Category Archives: Life stories

Suddenly we were on the bridge to Brooklyn

First read this related post.

Suddenly we were on the bridge to Brooklyn. The Manhattan Bridge this time, not the Williamsburg. I laughed.

“Don’t laugh. This isn’t funny!” Mom said.

I kept laughing. What else are you supposed to do when a Chinese New Year parade and dozens of NYC traffic cops thwart your Little Italy lunch plans and Canal Street spits you onto the bridge to downtown Brooklyn without any choice?

Just thirty minutes earlier, everything was fine. Great really. Mom came in from Scranton for a post-birthday (hers, not mine) visit. I had a present waiting for her at my apartment in Williamsburg. We planned to drive there after shopping and lunch at Pellegrino’s.

We shopped at Lord & Taylor. I found a dress that might be fun for my friend Candace‘s wedding in Jamaica. We got Mom’s car out of the lot ($26 for two hours, and that’s the Weekend Special) and headed downtown.

And sat in spectacular traffic once we passed Bleecker Street.

“I’m never doing this again,” Mom said about driving downtown, and agreeing to drive to Brooklyn for her birthday gift. But she has said that many times during my life about things she has absolutely done again so I laughed some more.


Each summer, my parents and I would drive eight-ish hours south to Nags Head, NC. Once, when I was a seven or eight years old, we arrived the Cabana East Motel only to find that our reservation was actually for the next day. No rooms were available.

Click link for photo credit

Dad, not the adaptable sort, was furious at Mom who, although she might have gotten a date wrong, also did all of the heavy lifting for planning our vacations with no offers of help from Dad. Even though we were able to get a room for the night at the Beacon next door, I don’t think my parents exchanged a civil word for 24-48 hours.

I wished we could all just be happy about the extra day at the beach.


When we found ourselves on the Manhattan Bridge, I turned to Mom (who was getting progressively more hangry thanks to my laughter) and said “why don’t we eat in Williamsburg? You can eat food you don’t eat around Dad.”*

I felt tense during the drive up the BQE but tried to hide it with chatter. We parked near the restaurant and then walked down the middle of the street to avoid the ice-covered sidewalks. The ice was another strike against Brooklyn in my mother’s eyes.

Miraculously, she stepped across the restaurant threshold and expressed her approval.

Mom and Jen

We went to Mesa Coyoacan for Mexican food. Tamarind margarita for her, michelada for me. We gorged on tortilla soup and esquites and guacamole and tacos. When we were done with that, I surprised her with churros con chocolate y caramel with a birthday candle. She no longer seemed mad at me for laughing.


Guess what? Mom loved my black nail polish. She proclaimed my hair too “gold.” I’m keeping it though.

 

*Between his health concerns and narrow idea of what constitutes Good Food. (In my dad’s opinion, every cuisine that isn’t American or Italian might serve him cat for an entrée. Don’t ask. I have given up.)

Pop quiz: Which did Mom find more objectionable?

Mom visited me. More on that soon.

As I anticipated her visit, I asked myself “which will she hate more – my hair which I had colored a bit darker or my nails which are painted black?”

Mom and Jen

Naturally she had an opinion.

How do you think it played out? Vote now and I’ll tell you the answer tomorrow. Click here to find out.

Gratitude for the ones who got away

Dan* and I met through my work-study job in college. My commitment to ten hours of weekly clerical work in the Registrar’s Office was the subject of much mirth among the full-timers and more reliable student works.

It was a 50/50 proposition if I would actually show up for my designated hours, they joked. “But I always call!” I would counter. Whether it was due to classwork, hangovers, my need for a nap or simply something more interesting arising, I called in with a lot of excuses.

For whatever reason, they tolerated me.

Dan appeared on one of the days late in my freshman year when I happened to show up. His mother was one of the bosses and when visiting from his own university, he would come to the office to help out. Dan was a volleyball-playing, ROTC-committed stud of a man. When he smiled, his eyes reminded me of Patrick Swayze (!). Tall and fit, solid, sturdy and friendly, I was immediately drawn to him.

Suck it Dan Continue reading

The latest

Clearly “blog more” was not my New Year‘s resolution. If it had been, I’d be considered a failure. So…good for me, not making resolutions!

#kanyeshrug

But I have been thinking of the blog and you wonderful people who read and comment. Does that help?

2015 is off to a rip-roaring start. Wanna know what I’ve been up to? Keep reading.

Continue reading

This part of adulthood is The Worst

 

This post was originally entitled “I am nothing but feelings.” You’ll see.Dad dimplesThe phone rang at 10:46 AM on November 17. It was a Monday so I was at work when my parents’ home number flashed on my cell phone, making my heart jump to my throat.

“Hello?” I answered, feeling tense.

It wasn’t Mom, calling to tell me she was taking Dad to the hospital. It was Dad, sounding fine.

I willed myself to breathe again.

Dad said he felt bad for not calling more. He just called to chat.

For years, Dad didn’t know my phone number – seriously – and it drove my mother nuts. She gave him grief about it constantly, writing the number on notepads in the house and entering it into his seldom-used and seldom-seen cell phone. But I always told him the same thing: I know how much you love me.

Still, it’s a surprise when Dad calls. A great surprise. I drop everything for him.

We talked about The Voice, which he absolutely loves. The bromance between Adam and Blake cracks him up. But he has a new favorite now.

Via JustJared and NBC

Dad asked about my cold and told me that he’s feeling good. The last three years have taught me not to take that for granted. Tomorrow is not assured.


Holidays are different now. On Thanksgiving night, I cried in my childhood bedroom thinking ahead to the day when I will no longer have a dad.

I used to save projects for Dad. A necklace that needs fixing. A shelf to be mounted on my apartment wall. He was my own personal McGyver. No challenge was too great for Dad.

But now, Dad is often physically vulnerable. I don’t ask him to do things for me now because I know it would break his heart to say “I can’t. I’m so sorry, Jen.”

My father seems to be fading like an old Polaroid. Sometimes I think about asking if he’s scared. And by scared, I mean about dying. But that’s a door I can’t open. Even thinking and typing the word feels like a betrayal.


Dad spent six days in a hospital two hours’ drive from home last week. His condition, pulmonary hypertension, is very difficult to manage. He has an excellent specialist who does everything you’d want a doctor to do, from calling the house to check in between appointments to visiting my father in the hospital, even though he’s out on vacation.

But getting Dad back on course takes time and tries his patience. He hates the hospital food, and the hospital twin bed and worst of all, the hospital TV that doesn’t offer a guide or menu. Fortunately he loves the nurses (and they love him).

I call a few times each day, trying to encourage and distract him.

“At least The Voice is on tonight, Dad.”

“You’re right, Jen. I can’t wait. It’s good to have something to look forward to.”

“I love you, Dad. So much.”

And then I hang up and cry. I can’t let Dad know how scared I am.


 

December 18 update: Dad was just diagnosed with shingles.