Tuesday, May 27, 2014

When Tuesday became a Monday

 Considering that Memorial Day is a solemn occasion, and I am humbled by the sacrifices so many have made willingly in defense of basic freedoms especially those who died in battle, I cannot help but also revel every year when it is on my calendar.

It is the "unofficial" start of summer for most of us - for me it has moved to my personal official start.  It means that it is time for less clothes, more time at the beach and vacations.  It also means it is time for more reading.  I am a voracious reader but it is in summer at the beach often that I can actually plow through books rather than snippets in my daily life at home.

I spent the weekend reading from a book called The One and Only to Wonder.  They could not have been more different in every aspect yet I really enjoyed having the time to lose myself in both.  Lose myself  - I mean I tend to tune out when I am deep in a book.  I also find a book really good if I close it and spend time thinking about what happened to the characters next .  The One and Only was total "chic lit" - feminist though I proudly am, I proudly wear my choice to also like books that are appealing mostly to women.  It never is great literature but it is always a good story.  This one had it all the mix, a romance with obstacles (obstacles is a understatement), a sad element but it also dealt with an issue of domestic violence.  No spoilers if you are going to read it but let's say this was no damsel in distress - it dealt with it in a way that I think is pretty realistic.  However, I will say that it is not as easily resolved in real life - rarely is the abuser that swiftly thwarted.  Maybe though it takes some "chic lit" to tell women that it is never just you - and it is never what you did or did not do - that is one subject that is too hard to cover as part of a blog rather than be given it's own time.  This book overall though is not heavy or sad, recently a friend of mine wanted to know why do I so often gravitate to such difficult subjects in books - maybe it's cause often the writing is better with those subjects, but rather it is just enough of a mix to have kept me at it until it was done in a day.

Wonder, my other read, was a book my 4th grader read with his class.  As he kept coming home and telling me bits of it and wanting to discuss more I thought it would be perfect for us to have as discussion - what better way to raise readers than to have them see you reading and to share books that you read together.  I just really liked this book.  It reminded me to be grateful, to be kind and most of all to accept flaws and imperfections not only in others but in myself.  This story of a child with a severe facial anomaly is about how to find the beauty in life.  The main character never becomes the swan but he sure flies away with every heart that reads this book.

My virtual bff, that's what happens when you live far away yet feel a strong friendship with someone you share the friendship through the ether, and I usually try to have a summer book list.  Along with the smell of the ocean, the lazy days of summer weekends and both of us loving every moment of sun and warmth (especially after the brutal winters we had) we share our love of full book immersion and then PhD worthy dissertations on the books we read, KLM what's next?

It was a good long weekend - much like my other favorite reason for summer - full of doing nothing but enjoying the time with my boys, the sun and things like art shows in the park along with walks to the ice cream parlor (dangerous when the ice cream is amazing and the walk not far enough to our place to burn off more than the first 2 licks).  These weekends put on pause the "add it on" pace that usually happens when it is every season but summer - no sports events for the boys, no food shopping on the weekend, and mostly being away to a place where the ocean air lulls me to sleep while I read my books.  For me there is no place that makes me think better,  leave it all behind like the white sands and the sound of the surf.  I love the city but having a house on the beach, like right on the beach, like the one that was in As Good As It Gets (hey when I dream I dream with infinite funds), is my ideal.  However, for now our place may not be that grand but it sure is awesome.

Since it was a long weekend - and Tuesday is this week's Monday - this blog was written on the fly - maybe without as much editing but with just as much enjoyment - summer here I come....

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Keeping the kimono closed

I love technology - really am total geek and proud that I get excited by the cool things that have come out.  I was a first adopter of the ipod, love my ipad and cannot imagine life without a computer personally or at work.  That's the just the tip of the ice berg and there are many other technological advances that leave me awed.

Having said that I really am having a hard time with how it is also used to show everything.  I do mean everything - many times literally - is put out there.  I was watching only bits of the Jay Z and sister in law in elevator debacle and all I kept thinking was "wow - really?".  I mean who has not done something they would not want released from elevator camera.  Stop it yes you have - maybe adjusted an undergarment, men adjusted your groin area, checked out someone, picked a nose (have seen this eww), picked food out of teeth, dislodged the underwear that dreamed of being a thong and acted like one and then there are other things that most of us have only seen in movies (ok question on that - do you stop the elevator, do you risk it opening on another floor - the logistics baffle me).   Yet none of that is on TMZ, maybe it will be as YouTube fodder.  I believe all those things are best to the viewing pleasure of the security guards scanning through them - that's it, no more.

We have letters between Jackie Kennedy and a priest being published -  umm am an atheist and see this as wrong, isn't there some confidentiality clause here ??? We are voyeurs to an extreme and maybe a little bit is a very American need to always tell it all.  I am not of this belief  - sharing certain indiscretions serves no purpose except that now you feel better and the receiver of the info feels like crap.  I never got the point - there are things that are secrets and some secrets are just that for good reason.  Now I am not advocating that should you have a communicable disease or say need to not keep a secret because it was imposed upon you in an abusive situation - that you should not speak but a little triage works well here.

I like FaceBook - have no problem with it and let's face it this blog is definitely a glimpse into my mind - what a crazy place right?? but loaded with fun rides - but it's only me out of my work clothes in a kimono - the kimono is tied tight though.  I have friends who are on FaceBook and then there are FaceBook friends.  There will be at best a slip of leg but never a full on flash.  I kind of think that is how a lot of information goes.  I know that there is this global need to think if you know everything from the government (you don't even when you think you do - sorry bubble pop) from celebrities (no they are not public domain and yes they should be able to select what they show - some of them appear to have so little sense that they invite us as they take off kimono and then have mad ritualistic orgy called their life on reality tv - 2nd bubble pop it's not really reality it is scripted).

So do we all get a giggle reading the Star/People or whatever celeb mag you like? Sure a giggle.  TMZ, Entertainment Tonight - there are times when it is kind of cool and then there are times when I cringe.  I dislike Alec Baldwin for many reasons but his absolute antipathy of paparazzi is quite correct - that is more like having the kimono ripped off against your will.

In an age where it is on the worldwide (key word here  world wide) web, and no it's not true that if it is there is real (photoshop is really good - wish it came in 3d so I can fix some things san surgery) but it can be hurtful.  Respect your own privacy and that of others - you posing in a way that you know your parent would be horrified at is a good measure 'cause your future employer may be horrified too, unless you will be working in Playboy or the like.  Do not take pictures of friends and others - see above and really what kind of electronic peeping tom and pathetic person are you to take a picture when someone is unaware and they are not making good choices. In the end I wish Jay and his family well - disgusted that people sold that tape and that personal conversations are taped and then oops leaked (yeah I am talking sex tapes and others). Keep the kimono closed - and open it ever so slowly only when the person deserves that much view.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It takes a village ..

I remember hearing this for the first time years ago and associated with Hillary Clinton.  I do not remember the exact context and it was before I had children so I kind of got it but not as well as I do now.

I grew up in cities and I always marvel at how people who did not have this assumption that there was no sense of community or that there was not a village feel to the raising of children.  I grew up in Astoria, part of Queens - most diverse living area in the world, yes the world - the place where almost every kid is bilingual as are their parents.  The place where religions, regions, ethnicities get jammed together, create small enclaves of their homelands and take trains that push them back together where they do not dislike each other as much as they equally and in solidarity complain about the subway, the parking and the weather (these 3 things are a New Yorker must and whatever else they are they are New Yorkers).  All up and down the block I grew up on, older women looked out their windows, or sat on porches a lot.  They saw everything, heard and understood everything even when they didn't understand English.  This was my village and boy were they active in raising all of us.  They were nosy and judgmental and had a ballistic missile accuracy with a shoe/slipper.  If they told on you, even if you had evidence of said shoe hitting it's mark, you got in trouble with your parents for two things 1) for aggravating the old ladies while embarrassing the family 2) for whatever you did because you were guilty even when proven innocent.  To some this may seem harsh but it wasn't because those same people would have tackled a football player if they thought you were in trouble.  They were the rubber band - you know you stretch it to see how far you can get but you knew if went past a certain point you would not bounce back but it would break. 

I moved to a place where the word village is even in the name of location.  It is that in so many ways I have found.  The moms in this town are a force - no shoe throwing skills but some amazingly sexy heels can been seen regularly.  They coordinate, they advocate and most of all they parent collectively.  They are concerned about schools, athletics and entertainment.  The dads in this town are seen at events, coaching various little league teams and overall understanding that the moms in this town are a force.  We are a diverse set and parents do not mean more than the people who love, raise and have you in their care. I see how they raise their kids and it makes me glad to be part of this amazing location.  If you know me - the 'burbs were not a destination I ever wanted to consider yet here I am in a place that feels like the town it is - not built to house commuters but rather a place where commuters become a community when they are home.  I have had this village help me with my kids, and I hope I with theirs, since about a month after I moved here.  I found friendship, advice at the Library Reading Hours for kids - these friendships have bloomed and my kids call the kids from these places close friends.  I have relied on other moms who work from home (as Moms or employees of a business or both) to help me with sick kids from school, as they chaperon trips and of course just in general because I trust that these moms will be the rubber band for my own children. I have helped them when I could with a drop off, a play date for when they needed to get something done and just because that is what friends do.  We parent in our homes and we rely on the village to raise the children to the best adults they can be.  

I never thought I would live in a village, well except for my fabulous loft apartment dream right outside Greenwich Village in Soho, but boy am I glad I found this one.  It has never been easy to raise a child, somehow the world has always known how to throw different obstacles in our path to doing that even when we have best intentions, but having the support of a community has always been a great addition - we cannot be everywhere by ourselves and yet children have a need for a fine balance between independence and NSA worthy hovering.  My village extends beyond the town borders - it goes to the friends that I had growing up (as we roll our eyes and "get" our parents so much more now then before and embrace or not some of their parenting), it extends to the friends that I share emails/texts with because they live bit far but are living and parenting in ways that I am humbled by and want to emulate.  

It takes a village .. maybe not just for the child but because as a community we are bond together over our similarities rather than looking in from the outside at our differences.  It takes a village that is tied through neighborhoods, towns, countries and through the ether to far away places because a village takes care of itself and maybe we all need to take care of our village instead of trying to take over the neighboring one.  

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bicentennial Blog -

A little over 3 years ago a friend of mine started a blog - I was interested and asked a lot of questions about how it worked.  I decided to start my own right about that time and this friend was incredibly encouraging. 

Here we are and this is the 200 published blog .  Since Mother's Day is coming up I had planned on doing a blog about motherhood.  After all many of these blogs have been about the challenges and the tremendous satisfaction that I have found being a mother.  I am utterly amazed most days when I look at my sons and they are speeding toward adulthood - they really are fantastic people and I have changed so much since they have come into my life.  I have changed all for the better - I have learned a love that I could not imagine.  I thought also of motherhood because this blog is also my "baby".  I nurture it, I treat it with respect and I put it out into the world with pride and trepidation.  This blog is read worldwide, somehow, and I have gotten amazing feedback not only from friends but also from people around the world who wanted to say they enjoy having spent some time reading this.  I love writing and my book will eventually get written but until then this blog fills a huge need in me to write, write and write.

Instead of the motherhood blog circumstances I could not control changed the direction of this blog.  As I write this earlier Sunday I learned that after a long 7 weeks in hospitals, battling pain and deteriorating too quickly my cousin died.  I write this blog with a heavy, heavy heart.  Yet I felt I couldn't not write it.  I often will not say the things that I feel, or say fewer of them then are going through me, with the exception of a select group of friends and my boys of course.  I can write my feelings with so much more courage than I have to say them.    I do not have a large family, I am an only child but I have chosen the family I need and want and am close to.  They are not always blood relations, actually mostly not, but my cousin and her sister are the family that I choose.  She and her sister are my father's brother's children.  Our blood connection made us relatives, the wonderful people they both are made us friends.

My cousins are older then me - when I was young, like my kids ages or younger and they were in their teens this was a big deal.  To me it was a big deal because they were so cool and so not kids.  To them I probably was the ahh she's cute let's hope she's not too annoying younger cousin.  My earliest memory of my cousins is one of me at their house, I must have been around 5 or so, and they were listening to music.  I remember them getting into an argument and I found it all so exciting because when you are an only child you don't have those kind of arguments with your parents that you would with a sibling.

My next recollection of them is once they too came to the States after us.  They were even cooler than I remembered.  My cousin Roxana had this amazing ability to draw - just really talented.  They both dressed in the fashion of the times but with her lithe, long body and dark hair there was something so bohemian about her.  She always had a smile for me and never made me feel like anything less then the person she wanted to see every time we saw each other.  Their lives were different then mine, I was in grammar school to their high school - school dances to their night clubs --- playing spin the bottle to their serious relationships.  Yet she always lit up when I walked into a room and somehow that made me feel less young and more just part of something.

Through the years my cousins and I seemed to have bridged the age gap.  They were there for me when at 25 I found myself having to deal with the death of my father.  They were there for me when I was just learning how to navigate apartments by myself with gifts to make my apartment slightly more chic then I would have.  As I decided to move to California they never told me that I was wasting my time but instead told me I would be great and should go for it while I could.  I could count on them and we had some ridiculous moments at our many dinners in restaurants they took me to - exposing me to a city that maybe I had not yet learned to appreciate.

I remember my cousin for her strength - she never shied away from speaking her mind - nor did she ever question my decisions, she just went with them.  I remember sitting in a restaurant and we were being loud and inappropriate, thinking since we were speaking Romanian we were "safe", and when our waiter commented that he was Romanian while her sister and I blushed she boldly asked him where in Romania he was from. She was herself and I admired her for it.

She married a man who became my male cousin to this little group.  I was so glad always to be in their presence because you read about that kind of love but do not often see it.  The kind where they still swapped a kiss every so often when out, the kind where they lit up looking at each other like every moment was a first date.  She deserved that kind of love as did he - and they nurtured it every moment.

As my mother asked to have my sons baptized, as a non-believer I did this just for her, there was no hesitation who I would ask to be the godmothers to my kids.  After all that toughest of things to do as a parent is to put down who would take care of them should you be gone  - my cousins came to mind immediately.  She, her sister and Alex have been the best godparents my boys could have ever dreamed of, not missing a birthday and loving them unconditionally.  She called them her princes. They just adore them all - and miss her already. 

So this blog is a dedication to life - to rebellion - to speaking your mind.  My cousin was among the first to read my blog, faithfully.  I sent it to her and she always encouraged me to keep at it - told me how proud she was.  This blog is a connection that shows that we all love, hurt, cry and laugh.

As I write the 200th blog and get closer to 10,000 reads I want to thank so many people who read this, contribute to this directly or indirectly, and dedicate to the memory of my cousin Roxana.  I told my cousin often that I loved her, I try and do this with those I love because life is unpredictable and love, laughter is the best connection we can have with one another.  She lived life on her terms -- I urge you all to do the same.