Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Home

I have always been a person who embraces change and new adventures.  It is the reason my husband and I had a disagreement, ok full on ghetto sounding fight 'cause we are both from Queens, in the ever "too posh for that behavior" Stickley Audi furniture store.  I like nice furniture but I also know I get bored and eventually I want to change it - he is of the you buy it once and will it to the next generation mentality.  In case you are wondering we wound up with a lot of our furniture from there, love their style, with the knowledge that couches and wall paint will be changed -- and have been once already in 8 years - with more frequency.

Since I so like these changes I tend to be pretty open to trying new places to live.  Maybe this comes from the fact that I moved 3 times before I was 8 in my native Romania, at 8 to a whole new continent, country, culture.  I lived in 2 apartments in the same building and moved to a new block and apartment between my arrival in NY (3rd grade) and 5th grade.  By the time I was finished with high school I was moving to New Jersey, sorry for those of you who love or call it home but I still twitch a little recalling that, at least part time with a shuttle to New York (divorced parents and I was willing to move as long as clubbing, friends, parties, boyfriends were firmly rooted in either the Village or lower parts of the City or Long Island).  Once I had my first apartment at 21 the thrill of making what essentially was about the space of a storage locker (650 square feet, mine all mine for a large fee -- hell this was New York - Astoria, the City in the best of times was out of my budget and I could not leave my car which took me to my all time favorite Jones Beach weekends) into a cool looking apartment.  This was the stuff of shabby chic before that term became a household name.  That apartment lasted 2 years then on to my next move - actually quite a nice apartment, really large (walk in closet -- ahhh) in Forest Hills - parking nightmare - high rent - that old adage that 1 week of pay should cover your rent...yeah was about as accurate as me acting like Mrs. Cleaver -- it was more like 1 week of pay had to cover food, expenses, clothes, outings and essentials because the other 3 were going to rent.  Admitting that Kraft Mac and Cheese and cereal dinners were a staple. 

I left that apartment for a brief stint with my father and one of the wives he had before I took off to California, San Francisco.  There the apartment was near the beach, umm yeah the beach that you really could not go to as was rarely warm enough, the beach were there was shark netting visible from the shore and fins swimming near it, the beach where the water never warmed up .... really Hollywood you seemed to have forgotten in all those super cool surfer movies to tell us that the Pacific is way freaking colder than the Atlantic so keep your bullet bra bikini on Annette it is never getting wet.  That lasted for about a year then back to New York, renting my friend's (then boyfriend, now husband - drama) mother's house, then back to Astoria for a while, entertained thought of moving to Europe (for a man yes - break in previous friend/boyfriend/husband drama), then Flushing and here I am.  This is maybe the longest I have lived in one place since my stint with my parents between 5th grade to 12th.  Actually this year that makes this the longest I have ever lived anywhere.  I am itching a little but having a weekend place helps make me feel like I move every weekend for the summer at least.  

I have learned that I am bound by soul, blood, need to be near or in NYC -- it is the air polluted and foul and wondrous that I need.  I am also bound to a set of friends who I have had in my life forever, through these moves and pre Facebook/text/email/cell phones who called, wrote letters and cards and even visited.  I fought moving to the 'burbs with every ounce of my fiber and now I love really like my town and have made some amazing friends here.  Yet the other day I went to Astoria, where I loved growing up, have some blushing and smiling amazing memories in apartments and times there, place that I left gladly and gladly return to visit (only to) and it felt like home.  I have fought the Queens girl and borough until I realized I could be comfortable to embrace it.  There was a familiarity and a comfort that I needed and found there as the purpose of my visit was a sad one. There was something that reminded me of me, I get it in Astoria and for different reasons in Manhattan.  I am the girl in Rod Stewart's "Downtown Train", riding the 6 to Hunter College and NYU and the Village.  I am the bridge and tunnel big hair girl on the N train at too late an hour with too short a skirt.  I am the weary and wary New York kid who always holds purse close to body and is aware of everyone around her, who steps hard on the foot of the man who thinks her bottom is his rubbing lamp (seriously dude ewww), who took more chances on those subways than she should have and is glad she can laugh about it all.  I am the adult who still navigates NY in a subway, on foot, in a bus or in a cab with ease and comfort. 

Though I am itching to change my furniture already and still wistfully looking for an apartment for my old age in the City, though I would still like to live in Italy for a part of the time, I know that I love  really like my house and this town and for all the moving I have done still hate packing and unpacking (oh to be wealthy enough to leave it all behind and start again....) and will be here for a long while.  It is still Astoria that I feel as home ...this is my life now ...that is who made me.  I guess home is different places for different reasons....

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Just a girl looking for a party


Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. 
Abraham Lincoln 

First order of business - I recently changed my hair from the years of blonde that I have had it to a deep auburn color...and I got a lot of questions regarding my blog.  As I have a hard time with monogamous commitments to my hair relationships I am not changing the name...because if history is any indicator then I will be blonde by choice again at some point...by choice is the operative phrase here.

Frilly stuff aside with this past weekend being the celebration of the birthdays (you know they could have let us have 2 long weekends, not combined the holiday but whatever) of 2 Presidents who are among my favorites it got me to thinking .... what party do I belong to?

I was raised in a staunch Republican household.  It is understandable that my parents whose experience with socialism was the failure that the Eastern Bloc nations, you know the place where the "people" took over, took property from the "people" they deemed unworthy of the wealth they had (regardless of whether they earned it or inherited it or who cares - taking from them is no less immoral when you kick them out of their homes then a lot of the accusations hurled at them for taking from the impoverished -- and if you are not sure about that read a bit of history starting with that fun period post French revolution named The Reign of Terror), and took away hope because the great equalizer was to smother individuality, innovation and anything that was the pursuit of happiness.  You did not need happiness you needed to be productive, to build the state, to have what you needed..DONE.  Sounds grey and awful...was worse than it sounds.  As in all things like this the "people" who took power quickly decided they did not really want to share that power and even more quickly and usually with learned brutality from their own painful experiences went on to ensure that no one was ever going to get the chance to be the "people" who overthrew them.

Considering what my family and everyone they knew suffered under the guise of socialism anything that even had a whiff of union and government as benefactor (read Democrat) was seen as the rising of the potential of dooming another nation like theirs, theirs that they had left with heavy hearts and without anything but hope, had become. As I went to college I remember the biggest fights I had with my Dad were over the idea that there are benefits to some of the socialist ideas that the whole process of democracy has to exist with opposition and not blind following of either party.  I tell you no presidential debate will ever have the intensity, passion and full on loudness that those dinner time conversations had.  I just could not see why he could not understand that he was not being democratic...he could not understand how I did not see the danger in it.

I am a child of the 80s..you know the 80s with their Masters of the Universe Bonfire of the Vanities, their big hair and spend, spend, spend material girl "greed for lack of a better word" quality.  I am also a child of the 90s, finishing college in the late 80s as the boom turned to dust, as New York took a beating from crime, economic collapse and AIDS, as I looked for a job and was thrilled when I found one for $21,325 a year (yeah kiddies this is pre-tech bubble ...so my sign on bonus was to sign on for a job).  I lived in an expensive city, enjoying a life I liked with clubs, fashion junkie fed often by places like Andy's Cheapee's, Canal Jean Co and a lot of magazines.  I walked over squatters on my way to bars in Alphabet City (not trendy then -- Tompkins Square Park..best bars) and watched friends die badly, and I mean horror movie pain and makeup badly, from AIDS while the world blamed and shunned and tried to pretend that this was god's will (probably started being an atheist right about here). There was crack and it was whack!!

This is how I was formed - a contradiction - with a slight fear and aversion to the possibility that the Democrats were going to ruin my chosen home like they had my birth home but with a sense that they needed to be heard because there were so many people who needed them to speak on their behalf.  A capitalist who to today is not ashamed of wanting more than I need and wishing that more people could achieve the economic rewards that allow them to have the things that they consider "luxuries" in life.

I look at both parties and have for many years and they have transformed from the parties of my youth.  There are people who mourn the parties they were for different reasons.  I still think Democrats rely too much on the idea of government as savior and don't see the waste and inefficiencies I pay for in their plans.  I  see Republicans as no longer belonging to a party of "growth" but falling rapidly to a party of fundamentalist fanatics more concerned with their version of "morality" and so bent on no government that they are willing to pass laws that benefit no one except the stubborn belief that they are "right". I am the pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, pro-strict gun laws, pro-business, pro-defense, pro-balanced budget for the government, education and infrastructure funding, anti-complicated bureaucracy- mediocrity-political correctness, pro-science advocate, union believer, union reformer, medicare/social security supporter, healthcare believer, tort reformer -- who has never and probably will never vote by party alone but will vote for members of the party that share most of that vision at least.

I look for another Republican Lincoln, for a Democrat John F Kennedy, for a mixture of the strength of Ike and the compromise of Clinton.  In the 80s an early 90s I was a girl with a political party in search of a party to dance at, today I am a woman who wants to find a party that will allow her sons to have the chance to dance and shine at the parties they choose to go to.  I am looking for the party that is fiscally responsible and who supports choices that allow adults to make them.  The party that understands that allowing only a handful of donors to influence them is not capitalism but oligarchy which is the downfall that so many have seen as the revolutions in history.  I cannot stand the puritan abstinence of the ultra left or the ultra right - because you both do not represent progress but judgmental stagnation.  Is there a party that sees that the government needs to exist, needs to have safety nets and protect individual choices and freedoms while saying no thanks to a few large donors and their twisted visions?  Is there a party who does not make me feel like government is the long lost parent that forgives my lack of personal responsibility?  I am looking for a way that  more of my really large tax money to go to my state and town and less to the Federal government.  Is there a party for me - still not sure but I will vote as close as possible for the people who have at least some of these attributes because even though I have no party I follow at all cost ... I do worship at the altar of democracy because the alternative that I lived as a child is a party I left long ago.

Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder. 
George Washington 


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Roses are red ...

My funny valentine
Sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Unphotographable
Yet you're my favourite work of art......."My Funny Valentine"



For all those cynics who say it is a Hallmark holiday, personally feel like it is more like a sponsored holiday, there are all those of us who actually like Valentine's Day.  After all why not have a celebration of that most wonderful feeling ..love.  You know love the kind that is written about since time began, that makes you foolish, makes you smile in the middle of doing something mundane because you think of the person who gives you that warm, slightly queasy feeling. Love that is actually part lust, part friendship and lasts for a long time...or love that is fleeting but still spins us around while we are part of it. 

Valentine's Day is also about heartbreak  -  those people who passed your desk in school as they gave someone else a card, the one that maybe you never told that his was the desk you should have stopped at, the line comes through and true for me "it is better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all". The heartbreak that prepared your heart and soul for the person who should have it.

It is easy to dismiss that every kiss begins with Kay's...actually in my humble experience there is a lot of kissing prior to getting anything from Kay's or any other jewelry store (blue box one is my favorite). It is actually quite obnoxious to save all of your emotions to be displayed on one day...maybe every other Friday should be Valentine's Day (you extra smooch the person that you love).  It is not a day to even attempt dinner out - unless your are dating, beginning stages, at which point you are usually so smitten with one another that you do not notice the lukewarm food since you are sharing smoldering hot looks, the rushed service since you are probably scarfing down the meal to run out of there and make "dessert", the overpriced bill after all at the point you don't have a payment you are sharing on a necessity.  

My friend Kristin recently wrote about her favorite Valentine gifts and topping the list were the ones from her kids - as mothers we know those that are made by little hands and slightly imperfect in design are more wonderful than anything designed by Cartier, Tiffany or Bulgari combined.  You look into to those eyes that say you are beautiful and perfect and all knowing and you feel you are all of those things.  You hear an "I love you Mom" and there is a mini orchestra behind it.  You get those little puckered lips, often sloppy always delicious, coming at you and well ....sigh, swoon, wow!!!!! Some of my favorite gifts include a mixed tape made given with a card written with lines from some of my favorite songs to tell me how the giver felt about me, jewelry boxes made by boys (impressively sturdy and cute), a surprise night planned with things I really enjoyed doing and only mentioned in passing as wanting to try, a giant canvas and good oil paints and pretty much anything that was given to me that showed the person actually thought about what might interest me. 

I am a total sappy romantic in so many ways and I keep it under wraps - doesn't wear well with my usual NYC all black attire. I remember kisses, stolen and planned and non-stopping or quickly caught, and intimate moments. Go and enjoy the day - every kiss does not need to begin with Kay's but it does need to begin with you...
An "I love you" wrapped in the voice that is sincere will make this girl's heart pitter patter and be worn by me more than anything a blue box will hold (not discouraging the blue box in addition to though). Total confession as much as I say I have no need a delivery of flowers on this day one, yes even roses, still gives me a slight shiver.  I am helping the boys partake in the holiday with their classmates, with these adorable stickers that go on lollipops- because sharing love and sweets is something that I hope they can do forever.  

Happy Valentine's Day ...oh stop it you know you just smiled.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The name quandary

I love having my sons' friends over - we are lucky, and yes I had a hand in this - if I don't now I know I won't later, that they have chosen some kids whose parents share our parenting style (indulgent to the child to let them grow but with limits as to shape that growth) and overall are just good kids.

I recently had 2 boys, brothers also in similar ages to mine, over for a play date.  There was a lot of ribbing between their Dad during drop off (really you want all 4 of them? - him I figured if it gets bad I could always sell them on ebay - Me) but I had no worries.  I know these kids, all of their friends have been in our lives (with great friendships of our own formed via library reading days at infancy to geez how much homework do I have to do 3rd grade meetings) since many of them were toddlers.  I know what to expect - they are going to play some sort of save-the-world-planet from insert monster - recent movie villain, some slight squabbling over the set up (which often takes significantly longer than actual play - there are so many details in these set ups, I am pretty sure I and my friends were not this complex - or maybe with so much time on our hands the time spent doing this appeared shorter) and who is which character and what saves who.  There will be some little brother vs big brother showdown - little ones are tougher and yes at least once I will have to ask them to "stop yelling!!!".  

I could handle all of this- and overall they really are incredibly self-contained and with a quick "rule set-up" at the beginning all goes about 90% well.  I am thinking they do better than some adult meetings I attend and a whole lot better than governments seem to do to play nicely with one another in the negotiation sector.  

As I was doling out pizza slices I heard one of the boys call me by mrs and my husband's last name.  I also, like many of friends and women in the world have not changed my name to match that of my husband's.  I hyphenated, which you can do without changing any legal documents, but only so I do not confuse the schools/pediatrician's offices when I call for my children with a different last name.  I am not a fan of the changing of the name practice - my inner feminist rebels at being transferred from name of father to name of husband - but I also believe this like all other things this is a personal choice and respect the choice made by others.  So needless to say when he called out my husband's last name with Mrs in front of it I 1) did not respond 2) was pretty sure my mother in law had not snuck into the house.

We also struggle with how to teach our kids to politely address the adults they encounter.  This is harder than it sounds - many do not want to be called Mr or Mrs Last Name but prefer their first names being used  - we usually settle on Mr/Mrs First Name but then the boys are told just call me "first name".  When my son's friend called me by my husband's last name I did not respond at first, mostly because it is not something I use.  As with all else in parenting you try to make children behave in ways that will lead them to be respectful of others. 

A rose by any other name is still a rose...Shakespear