Many of the books I read are written for young adults. These include lots of realistic fiction, some fantasy and adventure titles, as well as the occasional nonfiction title. A new box of books arrived the other day in my library – something which still excites even after more than two decades on the job, and I helped myself to a couple of new titles, including The 57 Bus a nonfiction book by Dashka Slater.
You know when you’re reading a book and you find yourself thinking and even talking about it? Well, this is that kind of book. Slater deftly tells the story of two very different teenagers who ride the same city bus for a life changing 8 minutes. She tells the story in brief chapters, a technique I found very effective and one that helps makes the facts related more easily digested. One afternoon on the bus an event occurs during that shared ride which impacts both of their lives, an event which began as a simple prank yet grew to become an incident defined by some as a hate crime.
Oakland, California is a diverse city of 400,000 residents with a wide range of economic levels represented. It has, at times, been cited as the most violent city in America with gangs and guns present in many neighborhoods of the city’s nearly 80 square miles. Oakland was the home of both Sasha and Richard.
Sasha, a teenager who identifies as agender and has been diagnosed with Asperger’s, is an intelligent young person with a supportive family and a solid group of friends They (the pronoun they use for themself) attend an alternative high school, wear garments that are typical for both males and females, and are committed to living a life which feels reflective on the exterior of what they are experiencing on the inside.
Richard is a black teenager being raised by his young mom and stepfather in a stable family in a struggling neighborhood. Although he gets into some legal trouble as a juvenile, he is essentially a typical, unmotivated high school boy in an urban school district. The reckless act Richard commits against Sasha is unspeakably horrific, yet not premeditated or truly intended and he in many ways ends up just as scarred as they do.
Reading about the encounter between Sasha and Richard left me breathless and with an aching heart. This is a powerful story that will stay with readers. Read this.
In the spirit of life being comprised of moments and not years, I offer 45 special moments in time which I was blessed enough to enjoy in my 45th year…
1. Memorial Day Girls’ weekend in Albany.
2. NYC with Liam – from the Met to running in the dark to Brooklyn from the Lower West Side – truly memorable.
3. My first 4 mile run.
4. My first 5 mile run.
5. My first 10K.
6. Running in the desert with the sun shining and the mountains glowing. (is there a theme here?)
7. Mommy and me trip with Quinn to NYC, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.
8. The Allman Brothers and Santana at SPAC.
9. Running in Central Park on a mild February day. (again?)
10. My brother’s birthday party in Syracuse with the best friends imaginable.
11. A day spent poolside at my friends Will and Raj’s house in Niskayuna
12. Dinner at the bar at Lupa with Mary Lynn
13. The Delmar Turkey Trot followed by Thanksgiving dinner with the McGuire family – in pajamas.
14. Finding DelSo on the map – literally!
15. All Good Bakers opening in my wonderful neighborhood.
16. The IRS confirming that I didn’t owe them $1500. They owe me $1600.
17. Eating a rare burger at the Capital City Gastropub. Ok, that might count as multiple moments because I’ve done it
more than once.
18. Receiving a thank you card from a former student who said I inspired him to note his gratitude.
19. Watching Quinn take his first bridge jump.
20. Truly knowing that I am able to support my household, unaided.
21. Falling in love with trail running in Saratoga with my friend, Chrissy.
22. Cross country skiing in October.
23. Having my hand held by a friend held while threading our way through a crowd.
24. Albany’s Last Run with some great girlfriends.
25. Working Lark Fest at the Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark Street.
26. Spending time with college friends who I hadn’t seen in far too long.
27. Finding out that two of my favorite people are expecting two new people.
28. Hot yoga classes on Martha’s Vineyard. Well, actually, finishing a hot yoga class or two on Martha’s Vineyard.
29. Finding the most gorgeous cashmere robe imaginable hanging in my bathroom.
30. Harry Potter marathons with Quinn.
31. That incredible bottle of Spanish wine I enjoyed with my awesome neighbors.
32. The satisfaction of buying and installing air conditioners in my house – all by.myself!
33. Being able to bike 20 miles without any preliminary rides or lasting discomfort.
34. Finding the necessary piece to assemble my dressing table – after more than a year of looking for it.
35. Having an opportunity to volunteer for the Historic Albany Foundation by pouring (and drinking) wine at their event.
36. Drinks on the rooftop at Eataly’s Birreria.
37. Our full moon bonfire at White Crest beach.
38. The first sip of a glass of refreshing rose on a hot day in NYC.
39. Girls’ Gathering in Kingston to begin the Summer of 2012.
40. Running in the soft rain at Albany Muni.
41. Crossing the Bourne Bridge. heading to Wellfleet, listening to Simon & Garfunkel.
42. Going blonde-ish, something I always wanted to do.
43. Getting negative PET Scan results.
44. Feeling my heart beat fast at the mere sight of someone special.
45. Breathing – deeply and with appreciation for all the gifts I receive each day I am alive.
Seems like everyone knows about my passion for running, but did you know I have another activity that challenges and strengthens me? Yep, it even provides balance for the physical demands of pounding the pavement as well as an opportunity to tune in mentally to my body in a manner that running, due to the necessity of remaining aware of what is going on in my surroundings, does not offer. May I present one of my favorite four-letter words – yoga!
I first experienced yoga as a sixth grader. There was an after school program at my elementary building and I enjoyed it as much as a self conscious prepubescent girl could. I was a very active kid and remarkably flexible, so it appealed to me immediately. I think that 12 was a little young for me to grasp the mental component, though. Actually, that probably remains my biggest challenge.
Over the years I’ve practiced yoga with varying degrees of commitment. When my older boys were young, I took a class at the JCC in Albany taught by Cameron Thomas. (Ironically enough, she mediated my divorce last year – small world, huh?) Cameron was the perfect yogi – she was meticulous about form and taught me a lot about the poses and breathing.
I’ve told you before how much I enjoy the Sunday morning class at the Yoga Loft, but I’ve been expanding my horizons, particularly while on vacation. For the third summer, I’ve taken yoga classes taught by Patty Renaud in Wellfleet. The classes aren’t incredibly physically challenging, but they do provide an excellent opportunity for me to mentally release. I’ve been really close to dozing at the end of class – a true vacation.
Last winter when I was in Palm Springs (yeah, I like saying that) I found a studio that offered a variety of classes. I managed to squeeze 4 classes in during my 5 days, two of which were modified Bikram classes. I don’t know much about Bikram, or “hot” yoga, other than it is an ass-kicking workout, even when it is abbreviated to 70 minutes and 102 degrees.
Last week on Martha’s Vineyard I took two legit Bikram classes
– 90 minutes, 104 degrees in the studio. I wisely paid for two classes ($16 plus $2 to rent a mat) guaranteeing that I would return a second time. Seeing as how during the initial class I was afraid that I was either going to die, pass out or puke, it was a good move.
If you are interested in a workout that stretches your muscles and relaxes your brain, I heartily recommend finding a Bikram studio. I’ve heard good things about this
place, but haven’t yet made it there myself. This type of yoga is not for the faint of heart – bring plenty of water and move into the poses with caution if you’re inexperienced with practicing. And be prepared to literally drip sweat from virtually every pore. And speaking of that – apologies to those unfortunate enough to have set their mats up next to mine on Friday. Hope I didn’t sweat any of Thursday night’s tequila on you. I was on vacation, after all.