Category Archives: upstate New York

I’m your Mom, not your pimp

I’m really concerned about today’s young people* and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about what a shitty world in which the next generation is  growing up. Does saying that make me sound really old? If it does, so be it. Unlike much of today’s youth, I can live with a little criticism and negativity.

It may not be fair to make comparisons to my own young adulthood since my situation was a bit different, but when I consider the responsibilities which were foisted upon me at a young age, I have a hard time accepting how lame dependent my sons continue to be on their Dad and me. Don’t misunderstand me – I’m appreciative of the fact that we can provide them with financial and other types of support, but their collective inability to navigate through life without relying heavily upon us, strikes me as kind of bizarre. I’m only half kidding when I say that I’ve wondered at times if they would starve if we were gone and they were faced with a manual can opener and a pantry filled with canned goods. I honestly don’t know if they would even know where to begin.

It’s a similar situation when it comes to finding a job, something both of my younger sons have been needing to accomplish (shout out to the fully employed LL!). Apparently, one of my sons had no idea as to how to actually obtain employment. When I asked him how his friends with jobs may have found their way to employment, he said they “knew people.” I suggested he might want to either search online help wanted ads or visit some retail/restaurant spots and ask for applications. Radical, right? How could he not know this?

What prompted me recently to actually utter the phrase that titles this post, relates directly to finding a job. As he was walking out the door to walk to school, my 14 year-old  asked me to “get him some babysitting gigs.” Keep in mind, he’s the youngest grandchild on both sides of the family and knows nothing about actually taking care of children. When I asked him about his skills when it comes to diaper changing, he informed me that he’d like to start with older kids, like 3 or 4 year-olds and then work his way down to babies because babies are harder. He may not be experienced, but he isn’t dumb.

Maybe you need a babysitter? Or a son?

 

*am I alone in this?

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Filed under aging, Albany, Boys, DelSo, Education, family, ideas, Local, moms, musings, Observations, relationships, Summer, upstate New York

From invisible to 518 famous

The years that I was married were busy ones. The boys were young and my husband and I worked opposite hours maximizing coverage of the children, but leaving little time for one another. As the kids grew, we grew apart until I remember a sense of invisibility appearing. I didn’t feel seen. In fact, I felt about as acknowledged as a throw pillow which had been part of a household for so long that its original bright color had faded into something no longer distinctive. It wasn’t good – or good for me.

My first post-marriage relationship, in many ways, kept me in that same shadowy place. Although I felt excited and emotionally engaged, the circumstances weren’t ideal and I felt restrained from being my best live out loud self. As a woman who increasingly wanted more – more fun, more open honesty, more life, I came to realize that the only part of my relationship that was consistently growing was my frustration. It’s taken a surprisingly long time to move from that dark place to a new vantage spot that comes with more sunshine and light. It’s getting better.

Have you heard or used the term 518-Famous? A close friend has been calling me that and it cracks me up. I absolutely love the phrase and I hope that whomever originated it did so with fondness, because that’s how I interpret being tagged as such. It isn’t a declaration of one’s value, it’s more a comment on the small, intimate circle that is Albany for a lot of people.

At an event last week there were some really nice women who had either seen  the Front Parlor storytelling event, or follow me on Instagram. They approached me knowing my name and it was pretty cool having a conversation immediately because this person you just met is familiar with your stories or perspective. While my circle of friends and acquaintances is pretty large due to many years in the hospitality industry and education, I’d like to believe that any notoriety I may own comes from this blog more than anything else. This is the place where I’m most myself publicly, I think, and where you just may have witnessed my becoming increasingly more visible. Maybe even 518 famous.

 

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Filed under aging, Albany, DelSo, Events, family, friends, Local, love, marriage, musings, Observations, relationships, secrets, upstate New York

Telling the story of A Fire, a Phonebook Page and Finding My Father

Photo credit: Jamie Thompson

I’m finally sobering up after a night that was intoxicatingly special. Friday night I was one of 6 storytellers at a public event held at the Linda Auditorium. The occasion was a celebration of the 8th anniversary of our local take on the Moth Story Hour, The Front Parlor Series, which occurs monthly in two locations; Albany and Troy.

Telling a story, without notes, in front of an audience is a nerve-wracking experience. I’ve never performed on stage or addressed an audience like I did on Friday and I wasn’t certain how to prepare for it. I knew the story I wanted to tell, the one about how I found my father’s family 30 years ago. It’s a good story, made better by the fact that it’s true. Obviously, I know the chronology of the tale and the important players, but it was challenging to decide which details added to the story and which might merely distract from the overall recounting. I began working it out on “paper.”

It took me a couple of weeks before I nailed down the segments that I wanted to include and the basic order in which to share them. I practiced in my head, honing and editing, during runs and walks and drives. I revised. My biggest concern, besides completely choking, was that I would forget a certain episode or anecdote that I knew was important. I decided it made sense to count paragraphs and associate each one with a word. That way I only needed to remember 12 things. I could do that! On Wednesday, I printed the story for the first (and only) time and made 12 flash cards, for rehearsing.

Friday afternoon, I went for a run (shocking!) opting for my usual 5 mile loop. I passed the remains of a house that had been destroyed by a recent fire. I inhaled and the scent of fire damage immediately tweaked my memory. I knew that smell. I showered, grabbed the last can of hard cider from my fridge and headed to the Linda with a couple of talismans.

The first photo I ever saw of my father, the page from the Dublin phonebook and a stone from my father’s grave fashioned into a pendant.

Somehow I imagined there would be space there for me to actually run through my story out loud. There really wasn’t, though, with 5 other performers and an increasingly full auditorium. I drank my cider, flipping through my index cards, scanning the paper copy of my story and periodically checking the crowd to see familiar faces who had promised to come. I peed three times. More quickly than seemed possible, I was being introduced and made my way towards the stage. My last thought was this – “If you get nervous, just imagine you’re just telling the story to me. You got this.”*

I exhaled, deeply and slowly, and stepped up to the mic.

*As always, thanks Aloysius

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Filed under Albany, Aloysius, Events, family, friends, girlhood, Ireland, Irish, Local, musings, Observations, stress, upstate New York, writing

Mums the word – Mumford and Sons at the Times Union Center

Confession: three concerts in three nights nearly broke me. By the time Sunday morning rolled around last weekend, I was completely exhausted, but I couldn’t stop smiling. What a great few nights this little city of ours showed visitors, local music fans and me! Here’s how this early March Bucket List concert went down…

After hearing from friends about the impressive wait lines they had encountered at the City Beer Hall on Elton John night, I made sure that I called in a favor we arrived before 5:00 for dinner pre-show. Cozy and warm by the fire, our party of 5 ordered an array of food, including burgers and two chicken sandwich variations along with drinks. Despite the fact that the inside of this place was absolutely jammed, the kitchen and front of the house staff were on their game and absolutely humming with professional competence. Food and drink were without exception excellent and I highly recommend this place whether its pre or post show or any other occasion when you want quality ingredients well prepared. I’m still thinking about that burger!

While the girls continued socializing I grabbed my crowd photos for the TU, which was a blast. It was an awesome crowd and there was no shortage of folks willing to pose for me, including a fair number of my friends. This was Mumford and Sons first Albany show and there were lots of excited people, including me. I had been shut out when they last came around for a sold out concert at SPAC and I was still kicking myself for missing that show. By the time the lights went down, I was comfortable in my seat and ready to enjoy some music.

And, boy, did I! Marcus Mumford was absolutely mesmerizing singing his pipes out and playing whatever instrument he happened to land in front of as he ran around the stage. There appeared to nothing he couldn’t play and somehow, the sound mix was remarkably good, something I’ve never thought before at this particular arena. At one point during their set, I couldn’t stop myself from texting a friend with this message: I am so happy.

I will not miss this band again. Maybe you’ll go next time too?

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Filed under Albany, concerts, Dinner, drinking, Events, favorites, friends, Local, Music, Recommendations, Restaurants, SEEN, upstate New York, winter

Elton John in Albany – Seen and heard!

In recent months, once again, I’ve picked up some side gigs taking photos for the Times Union’s Seen galleries. I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures and it’s fun for me to make chit chat with people, even if I don’t always actually get to attend the concert or show that I’m shooting. I feel almost like an ambassador to Albany when I’m talking to folks, asking where they’re visiting from and offering suggestions for places to eat and drink. Once a hostess, always a hostess.

Last Friday night’s event, the Albany stop of Elton John’s farewell tour, promised to be a great crowd. The event was sold out months in advance and it seemed like a lot of people I knew were attending the show. I myself hadn’t purchased a ticket since I was fortunate enough to have seen Elton John before – in London’s Wembley Arena in the early 90s. With Eric Clapton and Bonnie Raitt. Backstage. Come on! How would this show possible top that?

I took up my position in the fairly recently enclosed lobby of the Times Union Arena and started grabbing my shots, beginning at about 6:30. The crowd was colorful and excited and I met people from all over the state, as well as New England, Canada and Florida – all in our fair city for the night. The concert was scheduled to begin at 8:00 and by 7:20 or so, I had my shots and was getting ready to head to my car. Until I ran into someone I knew, that is…

My friend, a retired teacher who was attending the show with his husband, and I took a few minutes to catch up and then he asked me if I was attending the show. I explained that I was just working pre-show and didn’t have a ticket. He asked if I wanted to go in…uh, yeah, that would be cool. It was my lucky night and a short time later, we were inside the TU Center waiting for the lights to go down and Elton to come out.

I have to say, Elton John 2019 was even better than he was circa 1992. Somehow I had forgotten what a terrific piano player he was and his performance was truly stellar. The setlist, which I checked out online once I was in the arena, was pretty much every song a fan might want to hear and his band was tight with the percussionist particularly standing out. He opened with “Bennie and the Jets” and forged ahead full steam rolling out some of my favorites including “Levon” and “Burn Down the Mission.”  It was a great night for Elton and his band, Albany and every person fortunate enough to catch the show.

How about you? Were you there? Were you Seen??

 

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Filed under Albany, concerts, Events, friends, Local, Music, SEEN, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter

Steve Earle and Shannon McNally at The Egg

There are two things that people say about Albany* that make me crazy, ok, maybe three, and on the top of the list is “there’s nothing to do.” As someone working really hard to pace themselves, I’m going to tell you right now that that’s crazy talk – there is so much activity in Albany these days, that it’s a struggle to not overextend one’s self by trying to go to every single cool thing happening. Truth.

Late winter isn’t known as the most hospitable time of the year in upstate New York, but we’ve gotten really lucky in Albany and have welcomed some terrific performers to the area already this year. Thursday night I had the chance to see a musician, Steve Earle, whom I’ve been interested to see ever since reading a biography about him. This bonafide American low-key legend rolls through town every so often and friends who were unable to make use of their tickets, were generous enough to make their seats available. And, they were great seats!

Shannon McNally opened the evening with a set of the perfect length, perhaps 40 minutes. She was charming with a self-deprecating sense of humor and a voice that shone particularly well when she and Steve harmonized together. While it didn’t seem that McNally had been to our Egg before, she’s obviously been performing for years and played a set that was really easy to enjoy. I’m still chuckling over a remark she made while gently touching upon life and politics. She quoted her grandfather with the following:

In a hundred years, all new people.

Exactly.

As for the headliner, Steve Earle did not disappoint. The “tools” of his trade, 6 various stringed instruments, were arranged around him like a womb and he played each of them with incredible technical skill and respect. His prowess reminded me of Richard Thompson, in a way. But, when I hear Thompson I can’t help but look for the other guitar player who surely most be playing simultaneously, because one guitar player can’t possibly create that much sound. When it came to Earle, though, my eyes were seeking the additional musicians who had to be contributing to the sound with instruments beyond this one single guitar. He just made so much music! Genius comes in many flavors, friends.

If you haven’t seen Steve Earle, or Richard Thompson, you need to get on that. Keep your eyes open and you’ll be rewarded next time either of them swing through Albany. And don’t miss Shannon McNally – she’s got her own special magic, too.

*(In case you’re interested in the other two things rounding out my list – “there’s no parking” and “the taxes are too high.”)

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Filed under Albany, art, concerts, Events, friends, Local, Music, Observations, Recommendations, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter

sto·ry·tell·ing – the activity of telling or writing stories.

Somehow I’ve pushed the “Publish” button 1500 times on this WordPress blog. If you’ve been around any length of time, you’ve witnessed some great trips, fantastic meals, fun adventures and a heartbreak or two. I’ve shared more than some would prefer, but have learned I’d rather commit to honesty than anyone who might be less than truthful. Lies are joy suckers and who has time for that?

Speaking of sharing, I believe I’ve gotten more selective about what I share. It may be hard to imagine but, I keep a lot in my head. Hopefully, what I do share is accepted with the same simple motivation with which it is given. I’m just a person who is living a tremendously rich life and appreciating the heck out of every experience with which I’ve been graced.

I have a couple of new things coming up that maybe you’d like to check out. The first is an event in which I am participating on March 15th (yes, the Ides of March). The storytelling series Front Parlor is celebrating its 8 year anniversary with an evening of live storytelling. I’ve been invited to tell a story, which some of you may know parts of, about finding my father’s family when I was 22. I’m nervously excited. The title of my story is “A Fire, a Phonebook and Finding My Father,” in case you’re considering getting tickets.

Also exciting is an in-the-works new local source of information to which I’m hoping to contribute some regular writing. I’ll have more deets when they’re available, believe me!

Come celebrate – DelSo 1500+ and the Front Parlor Series’ 8th birthday.

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Filed under Albany, birthdays, DelSo, Events, Local, love, Observations, Troy, Uncategorized, upstate New York, writing