Avoir de la chance

imageFriday evening I was tempted to leap in the air and shout with excitement “I’m in Paris!” (Kind of Mary Tyler Moore-ish, if you’re struggling for the visual.) It was just so remarkable to me that a day that began at 5:00 a.m. Thursday in upstate New York could conclude more than 30 hours later with me walking from the metro to the wonderful Airbandb flat we had booked in Paris’ southwest end. Isn’t air travel amazing?

Despite not having taken my Frye’s off in more than 24 hours, I felt miraculously light on my feet. Liam and I had already climbed the Eiffel Tower and taken in the view, impressive even in the persist drizzle. I had eaten duck confit with roasted potatoes, washed down with a couple of glasses of Cote du Rhone. There had even been creme brûlée. I was indeed in Paris.

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By no means is this my first trip abroad; I’ve even visited Paris briefly once before. Yet, this trip seems particularly magical. Gazing around and seeing sights that are quintessentially Parisian – Notre Dame, the Arch de Triomphe, the Place de la Concorde, the Seine, feels a little unbelievable. How did I ever get to be so lucky?

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Filed under Boys, Europe, France, Observations, travel, vacation

April Fool me

If I had known 25 years ago that choosing a career as a public school teacher would mean fighting for survival against a megalomaniac governor, I might have elected to simply stay full-time in the hospitality industry. During my college days, I imagined my biggest challenge would be landing a job in what is a fairly specialized field after graduation, particularly in an area with a university which was churning out qualified applicants. Ha.

I no have education. I have inspiration. If I was educated, I would be a damn fool. Bob Marley

My first job, landed within months of graduation, was a long-term sub position in a small urban district. I was racing between three buildings and loving it. Even though the job was only temporary, I poured my heart into it and felt completely gratified that I had made a great decision and had indeed found the perfect career for my skills and strengths.

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.  William Shakespeare

Since that time I’ve been tenured in three different school districts, in three different counties. Each time I changed jobs I did so with tremendous consideration – how would my new position impact my family, my day-to-day life, my career, my salary? Without exception, I embraced the new opportunity and have been satisfied with my decision to start over again in a new district.

Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.  Charlie Chaplin

I’ve been a public school teacher for nearly 20 years and I have never been more discouraged about the future of my profession. In the last few years, I have seen quality educators leaving the field in alarming numbers. They’re tired of being beaten down by elected officials and bureaucrats who wouldn’t last a day in their shoes. Positions go unfilled because of lack of qualified applicants. A person would have to be crazy to go into education now.

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. Abraham Lincoln

Our governor has sold out the children of NYS to for-profit companies who will subject students to tests which are age-inappropriate and rigged for failure. He will continue his efforts to break organized labor unions and privatize education. The legislature had fewer than 12 hours to read and vote on Cuomo’s final bill – less time than the average NYS 9-year-old will seated to take their assessment exams.

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do. Benjamin Franklin

I didn’t vote for Cuomo last year and I will never again support politicians who supported his education bill.  Unlike the elected representatives who provided lip service to educators and parents across the state, that’s a promise I’m going to keep.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

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Filed under Education, politics, Schools

April in Paris

imageDoesn’t April in Paris sound magical?  I’m imagining a gentle rain, lots of shades of lavender and soft yellow and frequent bon jours. Happy sigh.  As my trip gets closer, I’m spending a little time thinking about what to pack (going with a navy/grey palette) and wondering how much of my high school French will come back to me.  Un  peu, I hope.

I don’t like to travel with a firm itinerary in hand, but there are a few things I want to do in Paris.  If I were traveling solo I probably wouldn’t plan anything, but since this may be the only time I go to Paris with my son, we’ve got to hit some of the sights. Please feel free to add suggestions to the list below!

  • The top of the Eiffel Tower.  I bought tickets in advance, but wish I had thought to do it sooner since all that was left was 5pm.  Do you know if we can just kill time up there until dark or will the tickets be timed?
  • Jim Morrison’s grave (my choice) and Napoleon’s tomb (Liam’s pick).
  • Notre Dame.  I hear it’s free on the first Sunday of the month.  Think this is true even if it is Easter?
  • Sacré-Cœur
  • The Mona Lisa at the Louvre – I think we’ll buy a two-day museum pass at the airport when we land.  Do you think it is a good deal?
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Eat & drink
  • Sit in an outdoor cafe and enjoy a bottle of wine in the sun.
  • Walk and take pictures to my heart’s content.
  • Enjoy my son and family who will be joining us from Germany

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Filed under Boys, Europe, France, ideas, travel, vacation

Je m’appelle Silvia. Je déteste à voler

imageYesterday’s tragic plane crash in the French Alps has really rocked me. I’ve never been an enthusiastic flyer and horrific incidents like this amp up my anxiety about getting on a plane in the next couple of weeks. In the big picture, I don’t think it really makes a difference why the plane went down, be it equipment failure, pilot error or some other more dastardly reason like terrorism. All I know is that I’m going to France next month and I’m not feeling too psyched about flying.

Many years ago I flew to London a couple of days after the Lockerbie crash and I don’t recall considering canceling my trip for even an instant – youthful ignorance was my probably my saving grace. The security at both JFK and Heathrow was incredibly intense that December, but there wasn’t anything getting between me and my New Year’s Eve in London plans. I boarded that plane without a moment’s hesitation.

Over the years, though, I’ve become increasingly less comfortable flying. I get motion sickness and find the stale cabin air to be a petri dish of nastiness and potential sickness. Finding balance between staying hydrated and using the airplane’s bathroom facilities as infrequently as possible, is tough to manage.

There was a time when I would have had a couple of drinks before boarding in the hopes that I would pass out fall asleep but, I think the potential for a hangover is too great and I don’t want to waste prime vacation time feeling like merde. I’ve learned to take a prescription medication to help to avoid the travel sickness and yesterday afternoon I took what seems like the next logical – I phoned my doctor and requested something for air travel anxiety.  Hello, Valium prescription.

I’m not taking this step lightly, I don’t really like taking drugs, but I know I will be uncomfortable flying.  Uncomfortable in so many different ways – emotionally, mentally, physically (my hips don’t appreciate sitting for 6+ hours), too.  I can deal with physical pain or emotional or mental discomfort, but the triple whammy of all three simultaneously is a bit much.  Sleeping through some of that sounds like a bonne idée. 

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Filed under Europe, France, travel

No sleep till Brooklyn*

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My picture does NOT do the work justice. Apologies!

On Friday, despite Mother Nature’s attempt to disrupt my plans, I ventured down to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to attend my uber talented neighbor, Ken Ragsdale’s art show opening at the Front Room Gallery. As someone who doesn’t often attend gallery openings (read: hardly ever), I was a bit out of my element, and, as a person who doesn’t stray from Manhattan usually, I was definitely outside of my borough of reference. After consulting my Facebook friends regarding attire and Google maps for directions, we hit the road in the late afternoon. Next stop: The Hundred-Acre Wood!

View from the Roebling Tea Room on the first evening of spring.

View from the Roebling Tea Room on the first evening of spring.

The drive was uneventful, other than my imagination working overtime creating vivid scenarios about how the piece of Ken’s which ended up in the back of my wagon could be damaged during the trip to Brooklyn. Rear-end collision, encounter with a remarkable pothole resulting in the shattering of glass…

imageSafely parked around the corner from the gallery, wearing the suggested attire of skinny jeans, ankle boots and a cool hat, we met up with some of the Albany contingent and enjoyed a lite bite and a round of drinks at the Roebling Tea Room. My cocktail, an excellent old-fashioned with a clean, citrus element was wonderful, the small plates equally perfect.

The show was an absolute triumph. The work vividly expressed a time in the artist’s life and is truly stunning.  The presence of so many familiar faces must have made the opening a dreamy blend of memories and modern day moments.  So friggin cool.  Can’t get to Brooklyn?  Check out the group show opening Friday, 3/27/15 at the Albany International Whatever Airport right in the 518.

*This post has nothing to do with sleeping in Brooklyn or the Beastie Boys. Nothing.  I just love the sentiment.  Here – watch the video anyway.

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Filed under Albany, art, DelSo, drinking, Events, friends, Local, NYC, Recommendations, road trips, Spring

Hit the road, Jack (Frost)

imageOk, people, I’ve arrived at that place where many of you have been for weeks, if not months – I’m done with winter. As I look out my sliding glass window at the still light at 7:15 pm sky, I want to feel enticed to venture outdoors, to take a walk or run. Instead, I’m cozied up on the couch trying to decide which comes first – a hot shower or a quick nap. This does not make me happy.

Last month when it was barely 12 degrees for my son’s sledding party, I didn’t complain. During my winter break a few weeks back, there were a couple of days when it was literally too cold to be outside for more than a few minutes. I accepted it. On the first full day of spring when Mother Nature spit snow from the sky, I responded by simply changing from my Frye boots into a pair of Doc’s. No big deal.

But, today? When I went outside and felt the bone-chilling wind cut through my three layers of clothing? As I reached, again, for a hat and gloves and warmed up my car prior to going to work? I felt pissed. I’m tired of my winter wardrobe, sick of socks and wearing leggings under my jeans. I’m ready for bare legs, crisp cotton sheets and open windows, aren’t you?

It’s time, Jack Frost. You need to go.

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Filed under Exercise, Rants, winter

I never imagined

imageOn our 15th wedding anniversary, my husband and I had a special dinner at a restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard. The meal was a bit of a disappointment, but the company was good.

After we had finished our meals and were somewhere between entrée and dessert, our wedding song came on over the restaurant’s speakers. I was touched and felt my eyes well with emotion. I thought to myself “we should dance.” There wasn’t a dance floor (it was a restaurant), but we could have managed a twirl or two. It was our 15th wedding anniversary.

I’ve thought back to that night a few times and wonder what might have been different if I had forced the words “we should dance” out of my mouth or if he had said “I arranged for this song to play.” If either of us had done something to demonstrate our love for the other. Would it have been enough to have prompted us to steer our ships once again to be side by side and in the same direction? I’ll never know.

By our next anniversary dinner, we were, in retrospect, clearly sailing in different directions. It was a fancy meal, perfectly executed and filled with laughter. We met the chef-owner and there were many bottles of wine uncorked. My feet hurt in their new shoes. It was good to feel something.

It’s almost 5 years later now and I never dreamed this life that I’m living. I write and run and work and eat and take pictures and I love, love, love. I feel more alive than I’ve ever felt and am equally inspired by today and the thought of tomorrow. Things may not have gone the way I imagined they would, but as an inherently grounded person, my imagination is sometimes too timid.

I never imagined I’d quote Hugh Hefner but he said it perfectly:

“In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined a sweeter life.”

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Filed under aging, love, marriage, musings, relationships, writing