by the class Dynamo, Robin.  There have been four.  If I take the time to consider what compels me to insert myself in an environment which doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable, my only conclusion is that I’m seeking something, some sort of resolution or denouement.

Kind of silly, right?  What can be learned from surrounding myself by people with whom I shared a building, along with some experiences 30 years ago?  I just don’t know.

High school was not four years of social activities and academic achievements for me. I was not present for much of it, figuratively and literally.  I felt lost in the hugeness of the high school after the intimate experience of my Greenwood Lake education, going from a class of 65 to one of more than 400 in the blink of an eye.  Cliques and expectations were well established and I flitted between groups (heads, brains, jocks) committing to none.

Each reunion has invoked a similar lack of ability to engage.  I simply don’t know what to say to anyone.  There are familiar faces, some from high school so long ago, others from social media, and flashes of memories race through my mind.  But where does one start when it comes to covering the last three decades?  And – to what purpose?  My high school experience will never change and my future probably doesn’t include any of the people I struggle with to make meaningful conversation.  If an opportunity presented itself – say a classmate was going to be in the Albany area and wanted to grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine, I’d be interested.  I’m just more comfortable interacting in a smaller, lower-volume setting.  Perhaps that’s my take away, my conclusion?

I think this was my last reunion.

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Filed under aging, Education, Events, friends, girlhood, musings, Observations, relationships, road trips, Schools

Good news/bad news and a bit of a Grimm tale

The good news? I weighed less than I thought I would when I stepped on the scale. The bad news? I need to see my ENT surgeon post-haste. For the record, I like it better when the good news follows the bad.

I went to see my endocrinologist yesterday. I wasn’t scheduled to see her until January, but there was something about the thing I felt in my neck that made me uncomfortable. I made someone a promise that I would call first thing in the morning and I did. The receptionist was great and took my history after a single run through. A couple of hours later, my doctor phoned and asked if I could be there by 4.

Following our usual chit-chat, my doctor got down to business, dimming the lights and lubing up the ultrasound wand. With her usual thoroughness, she repeatedly scanned the area of my neck where the protuberance was. After a few minutes she asked if she could bring a colleague in for a second opinion. I stared at the ceiling, attempting to escape the room mentally by trying to see what the wattage was on the bulb, but as the second physician took his turn with the magic wand tears slipped from my eyes. The doctors conferred.

Their opinion? It’s either a “bad” lymph node or a chronically inflamed minor salivary gland. (See how I put the bad news first?) The plan now is to see my ENT on Monday and have her determine the appropriate course of action. I’m sure there will be some sort of diagnostics or study conducted. The hope, of course is that it is nothing serious, but my history leaves me feeling vulnerable.

To be clear, I don’t write about my health to garner sympathy or concern. It’s more an exercise in becoming accustomed to the possibility of yet another surgical procedure. It also feels a bit like an exorcism.  If  I express my fears and release them from my inner psyche they kind of lose their power.  Sort of like in that fairy tale when the miller’s daughter shocked Rumpelstiltskin by knowing his name, causing him to run away never to be seen again.  I’ve seen you before and I know your name, Cancer.  How about you stay away and let me have a shot at happily ever after?

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Filed under cancer, medical, musings, stress

The earthiness of love

What he said

It must have been the unfortunate choice of Pandora station – U2’s Running to Stand Still, that prompted my run to be filled with thoughts of love. Many of the songs were familiar, but I forged a new understanding of them as the lyrics relentlessly pounded me for 5 miles.

As my mind sought an escape from the music, which was a combination of cloying and consolatory, some thoughts I recently had, began to knit themselves together. There must be water. If there’s a lack of oxygen, one can’t breathe. Light encourages development. A little dirt and fire are required. Love is earth.

Love is organic. It makes me believe in science in a way that my high school biology class failed to do. In fact, nothing has convinced me that human beings consist of atoms and electricity so much as love. From the moment those individual particles attach themselves to those of another, there’s no denying the force. There is an almost pungent scent from pheromones, palpable and intensely intimate. I’ve smelled it.

I’ve come to believe that we each possess an internal well which needs to be continually replenished. What fills the well for each of us is marvelously unique and ever evolving. Sometimes it’s a shower of loving words or shared thoughts which soothe our soul. At other times salty tears. There also needs to be a balance of air and light to enable growth. Without oxygen, there is suffocation. In the dark, love withers and fails to reach its true potential. Fresh air and sunshine truly are the antidote to sorrow. I know this to be true.

Dirt and fire can bring excitement and exhilaration to a union. Getting a little messy together, in whatever fashion you mutually appreciate, can be joyful. The heat of passion can meld two into one. I’ve felt this.

If these individual elements are absent, or present yet unbalanced, instead of desirable rich and earthy soil, mud or dust may result. We become bogged down or inclined to be blown away. Equilibrium, damn it, it’s about creating a positive balance between these individual essential fundamentals. It’s true about the earth, it’s true about love.

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Filed under aging, love, musings, running