Blog dump

I got called out. Last night we were all sitting around talking about things (end of high school, end of school year, politics, The whip and nae nae, etc), and my daughter quietly turned to me and said, “Mom, why can’t I see any of your blog posts pop up on my Facebook anymore?”…. Why? Oh. That’s easy. Because I don’t write them. LOL. Ahem. Got a problem with that? Then they all started.

“Why don’t you write?”

“Are you done with the blog?”

“Do you need ideas?”

No. No thank you. Ideas I have. Infact, that may be the problem. I have too much stuff to write about. I can’t organize it all. It doesn’t all go together. It’s a mishmash of opinions/thoughts/experiences. It’s good stuff, it’s bad stuff, it’s all over the place. It’s a schizophrenic mix of events during the past few weeks that I’m afraid I can’t prioritize.  Look, even me describing it is a hot mess. But I’ll try. I’m warning you all now. There’s stuff in here that is really really great, and stuff that’s really really meh. But I have no time or patience to separate those things…so here you go.

I hated Disney. There. I said it. It’s been weighing heavily on my mind. We had a really good event there. It wasn’t crowded. The weather was amazing. My family loved it. The service levels at the resort are bananas good, the people are super friendly- but guess what – not my thing. I even met and hugged Mickey himself and felt…nothing. I guess I’m dead inside.

I did not hate my 20th wedding anniversary. 20 years. Same dude. #goodlife

I turned 44. Here’s where I stand. I have a shitload of white hair. My lady bits are having some issues (you’re welcome for the overshare), looks like I have to be a normal human and see a doctor more often.  I’m grateful for the very deep relationship with my manicure/pedicure gals. Nothing feels warmer than me walking in and all of them smiling and saying, “hello Neha! Mani/pedi/wax?” Yes. Yes. And really yes. I’m also happy to have friends who are still around even though I talk to them less than I write this blog. I’m thankful for all the usual stuff too (kids, family, job, yada yada).

I’m obsessed with Seinfeld, again. This may be bad news for my obsession with Everybody Loves Raymond, I’ll let you know.

God grant me the serenity to accept my family and friends who love Trump. In my mind I imagine even Oprah has friends and family like that – and what would she do? Would she look down on them? No way. She would openly embrace them and love them. For they know not what they do. I’m gonna be like Oprah. Forever.

I am sick of talking about how busy I am. I’m done. I can’t hear myself anymore. If I were listening to me I’d tell me to shut-up. Enough. What am I? The Queen of Sheba? No. Not. I’m riduclous. I will find something else to talk about. Starting tomorrow….I’ve got a lot to do today.

We went to a wonderful, beautiful wedding. I love weddings. I love all of it. I find nothing cheesy or boring about weddings. This is the great mystery of my life. I love weddings but I also loved eloping. Go figure. Maybe I like OTHER people’s weddings. Anyway – it was beautiful and fun and touching. Mazel tov to Keith and Danielle (and Cora the cutie!).

Guess what? The day after that wedding I went to another wedding…err.. wedding celebration. Two lovebirds who found each other later in life but make every day and every moment count. The love story of Marcello and Lorraine gives me serious feels, as my son would say. They are joyful and generous. As I get older I no longer find humor in marriage sarcasm. I love couples who love. Openly and happily. During one of our book club meetings a few months ago (Babes with Books lives!), a new member described her dating life with her then boyfriend by saying,”we spent the next two years falling in love before he proposed.” Come on! That’s some beautiful stuff right there. I told you I’m getting old and soft. One more thing to share about this day…during the time that Marcello and Lorraine were falling in love in Italy, he took a photo that captured a special moment in their courtship. That day, that beautiful photo memory ended up on their wedding cake as a surprise to the couple. Tears flowed from both the bride and the groom. No hiding that kind of emotion and love.

Work is going well. My team and I have lots of fun together. Atleast I think we do. Am I one of those people that think their team likes to hang out with them when deep inside they are all miserable and unhappy and would much rather be anywhere but with me? I dunno. I’m going to start a group chat with them and find out.

My daughter went to senior prom. My son got his blackbelt. It was the best weekend ever.

I’m wearing color, and I don’t mean grey. Or is it gray. I don’t know how long it’ll last and I still like wearing all black – but I get a lot less slack this way. People like it when you mask your inner darkness with chunky yellow jewelry. If I were an evil super villian I’d get away with it all just by wearing a light, flowery shirt. Just an fyi.

Beyoncé. Lemonade. Everyday. When you’re talking to me, just know that’s what’s going on in my head.

Have you had enough? I’ll try to be better..I still have more to tell you…it’s just that I’m so busy:-)

Who’s Mothering Who?

  
Had I known that you both would be so funny and smart and fun – I would have had an army of you.

Then there would be a whole gang of people who hated cooked carrots, had inside jokes and made world promises that couldn’t be broken. The only thing on TV would be Cops, Inked and Catfish, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch would be a food group.

Ofcourse there would be music constantly, everywhere. I would only hear what you wanted them to hear, like cool indie hits and the occasional rap song with a bad word. But with each other you’d talk about songs and artists that only you knew. I would overhear and ask who you were talking about, and you’d smile and tell me the name and move on with your conversation. No need for me to know more. You’d given me just what I could handle. 

When you weren’t laughing together you’d be fighting. All that Scorpio sting and passion would erupt every few days – and quickly smooth over. And the stubbornness. Omg the stubbornness.

In the end, the world would be full of politeness and kindness. And full of more humans that were beautiful inside and out.

But I didn’t know. I had no clue. I thought I was bringing you into this world. I thought I gave you life. I thought I would be the one teaching you. I had it all backwards. 

Thanks for letting me keep trying to mother.  

Times they are a changin’

Last week we decided to make what seemed like a few small changes. We have a playset in the back yard that hadn’t been used in years. With a 17 year old about to graduate and a 12 year old boy obsessed with his trampoline, we thought it was a safe bet to get rid of it.

But as it was being taken down, piece by piece, I had a sinking feeling. I don’t remember being that emotional when we moved them from the crib to the bed – maybe because the rest of their room was still covered with toys and they were still a version of land locked with us at home.

The other change was a much needed refresh of my daughter’s room. New paint, new dresser, new bed. It was time to say goodbye to Ikea furniture that lasted her for more than a decade (held together by glue and prayer). But even when we were cleaning out the room it still felt like she would be in it. She picked the colors, the furniture, etc. It didn’t feel like an end, just the next step.

When the kids went from carseat to booster to nothing, we celebrated. When the training wheels came off, we celebrated. Even when my son left his elementary school last year, we celebrated. Our babies were amazing but we have a lot of fun with our kids. We live in a neighborhood that let our kids bike around, walk around and now drive around. We always felt so happy when they made another, brave step. Maybe because at the end of those steps they came back home. It didn’t feel like an end.

The playset being taken away felt like an end.

I know it’s normal and parents all through time have done this. I know there are bigger moments to come, graduation, weddings, etc. But this feels like a big movement. A home that doesn’t have little feet that’ll climb the slide. A home where I don’t stand at the kitchen sink and watch them play. Truth be told they haven’t touched it in years, and it’s a great big eyesore, which is why it was so easy to decide to get rid of it. Still it stung.

Here’s a look down memory lane and then the memory being demolished and taken away. Just kidding. Not really.
 

   
    
    
  

 

The year of marriage 

Forget the Year of the Monkey. 2016 is the year of I Do’s. 

We have exactly 4 weddings to go to this year. And we know and love exactly 3 other couples who have gone off and gotten hitched! And now, over the weekend, another lovely couple in the family has gotten engaged. I’m overwhelmed with happiness for all these people in love. 

And of course  all this love gets me thinking of my own engagement and marriage – because after all – I am human and I come back to how this impacts me. I can’t help it. 

So  I’m reminiscing and looking at my engagement and wedding rings and then I notice how dirty they are. At the same time, a Dawn commercial comes on. The one that talks about how they use Dawn to save the oil covered birds…if you watch a lot of TV like I do, you know exactly what I mean. The rest of you, put down your book and YouTube it.

Anyway it got me thinking. We have Dawn… If it can clean oil slick covered baby birds – it can clean my rings! And you know what? It did! 

Eureka!

  
Look at all the dirt coming off! 

Gross and interesting right?? 

How did I get from reminiscing about proposals and marriage to grime and dirt? I dunno. But that’s where I went. 

So this is my advice to all newly engaged/newly married members of my family. Eventually the ring gets dirty. And it’s good dirt. It’s cooking dinner dirt. It’s helping with homework projects dirt. It’s years of not caring about your ring dirt. But  it all cleans away. And you still have all the romance, the excitement and love of that ring underneath. 

Here’s wishing you years of dirt and happiness. 

Good morning roast

Sometimes…on a Friday morning, for no good reason, I wake up and make a roast. 

Normal right?

A few years ago my husband got me a Dutch oven. It’s high romance around here. Since then, I’ve slow braised the hell out of chicken, beef and lamb. And oh the chili I’ve made! 

I don’t make any veggie things in it because I feel like there’s braised meat in the bones of this Dutch oven. The soul of it is now meat. That’s right. It’s got a meat soul.

It’s an easy recipe. Cover the roast in salt, pepper and garlic. Sear the meat on high to get crust. Let the meat rest while you cook down onions, carrots and celery. Then add beef stock and a few bay leafs. Put the beef back in. Cover and into a 350 degree oven for 2-3 hours depending on size of roast. Done! 

Now go about your day, smelling like meat and bay leafs. You’re welcome.

   
    
    
   

Chicken Marsala and other things

Happy January! Is the new year treating you well so far? Are you deflating slowly from the merriment like I am? Well, I’m trying to atleast. Work goes into hyper speed until…oh about June. Gulp. Here’s what we’ve been up to – a visual tour:

I call this, I spend a lot of time with chicken for a vegetarian.

 

We’ve been trying to cook more often and I went all old school this past weekend with a Chicken Marsala. The way to my husband’s heart is pretty simple – a meat, a gravy, and a noodle. This was an old Martha recipe. Remember when it was just Martha and all her superiority? Miss that.

I took some time off during the holidays from work and I think my husband and I may have seen a movie a day. One of the benefits of our kids getting bigger is that we are no longer tied to a sitter. If we want to go to a movie, we go. The kids manage to survive for a couple of hours. Here’s three of our favorites. Two of these movies aren’t for the faint of heart – and the other is not the love story you would expect.

My daughter, Kera, spent this long weekend at her high school’s senior retreat. Even though my husband and I both went to Catholic schools, neither one of us ever went to a retreat.  We blame Obama. Just kidding. Last night we went to pick her up in the “homecoming” ceremony. It was so raw and emotional. I fully expected the girls to be crying and happy when they walked in, because that’s how I would be. And isn’t it all about me? No? Ok. You’re right. What I didn’t understand was how many young men would walk in that room with tears in their eyes and talk about their emotions. And the mix of kids was also amazing. The sports guy, the cheerleader, the computer geek, the comedian – all together. The entire weekend is called Kairos, which is a Greek word that means “the right” or “the moment”. That’s about all I can tell  you because the cell phone/tv/computer free retreat, is also about how to protect the things that your peers have shared with you. Each group did get to share one thing with the parents – surprisingly it was all boys talking about their experience, except for one, brave, strong, beautiful girl. Guess which one? Yep. Here she is walking in from her “Kai High” as it’s called.


One last thing. For many years I’ve heard funny, crazy, happy, sad, and completely engrosing stories about my mother-in-law’s childhood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan called Old Yorkville. When we lost her too early, I started asking even more questions. Her two sisters and extended family have been filling me in. Initially I was just interested in my mother-in-law’s story, but now I’m obsessed with her mother, Irene. She was a stone cold beauty in every sense of that phrase. I met her just twice. By the time I came into the picture, she had lived a hard life. She didn’t play a huge part in my husband’s childhood, which was dominated by the other grandmother in his life – on his father’s side – Nana. That’s a cool story too. When I first met Joe I didn’t even know he had two grandmothers. I only heard about Nana. I didn’t meet Irene until amost 3 years into our relationship. She was so different than all the other women in his family that I’d met. A little withdrawen and quiet. I was so absorbed with my own little life back then that I really didn’t open up to her at all. Now I’m completely obsessed. Her marriages, her daughthers, her life – I want to know it all. I’ve been bugging everyone to share their stories, and they have. Generously. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it yet. I do hope to share some of what I learn here (if it’s ok with the family). Here’s a picture of Irene on her wedding day. Makes you want to know more about her doesn’t it?


Writing this blog makes me so happy, but it also requires that the people in my life are ok with what I choose to share. I usually don’t ask permission, but I am careful. It’s a tough line and that I’m constantly pushing. Why do I think you want to know about what I made for dinner or what movies I saw? Because if we were to ever meet, or had a cup of coffee together – that’s what I would ask you. Not because I think what I’m doing is so important – but because it’s a detail of life. And I love all the details that go into a person’s life. Do you agree?

 

 

Monkey

The Chinese New Year doesn’t start until February, but I’m already excited. It’s the year of the monkey. A year of activity and action. Lots of energy. Lots of movement. A little spastic and frantic, but full of life. If you believe that sort of thing. And I do.

I don’t think I’m religious. I was raised by devout Hindu parents who lived their lives based on similar astrological magic. I went to Catholic schools for most of my education, mainly because there aren’t any Hindu schools in Harrisburg, PA and my parents thought any religion was better than no religion. If there had been only a Buddhist school they would have sent me there. I married an Irish Catholic semi-religious dude. When he asked if we would baptize our kids, I was all for it. Why not? Let’s do it all. Hedge our bets.

I minored in World Religion in college and that’s exactly where it fits in my life now. It’s minor. A few weeks ago I had coffee with some new friends and one of them asked what my spiritual journey is. Spiritual journey? I think I laughed, made a joke, and then ran home. I couldn’t even imagine how to answer that. I would have had to use a life line and phone-a-religious-friend.

I do try to meditate – although lately that just ends in a nap.

All that said, I still like to think that there’s a bigger purpose. A higher power. Some kind of connectivity to each other and the universe. I like that.

So I read my horoscope. Sing Christmas songs. Tell my kids about the elephant God and when someone tells me they are going to church or temple, I always ask them to say a prayer for me. I hope they do.

I’m going to my first psychic reading in a couple of weeks. Why? Why not! That’s the attitude we need in the year of the monkey!

On another note – a few of my f’d up friends call me monkey. It began more than a decade ago at a Mexican restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen. A place where margaritas come in two sizes. Regular and the Mama. We went there often and laughed till our sides hurt. More often than not, the laughs were on me. Me telling stories of my hilarious life (said sarcastically). One day, deep into a Mama margarita – I pounded the table and yelled something like,” I’m not your performing monkey!!”.  At this point they all got very silent and then burst out laughing. They’ve called me monkey ever since. Just wanted to give you another reason why I obsesses about this stuff (outside the obvi reason of course, insanity).

This morning, I got up early and took a moment before our year gets going. I sat in silence and started to write this blog. The plan was to tell you about how the year of the monkey was going to be my year to believe in something (besides my family, friends and reality tv). But I was blank. I had nothing. No blog for you!

I left the house and met some friends to walk around a flea market and what do you know…look what I found.

IMG_7179

Monkey found a monkey. With a banana. It’s going to be a good year.

 

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