Category Archives: friends

No sleep till Brooklyn*

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My picture does NOT do the work justice. Apologies!

On Friday, despite Mother Nature’s attempt to disrupt my plans, I ventured down to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to attend my uber talented neighbor, Ken Ragsdale’s art show opening at the Front Room Gallery. As someone who doesn’t often attend gallery openings (read: hardly ever), I was a bit out of my element, and, as a person who doesn’t stray from Manhattan usually, I was definitely outside of my borough of reference. After consulting my Facebook friends regarding attire and Google maps for directions, we hit the road in the late afternoon. Next stop: The Hundred-Acre Wood!

View from the Roebling Tea Room on the first evening of spring.

View from the Roebling Tea Room on the first evening of spring.

The drive was uneventful, other than my imagination working overtime creating vivid scenarios about how the piece of Ken’s which ended up in the back of my wagon could be damaged during the trip to Brooklyn. Rear-end collision, encounter with a remarkable pothole resulting in the shattering of glass…

imageSafely parked around the corner from the gallery, wearing the suggested attire of skinny jeans, ankle boots and a cool hat, we met up with some of the Albany contingent and enjoyed a lite bite and a round of drinks at the Roebling Tea Room. My cocktail, an excellent old-fashioned with a clean, citrus element was wonderful, the small plates equally perfect.

The show was an absolute triumph. The work vividly expressed a time in the artist’s life and is truly stunning.  The presence of so many familiar faces must have made the opening a dreamy blend of memories and modern day moments.  So friggin cool.  Can’t get to Brooklyn?  Check out the group show opening Friday, 3/27/15 at the Albany International Whatever Airport right in the 518.

*This post has nothing to do with sleeping in Brooklyn or the Beastie Boys. Nothing.  I just love the sentiment.  Here – watch the video anyway.

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Filed under Albany, art, DelSo, drinking, Events, friends, Local, NYC, Recommendations, road trips, Spring

Restaurant families

imageAfter more than three decades in the restaurant business, I know a few things. Some of the knowledge I’ve gained is related to food – how to make a buerre blanc or hollandaise and what to do with an excess of vegetables (frittata, risotto or soup).

I’ve learned about wine and spirits and the significance of all the minutia that is involved with creating an atmosphere that welcomes guests and makes them want to return. All of this is important to being successful in the hospitality industry but it pales in comparison to what I’ve come to know about people.

As a server my focus, naturally, is on my guests. I sincerely want those that I take care of to be happy and I have been so fortunate to be able to wait on some of the same people since my long ago undergraduate days. They’ve witnessed my life and the connection we share crosses our respective sides of the table to a place somewhere in the middle. Many of them know which nights I work and I do my best to recall who likes to sit where and which glass of wine they enjoyed last time they were in. We’re familiar with one another.

Over the years, though, there have been situations which have proven that the most valuable thing I have learned about the restaurant business is that the people I have worked with are my family. We’ve shared annoyances, laughter and the stress of a life that is utterly unpredictable every single shift. At the end of the night, while counting money and emptying trash bins, we have connected over a glass of wine (or two) and then hugged good night before heading to our cars to return to our other families.

It’s been a really tough couple of months for my family. The losses right now are so utterly outweighing triumphs and joys that my heart is echoing with absence. As we come together again to support one another, to embrace each other in love and sorrow during a time which feels impossibly tragic, the ability of our industry to create connections between people eclipses in importance any other aspect of the job.

Each shift on the floor comes with the guarantee of there being something new to witness or with which to contend. At this time of sadness, it is vital that we also remember with that same certainty that we are a family.  Always.

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Filed under Albany, family, friends, Observations, relationships, Restaurants

Counting (on) friends

If you peek at my Facebook account you’ll see that I have more than 700 virtual friends. Pretty impressive, right? Thanks to the wonders of social media, I am absolutely swimming in friendship!  Look a little closer, though, and you’ll discover that many of my friends are people I don’t really ever see, except for online.  Whether it’s due to distance or time, we simply don’t really have occasion to be together in real life.  Does this mean we aren’t really friends?  How do you define a true friend?

Over the years, I’ve learned that the number of friends I have isn’t really that important.  No, that’s not really how I measure friendship.  You see, it’s not about the counting of, instead, it is very much about the counting on.  True friends are the ones on which we can rely upon to do as they say and follow through on their promises, regardless of how infrequently we actually see one another in person.  Those are the people who add immensely to our lives.  Each day brings a new opportunity to be that kind of friend.  Count on it.

 

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Filed under friends, relationships

If you don’t run under a full moon in frigid temperatures, with your outdoors besties, you don’t…

Image: fitandfeminist.files.wordpress.com

  • You don’t have an hour to talk and listen
  • You don’t see the moon part the clouds in greeting
  • You don’t feel your body transition from cold and tight to warm and loose
  • You don’t have the benefit of your besties’ wisdom and advice
  • You don’t devote your attention to where you’re going on a sometimes icy path
  • You don’t get to take a steamy, hot post-run shower with the best minty soap ever.
  • You don’t get to high-five, after 5, and admire one another for being so badass as to run under a full moon in frigid temperatures.

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Filed under Exercise, favorites, friends, Observations, running, winter

Smack(ed) – updated

This piece was originally posted last week.  I deleted it on the request of the loved one of my friend, but after much reflection am reposting it with the name of my friend removed.  It seems appropriate since while my friend was special, the situation, unfortunately, is not.  As the victim of a terrible disease and the drug dealers who feed that illness, he could have been anyone.  Heroin is killing the friends and family of people regardless of socio-economic, educational, ethnic and geographic boundaries. Sanitizing the situation does not change that fact.  Read more about this very real epidemic in Paul Grondahl’s ongoing series.  Peace to all of you who have lost children, siblings, parents and friends.  You’re not alone.

This morning on Facebook, nestled between the steady stream of photos capturing joyous Christmas scenes, there came some news I’ve been expecting for some time. But, as James Michener said, “We are never prepared for what we expect.”

When I met my friend, he was so on his game. Handsome as hell, kind, thoughtful and eager to learn, he had the potential to go anywhere. His days were spent working with other addicts, going to the gym and waiting tables. He was shiny and clean.

Over the time we worked together he shared some of his history with me. Hard drugs are something with which I have no experience. I don’t understand the appeal of a substance which may initially lift you up but ultimately will pull you down to the darkest of places. My friend talked about regrets and his hopes for his future. He was so smart and self-aware he convinced me that the days ahead were going to be brighter than those of his past. Until he told me he was looking forward to getting out from under the watch of the judicial system because he was eager to explore food and wine pairings at the restaurant where we worked together. I knew then that his sobriety wasn’t going to last, but the speed with which he ultimately fell was breathtaking.

I watched as his work ethic changed and his physical appearance deteriorated. He would disappear from the dining room floor at the end of the shift and return sweating and amped up in an almost aggressive way. He was soon fired and quickly burned through a number of subsequent jobs. He totaled his car and lost his sweet girlfriend. It was sad to see him.

My friend contacted me occasionally. About two years ago a longtime friend lost his son, a son who also happened to be a close friend of my friend’s. They shared the same disease and my friend had been the last person to see him alive. My friend looked like shit when I picked him up to drive to the wake – haunted with sunken eyes, unhealthy. I told him I was worried about him, that I didn’t want to have to go to his wake and asked if he could try again to get some help. I told him he was worth it.

It’s been almost a year since I last heard from him. His last message to me:

Hey sil…been a long time…u look amazing as always…I’m pretty sure ur the coolest mom ever…hope all is well with u and ur family…love always

I replied with the following:

Hey – what’s going on with you? Where are you these days? Healthy? I worry about you and hope you’ve found your way. Life is too short, my friend. XO Silvia.

Addiction sucks.

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Filed under friends, sick

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

Squirrelly girlies

imageLast Sunday, while most of you were probably still snug in your jammies sipping coffee, the Lunar B*tches reunited in a parking lot up at Thacher. It was grey and wet and chilly, but the festive and costume-clad crowd pumped us up for our 6 mile trail run, the Squirrelly Six. I was glad that I had gone with 3 layers of varying thickness, along with gloves and a hat. The dampness was bone chilling and while the rain wasn’t constant, it was cold.

We hit the path at 9:35, due to a slight delay to accommodate those waiting in line for restroom facilities, and spent the next approximately 70 minutes dodging puddles and chainsaw wielding werewolves. The course isn’t made for breaking personal records, with bottlenecks and a couple of daunting hills, but it is made for fun. Because of the soggy conditions, caution was required when navigating the rocky, tree root-ridden paths covered in wet leaves. It was slippery and the downhill portions were the ones which I found to be most dangerous – and where I witnessed a runner go down, fortunately without injury.

This was the 10th year for this event and I definitely see myself continuing to participate in this uber fun race. Despite the weather and trail hazards, it was a beautiful run with lots of leaves still clinging to their branches. This year’s shirt may be the best one I’ve ever received – a bonus second only to hitting the trail with my favorite running girls.

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Filed under Events, Exercise, favorites, friends, Local, running, sunday, upstate New York