Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Morning in New York

Since leaving New York for the northern suburbs, I rarely get to see Manhattan in the morning the way I used to.

But yesterday, with an early-morning doctors appointment, I found myself in Manhattan just after sunrise, and got to enjoy the view that was mine for seven years.

My new place has become my home, but on mornings like this, this place, and this view, still pull at me, and I love this city more than ever.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Final Picture

Seeing the final picture was a punch to the gut, apparently one more than I could endure.

I saw it on Facebook last night as I was mindlessly perusing the pictures of new babies and end-of-summer vacations, and about fifty links to the YouTube video of a Jewish singing group singing a popular Hebrew song to the tune of Anna Kendrick's "Cups."

I knew that she was getting married this past Sunday. All day, as I enjoyed the last hours of my Jersey Shore family vacation, people I knew were posting pictures of the festivities. I could almost follow the events in real time as I refreshed my Facebook feed.

She got her nails done. Got dressed. Took pictures. Walked down the aisle. Stood under a chuppah and married her man. Danced the afternoon away.

And I wasn't there, because she didn't want me to be there.

Every time a new picture was posted on Sunday it was more evidence that what we had was no longer. Every time I saw the smiling faces of people I have known for twelve years - many of whom remain my closest friends today - my stomach jumped, but didn't settle.

I was in a free-fall, never quite knowing when I would hit the ground.

Day became night and the pictures slowed as the afternoon wedding came to an end. I went to sleep, still reeling from the constant barrage of documentary proof of the end of a friendship that I had always assumed would last forever. And I woke up yesterday morning resigned to the fact that Sunday was just substantiation of what I had really already known.

And then last night I saw the final picture.

A semi-darkened ballroom. All of my college friends huddled together, arms around each other. Her in the center, smile beaming, wedding dress glowing.

Maybe it was seeing everyone together that got to me, but I found myself staring at the picture, looking for an empty space that I would have filled. Wondering if anyone was thinking about me. Wondering if she was.

Tears pricked my eyes as the loneliness that had been hovering since Sunday came crashing in. I laid down on my bed and let them flow. I cried for myself, for her, and for the girls we used to be before everything changed. I cried for the whole life that I will have that she won't be a part of. I cried for the new husband she has that I have never met, and for the kids I hope to have that she will never know. I cried for a friendship that was once full of promise and fun. I cried because that's what I do when the hurt is too deep for words.

And when I finally cried myself dry I sat up and I understood. All the complexity had been washed away and I was left with only this.

I miss my friend.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Family Vacation, Jersey Shore Style

That time I sat in the trunk of the car on the way to Ocean City
in the middle of the night
Ocean City Boardwalk


Who doesn't need 8 pounds of salt water taffy?

Ventnor City, NJ
Night out


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Attack of the Killer Ants

At first there was just one. One lonely ant making its way across my kitchen floor. It was so small that I thought it was a crumb, until the crumb started to move.

No big deal, I thought. It's summer after all, and we are constantly going in and out through the back door. The little guy probably followed us inside, and couldn't find his way back out again. I killed it and moved on with my day.

That was last Thursday.

Friday before I left for work I spotted two more ants hanging out by my Costco closet. You know, the place where we keep the stacks of a thousand paper plates, a million red cups, and boxes filled with more plastic knives, forks and spoons than even the Duggar family could use in a lifetime. I was rushing around with no time to deal with insects, so I left them where they were, and headed out the door.

Friday afternoon when I got home from work they were gone. I was extra vigilant with my dinner clean-up, and even mopped the floor just in case, but I figured that was that.

But that wasn't that at all.

Sunday morning I came into the kitchen for water and breakfast after my long run. I was exhausted from the seven miles behind me, which was probably why I wasn't paying attention and had to attempt last minute evasive maneuvers to avoid a giant pile of those teeny-tiny ants smack in the center of my kitchen floor.

It seems I unknowingly dropped a pretzel when I was getting my Saturday night snack, and hundreds of ants I didn't even know I had emerged from their hiding places to attack.

Friends, it was not a pretty sight.

Water, shower and breakfast forgotten, I grabbed my iPad, sought higher ground, and frantically started Googling things like "ants in kitchen" and "kill all the ants."

The internet told me that where you see a few ants in your house, there are probably hundreds hiding away in some tiny crevice, and that the only surefire way to get rid of them is to kill the queen. Turns out, every ant colony has a queen, and she runs the show.

The other bad news was that conventional killers don't work on ants. If you go spraying Raid around everywhere, not only will you probably poison yourself and your family, but you will also only kill a few of the ants, and the rest will break away and find refuge elsewhere inside your house. Lovely.

Most people didn't even have any luck with exterminators. Basically, they ended up paying upwards of $200 for two or three ant-free weeks, but they problem always came back.

The only surefire method to get rid of the ants, according to the good people of the internet, was to get this product called Terro Ant Baits. Apparently Terro is somewhat of a miracle worker. Everyone said that they had tried hundreds of different products, and Terro was the only one that ever worked. 

Sign me up.

Terro works like this: The bait is a mixture of the chemical Borax, and some other things to form a clear syrupy liquid, which sits in a little pouch. To use it, you cut the bottom off the pouch and put it where you think the ants are coming from. Within an hour, ants start coming, quite literally, out of the woodwork to get at the bait. They eat it, and then carry it back to the nest where they share it with their friends and, ultimately, with the queen. Within 24-72 hours, depending on how big your infestation is, all the ants magically disappear. The catch is that you just have to let them do their thing, which means that for at least 12 hours, you have streams of ants walking back and forth between the bait and the nest. It's pretty gross.

But it works.

I set up the bait, and 10 minutes later, thousands of ants came out of a tiny crack near my basement door and bellied up to the bait like college frat boys at a kegger. For hours they trooped in a single-file line towards the bait, and back again. It was completely disgusting, but also sort of mesmerizing to watch. For a minute, I kind of got why ant farms were a thing when I was little. 

When my alarm went off the next morning, the first thing I did was go downstairs to see what was happening. And what was happening was absolutely nothing. There wasn't a single ant, dead or alive, to be found. They had all magically disappeared. I left the bait there just in case, but two days later it seems like all it took was 12 hours and one box full of Terro to solve my problem. It's miraculous.

I may be pretty crappy at home-maintenance, and I may still be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from the plumbing issues that have plagued us since we moved into our house, but in a mere twelve hours - and all on my own - I busted up an entire insect infestation, and took my house back from the creepy-crawlies.

And that's not too bad.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sunrise Over Me

I was up before my alarm went off, the iridescent glow on my cable box telling me it was 5:54am. 

I was wide awake. 

The half-light of dawn peeked around the edges of the windows and beckoned me outside. It drew me up, out of bed, and out the front door where the morning was silent but for the call of the birds surveying the neighborhood from their perch high atop the trees.

I stretched out my legs and set off through the early morning mist blanketing my street. I knew that by the time I got home the mist would be a memory, burned off in minutes by the rising sun. But for now it settled comfortably around me, bringing me into its center and carrying me through my first mile. 

My habitual route took me in a loop around my neighborhood. I ran through streets just beginning to shake themselves awake after a long night of slumber. I ran past houses - some still dark with shades tightly drawn, and others with kitchen lights glowing cozily as families rose to greet the day. 

On the corner a bathrobe-clad woman reached outside to grab her newspaper, a small dog prancing around her ankles. She smiled and waved to me, and I to her. I don't know her name, nor she mine, but every time I run, there she is, this woman who is one more reminder that this place now belongs to me.

Nine months ago I despaired of ever finding my footing again, but now here I was, waving at strangers who are really not strangers, running the streets that have become my own. 

Time is a funny thing.

I made the final turn with half a mile to go. I picked up my pace, running towards the sun, now high in the sky. For just a second I closed my eyes and, feeling the rush of wind as I raced down the final stretch, gave thanks for running, for early mornings, for silent streets, for health. 

For home.

I ended the run as I usually do. Standing on my deck in the back of my house, guzzling water, stretching out. Usually when I'm done I go straight inside to get ready for the day. But not today. There were showers to take, outfits to pick, coffee to drink, commutes to start, and work to do, but I wasn't quite ready. 

So I sat on the deck for a few more minutes, holding this unexpected morning close, tucking it into my heart where it would be if I needed it.

This morning will sustain me.

Because tomorrow's run might be harder.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Picture Perfect

I have a new obsession.

It started last weekend when I was in Cleveland visiting my sisters. Sister K mentioned that she had joined Instagram, and that she couldn't wait to start taking pictures. I have to admit, that up until that point, I didn't totally get the whole Instagram phenomenon. I mean, why take a picture and then change everything about it? What's the big deal with filtering and hash-tagging? Why would you intentionally want to make a picture look like it came from the 1970s?

I had an Instagram profile, but I set it up about a year ago and then promptly forgot about it. But when my sisters told me that they had started using it, I figured I would give it another try, if for no other reason than my sisters both live kind of far away from me right now, and I thought it might be another fun way to keep up with them.

Well. Turns out, second time's a charm. Because before long, everything became an Instagrammable moment. I have been walking around with my phone in my hand, ready at a moment's notice to snap the pictures that I could then turn into masterpieces with a few taps on my phone. Potential subjects are everywhere, and my brain screams "FILTER ALL THE THINGS!" 

It's possible that my love for Instagram might be a symptom of my obsessive personality rather than because Instagram is so amazing, but I'm going for it nonetheless.

If you are so inclined, come visit me on Instagram, and, for your viewing pleasure, here is a sample of what I have posted so far:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Two Years Later. The Universe Was Right

Two years ago today I walked through the doors of my law firm for the first time, anxiety-ridden and scared to death. I had never really considered a Big Law career, but I all of a sudden found myself a lawyer in one of the biggest law firms at all.

It took me almost six months to get used to life here but finally, aided by a fabulous office-mate who became my very first work friend, it started to feel comfortable and, dare I say, like normal.

And today. Today I write this sitting at my big desk in my big office, doing good work. Work I like. Work I am proud to be able to do.

Sometimes I look around and wonder how I got here. Here, to this giant firm in the middle of Midtown Manhattan, when I had decided long ago to build my career in smaller places, along a decidedly less glamorous path.

But in the past two years I have learned that we can plan and plan all we want, but that sometimes the universe has other things in store for us. And for me, the universe decided that I should be here, in this place.

And you know what?

The universe was right.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Seen On The Way To Work: Summer Edition

I love seeing random, only-in-New York kinds of things on my way to work.

In the winter, at the height of the holiday tourist season, I saw everything from a mysterious woman in red and Sesame Street characters holding a conversation to camels on 51st StreetTwice.

And the craziness doesn't stop for the summer. Remember the giant Snapple flip-flop?

Sometimes New York is a really weird place to live, but I love it all the same.

Anyway, this morning's vision wasn't weird so much as it was amazing.

Every morning I have to walk past Rockefeller Center to get to work. Most of the time I'm dodging the tourists who gather to catch a glimpse of the Today Show anchors and whatever guests they have in the studio, and trying to avoid whatever madness is in the center of Rockefeller Plaza.

But this morning when I walked past the Plaza, I found myself in front of a big farmers market with everything from fruits and vegetables to wine and cookies. I was running a little bit late, but I had to take a few minutes to walk the aisles, check out all the tables, and snap these pictures.

New York in the summer. There's just nothing like it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Teasing Edge of Fall

You have to love a week that goes from this:

To this:

In less than 24 hours.

Today I walked out of my house, and I could feel fall's teasing edge in the air, reminding me of what is just around the corner.

And while I am looking forward to a few more weeks of summer heat, barbecues, and my trip to the shore, I can't help but get a little excited for the crisp, cool days and spicy scents of my most favorite season.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Don't Mess With The Flying Rules: Lesson Learned

Even as I pressed the button to charge my credit card, I knew that the night flight would probably end up being my biggest mistake since that unfortunate socks and sandals incident during my sophomore year of college.

With my parents in Pittsburgh and my sisters in Ohio, I find myself inside one of the NYC airports every six weeks or so. And after eight years of flying out of the busiest airports in the country, I have created a set of rules to ensure me a pleasant travel experience.

The rules cover all manner of subjects such as what bathroom to use (the ones just beyond security are always the cleanest), what coffee to drink (definitely none from the coffee stand in the LaGuardia USAirways Terminal), what snacks to eat (Cheez-Its are always an acceptable choice), and where to sit at the gates to ensure optimal access to power outlets.

But the most important rule of all is this: Always, always fly in the morning. Anything before eight is ideal, but absolutely nothing later than nine.

Early morning flights mean no traffic on the way to the airport. They mean I get where I'm going in time to enjoy the entire day. And most importantly, they mean getting out of the airport before flight delays and cancellations stack up and make getting out almost impossible. And when one flies out of LaGuardia, arguably the worst airport in the country for on-time flights, the importance of this rule increases ten-fold.

So it was with great hesitation that I booked us on an 8:00 flight from LaGuardia to Cleveland this past Thursday night. Since I had to work all day Thursday, but had to be in Cleveland first thing Friday, I didn't have much of a choice, but I knew it was a bad idea.

And that knowledge was confirmed when I got the "Orbitz Flight Status Notification" at 2:00 on Thursday afternoon telling me that the flight had already been delayed half an hour. By the time I left work to head to the airport, the delay was holding steady at 45 minutes. Even though it was rush hour we barely hit any traffic, and I thought it was a good omen. After all, a 45 minute delay out of LaGuardia for an evening flight is basically an on-time departure.

We parked the car and made it through security without incident, and as we walked through the terminal I wondered what I ever thought was so bad about night flights in the first place.

But by the time we got to the gate the flight time had changed, and I remembered.

A four hour delay, one failed attempt at stand-by on an earlier flight, one movie, three trips to Au Bon Pain for snacks, four phone calls and nineteen text messages with my mom about picking us up at the airport, and one tantrum when I thought the flight was cancelled later, we finally landed in Cleveland after 1:00 in the morning.

The airport was empty and quiet, but for the rolling wheels of our carry-on bags. And in the silence, I made a vow.

Don't mess with the rules.

Lesson learned.

Monday, August 12, 2013

This Weekend, In Pictures

This past weekend, we all gathered in Cleveland for Sister L's dental school White Coat Ceremony.

It was three days of family, food, fun, early wake-ups to play with my niece and nephew, and a Friday afternoon family photo shoot.

Here is our whirlwind weekend, in pictures.

4 hour delay at LaGuardia. No surprise there.

Punchy waiting for a cab at the Cleveland airport at 1 in the morning

Sister L's White Coat Ceremony

Family Photo Shoot

She wins the photo shoot, hands down

Or maybe it's a tie


The Girls

The Boys

Finally has sons (and a grandson!)

Cutest. Family. Ever.