Saying Nothing, The Thirty-Ninth Week in the Second Year of the New Abnormal
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That was a common idiom of our mother’s lexicon. She lived true to that statement. Even when she attempted to comment on something she disapproved of, she did her best to soften it. As a teen, I often was asked the question, “Janet, do you think that’s the most complementary outfit?“ Or it could have been make-up, pants, hair style or any other appearance-related observation. As a sensitive teen I was crushed no matter how much she tried to say it diplomatically.
Hygge, The Thirty-Eighth Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
Behind the Facade, The Thirty-Third Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
Growing up my mother and her mother were sticklers for good manners. I made a point of saying please and thank you. I was afraid they would view me as rude, and I didn’t want that moniker. My grandmother would point out other children who might have been louder than us, or publicly whiny, and she’d use those children as cautionary tails of behavior we were to stringently avoid.
Mundane Day, The Thirty-First Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
What am I doing this weekend? Nothing special and everything essential. In an Instagram world of glamourous posts, my weekend is the antithesis of awesome. I started early to ensure I could easily access the washing machines needed for the weekly laundry. Luckily for me, it was a ghost town before 7 am, and I peacefully and quietly secured my machines and loaded them from the full hampers.
Lost in Brooklyn, The Twenty-Ninth Week in the Second Year of the New Abnormal
I set out to go to The Brooklyn Museum to see the Africa Fashion exhibit. I had intended to see it twice before but got waylaid, so my determination to get there yesterday was fierce. My plan was to slowly jog in Prospect Park getting out at the arch and walking the few blocks to the museum. Once I made it to Prospect Park at an unfamiliar entrance, I opened up Maps on my iPhone and set off.
Mother's Day Ambivalence, The Nineteenth Week in the Second Year of the New Abnormal
I, like many, have mixed feelings about Mother’s Day.
As a daughter I knew that I loved my mom, and I also yearned for her acceptance, spending far too much of my babysitting money to bask in the momentary approval of an expensive Mother’s Day gift. I’d set up Arlene’s Kitchen, honoring our mom. It was a made-up restaurant in our home with hand-written menus for the family. Nervous about what I might cook, I’d prep all the possibilities from eggs, any type of French toast or bagels & lox. As down home as those brunches were, they were followed by the certainty that my clean-up techniques would be met with inevitable disapproval. No one could make a countertop shine like my mom.
A Full Moon, The Eighteenth Week in the Second Year of the New Abnormal
It was a full moon this week. I love looking up on a clear night and viewing the magical, mystical moon between the high rises. Ever since I was a child I’ve found the moon an enchantress. Myths have their place, and for many years I counted on myths to justify my outsized love of a full moon. In times of feeling invisible I felt seen by the moon.
Our Relationship With the Weather, The Seventeenth Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
Growing up we wore rubbers or rubber boots, gently stretching them until they covered our shoes. It was a hassle taking them on and off. But to keep our leather saddle shoes somewhat dry, we sported rubbers over our two-toned oxfords. These days my low rubber boots are the only shoes I need when it’s wet outside. They keep the water from soaking my socks and allow me to walk about in the rain.
NYBG, The Sixteenth Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
My mom had a green thumb. She could keep any plant or planted flower alive for years. One of her favorite flowering plants was orchids. She loved the dramatic curve and the delicate flowers. She had a knack for keeping them alive and thriving for years. A couple of times I found orchids I thought she would love. I carefully brought them home reading the instructions and tending to them so they would make the perfect gift. However, by the time they made it to her doorstep the blooms would fall and the sad gifts never reflected the hope I had of a lush and luxurious present.
Let's Do Better, The Fifteenth Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
I came home late last night after seeing a beautifully moving theater piece by Suzan-Lori Parks. Retrieving our mail, I saw a broken glass and a brick on the lobby carpet. Apparently, a group of teens were told to leave the area while smoking. So one of them in anger threw a brick through the window to show ‘them.” It created more work for the porter and super who had to clean up and repair on their weekend off, when they were nowhere near the incident.
Tattle Tales, The Fourteenth Week in the Second Year of the New Abnormal
I grew up with three siblings. If you grew up with siblings, as I did, you are familiar with the age-old enterprise of tattling. My younger sister, Susan, now Chova Sara, was the tattletale. She was the one that thought it important to report to my parents, usually our mom, whatever misadventures we were enacting. When I was six to her four, she ran to our mom to say I wasn’t letting her play with my Barbies. This was true, but only because she cut their hair and drew on them with crayons. Nonetheless, I had to release more dolls to her based on “fairness.” This made no sense to me, but she got what she wanted, and it spurred her on for years.
Be Gone the Bygone, The Eighth Week of the Second Year in the New Abnormal
Years ago I had a phone book. It looked like a fabric-covered hardback, divided by letters of the alphabet neatly cut into tabs descending on the paper’s edge. Often the pages were outlined in gold ink. I’d get an updated one every few years and I’d transfer the names, addresses, and phone numbers into my new, usually colorful, phone book. These were also the days in which long distance phone calls were a big deal and we were reminded to speak quickly since we were being charged by the minute. Phones had cords and were strategically placed in one or more locations in our homes. A bygone era. Yes, I have become a senior stereotype.
What's For Dinner? The Second Week of the Second Year of the New Abnormal
I was preparing dinner as I do many nights. Last night was pesto glazed salmon and garlic-marinaded skirt steak with sauteed spinach, garlic bread, and a spicy salad. Thanks to Marion Zinn, my mother-in-law, I have the best marinade for the steak. She was a wonderful hostess and served many delicious dishes. Conversely, my mother would get anxious when hosting guests. Nonetheless she deserves a shout out as an excellent baker. All three of my siblings and I have fond memories of annual birthday cakes baked from scratch, stored on a glass cake plate with an aluminum cake dome. I used to cook and bake regularly, but as life’s responsibilities expanded, my domestic duties dwindled.
Emotions During the Holidays, Week Fifty in the New Abnormal
I was in an emotional tailspin earlier this week. I could tell I wasn’t in the right headspace as I kept thinking of past mistakes I’ve made, times I’ve previously hurt friends, and ways in which I had poor judgement. I was not coming out a champ. More like a chump. The negative barrage is not unfamiliar, but it happens less often than in former years. By Tuesday, I knew that I needed to clear my head so there’d be space for self-care and kindness. Luckily, I had my weekly therapy session.
A Pile of New Yorkers, Week Forty-Nine in the New Abnormal
I made it to page 50 of the New Yorker with the promise of a poem on the next page. Of course, this is the November 14th Issue, which may seem to indicate I’m a month behind. Not so, since I arbitrarily picked it up from a pile that goes back to issues from last year, I now am down to eleven unread issues. This is my ongoing plight with New Yorkers. My pile expands or contracts based on what’s happening any given week.
Bargains Abound, Week Forty-Eight in the New Abnormal
I just deleted 129 emails from my inbox. I’m not that popular, it’s simply that retailers with black Friday weekend deals want my money. Some of the emails remind me that I looked at something I chose not to buy in case I need to see it again. I do not.
Halloween Weekend, Week Forty-Four in the New Abnormal
It’s Halloween Weekend and the city is ready for the many trick or treaters at every age. As a child of the sixties our Halloween was comprised of a trip to Kiddie City to pick out a cardboard box with a clear window displaying the plastic mask with a thin mouth opening with two nostril holes for labored breathing that allowed for a muffled song of “trick or treat” at the door of kind home-owners who distributed candy, both great and questionable. My favorite candy were plain Hershey chocolate bars, M&Ms, Twizzlers, or Good and Plenty. I was not a fan of the chalky Necco Wafers or boxes of raisins. We had plenty of fruit and raisins in our home, so I was on the lookout for forbidden treats that I would hide in the back of my closet.
Make it Quick, Week Forty-One in the New Abnormal
Life is Beautiful, Living is Hard; Week Thirty-Eight in the New Abnormal
I woke up this morning to a stunning sunrise. I slept well and was in a better mood than I had been the last couple of days. Sunrises bring hope. They help me to begin the day with gratitude. The day is lovely. It’s warm enough to avoid outwear, but cool enough to enjoy the breezes on my walk. The outdoor cafes are filled with happy brunch diners. The city is moving along nicely.
Reactivity, Week Twenty-Six in the New Abnormal
Honestly, the news this week has not been good given my values. A lot of powerful women have been sharing opinions. Yes, I concur, but I have found that it’s been challenging to be my best self in the face of these upsetting decisions. I’ve not been able to separate my reactions from the deeply disturbing news. In this moment the political is personal.