Tag Archives: observations

American pride

16112717_10154872435637889_4793167427873866802_oSaturday was a remarkable day. The sun was shining, the photocopier at Staples worked correctly, and there was no line to use self-pay at the grocery store. All good things. Additionally, there was a protest march thing going on down by Albany’s state Capitol, which was kind of big.

Actually, it was fairly huge and it wasn’t contained to Albany. The Women’s March was also in Woodstock, Ithaca, New York City and goodness knows how many other cities and towns in our state. And Boston and Austin and Chicago and Miami and L.A. and Denver and, of course, Washington, D.C. and other communities large and small around our country and the world. It was an international event, loosely organized, spread by word of mouth and media – social and traditional. It may have been the largest protest our country has ever seen.

Although I originally questioned the point of this movement (He won. What can really be done?), I attended our local event and was completely blown away by the energy present. My response was surprisingly emotional and I felt near tears as a I looked around at the crowd. There were so many familiar faces, friends, coworkers…I was humbled. It was powerful.

Later in the afternoon, my restaurant filled with guests. Every single person was polite and patient and contributed to an atmosphere that was charged with a unified positivity. A swiftly concocted drink special proved to be very popular and we raised nearly $100 to donate to Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood. Staff, front and back of the house, executed beautifully. It was an incredibly satisfying night.

Only one day after observing the inauguration of a man I don’t believe is qualified to represent our country, I witnessed countless examples of true American character – purposeful organizing, peaceful protest, hard work and the desire to donate to meaningful causes.  The contrast between an egotistical man who “did it his way” and the Americans who came together to demonstrate with integrity could not have been more stark, nor more welcome. Thanks, Albany. You made me proud.

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Filed under Albany, Events, Local, News, Observations, politics, Restaurants, Uncategorized

The urge to purge

db2f6261-f9f8-4a1f-9a59-bc0e490f0e79-12096-000007bb74a66c9d_tmpConfession: I have too much stuff, particularly clothing. These days when I look at the two-sided garment rack which is stationed outside of the closet large enough for me to step inside of, I feel weighed down and vaguely embarrassed. It’s too much.

I’ve defended my consumerism with numerous excuses – I lost weight and needed clothes that fit, I must have to different wardrobes to meet the needs of both my day and evening jobs, I rarely pay full price for anything and many of the pieces come from consignment shops or clearance sales, I consign my clothes a couple of times a year…

Whatever. In a world where too many have nothing, I have too much.

But, I’m feeling stuck. My avenue for consigning my clothes has hit a dead end since the store I previously worked with is no longer selling clothing. The idea of exploring other options overwhelms me right now and finding an alternate sales venue feels impossible in my current, crazed life. Maybe you have a suggestion?

Since I haven’t been able to dispose of my clothing without feeling as if I wasted money with my initial purchase, I’m working to commit to not buying new garments. Even when the sale is tremendous and the item “perfect,” I’m walking away empty handed. Buying new things isn’t filling me with joy right now, so why bother?

As weeks in a new year quickly move along, I feel myself trying to get another angle on lightening my load. Maybe It’s time to take an afternoon to make a few piles of clothes which I am willing to weed from my wardrobe, no matter the cost. You know, sorting everything into categories such as Not Worn in a Year/No Longer Fits or Flatters/In Need of Tailoring or Cleaning or Repair and then being relentless.

The idea of actually doing this is growing more exciting than formidable and I’m almost there. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Filed under Fashion, musings, Random

Superman never made any money

Both of our names start with

Both of our names start with “S.”

Let me preface this by saying I do not consider myself to be a superhero in any fashion. Actually, that’s kind of the image I’m trying to dispel here. After receiving a couple of really nice compliments recently, I feel I need to lay a couple of things out because I wouldn’t want anyone to perceive me as any more than simply human. Just like you.

My only similarity to Superman is the fact that I’m not motivated by money. Fear about wasting the life I’ve been given, though, is a strong incentive. The thought of not being able to physically or mentally or emotionally continue to do the things I currently manage keeps me inspired. And, when I start feeling overwhelmed by the demands of life I have created, I remind myself that:

A. I am the person most responsible for how busy I am.
B. Life goes by so quickly that it makes sense to try to experience as much of it as possible.

My life philosophy for more than 30 years has been to try to gather as many moments as possible in the time given to me. With the passing of years and some health issues, my commitment to this has only been strengthened. A number of months ago I responded to the question “How long do you want to live?” with this:

I want to live every day.

When I’m asked how I do it all, how do I manage to have a full-time job, a business, a family, a relationship, friends, activities, etc, I don’t really have an answer. I just do it – sometimes better than others, by the way. More specifically? I am in touch with my calendar and I’m super organized with my time. When it comes to scheduling things, my German side takes charge and I’m probably guilty of trying to do too much. That being said, I occasionally recognize that I’ve overextended myself and I bail on commitments, social ones usually. Sometimes, more than anything, I need to sit on my couch and watch something mindless on television. I do that, you know. Just like Superman.

But (s)he stayed in the city
And kept changing clothes in dirty old phonebooths
Til his work was through
And nothing to do but go home.

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Filed under aging, cancer, musings, Uncategorized

Being a bad mom

Last month, my youngest son and I watched the movie Bad Moms together. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that to you that since I told Quinn to deny seeing the movie if his father anyone asked. There were scenes that I really thought were funny, but I squirmed and covered Quinn’s ears and eyes at more than a couple of moments. I can’t deal with vulgarities, especially when I’m sitting on the couch with my kid, and thought the movie would have been better without all of the crudeness. Just an opinion.

The reality is that Quinn lives Bad Mom. For instance: I have a hard time remembering when his birthday is. Seriously, until recently, when a friend suggested a technique to help me remember, I couldn’t recall if he was born on the 5th or the 9th of February, 2005. Obviously I was there, but it just refuses to come easily to me. Kind of like that delivery.

There are times when I completely lose my patience with my children and I’ve been known to use language that I’m not proud of including in my Mommy vocabulary.  Prior to actually becoming a parent, during that time when I was reading everything I could get my hands on about parenting, I never imagined a day would come when I would look at one of my offspring and silently say “asshole.”  Where was that chapter in What to Expect When You’re Expecting?

One of the things that I’ve said with even more frequency is the phrase “figure it out.” This has been my standard response for years to whining, sibling disagreements and excessive complaint about problems that are not on par with global warming and immigration. In these circumstances, Tim Gunn is my spirit animal – “Make it work,” boys!

Dinner can be a real challenge around my house – deciding on a menu and then executing it can be a struggle, even if I’m only on the hook 4 nights a week. Confession: my children eat ramen, boxed macaroni and cheese and breakfast for dinner regularly.  Soup and a sandwich was good enough for me as a kid and canned tomato soup, accompanied by a grilled cheese, never hurt anyone. There’s always fruit and yogurt available.

As my children grow older, I’ve made a point of showing them my flaws – my sometimes bad memory, lack of patience, hands off parenting (what’s the opposite of helicopter parenting?), and half-assed meal planning. I’ve shared my struggles with managing responsibilities, finding balance and family and other relationship challenges.  They know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am not perfect.  How can I ever expect them to share their own missteps if I am unwilling to do the same?

As one of the characters in Bad Moms said, “…the worst part about being a mom, though, is you don’t know whether or not you’re doing a good job until they’re fully grown.”  I’m going to take comfort in the fact that despite my shortcomings as a mom, my youngest son* seems to be doing ok.  Quinn sings and jokes and makes me smile every day. If the right music comes on, he doesn’t hesitate to dance, solo or arm and arm with me.  He teases me about forgetting his February 9th birthday, occasionally displays salty language of his own, works to resolve issues independently and has no signs of malnourishment. I think I’ll just go on with my bad self.

*They’re all ok, I think! This post is most directly about Quinn, though.

 

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Filed under Boys, Movies

British Invasion

761b5062-704f-4c4a-a74d-5caf5bc09baa-8606-00000790a696a8a7_tmpOn my very first trip to Europe, in 1988, I made a new friend, A. He was wearing leather bike gear, with a scruffy face and charming English accent. The attraction was immediate. We made a connection that led to numerous transatlantic flights and were lucky enough to explore a few amazing cities together. It’s a time in my life that I recall warmly.

The last time I saw my friend, A, was almost 25 years ago, in London. He helped sort out accommodations for my brother and me and we got to spend an afternoon or two together, along with his towheaded two year-old son. He was married then and seemed contented. Again, happy memories of a lifetime ago.

We maintained a correspondence, old school, with paper, envelopes and stamps, for quite a few years after that last in person visit. Although the details are hazy after so many years, I recall receiving a letter telling me he was sick, maybe a brain tumor and the prognosis was dire. It was goodbye.

Life was wild with young children and new careers, and I accepted the news with sad resignation, too busy to immediately follow-up. Of course, I’ve wondered over the years about him, and his family, and have taken half-hearted stabs at trying to locate him in the digital age. I looked for an obituary online but never found a word about them. Until last week.

After happening upon a memento from a trip I had once taken with my departed friend, I impulsively searched Facebook for his name and came up empty. I changed my search to the name of A’s son. Immediately, a photo appeared – A’s face, but a version far younger than I ever had known A to be. His son.

I clicked on the link and found the obituary, not of A, but his son. Oh, no. The tow -headed boy had grown into a too young to die young man. Almost 7 years ago A’s son had died while serving in Afghanistan. There were photos of the funeral and I saw an older than I had ever imagined A. I struggled with sadness and relief.

Sometimes the real heartbreak comes long after the breakup.

 

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Filed under aging, Europe, friends, love, Random, travel

Finding my rhythm in Chicago

img_0798I started this post the day I returned from a quick weekend away at the beginning of a week that ended up feeling really long. I’ve got a folder full of these aborted writings, but I decided to revisit this one after catching up on last Sunday’s New York Times. The featured magazine was about travel and the editor’s letter grabbed me and wouldn’t let go, something that doesn’t happen often enough. Her words kept kicking around in my head and joined my own thoughts with a serendipity I couldn’t ignore.

Deborah Needleman said:

“Why is it that we can’t just do nothing anymore? Somehow “nothing” equals guilt….”

“I slept as late as I wanted, exercised when I felt like it, ate alone at restaurants…”

“It certainly was a journey, in the personal sense of the word, not just to another part of the world, but to another part of my psyche.”

Now, my own words…

My body aches and I’m about as tired as I recall ever being, but it is a sweet exhaustion. It was a great weekend. I highly recommend 72 hours of alone time in a new city as a means of recharging and getting back to a rhythm that is solely your own.

Traveling solo is both an exercise in self-improvement and an acknowledgement that you’re ok. From the reaction I received each time I explained that I was going to Chicago, alone, and my plans were basically to eat, run, nap and see some new things, I don’t think enough people are comfortable, much less excited by, the prospect of a loosely defined personal escape. Not being dependent upon any one but yourself is a condition that can be interpreted as freedom or a burden and I guess it depends upon perspective. I suspect you know how I perceive it.

We have lives that are busier than ever, connected to multiple platforms and constantly within touch. Taking some time for our own pursuits shouldn’t be a luxury that is too often perceived as foreign. While this trip had originally been conceived as a trip to celebrate a number of my friends and I achieving a milestone birthday, when schedules and commitments didn’t allow that to materialize, I continued to approach the weekend with excitement. I felt remarkably fortunate* to be able to spend three days exploring a new city, but even just two hours at the mall, or in a museum or outdoors can seem like a getaway. It isn’t about how far you go, it’s more about how close you get to yourself and your personal pace. Do it.

*I can’t tell you how many times I wondered to myself how I ever got to be so lucky.

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Filed under aging, Chicago, ideas, musings, Observations, Recommendations, travel

Upon waking to the news of Donald Trump’s victory

cwzjnxoveaapolxIt seems appropriate that the sky is grey and the ground is wet. It matches my mood perfectly. I can’t stop shaking my head – whether to clear it of the thoughts which are racing about or as an inescapable response to lunacy around me, I’m not certain. This is bad.

When I went to that Trump rally last spring, I left with two conclusions. The first, which has been proven to be undeniably false, was that Donald Trump could never be elected. The second, prompted by my gazing around the arena and wondering who those Americans were, has been confirmed in a manner I never before imagined. I don’t know those people.

There are some things I do know, though. I will never allow the government to rescind the civil rights of LGBT Americans. You see, I do know those people and, unlike Trump and his supporters, they don’t scare me. Last week, when the Indigo Girls played at the Egg, we had a number of lesbian guests and I was struck, as I listened to the good-natured teasing going on between women who had never met before,  by how much progress our society has made in the last twenty years or so. Living a true and genuine life is not something exclusive to heterosexuals and I will stand shoulder to shoulder with my brothers and sisters should they need to battle to retain their equal rights. Going backwards is not an option.

Despite being beyond reproductive age, I will continue to support women and their right to choose when to bear children. I’ve stood up before to those wishing to deny legal and safe access to abortion to women in our country and I am fully prepared to do it again. If you don’t approve of abortion, don’t have one. That’s what’s called a choice.

As a first generation American I’ve always felt that it is my obligation to demonstrate traits which have been ascribed to immigrants in this country for centuries – hard work, honesty, self-reliance and personal responsibility. The only change now is a sense that I must commit to helping other new Americans to have the same opportunities as I have had.

During the presidential campaign I observed that Trump supporters loudly celebrated and gloated each Clinton flaw which was revealed, while Clinton backers reacted with distaste and appall as the laundry list of Trump’s outrageous behaviors was exposed. As an educated and reasonably intelligent woman, my response to both sides was to wish that we, as Americans, had been offered better options for whom to cast our precious votes. We have to do better in a world threatened by terrorists, impending environmental disasters, lack of access to healthcare and the vulnerability of persons of color and those who identify as LGBT.

I hope that a man who is supremely unqualified to hold the highest office in our country proves to be a champion of all people. There’s nothing I’d like more than for Donald Trump to prove me wrong again. Other than 4 more years of Barack Obama, that is.

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Filed under News, Observations, politics, Uncategorized