Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween: Suburban Edition

Last year, we were pretty excited for our first suburban Halloween. Not because we have kids or were planning on trick or treating, but mostly because, for the first time ever, we would get to hand out candy.

Our apartment building in the city got a few kids from time to time, but since we lived all the way up on the 23rd floor, no one really ventured up to knock on our door.

But plans have a way of changing.

Not only did Hurricane Sandy push off our move to the first week in November instead of the last week in October, the storm also cancelled Halloween for all the kids in our new neighborhood. With downed trees and power lines all over the place, the mayor decided to err on the side of safety.

But this year, everything is different.

This year, Halloween is happening, and we are On. It.

As some of you may remember, for the past ten months there has been a life-sized R2-D2 in my living room. Well, our robotic friend will be playing a big role in our first suburban Halloween, as my handy husband transforms our front porch and entry way (and himself) into something straight out of the movie, light-sabers included, for the neighborhood kids.

You'll have to wait a day or so for pictures of the finished product, but to hold you over, here are some pictures of the master at work, getting R2 all wired up to walk and talk.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sandy: One Year Later

I listened with half my brain as Bill Evans, the dapper ABC 7 weatherman, talked about a hurricane that had just made landfall in Jamaica and seemed to be charting a course for the northeastern coast of the United States.

The other half of my brain was focused on my living room as I organized its contents and wondered how many boxes we would need to pack it all up for our impending move to suburbia that was scheduled to take place in five days. Totally overwhelmed, the only answer I could come up with was, a lot.

I tuned back into the TV in time to hear that the hurricane was a category 1 storm and that New York City was concerned. Unimpressed, I hit the button for my DVR and turned on a Gilmore Girls episode to provide a more entertaining accompaniment to my chores. Having once lived in Florida, a category 1 storm was not something that worried me.

Show me a category 5, I thought, and then I'll get excited.

I had time for packing, moving and worrying about the construction in my new house. I absolutely did not have time for mass hysteria over a hurricane that would probably turn out to be nothing.

So I spent the next few days ignoring the news reports on how bad the storm was predicted to be, choosing instead to focus on saying goodbye to my favorite places in Manhattan and bemoaning the fact that I would be without TV and internet for a few days since we were transferring our cable from the apartment to the new house a few days before the actual move.

When New York Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency I turned a blind eye. When the people of the Upper West Side took to Fairway and Trader Joe's and emptied the shelves in a panicked frenzy, I refused to join in. Not only did I not want to stand in line to get into the stores, I absolutely did not want to have food left over that I would have to move.

When my move was postponed 5 days and then Mayor Bloomberg ordered the evacuation of parts of the city and the shuttering of the entire transit system, I decided I was pretty lucky to be able to stay in my own apartment, and was grateful for the extra time to pack.

And when the managing partner of my law firm announced that the office would be closed Monday and Tuesday, I celebrated like a 10 year old on a snow day.

On Monday we gathered our snacks, queued up some movies, and I even went for a run along a closed - but very windy - Central Park. As the day wore on with barely a raindrop in site, I started to feel pretty superior for not getting caught up in the hype.

But when darkness fell over New York, and the water started to rise, I realized it wasn't at all as bad as everyone thought it would be.

It was so very much worse.

Monday, October 21, 2013

This is What Sisters Do

Share recipes.

By taking pictures and texting them.

I love technology.

Thanks Sister K.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Happy Friday. Happy Weekend.

This week has been insane.

Between three straight days of client meetings and all the work that went along with them, when my alarm went off this morning, I seriously considered just staying in bed and tuning it all out.

But like a good soldier, I got up and got ready for my day.

I was in slow motion as I left my house, the exhaustion lingering.


It's hard to stay tired when you walk out in the morning to this.

Happy Friday. Happy Weekend.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

And The Seasons They Go Round and Round

Ever since this morning, Joni Mitchell's The Circle Game has been playing in my head on repeat. It has been one of my favorite songs since I first heard it my very first summer at sleep-away camp when I was seven years old. 

It stuck with me, this song, even as I grew up. I always thought its message was hopeful. That time may pass, but there will always be new dreams.

This morning, I was a little early for my train. So for a few minutes before the train came rumbling into the station, I stood on the platform and looked out at the familiar view. The trees, the traffic on the Bronx River Parkway, the White Plains entrance to the Bronx River Pathway.

My view. My home.

The one year anniversary of our move is coming up in a couple of weeks. And as I took in the trees just starting to turn, it occurred to me that I have now been standing on that train platform for four seasons. Looking back, it seems utterly unfathomable that an entire year has passed, but I guess the proof is in the pictures. 

There is something about the view from the train platform that pulls at me, and several times over the past twelve months I have found myself pulling out my camera as I waited for the train. And as I was looking through the pictures this morning, I realized that I have a picture from each of the four seasons - our first four seasons in our brand new home.

I wasn't much of a photographer before we moved, but since we left the city, I am obsessed with documenting all the moments of our new life. So on the eve of the first anniversary of our move to the suburbs, here is my view from the train platform, as one season blends into the next, and our roots begin to grow.

Winter 2013

Spring 2013

Summer 2013

Fall 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Proportional Response

"I haven't talked to him or seen him or anything, I swear." The lie rolled off my tongue before I had a chance to stop it.

We were mid-conversation, but my boyfriend of two years made an excuse and hung up without saying goodbye.

The line went dead with a defiant click that made my palms sweat and my stomach roll. I sat in the hallway of my summer dorm, glued to the floor, phone in hand. I didn't know how it was possible, but he knew I was lying. I was sure of it.

I told the lie to avoid destroying the fragile peace we had managed to forge.

A guy friend from college who was also spending the summer in D.C. was our current source of tension. Never keen on my hanging out with any other guy but him, my boyfriend grew increasingly possessive when he found out this friend would be in D.C. with me for ten weeks. He would call multiple times a day, and every time we talked he would find a way to ask if I had seen my friend. Or talked to him. Or had any kind of communication with him. I was tired down to my bones from trying to defend both myself and a friendship that was as innocent as they come.

Thinking it might help, I cut off all communication with the friend to help me get through the weeks until my boyfriend and I were back at school, together, where I was sure we could shore up our cracked foundation.

The source of the lie was an e-mail exchange during my eighth week in D.C. A dinner invitation was extended, which I rejected. It went no further, but somehow, my boyfriend found out and the distance in his voice when I called him back was proof.

I got up from the floor and went straight to my computer. Thinking I could fix it if we could see each other, I booked a train, packed a suitcase, and went to Long Island, where he was living for the summer.

My heart rose into my throat when I saw him in the parking lot of the train station. We had barely settled into the car when the confessions, apologies and excuses came pouring out of my mouth, fighting with each other for top billing. It would be months before it occurred to me that my reaction was completely out of proportion to the nature of my crimes.

When I finally talked myself out, he just looked at me. "I know. Your e-mail password was saved on my internet browser, so I logged in. I'm sorry I didn't tell you. I guess we're even now."

Somewhere deep inside me was the knowledge that this egregious breach of privacy and trust was unforgivable. That I should turn around and take the next train back to D.C. and leave him behind.

But I didn't.

Instead, I jumped into his waiting arms and clung to him like a life preserver, relieved, for the moment at least, that the storm had passed.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friends. Sisters. Family. Birthday Wishes.

Dear M,

Tomorrow is your birthday. Your 30th. I thought about holding this letter off until then, but since I'll be seeing you tomorrow night to celebrate, I wanted to give you these words today, on the last day of your twenties.

Two nights ago I tried on a dress. A simple but interesting black wrap dress that I bought a few months ago. It's a dress that could fit in as easily at a cocktail party as it could on date night, and I could have worn it at least 3 or 4 times since I bought it, but I haven't. For three months it has been hanging in my closet, waiting. Because this isn't just any black dress, but the one that I will wear in three weeks on your wedding day. The one I will wear to watch my smart and beautiful best friend walk down the aisle and marry her man.

And when I was looking in the mirror deciding on alterations and accessories, I had a flashback of myself in front of similar mirrors in the weeks before my sisters' weddings. It occurred to me, as I was standing there in two different earrings and two different shoes, that I feel the same way now as I did then. That I am not just getting ready for a friend's wedding, but a sister's wedding. A family wedding.

Because over the past twelve years that is what we have become. Family. Family that is fun and fancy and silly and serious. Family that laughs together, cries together, celebrates together and mourns together. Family that walks life's twisty paths together.

Eleven months ago I stood on a street corner in the Upper West Side neighborhood where we became who we are, and watched you get engaged. And I knew that I was watching a turning point. A moment that would divide your life in before and after. That would draw a line between what was and what will be. Over the past year you have walked that line with grace and poise, and in three weeks, with a few words and a really fabulous ring, you will step over the line and into a future that is nothing but bright. I know without a doubt that the very best for you is still to come, and it is a privilege to be able to watch it all unfold.

I am nothing but grateful for the twist of fate that put us on the same freshman hall twelve years ago, and I am lucky every day that I get to call you my friend. My family. We've got your back. Always.

Happy 30th. To this day, and many, many more.

With love,


Thursday, October 10, 2013

10/10/10 - 10/10/13: Three Years

Seven years together.

Three years of marriage.

Happy anniversary to my very best guy.

There's no one else I would rather have joining me on this wild and lovely ride.


2008: Law School Graduation




2012: Tel Aviv, Israel

2013: New House

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Did We Skip A Month And I Didn't Notice?

Labor Day was less than five weeks ago, we have barely had any real fall days yet, and Halloween isn't for another three weeks. Yet, if you've been walking the streets of New York City these past few days, you might think that it was the middle of November, rather than the end of October.

Case in point:

Last Thursday I walked from Grand Central to work, minding my own business, absorbed in the last chapter of Amor Towles' The Rule of Civility. Now I don't generally read as I walk, but my law firm book club was meeting at lunch, and I really needed to finish the book before I started my day. So there I was, crossing 51st street, when I very nearly tripped over a mound of wires lying on the sidewalk.

I looked up to find that the mound was actually a giant pile of Christmas lights, and there were similar mounds in front of every tree on the street. Apparently NYC decided to hang Christmas lights early this year.

I went about my day and forgot about the morning's early holiday brush, but now, every time I walk up 51st Street, I have to remind myself that Christmas is, in fact, quite a ways away, and not exactly just around the corner.

And today it got more complicated. This afternoon, I stopped by Papyrus at lunchtime because my best friend turns 30 on Saturday, and I was looking for an appropriately fabulous card to accompany the present I will be giving her Saturday night at her birthday dinner. The habitually crowded store was even more so today, and it took my brain a second to register the reason why.

When the crowd parted, and I was finally able to make it all the way into the store, I was faced with two tables of this:

It seems someone decided that it's holiday card season already.

So faced with this overwhelming evidence I have to ask: Did we skip a month of the calendar that I didn't notice? I mean, I've been pretty busy lately what with all the Jewish holidays and the family and travel that accompany those manic weeks, so it's not out of the question that some newsworthy events would fail to ping my radar screen. But I think I would realize if we suddenly went from September to November, right?

It's not that I don't like the holiday season, I really do. But there are some important things still on the horizon before we get there. Like our anniversary. And our first suburban Halloween. And the one-year anniversary of our move. And my best friend's wedding. And the once in a lifetime "Thanksgivukah" in Pittsburgh.

I know that holiday excitement gets earlier and earlier every year, but if it's all the same to you, I'll just enjoy the here and now for a little while longer.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Day My Career Finally Started

It was 4pm. I was still in the office.

Every few minutes someone would pass my desk and give me a "why the hell are you still here?" look that was part astonishment and part pity. I was feeling a fair amount of both.

It was my last day at work.

Two weeks before I had accepted an offer from a law firm and promptly given notice, relishing the prospect of ten low-stakes days of coming in late, leaving early and two hour lunches.

But reality was far less glamorous.

I got the job I would be leaving seventeen months after I graduated from law school, and I graduated from law school two months after the Bear Stearns collapse and four months before Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. Not a good time to be a new lawyer in New York City if you aspire to more than doc review.

A big investment bank was starting a private wealth management group, and I would be a lawyer on the trusts & estates side. It was the job I had been waiting for, with only one catch. Since the group was new, they couldn't hire both a junior lawyer and a secretary, so for awhile at least, I would have to be both.

I was grateful for the job, and didn't ask a lot of questions about how long this dual role would last. I just jumped into the position, eager to finally be a lawyer.

Only I wasn't.

What legal work there was was handled by my boss while she lectured me how to answer the phone, file to her satisfaction, and properly format the agenda for our weekly meeting.

Every now and then I would do some legal research, but the bulk of my time was spent as a secretary and I was too busy worrying about the legal job market to stand up for myself and ask to do the work I had been trained to do.

The months dragged on. Every time my boss dropped a business card on my desk to add to her contacts I fantasized about throwing it in her face. Every time the phone rang I considered not picking it up, something I had been warned never to do.

So when the law firm came calling, I jumped at the opportunity.

After I gave notice I was handed a list a mile long of everything I had to finish before I left. So instead of spending my last two weeks shopping and lunching, I spent it writing a manual for my successor on how to do this legal job that contained virtually no legal work.

Which was how I found myself sitting in front of my computer at 4pm on my last day, instead of having drinks to celebrate my fancy new job.

I shifted in my chair and began the final section of the manual. As I typed the words "booking a flight," the stupidity of one lawyer instructing another how to properly book a flight for a third hit me.

I was done.

I shut down my computer for the last time, and headed for the door, leaving the manual unfinished.

I had a career to start.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"Celebrate Me Home"

I am thinking of the words to all the best farewell songs from the American Idol seasons, and a video montage is playing in my head.

Because, alas, I was the first of the Top 13 voted off of Blogger Idol last week.

When a contestant is voted off of American Idol, they sing their farewell. When a contestant is voted off of Blogger Idol they, appropriately, write their farewell.

So this morning, I sat down and wrote my farewell to the competition while Ruben Studdard's Celebrate Me Home wafted out of my computer speakers.

At first I was embarrassed that I was the first one voted out. I thought that maybe I hadn't written a good enough piece, or wasn't taking the competition as seriously as the other 12. So for some time on Friday, as all of the conciliatory Facebook messages came rolling in, I went dark and absorbed the news.

But after I pulled it together I realized that none of what I was thinking was true. I wrote a piece I was proud of and was lucky enough to have been chosen for a competition alongside some writers and bloggers that I admire.

So really, things were good.

So this week I am now officially a Blogger Idol alum, and will follow the competition for the next 11 weeks until one of the other of the top 13 receive their Blogger Idol crown.

And I'm happy.

Because I was number 13 out of more than 200. And that isn't bad at all.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

26.2: May 4, 2014

Three years ago, I decided to run a full marathon.

It was November 7, 2010, and I was standing on the corner of 96th Street and First Avenue in Manhattan, otherwise known as Mile 18 of the New York City Marathon. I had just registered with a friend of mine for my very first half marathon through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's famed Team in Training, and the head coach asked us to come stand at a TNT cheer station on the marathon course as a little motivation before our training season began.

So on that unseasonably cold fall day, we joined the sea of spectators and, cowbells in hand, cheered for the purple-clad TNT runners as they made their way up to the Willis Bridge which would take them into the Bronx, and through the home stretch of the Marathon.

Having grown up with two distance runners for parents, I was no stranger to the mystique of the marathon. One of my first really clear memories is actually cheering for my dad when he ran his first. So running was in my blood.

I had tried, unsuccessfully, to become a runner for years. There was a stretch in high school when I would run three miles after school a few days a week, but by the time senior year arrived with its SAT and college application mania, that habit had fallen away. Then there was that time in college when I dabbled in distance running, but there always seemed to be something better to do, like eat pizza, or frequent the soft serve machine in the cafeteria.

But five years after college, when I found myself still carrying the 20 extra pounds caused by the aforementioned pizza and ice cream, I decided to try again. This time I was determined to make it stick.

And it did.

I got rid of those 20 pounds and then a few more. Central Park became my home and it was there that I really learned to run, and to love to run. And when we left the city last year, it was running that helped me through the anxiety and confusion that came from the move, and from trying to find a place for ourselves in our new suburban home.

I missed that Team in Training half marathon due to injury, but the following year I ran my first half in Pittsburgh, and then last year I ran it again. And when I crossed the finish line for the second time, I knew I was ready. I knew that I would be back next year, and I would run the whole thing.

I registered this past Tuesday, so exactly seven months from tomorrow, I will line up in downtown Pittsburgh at dawn with 26.2 miles stretching ahead of me. I will run the streets of the city of my heart, and fulfill a dream years in the making.

Training starts now.

Here we go.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

This Person Leaving Us Tonight IS...

For some reason, Ryan Seacrest's voice saying "the person leaving us tonight IS..." is playing on a loop in my head. If you don't know what that means, well, you're probably better off. Because once American Idol gets its hooks into you, it's nearly impossible to break free. I should know. I've watched twelve seasons, and this coming January, I'll be back for lucky number 13. This show has become so ingrained into my pop culture persona that I'm not sure I even like it any more, but that doesn't seem to matter.

So why, you may ask, is the voice of the fair-haired host on my mind today? Because today at noon, voting starts for Week 1 of Blogger Idol

The rules of the competition go like this: Every Saturday the finalists are given an assignment, and we have until Tuesday at noon to write. The judges read the posts and score them, and then on Wednesday at 1:00pm the link goes live for all of you to read the posts and vote on your favorites until Thursday at 11:59pm. Once all the votes are tallied, the person with the lowest score is kicked off, and then it starts all over again.

The assignment for Week 1 was to write our own eulogy as a way to introduce ourselves to each other and to all of you. Morbid? Maybe. But I thought it was pretty fun.

So, if the idea of reading thirteen eulogies appeals to you, click on over to the Week 1 voting site to check them out and vote on your favorite, which I really, really hope is mine.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Playing Catch-Up

I'm playing catch up this week.

I'm looking forward to getting back to this blog, and to the amazing Yeah Write next week, once the dust has settled from my month of holidays, but until then, I leave you with these pictures.

I spent this past weekend in Cleveland at my sister's house playing and chasing these kiddos around.

Being an aunt is awesome.