Tag Archives: life

Overestimating competence

FFCCC1AE-BDF2-49B7-8366-4B377C314C1EIt seems that many of us believe we’re more capable than we are actually. Sometimes when I listen to a friend (or son) list their intended plan of action, I nod my head while mentally I’m shaking it. I know there’s no way it’s going to happen – the circumstances or conditions are never going to allow the plan to occur as projected because, in part, people neglect to factor in a random variable that can impact the process. 

An example:

Perhaps you know someone who has a child traveling, maybe in Asia. That’s a big continent, right? Could be anyone we’re talking about here. Anyway, this young person was asked by their parent to under no circumstances ride on, much less drive, a motorbike. They were just too dangerous, especially for a teenager who had barely an iota, if any of motor bike driving experience. Also, while it may have been many years earlier, the mother did still vividly recall this same child as a preschooler asking for a motorcycle. And a ramp.

No motorbikes, please.

So, predictably, the young man rented a motor bike because it was the most financially prudent mode of transportation and this kid was all about saving money. Because, of course, he hadn’t really saved enough money prior to departure and he was way over budget. Naturally, within two blocks of his destination, there was a bit of a chain reaction of quick stops and our motor biker failed to stop safely. There were damages – to a tail light, to a dominant hand, and to an adventurous guy’s sense of security.

It could have been so much worse.

Growing up and parenting are life long learning activities. We can always improve on how we’re doing and every single misstep or bad decision comes with a chance to do it better next time. To learn, both to listen and to figure out how to manage the unexpected situations we find ourselves in at times, isn’t easy.

As we get older, I think we start to develop a better understanding/acceptance of our capabilities, we meet our objectives more often because we’ve learned what we can realistically do and set goals accordingly. I don’t believe it’s a lowering of our aim, but rather a more accurate assessment of what we can really accomplish. As we experience and overcome life’s challenges our competence grows in knowing both what we can do and what we are realistically incapable of accomplishing. We get better at figuring stuff out and, hopefully, there’s less falling down and more cruising forward.

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Filed under aging, musings, Observations, travel

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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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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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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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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