Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Little Darlings and other hot tales

Hot child in the city
Hot child in the city
Runnin' wild and lookin' pretty
Hot child in the city.....Nick Gilder

We just kicked off the summer with what has become our family's ritual, ending boys baseball season and going to our weekend place in Connecticut.  This is the weekend where we usually first foray to the beach and the Saturday that the Chorus of Westerly holds their annual music in the park performance.  We went before we had the boys and have been taking the boys as soon as they were born.  After all it is a free event, walking distance to our loft and in open air, at worst we thought we would have to leave early should our child(ren) not enjoy it or become disruptive.  I love the idea of a full fledged orchestra playing in open air.  Every year they also do a portion of the program with different music, opera arias, musicals, and this year swing (fantastic set and wow what a great singer they had up there).  We put our blanket down, along with the other few thousand people (yes you read that right) in the morning to ensure a spot, then come back at night usually with a nice dinner (like the others).  We have missed it due to a break up in our relationship, yes before we were married, or rain but at any time that we have attended our children seem to enjoy it as much as we do.  They often find someone around their age to share a comic book, or device with and absorb the music. The highlight is the end with the 1812 Overture, or the Bad News Bears song as my husband calls it, and a live cannon and fireworks.  This year my youngest nicely slept through that commotion but told me in the morning it was the best show ever!!!! 

This ritual is a part of summer that I just really look forward to.  I am a child of summer, I love the beach and the heat (ok the humidity sucks) and the long days.  I like not bracing myself to leave the  house to a frigid breeze and running around on weekends with my hair looking like it does no where else, the curls kind of wild due to the salt air, ok did I mention I do not like the humidity that takes this look sometimes to hair that is something like a cloud around my head? I think fondly back on summers spent on city streets, walking aimlessly to see boys I or my friends liked playing handball, playing in the street until the streetlights went on and then the chorus in a variety of languages, growing in Astoria this is kind of like what the UN sessions without the headphones must sound like, saying "Come on 5 more  minutes, I am right here you can see me" and the mad dashes up and downstairs to get money for the Mr Softee truck.  If you ever want to see Pavolv's experiment in action play that music to a bunch of city kids and watch them do it even if no truck is in sight.  

I remember the vacations and the beach trips with my parents, none of it planned to the nth degree like my kids and their peers but oh so fun.  My playdates were me going outside and finding someone to play with.  It is a different world and my kids and their friends have a great time at these over priced places, tennis, swimming, basketball - oh yeah no sympathy here but they lack the spontaneity and resourcefulness that we kids growing up in a crime-ridden, busy city had and boy did we love the way we grew up.  I remember the movies that I saw in summers Grease (at least 15 times sometimes multiple times in one day - Ahh Danny Zucko if you only knew what I wanted was a hicky from Knicky), Jaws, host of scary movies, teen love movies, Purple Rain (at least 10 times and yes I would still like to meet the man) and the music that we carried with us in boom boxes on stations that no longer exist in the format of my youth WNEW with rock, WDRE with new wave, PLJ with rock - they had some great djs and the music...well you know my life is so moved, soundtracked and touched by music. 

I also remember my one camp adventure - because I saw Little Darlings and in my head I was going to be Tatum or Kristi and yes I was making out with Matt Dillon so I - I was going to be that camp counselor.  However, not so much is best way to put it.  The bunks were nasty  and the bugs were nastier.  There was a lecherous old man, husband and co-owner, that we all dodged (luckily he was slow) as he offered us a lap to sit on.  I have been told that I do not like sleep away camp because I am not Jewish (not a racist statement as I am told this by my friends who happen to be Jewish and loved sleep away camp) and yes pretty much none of the families (for the most part Catholic or Orthodox) sent us to sleep away camp - they took us to Europe to countries of origin or travelling, so maybe this is right.  I actually have found out that the Jewish sleep away camps tradition started for inner city New York Jewish kids whose parents sent them to the Catskills as the public pools often did not admit them. The camp had a lot of spoiled little girls (and lots of adorable ones too), bugs the size of bats and bats well the size of Dracula in the making. The food was mediocre at best. There was the annoying bugle wake up call every morning and showers that required me to plan Mission Impossible style so that no kids would follow and flip flops (eww at the thought).

I can laugh now and smile because the only Matt Dillon I came close to was the cook's son with his wonderful smile and his ability to help me laugh when I wanted to go home, who took me to a bar to cut a rug (when he first proposed this I was not sure why putting down carpeting was considered a date in Massachusetts but he was cute and so I agreed only to find out that it meant dancing LOL) and taught me to walk away from the stupidity of racism rather than get us killed for my ideals, so maybe he was more than Matt could have been.   My friend who had convinced me that this was going to be a fun thing to do left me about 2 weeks into it - yup to go to Italy with her parents.  I love her dearly and we have laughed over this but at the time I was just lonely and sad that it was not even close to Little Darlings - closer to Friday the 13th minus the homicidal maniac.  I know now I am not a mountain, grass, lake person and that experience may have sealed that for me. It is not an experience I regret but one that I treasure for what I learned about myself.

So as summer starts and new good memories get formed..like my multi week birthday celebration which I refuse to give up...I look back and think oh yeah baby ...summer summer summertime....

Summer, summer, summertime 
Time to sit back and unwind ...............Fresh Prince

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I want to know what love is...

I want to know what love is..I want you to show me ...Foreigner

I have always been honest about the fact that I was not always sure if I wanted to be a mother.  I am a person who enjoys her independence and that is coupled with the fact that I have a hard time giving someone that much control over my feelings and heart.  I also was not sure if I would be a mother who took my independence to a place where a child felt it as distance.  I did not swoon over babies, still think many newborns look slightly underdone, and never baby sat so no I did not dream of it like many do.  

I enjoyed my 20s and part of my 30s with all that I had.  I traveled, I partied and I partied while I traveled.  I   did not like to be kept track of and had to learn to compromise on that with the men I was with ...because at heart I am a person who really likes to wander.  As we decided to get married, after a crazy long dating relationship (fine be me to not have rushed - I never really played wedding even as a girl - I know commitment issues but that is either another blog or another therapy session), we talked about kids and being in my 30s I knew it was not a decision that I could defer.  I decided that I would give it my all and that I would try so hard to remember to do the things my parents did that made me happy while concentrating on not repeating the things that made me unhappy.  After all before you have children you also have a very clear and definitive approach to child rearing.  Most of us, B.C. - Before Child, would never yell at our children, would never open a bag of cookies in a supermarket, would never allow tv for more than 1 hour a day and would have incredibly well behaved children who never needed more than a "please don't honey".  

I remember finding out I was pregnant - after 4 sticks, that pink plus sign seemed so faint but as the old saying goes "you can't be a little bit pregnant".  I was scared and insecure and happy.  I had a fairly easy pregnancy, no morning sickness, did not add pounds to my bulk ( as I needed to lose some weight to begin with it helped that my ob reminded me that I was eating for a peanut not for 2 people) and took the famous birth classes.  I learned how to breathe and my husband learned how to coach me to breathe.  The night my water broke I was not prepared though - all of a sudden the idea of pain and holy shit is all that kept going through my head.  We were in our weekend place, 2 hours from NYU hospital - not to worry the doctor said first babies usually do not come very fast, and there I was driving back in my maternity mini skirt (beach weekend) and tshirt walking to the security desk at 2 am.  

My son decided that he would be a typical first baby - so I walked the walk with squats that I had learned at birthing class. I breathed and saw people come and go, nurses change shift and I was still not in the pain I feared but at almost 40 hours was approaching the point where the baby had to possibly be a C Section.  Now in all honesty I did want a C Section - I thought it would be easier - I thought it would faster....my doctor (he is not warm and fuzzy but I love him for his candor) told me he did not do Cs on demand as they were surgery and in his opinion only to be done in as a last resort.  He also only administers pitocin if he thinks the C is a possibility any way not as a first measure so they finally tried some pitocin and wham..the pain...I know friends who embrace the pain, who tell me "natural" childbirth is beautiful...well good for you all - I asked my husband to take me home when it hit because I was done, I can laugh now but can assure you I was serious then.  Not for me - I have no Puritan streak looking to suffer, no need to commune with my sisters of years past - I thank the people who invented the epidural and the doctors who administered it to this day.  Pain sucks - and like I said for those of you who embrace well good for you but not for me (and if you do choose this route I have a terrific, intelligent friend who will be a great resource for them).

I remember seeing my baby for the first time, 8 years ago tomorrow - and I literally think I stopped breathing.  I have never known how much I could let myself love someone - I have learned from that love to allow myself to experience feelings for him and his brother and others in my life with abandon.  I am not the BC mother - I yell and I have actually asked them to watch TV to get some time to do the things I need to do - and yet the way we interact lets me know I am doing ok...not perfect but I have learned that what love is ..not perfection, open to possible pain and most of all something that if you never experience it in it's POW - ZOOM - BANG way is something that will leave a spot of you empty.  I love being a mother more than I could have imagined - thank you to my sons for showing me what love is.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cause my heart belongs to Daddy

Dancin' on daddy's shoes
Dancin' all around the room
Rollin' the rug up—kickin' our heels up
Dancin' away the blues...........................Leon Redbone

As Father's Day approaches I thought I would give a big shout out to all you Dads out there.  It is not easy being the Dad - after all even the best of you don't get the same credit as being the Mom (as it should be says this Mom). I had a turbulent relationship with my own Dad, he was a fairly moody guy so this is not that surprising to anyone who knew us well.   As I get older and am past being mad, sad, quick to blame and all the other negatives that really have been discussed and put (where they belong) in the past I can now glance back at my  relationship with him and remember the times (and there were many) where I loved being with my Dad.

I remember Saturdays with my Dad. When I was young my Mom worked and he did not on that day.  We would wake up and after he let me watch cartoons, I cleaned the house (ok I dusted) while he played music.  Music was very important to him.  He would play a lot of different albums.  He was proud of his stereo system, with it's turntable that could hold a few records on the spindle and drop them down as needed.  It had rectangular adapter, of course we also had the multi-colored spindles that were for individual 45s, so you could even stack 45s.  I went record shopping with him a lot in Astoria and in the city.  To this day I cook, do laundry or just move around the house with music on.  I remember both of us dancing around the house to the Saturday Night Fever album.  He loved Romanian music, a lot of it pre-Communist, older music where people loved deeply and hurt even deeper.  I remember him sitting for hours and looking at different albums to create mix tapes that he brought to parties.  He was meticulous in recording them so that you had some dancing, some conversation background, with pauses built in by him between songs.  His fancy stereo that you did not need to be quiet for when he recorded which apparently was a big deal as many lesser models recorded everything not just the music. These Saturdays were some of my best times with my Dad.  After the chores, we would often walk, a lot, in the city while waiting for my Mom to get out of work.  He often took me to the movies during this time.  I can still remember that we saw Star Wars together at the Zigfield ..funny how you remember these things even after over 30 years.  

Speaking of movies my Dad and I had a bug for horror and scary movies.  My mom would go to sleep, warning him that I better not get nightmares, as she left us to watch Channel 9 Chiller Thriller movies (by today's Saw slasher standard these were mild, mostly Vincent Price affairs) with it's six fingered hand coming out of a grave introduction.  The poor guy took me to see Deliverance when I was like 9 and promptly threw my coat over my face during the "squeal" scene.  It took me years to find out that they did not "kill a baby pig", that's what he told me he was shielding me from.  I do not like horror movies today much because there is no suspense and too much torture...but I still get shudders when I think back at watching the Amytiville Horror with him (maybe that is why I never wanted to move to Long Island...nah let's not blame that on him too).

There were the Sundays at the beach.  I recently read a blog that read so similar to my own life that it made smile.  Only obviously that writer's Father was not an immigrant as he took her to a deli for an egg sandwich (not a kid in my neighborhood of immigrants had that experience) unlike my family who cooked eggs and a big buffet that was packed in a cooler for the beach, complete with a little salt and pepper carefully packed in Reynolds Wrap.  My Dad loved to swim in the ocean with me and I got my lifelong love of the beach from him.

I learned from the man who loved to learn.  He was notorious for pop quizzes for my friends and I ..do believe all of us learned more geography from him than from school.  A master of the"look it up" answer and when I did not want to of the "don't make me have you write it a 100 times" discipline.  He would have loved the internet with instant ability to get information ....and I am so his daughter as I use it often to look up things and show my own sons how to get information.  

I spent a lot of Sundays and weekends with him when my parents got divorced - some of these times were full of fights (my wanting to grow up and his need to win an argument a deadly combination at times) and yet others were times when we traveled to Europe or just talked or he tried to understand what I was learning at college (he would have liked to go to University) and those are the Sundays that I look back on more these days.  

Our relationship was not "easy" but it was what made who I am as well as identified for me what I do not want to be.  I miss my Dad when he was his best.  I miss his great sense of humor and ability to be funny on the spot.  I miss the fact that he never got to meet his grandsons.  As Father's Day approaches I guess what I  do most though is not just miss him but rather smile at all the memories we had.  I choose to not forget the times when he was not the father I wanted because it allows me to enjoy the father he was at his best as well.  I realized I love many of the things he did too in his life, music, laughter, learning, being social, a good political argument, the beach, fine dining, my mother and for that I will always be Gigi's daughter whose heart always has a special spot for Daddy. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Shaking my head and getting madder

I AM SKINNY...there it is on the internet and it must be true.  I am an average person who understands that is kind of silly but it seems that this kind of thinking is becoming more prevalent.  It is also part of what I see as a really scary move away from facts and science and into the realm of junk that once I put it out there it must be true. The other part of this that is actually more frightening is the fact that we expect People, the STAR and other tabloids to be just that...entertainment, with a wink and a nod that says if you put two people who are famous in the same zip code you can say they were abducted by aliens and are now having a love child.  I do not expect that from the NY Times and other newspapers.  If I did than I would expect those newspapers to change their tag lines to I AM BIASED TOWARD XXX PARTY and will blindly advance their agenda so this is not a newspaper but a giant OP ED page.  If they are not willing to do that well then they should do something called journalism which is more than writing a story it is actually looking at facts and presenting both sides of the story as much as possible.

Since this is my blog and I write about everything from being blonde, to being a Mom, to loves lost, and Christian Grey well then I will follow my own request stated above.  I AM BIASED TOWARD BEING TREATED AS A PERSON WHO CAN THINK AND WHO DOES NOT BLINDLY FOLLOW ANY PARTY and this is a giant op ed page that has no research behind it that would qualify as journalism.

I started, erased and restarted this blog a few times. This is because I am so annoyed that I start to get all over the place (the whole vaccine scam for something that has been thoroughly disproved, the holistic "holier than thou" but do not test it nonsense - basically people looking at facts and because they do not like the facts well then they cannot be true). Reminds of that Bugs Bunny cartoon with Columbus "She's a round...she's a flat".  There is also the historical "don't tell the public because they will not understand the science" fault of the healthcare industry to balance what has become a tornado of misinformation.   The latest in this is an article about physicals.  Now all of the outcome data (there go those pesky facts again) that I have ever seen says that routine care of anything from your car (oil changes, tuneups), to your house (fixing and checking a leak is sure a lot better than waiting for your roof to cave in) to cleaning your coffeemaker once in a while shows that these routine check ups improve the life of the things mentioned. Yet along come the insurance companies (and there is such short sightedness in everything they do) who do not really want to pay for this for people(and as that ever efficient structure called government gets more involved in this they will hire and pay for a lot of people to tell you how not to pay for the people who actually take care of your health).  The same insurance industry that I know most of us give money to and avoid using for things like our car (cheaper often to fix it after a fender bender and not report it because they will make you pay more next time even when not your fault) instead of using them (brilliant how they pulled that one off) for the reason we pay them for.  There I go I ranted for a paragraph and still did not stick to my main point (if I was a cartoon - of course I would be Jessica Rabbit - I would have those steam things coming out of my ears).

How can a "respectable" paper print an article that discourages people from going for physicals and advising them to wait until their "bodies" tell them to go (what happens if my body tells me to get a physical every month will that be the diagnosis that gets paid since I followed their advice?).  It is more costly to the system and emotionally as well as physically debilitating to treat illness long term rather than by diagnosing and offering options as early as possible.  I am not a conspiracy theorist but articles like that really make me shake my head and wonder what is the driving force behind them.  The healthcare system itself would have benefited from an annual physical because by the time they started looking at it the prognosis looks pretty dim.  If they had looked at it they may have been able with some lifestyle modifications (tort reform, a government insurance plan like the one the government has made available on a sliding scale) it would not have devolved to the place it is now - think diet controlled diabetes, with maybe a pill vs insulin shots and hope that you do not wind up in a diabetic coma.  We are not statistics, so that 1 in a 100 could be me, or you, or someone you love who could have lived better or just lived - how's that for a fact that the articles seem to forget to mention.  

Early intervention and the trust we built (between the people I choose - not some unknown entity dictated to me) between my son's pediatricians and I was vital in helping my son with his treatment and incredibly successful outcome for his fine motor skill problems.  I did not get annual physicals for years (though I am so good at the ob check up) and no I did not have any problems, I am glad for that.  I am older now though and I hope that my check ups remain boring and uneventful but because I have children I feel the added responsibility of ensuring that I remain that way and that my doctor and I never deal with anything more than a lively discussion on the books we are both reading.  I will continue to rely on my mechanic (again the person I chose) for the health of my car, the contractor (who I chose) to ensure my house stays at it's optimum and on my doctors (and those of my family - who yep you got it I chose) to maintain the health of my family.  If you choose people you trust you will find they are partners who provide knowledge and if needed potentially harm saving procedures (my car stalling, my roof caving, my health).  I will not believe it just because it is on the internet but rather work toward a solution for what ails the parts of my life by discussing them with the people who were trained to take care of them....and to the best of my knowledge that is not the journalist for any of those.  I would like to go to the journalist for what they were trained for and often are not practicing ...not fiction writing...not tabloid writing ...but reporting of what they have looked at many angles for or put it on the Op Ed page where at least I know what I am getting. 

Many of you know where I work , no need to plug them here or in comments, but these opinions are solely my own (love this independant thinking stuff) and not those of the company I work for - yes this is the disclaimer.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bergdorf Blondes and other hair adventures

The blonde in the bleachers
She flips her hair for you...Joni Mitchell

I once read an article in the NY Times that could have been written about me and obviously applied to a lot of people.  If you dye your hair blonde after a while you do not realize how blonde you are and start chasing a blonde you see in pictures or on others that in reality you may already have or surpassed.  The other day I broke down, or shall I say am broke now from it, and went back to the place that did my favorite ever blonde highlights at John Barrett Salon in Bergdorf Goodman.  I have chased a certain shade of wheat, butter but not beer without a hint of caramel blonde many a time.  I like being a blonde and go ahead let the jokes come down.

I love BG, because I always try and imagine what it was like to live there during the time it was still a Fifth Ave mansion along with all the other magnificent mansions, most of which sadly no longer survive.  It is such an elegant place and they have perfected the art of customer service, even with the people like me who rarely have the means to really shop there.  As I made my appointment, and thank you John Barrett for putting the prices on the website because it makes decision making easier to go or not, and it led me to thinking of the amount of time and money I have spent on my hair over the years.  There were the years when I was younger when I would not allow my hair to be cut, Marcia Brady symptom or Princess but I know a lot of girls and women suffer from this.  It was really long until I decided that off it had to go, am sure some magazine or movie inspired that nonsense.  There was the time when I thought a perm on my already curly locks would give me those Raphaelite corkscrew curls, ummmm nope what I got was a somewhat albino afro (oh it was as attractive as that sounds).  There was the time we discovered Sun In, which really should be termed for the vast population Orange Out.  I sprayed a bottle on my hair, my parents who did not even allow nail polish until I was 16, none the wiser as we sat for our customary 8 hours at Jones Beach.  It was only when I got home and washed my hair, and expected those Breck girl locks, that my shock and subsequent need to wrap my hair in a towel to try and hide it from same parents (honestly the world did not need to see my now orange and white streaked locks as I was not in a punk band nor making commercials for Orangesicle Pops - only two places I can think of that it would have worked to look like that).  I remember the moment that a lock escaped, down my back and my father pulled me by it and asked me not so gently to remove the towel.  It was worse than I expected, he laughed and laughed while tears welled in my own eyes.  My mother yelled I am pretty sure and there began my affair with doing and undoing the hair I had (yes I had that fixed).

There were the 80s with teasing, spraying, black streaks in one side of my blonde hair and other things that made my hair an architectural gravity defining object (crimping, really?!).  There was a period where Astor Place Hair-cutters and I were practically an item, me going there so often that my platinum hair (lasted 2 months, since it looked like I had roots the minute they washed out the dye..though will admit with red lips it was one of my favorite looks) caused me scalp burns (yes people it is harsh chemicals they used and cheap too hence their ability to charge $40 for a haircut and color).  Then there was the blonde, red, black, streaked, blonde and so on periods all which led me to realize that I am meant to be blonde.  There have been short cuts, side cuts, asymmetrical cuts (not a good look on curly hair), and pulling, heating years of blow drying those curls into that vision of straight perfection that is hard to achieve.  I long ago stopped tracking how much money and time have really gone into this because I will admit it I love it.  I love changing it and getting that moment when I love the color, the cut or both.  I do the Keratin treatments so that my hair is less frizzy and achieves that elusive shine that us curly hair girls have always wanted to have, you know the one that comes when you are able to swish your hair from side to side Pantene commercial style.  For a long time I thought I needed to apologize (I have never tried the "this is natural approach" as hell I paid money for it so why hide it) and hide the fact that I love high end salons and all the stuff I do for my hair (though as I was paying for my now lovely Bergdorf Blonde highlights the other day I found it amusing how many women before me were paying in portions - credit card, cash, mixture of cards with a wink to the receptionist about not letting husbands see actual totals).  I get those women, men rarely understand what we pay for these things or any others that we love because they don't have to.  I went back once to "natural" and that lasted about a week until I could get back to the salon to "fix" it.  I am not a hippie, granola girl and at almost 45 I am ok with no longer apologizing or feeling badly for spending money I work for on this.   So here is to the blondes, brunettes, redheads who enhance or come out of the magic of colorists (be they Revlon or Fekkai) or embrace their natural attributes.  It does not make any of us less intelligent or frilly or anything else if we do it within our means and makes us feel better.  It does not make us subjects of the male dominated world (face it women notice your highlights men usually notice your boobs).  It does not make us anything we already are not, it is ok for us to look good as whatever we define that.

  L'Oreal was right ...we are worth it!!!!!

All my ladies if you feel it. Go and do it, do it, whip your hair. Don’t matter if it’s long, short. Do it, do it, whip your hair”...Willow Smith