Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Resolutions ?

I used to make resolutions but gave them up when the only resolution I ever seem to stick to was making resolutions.

So instead I try and look back about my year and the good memories that were made, look at my accomplishments.

Trips and time spent with family and friends, books read and music listened to, movies and shows that took me away and time spent laughing.  Basically time spent not doing anything but enjoying life. Accomplishment number 1 - check.

There were the moments that tested me - the loss of my beloved cousin much too soon, my understanding that not all things last forever, including people you love,  but the time spent together is still worth the loss vs never ever having had that time.  The terrible things that just pepper the news every day.  All of those things I learned from, some I took action on, others helped my resolve and most I used to help my boys understand that life is what you make it. I learned from these, I found my strength in these and they are part of a life. Accomplishment number 2 - check.

Work - I survived - bwahahah take that corporation that at times overworks all of us - I thank you for funding my life, for being the company that helps people live better and for giving me opportunities to feel fulfilled in work as well as a bunch of really cool people who always add to my life even when they leave the place.  Accomplishment number 3 - check,

The blog - kept at it - hurtling toward 13,000 reads (multitude of countries) and comments that remind me that I may love doing this but others also seem to enjoy reading it.  Accomplishment number 3 check.

I voted - yeah that is a big deal, I used my right to do something so many cannot.  Accomplishment number 4 check.

I started writing the book  - like for real - like one section done and on it's way to being typed done. It did not just live in my head.  Accomplishment number 4 check.

Finished a painting that was living in my head - already planning another one.  Accomplishment 5 check. 

Friends - having them in my life is accomplishment that cannot be surpassed.  Check and too big a deal to give just an accomplishment number to. 

Tennis - ok so I will never even be a ball girl worthy opponent to many who have being doing this for a while but what a fun trip and enjoying getting better.  I stuck to it even when my mind made fun of my floppy wrist, too aggressive return serve and those balls that I look like a Keystone cop running right past.  Accomplishment number 6 check.

What do I want to do in 2015 - well I would like to finish the book, pester those friends who volunteered to read it to do so.  I want to keep this blog fun and relevant.  I want to do more for women's causes including my own - less apologizing and more confidence.  Most of all I want to enjoy my last 2 years in my 40s because I will blink and that 50 birthday will be all "hello, hello there" in my face.  I also want to keep reminding myself to tell the people I love how deeply they matter to me and not just the usual suspects that I share that with.  I will read more books, yay, listen to more music and dance along with my karaoke as much as possible.  

There may never be world peace but maybe we can all aim to make a little peace with whatever makes us be hurtful to others out of the fears that drive us.  

May 2015 be what you want it to be - Happy New Year

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Countdown to Christmas

In many, many years I have not missed sending out the cards and along with the cards a small poem that covered our family's year.  For 9 years even if it was close to the wire I got them out.  This year they will be late. 

I fretted, I woke up one night and started them, I look at the set up on my home office desk where it is assembly line worthy and somehow I cannot seem to sit myself down to get them out.  

Now this is not usual for me - I do it all right?  I order the presents, for Hanukkah, and for Christmas.  I decorate the house, I wrap and I find the right match in presents for everyone who gets one.  I manage the organization of the teacher gifts, for my boys and as a class mom for one of the boys, I also make sure we have the gift cards on hand for the many people who I am grateful to do something with my children sports clinic coaches, day care workers.  I make sure the special orders are done prior to the holidays rush.  I make the menus for the holidays dinners.  This is every year so how did I drop the ball and not get the time to get the cards out???

This is how I look at it, not at the things I accomplish but rather to the one that I missed.  This is partially because of my own way of being incredibly demanding of myself but it is also reinforced in every thing I as a woman am expected to do as a mother, a working woman, a wife and even as a daughter.  It is the bar that is set these days for all of us whether we work in the workplace or are stay at home moms.  We have to do it all and not only that we have to do it all incredibly well.  Decorations ideally should be done Interior Design  photo spread worthy, meals out of Gourmet with of course lunches for our kids that fit in Bento boxes well balanced/tasty/designs, our work is satisfying and must be given 100% because we should have some trajectory and of course our baked goods must always be handmade and we need to be 100% there for every field trip, class party.  All of this while making sure we stay in shape, look decent doing it and of course can sport yoga pants with Uggs in our late 40s with faces frozen by Botox into tricking others that we are 20 and never stressed.  

Well this year I am giving myself the gift of saying that I just do not have that much to give all the time.   I will get the cards out, the poem has been written, but it will be closer to New Years.  The house looks good but the cupcakes for the last day of school before brake will be ordered.  My boys are happy, healthy and incredibly grateful for everything we do together so why do I do this to myself.  I refuse to get Botox because I know how old I am and it is being this age that is allowing me to give myself permission to not have to do it all at 100% all the time.  Besides my very expressive self would be out of whack if my face was frozen into a perpetual, laugh line free look. 

So deep breath, do a few cards a day and enjoy the moments with children that are growing too fast.  Wishing all who celebrate Merry Christmas .. and fellow women give yourself the gift of appreciating all you do instead of just noticing what has not been done. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's Christmas time in the city

I love the whole hoopla around Christmas.   I cannot get on board with the uber granola crowd and while I respect that they consider growing a tree in the back solely for the purpose of using it as some sort decorated pagan symbol of winter (cause PC says you cannot call it .. come closer so I can whisper a Christmas tree)  and wrap granola bars in recycled hemp for presents.  I for one want to buy my tree, have someone hoist and tie it to the roof of my car and then put it up in my house as a Christmas tree with pretty, shiny wrapping paper and bows on the gifts underneath.   I know the reason we use an evergreen is closer to the granola crowd's explanation but I like to bring my pagan rituals inside when it is cold enough to see my breath outside.  Should this change to say decorating palm tree on beach outside in the future then I will do it with fruity cocktail on side.  However, they are wrong when they say this is not about gifts.   If you are going to combine the tree ritual from BC you might as well know it was all about party, gifts to the gods and each other and loads of wine and debauchery.  I know, I know the baby Jesus ... that's coming, keep reading.

I also would like to tell you the "reason for the season" but even that is murky combo of Christian and pagan rituals and for this girl who is a non-believer the reason for the season is to decorate, take a moment to share kindness with a stranger and go bonkers with decorations.   I also love gifts - love love love the whole gift giving process.  I know materialism blah blah blah - once again this year I am not recommending spending way beyond your means but I do like gift giving.  I like the whole hunt for the gift that fits perfectly for each recipient, the pretty way they are wrapped, using my new wonderful tags from Hampton Paper Designs (which are stunning to the point that it will pain me to actually put on gifts and see them go) and then seeing the people open and fill with happy moments when they see the gift.  Conversely I want to get up and be able to pop the person upside the head who says these things more once as they open a present " oh you shouldn't have" - umm really yeah I should have because that is what we probably gathered together for along with a nice meal.  "This must have cost too much" - if it did you bringing this up just reminds me that you think of my financial situation in dire terms (unless said gift is say a BMW then is it cost wayyy tooo much) or you want to know what the going exchange rate is for it.  Any obvious over examination of a product - looking for fault in front of me will not fix whatever you find and since you are somehow related to me I will have to watch those lips pucker in distaste once again at my gift as you ooh and aah and the utterly tasteless thing someone else bought you who you obviously prefer to me.  Yes that is someone I know - at one point I was going to play to get even and just try to out-ugly the other present but even that could not draw me into .. shudder Walmart.  Do not get me started on why Walmart is my idea of the Death Star run by someone infinitely more sinister that Darth and the Emperor.

The other part of Christmas that I love is the city - love the way it is decorated, even with the masses of tourists people are a little kinder (this in New York may just mean that they sigh loudly as they have to navigate these tourists rather than they usual descriptive way we have of sharing our disapproval).  I could walk the city streets pretty much at any time but at Christmas with the lights and the pretty windows - Saks are usually my favorite.  I love walking up to seeing the Christmas cake-like fountain lit up and there is always enough time to look at the Tiffany windows and unleash my inner Audrey Hepburn.

I even like Christmas music - all kinds from the magical voices of the Vienna boys choir to Darlene Love and even Rob Thomas telling me about a NYC Christmas.  However, I will say I have been known to get weepy at some of the more religious carols .. the thought of a young couple driven from their home, shunned by their friends and family, threatened by death to find shelter to give birth to their baby just makes me well up.  I also know how that child's life ends and whether you think of him as messiah or just a prophet who celebrated Hanukkah before he became "reason for the season" it is a tragic story.

The countdown has begun - time to start wrapping, rapping a little Christmas in Hollis too (what you can take the girl out of Queens but a little Queens never leaves this girl), and putting the final touches on the gifts.  The tree is up - so my holiday cards arrive closer to being New Year's cards - and I am enjoying the city every day and with my family more often than usual.  Oh did I mention we are a Hanumas family so there are also dreidels, latkes and gold coins for 8 days all over this house - we totally get our celebration on during this time of year in this house.

"City sidewalks, pretty sidewalks, dressed in holiday cheer..."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What does the color of my skin say

It is impossible to not think about the statement "what does the color of my skin say" with all that is going on these days in the States.  

I believe the media does like to focus only on the negative but they are not the sole cause of the problem.  There are of course few pictures of people working together, loving together, making a family together who are of mixed races.  Yet we see, or maybe some seek, mostly the strife with few exceptions.   A friend and I who were speaking the other day also feels that to choose only one of the races that makes her who she is does not line up with how she defines herself. As the world becomes more and more multiracial these definitions have to give way - we are all more than the box we check off on a census. 

I do not assume anything based on skin color  - now I may or may not like you, I may or may not befriend or love you but it is not based on your skin color either way.   I see kids every day doing this too and I hope that the next generation is that much better at it since we seem to be slipping back and losing some of the ground we had made in this space. 

What does the color of my skin say ?  Does it tell you how smart or not I am? 
Does my shade tell you how often I swear and yell in anger?
What does the color of my skin say ? Does it tell you how and who I love?
Do you know from the color if I have loved many or a few?
Do you think you know my beliefs, my dreams, my fears just based on the shade of my epidermis?
Does the color of my skin make you think you know me ? Know what makes me tick?
Can you tell from my race what my past was or that of my ancestors?
Do you think from just looking at my skin that you know if I am a mother, a wife, a loner, a lesbian?
Am I happy or depressed ?
Am I running to something or from something ?
Can you tell if I have a job and am a contributing member of society?
Does my skin tell you things like how often I cry or how easily I laugh?
Can you tell just from the color of my skin what my friends and family look like?
Do you think the color of my skin makes me bad, or good, or evil, or lazy, or productive?

The list is endless of all the things that the color of our skin does not tell anyone - nor should it.   Is it not time that we stop pretending we know so much about someone just from the color of their skin?  We should all embrace the fact that we do not have to live in a world where we only look at a mirror reflection -- I mean really there is a reason that mentally ill people are locked in a unishade room - it removes all stimuli, all cause for excitement.  

The color of our skin is the covering to the amazing box of wonders that is who we are .. if we remember this and ask ourselves the above questions once in a while maybe we can all stop pretending we know anything just by the color of one's skin and start remembering to admire the quality of one's character.   When my kids open a box of Crayola the colors in there differentiate themselves from one another -- but it is only when you put them to use that they become a masterpiece. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Mess free

I am often more than a little envious looking at magazines or pictures of other people with kids' homes that do not seem to have the trail of kids passing through that my house often does.

Now we do live in a regular size home, built in the 30s it is not the spacious McMansion of today, but I swear no matter what I seem to do, what I ask them to do they leave a trail.

So how do people do it ?  I mean I put away things all the time but the amount of paper they come home with is bit overwhelming, I try and go through it within a day but that is one small pile that seems to shrink only until they return from school -  why does the school feel the need to send me everything these kids no longer need ? I mean I know I try and stay on top of them by reviewing homework but I am not reading every worksheet done in class.

They are past the point of playing with toys but somehow cards, like deck of, seem to be everywhere.  There are Pokemon, playing, FIFA, Football cards and though they are placed in little ziploc baggie somehow at night they come out and poof one is left behind like a calling card for me to wonder how it happened.

Then there are books - books that in the progress of being read - left open because unlike cards bookmarks disappear never to be seen again, I have suggested using errant cards as bookmarks but got the strangest looks.  There are books that are started and not well liked so they languish in one place in the living room until I put them away on weekends, there are finished books that get put on coffee tables no matter no how often I point out that the bookcase and shelf designated for read books is only a foot or two from said coffee table.

Pencils that somehow seem to leave a trail as if it is evidence left behind so I know work was done.  They put 3 away and leave out 2 -- why ?

There are socks hidden in places from my lovely younger child who loves to take his off and instead of using one of two options, take upstairs to hamper or take downstairs to laundry room, prefers to hide at least one of them as he is walking around.  This has led to some serious arguments and it stops for a while but he has a weird little obsession with doing this.

Do other people have this problem or am I only one that wakes up earlier to straighten up even the places they swore they straightened before ?  Are others living in those magazine perfect rooms while I battle clutter daily?

I remember my own apartment before children it was neat, bed made, small space, everything put away couch cushions set before I left the house.  I have not seen it like that for more than a few hours in here, beds do get made every day though, in years.  Yet I also know that my apartment did not hold the funny conversations that my kids choose to follow me around house with leaving a pencil here and a book there while they are animatedly telling me a story.  I did not have those little feet of my sons rubbing mine to get some warmth.  There were no books with stories from the Weird but True series that now resides ready to pass along the next bit of info that is read.  I am working on getting them mess free but maybe a little mess and less magazine pictorial is not so bad when it comes with such great kids.

Our house is clean and somewhat organized before I leave daily and while I would love to have a better system at times I have also come to accept that having kids and taking the time to listen to those stories is more important to me than stopping them and just cleaning up all the time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I am thankful for

My good friend who owns a wonderful online site, Hampton Paper Designs, that makes just gorgeous stationery has these great cards that say "I am Thankful for".  The idea is each person at the dinner table can write down what they are grateful for and then we can share during dinner.  Did it last year and loved it.   Doing it again this year.  Her name always goes on my what I am thankful for list  - she is a really good friend with a great sense of humor and "distance" is not an issue ever to our friendship.

Oddly enough I do not, unlike the vast majority, love Thanksgiving for the food but it is my favorite holiday.  I mean if I was to be honest I love all holidays but Thanksgiving is always #1.  How could it not be - it's not too cold outside, the leaves around here are gorgeous still, there is no big list of gifts that I somehow try and fill in like a week every year and there is time to just reflect on all the good stuff we all have to be grateful for.

It is so easy to feel we have nothing to be thankful for - from the big things, Ebola, fanaticism, racism, anti-too many things to countism, global warming, corruption and there is always the never ending cycle of news that shows us how our fellow human beings can kill and torture even those things most of us find precious - their children, their pets, the people they chose to partner with.  That is the media and happy flying unicorn stories are just not what sells - well if there was an actual unicorn sighting it would but let's face it we are pretty much stuck with death and disaster.

I look at those things and then look at my sons and refuse to not be thankful.  They are here and from what I see of them and their friends the world is doing alright.  I am thankful to see the next generation and how they interact with one another and while there are those who are creating the next generation of the Klan there is much vaster number out there creating the next generation of acceptance.  I am thankful to know that while previous generations, and mine especially with the Aqua Net (sorry kids), may have damaged the environment they are that much more cognizant of the precious commodity it is and treat it with reverence.  There is much to be grateful for in the children from the laughter they share which makes me smile just when I hear it.  There is their never ending sense of awe and discovery that unleashes my own never dying love of learning.

I am thankful for my friends - the longtime ones who have been there through everything from my crazy sense of humor to my Hallmark commercial crying and everything in between  - they have seen it all and still love me.  I am glad for the friends I have made as a mother and who share a deep love of children and the future with me.  Thank you especially to Michele for being my Big Love Sister wife and traveling partner in crime, Dori for Sunday dinners and coparenting, Elli and Julie for being my besties forever (don't start Elli 2.6 years for you is like dog years 26 for the rest of us and more).

I am thankful for my Mom because even when she tells it like it is and I do not like it she remembers to tell it again with a smiley emoticon, she loves them and I love that in her 70s she refuses to not try new things.

I am thankful for music, wine, food, writing and social media.  I am thankful that I am old enough that I know how to manage social medial after much wine and music.

So this week Happy Thanksgiving and thank you to all those who read this blog, over 12,000 now and from places like Mongolia, Venezuela, Sweden, Pakistan, China, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Romania, Spain, France, UK, Ireland, Switzerland, UAE, Israel and a host of others ... we share a common thread of loving life, struggling to be the best parents and people and most of all a need to be connected because our differences make us more interesting to one another just like our likeness reminds us that we are really one small world.

On my I am Thankful For Card ... I think I will write 1) my family 2) my friends 3) the life I have had and the much still left to come ... cheers

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Some days it's breakfast for dinner

 I am chalking up the past few weeks where work has been frenetic and activities at home seem to be on the rise to not my finest motherhood moments as it relates to feeding the boys. 

I usually make dinner for the family at least 4-5 nights a week - and not just dinner but a variety of food paired with a veggie, starch, protein you get the picture.  I know that I may not meet the new food plate division and hell I know I would have toppled the pyramid that used to show what your daily diet should look like but I do try.  

This is not easy  -- one kid does not like meat that much, in particular pork (for ethical reasons since he wrote a paper in 1st grade - there is so much snark am holding back at the thought that a 1st grader had to research and write a paper - and found out pigs are quite intelligent, so he won't eat them since you should not eat things with that much intelligence -- wonder how he will react to learning about Idi Amin?).  He also only eats the burger that I make and even that with what can be at best called reflective technique - small bite, chew and reflect on the meaning of life, small bite it takes a while.   He loves his carbs though - so will eat pasta with butter and fresh shaved parmesan every night if allowed or with pesto he will also eat potato leek soup, mashed potatoes, carrots, broccoli, string beans, cherry tomatoes and cumbers and all that with only a touch of olive oil and sea salt - at least some veggies get there - and chicken roasted or parmesan.  He will eat tacos that I make as well as hot dogs, all beef but with seasoning from butcher is preferred, grilled cheese.  Basically that is what I have to work around and use in the rotation.  Oh yeah he also likes lobster with drawn butter (this is so not in the rotation except in summer where we could buy it).

The other kids loves bacon and steak and all of the above too - he will taste things we are eating but he will not touch a tomato unless it is in sauce or ketchup.  So between them there are times when they have 2 separate dinners - this could just mean home made pizzas where one has a white pizza and the other one with pepperoni.   

Add to the mix a husband who believes that you need a pause in between meal and leftover version for the most part and is obsessive compulsive about a vegetable at every meal.  

Yayyy me ..  lucky I like to cook.  I do this pretty seamlessly even after a long day of work - there is also snack and lunch planning which I do but am too tired to tell you that whole 6 am every day story.  

However, there are days - like days where I have to be at work before 8 am, and said snack/lunch still has to happen prior to my leaving, and get home closer to 7 pm then to 6 when this dance just makes me want to run away from home.  I love my children really -- but the thought of getting home after a long day and having to discuss this or do it just makes me tired before I walk through the door.   So on those days it is breakfast for dinner - breakout the frozen waffles or croissants and big glass of milk.  So on those days the look of disappointment I get from the husband is only not worth a discussion because I can check off the box that the kids while not nutritionally balanced for that night are pretty happy about this.  They see it as a treat -- woo hoo.   I recently read that Dutch children survey to be among the happiest in the world and their breakfast often is white bread with butter and chocolate sprinkles.  Maybe we need less judgement and more sprinkles as moms. 

In the high pressure of motherhood - tiger mothers/lean in mothers/french mothers who are always chic to be more and more to our children we sometimes just need to shrug and remember that kids will be ok with the occasional breakfast for dinner.  It may not be my finest mothering but it still comes with listening to their day, helping with homework and hey I didn't run away.  It is not that my job interferes it is that life is not perfect and maybe that is the good thing to teach our kids too. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I can't make you successful

I have fairly easy to raise kids - I am aware of this and feel lucky to be able to say that.  However, they are kids and that means no matter how easy it may seem for the most part it is still going to come with challenges.

My boys have to read on weekends, now most of the time they want to read and they like to read, but there are times when on weekends between activities and their just general I need a break from school moments when I have to poke and prod to get them to do it and then complete the reading logs they are assigned for the weekend.

One of the things I spoke with my older son about this weekend when he reluctantly completed the reading log was success.  Rather than bug him about doing it I thought it was a good moment to talk about success.  It does not matter what he will choose as a career path but I do want him to be successful in it and more than this I want him to want to be successful at it. 

I spoke to him how his Dad could impose rules, how I could explain my expectations and how he had to get through assignments that he may or may not like in school but success was on him because we could not do it for him.  I shared with him how I had prepped during the weekend for a meeting I had on Monday because even after all my years at work my success at any given project is dependent on my working toward it.  We talked about how both his father and I are self made people - my parents worked hard to make sure they gave me an education, I worked hard to have a scholarship through college and his father paid for his own college tuition.  All of this because we had ideas and dreams of what we wanted to accomplish.  I still have goals that have not yet been met but I am working on them.  

I wanted to have him take responsibility for his own success not to do it because we were asking it of him but rather because he demands it of himself. 

I love doing things for my kids but I think one of the best things I can try and do for them as their mother is to teach them to value of wanting to accomplish something, working toward it and then celebrating achieving it.  

I can't make them successful but I can make them want to be and value it.  I want to make them into people who take responsibility for their losses, their mistakes and enjoy their wins.  It is a conversation I am sure we will repeat because after all they are still quite young ... but nothing tastes as sweet as success after you have busted your butt to achieve it. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

THINK before you speak

Out of the mouths of babes -- we not only teach our children as parents - if we are paying attention we often can learn so much from them too.

My 8 year old over heard his father and I arguing, we were not having a fight but we were arguing with an escalating scale of sound, and he shook his head.  Now as a rule you try and not fight in front of your kids but in reality sometimes the moment does get more heated than you can control.  That is not a bad thing for them to see either - we all have tempers, we all make mistakes and we all lose our shit once in a while.  You can show them how to rebound and possibly if you are super evolved even how to argue really productively.

This particular incident had moved past productive and into the not so productive.   I know my boys do not like it especially when said discussion (I am so editing here people) is about something that happened by one of them.  We have different styles - I am of the let's discuss, try and get them to come to the conclusion of why something was a bad choice, let's make sure they understand why it was wrong.  I am no angel and there are times when I do yell but it tends to be over the really ridiculous things - like say the 30, 000 time I have to ask one of them to do something.  It is swift and it is effective since used with stealth.   Their father is of the much louder, deeper yeller variety.  It is hard to control yourself when they do something that is obviously wrong but they are kids, and young ones at that so lessons are still useful and yelling .. not so much.

I believe my lengthy quiet discussion with the older son helped resolve in a more meaningful "oh I get it way" - he knew I was angry and he understood why he had made an error - but that is all that it was - an error in judgement.  He is 10 - there will be more - my goal is that he comes to me as often with those that may be more than he can handle so they do not become that much more than we can collectively correct.  My younger son told me that going forward we should all do what his teacher taught them THINK - before you speak or take an action.  THINK - true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind.   I love this - I have started to use it and so have the boys.

So out of the mouths of babes via those wonderful people who we entrust to teach our children came something that actually could be quite extraordinary.  Today on the day that in the US is a election day imagine the impact this would have if we all took this approach, including our elected officials.  Imagine bills being written with this in mind, would they marginalize others, would they be more fair, would they acknowledge that we all deserve to have choices about our bodies and our opportunities?!!!  Imagine if this started in every family with they way we treated one another, then treated our immediate circle, then our outer circle and all those connected to us in turn did this too.  Nations would not start wars because there is no part of THINK that actually applies to decisions to be a terrorist, initiate military action.

It is a small thing that could have huge implications - kind of like paying it forward.  If we all just did our part maybe it would not lead to elimination of world hunger, world wars or all those things that worry every parent for our children and their future children.  It would though possibly be a small step toward less of those things and we as learn from children to learn to run they must all first take that wobbly first step.  If politicians had to have commercials and debates with this motto maybe it would get more people to vote because they would actually have to be about progress not punches. Go vote even if you are cynical, on a local level your vote counts and THINK before you say your next thought and take your next action.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I don't like that kid

I distinctly remember my mother and father not liking certain friends I had.  I remember this because they were vocal about it.  Of course many of the kids they did not like I liked for all the things they saw in them that I disagreed with them on  - Supreme Court judges have maybe heard the level of detailed argument I often made on these friends' behalf.

I also remember the superiority argument that I told them and told myself even older before having kids that " I would never do that with my own kids".  Yeah that is a long list of the "parent" I would be which includes; will never yell at child, will always negotiate, will have perfectly mannered Tiffany for Teenage Table Manners worthy fork and knife holding by age 8, will never say because I said so .. yeah you know we all say these things in our balcony view of parenting.  I will admit that I do try to adhere to some of them but I have long ago learned that parenting is about understanding in a flash what is needed in that moment and sometimes "because I said so" is the right answer.

My mother was right - I am old enough to be ok with admitting that even to her - about the kids she did not like as my friends.  There were not many, I have been incredibly lucky to have made friends since my first steps into the States at 8, then in high school, a few in college and even as an adult (particularly as a mom) that are just really amazing people.  My network of these friends is one that is full of memories, of support, of admiration for who they have become and the tighter even years after that first "hi" regardless if we see each other as often as we would like to or not.  The friends she did not like -- yeah funny thing they are not part of my life.   I think somewhere deep inside I knew she was right - but we all know that a teenager will not admit that even upon threat of water boarding style torture because that would mean, shudder, that we were not all knowing at that age.

Now it easy to control the friendship circle when kids are little - after all 1) you are the one that sets up these friendships at first via story time or activities and you select not based on child but on parent that you would like to hang out with so all is good (and should little adorable Jenny suddenly become bride of Chucky during said play date well you just don't do more) 2) you are their main mode of social set up - slightly different then when most of us were kids, especially city kids where this occurred bit more organically via the went outside and played with pattern 3) they cannot communicate except through you so oh well you see a child who is actively pushing children off a slide in the stair not slide direction you can opt never to call that parent for a play date.   Then day care, school, the school bus and suddenly they are making choices.

Now I know there are parents who believe in full democratic process but I am of the "I am the parent and I need to make the hard choices" school.  I pick my battles of course - you want to wear two different pairs of socks ok  - you want to lock of your bedroom door yeah not happening - I also reserve the right to check your email, texts and online activity, my kids are young some of these rules will maybe get a little leeway as they get older.  There are friends recently though that I am not liking so much - exactly for the reasons my son likes them for.  They are allowed to play video games that I do not allow - they somehow have more access to adult tv content and language and they are a draw.   I get it.  I did some myth busting with son about how "everyone is allowed to play Call of Duty" type games that is his age by asking in front of him how many moms allow it - none.  I also took him to Game Stop and asked the guy who works there what is the age for those, full confession I hate those games the realistic graphics are disturbing considering they involve killing, and he said 14 or 15 start but not before.  I wasn't going to let him play at this age anyway but it felt good to be in the right - he rolled his eyes said he got it and then told me that he understands that real killing is bad but video games are not real (you know he thought duh but he knows better than to vocalize it).

So they are still young enough that I could ensure minimal contact but that only made me hang out with the kids I got the "I do not like" about.  I also realize that essentially the kids seem like ok kids with more graphic vocabulary than 10 and 11 year olds should have.  I want to teach my sons to make the choices that I eventually made on my own - to select the friends that enhance their lives and not are a momentary flash of firework.  To know when to walk away and when it is just part of understanding good and bad choices that all kids and teenagers make.  The boys are meant to learn to judge people on character or lack thereof.  I can easily ban these kids but I would rather have the boys start to make decisions not based on what these kids are doing but by the old adage "show me your friends and I will tell you who you are".

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

You know you're getting older when....

I was watching Scandal the other day - hint number one that I am getting older I fall asleep earlier and get up earlier.  Therefore, watching one of my shows usually means On Demand, DVR or Netflix/Amazon Prime because I also now like to watch on my own time.  It rarely means actually seeing it on the day it airs even if I am up say past 10 pm.  So as I am folding laundry, sign 2 that I am getting older I tend to multitask those things that I used to rush through so now folding laundry is done while catching up on said shows, watching the last episode I had missed and they reference a teenager making a consensual sex tape with boys (yes plural) her own age.  Here is how the "you are no longer twenty" hammer came down in my head 1) oh that is someone's child 2) kids today - they make a bad choice and zoom through the ether forever haunting them - not like getting your number written on a bathroom wall somewhere with a crap rhyme about something that rhymes mouth 3) what does Eiffel Tower mean?  The last one was the act that she was filmed doing.  

Now a younger me would probably have heard the term, a teenage me would have wanted to see the tape just so I could talk with my friends and say how we would not do that or stuck up for the girl just to piss off the adult that would be telling me the tale of caution.  Me at this age was just bit confused about what it meant along with the other 2 things I mentioned.  Any age me did what I did - I looked it up.  Kind of what I thought, go ahead blog will be here you know you want to Urban Dictionary it if you do not know it.  Ahh you are back .. I know right??  By the way one of the cast members, a man closer to my age and super cute Jake on the show, also had to Google the term -- man what a rocking assisted living facility that would be if he and I wound up there together. 

I am so much more liberal at this age than I was in my 20s about certain things.  I am less afraid of judgement and therefore, after looking it up the first thought was that I was so past the age of doing anything like that.  I also think there should be no amateur videos, no one wants to see that people not even you after.  The reason is because the world will judge and especially a woman for doing things that a man does still.  It shouldn't, after all in said video there were boys and a girl, but it does. One of my favorite parts of that episode was when the mother character says just that - they get high fives we get beat down for the same act.  I know I was getting older when the feminist in me got really pissed off that it was still like that for women. 

I know I am getting older when I was not worried about what anyone would think cause I asked what the act was. I am older and there are things that scare me about that - I cannot remember a song sometimes like an hour after I heard it and my greatest irrational fear takes over that I will get dementia/Alzheimer's.  I worry that the time bandit is just getting better at stealing the time I need to see places that I love or want to see, to be spent with my amazing sons, to write the book that keeps swirling in my head (ok may be books not book), to be with my friends, to tell someone who I just care so deeply about that they are that person.  I worry about getting older for all of those things but not because I laugh with lines, they are my treasures of memories that made me laugh and my time with my face to the sun and feet to the waves.  I embrace the knowledge that I have gotten through the years through good times and bad. I know I am getting older in my need to have more comfort (ok camping was not in my young self's good zone either) where I go, where I eat because I have earned it.  I learned to be ok with being 10% athletic but loving 100% of the tennis and time I spend doing athletic things.  

Yep am getting older -- I may have looked up what the Eiffel Tower was but I did not blush or pass judgement when I found out -- c'est la vie. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Billy Joel and Me

There are times when I look back and think my life can be told in Billy Joel songs.  I like Billy and find him sort of a broken, funny, gifted musician whose songs never get stale for me. 

In the my teenage years it definitely would have to be "Only the good die young".  I mean really who is not invincible at those ages???? Everything you have to wait for that is just right at your fingertips, is right there but slightly out of reach and there is a point where every moment, which at the time seems like forever, is about why oh why should I wait ?? What's the point of not doing something ?  Some of those choices were correctly "no" but the whole world of possibility and discovery is as great as when you first learn to walk and talk.... Come on Virginia!

In my late teens to early 20s which were in the height of the 80s, height being the word for hair, for shoulder pads, for heels, for shortness of skirts that showed heights of leg, for Bonfire of the Vanities moments it would be "Uptown Girl" and "We Didn't Start the Fire" as the Iron Curtain came down.  Oh the stuff I couldn't reach in the previous years was here with flair and "Dynasty'' and "Dallas".  It was fluff but it was fun. 

Then the crash and Billy got put away because after all angst came from Seattle not from a Long Island boy.  I wanted more Soundgarden and Nirvana more of Eddie Veder and his ProChoice writing on his arm then "Downeaster Alexa" but in all of that shoving, flannel and fallen hair along with the economy there was still "Allentown" which told the same story but not for the point of view of only the youth but how the dire economy was destroying families. 

I remember driving home from having lived in San Francisco and as I got to that place where the Lincoln Tunnel is almost in sight I saw the skyline, at night shining and when it is magnificent, and I cried.  Cried like I had just been reunited with a lover .. which in some ways is what NY is for me .. and wouldn't you know "New York State of Mind" came on -- Billy knew what an East Coast girl needed after trying to be a West Coast resident. 

There are the songs about being a woman "she only reveals what she wants you to see"  oh yes only what I want you to see, the vulnerable spot only few get a glimpse of.  That moment when I loved someone and hoped that what they were thinking "she's got a way about her I don't know what it is but I know that I can't live without her".  There is "Just the Way You Are" - cause I hoped he wanted to change nothing about me even when I was being everything for the guy and losing a lot of just the way I actually was.  

As a mother "Vienna" or "Lullaby" were songs I actually sang to my babies as I did not know that many, ok with my oldest none, actual lullaby songs.  

Now as I get so much more past the point where I care what people think, where I am ok with who I am more than when I was a teenager or even up to my 30s, now I think I am all about "You May Be Right" .. after all I may be crazy but it just may be a lunatic you're looking for .

I cannot imagine my life without music, Billy's and others of course, my tastes are very varied but it is the music that I turn to for a smile, a memory, to make a memory, to cry and just to belt it out along with.  Thank you Billy for providing so much of the soundtrack. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Talk .. yeah that talk .. birds, bees and queasy parents

On a show that I watched recently, Blackish - which is only mildly funnish so far, the topic was having the talk ... I mean "the talk" with your children.  The mom mentioned she had it, had dealt with the son's questions.  The Dad felt that this was his domain, though he is by far more inhibited then her, his father who lives with them (some of the best moments of the show Mr Fishburne) basically felt today's generation needs to stop having so much talk with their kids. 

So it got me thinking about my own 10 year old son.  I know that kids are moving toward sexual experimentation much younger then my own generation. I do not actually think they need to move faster and it is not because I am a prude thing, cause of the many things I may be that is so not one of them.  It is that I genuinely believe that it is ok for kids to be just that kids for a while longer then they seem to be.  We were, am sure faster than our parents, unless of course your parents were hippies living in the 60s with the free love generation.  My parents were living in the 60s .. nothing free about it, not in a Communist country, not in my mother's upbringing.  Though I grew up in the States there were many rules that I and immigrant children seem to have imposed on us that were less a reflection of how the home country was currently behaving and more of a reflection of the country our own parents had grown up in .. a roughly 20 or more year divide.  We had the talk .. umm not sure if at all.  My parents were not particularly uptight but we were like mostly everyone I know .. ya just did not need the details to be a convo topic. I had info in school, from friends, from books but there was no need to have my parents tell me the motions. 

All of this was happening in stages and while it seems that we went from 7 minutes in heaven to things like oral sex at about the same ages I still think developmentally both boys and girls are more ready for the 7 minutes then the other.  

So how to have the talk - when to have the talk  - who should have the talk ?  My boys tend to come to me for more things - their father is ok with this.  A few years back my older son, who was maybe 8 at the time, asked me if he could ask me about something inappropriate.  I nodded and when he told me he knew what sex was I turned down the radio, I was driving at the time,  and in the age old custom of avoidance said " excuse me what did you say?" you know hoping the question went away.  It did not, it was a turning point -- what the hell do I say?  So I asked back what he thought it was.  His explanation was partially right - man gets on top of woman, they hug and kiss poof baby.  I took a deep breath and said, "Well that's kind of right but they have to love each other and hopefully be old enough to marry if they want to".  He asked nothing more -- it was enough.  It was the school bus, that den of mischief on wheels, where someone had told him this.

At 10 I have opened the door a littler more and here is why ... I do not condone sex of any kind at this age or even before teenage years and by that I mean later teenage years.  I understand that these things will happen but I want to lay a foundation.  A lot of our small talks are more about self respect - for his own body and for his partners'.  Talk about how you should not do something or say you did something for the bus crowd ... still a den of potentially dangerous conversations.  We have talked about if he has questions as his body starts to change that he can come to me or his dad.  

I am not ready, and phew so far he is not yet either, for the full on talk.  I am prepping just like telling him about smoking or drugs.  Topics that may come up and that at this point I want to teach him to avoid in a way that he can with the peer pressure he will be facing.   The day that I need to talk to him about things like deadly or lifelong STDs, my own college age intro to AIDS was brutal but I was old enough to understand it on my own.  He needs to be comfortable with his choices and supporting choices for women.  He needs to learn as he gets older to take responsibility for his actions.  

We are not ready yet but it is not about my readiness but identifying both of my boys "ready to have the talk" time.  How did we go from learning to go potty to this so fast ?  I told my older son if he wants to he could have the sex talk with his dad and he had this reaction "umm no, would rather talk to you, after all what would Papa know about s   e   x?" .... maybe I should have a talk with Papa too :).

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Battle for Independence

I love history and always have.  I see the truth in the adage about repeating it if we are not familiar with it playing out over and over.  One of the things in history that I have read a lot about are struggles for independence.  The power in charge being fought for equal voices at the table when making decisions - the break from a monarchy  - the break from dictatorship even if it is benevolent.

However, I did not expect to be living through my own 1789 Vive Le Difference, 1917 Soviet style proletariat uprising in my own home so soon.  I understood that my reign, benevolent dictatorship to them and Royal Queen to me, would have it's challenges from my two sons but you know 1789 and 1917 and 1776 all happened hundreds of years after being under these reigns which in human household years roughly translates to teenage years.  Before you get ready to call Child Services, you know once in a while I could use an office called Mommy Offices that comes in and I don't know gives me a month in foster care on the Amalfi Coast, I do not treat my children like serfs.  There are fair wages agreed upon for chores - more Norma Rae then Marie Antoinette (though often cake is requested and granted).  There are many advantages to taking care of their parcel in our house (aka pick up after themselves) such as full vacations, food and whims paid for.  Healthcare, vacation days, continuing education classes and sick days are all fully covered.

Now with all that why oh why do they want .... independence.  I know it is a good thing in my head - it is what I had and anyone who knows me knows I am one independent need nothing can do it myself type of woman and have always been.  Yet I was not ready for the dissent is going on now .... and they are not teenagers.

I grew up in New York City during a high crime, it was not a nice place, time.  I walked to and from school much further than the current school is for my older child.  I did not have a cell phone because even if they had been invented we could not have afforded one.  I and many if not most other children did this.  We survived, we were fine, we actually liked it.  Yet when my son asked if he could do it in our nice town I nearly passed out.  Why would he not want to go to daycare - where his friends are?  My crown was askew at his asking.  I gave in, well sort of, by dropping by a mutually agreed upon location on a day I could pick him up as was not working in afternoon ... I was met with Le Mis barricade in the form of "Do not get out of the car -- please -- do you see any other mothers here?"

It is natural for these dissentions -- this break from what mom says to what I want to do.  There are parts of me that watch the news and want to protect my boys from everything.  I know I cannot.  I am not a ruler but their mother, in all my queenly glory, and I have spent a lot of time trying to raise them to be ... independent.  I want them to be aware and happy and able to go out in to the world.  It is just like with a lot of parenting moments it may be right but it ain't easy.

So as I learn to grant more independence with prudence I guess I have to look at what happened to most places who revolted -- the US thrived, France well they did have the Reign of Terror but then revolted again and they are a cool place, the Soviet revolution has what not to wind up like and overall even Scotland decided that staying with the Queen Mother may not be as awful as leaving her totally.  This will be the Velvet Revolution not a battle with lots of cake for all, and lots of wine for me.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Captain oh captain

I like to start my blogs with facts, imagine if reporters put that in their stories a little background on how they feel so you know what the story will be like.  So here are some facts I find baseball boring for the most part, live or on tv.  There are moments that are exciting but overall snoozer for this girl.  Ironically though I have been to a lot of ballparks, I enjoy the history or architecture of some (Fenway, Wrigley Field, Camden Yards, Yankee stadium old and new) and wonder at the pure ugliness of others (the old Expos stadium in Montreal, the Oakland Raider park which was so hideous the name eludes me).  I like the whole camaraderie of it (and those hot dogs at Wrigley Field this girl can chow down).  I am beyond annoyed at current ticket prices because to me this game is working class family time and it has been robbed from them, first with the games moving to cable from tv and then with these exorbitant ticket prices.  
I also have enjoyed a lot of baseball themed movies, the Natural, A League of their Own, the Ken Burns documentary come to mind as does the Bad News Bears (original with Walter Matthau).   The things I do not like about sports are same with baseball as with every other sport - the over paid athletes, the jerk behavior of owners.  

In our house since the person who cares about baseball, aka my husband, is a Yankee fan I am a Yankee fan.  I am also a real girly girl at times and you can start the cringe .. I like them because I happen to also like their look ...warned ya!!! I have watched games, snippets of games, and the team in some of the above mentioned stadiums.  I get a kick out of the passion that arises between the Red Sox and the Yankees fans.  I do not happen to hate anyone of these teams and have long ago given up on the logic of explaining that players today have no team really  -- they go from place to place chasing the $$ it makes sense considering the size of that $$ pot.  Then there is Derek Jeter. 

I have always admired him, not for his stats which there would be loss of life should I be held at gunpoint to recite, but for the person he is.  As this season has been besieged by all the fanfare that has surrounded him, I have seen the social media posts and heard the comments, particularly from those who have this weird obsession with disliking the Yankees (I get it but it elicits eye rolls from me because I can see hating oh say ISIS or Monsanto now those are Evil Empires) about the fact that it has been too much.  

Yes it has - it has been too much.  Some of it driven by the Steinbrenner management to make money and some of it driven by other corporate interests for the same reason.  Most of it though, I humbly submit, is driven by the fact that sports figures are so not our heroes any more.  Sure kids may still want to be like them ... but for the fame and fortune.  There are sadly too many athletes on all levels (from high school to professional) who flood our media for all those reasons that we should actually cringe .. sexual abuse, steroid abuse, child abuse, drunk driving, domestic violence or other criminal acts.  That is why the Jeter story brings people to tears  - yes his stats I am sure are amazing, yes he was a phenomenal athlete and yes even in this day and age when they chase just the $$ he committed to one organization, one city and yes he got paid handsomely for it but there were times I'm sure you knew, sorry too hard to resist, when he could have gone for more elsewhere.  

The Jeter blitz is about what he stands for - a return to honoring someone who is just a decent person.  I do not know him so I cannot say he is a nice person or a cold person or whatever on a relationship level but he is a decent man.  This should not be newsworthy but it is.  He is an athlete, and there are others, who was grateful for the gift to do what he loved so well and be successful and he was an athlete who made headlines good and bad for his time on the field not for his time away from it.  So I say goodbye and thank you Captain for reminding us that we should celebrate those who are doing the right thing just as much if not more than giving headlines to those who are not.   

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman

Really Tammy "sometimes it's hard to be a woman" ?  Umm am thinking it is mostly hard to be one but I wouldn't change being one for anything.

I read a book about empowered women and how women need to be comfortable with ambition, go for things they may be only partially qualified for and not feel as if doing that they are asking to "have it all" perfectly it would stick.  Then I get to work and within the first 30 minutes at work instead of saying "Sure that's a great opportunity" to a comment made that I should lead a project I say "umm yeah sure okay if no one else wants to do it"  Really ??? I almost slapped myself - what does that say "if there is no one else who finds this a worthwhile project and you need to scrape the bottom of the barrel well then I'm your choice".  As a mom instead of thinking I do all I can for my boys even while I work outside the home full time with commute time added in I say "Oh I will be class parent" because after all I need to feel that I cannot miss anything or it is a major fail .. major fail.  I know I try to cut myself a break but in the end who are we kidding?? In the dark before I go to bed there are lists going through my head like trains in Grand Central Station at rush hour.

There is the list of what I have not accomplished, that day at work, in my aspirations, if I even remember some of my dream goals, my relationships and where I may have missed a great opportunity (work, with the boys).

There is the list of what I still need to do  - started but not done, could be the bills, the scheduling (house, kids, car - self for hair and boy talk about thinking that I am wasting time then), the prep work for projects at work, the blog, the painting, the two books that I started and need to at least finish one, the one the kids want to write of course.  I enjoy these things but I count less the stuff I have done for them  and more of what is still missing.

There is the list of books that I would like to read, the art exhibits/movies that I would like to see, the amazing friends who I miss and that we now rescheduled our dinner due to conflicts for the 4th or more time and yes this another somewhat how I have not done enough list.

I am one of those women who this book talks about - the one who does not go for a job if not 100% qualified, unlike most men this is very common with women.  I find that I like my job, my career and what it means to me in many ways yet I apologize for it too often - sorry can't do that I have to work, sorry can't travel for that meeting I have to take care of kids.

I consider myself outspoken but in reading Off The Sidelines there are times when I think what should I be doing for women's causes? Which seems to no longer be in the hands of women.  I know I don't have the time but ... deep breath.  People see me as confident but I often am incredibly tough on myself.  That is exactly what the book is trying to say - do what you can and go for whatever you want without feeling badly about either.

In the book she talks a lot about dropping the whole "have it all",  lean in , lean out mentality.  When we work as women it's not cause we want to have it all but because we want to explore different parts of our own ambitions and develop who we are not what we are.   We work because many of us have to in order to provide for our families.  We work as stay at home moms (who rarely just "stay"). As women we are incredibly tough on ourselves and our need to do it all perfectly is stopping us from enjoying our own ambitions, our successes and moving further and further in whatever our goals are. I work because I happen to also enjoy my career, the company I work for and the hard work it took me to get to the place and there should be no apology needed in that.

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman but I have to admit I never really have wanted to be a man.  I have come to appreciate the power of the women friends who I surround myself with, the women in my town who are Moms who help one another and all the women who have helped me succeed.

It is not always easy but it should always be ok for us as women, wives, lovers, mothers, daughters to do things that make us happy - that allow us the choices we want to make and most of all to embrace what it means to be a woman ...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Blame Game

I have, along with many, seen the recently released video of a football player hitting his girlfriend, knocking her out and then dragging her out of the elevator.  I wince when I see it every time.  Yet our dialogue on this has been "should he be allowed after a X number of game suspension instead of the firing he got" "there are others who have done as bad if not worse" and many other statements about him.  Those about her have been anywhere from the insensitive "she seems out of control prior ..." to the usual "but she married him the next day".

I did not mention him by name on purpose, publicity is good even when it is negative and I am not here to give him any.  This is about her and all the other victims of domestic violence and violence against women.  There are men and boys who suffer from partner abuse but this blog is about women and girls only.  Not to marginalize the others but men have a powerful voice that is often heard women and women's issues somehow are getting lower and lower priority.  Women are an incredibly powerful force if they join together and yet we do not band together as much as we could.  

The woman who was punched married him the day after, many shake their heads and then to some degree either verbalize or think "Well it's for the money" or "Must not have been that bad" or "She provoked him" or "Well if he hits her again it's her fault".  I see and hear this a lot of with victims of sexual abuse.  From the gossip "what was she thinking getting drunk/high/lost wearing that" to the disgusting texts of people pics from the rape scene of the victim conscious or not or people recreating the pose of one victim as she lay after being drugged and raped.  We see women in parts of the world having their daughters taken hostage from schools and while I appreciate the "Bring Back the Girls" initial tweets -- those girls are no longer even a topic on any page to describe the horror they are living in... those mothers still do not have their daughters.  Their criminal captors throwing it in all of our faces that they are to blame "for seeking an education" so that they deserve to be taken, beaten, killed maybe, tortured, raped and sold as slaves.

Women are victimized and then victimized over and over again because somehow women do not stand up and scream in outrage, do not as one loud voice condemn the criminals but instead often fall into step and do not want to call attention to themselves, even if they feel safe to do so, by saying this is not ok ever!!  We are entitled to laws that protect us, that punish the criminals and never ask us how we were to blame for being victims of crimes against us - ever!!!!

It is very common for victims of abuse, at any economic level, to not leave their abusers.  This is such a complex issue so before you want a simple answer let me stop you  - there is none.  It is not uncommon for young people including girls to not always understand that a situation may not be as safe as their youth invincibility makes them think it is.  Do we blame these women because we want to feel as though we would be strong enough to leave, not be in that situation to be raped, not live in a country where girls are killed for trying to get an education??

We are powerful as women - throughout history and especially under the banner or religion women have been disempowered because men who are weak want to ensure that women fear that power and see it as something they are not entitled to or should aim for.  I was really disheartened seeing that football player have people line up to take pictures with him.  This is not just damaging to his wife and whatever thoughts she may have of leaving but to all women who see it and now are even more marginalized.    Leaving is often the most dangerous time, it is not a guarantee of safety.  Being raped, even if drugged, is not guaranteed to get you justice.  I can go on and on but instead I will end and ask that we all go on and on.  Go and talk to our sons and the men in our lives and tell them that all of this is not acceptable.  Go and write to our elected officials that women's bodies are their own and they are not the property of anyone, allowed to be abused in any way by anyone and most importantly that they have the ability to make choices for themselves because they are empowered.  Go and use your shopping might by not supporting organization that deny women these rights, don't give your hard earned money (still as hard earned and still not as much as a man's in many instances) to sponsored materials from men who do not respect women.  As for the wife of the football player I will hope she finds her way out or that maybe he will be that one in a million man who really only did it this time .. but until then I will use my might to be heard and not forget.  It is time for us to speak in one voice and BE HEARD on women's issues like these and all that matter to us.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Nowhere near the finish line

My younger did not 1) like playing sports except for kickball and handball which outside of urban areas am not sure either is even frequently played 2) did not care that I did not like sports and 3) did what I had to (pain, fake asthma with Primetene mist, lots of menstrual cramps) do my Oscar worthy performances to get out of gym.  I did not like high school gym in particular - I went to a school with a dress code and there is nothing appealing about taking off a white button down shirt, stockings and having to do them back while maintaining make up in place and hair not looking like a Brillo had decided to make it it's poster child.  I also had no desire to hit the soccer ball with my head, pretend that the mere fact that I shared an ethnicity with Nadia Comanici meant I had any interest in hanging from uneven bars, walking on a toothpick sized, high off the ground wooden beam and jump (say whaa?), tumble (see Brillo hair comment) or let's see maim myself jumping over some sort of medieval torture wooden block called a horse.  Oh high school gym was fun ... not.  I remember doing something called the President's Fitness test we had to run around our high school, it was a pretty long schlep around 2 long blocks, I had someone wait for me out of teacher sight, drive me while we shared a smoke and hang out so it was not obvious because let's face it they knew there was no way I suddenly found my inner Hermes.

However, as an adult I found that I actually enjoyed exercise and even an actual sport .  I still have no desire to attempt gymnastics or soccer but I do my circuit training with some modicum of determination and I find that my love of walking has transferred to actually walking for exercise.  As a city kid I walked, a lot, everywhere but it was never for exercise it literally was to get from one place to another.  At one point I thought I might like Yoga, I did and then I did not.  I am not a "classes" person.  This is partially because for some reason my body chooses to display a dyslexia that I normally do not - they go left I go right because their left and my left well you know.  I also tend to always wind up next to that woman .. yeah that one.  You know the perky one who tells me this is her first or second time but yeah that woman somehow seems to be catching the eye of the instructor (hate the super perky ones or the ones that missed their drill sergeant water boarding calling - somewhere in the middle if it must be) and she is coordinated and not sweating and me well ... picture a red face, total confusion about the next step and a big FU look because I remember that I have no reason to be there.

I find that I love tennis  -- which I started in my 40s --- and I love walking.  I started doing some races with my kids.  Maybe I also hated sports because I am totally not competitive.  I do not care if I win and I usually am really good at encouraging those who are about to ahead of me.  I only do races that are for a charity that I support.  I have done the Komen race, and struggled one year when I thought they were going to go uber conservative and not support Planned Parenthood (they saw the error of their ways) but then they righted course, I used to do the AIDS walk (somehow lately this one is hard to do because it always interferes with a sport event for my kids) and I do a town race that raises money for enrichment and education in my town.

The Komen race always happens the week of 9/11.  I know we lost so much on that day, wound still open, and I know that at the Komen race there are so many who lost loved ones too.  I love that who we are as New Yorkers on the day of the Komen race is everything the terrorists who hit on 9/11 are not - diverse, loud, happy, willing to band together to do something for good, anonymous except for one loud, empowered voice.  We are also many women strong in this race - must make those psycho fundamentalists froth in their rabid small minds to see in action what they fear so much - women with power, women who do not need their permission, women who choose not to hide.

I do these with my sons because I like having them understand a sense of community, a sense that on a day off doing something that benefits others is a great way to spend their time and mostly because the power of the positive that these races generate has already begun to make a mark on the men they will be.  I love when we see the finish line ... but no where as much as I love the walk itself with them.  Maybe I did not hate sports, definitely didn't like them, as much as I just couldn't relate to them.  Maybe I was insecure and did not want to fail (long blog and many therapy session on that one) but now I see my presence as a win.  I am not sure of the change but it goes along with something I know is true -- for me, for many of my female friends in particular - where we start in our lives is nothing like the finish line ... and what a great, tough, rewarding, exhausting, adrenaline high, muscle shaking low the race we call life is.   I am glad in that one I am no where near the finish line.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

School's in Session

 I packed up my kids backpacks last night with all the supplies that they were required to get - seemed like a lot for elementary age children and in some ways so different then my supply lists.  

I actually like buying school supplies, always did.  I like the smell and the crack of a new marble notebook, wish they had the variety of colors they have now when I was a kid.  These composition notebooks always remind me of English classes, which I loved, and of journal keeping which was my therapy, memory keeper and at times even the version of text that we had before cell phones were an option.  I used to love those denim bound 3 ring binders that I could draw on - bubble letters, the bands I liked Led Zep's ZOFO sign comes to mind.  I also have always loved a good pen.  Some of these have carried with me as an adult - I buy my own notebooks for work and they are rarely the conventional kind, I do not write in black ink if possible and a good blue, not fine point, pen of any kind is still my favorite.  I do like colors too and for some reason for a while I was into mechanical pencils.  I guess as someone who is a writer none of this is that surprising.  

As I packed up their supplies the things that struck me as quintessentially different were things that in my school world had no existence.  I would never had to bring paper towels and tissue boxes to school - even in broke, brink of bankruptcy NYC public school that I first went to.  I would not have had to bring chalk - my kids don't bring chalk either since they no longer use blackboards in their schools and have always had smartboards in their classrooms (admitting am bit jealous) but they do have to bring dry erase markers - or blackboard erasers.  Even in a school district with good funding, good teacher salaries these things still are not bought by the schools?  I cannot imagine what happens with areas where there is underfunding.  I know they most likely do not have smartboards or even the limited class sizes that my kids have but these are basic supplies that many of those communities also cannot afford to buy for their kids.  

As I packed up their backpacks I thought a lot of these things - if we want to help our society become better we need to ensure that the funding is better managed by all areas of the government that have it and that our kids are the special interest group that all politicians have to be taking care of.  A society that provides quality accessible education is one that prospers for all.  I did not do the ice bucket challenge nor will I ,  great how much money they raised here's to hoping the ALS charity uses most of it for people who need it not on fundraising, but I am challenging myself in an election year to keep aware of who is running and who to vote for from local on up based on the issues that are important to me.  Education begins at home, is enhanced in schools and is carried forward by the students.  

Good luck to all students - good luck to all teachers and thank you - good luck to all parents who will have to help drive, encourage, tutor and keep filling the kids as much as the backpacks with all that they need.