Monthly Archives: June 2018

Breaking up with R.H. Macy

I’ve been a Macy’s girl since I moved to Albany and finally had one just a bus ride away. As a kid growing up outside of NYC, Macy’s was the mythical place of parades, magical cosmetics and fragrance counters, and brand name merchandise that I aspired to one day be able to afford. It was kind of the retail dream.

Over the years, I’ve bought an incredible array of items from Macy’s – home furnishings, rugs, housewares, luggage, shoes and, of course, clothing. There have also been a few pieces of jewelry purchased, a tennis bracelet (when those were all the rage), a necklace, and a pair of perfect gold hoop earrings. In February, the day I left for Rome, I realized I was only wearing one gold hoop earring, instead of the two I had put on in the morning. Bummer.

Having lost one of these earrings previously, I was overly optimistic that it would reappear as it had done in the past. By the end of April, I finally accepted that my lost earring wasn’t coming back and began searching for a replacement pair. This led to my (fulfilled) wish for new earrings for Mother’s Day and my own self-indulgent purchase of a second pair because A. They were on sale and B. I was greedy and I wanted both yellow and rose gold hoops.

So, I’ve worn the earrings a combined total of maybe 10 times, usually opting for the rose gold ones because my kid bought them for me and that’s what you do. I reached for the yellow ones the other day and was disappointed to see that they were broken. The piece that goes through the ear had fallen off leaving a useless and incomplete gold circle. Today, I took the earrings back to Macy’s fully expecting them to either replace them, offer to fix them or take them back. None of that happened.

Instead, it was explained to me that I could purchase (for an undetermined price somewhere between $16-60) the insurance plan they offered and they would back date it to the purchase date. With their plan, I would be eligible to potentially have the earring repaired. Now, I paid $70 or so for the earrings (although the tag inside the box said $360), obviously not a lot of money. I spoke to the manager and she said it was their policy and since they’d been worn and the tags were off and that’s all she could do. And then she apologized for “the inconvenience.”

The inconvenience? Really?

I replied that it really wasn’t that I had been inconvenienced, it was more that I was disappointed by Macy’s lack of responsibility for the quality of the items that they sell. The earrings had not been mishandled, abused or even slept in. Nope, what they were was poorly made. And what I was, was a former shopper. Bye, bye, Macy’s.

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Filed under Albany, Fashion, favorites, Uncategorized

Summer starts strong

Only a couple of days in and I’ve already forgotten what day of the week it is. Summer break has arrived! I was fortunate enough to celebrate the end of the school year with some friends I worked with when I was last a student in the early 90s. We met while working in various capacities for Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood. Good friendships were made there and, despite seeing each other only occasionally, we always seem to pick up where we left off without hesitation.

On Friday we discussed relationships, the work they require to be successful, our professional careers, and how to navigate whatever might come next in life. It was lively. Rosé flowed and the evening was a delight. A perfect start to what turned out to be a fantastic weekend.

A topic we touched upon was the appeal of a strong woman. While our context was primarily male/female, I can only imagine that in exclusively female couples the attraction would be similar. Right? Who doesn’t want a strong woman? Wait…what does that even mean? How would you define “strong?”

As I looked around the table, I saw the embodiment of “strong” as defined in my own personal dictionary. Each of the women present were able, and had demonstrated that ability, to make it on their own. All had endured the dissolution of at least one long term relationship. All were mothers. Each was comfortable with her sexuality,  not apologetic or ashamed about it.  None had escaped the loss of a close loved one or a threat to their own health, yet each had persevered. Political activism and advocacy were important aspects of our lives, yet, despite the serious commitment to social issues we each held, humor was also present in abundance. We’re fun, smart, kind and thoughtful women. We got it going on.

Our conversation, though, was about how men seem to find strong women initially attractive. They claim to admire our independence and ability to take care of ourselves until something shifts…maybe we’re not as available as they’d like because we have our own interests. We maintain relationships with males that make them uncomfortable or jealous. Sometimes we are made to feel guilty because we don’t hesitate to plan a trip or buy tickets to an event without determining first if our significant other is interested or available. How dare we?

We refuse to apologize for wanting as much from a partner as we have to offer and that can be difficult for a guy. Owning our homes, our time and our desire to live full and active lives, seems to be intimidating to some men and not one of us feels that it’s our responsibility to make a man comfortable with who we are. Our strength has been earned, expanded upon with each challenge we have met until it is the thread that holds the richness of our lives together. It isn’t that we don’t want to share our selves with the people whom we love, it just seems to me that being with someone who doesn’t match your strength and seeks (consciously or not) to bring you down rather than lift themselves up, is a situation that can not be maintained, no matter how strong we are. Our ability to recognize that may ultimately be one of our greatest strengths.

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Filed under aging, drinking, friends, marriage, moms, musings, Observations, relationships, Summer, Uncategorized, vacation

Ghosts and cobwebs

Exiting and entering a relationship is never the same twice. I guess that makes sense since I’ve come to learn that the only truly consistent thing I’ve found in my own romantic pairings has been that they all leave a mark.

I ran a race on Wednesday, almost the longest day of the year, that I had also run two years ago. My previous experience had been as close to perfect as I would ever dare hope, the weather, course and company were ideal. I couldn’t imagine it ever being better.

Yet, on Wednesday it was.

Photo: C. Allen

The event was very different this year. We were sans guys, more relaxed (I think) with weather that was kind of misty, rather than sunny, but with fairly delicious air. It was wonderful in a new way. The trails in Minnewaska are lovely, wide with a fairly soft surface, and amazing views. Fantastic.

Photo: C. Allen

As I ran, I felt strong. My feet hurt a little, but my heart felt powerful and I enjoyed the run. Along the course there were parts that were familiar, and others that I didn’t recall from previous races. I started thinking about how the trail was kind of a metaphor for how I’m feeling these days, like there are parts of myself that seem familiar, while others I don’t remember ever encountering before. Ghosts and cobwebs.

Past relationships kind of stick with us in a variety of different ways. At least that’s been my experience. Maybe you wear the color (s)he always liked best and can’t help but to remember how you felt each time (s)he said blue was your color. Like those parts of the trail, that’s a ghost. It stays with you.

The cobwebs, though…those, for me, are the places of which I have no memory at all, because those parts haven’t been used in so very long. Maybe not even ever. It’s like virgin territory. Exploring this new terrain is exciting, but by a certain age, or level of experience, you’ve probably learned to pay close attention to where you step. Keeping one’s feet on the ground and trying to not fall down can be a struggle, but they’re good goals for a trail and a relationship.

A becoming-more-familiar race and a new romance seem to be just about the best way to experience ghosts and cobwebs.  And, like that solstice run, I’ll do it again.

Thoughts to share?

 

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Filed under aging, favorites, friends, musings, Observations, relationships, road trips, running, Uncategorized, upstate New York

I told a story

For months I’ve been seeing posts on Facebook promoting the Front Parlor Series – public storytelling in the Capital Region. The group hosts an event every third Monday of the month at The Olde English and describes them as being “like The Moth radio hour…” Hmmm, doesn’t that sound interesting?

Needless to say, I’ve been wanting to get down there for some time and when I saw that June’s theme was “Dads,” I knew I had to go. The event began at 7:30 and I rolled in solo some time after 8:00. The upstairs room at The Olde English was steamy hot which provided the perfect excuse for my flushed face and general sweaty-with-nerves appearance. I  missed the first group of storytellers and had arrived at intermission. Never having done an open mic thing before, I looked around for a sign-up sheet, but learned quickly that it was more casual than that – just leave your name and they’ll let you know when it’s your turn.

There were three people in front of me and they each told stories which were unique in both content and conveyance. The first man seemed to be responding to an earlier participant (his daughter?) and tended to wander  a bit, while the second man had a more focused tale that he shared, gathering laughs along the way. The woman immediately before me told a sweet, but alarmingly brief, story that had a distinctly poetic sound to it. I would have enjoyed hearing more from her, but suddenly it was my turn.

The rules stated no notes, so I didn’t have anything beyond a mental outline of what I was going to share. Participants are limited to 5-7 minutes, but I had no sense of how long it would take to tell my story. There had been a timer which had actually sounded during one of the previous stories, but no one really paid any attention to it from what I could see. Maybe it would have been an issue had there been more participants, but on this particular night it wasn’t a problem. That took some pressure off and I made a note to speak slowly and take my time collecting my thoughts and words.

So – my story was about how I found my father. I brought a prop for inspiration (and a shot of confidence), the 30+ year old page from the Dublin phone directory which led to me locating my first ever relative on either side of my family. It’s a story that can take significantly longer to tell than 7 minutes, but I hit the most important parts while purposefully keeping the story focused on my father and his our family.

The response from the audience was encouraging. They laughed and sighed at the right times and afterwards a few were kind enough to compliment me on my story.  I recognize that I tell stories here, but standing in front of a roomful of strangers and actually seeing their reaction was a whole new experience for me. I’d definitely consider doing this again, if only as an exercise in pushing myself beyond my comfort level.

Maybe you have some stories to tell, too?

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Filed under Albany, Events, ideas, Local, Observations, Recommendations, writing

Telling stories – Adam Gidwitz

Last week, author Adam Gidwitz visited my school and spent the day doing presentations and hanging out with kids, and it was incredible. I haven’t read everything he’s written, but last year’s The Inquisitor’s Tale was one of my favorite recent reads. It’s a book that is difficult to sort into a definitive genre, but it has historic fiction, fantasy and adventure elements that combine beautifully into a wonderful story told in multiple voices a la The Canterbury Tales. Except that, unlike my high school experience suffering through Chaucer, this book was a joy from start to finish.

Adam did three separate presentations for my students and each was slightly tweaked to meet the population, in this case, our school’s grades of sixth, seventh and eighth. I was totally impressed with his comfort level with our students and his genuine interest in them. For instance, as students were filing in to the auditorium he made a point of introducing himself to those already seated with an easy “Hi, I’m Adam. What’s your name?” His past career as “the worst teacher in NYC,”* was proven impossible to believe. He gets kids.

We had lunch as a group of about 25 and it was relaxed and fun. I know the kids who were present won’t ever forget the experience. It was so cool. The last presentation was with our sixth graders and it was magic to see him wrangle that group of pre-pubescent kids, on the last Friday afternoon of the school year, with just four words: Once upon a time…

Read his books and see him speak, if you have the chance. There’s a possibility that he might pop up in the area next year and I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything.

*laughingly self-defined as such

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Filed under Books, Education, Events, favorites, Librarians, Libraries, Local, Recommendations, Schools, Uncategorized

Soccer balls

My youngest son had his last AYSO game this weekend.  As we were getting ready to go to the field Jeter was desperately maneuvering to join us, winding all 85 lbs of himself between my legs, and under my feet, until I relented and agreed to take him. I knew he couldn’t hang out on the field, but figured I’d take him for a walk during the first half and then settle down with him for the second half somewhere with a view of the field. Off we went.

We arrived at the fields behind AHS and parked. I sent Quinn on his way and put Jeter’s harness on and headed out for our walk.  Because I didn’t want to miss the entire game, we did a simple loop and were back in maybe a half an hour. As I returned to the fields, walking across the road from the actual playing area, I overheard a woman on the opposite side of the road talking. She said something like, “Look at her walking that dog right past the sign that says ‘No dogs.’”  I don’t like passive aggressive folks and my response was immediate: “I’m walking my dog back to my parked car. My child is playing soccer.” She seemed a bit surprised by my directness but continued to insist that dogs weren’t permitted. I pointed out that the sign says no dogs on the fields. We weren’t on the field, we were across the street from the field and clearly walking to the parking lot. She said something else, again not to me, but about me. I looked at her, told her she was wrong, pointed out that I had seen a couple of other small dogs and repeated that we weren’t on the field and continued to my car.

I don’t know. Was I wrong? Does “No dogs on the field area” mean I couldn’t walk him along the road back and forth to my parked car? What do you think?

 

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Local, soccer, Uncategorized

Scattered

I’m feeling scattered. The end of the school year brings lots of activities that (often delightfully) disrupt my work days and my personal life has taken a positive turn which has caused unexpected, but very much appreciated reverberations. Summer is looking really good and I’m so ready for it.

My middle son’s upcoming trip to Thailand has been my focus recently and I’ve spent very little time working on my own trip to Europe this summer. Gathering the necessary documents for his required visa has taken some work and I’m constantly checking in with myself and him about what is his responsibility and what I should be taking on on his behalf. It’s a balance that is kind of new – next stage parenting, I suppose.

My oldest son and I will be visiting Munich, Salzburg, Vienna and Prague. Other than Munich, which I visited in 1992, I haven’t been to any of those places before and I’m pretty stoked. The big stuff is done – a plan to meet with family, our accommodations, an outing or two, but I haven’t even looked at details such as transportation or scouting out where we’ll want to eat or what sites we won’t want to miss. I think we’ll be winging it. Suggestions are welcomed.

For a period of time next month, all three of my children will be on different continents. I’ve been trying to process this fact ever since it occurred to me a couple of days ago and I’m still not quite there. Wow. How did I/we ever get lucky enough for this to even possible much less accurate? It’s amazing to me and I don’t take it for granted on any level.

Somehow, I have children who are comfortable and excited by adventure. They are interested and curious about history and people and the world we live in and that prompts me to be so very proud of them. I appreciate that the experiences I’ve cultivated with them have been influential, but it certainly isn’t all due to me. These upcoming trips were inspired by Anthony Bourdain (Thailand) and the Von Trapp family (Austria) and I can’t tell you thrilled I am that my sons are eager to collect their own memories of places around their world and that sometimes I get to be a witness to their wonder.

Scattered isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you think about stars and seeds. Here’s hoping that summer 2018 brings light and new life to each of us.

 

 

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Filed under aging, Boys, Europe, family, Germany, Summer, travel, vacation