Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Halloween Tale

  I am a big fan of outdoor walking, running type of exercise.  I don't dislike the treadmill when it is very cold, do not like tracks (the idea of walking in a circle over and over is so boring to me) but overall I prefer the outdoor walk.  In our town it is a bit of a challenge, there are hills, and I do not mean little hills I mean we think we are the San Fran of the East hills.  My walks around my neighborhood range from 3 - 6 miles depending on the day and many a time I try and get my sons to go with me.  Now if you do not have children in the age range of 7 - 9 you may think - what's the big deal, exercise is good for them.  Yeah... well my children who learned to walk in cities and who can deal have to be coaxed into the 3 mile walk and only the older one will attempt the 6 mile one.  I know the hills.. the pant like old ladies at the Bingo hall circa 1975 but then they get a groove.  In order to make these walks less of "really? how much longer? that hill? seriously Mom?" chanting I made a deal with them 1) they can bring music to listen to 2) they can ask for a story and I will try and make one on the fly.

This week with the beautiful leaves changing colors and the houses decorated for Halloween as I convinced them to go walking with me Sunday morning at 930 (they rolled their eyes too so you can) they opted for a story.  Now the story has to be somewhat original or a continuation of one I started with them before.  It usually has to star them and some of their friends as needed.

This week's blog is about our Halloween story.  If you like it feel free to change the names to those of your children.  Nothing makes them forget the walk, lights up their faces than to hear they are the main characters, they as children are going to rescue someone, they are the STARS....Happy Halloween to you and your little ghouls - holiday that is a big favorite in our house.

Once upon a time a village was settled on the Hudson River.  This was a long, long time ago and there were not many houses.  In Ossining Village there was a sense of community but lately it had been very sad - you see children had been disappearing.  The parents took to locking up the houses and not letting the young ones walk by themselves, but still from several full school houses now there were only 2 left and they were not full.  One day as the father went to hunt for dinner the mother asked her two young sons to go with her to look for fruits for the pie she was hoping to make.

Young Master Max and younger Master Cole set out with their mother.  She carried with her a small knife for cutting the berries and a basket.  The day was beautiful, the leaves decorating the forest with oranges, reds and yellows like someone had come by and painted it.  They walked these 3 singing songs and laughing.  Along the way they passed their neighbor Mistress Samantha and her lovely daughter Stella who were in their yard beating carpets - "good day" they called "good day to you as well where are you going?" young Stella called.  They told her and waved goodbye.  A bit further they walked by Master David's house, he was the town drawer, he made posters for the shops for many in town did not read and cartoons for the newspaper.  His young beautiful daughter Olivia waved to the threesome and on their way they went.

Since they were busy looking for berries and laughing with one another they did not notice that the forest seem to close behind them, the road disappearing.  They started to get a little cold and noticed the bright, sunny day had faded to a grey, overcast sky.  Mother decided that maybe they should get back but when she turned in back of her the road they had been on was gone, no longer the beautiful colors but empty branches. She did not want to show her fear to her sons but they noticed too "Momma what happened to the road ?" the youngest asked.  "Don't fret I think we must have taken a wrong turn, let's keep walking". Onward the threesome walked and suddenly before them appeared in the distance a huge castle.  A castle unlike any dwelling in their town.  A castle like there was in stories of the towns they had left behind in their native land before they came to the colonies.

They approached it slowly and out of the corner of their eyes Master Max saw a sign written on a piece of wood DO NOT ENTER DANGER ... he was proud for he could read but he was scared of what he saw.  They huddled closer to their Mom who told them it was probably just a way to keep out strangers, though in her heart she was not so sure.  They looked up in time to see the door slightly ajar (here you have to insert a creaking noise) and she said "Nonsense scare let's go see if they can help us".  As they walked toward the castle they thought they hear a chorus of voices saying softly "Keeepp out" but when they looked there was no one there.

Inside it was warm and cozy with a fire crackling but they could not see anyone around, except for small shadows that seem to appear but as soon as you looked POOF they were gone.  They saw a table with delicious food and young Max said "Momma remember Hansel and Gretel ? Maybe the food is a trap?" but Cole said "I am hungry trap or no trap I am eating".  They followed him and ate and soon felt sleepy.  As they walked away from the table suddenly they heard thuds, heavy thuds and a drag against the stone floor. They looked but no one was on the stairs.  As they walked back toward the fire they saw a small book.  Momma picked it up and it there was a tale of an evil lord who hunted children and made them his slaves, working night and day to make him candy.  The book said never to say the words Candy Man (ok I stole that line from a horror movie kill me we were walking and this was on the fly) three times for he shall appear.  Not wanting her young sons to remain scared Momma said "this is nothing but a silly story Candyman, candy man candy man" just as she finished the thuds and scrape came faster.  They looked toward the stairs and where there was nothing before there stood a man with rotted teeth, a peg leg, swollen belly, red eyes "You called me now you will join the others".  His breath was foul and suddenly there were all the Village children, clothes in tatters, looking tired.  Suddenly Mother remembered what children do best - they hide and seek.  So she took her sons aside and whispered to them "Max you take your sling shot for you are the best shot in town and gather the boys, have them use what they have and hide and when I say No you won't they should shoot forks and knives and whatever they find at him".  "Cole you take the girls and lead them have them take their sewing lines and their sewing scissors and when the boys attack you charge and tie him up".  Out loud she said "My boys we have been fooled and for this we must pay -- now go".  So the boys left their mother with the monstrous man who was not sure what to do with her.  The children scattered and Mother tried to bargain with the man to let them go.

Suddenly she said "Let them go" and he said "NOOOOO!!!" his foul breath covering her, but she stood firm and she said "You can't have them - NO you won't" suddenly from every corner shots of forks, apples, stones rained upon him until he fell down, from other corners ran the girls with their yarn and tied him up.  When they righted him in a chair Mother approached him "why would you do such a thing ?" and with this he started to cry.  He told a tale of being a mean, bullying, selfish lad.  A lad who stole the last bit of food from a poor old woman who he did not know was a witch.  A witch who put a spell on him that forever he would only eat the candy he so craved until his teeth rotted, his foot fell off from the sugar disease and his skin would like it had been cast upon rough rocks.  For this he needed children to keep making the candy that he couldn't stop wanting though he knew it was destroying him.  Mother took pity on him.  She thought he had learned his lesson.  She knew the witch and with the children she led him to her where he apologized as she lifted the spell.

Young Master Max and Young Master Cole had saved the Village and for this on that very day for all eternity the children dress like the monster and witches and go from house to ask for candy.

The boys loved this story - it helped us through most of our 3 miles.  HAPPY HALLOWEEN and remember too much candy ...well you know what happens.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

When I was a Fearless Girl

In what could only be described as a New York moment last week I walked by someone I had not seen since I was 20.  After getting a flu shot, total anomaly for me,  I found myself with no subway back to Grand Central. As the weather has been amazing, comfortable flats on thought I would do something that I just love,  walk the 30 blocks.  I love walking in the city, it's never dull. I get energy from it.  However, Lexington Ave around Bloomies gets bit to crowded for me so around 62 Street I decide to cut to Park.

Listening to my music, feeling great, enjoying every moment and of course seeing everything without missing a beat I walk by a man and a woman talking. I did a double take at the same time he did, he let out a loud "Holy ahhhh" in much higher pitch than I did.  It was a friend, one of the first friends I made when I started Hunter College. The year was 1985 and I worked in the Registrar's office, for $3.25 a hour as public colleges paid minimum wage.   I worked crazy hours during registration, added bonuses were I worked for and with some incredibly cool people and I never got closed out of a class. I grew up in New York but at the age of 18 I knew no openly gay people.  I grew up where gay was often used loosely to describe anything from being sort of dorky to bullying behavior inflicted by boys on those boys who were something less than "macho". Lesbians ...yeah believe we thought only nuns were and maybe the gym teacher. I roll my own eyes but that's the way it was in my neighborhood in Queens.

So imagine my first week, middle of the city, only place I wanted to go to school if I wasn't going to be allowed to go far away (that's another blog) and I meet the self proclaimed 2 gay Jerrys. They were not shy about who they were, they were out and proud.  This was Hunter, great school, liberal and leaning more left than the Tower of Pisa. They had a Gay and Lesbian office in plain sight.  The 2 Jerrys adopted me, they took me to places in the Village, they taught me to drink tequila and I believe they were responsible for wardrobe evolution and much better make up, as well as some forays into platinum blonde via Astor Place hair cutters.

About December the taller Jerry began getting a lot of colds.  Each one seemed to last longer than the last.  We had no insurance and student health referred him to the free clinic at St Vincent's since he was an employee and not a student. You used to have to be full time for like a year to get insurance back then, or maybe longer. We were good friends and they swore I was the only straight girl they would ever date, white kind lies I needed. They gave me advice on men, on some risqué things and we smoked and had a great time. Then taller Jerry got pneumonia so back we went with him to St Vincent's. I am not sure if I noticed then but there were a lot of men with pneumonia in that clinic. We had started to hear about AIDS in the news but it was not even AIDS yet, some weird virus, some protests, had nothing to do with us. The 2 Jerry's were older than me, they worked full time at the school in different departments. As they both got insurance taller Jerry started losing weight. We thought cancer, begged him to stop smoking, saw a doctor with him instead of at the clinic. He told us in the back of Be Bop cafe that he had the virus. We didn't know what that meant. We knew what it was doing to him. About 2 months later he was in a ward where you had to wear full cover to see him, people were afraid of him, his family well let's say they  acted terribly and most of all we were afraid for him. We visited and he grew thinner, he came home and he went back in. The other Jerry and I never talked to others, there was fear of contagious people,there was fear.  We got tested because he made us, 2 weeks of my life where no matter how safe you though you were you sweated until you got the results. There were no cocktails then, this was a deadly disease, this is a deadly disease Magic Johnson is not the norm and even he takes a lot of meds.

I learned from taller Jerry how to be fearless. I learned how to love life because he did and never let it get him to give up hope. He made jokes that maybe he would find his musical talent, he as a terrible singer, when he went blind - the next  Ray Charles. He didn't let me grieve for him while he was alive and told me that he loved and loved a lot. I learned to be unafraid of having big emotions.  He gave me strength when he had none in his body and tons in souls, to stand up for the rights of people and to grow in so many ways. When he died not many came, his mother sent money but his family didn't come, people were afraid, the other Jerry and I were in pain from the loss.

The other Jerry and I drifted apart somewhat after that. Maybe we just had too much hurt when we were together.   I changed jobs and we became acquaintances. Yet on this street, 26 years later there was nothing between us besides laughter, memories, comfort and friendship. He asked me if I was still the fearless girl who yelled at a cop for making an AIDS joke. I am not but I remember her. I still stand up for beliefs but I am more reserved.  Hunter was a great place for an education both academic and for a life with meaning and ideals.

We parted and I cannot remember when I felt so good..once again taller Jerry, gone for 26 years gave me a gift, the memory of what he meant to my life and what life I learned to live from him.

He loved Elton ..." Your candle blew out long before your legend ever did" I love you Jerry

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fitz or Jake

    I am an avid fan of the show Scandal.  I know it's not Homeland, House of Cards or the Newsroom but it is politics and sexy and fun. 

The best part of course, well if you have seen it the acting is the best part because you actually start to believe you know these people in the characters they portray because they make you forget they don't really exist.  I mean he is the best looking president and has none of those grey hair and worry lines each actual president gets about 5 min after taking office. I am sure there are sneaky things in DC but this is it on meth and then some. 

The best part for my friends and I though is the Olivia dilemma...she is in love with a married man. Not just any married man but one that cannot leave his wife because he is president.  One that has the best lines and quivering looks. One who she can't keep from kissing even as she tells  him he has to earn her!! They can't be together and yet we all watch for their moments. We may feel for his wife, maybe even admire her tough and take no prisoners ambition a little but well Fitz can't be hers.  

Last season they introduced a character named Jake. Now it's Scandal and he has flaws and even dubious loyalties but he is sexy and good to Olivia and most of all he is single. So the dilemma is Fitz or Jake. In logic land it's a no brainer. In reality with wars, murders, government shutdowns and a host of other issues it's silly time to spend any moments on this.  Yet for those of us who watch anything fiction the diversion is needed because sometimes we all need an hour fluff to recharge in a world that demands our constant vigilance. It would be nice to worry less about world matters because they always get resolved by end of hour.  

So Fitz or Jake, yes the uber moral will say Fitz isn't an option whatever.  Fitz or Jake - the one that's the "one " or the one that should be the "one"?  Maybe the fun in watching is having that choice. Maybe it's the thought that we all deserved to be "earned".  Mostly it's the fun we need in a world that so often in the media seems to have lost it. 

Fitz or Jake...who do you choose ?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

10 pm then and 10 pm now

 I have always thought of myself as a nocturnal person.  As a young child I remember pushing my mother with weepy eyes and pleading to extend my bedtime because I was "not tired" but of course I was because the next morning there was also "5 more minutes please" discussions.  I did not see the beauty of morning, of early wake ups and as I got older if I wanted to see a sunrise well then I took as that wanting to stay up all night to see it before like all good vampires slinking into my bed for a good daytime sleep.

That was then - then when 10 o'clock was a curfew to come to home but not a bedtime.  Then when 10 pm became the time to get ready or start going out to places that did not become lively before midnight.  Back then; when 10 am was something not to be seen on many a weekend as I slept through them.  I remember going to Amsterdam as a teenager and the thing I loved the most (that I will share in a public space) is the night life - the weird daytime lull that change to a night lit up (to light up) and more lively than many cities where at any time.  I loved Spain for it's mid-day siesta and it's late night suppers and even later night dancing.  

That magic hour of 10 pm did not become more than a passing thought even as I reached my thirties.  I still went to bed around midnight only now that pesky little thing called a job that actually required brain power and my attention did ingrain a need in me to wake up earlier - snooze buttons were worn down.  I was still not a morning person.  However, I am not a grumpy person, one may even say am a slightly up beat hyper person (ok not may say have said sometimes with love and sometimes without).  I do relish quiet in the morning.  I loved living by myself and turning on the news, doing my routine without ever having to say a word.  I do not want to discuss much before 8 am and even then kept it to "yes alternate side of the street parking is in effect today" topics.  

That was 10 pm then.  Then when it was a beginning to go to places first on weekends, then starting the Wed- Sunday weekends to vacations every night adventures that meant 10 pm was for awake time.  That was when the ozone was destroyed in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and various other places by excessive Aqua Net sprays to keep hair well into the night at sizes that required own zip codes.  The 10 pm of eyeliner and little skirts.  The 10 am of jobs where you got that weird chill that your body sent you, sometimes with some slight stomach queasiness, because you had not slept since ohh say all night.  Those are memories that are all good for me - even the "at the time not so good but now good for a laugh" times. 

Then I had a child and this mysterious 10 pm became a whole different hour.  It became the time when he was a baby where I had a few minutes to try and watch tv while I slowly drifted off by 11 as I had to wake up several times during the night for feedings, cryings, singing of 80s songs as lullabies (subconcious was what I remembered about the middle of the night). My son slept like a baby to Oh L'Amour and a host of pop and new wave music (see at the 10 pm where I first heard it was not yet called alternative music).

As first child finally, somewhat (ok he slept with us but he slept so stop judging and yes he moved to his own bed .. at first to make room for the brother that took over and then because they both moved to their own beds) slept and so we were lulled into having a 2nd child - because we forgot that we would not have been up at 10 pm thinking or talking 2nd child if 1st child was still having his way.  The 2nd child slept better but still woke up here and there.  I started to have to wake up earlier and make schedules for the nanny, get outfits ready do laundry that since their birth seems to grow at alarming rates regardless of how often I do it.  I would look longingly at the clock hoping that it was slightly past 10 pm closer to 11 so that I could feel ok to go to sleep and not see myself for the older person, 'cause they do this, that fell asleep before 11. I mean once you start sleeping before 11 pm is the early bird special far behind? ???

These days I am past that - I set the dvr for those 10 pm shows I want to watch because even if I make it to I won't make it through them.  I am up 530 am to enjoy that quiet time in the morning, without questions asked of me and questions I need to ask of them.  I am enjoying a morning cup of coffee after a Facebook check in without anyone standing over me asking when they can have a turn on the laptop and listen to some music to start my day.  That has not changed, it may be earlier but it has remained what I enjoy doing since I can remember, starting the morning with music.  That 10 pm hour is a vastly different hour again with my own children trying to push past it on weekends, without little skirts and too much eyeliner, and with me looking with affection at the bed as I know I often am out by that hour or close to it.  I have entered the time when I wake up in the middle of the night, and wander around, annoyed that I am not asleep unlike my youth when I would have been planning my next stop.  

That 10 pm hour is a good marker for me for all the fun times I have had and for the great moments I need to be rested for as my sons grow up.  I remember when I was a kid there was a public service announcement that said "it's 10 pm do you know where your children are?" -- yes I do and  that no longer seems like a crazy question. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Larger than Life

  I started noticing that my mom has slowed down some in the past couple of years.  Now this was shocking to me as my mother is a tornado on uppers (and that's only for the speed in which she moves not for any destructive reasons).  She has always been this way.  I am an admittedly fairly in motion person myself, however, I like many tropical storms have periods of quiet rains before a flurry of activity ensues. 

My mom on the other hand has no "down time"... well she didn't my whole life until recently.  My earliest memories of her are with me, walking behind her talking  as she continuously cooked/cleaned/straightened/ ironed when she was home.  She worked full time but when she was home oh yeah she worked full time. The many dinner parties she and my Dad hosted and even the ones we went to at the circle of families my parents had consisted of her, and the other Moms, constantly in the kitchen and eating last.  They laughed and talked in those kitchens, believe confidences and complaints were exchanged and mitigated, and out they came in a flurry of dishes being served or removed. 

I remember once reading and out of the corner of my eye just watching her in my house, she did not sit still even for the TV show she had asked me to put on.  She polished, rearranged and then proceeded to tell me how she needed me to take down my curtains so she could wash and iron them.  The face I got when I suggested she relax and that I could take them to the dry cleaners left me much like Harry Potter forever scarred on the forehead from the heat of the eyes.  I took the curtains down and then put them back up, all within a few hours of course. 

So for me to see her sit or start to walk slower is hard.  The idea of her getting older finally hit me hard recently.  She has more pains, tells me things twice and gets annoyed that she realizes she cannot do it all anymore. For someone like me age is but a number not a definition. My mom has been the same age for years in my head so to see her surpass that has not been easy but I have adjusted. 

Recently a good friend of mine saw her dad (who is also a very good friend of mine) go through a serious medical emergency.  The thing that struck both her and I with him is that he is "larger than life" type of person who you cannot imagine anything but in motion and impacting the people in the room with him in a good way. It was hard to watch him suffer and relieved when he proved us right .. he is larger than life and fought through this as the powerhouse he is.  She may not realize it but I did  - she too is a magnetic person and a force of nature - guess there is some truth in the apple not falling far from the tree. I am sure our kids probably would say they cannot imagine us "slowing down" either and for now unless someone sends her and I, with a nice tropical drink in hand to a beach resort and unlimited funds, that probably will not be the case for us doing it. 

It is hard for us to stop thinking of our parents as middle aged, somehow for most of us they seem stuck at 40s or 50s they were there before they were that age and they are there well past it.  I am sometimes impatient with my mother and her constant trying to help me but I cannot imagine her not doing it.  Our parents' aging should be not something we fear but rather we should be making this the time for us to slow down ourselves for a few moments to tell them how amazing they have been to us all of our lives.  

Have to go now my mom is over and I believe that her 5 minutes of sitting down are over as I hear her "wouldn't you like to (insert chore here)" call and this time I will roll my eyes before I enter the room with a smile and a "yes Mom".