life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Jen attends college in Rhode Island. She's not in Rhode Island right now, she's "stranded" at home.

she came home for spring break March 19. she should have gone back on the 28th, but decided to stay until today so that she could celebrate Passover with the family.

then came the deluge.

yesterday she got an email from the shcool that classes were cancelled and all nonessential employees were being sent home. portions of I-95 were flodded, and a bridge near the campus had been totally washed out.

no classes today either, and no idea when the bridge might reopen. the entire state is a federal disaster area. fortunately the worst of it is in towns that aren't near the campus.

I am not sure when she will be able to drive back to school. hopefuly it will be better tomorrow.

poetry slam?

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms)

I have to admit, I've never heard the term...until last week. Jen sent me a text telling me "Joe and I are going into the city for his poetry slam." I consider mysefl a sophisticated New Yorker and a patron of the arts, not to mention that I majored in English back in the day, but I had to google "poetry slam".

(OMG, the 21st century is creeping into my vocabulary. I didn't look it up, I "googled" it.)

Anyhow, it seems that a poetry slam is a contest, where poets are given a set amount of time to recite their works and judges are randomly selected from the audience. I suppose it's somewhat avant garde ...

Until recently I wouldn't have imagined that this type of entertainment would appeal to Jen. Or that the boy she's going with (a young man she's known since middle school) would turn out to be one of the poets.

Or, for that matter, that Jen would choose "English" as a major. Education majors must double major in a subject area, and she chose English as her subject.

If Jen's 9th grade English teacher heard that Jen was voluntarily going to any event involving poetry, the teacher might actually keel over from the shock.

Oh, the irony of it all.

Jen hated 9th grade English. Or, more specifically, she hated her 9th grade English teacher. Tuned the teacher out completely. Didn't pay attention in class, didn't do assignments, didn't study for tests. with predictable results. At the time she didn't grasp that her behavior was self-defeating, that she was hurting herself and not the teacher by her lack of concern for the curriculum. Instead of going to travel camp that summer, she found herself behind a desk with a literature book in front of her.... managed to walk out of summer school with an "A" in the class...

My, how things have changed.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Biggest Loser Tuesday

I seem to have lost my focus, I need to find it.

Missed the first half of the show, apparently they went home for a week?

Tuned in just in time for the last chance workout and the weigh in.

Blue team is up first. They have bene beating the black team up until now, will they have a good weigh in after being home? All is going well....though Daris didn't pull a large number.

black team needs to have lost more than 26 pounds to beat the blue team. Tha's about 7 pounds a piece.

We start with Andrea. Six pounds. Not bad.

Stephanie is next. She's had small losses 2 weeks in a row. this week she lost 9 pounds! And now she's under 300 and feels good.

Ashley is up next. 10 pounds!

so that's 25 pounds...2 pounds away from a win?

It's Sam's turn. He needs more than one pound...


And then...14 pounds!!!!!

Black team wins the weigh in.

blue team goes to the elimination room. Sunshine has immunity. And Daris is in tears as he votes for Lance...and Lance goes home.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Last year we had our own Passover "miracle"; we did an entire seder without any family drama.

I am hoping for the same kind of miracle this year, but somehow I doubt it.

It's going to be weird this year, with my aunt in the hospital instead of at our table. Tensions will be high...

Pray for peace at my family table, and have a happy Passover!

Friday, March 26, 2010

am I lucky, or am I unlucky?

this morning, as I was walking on my driveway, I almost lost an earring.somehow the "back" came off, and the earring just popped off. I didn't feel anything, and would not have known if I hadn't seen it fall onto the asphalt.

if it happened anywhere except my own driveway, the earring would be gone, I'm sure.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

summer jobs (inspired by Ora)

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms)

Last week Ora wrote about her son's summer job.  I do hope everything works out for him.
I steal from the best.  It's time for me to talk about my daughters' summer plans.
My rule is that my kids must do something constructive during the summer.  I don't care if it's employment, study or volunteer work, so long as it fills a significant amount of time, is useful and requires active participation.  The rule came into existence after that disastrous summer -- the summer between Jen's sophomore and junior years in high school -- when Jen sat home all summer and did absolutely nothing.  I thought I was going to kill her, or myself, by the end of that summer. (That was a double occasion -- the first and the last time. the following summer she got a job at a day camp, the same camp where she and Becca had been campers.)
This year, Jen's summer is already planned.  She will be home from college in mid-May. She wants to pick up a history or science course at our local college in June.  And then, for the rest of the summer, she will go back to the job she's had for the past 3 summers -- she'll be a counselor at the day camp.  It doesn't pay much, but Jen is planning to be an elementary school teacher, so I think of this as "professional development".

Becca, on the other hand....last summer she worked at the day camp, and HATED it.  She won't go back.  But that leaves a void....she's so wrapped up in the college application/admission process, and planning the social events of her last few months in high school, that she hasn't given much thought to the summer. 

She's thinking she might work at the mall, where she's got a part time job -- sales help in a clothing store.  It's the perfect job for my fashionista daughter, she loves working in the store and  handling (and buying) the merchandise.  Right now she works one or two four-hour shifts per week because the company has strict limits on the number of hours a minor can work.  But she'll be 18 on July 8, and therefore will be eligible for more hours if she works at the store this summer.

I am thinking this may be a good thing.  Right now she's taking an elective course, "fashion merchandising", from the high school's business department.  She's making the connection between the classwork and what she sees in the store....and she's telling me she might not major in international studies or political science after all, she might major in business. 

It's keeping her busy, it's giving her great experience, and it may give her insight and direction towards a career.  Sounds like the perfect summer job.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Biggest Loser Tuesday

first me -- weight's up a bit, I vow to get back into the groove on program.

the show --

missed it again, read the recap. you have to feel for the black team -- even with a 5 pound advantage they can't win for losing. though I am glad to see some of the challenges were designed to show something other than physical strength, that levels the playing field a bit.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

senior prom --- already?

Our high school schedules Senior Prom for the same weekend as graduation. the prom is Friday night, the graduation follows on Sunday. This year Senior Prom will be June 25.

last night Becca wanted to discuss prom. or rather, after-prom.

she wants to rent a house in the Hamptons. can you tell I am nervous?

Jen and her friends never did that....their after-prom activities involved taking the limo into the city and going to a comedy club. That's what Becca did last year, when she went to her friend's senior prom.

Becca's group of friends want to spend Friday night through Sunday morning at a beach house. Becca and Justin are in charge of planning this event. they plan on a group of 30 - 40 kids. Becca tells me that the kids on the guest list are in the "goody-two-shoes" category, I won't have to be concerned about drinking or drugs. "Don't worry, mom."

I'm worried.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms)

whenever I spot a yellow car these days, the word "banana" springs into my head.

It's a little bit of silliness I learned from my daughters.  Let me explain.

You all  know how to play punch buggy, right?  that game has become so famous, Volkswagon actually incoroporated it into their 2010 superbowl commercial.when my girls were younger they played punch buggy frequently.  of course, my rule was that there could be no actual "punching", there could only be "touching."  of course, anyone who has ever dealt with two siblings in the back seat of a car knows that even "touching" can get out of hand, and there were times when I had to call a moratorium on punch buggy.

then one day, a few years ago, Jen taught us how to play "banana".  this is a game that has to have been invented by an exasperated "punch buggy" veteran, because there is no "touching" involved in the game.

a "banana" is any yellow passenger vehicle.  school busses and commercial vehicles do not count.a taxi is not a "banana", a pick up truck is a "banana" if it's being used as a passenger vehicle but not if it has commerical writing or advertisments.the first person to spot a yellow car and say "banana" gets the point.  however, if you call "banana" and the vehicle turns out to be a taxi or other commercial vehicle, the penalty is that you cannot call "banana" again until you have found an orange car.

the rules are simple, the game is silly.

and yet...

we played the game the day we drove Jen to college for the very first time.  my ex and I in the front seats of his van, our two daughters in the back, a 4-hour drive to her freshman dorm punctuated by frequent cries of "banana".  I may not remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday, but I clearly remember playing that game ...

it's silliness like "banana" that forges links between us and our children,  I guess.

Hello, luuuvvv, from the greatest city in the world

Ron Lundy died Monday.

Anyone who grew up in the NYC area in the 60's and 70's knows that Bruce Morrow is everyone's cousin, that Dan Ingram will remind you to "roll your bod" while you're at Jones Beach, that Harry Harrison (the morning mayor) wants you to "unwrap each day like a precious gift." And that Ron Lundy will greet you with a big "hello love" as he broadcasts from "New York, the greatest city in the world."

ah, the heyday of WABC, so successfully recreated on the oldies staiton, CBS-FM.

another piece of my childhood died Monday.

thank you, ron, for all the pleasure you gave your listeners.

Here's the article from the New York Daily News:

Ron Lundy was never one of the flashy boys of radio. But it's no accident he was an anchor on two of the most successful radio stations of the last 50 years.

Lundy died Monday of a heart attack, several weeks after suffering heart failure and a series of strokes. He was 75 and had been retired at his home in Bruce, Miss., since he left WCBS-FM in September 1997.

He had been at WCBS-FM since 1984. Before that, he was the longtime midday jock at the most successful Top 40 radio station ever, WABC, from 1965 until the music died on May 10, 1982.

When he came to New York from St. Louis alongside his pal Dan Ingram, he was one of those transitional radio people who grew up on "announcers" and were now inventing the modern rock jock.

The cowboy style of the early jocks, the Alan Freeds and Dr. Jives, had been reined in by then. With tighter playlists and more managerial "direction," the early 1960s jocks were figuring out how to still have fun and style.

Lundy's first shift at WABC was overnights, where he was "The Swingin' Nightwalker." A February 1966 aircheck available on the New York Radio Message Board shows his style then, and it may surprise some fans of the later Lundy. It's looser, and when he gets to "Baby, Scratch My Back," hilariously suggestive.

But it's the same approach, he said in 1997, that he was taking the day he retired.

"It had to be fun for me," he said. "If it wasn't, how could it be fun for the people listening?"

When he moved to middays on WABC a few months later, he was playing to a different crowd - an earlier version of what today are known as "workplace listeners," who some programmers think just want 45 minutes of nonstop music.

Hosts like Lundy accommodated that smoother pace while trying to keep it fun - a style continued today by jocks like Bob Shannon of WCBS-FM, a Lundy colleague who yesterday did a lovely hour-long tribute.

WCBS-FM built itself into the country's definitive oldies station in the '80s and '90s by capturing much of the WABC lineup and sound.

But at the same time, going back to the late '60s, another style of rock jocking was also emerging - not just Imus and Stern, but free-formers and the ancestors of today's morning shows.

Lundy alluded to that when he retired in 1997. Nothing against it, he said, but it just wasn't his style. Time to let the young'uns take the microphone.

But what he did wasn't forgotten.

"What you heard on the air was just who Ron was," said colleague Bruce Morrow yesterday. "He was nice, he was gentle, he was a professional. There aren't enough people like that, and I will miss him."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Biggest Loser Tuesday

No meeting for me this week, I had a seminar to attend.  And I missed the show, again -- forgot to set the DVR.  read the recap, though.   I like that tthey had to do a real-life situation, with full time jobs and a long commute.  The balck team lost the weigh-in, but not by much -- they are much more competitive than the blue team gave them credit for.  I am sorry to see Cheryl go.

Monday, March 15, 2010

the other end of the spectrum

In this blog I've focused quite a bit on my daughters, how they are moving through their teen years towards adulthood.

today I want to look at the other end of the spectrum.

my mother is worn to a frazzle lately, dealing with the health problems of her younger sister.

it started on February 5.  my aunt was not feeling well, and made an appointment to see her doctor.  she was on her way to the doctor's office when she took a bad fall -- face first onto the sidewalk -- and broke her nose.  the paramedics brought her to the hospital, and she hasn't been home since -- first one hospital, then a rehab facility, and now another hospital.  she's become very seriously ill, to the point where my mother was afraid my aunt wouldn't survive. though she's doing OK these last few days.

the intensive care unit is a very scary place. 

I have to admit, it was horrible seeing my aunt lying there, with all those machines going.  part of me really wanted to run away. but I didn't.

interestingly, it's my sister, not my mother, who has taken the lead in dealing with the hospital personnel, who talks with the floor nurses to see how my aunt is doing.  my mother speaks to the doctors to make the life-or-death decisions, my mother signs consent forms as next of kin, but it's my sister who really knows what's going on with my aunt.  as I said, my mother is worn to a frazzle, and my sister is assuming some of the burden that would otherwise fall on my mother....

and I am seeing a glimpse of the future....

Friday, March 12, 2010

How the winds are laughing....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

but Mom, you could have been a CEO of your own company!

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms)

That's what Becca said to me, in the midst of a fight rather loud discussion about finances -- or the lack thereof.
I am pleased that she thinks so highly of me, pleased that she evaluates my abilities  as those of a person capable of great achievement.
But obviously, I am NOT a CEO, not a high-level executive in a multi-million dollar corporation.    I have a decent job, it's not glamorous and it doens't pay nearly enough for what I want, but we certainly don't starve.
It's certainly not what I envisioned for myself when I was 17.  But I'm not 17 anymore.
Becca , on the other hand, is in that wonderful place....17 and a high school senior....where all things seem possible.  She's been raised in an affluent suburb, and has been sheltered from some of the harsher economic realities.  The life she envisions for herself...the possibilities are endless.
She does not yet understand how your visions can change, the decisions you have to make throughout life, the twists and turns your life can take, the compromises, the change in direction....

Where I am now is not where I expected to be at my age.  Twenty years ago I was at a cross roads and made a decision that affected the direction my life would take. 

I was 30 years old.  I'd been practicing law since age 24, in a small New York City firm.  and I was a new mom for the first time.  and feelign completely and totally overwhelmed by the demands of my job, the demands of marriage and the demands of motherhood.  Something had to give.

So I changed my career path and went to work for an insurance company.  Challenging work, but saner hours.  I'd imagined myself as a trial lawyer, but at the insruance company I worked behind the scenes.

Had I not made that is unlikely I would have had a second child.  I do not regret that decision, made 20 years ago.  How could I?  Had I not chosen the path I did, Becca would not be here to argue with me  today.

How can I make her understand that, without crushing her youthful dreams?  The choices she will make, the path she will follow, will be different from mine.  She may be able to combine career and family in ways I couldn't imagine. 

Sigh....anyone who thinks parenting is easy....isn't a parent.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Biggest Loser Tuesday

Bad week, skipped weigh-in but made myself go to the meeting.  I will get my focus back this week, i swear!

As for the show, I watched the second half -- didn't see Michael win the challenge -- and thought he was strategic in his choices for the teams, but it will come back to bite him.  Blue team won the  challenge -- letters from home -- and then it was time for weigh-in. 

O'Neal had immunity, he did well.

Blue team first -- starting with Michael.  Will he beat Rudy's record?  He needs to have lost more than 7 pounds to do that.  He lost 15!!!! a total of 109 pounds in 7 weeks.

Next is Sunshine.  7 pounds, not bad.

Lance is next.  5 pounds, a bit disappointing. Miggy's weight loss is also disappointing.  So it Daris.

Koli does well, he may have just saved the blue team.

then it was balck team's turn.  the need about 6 pounds a piece to beat blue.

Andrea first.  5 pounds, not bad.

Cheryl lost 4 pounds. 

Sherry lost 6.  Maybe there's hope!

Sam....the only guy on up next.  8 pounds!

Stephanie's turn.  8 pounds!!

Ashley needs to lose more than 8 pounds to keep the team safe.  it's tense.  she lost 10 pounds!!!!!

so Michael's strategy didn't work, this time at least.  Michael has immunity, someone else on blue will go home. and then O'Neal will take that person's place.  the vote is rough, but Miggy is voted out.

Friday, March 5, 2010

ah, youth

17 years old and full of energy....yesterday sheput in a full day of school, followed by a bowlathon sponsored by the foreign language clubs (she's president of the Spanish club), worked a four hour shift at the store in the mall, and then went to the midnight showing of "alice in wonderland" last night.  she  made it to school for first period at 7:19 this morning, and is planning on heavy-duty partying at the senior banquet tonight.

think she might be sleeping in tomorrow morning?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

the thick envelope

(cross posted at Midcentury Modern Moms)

You know what the thick envelope is, of course.  It's the letter from the college admissions office offering you a place in next year's freshman class.  A thick envelope is an acceptance, a thin one -- not such good news.
There was never any doubt in my mind that Becca woudl receive several thick envelopes.  she's an honor roll student with good SAT scores and a nice portfolio of extracurricular activities.  And she applied to a variety of schools -- safe schools, obtainable schools and a few "reach" schools. Can you believe she applied to 12 different schools?   True, she got a bit of a late start -- she applied to one school "early decision", and was so sure she'd be accepted that she neglgected to complete any other applications until her first choice advised her that her application was being deferred -- that they couldn't offer her admission "early decision" but that they would consider her application by the regular decision date.
what made things even worse, two of her best friends, girls she's known since kindergarten,  were accepted "early decision" into Ivy League schools. 
but things have changed now.
while I was on vacation, Becca received TWO thick envelopes.  My mom tells me that when the first thick envelope came, Becca opened it up, looked at the letter offering her a place in the class of 2014, turned to my mother and said "I  am really going to college."  when the second envelope came, she realized that she would have a choice -- that at least two schools wanted her  and that she could choose which one best suited her.  she said "I'm glad I didn't get accepted early decision, now I have a choice."  but I suspect if she gets a thick envelope from her first choice school, her decision will be easy.
she's still waiting to hear from 10 schools.  and we know there will be a few thin envelopes coming her way.  but she told me that the thin envelopes won't hurt quite as much, now that some thick envelopes have arrived. 
better go pack my bags, "admitted students day" is coming....

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