Saturday, May 26, 2007

Who are the bloggers and what do they do?

The world of bloggers is an odd little community. And I mean that in the most affectionate of ways. Today I was reminded just how neglectful of this blog I've been when I got a note from Gunfighter...A blogger who I have immense respect for and have never met in person. He's an interesting guy and a wonderful writer on a variety of topics. In any case, I read and comment on his blog regularly and I guess he either noticed my absence from his blog or from mine. Regardless... here I am.

But that one little act of kindness got me thinking that there is a whole world of wonderful writers out there who inspire me to think and act and comment in a way that no other group in my life does.

As adults we don't often have the opportunity to form a sense of closeness... it's not quite friendship and a little more than acquaintance... to such a wide group of articulate individuals. I suppose it is what I enjoy most about reading other blogs.

So while I may not have felt inspired lately to do my own writing and ranting here, there are certain blogs I keep in my bloglines and feel inspired to keep up with. Check them out if you can...and then check them out again. Each has it's own voice which will resonate...whether you agree with everything they say or not. I promise they will make you think.

In addition to Gunfighter at A View from Here, there's Rich at Championable who despite the challenges of life, finds a way to "love everyone" even the people that piss him off the most.

Rachael at Crank Mama who just cracks me up with candid take on parenthood (among other things). I'm not a big reader of the "mommy blogs" but I feel compelled to read hers.

The Contessa who shares a part of herself that I suspect she doesn't share with everyone... which makes her readers feel like an intimate part of her life.

And Vinny at Digital Father (who I must disclose is also my dearest friend in real life and who got me into this in the first place.) and who reminds us that being a good parent and a good human being sometimes takes work. But is well worth the trip.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Everything for a reason

I'm not much of a poetry person... but this Robert Frost poem has always stuck with me...
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both

My husband is a big fan of any movie with a time travel theme. Talk to him about space time continuums and the butterfly effect and he will poke a hole in every time travel movie out there. His favorite question on the topic is “Where did the watch come from?” referring to the Christopher Reeve/ Jane Seymour movie Somewhere in Time.

The idea that changing one detail sets up a domino effect is one I’ve thought of often. And while I’m so grateful for the life I have and people in it. I can’t help but wonder which things would be different if just one thing changed. My mom likes to use the “there by the grace of God go I” phrase here.

So in my life what would have happened if:
My parents had not divorced when I was 2…. I can’t even wrap my brain around that one. I’m mystifyied as to how they were ever together to begin with . But on the surface, my half-brothers wouldn’t exist. I wouldn’t have grown up where I did. Made the friends I did. Met my husband etc etc etc. The two people I feel closest to (outside of my family…you know who you are) wouldn’t have been a part of my life. .Or maybe they would have anyway. Who’s to say that while one decision effects all the others after it that the paths might not have crossed somewhere else down the road leading to the same end?

What if I had chosen a different college to attend? The one I ended up at was a last minute choice. I had pretty much decided on a different path when the acceptance came in to the school I ultimately chose. I certainly would have made different friends. I’d like to believe I would have had the same interests at school and chosen the same types of friends but that’s not nearly the same thing.

And what about the jobs I’ve had? What if I’d chosen (or been chosen for) another?

My husband and I have often joked about the party we both went to where we met again after knowing each other from years before. The one that led to us dating. Neither one of us was planning to attend that party. What if one of us hadn’t? Would we have ended up together anyway at some later date?

Details of our lives do not exist in a vacuum. So it’s impossible to think what would have happened if just one thing changed…. Because everything would have changed… and I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. Would you?

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Springsteen tickets?, wait it's for Kindergarten

What does it say about our education system when parents have to camp out to score a coveted spot for their child in KINDERGARTEN? Apparently only 36 spots were available at this Brooklyn elementary school and after that the little ones would be shipped off to another school.

I have so many issues with this that I don't know where to start. So in no particular order:

  • Who did the district planning and didn't realize there would be more than 36 kindergartner?
  • And if they did, why not hire another teacher?
  • Who thinks that 36 five year olds is a good class size? Is this what class size is like in Brooklyn?
  • Wouldn't the cost of the busing (and insurance) of however many more kindergartners there are offset the cost of another teacher?

I also went digging around to find out more about this and when I did a search for "parents camp out for kindergarten" I was appalled to find other instances of it here and here. GEEZ. What is this country coming to when parents have to go to these measures to get their child into freakin' Kindergarten??

I truly feel for these parents. I don't know what I would do in their, I take that back. Sadly, I'd be exactly where they were.... with my blanket and a chair and hot cup of coffee.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Happy Birthday, Grandpa

Today would have been my grandfather's 93rd birthday. He's been gone for nearly 18 years and I suppose I could say that I always think of him on February 28th. But the truth is that I think of him nearly every day.

My parents divorced before I was 2 and mom and I lived with my grandparents for a long time afterwards. So Grandpa was by far the single biggest male influence in my life. We had a very special bond and he always made me feel I was his favorite.

On his birthday, I'm reminded of how many ways he influenced my life and the things I appreciate. He was the one who took me to amusement parks and shared his love of music. He taught me to use a camera, the value of a dollar and how to be grateful for the things you have.

He was one of 11 children and worked hard his whole life. First to help support his parents and siblings in hard times, then to support a wife and 2 daughters. He never owned a house and even in his retirement, got a job working the early shift at McDonald's because after a lifetime of getting up before dawn, he figured he might as well do something.

Grandpa was the first one people called in times of crisis. And even when it meant personal sacrifice, he was quick to give you the shirt off his back.

Grandpa could fix anything. A skill my husband also possesses and it breaks my heart that Grandpa died before they had a chance to meet. I know they would've been great pals.

I miss him every day. Today more than most. It saddens me that he wasn't here to see me get married, to meet my husband, to see the woman I've become and see the birth of his great granddaughters.

I wonder all the time what he'd think of the world today.

What would he think of the choices I've made?

Would he be proud?

I hope so.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

10 Weird Things

I've felt uninspired to write lately. Work and life keep getting in the way and to be honest, I've felt more inspired to read and comment on my fellow bloggers sites than come up with thoughts of my own. Sometimes it's easier to chime in than to ring the bell yourself.

But, I can't ignore a challenge... and the Contessa has tagged me for a 10 Weird Things list. So here it is... read at your own discretion. They're in no particular order.

  1. I have a weird fascination with the engagement and wedding announcements in the Sunday paper. It's like a little mystery novel. I like to try and figure out how these two people got together.
  2. I'm insanely jealous of people who have natural talent (art, music, whatever) because I have none. I can carry a tune and enjoy belting a good song in the car but have been surrounded all my life with people who are far more talented in that arena. So instead, I joke that while they are all on stage, my job is to applaud really loudly.
  3. I'm a walking book of useless trivia...movies, TV, historical, you name it. Sometimes even I'm amazed at the junk I remember.
  4. I'm fascinated by genealogy and have traced a branch of my husband's family tree back to the 1300's and King Edward III.
  5. I have never lived outside of New York or New Jersey.
  6. I'm convinced that The Contessa and I were separated at birth...except she can sing and I cannot (see #2).
  7. Since graduating from college I have worked at an ad agency, a recruiting firm, a newspaper, a magazine and a textbook publisher... and oh yea...I've also been a Nine West store manager.
  8. My favorite song at the moment is Christina Aguilera's Candyman. I love big band music and the trombone at the beginning makes me smile every time.
  9. I love having people over to my house which I suppose isn't weird except that I suffer from "mary tyler moore syndrome" No matter how hard I plan, I'm always afraid that no one will show up or that no one will have a good time. (Does anyone else get this reference?)
  10. I have never eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. REALLY.

So there you have it.... tagged next are Word Girl, Crank Mama and Gunfighter.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Watching your language and today's thing to be proud of

First a funny thing...

Just as I pull out the driveway this morning on the way to drive my five year olds to the bus stop, I hear

Daughter 2: "oh, crap"

Me: "What did you say?" (hoping I heard it wrong and trying not to chuckle).

Daughter 2: "I said 'oh, crap'" (innocently as she dropped whatever she was holding on the floor)

Me: OK, let's not say that anymore. It's not a nice thing to say."

Meanwhile Daughter 1 chimes with "What did she say?what did she say?"

Me: Nothing, nothing. She said something that wasn't a nice word and we're not going to repeat it.

Why do these things always happen on the way to the bus stop when I am the only adult in the car?

And I KNOW that I am the guilty party that introduced the phrase into her vocabulary. I obviously try and watch my language around the kids and I certainly don't curse like a sailor but the phrase "oh, crap" has definitely been uttered by me on more than one occasion.

I suppose the good thing is that she used it the proper context, right?

I'm imagining that we're going to get a note home from school if she keeps it up. :sigh:

But on other fronts...
It looks like the family is going on another cruise this summer. It will be my Dad and his wife's (I'm not allowed to call her my stepmother) 40th anniversary and our 12th the week we sail. I'm really excited about it but I've decided that I refuse to be the fat girl in the cruise pictures again. Last time we went... about a year ago, I actually photoshopped myself in a few of the pictures before sending them to the rest of the family. (pathetic, I know). If you saw my perpetually thin husband, father and brothers you'd understand. One brother is a former body builder and my 65 year old dad plays tennis several times a week.

This is the just the motivation I need to stop talking about this and DO SOMETHING. I can diet with the best of them and I've been known to drop 20-30 pounds on everything from Atkins to Weight Watchers. But exercise has never been my strong suit. It's not that I'm lazy (well, maybe it is) it's just that I can't figure out how to fit exercise into my life.

So this morning I got up at 5:30 (set the alarm for 5 but that obviously wasn't happening) and went to look outside. I thought, "maybe, I'll go take a walk" Well, besides the fact that it was 22 degrees was PITCH BLACK out there! I don't know what I was expecting at 5:30 but it suddenly occurred to me that I live on a street with no street lights. OK, so that obviously wasn't happening.

On to Plan B.

I put on a 35 minute Pilates video from my on demand TV service and did that instead. It didn't have the same exhilarating feeling as going out for a walk in 22 degree weather but at least I did it. And I'm damned proud of myself for that.

Tomorrow I'm going to do it again. (and because I've said it here, it has to be true).

Stay tuned.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Craving human interaction

I work from home two days a week typically. And it’s great to be able to just get up put the coffee on…get my kids off to school and work in my pajamas. Isn’t that the ultimate goal… to work in your pajamas?

And don’t get me wrong… I LIKE working from home. I get some stuff done quicker. And given the nature of my job, it doesn’t really matter in most cases where I am physically, since everything is done by phone and email.

Last week, however, I was home 3 days instead of my usual two. And my husband’s been busy… so by the end of the week I REALLY needed to get out of my house, have some time alone where I was not working and was sans children and talk to someone over the age of 5.

I never realized how much not having live humans to talk to would effect me. I mean especially because I spend all of my working hours creating and managing electronic communication. And much of my own free time is spent communicating with friends and strangers through emails and blogs.

I guess there’s no risk of me becoming a shut in, huh?

But of course that got me thinking… In an age where we are constantly connected, how can we still feel so isolated? I can’t believe that I’m alone in this. It’s so easy to just be connected through electronic means but takes time and effort and coordinating of schedules to actually be in the same room as people you care about.

I feel that there’s this dichotomy of a sense of community (blog or otherwise) compared to this feeling of disconnect because I don’t see and spend enough physical time with some people who are important to me.

I definitely need both. I need to see people, hug them, and laugh out loud with them not just LOL with them.

Friday, January 12, 2007

What is he thinking?

I just got back from a business trip last night so I watched the President's speech the other night from the comfort of my company paid hotel room. And my consideration for my fellow guests is probably the only thing that kept me from screaming at the TV.

I've long since stopped asking myself "what was he thinking" because it's painfully obvious that he just plain...isn't. But thankfully, in our 24 hour news cycle, there are others to remind him and us of what he's already told us.... so in case you had any doubts that King George would rather rewrite history than be hassled to remember what he's said before... take a look at Keith Olbermann's commentary from Wednesday night just before the speech.

And really, what is a surge but George's way of sticking out his tongue and saying "yup, I"m gonna send some more innocent lives in harms way. And you can't stop me." ?

Friday, January 05, 2007

A debate about older mothers

There's a great little debate going on over at Citizen of the Month about the woman in Barcelona who just gave birth to twins at 67. (by IVF obviously).

I, as well as others, fell pretty strongly that this was selfish on so many levels on the part of the mother. But Neil at Citizen of the Month wants to know why it is selfish when no one says anything if a 70 year old man fathers a child.

Double Standard? Yes.

But there are so many realities in place here:
  • women are often the primary caregivers for young children (except in my house and a rare few others)
  • At 67 it is unrealistic to think that this woman will be a part of her children's lives as long as say, if she were 37.

And having been through the whole IVF thing personally, I want to know what doctor in their right mind agreed to this? Apparently she had it done somewhere in Latin America but REALLY... this doctor needs to have his or her license revoked.

Is there no code of ethics? Did no one think this might not be such a good idea?

But was it her right to do.... grudgingly, I have to say yes.

Others are commenting that she had the right to do whatever she wants with her body and while there are few people who are more Pro-Choice than me... I have to disagree here. She did not do this on her own. They were someone else's eggs (because, let's be realistic here...she is 67!!) And there was a fairly large team of experts making it all happen.

Being pregant with and caring for newborn twins zaps the stuffing out of even the most motivated of mothers...and no one is more motivated that someone who's been through many years of infertility (like me) AND YET... I still can't wrap my brain around setting out on that journey at 67.

What was she thinking??

There are no good answers.

My final word on Resolutions

What is it about turning the calendar to January that inspires us all to want to be better people?

Doesn’t everyone want to lose weight, stop smoking, be more organized, (insert resolution here) all the time?

We could certainly resolve to be a better person when turning the calendar page to…say… Thursday.

And Janaury does always represent that feeling of a fresh start. I get it. But after hemming and hawing about what I’m going to do better this year… I’m finally just resolving to:

Do better

And if I don’t… then tomorrow is another day to:

Do better, now.

And so on.

And in that category of Doing Better… here the things I’d like to be better at:

  • Better at eating (actually, I’m kinda great at that now which is part of my problem)
  • Better at taking care of myself and those I love
  • Better at parenting
  • Better at staying on top of things before they become crises

And I want to be a better friend. Life gets in the way, and I’ve found myself losing touch with people that I didn’t’ mean to lose touch with. And I’m not as close as I want to be with some others that I see all the time. I want my children to understand how valuable and precious good friends are.

So today,
And tomorrow
And the day after that

I’m going to do better.