Cramming.

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I feel like I’m 16 again. Or 17. Maybe 19.

I have to read this book before 7pm tomorrow night. No, it’s not for a class I’m taking. There’s no exam or final that I need to prep for. Just a fun book club meeting. A meeting in a wine and paint shop.

So really, this book will be like, the 3rd thing we pay attention to. In my mind it’ll be Wine, Paint, Book. Or maybe Paint, Wine, Book. It totally won’t be Book, Paint, Wine – I know that much for sure! But I still want to read it. It’s about a saucy girl’s childhood and it’s full of bad words and bad deeds. Aren’t you jealous of my book club. My book club is better than your book club.

So it’s not really like college. Or like being 16, 17, or 19 – since I didn’t have wine until I turned 30…ahem.

All my free time before and after work will go to this book. As soon as I’m done with this blog. And except the time I’ll spend watching my recorded shoes. And then ofcourse I need to go to bed by 10. But other than that – I’m all over this book.

The Tiger’s Mother

Tomorrow my first born starts her junior year of high school. She’s in her room right now excitedly packing for the morning and humming a happy tune. Ok, not really. But she is getting ready. I cannot believe that at the end of this year she’ll be 1) driving a motor vehicle 2) thinking about which college she wants to go to and 3) be on the edge of 17. Just like the white wing dove.
If you believe in astronomy, and I do, she’s a Scorpio. To a capital T.
I also happen to believe the Chinese calendar, she’s a Tiger in that one. A born leader. Brave and warm-hearted. Sensitive and easily hurt but also fiercely protective of those around them. Yeah, that’s about right. She’s all that. And more. 
But tomorrow she’ll just be my little baby, going off to 11th grade.
I’d like to show you a picture of her leaving the house in the morning, in her uniform, ready to face to world – but I won’t be allowed to take a pic. Tigers and Scorpions aren’t exactly easy to photography. But she can’t stop me from posting these! 
Here’s my world from 1998 to present. In a blink.

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Pit Stop

I was in midtown NYC at the beginning of this week for meetings and ended up right across the street from this spot.

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This is 345 Park Avenue. I can’t tell you how much happenstance is tied to this place. Or maybe kismet is a better word for it.
I stopped only for a minute to take this shot but a thousand things went through my head.
This is where my college boyfriend got a job during my Junior year, and during the summer, because I didn’t have anything better to do and was completely obsessed with him – I would take a train from our campus in the Bronx, walk through the park (couldn’t afford the crosstown bus) and sit in front of this building while he worked. For hours. Reading. Having bodega coffee. Staring out.
He’d come downstairs and find me there for lunch. We’d have a dirty cart pretzel and then he’d go back to work.
I didn’t do this everyday, but I did it often enough.
This was pre iPhone days. Pre 9/11 days. Pre 2008 melt down days. During lunch hours the entire front of this building would be full of people, they’d have bands come in, dancers I think too. There may have even been a fountain but I can’t remember.
I think about those days now and I just can’t imagine what I was thinking. Or what he was thinking! Ofcourse today I’d be called a stalker and dismissed. Thank goodness he didn’t know any better.
But that wasn’t the end of my time in this building.
When I graduated, I went from job to job. I tried my hand at alumi relations, and PR, and like all good Gen Xers I spent some days in advertising. All of this at big universities and companies (pre-job market hell days). I hated it. All of it.
By this time, my boyfriend had been out of school of over a year and was still working at the same building, same company – better job. He moved us out of the Bronx and into the city. He told me to quit my crap gigs and focus on something different.
I did.
I found a job at a non-profit focused on business eduction for students that raised money through fundraising.
I discovered a career that I had no idea existed – events.
I got engaged. Those were happy days.
Eventually the engagement led to marriage and marriage led to baby.
I had the baby and took some time off.
When I wanted to go back to work, my first interview led to a job. Luck? Kismet? Who knows. This job was with a company (and team) that would help define what my career in events would be – take a guess where the job was located?
It was also a happy chance that my now husband, father to our little girl, still worked there too.
It was where we met friends that we will know for life. It was where we went through 9/11 together. It was where we got pregnant again. It was a really important place that seemed like a lifetime ago.
Eventually my husband and I both left that building. Bigger and better. That’s what we always say.
This was the first shot of the building I took. I had an app open and didn’t realize I took the picture using a filter. But it seems appropriate.
A haze. A blur.

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Not your average Joe.

10 days into my life as a freshman in college, I walked over to my friend’s dorm room to see if she wanted to catch an early dinner. She couldn’t, she was helping an old neighborhood friend catch-up on some math notes. She introduced me to him and I gave her a look – sure you’re “studying”. Later that night she came over and I got the scoop. They really did just study. She had known him for years. She and her brother spent tons of time with his outgoing, friendly sister. Him, not so much. But he was cute. Super cute. And super intense.  I found out everything about the dude. This guy was not here to have a good time. He didn’t laugh easily and he was almost always working.  He was a bit of a loner. The few friends he had were loyal and protective – just like he was. This was the guy for me.

The next part of the story is up for debate. He says I stalked him until he gave in. I remember it differently. Same outcome. I was 19, he was 21.

College was a blur of happy memories. Summers in NYC, jobs on campus and off, friendships and drama and occasionally some classes. We broke up a few times, for a day or two. Then he apologized and I took him back (again, I’m sure he has a different version but this is my blog. There’s no fairness in blogging.)

He graduated before me and moved into an apartment down the block from the dorm. He had a roommate named JFK (seriously. and he was as quirky as his name.) By the time I graduated he got a better job and moved into his own place. I moved in quickly after.

He’s never said to me that “he needed space” or that “he’s not sure he wants to commit”. From the very first day he was all in.

What followed was the anti-NYC story. Marriage and babies in our late 20s and early 30s. It didn’t make sense to many – but it was so natural to us.

We are a bit of a mismatch.  We always have been. Different things make us tick. As you know, I like to get to know people. any people. I love a good chat. I’m all about a party. I love to laugh, I do it often and at really silly stuff. On paper, I’m the kind of person that drives him batty and he’s the type of person that I would keep away from. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of music. I only know what I like. He’s emotional, intuitive and can breathe fire in a nanosecond. I’m pragmatic, fickle and it takes a lot to get me angry. But we have a really good time together. I won’t say the yin/yang thing because it’s not all that zen. It’s volatile and passionate and I wouldn’t last with anyone else.

A couple of days ago, on his 43rd birthday, 22 years into knowing him – I told him that this would be our best year yet. And he looked at me and said,”it better be.”

When I named this blog he couldn’t figure out why the word “wife” came before the word “mother”. He thought my role as a mother is what defined me, the thing that mattered the most to me. He was wrong.

Happy Birthday baby.

This post will make him extremely uncomfortable and exposed – so why not go for it and add photos right?

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Family Mythology

I’m sure your family has some too.

Legends. Myths. Epic Stories. Exaggerated fables.  Things we talk about year after year and sadly or hysterically, pass on to our kids.

For example, my father came to this country with $8 dollars. Sometimes that figure goes down slightly due to current market fluctuation, but it’s around that number. My sister and I would hear about how he got a job, an apartment, and a car solely with his work ethic and determination. “How did he take a taxi home from the airport?” “Where did he stay?” “How did he find a job?” we’d ask. But that wasn’t part of the story.

A friend of mine told me that his Aunt Judy’s favorite story is about how her parents fell sick with the flu one winter and she and her brother (ages 5 and 7) cooked all their own meals for a week. This seems plausible if by “cooking” they mean making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a bowl of cereal. I could live on that for a week. And I have.

My husband and I have continued this great parenting and child rearing technique. We tell our kids in vivid detail about the night my husband proposed (tears, laughter, and a man purse were involved).  We tell them about how, as a young child in NYC, he tried to jump an open cellar on 87th street and missed (a trip to the ER and multiple stitches were involved).  We tell them how he ended up at Billy Joel’s ranch in Long Island as a teenager and has dozens of pictures of Christie Brinkley to prove it (then they ask who Christie Brinkley is). I tell them about interning at “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” and ironing Brad Pitt’s shirt because his luggage never made the flight in.  I never met him. I handed the shirt to an assistant producer who handed it to a producer who then gave it to his agent to give to him. But it’s like I basically touched Brad Pitt.

What’s great is that now my kids have their own family legends to tell. My daughter was born in the hospital room next to Al Roker’s wife giving birth to his first daughter. This was the pre stomach reduction Al. My mother rode down the elevator with Al and in her beautiful accented English regaled him for minutes with the marvelous coincidence. He was nice and nodded.

Year’s later, while we were vacationing in Montauk – we had another legendary incident. On a particularly cloudy afternoon, we decided to skip the beach and go bowling. Before we hit the ally, we stopped for pizza in a small town outside of the Hampton’s.  I don’t remember if I’ve told the story before – so I won’t go into the details now – but that’s when we ran into and  had our 1.8 minute conversation with Sir Paul McCartney. Epic.

This past week, while on vacation, we added to one of our legends.

My husband went back to work a few days into our week at the lake.  He texted me from the train that sitting in the car in front of him, blocked for privacy, was none other than Al Roker – post stomach reduction. Apparently he has a house just miles from where we were staying (that’s what it said on the internet). I begged him to take a picture or start a conversation with our old friend Al. It could go something like,” hey! Remember me? I fathered the kid that was born next to your kid.” or “Hi, small world! We have our firstborn together and now this!”.  He refused. He did however stalk him off the train and get this shot going up the escalator at Penn Station.

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This picture is going right in the photo album.

Virgo

My husband is a cat person.

If he was older, unmarried and a woman – he’d be a really good cat lady. He’s had cats all his life and loved them. Me? Not so much.

This is Virgo – he was with us for almost 12 years.  My husband had just graduated college, gotten a job in the big city and was about to move out of the Bronx – where he had been living for about a year.  As he was leaving, he went to the back of his old building to dump some garbage and a little, gray cat the size of a large rat ran over to him. It was love at first sight for both of them.

Virgo was not a gentle, loving, purring kitty. He was a Bronx born, garbage raised hooligan. He considered every touch a call to arms. He didn’t like to be pet. The irony. A pet that doesn’t like petting.  The only person in our family that even tried to love that cat was my husband – and he’s got the scars to show for it.

Virgo lived the good life. He went from eating garbage in the ‘hood to eating only Fancy Feast – my husband insisted. For most of his life he had a better healthcare plan than all of us combined and he was groomed way more than I was.

It was the first time I ever lived with a pet. I know, I know. Cats are easy. Cats aren’t dogs. Cats are low-key. Except this cat wasn’t low-key. This cat was wild, crazy and mean most of the time. And the liter box. Can we talk about the liter box? It’s box. Full of poop and pee that just lives with you. The horror.

That seat was his perch, his favorite spot in the house.  There is a permanent indent in the cushion where he sat – and where now, our new cat, also sits.  Yes, we got another cat. Lexi. The complete, polar opposite of Virgo. A loving, purring, soft, sweet little girl. You want her?

I don’t think I’ll ever be a cat person. Or a dog person. Or a fish….you get the point. But I’ve made my peace with cat living.

 

 

 

Meatloaf memory

There’s a few posts that have been stuck in my brain – one of them is about my J.O.B – but it’s Saturday, and I really don’t want to think/write/delve into work right now. Even though I love my work to bits, we’ll save that for another day.

I’ve been meaning to tell you about the awkward, long, frustrating courtship that my husband and I had in college. To clarify – I consider “courting” everything that happened before we got together.

Let me set the scene – I was 19, he was 21. I think I’ve told you all that I met him through a friend, who had grown up in the same neighborhood. The only thing she’d told me about him was that he was….quiet, a loner. She was surprised he was even talking to her then – but apparently they were in the same class and he needed notes.

It turned out that he lived in my dorm – on my floor – across the hall from me. We started hanging out, going to lunch, going to dinner, walking to class, meeting up between classes etc. We talked about movies, family, music. He couldn’t believe that I had never listened to Neil Young, Led Zeppelin or any of the classic rock he considered Bible. Back then he was Elton John obsessed – the Springsteen obsession happened much later, during his 30s.

He made me tapes upon tapes upon tapes. I considered each one a secret message conveying his love and desire for me. But weeks, months into the talks, the walks, the chats, the meals – nothing. Not one little hint that he liked me.

I decided it was because we were never alone. My roommates, friends, etc. were always around when we were together. So I started plotting “alone” time. No go. Nothing. It was like I was stuck in a French film – all we did was talk. I was pissed. I didn’t even like all that music I was being forced to listen to – and I couldn’t deal with one more conversation about why The Godfather was the shit!

It was time to let it go. Almost.

At the end of October we heard that we’d have a concert on campus. Someone named Meatloaf was coming to perform. Huh? Who? Never heard of him. But the campus went crazy – apparently he was a corny, cheesy classic. All my gal pals started singing his “hits”. Paradise by the Dashboard Lights, I’d do Anything for Love, etc. I chalked this up to a New York thing.

Then something crazy happened – the boy told me that he’d buy me tickets to the concert because I had to go, I needed to hear him live. Now ladies, am I crazy or does this sound like a date to you? I was thrilled. Like a bat out of hell yeah I’d go (sorry).

What I didn’t realize until that night is that the loner, the shy guy, the dude who was really on his own for the most part – decided to go with 80 other people. I’d never even seen him talk to all these people – where did they come from??

Thank goodness that one of the peeps was his sister. I’d find out later that they were (and are) very close and nothing made them happier than sharing a concert together. She was the opposite of the boy. Like oil and water opposite. She was easy to smile, laugh, and be silly. I immediately loved her. She made you feel like you were her best friend the moment you met her – unlike her brother who had you go through a long, slow interview process to earn his time.

By then I was so over the weirdo courting/hanging out that I decided to just let loose and have some fun. There was cheap beer involved. We all went to the concert (where he DID NOT sit next to me, I’m just sayin’) – and then back to his room. Again – who are all these people? His sister and I spent most of the night talking – and I spilled my beans. Everyone knew I liked her brother – except her brother.

She was giddy with excitement. She begged me to tell him – she begged me to let her tell him. And because I was tired, and had just sat through the most heinous concert (where an actual meatloaf was thrown at Meatloaf) and again – cheap beer was involved – I gave in. Fine. Tell him. What did I care. Nothing was going to happen. Trust me, besides jumping him, I’d tried everything else.

So she told him. And it turned out that he liked me too. The very next night he kissed me and it was all over, for me. He told me that all those days, weeks of talking he just didn’t know. And that he wanted to be sure, really really sure that he wouldn’t be rejected. Dummy.

This is us – circa Meatloaf concert.

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