Highlights

Many good things this week- some not as great things. Just another week in the life…

Sunday

  1. My daughter won an Scholastic Silver Key award for poetry, so we went to the ceremony. I never tire of seeing my daughter win an award
  2. I usually have a relaxing bath on Sunday nights, but I’ve been able to do it for awhile- luckily, I got to do it this week!

Monday

  1. Going through my spring wardrobe and getting rid of some things I don’t ever plan on wearing again.

Tuesday

  1. Gloria Bell movie in theaters. Finally a movie about a 50 something woman and what it’s like to be divorced and an empty nester and what it feels like. Great Julianne Moore

Wednesday

  1. Queer Eye on Netflix. The guys crack me up. They make people feel good about themselves. We all need a dose of that.

Thursday

  1. Coffee with my friend- this is always a good point of any week! It was a little reminiscent because it is the Mom of my daughter’s best friend, who has been my closest city friend, and with whom I never would have survived being a parent in the NYC school system all these years
  2. My daughter actually got into an Ivy League school- this is a bit surreal, but is actually not in the running to go to because she likes other schools better

Friday

  1. saw Queen cover band “Almost Queen” ( can you imagine how excited a Queen cover band was to see a biopic about Freddy Mercury do so well at the box office) I spent a night singing along to Queen songs….seriously fun
  2. My daughter informed us that she got into one of her top choice colleges
  3. Wonderful lunch with one of my favorite people. You know how you have some people in your life that you just connect to? Yeah- when it works it’s wonderful!
  4. The  friend I met for lunch- well- we were wearing the same motorcycle boots ( and no neither of us actually owns a motorcycle) so of course there is truth to great minds think alike…

Saturday

  1. Book Club- we read Laura Childs “Death by Darjeeling” The first book in the Theodosia Browning tea shop mystery series.  A few weeks ago I touched on series/sequels. In reading the first book in a series, I noticed all the things she does to set up her characters for future books, including ending where she is about to go on a first date… I read this as part of my tea book club, so our Tea infused leader was a little leery of her tea shop etiquette, but otherwise a very fun read
  2. Last week I discovered a NY Public Library of the Performing Arts. I also discovered that they do over 200 free concerts a year in the auditorium at this space. So I went to see a lovely concert of music by HAndel, Brahms, Schubert, Shostakovich ad Paganini-Meshibovsky- done in duos and trios featuring piano, violin, clarinet and a soprano. Really wonderful-
  3. Texting/emailing good friends who live far away- there is nothing better to cap off my day than talking to the people I love most in the world!

Up this week- college/admissions/the scandal….

 

Advertisements

Gratitude and Calm

There were some good points about this week, and some not so good points. My Daughter did not get accepted to a bunch of colleges. She also got accepted to one of her top choices. Now I know this is a wonderful problem to have: getting to choose between two schools that are seemingly perfect for a particular student. I really get that. But….to say the waking household is stressed out is an understatement. I’m finding it hard to concentrate on anything, and even on good days, I have managed to be the fall guy- as always happens with Moms.

And…I saw a lot of amazing kids not even get close to schools they preferred. These are strong kids, and I realize this is not the worst thing in the world, but still, to see someone work so hard…as a parent it sort of crushes my heart.

Gratitude

  1. healthy venting of frustrations
  2. That my daughter has the option of colleges to choose from
  3. as always, my friends who listen to be blather on and give great advice and thought points
  4. pockets of lovely weather
  5. that my life has been filled with more wonderful things than not

Calm

  1. your friend sending love- sometimes it’s just nice to hear
  2. sending your friend love, because sometimes it’s the only think you can do
  3. talking things out
  4. a pot of tulips on the window shelf
  5. all the things that routinely bring me calm

 

Class

I recently read a news story- let me preface this by saying I read one account, and if there are discrepancies I apologize. Apparently a bride threw a guest out of her wedding because he showed up in his military uniform with his medals. Her reasoning was somewhat along the lines of “It was a classy black tie event and he showed up in a uniform. How could he dress like that?” and followed it up with something like “Was he trying to take the attention away from me?” (and let’s not even go with that he was probably in his dress uniform)

I’m guessing you all know how I feel about this statement.

We have somehow misinterpreted manners, class and money. We have fallen into a Real Housewives/Kardashian thought pattern and we think that boorish behavior and flaunting of money is how to signal to the world that you’ve arrived.  We have equated that showing off how much money you have is directly proportional to how the world should treat you. If you’ve got it, flaunt it, and make everyone else green with envy. Wear fancy expensive clothes to show off how fancy and expensive you are. Treat everyone like you are better than them…

The Bride wanted to have a high class, expensive event. Formal wear was requested. But her behavior was anything but high class. Money and expensive things do not give you manners. They do not automatically make boorish behavior acceptable. Money does not equal manners.

Where did we lose the line on dignity? Or, did we never have dignity? Were we just better at hiding how ill mannered we were? When did we become so arrogant to think that nothing matters other than our own needs? When did we decide that it was OK to put someone down?  To not treat others with respect?

When are we going to learn that we all need to respect one another all the time?

Here Comes the Judge….

I have begun to find that no one thinks that they are judgmental. Seriously- ask someone if they are, and they’ll say “No Way. I’m totally open minded.”

But think about yourself for a moment:

Have you ever used a phrase like:

Anybody who ____________________________ is stupid/illogical/wrong/etc.

And I want you to ask yourself: Is making a statement like this making a value judgement on someone/something you don’t know? Are you taking one trait of a person and assuming all of this person is totally bad/stupid/illogical/wrong?

Now, you know where I have a blank space? Insert the words watches Fox or watches CNN in there.

Do you know anyone who has ever done that? Have you ever done that? Said that all people who watch a particular news show are stupid? Would you consider that a judgmental statement?

This is not about politics (and yes I remember the Moynihan quote….) This is about how we treat one another on a daily basis. This is how we treat people with differing opinions. This is about our propensity to make blanket statements about people with certain characteristics and traits and likes and dislikes.

How often do you judge someone completely by one thing they do or don’t do?

Please and thank You are Not Optional

I’m going to start out with two anecdotes:

  1. When my daughter was about two we were out at some sort of kids festival. A clown handed her a balloon dog, and I said to her “What’s the magic word?” and she looked at me quizzically and said “Abbracadabra?”
  2. One day I walked my dog. When we entered the lobby of our building, the doorman gave her a treat. I said to my dog “What do you say?”

Now, what do these things say, other than humor can be found in any situation?

Yes, I’m a bit of a nag, but more importantly, the value I place on saying Please and Thank You.

I have taught my daughter (and obviously dog) that when you want something you say please, and if someone gives you something you say thank you. And you do both with sincerity. Call me old fashioned, call me out of touch, call me a 50’s housewife. I don’t care. My daughter was going to be raised with manners.

When she was three, I bought a set of notecards. When she received birthday presents I let her draw a picture on the card and then I wrote a thank you note. When my daughter learned to write, she was responsible for writing her own thank you note. This was a rule: you were not allowed to use, spend or deposit a gift until the thank you note was written. End of discussion.

At this point in her life, she gives up her seat to people who are older,  Moms with babies, pregnant women, those with crutches or canes, and anyone who appears to need the seat more than she does. She rushes to hold open doors to buildings she is not even entering if she thinks someone is struggling/about to struggle with going in. She doesn’t even think twice about doing these small acts of kindness: she just does them.

When she is in a classroom she treats her teachers with courtesy. She respects the rules of any place she goes. She tries to be considerate of those around her assuming no one is pushing her around. (for the record, when she went off to school I told her- Don’t you ever hit someone. But, if someone hits you, you slap them as hard as you can. I’ll deal with the consequences and back you up as long as I know you were not the aggressor. 12 years in the NYC public school system and we never had to worry about either scenario)  

Now some of you may be thinking derogatory things about her- calling her a goody goody or something like that. But here’s the thing: she knows that there are reasons for rules and orders. She totally gets the meaning of anarchy. And she knows the consequences. And she knows the value of manners and civility.

But she didn’t learn these values on her own. She was taught these values. She was shown these values (I am actually quite well mannered.  But don’t ever provoke me or give me reason to think otherwise)

Children need to be taught how to behave when they are in society. They have to learn what consideration is. This does not mean that they should be a martyr. It means that they need to have a basis that they are not the sun, and that things do not revolve around them. It is possible to have a child with self esteem and self respect who treats others with kindness and consideration. In fact, I’m going to say that if you have no respect for others, you have no respect for yourself.

Teach your children manners, consideration and respect. Then model the behavior. They don’t do what we say: they do what we do.

Hmmm …The Admissions Scandal

A few weeks ago, naïve me was at Whole Foods grocery shopping. Before I departed the store I checked my phone- no new messages, emails, smoke signals, anything. Empty of communication. Fifteen minutes later as I rode the elevator up to my floor my phone looked entirely different. 20 text alerts, 2 missed calls and 10 new emails. Hmmm…what happened in the past 15 minutes?

Of course, this is when the news of the college admissions scandal broke.

Many of my friends have graduating high schoolers who had applied to college. Many of my friends/family knew how grueling this process has been. Half of the messages were “OMG Aunt Becky!” and half were ‘How do you feel about this?” My friend K even texted me- “Boy- I can’t wait to see your blog on this.”

I found myself so crazed that I could not rationally discuss the subject. I fully admit that after I read one news story about it, I stopped reading and watching and listening to coverage of it. I knew that listening to the news would only send me into a whirlpool of despair- I know crappy things exist. I just don’t need to surround myself with it.

I also knew that my kid had applied to two of the schools on the list. And her friends had applied to schools on the list. And I know all about the single and barely double digit acceptance rates at many of these schools. Crazed. My mind was in overdrive.

I thought, wrongly I might add, that after a few weeks I would be calm enough to write a comprehensive post about my feelings.

Ha.

And until my daughter hears from those two schools later this week, I am still going to keep quiet on the subject, because I’m still in Mom watching her daughter get into college mode.

But…I will give you my overall take:

How do you think many of these students feel now that they know for sure that their parents do not think they are good enough? That the effort these kids put in as students was not good enough for their parents?  How do they feel now that they know what their parents really think of them?

The Spread

This week is going to be a little bit about letting off steam….I know I’m trying to be a better person and all, but you know…I’m human…

A few weeks ago I went to the New York Botanic Garden, which is in the Bronx, a borough of NYC. The best way for me to get there from my perch in Manhattan is to take the MetroNorth commuter train.

Fine.

After a wonderful afternoon of looking at orchids, we  waited patiently at the Botanic Garden stop, and boarded the train to come back to Manhattan. This was Sunday afternoon. In NYC. On a train that probably had about ten stops prior to this.

Do you know how many people live in the NY metro area?

Do you know how many people use mass transit in the NY metro area?

So when we got on the mid crowded train, I looked to find two seats together for my husband and me.  I spotted a row with one man and two “empty” seats. Why do I say “empty”? Because at 3 in the afternoon, this guy was in a sleep position where he was physically taking up two and a half seats. Plus his large bag.

So I got in the row and sat in the leg occupied middle seat and pushed his bag into him. Young asshole made some sort of grunting sound but I really didn’t care. I got out my phone and opened up my nook app so I could read for the 15 minute ride into the city.

The worst part was, when the ticket taker came to our row, the asshole had to show his ticket, which means he probably only got on the stop before….

When did it become common place for people to take up multiple seats on mass transit?

Why do people think they have the right to do this indiscriminatingly?

I don’t care how many seats you take up if a train is mainly empty.  By all means stretch out and relax. But if a train is crowded? What are you thinking?

Before you all go “this is so manspreading” let me say that women are just as bad. We were taking the commuter train to see my parents. A solo woman got in the section that’s four seats and two of them face the other two. Why would you get in those seats unless you expect that no one else will want to sit with you because it is not ideal for strangers to sit in these seats?

And the subway? Both sexes are equally horrible at keeping there bags in check. If the subway is crowded you are supposed to take off your backpack and hold it in front of you. First off- it’s stupid to have all your belongings directly inline with someone who can open up the zipper and grab your airpods.  Secondly, it’s rude. The same goes for people who board the train armed like they’re about to scale Everest. I have been on the train with loads of crap during rush hour- I get it. But at least try to keep contained. Try not to be a flaming idiot.

Why do people think it’s OK to not really care about anyone else? Why do people think it’s ok to only think about themselves? (and don’t get political here- because this crosses party lines and it’s not even close to being about politics)

Sure- we have to think about ourselves. But seriously- we live in a society where we interact with others. Ask yourself: I know I’m a twenty something six foot tall guy, and it’s really hard to put my backpack on the overhead rack strictly intended for personal belongings like bags, but maybe it’s worth it so other people can have this highly coveted seat next to me so they don’t have to stand.  Say, I know I’m a twenty something woman traveling alone and I really need the space that comes with taking up four seats, but maybe that family of four with two toddlers are actually better served in this seat section.

So- moral of the story: when you’re out and about and other people are around, try to think about them just a little.

Highlights

You know that it’s college acceptance season- not only are colleges playing basketball, they are also sending out acceptance letters and I regret to inform you’s. Even though my kid was rejected a few times this week, she got into one of her favorite schools. She is thrilled and I am thrilled for her. Alas, her best friend didn’t get into her top choice. It is so hard to be happy for my kid, when I know this amazing young woman feels awful. And I get it’s all a part of life and growing up, but it’s as if my own child got rejected. I cried last night. And I know you say it’s just a school- but I want you to think about that for a few minutes as you peruse the news of the past few weeks.

Sunday

  1. American Folk Art Museum- interesting old NY photos and crafts and history. Cool and free
  2. ETHAL, Students from Kaufman School of music and Todd Rundgren- interesting concert with new classical music
  3. Ridiculous 24 layer cake from Maison Pickle in NYC
  4. Awesome body conditioning class

Monday

  1. Catching up on Sunday Styles
  2. eating little bit of leftover cake from the night before
  3. Finally finished book club book from hell
  4. My daughter gets into college with a small scholarship

Tuesday

  1. Meeting with writing group!
  2. meeting with boot club and finding out no one really liked book from hell

Wednesday

  1. coffee with friends
  2. another college acceptance, bigger scholarship

Thursday

  1. delicious lentil and rice dinner- I love when I make something healthy that ends up being tasty
  2. Another College- yay

Friday

  1. Went to see the new Hudson Yards complex with my friend K- very cool design, even though at the end of the day the second biggest thing open there is a mall
  2. My daughter and I had an incredibly healthy veggie dinner- then followed it up by splitting decadent cookie- churro flavored cookie filled with dulce de leche (Duchess Cookies)- rich and delicious and satisfying after one bite (so we had half a cookie left over for yesterday)
  3. Fun conversation with friend

Saturday

  1. Discovered NY Public Library completely dedicated to performing arts- first off- the books and cd’s if we still had a cd player. Secondly- they had an amazing collection of things from Jerome Robbins. Just amazing things about West Side Story and On the Town and others. Spectacular.
  2. OK- you know we went out to dinner on Saturday. La Rossa in the Soho section. They have a method of dough making where they put ice in the dough, so that it allows the dough to have a somewhat creamy texture and allows grated parmesan to be on top without cooking the cheese, culminating in a Caccio y Pepe pizza (cheese and pepper) with is literally dough, mounds of parm and grated black pepper. Yum

Gratitude and Calm

This was a typical week- some ups, some downs. I found myself in a situation with a friend that left me feeling less than happy. I managed to not be snarky, yet I am not entirely sure if I handled the situation properly because I still don’t feel great about it. My Daughter was accepted into three colleges this week and rejected from two. In an odd way though, the rejections were good because it’s two schools that she doesn’t need to meddle in the decision  process. Just like with clothes and personal belongings, less stuff, less choices is calming. I often think the stress our society has piled on its shoulders is almost entirely due to stuff, our accumulation of it and our desire to have it.

Gratitude

  1. comfortable shoes
  2. foot massager
  3. My writing girls and their honesty
  4. comfortable shoes
  5. I didn’t lose my cool with someone this week
  6. It was just warm enough to walk across town last night after dinner (ok- still chilly, but still- not blustery)
  7. My friend K and I didn’t blow away when we were at Hudson Yards (the wind!!)
  8. DSW coupon

Calm- By now you know I have certain rituals that I just do to calm myself- these are the other little things that made me bearable to live with

  1. Going to a showroom to shop for my daughter’s prom dress. You need to make an appointment so it’s not crowded, they bring the dresses out on a rack. So relaxed and easy
  2. My foot roller
  3. short supermarket lines
  4. taking a deep breath and a pause before I spoke
  5. My daughter was rejected from two schools- less angst about choice
  6. My Daughters prom dress was shipped to us and it looks amazing. I always worry a tiny bit when something is being shipped

The One I can’t Get A Handle on

I looked over all my 2019 goals last night and saw that I am actually doing well. I’m working on my novel, being creative and actively thinking about my empty nest hood. But I realize there is one place I am actually reverting, and I’m not sure how to fix it. How do I learn to deal with people who annoy me?

So seriously: how do I learn to deal with people who annoy me?

The other day someone said something to me and it just pissed me off: I’m still festering about it. Part of me wanted to say “Oh my God you’re a complete ass.” But I didn’t. I opened my mouth to catch a fly and then shut it. I swallowed all the words that were about to stream forth. This was a social situation. This wasn’t a place to go crazy.  Yet….yet…this person had basically said that my values were wrong on something (and no- not political- this was actually worse- attacking a way of life and how people choose to do things).

I’m still mad about what was said. I’m still replaying it in my head. I can’t let it go.

So what do I do?

What do you do when someone tells you what you’re doing is basically stupid (sorry- stupid is the wrong word, but I’m at a loss to think of a better way to describe it- see- that’s how upsetting it is- I can’t think of the right word), even though it is not morally wrong, or spiritually wrong, or wrong in any of the ways you would feel good about condemning?

Do you stop seeing someone socially if they think there is something lacking in your character?

What if you think that the person is acting this way towards you because of envy or jealousy? What if part of you thinks the other person is wrong? What if you think the way they’re acting is ridiculous, yet your social cues and long forgotten manners are telling you not to say something snarky? How do you reconcile with yourself that some things are better off left unsaid?

I am 54 years old, and yet I can’t figure out how to turn the other cheek without feeling I’m letting myself down.

Part of me appreciates that people can speak with candor, to be honest in their feelings about something. But…what if that honesty feels like an attack? What if you’re not sure about the motivation of the honesty? It’s times like this when I think that maybe honesty is not the best policy? What if the honesty is driven by something else?

So….it’s March and I have the same issue I had in January. People annoy me and I can’t stop replaying the tune in my head- the ultimate earworm. At points like this, I feel that a cabin on top of a hill miles away from anyone will be the only solution.

(I must add a disclaimer- my writing friends told me they didn’t like the way a scene was going in my book- I’m making sure they know that that is not the instance I’m referring to.  I’m 100% glad they told me the scene wasn’t working- that’s healthy critique based on logic and continuity. The incident to which I refer is totally different)