Category Archives: friends

Ghosts and cobwebs

Exiting and entering a relationship is never the same twice. I guess that makes sense since I’ve come to learn that the only truly consistent thing I’ve found in my own romantic pairings has been that they all leave a mark.

I ran a race on Wednesday, almost the longest day of the year, that I had also run two years ago. My previous experience had been as close to perfect as I would ever dare hope, the weather, course and company were ideal. I couldn’t imagine it ever being better.

Yet, on Wednesday it was.

Photo: C. Allen

The event was very different this year. We were sans guys, more relaxed (I think) with weather that was kind of misty, rather than sunny, but with fairly delicious air. It was wonderful in a new way. The trails in Minnewaska are lovely, wide with a fairly soft surface, and amazing views. Fantastic.

Photo: C. Allen

As I ran, I felt strong. My feet hurt a little, but my heart felt powerful and I enjoyed the run. Along the course there were parts that were familiar, and others that I didn’t recall from previous races. I started thinking about how the trail was kind of a metaphor for how I’m feeling these days, like there are parts of myself that seem familiar, while others I don’t remember ever encountering before. Ghosts and cobwebs.

Past relationships kind of stick with us in a variety of different ways. At least that’s been my experience. Maybe you wear the color (s)he always liked best and can’t help but to remember how you felt each time (s)he said blue was your color. Like those parts of the trail, that’s a ghost. It stays with you.

The cobwebs, though…those, for me, are the places of which I have no memory at all, because those parts haven’t been used in so very long. Maybe not even ever. It’s like virgin territory. Exploring this new terrain is exciting, but by a certain age, or level of experience, you’ve probably learned to pay close attention to where you step. Keeping one’s feet on the ground and trying to not fall down can be a struggle, but they’re good goals for a trail and a relationship.

A becoming-more-familiar race and a new romance seem to be just about the best way to experience ghosts and cobwebs.  And, like that solstice run, I’ll do it again.

Thoughts to share?

 

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Filed under aging, favorites, friends, musings, Observations, relationships, road trips, running, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Listen

Some people find it odd that “my” library is at the end of the wing where the music department has some of their classrooms. When the air conditioning is on we close the doors, but for much of the year sounds from the band room make their way to my desk and I love it. Wednesday afternoons the jazz band plays and it’s my favorite day of the week to listen. Our teachers are so good at what they do – exposing students to music, cultivating their talents, inspiring their efforts. It truly never ceases to amaze me.

This time of year, our students are working hard to prepare for various concerts and performances and the song selections include graduation favorites such as Pomp and Circumstance, a tune that never fails to make me feel nostalgic. Hearing this song is an audible reminder that the school year is almost over, that it’s time to mark both an ending and a beginning, and it is music to my ears.

The clear delineation of the calendar is one the greatest perks of teaching for me. I’m the kind of person who appreciates a new academic year, a new semester, a new quarter, a new week and a new day because each of these milestones comes with an opportunity to start anew. I’ve always loved flipping a calendar to an entirely new month of days and a brand new notebook never failed to inspire me to attempt to do my best work. There’s always a fresh beginning for which to look forward, something different coming our way.

In the past couple of days two people whom I’ve admired and been inspired by, found themselves unable to survive the thought of another day of living. They were in a place so dark and so sad that they couldn’t see that the next day, or even the very next moment, provided another chance to start again.

As we get ready to witness the commencement of another class of students and send them off to their next life chapter, I worry that we’re creating a culture where music and books aren’t thought to belong together, but success, depression and suicide are. What are we teaching these kids? When do they get to connect – with one another and not the WiFi network? We have dozens of devices designed to facilitate conversation but no one’s really communicating.

We need to slow it down and start listening better. This is a health crisis and we can do better. Listen.

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Filed under aging, beauty, Education, Europe, Events, favorites, France, friends, musings, NYC, Observations, politics

Lost and Found: Sunday yoga

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Photo from Lost and Found

The first outdoor yoga class I took left me unimpressed with the experience. I recall it being a little annoying – there were all kinds of bugs, my mat wasn’t even on the bumpy and lumpy ground and grass got all over everything. Instead of the setting enhancing the experience, for me, it was a distraction. No bueno.

I didn’t unroll my mat again outdoors for a long time. When I finally felt ready again to take my practice outdoors, I went in a different direction – on my own deck, on a paddle board, on the streets of downtown Albany. Each of those opportunities provided more satisfaction than that initial foray into the great outdoors, so when I saw that Lost and Found in Albany’s Warehouse District was offering a free Sunday morning class, I decided to give it a shot.

While I had originally intended to ride my bike downtown, my Sunday morning speed nixed that plan. I was able to assuage my guilt at being a slacker by offering to pick up a friend on my way and we arrived at our destination a few minutes before the scheduled 10:00 start time. Parking was plentiful and we made our way to the end of the second row of yogis.

The morning sun felt wonderful and I quickly shed my long-sleeved shirt in favor of just a tank. The grassy lot was fairly flat and whenever I found myself face down on my mat, I couldn’t help but inhale deeply. The clover sprinkled grass just smelled great. The two instructors co-taught the class effectively, helping participants adjust poses, modifying and offering options and clearly communicating throughout the practice. It was a wonderful way to spend an hour outdoors and I’ll definitely keep an eye on Lost and Found’s Facebook page for future classes. 

Note – class participants are given a 20% discount on any brunch entree following class and, while the class is free, donations were accepted to benefit Out of the Pits, a pit bull rescue organization. Cool, right?

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Filed under Albany, Brunch, Events, friends, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Spring, yoga

When Pint-Sized is just enough

Saturday night dinner service can sometimes demand a period of winding down prior to heading home. An adult beverage, along with some conversation, can provide the ideal transition between work and rest, with a bonus if you can walk to a place that allows for both.  Lucky Center Square residents have the fairly new incarnation of Pint-Sized, which has evolved from a coffee/beer-to-go spot into a full-fledged beer and cider joint, that does a fairly good job of meeting both of those needs.

My friend and I rolled in sometime after 11:00 to find a hopping bar and selection of quality beverages. While I love a good beer (and plan to drink a few next month while in Europe), cider has been my jam in recent years. I just find it a bit lighter in my belly. As soon as I spied the beautiful can of Nine-Pin Cider Rosé, my decision was made. We grabbed two and headed to the less crowded area, down one step and 10 decibels.

We sipped our drinks directly from the can and caught up, enjoying the great view of Lark Street and the excellent playlist.  We were eventually joined by a pretty damn noisy group of folks, but they didn’t detract from the experience too much. I do wish, though, that people could moderate their volume a little better but, it was Saturday night and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. As did we.

I think I found my new summer sipping spot. Check it out.

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Filed under Albany, beer, drinking, friends, Lark Street, Local, Recommendations, Summer, Uncategorized

City Squire Ale House

#sillyandwillyreunited

Friday night, after far too long of a separation, my friend Will and I reunited for an evening of fun and food. Initially I thought we were going to hang in Albany for First Friday, but he felt the need to check out a friend’s new spot on Union Street in Schenectady since he been away when they celebrated the grand opening. Our night could not have been better.

The space, from what I understand, is a complete new build on what had previously been a tavern sort of place, the original City Squire. From the charming front porch, which blurs the line between indoors and outdoors with its floor to ceiling doors which open wide, to the upstairs deck, the building was simply beautiful. The color palette, the floors, the attention to detail, everything about the place combined to make a really pretty setting for what became an indulgent and prolonged meal.

We started at the bar with 3 items from the menu and drinks. Making selections was a challenge because so much sounded good, but we went with the Mexican cauliflower (a recommendation from the owner), a dozen steamers and the fish tacos which were made with fried shrimp on that particular day. Our bartender, Kevin, was great making sure we were comfortable and well taken care of, and went as far as to have other guests at the bar shift over to provide us with seating. Nice.

The cauliflower, served in a cast iron casserole dish, was fantastic. Florets of cauliflower, corn kernels, scallions and queso fresco came together perfectly in a flavorful array of textures. Ordered with a salad, it would make a dynamite and satisfying meatless meal. The clams were lovely – fresh and clean lacking only a vessel in which to place the quickly emptied shells. The tacos were a tremendous portion – 3 soft shelled beauties bursting with shrimp and assorted shredded vegetables served in a perfectly designed holder. We probably could have stopped there, but were joined by our third guest and moved to a table to sample a few more items.

Mexican cauliflower heaven

Clams, butter, crostini simplicity

Fish tacos – outstanding!

Will opted for a salad and a beef entree, while Raj selected two more small plate options – the Korean wings (spicy with a Korean chili garlic sauce) and the grilled flatbread a bruschetta-y sort of prep of naan, tomatoes, chicken and mozzarella. I sampled everything at the table and found it all to be well prepared and nicely seasoned. It is a casual place with paper napkins, yet the dishes and glasses were thoughtfully selected and our server was attentive to our needs.

As we wrapped things up to take home, we were joined by the chef, who actually oversees all four of the restaurants the family owns. While we didn’t order dessert, his enthusiasm and joy in being part of this project, as well as the others, was a super sweet way to end a meal. There is a real sense of family and teamwork that I really appreciated seeing. So many industry folks struggle with cynicism, but without exception, everyone we encountered was positive and upbeat. I was a guest of my friends and don’t know our total for the night, but can’t imagine it was out of line for the quality of the experience. Can’t wait to go back!

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Filed under Dinner, drinking, Eating, favorites, Food, friends, Happy Hour, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Schenectady, Spring, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Processing

I’ve been on a Rolling Stones kick recently. Maybe it was that tribute band I went to see a couple of weeks ago at The Hangar. I listened to them all the way on my run today from home to Troy, where I met my neighbor at event and caught a ride home. It wasn’t the easiest run I‘ve ever taken and parts of the route were new and a little unnerving to me, but I don’t regret a step of it. It was a gift to be outdoors with the air on my skin and every scent encountered along the river pleasant.

I ran in South Troy for the first time, which was kind of cool since I had made a brief cameo just yesterday at my friend Mary’s birthday. You know, Mary Panza from South f’n Troy. She’s my oldest upstate friend and I was thrilled to attend her celebration yesterday and to give her a gift. Not just “a gift,” but the most perfect gift – one I had seen at Elissa Halloran’s and immediately knew it she belonged with Mary. 

Giving Mary to Mary was the perfect demonstration of how much more joyous it is to give than to receive. That is a true gift.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately and it’s caused me to struggle with writing a bit. I’ve been purposefully keeping myself busy – attending events like Champagne on the Park and working extra nights, such as last Wednesday at the annual Troy Arts Center Gala. But, today, there was that run from Albany to Troy which gave me a long time to think things through and I believe I’m getting closer to being unstuck. At least for now.

Life is so unpredictable. Who really knows what’s next? With things in such a state of flux, is it even worthwhile to try to figure it the fuck out? Just keep running…

I’ve been examining how I’ve grown from situations I’ve faced, and have to admit that I just don’t yet have the necessary perspective to understand exactly what happened. I know I’ve changed and learned new things, but haven’t yet determined at what cost.

Taking the time to process stuff is critical. It’s comparable, I think, to pain management. You have to be aware of it, understand that you can’t hide from it and stay on top of it before it has a chance to overwhelm you. Eventually, though, you need to move forward with what comes next. This song just might help you with that.

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Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, birthdays, Exercise, favorites, friends, musings, Observations, relationships, running, sunday, Troy, Uncategorized

Seneca 7

Three days post-race and I’m thinking I may have peaked in terms of muscle soreness. Since I can’t really run for another couple of days, I’ve got a little time to share my first relay race experience from an event I participated in the last weekend in April. You know, that spring weekend when it legitimately snowed…

The Seneca Seven is a seven-member team relay race with a course that goes completely around Seneca Lake. The race is divided into 21 legs with each runner taking 3 legs. I was runner 4 with a total mileage of just about 9 miles. I had requested hills and my generous teammates indulged me by giving me a terrific climb of approximately 300 ft over 3.5 miles for my second leg. Honestly, it really wasn’t that bad but don’t tell my teammates!

Before I got there, though, there were a lot of group messages on Facebook and far too many details to be communicated and managed. Seriously, organizing 14 women is truly like herding cats and there’s a reason that this sort of event is one that I’ve not experienced before – it’s too much work for too little running. Not taking into account any of the time prior to our departure for Geneva, N.Y., the race absorbed 36 hours of my weekend and I ran less than 10 miles. That’s negative math for me.

But, the positives? There definitely were some. I really enjoyed riding in the van and getting to know the women who were on my team. We had some fun for sure and I’d happily hang out with any of them again. The course was beautiful, even in the snow/rain mix with which we had to contend. I haven’t been to the Finger Lakes in years and Geneva looked like a perfect spot for a summer weekend spent enjoying the outdoors as well checking out some of the restaurants and shops that line the charming streets of town.

There are also tons of wineries and breweries that I’d be happy to explore, maybe even on bike. The roads generally have wide shoulders and I think the riding would be awesome.

img_4974One of the best things about the race came after the 12 hours we spent on the course. Apparently, there was some controversy about this year’s race shirts. It seems that some folks were offended by one of the images on the shirt, an image one of my teammates had questioned because we didn’t understand what it was depicting. The image, a swoop of yellow hair with a line drawn through it represented Donald Trump and was included, according to race officials, because of his lack of support of environmental issues.

While some might say that politics don’t belong in races, I disagree. Personally, I hesitated before committing to the Shape Half Marathon last month because I’m not a fan of the event’s media sponsor. Choosing to participate in an activity can be interpreted as supporting a cause or endorsing a person and I don’t generally do that lightly. I’m not sure that I’ll do this particular race again, but I will proudly wear my new shirt.

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Filed under Events, Exercise, friends, Observations, road trips, running, Spring, Uncategorized