Monday, December 28, 2015

Holly Jolly Christmas

Another Christmas has passed us by, and it was lovely. On Christmas Eve, we went to dinner with friends and then got into our jammies and played poker till close to midnight. Then our friends went home and Hubby and I opened our gifts to each other (while TJK looked on). Can you say Rebecca Minckoff and jackelopes and jewelry? I sure can :)
Besties on Christmas Eve

On Christmas morning, TJK opened her presents and was in heaven with all the Star Wars and American Girl Doll stuff. There was no hoverboard to be found - I think we will wait till they stop catching on fire and exploding before dipping into that pool. We then went to my parents' house with the aunts and uncles and cousins, and it was really nice. I always feel so lucky when I'm with my family. Not only am I super-close with my cousins of all ages (from the 4 year old to the 25 year old to the ones closer to my age), but I'm also lucky enough to consider my aunts and uncles as my friends, too. I spent about half an hour hanging out with one of my aunts on the porch, just gossiping and talking and having a few drinks. Couldn't love it more.

The day after Christmas, we finally made our way into NYC for the day. We usually go in one Sunday before Christmas to do the traditional holiday stuff, but this year was just too crazy. So we went in afterwards, and saw the tree and the store windows (always love Bergdorf's the best) and had dinner at Lasagna, one of our favorite restaurants. Hubby even bought me a belated gift of jewelry on 5th Ave. The best thing we did, though, was to take a quick detour upon arriving in the city to go down by the World Trade Center. I have yet to go up in the new building - it's still too soon for me, and I know I will just bawl and bawl. But across the street is a mall which had a light installation which was so amazing.

Beautiful light installation at Brookfield Place, Battery Park, NYC
You put both hands on the lighted block and it changes color repeatedly. You make a wish and then let go of the block. The color from the block goes up to the lighted blocks on the ceiling and then your color spreads from where you are standing to the back of the space, as if your wish was spreading from your heart out to the world. TJK and I decided we loved this more than the Rock Center tree and the windows. It was just so beautiful and peaceful and wonderful to watch.

My daughter and two goddaughters.
Then, on Sunday, we went down to Manasquan to visit with family again. This time, it was with cousins from Scotland who are here for Christmas and New Year's in NYC. There were probably 20 of us all together in my cousin's beautiful home, and we had such a nice time. The Scotland cousins are so friendly and talkative and interesting. It was cool to hear the stories of my grandparents and great grandparents from back in the day. I learned that my grandmother actually lived in Scotland for about 4 years as a child!

Now, I'm back at work and exhausted as hell. When we have these weekends that are non-stop and sleep-free, I dread them. Then when I'm in it, I love it...because I love to be busy and I love having experiences, whatever they may be. And then the next day, I am tired and have a headache and could fall asleep at my desk, but I don't regret a single moment of it (except maybe the insane stand-still crowd trying to get to the tree in front of Saks. Disastrous.).

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Vague and Poorly Written and Bitter

There are times when I wish this blog was something that I knew that no one I know would ever see. I know no one looks anymore, but too many people I know in real life know me as True Jersey Girl and know this blog existed a million years ago. I can't take a chance that they will come upon it and get their feelings hurt, because that is not my intention here. My intention here is to simply talk about the things on my mind, and right now there are things I wish I could talk about and I can't.

I will just say that my sacrifices never seem to get as much attention as my "selfishness" does. What I have done for people in the past with barely a thanks is disregarded as soon as people feel slighted. People who are overall quite selfish people who rarely think of anyone but themselves seem quick to call me out on one act of thinking of myself and my family before I think of them and theirs.

Having to suck it up and bite my tongue and apologize without going into a defense of my decisions and a defense of all the things I have done - whether it be monetarily, or by physically being there when most weren't, or by standing up when no one else would, or rearranging my life to better suit other's schedules - is really hard for me. 

That's all I am going to say - the words are vague and poorly written and bitter, but they are the best I can do here so I will leave it at that.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Everything

I don't know exactly where this post is going, so Future Me, when you read this, I'm sorry ahead of time for meandering and not really having a point.

Well, actually, I think I do have a point that I can find pretty quickly. The point is that being afraid is kind of just what we do now. It is who we are. It is ingrained in us. We are afraid of terrorism every time we go through the Lincoln Tunnel. We are afraid of being shot up at the movies. We are afraid of random acts of violence at every turn, and no where feels safe anymore.

We went to see the new Star Wars movie yesterday (awesome, and I say that as a decidedly non-geeky person). The truth is though, I couldn't stop worrying. Every time I saw someone get up from their seat, I worried that they were going to get a gun or bomb or who knows what. The guy sitting next to me was alone at the theater, and right as the lights dimmed, he was up and off (I guess to use the men's room?) and I panicked a little. When he came back and vaulted over the seats to get to our row, I couldn't exhale until he was sitting down and nerding out. It didn't used to be like this. There used to be places that could be an escape from worrying and fear.

This morning, I got up to news that a woman had taken her car and repeatedly driven onto the sidewalk outside the Paris casino on the Vegas Strip. She was aiming for people, both hands on the steering wheel, trying to hit as many people as possible. And, to add just another touch of crazy, she had her 3 year old buckled into the backseat. Vegas could not be more of an escape; it could not feel more unreal and over the top escapist. And yet. there was no safety there.

Of course, there was the terrorist action in Paris about a month ago, with a stadium and concert hall as the targets. I've been to Paris twice and am planning to return next year. It is a dream destination, somewhere to get lost in the beauty and elegance of European perfection. And then there was San Bernadino a couple of weeks ago, with another horrific terror attack in a workplace against people who had just thrown the attacker a baby shower a few months earlier. No one feels like work is an escape from reality - in fact, it is reality itself. It is a place where you worry about losing your job and not being able to pay your bills. but it shouldn't be a place where you worry about losing your life. And of course there have been other incidents over the past few years: the church shootings, the school shootings, the mall shootings...the list goes on.

Where do we find logic in any of this? Where do we rest our minds, if we aren't safe anywhere? Where do we escape to, if not the movies or vacation?

As we were trying to decide about vacations for 2016, I thought of Portugal as an ideal choice because I don't think it would be a big terrorism risk. Where do I really want to go this year? Istanbul and Cappadocia. But Turkey is too risky. Morroco has always drawn me in...but no. Too dangerous. African safari? Top of the list, really. But that's being pushed off as well, because perhaps it's not the best time to head to Africa when so much of it is in turmoil. So even as we are planning to escape from it all, it's all still in the front of our minds. When we are saying, "hey, Salt Lake City and Vancouver seem like top destinations right now!" you know something is off.

Is this the reality now? Is this how we live and how we fear? Is that fear something we never escape?

I remember after 9/11, I was thinking of the middle east. I couldn't get out from under the fear of another terrorist attack after watching the smoke billow from downtown NYC from my office window. I thought of the people who live in the middle east, who live every day wondering if their cafe will be bombed, or their bus, or their nightclub. And I thought about my life, pre-9/11, and how I never thought for a second about going to concerts or sporting events or to Shop Rite for cold cuts...and how people in the world lived every day as if it were 9/12.

Then things calmed down some, and we got into the every day politicking of terrorism. And now the fear is back, not necessarily stemming from another 9/11 but from what that every day Joe you see on the bus every day could do to your store or venue or church.

All I know is that I am sick of living in fear and sick of the knowledge that things will most likely never go back to normal.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Woman-on-Woman Crime

One thing that drives me crazier than all the other things (and lots of things drive me crazy) is when women subtly tear down other women. I go upon the assumption that if you are one of these women who does this to other women, your own self esteem must be suffering and this is how you feel better about yourself - by putting other women down so you will feel better about yourself.

I mean listen, we have enough to fight about. I'd like to make an equal amount to the men doing the same job I do. I'd like it to not be a big deal for a woman to be running a company or a country. I'd like people to stop chipping away at my right to my own body.

But then we have this subtle misogyny that gets us in our own way. I hear all these comments about how women who look a certain way shouldn't do certain things. We are judging ourselves and other women based on our looks, just as we hate when men do. She's too skinny to wear jeans like that; she looks like a string bean. She's too fat to wear those shorts; no one wants to see that. She's too busty for that shirt; she looks like a slut. She's too flat to wear that top; she looks like she's a teenage boy. She's too *insert your judgey-ness here* to exist, basically.

Let's talk about some examples of this. You have a woman like Pamela Anderson. You know the type - she looks like what we think men want. Big implants, blonde hair, full lips, overly-done makeup. So what do we say about her? She's fake. Plastic. Wears too much makeup. Would be prettier if she would tone it all down. So basically, she isn't good enough for us despite how hard she's trying to be. She is beautiful but we have to tear her down.

Then you have a woman, I have to be honest. I can't think of a single public woman who doesn't care about her image. So let's use another example: you are an overweight woman, and it's July. It's approaching 100 degrees. So you put on some shorts and go out of your house. You have now committed the cardinal sin: being fat in public. You have done something that offends everyone so deeply that they have to take pictures of you and post them online to shame you. You aren't good enough to show your skin in public, fatty. Just being outside and showing us your skin is offensive to our eyes.

Or you have a super thin woman. You are skinny as a rail, and despite trying to put on some weight, your body just won't allow it. But you have plans tonight and you dress up, do your hair, spend a little extra time on your makeup so you feel pretty. You look in the mirror and feel good about yourself, so you take a selfie and post it on Instagram. The comments start to roll in, and while you thought you looked your best, it wasn't good enough. Eat a burger, lady! And stop making us look at your skinny ass! You're hurting our eyes with your lack of curves! (But don't get too many curves - then you'll be the woman above who we don't want to see either. And really, don't get just the right amount of curves because we will hate on you then, too, just like Pamela Anderson).

And then there's the woman who loves to work out. She has the flattest stomach, those sinewy muscular arms, strong and taut legs from running marathons, and strength to spare. She loves what she sees in the mirror; it's the personification of all she works for. She sees strength and muscle and ability. When she shows the world a picture of herself, maybe she gets accolades from the other women (and men) like her, the ones who work hard on their bodies and see the results. From others, though, she gets a lot of "ewwww" and "manly" and "unfeminine." She isn't good enough for our eyes, either. Soften up, honey, you are too hard around the edges for us. 

The thing that runs through all of this is that every one of these women is a person. A real person with feelings. And hey, men judge us by how we look and we know that and we hate it but we know it so we deal with it. But when it comes from another woman - when that woman, too, is too short or too tall or too thick or too think or too dark or too pale or too whatever - it stings even more. Because as women, we know what it feels like to be judged and yet we do it to women just like us.

We have all been judged by our appearances. I know I have. I know what it's like to feel good about myself and then have another woman stare in judgement, looking me up and down like "who does she think she is to wear that?" which to me always translates to "who does she think she is to be so confident?" And I think that's what it comes down to, right? 

How dare those women be who they are and feel comfortable in their skin, when I don't? I'm not that fat and I don't feel comfortable in a skirt that short, so how dare she? I'm not that skinny and look at her, wearing that dress, acting like she looks good when I'd never be confident enough to wear it?

I guess I just don't understand why we can't support other women instead of tearing each other down. there is no "perfect" - even when you are the "perfect woman" you still get shit for your appearance one way or another.  

I am fairly confident in myself, and I still find myself saying these kinds of things sometimes about other women. Nowadays, they don't make it past my lips; I never say them out loud but they are still in my head. I know that it's more about me than it is about them. I know that to change anything, I have to get those thoughts out of my head and call people on it when they speak like that about another woman. I wish we all, as women, could make that our goal. It would make us all so much stronger.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Almost 4 Months And I Still Miss Him

As time goes on, obviously it gets easier when someone you love is gone. You adjust. You learn to push back the tears. You are able to talk about them without falling to pieces.

It's been almost four months since Gypsy died, and while I'm not a catatonic mess anymore, I'm still on the verge of crying at any given time. When we decorated for Christmas, we went to put up the stockings and there his was. I took it out and looked at it for a bit, and my husband said, "What should we do with it? Can it go?" Meaning, this insane man wanted to throw out my baby dog's stocking. I'd love to share whatever crack he is on to make him think I'd agree to something so crazy. It went back in the box - but not up on the mantle. And my tears were at the surface.

Every day when I come home from work, I open the door as if he's going to be there. I unlock it and then push in carefully, ready to block the mutt from running out of the house. And of course, he isn't there and then I get sad. That doesn't usually bring tears, because it's an every day thing. It's just a sadness that comes over me.

When I cook, I look for him. I made ziti the other night and had some extra grated mozzarella on the plate. I went to put it down on the floor for him to eat, because 100% of the time, when I'm cooking, he's looking for a handout. Obviously, he was not there so I threw the cheese out and got depressed. Pizza crust is another bummer. I eat the pizza and look to feed him the crust..and he's not there.

And sometimes, I long to sit on the couch under a blanket and watch tv, just chilling and relaxing, and have my puppy sit with me and cover him with the blanket too and just have him near me with his head on my lap. And of course that brings the tears, because that's what I miss the most. Just having a bestie who is happy just to be around me, as I was happy just to be around him,

I try to look at the pluses of not having a dog - primarily the freedom to go out until whatever time we want or to go away on vacation without needing a dog sitter, and the not-getting-up-twice-a-night-to-let-him-out thing (as we did for the last 15 years; that dog never learned to sleep through the night no matter what we did). But to me, the hole in my heart is the biggest minus and no amount of sleep or worry-free vacation could outweigh that.

Today's Playlist

Here's what I'm listening to today (there's some new-to-me stuff I'm digging, which is a change from me having the same 40 songs on repeat all day, errry day):

  1. Hello - Adele (sorry, this one has me. My cousin and I have an inside joke going with it, and it just made me love it more.)
  2. Fall to Pieces - Velvet Revolver (RIP Scott Weiland)
  3. The Knock - Hop Along
  4. Waitress - Hop Along
  5. Sprained Ankle - Julien Baker
  6. Too Late To Die Young - Beach Slang
  7. Come Undone - Duran Duran (bringin' it back)
  8. Drown - Bring Me The Horizon (still love this song; I just can't quit it)
  9. Fall in Love - Phantogram
  10. Love, Reign O'er Me - Pearl Jam
  11. Hard to Imagine - Pearl Jam
  12. Paralyzed - Failure Anthem (kinda cheesy generic fake-metal ballad, but I like it)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Bad Work Ethic(s)

I have this co-worker. In the past, I also considered her a good friend and we were quite close. She is a lot of fun - wild, outspoken, hysterically funny. But over the past year or so, I can't get past the person she is at work in order to appreciate the person she is when she's not.

Her desk is right outside my office. I sit in the office that used to house our VP, so it's a big office with big glass walls with an admin's desk just outside of it. I face her all day long, and all day long I watch her do absolutely nothing. She is supposed to be the admin to the VP (who now sits at the other end of the hallway, far from her), but the VP gives her zero work to do. That's partially because she is the laziest person I have ever met and partially because she screws up everything she touches.

So right now, I'm looking out at her. What is she doing? She is staring at her screen and smiling, typing away. Now, we know that she isn't typing anything for work, because she has no work to do. Like, there is literally not one single thing she could actually be typing for work. So we know that she is Skyping with either one of the boys here who she flirts with at her desk for extended periods of time, or with one of the girls who are 15 years younger than her but she still recruits them as friends and talks about mundane bullshit with them at her desk for extended periods of time while everyone else is working. So basically, she follows up her extended bs chatfests at her desk with extended Skype bs sessions.

So why does this affect me? I'll tell you one reason. My department used to do employee activities. We tried to do different things each season and keep things interesting and fun for employees. Then, we were asked to have her do them so she would have something to do. I gave the responsibility to  to her, and she proceeded to delegate everything back to my team but still sent out the email announcements. That meant that we did all the heavy lifting and she got the credit.

Now, we are taking the activities back. We have been doing the same tired, boring things for years despite my asking her to spice things up and add some new ideas. So now we are trying to handle things, and she doesn't like it. She is pushing back and holding on and passive-aggressively trying to ruin things. And even if I have liked her as a person in the past, if not as an employee, how can I continue to have any patience for this kind of behavior?

I have high expectations of my friends - I can't help that. I give a lot and I expect a lot in return...but it's not just that. I also expect my friends to be good, honest people. A little crazy, a little unbalanced, a little trash-talky...yes. But at heart, good people with strong morals and solid ethics. The older I get, the less patience I have for people who aren't good at heart and the quicker I am to let them go.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Thinking About the New Year - a Draft

It's about this time of year that I start thinking about the year that is ending as well as the approaching of a new one. I don't put much salt into the idea that on December 31, everything from the year before ends and come midnight, it's a brand new you. I really think that's a formula for failure. I feel like the changing of the year simply gives me time to reflect on how things are going, what I'm happy with, and what I'd like to improve or change. And what I really need to do is to put a plan into place for the things I want to change, because making a promise without considering how to carry it through is just empty and useless.

2015 was pretty damn good. The past few years have been, really. I have very little to complain about and very few things that I feel like I need to dig myself out of in the new year. My family life is fantastic - hubby and I are doing great, TJK and I are in such a great place, my extended family and I are cruising along just as I would want. For the new year, I feel like I need to concentrate on my parents more. It means a lot to my mom and probably to my dad too. Life gets so busy with work and a kid and all the obligations that come with both, so I don't touch base as often as I should. I think what I can do there is to put a reminder on my calendar once a week to call them, and once every other week to stop over or invite them over. I know that won't always work, because we simply don't always have the time (nor do they - they're busier now that they have retired than they were when they were working!). But it's important to put some more focus on them, and that's what I will do.

I also need to focus a bit more on my best friend. She lives in South Carolina, and it's been really hard to stay in touch (other than online). I need to call her more and be there for her and support her, especially since her dad died. I have cut people out of my life over the past few years for being bad friends; she had always been an amazing friend and my biggest supporter. I need to treat her as such.

There is always the obvious one: the be healthier, to lose a few pounds, to make exercise a more solid part of my every day routine. And I am, in fact, setting that as a goal for 2016. For such a long time, I felt strong and powerful - it wasn't about beauty or thinness or vanity (although it helped with those as well, to be honest) - and I don't have that strength anymore. I miss it, and that's what I want back. So rather than setting weight loss goals, I am going to set workout and healthy eating goals. I've been out of it so long (and am so busy), I need to be realistic so that I can meet the goals and build on them.

  • For January and February, work out twice a week.
  • For March and April, work out three times a week.
  • By May, be ready to work out consistently 3-4 times a week.
  • On January 4, start juicing again for breakfasts.
  • Only order healthy foods to be delivered.
  • For January and February, cook 2 healthy meals per week,
  • By February, be ready to cook healthy meals at least 3 times per week,

The last one is about my favorite topic - travel. This is the one that is easiest for me to keep because it's something I love to do. And my resolution is pretty simple - to make the very most out of the 4 weeks of vacation I get from work. Use every day and every moment. When I travel, be in the moment. Don't be so stuck behind the camera or thinking about what's next that I miss the moment I am in. Be adventurous. Don't be afraid of anything, from terrorism to embarrassment. Do everything without fear. Branch out. Do the crazy things.

So basically, for 2016 I have a few things to focus on:
- my parents
- my best friend
- my health
- living each moment

Monday, December 07, 2015


It's really hard to be a Giants fan.

I mean, it's hard for numerous reasons, not just the obvious one: they blow nearly every game even when they have been outplaying and outscoring in the first 3 quarters. Or at least the first half. There is never a time as a Giants fan that I feel safe, like: Ok, they are up by 20 in the 4th quarter, I can rest easy now. Nope. I was at the Meltdown at the Meadowlands, after all, and watched the meltdown in person. So I understand heartbreaking football and the inconsolable pain that comes with blindly supporting a disappointing team.

The reason I am finding it harder and harder to be a Giants fan is that I have no one to watch Giants football with. My husband is a die-hard Steelers fan, and so is my daughter. My brother in law is also a Steelers fan, and so is his family (to include my niece and occasionally my sister - although she supports the suckass Redskins with their suckass racist name, so the Steelers are at least an improvement there).

Growing up, we were a Giants and Yankees (and later, Devils) house. My dad taught us about football by watching every game with us and walking us through the plays (and teaching us how to say "The Giants suck" in a variety of ways). It was a part of my Sunday to watch my team with my family. When my sister became a turncoat Skins fan, it was an unacceptable betrayal and something we rarely talk about even today (other than during Skins/Giants games where we still bet $1 as we did back in the day).

Now, I have a house full of Steelers fans. I have black and gold all around me and I'm missing the Blue and Red. They watch the games together and I watch too, of course, but I don't have the same rooting interest so I'm not as into it. I see my husband teach TJK about football, and use the methods I taught him for teaching kids about sports (which my dad used to teach me), and I feel sad that she isn't learning about Giants football. When they cheer, I want to cheer with them and be super into it. I want to wave a Terrible Towel along with them. I feel left out and like I am missing something. Because I am. I'm missing the camaraderie that professional sports watching provides.

I can't become a Steelers fan because I bleed blue for the Big Blue Wrecking Crew and have done so my whole life. I can't steal TJK away to be a Giants fan because it's part of the blood-sworn contract between my husband and me: TJK is a Yankees fan for me and a Steelers fan for him and a Devils fan for both of us. So I'm at a strange crossroads of loving my team but being so lonely in loving my team, and hating my team for sucking and having no one to commiserate with about it.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Jersey Girl Contemplates Living Elsewhere in the World

I love New Jersey. Obviously. I love being close to the beach and the mountains and farmland and authentic ethnic food (from every ethnicity!) and especially to New York City. I love having everything I could ever need practically within walking distance (and most within actual walking distance). I never thought I would ever consider leaving here. It's home, and has been for my whole life.

The older I get, the more I reconsider my whole "Born Jersey, Live Jersey, Die Jersey" motto. Maybe it has come with the extensive travel I have done...but then, I have been seeing the world since I was 21. Maybe it's all the traffic...but then, I've been in one long continuous traffic jam since I learned to drive. Maybe it's all the people and noise...but then, when I'm in quiet places I can't sleep.

The truth is, I think I can handle all of those things individually. It's more that cumulatively, over the past X number of years, it is getting to me. I would love to experience my 7-mile commute to work not taking 45 minutes. It would be great to go to Shop Rite and not have to hit people with my cart and then stand on line for 30 minutes. How awesome would I feel to not have noise and light pollution present at all times?

About a year ago, we went out to Denver. We stayed a few nights in the city and then head to the Rocky Mountains. I was sure I would hate it because I hate nature and all that comes with it...and because my husband convinced me to stay in a cabin. But I didn't hate it, especially the cabin. It was small, but had a really nice kitchen, fireplace, flat screen tv, WiFi, king size Sleep Number bed, jacuzzi, waterfall all the things my luxury loving side could want. But it was quiet. It was in the woods (but still a quick drive to civilization). There was a babbling brook near it, and that was the only sound we could hear (other than the male elk bellowing to his ladyfriends that he was in the mood for some lovin'). And I really liked it. I liked being slightly disconnected - quiet, calmed, peaceful.

Last month we went to Asheville. We stayed in a quite remote cabin this time - higher luxury with more distance. It was 45 minutes to civilization. This was really hard for me at first. It was so quiet, I had to listen to myself think. When I stood on the deck and looked out, all I saw were trees and distant mountains. My first thought (especially after seeing the spider that had taken up residence with us) was to get the hell out of there. I wanted to head directly to the closest Four Seasons and call it a day. But I tried to let loose. This is something I am actively working on during my travels - stopping my brain from being 10 steps ahead of me and just enjoying and acknowledging the moment I am in. And that's what I did (after our friendly neighborhood spider man had been kicked to the curb). I sat in the moment and listened to the quiet. I looked at the views and I took it all in, and I realized that I enjoyed it quite a bit. Some of my best memories of that trip are of the time we spent in the cabin - cuddled under blankets by the fire watching a movie, standing on the deck looking at those views without saying a word, really just taking it all in.

Due to my husband's job, we aren't going anywhere for at least 10 years. By then, TJK will be in college and we will have some options. I have no idea what we will do or where will go or if we will go at all. But for the first time in my life I am contemplating going somewhere that I can hibernate. Well, at least part of the time. Because you know I am not giving up my dinners out or brewery visits or shopping trips or Sundays at the diner or real pizza and bagels...and there's the Jersey Girl in me, coming out once again.