Tag Archives: girlhood

I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are

It was summer and I was about 13 years old. I don’t know what initially started the disagreement, but words flew between me and the other girl. She was from a family of girls and she was far meaner than I. She wrapped up her verbal assault with a shocking assertion regarding my mother, my brother and myself. The sound of her words stung me with an undeniable ring of truth and I immediately recognized that secrets hurt.

Secrets are kind of like snakes – what makes them scary is that they appear unannounced. If only they would wear collars with bells which tinkled as they approached! Since that isn’t realistic, living life in the open without rocks to hide under seems to me to be the best way of preventing things from sneaking up you. So, that’s what I do.

The secrets that Mary Lambert sings about are not my own, yet this song still perfectly expresses my own sensibility of secrets. I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are. So what.

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Filed under Music, Observations, secrets

Jeter is #2 to no one

IMG_4815I’ve been a Yankees fan my entire life.  In elementary school I flipped baseball cards with the boys to add to my collection and when Thurman Munson died while I was away at camp, I convinced the counselors that the American flag needed to be lowered to half mast in the Captain’s honor.

The Yankees’ roster of the 1970s was filled with huge personalities.  Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter and Sparky Lyle were larger than life sports figures who attracted attention both on and off the field and I loved rooting for my guys in pinstripes.  They were exciting, often controversial and always entertaining and I watched every game I could, including that magical playoff game in Boston when my least favorite Yankee, Bucky Dent, redeemed himself to me by hitting that 3 run homer for the win.

While life changed in the ensuing years, my love for the Yankees never abated.  My team won the World Series during my first two pregnancies and I seriously considered contacting George Steinbrenner to see if he might be willing to sponsor my third pregnancy, seeing that we had a shared history of both being able to “produce” simultaneously.  Those late night World Series games were when Derek Jeter first came to my attention.

I recall him as being an earnest, hardworking and enthusiastic player.  He limited his drama, unlike the players from the 70s, to the field, and his boyish good looks and shy smile made him an immediate idol.  When I learned that he had a close connection to my hometown and oldest friend, I loved him even more.  He has been a joy to watch and my team will be hard pressed to fill the gap he leaves in their roster.

At a time when heroes are in such short supply, Jeter allowed us to consider him to be ours.  He represented a team, a sport, a city and a country better than anyone else has ever done.  Jeter’s humbleness made us proud and I am heartbroken by the thought that there will never been another sports figure with as much character and positive influence as Derek Jeter.  Enjoy your next chapter, Derek.  You’ll be missed and remembered forever.DSC_0008

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Filed under baseball, favorites, girlhood, NYC, Observations

Some Girls

image: amiright.com

In the sweet old country
Where I come from
Nobody ever works
Nothing ever gets done.”

There was a summer a long time ago, in the mythical (to some) town where I grew up, when it seemed that the Rolling Stones’ album “Some Girls” was in constant airplay. It didn’t seem possible that so many good songs could all be on a single piece of vinyl, but they were.

When I look back at that particular summer, it seems like I spent a lot of time hanging out in a gas station right in town. Those were the days when gas stations were places where the bays were devoted to car repairs rather than being set up as mini markets. There was an office with a big desk, a cash register, a phone which rang a surprising number of times a day and an old (even then) soda machine that had been jerry-rigged to dispense nips of beer instead cans of cola. I absolutely cherish these memories.

Over the years, the gas station was owned by the fathers of two different friends, I still am uncertain of the order. One of those fathers lost his child, my friend, to a motorcycle and a sense of invincibility decades ago. The other is now close to being lost to his daughter, and his other children, at what still seems to be too soon. It’s made me sadder than I ever imagined.

You should know that fathers were a bit scarce amongst my friends and me. Many of them were absent in one way or another, something we never explicitly questioned or discussed until years later. This particular Dad, though? This man was present. I came to know him and the quiet and amused manner in which he accepted me, always made me feel comfortable in his presence.

Although it has been many years since those days, I’ll never forget them. Time passes and life changes. It all becomes much less simple. Parents get divorced, they get sick and a future without them to look to guidance and validation becomes imminent. The memories though, the feelings of happiness and appreciation that can be summoned by a song on the radio, will be there always.

Some girls are really lucky.

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Filed under aging, family, friends, relationships

My two favorite childhood books

I grew up in a house surrounded by books. Holidays and birthdays always came with books and I have vivid memories about my favorites. Two titles which greatly impacted me are Miss Suzy by Miriam Young and Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House. Now, these are two seemingly different books, but, I’ve recently realized they have a consistent message about the importance of home.

The story of Miss Suzy is a sad one. Poor Miss Suzy, a grey squirrel, is forced from her home (complete with acorn lamps!) because of a rough group of red squirrels. She is able to find a new place to live, a home she realizes she shares with an army of wooden soldiers.

Miss Suzy befriends the soldiers and, in appreciation for the kindnesses she shows the soldiers, they reclaim her home from the red squirrel gang. They lived happily ever after, but I still harbor negative feelings about red squirrels.

The Little House is a completely different tale. In this book, a lovely home is built in the country. As times passes, development occurs and the house transitions from rural to suburban to urban. Eventually, the little house is surrounded by skyscrapers and busy roads, in a fashion which is similar to a recurring nightmare I had with frequency during my twenties. Change is scary. Finally, the little house is purchased and loaded onto a truck and taken to a new country setting and everyone is happy again.

DSC_0040I hope there is a similar outcome with this house on New Scotland, near the intersection with Whitehall Road. What once must have been a beautifully located home is now sadly wedged between an Amedore built condo development. I know nothing about the circumstances which caused this to happen, but the property has been on the market for quite some time and I would hope that it will ultimately have a conclusion similar to that of the Little House.

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Filed under Albany, Books, favorites

Not shaken or stirred, but blended

Q’s favorite Bond

My 7 y/o is currently obsessed with James Bond.  He gave up Star Wars at about the same time that George Lucas sold the galaxy to Disney.   Coincidental?  Perhaps.  If you offer him something to drink, it is completely plausible that he will request a martini, shaken not stirred.  It’s adorable.  Well, to me it is because I’m his mom.  Someone else might find it obnoxious or cheeky, but I’ve always had a soft spot for 007.  And my children, of course.

Over the recent holidays, I did some reflecting on my own memories of the Christmas season and I thought about a family from my childhood who taught me what a blended family might look like.  There was a mom and a dad and a daughter.  And an ex-husband and the children shared by he and the mom.  And the ex-husband’s son from his second marriage.  And also the son from the Dad’s first marriage.  The kids all referred to each as brother and sister and the relationships seemed pretty relaxed and fluid, kind of like a well mixed martini.  They were Italian-American and Westchester Jewish, a combination which resulted in great food and wonderful traditions. I loved them and everything they taught me about family and love and backgammon, truly.

As a divorced parent*, I might one day find myself in a similar position.  You know, blending children and families and friends with a partner.  I’d like to think  I can do it with as much tasteful grace.  I know that none of those relationships was perfect, I mean what is?, but the central thread of children which wove them all together created an inspiring family fabric, a patchwork quilt that gave at least as much comfort as a familiar cocktail, I imagine.  How about you?  Do you have any experiences like this to share?  Grab yourself a cocktail and share, why don’t you?

*I’m not a “single mom.”  The boys very much have two parents.

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Filed under Boys, family, friends, girlhood, holidays, marriage, musings, relationships

Touched

image: beyonebabedome.com

About thirty-five years ago, on an autumn night when the skies got dark surprisingly earlier than expected, I found myself in the storage lean-to where the barrels of bird feed were stored, at the farm that neighbored our house. It was damp and there was the strong smell of must and dried corn. I wasn’t alone.

“Uncle” Oscar was somehow there in the dark, too. The smell of his pipe completed the trifecta of aromas in that small, damp space. I wasn’t afraid of him. He was familiar, with his belted khaki pants and tan-colored Volkswagen, just another part of the scenery to which I had become accustomed. I think that sense of comfort was why I didn’t make a sound when his hands touched my chest in the area where my breasts would eventually reside. I was speechless with disbelief. It was only later, much later, after I refused to accept his candy on Halloween, that I began to examine that moment and what had happened. How I had been completely complacent and what that meant about me. Was I passive? What if he had tried something even more invasive? What would it have taken for me to react?

Today, I was in a bakery with some friends. We were hungry and planning a feast – a little of this, a little of that. What I hadn’t anticipated was the older man behind us in line – most definitely not a gentleman as he so blatantly revealed, touching me. It was the oddest thing. One moment he was merely another human being looking to satisfy an appetite and the next he was a predator invading my personal space.

His game went like this: he grabbed my bare shoulder with his hand and held it for a couple of beats, pretending that he had mistaken me for someone he knew. When I looked at him in utter disbelief, he attempted to persuade me that it was a joke, just a lighthearted goof. I quietly pointed out the need for personal boundaries and how he had crossed mine. I made it clear that it was an unwelcome touch and stepped a way from him. My male friend got much closer and inserted himself to provide a physical barrier between the perve and me.  The man continued to explain why I should I find his touch a benign act.  He wouldn’t shut the hell up about why it was ok for him to have friggin touched me.  He went so far as to point out that I was “very attractive,” almost as if it were my fault that he had put his hand on my exposed shoulder.

I was so rattled I couldn’t even think clearly.  What should I have done?  Should I have created a scene?  Called him out on his inappropriate behavior?  Had the surrounding people get involved?  Despite the brightness of the summer sky, I was immediately right back in that feed shed smelling something that was most decidedly “off.”

Fair warning: the next person who lays a hand on me, without my invitation, will be touched with 35 years worth of disgust.  I’m not taking another emotional bruising without leaving an external black and blue lesson.

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