My Friend

This week is going to be about reflection and memories, because I’m in that sort of mood.

My daughter has been in the NYC Public School system since she entered Pre-K at age 3. I remember meeting many great parents that year, and we sort of formed our own little family. Around November of PreK, a new family moved into our class. I had no idea that this Mom and this little girl would become the rock of our ride through elementary school.

Last Friday I had breakfast with the Mom. We have had breakfast on the last day of school for the past fourteen years. We’ve been together through three schools. I would not have survived being a school Mom without this woman.

In Manhattan there are zoned schools for elementary, which most people attend. Middle school and High School are fairly open game. While you have the option of attending your zoned middle school, many people apply to other schools. Yes, in NYC fifth graders are applying to public schools. Standardized test grades count. Everything counts.

Our Daughters both got rejected by the Middle School they wanted. Fifth grade girls demoralized because they didn’t interview well. Yes- there’s transparency- I know exactly where my kid missed points. Shy doesn’t work well when applying to middle school… So S and I relied on one another to get us through the difficult road of bucking up our kids self esteem. When I didn’t know how to parent my kid through this, I had S to use as a sounding board. I had S to cry with. Without her, I would not have been able to get through this daunting time, nor have the energy to get my daughter through it.

And besides this particular time, S has always been there for me. We had very similar parenting strategies, so I had a safe space to explore ideas and theories and figure out how to help my child navigate puberty and friendship and high school and the whole college thing.

There was also the fun stuff. Going to school auctions. Sitting with each other at recitals, including the fourth grade recorder concert. Yeah- “Smoke on the Water” on recorder. Good times. Volunteering at Middle School events. Texting each other in meetings when someone said something particularly stupid. Cheering each other’s kids on when they did good, which was pretty often.

Today is my Thank You to S for being the best possible friend these past fourteen years. When I saw her at the coffee shop I started to tear up- I looked at her and said “This is the last last day.” I hugged her. I thought about telling my Daughter’s college that she won’t be attending and figuring out how my Daughter could transfer to the other school. I mean, how can I get my daughter through college without this Mom? What if I don’t like the other Mom’s? Who am I going to gossip with? Who am I going to laugh with? Who am I going to cry with?

Tomorrow night we will snap pictures of our daughters as they go off to their last school dance. Friday we will be passing one another tissues as we watch our daughters flip their tassels. It will be one more picture of them at a major milestone. To go with fourteen years of pictures at major milestones.

I tip my metaphorical cap to my friend S- the mother of the best friend my daughter has, and the best friend that I could ever have.

And So It Goes

Today is my daughter’s last day of classes.

Which alternately means that it’s the first day of my teary journey culminating in graduation.

When I perceived the this week’s theme, I did not envision that I would write one of my most controversial blogs ever, or that the week  would become doggate. It was supposed to be about how we treat one another- which I guess it basically was.

My daughter brought home her yearbook this week, and she allowed me to read some of the things her classmates shared. As I perused this book this week, I knew how the post’s this week would end.

As I read through I noticed a lot of “hard working” and “smart”. The NHS President thanked her for being the best Secretary, and realistically, best President, ever. But along with all the expected tributes to her intelligence and work ethic, I also noticed these:

  1. Thank you for playing Mariokart with me before school sometimes. I know you get to school early to do work, but you always took time out if I looked lonely
  2. I remember walking into a class where the desks where formed into tables. I was sitting alone and instead of joining your friends, you sat with me.
  3. Thanks for making me feel welcome to the tennis team. I was so happy that you sent me a text over the summer telling me that you would meet up with me to go to the first august practice. I was scared and you helped me out.
  4. Thanks for being best law team captain. You always helped me when I would freak out.
  5. Thanks for helping me study
  6. Thanks for proofing my papers
  7. Thanks for always answering my question no matter how stupid
  8. Thanks for being a great listener
  9. Thanks for being a great friend
  10. You have a great smile and you use it

There were more, but you get the gist. Sure, my kid works really hard. She gets good grades. She is involved in many aspects of school life. But she also took the time out to be nice. She took the time out to make sure people felt included. She tried to make people feel a little less scared. Maybe she made someone’s day just a little bit better….

I have done many stupid things in my life. I have not always been the best wife, mother, daughter or friend- my imperfections abound. But somehow, even though I feel like I continually screw up or let others down, I have managed to impart the good parts of me to my daughter. And as I have very few good parts, this is almost miracle status.

Somehow I have managed to show her how to be a decent person, who has self confidence, yet is able to be empathetic and kind. Just don’t ask me how I did it, because I have no idea….. .20190614_0736306037526881733892812.jpg

Muzzle It

Most of you have heard me speak of my dog Sally. Sally is an eight pound yorkie (we think) who is so docile squirrels and birds do not move out of her way when she walks down the street: they just sit there and continue eating whatever treat they found on the ground.

Topically, there was an issue this week. I’ve mentioned (in passing comments) that there is a dog in my building who really doesn’t like my dog. Dog A is about twenty five pounds and obviously twice the size. When I say doesn’t like I mean dog barks ferociously and makes movements towards my dog, as well as other dogs in the building. When this dog is in this mode my Sally literally just sits and looks at it- not even a bark.

This dog has exhibited this behavior as long as the dog has lived in the building. As I like dogs and understand that they are animals, I have never said anything about the behavior.

Until…

On Monday I was outside the elevator bank (ok-it’s two elevators- I don’t know if you call that a bank) I was talking to a neighbor and we were to the right of the right elevator because we saw that the left elevator was going to be the first one down- because you move out of the way because people are going to exit.

Fine.

Dog A was in the elevator. When the door opened Dog A lunged at my dog and came so close to biting her that I needed to check Sally’s face. I yelled at the owner that she needed to muzzle the dog because this was the third time this week that the dog made an aggressive move towards my dog.

Fine.

Ten minutes after this incident and my yelling at the owner, the owner was taking the dog A up the stairwell to her apartment. She let this dog off the leash, and of course my neighbor was coming down the stairs with his leashed Maltese, who is quite possibly smaller and more gentle than my dog.  Dog A was off his leash, racing and barking towards the Maltese. Luckily my neighbor was able to quickly scoop up his dog .

Ten minutes after her dog lunged at my dog and I yelled, she had her dog off the leash in a common area of the building.

So yesterday my neighbor and I put in formal complaints with the board and the management agent. The building and agent agreed that the dog needed to be muzzled in common areas of the building, and a letter was sent to them yesterday afternoon.

Fine.

Except now the Husband of the women is claiming that we are unfairly attacking his pregnant wife. That we’ve upset her. There is nothing wrong with his dog. Yada yada yada.

So for today’s discussion:

What is the responsibility of the dog owner if the dog exhibits aggressive behavior towards other dogs and there is common space between your apartment and the outside?

Should I have yelled at someone who is pregnant, or is yelling at someone pregnant just bad form?

Should the onus be on Dog A’s owner to properly control the dog when in common building space?

or

Should the onus be on the other dog owners in the building to be hyper aware of their surroundings because Dog A might be around?

Side note: These people were not singled out. We have other dogs in the building that are/have been muzzled because of their aggressive behavior. This is protocol in the building.

 

Can You Not Sit There?

I was recently at the botanic garden (pictures of roses and peonies to appear on my insta soon) When I visit the New York Botanic Garden, I take the MetroNorth commuter train out of Grand Central because it is quicker and more convenient than the subway. They are currently doing repairs at the Botanic Garden station, so the train was only loading on four cars. Which means the car you enter is super crowded and you need to walk through to the back of the train. Fine. After walking through the train we started to see empty seats, but none together so our band of four needed to split up. Fine. I sat down. Fine. The women next to me said

“I have allergies to strong perfume. Heh cough heh cough  heh cough.”

Not fine.

I looked at her incredulously. Basically,  because I have an extremely light hand with scent, especially during the day and I just do a dab on my wrists. And we’re on a train car. In New York City. Which is a place known for big crowds and tight spaces. And we were heading towards Manhattan…I mean…did she think that no one in Manhattan smells?

I looked and saw another seat, so I began to get up. I may or may not have said what could be considered a snide comment, and I may or may not have made a really ugly facial gesture.

I am also going to admit that if I hadn’t seen another seat I would have said to the woman “Would you like to get past me?”

Because:

When you have an allergy or a sensitivity to something, do you move, or do you expect the “aggravator” to move?

What is the allergy protocol when you are in a crowded place?

I know the peanut issue is a big deal. And I get that: I truly do. If my kid had a peanut allergy I would not want her to be around someone with peanuts. A few of my daughters close friends have peanut allergies and I am hyper aware of what things are in the house when they come over, or if my daughter is having a birthday party at a  restaurant I tell the place about a million times that there are allergies at the table. I make my daughter send ingredient lists from packaged foods to her friends before they come so I know whether or not I should serve a particular thing. My daughter is well schooled in the protocol of what to do if her friends appear to be having an attack. So I am sensitive to the issue. I am down with not bringing peanut laden food to a school event.

But

If I’m on an airplane, should I move because I brought nuts as a snack and my seatmate is allergic? Or should the onus be on the one with the allergy?

Should the women on the train be the one to get up and move if my Jo Malone is offending her?

I’m sensitive to the fact that people have real issues with these certain allergens. But is this a case where the individual is greater than the collective?

Should there be special accommodations for people with sensitivities and allergies? Should there be a train car for people with allergies? Separate lunch tables? Separate sections of a plane?

Or should we just ban everything that someone might have an allergy to?

Which leads me to my next point:

What if people use this as an excuse to not sit with someone?

What if the woman on the train just didn’t want to sit next to me? What if she wanted that seat to herself?

What if you don’t like that a heavy person sat next to you on an airplane? Do you pull an allergy out of the hat so that their seat is switched?

I have no known allergies to opinions, so what say you all?

 

 

Nothing but the Truth

A few weeks ago, our friends and neighbors lost their dog. They got their little guy not long after we got ours, so I watched him grow up alongside my Sally. You all know how I feel about pets….my dog and cat are clearly my favorites…(if you don’t have the heart to read about pets who have died, you might not want to read further)

A few days after my Husband and I ran into the couple in the lobby. I hugged my friend M and we cried a little. Her Husband E (let me state that this is the most blunt man in the universe- he’s a lawyer for local government so bureaucrat is his middle name. E posed the question:

“Do you stay in the room with your dog when it’s time?”

Oddly, my daughter had recently read something in her psychology class about this very topic, so it had been a discussion I had just had recently. According to what my daughter said, apparently dogs look for their owner…

So I said to my neighbor- “If you’d asked me a few months ago I’d have said- not in the room. Now….I’m not sure.”

And the conversation went on a little longer and came to an organic conclusion.

When we got upstairs my Husband said that I should have asked a question to see what side of the aisle E was on before I answered- that I should have tailored my answer to his. Knowing how direct E is about literally everything, I felt honesty was the answer he was looking for.

I know I’ve asked this before, but I’m trying it again: How honest do people want us to be? How honest should we be? Do we let people think we agree so that we ease their minds? Or do we just flat out give an opinion?

When people ask an opinion question, how honest do they want us to be?

Was it rude of me to give my actual, honest opinion?

What’s the line between rude and honest?

 

Highlights 6/9

Very busy in my house- and my mind is whizzing and…you know….

But- we had out summer tea event with my tea club which was incredible! 20190608_1625064050819773677481924.jpg

The Lowell Hotel in Manhattan has a charming room, The Pembroke, and they do a lovely tea. This event was championed by Pret a Portea, the tea society I belong to. What can be better than spending a few hours drinking tea and eating scones!!!!

Gratitude and Calm June 8

The jackhammering in my building continues in earnest…I went to Target yesterday and forgot to buy the milk that I went there to buy (and I had a list….) Federer lost… I got three calls from, I believe, Azerbaijan in the middle of the night therefore screwing up any chance of a good sleep…

But on the bright side:

Gratitude

I am eternally grateful to my Daughter’s friends and her high school classmates. In NYC there is a tradition called “bedding”. Your friends come over to your house and put snacks the color of your college (my daughters college is blue and grey so she got oreos, graham crackers, pretzel m&m’s, and I don’t remember what other blue wrapping) and they make a cake or cupcakes with the school colors, and put all your merch out, and balloons….it’s really cute. And to see them hiding in her room waiting for her  to come home from her babysitting job….yelling surprise….and to hear nine girls laughing and giggling….I will miss these groups of kids hanging out in my house.

She also got her yearbook yesterday and kids started to sign. Last night we read through, and I couldn’t help buy tear up a little reading all the sweet things these kids had to say about her, seeing her through there eyes….grateful that she had a relatively charmed high school experience…

Calm

I had something on my mind for awhile. I wrote it out. I feel better. Sometimes it’s that simple.

The Books Of Summer

Many bloggers are posting their summer TRB- so I thought I would jump on the bandwagon. Here’s what I PLAN (doesn’t mean it will happen) on reading over the next few months- side note: I don’t really think summer begins till July 4, but my reading habits will become summerlike as of today!

  1. “An Unexpected Turn” by TJ Fox- TJ is one of my blogging buddies and I would love to do a book discussion with her book. Please join me in reading this novel so we can all discuss together!
  2. “Mrs. Everything” Jennifer Weiner
  3. “The Friends we Keep” Jane Green
  4. “The Plus One” by Sarah Archer
  5. “Evvie Drake Starts Over” Linda Holmes
  6. “How Not to Die Alone” Richard Roper
  7. “The Stone Circle” Ruth Galloway
  8. “How Could She” Lauren Mechling
  9. “The Most Fun We Ever Had” Claire Lombardo
  10. “Sunset Beach” Mary Kay Andrews
  11. “The Printed Letter Bookshop” Katherine Reay
  12. Jay Cudney- Academic Curveball Series

I know I will also have some book club selections in the mix, but I won’t know them till they announce them!

What are your summer reading plans?

Do You Remember….

No- I’m not going to go into the lyrics of that Earth, Wind and Fire song. And some of you are probably smiling in recognition, and others are going “What’s Earth, Wind and Fire?” What I am going to talk about is: how much do we remember from the books that we read.

Never Not Reading proposed this question yesterday: After you’ve finished a book, have you forgotten the title character’s name? A few days ago, when we were all watching Jeopardy, there was a question; “Who was Templeton in Charlotte’s Web?” Now, I’ve read that book multiple times- I read it with my daughter when she was younger. But I couldn’t remember which character was Templeton. Rat- for those of you scratching your heads….

So how good is my memory towards what I read?

I routinely forget the authors. I will tell someone that I really liked a book, and then I will stumble for the authors name. So I guess this means I really don’t care if the author is male or female. But really, how bad is it that I can be amidst a book, and have absolutely no recollection of who wrote it?

Some of my blogger friends post the What did you finish, what are you reading, and what are you about to read. Yeah- I may have finished a book yesterday, but I find myself going into Goodreads or my nook to see what it was.

Is it an age thing?

Do I read too many books?

Outside of the title and author (like they count for anything) do you remember the contents of a book? I have book club this coming Tuesday. I finished the book about ten days ago (“The Guest Book” Sarah Blake- ha- didn’t even need to look that up) but I’m going to have to glance over it before I go to club, because honestly- not quite sure I remember the small strokes, or frankly, the big strokes…other then I thought it was average. That part I do remember: very average.

I’ve read 29 books this year. While a few stand out, it’s the books on opposite ends of the spectrum. I remember the books I loved, and I remember the books I hated. The ones in the middle- well- they’re kind of lost in my mind. I sort of, kind of remember the plot, but details…don’t even think about quizzing me.

I know when my daughter is reading something for school, she takes copious notes. Her books are filled with post it notes, and they’ve been taught the Cornell system for remembering things from books. Her school often requires the students to buy certain texts so that they can write notes in the margins and highlight. (Hence why Rebecca is floating around my house) So clearly, even when clinically reading a text, we still need reminders as to what’s important, who people are, what are the clues tossed in along the way…

So, I guess what I’m asking you today is: Do you remember the details from books? Do you think it’s important to remember things from books? What are the parameters? Are some books just more forgettable than others? And why can some people pull a quote out from thin air? Do you just memorize a few all purpose quotes?

So Bad…

I love bad reviews. I don’t mean reviews that are written poorly, I mean reviews where the author really goes crazy about why they don’t like something. Nothing amuses me more than seeing someone skewer something.

What is wrong with me?

OK- here’s the thing. I try to be a positive person, and I know that if someone really hated my work, I would be crushed. So why do I take delight in reading and liking bad reviews?

Because they are more descriptive. Simple as that.

When someone likes something, they tend to say it’s good, or it’s nice, or some other meaningless adjective. Have you ever watched “Food Network Star”? Essentially it’s a reality show where a bunch of people do weekly demos in hopes of landing their own show on FoodNetwork. The mentors (most recently Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentis) have the most trouble with contestants when they are trying to describe the food they are tasting. People always revert back to yummy and tasty. OK- while that means they like it, it doesn’t show why they like it. Those are bland words: I want exciting words. I want words that conjure images, make me feel like I’m tasting the food. Well, it’s the same thing when you are reviewing books or movies. I don’t want to hear that it’s “so good”. I want to here the details.

It’s all in the details my friends.

For some reason, when something is bad, we’re able to describe the badness better. I know I do: the few times I’ve critiqued a book, I’ve had no problem explaining why I hated it, or what didn’t make sense, or whatever. The bad things stick out. Good things don’t often stick out. I can be funny (kind of, sort of) when reviewing something I don’t like- I am much better at articulating the reasons why I don’t like something.

I notice it in my book club too. When we all like a book (which is admittedly rare) the discussion is boring: we all have the same favorite scene, we think the author did most things well, blah blah are you asleep yet blah. But when it’s 50/50, and half hate and half love- well- off we go with the discussion, the argument, the fun of discussing a book. And when we all hate a book? Well, that’s discussion gold!!

So what is it about hating something that makes it so much easier to discuss? Why do people have trouble with describing why we like something? Why do we revert back to “I don’t know why, I just do?”

So, hoping at least half of you did not like this post:

Discuss…