Category Archives: musings

What I want to be when I grow up

As I get close to wrapping up my 20th year as a librarian, I’ve been thinking about the future. I’ve always just assumed that I would  invest thirty years in my chosen (and mostly beloved) career, but the last few years have been challenging with ridiculous teacher evaluations handed down by Governor Cuomo State Ed and tight school budgets causing the elimination of positions. It’s been a little disheartening, to be honest, and I think I just might need to have a new plan…

In a little more than five years I will be 55 years old and should have 25 years into the NYS Teacher’s Retirement System. That seems like a substantial amount of time to devote to a profession and I think that may be the perfect threshold to my relationship with teaching. Maybe 30 years isn’t really in the cards for me…

Writing those words caused my stomach to buzz with nerves…and excitement. Walking away from my steady paycheck will be a leap of faith that gets my heart beating a little fast. Mt first response to letting go of financial security is to think about all the reasons why I shouldn’t retire “early.” You know things like the fact that my youngest child will only be 16 years-old with college still to come and my house won’t be quite paid off and I’ll be paying increased out-of-pocket cost related to maintaining the excellent health insurance I presently have. And, really, who knows what the future holds in terms of income from Lark + Lily. Do you think I may actually see some income from this labor of love project?

But, something changed this week, almost as if a coin flipped to the other side and I began considering all the ways my life might improve should I retire in another 5 or 6 years. Instead of focusing on what I may not have available in terms of financial flexibility, I started thinking about the freedom that retirement will offer me. I’ll be able to spend more time with my youngest child. Travel plans can be made based upon when I want to get away rather than dates that are dictated by a school calendar. I’ll have opportunities to pursue other interests – maybe writing, photography or perhaps a position that involves promoting or supporting one of the organizations about which I feel so strongly. I’m feeling recommitted to my teaching job (after summer vacation) and curious to learn what the future may hold in store for me.  I think I’ve got a plan.

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Filed under aging, family, ideas, musings, Uncategorized

When fights are good memories

image.jpegI grew up during a time when house parties were the rage. Going out was something rare, but adults gathering  for cocktails, pinochle and televised boxing matches was a big part of my childhood. I loved those nights filled with Lipton onion soup mix dip and chips with a side of ginger ale and grown up laughter. Knowing my place as a child among adults was incredibly comforting and I was careful to never misbehave and threaten my admission to an evening that I could only interpret as being sophisticated.

I have one particular memory of watching a heavyweight boxing match, the Thrila in Manila. Manila, naturally, being a place I had never ever heard of prior to the bout. We were at a home that I also don’t think I ever had been in before. The house and the enclosed front porch were made from big cold looking stones but it was cozy in a way that a new place doesn’t often feel.

The television everyone gathered around was big for the time, probably 27″, and color, something that was not necessarily a given during my youngest years. In my mind’s eye, I see rabbit ears, but I may be embellishing after 40 years and a collection of memories too large to properly sort. What I know for certain is that I fell in love with boxing that night.

The hype for the match was nothing compared to the media blitzes to which we’ve all grown accustomed, but I know I was aware of the fight, even as an elementary school student, because it was going to be an event. And it was. Ali was swagger before the word existed. He fascinated me with his larger than life persona and I was spellbound.  He won – the match and my eternal interest.

imageWhen I learned more about him, about his radical anti-war activities and steadfast conviction to his beliefs, I could only admire Ali more. He and Jimmy Carter will always somehow go together in my mind – the era, I suppose. Like Carter, Ali was an ambassador to worlds not yet in existence, peaceful places where priorities were more about taking care of people than taking people down and out. It sounds like a nice place. I hope the Louisville Lip is enjoying it as we speak.

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Filed under aging, Events, favorites, girlhood, musings, News, Observations, television, Uncategorized

Luck and lies and love

While the most apparent similarity between the three words in the title is that they all begin with the letter L, I’m beginning to believe that their connection is something a bit less obvious. It seems to me that they’re all things that we often just find as we bumble through life.

Walking through the parking lot this morning I spied a penny on the ground. It was by no means a shiny copper coin and it took me a moment to determine whether it was heads up or down. After concluding that it was in fact heads up, I put it in my pocket. You see, I’m hoping for a little luck. It’s been an exhausting week and I’m just not feeling on top of my game. Having a talisman as a tangible reminder that luck can appear out of nowhere was a welcome start to my day.

Lies are often discovered in a similar fashion as a lost coin – we simply stumble upon them. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as simply placing an item in one’s pocket and carrying it around because, unlike random coins, when we discover a lie we can’t help but speculate about how many others there may be out there. Especially when an uncovered lie causes one to search internally and examine their own level of honesty and find it also lacking in transparency.

And love? Does anyone ever really leave the house in the morning with a plan to find love? Of course, not.  I know, from experience, that love can be sought online but finding it there or in any other expected places has never been my fortune. Love is rarer than a penny face up or a series of lies that have suddenly unraveled like a skein of yarn. Although it can be a amulet like a lucky penny, love certainly isn’t currency but when love is corrupted by lies it can be challenged in previously unimagined ways that may prompt us to consider its emotional cost.

I’ve learned (another L word) a lot in the years since my marriage ended, things about being a human being with flaws and needs and regrets. I think I understand better than ever before that there are things that demand a closer look and perhaps, a good polishing, and that lies will get in the way of love.  And that, my friend, is life.

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Filed under aging, love, musings, Observations, Uncategorized

Sunday papers

imageAn article in the Sunday TU caught my eye.  It’s about speculators folks collecting art and storing it in shipping containers in Geneva, motivated by a wish to inflate the value, rather than to display and enjoy. That’s seriously fucked up. How beautiful is something that is hidden expressly to manipulate its worth? Maybe I’m naive, but I imagine that artists create their work for it to be viewed and appreciated. The actions described in the story just feel soul-less to me.

How do so many people move away from a path of humanness?

It’s impossible to read the paper without seeing a story about political corruption and lack of ethics. Lately, it seems as if every single day provides another example of the apparent separation of financial success and sense of humanity. I can’t decide if it is more sad or disturbing. Either way, I don’t like it.

The common thread I perceive in the two examples above is a lack of appreciation for what they have in life. Having the means to possess a great and tremendous piece of artwork is such a gift. Why would one not celebrate that by feasting one’s eyes on a Miro or Warhol instead of locking it away in a shipping container?

Who are these people who find money more beautiful than art?

As for the political nonsense that we’re subjected to currently, it’s incredibly disheartening. The combination of arrogance and selfish is astounding. How do these people ever believe that their actions – the bids and the contracts resulting in the accumulation of personal wealth, are permissible? When did the moral disconnect occur?

Why are there so many people who find money more valuable than trust and honesty?

I’m voting for Bernie.

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Filed under aging, beauty, musings, News, Observations, politics, Rant, sunday, Uncategorized

Greenwood Lake abbreviated

Before I say another word – a note, know this: I love where I grew up. Greenwood Lake provided me with a foundation – friends, experiences and memories that will reside within me until the day I die. Even after nearly 30 years in Albany, Greenwood Lake is my heart’s home. What follows isn’t a criticism of a place or a population, it’s a lament.

imageWhenever I tell someone where I grew up, I nearly always have to repeat it. Sometimes more than once. Greenwood Lake, N.Y., often abbreviated as GWL, is a small village in Orange County. Despite its proximity to NYC and Bergen County, N.J. and Westchester, GWL is a modest village with a mixture of blue-collar and professional residents. There are folks who have lived there for generations, marrying and merging families into a stew of blended characteristics and histories that would be impossible to separate without an elder spokesperson, a piece of paper and pencil. There’s a comfort in that.

Recently, I became aware of a couple of losses that had been suffered. A young man and a middle-aged man, who had been cut down as a young man, were both laid to rest this month. Even from my safe distance of nearly 100 miles and 3 decades, I was rocked by these deaths. A tidal wave of sorrow hit me and I was swamped by the memories of all the other premature deaths of GWL residents I have witnessed over the years. There have just been too damn many.

I don’t know what it is that makes these deaths seem so perversely frequent. Is it simply that the names are so familiar? Do tragedies occur in my hometown more than in other places? Does everyone need more than a single hand to count the number of wakes and funerals for peers which they attended prior to finishing high school? Jesus, I hope not.

Through the years, there have been far too many car accidents interspersed with horrible illnesses, unshakable addictions and previously unimaginable suicides. There are parents I know who have buried 2 of their 3 children, families who have suffered in ways I don’t ever want to suffer and it makes sad and scared and a bit angry, too. Why do these deaths continue to happen? When will the lessons of risk and danger and speed and mortality finally be learned?

An elected representative of my hometown district told me last week that Greenwood Lake, along with Port Jervis, has the highest incidence of heroin abuse in the county. It doesn’t seem like the abbreviation of the lives of Greenwood Lakers is going to end anytime soon.  I only wish my sorrow about this situation could be equally short lived.

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Filed under aging, friends, girlhood, musings, Observations, Uncategorized

Running reflections

IMG_8550Last week while I was in Barcelona I ran four consecutive days, including the very day we arrived. The leisurely pace of our vacation and the magnetic pull of the Mediterranean made taking a run an impulse that I could not deny. It was a gift I gave to myself, almost a souvenir that took up space in my memory and not my luggage. It was wonderful.

I’ve been running on and off for more than 25 years, with the last 5 or 6 years being my most prolific. I now run distances I never imagined in earlier years – 10 miles? Sign me up! A half marathon? Where and when? I’m in! My favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon, my only day off each week, is to take a long run, with the lunar B*tches or solo. It gives me an opportunity to process the preceding week and get ready mentally for the upcoming week – an undeniable two-fer.

I enjoy running in a way that transcends the physical discomfort that can accompany this hard on the body activity. Truthfully, my mind needs it even more than my body does most days. At this point in my running career, my body knows what to do in terms of breathing and exertion levels so my focus often turns inward and I find myself simultaneously working out problems and working out physically. Don’t believe me? Read this.

I ran yesterday for the first time since I was in Spain and honestly, I wasn’t really psyched about it. It was a grey day and the skies were spitting a bit and I was tired because I still had a little jet lag and I knew Jeter was going to get dirty and need to be cleaned up and my house really hadn’t received any attention since before my trip and did I mention I was tired from a busy night at the restaurant??? You see how scary easy it is to allow the reasons not to run to snowball?

One of my running partners and some sidewalk love.

One of my running partners and some sidewalk love.

But, I reached for my running clothes, cued up my recently created Barcelona running playlist and tied up my laces and headed out. Like always, it was exactly what I needed. The music was great and my legs and lungs welcomed the stretch. The air smelled like lilacs and the rain was the lightest of sprinkles on my face. My fatigue lifted along with my spirits and I found myself smiling knowing the truth in this statement: The only bad run is the one we do not take.

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Filed under Exercise, musings, running, Spain, Uncategorized, vacation

Sketches of Spain

imageHave you ever listened to this album by Miles Davis? It’s one of my favorites and sets the mood for so many things – a romantic dinner, a quiet conversation, time alone with your special someone. Add it to your playlist and thank me later, ok?

Now that you’ve got that going, let me share some of my impressions of Spain, or more accurately, Barcelona.

  • The dogs here are rarely on leashes, although their owners always seem to have one slung over their shoulders. The dogs are very well behaved and never run into the street or approach strangers even when a stranger is missing their own dog and more than willing to give a pat.
  • Fashion observations: women wear tights and stockings far more than at home.  They also rock tight, little leather jackets, while people of all ages have those super light down jackets in a rainbow of colors. Happily, I haven’t seen a single pair of Uggs.
  • Far too many people smoke cigarettes, just like in Paris.  The only other unpleasant aroma has been a vague sewer smell that wafts around in a mild, yet noticeable way.
  • Speaking of smells, it’s weird – the Mediterranean doesn’t have that briny smell that announces its presence like the Atlantic.  There’s no “sea air” that I could discern.
  • Children seem to be very well loved here.  Parents are affectionate and attentive without resorting to that helicopter approach which is so prevalent in the U.S.
  • Everyone has either a scooter, a bike or a soccer ball.
  • Scarves are oversize and wound repeatedly around the necks of both men and women.
  • Running seems to be a pretty big activity here and I got lucky with a boardwalk of sorts and parks super close to our apartment. I ran every day.
  • Chefs use a generous amount of salt and pastry is far more delicate than I imagined.
  • I’d like to come back here again.

 

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Filed under Europe, Food, musings, Observations, running, Spain, travel, Uncategorized, vacation