Gratitude Saturday: November 27

My Mom told me I should use a different color eyebrow pencil- the one I was using is apparently too dark…

Isn’t every 57 years old woman grateful when her Mother tells her what kind of make up she should wear?

I am grateful that I wrote a post about parents giving advice this week- made me see the situation with a little bit of humor.

I am grateful for my dark brown eye pencil because I like it.

My Month in Books- November

BookAuthorHow I heard about BookRating
Cloud Cuckoo LandAnthony DoerrCollege Book Club choice1
The Man Who Died TwiceRichard OsmanRead author before2
Major Pettigrew’s Last StandHelen Simonsonbuilding book club choice, Re read3
GhostsDolly AldertonEW, Good Housekeeping4
Just Haven’t Met You YetSophie CousensBN Recommendation5
Rock Paper ScissorsAlice FeeneyGoodreads List6
The Paper PalaceMiranda Cowley HellerBN Book club,Goodreads List, Real Simple, Reese’s Book Club7
This is the order in which I LIKED the books- doesn’t really reflect how good a book is, or isn’t. The blurbs below correspond the book number in the 4th column.
  1. The good news: I loved this book. The bad news: It took be about 150 pages to get into the story and understand what was going on. Good for book clubs as there are many layers to this novel. Very different than other popular book by Doerr, but expertly written. A writers writer.
  2. Cozy mystery done really well. Fun and light, if that’s your thing. And refreshing to see characters of a certain age be full of life and wisdom and taking an active part in life. Clever and understated, but I wouldn’t read it for book club. It’s just an enjoyable read.
  3. Second time I read this book. Loved it this time as much as I did when I first read it. And who doesn’t love a second chance at love just when everyone said you were too old. Can be compared to Pride and Prejudice for a variety of reasons, so if you’re a fan of that, give this a go. Good for book clubs.
  4. The word feminism is used ten times throughout this book. I wish the author had included a definition, because the book “says” one thing but “does” another. Author tries to explain away the obvious problem with a throwaway paragraph. Author needs to get reality check. Or accept that they want to write a love story. Enough with the woe is me I’m 30 and dating is so hard because men want a younger woman. Get over yourself. But, book was well written and different so kudos there. And seriously- look up the definition of baby boomer while you’re at it.
  5. Perfectly fine, light rom com. It is exactly what you expect when you want something of this genre. Good for beach or plane/train ride, but not for much else.
  6. Psychological Drama- including all the twists and turns you can imagine- Yet somehow, I’m not sure if there wasn’t just one too many twists and turns. How do we know the difference between just right and overkill. If these type books are your thing, it’s worth a read. If you’re a casual reader of the genre you can probably pass.
  7. This book is trying so hard to say how lousy men are, while simultaneously making men the hero time after time. Figure out what you’re trying to say and then write the book. Not a bad read if you like melodramatic sagas. I don’t like melodramatic sagas. I’m guessing if you like Colleen Hoover you will like this one. If someone tells you it’s good for book club, they’re wrong. It’s one, log flat note.

Thanksgiving

I am thankful for:

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • Roundabout Theater Company
  • Carnegie Hall
  • Film Forum
  • Angelika
  • AMC Kips Bay
  • Barnes and Noble
  • Union Square Farmers Market
  • lists of foods I need to try
  • Cheeseburgers at Pastis
  • Ramen at Totto
  • Dry Chicken Pot at Han Dynasty
  • Champagne Cocktails anywhere they serve them
  • Molasses Ginger Cookie at Citycakes
  • Orchid Show
  • Christian Dior Exhibit
  • Books
  • Reading
  • fuzzy covered hot water bottle
  • mug warmer
  • my planner
  • inspirational quotes
  • my journal
  • my little pink notebook that I carry everywhere
  • my camera
  • best, worst grateful book
  • text and email
  • My People

Thank you for being part of my life!!

Happy Day!!!

Can Moms Help It

When my Daughter finally got back to campus in August, she had a lot of readjusting to do. She was living with roommates and not parents. She was adjusting to doing things in person once again, and she had a lot on her plate. Plus, COVID still had restrictions all over the place with certain things.

Her schedule included five classes, and one class that required her to go to an elementary school to observe onsite. She had an internship. Part time job. Deputy editor at the paper. At least two other clubs she was an active member. Some sort of scholar program. Homework. And President of a volunteer organization that wasn’t able to recruit new members last year because it wasn’t able to be done virtually, and they were still unsure of the status this year as to whether the university students would be allowed to go onsite to actually do the volunteering, and seemed like it was going to be an organization of three.

So August was a tad stressful for my daughter.

I was on the phone with her one morning as she explained everything to me. I heard her voice rise about five octaves. I made a suggestion about something.

One suggestion about one thing after she regaled me with tales of all the above things I mentioned, the stress clearly coming through on the phone.

I said one thing…

She bit my head off. Told me that she was an adult. Told me that my making the suggestion was making her more stressed. Told me I needed to butt out and not meddle.

OK fine. I dropped it.

Later that day, I was standing on the subway platform.

Young woman, late twenties probably, was waiting for the train, which was six minutes away.

Woman gets a phone call.

Woman: Hi Mom.

Woman: Yeah the apartment was really nice.

Women: Well, it’s a little small but…

See her walking in circles

Women: No its not a shoebox it’s…

She starts to tap her foot

Women: No there isn’t a window in the bathroom or kitchen but…

looking down track waiting for train to appear quicker

Women: But Mom it’s the best apartment I’ve found

runs her hand through her hair distractedly

Women: Yes I would love an apartment with big closets and lots of windows but…

look of pure distress

Women: But Mom...

exasperated sigh

Women: Oh Mom- there’s the train. Need to go.

She shuts her phone and waits three more minutes for train.

So my question is: Do Mom’s always try to give unneeded or unwarranted advice? Is it just hardwired into being a Mom?

Can we just not help ourselves?

Do Mothers always feel they need to tell there children what to do? Is it worse with Mothers and Daughters?

Follow Me Follow You

I was at someone’s house a few years ago. We sat on the island stools in her well appointed kitchen looking into her beautiful open floor plan family room in her lovely home.

Her: I really need to redo this kitchen

Me: Why. This is beautiful and in perfect shape

Her: Because all my friends have redone their kitchens and they’re all white and pretty and I want that too

Me: stares blankly into the abyss of suburban home ownership…

What do you think about jumping on the bandwagon to follow a trend?

Now before you answer, I want you to really think about that. Do you own anything that you bought based on other people having it?

Do you own anything that was bought because it would make others envious, or because you thought it would give you status?

Do you have opinions on things strictly because people “in the know” have them? A few weeks ago someone said that they like receiving the voter packets because they want to know what “their side” wants them to do.

See why I’m not so much for following the herd?

Do you ever follow the herd?

Now let’s contrast that: What’s the difference between following the herd and following the rules?

In a world where rules/laws are meant to protect others, what do we say about those who don’t follow them?

I know I get annoyed when people don’t pay for mass transit. My Husband is a jaywalker of the first order and it drives me CRAZY. (Is it a law yet that we can’t say the word “crazy”?)

People who cheat on their taxes.

Speeders.

Shoplifters.

Illegal drugs, or those who get drugs illegally.

What do we think about those who break rules?

Is it OK because some rules are stupid?

Without law, can there be order?

Are there times when we break the rules because we want to follow the herd?

Discuss:

Can I Be Offended

A few months ago my daughter and I attended an exhibit at Brooklyn Museum: Maximum Sensation by Mounir Fatmi. https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/197366

This installation is by a Moroccan born artist named Mounir Fatmi and it is called “Maximum Sensation”. The textiles you see are contemporary copies of traditional prayer rugs that you can buy at Moroccan markets. The combination of skateboarding culture and prayer rugs made as commodity makes a certain point important to all of Fatmi’s work. As he writes in his artist statement: My work “deals with the desecration of religious object, deconstruction and the end of dogmas and ideologies.”

Brooklyn Museum Website

The exhibition was of a bunch of skateboards covered in the cheap prayer rugs.

Even though I know the intent of the artist, directly from his brain, I still didn’t feel comfortable about this exhibit. I still felt it was not necessarily in the best taste to put prayer rugs on skateboards, no matter the cost or background of these rugs, or what the point is.

My daughter said that I don’t have the right to be offended because I am not Muslim. She said I should view it as art and a political statement, as which it was intended, not as a direct affront to a religion.

So where do we fall on this? Should we look at something strictly as art, no matter what it’s mocking or what its point is?

Is being offensive part of art, or art movements?

In theory, the artist certainly made a point with me. I am going to remember this exhibit far more than other things that I thought were pretty or serene or fun. This exhibit will stick. But does that make it good or right?

What if I hadn’t read the fine print of the exhibit, as most tend to do? What if I just saw it- no explanation. Would I be justified in being upset or angered? FYI- I have a post in the pipeline about explanations and art work. I’m still forming an opinion, so expect more on this soon.

But…to my original point:

What is the threshold for being offended by something that is not akin to your culture?

What Inspired Me: November 21

  1. Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror The Whitney. This is a pretty comprehensive view of his work, curated very well. There is a companion exhibit in Philly that I would love to see too. Just an amazing career. Diver intrigued me the most as it was inspired by the suicide of poet Hart Crane- just sad and touching.
  2. My Barbarian- Whitney. This is one of those installation pieces that I just don’t understand at all. Also not sure if I care enough about it. (closes 2/27/22)
  3. Labyrinth of Forms: Women and Abstraction 1930-1950. This was a small but well curated exhibit. Glad they highlighted some women artists that often get overlooked. Of course there was one Lee Krasner…but that’s OK because the description didn’t mention her partner- she was allowed to be listed as an artist in her own right…
  4. Amazing to walk through Central Park and see the beautiful autumn colors, and then smack into holiday displays on Fifth Avenue
  5. NY Doc Festival: You know I love a film festival and I love shorts, so I was thrilled to see Shorts: New York, New York and the films: All Riders, The Andrew Yang Show, Flatbush! Flatbush!, When we Were Bullies. Also got to hear representatives of each film discuss the work. I always love to hear about the creative process of a film from someone who was there. Of course, hearing one of the speakers talk about their film as well as the film itself is going to be a blog in a few months. Inspiration everywhere…
  6. I was invited (through Roundabout Theater Company where I am a subscriber) to see an advance screening of The Humans. I saw his as a play on Broadway a few years back and it was wonderful. I saw this as a movie in the theater and it was less than wonderful. I think it’s often hard to film a successful play, even when in the hands of the playwright. But, it was cool to see writer/director Stephen Karam introduce the film.
  7. The tag line of Simo Pizza is: 90 Seconds to Napoli, because once the pizza is made, it’s only in the oven for 90 seconds. What you get is a tender, slightly chewy crust and the topics perfectly melded. Yum. If you’re going to The Whitney, this is conveniently located across the street.
  8. Belfast. SEE THIS MOVIE. Seriously- see this movie. I can’t imagine there will be a better film out this year. It has automatically jumped up to my internal list of best movies ever. Bravo.
  9. And- you must listen to soundtrack from Belfast. Van Morrison and Everlasting Love. Need I say more?
  10. Betty’s new trick is to pathetically wait next to my desk chair so that I pick her up and put her on the chair with me while I’m writing…
  11. Met- gallery 151 holds Minoan Gems, which served as seals to identify ownership before literacy became widespread. Thought that was really interesting. Also saw new pieces in the Masters and Masterpieces: Chinese Art from the Florence and Herbert Irving Collection. Just beautiful pieces.
  12. I love a cocktail bar. I like to sit in a dimly lit room, on a banquette or uber comfy bar stool and drink an overly expensive but well crafted cocktail. Thyme did not disappoint on any level. And look at how pretty the drinks are! Also, watching the bartender make the drinks was magic- they did this pour from one vessel to another and I can’t remember what it was called (talk about a time when I needed my notebook!) but Wow…go for the drinks and stay for the entertainment.
  13. TV- Just started Squid Games- why oh why am I so intrigued!?!?
  14. Going to mention The Comfort Book by Matt Haig. I only read a page a day so it could take me awhile to finish, but it’s the perfect little note to savor before bed, or when you first wake up, or anytime.

Gratitude Saturday: November 20

I decided the other day that I was not in the mood to bake pies for Thanksgiving.

I am grateful that I found a pie shop that was still taking orders for Thanksgiving.

I am grateful that they had three different varieties of small pies, because everyone likes something different.

I’m grateful that I don’t need to cook for Thanksgiving this year.

Anything Can Happen Friday: TBR

How long is your TBR (To Be Read)?

Pre-covid I had about ten books on my list- ten books that I 100% wanted to read.

During COVID that numbered ballooned up. I was reading so much more than normal, I was just throwing about everything onto that list. I didn’t want to fall short and not have a book in the cue. This was my particular form of neurosis: not having a list of books to read at the ready.

Three week ago I had 383 books on my TBR.

383.

Three hundred, Eighty, Three.

I knew that it was time to stop the madness. I know that I will never again have a year where I read hundreds of books. I know that next year I will probably hit somewhere in the 75-85 book range. And I know that I will just keep adding books to my TBR. I REALLY KNOW THAT THIS MANY BOOKS ON MY TBR WILL STRESS ME OUT.

So I began to do what I normally do when I find a situation spinning out of control: Make a plan.

  1. Get rid of books that I really don’t want to read.
  2. Determine a number of books on the list that seems reasonable.
  3. Figure out how many of each time of book should be on the list, with the realization that I will always be adding books because they are books and books are awesome.

The hardest thing about step was was dealing with Goodreads. After I would successfully take off a few books, I would begin to get LOAD ERROR message. This was frustrating and slowed me down as I shut and restarted the APP. But I was able to get from 383 to 200 rather easily.

But going below 200 has been, slightly, a challenge, because as it turns out, there really are 200 books I am fairly interested in reading.

However…

If I break it down, I am most likely to read 50 rom coms, cozy mysteries or light books. As I like to read before bed, I like something not too taxing. We all learned last week that I have little to no brain power after 4pm.

I am most likely to read six memoirs or essays, because books like this I read a chapter a day and it probably takes two months to read.

I occasionally need a psychological thriller, because sometimes you have to live vicariously through the actions of a fictional character. And who doesn’t like a twist? Four on the list sounds about right.

You know I love cheery self help books, but as with memoirs/essays, six is probably a good number.

No more than four non fiction of various ilk. I know myself, and reading a non fiction over a three months is about my speed.

I also like to have some fiction appropriate to book discussion available for my book clubs, though I’m probably choosing no more than five books for clubs.

This makes my maximum TBR 75 books.

So, with my reading habits in mind, I have gotten myself down to 155 books. 80 more to go.

I see on my TBR that I have SO MANY self help books. This is going to be my greatest challenge- getting that number down by looking for the ones that really aren’t going to interest me. I don’t like overly clinical books- they are way to dry for me. I prefer less psychological jargon and research studies, and more Rah Rah go team. I want to read a self help book and be happy- not read one and find ways to be sad, which is often my problem with this genre.

I also love a good organizing book- but my mind files that under self help and not non fiction, and I really don’t want to get into my brain and tell it that it’s classifying books incorrectly. My brain can’t handle criticism too well, especially when it’s coming from me.

So every day I try to take off two books. And if I add a book, I make myself take off five. I’m very hard on myself.

January 1 is my self imposed deadline to 75. I’m holding myself accountable by posting it. You are all free to mock me if I don’t get down to 75.

And now I’m off to take off two books…wish me luck.

Pack the Meals

I have always chosen to do some sort of volunteer work.

When I was younger I was a reading tutor for elementary age children. When my daughter was in public school, I held leadership positions at each level of schooling. When my daughter graduated, I began shopping for a new volunteer oppurtunity.

I had been helping out at a soup kitchen when COVID hit, and that got shot down. Truth be told, I don’t know how long I would have continued that: I love to cook, but cooking for masses was making me hate chopping vegetables.

But COVID. No volunteering, Etc.

As the world began to reopen, I once again began to shop for volunteer opportunities. After a bit of research, I stumbled upon God’s Love We Deliver. Their mission is simple: provide healthy meals for those who are ill or recovering from illness/surgery. The meals are prepared, packaged and delivered to those in need. I like what they do. They help people. I wanted to be part of that.

I signed up to do meal kit assembly. Meal Kit Assembly is when we look at a menu, figure out what the client needs, and we package the premade food into bags so that they can be delivered. (This organization is organized: they break things down so well, and have volunteers at every part of this production)

I enjoy doing this.

However…

Sometimes it stresses me out. I have actually gone home and worried that I packaged someone’s meal wrong. Did I give a no pork person a pork? Did I forget to include bread? Did I pack the bags in the wrong order, thus making it harder for the delivery guys? Did I forget a breakfast entrée or companion meal?

When I told other people this at volunteering, they looked at me like I was crazy. “No” they said. “I never worry that I did something wrong. This is SO EASY”.

FYI- this is why you never share how you actually feel/what you think with anyone because they will totally judge you and try to box you away as “lesser” than them. Everyone needs to feel superior, even at a job we don’t get paid for or promoted- where technically we are all in it together.

The beauty of this volunteer opportunity is that you are not locked into doing certain hours or days: You choose how much you do or don’t want to do with no reprisal. My being somewhat regimented, I always volunteer same shift every week: same day. Same time. Same job. Sort of like watching Batman in the sixties…

A few weeks after I began volunteering, I was talking to an omnivolunteer(there are people who volunteer about 20 hours a week, randomly choosing days and departments) This person told me that they had begun auditing the meal packers on other days of the week: asking the volunteers to mark down what table they worked at and which step of the packing process they were involved in. Clients weren’t getting the right things!!

I of course began to flop sweat. My worst nightmare was coming true. I had been packing meals wrong! Someone didn’t get their peaches in syrup! OMG- some poor ill person got two chickens instead of a veggie and a beef!!!

I needed to sit down and have a glass of water! I was getting the vapers! Oh no! Where are the smelling salts!

Ok. I did none of those things. But I really did feel just a teensy bit sick.

So I asked one of the staff members who actually gets paid and actually knows what they are doing if we should be marking down the who what where of our table.

“No. MTWTFday has been perfect for the past month. There are no complaints at all about the food packed on MTWTFday. This packing day is solid.”

Hear the angels singing?

The day I pack hasn’t had complaints. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect day. It might just mean that the clients who get the food we pack on MTWTFday are a mellow sort. But however you look at it- our day has been consistently average.

Yay average.

Here are my takeaways:

  1. Don’t mock someone if they tell you their fears. That’s just not nice. It’s also discrimination and bullying.
  2. Don’t think anything is EASY. Nothing is easy. Everything takes thought and time and requires attention.
  3. Don’t think you’re better than anyone else. There should be no hierarchy. We might know more than others about certain things, but really, we are all equal.
  4. Don’t assume you haven’t made mistakes. We are all capable of mistakes. Even professional baseball players make errors. Think Bill Buckner. Though I’m a Met fan, so that all worked out for me, but still, mistakes.
  5. Try your best at every single thing you do. If you are going to do something, do it right.