A Dream of Gymnastics turns to Dancing

After watching the 1976 Summer Olympics, I decided I wanted to be a gymnast. The only problem was there was nowhere to take lessons in our small town in upstate New York. I was nine years old and wanted to be just like Nadia Comaneci, the top gymnast from Romania who won most of the gold medals that year. In my imagination, I pictured myself on stage being handed a bouquet of flowers as someone placed the gold medal around my neck. I calculated the year would be 1984 when this happened.

I begged my mother to find somewhere I could take lessons and after asking around she found a place that taught acrobatics which wasn’t the same thing but at least it was something. My instructor was the only dance teacher in our small town. She taught tap, jazz, ballet, modern dance as well as acrobatics and was happy to add me to a group of girls my age to teach us moves and a routine we would display for our parents and friends at an end of the year recital.

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What does the web know about you?

I’m at a research conference in Chicago for the early part of this week. Because there were no rooms at the hotel Sunday night, my boss and I woke at the crack of dawn yesterday (honestly, dawn hadn’t even cracked yet) to board our early morning flight. You might think I’m weird but I love to fly. Not the aspects of boarding or deplaning, but the airtime where I can focus all my energy on a book without worrying I should be doing something else. I was especially excited because I’d been on hold for Celeste Ng’s, Little Fires Everywhere, at the library and I got an email on Sunday that it was ready for pick up.

Because our flight was so early, we arrived at the hotel at about 8 a.m. but luck was in our favor and they had a couple of rooms ready for us. We went our separate ways and agreed to meet for breakfast in an hour.

When I first step into my hotel room, I get a feeling that I’m getting away with something. A sense of elation that all the space in these four walls is mine for the next couple of days. I can hang up my clothes (using all the hangers), lay out my toiletries and makeup without worrying I’m not leaving enough room for my husband’s stuff. I’m a person who craves personal space and time to myself and a couple nights in a hotel is just the fix I need.

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No Guests for Dinner

 

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I’m currently on an airplane on my way to Chicago without internet access and decided to use auto fill on my phone to create a prompt for today’s blog post. So without further ado, and from 35,000 feet, here is the sentence I’m starting with:

I hope that you can bring your family to the house and have dinner.

When I was in my twenties, I often imagined my future life where I would meet the man of my dreams, get married, have kids and live in a neighborhood like the one I grew up in. The neighbors would be like family and dinner parties would be a weekly thing. Sometime around my early thirties, the only part of my dream that was left was to meet a halfway decent guy and get married. I also started to think it would be OK to remain single so I got myself a cat which seemed to be a panacea to all the single ladies.

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Eggs over pasta

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Several years ago (nearly 14 to be exact), my husband and I made our first trip to Italy together. A few months earlier, we had been in Paris on our honeymoon, and when we ran into a priest at the Louve who had been in school with my younger sister, we decided to take him up on his offer to show us around the Vatican where he was finishing up his studies.

It was a marvelous trip. We stayed in an apartment near the Vatican and worked our way around the city by foot, bus and train. The food was pretty spectacular but I was unaccustomed to the various courses and until we dined out with Father Brian, we stuck to our American style of eating of just one course per meal.

Father Brian was surprised and explained that the norm was to order several courses. The restaurant we chose that night was in Campo de Fiori, a wonderful square in the heart of Rome, that was called La Carbonara. The first course that night was pasta and I decided to go with carbonara, the dish the restaurant was named for. It was love at first bite!

When I returned home, I made it my mission to track down a recipe that would approximate the dish and it’s still a staple in our household all these years later. It is quick, easy and calls for just a few ingredients: pasta, eggs, grated parmesan, diced pancetta, chicken broth and red pepper flakes. There are never any leftovers.

I messed up

Here’s how my Friday went. Woke up at 6:30 and started cleaning the house so when I sit down to write, I won’t be distracted and could just get at it after bringing Liam to school.

At 8:00 I was back home and decided to start the laundry since everyone was out of the house. I clean off the counters and put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and start that. It’s probably not a good idea to run the dishwasher and clothes washer together but such is life.

At 8:30 I’m content I’ll be able to write without distractions and brew myself a cup of coffee because, well, writing and coffee. The Keurig is acting up. Again. It’s not completing the brew cycle so I troublshoot and eventually by nine I have a cup of coffee.

The recycling is overflowing in the bin next to my desk. Clothes I’d placed on a drying rack earlier in the week were taunting me from nearby. Hey, we’ve been dry for days! I gather them and throw them on my bed to iron later.

Coats and wraps are accumulating on chairs. I’ll just hang them up quickly. I should throw my yoga matt and blocks into the trunk of my car. They’ve been sitting in the corner of my writing room for a couple months when I removed them to have my car detailed.

I better go through the stack of magazines and catalogues and accumulated junk mail. How does it pile up so quickly? Finally, I’m sitting at my desk. A blank canvas, a daily prompt. Neighbor. I’ve got the start of something but it’s not coming. I fight the urge to work on a puzzle. Maybe a 15 minute break.

And on and on that’s how the day went and I didn’t make it past day 2 of the monthly challenge. So I’ll dust myself off and try again tomorrow.

Disrupted sleep leads to a hard topic

I’m drifting off to sleep when I feel something jostling my arm. A soft voice whispering but I can’t make it out. I want to sleep. The jerky nudging continues until I can’t ignore it anymore and my eyes adjust to see the hazy outline of Liam bending over me, loud whispering something I still can’t hear. The words are lost but I can hear the urgency in his voice, a mother’s fine-tuned sense of when something is wrong with your kid.

This is the third time over the past week we’ve been through this. I urge him to tell me louder what’s the matter since I’ve taken my hearing aids off for the night and sound is like an underwater cacophony to me without them. He tells me in a louder voice, right next to my ear, he can’t fall asleep. He’s ten and five feet tall, nearly my height, practically adult sized but he wants to get in bed with us. I try to dissuade him telling him he’ll sleep better in his own bed, knowing I’ll sleep better if he’s in his own bed.

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Halloween regret

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I wore my pajamas to work yesterday. Easiest costume ever. The coziness of flannel, the soft fur lining of slippers pressed against my sockless feet, the pure comfort of it. Who doesn’t dream of wearing pajamas to work? I sprayed my hair into a rat’s nest (it really didn’t need much help), threw a roller in the back of my hair and was at work in record time. And then I realized I had a meeting with several managers and a couple VP’s and I instantly regretted my decision.

I was one of the first to arrive at the meeting first thing that morning and one of the VP’s looked at me through squinted, questioning eyes and I said, yes, I’m wearing my pajamas. In a teasing, scolding tone, she said she’d be sending her managers home if they came to work dressed like that. My boss came in shortly after and sat nearby, glanced my way and then inched closer to whisper I’d left a roller in my hair. I said, I know, I’m wearing my pajamas and got another quizzical look. It’s Halloween, I explained. Ah, enlightenment dawned and there were smiles and jokes about how I’d pulled one over on them.

I should probably explain pajamas are the opposite of my working MO. I tend to take great care with my appearance when I’m leaving the house, even to run to the grocery store. On days when I work from home, I shower, dress, put on make-up and jewelry as though I’m going into the office. It just makes me feel better and I think I do better work when I’m “suited up”. So this Halloween “costume”, while at first so enticing, had me wanting to run home by noon to shower, fix my hair and put on real clothes.

The end of the day couldn’t come fast enough. I would have enough time to shower and change before picking my son up from school so we could go to his friend’s neighborhood for trick or treating.  When I got to school, he was dressed in his costume with his friends and they talked me into letting him go with them so I told the mom I’d meet them at the appointed house at 6:00 where there was a pre-trick or treating party. A pre-trick or treating party?!

I arrived well before everyone else and sat in my car because a) I didn’t have a kid and b) I didn’t know the hosts of the party. Minutes passed and I worried I had the wrong house and texted to make sure I was in the right spot. They assured me they were on their way and soon pulled in and the kids jumped out of the car ready to go. I had tried to talk Liam out of the costume he chose. I knew he’d be picked on but he wouldn’t be deterred.

I think it turned out to be a disappointing night for him. As I suspected, he was picked on for the costume and said someone had actually hit him. He quickly discarded the mask and the boys ran through the neighborhood like their life depended on it, picking up treats along the way. As the night wound down and he had one more confrontation with a girl who wanted to spray his $100 jacket with shaving cream before I intervened, he said he’d learned his lesson about his costume choice which will remain a mystery here.

We had a quiet ride home as we both mulled over our poor choice of costumes this Halloween.