Sunday, June 29, 2008

what are the odds

Let's say you have been fighting a sinus infection that has invaded your right eye, which is now bloodshot, swollen half-shut, itchy, and slightly 'leaky' in the outer corner. What are the odds that when you wake up the morning of an important meeting, your eye will be all better? Nil.

Let's also say you have to get into the city for an important meeting. Let's say it's a prep workshop for an important professional license exam you'll be taking soon. You've paid $105 for the workshop, and you want to get there on time so you don't miss a thing.

What are the odds that the train runs on a compatible schedule? Not good, because it's a saturday morning and the trains only run every hour. So you have to leave home at 8 am to catch the 8:20 train to get to your 10 am meeting. So you get up early and skip breakfast, figuring you'll get a snack closer to the meeting spot, since you'll be there early anyway.

What are the odds that the subway you connect to will get you where you want to go? Not great as it goes down the west side of manhattan and you need to be on the east side. So if you take the 1 line, you'd have to go all the way down to times square, catch the shuttle to gct, then catch the 4 to get to east 79th.

Instead, you decide to get off the subway at 79th and broadway, then walk to east 79th through central park. You know from past experience that there is a road that goes straight through and under the park, coming out on central park west. You remember that one side or the other is at 79th, you just can't remember if it's the east or the west.

So you come to 79th on the west side of the park, and see that it doesn't go through the park, which means it must come out on 79th on the east side. You know that the entrance on the west is two blocks different from the exit, so you have two choices: go north to 81st, or south to 77th. You choose to go south to 77th.

What are the odds that you chose correctly? Well, they'd be one in two, of course. But of course, you chose wrong, as you discover when the path starts winding around through the park. So now, do you cut your losses and go all the way back, or keep on the path you're taking, figuring it'll come out soon on the east side?

You choose to keep walking, only to discover that there is some freaking marathon in the park that morning, and that you must stop and wait for a break in the runners before you (and all the other pedestrians) can run across the marathon path.

You keep an eye on your watch, and it's getting late. You pick up your pace, despite the fact that the temperature, with the humidity factor, is the equivalent of 81 degrees at 9:30 am. You know you're getting to the east side, when you come across the damned marathon again, as it wound its way around the park. You wait yet again for a break in the runners before you dash across, and out of the park -- at 72nd and central park east.

Unfortunately, you need to be at 79th and 3rd in 10 minutes. Seven blocks north (short blocks), and 4 blocks east (long blocks). Go ahead, give it a try. I dare you. Well, somehow you managed to make it in time, face beet red and head dripping -- literally -- sweat. And you walk into a building without air conditioning.

What are the odds that you would walk into the one building with no air conditioning on a late june day in manhattan? Because the school at which the meeting is being held is closed for the summer, and no one remembered to tell maintenance that there was a meeting in the auditorium. (Maintenance had shut down all superfluous functions. That includes the water to the bathrooms. Think no toilet flushing, or hand washing, till noonish.)

As everyone -- and I do mean everyone -- turns to stare at you, you ask for the ladies room and rush down to the basement to sop the sweat off your head. Because when you are exerted, you sweat from your head -- your scalp. It drips down your forehead to your nose, droplets falling to the floor; it drips down your temples to your neck, to down between your breasts; it drips down your back. And you keep tearing off bunches of paper towels and mopping, mopping up the dripping mess until you have it semi-under control.

What are the odds that there would be decent seating left in the auditorium when you arrived right at 10? Nil, of course. So you wind up in front of three women who hold side conversations throughout the entire damned workshop. And that's when the pain in your feet hits you full force -- you look down and see that your shoes have rubbed the top layer of skin off the backs of your heels from the middle out to below the ankles on the sides. Lovely. Just lovely.

What are the odds they would have morning snacks or anything to fill your empty stomach? Nil. And you are now hungry and thirsty, the vending machines are shut down for the summer, no food or drink are allowed in the auditorium, and your morning break isn't long enough to leave the building to find anything.

What are the odds that you would discover in the course of this workshop that you will be provided with a study manual exactly like (better than, actually) one you paid $131 for a couple of weeks ago? And that the presenter would cover material that was in a second guide you also purchased for $33? What are the odds that both of those books will find their way to ebay in the next week or so?

Lunch time arrives, and you have 45 minutes to find a cash machine, and get something good for you because you are watching what you eat. What are the odds you'll find a cash machine for your own bank? Nil, as you watch the other bank charge your account $3 for the privilege of using their machine.

What are the odds you'll find something affordable and healthy on the upper east side? Nil. You find a hale n' hearty soups, order the small soup and half-sandwich 'deal' that runs you $8 and change, drink the ice water provided. Despite not being a soup fan, you thought the potato soup with cheese would be good enough. You managed a half-dozen bites before giving up and eating the small turkey half-sandwich on some god awful multigrain bread (you hate anything but white bread) before heading back to the meeting.

The meeting turns out to be very good and very helpful in exam prep. You learn that your experience will work against you, as the exam isn't based on real life experience but the 'best case scenario' that you learned in school -- 13 years ago. So you'll have to put your experience aside and not read things into the questions. You leave the workshop feeling very positive about the exam, much more so then you had been. You only need a 75% to pass (although it is so hard that no one makes higher than 85% ever), and 89% of the people last year who took this prep course passed the exam the first time they took it.

When the meeting is over, you decide that since you are working hard on losing weight, you'll go ahead and walk back through the park to the west side and the number 1 subway. Despite the pain in your feet and the fact that your shoes are still rubbing your heels raw. At least you know which entrance to take to go straight through this time. One block away from the meeting building, you find a branch of your own bank. Damn. If only you'd gone in this direction at lunch, you'd have saved yourself the $3 fee.

What are the odds that you'll make it to the subway before the sky opens up and it begins to rain? Nil. But at least it's a sprinkle, rather than the downpour that it could have been given the humidity level. So you open the travel umbrella that you wouldn't be caught dead without, and keep walking on those raw feet till you get back to 79th and broadway and hop the 1 back up to marble hill.

All the way home you are physically exhausted, and a nap is the most important thing on your mind. But when you get home, you remember the leftover graduation cake and ice cream. And you remember that the rule books says it's perfectly ok to have leftover graduation cake and ice cream when you've had the day from hell. No really. It does.

And then, you lay down to take that nap. What are the odds you'll get the nap? Nil, 'cause public television is playing the judy garland version of a star is born. You've never seen it before. Can you really take a nap now??? I think not.

We won't discuss the now bloody heels of your feet, other than to say what are the odds that you'll be wearing shoes with backs for the next several days? Nil, while you wait for the skin to grow back.

So, later, after the movie, when you are still wired and can't sleep...

I'll finish this in my other blog. 'Cause it gets a bit kinky from here...

Friday, June 27, 2008

rites of passage

The song pomp and circumstance will forever render me teary-eyed. It represents a rite of passage, one that was preceded by hard work, angst, and hopefully some fond memories. It signals an immense change in someone's life.

Last night was no different -- perhaps it was even more poignant as it accompanied the rugrat's trip across a stage to receive her high school diploma.

The ceremony was quite good, and the speeches were excellent. Even the rugrat paid attention and commented afterward on how they made her cry. The guest speaker was Libby Copeland, a journalist with the Washington Post, and a former graduate of the high school.

Well, this is it folks. Things are changing, and changing quickly. The rugrat has been considering potential roommates from among her co-workers (she's at the California Pizza Kitchen now), and there are a few who fit the bill. Her bill, that is. Which means they must be easy to get along with, drama free (or as much as teen girls can be), and dependable work and income-wise.

Rugrat has realized that living alone won't be affordable. But if she can share a 2-bedroom with someone, she shares rent, damage deposit, con ed, cable/internet, etc. Plus she can have that kitty she's wanted since I had to find homes for ours (allergies, asthma). She and her kitty can grow up together.

Now that graduation is over, she'll be putting aside $150 out of each paycheck, and I can anticipate that as soon as winter is over and it's warm enough to consider moving, she will be. I have no doubts that she can handle herself, that she'll be responsible. Despite a bit of spoiling, she is a damned good kid.

Yes, it's what we aimed for -- I believe that kids need to be on their own and learning how to live responsibly. And yet, it will mean an empty home for me, for the first time since I was 19 and had rugrat 1. I had always envisioned this transition as my time to finally have fun, to not be responsible for others. And yet I see now that it will be a challenge for me.

I have spent the last 29 years focused more on single parenting than any other aspect of my life. I will now have to change that focus, and fairly abruptly. I'll have to work hard to incorporate other things into my life to keep that new emptiness at bay.

Rites of passage...for the rugrat moving to adulthood, and for me moving to an 'empty nest.' It will be challenging. I hope we're both up to it.

I won't post a pic of the rugrat here, but I will post this one of the hat tossing upon conferral of the degree. The rugrat is in this group of kids graduates. I'm posting it as-is, with no edits, so ignore the person who got in the way.

This brought tears to the eyes as well.

This song has also become associated with graduations, at least among high schoolers.

Monday, June 23, 2008

the anticlimax

They walked in the door at midnight, which meant they'd left before the prom was over.

It wasn't the fancy schmancy deal that you see on the telly. Seems most of the guys wore suits, but not tuxes. And the girls wore dresses right out of their closets -- most didn't wear anything specially purchased for the prom. Rugrat (and her bf) was (were) the best-dressed there. And apparently the highlight of the evening was the compliments about her dress.

Other than that, it was a series of unfortunate mishaps and accidents. Drama with a sometimes girlfriend; getting her heel caught in her dress and ripping the bottom hem in the front; no professional photographer, meaning no professional prom photos; only techno music played all night, meaning no rap, hip-hop or reggaeton (rugrat's favs).

Add to it all that the school deliberately holds the dance on a Sunday evening so that the students can't go out and party afterward. Even in NY, most places to eat close by midnight on Sundays, and after-hours clubs do too.

So they came home to change clothes, and then they planned to go hang out at the bf's home turf with some of his friends. That is, until she laid down on her bed while her bf changed his clothes. That's when she crashed. The last few nights with no sleep caught up with her. So here I sit watching the telly with her bf while she sleeps it off (exhaustion, that is).

Poor baby worked her heart out, and forked over some major hard-earned cash, for this night. And she seemed so...I don't know, disappointed doesn't quite cover it...she was listless when she got home...sad, forlorn.

You all know how it sucks when the looking-forward-to was much better than the actual doing.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

the girl-woman

--She worked hard, and paid for the tickets -- $150 a couple.
--She helped her boyfriend pay for his tux.
--She made her own dress.
--She made a vest for her boyfriend to match her dress.
--She cut her boyfriend's hair.
--She spent $35 on her own hair, and forked over a $15 tip to the stylist.
--And she did it all while working 30+ hours a week.

I took pity on her Friday, when it became apparent that she was stretched to the limit. I spent my Friday, Saturday, and much of Sunday helping her with things like hemming, alterations to her dress, buttons and buttonholes. Since she didn't get home from work till midnight, I would do some things for her while she worked, and then we would work together till about 3 am.

The living room quickly began to look like a garment factory, with bits of thread, errant pins, pattern pieces, and fabric taking up what space wasn't occupied by the sewing machine and the iron/board. But I let it ride without complaint. It was a big day for her, and she wanted things to be perfect. I let them be.

And then I watched my rugrat this evening, as she headed off to her senior prom.

My rugrat who is really a young woman.

A young, beautiful, responsible woman.

I'm not a britney fan, but the song fits...

Friday, June 20, 2008

merry menopause, or the menopause blues

I've been lucky so far, the symptoms haven't been severe. No hot flashes, and I still have a libido. I do have some serious problems sleeping, though -- not night sweats, just interrupted sleep.

But the low mood swings are getting lower. I'm sitting here now feeling like I just want to sink into bed, curl up into a ball, and cry like a baby. But I'm fighting it, I'm fighting it.

It doesn't help that right now I'm also dealing with that whole 'loving that my kid's graduating and becoming an adult, but damn it'll be lonely around here when she's gone' syndrome.

So in an attempt to find some humour in the situation, I searched youtube for a funny menopause video and found this:

And this:

And menopause parking:

And global warming:

But the best is Cybill Shephard:

OK, I feel better now. :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

oh so peaceful here

I visited my last place of employment yesterday, said hello to past colleagues, had a great lunch with the office staff, my former boss, even my 'replacement.'

We had a long, lovely, leisurely lunch at Emilia's on Arthur Avenue in Little Italy, the Bronx. The boss ordered hot and cold antipasto plates, fried calamari, and red wine (I know I never drink, but I actually had a small glass). I had the grilled salmon over arugula, and the bomba for dessert.

Everyone I said hello to while visiting the campus told me I looked great (despite the fact that I've gained noticeable weight since I left). The descriptor the vice president used was 'peaceful.' You look so peaceful, he said, teaching definitely agrees with you. It's funny, even with the stress of the impending licensing exam and other responsibilities, loving what you do does make a difference. How fucking lucky am I!

It was a lovely day, and I started and ended it with a 1.5 mile walk to and from the campus, for a 3 mile round trip, with lots of hills. Boy, my legs were wobbly by the time I got home. I've been eating more carefully this week and easing into exercise, and I've dropped 2.5 pounds. Now I just have to keep it up. All summer.

I picked up this for strength training:

Can I just say, OMFG! That's a hefty workout that'll kill you or make you stronger.

After that great lunch, I stopped by the library on the way home (well, it's right next to the train station) and picked up some more cd's to rip. I noticed a sign that gave apologies for the 'limited' cd availability, citing the expense of theft as the reason for not offering more. How sad, when you can take the cd's home and rip them for your own, to steal them instead.

But you'd never know the collection was limited, given what I found:

Paul McCartney, Tripping the Live Fantastic
Fleetwood Mac, Live at the BBC (this is the original FM of the late 60's, with Peter Green, not the one we know)
Andrea Bocelli, Amore (I love his voice)
The Beach Boys (I love a good compilation)
Classic Rock of the 70's (just for the hell of it)
The Rolling Stones, High Tide and Green Grass
Bonnie Raitt, Silver Lining
John Mayer, Continuum (the rugrat hates him, but I don't)
The Best of the Monkees (from my saturday morning kid shows, what's not to like...and it came with 5 karaoke songs)
Rickie Lee Jones (a blast from my past, bringing back memories...chuck e.'s in love, yanno)
Harry Belafonte and Friends (I just like him)
The Traveling Wilburys Collection (too fine)

And after all that eating and walking, I needed a nap when I got home!

From the title -- Kenny Rankin, Oh So Peaceful Here:

In the mornin fun when no one will be,
Drinkin anymore wine
I wake the Sun up,
By givin him a fresh share
full of the wind cup

And I won't be found in the shadows hiding,
I can wait for fate, to bring to me,
Any part of my tomorrow....tomorrow

Cause it's oh...oh so peaceful here
No one bendin over my shoulder
Nobody breathin in my ear.
Oh uh oh... it's oh so peaceful here

In the evening shadows are callin me
And the dew settles in my mind
And I think of friends in the yesterday
When my plans were giggled in rhyme

I had a son while on the run
And his love brought a tear to my eye
And maybe some day he might say
That I'm a pretty nice guy...Oh Oh my

Cause it's oh...oh so peaceful here
No one bendin over my shoulder
Nobody breathin in my ear.
Oh uh oh... it's oh so peaceful here

Yeah, I know Helen Reddy did it too, but I like this version better.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Gosh. It's been awhile. Outside of making my presence known at work and prepping for the rugrat's graduation festivities, I have been reveling in books for the last two weeks. Literally staying up till 3 in the morning reading, then starting all over again the next afternoon.

I've read these:

And these:

And these:

I'm going to start on these this weekend:

And I bought these last weekend:

I've actually read a few of the chekov short stories over the last two days, waiting for the train, for rugrat's recognition ceremony at alternative school to start, waiting for the rugrat's eye doc appointment to end, etc.

And this looked good just in terms of another clinical perspective; I thought it might be something that I could pull from for my social work direct skills course.

And yes, all this reading means that I'm only studying sort of half-heartedly for the licensing exam so far. But I think the reading for pleasure has been fucking good for my sanity -- it's definitely clearing my head after this crazy academic year. It's felt so damned good to lose myself in books again!

Re: the LMSW exam, I decided to pay the $100 to attend the professional organization's all day prep course, scheduled for saturday the 28th, so I'll start studying in earnest this coming monday and then do the prep course, then take the exam the monday after the prep course. It's tough man, really tough. But maybe my mind will be more clear and ready with another weekend of rest.

I've been dealing with some serious teary-eyed angst with the rugrat's birthday, senior prom, and graduation stuff. But I think that's for another post.

I've also decided that if I can find an affordable place in the city (like maybe around the washington heights area) I'll move down there next summer. Rugrat will be 19 and should be able to handle being on her own by then, and me being in the borough will eliminate the metro north train ride that doubles my commute time (but still leave me close enough to the rugrat to be there if she needs me). I may be force to settle for a studio given the cost of rent, but it'll be in the city. I'm actually already looking forward to it. Yeah, I'm just a city girl at heart.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I wanna be the one to walk in the sun

Sunday was the big concert day, at Jones Beach. We went early and walked the boardwalk, played a game of mini-golf, had a snack (that ran us $26 big ones), and sat on the beach for about 45 minutes, listening to sound checks at the arena. Jones Beach was built on a barrier island, which means it suffers from erosion...why, oh why, build a major tourist attraction on a barrier island?

The well-known landmark watertower:

The boardwalk:

The pristine white beaches:

The pounding surf:

The arena at the east end of the beach:

And just an incredible view of the sun's rays peeking through the clouds:

Now, me being me, I couldn't find my camera bag with the awesome telephoto lens that I wanted to use for some cool close-up shots of the acts. So I had to rely on the 2 or 3X magnification on the camera itself, which never gives me what I want. But that's the way it is. You make do with what you have. I haven't touched up a single photo; what you see is what I shot (click on the photos to enlarge for better viewing).

Imagine sitting at an outdoor arena on a gorgeous day. Mid 70's, not too hot or humid, cool breeze, blue skies. It's set physically so that by the time an evening concert begins, the sun has retreated behind the stands, so you get a great view with no setting sun in your eyes.

So, the line up..........................................................

First, the emcee was Carson Kressley. Can I just say that the dude is major funny. I mean really. Plus, this was the second show of the tour and they hadn't worked all the kinks out yet, so he had to keep entertaining while they worked on equipment between acts. He was cool as a cucumber. Suffice it to say, I liked him a lot.

First act, Mary McBride. Good, but not enough of a crowd for people to really get into it. The curse of the first act(s) at a concert in New York -- no audience. She played for about 15-20 minutes.

Next, Kat Deluna. The rugrat perked up considerably at this. I didn't know she was going to be here! Unfortunately, she only did two songs, but rugrat says she really only has two major hits right now, as she's new on the scene.

From latina music to something a bit heavier -- the Cliks. I don't think rugrat liked them much, but I did.

Carson's costume change:

The Indigo Girls. Now of course I didn't expect rugrat to like them, and I wasn't surprised when she didn't. They are not her cup of tea. They are mine, though. I like three things about the indigo girls:

1. The incredible harmonies
2. The meaningful lyrics
3. No hoopla on stage -- you get live what you get on the cd's...them

Intermission. Time for a bathroom break. Dusk filters in as the sun sets.

Then Cyndi herself comes out to talk to us about the purpose of the tour. Making our voices heard, and doing it through advocacy and VOTING! She's not gonna tell us who to vote for, she just wants us to vote.

Then she personally introduces Rosie O'Donnell. Rosie was just OK, but nothing really to write home about. In fact, rugrat and I both thought Carson was much funnier. Much. Funnier.

Next up, the B-52s. Rugrat liked them a lot (she sounded really surprised with herself for that), and recognized several of their songs. They were as awesome as I remember, and they had the whole audience up and dancing. Except for rugrat and I, of course. Because she wouldn't have been able to live it down if I'd publicly humiliated her by getting up and dancing.

Another Carson costume change; check out those pants (pun fully intended):

And then the star, Cyndi Lauper. Now I'll be honest here. I'd always thought of Lauper as bubble gum pop, which was not my style back when, so except for listening to her hits on the radio, I was never too into her.

BUT...after seeing her this weekend, let me tell you -- the girl can ROCK! I was amazed, loved her, and will not only be looking for a compilation of her old hits, but will be picking up her newest release as well.

She started off in the statue of liberty's torch:

Was all over the stage:

Literally out in the audience, not once but twice:

The lead singer from the Cliks joined her on stage:

Then the entire line-up came out on stage to sing Sly & the Family Stone's Everyday People:

And then the ensemble did True Colors:

And then Rosie ruined the ending. The urging people to get out and vote was completely and deliberately nonpartisan throughout the concert and intended to be so. But Rosie's parting word at the very end of the feel-good moment was something about not voting for McCain, or making sure he didn't win, something to that effect.

Several of the ensemble called her on it right there, including Cyndi, and she apologized, but in that I'm not really sorry kind of apologetic way. She's welcome to her opinion, but that particular venue just wasn't the right time or place to spout it. It left a sour note for the concert to end on.

That aside, the day and evening were memorable. Thanks, rugrat number one, for the christmas tickets!

Monday, June 02, 2008

hear ye, hear ye

And so, the rugrat will not go to college this fall.

Last night, as she was regaling me with just how much she hates school, I realized that she didn't really want to go to college at all. She wants to be a fashion designer, but she thinks she can do it without college.

But the thing is, even if I just send her part-time, I'm forcing her to take out student loan debt for something she doesn't even want. And if she doesn't want to be there, what are the chances that she'd actually get good grades, or want to go back in the future.

Her choice is to work full-time, and she'll be 18 -- so it's her decision to make.

Yes, I was concerned about medical insurance. It turns out she's covered for another year, until she's 19. After that, if she goes back to school full-time, I can get her back on medical until she's 23.

Of course, I'm counting on her taking a year off and then miraculously realizing how important college is and wanting to go back. Obviously I understand that it might not happen that way, but what the fuck, a mom can hope, can't she.

And maybe, if she's working and moves out on her own, she'll be financially eligible for medicaid, or financial aid for school. Who knows.

But for now, I've told the school that she's deferring enrollment until fall 2009. That'll keep her from having to reapply or take the placement exams all over again.

And it puts this whole debate off for a year.

So, this former welfare recipient and minimum wager, who went to college at age 30 and worked her ass off to become a full-time college professor, has two rugrats who want nothing to do with college.

Go figure.