Monday, December 31, 2012

Travelling through continents and time with Sinatra

I just updated my list with the latest book that I finished.  I had set a goal of reading 62 books and I did it, there were books that got read in a couple of days and there were books that took me a while.  I traveled through these books to Australia in the Light between the Oceans (and winced as a mother for both women in that book), I went to Norway and Sweden and realized yeah that idyllic life the media here keeps telling us about - not so much - there are violent and bad and good and oh yeah people are people everywhere even with an exorbitant tax rate and universal health care.  There were the times I cried for the senselessness of wars (Iraq Yellow Birds and Homefront or Vietnam The Things they Carried) and the survivals (Argo and Unbroken).  "Oh my " trips to the red room - spank me now - and crazy twists with "Gone Girl" - still shaking my head from that ending. Rediscovering Somerset Maughan and travelling through the 20s (Chaperone) and the past/present (11/22/63) understanding that even if you could stop a terrible event it did not stop other terrible events from happening.  I went and cried again for the Kennedys (Kennedy Detail).  Learned about how misinformation if said enough times becomes religion (Swerve and Under the Banner of Heaven and even Red Tent) or reality though it is false (Panic Virus). Spent time in a "Lifeboat" and "Running the Rift" in Africa.  Took myself through journeys of survival with my son in the I Survived books. I learned about the greatness and absolute imperfection of Robert Moses.

All those and some that just reminded me of love and humanity and laughter.  It was a very good year for books.

There was lots of Frank Sinatra (who was in books and music) and rediscovering Jackson Browne.  I danced along and sang too loudly in my car that "We R Young" and twirled my imaginary phone cord of my princess phone (back to teenage years) while I too swore with Taylor that "We are never getting back together" - EVER!!  There was Ray ( who never leaves my mind or my music).   There were old artists and new songs and lots and lots of fun sharing these with the boys.  Of course there was so much Adele that at some point if that had been a record there would have been scratches...never mind I'll find someone like you.

There were movies  - lots of them animated and some of these better than the not animated ones (and did I get a kick out of thumb ring, tattooed Santa in the Rise of the Guardians).  There were plays that left me with tears of laughter in my eyes (Nice Work if you Can Get It, Anything Goes) and those that left me with tears (Death of A Salesman).   There were plays that left me well slightly more turned on than any of the 50 books (Venus in Fur - nothing like seeing nothing and envisioning it all).

There was Homeland -- umm really a break no you do not need a break as I need to know now how Carrie and Saul are going to handle this Brody issue (or is there an issue ? did he do it? ooooh I need more).  There was Downton Abbey with it's lovely house and pull - sexy and oppressed at the same time.  Madmen where is there anytime one cannot have a cocktail and "zou bisou bisou" everyone let's get it on 60s.  Guilty pleasures in American Horror Story - ok it's just Dylan McDermott that I watched for whatever.

It is often said that these pursuits of books, music, art, movies, tv ...well they are useless, frivolous, a waste of time...but I argue they are not.  They are part of what makes life special and I appreciate being able to have the stolen moments to squeeze these in...they take you away and bring you back slightly changed - they are the soundtrack to your moments and most of all these things are what made 2012 memorable.

Happy New Year and I cannot wait to travel more with my earbuds on in 2013

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

So the final wrapping has been done...the cookies for Santa have been bought....and I am ready to enjoy the next couple of days with my family.

As an atheist I do not get anything except a smile when people wish me a Merry Christmas.  I know that there are those out there who do not like it because they are of a non-Christian faith, or of no faith or just a pain in the butt but for me it is a better thing to say than ...I hate you ..I hate this season...or anything else that does not bring to mind the smell of fir trees, glittery paper and overall a spirit of giving. 

Christ was a man whose basic goal was to spread a message of love and kindness....for me he did not need to be more because if we all spent more time being kind to others well would the world would be just that much better off. You need to understand the message even if the messenger means different things to you.  We need to stop asking for others to be exactly the same as us and remember it is the differences that make this planet so much wondrous.   

So in that spirit of overcoming hardship for love, accepting each other as we are and hoping to give along with presents a gift of ourselves and of really being there for others who are both close to us and unknown I wish you all a Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A wrapping I will go..high ho..

Deep breath in and out and in and out....I just read a wonderful blog about trying to squeeze all things in as a Mom...and at this time of year K you nailed it....I hesitate to even glance at the still growing list of stuff I have to do.  The presents were given for Hanukkah, not bad considering I am not Jewish, well except for one night. Oh ok I missed one came home and orbited me like planets around the sun ...tired I did not gently in my best Brady Mom voice ask (oh ok I may have been a bit snarky ...I was tired ..eye roll) "what is it?"...and then the disappointment until I lied...yep I lied...told them of course I did not forget ...come on how could I forget...seeing the light in their eyes as I told them their gift was.........$5 each of Itunes center field Mommy catches the ball - strike 3 and the crowd goes wild!!!! 

Then on to ordering Christmas presents, buying said presents in stores, hiding said presents in deepest parts of basement ...lucky I am not a eeek girl and cobwebs meet their match in my Swiffer, I am Princess Leia in that room that is locked all year and never used except for my stash at Christmas.  I am  sure the boys don't even know the door opens.  The first time I saw it my vivid imagination took me to the Amytiville house (and if you have to ask what that is - Google can help) ...previous owners of our house, well he was an artist so the room has red paint splattered on concrete walls, and really has no purpose that I can see except to be either Satanic ritual place or Return of the Jedi Spiderwebs ...perfect for hiding stuff from kids.  To my relief I have never seen pig eyes...again Google Amytiville Horror --- spooky movie.

On to going into said nasty room, music on because yes I will freak myself out, and wrap presents in a room with no real table top so my Romanian gymnast genes (non-existent but asked about often by those whose main knowledge of this small country is Nadia Comaneci and Dracula -- trust me I get a lot of weird flexible blood drinking questions) come in handy as I maneuver evil shaped (besides making these non-rectangle/square shapes can we also admit that the evil empire that makes these in factories also ensures that they are Homeland CIA worthy in terms of the number of twists, ties, mini bolts and other creative holds that no thief except one from the CIA would be able to undo, especially while children are screaming and you are trying not to run with scissors on Christmas morning) boxes into semi decent wrapped presents, scotch tape often in my hair, and then write the name tags with my left hand (am a rightie) so said children do not see my handwriting and realize Santa is just the fat guy who gets all the credit and Mommy gets all the credit card bills :)

Where is my husband, father of said children, ummm oh yeah usually tossing me a few things to wrap for his family (if he has not charmed me into - didn't want to say suckered - buying the gifts myself) and then watching some sort of ball game and flicking channels as if it was an Olympic sport.

Deep breath ....few more days....and in light of senseless tragedy well this is all worth it....a wrapping I will go a wrapping I will go.....

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I am not ok....yet

I am not ok - have not been all day since I heard about the shooting in Connecticut.  I was not ok even before I knew how many children were killed ...and I was most certainly less ok when I found out the total number of victims.  I am not blaming a god I do not believe in and I find no comfort in trying to convince others of anything other than they should find comfort where they can.

I am not ok today - and I have not felt this powerless, shocked, angered, sad, and confused since 9/11.  I do not blame the tv, the mental health system, politicians or gun makers.  I do hope that getting a gun is something that requires more screening than it currently does in many places and maybe the question or really who needs anything other than rifle for personal use?  I mean automatic weapons - what the f*&k are you hunting? It is not ok to have lax gun laws - they need to be much stronger. Though let's not kid ourselves they will not be a magic shield they will be a deterrent in many cases at best.

I do not think it is ok that I had to cry in my office and try to make sense of a day that just made no sense.  That in my spirit of holiday giving and warmth this cold crept into my soul and strangled it - making it hard to breathe much less think.

I am not ok with having to tell my 8 and 6 year old in terms that will not scare them what the tv or other kids may share with them about this - to tell them that bad people are scary but they should not be scared.

During those awful hours and days after Columbine, as we see again today, the world around me tried to gain control by blame - the only blame I have is for the shooters - so instead of spreading more hate can we look at ways to work together without finger pointing and instead opt for hand shaking agreement on how to protect our children?

I will be ok because I still think of these horrors are not being the whole of the world (my thoughts also went to the 22 children who on Thursday   were stabbed in China by a random man)- the wars, the deaths, the pain - they are real and a walking boogeyman but they are not all we have.  If there is a god figure you believe in may they bring you the peace you need to see the world for what it is - imperfect and beautiful.  I for one am making peace again as I do after these events that leave me horrified and numb, grateful for my friends and loved ones, by turning to my writing, to my music and to rebuilding my soul.  I cannot control the world but I can control the soul that refuses to remain in a cold grip by enjoying my days, loving with abandon and most of all by still believing that this incident is not the world - this is the exception.  There is nothing more beautiful than the sound of children's laughter - the smiles on small faces - the glitter in their eyes as they discover something ----- that is what we owe our children so that they can be ok.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Days go slow but years fly by

I just recently heard this expression and I thought it was brilliant.  This time of year always makes me stop, blink and wonder where did the year go???? 

I remember being a kid and thinking the year 2000 -- wow big deal - and then Y2K - and now 12 years into the double Os and that seems like so long ago.  I look at Facebook and wonder how my high school friends could possibly have high school kids of their own ?  I read my sons' Santa letters and know these are going to be a thing of the past sooner than ever ...gone will be the magic that they have in thinking that there is someone out there who grants wishes just because they wrote him a letter.  

So here I am again this time of year and wondering where to next?  I mean how did I get to be 45 ???? I often joke with a good friend about how long we have been friends - because it seems that 15+ years could not really have gone by since we first met.  I am not one to want to repeat stages of my life - they are great memories and I am at an age when I can appreciate the choices I made because even when they were not the right ones,  they were the ones I remember and use to learn from.  

I am so far from my own letters to Santa but I still close my eyes some days and marvel - at music, at art, at books and at the friends that have surrounded me for many years or who I have added later in life and most of all at my children.  There are no elves, though I do wish I had minions a lot of times, but there are host of people who I cannot imagine how I would get through life with.  There are no toy deliveries but there are constant gifts both physical and emotional that I unwrap with the people in my life. 

So here I am 45 - really???? when I am going to feel like that should mean some sort of boring adultness ? - and the only thing I cannot seem to think of is what I would ask the magic man at the North Pole for besides the usual stuff  (peace on earth, happiness to all, some gorgeous jewlery and shoes - shoes- shoes) and yet part of me thinks this is the time to seize the day and change next year.  

Before I go and try to get it all together to make the "magic" of Santa happen for my kids I want to take a moment to say how much I enjoyed moments of this year.  I want to fly with the end of the year and meander through the next few days and weeks.  There is so much I thought I would have done by 45, such lives I would have led - you know when I was a kid and 2000 seemed so far in the future - and there is so much more that I was lucky to have unexpectedly have actually done.  

Dear Santa - just keep letting the adventure continue - -I have been good (mostly), naughty (ummm not a 50 shades memoir so will just leave it at naughty) and once in a while a combination.  Bring me what you will ...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

'Tis the season of gift giving

I am going to go against the PC grain here - not surprising knowing how I am such not a fan of the political correctness movement.    I love Christmas and the whole decorating, present buying, way NY looks during this time season.  I cannot wait to put up a tree and the way it smells inside the house, getting out the decorations which as you hang them bring back memories of either the family moments I spent with my parents as some are from that time or of my first tree in my own first apartment (Charlie Brown tree for sure but mine) and of the things we have bought, gathered, made with my husband and the boys.  I do decorate my house, the menorahs they made sit proudly next to Hanukkah bear which is next to the Nutcrackers on the fireplace mantel.

I love the way lights up and decorations - and yes the crowds can be annoying - overall I find people are in better cheer.  Here is where the optimists reading this think everyone is in better cheer, the pessimists remember the angry driver who beeped at them while the light was just about to turn green and the realist in us knows it is both of these.

I know that people want me to say that it is about the spirit and the "feeling" of the season but while those things are true I have to admit it is also about the presents.  I just don't buy into the whole getting socks for Christmas is good because you needed them.  
There is no part of me that can relate to all this whiny there is no need to buy presents bandwagon that so many people (as they sport their latest Apple product to Tweet about it) keep trying to push on me for this season.  To all of you - well good for you hope you find happiness with granola cookies baked under the tree.  It is where I am so much more a capitalist because at Christmas I like to buy and get "stuff".  I like to buy presents that really make a person smile.  I am not downplaying the needy and those who cannot afford even their basic necessities but that's another discussions all together.  My pretending that I just want a nice pair of silk thermals when in reality the little blue box from Tiffany's would make me happier - well that just makes me a phony. 

I love buying presents - I could buy for the boys until their little heads would spin - and I know don't spoil them, they have too much  - but as long as it is not beyond your means what exactly is wrong with a day of spoiling them a little more than usual?  I look hard to find the presents that match each person, often from a nugget of information that we exchanged during the year.  Many of my friends have what they need and are fortunate in that respect so finding a present that is not a gift card is so exciting for me.  The giving is what makes me happy so budget gets stretched.  Hardest part is not the wrapping - not my best skill, though I love the pretty paper and even that I use with the receiver in mind  and I love the way a well wrapped present looks- but holding myself from giving the person the gift as soon as I get it.  I am that child like in my thrill to see if they liked it or not.

So as I make my list of gifts to get I remember how much the people who are getting these gifts mean to me all year round.  This month is all about how much I like this time of year ...and how I am not going to feel guilty about it while I shop, shop, shop - after all I am helping the economy....tootles

Come and trim my Christmas tree,
With some decorations bought at Tiffany's,
I really do believe in you,
Let's see if you believe in me......Eartha Kitt

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

To card or not to card ....

It is increasingly obvious that many people are  no longer sending handwritten cards - even at holidays.  If they still send things via mail it often is the holiday picture cards with a preprinted message. 

Now I have a wonderful friend who makes her own cards - while I am always impressed by these treasures, I also know I do not have the time or patience to ever take on such a big task - cannot wait for the one she will send this year (Claudette - no pressure - ha!).  I also have a good friend whose company makes this beautiful stationery (Hampton Paper Designs that would be you of course) including the holiday cards - a good option as they even have one where if you must do the holiday pic you can slip it in.  However, this too takes a little pre-planning which I swear I will do every year but to date have not been all that successful in sticking to.  

I like a selection - from the whimsical to the ornate - I actually select each one,  as I write out a message on each, for the recipient that it is going to.  I have to admit I am a little appalled at how much my handwriting has deteriorated since I use it less - but if I had the time (maybe that's what I should ask Santa for!!!!) I would write it with my favorite fountain pen - since that option is not really viable I still like to find great pens.  I used to write a lot more but I too have switched to a hybrid - short personal message along with annual holiday catch up poem.  I wanted to eliminate the poem last year but thank you to the kind insistence from family and friends - it stays.  

So I am sad about the disappearance of this tradition - along with handwritten letters or notes which I miss from people, yes I kept some of the best notes/letters I have ever gotten in my life.  In an age where mail is usually 90% stuff I just throw in the recycle bin without even needing to open it is the one time of year that I actually look forward to getting mail.  I smile at the distances that these cards have traveled, yes I marvel at how much children have grown, and most of all I like to feel like I was thought of.  An email greeting just does not invoke that feeling in me.  I have given up on all the other holidays (and I admit it has been helpful to not remember to send in time, get stamps, etc...) though birthday cards for those in my very close circle of friends are still hand chosen and sent (if you get one of these you know it may be- say a few days late because I am great at buying but fail at sending on time pretty consistently).  

I will adjust - I usually do - I did with music and books (ok, ok are so much easier to get/carry/have on the ereader - though the dangerous ability to purchase these 2 things at anytime has not been exactly a good thing for my wallet).  I still love the smell and look of a card store, personalized stationery, book store -- and get excited about buying this year's cards.  

I love this season - and I love all the cheesy things that go with it from lights, holiday music - it makes me smile to see the city decorated and of course I look forward to getting cards in the mail.  

Do you still give and get cards?  Still love it ? -- 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanks for the memories

I try to be and am pretty appreciative of my life on a regular basis - yes I have the New York "ahh come on..." gripes about the things I encounter, people can aggravate me but overall I really am a pretty optimistic person.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday - it was not always, as a kid of course I loved my birthday and Christmas (oh stop it - gifts for a kid and the magic of both of those are pretty cool).  As I get older though I realized how wonderful Thanksgiving really is.  

First as an immigrant it is one of those holidays that pretty much everyone, unless you are a total jerk - that's right a jerk - and have no intention of assimilating (which begs question of how smart can you be also - if you hate it here umm why you stay ???) - then you celebrate Thanksgiving.  Now to add to the American flavor of this - pretty much everyone makes the turkey in some form but the part that makes it the States is that it may be surrounded from the the traditional sweet potatoes, stuffing fare to anything like sauteed German cabbage, Romanian cold cut appetizers before and no yellow vegetables (don't ask I don't why), Chinese stir-frys, Italian pasta dishes or maybe the turkey is glazed with Indian curry, Thai spices, or insert your ethnicity and dish of choice.  I think that is great - it is tradition.  It is one of those things that make us a nation.

All over the country people actually give thanks  - now life may not be good, the poor victims of natural disasters come to mind with Sandy so close at my heels, or you may not be able to afford the delicacies above, there may be illness, or discord ...or life just being life and not taking a break for the holiday.  Those things cannot be forgotten - so if you can, lend a hand in some way.  A call, a dollar, a donation, whatever - you can help a little or a lot but if nothing else be grateful for what you have and hope for more for those that don't.

I am grateful for my life - for the experiences that I have had - for the friendships that I have for so many years (and rekindled via Facebook) that are so precious to me.  I am grateful for the family that I have made with my husband and absolutely out of this world wonderful boys.  I am thankful for the family I was born into - they are quirky, sometimes aggravating, imperfect and overall amazing, they are what I bring in my DNA and who I choose in my life.  I can never really thank my Mom enough - she is a one-woman cheer leading section, brutally honest, who has evolved at her choosing to keep being better - just awed by her.  I try and instill in my kids a sense of how truly great our lives are both materially and emotionally - and I think they get it.  I am thankful for the people who read this blog from all over the world and for my friends who support it.  A special thanks to a friend who probably does  not realize how much he influenced me starting it and just saying some really nice things about the first few - gave me the push to keep going. 

I hope you can take a moment to enjoy the holiday, the food, the people you have chosen to be with.  Take a moment to close your eyes and remember all the things that have gone well and how you got past those that did not.  Thank those that mean something to you - really time flies and no they "do not know it" that you love and are grateful for knowing them.  

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The world of child care

Right before Hurricane Sandy hit the East coast there was a horrible story that was making news in this area.  It was the horror story of a mother who came home to find her two young children dead, stabbed in the bathtub by the nanny that had been hired to take care of them.  A nanny who by all accounts was a part of their family, someone who they had visited in her native country.   I cringe as I write this and cannot close my eyes for fear that I visualize any part of this. 

As a mother this a story that makes my stomach turn.  The devastation this must cause is beyond my willingness to imagine.  The story though, disgustingly, does not end there.  It led to the judgement phase.  From the left - questions about whether this high income family cared for their children, and if they had employed someone for low pay who was unstable.  From the right - questions about mothers hiring help, mothers working, mothers ability to mother in a world where women do not define all they are by being mothers.  As sad and emotional as the story about the kids made me - these rants made me boiling, want to slap the f*&k out of you mad.  This is 2012 people.  To the left - WHAAAT???? how dare you judge people by finances - pass judgement because of their income level.  Does being poor or middle class make you a better parent? NO - does it make you a worse parent? NO.  All children should be fortunate enough to be born to homes that can afford to give them both love and the safety of having their lives made easier - all children deserve at least that much.  I wish there were no children born into poverty, no children who did not know a warm bed on a cold night, who do not have enough or anything to eat.  I know this is a pipe dream but it is my dream.  It does not mean though that those children who are poor do not experience love.  Just like it does not mean you are an unfeeling, throw money instead of hugs parent just because you are wealthy.  Being a bad parent sadly crosses all economic lines and gladly so does being a good one.  

To the right -- WHAAAAT???? a mother, notice the father as primary care taker never gets put forth as an option from this side, is not better or worse for working.  My mother worked full time, hard and long hours,  and was by far one of the best moms that I have ever seen.  I have seen mothers who are home, across a financial spectrum, that are disinterested, cold, and at times downright mean to their kids.  I know mothers who are amazing at being home and make me smile at how lucky their kids are to have them as a part of their lives.  I work and I am not apologetic for this.  I never will be.  I enjoy working, I loved and worked hard to get an education that allowed me to broaden my choices and have jobs that allow for me to experience being a mother too.  I have never for one moment thought I would like to quit my job.  There might be other ventures I would try if I did not have to work for financial reasons, some that would have me home more time than I am (my ideal work world is always Tues- Thurs).   I am a dedicated, tired, loving mother who has a great relationship with my boys.  I am imperfect and make mistakes.  Another words I am a mother who works at being at mother - my mothering skills are not diminished by my working.  Around the globe studies have shown that mothers who are given opportunities for good child care and the ability to have choices for work are economically much better off - duh !!!

I had nannies, the first one slept along with the baby quite a bit - but she was good to him and quit as soon as he got mobile, the second one was an amazing woman from Zambia whose friendship I treasure to this day - my son called her GoGo at her urging (which means grandmother - really what more could I ask for) - whose dignity I felt fortunate to have as a part of my house, and we had Paula -- another woman who has remained a friend of our family.  Her dedication to our children was amazing and her skills as a mother to her own children, under circumstances that I wish she never had to experience, still makes me smile when I mention her name.  The day care we found when it became the better option for my kids (For Kids Only) had all the elements I needed, an owner who lives for community service, charity and helping kids make good choices.  It is a place that my kids ask for "5 more minutes" when they get picked up, with a chorus of same to other parents by their friends in there, give us parents a moment who have rushed to pick up a chance to breathe and talk to one another.  I have hired people based on gut instincts, they seemed like a good fit, along with reference checks. I never had nanny cams.  I never thought, nor did they, that these wonderful folks were responsible for raising my children.  That is my responsibility as a parent - they were there to take care of my children while I was at work - and to reinforce the behaviors that make kids into good adults.  

Stop - just stop - the judgement of the parents who were the victims in this terrible tragedy.  Convict the nanny and I do not care that she is obviously crazy - put her in jail forever - there is no sympathy here - she stabbed 2 young children to death.  There is no need for us to do more than offer condolences to the family and hug our own children a little tighter.  We should look at offering more affordable, safe childcare so that women at all financial levels can work if they choose to. It seems pathetic that we are in 2012 and there are still people out there who do not understand that being a parent for both men and women is a huge part of who they are, a part that requires a lot of their time/love/money/patience that most give gladly, but it is just that - a part - we are all the sum of our parts and we need to evolve to understand that.  Keeping us in single spaces is not good for us or our children.  Women work - women are mothers  - look at that you can have both in the same sentence !!!! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

In the aftermath of Sandy

Those of you who know me personally are aware my family and I were among the many who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy. If you are a New Yorker you tend to take all weather advisories with a touch of "yeah right" cynicism.  After all for many years we have had bad snow storms as our most catastrophic weather event - and as much as they aggravate me (oh stop it for all of you who want to tell me that it is pretty - it is when you are inside, outside it is a pain to shovel, move out of the way, and no I do not want to ski, snowboard, or sleigh) they are manageable. They are expected when you live in the climate I do.  They are "natural".  All other warnings people tend to think are exaggerations and things that we send money for to other states when they get walloped.

This time the predictions were right...though the winds and rain as they were actually happening did not seem to be strong enough to cause the devastation it actually did.  The thing that always strikes me is how overwhelmingly well New Yorkers (with some exceptions) behave in times of crisis, yes New Jersey you too.  We lost power at about 6pm on Monday - a rare occurrence for our house.  We did not get upset - we continued eating the dinner I had just finished making by candlelight.  We had charged our devices, I had filled up the gas tank, so we hunkered down ready to have a night without power.  It was not a night though, it went on and on and on.  We walked around flipping light switches as if that would bring the power back, we played games, we went out to dinner and then we came home and bundled for the nights were multiple blankets were needed.  I found out some things about myself.  I am more resilient than most people (including myself) realize, I got a few comments on how "you are doing so much better than I thought" from people.  I am the girl who will not go camping after all, who considers roughing it sleeping at Holiday Inn - and I am ok with that.  I have never been one to like the backpacking, hostel life even when I was young enough to qualify for staying at a hostel - the comforts of  a private bathroom and a nice hotel  were always the way I traveled.  I found out that I can shower in the dark and put on make up by flashlight (guess those nights putting on while in car on way to clubs were useful after all).  I came down a few morning to find my husband staring at the tv, gently stroking the remote - the man was suffering - me, well since the TV is usually commandeered by said husband or boys I did not miss it that much.

I caught up on American Horror Story Season 1 - yeah bit of an odd choice in a dark house, with the wind howling, but that Dylan McDermott, well he can posses me and this house any time... I read and listened to a lot of music.  I also got confirmation that I have the most amazing friends far and near ever.  There are friends who I did not ever meet in person (we met through mutual friends via Facebook or email) who checked on me daily (yes Kris one of them be you), who though we never met offered me shelter (yes Denise T that be you and Jeremy too) - friends who we see all the time who offered us their house keys (Sylvana) and too many to name who offered us housing, showers, laundry time, food and embraced us in the time of our need.   There were friends who live far away (cross state lines, cross country, cross continents) who offered us a mini vacation location (so many of you to thank).  A week is a long time to go without power but we still found ourselves thinking we were lucky compared to others who as I write this have lost so much .  I embraced the woman of comfort that I am and did what what any New York lady who wishes she lunches does - I got my hair done, and that small act of normalcy helped me through a few days.  I spent a lot of time with the boys and was thrilled to see how great these plugged in kids were unplugged - their favorite nighttime game "spelling and math" where we threw out words and problems and they had to answer correctly (hey they have some of my Dad's genes).  They never complained and they told me they loved electricity when it came back.  I cooked by candlelight and entertained fantasies about Michael Langdon (ok that could be the cold making me a little delirious .  In the end I shrugged and was sad mostly by the fact that I had to throw out so much food that had gone bad.

I find myself though listening to people complain about Sandy - how she wrecked their lives.  Yet I do not blame her, she is a product of many, many years of the beatings that we as a people have given and continue to give this planet.  I have learned that I can survive, but hope I do not have to,  and I am scared of what is to come in future years.  I am not sure we can help the damage that was done but we can help not add to it.  There needs to be a thoughtful discussion on global warming, of how to deal with nations that will lie about their emissions (that's right China I'm talking to you) and how to combat that by possibly working to reduce even more of the emissions from nations that do not.  My sons, who along with their friends in this area, proved they are an amazing bunch of people, deserve to have women in their future who do not wreck havoc but are forces of nature.

" ..I'm in misery" - John Travolta

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Trick or treat

Halloween - that time where kids dress up, candy is bought last minute so that it makes it to outstretched little hands on Oct 31st rather than in outstretched adult mouths as soon as they get in the house.  I grew up in New York in the late 70s and the city was pretty much fright night 365 days a year.  Crime was out of control, the city was falling apart, Son of Sam, blackout where it all went wrong, streets were dirty, there were garbage strikes that added to the stink already there and let the rats run amok, strikes were the horrid yet necessary fashion of wearing sneakers with work clothes came to be as people walked over bridges to work.  This was the city of graffiti subways and basically every bad movie you have ever seen - well it was not far off.  We would have cheered for Charles Bronson as a vigiliante - we did in the form of Guardian Angels minus the killing.  The city was going bankrupt. So much for the good old days. 

Into that my friends and I were not exactly "encouraged" by our parents to trick or treat.  The threat of being taken or getting a razor in your apple - candy often got thrown out as soon as it came back to the house.  The idea of paying for a costume..not in an blue collar - middle class mostly immigrant neighborhood.  No those babies were thrown together with some serious imagination - pillowcases sometimes used as candy collectors.  The places you were allowed to go very limited by parents - basically if they did not know the family (and oh yeah this was the time of parents who did not see the need to always follow children around like we do today - they just forbade you to go if they could not see you) you were not going.  Maybe you could do your building - except there was always at least one old lady who yelled at everyone.  Into this there were eggings - shaving cream fights - and a fear of these 2 even if they were only things you saw the day after on cars, doors, did not want it to happen to you.  

So we went to our limited locations, we bums, some costumes, clowns, and cowboys.  It was still fun but I have to say until I got to go to the Village parade Halloween was not as appealing to me.  It was a time for parties as I got older, the city was cleaner, the crime down, I no longer trick or treated - Son of Sam was a movie while the actually guy lingers in Sing Sing (I pass by that every day on my way to and from work and never really even give him a thought - this man who paralyzed our city).  Then I had kids and well the whole holiday took on new meanings.  I mean seriously nothing is cuter than a baby in a costume.  They excitement that my older son showed when he was 1 1/2 and kept inviting the trick or treaters in as they rang the bell - as he sat on our steps and fell asleep sitting until the next knock and in his Tigger costume he barely held up his head "come in come in".  As my younger son wore a giraffe costume as he as only 2 weeks old and then moved on to no longer wanting his brother's hand me down costumes.  

I love the holiday - a bunch of kids with their parents come to our house for pizza, the dads shepherding the little ones (getting scarier by the year - both boys and girls) as we see them getting bigger too fast while we Moms have wine and give out candy.  Their excitement at being slightly scared and over sugared.  It is a feast of the imagination.  In a world where we often think of the uncertain future we are giving these kids, in a world where it has become easier to be cynical, I look around and realize they actually have a much safer environment than I did.  Maybe the world is just as crazy or crazier but maybe it is just that we focus so much on the negative.  Their world, and even NYC, is so much safer than it was when I was a kid that they can enjoy the fright of Halloween because it is not real.  

Enjoy the day and smile at the little faces as you hand out your candy...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Art of Seduction...ohh Mr Grey

Still finding it difficult to believe that after all this time Fifty Shades of Grey discussions are still going strong - the term Red Room has become part of our daily vocabulary and who knew so many people liked so much kink???  If the books were not enough there is the movie which is a seduction in itself with it's tantalizing "I wonder who?".

My highest read blogs, which keep getting read worldwide (THANK you), are about the trilogy.   It is fascinating, voyeuristic look into the fact that women out there are enjoying sex and sex talk as much as the boys  - so no need to hide your Playboys, well there is a need to hide them because 1) we will probably dissect every picture and tell you how it was photoshopped, siliconed, waxed, covered blemishes with foundation and come on you really think anyone's lips are that size without a little botulism? and then we will promptly spout off some feminist tag line while stomping to bathroom to wonder how we will never look like that ...

I still think what women like about the books is something that has been lost a lot in the past few years - younger women may have rarely or never seen it - the art of seduction.  Seduction like many things that actually take time (slow,  languorous meals, slow walks for contemplation rather power walks for exercise, conversations deep and thoughtful face to face, listening to the same record over and over just because you can and many others) has been reduced to a drive through pick up even when the meal is a fillet mignon.  Christian and Anastasia play a kinky game of seduction and that is drawing women in - cause letting that knife slowly slice through the pink, juicy fillet in front of you, closing your eyes and letting your taste buds register the buttery quality, rolling your tongue around that morsel, knowing you have it but there is not a lot and slowly eating it - well is sure a lot more enjoyable than wolfing down that Big Mac in record time. 

Seduction does not happen just because you are dating or because you are looking to get laid.  It happens because there is that mad attraction between two people and rather than just give in to it you draw out the anticipation for a bit.  Seduction is about the deep conversation that has nothing to do with carnal thoughts but gets you hot and excited because there is passion in it.  It is that moment before you see someone when you wonder if you will still get that slight pause in your breath, if you will bite your lower lip, get the sensation in your body that ends in a slight shiver.  It is for me the man who knows how to make you feel like you are sexier than the Playboy centerfold not because you are in better shape but because he can't stop thinking about you but he can put the magazine down.  The person who with a look or the sound of their voice knows how to draw you in - makes you free of inhibitions - and makes you feel a yearning for them that lasts long after you have parted ways.  It is the art of anticipation, of eyes connecting, lips barely touching before that kiss that drowns you, slight brushes against one another "accidental" or magnetic, double entendres, and time spent in public that is peppered with thoughts unspoken or alluded to of what you want to be doing with one another in private. Seduction is obvious to the 2 people playing the game and not vulgar to the world around them. Seduction is not coercion. 

Before there was Fifty there was "9 1/2 Weeks" before that there was Casanova.  As women we are hot for Christian  because he spans 3 books to get Anastasia in a state where she is content emotionally but also always slightly on edge and anticipating the next moment physically - he is the seduction master to her willing slave.  Seduction like many things that we are leaving behind, because we have become a world of immediate satisfaction, is something that we still want and miss. LATERS

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

School days daze....

I am one of those know you probably are too...the ones that like to go all the orientations, meet the teachers, actually discuss things back and forth with teachers to ensure your child is doing the most he can.  I am sometimes tempted to skip the orientation, and just got the principal talking to for looking "bored" I was actually tired but you revert back to student deer in headlights when a principal calls you on something, since of course I already heard much of it from my older son's time in the same grade/school. I start the relationships with the new teachers by letting them know that I am here to partner with them not to "assist" them do their job because after all - shocking as this is for many parents today - I am not trained to be a teacher in the school.

I really like the schools in the area we live in.  Yes, I was admonished for not doing SAT level prep work prior to buying a house on test scores, reading accomplishments...of the district by co-workers who did everything but interview the school board to ensure they were picking correctly.  I am just not that demanding...or controlling...or forgetful that a school district is more than just scores.  I looked for things like diversity, I grew up in Queens so to me this town is not even all that diverse it is just mixed, for a town that I could walk in, a commute that would get me home in time to help with school work and a house that I liked. I got all of that - but then I actually delivered the child I was carrying and was bombarded with what I nicely call the motherhood gestapo..did I sign up child (who could not hold own head up yet) for Gymboree, baby Mozart, physics online courses??? Umm no...guilt abounded - my child was already behind - and all of this while I was supposed to be playing Baby Einstein videos (while my infants loved them - they were bit like Chinese water torture to have on for an adult) and watching and encouraging milestones.  Ahhhhh as if sleep deprivation and total responsibility for a newborn were not enough pressure.

I went to library classes, met some of the friends I have to this day -they were for the babies but ladies let's be honest they were a social outlet to escape from Baby Einstein videos too and I love you all for the time, read to my infants, bought "stimulating" toys (all went into the mouth so really the lead content avoidance was probably my greatest contribution) and ensured they had playdates.  All this before said children could even identify a school building.  So here we are in 1st and 3rd grade - comparing  notes on teachers - when I was a kid you got a classroom, showed up first day and voila your teacher wrote their name on blackboard (a thing of the past in my school district which has been replaced by smartboards that I always want to play with when I visit my boys' classrooms 'cause they are soooo cool).  However, not so in this town and while there is some merit to hearing opinions (she is like Nurse Ratchet and yells vs teachers loves job) in the end often experiences with a teacher really are defined by the child in the class.  I have really liked all of the boys' teachers and boys are doing really well - their schedules are packed so much more and they are learning by far more than we parents did. There were teachers I thought were "better"  and yet they were all good.

So as I sat there in the orientation I also thought that I am confused by what the expectations of teachers are...I mean they should be prepared and engaged, knowledgeable in their areas, fair, continue to enhance their teaching skills, not be subject to protection from being let go if they are not following above (come on there are crap ass teachers out there so let's not pretend there are not) and for me really want to do the job they are doing.  In my town they are not underpaid nor should they be.  I know we want to have kids who "score" as well as other countries but I for one do not measure by scores alone...innovation has most often come from the US even when their test scores did not lead.  Our kids compete just fine - and they don't.  They don't in areas where the socioeconomic community is poor (or even lower middle class), they don't when teachers do not want to be innovative because they cannot meet the "standards", they don't when they are hungry and most of all they don't when parents are not involved, encouraging and have made education a priority.  Schools and teachers are only part of the puzzle...we as parents are the much bigger cog that needs to ensure that our kids respect the need for education and learning - that they learn to like learning - and that they understand that the highest score they can get is to be the best and be successful in their actions with the world around them as well as with their careers.

I fight not to panic that I am not doing enough - to not give in to the madness - and to continuously remind my children that they need to give learning the same adulation they give their entertainment.  I am lucky to have boys who actually do well and like school and the goal I set for myself is to keep that it enough? Like everything in being a mother I am not certain but I am sure that I am doing the best I can.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Christopher Columbus...

In 1492 he sailed the ocean blue...and since the politically correctness movement he has encountered more choppy waters than ever. 

I think Columbus was fascinating and incredibly ahead of his time.  Think of how hard it was to have to prove that his science and math were right against all around him who based on myth and the all powerful religious establishment (who favors lack of knowledge even to this day) that persecuted him and anyone else who had the nerve to just ask a question.  I do not agree with his actions against the natives that he encountered on his travels but I also do not lessen his accomplishments because of those actions.  He was a man - a human - with flaws and attributes, he had both more than most of us.  I love when people say how they would not have acted as he did - I believe it because am pretty sure they would not have struggled to prove their brilliant hypothesis and they are after all more evolved in their understanding of people (or one would hope).  He was typical and atypical of his time...once again he was human. 

I am not sure when the politically correct became the gatekeepers of information but they are no better than Columbus's fanatic detractors.  Based on their judgement books are banned (because you know if you do not read Tom Sawyer the racist terms used in it ..what never happened?), people are held to some Puritanical outdated notions, and most of all we miss out.  It is also banned books month -- really we still ban books - unless they are bomb manuals why do it??? 

Throughout history great accomplishments and discoveries have been made by incredibly shitty people. Progress is always a vicious victory - and the best we can do is portray it realistically while trying to learn from our history how not to act and what to act upon.  

Evolution - you know that thing that scares certain people - is among my favorite concepts.  The idea that we can morph from needs to wants to decisions.  So with that in my house we will learn about Mark Twain (quite the left wing radical) and about the times when racism was not only around but acceptable..think it is still around but we have made it unacceptable as we should have.  I will teach them about evolution and how to understand science to the best of their knowledge (and to look to science and fact rather than rumor and google).  I will share with the them who explorers and the natives they encountered. were  Most of all I will encourage them to believe in their ideas.  That is what I take away from Columbus - he was a bully, bully victim, explorer, conqueror, vicious, beaten man who paved the way for a nation of bullies, victims, explorers, vicious, incredibly kind independent thinkers who push progress and who are not stagnant based on a history that binds them. 

In the famous words of Bugs Bunny
"she's a round"..."she's a flat"....."she's a round"!!!!!!!! Science wins

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The birds and the bees...let's talk about s.e.x.

One of those things that I am not sure any of us as parents are quite prepared for, no matter how liberal you may think you are, is the idea of talking about sex with our children.  It starts to haunt us as soon as they start looking at belly bumps, and we no longer tell them those stories about storks and cabbage patches - no we are of the "there's a baby in there dear" generation , and asking about when will the baby come out.  It is easy to answer at that point but a little twinge hits us -- oh are they going to ask how the baby comes out or worse yet the baby got in there...stork anyone????

I have liked boys for as long as I can remember.  I distinctly remember Petru's (Peter) shirt and close cropped blonde hair, he was 5 and I was about 4, we played in the back of our apartment building ...I was smitten and if you think I am making this memory up I can assure you I am not - I do not remember much about him but his little blue shirt and the hair and that he bit me.  Yes, he bit me.  I do not think it was bad - I cried -- probably in stereotypical woman fashion I liked him more for being a little mean - or maybe then I had the sense to dismiss him -- I do not remember much before that day or after -- but that day and the way I felt - well that I do remember.   I have had crushes on boys and have pined after many of them...I would say the vast majority never even knew it.  I pride myself on the many male friends I have - but boy there were "friends" out there that I went home and wrote for hours in my journals about...boys who I am sure never wrote about be near them, to be with them, to (sigh) give them advice about other girls...well that worked until somehow they morphed into what they had been - just friends. 

It is very natural for me to see my boys, especially my 8 year old, and his friends (both female and male) start this process around now.  I mean they sort of like girls - until they are annoying - or they sort of like boys - until they are obnoxious.  I hear about it - and of course it is always followed "but I do not like any of the girls more than friends yet" - hmmm really ??? This is a very different world than my 8 year old times. I once had a teacher who said "your parents were never the same age you were" because they were not the same age in our times, this feels even more accurate now with relation to my boys.  

I have consulted books, parents, and even our pediatrician about when the write time to bring up a sex talk is - because I know that kids get "active" earlier - and though I really think they are just not ready in so many ways - it is the reality of the world I live in.  The answer seems to be that you have to get comfortable - too bad for you, you signed up for the parenting job after all - and be able to give them little bits at a time until they are ready for it  - and this is probably based on how well you know your kid. It is very important that we have programs as they get to middle school and high school that have intelligent, open and all encompassing discussions about sex education.  

My oldest recently asked me how he came out of the belly....silence...he asked again...I said you pushed your way out ...seemed enough though closer to Alien than childbirth.  If he had kept asking I may have asked for a moment to think about it...I dread the next question "how did I get in there"...I was sleeping and your father is a bad, bad man is probably not the appropriate answer.  

There is nothing wrong with sex ..though looking at how the conservative movement around the world is bent on pretending that no one should like it - that you can choose who you have an attraction to - that it is for birth so no control needed -- well I guess they would like to think so.  Not me - being with someone that makes your stomach drop at the sound of their voice, whose name on your phone brings naughty thoughts to mind, whose kiss lingers long before it is actually placed on your lips and ooooh so long after - well that is all good.  Yet to have to those feelings it takes more than being "able" to have sex.  I think as the mother of boys I have to teach them to respect their bodies and their partners ...there is nothing wrong with sex but there is a time when sex may be wrong for you.  The fact that they are growing up so fast is scary to me - but the fact that they are finding the wonder of liking someone well that is actually a nice thing to watch.  I hope to teach them about how to know when they should be with someone not because their friends have "done it", probably not true anyway, or because it is there ...but because they are ready for it.  That will not happen for many years and I am not sure if I will be "ready" when they are - but as a parent I will be here to give what I give naturally - unconditional love with a dose of explanation. 

George Michael "sex is natural, sex is fun"....yep but he forgot to add "sex is best when it is the right time to be done"....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Andy Rooney moment

Hard to focus this week on a I join the melee and say I have no compassion or understanding for the mindless violence over a cheap YouTube video? Or the idiot filmmaker who made a movie that is just meant to insult and incite for no reason? Do I comment on Scientology's noted apprehension about the upcoming movie The Master? Complain about the Ramapo, NY public school district that has been hijacked and looted by Ultra conservative Orthodox Board Members who are doing to others exactly what was done to them in years past -- excluding based on faith? Maybe I could just listen for the latest nonsensical totally voodoo crap about vaccines, evolution, solar systems, and a host of other scientific facts - doesn't matter how often you prove those people wrong - it is not about science or fact but about the Snake Oil salesman pitch - they are more interested in Kate's boobs than in not being boobs themselves!  I could get all on my soapbox about how discriminatory and offensive I am finding a lot of my "liberal" friends with their comments about the "rich" - do they not see their hypocrisy - they of the rightful outrage at remarks about stereotypes about the poor the same they that propagate stereotypes about the rich ? For the Republicans how come you do not see the hypocrisy of talking about small government but yet advocate laws that are aimed at personal choices and invasive non-necessary medical procedures for women?  Maybe as school just started I could just get on my usual annoyance at home schooling.  Or ask where is the money from the Iraqi troop pull out? Why don't people making millions pay the same percentage of taxes  - while we are it why don't more than 40% of the population actually pay any taxes?  Why is the healthcare reform act so lacking - soooo lacking - and yet we need one that actually would address the issue of lack of insurance that faces so many people?

There is the fundraising for politicians but no millions for the people they are supposed to represent?  I could always tackle religion - but that is too easy a target and maybe people need it - just not sure what it is doing for them.  I could just be annoyed by the ever growing prices at the grocery store.  There is the government and the fact that to date they have yet to say how they are going to streamline, correct and budget going forward.  I am tired of the billions we spend on foreign aid for things like Israel and Egypt not to fight each other (really - why ?)  and the lack of actual resources that have not reached the people from the yearly billions that have been given to that region- the lack of micro loans and the lack of responsibility those nations take about their situation and the crap leaders that they keep putting in place (speaking of which that last bit applies to the whole world including here).

I look at this and feel better and worse - it seems overwhelming - endless - sad -- or I could look it and be grateful for being able to write it - to hope that others are addressing some of these issues - that maybe some day my kids will read this and wonder what was going on because they are living in a world where these issues are diminished (I am a realist so will not imagine eradicated).  I miss Andy Rooney and his 60 minutes rants so much that I just created my own.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Eleven years ago....

How can it be hard to believe that 11 years have passed since that Tuesday morning and yet feel like it just happened ???

There is not a lot to say about 9/11 that has not been said - thought - felt...but especially for those of us who were here in NYC, in Manhattan that day is a fresh wound.  It starts to scab but it does not quite heal  - it starts to scab but not ready to be just a scar. 

I look at what we lost that day -- our friends, a part of our city, people we did not know - and I think of who we in New York were that day - brave, quiet, helpful, kind, a unit of different religions, races, colors...we did not care who you were married to, or if you were married, we did not care if you were a Democrat or a Republican -- that day we were all Americans - quietly hanging flags and honoring the country that housed us by choice or by birth.  We were survivors and we were everything those without souls who brought this terror to us hated...we were different and we were one. 

I am sad when I do not see that in our country- it should not take an act as heinous as that to remind us all that inside of us in the United States is something that is unlike any other part of the world.  It should not be that we New Yorkers - gritty, tough, often described as rude (I cannot disagree with this more - rushed yes rude only at red lights) - are forgotten as the model of the world as it could be.  Yes as it could be - packed together, fighting for every penny we have, spending it to live near this amazing metropolis of people like us and so different from us - tough and amazing in times of need.  It should not be that it has taken 11 years to finally remember the heroes of that day with Federal funds for the illness they got as a result of their heroism... whether they had been told the truth at the time about the dangers or deceived as they were - they would have gone there all the same.  That is who they are, were, that is who we should honor with our gratitude and with all the healthcare they need - not to give money to protect places that unleashed their terrible sons upon us.  

It has been 11 years and it feels like a long time ago that happened just last week.  I get weepy - I get scared - and most of all I wish I did not have to teach my sons that there was a world before 9/11 - that 9/11 was just a date to them.  I also get hopeful that we may use 9/11 to stop bickering, to be grateful for the millionaires, for the middle class, for the poor - for all of us who make us America.  I lost a lot on that day - but I did not give the terrorists anything of me.  I lost a lot in that moment but I took from the terrorists the terror of being proud of being everything that frightens their narrow little worlds.  We lost a lot that day a- what will we do as a nation to gain something from it????

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Boobies - Tatas and Bazongas

Sorry bit of a tease - not going to show you any of these...but am going to take a few minutes of your time to talk about breasts.  

This Sunday I and my 8 year old son will be doing the Race for The Cure in NY.  I have done this race in the past and this year I almost did not participate when the Komen foundation became a pulpit for an anti choice, anti woman platform by implying that they will not be funding Planned Parenthood.  They reversed themselves, sort of - still up for annual review, as the voices of men and women were heard loud, clear and in vast numbers that this would be an outrage.  They, of all people, should know the power of united citizens taking on a cause - they should have remembered that Planned Parenthood (contrary to the lies and misinformation the anti woman far right sends out does mostly family planning, prenatal care, gyn care for women without insurance, birth control options, breast cancer screenings, and yes some abortions - notice I put that last, because that is the least of what they do) is not an abortion clinic but a wellness center for women to educate them.  The Komen foundation reversed it's decision and so I signed up for the race. 

BREASTS -- hmm something women talk about, shop for, nurture children with....something men look at, think about, nurture fantasies about .....whether someone admits it or not they are a part of what being a woman is and there is nothing wrong with that.  They are parts not the whole of a woman - though must say mine have been spoken to (instead of me) many a time so to some people maybe there is a belief that they will magically also respond - say hello -- or something -- sorry fellas to date I have not seen them do that.  I have seen mine in good bras, pinched in bad ones, crushed by inexperienced teenage boys, caressed with affection and as the first food my sons had in this world.  

I have seen the devastating effects of breast cancer on loved ones.  I saw this disease when I worked for a surgeon many years ago, a surgeon who more than once was devastated by the lab results she already thought were possible, a surgeon who offered women all their options with their results and never dismissed these women like many others I have seen who said "well she is lucky it is in the breast - you can always cut that out". That's lucky?? No lucky would be that the lab results came back negative.  Lucky would be that you never have to hold your breath for those results.  The idea that it is just a body part and that any body part can be removed without trauma is just unfathomable to me.  These "girls", boobs, tatas well they define who we are in some ways - and without them while it is the right choice often our lives are changed.  I know that reconstructive surgery has come a long way but please let's remember that it is not as easy as removing an earring for a woman.  

I have seen cancer eat away and spread beyond the breasts even once they were removed - killing slowly and painfully the body and the person  - but I have also noticed it cannot seem to often touch the spirit.  I am in awe of the medical professionals and medicines that have come so far that it is no longer a pre-ordained deadly outcome.  I look forward to the invention of medicines that will not do as much damage to the body as they do to the cancers.  I do not believe in hollistic care on this one - I have seen too many people die on that route - but I do believe in pain relief from the traditional meds that accupuncture can provide.  I have seen my friend Donna beat this cancer with the dignity that it tried to take away from her, with the grace that cancer in it's nasty little form tries to beat away from it's victims, and with the strength that no overgrown white cell was able to take away from her.  She is a survivor and the medicines and care she received should be what all women can have.  I applaud you D and all the women who are survivors.

On Sunday my son and I will run and raise whatever money we can, shameless plug here as my donation page will be at the bottom of this and anything from a $1 on up is appreciated but not expected.  We will walk in remembrance of my close friends' moms, Nuti and Mimi, who had their mothers taken from them by this awful disease at incredibly young ages, who fought and taught me (especially Nuti) that you do not give up ever if there is still a chance.  We will walk to show our support for research and innovations and to tell the insurance companies that while it may not be "cost effective" to have mammograms every year  - since they came on the scene as an annual check, along with education, the numbers on this disease have dropped significantly- and to stop funding studies that imply that they do not help and then spend money advertising those studies without mentioning that they funded them to begin with (how about using that money to fund mammograms for the uninsured instead ?).  I walk because I am humbled by the sea of pink that I see around me on that day, with my friends, family and others (men and women) that say we may not be able to do it on our own but together - well watch out.  I walk because women and their breasts are a force to be reckoned with and should not be ignored, or told what to do, or dismissed -- the "girls" and I will walk because we choose to. Seems like in an election year the power of one voice aligned with many is a chorus that needs to be heard. 

Thank you also to my amazing friend Margaret for setting up a team, Pink Renegades, donations are welcome....

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Elvis and the American dream

Well, it's one for the money, 
Two for the show, 
Three to get ready, 
Now go, cat, go. 
But don't you step on my blue suede shoes. 
You can do anything but lay off of my blue suede sang by Elvis

Thank you all for reading my blog about "Where is the Outrage?" -- the question I got over and over was "well what are you going to do about it?" - funny I was kind of asking the same thing of the unions and all those who are reading my blog.  Yet that is the fundamental issue here isn't it - we are all kind of looking around and wondering what if anything can we do about it?  The issues are soo large and they seem to be backed by money and power that we do not have ..or do we?

No I do not have millions in the bank - and I actually think that Mitt Romney should not be skewered for the "13%" he pays in taxes, because it is all legal.  There is nothing wrong with being rich Mr. Romney - good for you and your family but should the law really say that you at billions pay a smaller percentage, which you feel less in your day to day activities, than pretty much everyone reading this blog?  I do not think he should pay more but I do think if the highest is 33% then dude pony up and let's correct the tax codes that allow you to do it.

I took out a paragraph which outlined how I pick companies I shop at and companies I avoid but after the horrific and scary news about "legitimate rape" and the absolute inexcusable laws about birth control that are being proposed it seemed that we need to be OUTRAGED about that ...Choices are what make us individuals - no one wants an abortion you morons but the option to have it is a personal choice and newsflash it is not a viable being it is a cell...laws outlawing not only contraception but also arguing that any woman using it (notice nothing about condoms) could be considered a murderer...laws that limit information about birth control options ....who are these people and how can we ask them not so politely to F*&k off!!!! OUTRAGE is good in an election year - Vote at every level - vote and ask everyone who you know that supports freedom to vote too....if you think things are great and these laws basically which would eliminate any leaps that women have made and reduce them to wombs, if you think that you are safe because you are not a woman, if you think they will not then keep coming to tell you how they will use your money, how they think you should live...well dude you have another thing coming - and your Outrage may be nothing but Pussy Riot in the US - criticize at your own risk. The Founding Fathers said all men (and that means all people so don't get lost on semantics) are created equal - therefore, I equally want my voice to be heard and my choices to be loud and clear.

The title of this blog....well last Thursday on my way to enjoy time for a mini family vacation with my family I was reminded that it was the anniversary of Elvis's death.  At the time of his death I was on a family vacation with my parents, Howard Johnson's room - on our way driving to Florida (yes in August - because as immigrants we had very little).  My Mom cried and my Dad may have too - I thought Elvis was old at the time (the arrogance of children...after all he was only 42 - and boy is that young).  I realize that Elvis and rock and roll were America in many ways for my parents.  The slightly brash nation where a young boy from a one room home could become the that did not confine itself to old world ways but broke through with a sensuality and sexuality that said here I am and I can do what it says in the country's charter "pursue happiness" ....the reality was that the US at the time of his death was in dire financial straits, gas prices were soaring, had an ineffective president and debt mounting ...but they were Americans and if that young boy could tell you to stay off of his blue suede shoes well then my parents too could have the opportunity to get a pair.

That is what we can do - put our money where our principles are (when you can and with no recriminations when you cannot - Target is my weakness - Walmart a place I will avoid at all cost) - write and write and write on your Facebook page, to your politicians local and federal, to your newspapers (they care if they think it will sell more papers).  Be glad to live in a place where dissent is still tolerated (Pussy Riot in Russia - typical Putin - scary for this ex-Soviet bloc child in so many ways) and actually part of what created this country.  Most of all vote in local elections as well as national are one but you are one of many.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness...Declaration of Independence

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wow they grow fast

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years.” Mark Twain

I look at my sons and amazed at how fast they are growing ...both physically and developmentally.  I feel sometimes that I literally blink and they sprouted up and matured a bit. 

It was only like 6 months ago that I was still helping them with bath time ...a ritual I really enjoyed ...and as of about 3 months ago they switched to showers - by themselves - and my sole contribution is helping them wash their hair  - though they still want me to sit in the bathroom while this happens and talk to them.  I will take it because exile cannot be far behind.  The talks range from my input on which super heroes would win if they fought each other, about their friends, what they want to see and a range of things - but they are the times that I feel as though they know if they can trust me to sit and pay attention to the little things, "little" to me but monumental to them, well then as they grow they may realize that I am to be trusted with their "big" things. 

They have their own conversations with their friends, for long periods of time, which the other mothers and I try and eavesdrop slightly on ...but to no avail we have not clue what they could talk about so much to one another.  

All mothers think this but I have to say others have said this to - he (and the little one too) are really smart.  This makes me happy, and maybe a bit sad because the world is more confusing and beautiful - painful and wondrous when you are smart, but it also poses some challenges as a parent.  The questions are tougher (what are clouds made of - THANK YOU Google) and they will wait while I look something up for an answer.  Their arguments are more organized - "you did not say I could not play on the computer you said I could not play on the Wii - they are different".  Their need to discuss things leaves me with the need to really think of my response - to put it into words that make sense for an 8 and 6 year old when the question is not a simple one.  

Our talks are the stuff that I shake my head and smile at long after they are over but then I look behind me and they seem to be growing again.  I want them to stay young and even when they exhaust me, and believe me they tire me out, to be these wonderful kids who love asking me questions because they still believe that I know it all - or at least where to find it.  I want them to be thrilled to see me and not embarrassed to be hugged and squeezed and loved in public or in private.  I want them to enjoy being with me as much as I enjoy being with them.  I know they will grow and I will be not so smart in their eyes - ok they will call me stupid behind my back or in a text- as they hit those annoying teenage hormones, where a nod of the head a smile may be all I get as a greeting when they are with their friends and that I will no longer be "the most beautiful woman in the galaxy who all superheroes want to marry" at some point.  I sighed writing that.  It is all natural and part of who they will continue to evolve to be  - that does not stop me from hoping the foundation I have built with them now will not evolve in to a great relationship we will share for life.  For now I have got to go - because personally I think an Ironman (billionaire, good looking and with loads of gadgets) and Batman (billionaire, good looking, with loads of gadgets) combo could so kick Superman's butt and I have to defend my point to the two mini men who are waiting on my every word.....

“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.” – Thomas Wayne in Batman Begins

Friday, August 10, 2012

Where is the outrage and the protests????

Let's start with full disclosure - I am a big believer in capitalism, abhor communism, have mixed feelings about unions and have voted for both parties and a write in once for Mickey Mouse as protest vote.  I believe that everyone should pay taxes at the percentage set for them and that the government needs an efficiency expert from the private sector.  I believe that no one wants to be average and that wealth to have more than just basic needs met  is what actually leads to innovation and hard work.  There should be a safety net, federal guidelines and laws that protect the environment, people and most of all a return to personal responsibility.  I am not all left or right or even middle - but find myself in all of those places depending on the issue. 

So now you know a little about me - tip of the iceberg - cause politics and history as well as trying to understand how I can make a difference are all topics that I can talk about for hours...which I won't here. 

What I want to know is WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE ???? Where are the protesters from the 60s ? Occupy Wall Street...please - lame - Occupy This (add Queens twang) to get meaning.  I am appalled at what is going on around me and more so at the way the media and the majority of people are just taking it (oh please do not bring up Europe which protests for a day to get out of work...throw them a day of vacation and they too back down).  WHERE is the Outrage ??? Westchester Medical Center - laid off nurses and other hospital support staff be outsourced to a company that get this ...rehires said laid off staff at per diem rates (you work you get holidays, no sick day, no vacation days get paid), did I mention that the board and new CEO who instituted this "cost saving measure" got bonuses and increases in pay during this same time? If you do not care about the staff...think of yourself as a patient in a place like this and oh yeah your hospital bill is the same not a penny less. WHERE is the Union showing up on every news channel and loudly saying in an election year WHAT THE F&*K????? oh yea they stopped caring I guess too.  GE CEO is hired by Obama (now I would have expected this from Romney) to be Job Czar (maybe Mr O you should have looked up history before - czars in Russia were all for the monarchy and they did things like pogroms and starved peasants leading to a little thing called the 1917 Revolution that led to Mother USSR...remember them??) so maybe that is right.  This is the guy whose company pays no federal taxes, gets federal money and now has taken the billions (read that right folks) that were given to GE (you know from taxpayers money) and built a factory and created jobs...guess no one told him that it should have been in the US not CHINA!!!!!! 

WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE? How come no one is taking these candidates to task on these things ?  Where are the jobs? How do we ensure that while I am all about helping the world we look around and help the people of this country find jobs - keep jobs - get salaries to pay those taxes ??? Instead we sit around and debate if $250K a year is wealthy - well it is not chump change but it depends where you live and you will pay more of a percentage and feel it than the millionaire who is in the same tax bracket.  You are not wealthy in many parts of the country at that salary pre-tax - but you are not LeBron...nor will you ever be so can we not pretend they are one and the same.  We sit around and complain about doctors (you know those people who went to school forever, have debt when they finish said school oh and save your life) and have the NY Times tell us not to get physicals because it costs insurers money...umm don't we pay them to have that covered??? We worry about a woman's right to choose - to birth control - instead of worrying how to get her and her partner and that child she may choose to have a future!

WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE? That never mind $250K a year, the average American family is making less than they were and that they are sinking fast ...that we push you to get a college degree and then what?? hope your parents like you enough to fit you in the space they have since they may not have enough money to retire anyway??? 

WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE??? That CEOs and Boards of Directors keep getting bonuses, since when are those part of your salary and not extra for a job well done?, for short sighted strategies that ruin companies and for earnings that are not based on revenue but on job cuts??? 


No one likes to be poor, been there and IT STINKS, everyone wants to be successful and make money to not worry about their rent, mortgage, kids college, vacations, food --- I believe in capitalism but I believe in checks and balances.  I think bonuses and big salaries are a good thing if they are earned not as a reward for being someone Gordon Gecko would be embarrassed to be compared to. I believe in democracy and I actually believe in the United States with all it's flaws...I guess I am just outraged that our business leaders and government leaders no longer believe in the United States and have come to only worship at the altar of the moment that feeds their pockets.....