What’s the Lesson

Blogging is a funny thing. I usually write about anecdotes in my life, and the lessons I’ve learned from them.  Sometimes I’m funny, sometimes I’m serious, but at the end of the day, I hope I’ve told some sort of story.  On any given Sunday, I jot down possible blog posts for the week, and then I start thinking about them, listing ideas, whatever.  I had a particular blog scheduled in my head for today, but I realize that I need to do a prequel in order for you to better understand my position.  This is a hard post for me, because it is about a time in my life when I really and truly believed I’d failed as a parent.  So here goes…..

In New York City, especially Manhattan, children apply to public middle schools and high schools.  And yes, this mean at 10 years old what you do in school matters.  Every grade, every standardized test counts- these things will literally decide your future.  When  a child is in 5th grade they are taught the basics of a resume and what to do on an interview.  They spend two months touring schools figuring out which school is the right fit for them.  Then, In December, you rank the schools that you want to apply to.  After a school has received notification that you wish to go there, the fun really begins.  There are additional placement tests, there are portfolios, there are interviews.  Sound horrific?  Well- it is.

My daughter worked really hard in elementary school.  Her grades were consistently “exceeds grade standard”.  Her test scores were consistently “exceeds grade standard”.  She loved school- she loved learning. When she chose to apply to one of the most difficult middle schools, not one person batted an eye.  She was clearly a top student in the city.

The school she chose had both an additional placement test and a group interview.  The group interview would be about 5 kids in a room being asked questions.  Sounds harmless.  Except, my daughter was/is a more shy child.  She will never be the loudest voice in the room.

So you know where this is going.  My daughter did not get accepted into the school. She got accepted into a school that she did not want to go to- she only put it on the list because it is close to our house.   She hated the thought of the Middle School she was being “forced ” to attend.  She was sullen and morose.

We knew she did not get into the school because of the interview.  I knew the kids that were in the room with her, and I knew one of the children was always the center of attention.  My daughter did not know how to compete with someone who was stealing the show.  Why should she?  She’s 10.  So, a child with a lesser work ethic and lower grades received a spot in this school.  She didn’t understand how life could be this unfair.  This child never did their homework, was a troublemaker, and didn’t care about school- yet this child had received the golden ticket.

What do you think my summer was like?  Husband blamed me- because someone has to be blamed.  He said I indulged my daughter and I allowed her to be shy.  She was never going to get anywhere by being shy.  I won’t bore you with what I said back to him……

And the daughter.  She was devastated.  She kept talking about how unfair it was- how she deserved the spot based on past results.  She voiced why should she work hard if it’s all fate in the end.  She begged me to homeschool her.  She told me that only dumb people and convicts went to the middle school she was assigned.  (which wasn’t true- it’s actually an excellent school, just large)

I did not know what to do.  I was at a loss.  How do I help my daughter thru this?

As the first day of school closed in on us, I figured I’d try the proverbial “Hail Mary”.  I sat her down, and I said the following…”Life is unfair.  Get used to it.  More often than not- things will not go your way.  This is just the first example of how crappy life can be.  Should you have gotten that spot in the school?  Of course I think so….but I always think you should get everything you want.  I’m your Mom.  I think you’re the greatest force in the universe- and you will be that no matter what school you attend.  I know you feel like crap right now.  I know you feel like what’s the point in doing homework and studying and paying attention if it really doesn’t matter in the end.  So here’s the deal- you have two choices- 1) you can be sad sack.  You can enter the building but not be present.  You don’t have to do homework.  You don’t have to study.  You don’t have to pay attention.  At 2:40 you can leave the building, not take part in any activities, not make any friends.  You can literally do nothing the next three years.  Then there’s option 2)- you can do what you’ve always done- study hard, pay attention, get involved.  Make the most of the opportunities that are in front of you.  At the end of the day- it’s your ride.  You choose what to make of your life.  Which option you choose doesn’t affect me at all- my life does not change based on your life path.  My life is the same no matter what you do.  I don’t care what grade you get, or what you do.  In fact, it would be better for me if you are a slacker, because then I don’t feel compelled to pay for college.  That’s a whole lot of money that I can do other things with.  But which path will give you more options?  Which path will give you the opportunity to try different things, to figure out who you are, and what you want to be?  Here’s the fork in the road- you can choose to care about school, or you can choose not to.  The choice is yours.  But rest assured- you will enter that Middle School building on Thursday and I will not be home schooling you.”

My daughter chose to work hard.  She chose to get involved and make the most of the opportunities in front of her.  But it was her choice.  I just gave her the tools to think about how to make that choice.  I  was honest and open, and I didn’t try to sugar coat anything.

Tomorrow, we will continue the essence of this anecdote, but take it in a slightly different direction.

 

 

I Did it Without Thinking

I was running errands the other day, walking down Park Avenue South when  I stopped at a corner.  No big deal- that’s what you do when walking the city streets- you stop at the corner.  The only difference was, I could see the westbound street was closed to traffic- there would be no car intersecting my path.  Yet I stopped anyway.  Why?  Because I did it by rote- 30 years of crossing streets in New York – I stop at the corners.

I think certain aspects of repetitive behavior are fine- brushing teeth, washing hands…..I even believe that school kids should be taught to memorize the times tables (in my mind 5×5=25- I know there is a reason for that, but at the end of the day, 5×5=25 is 5×5=25, because it is.  I don’t want to hear they need to show work, or draw 5 groups of 5 sticks, or be told it’s OK if they got the wrong answer as long as the work is right- tell that to a boss when the till is constantly off- “I know I gave out the wrong change- but my process was right)  Oh wait- I digress- where was I?

Rote. Unconscious behavior.  Doing an action without even thinking about it.  When I wake up in the morning I look at my phone- reflexively.  I check the time, I check the message bar for texts, emails or missed calls.  I check the weather.  I just do it without thinking.

How often to you unconsciously pick up your phone to check, let’s just say, the time?  There are times we legitimately need to know the time- but most of the time, do you just reflexively do it?

This past weekend, Husband and Daughter spent some time at a relatives rented beach house.  This family consists of 3 kids, 12 and under and Mom and Dad.  The beach house had a pool complete with floats and pool toys,  a tennis court and a foosball table- I think there was even a basketball hoop.  There was a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle open on the table, a bunch of board games on a shelf.  There were plenty of things to do.

My family went out to play tennis.  When they got to the court they realized there was a wasp infestation on the court.  Even though the host family had been there a week, no one had gone out to the tennis courts- they had no idea there were so many bugs you couldn’t play.

Daughter wrote up a foosball round robin tournament schedule.  There would be no prizes- just everyone playing the same game at the same time.  This was met by a chorus of “Oh- I don’t know” and “Maybe later”.  Eventually, she got the young boys to play.  But not the girl or the parents.

When they went out to dinner, the host family just pulled out their cell phones the moment they sat at the table.  My Husband tried to talk to the other Guy- but other guy was staring at his screen.  There was no actual conversation.  The only utterances were the Mom telling the kids what they could, and more often, could not eat.  “Stop eating bread.  No- you can’t get the ribeye- it has too much fat.”

Now- I wasn’t there for this meal- I was happily cleaning my apartment, watching our pets…..so how can I recreate this scene?  Because this family is on autopilot- they do the same thing every time they are anywhere.  They might all be in the same room, but they are acting as individuals, not a family unit.  They sit down, they pick up their electronic device.  They don’t talk.  It is habit.

What a habit.  Sit down with your family and pick up your phone.  I think that will be my New Years resolution.  I mean really, what’s the point of vacation if you need to talk to the other members of your family.  jigsaw puzzles?  Who does those anymore? (you  can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand- but our tradition is a winter holiday jigsaw puzzle- but I’m digressing again…)

Does a family need to play games together to be happy?  Do a Mom and Dad need to go into the pool with the kids?  Does a family need to talk to one another?  Or should we all just be on autopilot, looking at one another, but not seeing.  Hearing one another, but not listening.  Sharing space with people, but not sharing lives.  Picking up our phones because they are there, that flashing screen is infinitely more interesting…..

And I love my smart phone.  I love my ipad. I often look at them because they are there, because it is learned behavior. But maybe picking them up should be done consciously, when I have a legitimate reason- like reading all your blogs……

 

 

Sunday Wrap Up

The weather has been hot- I am actually looking forward to cooler temperatures.  Cooler, meaning 60’s- lets not get crazy.  This was a fairly quiet week- but here’s what went on.  I have received no compensation for anything discussed here.  All things are located in NYC unless otherwise specified.  Ratings are 0-5.

Books

“Everything I Never Told You” Celeste Ng  Ummm- where do I start?  Not a great book for the Mother of a teenage girl to read.  But it was well written.  Story somewhat interesting.  4

Television

“The Next Food Network Star”- I picked Jason.  Jason won.  I think he’s fun.  Looking forward to his show.  4

“Broadchurch”  Series finale.  I will miss David Tenant screaming “Millerrrrr”. but I will not miss much else.  I didn’t love the 3rd and final season.  3.5

“Garage Sale Mysteries- Hallmark Mystery Channel”  I love a cozy mystery- even though these are a bit silly and predictable.  3.5

Food

Nathan’s Hot Dogs- Coney Island Brooklyn.  There might not be anything better than thick crinkle fries and a hot dog near the beach.  And an orangeade to complete the picture.  4.8

The Smith- Midtown- This NYC based chain (I don’t know if it is a chain, but it has multiple locations, so I’ll call it a chain) is one of my go to’s if I need a place for a group, or I have friends in from out of town.  The menu is just varied enough to please most diners, and the prices aren’t ridiculous.  Good drink menu (3 champagne cocktails!) and fun vibe.  But….this comes with a caveat.  Why I was waiting for my friend, a group of people came out- a young woman in her early 20’s and what I can assume were her parents- if I had to guess, I think they were slightly older than me.  They did not eat here- they left complaining to their daughter that it was much too loud and too “not them” (I don’t know exactly what this means though- I can only eavesdrop so much)  So while I think it is a fun, cool atmosphere, others may not.  I still like splitting their homemade chips with blue cheese fondue and burgers. 4

Bar Primi- I love pasta.  This place has good pasta.  No- make that great pasta.  All pasta is homemade and my friend from Illinois said it has spoiled her from ever eating pasta at home.  I had a dish with fresh corn, mushrooms and scallions in a light cream sauce- it was so good.  So good that I wish it was socially acceptable to lick a plate clean.  And they have a slushy rose cocktail….4.6

Daily Provisions- This is a take out place, with a couple of counters to stand at.  I had what is known as OG- it’s like a cheesy croissant like pastry filled with scrambled eggs.  It was delicious.  It’ sinful that eggs can taste this good-  4.6

Other 

New York Aquarium- Coney Island Brooklyn.  This is a very average aquarium, and they are presently undergoing renovations.  But it’s fish and otters and sea lions.  On the boardwalk at Coney Island.  And it has memories for me- I went here as a kid.  I took my daughter here when she was little.  When she was 5, her dream job was to be the person who worked at the touch tank. 3.5

Stop the Zombies- Deno’s Wonderwheel Amusement Park- Coney Island.  This is a 4D virtual experience where you and 15 other people try to save NYC from Zombies.  This was so much fun!  And I came in last at shooting zombies, and I still loved it (Yes- at the end they rank the zombie hunters) Tip- sit in the front row. 4.5

Housekeeping

I solved 3 pesky organizational problems (thank you Container Store for helping with the drawer compartmentalizing).  I have gotten rid of a large bag of clothing.  Yay me.  I jammed the shredder and it took me 45 minutes to unjam it.

I intended to finish another book this week, but it is a book for book club.  It is a long book for book club- about a convent in 16th century Italy.  I may never finish it…….

I have ideas floating around in my head about family and parenting.  Expect a blog on these topics in the coming weeks.

I reached a personal high score on Ballz, but the family is still ahead of me!  I did manage to beat the husband at words with friends!

I had some issues with the wordpress update….I needed to uninstall and reinstall and I’m still trying to make sure it’s all working correctly.  Also, anyone who emails me blogs or anything….I am way behind on emails!  I’ll get there!  Thanks!

Thank you to all who commented this week.  You guys inspire me with your ideas and thoughts.  Also- I welcome those who have a different opinion than I do.  Don’t be afraid to disagree- I am always looking to improve my mind- though we all know- I am always right…….

 

The Versatile Blogger Award

I would like to thank https://caterpillars2butterfliesblog.wordpress.com/ for nominating me for this award.  This blog is honest and heartfelt and real-everything I look for in a blog!  Please check out her blog!!

RULES OF THE VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD:
1.) Thank the bloggers who nominated you and share their links.
2.) Nominate at least 10 bloggers for the award and provide links to their blogs.
3.) Also inform them about their nomination.
4.) Reveal 7 facts about yourself that your readers may not know.

Ok- I’m going to try to think of things I have not revealed:

  1. I hate stirring my hot tea with a wooden stirrer- I use a straw instead
  2. I have hazel eyes
  3. my favorite color is hot pink
  4. My left pinky toe curves over the toe next to it- it is not pretty
  5. I took a ride in a hot air balloon in New Mexico- I am afraid of heights, but for some reason I had no problem with this.  It was awesome.
  6. Catfish is my favorite guilty pleasure TV show
  7. I passed the test to be a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, but I have never been selected to appear on the show

I would like to nominate the following blogs:

http://fieldnotesfromoverthehill.wordpress.com/

https://kipwalkin.wordpress.com/

http://foodzesty.wordpress.com/

http://bridgesburning.wordpress.com/

I’m only nominating a few people, as I have a few more blogger awards to go!  As always, no harm, no foul if you don’t want to participate.  This is supposed to be fun, not torture!

Who’s in Charge Here…..

I love my Mom.  I know she has made mistakes about things, but I also know she has always had the best of intentions.  That took me about 50 years to figure out.  But….my Mom can also drive me crazy.  Because even though she has known me my entire life, she still does not understand me.  Or chooses not to understand me- I’m really not sure which……

She pet sat for us last month when we were on vacation.  She loves to go to the theater, we live in the city.  We needed someone to take care of the girls.  This was a win/win situation. And I really do appreciate the help.  Truly.

But…….

My Mom’s hobby is shopping.  Seriously.  Shopping.  She DVR’s shows on the shopping channels.  Mom only uses the internet is to look for things to buy.  The only reason she wishes she didn’t sell her big suburban house is because it had lots of rooms to store the things she purchases.  She literally has gadgets for everything.  And multiples of everything.  When I go to her condo, I want to bang my head against the kitchen cabinets- because she has so much stuff, it is impossible to find what you actually need.  (This problem also causes her to rebuy things that are already in the house….it’s a vicious cycle)

Now, if you read yesterday- you know I am a serious purger of goods- I hate clutter.  I hate things that take up space.  I am clearly function over form.

So what happens when a person who values objects stays at the home of her daughter who hates things?  Well- Mom buys things that she thinks will be helpful.  And daughter doesn’t want them, but feels a little bad, because she knows her Mom is trying to be helpful.  But maybe no one actually needs to be helped……

Case in point- the laundry basket.  I have a rattan hamper- it is just attractive enough to sit in my bedroom and not make my eyes sore, it is just large enough to hold clothes for a few days, small enough to fit in my bedroom, and light enough to carry down to laundry room.  My Mother bought me a different laundry bag- because mine didn’t make sense to her.  Hers was “better”.  For ten minutes she extolled the virtues of her laundry system over mine.  She exclaimed “Isn’t this great?”  to which I answered, “Not really.  If I wanted that I would have bought that.”  She made a hmpf sound.  I felt a little guilty- after all, she just pet sat for me- she didn’t have to do that.  But I’m 53 years old- I can figure out my own laundry solutions.

I also know, that in the end, it is about control.  My Mom still wants to control everything I do.  I get that- to a point.  I am a control freak (I know- you guys are shocked to hear this)  I like things to be my way- because I know everything, and I’m always right…… (My Husband has actually said to my Daughter- just listen to Mom- she’s always right)

But…..

No one can control everything.  There is a point when you have to let your kids make their own decisions- you can guide them- but the final choice is theirs.  Kids have to learn how to make choices- list out pros and cons, figure out the worst case scenario…..They also need to learn to adapt if something isn’t working, know when something is seriously wrong and needs to be scrapped- learn how to take control of their own lives.  This only comes by trial and error.  A parents job is to help them pick up the pieces if something fails- to support them emotionally if the choice they made was wrong.  If my laundry storage system goes awry, I should be able to call my Mom and cry, without her saying “I told you so”.

So what’s the point?

  1. Don’t buy your kids things just because you think they need it or will make their lives better- ask them first,  They’re allowed an opinion.
  2. Don’t feel guilty about saying “No” to a parent- it’s not healthy to say “Yes” to anything you don’t want to do
  3. Let your kids lead their own lives.  They’ll probably be fine.

Countdown to September

Since my daughter entered school, I’ve always thought of September as the beginning of the year.  So in August I do a lot of organizing/housekeeping things.  This is a glimpse into the crazy that is my brain:  my August to do list.

  1. Use all food that is in my pantry and freezer.  I like to know that there is no food product in my house that is over a year old.  I will use every can, box, grain or frozen thing before the month is up.  I don’t have a large pantry- but I end up with an odd assortment of grains- half container of quinoa, half container of barley.  There are also cans of soup that we pick up “just in case”- this never happens- my family hates canned soup.  And there is always an errant chicken breast or half bag of shrimp loitering in my freezer- I want them gone!  On the Tuesday after Labor Day, I will begin buying things again.
  2. Buy printer supplies and paper.  I know- this is a logical back to school step.  And I once had to run out to the 24 hour staples to pick up ink- I will never do that again.
  3. Buy new towels and pillows.  I know there are January white sales- but really- with online shopping, there is always a sale somewhere.
  4. Empty every drawer, shelf and closet in our house.  I take a long hard look at what we have.  I think about what we use, and if we haven’t used something, I consider how much it will cost to replace if we ever need it again.  I have yet to donate something that I ended up rebuying.  (my Achilles heel are charging cords.  I can’t throw them away- I always wonder if I’ll need them and be unable to replace them. I actually have a box of them in our storage locker)
  5. I reorganize where our possessions are stored.  I try to keep like objects together.  This makes it logical to try and find something.  I also try to keep most used objects in an easily accessed spot.  Simplify.
  6. I set aside one or two things my daughter did in school.  (I have saved more like 8 things a year from when she was younger- sue me) I either frame the work and hang on my wall, display on a shelf, or place it in a portfolio book.
  7. I make my family donate 10-20 pieces of spring/summer clothing that they did not wear.  I look over summer clothing to see what basics will need to be replaced next year, and I make a note in my electronic date book for March 1- reminding me that some basics are needed so I can begin to look.  I do not buy clothes at end of season sales.  I have found that we never really love these pieces, but are swayed more by the inexpensive price.  if you don’t love something, you are not going to wear it.  if you don’t wear it, you’ve wasted money.
  8. I review our medical history for the first 8 months of the year.  I see how much of our FSA has been used.  We need to make allocations for the following year in October- August is the time to review this information.
  9. I update my calendar with the school calendar- to see when there are vacations and scheduled half days.  I also mark down high school specific meetings and events.
  10. I reevaluate how my paper organizing system is working.  Even though I feel like I am receiving all things electronically, I still end up with a mountain of paper.  Every year I refine my system for dealing with the paper monster.
  11. I reevaluate how I deal with my personal to do list and date book.  Again- this is always a work in progress- I always think I can make things more streamlined.

Wish me luck- this weekend will be the big shelf/drawer reorg.  You can find me at the donation center.  pulling my hair out.

Ensemble

It’s odd how some things come together.  One blogger friend writes about a word every day, and how it impacts his life.  Another blogger friend wrote about characters in TV shows.  And yet another wrote about the theme music on Good Times.  My friends father died last week.  This past weekend was the birthday of a dear friend of mine who passed away 7 years ago.  A fourth blogger has been posting about the end of his life, as cancer has taken over his body.  Today’s blog is inspired by all these things- it’s an ensemble.

When my daughter was in Pre-k, I met 4 parents.  Our children were all in the same class.  This was our first experience with the New York City public school system- these were our first (and for most) only children.  We had a lot to learn.  Parenting is so hard- we were afraid that we were screwing up at every turn. We needed support, so our little band of five was formed.  Our own personal ensemble cast- there wasn’t really a star (OK it was me….) but a group of great supporting actors.  We began meeting for coffee every morning after drop off.

These friends literally got me through early elementary school.  If I had an issue, a problem, an idea about child rearing- I threw it out to the group.  This was my safe space- where I could ask questions, give advice, laugh and cry.  These were my people.  We were what the best ensembles were- a collaboration of people, who alone were okay, but together could change the world.  Or run a school event.  Same thing.

But we were geeks- specifically about pop culture.  We read, we watched movies, we watched TV.  We all loved sit coms.  We would quote from sit coms as a part of our daily lives.  We would have debates over shows, and characters, and favorite episodes.  We could relate almost any situation on our lives directly to a TV show- this is like the Chinese restaurant in Seinfeld, this is like the Smelly Cat episode on Friends.

Then, when our kids were in third grade- G wasn’t feeling so well.  He went to doctor after doctor- but no one could see anything wrong.  Until they did.  He got the prognosis on the morning of the spring parent teacher conferences.  As we sat in the pizza place with the kids, eating our now traditional half day of school lunch- we could not look at one another.  While the kids still retained their innocence- the adults did not.  Nothing would ever be the same again.  Six weeks later he was gone.

His memorial service- hundreds of people- including his Grandmother- stood around eating mini hot dogs, drinking Dirty Martini’s (his drink)- wondering how this could happen to a 45 year old man, wo had three little kids.  We held each other, cried and laughed, and cried some more.  When I spoke to the crowd, I held back the tears- G would not want be to cry during the eulogy.  He would want me to remember him the way he lived his life- and I did my best.  I told stories about our little band of 5- how we would spend hours talking about nothing- which was really everything.  And I ended my speech with a quote from Frasier, our favorite show.  On the series finale, Niles says to his brother, “I’ll miss the coffees.”  And that was the bet way to sum up an amazing friendship and amazing person.

Last weekend would have been his 53rd birthday- the same age I turned this year.  And I still miss his laugh, his wit, his biting satire, his humanity, and his take on pop culture.  His presence in my life changed me- for the better.  I’m a better person for having known him.

And remember way back in the first paragraph?  All those things?  Our lives, our stories, are made of little bits and pieces of everything around us.  Anything can trigger a memory, or an idea.  And all those things made me think of G, on his birthday.  And made me cry a little, and made me laugh a little.

And thanks to the following, who unknowingly inspired me:

https://www.thisismytruthnow.com/

http://theycallmetater.wordpress.com/

http://www.thatsoulshit.wordpress.com/

http://www.spearfruit.com/-  Courage and honor.

 

Actions>Words

 

My closest friend was born in Korea.  I belong to a tea society that is 99% African American.  My Husband is a different religion than I am.  My daughter attended a middle school that was 73% minority.  I have almost as many gay friends as I have straight friends.  My daughter attended kindergarten with a child that knew they were trans even then.  She knows children who practice many different religions and are of varied  nationalities  I’m not bragging- I’m just giving you some facts about me.  I don’t hate anyone based on how they are different from me.  I choose to live in a city not just for the cultural opportunities that it affords- I choose it for the diversity.  I choose to live in a large multi cultural city so that my daughter grows up knowing that people are different and that’s Ok.

My bucket list item is to visit every state.  The end goal is not to have a 50 piece shot glass collection- the goal is to learn as much about people as possible.  I like to learn about how people spend their time, the types of jobs that are available, the regional foods.  Though I choose to live in NYC, I have visited many places that I thought were amazing.  If you follow my blog, you know I fell in love with Maine, Boston and Cape Cod this year.  I have met people that are vastly different from me, and some that are eerily alike. We have met people that had never met someone that lived in Manhattan.  We have met people that have never met someone who is Jewish.

I read all sorts of blogs- I appreciate writing style more than actual content.  I love to read when people answer “Share your World” or award questions.  This is a great snippet into how other people live and think.  I get more important information about life from these posts than I get from formal essays.  This is when people are real- because they are just telling you about themselves- almost unguarded.

So what’s the point of all these words?

If you want to get rid of hate, I suggest the following for every single person.  Every single one.  No exceptions.^

  1. Read a blog of someone that is different from you in some way.  Learn one new thing about this person every day, or whatever.
  2. Randomly pick a book out of the library.  I don’t advocate reading something you hate- but give it a try.  Try to understand something that is foreign to you
  3. Try food from a place you can’t even locate on a map.  And don’t order the closest thing that resembles something you like.  A chicken satay is not really venturing out of your comfort zone if you eat chicken all the time.
  4. Visit a place you have never been- whether it’s a city, a state or a country.
  5. Visit an environment that is different from yours.  This is one thing I hate about some New Yorkers- they have such tunnel vision they can’t fathom there is life outside of the Hudson/East Rivers.  When we went to Tennessee on vacation a few years ago, people kept asking if we were visiting family- they couldn’t fathom why we would go there.  FYI- loved Tennessee- great state- amazing memories.

6. Read a newspaper that has opinions different from your own.  Try to understand                why someone has a different opinion that yours.  I read something recently that                  most people only read things that further the beliefs they already have.  This is not            good- you have to understand both sides of a story.  My daughter was a debater in              middle school- she had to study both sides of a question.   This experience was                     invaluable- she always thinks out both sides of an argument before coming to a                  conclusion.  We all should be thinking both sides of an argument before coming to            a conclusion.

7.  Visit a house of worship different than your own.  Learn about someone’s else’s faith.

What is my grand plan?

Every elementary school classroom in the US should have a partner class in another part of the country.  They should exchange letters, recipes, life stories, life styles…everything.  Classes can skype one another- give kids a peak into the lives of others.  That’s what core curriculum should include- learning, from an early age, how people are different, yet the same- and that it’s all good.

Ending hate will require every person to make a commitment to learning about others.

I do not want this to become political.  I specifically do not write about political issues, so please don’t comment about politics, no matter what your opinion is.  I want to stop dividing ourselves into two factions-I want us all to  embrace the differences, but find the similarities.  

LBD

I went to a funeral the other day.   As I was getting dressed, I came to a realization: I wear the same dresses to funerals as I do to weddings- I just accessorize differently.  For the record, I also wear these dresses to semi-formal events, and even to dinner.  So…..what does this say about me?

  1. I have reached a new milestone in minimalism.  Living in a tiny space with few closets has made me more aware of purchasing and holding on to things.  I’ve realized that there are very few physical things that make me truly happy.  To quote Marie Kondo- “If you don’t love it, toss it.”
  2. I need to shop more.  Here’s the thing-  I don’t like to shop.  This is a sharp turn around from my youth, when my friends joked that I chose my college because of proximity to an upscale shopping mall.
  3. I go to very few weddings.  I’m at the age where my friends are mostly married, and the ones getting married are opting for very casual weddings.  My friends children are mostly at an age where they are thinking marriage, or are still in school.  And frankly, I think less people are choosing marriage.
  4. I go to very few funerals.   Death rituals are becoming less formal- some of my friends parents are opting for luncheons and memorial services instead of wakes, Shiva’s and the like.
  5. I no longer feel the need to have event specific clothing.  True dat.  I buy a new black dress every year, and I get rid of one.  (that’s my family rule- if you buy something new you must get rid of an item.  I do the same at holiday time.  Daughter must donate the same number of items that are on her wish list)  For a wedding the dress with be worn with fancier shoes, glitzy faux jewels, and elaborate make-up.  Funeral, toss a jacket over the top, low pumps and simple jewels…..you get the idea.  It makes my life less complex- there are enough things to stress over- dressing should not be one of them.
  6. I think of marriage and death as the same thing.  Hmmmm- I’ve got to think about this…..
  7. I no longer feel the need to dress sexy at certain events.  There were times when I would go to a cocktail party, or wedding, and I would wear a little slinky dress.  This was as recent as 5 years ago.  And one day I realized- who am I trying to impress?  I’m much more comfortable in a simple dress that covers my rear, and does not require me to wear a strapless bra.  If I’m comfortable, I’m happy.  Happy wins.  If you want to think that I’ve succumbed to age- that’s fine.  I’m also at the age where I don’t care what people think.  When it comes to feeling sexy- I’ve  learned that sexy is fueled by the brain- if you don’t think you are sexy, high heels, short skirts, cleavage are just not going to cut it.  If the only thing that makes you feel hot is men staring at you- guess what?  You’re not hot.  You’re just a Barbie doll.  Trust me- I’m still pretty sexy……

So- long live my little black dress- It worked for Audrey Hepburn- I think it can work for me.

Sunday Wrap Up

I was not particularly organized this week- I think I’m suffering some sort of end of summeritis.  But here is what I did do this week.  All events take place in New York City unless otherwise stated.  Ratings are 0-5.  I have received no compensation for any of these things- though I often wonder if I should be reimbursed for time taken out of my life…..

Television

Food Network Star– I’ve been Team Jason and Team Corey from Day 1.  I do not know who is going to be crowned this evening- but I am going with Jason.  It’s been a fun, if predictable, season.  4.2

Sharknado 5– No- I didn’t watch Sharknado, or any of the franchise.  But Husband did have them on yesterday afternoon- I don’t know which one…..does it matter?  It’s sharks flying around- I believe 5 is subtitles “Global Swarming”……I think I have missed my calling, because who wouldn’t want to write for this franchise?  And….lest we forget….I heard a rumor that Fabio is doing a cameo as the Pope.  I may have to watch it just to see that……As I didn’t watch it- I can’t rate it…but wow-

Movies

The Nut Job 2:  Nutty by Nature- This is one of those situations where, having not seen the original, I was totally lost as to what was happening.  Not.  My daughter and I going to see this movie signifies that she is regressing due to increased stress levels, we were bored and hot, and this might be worst summer for movies ever.  It’s silly, and the message gets lost in stupidity- which is bad, because the message is to work hard and nothing comes easy, and working as a team helps to solve injustices.  I just wish the creators of the movie worked hard, and worked together, because the whole thing is disjointed. 2

Exhibits: Force of Nature at The Museum at FIT Fit is a fashion school.  There museum is amazing, and free.  If you like fashion (and I mean enjoy it, you don’t have to be fashionable- I love beautiful clothes, but I am least fashionable person in world) you need to check out this place.  The present exhibit is both odd and gorgeous.  Per the exhibit brochure, “Forces of Nature examines the complex relationship between fashion and the natural world”. Curating an exhibit about fashion always amazes and impresses me- to know that much about clothing is mind boggling.  Venue 4.5.  Exhibit 4.5

Food

Street Taco  You know when I say you’re never too old?  Well- I lied.  I am too old to go to places like this.  The music is ear shattering.  The food is average. But I truly believe that if I was in my twenties, I would love this place.  Attractive people, having fun, drinking what appeared to be refreshing cocktails.  But for me 3.

Rosa’s Pizza Middle Village Queens This was a great quintessential New York slice of pizza- the regular, the Grandma, and the Sicilian.  Great dough, cooked properly.  Good cheese to sauce ratio. 4.5

Shake Shack- I know- I’ve extolled the virtues of Shake Shack before- but they have a hot chicken sandwich now- hot as in spicy- as in I’m a chili head and love spicy food.  4.3

Ample Hills Creamery Ice Cream at Baked by Melissa- My daughter got an ice cream- so to be fair, I just had a taste- but this is seriously good ice cream.  Rich, and creamy and delicious.  If you ever see Ample Hills ice cream- try it.  4.

Housekeeping:

I forget to mention last week- my gym has still not properly fixed the air conditioning in the spin room.  It is not pleasant.  I might need to join twitter just to complain about the gym.

I did not finish reading a book this week!!!!  Horror!!!  That alone shows you how off I was!

I just realized that there is a SPAM folder for comments.  This confounds me because I discovered really well versed comments stuck in there.  It also confounds me because somehow, the person talking about their favorite game of thrones character, 16 times, did not make it into SPAM folder…..so I apologize for those of you who had taken the time to write comments that appeared to go unnoticed….

Speaking of comments- thank you to everyone who joined the conversations this week.  The best thing about the internet was on display this week- a bunch of people, from different backgrounds, sharing their opinions on subjects.  At the end of the day, communication really is the key to everything.