Category Archives: DelSo

Saturday afternoon in the Mid90s

87E28138-3758-4362-9FF0-8C7E97655496For pretty much the first time in this century, I’m not working two jobs and weekends really feel different. Saturdays sure do change when one doesn’t have to be at work at four or five in the afternoon and I’ve spent recent Saturdays swapping seasons in my closet, raking out my front garden, changing drapes, and generally puttering around my house – oh! And going to the movies.

Last week was A Star is Born and yesterday was the new Jonah Hill directed film Mid90s.  Unlike last week’s flick, this week’s came with an unfamiliar story and a cast unknown to me. I had seen the trailer once, or maybe twice, and had been interested. Maybe it was my “boy mom” tendencies kicking in or something. Whatever the reason for the movie’s appeal, middle son and I went to the Spectrum for an early matinee and, following the showing, both walked out pleased with what we had experienced.

The semi-autobiographical film tells the story of Stevie, his difficult to witness relationship with his brother, and how far he is willing to go to be part of a group which will provide him with a sense of belonging not present in his home. Stevie, later dubbed “Sunburn,” seems to be seeking someone whom he can freely admire and look up to, unlike his wildly violent brother or his mother who can not seem understand, much less create, the appropriate boundaries between mother and child. I guess you could say a family.

The awkwardness of Stevie as he begins interacting with a close-knit crew of skateboarders is cringe-y and reads to this middle school teacher as completely believable. Stevie is about the age of my own youngest son, (whom I sincerely hope is years away from the types of experiences in which we see Stevie partake), and his willingness to swallow everything he sees, hears, and eventually, is offered, is difficult to watch at times.  

G, my most fashion aware and obsessed son, was impressed with the on point cultural references and style of the film. The magazines, music, wardrobe and language was spot on for the era. The scenes of physical violence, sexual explorations, and drug and alcohol experimentation were particularly challenging for me to sit through, but I’m glad I did if only to get to this piece of dialogue spoken by Na-Kel Smith’s character, Ray, to Stevie:

‘You take the hardest hits out of anyone I know. You know you don’t have to do that, right?’ 

Stevie and Ray

There had been a couple of moments during the movie that had already made me gasp, but those particular lines also caused my eyes to immediately fill with tears. Wow. If that message could only be directly delivered and received by people who believe that the hard way is the only way, our world would be a much more kind and gentle place to live.

Have you seen Mid90s? I’ve heard some really negative impressions of the film and am interested to hear what other people may have thought. Please share your thoughts and perspective with a comment.

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Filed under Boys, DelSo, moms, Movies, Observations, Recommendations

On the road

84CB9AE9-4056-4D02-A242-69A27C396BE4During Tuesday night’s walk with Jeter, a man with a bicycle made me aware of his presence because, as he explained, he didn’t want me or the dog to be startled by him. He was walking the bike. It was black, as was his clothing and his skin. It had rained earlier and was now dark.  We walked near one another, facing traffic, on the sidewalk. 

As we walked, he spoke with a bit of a mumble about how he didn’t want to get hit by a car because “people don’t stop if they run you over.” He said he was “too old to get hit.”  I suspect he was close to my age, but it seemed that life hadn’t treated him as kindly as it had treated me. He shared his thoughts with me a little repetitively, but I didn’t mind. Truthfully, I kind of appreciated that he repeated himself because he didn’t speak clearly and it took me a couple of times to understand what he was saying. And, as I found out, he wanted to talk.

He asked me if I had seen the news. Had I heard about the 5000 people who were on their way from Mexico? There were babies, he said. We couldn’t kill babies. Could we?  

I shook my head, mentioned I thought the caravan of people were actually from Honduras just passing through Mexico, and remarked that we were living in some pretty f*cked up times. We stopped walking and waited for the light to change so I could cross Delaware Avenue, and he said it again “We couldn’t kill babies. Could we?”  I had no answer for him. 

We parted with sincere wishes for a good night.

I walked home thinking about the encounter  – me, my big dog, and this man who rode a black bike wearing all black in the dark worrying about being hit by a car and babies on the road dying. 

These are some wildly crazy times, but talking to this man who had more concern for the safety of babies he would never know, than he had for his own, touched me and gave me hope. People are paying attention and are troubled by what they see. Now, if they’ll just vote.

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Filed under Albany, DelSo, Events, Observations, politics, Uncategorized

Soccer and traces of snow at the start of 7.1

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Squash, avocado, spinach, black beans, tomatoes, salsa on a flour tortilla.

The weekend has been the quintessential October weekend in New York’s Hudson Valley, by my definition. There were chores and errands, sports, a couple of movies, and a home cooked meal or two that featured intensely seasonal food like squash and pumpkin. It felt restorative.

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Falcon pride – plus that new parking on the Washington Ave side?! Yes!

The sports were a balance between being a spectator and a participant, and both were exciting. Saturday night, Albany High’s Varsity Falcons took on Niskayuna in sectional soccer playoffs and it was a nail biter. The game was a slow starter and went to 14:53 of the second overtime period before being decided 3-2 (Nisky). It was a flawless goal and there was no shame on that field for the home team. Those kids pressured and played their hearts out for nearly two hours and I was proud to witness their efforts. Bonus to run into friends with benefits – umbrellas and a butt blanket for the metal stands, that is.

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New friend!

Today was my turn to exert myself as I continue to “train” for one more half marathon (Syracuse) and work towards my goal of 750 miles for the year. It was Squirrelly 6/Hairy Gorilla weekend, but I wasn’t feeling it this year and opted instead for HMRRC’s 7.1 Town of New Scotland road race. The combination of closer to home/later start/cheaper entry fee, and an appealing distance, prompted me to go low key with this beautiful race run.

I last ran this maybe 2 or 3 years ago and it was just like I remembered – a good mix of rolling hills, lightly trafficked and absolutely pastoral. It seems that the foliage is a bit wan this year, but there were some bright spots where the burning bushes were showing off their new red coats and the air was crisp. My hat and gloves came in use for the first few miles before I stuffed them into pockets and yanked my leggings into capris. When the sun was shining, it was heavenly and when the wind blew, most usually in my face while I was climbing a hill, it was pretty hellacious. 

The race starts and finishes on Swift Road, a route I’m familiar with from cycling. The finish comes after a climb followed by a decent descent, and a piece of trail which goes across fields and through woods. Absolutely lovely. Next year this race will be run for the 40th time and I’m going try to remember to incorporate it into my calendar. It’s an ideal outing right in the middle of two half marathons (or maybe pre-Stockadathon?) and I’m so glad I made the effort to get there.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Brunch, DelSo, Events, Exercise, favorites, Local, Recommendations, running, soccer, sunday, upstate New York

DelSo fever

Jeter cuddles help.

I don’t get sick very often, (despite not ever getting a flu shot again after a bad experience back in the 90s), but this week something got me. It started the other afternoon with some achiness and a general sense of feeling unnaturally tired. I initially wrote it off as residual exhaustion from a week that included some fun social events, 26 miles of running and a couple of yoga classes. My symptoms expanded to hot and cold extremes not easily explained by mere menopause, a dry nighttime cough and a complete lack of motivation to do much of anything other than eat and sit on the couch. Yuck, I think I’m sick.

My usual “medicine” – tea with honey, lemon and a glug of bourbon or rum.

Checking in around my sweet neighborhood, I’ve come to learn that at least 4 other DelSo-ites are (or recently have been) feeling the same way. So today, from my perch in the sun on my back deck, I’m warning you to resist the urge to come hang out on our block. Unless, of course, you’re bringing soup and hot toddy fixings. If that’s the case, swing on by. We’re all home from work today.

Do you get a flu shot? What are your tips to stay healthy? What helps you get better?

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Filed under Albany, DelSo, Local, medical, sick, soup

Albany XXX

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Amsterdam

What’s up with that title, right? Is it porn? Extra large? Nope…Roman numerals – thirty, as in thirty years since I first moved to Albany.

In August of 1988 I was 21. I moved here knowing not a single person, other than Mary Panza who I was lucky enough to meet when her roommate tried to seduce me find me an apartment in his role as a real estate agent. The summer of ‘88 was hot, so damn hot. There was a heat wave that was unrelenting. I traveled to England and the Netherlands in July that year and I loved every day of dreary, damp weather we experienced abroad.

That first trip to Europe changed my life. It opened so many doors and windows and made me a traveler in a way I had never imagined. I had met a guy on the ferry on my way back to London and was acutely aware that he was great, but that the timing was not. We did, however, make some lovely memories and everyone should know the excitement of a long distance romance. When a man flys into jfk, hops into a rental car and drives to Albany to spend 2 days with you…well, you feel kind of special. I hope you know that feeling.

Albany charmed me from my very first visit when I found my way to Lark St.and enjoyed a fancy brunch at The Beverwyck. Once I got a handle on the size of the city (it’s always felt small to me, initially a disappointment but ultimately an asset), and began connecting faces and names, history and legend, I settled in with interest and made a life here.

Albany has witnessed my greatest joys. I got married here, right in Washington Park on a picture perfect Sunday afternoon. I own a house and pay taxes in the city and appreciate the privilege of both of those being possible because of the education (and degrees) I received from SUNYA. My children were born here and are students in the city school district and, while the education they receive may not be as immediately impressive as the high test scores and college acceptance rates of the suburbs, I do know my sons have learned a lot about getting along with people who don’t necessarily look or think like they do. Lessons in life count too.

I started running, an activity I never could have imagined I’d love, while a student at UAlbany and have run thousands of miles around this city.  I’ve learned to write and take photos and have been lucky to share some of my passions with an interested audience.  The opportunities here have been limited only by my own level of competence.  It’s been so cool, really.

Albany, though, has also been the setting for some of my saddest days. There are places around this town that are absolutely haunted for me – spots that I do my best to avoid because of the personal ghosts. The news, both domestic and international, that I’ve witnessed while living in Albany, has left an imprint as well. Princess Diana dying, the towers falling, the children murdered in whatever most recent school shooting…I can tell you exactly where I was for each of those breaking stories. I’ve shed a lot of tears in this town. Believe it.

After 30 years, I love Albany more than ever. The happiness I’ve known in this city that receives credit for how easy it is to get to places “to which you really want to go,” has far outweighed the heartaches I’ve experienced. I’m not sure what the future holds, (once I hit my 30 years teaching, who knows?), but these three decades have been the most productive, challenging and exciting times of my life and I wouldn’t have wanted to live them anywhere else.

Thanks, Albany xx

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Filed under aging, Albany, Boys, DelSo, Education, Europe, family, favorites, friends, house, Local, London, love, musings, News, Observations, relationships, running, Schools, Summer, travel, upstate New York

Reflections on Summer 2018

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  • My travels have taken me new places and I am so appreciative of the memories I made and the food I ate and the wine I drank and the friends I hugged.
  • Cape Cod without children is like shared custody following the end of a marriage/relationship – a dirty little secret in all the best ways. (Credit to LGP for the custody thing)
  • Summer is a time for me to take on larger household chores, such as organizing and weeding out extraneous stuff that can weigh a person down. During these tasks I always stumble upon things I find interesting – like my journals from the early 90s.
  • One of the most important parts of summer, for me, is spending time with people I don’t always have the luxury of seeing. Pool dates, lunches and nights out with friends, have made Summer 2018 exceptionally special.
  • Being reminded of past heartbreaks and lessons learned can be really comforting. I think that every relationship that I was in that “failed” was followed by a much better personal situation. Sky’s the limit. Full steam ahead.
  • It’s been a hot summer and I’m fortunate to not have to work in what have been extreme temperatures. I’ve been able to accept the heat without needing to fight it. Night runs have been tremendous and I’ve mastered closing up the house to keep it cool during the daytime. It’s summer. I like when the seasons perform as expected.
  • In the last week or so, I’ve encountered a number of work friends and a couple of students. Seeing them reminded me what the very best part of my job is – the people with whom I’m lucky enough to work.
  • There are some ways in which I feel like a different person, as if I’m evolving into a new, hopefully best, version of myself. Some of it originates with physical change – different hair, new car, but more of it comes from having been through a lot emotionally and feeling a little less naive. Currently doing my best to retain and refocus “wonder” as a word of future possibility instead of rear-view second guessing.
  • Authenticity is topping the list of new words in my vernacular these days. It appears above catfishing and intentional mind fuck, not just for alphabetical reasons either. Authenticity deserves its own damn blog post. Stay tuned for that.

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Filed under aging, Austria, Cape Cod, concerts, DelSo, Eating, Europe, family, favorites, friends, Germany, love, musings, Observations, Random, relationships, road trips, Saratoga, Schools, Summer, travel, Uncategorized, upstate New York, vacation

Stormy weather

I recommend this version of Stormy Weather, if you want to go multi sensory with this.

4F4D2B59-31F4-44E2-97AF-ADDC1F667062While I’ve been relishing the languid pace of this hot summer, with the added bonus drama of a spate of recent storms, sh*t has gotten real to folks in my immediate and extended neighborhoods. Last Friday, the rain came down in a textbook example of “deluge” and the infrastructure in our aging city just can’t bear it. Numerous homes on my block, and the neighboring streets, experienced a pretty gross example of that when their basements filled with inches of disgusting water from the overtaxed system. Nasty stuff that they’re still cleaning up nearly a week later. Ick.

Yesterday’s round of afternoon storms was wildly intense with pelting rain, fierce winds and chunks of hail pinging against my house. After it passed, I walked to our farmers market and was shocked by the destruction I saw. There were trees down and streets closed and Delaware Avenue, during rush hour, was very slow moving. The most shocking sight on my walk was the enormous tree down on Delaware and the resulting damage to at least two homes. The roots had just pulled out from the sodden ground and down it went.

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Omg – what are my open tabs communicating? 😊

This morning, Jeter and I took a walk to see how the clean up was going. It was obvious that a lot of work had been done overnight to cut up and cart away limbs and entire trees, but what was even more obvious was how much destruction had actually occurred. We walked Delaware to Beekman to Southern Blvd and I couldn’t get over how many times we had to walk in the street because there was a pile of branches monopolizing the entire sidewalk. Traffic was weird because streets were still closed and news trucks were setting up for their broadcasts. Pretty crazy.

AB05F5ED-10F3-4CBC-B7B6-7991693802A9I hope you all made it through unscathed and, for those that didn’t, I wish you well and hope you receive a fair insurance settlement. And, if you’re a renter, make sure you spring for renter’s insurance. You just never know.

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Take some inspiration from this ray of sunshine – just about broken in half, yet still blooming.

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Flowers, house, Local, Observations, Summer, upstate New York