Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Life of a Jet fan

Many years ago, 25 to be exact, I was a Met fan. (I just whispered that, because it is a secret.)  It was my graduation year from Sewanhaka High School and the Mets were on fire. So was I! I turned 18 and my confidence peaked. It was the first time I had ever felt comfortable in my own skin. For a senior class trip we went to a Mets game and my interest piqued. I was born into a family of Met and Jet fans. I remember in my preteens someone taking me to a Yankee game and thinking this IS THE TEAM. Bucky Dent was the Yankee pin up player, but somehow the negative aura of Met-ness in my home squashed those feelings.

Shortly after that field trip, I was asked on a double date to another game. It was a beautiful day. We sat in the picnic area in the outfield and I was ecstatic to be so close to Darryl Strawberry. (Who would have thought he'd make an appearance in my hometown bar on New Year's Eve later that year. Eventually, we found out why he did, but we were awestruck just the same. Even my new boyfriend, soon to be husband, a crazy Yankee fan, was a little excited.) The day of the double date began a whirlwind for me. The cameraman panned on me so much that the next day, at the beach, a strange, but adorable little boy came up to me and asked me for an autograph. I befriended the security guards and police officers and basically had free reign of seats. I personally met many Mets that year, as did my friends. It culminated with them winning the 1986 World Series that year. I listened to every game at work or in the car and of course watched them on television. One would be convinced I was a die-hard! But then, I died hard for the most beautiful smile I had ever seen and I was never the same.

January 1, 1987. Darryl Strawberry with my husband Frank and unknown females

Towards the end of that year, the day after my nineteenth birthday to be exact, I met and fell in love with my husband. He was the deejay in the local bar in my town, the same one, which two weeks later Mr. Strawberry ventured into. He drove me home that night and all we did was talk. We talked for hours and of course the majority of the conversation was about baseball. He was fascinated by how much I actually knew of the sport. I was so impressed at how much of a gentleman he was, that when I walked in my door at the wee hours of the morning, I informed my mother that I just met the man I was destined to marry.

Two and a half years later we were married and that is when the brain washing began. I do believe he used to whisper in my ear in my sleep, "Yankees are the best team in baseball, Mets suck, Yankees are the best team, Mets suck!" Oh, he'd mask his undertaking by buying me Met paraphernalia such as hats and Christmas ornaments (which I still have), but whatever happened it worked, for my fanaticism went straight to the Yankees.

As is mostly the norm in New York, if you are a Met fan, you are a Jet fan (like minded losers) and if you are a Yankee fan, you are a Giant fan (winners unite). But, that is not always the case, for I remained a crazy Jet fan, and my husband is still a Giant fan. Although, we will root for each other’s team to win, as long as they are not playing each other. We are not haters the way the Yankee fans hate the Mets when it comes to football. Which brings me to this past weekend of utter dismay.

New York Jet fans, like Met fans are used to disappointment. We haven't won or been in a Super Bowl since January 12, 1969: Super Bowl III! I don't remember it, I was only 13 months old, but I have heard the story told many times. Both are young teams in the grand scheme of things. But, the Jets in my mind have a magic that keeps the fans enthralled. And their colors are much nicer. I finally bought myself a new Jets jersey with Sanchez's number on it because my old Chrebet one turned an ill-colored blue. I had a renewed confidence in them since Rex Ryan took over gang green and stirred within them a fiery passion over these past two years. We BELIEVED they could do it and still believe for next year. They are frustrating to watch, especially when the Patriots trounced them and the subsequent loss to Miami was devastating. But, they revitalized, made it to the playoffs in a wild card spot, beat the favored Colts, and paid back those nasty Patriots to my tear filled eyes. I couldn't sleep Saturday night. I painted my nails green, wore my Jersey to church and prayed hard. Waiting for the AFC Championship game to start on Sunday, January 23rd, 2011 at 6:30 at night was painful. I baked oatmeal cookies to kill the time. I fully felt they were going to win, until the first few drives showed how poorly our defense was reacting and then an overwhelming sadness took over. My boys even responded that I was taking this loss out on them. Maybe they were right. I reasoned that I needed that win because I needed a little good news in my life. But as Father Robert, priest at my church who presided over mass that day so notably pointed out during his homily, just because we wear the jersey, doesn't mean we are the player.

My mood picked up as the week went on and snowfall once again covered New York. Sportscasters predicted the Jets would win it next year. I finally am employed making a salary. Chad Ochocinco is changing his name back to Johnson. Quote of the day from Craig Carton during his show on WFAN, Boomer and Carton this morning (January 26, 2011): "Ochocinco is finally getting his Johnson back". I shook my bon-bon and laughed it off during my Zumba class last night. I will be rooting for Green Bay and those cheese heads to kill Pittsburgh during Super Bowl XLV.  But most of all I am surrounded by my talented boys, whom I adore and get to watch dance everyday and I get to relive another football season with the Jets in about seven months!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Obviously, he was hungry

I have been sitting at this computer all day  thinking, writing, thinking, reading, eating, thinking, drinking, writing, on Facebook and nothing...! No thoughts; blank! I wrote two drafts to my blog and a draft for The Examiner and deleted them.

My head is wandering and wondering, wallowing in self pity. Thoughts about not being hired; where are my callbacks; etc. are filling my brain. How are we going to pay our mortgage, bills, food, dance, and costumes and buy a bed (we haven't slept in one for almost two years)? My husband, who never gets sick, is searching for employment as well, trying to earn a dollar here or there and is now feeling under the weather.  A call from the elementary school sends Jason, my ten-year-old home sick. Television noise isn't helping. He rolls off the coach onto the floor in his sleep. OK, he really is not feeling well. (So bad when we doubt our kids) Another phone call from the high school enters me into slight panic mode, but it is Frankie, the oldest, using the school phone to ask if his cell came today. REALLY?!?!

Needless to say, it isn't the best of days or moods, but I am trying to regain myself when the phone rings once more. It is the elementary school for the second time. My baby, Sean's, Kindergarten teacher, Miss Grosso is on the phone, who, by the way, booked FM Entertainment for her wedding! She heard rave reviews on! Party Planet was my baby for ten years and is now closed which adds somewhat to my anxiety.

She begins by addressing herself and telling me Sean is fine, but wants to inform me of something that happened at lunch. "Does he like the pizza lunch?" she asks. I reply no, but now I start to question that because Jason hates it and he has a big influence over Sean. A few weeks ago, I sent him to school with a sandwich because he didn't want the hot lunch on the menu that day. They usually only like the pizza dippers. For some reason, the lunch aids couldn't find his lunchbox and gave him the hot lunch. Later they found his lunch, but sent me a bill of which I questioned: "I sent him with lunch that day. Why am I being charged for someone else not doing her job?" (I do love the dirty looks I get when I walk in that school.) Naturally, I thought the same mistake occurred today, however, Miss Grosso continued, "the child he was sitting next to had hot lunch, and had to go to the nurse. When he returned, his food was gone".  I know what is coming and burst out laughing, "Sean ate his lunch?" Thankfully, she has a sense of humor and was laughing as well. He denied it at first, but she got him to fess up. Apparently, he ate his own sandwich too!

Of course, I offered to pay for the other child's lunch since they had to give him a new one. My next question was: "Why did the child go to the nurse?" I was afraid he had some illness that would spread through my house like wildfire. Miss Grosso told me that he banged his finger. I can't help but wonder if my little gavone banged it for him so he could eat his food. Sean just came home from school with a smencil he purchased with the dollar I sent him to school with to buy ice cream at lunch. When I asked him why he didn't get the ice cream, he replied: "I wasn't hungry!" LMAO

Thanks for the blog and the pick me up Seanie Peppers! I just love my baby. My children are my world and I will do all I can for them to live their dreams. Below, one of my boys, Michael, at dance rehearsal:

Friday, January 14, 2011

You can't make this stuff up

I am ultra observant. I enjoy life, and find humor in everything I see. It helps when times are tough. No one can make me laugh like me. My favorite quote from my teenage years: “I’m such a pissa!” I am a magnet for the bizarre. Crazy follows me everywhere.

We are selling off bits and pieces of our closed business in garage sales and on Both have brought some funny stories. However, takes the cake. I’m waiting in the car with two of my sons, oldest and number three, for the second oldest to arrive at his school from rehearsal for All County via school bus. The two boys with me are over excited because the awaited snowfall is beginning and the oldest is checking his Blackberry for updates on school closings. I am trying to keep their joviality to a minimum because we are heading to a wake whenever this bus decides to drop off my son. As we are sitting in the parking lot of the high school, Like a G-6 starts jamming on my phone. (Yes, I am immature). I answer it to a nice young man stating, “Hi, I am calling regarding the air hockey table you have for sale on Craigslist.” I hesitated briefly because the number came up as private and the only private numbers I know are my husband and my home. “Yes”, I reply, “How are you? How may I help you?” “I’m fine, thanks”, whacko began “Can you tell me a little about the table, is it in good shape? Does it have any deep scratches?” I answered, “Yes, it is in good shape. It was barely used at my kids’ party place. It was only taken out for parties that requested it, which wasn’t too often.”  “Oh, OK, great! Can I make you an offer?” he asked. Oh, shit! Here it comes, rings in my head. “What did you have in mind?” came out instead. He says, “I would like to offer you a snapper turtle.” Surprised, I said, “Umm, WHAT?” “A snapper turtle” he said again. “A snapper turtle” I puzzled to two boys dying of laughter in the car. I start to cut short his nonsense with “Listen, the ad says legitimate offers only…” “It is legitimate” he interrupted, “I will even throw in three garden snakes”. Click, the bus arrived.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Shovel the sidewalk please

The Village of Valley Stream on Long Island doesn’t care about its residents. For the past twelve years I have navigated the corner of Brooklyn Avenue and Forest Avenue very cautiously while walking my children to the Brooklyn Avenue School. When there is snow on the ground it becomes life threatening. Living only five blocks away, it doesn’t pay to drive them. There is no parking anyway, especially when there is snow. For some odd reason, when the village plows in front of the school, they leave snow mounds up to four feet high and eight feet long. There is not enough room for parents to pull up and drop off the children. If a car does get close enough to the curb, sight is limited and children are walking behind moving vehicles.  The principal of the school, Dr. Comis, stands outside every morning helping the children out of the car. Just recently, one of the PTA co-presidents, Cathy Grupp was helping him while a car began to move with a child walking behind it. Mrs. Grupp got frustrated and began yelling at the moving car, however, in fairness, he couldn’t see with the giant snow mound in his way.  The mother who let the child out was just as responsible for not getting out to help her child and for letting the child out on the driver side of the car. All of this could have been prevented if the snow mounds were not there.

The corner of Brooklyn Avenue and Forest Avenue has always been dangerous. I have been told that many years ago it was a drag strip. A stop sign was eventually put in front of my house, but no one ever abides by it. I was able to petition for a Children at Play sign over ten years ago, but again, drivers ignore it. The rear of Dunkin Donuts faces this intersection and the opening of the drive through has only increased the danger.  Cars race down the block to beat the light at Sunrise Highway and even some of the teachers of the school have been seen speeding down my block. The treacherous route to school becomes an obstacle course with all of the dog feces left on the walkway. The stream of Valley Stream runs right through this area between South Brush Drive and Brookside Drive. This area of sidewalk is owned and maintained either by the Village of Valley Stream, Town of Hempstead or Nassau County. No one knows for sure. Or at least when people complain about the sidewalk and it not getting cleared of snow or cleaned of dog feces, the runaround game begins. So for twelve years, I have maneuvered over ice and snow, broken three strollers or walk in the street at this dangerous intersection with small children.

Above: between S. Brush Dr. and Brookside Dr. Below: intersection where kids need to walk in street!

Many mothers have called the village and no change. Two storms in three weeks and the area is still not shoveled.  The next block isn’t any better. 78 Brooklyn Avenue is a multi-family home on a corner and that sidewalk never gets shoveled. I bet the village will issue them a summons, but not get one of their workers to shovel the sidewalk between S. Brush and Brookside. The next block is Holy Trinity Church and Nursery School (where three of my boys went). They have a one-person path cleared, with icy patches everywhere and this is the block leading to the elementary school and the nursery school.

I just don’t get it. The taxes to live in this village are ridiculous. What are we paying for? I see village employees all over, sitting around chatting with coffee in their hands, ogling every woman that walks by. It is nice to see my tax money at work. My husband and children shovel my sidewalk meticulously. It looks like they sprayed it with Summer Wheeze. The Village of Valley Stream and the rest of the non-shovelers should be ashamed!

A perfect shovel job!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ahhhhh, Christmas Memories!

     Growing up, Christmas was always very special for me, as I'm sure it is for many. As the fourth child born with three older brothers and one younger, six days before Christmas, my mother always made me feel like her precious Christmas gift. (Especially, since she was told she couldn't carry a female fetus to term.) My maternal grandparents treated me in kind. Although they adored my brothers and subsequent all male cousins, I was the only girl born of that generation and they treated me like a princess. My brothers would say spoiled brat, but many years of trying to understand them has led me to realize they will never understand me. I remember or maybe I just remember pictures of huge celebrations on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. My mother has two sisters, but my grandfather had six brothers and my grandmother was one of eight. I remember music, singing, games and laughter. I adored my Christmas tree with the disco-lighted star on top, colored lights, gold boa-like garland and the beautiful manger that sat underneath and played Silent Night. It was all very 1970's topped off with the white velvet couches and red velvet chairs wrapped in plastic. I remember my dear mother dressing me up, curling my hair and basically torturing me. (Probably why I became a hairdresser.) Most of all, I remember being the brunt of my charming brothers' and their significant others' jokes; priceless! Those memories prepared me for wanting to create beautiful ones for my own children as well.
     My husband and I wanted to build our own traditions unique to our new family and diverse backgrounds. Each year we added something new: from our first, small, real Douglas Fir just like the one from A Charlie Brown Christmas, to the 10 foot tree we recently drove home on our Ford Focus.  On and off for the past 20 years, we have driven to the mountains to cut down our tree at Battenfeld Tree Farm:  We discovered the first year, on the road to the farm, a quaint eatery. It was reminiscent of a 1950's diner and the aroma of egg creams, milkshakes and burgers filled the air. It knocked me right back to when I was a little girl and the coffee shop my father used to take me to. We immediately fell in love and returned every year, until it was GONE. A few times it was abandoned or it had turned into a Mexican Restaurant, so, we ate in the town of Red Hook at local diners or other little cafes, but they didn't hold the same charm. Two years ago things were looking up as our favorite little luncheonette was reopened as Another Fork in the Road. We were so excited. We eagerly sat down and opened the menu and were confused; gourmet eggs and gourmet grilled cheese? Did we take a wrong turn and somehow ended up in Soho? All we wanted were burgers, eggs and pancakes. Why would someone make gourmet grits? Really? This past Christmas, on our yearly jaunt, the same place was still there, so, we decided to give it another try. Maybe last year they had to work out the kinks, or maybe we are just gluttons for punishment. Same menu, ughhh, but let's be safe and order basic pancakes, a burger and grilled cheese. I had the grilled cheese, but it was French (?). It was served to me and was garnished with this chunky, orange colored sauce. It must have been French for vomit- grilled cheese. I was starving at this point and wiped away the unsightly mess and ate the sandwich. It only left a slightly sour aftertaste in my throat. My poor son Michael ordered the big stack. After he devoured the top pancake, he started on the second and came to an abrupt halt because it was gooey batter. OK, so not as bad as puke, I continued eating, but had to stop because I couldn't even look at my husband's burger which was just raw chopped meat in the middle. A few dry heaves later, we complained to the waitress, (we never complain, because I am always afraid what they would do) and she took $4.00 off the tab. Thanks toots, I'll send you the doctor's bill.
     At the tree farm, my husband declares he wants the biggest tree he can find. We searched all over and found it-all ten feet of it. We shot our traditional photos. The kids ran amok howling their tribal chants, falling only a few times down the mountain as their father screamed bloody hell. When my husband began to saw, I noticed a loose animal about 100 yards away. I saw people slowly walking away from it, not alarmed, just not approaching it. What was it? It looked like a wild boar. It started towards us and I could make out it was a Rottweiler. I love dogs, but my husband does not and fears them slightly. He was busy chopping, so I did what any mother would do: I gathered my children and locked them in the car. I don't want my children to be hurt by a stray dog. Now I see Frank is picking up the pace (he must see the dog is really close), so I need to help him, but I am hysterically laughing and my kids are now beating each other in the back seat. I rummage through the car for a weapon and grab the snow brush--ooh scary. I head toward my poor husband, then I think, he has a saw he's OK. As I am returning to rescue him, the dog walks right up, sniffs around and moves on. The dog is friendly, but my husband is quickly dragging that tree back as fast as he can while trying really hard not to appear frightened. He was so frazzled he forgot to hand in the coupon for money off. The men who helped him bale it had a good laugh at the sight of him tying this tremendous tree to my car.  It really was the most beautiful tree we ever had, but we looked like the Griswold's from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation driving it home.  We even sang Christmas Carols there and back. The only thing missing was the attack squirrel.
     We would have brought the minivan, however, last year it barely reached 40 MPH on the hills and we didn't think it would make it this year. It broke down this past Christmas Eve heading down to Egg Harbor City, but that is another Christmas Memory to be continued! All beautiful memories that I will cherish forever!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Friend, My Hero!

     I watch you from afar, although you may not notice. I am overwhelmed with emotion for you, yet absent of pity. When I see you, I want to burst into tears, for somehow I can sense all of your pain, but I remain steadfast, because you need my strength. Your shoulders carry the burden of looming death, but they are the strongest I have ever seen. Your heart is breaking, yet full of compassion for all who need it. Your eyes are weary, but still see those who need you. This is my homage to you, for you are an inspiration to me!
     I know your words are locked in your throat when I say I love you. I can see it in your eyes and feel it in your embrace. Being emotional doesn't equal weakness. It is a sign of amazing strength to let your tears flow freely.  You offer your home, your wallet, your service, your devotion and your friendship while never asking for anything in return. Patience is the virtue that you have mastered. You may not see it at times, especially with your own children, but those of us who are watching do. I am envious; because I know it is something I aspire to.
     Opening your home like this is the most unselfish act I think I have ever been fortunate enough to witness. It is not going unnoticed. Not that you are doing it for any other reason except you need to and want to and feel no other alternatives are available. This loving and beautiful memory will be taken with him to the gates of heaven where his weary body will be ill no more! Although it has to be difficult for your entire family, your children are learning from the best possible person-YOU-how to be truly altruistic and you are admired for it.
     Unfortunately, it will be over soon. I don't write that lightly as it is as difficult to utter, as I am sure to live. Your house will go back to the way it was. Your families will go about life as usual. You will have your beautiful memories he brought to you and your children. But, you will have made such a dent in the universe with this tremendous act of kindness. An act I needed to write about because you are such an amazing woman and I have to honor you. I am so happy to be your neighbor, blessed to be your friend and fortunate to have you in MY life! I love you!