Wednesday, July 25, 2012
One of two posts:
So, I’m walking on the NYC streets, feeling good about getting into the city early enough to be part of the studio audience, standing outside the Good Morning America Show, which starts at 7am. Even though we arrived early by 6:30, there are already several rows of people, mostly tourists holding their place in the front rows, in the eye of the camera. Soon the crowd is going wild, but I have no idea why, so I ask a mom and daughter standing next to me what all the hoopla is about; she points to Sam Champion at the window as he’s going over the weather. Naturally, my girlfriend and I join in the clamor.
After Champion leaves, we all just wait idly as the Robin gets her make-up freshened and the show gets ready to air. Robin looks absolutely stunning in a tangerine, fitted silk dress. I have no idea how far back into the audience the camera will get, but I have inkling that my spot in the back row is equivalent to being in Siberia. Soon one of the cast members comes out and the crowd goes wild. I don’t know who this TV personality is, nor do the spectators around me. But the women in the front row know who he is and go crazy. He hugs a few of them for photo shoots and even kisses a woman who is waving her hand like a fan to calm her frenzy. Honestly, I found him annoying because he was playing so much to the crowds and cameaa snapping. By many measures, he's an attractive guy, just not my type--with perfect hair and pasted smile.
I love the morning shows and realized that I haven’t promoted my book for moms in this venue. Since I’m not a famous TV personality, it’s been one of the most challenging tasks to get MommyBest in the forefront of big shows, especially when I have undertaken other professional endeavors to make a living. Sometimes, it’s very discouraging when mediocre stories written by stars become best sellers when beautifully, well written prose gets lost on the shelves because the authors are “unknown.” Only other writers will understand and feel this disappointment.
The camera light turns on again, and the crowd goes wild; my friend and I hold my book, MommyBest: 13 Inspirational Lessons…up in the air for the camera to share to millions of views around the world—if the camera ever makes it to us. Suddenly a policewoman nudges me and asks, “What is it that you’re holding in the air?” I got a little worried that I may be doing something wrong, as I did go to Catholic school a few years and, like a little girl, still worry anytime someone in “authority” questions me. So, I shared my book with her and the main reason my friend and I came: to share my book with Robin and America. Since I don’t have a platform as Bethany or any of the supposed "Real Housewives" do, I wanted to reach out to a few of the talk shows to share my book. I even had a note to Robin. The policewoman,” Katie,” smiles at me, and like an angel, asked the security guard to give Robin my book & note. He, along with the producer who came out, promised me they would give it to her. I hope they did:)
I had an awesome conversation with Katie. I learned she was originally from Brooklyn, now working in Harlem and that she didn’t have any kids of her own, but had a niece. How great of her to do that for me, especially since I found out that the camera wasn’t recording the back row. Katie was helping many of the viewers in finding where to stand, along with fielding many questions from lost tourists. She is one of New York's finest.
Eventually, Robin did come outside. But she too only got to chat with the front row, so my friend and I decided we didn’t want to stand for another hour and would leave the show early to later come back for the backstage tour I signed us up for. Before leaving I asked one of the staff what time the tour began and he said there were no tours that day due to additional tapings for other shows. He invited us to come to Good Afternoon America. But my friend and I were heading to some other sights; first among them was the Museum for Motherhood. I wanted to share my book with them as well.
Once we arrived at the museum on the East Side, I realize it’s closed on Mondays. Knowing I probably should have checked ahead of time, I sighed as I left my business card under the door. Disappointed but not defeated my friend and I decided to get breakfast; as I crossed the street, within an instant my life changed before my eyes. Suddenly, I was on the ground, barely able to life my head or body, both in pain from being slammed to the ground. Cars were coming towards me, so my survival instincts kicked in, and I mustered all my strength and painfully got up from a deep hole in the ground, to limp a few steps to the nearby phone poll. I hugged the pole as the entire world began to spin and go dark. I felt as if I was going to vomit. For the first time, I felt like those characters in movies before they black out into oblivion.
“Call 911,” I whimpered to my friend. “I need an ambulance.” For an instant, I felt like I might die as the world was spinning out of control. I was clinging to a phone pole as tight as pantyhose adhere to a woman's leg. And I thought about my family and tears streamed down my face. Then, as ridiculous as this sounds, I remembered what a mess my bedroom was and that my entire house was in disarray—and that I didn’t want anyone to go through my things when they’re so disorganized. My mind raced as I thought about how disappointed my younger son would be because I was supposed to take him and his friend to Lake Compounce the next day, and now wouldn’t be able to honor my promise.
The ambulance came and my mind was in a fog. I thought of a great headline. “A mom fell flat on her face in Manhattan today.” I have fallen many times in so many aspects of my life, but this time I literally fell to my feet. I so wanted to start the day over again. It was only a little after 9am, still early morning, but the day would last an eternity once I arrived at the hospital.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
I went back to my hometown for fireworks on July 4th to share a little bit of what my experience as a teenager was on this celebration of Independence, something my now 14 & 15 year-old boys constantly tell me I don’t give them enough of.
One of our family traditions has become eating dinner out someplace we’ve never eaten before in the tri-state area prior to viewing a fireworks celebration on the Hudson River watching from NY or NJ or, if we stay local, in Westchester at places like the Kensico Dam in Valhalla.
For this year’s holiday, we found a diner in Tarrytown open and tried some Greek dishes before traveling over the TZ Bridge during an awesome light celebration orchestrated by Mother Nature herself. Lightning danced across the sky and burst into some thunderous echoes. I wasn’t sure if the show was still on, but we continued into Pearl River, parking at Pearl River Lanes, a place I am all too familiar with as one of our haunts during my teenage years. The owners didn’t like my friends and I (& our boyfriends) hanging out there smooching most of the night. I honestly think I bowled there only once out of the hundreds of times I loitered.
As I walked amongst swarms of mostly teenagers who filled the streets--chatting away--I was transported back to the times my girlfriends and I were those young, vibrant girls ready to conquer the world and never imagining becoming our parents age or sharing stories of “when I was a kid, I used to…..” Yet, here I was now; alongside my younger self as if no time had passed with the knowledge that decades had gone by. I felt like joining in with the young girls giggling and wondering if any of the boys they liked were going to be at the fireworks. I tried to be inconspicuous as I eavesdropped, but when I turned to look at my girlfriend to add my thoughts, I instead saw my two sons stoically maneuvering alongside my husband through the crowds while engaging in their own teenage banter.
So, I was in one of those solo moments when no one but myself would truly understand the mixed emotions I felt. At first, I wondered why I felt all these intense feelings when I have been back to Pearl River on so many visits with my children throughout their baby through toddler and now into teenage years. And I realized that it was for a few reasons: I have always visited my parent’s home for celebrations, and when we went to any town events such as the St. Patrick’s Day parade, my children were younger so I was focused on making sure they were safe and enjoying themselves. Hence, it was truly a family experience. Additionally, I didn’t move to Pearl River until I was in 6th grade, so my memories are connected to those challenging, middle to high school years, which I associate with so much on a visceral level and with keen recognition.
By the time we reached Central Avenue, there were more people than I’ve ever seen at this event during my childhood, and there were so many teenagers. It truly looked like a picture perfect town to raise children with all the quaint shops and family fanfare. So, I understood why an associate who I befriended while teaching shared her long-held dream of moving to Pearl River to raise her family, which she is currently doing. Yes, she is of Irish descent and was wooed, in part, by the grand St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I must confess that when she shared this dream with me many years ago, I confided that I had spent enough time in Pearl River that, several years after college, I yearned to start a new life somewhere else. Still, there is a part of my heart and my soul that will always belong to PR.
As I watched the lights explode into the night sky, my 15-year-old looked over at me as if he sensed some of my ambivalence and asked, “Mom, is it weird for you to be here, the place where you grew-up?” “Yes, it is. So much is familiar, and yet unfamiliar, if that makes sense.” I told my kids how I used to go to what we called the “Center,” a youth recreational facility that we basically partied at or went to after we partied (21 years old of course lol). The times hanging out at Franklin School with friends and boyfriends. My kids laughed and actually shared how they were going to always visit where they grew-up with their kids and I smiled.
As the celebration continued, so many memories flooded my mind, and of course, they were the ones that were filled with explosive emotions of happy times with my best friends who I will always be grateful to Pearl River for meetingJ. Celebrating in Washington for our Senior Trip, our proms and late night escapades are cemented in my mind, along with some of the sad times I experienced leaving my friends in the Bronx. My twin sister and I had a challenging time acclimating to PR with some of the “mean” girls who didn’t accept us at first because we are identical twins. Additionally, a few of the older girls were extremely mean to me when I dated an upperclassmen, so they would actually ask him on dates etc. while I was with him. It was very hurtful, but I knew even at that young age, that this was their issue, not mine. Later on, like anyone or anything that is “different,” we found ourselves and developed lasting friendships with those who cherished us as we cherished them.
I even fell in love for the first time living in PR and there’s a whirlwind of elation and heartache that I, like everyone else in this life, experienced as part of growing-up
Now, as my own children are of this age, I know they will be living all of these wondrous and challenging moments too, and it makes me both joyful and sad. Even though I'm a parent, I still feel like a kid at times, and now I have to let my children grow-up too.
I realize life is like the fireworks display, isn’t it? Where there once were bright, vivid colorful, fiery images mere seconds ago, there are now only remnants of specs of light trickling down, beyond our grasp; like time passing, they slip through our hands. But if we close our eyes, we can still see, feel and celebrate the beauty we experienced and set the painful moments sailing into the sky.