Second Sleep

I bet you think I am going to swoon about second sleeps… which I am, but it is not what I am thankful for today.

I do love me a good second sleep. I am all in on the concept and the benefits. After living much of my life waking up at 3am to finish what needs to be done for the next morning, I looked into the concept of two sleeps…or second sleep. It is a real thing. Back in the day, people would go to bed earlier, no electricity, Netfix, or cell phone solitaire…then wake up in the middle of the night for a bit. They would stoke the fire, knead the morning bread, maybe do a little stoking and kneading with their bedmate…then a quick second sleep before starting the official day. Seems pretty efficient to me!

I took a second sleep today after much middle of the night catching up with the NYT and Washington Post, and woke up to the sound of the recycling truck. Oh no. Not only did I assume I would put out the recycling this morning…I also assumed I would have done all of my morning chores an hour ago. I over slept. Able to quickly get dressed and open the door for my little man (while brushing my teeth) it all worked out. We walked the dog, threw our neighbors newspaper on their porch, and fed the cats together. It was nice to have a little partner in my morning routine.

To the point. I completely adore the very loud recycling truck that saved my butt this morning. I also applaud the weekly garbage, bulk, yard clippings, cardboard, and recycling pick ups provided…they are a privilege and a gift. We leave stuff on the curb at night, it is gone in the morning. Big strong DPW elves make it happen…hanging off trucks, jumping to the curb, dumping, then throwing the containers as they take off to the next spot. No matter how rushed they are, always taking the time to smile and chat up my little morning guys. Swoon.

I am thankful for the Pleasantville Department of Public Works team…they are the salt of the earth…and a great alarm clock!

I took this picture yesterday because I was thankful they took my absurd amount of boxes…who knew they would be an alarm clock today

Gentle Reminders

When my kids were in their late teens, I used to send them memes to start their day. Little bits of goodness reminding them to blah blah blah and not for forget to blah blah blah. Since crisp and clear words leaving my mouth entered their brains as Peanuts gang adult gibberish, why not send pictures?

Completely coming clean here…I had no idea they had a name, I called them my happy pictures, my morning goodness, my captures. One day Jacob mentioned a meme and I asked what he was talking about, in a completely exhausted tone he said, Mom, you send them to us a few times a day? Ahhh, so I did. I thought giving my visual oriented people pictures instead of words might break through that wall of annoyance that surrounded them…and sometimes it did. A little heart might appear on the upper corner of the text, or a cute, or a Ha...and on really really good days I might get an I love you Mama. If I am to be honest, 95% went with no response or acknowledgment. Crickets.

I rarely send memes to my people anymore but I still love them. I am not interested in Pam and Jim from The Office dancing, or David from Schitt’s Creek telling me to fold in the cheese. I like “nice memes” ones reminding me to be a better person, to appreciate my day, or reminding me to like myself. I am always open for some good advice and some growth, so when I saw this image on my FB feed…I knew that today, I would be thankful for memes.

A Regular Day

I love love love holidays.

The before, the planning, and the decorating. The day of and the doing. The clean up and organize for the next year. I love it all. I am not just talking the biggies…the showstoppers. I am talking my dead father’s birthday which usually coincides with Labor Day. You name it, I want to celebrate it. Fun stuff.

My little man arrived for our time together before school to witness the removal of Halloween. We usually play with Alpha-Bots while he eats his French toast sticks and “dip dip”, today he watched things get packed up. Much chatter ensued, many questions asked. Why are the Halloween decorations in boxes, where are they going…the BASEMENT? THEY GO IN THE BASEMENT? Clearly this was disturbing until his little eyes got very wide...Kat? What is today? My answer of Wednesday was not what he wanted. Kat, what holiday is today? Ahhhh, today was just a day, nothing special, just a regular day. He thought about it. Kat, you are so excited for Valentine’s Day, right?

Actually, not yet…right now I am planning Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I am thrilled to be doing it. But today, today I am just going to enjoy today.

I am thankful for regular days…enjoy yours.

Breath

I am thankful for my first breath each morning.

I was just on the phone with my girlfriend discussing the pesky things that make our days long. Then, as we always do, we interrupted ourselves to be grateful. If these minor annoyances were the worst part of our lives… we should probably suck it up.

I told her a story about my grandma Haigoohi (second from left on top row, my mom is the one with the doll). One day, sitting at the breakfast room table my grandma said, Katharine, I am happy today…I woke up breathing. My snarky teenage self thought, hmmm, those are some low goals. Did I even think about her life…that while hiding in a basement during a genocide…waking up to another day was the only goal.

The gift of breathing. Lately it seems that every text, phone call, or post has the potential of being that update. The one with bad news. Cancer, death, surgery, job loss. Daily occurrences…no longer surprising…sigh.

I am thankful to breathe.

PSA: VOTE…if you live in the United States…please vote today. Do you, vote for what betters your life, vote for the right reasons. Vote.

Thankful

Being thankful. A month full of thankful posts.

It all started years ago on FB after I listened to a children’s sermon on appreciating the bits of goodness in our lives. A simple concept that is so very hard to do. Be thankful for all the little stuff…and you will feel full. I decided to give it a try. Waking up in a warm quilty. I am thankful. A good cup of coffee. I am thankful. Fire Island house surviving Sandy. I am thankful. Alarm clocks going off then snoozing in unison each morning. I am thankful. A refrigerator full of food, a warm tubby, a smile from a stranger walking their dog. I am thankful.

It is easy to remember to be thankful for the big things, the near misses missed…the recoveries from illness, the promotions at work. But if take the time to notice all of the little things during the very long days that we keep…they add up and remind us how very lucky we are.

Welcome to my thankful series. Each day, one month, big and small, each important. Feel free to join me. I promise it will create some magic in your life. You will feel happier, you will stand taller…even if you are just thankful for the leaf that just fell from the sky, twirling before your eyes to join its friends on the ground.

I am thankful.

My message to the sky after finding our house at Fire Island standing and water free after Sandy. I was, I am, thankful.

Harmony

Oh oh oh…mornings this time of year, so bright, crisp, clear.

My little guy jumped out of the car and pointed towards the rising sun, pink clouds across the blue sky. LOOK! SUN BEAMS! His mom looked at me and said, who knew he knew the word beams…and right on cue he chimed in, what does beam mean?

Our walk is full of laughing, running, counting, and big hellos to everyone we see. It is peaceful and crazy all at the same time. Today we approached the school and heard FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT…a nasty chant interrupting our bliss. I watched from across the busy street as two boys pushed and shoved each other, the first ring around them urging them to continue…FIGHT FIGHT. The next ring watching in awe. The third ring…two dads, observing in awkward silence.

Anyone who knows me, knows I am not a bystander. Had I not had a 5 year old child and a nine pound dog in my care I would have dodged traffic and gotten right between them. I would have also addressed the “chanting chorus” and the “sit back and watch crew”. Some people love me, some hate me, I am who I am. As we crossed the street the bell rang, the boys shoved each other one last time and moved on. The crowds thinned. The dads laughed nervous laughs, one saying he knew the kids…good kids, ha ha, yuck yuck…then they went their separate ways.

Dads, dudes…you are cute and you are hip, and I love that you are walking your kids to school…but I think you know…you kinda blew a good learning moment.

When we allow our kids to use force instead of words…when we laugh as kids taunt and cheer on aggressive behavior…when we watch others be bystanders…we are creating a community that is not harmonious. The truth is the king of the hill one day is at the bottom of the pile the next, then they do much damage to regain their power, it is an ugly cycle. We do not need to live like that. Allowing this behavior in elementary school means it will continue, and once they are in middle and high school it is almost impossible to reign in.

The summer before our kids went to college I realized the many many ways we had failed them. I was their ATM, keeping track of their money on a sheet of paper then doling out cash as needed. We did their laundry, cause you know, they had so much going on with school and activities. I was their cook, maid, and personal shopper. Flipping out, awake at 3am, making mental lists of all things we needed to teach them…immediately. We had made their lives way to easy by letting it go, time and time again. Had we taught our kids these chores all along, their transition to college would have been easier. Bad Parenting 101.

We live in an amazing community, but we can still do better. Kids are going to be kids. I don’t believe in labeling them good or bad, but lessons learned now will follow them throughout their school career…and life.

As I left drop off I was still a bit sad. Then I saw a dad give his daughter a bear hug while yelling he loved her soooooo much…and my dog pranced home clueless to any drama, smelling some really good smells…and we greeted some super sweet neighbors…and best of all, there, at the end of the block was our little blue house glowing in the most perfect light…there was harmony.

Halloween Hauntings

Halloween. The holiday that makes me smile and swoon…and feel sick.

Growing up in Queens it was all things good until it wasn’t. Once trick-or-treating with decorated grocery bags while dressed as a gypsy was in the past…and being a hobo with a pillowcase in one hand and shaving cream in the other was cool…I was done. Never one for destruction, ganging up on people, enjoying an egg in the face, or being covered in menthol shaving cream…I took a break from the holiday for a bit.

Pleasantville is delicious during the fall, and all its wonder is capped off with glorious Halloween festivities. Kids painting storefront windows and doing pumpkin crafts at the farmers market. A ragamuffin parade…the middle school band leading the way to the carnival rides and games. The elementary school parties, middle school costume contest, and high school senior costume breakfast. Trick-or-treaters find their sweets on blocks known for full size candy bars, or the best decorations, or in the insanity of the neighborhood with hundreds of people enjoying sheer chaos.

Costumes were worn 365 days a year in our house, but Halloween was still super special. Discussions began in August, the deadline for a final decision was September. There was a lot of work to be done, we were makers. Our kids were involved along the way, much discussion and criticism on their likes and dislikes. “More glitter please…no hair color…can I have two costumes, an easy one for school and a fancy one for the parades.” So many decisions.

The parade was the stuff Hallmark movies are made of, small town perfection and amazing amounts of fun. The years when the parade was on Halloween were extra special and beyond exhausting. Family and friends arriving from the city to experience suburban goodness…march in the parade then trick-or-treating and ending with an evening of feasting on Chinese food while the kids sorted and swapped candy.

So many wonderful memories, yet as with so many things, my first thoughts go to the negative stuff. Why do I do that?

We are the self reflection generation, and that is awesome…but aching over putting too much eyeliner on our King Tut is a bit ridiculous… especially 17 years later. Thinking it was ok to have our 6 year old daughter dress as a Geisha? Um!?! Telling our kids that 7th grade was too old for trick-or-treating, sigh. Failing to point out the inappropriateness of awarding first place in a school costume contest to a group of girls dressed as the Harlem Globetrotters…why did anyone think a gaggle of white girls wearing afros was ok…and why didn’t I speak up? Watching the hurt when group costumes were “cast” and kids were left out or set aside. Why are middle schoolers so mean to each other…and why am I so hard on myself? All hard life lessons, all forgivable…and each and every one of these memories, should no longer haunting my Halloweens.

There, it’s all out, now I can just love Halloween again. And although I would never let my kid be a Geisha today…she was pretty darn cute…and Elvis and the Geisha, I can not believe that was never a movie.

be alive

Years of living…October 11th as remembered on social media. A drawing of Greg and me by our little neighbor, both of us wearing a-line dresses and smiling…Food pics from a Sunday cooking apple pie and chili, creating cozy…A meme of RBG, reminding us that she didn’t leave us, she just passed us the baton…A Playbill from a live reading of Plan 9 from Outer Space seen with my man and a bestie…The delivery of building materials for our major construction project, so naive about the chaos ahead…A reminder that Jacob and I would head out for our drive across the country the next day, forgetting coats and that there are many weather possibilities between New York and California…The start of the Me Too Movement, debated and discussed…Visiting Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, and the wall of blue that would inspire our house color choice years later…Pictures of my kids at Comic Con, their first alone date to the city.

being alive

This picture popped up a few days ago, we were babies, 19-24 or so, just before our college graduation. I am top middle, younger then both of my kids are now. At graduation parties we talked about where we would be in ten years, we had it all planned. We had no idea where life would take us, or that our plans…no matter how lovely, would not always match up with reality. All we knew was we were ready to start living.

We did become designers…and private chefs, politicians, homemakers, and more. We discovered who we were and became who we were meant to be. We found partners who were the perfect fit and said goodbye to those that weren’t. We had children who both flourished and struggled. We experienced grief so strong we though we might not make it. We tried new things, we questioned. We have learned that life is not easy, that health is not guaranteed. Nothing is to be taken for granted and happy moments should be cherished. We live each day knowing our plans are only guesses.

This morning I saw two women in their be alive t-shirts. be alive is the slogan of a mental health organization here in our little town…started by a family who lost one of their kids to mental health struggles. As a community we have embraced the family…and the mission. By appreciating bits of goodness in each day, we are keeping him alive, and we are nourishing our own mental health. Someone recently noticed that I am swooning more than usual, I guess that is true. I find the crispness and light in autumn energizing…I am living…and when I choose to live, I swoon.

be alive

New York Goodness

My brother-in-law is completely delicious. I have a soft spot for him, mostly because he really didn’t know he was even a bit delicious until recently. Kind, smart, talented, cute, he would be kind of annoying if he was also not so gracious. His wife is also pretty spectacular, she is a wise ass, a creative, intelligent, and stylish sort. She can crack me up like no other. Spending time with these two is always a treat, something I missed, I am not sure I knew how much I missed it until the other night.

I like to call myself a New Yorker, but in actuality, I left…I did not stick it out through 9/11, getting kids into high school, or the pandemic. I live in the suburbs, sigh. Ron and Leah stuck it out. True New Yorkers know other New Yorkers…and that is why I got to experience the most perfect Thursday night. Swoon.

I picked up my man from his after school gig of painting sets for a 5/6 grade play. He has the patience of a saint. He goes from wrangling pre-pubescent boys who find paint a fun weapon…to gently teaching a child that in actuality, they are not the only person who counts…to pumping up quiet bits of goodness who need some confidence…all while painting the land of Oz on old cardboard boxes. He did his magic then jumped in the car using wipes to remove paint from his everywhere while I drove.

A perk of having friends in the restaurant business is “soft opening, friends & family nights”. They were the friends, we were their family…dinner out at Great Jones Distilling Co. here we come. A just under two hour drive to a place 35 miles away! No problem, we listened to Judge John Hodgman, piping in with our opinions…we talked about our days, we held hands. The traffic, the skyline, the George Washington Bridge, I could feel myself becoming myself. I love Manhattan. Finding a free parking spot on West 4th a block from Washington Square Park we knew we were in for a magical night.

The park was alive. A warm fall night in Washington Square Park is straight out of the movies. A couple doing tai chi, their red and blue lightsabers making calm deliberate movements of geeky light. The man on the trumpet silhouetted by the fountain lights, entertaining people both ignoring and appreciating him simultaneously. The student shooting take after take of a ghost twirling in the trees, the ghost adjusting their sheet after each shot. The arch, oh that beautiful arch, glowing in glee, happy its people were back. The rollerbladers twisting and grinding and feeling their feels, days of the boom box gone, AirPods create silence. The overwhelming smell of weed. The joy. New York.

Broadway at West 4th, was once hopping, Tower Records, restaurants, vintage clothing stores, flea markets, punks and homeless people galore. Today, it is dark and deserted, unrecognizable. The greed of landlords pushed out the soul and the life…well, except for this new distillery and restaurant. This is not a review, because that is not what this blog is about. My blog is about my feels. I will say, we had the best time. The bartenders put on a show creating magical drinks out of exceptional ingredients. Three different shapes of ice used…the embossed block for the Old Fashioned, the rounded cubes for the Sour Cherry Spritzer, the partially crushed for the Julep in the elegant silver cup. It was choreographed and it was delightful. Every detail taken care of, delicious food, safe atmosphere, good company. Another win for the evening.

Once I got married and had kids I knew I would never think of just myself again. Remembering that there is still a version of me, the part before I split my soul into pieces is so rejuvenating. One night out, back in my city, black overalls, Doc Martens, big hair, and red lipstick…with my guy and my dear people. Walking, eating, drinking, laughing.

I was at peace, I was me.