Time flies…

Yikes! Has it really been over a month since my last post!?! Let’s see… what I have I been up to since posting about my Bucket List…

– Made some progress on the condo renovation. I’m ALMOST finished – it’s still not 100% done, but I’m at about 98% and that’s a heck of a lot closer than I was at the end of April… I mean, why shouldn’t it take 6+ months to renovate a 1200sf space? Ugh. Note to self: trust your gut. When the contractors don’t seem on the up-and-up, they probably aren’t. Learned this lesson by way of a 6-week delay after being shut down by the building department because the proper permits had not been obtained (and the contractor was using unlicensed subs). Awesome.

– We went to CA for a week. While there we attended a charity event (The Sheckler Foundation’s Skate For a Cause) – outdoors, on the hottest day of our trip; visited with family; visited with some business contacts – both for myself and my son; and went to Angels Stadium (cross one off the Bucket List!).

– We went to Tampa for Memorial Day weekend. Visited with some friends, went to the Dali Museum, and saw the final game in the Red Sox-Rays series. Even though it was #10 in the losing streak for my Sox (which has since been broken), it was still one of the most exciting games I’ve attended. The woman sitting next to me had never been to an MLB game before… she got to see lead changes, an on-field replay, stolen bases, and a bench-clearing brawl. At the end of the game, she said the only thing missing was that she didn’t catch a foul ball… But she did see an older guy tackle a kid to catch one, and then he kept it, even though the kid was sobbing (and probably hurt), so that counts for something (right?). [What is wrong with people?]

– We went to NYC this past weekend to help out at a charity event. It was a super quick trip, but well worth it. My son is great with kids, and this charity is one we both support. If you haven’t heard of the A.Skate Foundation, you should check it out. Side note: If you haven’t read Gone Girl, you should also check IT out. I read the entire thing in about 8 hours – on the flight to NY, in the hotel on Saturday night, and in the airport waiting to go home. I love finding a book that is so riveting you don’t want to put it down. Looking forward to seeing how they play this story out in the movie… (starring the one and only Battfleck! Sorry, that meme always cracks me up, and I do love Ben Affleck.)

– I went to see Nicole Curtis speak about Restoration in Winter Park. She is every bit as energetic and feisty in real life as she is on her show. But much tinier. I’m not that big, but I felt like a giant next to her. I also felt like a stalker, asking for a photo, but whatevs. After the keynote, we got to tour some homes in Winter Park. I had never been there before, and really liked the area. I especially liked the New England-y feel to it. The homes we toured were beautiful and the owners did an amazing job with their restorations. (Another item – sort of – crossed off the Bucket List!)

– I spent Mother’s Day with my mom. I don’t spend as much time with her as I should. We tend to get on each other’s nerves. She told me recently that I’m “scary”. I presume it’s because I actually speak my mind now, rather than sucking it up, biting my tongue, and playing nice. I’m too old to play nice all the time. And life’s too short to feel like you can’t express your opinions. I prefer to think I’m less “scary” and more “honest”. But since honesty tends to scare my family – and is often avoided for the sake of “saving” people’s feelings (bad idea!) – it makes sense that after 40 years of having a complacent, quiet daughter, she finds it unsettling (ok, fine – perhaps even a little scary) that she now has one who isn’t really taking much crap from people.

– I’ve been spending some time re-evaluating where I am in my life. I’m 42 (gasp!) and have put things on hold for many years. Like 10. Possibly 12. As my son gets older, and I realize that soon he will be leaving home, I have some planning to do for my own freedom (if we want to call it that…). Today he asked me where I would live if I could go anywhere for a year. I said Europe. Probably Greece, but I didn’t have a specific place in mind. It’s kind of funny, because I was recently thinking about this very same thing, and how amazing it would be to live somewhere different every year. Spend 12 months in a new place; be immersed in a new culture. I imagine at this point in my life that it would be a great adventure. Though it would be nice to have someone to share the experiences with…so maybe I need to find a travel partner first. I can’t quite decide, though, if it’s a non-committal escape (it’s only a year! nothing permanent!) or a brilliant plan to see the world, learn and grow… It’s probably somewhere in between.

Whew – that’s more than I thought. But I feel like I’m forgetting something… I’m sure it’ll come to me. Thanks for hanging out and reading my blabble (blog/babble).

Happy trails! We’re off to Austin this week for the X-Games. Yeehaw!

xo – BS

Bucket List

I have not been a life-long bucket list keeper… Most of the time, I’ll see or hear of something, and make a mental note that I’d like to check it out someday. But with age comes memory loss, and who knows what my bucket list would look like if I had actually written it all down. It would be an interesting study in what may have influenced me over time…

That said, I have decided to make a semi-official bucket list, even though my son told me I’m not old enough to have one. I guess I should be flattered by that, but I think everyone should have one. Even him, at the tender age of 14. And looking back, I wish I had started earlier with mine.

So here goes:
1) visit the oldest Major League Ballparks. This seemed very ambitious until I discovered that there are only 5 that are older than me; and I’ve already been to 2 (Fenway and Dodger Stadium) with one more (Anaheim) getting crossed off the list next weekend. I will make a point to get to Wrigley this year, to help celebrate its 100th Anniversary. I should also be able to get to Oakland this year or next. I might have to expand, at least until the year I graduated High School (1990)… or college (1994)… or the year my son was born (1999). At least THAT would feel like more of an accomplishment — seeing more than 1/2 of all the ballparks, rather than 5. Thanks to Bill Miller for posting this, and giving me a frame of reference:
http://ondeckcircle.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/major-league-ballparks-oldest-to-newest/

2) attend the Boston Marathon. I have no aspirations to RUN it, but I would like to be there to take it all in. I should have gone this year, but wasn’t really thinking. I’ve already planned to go with a couple of friends next year. I can’t believe that in all the years I actually lived in the city, I never watched the Marathon.

3) attend the Rose Bowl Parade. I don’t need to see the game, but would like to see those amazing floats up close. This is penciled in for 1/1/15.

4) go to Australia.

5) visit more of the US – I’ve never been to Colorado, Alaksa, or even Indiana. I think if I live in this country, I should see at least 1/2 of the states that comprise it. And not just a (literal) drive by on I-95.

6) go back to Greece. I went there for camp as a 17-year-old kid who didn’t appreciate all of the history.

7) fall in love. REALLY in love. And stay there.

8) see the Great Wall of China. Not just in a picture.

9) Go skydiving. But just the indoor wind tunnel kind. Before you judge – I have a paralyzing fear of heights, so jumping out of an airplane isn’t going to work for me. And because my kid only has 1 participating parent to begin with, I have to lessen the risk factor.

10) take a helicopter ride, preferably in some exotic location. (does this go against the safety concerns expressed in #9?)

11) go Snowshoeing and/or cross-country skiing. I am not a downhill skier. I tried when I was in High School, and didn’t enjoy it much. And now with the heights issue, the chair lift is a major problem. [perhaps I should add “overcome fear of heights” to this list…] Maybe I can do this if I ever get to Colorado… 2 birds, 1 stone. Or snowball.

12) take ballroom dancing lessons. This goes back to #7 — I’d like to find a partner first.

13) go to Italy.

14) see a Patriots game at Gillette Stadium. I grew up in MA, and never went to a Pats game. I’ve seen them play (and lose) in Miami a couple of times, but have yet to attend at home game. Been to a gazillion Red Sox games, though, so there’s that.

15) take a photography class.

16) renovate/restore an old home. Like, really old. I wanna be like Nicole Curtis when I grow up.

17) tour The White House.

18) tour Alcatraz. I’ve looked at it from across the Bay at least 15 times, but have never gone out there.

19) visit the Natural History Museum, the Smithsonian, the Air & Space Museum, etc. [please feel free to make suggestions here… I know I’m dealing with different cities, and LOTS of museum options]

20) learn more about world religions and spirituality in general.

It’s not the most glamorous, or most ambitious, list. But it’s MY list. And I’m sure it’ll change and evolve as the years go by.

Do you have a Bucket List? What’s on yours? If you’ve been keeping your list for a while, have you accomplished most/all of the items on it?

Thanks for reading, and thanks (in advance) for sharing your lists with me!

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
― Oscar Wilde

Here’s to living!
xo – BS

I like NY, but I love Boston

I just spent some time in NYC with my college roommate. I don’t really love NY the way other people love NY, but I do enjoy it in small doses. I’m a Boston girl, so NY is a little too much for me. I think I wanted to live there for a split second in middle school when my BFF and I talked about becoming models or interior designers. She did actually move to NY, went to FIT and became a well-respected designer working for one of the best in the biz… I, however, did not become a model OR and interior designer, and have never spent more than 3.5 consecutive days in the city. In my 20s I would visit New York for work, more recently it’s been for pleasure. New York always elicits images of glamour and romance, and fun! And, boy, have I had some fun in NY!
 
I’ve had a few “movie moments” in my life, and one of the most memorable ones happened in NYC when I was about 23 years old. I was working as a conference coordinator and we were running a financial seminar at a hotel in Times Square. Nothing out of the ordinary, and far from glamorous and romantic, until a certain guest arrived; the son of one of the presenters. He appeared to be a few years older than me, and as I checked him in, I realized that I was ridiculously flustered by him. I could barely speak, let alone flirt! It was the butterflies, sweaty palms and tongue-tied kind of flustered. Since I was the hostess for the event, flirting would have been inappropriate, but there was definitely some chemistry. After the seminar ended, he attended the post-conference cocktail hour, and my co-worker even picked up on the vibe! Unfortunately, I had to excuse myself early because I was meeting my friend for a show (Grease, one of my favorites. I believe it was the cast with Brooke Shields as Rizzo… Or maybe Rosie O’Donnell. I’ve seen them both. Brooke was better.) As I was getting ready in my hotel room, the phone rang. I expected it to be my friend, but it was THE GUY. Seriously?!? He wanted to take me to dinner. Wow. Crazy stuff like that doesn’t happen to me! I met him in the lobby for a few minutes, still rather tongue-tied and flustered, but had to rush out when my friend arrived. We didn’t even have time to exchange phone numbers. He didn’t come back the next day. I was disappointed, but what could I do?
 
I went back home and went about my life. I kept thinking of him, though. For crying out loud, his family’s name is on a dorm at one of the Boston colleges! He was hard to forget. I reached out to him at some point – under the guise of work – but didn’t expect to hear back from him. I was floored when he called me at the office one day and invited me to visit him in New York at Christmastime. A quick Boston-NY shuttle flight, and I was there! He picked me up at the airport, we toured the city. Went to Little Italy (to pick up a fruitcake, of all things!) and Rockefeller Center. The tree was breathtaking! I had what, in my young life, was probably one of my best days. The “relationship” never turned into anything but I do have some great memories.
 
That day also marked my first and only visit to the World Trade Center towers. At that time it was only a couple of years after the first bombing. Last weekend I visited the site where those buildings once stood. I don’t often think of him and our 1-day “romance”, but when I do, I recall riding the escalators at WTC. I wish I knew which building we were in. I feel like it’s important to remember, and I feel badly that I can’t. But I can picture that days as if it happened yesterday, not close to 20 years ago.
 
And today, which happens to be the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, while recalling that NY trip, I can’t help but think of how innocent I was back then. How unassuming and how hopeful. The world is full of heartbreak and pain. It comes in all shapes and sizes – major events and personal tragedies. My heart is heavy today, for a variety of reasons, but mostly because I can’t make sense of these senseless acts. So many hearts and souls affected. Families forever changed. I know I’m just rambling now… sorry about that. But that’s how it goes sometimes.
 
Hug your loved ones today.
xo-
BS

Kissing Bandit!

Last weekend, I had an interesting encounter. Something that hasn’t happened to me in a looooong time. Get ready… a boy expressed an interest in me! I’m not using the term ‘boy’ to be all cutesy. He was, in my opinion, still an adolescent. 21, 22 at the most. Cute, but in the way I would think of my son and his friends; not in a ‘what an attractive man’ way. Technically I am old enough to be his mother. That always puts a damper on things.

I was at an event with my son; a sporting event with a party atmosphere. We were there on Friday afternoon, and he was off doing his thing with his friends. I was hanging out with one of the other moms. We decided to take a seat in the shade, and moments later, a young man approached us. First, he took my friend’s hand and kissed it. Then did the same to me. (That’s when I noticed the mostly-empty cooler in his other hand…) He was pleasant enough, but had been drinking a little too much. He said he wanted to sit down, and asked for my seat. I was a little surprised, but got up and offered my chair, for fear that he might fall over otherwise. Then he pulled me on to his lap. It was definitely awkward – especially because I mentioned at that point that I might be old enough to be his mother – but that didn’t stop him.

He didn’t have much in the way of “moves”, and was flirtatious in a way only drunk 20-year-olds can be. I was not interested, but did play along. I was humoring him. I mean, come on… he’s closer in age to my kid than to me! The other mom wanted to take a pic to document this ridiculous situation. He suggested that I kiss him on the cheek. Riiiiight. So he could turn his head at the last second and get some lip action? While we’re at it, maybe he could yawn and put his arm around me, too. Clearly this kid thought I was unfamiliar with the game.

My friend took a pic of me with this boy smashing his lips into my cheek. I was laughing hysterically. It reminded me of being in college, and of my 20s in Boston. Good times. I was a kissing bandit myself back then. I didn’t sleep around, but I did enjoy smooching cute boys. I laugh thinking about it. I was really bold sometimes!

I was flattered by the drunk boy’s affections, however insincere or misguided they may have been. I thought it was harmless fun. Let’s face it, he probably wasn’t going to remember it anyway. My son, on the other hand, did NOT like it at all. He was mad that someone would dare kiss his mother. I had no idea he could be so protective. It was very sweet.

Little does he know, someday HE may be the kissing bandit…and I kind of hope he is (in moderation, of course).

Kisses!
xo – BS

Single Parents

There are so many single parents out there, it almost seems odd to find happily married couples these days. But I’m not going to talk about relationships… I’d like to address the technicality of the term “single parent”.  I find that most people use “single mom” and “single dad” to describe parents who are not in a romantic relationship, who are divorced, or who are living life as an individual, rather than part of a partnership. And while that’s accurate on the surface, there’s more to it than that.

Here’s my beef: I am a single mom. Single in the sense that NO OTHER PARENT is involved in my son’s life. He’s never met his father. (We commonly refer to him as The Donor.) I have raised my son alone for 14+ years. Sure, my parents help out when they can, but I don’t ever get a break. He’s with me 100% of the time. No freedom every other weekend, or on Wednesday nights for dinner.  I do all of the driving, all of the cooking, all of the shopping, all of the disciplining… all of the everything. Maybe there needs to be a different term for parents like me — sole parents, individual parents, super-parents.

I didn’t expect to me a mom at 27, let alone a single one. But I made that choice, knowing from the beginning that The Donor wanted out. And it hasn’t always been easy. Actually, most of the time it’s pretty challenging. My son’s not an easy-going kid by any stretch of the imagination. But he’s got a huge heart, he’s smart, he’s pretty darn funny, and he’s a talented athlete. (I’ll keep him.)

I know my situation is not unique. There are plenty of people parenting their children alone. Many are working multiple jobs to make ends meet (been there, too).  I just think that lumping us in with parents whose relationship status is ‘single’  kind of diminishes the work we as sole parents do. 

I happen to fall into both categories – sole parent and single female – but I’d rather be defined by my parenting status than the fact that I haven’t been on a date in years. I get a little ticked off when I hear single moms complaining that their life is so hard…while they’re heading to the spa with their girlfriends or going on a date because their kids are with their father. I’m sure that’s not easy either – only having your kids home half the time – but what I wouldn’t give to have a set schedule with time for ME!! It’s getting easier now that he’s older, but still…

Reading this back, it sounds a little whiny and selfish. It’s not meant to be. I love my son, and I don’t know what my life would be like without him. I’m a firm believer in ‘everything happens for a reason’, so I wouldn’t change a thing. The one huge bonus to being a sole parent is that I don’t have to share my kid with anyone else. I know far too many people who still fight with their exes over the kids. I don’t have to fight, discuss decisions, or split time with anyone. So when I complain, I try to remind myself that I’m pretty lucky to have this cool kid all to myself. The Donor doesn’t know what he’s missing.

Cheers to all the Sole Parents out there! And to the co-parents, single or otherwise!

xo – BS

Sometimes I Feel Invisible

Have you ever walked up to an automatic door and it didn’t open? Happens to me all the time.

On several occasions, I’ve been introduced to someone, only to see them later and say “Nice to see you again” as they simultaneously say “Nice to meet you”? Yep, this happens often. It’s understandable once – maybe even twice – but the 4th or 5th time, that’s just rude. Am I really that forgettable?

How about attempting to participate in a group conversation only to be ignored like you aren’t even standing there? Again, yes.

I don’t think I’m that boring. Obviously, I’m not actually invisible (though that would explain automatic doors repeatedly not registering my presence, and would come in handy as a superpower). But it is frustrating when these things happen over and over and over again. I don’t expect anyone to do anything about it. I’m not about to suddenly become more boisterous, or dance a jig to open the doors at Target. I suppose I could be a little more aggressive when trying to participate in conversations; step outside of my comfort zone. I was painfully shy as a kid…this is definitely something to work on. Or maybe I just need to dye my hair a crazy color so people will remember meeting me… Hmmm. There’s a thought.

xo – BS 

Always Something There To Remind Me

prompt

I just saw this. I am a product of the 80s and Naked Eyes’ “Always Something There to Remind Me” is one of my all-time favorite songs. Not because I actually walked along city streets with my First Love, or that every step I take reminds me of him. Nor did we dance in cafes (or anywhere else, for that matter). But this song does always remind me of him, and of a more innocent time in my life.

Our relationship wasn’t even that great. And though it officially lasted all of 5 minutes in High School Time (which equates to about a month in real-time), it seemed to last much longer. It set the bar for every other relationship I’ve (n)ever had. He was always “The One”. No one compared. Even though he wasn’t always nice, or faithful, or honest. It didn’t matter. There was a connection stronger than anything I’ve ever felt again. When people ask me why I’m still single, I don’t want to explain it all, but the reality is that I’ve never had THAT feeling again. It’s like a gravitational pull. Sounds crazy, but once you experience it – if you’re lucky enough to ever experience it – you’ll know. It didn’t matter how many other girls he dated, how often I sat home on a weekend night wondering what he was doing or who he was with (come on, this was long before the internet, cell phones, and Instagram… I couldn’t track his every move!), or how many times my teacher caught me staring at him in the hallway and told me “you can do better…”. I loved him. Part of me still does, and always will.

There is always something there to remind me
I was born to love [him], and I’ll never be free.
You’ll always be a part of me.

(Ok, seriously, these lyrics are poorly written crap, but they do embody the sentiment.)

In my lovesick 80s haze, which carried over into the mid 90s, I would have done anything for him. Who am I kidding, I still would. He actually came back into my life recently, after an almost 20-year hiatus. But we’re both different now, and while that lovesick crush factor has been removed, the connection is still as strong as ever. Turns out, he felt it, too. I had no idea.

We last spoke in 1997 and had last seen each other in late ’94. After I graduated from college, I moved back up to MA and broke up with my college boyfriend. I heard that First Love was still in school nearby (he was on the 6-year plan, after a transfer, the death of a friend, and was playing his last season of football). I contacted him, not knowing what to expect. He invited me to come see him, so I went. He took me around campus to parties, introduced me to his friends, and we had a great night. No lines crossed, no commitments made. I went back a week later to watch a football game and saw him with his girlfriend (who is now his wife). I didn’t talk to him. I don’t know if he saw me. And so I disappeared. I don’t remember exactly how long it took – days? weeks? – but I know that I slipped away. About a year later, we somehow reconnected via email. I don’t recall who made the initial contact, but we discovered that he happened to be working in an office across the street from me. Believe it or not, we never saw each other, on purpose or otherwise.

And that was it. Life got in the way. I thought of him often, but never tried to contact him. I would hear about him every now and then through mutual friends, but we never spoke. I knew he was married with kids, and I had no place in his life.

Fast forward to 2010:
For my 20-year High School Reunion, our class shared the event with the class above us. First Love’s class. I had been planning for months to attend, but then was across the country when it happened. Afterwards I saw that he was in 1 photo. One of my friends joked that he only went to see me, and when I wasn’t there, he left early. A few days later I started getting messages from HIS old friends asking when he had changed and what had happened. (Nothing, from what I could surmise from 1 photo, other than he spent a lot of time with a tattoo artist.) It surprised me that people came to me with their questions. I always thought it was kind of a joke to our classmates that I was so hung up on him, especially because he dated someone else for years. But apparently not. They thought we were still connected. Huh.

About 2 years ago, I tried to send a birthday message to him through a friend. I’m assuming the well-wishes never got sent along as promised, but maybe they did. Either way, nothing ever came of it. At the end of that year I saw that he was registered on LinkedIn. I waited about a month and then sent a connection request. He didn’t accept for about 4 months. And even then, we didn’t really try to connect with each other. When his birthday rolled around last May, I sent a quick ‘happy birthday’ email, which got an immediate response and he offered his email address so we could stay in touch. Oh, yay! (More like oh, no.) I wrote him a message about 2 weeks later. I tried to keep it light, but needed to fill in the gaps of the past 2 decades. The decades in which I had a child, became an adult, had been married and divorced, had bought and sold 3 homes, and lived in 5 different states. And still nothing. But this time it didn’t crush me like it had when I was younger. Back then, days/weeks/months of no contact would put me into a funk. (My mother recently told me that the reason we moved to FL when I was in High School is because I was “suicidal” over him. For the record: I was NOT suicidal. I was in love.) Not so much now. I had other things to worry about than my 9th grade boyfriend replying to an email. Or did I?

I already mentioned that he’s back around (he found me this time), but that’s another story for another day.
To be continued…

Cheers to First Loves (and The Oscars!)
xo – BS