Category Archives: relationships

Be authentic

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It’s human nature to become reflective during your birth month, don’t you think? I think I do it every year.  It’s kind of when I check in on 1. where I’m at, 2. where I’ve been and 3. where I want to be going. I make an extra effort to try to take a little time every day during my birth month to just be in the moment and reflect. It’s a little gift to myself along with this year’s new Frye boots.

When you have a September birthday, there’s a lot going on. There’s that whole end-of-the-summer thing with Labor Day weekend, which I am happy to celebrate even though I know that summer really ends on the 21st of the month. Whatever. It’s the month school begins again and the Jewish holidays wreak havoc with everyone who’s trying to get back into a routine for a new academic year. It’s a month of weird 4 day work weeks and weather that includes days that can be 85 degrees, and nights when frost is a real threat. It can be unpredictable, to say the least.

Here, on day 2 of my this special month, I can’t begin to answer those three question I posed above with any sense of confidence. I am just not there. But, what I do know is this: what’s currently motivating me is a deep desire for a life that is authentic. I’m working really hard to make certain that who I am on the inside is the same person I am on the outside. Genuine. Real. True. Me.

I don’t want to hide from the truth, especially not who I am. Why would anyone? If who you are on the inside doesn’t reflect on the outside, it makes me wonder who are you trying to fool the most – yourself or everyone else?  It seems like the only time one would not want their true self to be seen, would be if one didn’t like themself.  And that thought makes me sad.

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What I feel on the inside is what I radiate out.  I can’t pretend and I’ve got no poker face. This is me. 

And I’m ok with that.

How about you?.

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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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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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Telling stories

Monday night a friend and I headed downtown to attend the August edition of the Front Parlor series. This month’s theme was Drugs and it wasn’t until nearly midway through the program that I decided to participate as a story teller. While there were quite a few options in terms of what I could share when it comes to drug stories, I was inspired to be a bit less literal.*

The rules for participating are pretty simple – no notes, 5-7 minutes length and based in truth. As a person who is currently experiencing some real challenges processing that last requirement, I decided to tell a story that I wove together from the following notes…

Drug stories? I’ve got those.
*getting shot at when I 15 and on mescaline
*my boyfriend copping 100 hits of purple microdot in NYC and bringing them upstate to sell for $3 each.
*petting a green dog while tripping on green acid
*and having my name written out in an 8-Ball of coke for my 19th birthday on a mirror – in script

But, those aren’t the drugs I’m going to talk about. The drug that I find the most dangerous is a different drug – words.

I find words to be the drug that has most frequently caused me trauma.

The most recent example of this addiction began with an email.

Where have you been all my life?

What would your reaction be if you received an email with that as the subject?

The guy who sent it was someone I had met the previous night at an event for foodies and bloggers. Our conversation had been easy and friendly and I assumed his tendency was to hyperbole.

That was generous. It really was more like bullshit.

But me? I’m apparently a sucker for smart repartee and literary references. I was hooked.

Each email brought a rush to my head and a flush to my face.

We exchanged notes and direct messages and texts until we met and finally became lovers. It was heady.

Every ping, ring and ding made me high. There’s no other way to describe it. The things he said were more powerful than any opiate I could ever imagine.

But…the high didn’t last. As time went on, the words could no longer lift me because the actions didn’t align with them.

I knew I needed to break up with him. My drug was no longer getting me stoned.

So I began to work really hard to start remembering other words like:

Happiness
Fun
Laughter
and Truth

And the more I thought of those words, the more committed I became to realizing those words in my life. His words no longer held me under their power because his actions screamed far louder and I finally found the strength to walk away.  I broke the addiction.

Thank God for wine.

That was the foundation for my story. There were some facts, a couple of details and enough fiction to protect the not-so-innocent. I tried to tell my tale slowly, working to stay cognizant of structure and flow and I’d like to believe it made for a much more entertaining story than it did a life experience.

A friend with food issues once told me that her addiction was so difficult to combat because food is something she will have to consume for the rest of her life. Words are the same. It just becomes a matter of being far more cautious about what one is willing to swallow.

*Generally, I am painfully literal. I think that’s what’s gotten me in trouble – I expect people to be truthful and this man was everything but honest.

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Coming clean

Welcome to one of the saddest days of my life year.

Even though it happens every year, if I’m lucky, the final morning on Cape Cod always leaves me feeling melancholy. There’s something about knowing that it’s the last time I’ll be seeing the ocean and smelling the salty air that punctuates my summer in a way that makes me feel down. There’s just nothing like the Cape.

This year’s time has been particularly sweet. I have some really special people in my life and was lucky to share time with them in one of my favorite places on earth. There was a wonderful mix of my oldest childhood friends, folks I have met through the years at various jobs and someone kind of new who makes me laugh and wonder why I had allowed myself to live without such simple joys for so many years.

Although my friends all came to me in different ways, there are common experiences we each share and it turns out, we know a lot of the same people. Sometimes our knowledge of mutual friends is pretty consistent, but other times it seems that individually we’ve been exposed to very different facets of these common acquaintances. Information shared over cups of coffee and delicious cocktails made with fancy rum can reveal character in ways unimaginable. It’s kind of remarkable and, to be completely honest, more than a little disconcerting to learn that sometimes we indeed knew very little about someone for whom we spent years caring. How do people live such deceptive and duplicitous existences – and why would they ever expect to get away with it?

This morning I took my last outdoor shower of vacation. The water was hot and I used the soap my new friend turned me on to and then left behind for me to enjoy. The bar of soap I had brought with me from home, a gift from someone I apparently never knew, was abandoned in the shower. When I dried off, I felt clean, fresh and ready to move forward in a way that is becoming more natural and healthy every day.

See you next year, Cape Cod. Minus the dirt, please.

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In pursuit of perfection

When I instruct 6th graders on bibliographic formatting I always tell them that perfect is never my goal, except for in MLA citations. Beyond that, perfect is not my expected, or even necessarily desired, outcome. I don’t need perfect.  Authentic and true is more than enough for me.

This year’s Cape vacation has come with some moments that absolutely took my breath away. Simple joys – friends, good food, sunshine, stretched legs and a tired dog. It’s been heavenly. Yesterday Jeter swam in our pond and he was so happy that my heart almost burst. As he paddled towards me with water rolling off his back and light shining from his eyes, I took a minute to take a mental snapshot to add that moment to the other ones from this wonderful past week.

The pace of this vacation has been ideal. The first couple of days were spent as a duo (or trio if you count Jeter) and the weather was kind of overcast. It was a great way to ease into the week and become familiar with both our surroundings and each other in this new place. It was quiet and sweet and left us in the perfect position to greet our first friends with an easy and happy warmth when they began to arrive.

By midweek we were in full swing and hosted a rager mixer with friends joining us from their own vacation homes for a great afternoon/evening of walks and drinks and dinner and so much laughter. It was an epic blend of people, alcohol and sand and it was one of the most fun days I’ve ever had. Sun up to sun down, I wouldn’t have changed a single thing. Thursday was similarly full and our evening spent at Race Point was amazing, even if the array of folks around the bonfire was shy a few faces. Effortless, organic fun.

The weather has once again shifted to windy and overcast and we’re down to two (and Jeter, of course) again. We’re vacillating between sitting around in a relaxed puddle and checking a few more things off our list of intended activities. It’s too early to tell which way will win, but I imagine whichever way we go it will be as close to perfect as I ever need life to be.

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Stop this train

Sitting in a screened porch, dog at my feet, listening to John Mayer and staring out at the moody, foggy pond across the dirt road and I completely concur with his plea – stop this train.

At this moment in time, despite a lack of sunshine or resolution to a heartache, my world is so filled with positive and wonderful things that I want to just press pause and savor it. Each of my sons are healthy and exploring their worlds, my personal life is fulfilling and fun, I’m on my second major vacation of the summer and am truly feeling a complete lack of schedule or structure. I am so on holiday. I am so very fortunate.

I’m pretty sure this is my 20th consecutive summer spending time on the Cape. Not really sure how that happened so fast, but this year for the first time ever, I’m here without a single child and it really feels different. It’s kind of the exact opposite experience of how when you go to NYC as a parent with your children, you suddenly realize how many parks and playgrounds there are that you never noticed before.

Being on the Cape without children means scrolling right past all those listings in the local events calendar that fall under the heading: KIDS and looking instead at things like Reggae Night at the Beachcomber and The Mosquito Hour. It’s almost like being a child again – you get to make decisions on impulse, without much consideration of anyone else. It’s amazing.

I hope everyone reading this knows, without a doubt, that I don’t ever share any of this stuff to boast – it’s more of an encouragement. I assure you I never imagined a day when I would have a summer that included 10 days in Europe followed by a week with friends in a house perched above a pond and filled with the most sunshine-y vibes ever gathered under a single roof. You know, right, that I grew up without ever vacationing beyond spending a few nights with family friends in their homes? I certainly wasn’t ever expecting my life to include times like this.

I guess it’s no wonder that I just want to wrap my arms around every minute of it.

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