Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dance. dance, dance....

"When I hear music it makes me dance"....Debbie Deb
Ahh just coming off a extra-long Memorial Day weekend buzz and feeling good.  I was thinking back to past Memorial Days - days spent in beach clubs, or just plain old clubs after lazy days at the beach.  I am not one to wish I was a younger age than the one I currently am, I recognize that those ages all held pleasures, but I have always enjoyed the time I am in and tried to make the most of it rather to look backward with regret or longing.  

However, having made that lofty "look at me I am happy being 40+" statement I do find there are a few things that I do miss.  I miss the ability to wear some of the latest trends, admitting that I love fashion but understanding that I do not want to live up to an old Romanian adage "From the back looks like a high school, from the front a museum".   I miss the itty, bitty mini-skirts, the super high heels, something totally impractical but totally appropriate for nights out. The other thing I miss a lot is going dancing.  I loved going clubbing - funny by the time I was the legal age to be in them I was almost ready to give up the clubs I had been frequenting with a fake id (purchased from a less than Disney approved 42nd  Street of yore) and traded them in for bars with dance floors.

I find myself listening to the radio and know that Lady Gaga and The Muse songs would be great to dance to, hot bodies pressed together, pulsing beat, closing your eyes and letting the music move you.    The places where everyone was attractive until the lights went back on.  I miss getting ready (music, cigarettes, phone attached to ear with friends planning outfits) and leaving the house after 10 pm, because after all NO ONE was out before that.  I do not miss the lines, the limited I.Q. bouncers who always let in the girls and gave the guys a hard time (I mean really are you in a position to judge people just because you bench 200 lbs?) .  I spent so much time in clubs like Underground, Tunnel, Peppermint Lounge, Silver Screen, Paps, Paladium, Goth nights at Limelight (my goodness I blush at some of my outfits), and the various other places we went to.  I am often found dancing around my house, my boys encourage it now that they are little kids and am sure will be mortified by it as they get older. I have no intention of going to any clubs at this age (I do not want to be that woman - you know the one that we made fun of and poor thing was probably only like 25) nor would I have a clue even where to find one.  I also know that I would need a week to recuperate from a night that in my early 20s would have taken a power nap to recharge. The "moral" police is right - dancing is sexy and thank goodness for it. So for now I choose to put on my 80s Freestyle or anything from any era and country with a good beat, smile at the memories of the many nights I spent on the dance floors around the world but especially in New York, while I shake my groove thing 'round my living room where by 10 pm the only thing I am ready for is sleep. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summertime and the livin' is easy

I love Memorial Day weekend.....I honor and respect those who have served the country and gave their lives but I love it for totally shallow reasons.  It is the beginning of my favorite season.  I like spring and I like fall but summer...ohhh summer I love you. Summer brings out the sexy in my mind.

It could be because I tend to be perpetually cold, I am that crazy person at the beach who wraps a towel around herself if there is too much of a breeze.  The thought of layers, bundles, opening a door to be greeted by darkness, a blast of artic air and slippery ground has no appeal for me.  I think snow is pretty when it is coming down but with the amount that we have had this past winter I would be ok with skipping a snowfall next winter.  I spend a lot of the colder months waiting and looking forward to summer. Though considering how much I love clothes I will give winter the advantage in that category. Summer wins in the best songs and movie scenes written about it...I mean really who wants to hear about getting another layer on, and the beach scene in "From Here to Eternity" would not have been so hot (see better than cold right there even in adjective land) on a snowbank with layers on. 

Memorial Day was the holiday that meant that school was almost over when I was younger, the time to start planning for lazy days with my friends, public pools for us city kids, playing in the street until the lights came on and then begging your Mother through a window for "just a few more minutes" (often granted with the caveat that you had to move to where they could see you).  It meant summer movies, beach time, beach time, beach time...it also meant family vacations for me.  As I got older those long vacations of summer turned into long weekends, rental homes in the Hamptons, parties on the beach, parties in other countries, the unforgettable summer loves, and eventually owning a place near the beach in RI and of course planning my own family vacations. 

I cannot wait to start this long weekend...took off an extra day like many others to beat the traffic.  The smell of summer is one I love too...before the humidity gets too high and the smell of warmth is in the air in the early morning.  I love the smell of barbecues, suntan lotion, and the ocean.  I know there are people who hate the heat, the humidity, the havoc it causes on your hair but for me summertime is the part I look forward to the rest of the year.  I will never be Florida bound, don't get me started on what I do not like about that state and glad some of you love it, because I love the seasonal changes and because I like looking forward to summer.  What are you favorite summer memories - did they just make you smile ? Off to pack up the family and start "livin' for the weekend".
In the summertime when the weather is hot
You can stretch right up and touch the sky...Mungo Jerry

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I'm Late!!!!

I'm late / I'm late / For a very important date. / No time to say "Hello." / Goodbye. / I'm late, I'm late, I'm late. - WHITE RABBIT "Alice in Wonderland" Lewis Carroll
Lately I feel an awful lot like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, walking around looking at some digital device that not only tells me where I should be next, or helping me communicate with a friend without actually talking to them, while showing in glaring numbers that I probably am late or about to be.

This happens a lot at work. I am still perplexed, and to the best of my knowledge they have not yet perfected and rolled out the teleportation device from Star Trek, at how I am supposed to be in 2 places at once at work. Like many people who work these days and rely on appointment times in Outlook.  For those of us who work in larger scale locations I often have meetings that end at exactly the same time the next one begins, not necessarily near one another.  Since the only meeting that I can make starting exactly at the start time is the first one of the day I will of course, at breakneck speed, be running toward my next one where I will be at least 5 min late.  This starts a downward spiral where all my meetings start a little later consecutively so by the 3rd or 4th meeting of the day I am pretty much almost ready to reschedule as will have missed a good chunk of it.  Add in my killer dash in the middle of 42nd Street dodging cops, demonstrations, and drivers who could care less about pedestrians to get some Starbucks which will allow me to keep going at this pace and not lose that much more time.  The other dilemma is that my colleagues have the same issue so even if I am on time they will usually be tardy. We work in an enviorment where time is precious, out of courtesy to one another (with some sort of commute) and usually with some sort of familial obligations (or for those single people a fun spot to drink and/or dine in post work), we try and cram these into a 9- 4 spot for the most part. Besides you need the time before 9 and after 4 to get the work done that you could not do being in meetings all day.  There will be unpleasant remarks made at that invite that you send for 8am or 5pm meetings.  I remember appointment books which were used by the doctors that I worked for - easy to make one appointment after the previous one since they meant one location and a person who sat in the same spot for all of them.  I often hope the brilliant young minds at Microsoft/Google/Apple/etc....will create a scheduling tool that builds in 5 min that cannot be overwritten between appointments.

As soon as I wake up I already am playing beat the clock, wake up before the family, make a variety of breakfasts, make lunch for husband and for elder son (younger one will be added in Sept when he starts school full time), make shapes of said lunch for son as he is not big eater, find snack, make sure kitchen stuff is put away from night before, clean up and straighten before kids come down.  Then on to wake up family, make sure the kids are dressed, I do my hair make up and make sure their teeth are brushed, make the beds and all this while making my train.  This starts in reverse as soon as I run to make night time train, rush home, start dinners, make sure homework was done, play with kids, cook, serve dinner and then prep for bed time and the outfits for the boys and myself for the next day. 

Lately more than ever I feel like all I do is rush and wonder if I am late or how late I am.  I am pretty sure I am not alone and that this applies to many people in this day and age.  Is it the right way to live? I know that too slow a lifestyle is much more stressful for me than this madness described above.  I do think that it wears many out.  In the end the only thing I feel I need to not be late for is deciding if this is how we want to live, to never let an opportunity go by to tell someone that mean something to me, and of course to make sure that I am present in the moment for my kids.  Now I got to go because as you can imagine I am late.....

Friday, May 20, 2011

California Dreaming The Final Chapter

Our arrival into San Francisco was a bit anti-climatic.  We had to save our limited funds, had a rude awakening to the fact that the rents were the same in the city as in NY (at 24 I did not do the research that I would do now) and that we would probably need to live in town outside of San Fran or in a crap apartment in the city.  I wanted the beach since that was a BIG attraction in this move.  After much searching, one huge fight where I left Gary when he went to get a burger, and he had to explain to Elli how he had no idea where I was (I took a bus...am a NY kid I find public transportation) while she explained that my Mother would kill him slowly if he did not find me, oh yes kiddies this in B.C. (before cell phones).  The motel we were staying at, sharing a room among the 4 of us to save money only increased our need to find a place quickly.  

Our apartment was in Pacifica - small town outside of San Francisco, a block away from the beach.  The beach with water so cold you had to wear a wet suit to even attempt swimming in, with a shark net that made it so not inviting, but whose waves I could hear outside our window as I went to sleep and whose smell I could inhale even now.  It was a small apartment and my determination to not work for a year lasted about a month due to boredom.  My job was mindless but pleasant and my drive home amazing...still the best I ever had.  We had limited funds so we found 2 for 1 drink special nights in the city, free food and wine tasting dinners and our favorite buy 1 get one free dinner on Tuesdays walking distance from our place at a great Italian place owned by people from Brooklyn! We walked a lot on the street near the beach, especially before our tv came and we only had Tom Snyder on the radio (NY voice) to keep us entertained. The thing that may seem obvious but was not until we got there is that California is FAR from New York and the time zone thing makes it hard to call people when you most need them.  The pace of San Francisco is considered fast by West coast people ( I was easily identified as an East Coast person by the fact that I walked up an escalator and the aggravated tapping I found myself doing at check out counters where it should have taken 1 min to be done and who cares why the woman bought that brand of F*&king cookies - throw my change at me and get it done quickly any day). The mini tremors reminded us of the fact that this area had a little earthquake problem that we would not want to be in one to complete our authentic experience.  I must say I love the people who made the trip to see us out there. However, I missed my friends, my family and equally if not more some days New York.  

So we packed up our meager belongings, drove our cars following one another via a different route and drove cross-country back.  I am still reminded of how small my own existence seemed when looking at the Grand Canyon. We went through Texas where holy shit everything is BIG - and they do not want to seem to talk about 1963 and the grassy knoll at all in Dallas.  We were in Texarkana when Bill Clinton was first elected president and went to the govs mansion in Arkansas to see Billy - we were not allowed in but I still have a pine cone from the lawn.  I remember the moment the Manhattan skyline came into view, Billy Joel was on the radio singing "New York State of Mind" weirdly enough and my heart skipped a beat and I have never felt more at home than at that moment.  New York is my adopted city but it is the city of my soul - we are weirdly connected and I love it for all it is as well as for all it is not.  I still like San Francisco and my  move there, especially the drives to and from, was something that I cherish.  It also reminded me that home is where the heart is and mine has a beep, hey move the F out of the way, taxi driver pacemaker made in NY, NY!

I've seen all the movie stars
In their fancy cars and their limousines
Been high in the Rockies under the evergreens
But I know what I'm needing
And I don't want to waste more time
I'm in a New York state of mind ...Billy Joel

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

California Dreaming the Road Trip....

One would think from reading my last post that I was disappointed with California, that it had not been what I thought it would be.  You would be partially right, it was not what I thought it would be and the LA that I thought I was meant to live in turned out to be the place I have tried not to revisit since...but California has a laid back way that gets you smiling, gets you pondering and got me wanting to live there.  It was San Francisco, now for anyone who cares to take a moment here (as I did not do then) you can see that this will be a move to - oh yeah the closest to a New York city type location that there could be in California. Gary and I decided we would do it together...I would finish my masters that spring and in July well, off we would be.  My lovely mother, did tell me how I was breaking her heart by moving so far away, my father thought it was a waste of time (European parents have a timetable for their children and moving for no reason other than you want to 5000 miles away is a BAD deviation).

My friend Gary and I packed up our meager belongings, took our 2 cars and enlisted my best friend and her then boyfriend to come with us.  We were going to drive cross-country, I was going to see America and I was going to become a Californian! Our first stop was Sandusky, Ohio - wrinkled brows and curious glances must have happened when you read this...but it is the home of some of the best rollercoasters in Cedar Point Park.  On we went, seeing some really sad looking spots (Gary, Indiana) and some really gorgeous bits of nature.  The US in it's vastness has some of the most gorgeous, diverse geography of any place in the planet.  I realized quickly that most of the flat states were not for me and that I was getting antsy for some sort of urban spot.  One Sunday we decided to discard all advice given to us, did not get gas at the"last stop", took a side road and plugged forward toward what appeared like a city (star on map - preGPS) called Rock River, Wyoming. The road got darker, the needle on the gas got close to "E" for both cars, and just as it was beginning to feel like a bad horror movie locale the "Rock River - Welcomes You"sign saved us....only it was not a city by any definition we had.  It had one light coming into town and we could see the other light that blinked goodbye as you left town.  We went to a phone booth and I was told that the operator had gone to bed for the night and I was reaching some other town...oh it was a Twilight Zone moment alright.  We saw a woman walking into her house and we rushed at her, she did close the screen door quickly, but directed us to the "you are lucky it just opened" cabin motel down the road.  A young guy and his mother ran it, yeah yeah we did the Norman jokes too.  The place was clean and nice for $25 a night! The next day for some reason Elli and I craved croissants (the guys told us we should aim for Wonder Bread and butter)...got our gas at the Feeds N Needs since the one gas station in town had a broken pump and took off for Medicine Bow (a city we were told - not so much we found out - but it did have more than 2 lights).  We had breakfast at a bar, only place that was open, with the owner.  He was one of the most humble and kind people I ever met.  He had hand painted the celing and floors, he thought it was funny that we had brought our car radios in (he apparently had never locked any doors in his life - not car, home, work) and had never really been far from his home. It was almost like stepping back in time; no crack epidemic, broken into cars for radios, had altered his behavior in this place.  At the end we went to pay him for the toasted bread and coffee and he laughed and said "Pay for coffee...why that is like paying for water"...we left him a crazy tip.

The rest of our trip was less eventful, a black out while eating buffalo burgers in a small diner in North Dakota, a glimpse of Mt Rushmore, the purple mountains of Utah (by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen), the seediness of Nevada (discovering the hard way that chicken fried steak is code for grizzled chicken and not pounded steak - I gag writing this), the mountains and warmth of Sacramento and most of all the feeling that we had finally arrived.  I love the fact that we got to drive cross-country, that I found that most Americans are humble, kind, warm, happy to just make ends meet, and most of all that I am not meant to live anywhere but the coasts.  Now that we had arrived the adventure was to begin....

If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there...the Mamas & the Papas

Monday, May 16, 2011

California Dreaming...Chapter 1

If everybody had an ocean
Across the U. S. A.
Then everybody'd be surfin'
Like Californi-a....Beach Boys 

For a devoted, black wearing, walker who only got her license at 20 I have always been fascinated by the whole California lifestyle. I should clarify; I was highly attracted to the beautiful blonde, perfect weather, cool Beach Boy music southern with the intellectual beat poet northern end of California that I had seen, read about and listened to about the state.  When I was looking for colleges I asked my Mom if that was an option....that guilty conversation was only topped by the one later that we had when I moved there in my twenties.  So college was in the NY, and that was right for me, as was grad school but the pull was still there.  I just knew Cali and I were meant to be.  I was done with winters, alternate side of the street parking and having to drive an hour to get to the beach....so off on vacation I went to sunny California.

Did it deter me or change my mind that San Francisco, first leg of our trip, was umm....cold in July ??? Nope.  Did it make me question my presumptions when San Francisco for all it's "love man love" lore turned out to be more segregated than New York ever was? Nope.  I saw the winding streets, the beauty of the natural wonders like Muir Woods with it's massive redwoods, the super good looking Golden Gate bridge and thought oh yeah...this is better than movies! My traveling companions included 2 girlfriends and Gary (at the time s close friend) and we stayed at the coolest little boutique hotel right near the Ritz Carlton in San Fran proper.  We saw really good bands in out of the way dark bars, which were very similar to the dark bars of music lovers in NY but they were in California so dubbed "cooler than anything else" by me until my first wrinkling of the nose.  They took my drink at 1:45am ...yes the drink that this girl on budget had just bought.  New York  Queens trumped the wanna be queen waiter from San Francisco, got my drink and (take that) I was done by 2am when they closed...what's up with that closing at 2??? However, this was vacation and I was in my mecca...my calling...my - oh yeah I was smitten.

Gary went home and the girls and I continued south.  Now if you have not yet ever done the coastal highway from North to South you are missing a phenomenal driving experience ...cliff with ocean views on one side, majestic mountains on the other.  Yosemite was breathtaking, the drive up to it bit death defying...but we were in our twenties and laughed at the thought that we could get hurt.  The ticket on the side road for being, swallow, 40 miles over what I thought the speed limit was, with a cop who brought out in us all bad made for tv movies about being locked up in small town jails...but who in retrospect was quite nice for not arresting us which is what he was supposed to do (the fine is still the heftiest I have ever paid).  Then stop...dead freaking stop! Chemical spill on the highway, outside of Santa Barbara...LA within our grasp but not.  Now for a state where you need a car to do anything why oh why would you not build service or side roads? When I queried this, with my most annoyed voice, of a gas station attendant all I got was "from New York right?"...so we stayed in Santa Barbara.  Now that is exactly the way I pictured California...little beach town, blondes all over and lots of white teeth....my inner New York complain, roll eye, get cynical, where are the multitudes was beginning to edge out amongst this postcard stop (though still one of my fave places in CA).  Off to LA we went the next day...nothing popped my California bubble like LA.  The traffic, the fact that you really did have to drive everywhere because people told you directions to drive even when your destination was a block away, the beeping as I paralel parked (instead of pulling into a spot), the need to clean our car constantly (or so advised by our doorman at the hotel who said our car - a cheap rental mind you- was "us" in this town), the ocean water too cold to do much in, and most of all the non-city urban sprawl it turned out to be. We had a blast and we made cruel comments about the vacuous ridiculousness of the town and by day 2 we even found things we liked about it, after all the beach thing and the weather were hard to beat.  We left LA and touched down on New York soil, got pushed at the airport, treated without any respect by employess at JFK, inhaled some serious New York summer stank and knew we were all glad to be home.  California and I were not done with one another though .....

I'd be safe and warm
(I'd be safe and warm)
if I was in L.A.
(If I was in L.A.)
California dreamin'
(California dreamin') on such a winter's day....the Mamas & the Papas

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bram you were so not Romanian

For all the intelligent literature I tend to gravitate toward I have to own up to my love of vampire books.  I have not read the Twilight series, I tried though but it did not do it for me.  Not the way Anne Rice did. I do like the original in the genre, "Dracula", though it always leads me to some sort of annoyance at the fact that it is set in Romania and yet it is not any Romania that anyone I am acquainted with knows.

What is it about vampire novels that attracts me, or the millions of readers and followers? Is is the slow anticipation that the vampire is always one very attractive male? The smoldering eyes, the gallant way he woos and pursues the woman.  Maybe it is the fact that they are usually so much more interesting than their mortal counterparts.  They should have been demons yet we see them as the tortured heroes.  The nighttime wandering of a soul in search of something that fulfills a desire so strong! The pull of those eyes as the woman lays in her bed, her breath quickening, offering one of the more sensitive and sensual areas of the body to be pierced.  Let's face it you can tell that she is in ecstasy when he finally pierces the neck.  Yup it's the naughty and the forbidden other world that pulls us as much as those dark looks the vampire clan seems to have perfected.

Bram's novel was based mostly on the idea that Romania and the surrounding area is a mystery to most in the Western world. Most people assume that the area he set this in had some sort of weird vampire lore but in actuality his Dracula is based very loosely on a former ruler of Romania, who was a sadist to some and a true defender of the country from invading armies to other (probably he was both).  He was known to impale his enemies.  That, though, is not sexy and not what a British writer may have had any knowledge of.

Now if Bram had really wanted to write a Romanian Dracula there would have been more music, smoking, lots of appetizers and tons of people offering opinions on whether or not he should befriend Renfield.  There also would have been a lot more parties, political jokes, and a lot more drinking (wine, tuica - which is Romanian moonshine known to cure all ails from bronchitis to depression) without really being drunk.  He would not have opened the windows so wide even if he did need to fly through them because of the draft, which in many European nations and definitely in Romania is something to be feared more than any blood sucking imaginary character.  The draft would have killed Dracula much faster, since it can be attributed to anything from paralysis to ear infections.  He would have loved garlic, only a British guy would have thought that would be a danger to anyone (umm bland food would have been more scary to those of us of Romanian descent).  Most of all Dracula would have contemplated, discussed, taken forever to make any decision  and the light of day not a worry since a good tan at the Black Sea would have been in order.  The efficient way he dispatched all sent to kill him would have never been a Romanian trait....."why do today what you can put off until tomorrow" and not once did I see a little greasing of a palm to anyone to get to said Dracula.....obviously Bram you were never in Romania. Dracula would have liked to travel though, he got that right.  I am very proud to be Romanian.  Romanians in general are a people who love to have a good time, who value education, intelligence and who have perfected the art of making pessimism into a humor that sustains them.  Now look into my eyes.....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bath time with the boys

"splish, splash I was taking a bath..." Bobby Darin

I remember when I first found out I was pregnant with Max that I approached it with apprehension, excitement and my usual m.o. of reading and prepping as much as possible (yeah, yeah control freak or whatever).  My husband and I even took a child birth/child rearing class.  It was 2 days at NYU Hospital, where I would deliver, and it was by far the best thing we could have done.  I never baby sat and as an only child had almost no experience with babies. My husband is the youngest in his family and had nothing to add on what we were going to do when we got home post-delivery.  The class was perfect for this level of lack of knowledge.  I learned about breathing, epidurals, going without them or when to get them, nursing, diaper changing and host of other really useful tips for when we brought the baby home.  I used and shared most of these learnings with other new Moms.

One of the things that intimidated me the most with my first son was bath time.  I mean holy shit what if I dropped this small person? He could barely hold up his own head at the time.  What if I boiled or froze him? Got soap in his eyes, water in his ears, or otherwise damaged the little guy?  Luckily for those of us who have  baby showers a bathtub was given as a gift.  Small, blue, plastic tub which basically you could not drown the child in even if you were spastic or scared stiff.  Max and I both survived his first experience, though they did not warn me about covering his penis when I put him in water and so he baptised me the first time we went through this ritual.

Since then I have never asked our nannies, when we had them, to bathe either of my children.  Life was a bit more hectic for a while, even more than the usual chaos that you have when you have 2 children under 3 years old in the house, with having to bathe them in different places (baby in plastic tub, bigger boy in bathtub).  Once they were able to be placed together in the same bathtub though it has been the greatest.  They play, collection of toys and imagination go wild and we (me sitting on the lid of the toilet) have a lot of thoughtful conversations in there.  We also sing silly song and tell even sillier made up stories.

I know that this is coming to an end soon and that they will outgrow my presence and need for me in this routine.  Like many other things I will miss this ritual of early childhood.  Bath time with the boys for me is one of my favorite activities and though I know the trend in the States is to encourage self-reliance I will not push myself out of the steamy bathroom until they request it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Parenting ...Astoria style

"This parenting business is hard," I was sharing this with a fellow Mom, who agreed and then said "But we love it don't we?!".  I love being a Mom and often reflect on how different parenting has become in the current era.  In some ways better and in some ways maybe not.  I was remembering how growing up in Astoria most of us children of immigrants share a common parenting history.  We had parents who scolded you when you fell, as if it was on purpose and you meant to get dirty just to annoy them.  Their rules for us dated back to their own childhoods and did not advance with time.  Our relatives back in Europe were much less strict with their own children than ours were in this "foreign to them" land.  Our parents did not discuss they yelled just as easily as they kissed you in public, both mortifying events at certain ages.  They also had no problems disciplining your friends and asking if you enjoyed doing stupid things...sure that they could say in English.  I remember a friend of mine had his car stolen and was sharing this with us and some American friends....those of us from the immigrant side knew that his parents would ask things like "did you leave the car open ?" and "why would you get your car stolen?"....all very natural reactions from our experience.  Our American friends I believe may have needed an extra therapy session on our behalf.  We had curfews until college, particularly if you were a girl. We had no sleepovers, "why do you need to sleep over since you have your own bed?", except for the rare occasion and then they had to know, speak to, and confirm all details with the other parents.  Ask any of us and though we parent differently in many ways than they did we would not change our parents for the world...besides they still feel it is ok to tell us what we are not doing "like we should".

Our parents did not arrange play dates for us, they sent us outside, we knocked on doors until voila play date found.  They did not make us wear seat belts, often held us in their laps in the front seat of the car, and smoked around us.  They did not slather us with sunscreen and had definite opinions that overruled our own.  Yet here we are, having learned to do many of the things they did not (seat belts, car seats, sunscreen, no smoking) and hear them in our voices when we say to our children "stop that", "because I said so" and set rules.  We live in a world where caution and danger are the most commonly used terms in parenting.  I think our parents were imperfect and could have done many things better and acknowledge that my sons will say the same about me.  Most of us look back on their behaviors and smile, most of us are grateful that they did not let us make some choices as they would have been hard to recover from, most of us hope to be as loved and respected as our parents are to us.  We are not our parents we are our parents version 2.0....improved, fixed some system glitches, and made the application easier to use.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New York, NY

I always am a bit puzzled when people talk about New York with the adage "in the good old days".  I grew up in New York in the late 70s and 80s so the "good old days" were fun for me but were not that good for the city.  It was crime ridden, on the verge of bankruptcy, much dirtier, grittier, and looked more like an alcoholic beauty queen that looks 10 years older than she is.  Sure you can make a case that the city was more "real", that we had good times even with the Son of Sam, the crack epidemic, the squeegee people....but that was more due to our age and ability to overlook these things to get to clubs, bars, try on behaviors that were not good for us.  The city is a much better place now...kind of like the beauty queen with a little Botox.

In light of the media coverage that Bin Laden has been killed one thing has became evident to me about being a New Yorker. In the past 10 years we think of our city as in either a pre or post 9/11 context. We are now a country in the midst of 2 wars in an area that produced the terrorists that attacked my city, oh I totally feel that the city is a part of me and I a part of it no matter where I go.  We got used to armed guards in places like Grand Central, Penn Station with their puffed bullet proof vests, their large guns and ridiculously young faces.  Our vocabulary now includes things like Ground Zero, alert levels, warnings and "if you see something, say something".  Most New Yorkers are acutely aware that we are mentioned in most plots that are diverted. We lost so many of our own on that clear September day. For a city known for it's toughness we were made to cry for the destruction that still cannot be understood but is still acutely felt.

So what now that he is dead ? Or not if you read the internet (and yes if it is on the internet it is true).  For those of us in New York this did not mean that we get a lower alert level, no it meant we had to raise it.  We are/were targeted because we as a city stand for everything that a narrow minded, non-tolerant fanatical cult hates.  We are diverse, we are many united by our ability to have choices of how we live our lives and battle together the hardships of sharing the city itself.  We make mistakes and are cruel at times but mostly we are the most incredible group of people who in the face of any disaster do not react with violence but rather with a immeasurable kindness and calm for one another.  There may be those who are thinking of the debate about the mosque at Ground Zero as they may be reading this, ready to challenge me on our tolerance. The fact that we are even having the debate is more tolerant than many locations globally and nationally that have not even entertained the idea of diverse places of worship. More tolerant than the death mongers that asked for men to disregard the wonder of life, their own included, and drive planes into civilians.  So what now that he is dead? Now is the time for New Yorkers to once again show the world how it is done. I would like to leave my boys with historical knowledge of the "bad old days" when racism existed, when fanatics appealed to a people because their leaders repressed them, to know a history of a time that is nothing like the future they deserve.   Like Frankie said "if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere"....I guess it is up to us New York, New York......