The sheer amount of food on the holiday can be overwhelming, especially if you are hosting and have to figure out where to put ALL THAT FOOD. Continue reading Bonding Over Thanksgiving Leftovers
And right about that time, I unexpectedly became a roommate. Continue reading Celebrating Life in the Sharing Economy
It’s sad that in the weeks preceding, I thought frequently of the people who would be most critical of me. That’s been life; anything I did was cause for gossip. I knew that attending alone, sans escort, would mean (to them) that I couldn’t get a date. That wearing stylish clothes would make me look stupid and frumpy clothes would make me look, well, frumpy. And heaven forbid I use big words!
Today is my grandfather’s birthday, and he would have been amused at how I spent it.
I’ve been attending the Blogher conference; this year it’s right here in New York. There are speakers and breakout sessions, networking and parties. The days are long but interesting. It’s great seeing a multitude of women immersed in new media and self expression.
Grandpa had three sons. When his first grandchild turned out to be a girl, it didn’t occur to him to treat me as unintelligent. For a few of my early years I lived with my grandparents. Grandma taught me sewing and food prep and how to set a proper table. Grandpa let me watch the news with him and shared his political opinions with me. He was stern but believed in his grandkids. While some anti-education folks married into the family, he announced that I was going to college. I was still in elementary school. Was this an edict, prophecy or call to battle?
My grandfather left Ecuador as a teenager. Back then you could work hard to improve your economic status, and he did. He retired a tool and die maker, a skilled tradesman with a love of the English language. He died a few years ago just shy of his 103rd birthday. In his last year or so he started reverting to his language of origin, but always pronounced my name in English.
I remember him asking me about words: where did this word come from, why does that bank have its name? Two generations later, I’m using words with a platform and technology he could never have imagined.
Happy Birthday to a man whose thinking was a generation ahead of his time.
“As I watch the seedling grow, I feel my heart start to overflow. Where do I find the words to say? How do I teach him? What do we play? Bit by bit, I realize, that’s when I need them, that’s when I need my father’s eyes.” (the great Eric Clapton)
Happy Father’s Day to all the good dads, to the women who are both mother and father to their kids, and to the selfless male role models. I didn’t get to see my dad today; we’ll celebrate the holiday at a later date.
When I was young it was common for relatives to just stop by each others’ homes unannounced, simply because it’s family. Many years ago I my toddler screamed and fought me as I tried to wash her hair. Just as I was at my wit’s end my father appeared. I answered the door with a wet, angry child under my arm. He told me to go take a walk. I returned home to a clean, happy girl and domestic bliss. It helped that for a little while I lived about a mile from my father and he was old-school about visiting. When I started my new life and gleefully decorated on the cheap, it was Dad’s career as a tool and die maker that made it possible for us (mostly him) to assemble Ikea furniture without losing our minds. He loves all of his kids equally yet uniquely because we are all such different people. And does he love being a grandpa!
Happy Father’s Day Dad!
It’s hard to believe that after busy months of preparation and a couple of dizzying credit card bills, Christmas is over. I’ll keep the cheerful decorations up as long as I can; I’m a sucker for tree lights and candles. (The picture above shows a candle lighting up my kitchen table.)
In the past week I’ve celebrated with family and friends, missed my Los Angeles sibling more than usual, reconnected with a California cousin who should have been a bigger part of my life and going forward, she will be. I was introduced to the game Trivia Crack and ate the best pasteles I’ve had in over ten years.
The warmth of the season is the physical glow of lights and the heartfelt glow of sharing feelings, knowledge and laughter. It’s the fireplace in my youngest brother’s house and the moist, fragrant air over an active stove.
It’s catching dusk over the Hudson River.
It’s walking around with a toasty, rejuvenating coffee.
It’s higher than usual temperatures.
But nothing is warmer than a hug from my child and the company of people who do not annoy me.
I kind of like buying Christmas gifts. It forces me to consider what the recipient, usually somebody I care about, would actually like. As I read the annual lists of suggestions and guides, though, I wonder, “Who buys this stuff?” Cutesy, impractical apparel, delicate looking toys, designer food. If I presented this to my family I would hear a rousing chorus of “What the hell is this?”
And rightly so. We are not that demographic who follow short-lived trends, at least those of us past high school age. We like real stuff: wine, cash, jewelry, my almost-annual gift to Dad of a new sweater.
Being a parent has, believe it or not, taught me to be as good to myself as I would be to a child.
Think in full sentences. You wouldn’t just say “milk” and expect your kid to know if you mean “Drink your milk” or “Put the milk away” or “Don’t pass milk through your nose. “ So why just think “milk” when you mean, “I have to buy milk?”
Speak kindly and/or politely. Berating children is wrong for so many reasons. Don’t do it to yourself.
Try new things. One minute baby is holding onto a table, then one foot in front of the other propels the kid forward, upright, seeing the world in a brand new way. Baby falls down, gets back up and happily wobbles to the next piece of furniture. Not all change is as good as this. Sometimes it sucks but we need to at least be open to the possibility that it’s good.
Fight the fear. Some kids are afraid of Halloween, Santa Claus or sand. Imagine all the fun they’d miss if they never got over those fears! I’m still skittish when driving on bridges, which is irrational since I live and work on separate islands. (Only one of New York City’s five boroughs is on the mainland, and I don’t live there.)
Shhhh. Listen. You could learn something. But don’t be too quiet or people will think either that you’re stupid or left the room, metaphorically speaking.
Dance and Sing even if you think you’re not very good at it. Small kids rarely are but they don’t care, and neither should you, especially if you’re home!
Write Things Down. I picture rows of students at their desks, diligently taking notes or completing assignments. The grown-up counterpart is listmaking. Grocery lists, to-do lists, holiday card lists, all serve to organize and prioritize our busy lives. This gives us time to…
Live in Wonder. Why should toddlers have all the fun? A great sunset, fall foliage, roaring waves, a gorgeous pair of shoes: these never fail to grab my attention. Now I know that I can just slow down and take it all in.
I like going to estate sales. Even if I buy nothing, I enjoy seeing the nice houses that made up my home borough. I wander the rooms and imagine the lives that were lived there, the celebrations and sorrows, struggles and accomplishments. There had to be some level of success to afford to buy property here. I admire the architecture and use of space. What did they eat, wear and decorate with? What were their schools, sports and hobbies? Could we have known each other?