Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Last bell of the school year

Is there anything ever that you do at work that compares to that feeling you get when that last bell rings on the last day of school before summer vacation ????

I think not - I remember looking out the window, focus gone all week but then that last period would come and my entire class and I would glance at the clock and out the window, freedom was out there, legs jangling and then there it was the bell... awesomeness. 

Summer vacation when you are in school is just everything that is perfect about childhood.  There is the infinite possibilities of what to do.  In my current area of living this is about day camps and a lot of sleep away camps.   It is organization and obnoxious bills for this pleasure but the kids - well they love it.  It is about play and sports and theater and whatever else they do but it is not about school.  A little about school as there is always summer reading.  

It is perfect and for me as a kid growing up in Queens there was such freedom with this, more so than any suburban kid today.   I could roam, I could play outside until the lights went out and then beg for "5 more minutes" please so we could play tag, with parked cars being base, or Red Rover (ok so this on concrete as an adult seems way more dangerous than I can stomach but as a kid it wasn't a summer without at least one kid going over the clenched hands, whap on sidewalk, blood and the rest of us assessing if could we actually clean it up without having to "tell").  There was the dulcet sounds of Mr. Softee followed by the sounds of running steps, up to our apartments, through doors being yelled at in a variety of languages while we looked for money.   There were stolen kisses in doorways as we got older and walks holding hands.  There were walks - a lot of them to sneak cigarettes or peeks at boys we liked or just because we had nowhere else to be and it was hot so sitting in one spot was not an option.   There was the public pool where you  brought nothing but your towel because you knew you could get it stolen - this sounds bad somehow it just was and there was nothing like the coolness of a public pool after you walked for what seemed like miles to it.   There was the cool rush or running through a hydrant. 

These were days filled with no schedules and games were all on the fly.  There were no parents telling us what to do and when we just knocked on friends' doors and played with one another.   As we got a little older we trekked into the City - aka Manhattan for those non NYC people - and walked more.  We were not the kids of money who took cabs we took subways and we walked.  We walked around the Village and hung out in Washington Square Park.  We walked home to Astoria.   We took multiple trains to get to Rockaway just to complain about broken air conditioning on subway cars and how nasty Rockaway beach was, only to repeat of course.   We dreamt of Jones Beach where we went on weekends with our parents, at the crack of dawn, carrying enough food for a week as we were going to be there all day, walking that Field 4 tunnel and doing the echo.   We got a little older and were frustrated at how no matter what, we never left in time on our own to make it to Field 6 most days because it was the best field for parking to beach proximity.  

No there is nothing better than those short lived summer romances formed on those streets, ended on those streets, romanticized years later far from those streets.   We outran and dodged the old ladies who had free reign to yell at us in various languages and even hit us - for if we told we got yelled at again by our parents for embarrassing them and annoying these old ladies (some were downright evil). We went with each other to beg parents to let us out just a bit longer.  We passed along the message that your parent was yelling out the window for you and you knew you did not want them to come down the block looking for you - that would not end well, shoes would find their targets on the back of the kid who it was intended for.  

We snuck into movies - paying for one and going to 4 or seeing the same one over and over and over, just enough for a small popcorn or a shared soda.   You always had to have at least 1 movie that was G rated to say you went to even though you could not explain your nightmares for having seen the R rated horror flick.   Have you checked the children ??  shivers still. 

There were boom boxes and there was patience - there was no Google so lyrics were sung at the top of our lungs - wrong before we found out it was Not a Hard Egg but Nothing but a Heartache.  There was patience to sit quietly hand poised on Record to make a tape of the song on the radio as that was as close to Spotify as you got - spot on carpet more like it.  

All of that - began with that awesome sound of the last bell of classes.   No there is nothing as adult that compares except for the memories of those lazy, hazy days of summers gone by. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I'm the not so little girl with the great big curl....

Hair  -- they even made a musical about it - - Hair.   It is the stuff of biblical discussion (Samson - locks cut of course a woman is blamed.. queue Jimmy Buffet "maybe it's my own damn fault" and rethink all that woe is me he was a grown man who got a hair cut for f*&k's sake if that was all his power pretty lame).  It is the stuff some women need to shave off and wear a wig or cover up, or men cannot cut.   These doctrines seem pretty flimsy when you see it in writing - seriously if my hair makes you go over the edge to wanton behavior I am having a better hair day than I could ever imagine.

My relationship with my own hair is almost as complicated as my relationship with my weight (though the weight wins pretty much every time in terms of shit show).  

I am not sure if it is a planted or actual memory but when I was very young and very curly my mom was notorious for combing my hair (OOUUUCH - pre conditioner w a comb people) into this ponytail on top of my head.  It looked cute but apparently it was not something I wanted from the struggles and vocalizations I apparently made.    As a child in an Eastern bloc nation I had the requisite ponytails with the big bows on for pretty much all picture taking and school functions.  You know the look, if not google any of the gymnasts from Romania or Russia or Poland (you get the drift) and you too can be graced with bows that could potentially be reused as the car gift bow that you see around Christmas time commercials, yes they were that big. 

I grew it long as a tween (though I and my friends were not called that), long, longer it was not that bad.  It was a dirty blonde, wavy, gone were the treacherous curls of my youth.  It wasn't bad - I am pretty sure I did not love it then.  I know I braided into two braids at night to get it to looked "crimped" - it was a thing I swear.   I know I curled it to have some bouncy curls like those girls who told one friend who told another friend (not my own curls but ones that were "made") - my particular hair was not the straight, blonde swingy kind they had.  I adored Charlie's Angels and tried to flip the hair - those types of hair cuts should have been allowed only for the bouncy, straight hair girls for the rest of us they should have just said No when we asked.   

It got crazy with the 80s, I went short (yeah cause with curly hair and lots of it that wasn't going to be something I was going to struggle with every day said no one ever).   I started on my road to color - ok so maybe Sun In should be banned, especially when most of us will use it and get calico cat orange streaks that is not a good look for anyone.  I went platinum for a bit until I hated that shadow on my hairline so badly that I did it enough to get sores and had to stop - it was a cool look with red lipstick but am glad I still have my hair after that.   It went big - like really big.   It was blow dried bangs, blow dried upside down with hairspray - it was big but never big enough.   It defied physics being squeezed into a banana clip.   It was freaking huge.

Then it started, the really hard thing for me to come to grips with  - my hair, my hair was not meant for that Rachel and any other truly straight hair do that is in.  I straightened with a flat iron (ignoring the burnt smell that cannot be good for anyone's hair), I blew dry and I bought any product that promised me straight, frizz free hair - until it rained or got humid because then them promises were empty and all that work (cause it is work to blow dry your hair when it is curly like mine for 30 min) would expand, be an frizzy halo -- try to be itself - what was it it thinking?

It is not just me - we associate that bouncy, blow-out look with polished, smarter, wealthier, famous people look.  Wavy hair or beachy hair (which by the way real people who go in salt water do not have that beachy look unless their hair was that bouncy, straight style naturally before so again we of the curls will fail and often fail big, thank you hats) is sexy.  Curly hair though - well that until about 2 years ago was not to be celebrated unless you were under 11.   It is "wild" after all.  I hated my curls - they needed to be tamed so Keratin I loved you. Never mind that some of it came with a warning from FDA - I had arrived, soft, bouncy, Breck hair.  

I associate my hairdos with times in my life.  Yet I have been lucky enough to meet a stylist who relentlessly pursued me until I allowed her to teach me how to easily wear my curls.  No more combs, just a little product, great conditioner and scrunch (if you need a little diffuser drying).  Deva products are amazing.  Tshirt to scrunch hair (an old one) excellent for defrizzing.  Do not touch your hair until it is mostly dry (hardest part).   It is who I am - it is who many of us are - the women who did not understand why our friends got perms for a bit but who eventually were reminded their hair was the "wanted" one.   

What are we saying to women with this ?  So many things - our hair is our power not in the ways that the rhetoric in those outdated and misogynistic tomes tell us but if we embrace it we can embrace who we are.  If we choose to straighten it then so be it but for me I am just as polished, competent and not famous with it curly.  I am in fact wild in ways that I want to be, it does not hold me back from jumping in the pool or worrying about the weather when my hair is curly now.  Yeah a blow out is a nice option but celebrating our different looks instead of just going for the one in tabloids is how this girl with the great big curl in the middle of my forehead is learning to like what she starts with.  Love me love my curls !

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hey mom can I ask you a question?

 I have found that this "mom can I ask you a question?" for some reason seems to be done when I am driving and cannot turn back of course or sideways, am trapped in car with child and needs me to turn down the volume on the radio and use that time to say after question has been posed "can you say that again?'.

This seems to be somewhat universal from discussions I have had with my group of mom friends.  Great strategy on the kids part - for all the reasons stated above.  They got you where they want you.

This past weekend I was driving my son and a few of his friends to a movie which reminded me 1) that they are growing up since they are requesting songs that either get bleeped on radio or have full on lyrics on Spotify leading me to ask if their parents are ok with them listening to this as I really do not have an issue with it 2) making sure that they understand that some songs really should be taken at rhythm value as no woman likes being called a ho no matter what the lyrics said 3) cracking up with them because they are a good bunch of kids who are funny and still goofy in so many ways.

Afterward it was down to my son and his good friend, most of my sons' friends have been around since these kids were toddlers or younger which means I know them well and their parents too - totally takes a village approach to parenting them, in my car.  We are driving along listening to music and all of a sudden ... "Mom can \we ask you a question?" followed by "Yes Mrs J can we?".  Now my spidey sense is up and thought I could pretend I suddenly only speak Romanian, I could turn up the music or I could turn it down and feel good that they are about to entrust me with what will be an uncomfortable question.

I turned down the music and the question was "did you ever smoke pot?".  Did not see that coming but maybe I should have.  After all they have been taught about drugs in a great prevention program in 5th grade, they see it on videos no matter how much we think we screen and they must be hearing about it now that they are in middle school.   Did you ever smoke pot?  Made harder to answer as this is not just my child, there is another child whose parents have to figure out how to talk to them about drugs.  I should have opted for speaking only Romanian.

I took a deep breath and said "Yes I did, I tried it.  I found it bit boring and I did not like the whole dry mouth thing.  I also think because it is a bit boring it is easy to think you can try other things and then you may wind up trying something that you cannot walk away from, that you get addicted to and can die from".  They were bit quiet and I added "I also am a bit of a control freak so I do not like to give up control totally and be dependent on some person selling me stuff."  I went with the truth - they asked how long I smoked cigarettes for, which by the way all of these kids find vile and gross fortunately (helps that almost no one they know smokes and no one smokes in front of them). We talked about how I quit after many years and how I do not regret it.

I am glad I answered actually they seemed to not be thrilled with the answer as I did not lie, which they may have been thinking I would, nor did I make it cool which they also may have heard.

These discussions are hard and getting harder but in one week I had to talk to my sons about the Stanford rape case - unconscious means No even if she begged right before passing out, that no means no even if at first she said yes and how to be like the cyclists who stopped this and not the rapists.  Yes they are 12 and 9 (12 in a month  - ooff exhale) but I want them to learn these things.  I had to talk to them about the stupidity of lax gun laws and how you can kill in the name of a god because it is called radicalism.  I had to tell them to be kind and not judge others.  This is all in one week but I am grateful for every moment they want to talk to me about these things. There are questions I have frankly responded to with "I do not think that is your business and it's not relevant" as they are not my friends to share a laugh over some past shenanigans with - they are my kids and what I share has to be appropriate to their age and to them being my kids.

It was a good drive and in looking back I am comfortable with how I handled it and hope that if they have questions they know they can keep them coming - that moment in the car when I turn down the radio is my moment to think on what I want to say - the moment I speak is their moment to learn from me.  "Mom I have a question..." ahh music to my ears (even if they are turning red from hearing it).


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Can you make new close friends as an adult?

I have always had no trouble making friends, as an only child I will say there are some things about me that are spot on with analysis.  I over share my things, most only children do since our parents heard that little diddy too and basically that is a constant reminder to us.  I tend to be self-sufficient to the point of an independence that bristles at even asking for help.  I am good with self-entertaining. Most of all I am very good at making friends and being able to pretty much function in almost any social setting.  I seek out people, I draw my energy from them.  I like my alone time, a lot, don't get me wrong but I thrive on social interactions too.

I tend to make friends and if I think of you as a friend, instead of social acquaintances, then I usually stick like glue.  My outer circle is in constant growth but my inner circle is small.  I believe in opening myself up to very few and yet I have no problem being there for many.  Most of all I tend to have long term friendships.

As and adult I figured my inner circle of close friends well was frankly closed.  I mean I am all for sharing in the adult experience, for good times and family get togethers but I went with the thought that there had to be shared history to truly make me feel comfortable enough to consider having new friends.  I am not alone in this most people and even studies say that we tend to make our strongest friendships in our formative years.  I mean nothing bonds you as shared bad decisions that are now hysterical memories.  The lovers you could not breathe without now are the ones you call your friends to try and see they remember why on earth you thought that to begin with and was he really as hot as your mind is making him.   You were there for each other when there was no money and shared a box of mac and cheese (Stouffers in the oven was a staple in college), cigarettes and crap apartments.  These were the hard times and the lean times and the milestones that bound you.  So how could any adult friendship even have a chance.

You don't have the same time to devote to cultivating new friendships and rely on the old ones because they get it when you run in an hour late because your kid needed just that one thing but this was the 5th time you had to reschedule a dinner that really should not be this hard to get to.  You meet other people but they have a shared present and not often the shared past that makes you laugh until you snort.  You watch yourself because you are not quite sure of how much you can let it all hang out. These are not bad things but they are the reality of adult times.    I also think of the show "Friends", which I so loved when it was on, that was about semi-adult friendships...not quite the ones I am thinking of at my age but they did not all have a shared past, some did but not really.  They made it, sort of except when they were on a break or monkeys interfered.

Into this I find myself breaking the stereotype.  I have made 3 really close new friends who I have added to the inner circle.  They do not share my background, actually they do not even share each others'.  They grew up in Staten Island, Briarcliff and Saratoga (well she kind of lived all over).  They do not look alike, one does not even live near me and we range in age from early forties, mid forties and me in my last year in my forties.  They are successful, driven, beautiful but one is into triathlons, one into Spartan Races and one into Crossfit.  One is fashion plate, one is a wine connoisseur and one loves to travel.  I do not race, except if someone should per chance be chasing me, but I do love my tennis.  I have found bits and pieces of things I love to do in all of them and they all inspire me. Mostly though I have found soul mates who I can rely on, with whom I am forming a history together with and who do what my close longtime friends do they build me up and make life that much better. We get each other in a way the implies a longer relationship than we have,

So yeah you can make new friends as an adult.  In some ways it is much easier, gone is the whole insecurity of am I "fill in the blank" to hang out with these people thing from when you are younger, much of the drama is gone, there is no competitiveness often because we are all more worried about doing right by our kids usually than worrying about if we are wearing the same dress to a party.  I am sure those things exist in some worlds, sadly especially between women - cut it out sisters we need each other -  but not in the world that I have surrounded myself with.  I am thrilled with all the new friends I have found as an adult and grateful for everything they bring to my life.  Yet I am nicely surprised and that much better for the 3 close friends I met as an adult who love the naughty kid in me as much as the future Golden Girl, they fit right in with my closest friends who I cannot imagine my life without.  Let's hear it for adult friendships !!!