Thursday, December 27, 2012

1001 Posts and all that Jazz

I've created this post dozens of times in my head. I've pondered the ways Ahead of the Wave might come to its natural end. Would my final post pop with a profound bang or whimper out with a pathetic fizzle?  Perhaps somewhere in between?

 1001 posts over five years.....what have I learned? What's different about my life now? Have I grown? Or am I the same person? Furthermore, does anyone care?

 Here's what I know.....
 1. Blogging is mostly fun.
 2. Sometimes I've lots to say, sometimes there is nothing to say.
 3. Blogging can create unwanted pressure.
 4. My truest self comes out on these pages but still, it isn't all me. I hold back.
 5. Fundamentally, I'm very opinionated. And, probably mean. Two people near and dear to me remind of this all the time.
 6. I miss my Mom; a lot. There are still questions I need to ask her and wisdom I could use.
 7. My Dad is a love but he cannot hear. Screaming at him is irksome, beyond belief.
 8. I'm happy with myself and what I believe.
 9. I may want to be eternally ahead of the wave but realize this isn't realistic and not really desireable in the end. Life is short; being buried by the wave at times is what makes each day new.
10. Christmas is my least favorite time of year. In fact this Christmas 2012 was the worst Christmas ever.  That's why there's the day before Thanksgiving; a truly blessed day.

. Much love to all and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Favorite Day

This day, this wonderful day before Thanksgiving has always been my "favorite-ist" day of the year and hopefully will be forever. Why the day spells magic and joy to me I don't exactly understand although I've some ideas. 

For one, the Thanksgiving Day holiday is my favorite holiday of the year; better than Christmas. The day is about all the right things; loved ones and time together, sharing a great meal. What could be nicer? I love that Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday, the fourth Thursday of November. The time of week makes for a very nice four day weekend for many of us, unlike Christmas or New Years that can fall on any day of the week. I love the loaded plate of food, the tastes all blending together. I love the leftovers. I even love the preparation and (sigh) even the cleanup. The fall decorations are beautiful.

This is prime time, people.

But the day before Thanksgiving?  This is the day of promise, the beginning, the quiet anticipation growing, the joyful thought about how nice it will be to gather together once again as family, as friends, as grateful people enjoying the bounty of our lives. I always stop to think about my extended family and where they are on this day, what they're doing  and no matter how far afield they may be, I can draw them close in my thoughts. I remember those loved ones no longer here but who were once such important faces around the table.

Recent tradition holds that we'll watch  A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving video, eat pizza, and snack o Party Mix. No matter the weather, it's time to be gathered inside together.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Week Later: Ambivalent

Well, here we are. Election Day 2012. But, that's not really the point of my post today.

My last post was a week ago, the day after the big storm, Hurricane Sandy, hit the East Coast. I can barely fathom that it's been but a week; it seems so much longer. We were so fortunate. Nothing untoward came our way. My heart aches for the devastation, the loss of lives, the injuries and hardships of those affected by this terrible storm. In mid-town Manhattan, there was little evidence of a problem aside from lighter traffic, closed businesses, and tourists moving about the old fashioned way: on their two feet.

By Wednesday, Halloween Day, traffic was hectic as people busted out their vehicles to make it to work with a downed subway and bus system. More places were open, including the Broadway shows which had been dark for three days. We bought tickets for the matinee performance of Once and enjoyed an early dinner on "restaurant row" in the theatre district. The food was amazing at Beccos and the wait staff were all in costume. All very festive and light hearted.

In retrospect, had I truly understood all the sadness and pain going on within a fifty mile radius at the very same time, the enjoyment would have evaporated. When you don't know, you don't know. The human stories come forth days later; they did in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina, with 9/11, with the massive Asian tsunami of 2004, with the earthquake in Japan. The details take time to surface and spread and in the meantime, most of us (even those in the middle of the fray, unscathed) keep moving forward with our lives.

I'm glad we went to New York. The days spent in the big city were epic, unprecedented, and we saw and experienced things that we will likely never see again. Empty streets, closed businesses, cordoned off subway access points. I learned that geography was on our side as we hunkered down in mid-town Manhattan, protected by tall buildings and removed from the wilds of Battery Park and the southern tip of the island where havoc played out while the rest of us sighed in relief.

By Thursday, Manhattan north of 34th Street started to look and act like "the city" again. We took in more sights, another Broadway play, good food, and walked our legs off. Meanwhile....grief stricken people were close by.

The juxtaposition in hindsight gives me an odd feeling. Could I have done anything useful to help? Or was it "OK" to simply go on with a vacation and make the best of poor timing?

You can see, I'm wondering.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Strategic Eating in NYC

D and I learned that good food is reasonably priced in New York City.  I sort of knew this from a couple of trips over the last decade but D had not been in the city since the late 1960's. He imagined that meals would be outrageously expensive everywhere. But, not so; especially if you stick to the main rule: NEVER eat in a hotel restaurant, especially at breakfast. If you do, be for-warned that  2 eggs, bacon, toast, hash browns, and coffee will set you back 28 bucks.

We avoided standard breakfast fare entirely choosing to buy wonderful looking and tasting pastries from bakeries the day before and enjoying them in our hotel room with a cup of coffee before setting out for the day. Denny found a great authentic bagel spot on Third Avenue called Ess-a-Bagel which reminded me again that not all bagels are created equal. Nothing like seeing those bagels being made right in front of you and having a choice of two dozen types of cream cheese that gets slathered on an half inch thick

As for lunch and dinner, we found great choices everywhere from restaurant row on West 46th Street to the delis on 7th Ave and the 50's. We ate at Carnegie Deli twice; splitting the enormous hot pastrami sandwich which clearly feeds two for the price of one. Then there was the unexpectedly great lunch at an Irish Pub, one of the few places open the day after the hurricane where we enjoyed a Guinness and corned beef. Two nights when very little was open owing to the storm, we ate great tasting pizza from a small storefront on Lexington just by the hotel.

We did not go hungry and we didn't break the bank.

The cost of hotel accommodations is a separate story.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Damage after the Storm

Denny and I ventured out of the hotel after dark last night to buy some dinner. We spied a pizza/pasta joint within 50 yards of the Barclay and thought a quick sprint would be safe. The rain was light and the wind relatively calm. The restaurant was bustling with hungry folk. We took our pizza slices and  a  piece of NY cheesecake to go and were back to the safety of our 10th floor hotel room within 10 minutes.

We were glued to the TV until midnight, channel surfing to catch all the news of the storm we could take in. We never lost power and heard but a few gusts of wind powerful enough to catch our attention. Lower Manhattan took a huge hit with flooding at Battery Park, the FDR highway, and the subway system. The power went out south of 34th street and remains out. Backup generators at NY Hospital didn't work and patients required evacuation to other medical centers in the middle of the night. A dangling crane from a building under construction on 7th Avenue forced closure of streets in the area for fear of the crane would fall with gusting winds.

And this is just Manhattan. We've been watching the news out of New Jersey which sounds horrific and the boroughs of NYC, Long Island and beyond.

This is the first time I don't regret our decision to cancel the cruise, due to depart NYC tomorrow. Will that cruise actually leave the city? How will passengers get into the city when all three airports are closed?  Wow.

More later.

Monday, October 29, 2012

In NYC for the Big Storm

I'm not sure how this happened but....we find ourselves in the the big city for the "storm of the century", Hurricane Sandy.  It's been many a year since Denny and I've lived through a hurricane; the last was Alicia when she hit Houston in 1983. That's a long time ago.

Several days back Denny pointed out that the storm hovering out in the southern Atlantic might hit the east coast sometime during our 5 day trip to New York City. I gave the concern very little thought. As it turns out, our flight from Seattle arrived in to Newark Liberty airport in the nick of time last evening. Plus...we were lucky enough to get one of the last trains from Newark into Penn Station.

You'd never know anything was amiss aside from lighter traffic. Times Square was abuzz last night with tourists. We enjoyed a great hot pastrami sandwich at the Carnegie Deli on storm's eve with mild 60 degree temps and a slight breeze.

The storm ramps up today. Fewer people are out and about and taxis are about the only vehicles aside from police cars on the roads. Most shops are closed. We did manage a great lunch at The National, one of  Geoffrey Zacharian's (iron chef!) restaurants. The chef himself was there, eating with his family and Denny thanked him for keeping his place open. "My pleasure", and a big smile from Geoffrey.

So now we sit in our hotel room with a bottle of Sauv Blanc and the TV on with all the hype about the storm. There's a crane dangling from the top of a 90 story building under construction in mid town Manhattan (not far from here). Yikes.

Here's some pics of Manhattan from last night and today.
Carnegie Deli Hot Pastrami


Empty Streets NYC

Lunch at the National

The Bar at National
 Over and out!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Missing My Mom

Two years ago this morning, on a sunny, crisp fall day, my Mom died. She was declining for days prior, lying in her bed at the adult family home, family sitting vigil at her bedside. The morning before she died she woke up enough to recognize MM and me before slipping back into a coma of sorts. The next day, she was gone, somewhere around 7:30 to 8 AM.

At that sacred moment of her death, my Dad was in the living room at the home, I was en route, driving and my sister not far behind me in her car. The lovely person  in attendance with Mom at the very moment of her last breath was Yerusalem, a very dear and loving caregiver. I'm so glad it was she who was in attendance. I so wanted to  be there, holding Mom's hand. I will regret always ignoring my instinct to stay the night and coming on home to sleep.  These are things that can never be undone.

Today on my drive to work, drops of rain fell from grey skies. Temperatures were in the low 50's. I thought about Mom and all of life that has been lived since her passing. I longed for her presence here and now. I longed for her advice, her wisdom; especially now when there is so much about my life's plan that has been upended.

I figure I will always miss her. Mom missed her mother decades after her death. This may be a loss from which we never fully recover.

I love you, Mom.