Tag Archives: observations

Ghosts and cobwebs

Exiting and entering a relationship is never the same twice. I guess that makes sense since I’ve come to learn that the only truly consistent thing I’ve found in my own romantic pairings has been that they all leave a mark.

I ran a race on Wednesday, almost the longest day of the year, that I had also run two years ago. My previous experience had been as close to perfect as I would ever dare hope, the weather, course and company were ideal. I couldn’t imagine it ever being better.

Yet, on Wednesday it was.

Photo: C. Allen

The event was very different this year. We were sans guys, more relaxed (I think) with weather that was kind of misty, rather than sunny, but with fairly delicious air. It was wonderful in a new way. The trails in Minnewaska are lovely, wide with a fairly soft surface, and amazing views. Fantastic.

Photo: C. Allen

As I ran, I felt strong. My feet hurt a little, but my heart felt powerful and I enjoyed the run. Along the course there were parts that were familiar, and others that I didn’t recall from previous races. I started thinking about how the trail was kind of a metaphor for how I’m feeling these days, like there are parts of myself that seem familiar, while others I don’t remember ever encountering before. Ghosts and cobwebs.

Past relationships kind of stick with us in a variety of different ways. At least that’s been my experience. Maybe you wear the color (s)he always liked best and can’t help but to remember how you felt each time (s)he said blue was your color. Like those parts of the trail, that’s a ghost. It stays with you.

The cobwebs, though…those, for me, are the places of which I have no memory at all, because those parts haven’t been used in so very long. Maybe not even ever. It’s like virgin territory. Exploring this new terrain is exciting, but by a certain age, or level of experience, you’ve probably learned to pay close attention to where you step. Keeping one’s feet on the ground and trying to not fall down can be a struggle, but they’re good goals for a trail and a relationship.

A becoming-more-familiar race and a new romance seem to be just about the best way to experience ghosts and cobwebs.  And, like that solstice run, I’ll do it again.

Thoughts to share?

 

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Filed under aging, favorites, friends, musings, Observations, relationships, road trips, running, Uncategorized, upstate New York

I told a story

For months I’ve been seeing posts on Facebook promoting the Front Parlor Series – public storytelling in the Capital Region. The group hosts an event every third Monday of the month at The Olde English and describes them as being “like The Moth radio hour…” Hmmm, doesn’t that sound interesting?

Needless to say, I’ve been wanting to get down there for some time and when I saw that June’s theme was “Dads,” I knew I had to go. The event began at 7:30 and I rolled in solo some time after 8:00. The upstairs room at The Olde English was steamy hot which provided the perfect excuse for my flushed face and general sweaty-with-nerves appearance. I  missed the first group of storytellers and had arrived at intermission. Never having done an open mic thing before, I looked around for a sign-up sheet, but learned quickly that it was more casual than that – just leave your name and they’ll let you know when it’s your turn.

There were three people in front of me and they each told stories which were unique in both content and conveyance. The first man seemed to be responding to an earlier participant (his daughter?) and tended to wander  a bit, while the second man had a more focused tale that he shared, gathering laughs along the way. The woman immediately before me told a sweet, but alarmingly brief, story that had a distinctly poetic sound to it. I would have enjoyed hearing more from her, but suddenly it was my turn.

The rules stated no notes, so I didn’t have anything beyond a mental outline of what I was going to share. Participants are limited to 5-7 minutes, but I had no sense of how long it would take to tell my story. There had been a timer which had actually sounded during one of the previous stories, but no one really paid any attention to it from what I could see. Maybe it would have been an issue had there been more participants, but on this particular night it wasn’t a problem. That took some pressure off and I made a note to speak slowly and take my time collecting my thoughts and words.

So – my story was about how I found my father. I brought a prop for inspiration (and a shot of confidence), the 30+ year old page from the Dublin phone directory which led to me locating my first ever relative on either side of my family. It’s a story that can take significantly longer to tell than 7 minutes, but I hit the most important parts while purposefully keeping the story focused on my father and his our family.

The response from the audience was encouraging. They laughed and sighed at the right times and afterwards a few were kind enough to compliment me on my story.  I recognize that I tell stories here, but standing in front of a roomful of strangers and actually seeing their reaction was a whole new experience for me. I’d definitely consider doing this again, if only as an exercise in pushing myself beyond my comfort level.

Maybe you have some stories to tell, too?

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Filed under Albany, Events, ideas, Local, Observations, Recommendations, writing

Telling stories – Adam Gidwitz

Last week, author Adam Gidwitz visited my school and spent the day doing presentations and hanging out with kids, and it was incredible. I haven’t read everything he’s written, but last year’s The Inquisitor’s Tale was one of my favorite recent reads. It’s a book that is difficult to sort into a definitive genre, but it has historic fiction, fantasy and adventure elements that combine beautifully into a wonderful story told in multiple voices a la The Canterbury Tales. Except that, unlike my high school experience suffering through Chaucer, this book was a joy from start to finish.

Adam did three separate presentations for my students and each was slightly tweaked to meet the population, in this case, our school’s grades of sixth, seventh and eighth. I was totally impressed with his comfort level with our students and his genuine interest in them. For instance, as students were filing in to the auditorium he made a point of introducing himself to those already seated with an easy “Hi, I’m Adam. What’s your name?” His past career as “the worst teacher in NYC,”* was proven impossible to believe. He gets kids.

We had lunch as a group of about 25 and it was relaxed and fun. I know the kids who were present won’t ever forget the experience. It was so cool. The last presentation was with our sixth graders and it was magic to see him wrangle that group of pre-pubescent kids, on the last Friday afternoon of the school year, with just four words: Once upon a time…

Read his books and see him speak, if you have the chance. There’s a possibility that he might pop up in the area next year and I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything.

*laughingly self-defined as such

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Filed under Books, Education, Events, favorites, Librarians, Libraries, Local, Recommendations, Schools, Uncategorized

Watching my mouth

If you know me, you’re probably expecting a post about my struggle to control my tendency to use colorful language or to share stories that may not always be appreciated by those mentioned. But, no, that’s not quite what this is about. This isn’t about what may come out of my mouth, but instead it is about what goes in.

But, first some history. I’m sure I’ve written before about the recurring dream I had for years. I must have, it was pretty profound for me. The dream is set in a rural area I lived in for a couple of crucial elementary school years. It was a place that had left me with idyllic memories, but in my dream the entire area had been poorly developed and settled with over-sized houses replacing blueberry bushes, fields and trees. The wildness that I had loved was gone.

I always woke up sad from that dream until the day I recognized that I only had that dream when I was faced with change or a decision. Once I had that realization, I never had the dream again.

The point of the preceding, is this: when we recognize why or how something exerts power over us, often it loses its hold. So, about my mouth…

I’ve come to understand that there are times in my life when my eating practices become a form of exerting control. It’s like I’ve been disappointed by the connection between my actions and the results in some personal situation, so I limit my eating to be able to observe the numbers on the scale going down, sort of as proof of the positive relationship between effort and reward.

Without exception, this only occurs when I’m feeling emotionally beaten up and it never really lasts for very long. After a week or two, my body demands more food if I’m going to make it run or bike or walk or paddle board or ski. I remember again that I’m more of an “indulge myself” girl than a “deny myself” lady and eat some ice cream, maybe even with hot fudge, and the scale goes back up a few pounds.

I don’t even know if it’s a bad thing, this temporary curtailing of my consumption. It seems to only make me eventually more appreciative of food than I had been, more thoughtful about what I ingest, which seems ok. There’s nothing wrong with paying more attention to what you’re interested and willing to swallow.

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Filed under aging, girlhood, musings, Observations, relationships, stress

My first Kate Spade

Years ago, when I was still married, my husband and I spent a weekend in NYC. During a stroll on 5th Avenue, despite my husband being right by my side, I fell in love. It was an unusual occurrence because I’d never really lusted before for a designer handbag, but there was something about that green bag that completely attracted my attention. Until I saw the price, that is – $435. As if.

Fast forward to a few weeks later. Hubby and I were out for a bike ride when he received a phone call from one of his brothers informing him that their mother’s “estate” had some more money to disburse to each of the siblings, more than enough for that handbag that I was still thinking about, actually.  At this point he was riding a very nice bicycle which he had purchased with his inheritance, so I didn’t feel out of line when I said “You know, your mother would want me to have that bag…”

He generously agreed with a laugh and I placed the order as soon as we got home. Two days later “she” arrived nestled in her dust bag within a large box. Having that bag in my hand made me feel like a grown up in a whole new way.  Yes, it was indulgent and materialistic, but it was also a simply beautiful piece of leather goods and I loved owning it.

Since that initial purchase, there have been several more love affairs between me and Kate Spade. My collection of handbags has become a bit of a signature for me and I received more than a half -dozen notifications when the news of her death broke earlier this week.  The thrill of taking one of those bags out of its protective dust cover has yet to fade, no matter how many years they’ve been in my closet, and I’m sorry that I never took the time to tell her how special they make me feel. She will be missed.

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Filed under beauty, Fashion, favorites, News, NYC, Observations, Uncategorized

On (being) the Intrepid

img_5224One of the highlights of my recent overnight in NYC with my youngest son was a couple of hours spent touring the Intrepid aircraft carrier.  We’ve visited this historic vessel before, but it’s been a long time and the Memorial Day holiday provided the perfect reason to go back again.

We arrived at about noon, after a leisurely walk following checkout from The Paul Hotel on 29th Street. The lines for admission were a bit daunting, but we decided to invest 20 minutes and then reevaluate our commitment. Fortunately, things moved pretty quickly and after a hiccup using the automated ticket ($33 per ticket) dispenser, we were boarding.

img_5227

View from the bridge.

Quinn wanted to begin our self-guided tour on the ship’s bridge so we headed up the external stairs. As we rounded a turn, the sound of Taps caused us to pause. We had inadvertently placed ourselves in an ideal position to witness a commemorative ceremony. While the musicians  played, I glanced around, taking in the uniformed service people standing at attention. When the last notes sounded, a great roar came from the sky as four military jets approached.

The noise was deafening – I could almost feel the vibrations in my belly, and, as a single plane diverted by flying east, the power of the display was incredibly moving. These people, I thought, these are the truest of Americans. The sacrifices made by our military are shamefully beyond any made by the current occupant of the highest office in our country and I’m so glad that my son and I were there to witness this display and honor them.

Think about it for next year. Fleet Week is a great opportunity to feel genuinely proud of being American.

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Filed under Boys, holidays, NYC, Observations, Uncategorized

The truth will set you free

Somehow I’ve always thought that phrase was an invitation for someone to unburden themselves by being honest, but recently I’ve begun to interpret it in a new way – the truth can also release a person from a situation in which they’ve been lied to repeatedly and consistently. Learning the truth about something, or someone, can be the key to finally closing and locking a door that has remained open for far too long.

Relationships between two people are hard, but when there are more than two people involved that degree of difficulty increases exponentially. While I will never attempt to present myself as a 100% innocent person, I can say without reservation that I work really hard to express myself with honesty and integrity. To not have that courtesy reciprocated is painful, to say the least, but what it won’t be is devastating. My life is too precious to be destroyed and I’ve got too much good stuff in my life to allow any individual to drag me down permanently.

It’s a funny thing with this blog. When I’m sad and working through emotional stuff, my stats go through the roof. Maybe I’m wrong,* but I really don’t believe it’s due to the fact that readers love my misery.  Instead I think the reason for increased readership during the exceptional times is because the things I share are universal – life and love are challenging experiences and sometimes they kick our ass.

But, life goes on.

I’ll continue to be proud of the partner I was to someone who apparently knew better than I did that he didn’t deserve me. My exterior will continue to reflect who I am on the inside – a woman who has lots of love, along with uncountable other positive and healthy attributes, and is perhaps willing to share all of that with a man who is worthy of those gifts. Freely.

 

*it obviously wouldn’t be the first time.

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Filed under aging, love, musings, Observations, relationships, secrets