Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day and the start of Summer

I cannot get enough of summer...ever...never have been able to.  Though weirdly enough I never see myself wanting to live anywhere like Florida or Arizona where summer is pretty much year round.  I love summer partially because it is something too look forward to, enjoy while it is here and then spend a lot of time waiting for again.  I look forward to these longer days, warm weather and of course the beach. 

It all starts with Memorial Day for me.  I know that is not the actual start of summer but it is when most of pack up cars, or fire up barbecues and generally start our pilgrimages to whatever we define summer destination as.  In all of this I want to also take the time to honor Memorial Day as the day we should all spend remembering that there are men and women who have no more summers or any seasons because they have died in combat.  They have died for their beliefs and I am not sure many people I know could or would do that.  They have gone to wars and into situations that no one should ever have to endure.  This year I asked myself "what is it all for "with the decade long wars in the middle east.  I have heard from friends that the wars there have possibly kept us safer from acts of terror, I am not sure I ascribe to this set of beliefs.  I have heard that these wars were to benefit the people of those regions. Personally I think the death of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden are both things that benefit humanity in general, these were people committed to death and whose main goal was to inflict horror on others so no loss.  I am not sure those regions are any more stable for their deaths though.  I would like to hope that the people of those nations can now choose not to be governed by dictators but am not sure our brand of democracy is for them. 

As the start of my favorite season begins I did take a moment to be mindful of all those who died because of their belief in the way of life I currently enjoy.  I took a moment and allowed the tears to flow for those families whose loved ones will not join them in beach outings, summer vacations or any other activity.  I did not lose sight of the fact that my ability to even debate the merits or folly of these wars is all because of the country that I live in.  It is here that my fondest memories are made and it is the US that welcomed my family when the place we were born in turned that country into a place where there could be no moments of pure joy as there was always  the shadow of something that could take it all away from you.  The United States still is the most unique and amazing country in the world.  This does not mean others do not have their own merits or stand out in some way but the US is not just a country but a way of life (and I am paraphrasing Bono).  It is a place that inspires emotions (some good and some bad but what other country can claim that so passionately) and dreams globally.  It is the place that with all its flaws and imperfections still manages to show an optimism that cannot be found anywhere else.  

I do not agree with the wars of the past 10 years for they mostly have been at a sacrifice that has not been worth it and I hope that our government, and all of us, never forget that those who have sacrificed either time, limbs, life all deserve to be treated like the heroes they are.  I will start this season of sun, warmth and the lightness of the spirit that I love with a moment to say thank you and hope we bring the rest of them home soon so that Memorial Day in the future will not have any additional names under its moment of silence. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Midlife crisis and Christian Grey

Looking for some hot stuff baby this evening
I need some hot stuff baby tonight.....Hot Stuff

You pop caught you smoking - and he said, "No way!"
That hypocrite - smokes two packs a day
Man, living at home is such a drag
Now your mom threw away your best porno mag...Fight for your Right to Party

Donna Summer, Adam Yauch and Robin Gibb....pretty much my entire childhood and early teenage years music flashed before my eyes as these people died quickly one after the other.  If you add to this the Shades of Grey phenomena and it has created incredible buzz and loads of Youtube time for a lot of women, particularly those of us in our late 30s and 40s.  We are talking as a group about Andy Gibb tshirts, iron ons (that cracked) as we got boobs (ok as I got boobs) or were washed.  Shaun Cassidy posters with his pink satin jacket...a do run run a do run run (oh my obsession with blonde boys started young, I looooveed Shaun).  How many times after bed time did we kiss our Teen Beat, 16 magazine pull outs that we taped to doors, walls (our immigrant parents aghast at this nonsense)? 

We giggled as if we were still pre-teens looking at Andy Gibb on YouTube (and Leif Garrett), was that a sock or did that man have the package of a lifetime?  I remembered how much I hated Victoria Principal for dating Andy but not Farrah Fawcett for being married to Lee Majors (yep blonde theme I got it).  I danced in my head to Last Dance by Donna Summer with these guys, Shadow Dancing was sung to me.  There was Solid Gold followed by a move away from disco (well except for those of us who liked to dance so there was disco, Top 40 and then freestyle as the 80s took over with hair not feathered any more but sculpted to heights never before seen).  We broke out our Maybelline eyeliners, and the lighter from the cigarettes we were holding for a"friend" hmm, and set these things on fire to make our eyeliner blacker than the night.  Our skirts got shorter, heels and hair got higher and makeup more appropriate to Rocky Horror Show drag queens than young girls.  Our Shaun Cassidy posters replaced with the Outsiders (yes I wanted to live in that house from reading the book and then the movie with all those hotties) boys less blonde but more tough.  Boys who did not look like they would sing to us but kiss us hard with Marlboro tasting tongues.  Silk jackets replaced with worn blue jean ones.  

There were the boys of the movies Sixteen Candles (I ♥ Jake Ryan still) and the new "rat pack" Emilio, Matt, Rob Lowe, Judd Hirsch, Robert Downey.  I wanted the boy to hold up a boom box and have "In Your Eyes" playing outside my house.  There were posters without the Bay City Rollers now...now there were Motley Crue makeup wearing, long haired scary men who our fathers hated and ranted about much more than Shaun, Andy, the Bee Gees because they as men knew...they knew even if they could not admit it, what we liked now was not sweethearts but sex, sex with boys who were wrong for us.  

We all have these memories, that are part of who we are.  They are the evolution of our innocent "puppy love" to something so naughty that would hurt so good.  The nice guys come back into the picture around the time you want to get married.  Then there is now, for those of us late thirties and forties, when we are no longer unaware, afraid of, not sure of our sexuality.  We know what we like (some comfortable with not liking Andy but Victoria), we do not have to give it away to not be rejected or slowly for fear of reputations, we are comfortable asking for it.  We may want Tommy Lee (yes we all saw the video and wow) some nights and will ask our sweet Shaun partners for it.  This is the phenomena that drives 50 Shades of Grey.  We would not have known what to want at Anastassia's age but we would have enjoyed what Christian had to offer now, maybe even stuck him in the Red Room a time or two.  In a time when female sexuality is under attack (I mean really "sluts" because we want birth control) and being hidden (I am so done with the covering up requirements of religions, no I do not care if it is not PC..pull that shit off baby and be proud, no need to be naked...just proud) I love that women are saying we have buying power and what we can buy is sex and fantasy among other things.

Goodbye to my musical childhood idols, you like (our early youth) seem to have gone too fast...this mid life crisis is turning into a midlife parteee...so I am going blonder rather than pining for a blonde...going bolder...going to get me what I want....

You are the question and the answer is I.....Shadow Dancing

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Going through hell to get to Sin City....

Shut up and put your money where your mouth is
That's what you get for waking up in Vegas...Katy Perry

I always heard you had to sin to go to hell...but as my recent experience, and it was a "good" one, on airlines proved ...nope here on earth you have to go through hell to get to Sin City. 

I recently went to Vegas for the first time ever.  I have to admit it is not a destination that really made it to my travel list, I do not gamble and for the most part and it looked kind of cheesy.  I know, I hear it all the time, the hotels are nice, there are great shows, the shopping is terrific....all good but really I live outside of New York, with access to Boston when we are at our weekend place so I have all the shows, shopping and hotel bars I can actually fit into a working mother's schedule, no real need to fly 5 hours to it.  This trip was a freebie though ....so bit hard to pass on that and after a few weeks of grey skies a trip to a sunny destination was most appealing.  So we nicely voluntold my Mother that she would be watching our kids, what a relief when she agreed, and off we were.  

I recently watched a Mad Men episode where they were flying and boy as I boarded my flight do I feel cheated as a generation.  Not only do I have to deal with more screening due to an increase in idiots who think blowing up their crotch area will get them to some sort of virgin buffet (umm question is even shall we allow for said virgin buffet to exists..considering you just blew up your needful organ am going with they are same virgins guy who goes next gets dude).  I also have to ensure all my liquids are 3 oz and have to understand rules of packing never before understood except in bento box designs.  After arriving with almost as much time as the flight takes at the airport I am now required by airlines to pay for any luggage I check in...shall I ask naively how come that is no longer included in the ticket which is now more expensive than in years past where same luggage was not an extra charge?  So I pay since husband has insisted on packing more than carry on would allow.  He seems to actually pay attention to the signs that say something about your carry on being a size that does not require Hulk like strength to lift up and place in overhead container.  I line up, take off shoes, put things into bins and then off to the gate.  The plane...hmm where there used to be 2 seats there are now 3 -- seems bit anti "the world is getting fatter" media hype to now squeeze people in smaller spaces -- and there are no pillows, blankets or any other things I took for granted in years past.  There is also no more food except for purchase, if you are looking into first class (which roomier still not as swank as it used to be either) from cattle class, the items for purchase are not better than the nasty free stuff I used to get on flights. I watched Mad Men with their over-sized chairs, their real silverware, their lack of carry-on-because-I-do-not-want-to-pay and the fact that they dressed up (I mean honestly I am not advocating for return of suits but can we undo the sloppy in public period).  Yep we are cheated...and made to pay for it ....

Vegas..with it's undersized skirts, over high shoes that girls walked in as if they were stuck in mud, boys who were drunk, silicone and faux (from people to hotel lobbies) did not fail to entertain a people watcher like me.  The hotels were new ...and big...and packed....the restaurants that were celebrity chef showcases very good (elegant even when the guests seemed to not be in their appearance) and most of all it was unique.  People have asked me what I thought...interesting is all that comes to mind...excellent few days of pool side relaxation...not a destination I would return to on my own dollar.  It is a city of lights and exxcess (not misspelled) and guess a mecca for gamblers.  However, if I am going to go through the continually diminishing experience of flying well I want to make sure that I have a Jon Hamm shiver of delight when I reach my destination....

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Where did the time go??

Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.

Mary Hopkins....

I happen to really like where we chose to live, and as you may remember from a previous blog or from talking to me the 'burbs and I well we really did not call to one another, because I have found a lot of families and particularly women who I just love hanging out with.  The thing that brings us together is our children, the thing that keeps us hanging out is the fact that we can laugh and be inappropriate and crazy and sometimes forget we are no longer the children.....

In the past 2 weeks we have been to two parties which brought the term "where did the time go ?" to mind.  The first one was the first communion of the youngest son of friends whom I have known forever.  I remember the husband before he ever knew his wife.  I met him when I was 18 along with his super unfriendly and dismissive friend (yep I married the friend) and the friendship that started with nightclubs, drinks, heartaches, boyfriends and girlfriends, and a lot of laughter was the foundation of a lifelong friendship that I cannot imagine not having in my life. I met some of my other closest friends through him and when he started dating his now wife little did she know the rest of his buds would be part of the deal...am hoping she likes us as much as I like her.  There were marriages and babies, all the while we lost some of the free time and gained responsibilities...though sometimes hearing us you would call that last statement into question.  As I we were at this party and saw the children, some of them teenagers all the way down to my 5 year old...as I saw us "old folks" get up and still jump around and dance (more than the kids as you can imagine 'cause at that age as a girl you can dance with your group of girls but you know the pressure to not tap a foot that happens to teenage boys) and sing and get crazy ...acting like we were still in our 20s at a beach club...well honestly I thought where did the time go???? When did we stop being 20 and become middle aged people with kids...kids who eyeballed us with something between amusement and embarrassment? 

This Saturday I went to party for one of my sons' friends ...great place with a dj in a park ...well it came upon me again but for a different reason. I looked at the kids and though they were 8 at most and younger I don't know where did the time go?  When did they go from little ones who could not hold up their heads with us Moms rushing to library classes (and then off to each other's houses for lunches and laughter) to these people..these people who only needed us even at this age for this party because someone had to pay for the DJ and man the grill.  The Moms in the area that I am friends with were there and we found ourselves dancing along and shuddering as we saw these same kids in our minds in 10 years at a Rave ...or in that same covered area in the park passing a beer, sharing a kiss...will not allow for more than that ...PLEASE do not allow for more than that.  

Time is pain in the ass!!! I remember being a kid and it was so sloooowwww....I loved summer vacations but there was a point where they seemed to have gone on too long.....then school well that lasted forever and to get to the milestone ages...when am I going to be 16?  18? 21....that toook FOREVER....then that bastard time does something you now would like to put the breaks on....it picks up speed.  Suddenly the days are long and the years are short and we look up in a mirror and there is a gray hair, a laugh line, expansions of the waist....stop!!!!!!!! I want to freeze it...but you cannot and there is good in that but there is also the moment when you wonder what you did not get to do...what you will never be able to do again...what you will miss as the end draws near....As I looked at our kids at these parties I was not sad for we had our time and still enjoy our times together but I did wish for them to take the time to make it fun, to make the friendships that we adults had and most of all to have no regrets because time will not wait for them just like it did not wait for us. 

Time won't give me time...Culture Club

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Love and marriage...go together like....

I have always considered marriage as the most interesting event of one's life, the foundation of happiness or misery.

A work colleague of mine recently got engaged and it started a flurry in our office.  Those who were married had some snide remarks, those who wish to be married looked a little wistful and those who cannot remember not being married smiled and offered planning advice.  

Marriage - in so many ways really seems like an outdated institution.  After all does a piece of paper change the way you feel about someone...the legality of it really only comes into play if you are splitting up and then boy does that piece of paper carry weight and change the way you will forever think about your former partner. Do we still need marriage in an age where living together is no longer scorned, banning some backwards places and religious beliefs? 

So in all of the excitement and genuine happiness that I felt for my co-worker there was a moment when she stopped and asked me what I thought about marriage. Hmmm do I give her the Hollywood version...you know the one "oh yes ...he'll come home, throw his keys on the granite counter of your perfectly orderly and Pottery Barn house, ask you how your day was and listen to what you say, offering advice when needed as he pours you both a nice glass of red wine while you sort the organic, locally grown cheese...after which you eat at a perfectly set table with witty banter, lingering looks and fantastic sex at the end of the night....this will happen every night and he will continue to be fashionable, slightly less handsome Brad Pitt and you will gain only 5 pounds and never have an undereye circle..." .  I wasn't quite sure if she was ready for the more likely real life version "well you'll come home and he will turn on the tv and not hear a word you said after you have repeated it multiple times, you will step on a lego which has been left in the kitchen again for no reason since your kids do not ever seem to build anything with legos, there will be a flurry of questions from your small children, you will have GIANT undereye circles, and you will eat sometimes on a Star Wars plate because my dear you will be too tired to even rinse an extra plate post dinner". There is harmony in both of these scenarios and before the 2 of you who have the first one in real life pipe in...zip it.  

In the end I went with the optimistic truth....marriage is really hard.  Two people come to a place with different reactions to stress, who have to not just deal with where to make out but how to pay for the things they want, and who by definition are expecting different things from this life.  There are times when I would like to sneak in my house and just hide, eat cereal and read my book.  I have learned to appreciate my friendships even more because you can get the person who listens to you and spends time looking in your eyes.  Your husband is not Al Bundy for the most part but he is not exactly Christian Grey either. You are no Angelina Jolie in "Mr & Mrs Smith" but you are not Peg Bundy either.  Maybe you both have a little of all of these characters but mostly you are yourselves. I told her to set realistic expectations because nothing ends a marriage faster than the ones that can never be achieved. Marriage is the most annoying, pleasant, funny, sad, friendship, love affair you will embark upon.

Last week I also went with another friend as she tried on wedding dresses and I felt, for one of the few times, that I missed out on that by eloping.  I never thought it mattered to me, because a marriage maybe many things but it definitely not the wedding, but I guess it did.  So back to my original question...is marriage still relevant?  I think it is because though it is hard, when it is good it's a celebration both emotional and legal of love and a wish to spend life with someone who makes you feel good.  Marriage will not make us anything because marriage is what we make of it.  It is not for everyone and when they end they seem to be a place where what once was healing becomes the way to hurt as much as possible.  I wish my two friends who are embarking on this well...may they have the marriages that they have hoped for.  

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
Mignon McLaughlin