Friday, November 30, 2012

Thirty Days

A lot can happen in thirty days.

Thirty days ago, I was spending my last day in Manhattan before our big move. Thirty days ago, New York was just starting to return to life after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Thirty days ago I didn't know my way around our new neighborhood, and I was awfully nervous about my new, expanded commute to work.

Yes, a lot can happen in thirty days.

At the end of October, I signed up for a blogging challenge to blog every day of the month of November, including weekends and holidays. And it was a little daunting when I added my name, and this blog, to the list, but I decided to go for it. And the month was hard, but, as it turns out, it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be.

I had a rough time at the beginning of this month. I have never been particularly good with big, dramatic change, and the hurricane, combined with our move and then a massive snowstorm, almost did me in. But I had a mission, and a purpose. To come here every day and to write words. To write about what was going on, and how I was feeling about it. To process the whirlwind days by sharing my thoughts, and recording all that was going on. Blogging every day has helped ease my transition in an extraordinarily significant way, and I am so happy that I accepted the challenge.

And there were a few days where a picture and a couple sentences had to suffice, but that was ok with me. Because this morning, as I went back through my posts this month, I realized that they were some of the posts of which I am most proud. The words I wrote over the past thirty days were not always happy words (although some of them were), but they were real, true, and most importantly, mine.

I am incredibly grateful to the ladies at Yeah Write for posing the challenge, and for the whole Yeah Write community for unwavering support and thoughtful comments over the past month. It has been tremendously fun to take this journey with you all.

So, here's to the last thirty days. And to the next.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kitchen Update

We are almost there...Just another couple days, and we should have a fully completed and functioning kitchen. The cabinets are all installed, the appliances are here, and the walls have been painted. In the most exciting news yet, I got home yesterday, and walked into the house to find this:

And this:

And my most favorite, this:

We have counters folks! All that is left to do is the backsplash tile, the plumbing for the sink and dishwasher, and the installation of the hood above the stove, and we are in business! Even though I have a cleaning service coming next week to attack all the construction dust, I think I am going to spend some time this weekend cleaning the insides of all the cabinets myself so I can start setting things up. I kind of like the idea of getting this room ready on my own. After the first few cabinets I may be singing a different tune, but right now it seems like a pretty good move. My dusting rags and spray bottles of kitchen cleaner are ready for action.

Otherwise, suburban life is treating us pretty well thus far. Christmas lights and decorations are going up in my neighborhood, which I love, and it's getting cold outside, which I love even more. I have always been a major fan of the winter season, and everything that comes with it (except, of course, Midtown Manhattan madness), especially the cold. Last year for Chanukah my mom got D and me the best slippers ever from L.L. Bean. Since the weather is particularly winter-like this week, last night we broke them out:

Don't our slipper-clad feet look just divine against our newly refinished floors?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Strange Things Seen On the Way to Work

If you read this blog frequently, you know that I have a love/hate relationship with New York City. I lived in Manhattan for seven years, and while I romanticized it a lot during my transition to the suburbs a month ago, there were also things about living and working here that made me absolutely crazy. Like having to carry super heavy bags of groceries five blocks home in the rain. Or being completely reliant on sometimes unreliable public transportation to get everywhere I needed to go. Or tiny kitchens with miniature ovens and sinks. Or lack of closet space.

Living in the suburbs, as I now do, I no longer have to contend with those things, and it is amazing. I can drive my car to the grocery store and home like a normal person, my kitchen (when it is finished) will have a regular sized oven and a sink that is downright palatial, and I am positively swimming in closet space.

But I haven't completely severed my ties with Manhattan. I still work here, and as I wrote yesterday, there are all kinds of headaches associated with my daily trip to my office in Midtown, particularly during this time of year.

But every now and then, I see something in Manhattan that makes me laugh like a loon, and makes me happy that I still have a connection to this crazy city that is unlike any other.

This morning, I was making my daily walk from Grand Central station on the East Side to my office on the West Side, and as I passed Rockefeller Center, preparations for tonight's Christmas tree lighting were well underway. The police were already out barricading all the streets from 47th to 52nd, people were already lined up to stake out the best spot closest to the skating rink where the festivities take place, and there was the usual crush of rubberneckers gawking at the still unlit tree.

As I made my way down 51st street, I was thinking dark thoughts about the tree lighting, and already trying to figure out my best route from the office to Grand Central tonight for my way home so as to avoid anything having to do with the tree lighting at all costs (side note: there is no best way. Every way is bad. Best to take the most direct route and prepare for evasive maneuvers). But my negative reverie was broken, when I passed the scene in the picture above.

Yes, right in the middle of 51st street, I saw a man holding those three camels on leashes. It was 35 degrees outside, everyone on the street was rushing to get where they needed to go and trying not to freeze to death, but there were camels in the middle of the street. This scene struck me as so hilariously absurd that I had to stop and capture it for posterity.

Manhattan may sometimes be annoying, but any place where you can accidentally bump in to camels on the way to work is a place worth staying connected to. Just saying.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

'Tis the Season

I am Jewish, and I don't celebrate Christmas. That small detail aside, I have always loved this time of year. I love when fall turns to winter, and the air starts to smell like snow. I love the smell of chimney smoke, and I love houses all lit up in tiny white lights. I love Starbucks red cups, and I love when stores break out their holiday bags.

For seven years, until just a few weeks ago, I lived in Manhattan, a place that seems synonymous with Christmas, and I still commute to the city every day to my office in Midtown. There are countless movies set in NYC during the holiday season. On one day in November, the entire world watches as Manhattan is taken over by floats for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The stores along Manhattan's iconic Fifth Avenue start decorating their windows well before Thanksgiving rolls around. A giant crystal star is suspended above the Avenue, and there is nary a block without a bell-ringing, Santa-suit wearing Salvation Army volunteer.

And I should love it, because I just love the holiday season. But the thing is, when it comes to Midtown this time of year, I am pretty much a scrooge.

It all started a few weeks ago. I was walking to Grand Central Station to catch my train home, and I was running late. I can usually do the walk in 13 minutes, but the streets were more packed than usual. I was getting annoyed at the camera-sporting tourists when I had real places to go. They were flocking around, and I couldn't figure out why. Until I saw this:

It seems the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree had arrived that morning. There were no lights on it yet, and it was all covered up, but for some reason, people felt the need to stand there and watch it, as if something miraculous was about to happen. It wasn't, obviously. Rockefeller Center would never light the tree without its usual fanfare and cadre of B-List celebs, and besides, the date of the tree lighting was right there on the sign. But that didn't stop the tourists. As I elbowed my way through the crowd, I felt like screaming at the top of my lungs "It's just a tree people." 

And then we were off to the races. 

Between the thousands of dancers and cheerleaders that invaded Midtown in the days leading up the Thanksgiving parade making running out to grab lunch all but impossible, the clogged streets and closed bus stops around Rockefeller Center making getting from Grand Central to my office a complete nightmare, and the endless throngs of tourists meandering down Sixth Avenue, stopping to take pictures at every turn, I am well and truly sick of Christmas, and the Rockefeller Center tree hasn't even been lit yet, so the worst is yet to come.

And maybe I have selective memory, but I forgot about this little gem:

Yes, starting the day after Thanksgiving, and continuing through New Years Day, the traffic police in midtown literally barricade the intersection when the light is green to prevent people from crossing against the light, even when there are no cars in sight for miles.


Since New York City is practically the birthplace of Christmas, I feel kind of bad about being so negative about Midtown in this season of happiness and cheer. But the thought of six weeks of this particular breed of holiday insanity makes me want to curl up in my quiet house in the suburbs, and stay far, far away from the city until January.

But alas. This is where I work. So I will continue making the commute to crazytown each and every day, until the city finally belongs to us again sometime after New Years. I will continue to dodge picture-taking tourists, and to suppress my desire to scream at people who ask me for directions to Rockefeller Center from the corner of 50th and Sixth Avenue (that actually happened).

And when January rolls around, and the city is empty once more, I will probably miss the lights, the decorations, and the noise. But until then, if you see a curly brown-haired girl rushing down Fifth Avenue at 7:00 at night with a determined and slightly annoyed face, get out of her way. She has a train to catch. 

Monday, November 26, 2012


Every time I come through the tunnel, this view grabs me by the throat. It leaves me momentarily speechless as I once again absorb the gritty wonder of this skyline. 

This is the vista that welcomes me home.

I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A third generation southwestern-Pennsylvanian, it barely ever occurred to me that there were other places on the planet to live. This was my place. I spent my childhood racing around its streets, first holding the hands of my parents, and then accompanied by forever friends as I got older.

Its hills and rivers and soaring trees became a part of me. Its rich history my own. 

My dad taught me Steeler football, and twelve months a year I bleed black and gold.

When I was in high school we moved away from Pittsburgh for awhile, but it was still my home, and I came back often. I would fly into the Pittsburgh airport, and was met by family for the unremarkable drive into the city. The route took us through some suburbs, and strip malls, and industrial complexes, and I drove it so many times I barely noticed anymore. 

But then. Then we went through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, and when we came out the other side, the world opened up into that view. And I was home again.

Each and every time I go back to Pittsburgh - far more often since my parents moved back three years ago - I find myself steeped in familiarity. I revel in walking the streets of my childhood, and see myself throughout the years on each and every corner of the city.

I have lived four different places since we moved away from Pittsburgh. I have soaked in the balmy nights of Jacksonville, Florida, lived shoulder to shoulder with American history in Boston, experienced the frenetic energy of Manhattan, and have now settled into the quiet grace of Westchester County. And I have taken something important from each and every one of those places. 

But there is, and forever will be, only one place to which I am inextricably linked. Only one place that has made an indelible mark on my soul.

It may not be where I live right now.

But it is still home.

From the backyard of my parent's new house, I can see my old house.
Talk about coming full circle.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


It was a long and winding road back from Pittsburgh.

We battled traffic, rest stops and assorted other post-Thanksgiving travel delights, and we are finally home.

I am relaxing on the couch now, gearing up for a week of work, blogging, and (hopefully) a completed kitchen. \I am thinking about family, sisters, a tiny little girl, and a weekend filled with fun, and I am kind of wishing it was last Tuesday night so I could go back and do it all over again.

Hope you all had an excellent and memorable Thanksgiving. 

Looking forward to NaBloPoMo week 4!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Through the Years

Lining the staircase at my parent's house.

My sisters and me.

Graduation pictures throughout the years. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tiny Feet

Buying my niece her first pair of shoes.
The cutest little feet you have ever seen.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Writing on the Wall

My parents recently moved to a new house, and since the move, all the stuff from my old room has been packed in boxes in my room in their new house. My mom has been after me to unpack the boxes and take some of the stuff home with me, but until recently, I didn't have anywhere to put anything, so I just left it in the boxes. But now that I have a new house with plenty of room, last night I decided to start going through the boxes to figure out what I want to take back with me after Thanksgiving.

I packed up lots of books and some favorite pictures and frames, and then I came across a box just marked "closet shelves." And when I opened the box, I found those six journals in the picture up there. I don't really remember being a serious journal keeper, so I expected the pages to be mostly blank. Imagine my surprise when, one by one, I opened each journal to find them all entirely filled with writing. Turns out, I was a bit of a journaler. From sixth grade through the end of my sophomore year in college, my entire life is documented in my own words.

Color me amazed.

I guess it's no accident that I have taken to blogging with such a fierce determination. Because really, I have been doing it in some form, albeit less public, for almost twenty years.

So, of course, I will be taking these six books back with me to New York to keep in my new house. And although I won't display them on my bookshelves like I will my prized book collection, and although I probably won't go back and read them (because honestly, who wants to read words written by their high school selves?), I will know that they are there, existing as a symbol. The writing on the wall if you will. A sign that I am, finally, becoming what I was always meant to be.

A writer.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Road Trip

I'd like to introduce you to my car.

Living in Manhattan for seven years, I didn't have many occasions to drive, so there was really no need for a car. My husband had one that we kept in a lot near our apartment in case we needed it, but I didn't use it much. I lived and worked in the city, and all my friends were there, so unless we were going away for a weekend, we never really left the island of Manhattan.

But the thing is, I really, really love to drive. Ever since I got my license the day I turned 16, I have loved the feeling of getting behind the wheel, rolling down the window, cranking up the music, and driving. And I forgot how much I missed it living in NYC all those years.

When we decided to make the move to the suburbs, we soon realized there was no way we could get by with just one car. We have wildly different schedules, mine is predictable, where my husband's is not. We do different errands. During the week, we rarely are home at the same time before nine at night. In short, I needed a car of my own, and nothing could have thrilled me more.

So a few days before we moved, we shopped some dealerships, and I drove away with that beauty up there. And since moving day, she has mainly accompanied me to the train station in the morning, and on various errands after work, all local.

But today. Today was a big day. Because earlier this morning, we hit the road for our annual road trip to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving. We go to Pittsburgh many times during the year to visit my parents, but we usually fly. But on Thanksgiving, because of the combination of expensive flights and impossible airports, we always drive. And this year, my new car came with us.

For six hours, I was in the drivers seat with the window down, and the music cranked up. And it was just sublime. And we are now in Pittsburgh, waiting for my sister and her family to get here, and settling in for a long weekend filled with family, food, and fun.

They say that it's about the journey, not about the destination. But in my case, it's about both. And they are both just fabulous.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Grocery Store

I couldn't find the cheese.

It had been exactly thirteen days and five hours since I moved to my new house, and I needed to go to the grocery store. Our kitchen is still under construction, I am not doing much cooking. Friends of ours were picking up take-out at my father-in-law's restaurant for our Friday night Shabbat dinner, but I still needed things. 

I feel antsy and anxious when my kitchen, even my makeshift dining room kitchen consisting of a single burner, a crock pot and a refrigerator, isn't stocked. Cooking is how I relax, how I nurture, and how I show my love for the people in my life, and not being able to work my kitchen magic has been really difficult for me. I thought a trip to the grocery store might be the best medicine. I may not have a fully functioning kitchen yet, but by god I would do the best I could with what I had.

So at nine o'clock this past Thursday night I found myself pushing a cart up and down the aisles of Shop Rite. I had heard that this was the best grocery store in the area. The one with the best prices, produce and products. Sign me up.

For half an hour I just browsed around, getting the lay of the land. After seven years shopping in Manhattan grocery stores, I could hardly believe how big everything was. When I saw someone approaching with a cart from the other direction, I instinctively moved my cart as far to the right as I could to let her pass by, only to realize that in these suburban grocery aisles, two, or even three, carts could fit down an aisle with room to spare. That, in itself was practically a miracle.

When I got everything on my list, I headed towards the check-out line thrilled with myself, with this grocery store, with my new town, and with life in general. As I got in line, I realized that I had forgotten the cheese. No big deal. I turned my cart around and headed to the back of the store where I thought the dairy section would be. But I found case after case of chicken instead.

I walked up and down a few aisles, fully expecting to see dairy in each one, only to be faced with shelves filled with every product imaginable except for the ones I needed. Up and down the aisles I went, growing more frustrated with each turn.

What kind of grocery store is it where the cheese is nowhere to be found? I thought, longing for the familiarity of my tiny NYC grocery store where I always knew where the cheese would be.

Do people in White Plains not eat cheese?

What if there is no cheese?

How can I make anything without cheese?

I wonder if the other grocery store has cheese.

Maybe I should bring cheese back from Manhattan after work tomorrow.


I'm never coming back here again.

And then I saw it. A cart, pushed by a woman a little older than I, with cheese. I asked her where the cheese was, and she pointed towards the back corner of the store.

And there it was.

When I got home, my husband asked me how the grocery store was.

"It was great," I said.

No need to mention anything about the cheese.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Sister L

Once upon a time, my mom was pregnant, and I wanted a brother.

I already had a younger sister, and I thought that one was most certainly enough. So I was none too pleased when my parents called from the hospital with the news that it was a girl. Again.

So the Brinn girl duo became the Brinn girl trio, and still we are. And now I sometimes think about what it would have been like if that baby really had been a boy, and how strange it would have been to have that streak of blue invade our pink world.

And today, that girl has a birthday.

So, to the third and final addition to the Brinn girls. To my romance novel loving soul sister. To my New York City partner-in-crime. To the soon-to-be Ohio-resident, dental student extraordinaire.

I'm glad you weren't a boy.

Happiest of happy birthdays.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Unpacking Books

At first, I wanted to wait until the kitchen was done to unpack all the boxes on the first floor. With all the workmen around and the construction dust that constantly settles all over everything, I thought it would be pretty counterproductive to start taking things out of boxes before everything was cleaned.

But today I started getting antsy. Because, as I have written about before, the place I live never quite feels like home until I unpack my books. Since college, whenever I move into a new place, I always, always set up my books first. I can handle the kitchen being under construction, and I can even handle not having my closets quite organized, but I couldn't relax while my books were still in boxes. I don't believe in e-books, and I rarely go to the library. I need to read actual books, and I have to own them. And I do own them. Hundreds.

So today, despite the kitchen still being under construction, I broke out the box of cleaning supplies, and scrubbed the shelves I had earmarked for my book collection. 

After everything was clean, along with some help from my sister, I opened all seven boxes of my books, and laid everything out so I could see what I had before I put everything up on the shelves.

I started with this:

It looks like a bit of a chaotic mess, but there is a method to my madness. Because before long, my shelves looked like this:

With three entire shelves dedicated to my Nora Roberts collection:

Astute readers might have noticed the empty shelf space. My sister has five of my Noras that she borrowed, so I am saving them shelf space for when they make their return to my collection.

When I lived in a tiny Manhattan apartment, my books took over our living room. But now that I live in a house the endless book shelves are dwarfing my substantial collection.

I am pretty sure that I will be spending some quality time on placing some orders tonight...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Work In Progress

The floor is tiled, the appliances are here, the cabinets are in, and our kitchen table was delivered.

And I am just head over heels in love with it all. 


Stay tuned for pictures of the final product in a week or two.

We almost have a kitchen!

Friday, November 16, 2012

What's the Rush?

Rush Hour.

When I was living in Manhattan, I never really thought too much about rush hour. I just got on the subway approximately 20 minutes before I needed to be at work, and between 11 and 15 minutes later, including a coffee stop, I was standing in my office. 

But now that getting to work involves a half hour train ride and a trek through Grand Central Station, I think about rush hour quite a bit. 

On the White Plains side, it is all pretty calm. I park my car, get on the train, and settle in for a peaceful ride. Sometimes I read blogs, sometimes I read a book, sometimes I stare out the window and consider ideas for my own blog, and sometimes I just sit and think.

But about five minutes outside of Grand Central, something happens. People start to move around and gather their things. Blackberries come out, and e-mail is checked. And astonishingly, some people even get up out of their seats and line up at the door, so that they can be first off of the train when the doors open. And then they just stand around, twitchy, until they can finally disembark. As if the two minutes they save by not waiting to get up until the train stops make that big of a difference. Grand Central is the last stop. There is no way to get trapped inside the train.

And once the doors do actually open? Pandemonium. People rush around, run down corridors, and walk as if the building is on fire and their very life depends on how quickly they can get above ground. And even though I absolutely abhor rushing, if you don't keep pace with the crowd, you will certainly get mowed down.

I took the picture above as I was keeping that pace during my commute on Wednesday morning. I kind of like that it is blurry, because that is how those minutes between the train and the door to Grand Central feel. Blurry, fast and frantic.

There is something insane about Manhattan that makes everyone feel like they have to rush. And even though I lived here for more than seven years, that was something I could never quite get used to. In my world, being five minutes late to work is not the end of the world, standing in line an extra minute or two will not kill you, and the faster you go, the more likely you are to miss something interesting (like the fab bag the girl in the picture is carrying. I nearly stopped her to ask her where she got it, but I couldn't catch up).

So I am making a vow for my commuting days. A vow to not get caught up in the crowd. To skirt alongside the rush. To walk a little slower. And to always, always stay seated until the train comes to a complete stop and the doors open to the start of my day.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This Guy

I've been writing a lot about this guy lately. This guy I married two years ago. And of course I knew when I married him that I was lucky, but over the past few weeks, I have come to understand exactly how fortunate I am to have him in my foxhole.

As you know (because apparently I can't stop writing about it), two weeks ago we left Manhattan and moved to our new house in the suburbs. And our house was (and still is) unfinished. Most of the work was done on moving day, but we saved the kitchen for last.

There are things that I am really good at. I'm a good cook. I am supremely organized. I guess I write pretty well. But there are other things I am not so good at. Like anything that has to do with tools. Or technology. Or design and color schemes. Or negotiation. But that guy up there? That stuff is right up his alley. Not only did he entirely design our bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen, but he also hired the people to make his design a reality, supervises them on a daily basis, wired our entire house for cable and internet, and, most astonishingly, turned our garage into a workshop where he built our kitchen cabinets. Every single one of them.

Have you ever seen a cuter screwdriver-wielding guy in all your life?

Oh, and did I mention that he also owns and runs two companies and manages a full staff of employees? No? Well, he does.

And this morning. This morning I was not feeling great. When we lived in Manhattan, on those exhausted, bad feeling mornings, all I had to do was drag myself to the subway, and in fifteen minutes I was at work. But since moving, my commute is now an hour long. On a normal day, I actually enjoy the travel time. But this morning, the prospect of getting in the car to drive to the train station, sitting on a rocking train for half an hour, and getting myself to the office was just overwhelming. It was just one of those mornings. You know the ones.

But I was a good soldier. I got myself up and into the shower without incident, all the while dreading my journey to work.

But ten minutes later, when I came out of the bathroom, that guy up there was awake and dressed, with keys in hand. And even though he doesn't have to be anywhere near Manhattan today, he drove me all the way into work so I didn't have to take the train.

And during that 20 mile ride, our conversation ranged from coffee, to kitchen appliances, to Tom Clancy, to our little niece, to James Bond, to Star Wars, and beyond.

Now, I ask you, is that a guy or what?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


A few weeks ago I noticed that I was nearing a milestone on this blog. 100 posts since I started writing nine months ago. And I decided that for my 100th post, I would post something special. I wasn't sure at the time what it would be, but I decided to knock your socks off.

Well, imagine my surprise when my eyes happened to glance over at my post count this morning, and I saw 104. So much for my 100 post celebration.

But there is an interesting reason that this milestone escaped me. You might have noticed that I have been posting far more often than my normal three or four times a week. Well I have. And you may be wondering why. I would. 

A few months ago I discovered an incomparable blogging community on the internet called Yeah Write. Each week, four lovely ladies run a competition on this site, allowing bloggers like myself to link up, read a collection of the best blog posts around, and have our own posts judged. At first this was a little intimidating for me, but I soldiered on. Each and every Tuesday, I post my writing on their site, and get to interact with some truly talented writers while we share our words with each other, and with the mysterious cyber universe.

And through this community, I have met people I feel like I can call friends, and I have really been able to find my voice.

So when, during the last week in October, the curator of Yeah Write proposed a challenge to blog each and every day of November (weekends and holidays included), I decided to give it a try. And in my singular focus to get something on my blog every day of this month, I forgot to celebrate my 100th post.

Well, instead I will celebrate this post. My 105th post. 

When I started this blog back in February with my very first post on a Friday afternoon, I just wanted to write. I wanted to write about the books I love, and the people that I love, and this life that I am living each and every day. And I thought that maybe I had some things worth saying, and worth sharing with the world. And it turns out that I did, and I do. And I love coming to this place to think, to feel, to process, and to learn.

So, here's to nine months of blogging. Not exactly the celebration that I anticipated, but a celebration nonetheless. Thanks for sticking it out with me over these past 105 posts. And here's to 105 more.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Blind Date: Part II

The bus was late.

That irritating detail stuck in my craw as the bus, which finally showed up seven minutes after its scheduled arrival time - rolled down Columbus Avenue.

It probably would have been faster to walk the ten blocks, but I just didn't feel like getting there sweaty, frizzy haired, and out of breath. I may have been a mere week away from law school finals, jittery from too much caffeine and not enough food, but I had standards after all.

I got off the bus and as I walked the two avenues to the cafe I forced myself into date mode.

He was leaning against the ubiquitous Manhattan scaffolding in front of the restaurant. It was a busy evening, and he was not the only one standing there. I asked myself later how I knew who he was. I had never seen a picture of him - I was too wrapped up in my finals haze to do the requisite Facebook/Google stalking. But somehow I knew.

He looked up as I approached. His eyes met mine for the first time, and there was this thing in my stomach. This feeling. I swear to god that my heart beat an extra time or two, and I thought that blond hair and blue eyes had never looked so good.

Thoughts of retribution for my little sister for forcing this blind date on me slipped from my mind. This guy was hot.

He introduced himself, and I was suddenly shy. And I have never been shy. Introverted, yes. But shy, never.

We sat at a table outside, right under a heat lamp the cafe helpfully provided for the unpredictable April weather. Wrapped in a cozy cocoon of warmth, we ordered cake and coffee.

I panicked for a minute when the waitress took the menus away. It was at this point in most of these dates that the evening started to go downhill. Without the obligatory "what looks good on the menu" conversation, there was often nothing else to talk about.

There was a beat of silence while we sized each other up. I waited for the first date questions to start, and prepared my first date answers.

And then.

"I saw the craziest thing today," he said.

Momentarily caught off guard that there was no question mark at the end of his sentence, all I could do was nod.

"I was walking down Broadway, and I saw a man get hit by a bus. Not a fast moving bus or anything, and the man was OK. But I actually saw a man get hit by a bus. We use the phrase 'get hit by a bus' all the time, but you wonder how many people really do get hit by buses. But it happened today, and I saw it."

Something about this story struck me as so hilarious that I started laughing and couldn't stop. Not polite first date laughter. Stomach hurting, tears streaming kind of laughter. I had to wave down the waitress to ask for an extra napkin to wipe my eyes, and from there, the conversation flowed.

I wish I could remember everything we talked about. I don't. I wish I could look back and replay the entire date in my mind like a movie. I can't. I don't remember all the specifics, but I remember the feelings. And I remember feeling like this was someone worth getting to know.

The cafe was exactly halfway between our respective apartments, so when we got up to leave I prepared myself for the slightly awkward good-bye on a busy Manhattan street. But instead, he walked me home.

For ten blocks we walked and talked and laughed some more. And I wished that we could walk forever. In front of my building we said a goodbye befitting a really good first date, and I watched as he walked away. Before he crossed the street, he turned around to flash a last smile and wave. And I felt that thing in my stomach once more.

The piles of study materials stacked on every available surface surprised me when I let myself into my apartment. I had forgotten that they were there.

Figuring I could put in another hour before it was time for bed, I changed my clothes and prepared to buckle down.

But I didn't read a word of my notes the rest of the night.

Instead I just lay on my bed, dreaming.

This is a follow up to last week's post
Epilogue: Three years after this date, a little more than two years ago, I married that gorgeous blond-hair, blue-eyed man

Monday, November 12, 2012

Congratulations Are In Order

I have a friend.

We met on the first day of college more than eleven years ago. We spent four years together on that campus in that tiny town outside of Boston. And then we moved to Manhattan together. And lots of things have changed since we first arrived in the big city seven years ago. There has been bad change, good change, and absolutely spectacular, miraculous change. And over all that time, and through all that change, we have become more than friends. We have become family.

A few weeks ago I wrote a happy birthday post for this friend. And she is having one amazing fall. Because not only did we honor her birthday in superior style at the beginning of October, today we have something even more special to celebrate.

Because yesterday. Yesterday afternoon, I spent a few hours with this friend, trying all the while to keep a very important secret. And after lunch and manicures at our regular place, I made an excuse to walk down a particular street. An Upper West Side block that means a great deal to her.

And there, in front of the first Manhattan apartment building that she called home, my dear friend's incomparable man stood. And asked her a question. That most important question.

And she said yes.

So today. Today all of my thoughts are with her and with him, and of the gorgeous life that they are building together. It has been an honor and a privilege to watch their love story these past four years. And I know that, for them, the best is yet to come.

Mazel tov M and G.

Wishing you happiness, always.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What I Read: Then and Now

I had some time to kill this afternoon before a really exciting and wonderful dinner (stay tuned for details tomorrow), and wandered into a Barnes & Noble. I love bookstores more than anything. I can, and do, spend hours wandering the shelves, stopping to read a page or two, and soaking up the atmosphere of a community of readers.

As I browsed today, I took a little trip back down my reading history. Because for as long as I can remember, reading has been a source of joy for me. Reading is how I relax, how I learn, and how I pass many, many hours.

I have read hundreds of thousands of books over my life, but there are a special few that stick in my mind. The books that shaped me, and guided me, and made indelible marks on who I was, and who I have become.


And now.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


It has not been a secret on this blog that I have felt a bit of anxiety over my move away from Manhattan. While I love our new house, it has been harder than I thought leaving NYC for the suburbs. Even though I commute to Manhattan every day for work, it is not my place anymore, and that has been a bit of a shock for me to absorb.

But every day it feels a little more like home.

One of the reasons we chose White Plains when we were deciding where to move was the Jewish community. I don't speak much about this on my blog, but we are Orthodox Jews, so it was important to us to find a place to live with a synagogue where we would feel comfortable, and a place where we would want to raise a family. And White Plains, just 20 miles north of Manhattan, fit the bill.

And our thoughts about this community were confirmed when I got home from work yesterday.

When I walked in the front door to my house, already rushing to get everything done that I needed to do before Shabbat began, I found a "welcome basket" from my new community. The basket itself contained wine and challah for Shabbat, and information about the synagogue and the area.

And then, the doorbell rang. And kept on ringing every five minutes until Shabbat started half an hour later. And each time the doorbell rang, it was another member of our new community bringing us another part of the dinner that they had all collaborated to make for us. Every time I opened the door someone else was standing there with a foil covered dish and a smile, welcoming us to the neighborhood.

They hadn't yet met us, didn't know us at all. Yet they knew that we had moved in, were new to the community, and had a kitchen under construction. They all took time away from their own families and their own dinners to make something for us, relative strangers.

That is community.

Our community.

Friday, November 9, 2012

My Romance Novel Loving Heart Is Singing

It has been a strange two weeks in my world. And by strange, I mean gut-churningly stressful. Between a hurricane, a move, a brand new commute and a snow storm, I am falling on my face exhausted, and so ready for a little down time.

Which is why I was even happier than usual on Tuesday when Nora Roberts released The Perfect Hope, the third book in the Inn Boonsboro trilogy. Now as you know, I buy Nora Roberts and Susan Elizabeth Phillips books the day they come out, without exception, but I often wait until the weekend to read them, so that I can dive in completely, and not emerge until I read the last, always satisfying page.

This weekend will be no exception. 

Today, after leaving work early for observance of the Jewish Sabbath (or Shabbat, as we call it in Hebrew), my plan is to go home, light my candles to bring in Shabbat, put on my most comfortable and cozy clothes, and settle in on our brand new couch for the night, and all of tomorrow.

When I am anxious and stressed, a new Nora Roberts book is balm to my soul.

We may be living in a brand new house, in a brand new town. I may not know exactly where the grocery store is or how to get there. We may still have boxes everywhere, and a kitchen under construction. But I have a comfortable couch, my man, a glorious day ahead of me with nothing planned, and a brand new Nora.

So really, life is good.

My new, cozy, snow covered house

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election Day

I'm a couple days late on this post, but I really felt like I needed to think a little about the election, and about Tuesday, before writing about it.

Four years ago, I watched closely as a man took the country by storm. He was young and charismatic. He had a beautiful, smart, and stylish wife, and two stunning daughters. For many months he blazed a trail across America spreading his message of hope and change, and America responded. "Yes we can," became the refrain heard across the nation at rallys, on streets, in schools, and in homes. The economy was melting down, people were out of work, and they were scared. And they responded to this man who said, in a thousand different ways, we can make it better. We WILL make it better.

I was not an early supporter of Barack Obama. I thought that he was too young, too inexperienced, not ready for the challenges that come with the highest office in the land. And as a long-time member of the Republican Party, it didn't occur to me in those early days of the 2008 election that maybe, just maybe, Obama was spreading a message that I could get behind.

It turns out that he was. And I did.

I am not sure exactly when it happened, but if I look back, it was probably around the time that John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate, and the rhetoric out of the Republican party turned so violently anti-choice, anti-woman, and anti-pretty much everything else. When the original message of the Republican party nominee - a man I both respected and admired - was drowned out in a sea of vitriol.

That was when I realized I needed another choice.

So in 2008, thinking of human rights, women's right, gay rights, and the balance of power on the Supreme Court, I cast a vote for the Democratic party. And on election night I watched as that young man and his family stood before roaring Chicago crowds and accepted their place in history. And two months later I watched again as he took his oath and ascended his position. And I felt a surprising well of emotion. A keen understanding that I was watching something seemingly impossible, coming true right before my eyes. It was a somber moment of celebration for this country. And I was simply in awe of it all.

And this past Tuesday, thinking once more of human rights, of women's right, of gay rights, and of freedom, I again cast my vote for that man, and watched as he and his family again took the stage. Four years older, four years wiser, and four years stronger, they again made history. And again, I was in filled with awe and pride.

Because this year, I, too, am four years older. Four years further along in this life of mine. And I understand things that I didn't understand four years ago. That I truly do believe in hope, and in change. That I care, deeply, about other people and their freedom. That I want to leave this world and this planet a better, stronger place for my children and my grandchildren. That I want my daughters to have choices, and that I want my children to be free to marry whoever they wish, without judgment and hardship. That hate and judgment push us back, but that love and acceptance can move us forward to places we never even dreamed.

As I joined Diane Sawyer, George Stephanopoulos and the ABC news team on Tuesday night to watch the election returns roll in, I thought of something that Michelle Obama said in her speech at the Democratic National Convention this past summer. Before a packed convention center, she said:
"If farmers and blacksmiths could win independence from an empire...if immigrants could leave behind everything they knew for a better life on our shores...if women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote...if a generation could defeat a depression, and define greatness for all time...if a young preacher could lift us to the mountaintop with his righteous dream...and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love...then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American dream. Because in the end, more than anything else, that is the story of this country - the story of unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle."
I was struck by the fact that at that very moment, all over the country, millions of people were sitting exactly where I was, watching the same coverage, thinking some of the same things. For that night, no matter who we voted for, or what we believed, we were united in our quest to elect a leader. To choose the person we thought best able to guide us into the future. We weren't all pulling a lever for the same person, but we were all grasping the handle of democracy. And that, I think, was what Michelle Obama was getting at in her speech, and that, for me, what what election night was about.

It was less about two men battling it out for the right to lead then it was about a country. A country trying to shake off the cobwebs of the past five years, and move forward. A country united in a wish for greatness, and great hope for the future.

"Unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle."

This is what we are about, as the First Lady told us so eloquently just a few months ago.

This is our story. And now that we have elected our leader, it is time to continue to write it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Grey Day

They say its a Nor'easter. 

To me, it's just rain and snow.

A grey day, that I really, really wish were sunny instead.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Blind Date

Rascal Flatts was rocking in the background as I stared at my reflection in the mirror and wondered what, exactly, I was thinking when I agreed to go on this blind date.

I hated blind dates. My middle sister had gotten married almost a year before, and ever since then, countless friends of my mom had tried to set me up with a revolving door of single Jewish boys. They felt sorry for me because my younger sister was married, and I was still single. The horror.

Forget about the fact that I was a 24 year old, second year law student living in Manhattan with my best friends. And that I had positively zero interest in getting married just then. I was a single Jewish girl living in New York City, and my younger sister was already married. It just disturbed the natural order.

I generally tried to avoid these painful outings, if at all possible. I had any number of excuses. I was overwhelmed with school work - I was a second year law student after all. I was tired. I already had plans. Maybe some other time (maybe never). And when none of these excuses worked, I lied, often and without a qualm. I was already dating someone. I just got out of a complicated relationship. And once, memorably, I don't want to get married. Ever.

But this was a blind date I couldn't avoid.

I had been hearing about this boy for the better part of a year. He was the older brother of my youngest sister's best friend. The girls were seventeen, and they and their friends decided it would be just so awesome if L's sister married A's brother. It was my sister, and I couldn't really say no.

Which was why, on a late April night, with my federal income tax final exam a mere week away, I was putting on makeup, when I really wanted to be in sweatpants memorizing facts about cost basis and depreciation. I had a real shot at Dean's List: High Honors that semester, and I wanted it more than anything.

I wanted it more than I wanted to be choosing between brown and light purple eye shadow. I wanted it more than I wanted to be deciding whether to wear light or dark jeans, and whether I needed a coat for the unpredictable April weather.

We were meeting for dessert, but were we sitting outside or inside? Would there be a walk afterwards? Should I wear comfortable shoes, or the far cuter heels I could barely walk ten feet in?

These were not the kinds of questions I wanted to be dealing with in late April.

For three years of my life late April was for dirty clothes, unwashed hair, and dark-circled eyes. For pens, highlighters and textbooks. For ungodly amounts of caffeine, and junk food when I remembered to eat at all. For cramming thousands of arcane facts and figures into my head and regurgitating the information on command in service of the law school gods.

No, late April was not for blind dates.

Yet here I was, dressed for the first time in a week, and fighting a losing battle with concealer on the aforementioned dark circles.

Screw it, I thought. I'm tired. He'll just have to deal with the circles.

Grabbing my coat and a bag I hoped contained all the necessities, I rushed downstairs to catch the bus that should have been pulling up to the curb outside my building in exactly a minute.

The bus was late. As I stood under a darkening sky, two minutes from being late myself, I mentally cursed my sister, and swore that this would be the last blind date I ever went on for the rest of my life.

It was.

That blind date?

Is now my husband.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Making the Streets Mine

Since moving from Manhattan to our new house this past Friday, I have tried to keep some semblance of normal in my life, which is awfully hard to do when I am living in a house without a kitchen (it is still under construction), don't exactly know my way around (gas shortage due to Hurricane Sandy means we are trying not to drive if at all possible), and don't really know anyone in my new neighborhood.

My mind has been spinning, and I don't seem to be able to hold on to a single thought for more than a few minutes before I am on to something else. The sheer number of details involved in moving in to a new home is astonishing, and I am having a hard time keeping up.

I know that this will get easier. I know that this was a good move for us. I know that, with time, we will settle in. I know that we will make memories here, and that we will make these walls our own. I know that once our kitchen is done and all our boxes are unpacked, our new house will start to feel more like home.

But in the interim, the stomach-churning anxiety is almost too much to bear.

So, I have been trying to do things that feel good to me. Things that feel familiar.

Yesterday morning I woke up early for a Sunday, unable to fall back to sleep. And as much as I wanted to pull the covers over my head and stay there all day long, I knew that wouldn't be a smart move. So I did what I normally do on Sundays. I laced up my running shoes, and headed out the door.

Before we moved, I had planned some running routes around my new neighborhood, and chose a three mile loop. I didn't spent a whole lot of time in our new town before moving, so I relied on my GPS to get me through the run. And as much as I didn't want to go, as soon as a started running, I felt a little better. The streets may have been unfamiliar, and I may have taken a few wrong turns, but when I run, I feel like me. And when I run the streets, I make them mine.

And running, I discovered, is a far better way to explore than driving in a car. I stopped where I wanted to stop, made note of shops and markets and places that might come in handy later, and ended my run at the Dunkin' Donuts down the block from my house.

As I left with coffee in hand, I saw that further up the street were more stores, and walked up, curious about what they were. I found a drug store, a fruit market, and that nail place in the picture up there with the best name I have ever seen.

I made my way home feeling a little lighter, a little happier, and a whole lot less scared of this new place we call home. The streets I ran were not Central Park, and the stores were different from my usual Upper West Side haunts, but I can see them all becoming familiar with time.

This past week has been a roller-coaster of emotions. But running my new streets yesterday, I caught a glimpse of what the future holds for us in our new home, our new life.

And it is bright, indeed.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Things rarely go according to plan.

I have re-learned this lesson in spades over the past twenty-four hours.

Yesterday morning, our movers arrived to pack us up and move us to our new home.  I sat in my apartment for hours, watching them pack my life into boxes, and instead of being sad, as the stack of boxes grew, I felt an overwhelming panic start to rise. How would we ever find anything in this mess of packing materials without emptying every single box? How would we shower tonight, or find sheets to put on our bed? How would we change our underwear, or find clothes to wear to the lunch we were invited to this afternoon?

Instantly, I started dodging the movers to fill a suitcase with everything I thought we would need for the next twelve hours without having to unpack all of the boxes.

It turned out to be the best decision I have ever made in my life.

I met my husband downstairs, and we drove away from our apartment for the last time, expecting that the movers would be right behind us.

When we arrived at our house, we called the movers to check in, and they said that they had just finished loading up the truck, and were about to pull away.  Excellent.

Some of our workmen were still at the house, finishing up some last minute stuff, so we paced around, and chatted with them until the movers arrived. There was nothing much that we could do anyway, until they got there.

We still don't have a kitchen - we wanted to make sure the second floor was livable before we moved in - but the rest of the construction was pretty much done, so we checked out all the rooms, and decided where we would put everything when it came out of the moving truck, and admired, a little nervously, our new home.

And then, as we checked out the empty room that would soon be out kitchen, there was a quiet bang outside, and suddenly were in darkness. Power outage. We had not been in our house for more than ten minutes. Our house, that miraculously survived Hurricane Sandy without ever losing power. Our house, that was now growing darker by the second with the setting sun.

I thought that there was no way that the movers would be able to take our stuff upstairs, and we would end up with absolutely everything in the living room.  I thought how much I would hate that. I thought how heavy the bed would be when we had to carry it up the steps ourselves. After seven years of apartments, this was a pretty daunting thought.

Luckily, the power went on a few minutes later. Our neighbors told us it was just a fluke. Super.

We called our movers again, wondering where they were, since they should have already arrived. And then the trouble began.

They told us that they had accidentally left the lights on while they were moving us, and the truck battery was dead. They sent one of their guys across the park to home depot to get jumper cables, which they strangely enough did not have in their truck. He would be back soon, and they would be on their way.

Being the optimistic sort, I believed them. Joke's on me I guess.

Hours later the movers still had not shown up. My husband got in touch with them, and they said that they tried a bunch of ways to jump the truck, but nothing had worked. The battery was well and truly dead. Because the hurricane had pushed so many moves to Friday, there was no truck readily available to make the switch. They had a truck finishing up another move in a couple of hours, but that would mean they wouldn't get to our house until around three in the morning. No thank you. We said we would wait until morning.

I guess we could have slept on our new couch that was delivered on Thursday, but for our first night in our new house, we really wanted to sleep in our bedroom. 

So, in a nearly empty house, with the sheets and pajamas I packed, blankets borrowed from friends around the corner, and all the pillows from the new couch, we set up camp on the floor for the night.

And you know what? We slept really, really well.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Moving Day

I have been talking about moving to our new house for so long I almost feel like it already happened. All evidence to the contrary though, as there are currently three guys in my apartment packing my entire life into boxes.

And me? Well, I feel kind of useless right now. I took the day off from work for the move, but there is nothing much for me to do right now, so I am just sitting on the couch and watching. A mere spectator to the major changes taking place in my own life. 

I think it's possible I am in a little bit of denial. In denial that a part of my life is over, that I will never again come home to this apartment, the only place we have lived since we got married. In denial that my commute to work on Monday will be 40 minutes longer than it was yesterday. In denial that tonight I will be sleeping in my bed, but in a brand new bedrooom.

I am excited about this move, and my new house. But I have never, ever been very good with change.

But changes they are a-coming.

So I'm suiting up.

Next time you hear from me I'll be a full blown suburbanite. 

Wish me luck...

Thursday, November 1, 2012


As New York continues to chug back to life after the storm, we are all making it through in our own ways.

My office has been up and running since yesterday, although with very few people around. Yesterday's commute was a little hectic, since the only public transportation in the city was above ground buses. To say they were crowded would be like saying Sandy was "just a little storm." A gross exaggeration. After being on a bus that traveled thirteen blocks in approximately 40 minutes, I decided to walk the rest of the way.

It was strange being out and about on the Upper West Side. My neighborhood came through the storm relatively unscathed, and the sun was even shining as I walked the ten blocks to work. Looking around, except for the unusually large crush of people crowding the sidewalks, there was nothing really amiss. But just twenty blocks to my south, an entire swath of the city remained without power and water. Basements were still flooded, and in some cases, people still couldn't get home.

Strolling around my office, I started to understand the real effects of the storm. It is a pretty big firm, so employees hail from all over the tri-state area, and everyone has a story. Yesterday morning the managing partner of the office sent around an e-mail thanking everyone who managed to make it in, despite overwhelming transit issues, and telling us that the firm would be offering free lunch in the cafeteria. Most days, the lawyers grab lunch and eat at their desks. But not yesterday. Yesterday lawyers and other firm staff crowded the tables, happy to be there. To be ok. To be together. And we told our stories, and we listened to each other, and for one hour, colleagues were family.

With every passing hour, I hear more news of recovery, and even though there is still a lot to be done, I am proud of this city. Of my city.

Well, my city for a few more hours.

Because tomorrow. Tomorrow morning the movers are coming, and they will pack up our apartment and move us north. They will put our life into boxes, and they will move it to our new home, and our new life

And it has not escaped me that I am starting this brand new life on the tail of devastating tragedy faced by so many over these past few days. And even though my family and I have been so incredibly lucky, I know so many who have not been.

And it is them I am thinking about as I pass my last hours in my apartment, in New York City. I think of them, and I think about myself. And the past seven years I have spent here. The good and the bad. The ups and the downs.

It has been a good life, this life. And now it's time to move on. Even though I will still be working here, I won't be living here anymore. It will be radically, wildly different. And I am ready.

So tomorrow morning, I will go for one last early morning run, and say my goodbyes to the city that has loved me and nurtured me and helped me find my way. And then I will come home, and take my husband's hand, and together we will move on.

To our new city. Our new home.