Monday, January 23, 2017

It's Different This Year

A week ago I celebrated Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday with a day off from work, one of the perks I'm thankful to have. And the week ended with the inauguration of Donald Trump as president.

Like many, I have been thinking a lot, worrying much, stuck in between wanting to live my life and make plans and feeling the need to hold onto what I have even more fervently than in the past. Feeling like I need to make my kids stronger, both emotionally and physically, to stand against what might be. I want to be with them more, protect them more, ensure their futures are not soiled.

We hang onto what we can; it's my conversation with a co-worker of Mexican decent whose mother never learned English, for whom he translated as a young child. Exactly what happened to me with an Italian mom. Making peace with what we have, trying to get along.

While I have tried to accept that some of the people I like voted for him, and I talk with them, about everyday things like coffee and the weather, our children and grandchildren, ideals I know we have in common, I still cannot understand what they were thinking November 8. I talk with them, all the while feeling like I know their "dirty little secret" and can't utter a word, as though I notice a booger on their face and am not brave enough to tell them about it.

For many others, the hatred that apparently was hidden is showing. I've had many African American friends, many female, tell me that racism exists. I see it. I feel it, as a female. But as one of my friends once told me, I will never understand what it is like to be African American. She was right. She said that I could pretend to be someone else while she could not even if she tried.

We've come a long way since then, and I was encouraged with the Obamas in the White House. It was not just the presidency: it was Michelle's fight for children, for healthy eating and exercise, for introducing me to J. Crew, it was having the same dress she owned but in a different color. It was belonging. It was Barack fooling around with the young children who visited the White House, shooting hoops, singing and dropping the mic. Being on "Ellen". It was US. It did not matter that we are different colors; I once dreamt they came over to my house for dinner. They are the people next door, with a little girl around my son's age.

It is not shocking to hear that some of my co-workers voted for Trump. It is shocking to hear my son tell me that one of his classmates called Martin Luther King Jr. day, "White Supremacy Day". It is shocking that my three-year-old daughter does not yet understand what is going on, and what will I say when she asks me why the president hated cats?

When I was her age, JFK was president. When I was her age, civil rights were coming of age. Black Power, the Women's Movement.

And as one of the signs of one of the marchers at the Seneca Falls Women March Jan. 21 said, "I'm 71 and I can't believe I still have to protest this f-in s-!"

The conversations, the heated moments, among friends and family. "Why didn't you march when you were at the forefront of all this in the sixties?" I ask my husband. He felt he was sheltered, did not know he could make a difference. But it's never too late.

I would look out the window of our tiny Greenwich Village apartment and see protesters, hear music, listen to speeches. Washington Square Park, not far from our apartment, filled with Vietnam War protesters, civil rights and women's rights activists.

Why haven't we come that far? I thought we were making progress, to the point where my friend did not have to consider pretending to be something she isn't?

Where is that moment? What happened that it slipped away?

What kind of future will my 13-year-old son and 3-year-old girl have? What happened that I feel like turning in my Sophie Theallet Michelle Obama dress for self defense lessons?

Why do I feel like I should be even more protective of my children at the times when they should be spreading their wings?

It's the embarrassment I felt when an African American man in an inner city store the other day did not hold the door for me. I was sure it was because he assumed since I am white and I was dressed well and employed (work ID tag gave me away) that I voted for HIM. I wanted to say something, but what? I resisted the urge to shout, "I'm one of YOU!" Why do I feel so defensive?

Why do I have to worry about my peers feeling defensive when I stand up for our rights, all our rights, African American, Hispanic, Jewish, Muslim, disabled, gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual, short, tall, thin and heavy, blue eyed, hazel eyed, brown eyed, blonde, both natural and bottle, curly haired, straight haired, morning people, night people, cat people, dog people, coffee lovers, tea lovers, fast food lovers, vegans, homeowners, tiny house owners, campers, renters, staycationers, frequent flyers, ...oh, and aren't we all different? Why can't we just celebrate our differences?

Why do we have to feel afraid of being different, and if a woman is outspoken she automatically must be on her period or be called "nasty"?

And it's NOT normal to have temperatures in the high fifties in January in Central New York, followed by a snowstorm!

Why are we so divided? Where are we headed?


As Time Moves On

I just found this. Written at the start of September 2015. Never published.

It has been nearly a year since my last post. I think back on the year as though today is New Year's Eve. So much has happened, so much has changed in less than a year.

There were so many fine things this year and there will be new and better things on the horizon. However, I also think back with sadness and grief, for this is the year I lost two dogs; moved offices twice; and soon will be moving from my home on the river to a new home.

My children grew so right before my eyes. But I regret the inability to be with them more often to see the changes on a daily basis. Soon I hopefully will be able to adopt one of my babies, but the long, drawn-out process has taken its toll.

It is hard to always remember the good times because they have gone. I know full well that there will be more good things in the future, and perhaps even better than I can now imagine, but bad memories plague my thoughts.

As I sit at work, still at the job that only provides me with income and benefits and nothing else, I try to envision a future free of stress and worry. I know that is not realistic! I also know I've been quite lucky in many ways.

In January we had to give up Rosie, one of our Labradoodles, as crate training just was not working out. She was returned to the home of her momma. Trying to shake this winter cold, started using zinc.

In February, my family and I took a beautiful two and a half week trip to Florida, visiting the Keys and Disney. Jimmy, our Labradoodle (Rosie's dad), stayed behind with Tommy, our neighbor/dog sitter. We managed to avoid some of the season's worst snow storms. It seemed none of us wanted to return and secretly dreamed of living in Key Largo. Maggie had just had her second lumpectomy and seemingly was doing better and better, even barking at another dog on our trip (which surprised Reese, who had never witnessed that side of Maggie!)

Upon our return we spent many evenings at water aerobics at the Cato Rec Center; Rich playing pickle ball regularly there and around town, and continuing through summer with Logan tagging along.

Spring brought with it tons of rain, a new RV, one camping trip, and starting a summer-long hunt for a new home that began with discovering the sale of a nearby house. Even before that process started I had decided to do a lot of cleanup around our house and property: shed, garage, entryway, laundry room, hallway. I guess I was lucky to have been inspired to do all that cleanup! We had one major adoption court session in April.

Memorial Day weekend brought another camping trip, Taste of Syracuse twice, once with Dariel, Logan's friend, then summer. Two weeks later I discovered another lump on Maggie and she started breathing hard and hacking constantly. Another camping trip for Father's Day weekend. That was Maggie's last trip with us. We made the decision to let her go, June 30.

A wedding shower in June followed by a wedding in July.

Another camping trip, this time adding on two weekdays, in July. We managed to visit nearby Gilley Lake twice; Green Lakes once; and Sylvan Beach once. Logan's friends Ryan and Luke spent several weekends individually. Local restaurants. Checking out two car shows. And then there was a play and two movies, along with the Sterling Renaissance Festival. And, most of June and July, regular house cleanings, house showings, and house hunting. Started packing. And another court session.

Due to the high water level (still on the 4th of July) we did not get to swim in our river until July 18; but we did get in lots more swimming than the previous couple of years (about eight times thus far) since we were home this summer. Hopefully this week we can take some late summer dips as the weather is expected to be hot. The weather has not been as hot this summer as typically. And we also developed sinus colds as a result! Back to the zinc!

In August, we attended a breakfast barbeque, Logan's friend Luke's birthday party at a water park, visited a nearby farm where Logan and Reese rode ponies; and stayed overnight one Saturday at a hotel with an indoor water park, in Batavia. We had brunch in Cazenovia with Richie and Ploy and afterward took a dip in Cazenovia Lake. And last Saturday, stayed overnight at the Doubletree in Henrietta, enjoying the pool and Reese perfecting her jumps. We joined the new YMCA in Baldwinsville last weekend and visited that day and yesterday, loving the "lazy river". We can't wait to try the other offerings!

Earlier in the month I took two days off to hang out with Logan. He attempted to take me on a jet ski ride up the river to the playground, but that did not pan out as we planned. We made it as far as Cooper's Marina and the jet ski appeared to smoke and stall. The jet ski now is sold, along with our boats over the years, four wheelers, and motorcycles. For now we still have our kayaks; Logan and I took those out a couple of times. I see friends' social networking posts about their vacations and boat trips, and I watch boats go by outside, and I miss those days. I also recall how stressful those trips often were, however! And expensive! I do recall our great February Florida trip, though, when all these people were here freezing and plowing snow!

August also brought another wedding shower and upcoming rehearsal dinner and wedding. Some shopping. And part two of the adoption trial. It is a termination of parental rights trial but I prefer to call it by something positive!

I tell people I don't know where July and August went, but I have to give myself credit for having done so much. This probably is the first summer where we actually did enjoy "staycations". And next week, back to school for Logan. Thankfully Labor Day is later this year!

But as I mentioned in my book Vacation, it is funny that the past couple of years I really miss Summer as it departs and I sort of lament the arrival of Fall. I really think this started happening once I began to live on the river.

This week we will be moving to a new home, where I believe I will truly enjoy Fall. It is a "Fall" kind of home! The apple orchard we visit is just two miles away; the dog park only four miles away. There is a ravine, a creek and lots of woods surrounding the home, and the beautiful Seneca River, which brought me comfort through all the losses (my brother Fred; yellow Lab Gracie; father-in-law Dick; and Maggie), is still only a half-mile or mile, walking distance, away.

This week we also will hear the verdict on our foster baby, the culmination of the July-Aug. trial. Little Reese, as we call her, now is a pre-schooler and no longer a "worm" of a newborn or toddler.

The move and the adoption have been out of our control as far as reaching completion. We sit and wait.

I feel my busy summer work schedule, though at times stressful, was good for me, as it helped me occupy my mind.

Now, beginning with work, things seem to be winding down, with each leaf that turns and falls, and the evenings darker with each passing day. I look at our deck, which Rich and Logan updated just a year ago. I see the sunset, which occurs earlier and earlier each day. Soon I will not see this sunset from my home.

Tomorrow is September.

In another week new things will happen.

Stay tuned to see how I will feel!

Monday, November 24, 2014


As October, my favorite month, neared, I made myself a promise that I’d enjoy each day as though it would be my final. I knew from experience that the month would fly by, and thus, I wanted to create memories. I did not expect extraordinary events; I just wanted to remember the little things, as I felt the weather cool down and the leaves turn and fall.

I feel my plan worked. I jotted down my daily activities the first nine days of October, but then I just lost track. I have photos I can reference and recall the fun times. And I remember the more significant outings, and when they took place.

But the point is, and actually I have two: one, I had so much fun that I had no time to document things daily; two, I actually did not fear going into November, because I can continue this strategy!

What am I referring to? Why, just simple morning walks with my kids Logan and Angel, and dogs, Maggie, Jimmy and Rose, breathing in the fresh “fallen leaf” scent, enjoying a day off or leaving work early and…most importantly, catering more to my kids and myself than rushing to get to work on time.

Yes, I was late for work quite a bit in October, and I had to leave early sometimes due to family doctor appointments or illness, but even so, I did not go crazy trying to make up the time. I used to have a plaque that stated something like, “My house is a mess but I have more time for my kids.” That was me in October, and to this day.

So I’m out of personal time, but I am not upset; I feel complete, relieved, renewed. Yes, I do have to clean up and straighten my kitchen, and yes, I could have done more some of the days I took off or left work early recently. But the point is, I did what I could, and I did what mattered most and felt right. What mattered most was spending more quality time with my loved ones, mostly spontaneously. And those chores will get done! In retrospect, I do much better with housework than most of my younger peers considering!

I did not focus on rushing to different places with my loves, but rather, just sitting and enjoying them. I did not plan and stick rigidly to schedules; if Logan did not want to take a walk, I watched him play video games and asked him questions about them.

We went on a brief out-of-town excursion Columbus Day weekend, to Old Forge. We may make this a tradition, as we went to Old Forget last year the same weekend. We intended on staying in our camper at Singing Waters Campground but instead happened upon some cabins in White Lake. This was Angel’s first experience camping and/or staying anywhere away from home since she began to walk! We have not even stayed in a hotel since last January.

We ate dinner at Buffalo Head Restaurant in Forestport. Rich and Logan stopped into the Station Country Store that has lollipops with bugs in them. Two years ago they bought me one with a scorpion and this year I got a meal worm. Yum! We rode the Adirondack Train from Thendara the next day.

On Columbus Day, my October day off from work, I had plans to take Logan and Angel to the zoo and pumpkin picking. We only did the latter because somehow I knew my Angel needed her rest. Being in tune to her needs was more important than rushing to the zoo. And later in the day we took them and my young grandkids to the mall to ride the carousel and eat dinner, something we had not planned in advance.

My free-form style, new to me, actually worked when it came to enjoying my children. Did I still want to go to the zoo? Yes, and we went when I had off for Veteran’s Day! And luckily we caught another beautiful weather day.

I’m amazed how this all worked out. Simple strategy, but sometimes complex to stick to.

And in keeping with my typical style, yes, I will outline the highlights of the month of October.

Goodbye old friend October, and I’ll see you again in roughly 10 months!


The first day of October I found myself accompanying Rich, my husband, to his knee surgery appointment. We’d planned on this and took the day off. Everything went off without a hitch, and I later made a trip to purchase some bandages and such. I also walked my dog Jimmy. I find that even if the reason for taking a day off is less than pleasant, that it beats the alternative.

Yes, I find my job boring. I make no bones about it, sorry for the pun!

The second day of October I brought Angel to her biological parents’ visit, but beforehand I brought her for a walk. She in her stroller, I in my running outfit, we viewed the geese flying south, or flying wherever they believe they should be going. Angel is fascinated by geese!

The next day I decided to go home and baby Rich. Not that he really needed me to dote on him, but the weather had been really nice. I love Indian summer and of course autumn, and I’d made myself a promise that I would try to enjoy as much of the weather as I could. And I can’t enjoy it sitting in a cramped room full of people. You see, we are in a temporary office location at work currently, and it’s less than ideal. So catering to a post-surgical person was better than, again, the alternative! Plus I got to take a walk. Logan’s friend Ryan stayed over that evening.

The following day, Saturday, we attended an annual event in Tully, hosted by a fellow band member of my son-in-law, Shaggy. It is a family event, replete with games, food, and music. No Excuse, Shaggy’s acapella group, performed. It was a rainy and nippy day but we had fun regardless. We’d attended this event two years ago, and, like then, we invited Logan’s friend Dariel as well.

We visited my mother-in-law Erna the following day, and then back home for a scheduled dinner with friends Carol and Raelynn, her granddaughter whom we’ve known from birth. Logan was very shy around her, but by evening, they were playing video games and chit-chatting like old friends that they actually are. On Halloween, the two of them flirted endlessly!

The next day we had my oldest stepdaughter Candace and son Cameron, partner Jennifer, and her parents Jack and Pat over for dinner. Somehow I thought we’d get to kayak, as the weather continued to be nice. But, alas, we did not. We dined al fresco, showing off our newly redone deck.

As I got dinner ready I noticed a huge lump the size of a tennis ball on Maggie’s right side. I remembered she’d fallen off the bed earlier and hoped it was a bruise, since it developed so very quickly.

The next morning the bump was smaller, and it continued getting smaller as time went on. This certainly was a relief; this girl has been through so much in her 15 years on this planet!

The following morning after Candace and company came for dinner I enjoyed a great jog. I’ve been walking and/or jogging daily with few skips, since July 23. And I’m seeing and feeling the benefits! I’m so proud! And I’m trying to eat better, too. I have more energy and I don’t feel like napping after picking up and carrying Angel!

The next morning I walked with Jimmy around the corner from my house, back in the woods. Well, while I attempted a selfie, he inadvertently tripped me and I fell on my ankle. I was fine but later walked over a twig wearing heels. Ironically, that did hurt! But I was fine.

As I took my morning walk October 9 I took in the beauty that is my property and neighborhood. I pondered the question, “Who needs to go away when one lives in a place like this?” Truly magnificent! As I said earlier, the weather was on our side, unless you prefer the cold and snow. My favorite temperatures are 50-70 degrees, and that’s what we had this autumn. We even had temperatures in the 80s a couple of days; that’s too much for me!

Angel wore her animal print dress; I accompanied Logan, equipped with scooter, to his bus stop. The mornings were still dark, as we awaited daylight savings time to end. This year, it was not until the first Sunday in November.  But now, the afternoons are darker and it is not so pleasant leaving work. Rich brought Angel to her parental visit and learned her baby brother was born the first week in October.

Speaking of trying to notice things, what's up with this huge pup? Rose, Jimmy's daughter, is growing so fast. She is more than half the size of her dad but was just born July 19. She also is difficult to photograph as she's so dark. She has absolutely no fur markings either.

Columbus Day this year fell a little later, October 13. Rich worked in the morning so I hung out with the kids. Originally we’d discussed going to the zoo. When Rich returned home for a brief stop, we went pumpkin picking across the river and later, for an unplanned fun trip, to the mall to let Logan and Angel and our grandkids Zari and Xav ride the carousel and eat at Pizzeria Uno.

Thursday, October 16, Rich and I attended a parent-teacher conference with Logan’s team of teachers. They said he has some difficulties focusing, which is no surprise; but I’m happy that like most of his past teachers, they apparently have recognized his fantastic abilities and intellect.

We convinced Logan, per invitation by his school, to join Junior CafĂ© Scientifique through The Technology Alliance of Central New York, and we attended our first event Saturday morning, the 18th. A scientist demonstrated “spooky” science, such as fog making, and other eerie scientific experiments. We all attended and brought Angel, who was very bored and just wanted to cruise as all relatively new walkers do. It was a nice event, replete with Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and bagels. On the way home Rich and I got our impromptu flu shots at Walgreens. Logan, Angel and I attended the November event on Dinosaurs; Rich was working. Logan thought the lecture was over his head, and from what I could hear I agree. But Angel enjoyed checking out the museum exhibits and dinosaur room. She was totally unafraid of the sights and sounds!

The following Monday, the 20th, my dear late brother Fred would have been 64. It also marked 10 years since Logan came to our household! We’d planned to take him out to a surprise dinner. I, too, received a surprise that morning. I found Angel would need a new daycare as Marlene was losing a staff person. We took Logan to Bville Diner and ironically saw one of the staff members of Angel’s former care provider!

I had planned on taking Friday the 24th off to ready for our annual Halloween bash. Instead, I had to take off Wednesday the 22nd, off due to Angel being sick with a cough and low-grade fever. Rich was working for part of the day. Once he and Logan arrived home, we all went to Enhance for Angel’s previously scheduled well visit. There, she attempted to follow strangers out the door! The doctor said she was just fighting a cold, and she was still able to receive her shots.

I left work early on Friday the 24th, so Logan and I could shop for Halloween. Later we picked up the baby, went to Whiskey Hollow to fill up some gallons of spring water, and then picked up Rich and went to Child Time, her new daycare, to check it out.

The following day was our annual Halloween party. This year I did not invite too many people. And as a result, we had a slim turnout. Most of Logan’s friends had other plans but Luke was able to come. I did not invite work friends because I got the impression that last year some people felt left out. So much for trying to introduce my work friends’ kids to my son! So I did not want to put them through this anguish this year.

Yes, it was sad, and it at times also was overwhelming, as  we discussed how or if to do apple bobbing; some of the kids got loud; one guest came late; some family could not come due to being ill. Rich said we probably should stop hosting. I’m on the fence. I really enjoy Halloween, my favorite holiday, and we can make it work. But we will have to strategize the varying age groups and somehow accommodate, nay, force, more parents who simply drop off their kids and go, to stay. I think many of them would rather have alone time or drink.

Considering the cessation of our Halloween tradition also reminds me that Logan is growing up; he seemed much less interested. Part of that is that he can see his friends any time. In fact, Ryan came to stay over that evening when he arrived back home from his Boy Scout trip. Luke had planned on staying over aw ell. Maybe we can change the party format somehow.

October 31, Halloween. Angel’s final day at Marlene’s daycare.

Another very much cherished tradition, bringing the kids to the Village of Liverpool to trick-or-treat. Logan does not care about the candy, but this year he seemed to care more about Raelynn!

As I said, he’s growing up. He is changing, just as the seasons and weather change. We had lots of snow recently, and today, November 24th, it is beautiful and 62 degrees.

But tomorrow it will be cold and snowy again.

Hello, November. I plan on making each day count during this month, too. Fifteen degrees, snow and all.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Please Tell Me Crayons Are On This List

"Please don't forget your lunchbox," I reminded him. And his father noted that he now will have a locker. I'm not really worried about him remembering the combination or finding the lockers; I'm worried about him remembering to USE the locker.

I remember going to Logan's new school orientation last spring. He is at Ray Middle School now, as a sixth grader. I did not stop to think about the small changes that would upset him, uh, I mean, me. New location, new teachers, new principal, oh, and yes, new supplies and things like lockers.

Lockers. Aren't they for gyms...and high schoolers?

My mind flashes back to the Kindergarten orientation at Nate Perry in the spring of 2008. He was littler, his voice softer, and he was cuter (he's now "handsome"). And he still thought Dad and I were gods.

Today is his first day at Ray Middle School. Though it is hard for me to tell if he is nervous, as he doesn't show it (just like his mom), I wondered if it bugged him even just a little, to be in a new environment. He did complain about returning to school; this is nothing new. Was he hiding the fact that he was anxious about a new school? Memories of our January 2010 (mid-first grade) move flooded me.

"Don't worry; it'll be fun," I said last night as I frantically packed a lunch and helped him sort his multitude of supplies that we had only just purchased the day prior (Labor Day), as I had not time to do it sooner this year. "You'll see, once you get there and see your friends, you'll forget you were even concerned."

"I can take my iPad as long as it is kept locked," he said this morning.
"When did you find out?" I asked.
"At the orientation."
"They said nothing about that."
"No, at the one we attended with the school."

I'd forgotten that though he came with us to the parent orientation at Ray Middle last spring, that he was not invited. The school did a separate orientation for the students. "Oh. Well let's get dressed and eat," I said.

I literally wandered the first few rows at Wal-Mart Monday looking like a deer in headlights. "What the heck are folders with clasps?" Logan wondered. As a writer, I at least know this. But I could not find the rulers. Of course, I always avoided math. "Don't we have rulers?" my husband asked. "Yes." I said. That's it, yes. We have them. I don't know where they are, but we have them. Luckily they are cheap, and though I don't like Wal-Mart's employment policies they are cheap and did manage to have all the back-to-school stuff up front in one neat section, including fruit chews, and they did not have Halloween stuff out already. Well, yes, one costume. At least I think it was a costume. Maybe it was a goth back-to-school outfit. (They were starting to put out Halloween stuff when we got there late Monday afternoon.) Remind me to hug the social studies teacher for only requiring one item. People, this is supposed to be a paperless society!

It is easier to focus on iPads and stressing on supplies you can't find (I had other parents in the store pointing me in the direction of rulers and binders and I still forgot one binder) than to worry about the true things: My son is getting older, and he's almost a teen. He has muscles and his legs are longer than mine, though they probably were when he was six (I have stubby legs). He is exhibiting an attitude with sentences that always begin with a huff, sigh, and "Fine!" He is considered a tween and he now takes the earlier bus and will be in school with teens...yes...some of the 7th graders will be or are 13.

New bus and new driver. Will he drive safely? Will Logan be bored? He was wondering if he'd see any friends on the bus; I was wondering if I'd cry when the bus took off. Yes. Guess which question that answers?

"You're starting out earlier in the day, but you'll be home sooner!" I said, grasping at straws and knowing full well he'd fill that extra hour with additional homework. Shhhh.

Try to look alive, kids, not like prisoners on their way from the justice center.

As I saw him off, taking pictures of course and being annoying as I always am, I resigned myself to the fact that the summer season is done for 2014, though I will miss it. Memories of everything we did this summer flashed before my eyes like a TV sitcom flashback. The Pride and Scottish Festivals; vacationing near Atlantic City and at Wellesley Island; working on our deck "expansion"; Logan tarring the roof and tarring his body; swimming in our river; walking the neighborhood; barbecues; boating; kayaking; camping. Did we do enough? Did we do those things we did enough times? Why is it over already?

I love and always welcome Fall, but this year, somehow, I really did not want him to get on that bus. Maybe if he didn't board the bus, he would not grow up. There I go again.

I knew he'd be fine once he sat on Keith's bus, Route 35-1 in and 35-2 back home.

Would I be okay?

I ran back to my coffee mug that I'd left at the neighbor's so I could jog.

Why aren't crayons on his school shopping list anymore?

And someone please tell me what the heck a book sock is?

Happy new school year, parents. (I know the kids will be fine.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Couldn’t be Prouder

My son Logan, always more in common with Dad. Does so much with him. I get to do very little with him alone these days. Boo hoo. This boy doesn’t listen to me.

Yes, I feel sorry for myself sometimes.

But not this morning.

Enter Logan last night at 8 pm. “Oh, don’t forget the talent show is tomorrow!”

“But you’re not doing anything in it, you told us!” Dad says.

“Oh, but I am! I’m a stage hand!”


This boy chose what he wanted to do. Or perhaps his teacher, apparently with much foresight, did. In either case, he wowed us.

He bobbed and weaved and was right there, in the nick of time, placing and removing chairs and music stands. Helping Chris with his upright bass and bow. Thank goodness he did not try to swing the bow like a sword. He knows better! Adjusting the mike. And never leaving anything behind or done halfway.

All I could remember, as I snapped shot after shot, tears streaming, that his dad and I both turned blue in the face, trying to convince Logan he should sing, or dance, or act, or be funny on stage. Because he can do those things so well!
Why is he so shy? He proved to me he could decide for himself where he fit in, what his strengths are, and his role, something he does with finesse; and as back stage hand, he demonstrated to me that he chooses well and knows himself. He wasn’t being lazy; this was the hardest job. Remembering what to bring out or remove and when … what other 11-year-old could do that with aplomb? And spoken as the true career advisor that I guess I am now, this is a very marketable skill. Furniture mover, if not rock roadie!


As I sat with the future talents, watching the comedy and dance, hearing the singing and music, the girl waiting behind me bumped her violin. It woke me to the fact that this boy, MY boy, DOES listen to me. He IS me.

Who is the one who can organize and keep things together, all very quickly and at a NYC pace? Who can gather up an infant and an 11-year-old, bleary eyed early on a Sunday morning to get out the door for a 7 a.m. swim meet, or pack up the whole crew for a last-minute trip out of town? Who can get everyone out the door in less than an hour daily, without skipping breakfast and brushing? Who can mentally and sometimes physically bob and weave in and out of kitchen traffic, not only cleaning but cooking and straightening, while checking to see if the baby soiled and if the laundry is done, when company is over? Yeah, gymnastics girls! I can bend. I can’t always get back up without assistance, but I can still bend! All while playing a round or two of Words With Friends.


I’m not bragging but I’ve been told I multi-task well. I'd like to think it comes from within. But it may come from being the middle child. Or from growing up a Manhattanite. My former boss,  Lisa, RIP, once said, “If you want something done yesterday, ask Paula.” And apparently, I’ve taught my son that skill, too. The skill of fast and strategic organization. Except he plays Infinity Blade on his iPad as he takes out the trash, not WWF.

"A round of applause for everyone!" Mrs. Crisafulli, principal, said at the end. “And how about the ones you didn’t see, those stage hands? They did a lot of hard work; very good job!” In reality, Mrs. C., the stage hands were the most visible; on stage more frequently!

“Whoooo!” shouts a crazy woman in the back. Yes, the back. Me.

As I think I said, I am from NYC. You don’t like my “Whoooo”, you can move.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Diary of a Mad Jogger

Thoughts and ramblings over the course of a 3.5 mile race.

There should be a challenge set up for actually GETTING to the Corporate Challenge that includes getting through traffic, finding the best route, finding a ride/parking/shuttle and then finding your team tent. Oh, and let's not forget changing and putting your number bib on correctly without stabbing yourself.
    Starting line: Yea! Made it to the race and found my company's tent!

.10 miles. La la la! Nice co-workers, right by my side.
.15 miles. Where's the water?
.25 miles. Tell me again why I'm here?
.3 miles. I try to push on by reading and combining random T-shirt slogans. "Onondaga County Corrections"..."Bone to be Wild".
.4 miles. This race didn't seem this long last time I did it.
.5 miles. Only 1/2 mile?
.6 miles. Where are my co-workers?
.75 miles. THERE'S some water!
.85 miles. What do these white painted numbers on the ground refer to? I know I didn't do 6 km yet.
1 mile. Only 1 mile??? It's a plot!
1.10 miles. Dead animal.
1.15 miles. I wonder if it would be ok for me to drink that sludge on the shoulder?
1.25 miles. Yea! Water!
1.3 miles. Glad I'm not the one who has to sweep up all these cups tossed to the ground.
1.4 miles. My brother Fred would have won this race. Rest his soul. Tears. No, someone spilled water on me.
1.5 miles. Hallucinating. Keep thinking I see and hear my co-workers.
1.6 miles. Listening to other company team blaming each other for "cheating" (jogging when they said they'd walk. Fear police will chase me down for the same "crime".)
1.65 miles. Think about the food afterward, Paulie.
1.75 miles. Another dead animal. And the bridge. My tall co-worker should watch for clearance.
1.8 miles. Texting while running. Probably also a crime.
1.9 miles. T-shirt reads, "Eat your veggies." NOW you tell me.
2 miles. Yea! Two miles! I'm alive!
2.1 miles. Co-workers! There they go! Bye!
2.2 miles. Dedicating this to my brother. Real tears.
2.3 miles. Stupid sun in my eyes. Sun? In Central New York?
2.5 miles. Another dead animal. Will try to figure out how long the next dead animal I see has been there.
2.75 miles. Did not see any former co-workers today.
3 miles. There are more Tops employees here than dead animals.
3.1 miles. YMCA employees/volunteers hold up signs saying, "Keep running. Your boss is behind you."
3.2 miles. Hot tub when I get home, pronto!
3.3 miles. Dead animal I recall from the last Corporate Challenge.
3.4 miles. Was my co-worker chiding me about eating that dead squirrel for dinner?
3.5 miles. Finish line! 58:38. Not too bad for not having jogged regularly for a long time.

9:00 pm. Home. Hot tub. Ah. That was fun. (Bad short-term memory).
9:30 pm. Will be fun to try to beat my time next year.
10:00 pm. I came in 5,030. That does it. Next year I'm 5,000th!
10:30 pm. ZZZZZZZZZ

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We Should Have

On the morning of Friday, December 14, 2012, I dropped my son off to school early. He missed the bus and I had an early meeting at work…not the norm. When I dropped him off I realized it was before the school opened its doors and he had to wait outside. Trying not to be the overprotective one I typically am, I said to myself, he will be fine, he’s resourceful. I drove away but could not stop thinking about him and potential dangers.

Upon arrival at work I called and left a message with the school nurse, who I knew would be the first to see him. I asked her to leave me a message. In my meeting, supervisors discussed the no cell phone policy and thus I did not check my phone at all or excuse myself to do so. I sat and worried. And in a town just three miles from where I was born, many people worried. Many panicked. People in an elementary school much like my son’s. While the nurse called me to tell me my boy was fine, the news broke out that a gunman had shot and killed 20 innocent youngsters much like mine.

The town no one had heard of before, where my uncle and aunt owned Newtown Inn in the '60s, where I spent the summer of 1965, now was recognized by everyone around the world, and not for the same pleasant memories I used to hold. It saddened us, shocked and frightened us. As President Obama stated, our hearts are broken. Why would this happen? I know people of all religions who believe in a higher power. Why would this higher power allow this?

We search for meaning, for why these children who will never have the chance to join the school band, continue on their swim teams, join a wrestling team, or make new friends like my son can? Would this horrible occurrence be the thing to finally cause lawmakers to seriously think about gun control? But why something this tragic? Was it meant to happen? Was it a fluke? Why children? The educators who also lost their lives already were giving their lives, working with children for I’m sure not a huge salary. Why did they have to give their lives completely? Many of them also had families, and they will never see their children’s graduations, relationships, successes, or be there to help heal the failures.

When will this stop? If we cannot feel safe in a place we considered one of the safest, how can we feel safe in the mall, the movie theater, a McDonald’s, a church, temple or mosque, or on our inner city streets?

My son finally understands, I think, why schools are so serious even about gun play at recess. When I was little, I liked toy guns. I did not grow up with guns and do not own or use them now. I feel they are tools for law enforcement and the military, as these professionals are trained in proper gun safety and use. Would I perform surgery if I were not trained as a surgeon? Would I own a tractor trailer if I were not properly licensed? Would I attempt to build a home if I did not know how to use a saw or install insulation? Would I work on my car’s engine without training? Then why would I have a gun if I were not in law enforcement or in the military, even if I received a few lessons, knowing someone else's life could be in danger even if safely used my weapon?

We are all aware that this issue is something we must now seriously reconsider. And we can hide the sorrow by blaming violent movies and video games all we want. But the other piece of this tragedy is that we often do not recognize when a child or adult is suffering. Everyone is unique and not everyone will express distress verbally or in a commonly known fashion such as acting out. The young perpetrator obviously had major mental health issues, and we as a society should have been better equipped to help him so he did not get to this point. The following is a song I wrote just after Columbine, April 1999. Unfortunately it is still appropriate.

Happy holidays.

You Should Have (Caught Me When I Was Crying)

(Chorus) Killing babies, others want them
What are we doin’ now
Being abusive, killing creatures
What are we teaching now?
Want some attention, she didn’t like me
I sent a warning but you could not see
I was abused, you didn’t stop it
Wasn’t TV, you could have saved me
Do you seek more, some seek the least
We haven’t gone far, like in that dream
Always running but in our own tracks
Find the road in, some seek it back


(Bridge) Some say we’ve come far
Others say we have not
Some say they want more
They are the have-nots
Is it the sun that’s out?
Or is it the moon?
I may end my life
But it’s too soon
Look like your kids, seem like mine
Hope they tell me when they’re cryin’
We must tell them when we cry, too
Need to help them see us through