College Bound

Tis I, The Invigilator!!

What thinking column: ivigilator illustrationI think I’m pretty smart…sometimes. I have a decent vocabulary, play a mean game of Words with Friends and had my share of wins of Scrabble games against my mom. I’m in a book club (sort of – and even attend whether  I actually finish the book or not) and have read some seriously intense articles on the internet regarding marketing/business/philosophy/education/health/science/the list goes on…but never on politics, sailing or body-building – go figure.

I have been asked to proctor many exams as my main job is currently based in an extension of a University.  I recently was asked by a sweet young lady to help her with her midterm and exam which I was happy to do.

Then, came the instructions from her school in Canada…3 PAGES OF INSTRUCTIONS! This was serious. No online course from some obscure online program…uh, this meant I had to read everything…the problem was I had no idea what an invigilator was. I didn’t even know how to say it. Yet, there it was, in black and white, calling me names I’d never heard. The Invigilator. Being the good girl that I am I read all 3 pages. Usually when you don’t understand a word you can figure it out (most of the times) by the content of the paragraph so I knew it was referring to me – but still didn’t know how to pronounce it.

So natch – I went to my favorite website (inner nerd shout-out) to hear the animated female audio so I could learn the word. According to the 10 synonyms suggested to describe this word I fell under the category of 4, yes 4 okay maybe even 5 of them. And that’s being generous. As far as I know I am not a watchdog and was not eaves-dropping. I wasn’t listening, guiding or counseling. I was just monitoring. I am not an informant – well, unless you count the fact that I’d be informing the University that the exam was done under my eagle eye and would certainly tell them in the event of a water main break or natural disaster should that happen during  and interrupting the exam. Really? Yup, page 2 paragraph 4. 

Oh well. Usually the invigilator gets paid – I waived the fee since I am sitting here anyway and figured I could do 35 other things at the same (as all women can do). In fact, I gained something more than money – I gained knowledge. I learned a new word. A great word. A word I can not even imagine using ever again in any other context, nevertheless, it’s the small things in life that make me happy. Yes, me, The Invigilator!!

(by the way – WordPress picked up the word “invigilator” as misspelled and had no alternate spelling…just saying).


Yiddish 101, Oy Vey Zmir!

It was a long shot but I needed to take an elective in college one semester to round out my credits.  So there I was deciding between The Basics of Yiddish and Applications of Computer Science (or something random like that) and I decided to go for Yiddish.

Why? Well, I had one set of grandparents who were fluent and I often recalled thinking, man, I wish I knew what they were saying. My grandmother taught me how to count to 10. In elementary school I was in the choir and I learned a song in Yiddish and would sing it to my grandmother, upon request. So I thought I had some fighting chance since I already knew some words and some numbers.

As small private colleges go, some of the more random courses offered don’t always make it. In order for a class to survive there needed to be at least three students willing to commit to the course – which was coincidentally the amount of students that signed up.

I remember one other girl but not the other. The one I did remember? I giggled every time I thought of her name. It was Marina Shore.  She was a sweet girl, I think with Russian parents, and her name was all water based, though I never asked her I always wondered if it was done on purpose! In any event there we three sat on the first day.

Estelle Getty - Transformation - Beauty

The oldest woman on the planet came in to ‘teach’ us. She was as old lady as you can get. Watery eyes,  a soft wrinkled face covered in base that was a touch too orange and a powdering of blush applied in a straight, yet diagonal line across her cheekbone. She wore a very stiff wig (in Yiddish – called a sheitel) and had not such even penciled-in really thick eyebrows.

(She reminded me of the character Estelle Getty played on the television show, The Golden Girls). She wore her polyester vests over blouses with a bow tied at the neck. She had ‘bubby‘ shoes that looked like black sneakers for nurses with extra wide feet and the sandy brown hose that are not really nude and meant for supporting varicose veins.

To be completely honest, I can’t remember learning a single thing, or if the class continued after the 2 week trial period. However, there is once specific incident I recall vividly. There we three sat, waiting for the “professor” to begin. She looked over her coke-bottled bifocals into the book, she began in her heavy accented English to give us the assignment. She stopped mid sentence and her head bent lower and lower and even lower still, until it came to rest with her chin tucked away in her billowy blouse-y bow tie in the nose, in her chest. At first we thought she had been scanning the page. Then after a few minutes of eery silence we started to get nervous. I looked at Marina, she looked at me. Eyebrows raised in worry I whispered to her, “call her name”. She shook her head no and pointed at me to do it. So I called out. Nothing. I called a little louder, no response. Marina whispered that I should see if she was breathing. Suffice it to say I was a shtickle (a bit) nervous. So I slid out of those desks that are shaped in an ‘L’ and started to creep towards her. At first I tried to see if her body was  shifting the way it would if a person were breathing. I couldn’t tell. I looked at Marina and mouthed: WHAT IF SHE’S DEAD? Marina mouthed back, NOOOOOooooo, with a look in her eyes that really were saying, MAYBE? I gently placed my hand on her arm. Nothing. I called out ever so gently as I sort of rubbed the blouse-y arm. Sure enough the head began to rise. I jumped, retracted my hand, ran back to my seat and was back before she raised her head all the way up. Those watery eyes looked at Marina and then her coral lips said, “Nu? Vas is das?” Which translates as, “Hey, What is this?” basically asking us what was going on, what were we up to, why are we not doing what she probably thought she had told us to do. Yiddish is like that, one word means the gansa megillah (which means loosely translated as the whole story).  Like, I said, I can’t even recall if the class continued on and the only Yiddish I remember is probably what I grew up knowing. You shmear (smear) a bagel with cream cheese. You must act like a mentsch (proper person) and not a vilda chaya (wild animal).  I was always referred to as a shaina maidel and people were always pinching my cheeks while saying oy, what a punim!

Yiddish recipe for Passover Rolls

Now that the holiday of Passover is approaching the only Yiddish in our house that is being heard is the repetition of the 4 questions, which one daughter is trying to learn to impress my in-laws (who are of the same generation as my grandma).  Even though they won’t be at our Seder they promised an afikomen gift to her if she gets it. Practice makes perfect.  The one thing I know for a fact we’ll get right? My grandmother would make Passover Rolls dense as could be, but if you can read Yiddish, here’s a recipe you may enjoy. L’chaim!

She Knew It All

Well, that’s how she acted anyway. Ugh, every conversation had her sticking her nose where it didn’t belong and making definitive comments that sometimes didn’t make sense but said with enough confidence that others believed she might be right. I was so sick of it. I wondered if others felt the same way I did but it’s not like I’d indulge my desire by gossiping about her just to find out. She just wasn’t worth it. I didn’t want to ‘save’ her from herself, I didn’t care to be her friend, I didn’t want to be associated with her or mentioned even in the same sentence as her…it was THAT bad. But these thoughts made me feel like a bad person. Love your neighbor as you love yourself…problem was she always had good intentions…but she upset people with her actions and speech.

I was able to spend the majority of my time NOT in her presence so at least there was that. However, every single time she was around, she would loudly spew her opinions and make every one else feel small. I know the theory behind it. The Bully Syndrome, I call it. They have insecurities (though most don’t see it that way) and instead of feeling small themselves they pump themselves up by teasing others or acting overly confident and making sure their voice is heard.

Being a quieter person, I observe more than I indulge in a conversation. I say something when asked or when something witty or cute comes to mind. Sure I have insecurities just like the next person, but I never felt like I had anything to prove. I never felt like I needed to be louder than the next person, or make anyone feel small. I never understood why someone would need to do that to others.  Humans are complex characters though and none of us are wired the same. We are products of our environment and I didn’t know her history or her family life growing up so who was I to be making judgement calls on her? Perhaps she is damaged like most of us and never sought help. I’d like to think this is it.

Am I willing to help? No way, I am not touching that scorcher with a ten foot pole. She can be mean (without trying to be) and I am a sensitive girl, plus, like I said, I do not interact often enough with her to be warranted into inner circle status. Which is fine.

I generally get along with people and avoid confrontation so I’m not going to make a big stink. Even though she said something so hurtful to me in the last week, I am willing to move past it without dealing with it head on. I don’t think she even realizes that what she did was wrong, because she always thinks she is right.  Perhaps she uses this method as a defense mechanism. Perhaps her outrageous behavior is covering up her tortured  inner world. Or maybe she is just mean, I only took Psych 101 so I am no expert but what I do know? Negative comments and being a know-it-all is a turn off to others.

“There are spider webs in our unconscious minds. Every person alive today has his/her share of unrealized desires, fears, and latent projections”

So I am no better or worse than she is, perhaps, but I definitely handle my actions in a more appropriate fashion. I was raised in a blue collar family with a high importance on manners and proper etiquette and behavior. I know my place and when to speak and when to listen. She clearly doesn’t and I feel sad for her. But I also am upset that she gets away with it. She comes off as rude and often I feel others see her as a bully as well, the problem is no one is willing to step and try to ‘help’ her because we know we can only help someone if they ask for it.

Soon enough she may have so little friends that she may be forced to question her actions. Do I wish that on her? Absolutely not, but I’m also not going to risk my precious and sensitive heart and soul at her possible thrashings and verbal abuse.  I will pray for her that she learns her lesson and sees the error of her ways.

The one thing she didn’t know? How many people she hurt along the way.

My Favorite Website Today Is…

I am in guilty pleasure heaven. Seriously. I love their tag line, I love the products they display and seeing how many minutes go buy as each item gets purchased. I giggle every few minutes and after each new item pops up you can hear me say “Oh, I want one of those”!

Glow in the Dark Loo RollI seem to have neglected writing about a lot of college stories – but after seeing this product I was brought back to my best memories with Professor Joachim. There was an advertising class that I took where we were asked to create a product and of course, naturally I came up with the GlowBowl. A glow in the dark toilet seat.  Which brings me back to Firebox…where I saw this item: Glow in the dark toilet paper. Here is a snippet describing the product:

“Ideal for cleaning up things that go dump in the night, this deeply ridiculous toilet tissue will cast its funky green glow across the bathroom.”

No offense, but anytime the word ‘funky’ is used for anything bathroom related I kinda’ wrinkle my nose.

We First Met Here Postcode PuzzleOn a completely unrelated topic…I find it weird that it has become a custom to surprise the woman when a man wants to propose. Why is this phenomenon so popular? Men try to think up creative yet still romantic ways to shock their future fiances. I’m sure most of you have already seen that YouTube clip that is circulating with Howie Mandel – now THAT is so completely over the top, but for the more practical and subtle bloke I found this cute idea: It’s the amazing (drum roll please)…

 …We First Met Here Postcode Puzzle – basically you send the zip code to the company and viola! £29.99 pounds later, you own a really cute idea. This puzzle though can give anyone a real headache. I wonder if you get a picture of the map before they chop it up into small pieces so it’s easier to figure out.

FatboyThere were tons of other products that had me smiling from ear to ear or wondering why I didn’t think of the idea first. However, this next product is kind of ironic. See, it’s called the Fatboy. Um, then why is there a really skinny, pretty model totally relaxing in an ‘I’m faking being relaxed can you tell’, pose?

The descriptions of these products get me every time, I mean seriously,  WHO WRITES THIS STUFF? There were 2 sections here that made me get that in-between brow-wrinkle:

And because the Fatboy is so big and malleable, you can sit on it, lay on it or just lollop out on it.

Made from high-tech, specially-coated nylon, the Fatboy is a doddle to clean. Simply rub with a damp cloth and hey presto.

Eh? What’s lollop? Or is the term ‘lollop out’ a thing. I dunno. Also – I’ve never heard the phrase: is a doddle to clean! It sounds made up to me – which is fine, I make up lots of words, so do my kids, but I ain’t getting paid to write descriptions of products…or maybe I should. Hey presto!

Personalised Superhero Action Figures I am all for personalizing gifts. Ever since the Bat Mitzvah stage (where everything was personalized in the 80’s) I tend to lean towards gift giving that is more personal. Once I ordered the stool that had the cut out colorful letters of the name of my friend’s new baby. Another time I received a cozy couch blanket from my bestie that had both our names on it as a going away present when we were moving thousands of miles away.  I was given a mug with my name spelled out from my grandma and a metal horseshoe with my name on it from my other grandma. I’ve cherished each one of these gifts and am always looking for ways to take gift giving to a whole new level. I think I may have found my husband’s next b-day gift: A personalized superhero action figure!! All the company asks for is the consumer to send 2 photos, one front and one profile picture and they create a 3D head and send you the original doll – plus the DIY kit to pop off the head and replace with your new one! It keeps cracking me up. Seriously. I’m not joking. I thought my doll-playing days were over since all our Barbie dolls are headless, but I guess not!

Anyway, I had a great time perusing this site and I hope you do too, I even aim to purchase a few items. I can’t wait to pin some of this stuff on Pinterest. Stay tuned!

Who Am I? used to know. I remember when it was easier but I didn’t think so at the time. I was “Chubby”. I was happy. I was short. I was shy. I was average. I didn’t stand out, wasn’t opinionated, always had at least 1 or 2 best friends.

Identifying who we are or how we want to be perceived varies depending on where we are in our lives.

Turning point? I was 11 years old when I answered that question for the first time. Because of a virus, my kidney’s stopped working and I was placed in the ICU of the pediatric ward in Newark, New Jersey’s Beth Israel Medical Center. I didn’t think of myself as the girl with the IV pole, or the girl in a wheelchair, or the girl with a pee-bag, or the kid in dialysis. I was the girl with purple arms. That was the first time I identified myself as being unique, different, not like anyone else. I remembered asking my mother if I would ever look normal again. She explained about the procedures of taking blood so often leaving my arms purple and that eventually the skin wouldn’t be bruised and I’d return to “normal”.

As a parent today I can’t imagine what that must feel like to have to answer such a question.

In high-school I was “Chubby”. I was happy. I was short. I was shy. I was average. I didn’t stand out, wasn’t opinionated, always had at least 1 or 2 best friends. The next time I was aware of asking myself this question was when I was confronted as a high-school student by a youth group administrator. He felt my friends were bad influences on me and mentioned how he thought I should look for a new group friends. Horrified and angry because as a teenager you define yourself by your associations. They were my people. I was part of them, we all thought the same things, acted the same way, made each other laugh and they were always looking out for me, protecting me, were protective of me. I was the girl everyone loved to protect. I didn’t understand why he’d say such a hurtful statement but after we went our separate ways and I was able to see things from a different perspective, I understood what he was trying to tell me. Still, I didn’t love it, but I got it. I wasn’t anybody in my own right. I had to ask the question, who am I?

Spending the summer away from my core peer group gave me new insights. I lived abroad meeting new people, some from other countries and again I was confronting myself, defining the kind of person I wanted to be. Excited to begin college, a year and a half later, I was ready for change. I was the student who started on probation and finished making  Deans List and on my way to getting a degree. I was a Ranger’s fan. I was a youth group adviser. I was the owner of a goldfish. I was the bridesmaid.

I graduated and received a service award because I wasn’t only studying, proving to myself that I was smart enough if I just applied myself. I worked at making it an experience to remember including all aspects of dorm, social and academic life. I was “Chubby”. I was happy. I was short. I was no longer shy. I was better than average. I didn’t stand out more than the next guy. I started to form my own opinions. I always had at least 1 or 2 best friends.

Now, after being married for almost 15 years, having 5 children, working at 8 various jobs and the proud owner of a domain name I am at that place once again. How do I define myself? I am a blogger. I am a glorified secretary. I am a mother, a friend, an Israeli, an American, a Jew. I am 40. I am “Chubby”. I am happy. (when I’m not crying). I am still annoyingly short. I am reserved and thoughtful. I am trying to not be average. I  want to stand up for what I believe in. I formulate my opinions based on educating myself and listening to others.  I still have at least 1 or 2 best friends.

I am secure (but I still won’t eat by myself in a restaurant). I am confident (but I still don’t like being the center of attention). I am sensitive (to the point of no return – can we say BIG FAT CRY BABY?). I am funny (and often embarrass myself just to get a good laugh). I am creative (and doodle most of the time during office meetings) . I am still evolving. 

Change is good, growth is necessary.

I look forward to asking myself this question 5 years from now.

Challenge of the day. Can you answer this question?

Who are you?

Lipstick And Earrings

She always said that. We were never to leave the house without lipstick and earrings, for you never knew who you’d meet while you were out and about. She also set me up on my first blind date ever. That ended just as pleasantly as it started so there’s that. I learned how to play Spades and hold my tongue many nights in her ever party central apartment on the Upper West Side. lived in the Beacon Hotel, which was lovingly referred to as the Freakin’ Beacon. Nightly we could hear the shows going on at the Beacon Theater, naturally. The exit of the theater was the fire escape route from our apartment which also served as the ally where the bum slept, and where we’d toss out the “Jerry” that we caught on many a glue-trap. We’d share elevators with WWF wrestlers and their beefy lady friends and people-watch out our windows onto Broadway on any given Saturday.

“Pipe down, Junior”. That’s what all the big boys said to me every time I had a question. I didn’t understand the rules of the game and my partner was angry that we were partners in the first place. How I got looped into playing spades I can’t recall, but the torture continued. I knew it was funny, them being big and me being short (small but chubby, still) and giving me the nickname Junior, which stuck all through college and then some. I finally got the tricks down and counted cards as we played. I paid attention to the clues my partner would send me by watching how he’d strategically lay one card over another. I became really good, actually, and quite fond of my goatee, plaid-wearing, sh*t-kicker-stomping, smoker friends. So much so that I put my puffy paint to use and made spades visors for us to wear as we played. Even though they were in powder blue, those tough guys donned them and we had a good laugh. There was Q-bert and Sam and my partner and the other guy – from Chicago…wow my memory is great, and of course Shwez….my social savior.

I was quiet and shy and polite and a prude. All my high-school friends had shielded me from anything they thought was dirty. They’d cover my ‘virgin ears’ if they were about to curse and so on…so by the time I got to college, 1 and a 1/2 years after graduation, I’d not really had much exposure to the real world. I’d spend it in an all-girls seminary in Israel, a very wholesome environment with not so much night life, for the good girls, anyway.

When I got to college and there was a party at Chez Shwez, sure enough, she caught me off guard and introduced me to the room and told everyone I had something to say…suffice it to say I was mortified. Red cheeks, splotchy chest and burning ears I managed to eke out something normal enough and some guy asked for my number, totally as an ice-breaker, but it worked, and I didn’t have a number so that was easy enough.

She opened the door for me and I was forced to face the fact that I needed to be social. I needed to turn into the butterfly I am today. Today, I rarely get embarrassed though I still prefer NEVER to speak publicly. I grew up in that Hotel, I learned many things that I still carry with me today.

Here are some hard-fastened rules I learned:

  • Never take an elevator with more that one bodybuilder at a time
  • If you need more than one glue-trap a week in your home, it’s time to move
  • Unless you LOVE gospel music, you should not live next to a theater that offers that nightly
  • Bums that sleep in allies tend to pee in them, hence, close your windows if you face an ally.
  • NYC apartments have a lot of cockroaches, beware. I warned you.
  • Never leave home without lipstick and earrings

I once was out and about without lipstick and earrings and I met the boy I’d been staring at with my peripheral vision skills all week. He stopped to talk with me, and of course I had the natural blush working when I realized my throat was really dry, and then I noticed how dry my lips were…and OMG I had no lipstick and earrings on!! I heard her voice in my head screaming, “JUNIOR, ARE U CRAZY?” Which distracted me from what Gorgeous was saying so I looked liked a ditz…and no, he never asked me out. Go figure. now that I am older and wiser (and married – probably because I wore lipstick and earrings), I have become addicted to lip balm and almost always have a Lip Smackers in my pocket/purse/backpack…I have grown up slightly more (regardless of the fact that I still use Lip Smackers) and even sometimes change my earrings to fancier lady ones that shimmer or dangle.

Though she is far away I am channeling her now as I take off my fancy danglies and put in my diamond studs. Miss you Shwez. Come and visit us soon, everyone needs a Tante Shoshana!

Gas Station Bathrooms & Rebound Dates. Neither Are Pleasant.

It was a night to remember. I was going out with a group of friends, clubbing and hanging out. College wasn’t party central for me, I was a sort of in-between serious and silly. I took most of my classes seriously and wanted to do well, but I knew how to be silly or blow off steam like the average college student would.

This particular night I recall because of the outcome though. It aint pretty kids. And this is what happened:

All the girls got dressed up and spent way to much time primping and making ourselves pretty because by the middle of the night, almost everyone was so drunk that no one cared that she wore her very coolest red skirt or that the other girl wore her new funky shoes or that my lip gloss matched my blush and eye-shadow.

We ended up at a place that had one of those neon martini glass signs blinking on the outside. There was great music, lots of smiling and I recall a few Long Island Iced Teas around the table. We laughed a lot that night, a few couples going off to do their own thing. Now, I was not a big drinker so I didn’t know my limit and I was certainly not paying attention to how much I had been drinking. We were playing drinking games and it was all very innocent as far as I can remember. I did my best to bat my baby-blues in his direction. We’ll get to “him” in a second.

I knew all the girls and some of the guys and there were a few couples in the group. Or maybe it was just a couple of people wishing they were couples…it’s a bit foggy and this was not my core hangout group. I was asked to tag along since one of my friends said there was going to be this new cute guy coming and she thought we’d be great together. She was right. He was pretty good-looking, just my type (at the time). Blonde, next door type with freckles, a real cutie – not one of those tall-dark and handsome types. Just a nice sweet looking kid. He was a friend of a friend, not someone who went to school with us and after a few drinks everyone loosened up and there was no awkwardness about meeting someone new. He paid a lot of attention to me and I thought we were really hitting it off. But then, I needed to use the lady’s room. No one mentioned to me that once you go to the bathroom the flood-waters start to pour through. It was like I had to use the bathroom every 2 minutes. I lost all capability to flirt much less have a conversation without my bladder getting in the way!

We decided to leave because some people in the group were getting out of hand. The designated driver corralled us and we started walking to the car. There we were, silly 20-year-old half drunk students in NYC making a ruckus.  Pretty boy was calling out my name throughout the city and I was all giddy thinking he really likes me!

Until…he plopped down on the dirty ground crying. Eh? This was not how I imagined it to be. He kept repeating, over and over, “why me, why me? whats wrong with meeee?” So there I am, confused, not because of the alcohol, but because here I thought we were having a great time, connecting, flirting innocently when in reality… his fiance had just dumped him and I was being used as the rebound date.

Uch…Blech…Boo! I begged the designated driver to find the car and get us home. So we did. But I had to use the loo every 5 minutes. So we stopped at swanky hotels. We stopped on the side of the road (for the guys). And we stopped at a gas station. Surprisingly we found the ONE in Manhattan! Putting it delicately, had I been completely sober, I’d have opted for other accommodations.

I have never, ever, in my entire life been so grossed out. It permeated of urine, was covered in soot, grease, poop (probably) and had this oily look on the walls. There was not enough toilet paper, the situation was dire. I cried. I used the last square to open the door and ask if anyone around had toilet paper, tissues, napkins…I was desperate and took some crumpled tissues from a friends purse. There was just enough to get me by.

That was my first and only hangover. I hugged the bowl the next morning and learned many lessons about drinking, about friendships, and why grandmas always carry tissues in their sleeves. Later as adults this pretty boy became a neighbor. I never really brought it up and didn’t become good friends with him and his wife, he obviously found true love. I felt bad for him, but I also felt happy for him. He probably has no recollection of that evening, at least I hope he doesn’t. But me? That was a night I surely won’t forget.

Being dumped or duped is bad, feels bad. But these things have a way of turning out okay in the end. We grow up, we face obstacles and we grow from them and continue on. That’s what we need to do. Brush off the dirt, stand up and face the next day. Start over. Silver Lining.

Out With The Old, Saying Goodbye to Spring Glenn

Why oh why do we hang on to old stuff? Ratty Beavis and Butthead t-shirt, with shredded neckline? Lipstick of the 80’s that made us look part-robot? High-heeled shoes that were worn once, ‘that’ time when the colors teal and coral were in?

We feel a certain nostalgia and are often clinging to items that remind us of a day gone by. The older we get the quicker our memory goes, well at least those with Alzheimer’s running in our family, and though that sounds like I am trying to be funny, I mean it in the most serious way. There is a part of me that keeps that lipstick in my bathroom drawer, cluttered by a gajillion other items I’ll never use like the this bottle of Tresamme hot oil treatment, yet it remains. It’s absurd, I know. No one ever sees my hair since its mostly covered by head scarves or a wig, and it doesn’t even NEED a hot oil treatment! I have been meaning to purge, to just let it all go.

I simply cannot. I know it will feel good to rid myself of the St. John’s sweatshirt an old boyfriend bought for me, I’ll probably miss it for like a minute and would be able to make room for new, non shredded clothing. Yet I am attached. Not because I loved that guy, far from it, he barely spoke English (no judging), but because it reminds me of ‘that’ time. Up in the mountains, for the summers living a cleaner version of Dirty Dancing, living across the lake in bungalows set far away from the hotel patrons. Those silly youthful nights are remembered every time I take that sweatshirt out, since that is where I met this pretty foreigner, upstate, the second summer.

Those summers were the most outrageous I have ever spent. I totally went out of my comfort zone. True, I went with a best friend and another girl that I was friends with from high-school but we shared these new experiences for the first time, chilling out with kids from New York. They all seemed so much more knowledgeable than me in ways of flirting, hanging out, etc…and were certainly more aggressive than I’d have ever been. It was super-duper fun, all.the.time – besides trying to sleep in the dead heat where you’d sweat from just breathing – but even that was something we joked about later on.

This was the dining-room of the Davidman’s Homowack. Once, a guy I was in love with (not the foreigner) was asked to move someone’s Lexus and he asked me to drive with him! I can still remember the smell of the leather seats. All we had to do was move it from the parking area (featured here in front of the dining room) to the tennis court area right across the street. But we didn’t do that of course, we took a grand tour through the estate. It was 10 minutes of bliss. I smiled for days after. Can we say a collective “loser!”?

This was also the same kid who was trying to impress the group with a roundhouse kick, asked me to stand still, as his leg came around and I got a size 11 sneaker in my eye. Boy was I seeing stars and not the kind with a little cherub floating by either! And again, “looooooser”!

It was a pretty cool hotel as far as I was concerned even if they had not decorated since the 60’s groovy motif. It included a bowling alley, which we used and danced in. There was a game room that we spent way too many hours killing the high scores on the pinball machines and Centipede and Pac-Man. There was an indoor mini golf course, an ice skating rink, and an indoor and outdoor pool. There were rowboats and a lake and a golf course.There were night acts; musicians, singers, magicians, comedians. We even named a kid Scooter *(Muppets reference) because he was the guy in charge of the lights at these shows. Not sure I ever knew his real name. We worked hard but played harder. We went out dancing in the evenings at other hotels that made these “nite clubs” for teens. Anyone who wants a real glimpse can check out THIS link, I was immediately thrown back in time.

I smiled looking through all the old pictures, so many of my memories flashing before me. I was a camp counselor for 2 summers. We were lazy and silly and made lots of trouble. I met some really crazy cats there to which I am proud to say I am still friendly with today and smile when I hear their names. I memorized the words to It Takes Two by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock to impress Sneaker Boy. We’d eat salty french fries doused with ketchup late at night in the Tea Room. I was even given a surprise birthday party in the Pool House which served as a the guy’s sleeping quarters. Our boss, an older women, had a double pierce in one ear which at the time was the fashion, and of course I thought was ludicrous.

Of the many experiences there are some that stand out more than others. We got scared walking over the bridge late at night by cats with glowing eyes, we witnessed a dead deer, we’d watch the huge goldfish swimming in the lake as we paddled by, we played human bowling and it was the first time I ever heard of, and never in my life would try something so ugly, called a cheese roulade that was served as a Saturday Night special. It was the first time I met a transvestite or anyone told my friend -out loud anyways- that she had child-bearing hips, or witnessed a knife fight with ex-cons that were hired as kitchen help.

Memories are funny. The ones that hurt the most are often the ones that stay with us the longest. It is just as important to hold on to the funny, the good, the happy memories of one’s childhood. As parents it’s important to help create happy memories for our children.

When I see my ratty old sweatshirt these thoughts come to mind. These cherished, yet wacky memories. It’s for these reasons I hate to depart from it. It’s for these reasons we hang on to our “junk”. One of these days I’ll chuck it I’m sure, perhaps after I find some of these from Great Adventure.

All That She Wants



It was all windows down, wind in my-well, not-really-hair, sort of in my eyes, but volume ablastin’ as I was going 120 kilometers down one of the Judean Hills.

The last time I listened to this song (CD on auto repeat of course) I was in my dorm room (apt. in the Beacon Hotel) working on an art paper (biggest joke ever). A paper that was meant to be 3 pages long on a piece of work displayed at the MET. I took the day with my good friend Shu (that’s a girl) and some dude named Lee. We had a blast. A bit like Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.

I do want to be cultured, I truly do. I have been to the opera, the ballet, the Israeli Philharmonic, to museums internationally, but there is just something so annoying about art. I mean, I get some of it. Not the one piece I had to write a paper on for Art History though. The painting I got, well, it was a canvas, covered in green paint. That’s it. Just. Green. 3 pages, seriously? Seriously. Why couldn’t I get a piece like this, entitled, Woman In a Hat. Which I don’t get. Picasso should have had someone like me title it. I’d call it Block Head. Or better yet,  Woman Who Can’t See Her Hat Because Her Eyes Are Not In Her Head. least this painting has elements that are bizarre and it’s easy to make fun of, I mean try to comprehend, dissect, and explore. My green painting was going to need lots of effort and many trips to the local bodega for junk food.  I ended up writing a whole lotta’ hooey. It was brilliant. I covered so many areas. There was envy, money, the environment, gardening and vegetation. I even went so far and used alliteration with the phrase, “snot of society”, that may have been added in the wee hours of the morning to be funny and forgotten to have been deleted, oopsies. I stretched it as far as I could and gosh darnit! I finally made my 3 pages, thanks to Ace of Base, and was thrilled to receive a grade to be proud of. The professor praised me for my creativity and dedication to the assignment. She thought I’d blow it off and was surprised and appreciated how I took it to so seriously [insert cough, here]. Happy Brilliant Me. Of course, I took these type of classes so that I’d do well. I mean, I knew calculus wasn’t gonna’ be ma’ thang, so I stuck to the Arts. Communications is where I excelled and knew that after advertising, marketing and TV, Radio and Broadcast classes I’d eventually find my way.

So after graduation at Avery Fisher Hall, and the totally awesome dancing and fanfare at Denim & Diamonds with the sailors that were docked as they are every May/June, I needed a plan. What did I want? All That She Wants…was a job in the fashion, TV commercial, advertising, runway, film, NYC life industry. Sounded easy enough so I decided to take a course in basic and advanced Make-Up application at a fabulous institution that advertised on TV, right after the Ogilvie Home Perm commercial -what’s not to love? There were photo shoots, some gut-wrenching tear-streaked eye-brow plucking and a lot of phrases that ended in, ‘darling’, with my instructor, who I’m fairly certain was gay. So exciting, my first encounter.

It took me 2 weeks to learn that:

  1. I will never want to be a professional model – don’t even try to persuade me
  2. Peruvian women have alohahot of super-strong eye-brow hairs
  3. Some gay men use lots of hair product and call you “darling”
  4. I didn’t enjoy touching people’s faces

Professionally, as it happens, I did one gig. The really weird thing is, the ONE person I ever made up professionally, who was my friend by coincidence ended up being the wife of a rabbi, that became a household name, world renowned, and is now my good friend and NEIGHBOR! So bee-za-row! I wonder how her make-up held up. I wondered if I had a career that I walked away from. When people ask what I do now, I basically respond secretary. Sure, its way more than that but in a nutshell…I like being in a position to help people, without having to touch their face or any other body part for that matter.

Since that course, I took a job working for a non-profit organization as a temp., worked my way up to getting the title of Associate Director of Communications (true it was just me and the other guy, but still!) and have worked in non-profits ever since, never looking back and thinking…I could have been. Of course I’m the silver lining girl so even if I was cold-calling, which took only one summer to realize I was better than that, selling garbage bag twist-ties and learned how to convince office managers they NEEDED this item, in bulk…there are idiots in the world bigger than me. Silver Lining? I was happy to have a pay check, meet new people, etc. There’s a lesson I really like to carry with me. Even if I couldn’t for the life of me understand why someone would be possessed/convinced to purchase 3000 twist-ties for an office that had 24 employees or paint an entire canvas green and call it art, it was an experience that helped shape me. Shape my ‘career’. Getting a different perspective will help you become less judgemental. Looking at something or a situation in someone else’s shoes can guide you to better understanding of them. Even IF they are wack-jobs that lop their ears off and call themselves artists. I don’t mean to judge, wink.