Tag Archives: observations

Growing up in black and white

imageThere’s been a lot of talk about race in our country and its got me thinking about the my own perspective on the relationships between blacks and whites. I was fortunate to have been raised by a woman who did not discriminate between races. My earliest school friendships were with a black girl and a Jewish girl – a real feat in a small town which was almost exclusively Christian and white. Sometimes I miss the simplicity of childhood.

When I was about 12, we moved to a house a couple of miles out of town in a neighborhood I had heard referred to as The Colony. That wasn’t said in a complimentary way. You see, this particular area was populated primarily by black families, including that of my elementary school friend. The house we lived in was only two miles out of town, but it felt pretty far removed. We had the telephone exchange of Warwick, the school district of Greenwood Lake and the zip code of Monroe, perfectly summing up the lack of interest in a single community to “own” this long road. It felt very much like a no man’s land.

In the spring of eighth grade, a number of us tried out for the freshman cheerleading squad in what would be our new high school. I was the only one who was selected and, even then, I felt that it was because I was white. Vicki and Brenda were both better than me and deserved it more. I ended up quitting the squad before football season even started.

A year or so later something happened that changed my comfort level with people of color. My brother had some sort of altercation with Vicki’s brother, I don’t know what it was about, and he got punched in the face as he boarded the school bus one morning. I remember being shocked by the violence and afraid of what might happen next, especially after listening to other students who had witnessed the fight. Their language was new to me and the prejudice they demonstrated was unlike anything I had ever heard, but it gave me a cloak to wrap myself in for protection. I didn’t spend time with Vicki anymore.

In the many years since then, I’ve had very few black friends. I’ve puzzled over this lack of diversity in my life as I’ve celebrated the friendships my own children share with kids from every imaginable ethnic and religious background. The single block in the DelSo where I’ve lived for 20 years is populated by Indians, Blacks, Jews and Whites and I think of them all as neighbors.

Last week, I went back to Greenwood Lake to spend an afternoon with friends. In the early afternoon, I took a run past the haunted houses of my youth accompanied by more memories than I could ever share. My feet took me along the roads I had walked countless times, most frequently to get away from home, but now instead in an attempt to take me back to where I came from. It was a very emotional run, especially once I saw the two “new” (to me) state historic markers declaring the significance of Nelson Road.image

Reading about the history of The Colony caused me for the first time ever to feel a sense of pride about where I spent some pretty influential years of my life. I was reminded of the cultural contributions of Black Americans and wished that those markers had been installed years ago. I hope Vicki has been back to see them.

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Filed under aging, girlhood, musings, Observations, road trips, running, Summer

My favorite governor in New York State – Governor’s Island

image When I mentioned to friends last week that I was heading down to the city for a couple of days, they suggested that I visit Governor’s Island. Although I often stay downtown in the financial district, I’d never really considered taking the ferry to any island other than Staten and knew nothing about Governor’s Island.  Our proximity, though, and the budget fare ($1 each way), made this excursion too appealing to deny.

Monday morning we made our to the dock for the 11:00 a.m. boat. It was a cloudy morning, but dry, and the super quick boat ride was comfortable and refreshingly lacking in diesel fuel aroma. We docked and made our way to the bike rental tent, which was just a bit to the right of where we had disembarked. Within minutes we were set up with 3-speed cruiser bikes at a cost of…zero. Yes, the first hour of bike rental was free. Talk about budget friendly!

imageWe took a quick spin around the island, pausing to capture some pictures of our favorite lady in the harbor, and got the lay of the land. We saw the newly completed “hills,” along with a beautiful wildflower garden, amazing residences and brick dormitory looking buildings and an area that has been utilized as a training site for firefighters. I kept imagining how cool it would be to live on the island in one of the historic looking homes…amazing.

On our second lap around, we parked our bikes and climbed the hills to get the best vantage point of the southern tip of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island. The skies were clearing at this point and it was just so easy and mellow – no crowds, no stress, barely any expense. Phenomenal.

imageAfter an hour and half or so of island living, we made our way back to the dock and returned to Manhattan, satisfied with our adventure and pleased to know of another inexpensive option for exploring the city. I’d definitely consider going back again to spend an afternoon or take in an event.  On the weekends there are a variety of food options, including food trucks, to sample or you can pack a picnic and go total low budget.  Thanks, Colette and Steve!

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49 and hotter than ever!

If by “hot” you mean experiencing hot flashes, that is. Holy perimenopause!

Male readers, be warned. This may not be the blog post for you. Unless, of course, you’re trying to develop your understanding and empathy for the universe’s women. In which case, read on.

The move to what I’m considering my third stage of life, is starting to amp up a bit. The night sweats are more frequent and now even appear during waking hours. The lines on my face are a bit more assertive and the flesh under my biceps seems a bit softer. My cycle is no longer a cycle as much as it is a random moment in time. Things are changing and I’m trying to pay attention without obsessing. Wish me luck with that, ok?

When I attempt to look back on when I transitioned from biological girl to woman, very few memories remain. I remember becoming aware of my need for deodorant and being relieved to find Tickle roll on atop my dresser. I was kind of oblivious about other changes in my physical appearance, you know, the new hair and curves appearing, but I felt males looking at me with different eyes than to which I was accustomed.

I recall receiving a box of maxi pads and a pamphlet from my mother, but it came without discussion. My period started and I used the feminine products without telling my mother. When the box was empty, I requested tampons and that was the extent of our conversation about menstruation and puberty. I wonder how it might have been different if I had a daughter of my own.

Soon, my reproductive system will cease to function as it has for more than 35 years. As my inner feminine systems go out in a blaze of heat and sweat, I appreciate how well I’ve been served by this womanly body of mine. Three healthy children have been conceived and grown within its confines, a miracle by any measure.  I’ve enjoyed an easy monthly cycle, never experiencing the discomfort from cramps and extreme mood swings that many women experience, but, I’m ready to close the door on fertility.  I’m seriously hoping that this internal furnace of mine directs its attention to something external that is productive –  and I’m not just talking about intense perspiration either.

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Where the streets have no names, I mean, rules

“Cycling has encountered more enemies than any other form of exercise.”        19th-century author Louis Baudry de Sagnier

imageNow that summer has arrived, I’ve been riding my bicycle to the restaurant a couple of nights a week. I love so much about my less-than-two-mile commute – the fresh air, the exercise, the view, the sense of being more closely connected to the street I live off of and work on…it’s pretty great. Except, of course for the cars. That part kind of sucks.

I’m most afraid of the parked cars I ride past. Does that surprise you? The way I see it, the cars coming from behind me are looking ahead and should be able to see (and avoid) me, but the folks who might be opening their car doors aren’t necessarily checking behind them before they throw their doors open. That’s why they scare me.

A couple of weeks ago I left Lark + Lily, helmet on and rear of my bike red light flashing, and headed home. A few blocks from the restaurant, a woman slowed down as she drove past me and shouted, “You’d better get that bike off the road.” Two blocks later, as we both waited for the red light to change, I retorted, “You’d better get familiar with the law.” My ride didn’t improve.

As we each rode down Delaware Avenue, the “conversation” was ongoing. She continued to yell at me in an attempt to convince me that I wasn’t entitled to ride on the road and I persisted in trying to educate her about traffic laws. Hey, what can I say? I’m a teacher. She finally drove away and I mulled over the wisdom of engaging an ignorant driver. I concluded that it probably wasn’t my finest moment.

Yesterday evening I got some news that confirmed that I should probably refrain from responding to drivers who either do not know or simply refuse to abide by the existing motor vehicle laws. It isn’t my story to tell, but essentially, someone I know was hit by a car while he was commuting home. Intentionally. The driver of the car initiated the interaction by cutting off the cyclist, who astutely snapped a photo of the car and its license plate, and then followed up three blocks later by directly and purposefully hitting him. No joke.  Yes, the driver of the car deliberately drove his vehicle and hit a man who was just riding home.

I think there needs to be some serious intervention and education about cycling in this city before anymore riders get injured or worse.

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Filed under Albany, biking, Exercise, Local, Rant, Summer, Uncategorized

What I know at 49.75, give or take

I’ve got a big birthday coming up at the end of summer…fifty…half a century…the golden anniversary of my birth…the point in my life when I just might have to begin behaving a tad more adult. I think I’m ready.

It could be just me, but these decade birthdays began taking on more significance as I aged and I can remember each of them vividly. At 20, I was on the verge of independence and living completely on my own for the first time. For my 30th birthday, I was married and thrilled to be pregnant with my first child. When I turned 40 I thought I had it all, only to realize that maybe it wasn’t enough. And now, as 50 approaches, I find myself excited to flip a page to a new chapter in my life despite not really knowing what may come next.

I’ve learned so many things during my years alive, yet I’m still not sure what the future holds for me. Is that lack of certainty, that acceptance that what happens tomorrow is eternally a mysterious surprise, a sign of growing up? Maybe.

What do I know now that I didn’t know 10 years ago?

  • I know that I can outrun cancer and the fear of being alone.
  • I know that I can juggle a lot and that, even though I now wear a nightguard because I seem to be grinding my teeth, I am more satisfied with a full life and schedule than with one that lacks challenge and stimulation.
  • I know that there will be days that nearly overwhelm me with minutia and situations which demand immediate and close attention, but I’ve also learned that they pass.
  • I know that I am utterly blessed to have three healthy children and a positive relationship with their father that is based upon our mutual focus on what is best for them.
  • I know that the lines on my face and the grey in my hair are evidence of the length of my life and that I’m lucky to have both of them – and access to quality skincare products and a good colorist.
  • I know that life is about give and take and trying to remain cognizant of the balance between the two.
  • I know that I’m ready for what comes next.

I’m ready, ready for the laughing gas
I’m ready, I’m ready for what’s next
I’m ready to duck, I’m ready to dive
I’m ready to say ‘I’m glad to be alive’ – U2

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Filed under aging, birthdays, family, Random, Uncategorized

The long and short of it

Soccer season is nearly over and, for the first time in a long time, it felt like it went by really fast. That’s probably because I’m guilty for making it to too few games for my son who plays travel, and the rec season is actually fairly short with only 6 or 7 weeks games. Either way, when it’s over I will enjoy my Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings, but they will be lacking in structure without a game to work into the schedule.

imageQuinn’s spring season was memorable because this was the year that he wore a hand me down keeper’s jersey. Liam and I had brought it back from Germany 3 years ago for my middle son. It was still a bit generous in the sleeve length for my 11 year-old but he insisted upon wearing it each game, regardless of temperature. One week, it was close to 85 degrees and still he wore it – underneath his team t-shirt in case he got called up to play keeper. It was the cutest thing ever.

I swear I don’t know how that jersey can be even close to fitting him. I mean, the shirt looked so big three years ago when my boys were three years smaller. Now, only one son is still to grow into it while the other two are already grown beyond. Just like that. *snap*

imageAs I was mulling over this curious case of time passing quickly and folks growing, I reached for a pair of shorts I bought a few years. They’re blue and white gingham, which, I think, epitomizes summer just like madras and pink lemonade. I pulled them on and up, nervous as always that they would no longer fit for one reason or another. They did. Sort of.

Somehow over the last winter, I grew, too. Not taller or wider or heavier, but a wee bit older. Old enough, actually, to now be too old to wear the checked short shorts that still fit me perfectly – other than the length. I felt absolutely exposed in them in a way that made me uncomfortable. Somehow they had grown too young for me – just like that. *snap.*

Growing up and growing older, that’s the long and short of it.

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Filed under aging, Boys, favorites, Observations, soccer, Summer, Uncategorized

Hatred & Heroes

floridaMonday night I attended a vigil at the NYS Capitol sponsored by the Capital Pride Center. The event, to honor the victims of Saturday night’s massacre in Orlando (not to be confused with previous massacres we’ve witnessed) was organized in the afterglow of Albany’s Pride celebration. How’s that for tragic  irony, people?

I gathered with a rainbow of diverse human beings – gay, straight, trans, bi, black, white, brown and yellow, all brought together to acknowledge a tragedy and take a stand. I can’t speak to what may have compelled the hundreds of other attendees to be present, but for me, it was a means of demonstrating that love and unity can triumph over fear and hate, even in dark days filled with uncertainty and sorrow.  There were flags and banners and candles that struggled to remain lit on a cool and windy evening and speakers who addressed the crowd to share their thoughts and feelings, each raw with grief and frustration. Aren’t we all at this point?

It seems that many people are interpreting this horrible event as an act of terrorism, but I’m not buying it.  The more we learn about the perpetrator, the more it seems that he maybe was a self loathing, repressed homosexual who decided to kill the part of himself that he hated – and take as many others with him.  Is that too much psychobabble?  I don’t know, honestly, but I do find it more plausible than his having been radicalized by Isis since there doesn’t appear to be any true evidence that he was involved with what is currently the Earth’s most hate filled organization.

While I won’t name the shooter in Saturday’s massacre, preferring to remember those who were gunned down, I have learned a new name that I won’t soon forget – Deborah Glick.  When this NYS Assemblymember spoke she didn’t point fingers at Muslims or Isis or even homophobes.  No, she railed against the NRA and the culture of guns in our society.  Glick matter of factly stated that if the deaths of 20 six and seven year-old elementary students didn’t change the gun possession laws in our country, the deaths of nearly 50 adults in a dance club wouldn’t either.  It was a heart-wrenching statement that brought me to tears and has committed me anew to speaking out about the civilian purchase and possession of assault weapons. She’s a new hero to me.

I’ve allowed my personal Facebook wall to become a  battleground between friends and former friends about the topic of gun control.  I say former friends because I’ve come to realize that there are people I have previously allowed in my life who are no longer welcome – not because our opinions differ, but because we are unable to have a civil conversation about topics upon which we disagree.  I just can’t invest my energy or time in debating with people who will not acknowledge that legally purchased weapons are indeed a problem in our country.  I’d rather devote my efforts to working for political candidates who favor stricter gun laws and maintaining a distance from the NRA and the influence they wield in our government.  How about you? What is the impact of our country’s most recent and deadliest on you?

 

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