Archive of ‘LWOAM’ category

Vaccine Day!

It has been quite a year, hasn’t it? I know because the Facebook memories that pop up for me lately are quite telling. In January, my entire family went to dinner to celebrate Jenna’s birthday. The following month, we did it all over again for mine. At the end of February, Scott and I had box seats at the Flyers game. We sat at center ice and marveled at how we could see all the action right in front of us as the wait staff served us beer and sandwiches. Basically, we enjoyed how the other half lives.

I’m pretty sure that was the night I got COVID. I still remember sitting elbow to elbow with fellow hockey fans. We screamed and shouted into the crowd at each goal and penalty. Exchanging high fives with strangers was the norm. We passed everyone’s food down the aisle and then passed cash back to the waitress. It was definitely not a social-distanced event (not that it would have been at that point).

At the beginning of March, I was sicker than I had been in my entire life. While I was never officially diagnosed with COVID-19 (because testing was not easily accessible early on), I had a nasty cough and congestion, awful headaches, no sense of taste or smell, and total exhaustion. I could barely speak on the phone with my family and friends because my voice was shot. I just slept and coughed and tried to do all the things that needed to get done. It took me three weeks to fully recover, and because I didn’t have shortness of breath or a high fever (thank goodness), this probably would be considered a mild case of the virus.

As the outside world shut down and the kids switched to online learning, and no one knew what to believe; I wrote this in one of my blog posts:

“It feels like a typical Saturday, but it is anything but typical. Right now, all I want to do is go out to dinner with friends. I don’t want to cook. I don’t want to clean up. I don’t want to order takeout. I want to sit in a restaurant, order a drink and catch up with people.”

Not much has changed. And little did I know that it would be a year before any of us would start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The vaccine is now available, and because I’m nowhere near my goal weight right now, I’m eligible. And after weeks of trying to get an appointment, I found out yesterday that it was my turn to receive the first dose.

I’ve never seen so many people happy to get a shot in the arm. It was easy to see the big smiles behind the face masks. People took selfies with the medical staff and in the observation room. There was finally some joy to be had by all.

Soon, we will all be able to hug our friends and family, eat out instead of takeout, go on vacation, and celebrate milestones in person. For the first time, my world felt a lot brighter.

 

A March Book Report

There is something about the cold weather, a hot beverage, a fleece blanket, and a comfy couch that puts me on a bit of a reading kick. Lately, I am devouring books like there is no tomorrow and have found some good ones to share with you.

The Midnight Library

by Matt Haig

I recommend this title to anyone who asks me what they should read next. The Midnight Library is about a woman who attempts suicide and winds up in a sort of purgatory where she confronts her regrets and tries out different lives. The purgatory is in the form of a library, and each book is a life she could have lived. In a Quantum Leap fashion (for those who remember the 80’s tv show), she jumps into these books to experience alternate lives and find out what would have happened if she chose differently. Should she have married her high school boyfriend? What if she stuck with swimming and became an Olympic champion? Would she have made it as a rock star?

I have often wondered what my life would look like if I became a full-time writer out of college. At the time, there weren’t a lot of options careerwise. Content marketing wasn’t a thing back then. Blogs were non-existent. My choices were newspaper reporter or best-selling author. But that isn’t the real reason I didn’t go that route. I thought if I couldn’t be the best at it right out of the gate, why bother doing it. I still struggle with this notion, but I realize it doesn’t matter as I grow older. Anything that brings me joy is worth pursuing.

Anyway, The Midnight Library was a terrific read. I listened to it on Audible, which I found to be quite enjoyable.


Young Jane Young

by Gabrielle Zevin

What a fun and interesting read! This is a novel about Aviva Grossman, a congressional intern, who is caught up in a sex scandal with her boss – the congressman. Sound familiar? The story focuses on how this relationship affected the lives of five women – the intern, her mother, her daughter, the congressman’s wife, and Jane – the person Aviva had to reinvent herself as to carve out a life of her own. While most people focus on the public figure involved in the scandal, this book shines a light on the lesser-known, easier to blame “other woman” in the story.

I was having dinner with an author and my boss at a riverfront restaurant in San Diego when I saw other patrons gather around a small television set hung up high over the bar. On the screen was then-President Bill Clinton at a press conference declaring that he “did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky…” The scandal went from a local news story in D.C. to the national spotlight at a pace not normally seen at the time. From that point on, it was all the rage on every news channel – like the coronavirus is today. There was the “stand by your man” interview with Bill and Hillary, and then the Monica Lewinsky interview with Barbara Walters. We saw how things turned out for the Clintons and watched this young intern become a punchline. Years later, she has reclaimed herself in business as an activist, a public speaker (see her TED talk), and a fixture on Twitter (btw, her posts are brilliant).

I read Young Jane Young in two days. It’s a fast read and an interesting take on how these things take on a life of their own in the age of the Internet.


Kitchens of the Great Midwest

by J. Ryan Stradal

How does one become a celebrity chef? This novel took me into the life of Eva Thorvald, a chef known for her dining experiences that take place in spectacular locations with food and wine that is out of this world. It takes a lot of money to secure a coveted spot on her three-year waiting list. But her guests know that the opportunity is well worth their efforts. Eva’s life leading up to her success is a tale of resilience in the face of heartbreaking moments. I don’t want to give you any spoilers, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book by an author who is new to me.

Cooking well is something I struggle with on a fairly regular basis. I am constantly thrown by the age-old question of “what’s for dinner?” I have a shortlist of dishes I make that my family enjoys, but I wish I were more adventurous when it comes to my culinary abilities. Being a good cook includes a recipe of self-confidence, creativity, and the knowledge of what foods go together well. I have two out of three, but that last ingredient trips me up every time.

I listened to this book on Audible. The chapters are few but about an hour long. The story is about a kind of life and way of thinking that has always been a bit foreign to me. Whether you consider yourself the celebrity chef of your family or if only known for your awesome spinach dip, but enjoy a good meal – like me – this is a good book to check out.

If you have read up to this point (thank you), please leave a comment and let me know if you like this idea for a blog post, and I’ll try to do more of them. Reading is clearly a passion of mine, and I’m happy to pass along titles I’ve enjoyed. And if you have read any of these titles, I’d love to discuss them with you.

Oysters and Empty Nesters

Mom, what are you gonna do when Jenna and I are both away at college?

This was the question that Andrew, our youngest child, posed to me as he stood in our kitchen wearing his red plaid pajama pants, making himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I remember when I dropped him off for his first day of preschool. After leaving him for the first time, I went downstairs to the “Woohoo/Boo-hoo” brunch in the multipurpose room. This was the place for those who wanted to celebrate or cry about this momentous occasion. Some parents were ecstatic about their newly-found freedom and came for the mimosas before heading to the gym. Others sat around tables eating bagels and emptying boxes of Kleenex.

What am I going to do when they are both at college? Will I cry? Will I make myself a mimosa? Is there a third option? Because I’m somewhere in-between. Here is why:

Woohoo!

Proud does not even begin to describe how I feel about both of my kids. I’ve watched them grow up and evolve into young adults. We instilled our morals and values into them and taught them right from wrong. They are kind and empathetic people. They have a thirst for knowledge and a love of travel and adventure. And they know how to do their own laundry.

What more could a mother ask for? Watching them take all of those skills and applying them in the real world is truly a joy. And, I take pride in knowing that I had something to do with it. So, yes, pour me a cocktail, and let’s celebrate.

And I’m excited to start a new chapter in my life. Will I finally write the book I keep talking about with family and friends? Will I get the chance to explore Europe for the first time in my life? Will I take a much-needed and well-earned girls’ trip or an extended vacation with my husband? The possibilities are endless. The world is my oyster, right?!

Boo-hoo

I’ve never really cared much for oysters. I’ve never tried one, in all honesty, but they don’t look all that appealing to me. They seem slimy and messy and don’t smell so great. This is exactly how I’m feeling about being an empty nester. It doesn’t seem like the delicacy everyone makes them out to be. And as a Jew, aren’t I supposed to avoid all shellfish? Pass me a tissue.

When we took Jenna to college, I was proud that I held it together as we set up her dorm room. It was during lunch that I started to feel the weight of the occasion. She wasn’t coming home with us. She was heading out on her own, and I would not be there to witness it – as I have all of the other chapters in her life. On the way to the car was when I lost it. The tears came streaming down my face. I didn’t even try to hide them. And now, I have to do this all over again with Andrew – except now – there is no third child to take care of at home.

Just Keep Swimming

Recently, I had a conversation with one of my neighbors about how much she liked being an empty nester. She gave me some pearls of wisdom. (Yes, I am trying really hard to stick with this metaphor…)

She said that it is so nice not to plan anything around when the kids are in school. She and her husband don’t have to worry about what to do with the kids when they want to go somewhere. Of course, I have a dog, but I got her point. And, she is right, this is a nice benefit. And we have done it before. When we sent both kids to overnight camp for a month, we went to Punta Cana. So, there you go.

In the meantime, Andrew still has his senior year ahead of him. There are lots of special occasions to look forward to in the near future. And for right now, while he is still home, I’m as happy as a clam.

Some Thoughts On Turning 50

So, I turned 50 yesterday, and so far, so good. I’ve been asked a few questions about this milestone birthday, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my answers.

Q: Do you feel any different?

A: Not really. I’ve felt for a while now that I am the best version of myself. It took me a long time to get here. I’ve been through a lot of different phases and learned a lot of lessons. But I can honestly say I’m comfortable in my own skin.

Q: Are you freaking out?

A: Starting a new decade has never bothered me. I see it as a clean slate laid out for me to make my mark. I admit that I do freak out in the years leading up to the next decade. If you asked me this question when I was turning 47 or 48, I probably had a different answer.

Q: Did you get your AARP membership invitation?

A: Yes. It came in the mail with a postcard for the local private school, which is weird because I have a daughter in college and a son in high school. Why am I still on their mailing list? Also, can the age for AARP be raised to 60? Who is retiring at 50 these days? If you are, Mazel tov!

Q: Do you know who that celebrity is?

A: Were they in a John Hughes movie or performed at LiveAid? No? Then, probably not.

Q: How will you enjoy your golden years?

A: If I’m not mistaken, I think the term “golden years” refers to post-retirement. I’m not retiring any time soon unless I win the lottery.

Q: Did you schedule your (fill in the appropriate medical test)? 

A: I saw a commercial yesterday for the shingles vaccine and realized that now I’m old enough to get it. I added it to my list. The downside of this age is that I now qualify – and am obligated to – receive several preventative shots, tests, and exams. I’m on it – can I enjoy the moment first?

Q: Do you feel old? (part 1)

A: Absolutely not! I can still do everything I could do before. Fifty comes with another f-word I like – “freedom.” With my kids becoming more independent, I will not spend my time in carpool lines and birthday parties. While I miss some parts of that parenting stage, this is such a fun time in their lives. We have amazing conversations. And, I love watching my kids grow up and figure out how to be adults. Of course, I’m still right here when they need me. By the way, what F-word did you think I was going to say?

Q: Do you feel old? (part 2)

A: Still no. I’m proud to say that I stay on top of new technology, social media, and apps. At least I thought I was up to date until I had to use Apple Pay at the grocery store when the credit card machine was down. Note to self: always have a little cash on hand, so I never have to do that again. I was a little embarrassed, but I still didn’t feel old – just a bit flustered.

I am told that learning new things will keep me forever young. And apparently, jigsaw puzzles and reading are excellent for brain health, so I’m already ahead of the game. Just give me a minute while I find my reading glasses.

Q: Do you worry that you are running out of time?

A: Yes, I do. Turning 50 definitely puts things in perspective. I am taking stock of what I’ve already accomplished – which is a lot – and what else I want to do with my life. It’s a long list of places to go (Italy), people to see (friends that live far away who I haven’t seen in forever), and things to do (write a book). Now, I need to figure out how I’m going to do it all.

Q: Is that your natural hair color?

A: None of your business. 🙂

Q: What are you going to do now? 

A: Stay tuned.

How did you feel about your milestone birthday?

1 2 3 41

%d bloggers like this: