Category Archives: upstate New York

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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Street talk

Damn, girl. You lookin for a friend? You work out!

I know I’m expected to be offended by the words above, but, I’m not. I’m almost 52 years old and a young man (maybe 25?) who was tall, handsome and jacked, said those very words to me last night as I walked to the Empire State Plaza. I’m probably old enough to be his mother and, instead of feeling disgusted by his attention, I was absolutely flattered. Is that weird? Wrong?

In these #metoo days it sometimes feels as if we all are expected to respond to something in the same way, as if we share some mass mentality that takes offense at exactly the same things. Maybe for you, a man less than half your age conveying IN A NON THREATENING WAY that he appreciates your physical appearance is an act of disrespect, but I don’t feel the same way. Perhaps that’s because each time it happens, I think to myself “this might be the last time this happens to me.” Maybe I’m just not ready to become invisible yet.

This guy did not intimidate or harass me, nor did he follow me or demand my attention. There was no pressure on me to respond and I didn’t, beyond a bemused smile. I wore that smile for the rest of the evening, truth be told.

While men may be more inclined to utter out loud their inner thoughts when it comes to a female’s appearance, I can confess that my women friends and I guilty of objectifying the male form in a similar fashion. We’re just a little more evolved about actually expressing ourselves in these particular situations, which makes catcalling one of the few areas of communication in which men exceed women in their ability to share their thoughts.

Thoughts? Experiences? Share.

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Filed under aging, Albany, Local, musings, Observations, Summer, upstate New York

Sultry

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We’re going with definition 2. Let’s be positive.

You know how tropical places are reputed to have a very ambling sort of pace? People wear clothing that flaps in an island breeze or exposes skin to the sun and there is a glisten to everything your eye finds. It just feels sensual, but in an organic kind of way. Not posey. More passionate.

I like walks when it’s hot – they’re slower and from the hips, not the shoulders as it is in colder temperatures. While I appreciate the sexiness of staccato heels and a fast gait, flats and a sway of the hips are at least equaling appealing, I think. And it feels so much better.

When it’s been 80+ degrees for 42 consecutive days, you’ve just got to learn how to live with it. Maybe it’s air conditioning or a camp on a lake, but there’s probably some method you’ve devised to get through it. For me, it’s become about acceptance and appreciation. Which makes sense since those are really crucial parts of my overall thought process when it comes to emotional things. Having it be consistent with my physical comfort and well-being seems almost crazy sane.

I’ve run when I could, and walked or cycled a bit more than typical, and it’s been great. Some days I shower three times. I’ve heard some describe the weather as “oppressively hot”weather but I’ve decided that my takeaway is that it’s summer. We’re having summer weather and, while it can be destructive and unpredictable, it really is characteristic for July and August. And – next month this hot spell will be a blip in your rear view mirror and you’ll be wearing jeans again. 

It’s obvious the Europeans are more advanced than we are – many of them take  a substantial amount of time off in August. I wish everyone had that same opportunity. It would probably make for a more civilized world, frizzy hair and all.

How are you coping?

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Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, Exercise, Local, musings, Observations, Random, running, Summer, upstate New York

Stormy weather

I recommend this version of Stormy Weather, if you want to go multi sensory with this.

4F4D2B59-31F4-44E2-97AF-ADDC1F667062While I’ve been relishing the languid pace of this hot summer, with the added bonus drama of a spate of recent storms, sh*t has gotten real to folks in my immediate and extended neighborhoods. Last Friday, the rain came down in a textbook example of “deluge” and the infrastructure in our aging city just can’t bear it. Numerous homes on my block, and the neighboring streets, experienced a pretty gross example of that when their basements filled with inches of disgusting water from the overtaxed system. Nasty stuff that they’re still cleaning up nearly a week later. Ick.

Yesterday’s round of afternoon storms was wildly intense with pelting rain, fierce winds and chunks of hail pinging against my house. After it passed, I walked to our farmers market and was shocked by the destruction I saw. There were trees down and streets closed and Delaware Avenue, during rush hour, was very slow moving. The most shocking sight on my walk was the enormous tree down on Delaware and the resulting damage to at least two homes. The roots had just pulled out from the sodden ground and down it went.

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Omg – what are my open tabs communicating? 😊

This morning, Jeter and I took a walk to see how the clean up was going. It was obvious that a lot of work had been done overnight to cut up and cart away limbs and entire trees, but what was even more obvious was how much destruction had actually occurred. We walked Delaware to Beekman to Southern Blvd and I couldn’t get over how many times we had to walk in the street because there was a pile of branches monopolizing the entire sidewalk. Traffic was weird because streets were still closed and news trucks were setting up for their broadcasts. Pretty crazy.

AB05F5ED-10F3-4CBC-B7B6-7991693802A9I hope you all made it through unscathed and, for those that didn’t, I wish you well and hope you receive a fair insurance settlement. And, if you’re a renter, make sure you spring for renter’s insurance. You just never know.

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Take some inspiration from this ray of sunshine – just about broken in half, yet still blooming.

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Poems, prayers and promises

When the weather is tropical and everywhere you look you see green, life starts to feel like an epic poem written by Mother Nature. There’s so much happening around us with things growing and water puddling and smells that define a season – flowers, bar-b-q and chlorine. I know how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to sit and walk and run and just appreciate these things. I take the responsibility of being an observer pretty seriously and know it’s an incredible luxury.

I’m generally not much of a pray-er, other than to give thanks, but I’ve been working the prayer thing a little harder as my kids continue to extend their reach. Health and safety. No cobras. Safe driving. That sort of thing.

Promises? What do I know about those? Hmmm…I’d have to go with that they’re important and meaningful and should not be made lightly. Like that promise I made a few days ago to share some impressions from recent live music shows I’ve seen.

First up are some pics from the concert Liam and I attended in Vienna. We bought the tickets from a guy selling them near a park and I was pretty convinced he was going to steal my credit card information and cost me a bundle, but happily it was legit and he was a total professional.

 

The show, at Schoenbrunn Palace, was a “fine selection of masterful music by Mozart and Strauss…” it lasted about 90 minutes with an intermission and it was lovely. I didn’t grab a video because they asked guests not to and that’s a rule I can respect, even with my regret at not sneaking a single photo at the Sistine Chapel.

My son and I also attended a classical concert in a gorgeous chapel in Prague. I did take a video there and I’m sharing it

 

I love Vivaldi (not that I know sh*t about classical music) and I felt quite moved by the experience. Wonderful.

Also wonderful in a different and much closer to home way are the Monday night jazz offerings at Lucas Confectionary. I’ve been twice so far, once on the back terrace and once indoors and air-conditioned, and have loved it. Great wine choices (A Pigato?! A gruner from Oregon?! Wow!), a cool vibe indoors or out, and a capable and into it band really makes for an excellent way to start the week.

As for what I’m sharing below – my youngest listens to music that I can usually really respect. Recently he’s been on a John Denver kick, which I find pretty amusing. While doing a little searching online, this song came up and it spoke to me. Do you think it reads as more a poem, a prayer or promise?

I’ve been lately thinking
About my life’s time
All the things I’ve done
And how it’s been
And I can’t help believing
In my own mind
I know I’m gonna hate to see it end
I’ve seen a lot of sunshine
Slept out in the rain
Spent a night or two all on my own
I’ve known my lady’s pleasures
Had myself some friends
And spent a time or two in my own home
And I have to say it now
It’s been a good life all in all
It’s really fine
To have a chance to hang around
And lie there by the fire
And watch the evening tire
While all my friends and my old lady
Sit and pass the pipe around
And talk of poems and prayers and promises
And things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone
How right it is to care
How long it’s been since yesterday
And what about tomorrow
And what about our dreams
And all the memories we share
The days they pass so quickly now
Nights are seldom long
And time around me whispers when it’s cold
The changes somehow frighten me
Still I have to smile
It turns me on to think of growing old
For though my life’s been good to me
There’s still so much to do…

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Lush life

There’s something about dense humidity that takes over my body. All I want to do is meander at my very own pace. I can almost understand the concept of a summer romance when the weather is like this – who wants to commit their attention beyond the current heat spell? Who can?

At the halfway+ part of summer, it seems like time to begin taking care of some of the tasks you’d swore you’d get to during break…dusting and cleaning the ceiling fan paddles, cabinet fronts and all those book shelves for starters. It always feels good this time of year to lighten my load – weed out possessions no longer serving a purpose. I like to also stock up on white T-shirt’s and tops for next summer. This year’s always look a little dull by August.

But, when the outdoor air is swampy and everything in your house feels sticky, it is really hard to get motivated to do much of anything other than sit on the deck that feels like a secret treehouse and flit between writing and reading for an indulgent amount of time. It’s summer.

While I’m feeling mostly lazy, all of my plants are currently going crazy. There’s so much energy and growth coming off of them that it’s practically palpable. Leaves are glossy, tendrils are gripping, and they each seem to have their own relationship with the sun. The rain may have drenched them, but they keep reaching for the sky, undiscouraged.

Sitting around, watching for a visit from the cardinal who always brings me peace, surrounded by plants on another relaxed summer day, is an exceptional reward for doing some routine chores. Lush. Life. Lucky.

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