Football Sunday

I haven’t been around for a variety of reasons, none of which I feel like delving into, so let’s talk about football.

When I got married, my husband and I made an agreement of sorts.  He would listen to a bunch of Canadian rock and folk pop music that he never heard before and I would learn the game of football.

Let’s just say he’s taken to the music better than I took to the game.

Sometimes I’m involved, because I get the basics now and can follow it all, but I also get distracted a lot when they aren’t making plays.  So, I like to tease.  As one does.

Sunday, I decided to make some comparisons between the football game and live theater.  Just for funsies.  Just to get on Hubs nerves a little.  But oh, my goodness…it became so easy!

First of all, there’s merch in the lobby.  Nothing I could find in the way of a Playbill, but you do need a ticket to get in, so there’s that. Then you get your snacks and find your seats, and the preshow starts…usually they send you a band or an organ player or maybe a comedian, but here we have some people singing and cheerleaders dancing, and some folks make the house announcements…the signal for the start of show.  Except no one tells you to turn your cellphones off.

Then the opening scene, the coin toss!  Filled with drama and suspense right off the bat as they decide which team will get the ball first, and then the dance begins!  I say dance, because if you think about it, this is all carefully choreographed.  They follow plays that are laid out in the locker room and on the field, and while there may be some variances in execution, they have a game plan when they head out onto the stage…I mean field.  The “live stream” shows the coach, who is, for all intents and purposes, the director of the piece.  They show the quarterback, our leading man!  Then the supporting players are on the field and they are running and kicking and throwing and catching and how elaborate this performance is, truly.

At some point Mark was getting annoyed with me, but then one of the players made a touchdown and took AN ACTUAL BOW, and he hung his head in shame.  I was rather disappointed by what appeared to be a lack of climax followed by little to no curtain call, but overall, it was a lovely little Sunday matinee.

I don’t know if I will ever be a true football fan.  I have no problem telling you that I am bandwagon hopper, even though I was born here in Buffalo, which comes with it certain inalienable rights, such is that you are, first and foremost, a Bills fan.  To be other in Western New York is to be an outsider.  I don’t know what to tell you, that’s just how it is.  So, thinking to myself that it’s also a little like church, what with the Sunday of it all and the community connection and weird veneration of things, and I’ve done church, so I could do football, right?  Then to my surprise, to find it so much like theater!  Yes, I may annoy my husband during the game with my commentaries, but at least I’m trying.  Like I said, he cam belt out some Ani DiFranco and Marianas Trench with the best of them, so I had better pick up the ball…har dee har har.

Also, the snacks are usually good.

Change Your Mind

I live in the state of New York.  In 2018, I voted for Andrew Cuomo to become our governor. Why, you ask?  Well, I’m a Democrat, so I wasn’t interested in Marc Molinaro, whose platform wasn’t that bad, actually…I just don’t vote against the ACA if I can help it, which he was not on board with.  Otherwise, he wasn’t so bad.  I research all candidates, including…perhaps even more in depth…Republicans, so that I know what I’m getting.  But Cuomo had the added benefit of running mate Kathy Hochul, a Western New York native.  Of course, I’m going to vote for the hometown girl, especially when WNY seems to get the shaft a lot in state-wise instances.  Seems like the focus is always downstate, on NYC, so having someone from the area in Albany was a definite pro.  Also, if you know me, you know I vote not just for the person, but for the team they assemble.  I’m not a huge Biden fan, for instance, but I like who he has hired.  That’s why I voted for him.  It’s also one of the reasons I voted for Cuomo.

Now, when the scandal broke that there were women claiming that he sexually harassed them, I did what I always do in these situations and took a “wait and see” approach.  I’m a big believer that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, so I waited patiently for the AG’s report and went about my life.  Cuomo has been a figure in it the past year, because of his Coronavirus leadership, which I will admit was very good in the beginning, but I feel has become a little muddled as time has gone on…likely because of the allegations taking up some of his time. 

Then, the other day, our Attorney General Letitia James released a report saying that Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women.  He denies it and refuses to resign.  Every Dem in a 2000 mile radius has told him to resign, including Biden.  Alas, no.

This leads me to an interesting observation.

As someone who voted for Cuomo enthusiastically in 2018, I can tell you honestly that I have now dropped him like a hot potato.  Why?  Because you are allowed to change you mind based on new information, which is something that my Republican brothers and sisters sometimes seem to just not understand.  You don’t HAVE to support a candidate after they do something screwed up.  I just want you all to know that.  You are allowed to change your mind.  Just like I changed my mind on Cuomo

You don’t need to “stand by your man” if your man is an asshole.  That’s called being in an abusive relationship.

And furthermore…what’s with this new breed of politicians who just do not see a losing battle when confronted with it?

In my home city, Buffalo, we are having a mayoral race in the fall.  The Democratic primary was won by a woman named India Walton, a Democratic Socialist.  Our incumbent mayor, Byron Brown, did absolutely no campaigning, certain that he would win the vote, and was flabbergasted when he didn’t.  But did he concede politely, as expected?  No, he started a write-in campaign and now there are signs on every other lawn emblazoned with his name.  Excellent, Byron.  Go ahead and split the Democratic vote so that the Republican wins.  Brilliant strategy to support your party!

You know what it is, don’t you?  Ego.  The male ego, to be precise, because I have been researching and men far outweigh women with this kind of behavior.  Losing is foreign to many men, and they have trouble accepting when they have lost.  Even if it hurts other people, they may continue to insist that they have won.  Is it something ingrained in them by society, or a reflection of the more primitive aspects of their DNA?  Probably both in my opinion, just another form of the patriarchy ruining perfectly good men.

Anyway, I’m boiling this down to two basic truths:  when you’re wrong, admit it.  Take your scolding, and move on to something else.  And when something no longer lines up with your ideals, you don’t have to keep pursuing it.  You can move on to something else, too.

That’s enough ranting for today.  Happy Thursday.

Buffalove

I couldn’t concentrate yesterday to work on the blog.  Usually I can’t find a topic; yesterday I couldn’t decide on one.  Midmorning I went on a hike with Kevin to the Owen Falls Sanctuary in East Aurora, which I was hoping would maybe clear my head a little but really only made me want to write about how pretty trees the trees were.  I felt very brave as I climbed down and over and up a creek.  I felt very energized and healthy and such too because I haven’t been smoking and it made the hike so much easier.  So, then I wanted to write about that, too. 

I also wanted to write about my interview that came out yesterday but you can just check that out HERE if you’d like.  Anyway, I never made a decision, so I never wrote a blog, so here we are today: Friday.

Deadlines were never my strong suit.

Today, I didn’t know what to write about, so we were back to the comfort zone.  Then I was watching the news, and Gabby (who does the community pieces on Channel 4 that I like) was talking about 716 Day.  So, let’s write about that.

If you don’t live here in Buffalo, you don’t know what I’m talking about.  See, 716 is our area code.  So, we have an unofficial holiday on July 16th called 716 Day.  I mean, really, it’s a marketing ploy.  Shops have sales and there’s this big “Give 716” charity initiative which is cool, but mostly it’s just a stupid little thing like Pi Day or Star Wars Day or Columbus Day.

(Sometimes, I wonder how my humor translates via text.  But I digress…)

So since today is 716 day, I will celebrate it by writing about the 716, where I have resided all my life.

I was born at Milliard Fillmore Hospital, named after our 13th president.  He is buried up at Forest Lawn Cemetery, where my mother would take me to feed the ducks when I was a little girl.  We lived first in the Riverside neighborhood which was, shockingly, along the Niagara River!  I lived on Tonawanda Street, named after a Native tribe of the area, across from the park.  It was idyllic to me, but not so much to my parents because the neighborhood started getting dicey in the late 80s.  We moved out to the suburbs…the “first suburb” of Buffalo, Kenmore.  I lived there for something like 17 years and I actually know tons of history about it because we learned it in school and such but I’m not going to tell you anything because it’s pretty boring, actually.  (Except for the part where three people were murdered in Kevin’s childhood home, but maybe that’s a different blog.)  

I went to school in Eggertsville, another suburb, much fancier than the one I lived in.  At least, the area where the school stood-I had lived in an inner-city neighborhood, a middle-class suburb, and now went to what me and the kids from Riverside would have called “rich kid school.”  There were many periods of adjustment, but my point is that the 716 takes all kinds.

Eventually we moved to Lackawanna, just south of the city, and then I moved back to Buffalo, coming to a rest in South Buffalo, the home of my father.  There are five sections of the city, see…the four directions and downtown, which is actually in the middle, sort of.  It confused the hell out of me as a kid…oh but how I loved going downtown!!

We would take the train, which is a single route subway that runs from University of Buffalo South in the Northwest corner down Main St.  It surfaces in the theater district, my favorite of all districts, then takes you down towards the Naval Park.  There’s big ships there that you can tour, and I even spent the night on them twice with youth groups.  The buildings along Main St. are tall and beautiful because Buffalo commercial architecture is unsurpassed, in my opinion.  On an early date with Mark many moons ago after he first arrived in the city, he wandered down the street staring up at the buildings in amazement.  It made me like him, the way he appreciated the city the same as I did.  To me though, the crown jewel of downtown is City Hall. My grandmother worked there when I was young and I have many fond memories of visiting her.  Yes…it does kind of look like it’s giving you the middle finger, but you have to go inside and see how amazing it is.  Much like a real Buffalonian, it has an attitude, but it’s still beautiful.

Downtown has changed.  In the 80s and 90s I got the distinct impression from adults that there was some sort of decline happening.  However, since the start of revitalization along the canal and river, things have been booming.  There is never not something to do…I have had actual hour-long arguments with folks who talk about wanting to vacation in Niagara Falls vs. Buffalo…OH MY GOD, WHY?! I mean, yes, I know, they are part of the 716 too so I should be showing them some love, but aside from the cataract and the casino there is very little to see this side of the falls.  All of which makes a lovely day trip, should you be vacationing in the real hot spot, Buffalo, NY.

Hm.  I’ve been rambling for two pages now so I suppose I should wrap it up.

Listen, I feel very deeply about my city.  Not only is it my home, but it is a part of me: it is a character in my story.  And I think everyone in the whole wide world should come and experience it, and maybe everybody feels that way about where they live, but…I’m right and you’re wrong.  Buffalos the best place on earth.

(Still hoping my humor computes.)

Beautiful in Vermont

“Must be beautiful in Vermont this time of year-all that snow.”

This is a line from the classic holiday film, White Christmas.  Every year I would watch this with my parents.  It is one of my most beloved winter memories.  What’s more, every first snowfall, my father would rise in the morning, go to the front window, and proclaim this statement for all to hear: “Must be beautiful in Vermont this time of year.”

This morning, I awoke and padded to the window and declared real winter to have come.  My car had a good four inches atop it, and the road had not been plowed well yet.  I got dressed and started brushing the car off as one does after the first snowfall-with a snowbrush just dug out of the back of the trunk and one glove. 

I carefully maneuvered out of the driveway and off to Mark’s work, skidding a bit at the turns but reaching pavement once I got out of the city.  To get there, though, I had to go through the park.  Cazenovia Park in South Buffalo is probably my favorite of the Olmstead system.  The only thing I hate about it is it’s placement, smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood, separating east and west.  I drive though it at least twice a day, at 15 mph, careful over the speed bumps. 

This morning though, it had not been plowed at all, and the road was indiscernible.  I couldn’t even make out tire tracks in the fresh snow.  I inched though the park, even slower than normal, and was a little sad because I didn’t get to appreciate the beauty of it.  I was too concentrated about not driving into the creek.

Anyway, after I got home, I came inside and bundled up, because it is freezing.  I could turn up the heat, but I’m pretty militant about the thermostat, a trait I think I must’ve picked up from my father.  So, I grabbed some blankets and shuffled into the office and took the picture below-that’s the view from my office door.  Fresh blankets of snow.

I didn’t really have much to write about today.  Things are ok.  I have been well for a few days, my finger gets a little better every day (still, it aches already after only 500 words,) and my family had some good news today: a new cousin has been born.  There wasn’t mush on my mind, but then I stood in the window and took that picture and thought of my dad so many mornings in my youth.

“Must be beautiful in Vermont this time of year.”

Must be.

Sunday Surprise

I used to keep journals, religiously.  Until one day, a terrible thing happened and I destroyed them all in an effort to burn away my memories.  It didn’t work at first, but with time and no pages to look over I gradually let go of things that I held onto for too long.

I have one journal left, that chronicles a chunk of my 20’s.  I don’t read it; I just keep it because someday there might be a story in there.  Aside from my journals, there are my blogs.  I have kept many blogs over the years, ranging from the personal to the professional.  I suppose this is as close as I come to journaling these days.

Now, if I did still keep one, I would certainly have written in it about yesterday.

I was sitting in bed eating carrots and watching 30 Rock on Hulu when my dad called me.  “Are you sitting down??” he says.  Oh, no.  Someone is dead.  Wait, no, he doesn’t sound upset.  Must be good news?  What could it be??  I, of course, run crazy with thoughts in that moment, but then he says something about the newspaper and it takes me a minute to put the pieces together and suddenly I realize what he is telling me.

I am in the newspaper.

Now, I’ve been published all over the web.  And I have a book of poetry out.  But I really don’t think anyone was as excited about any of that as much as they were about me being in the paper.  Mom came and took me to the gas station to buy a copy.  When I got home, the poetry editor from the News sent me a friend request, with an image of my poem.  He tagged me in a Facebook post that I shared on my socials.  And still…I was in shock.

See. I dreamt of this before anything.

I wanted to be on that poetry page since I was a teenager, discovering it one afternoon while searching the Gusto for acting gigs.  It seemed…attainable.  And yet…my early poetry was only published at the now defunct poetry.com. (Side note: the website still exists, but I don’t know where my poems went.)  I didn’t think any of the early stuff good enough, anyways.  Then, after my self-imposed writing hiatus and comeback, I saw the news as UNATTAINABLE, because I just wasn’t good enough.  I didn’t have a book yet, or a signing, or an interview.  I was nobody.

Now, I disagree.  I have stats to back my writing up, a little.  So, I composed an email and sent it to the poetry editor and waited, hopeful.

And then this.

The poem was the one I won the Poesia contest with, too.  So that little guy is having a good summer.

I am reminded a little of the tale “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”  In it, her father tells her “If you see it in The Sun [their local newspaper,] it’s so.”  That is how I feel today.  I saw it in the News.  It must be true.

So, if I kept a journal, that’s what I would write about today.  Maybe a little about how E is spending the week and I am looking forward to lots of time with her while Mark is at work.  Today we are going to the park to do a photoshoot for a new author pic for me.  Tomorrow she wants to go fishing.  She has never been here solo before, so this is a really fun new experience for us.  I would write about it, because I would want to remember it.

I don’t keep journals anymore, and by default, I don’t do scrapbooks anymore either though I still have about seven of them.  I kind of wish I did, so I would have somewhere to put my newspaper clipping.  Ah, well. 

A frame will have to do. 

The People in my Neighborhood

This morning as I was getting coffee with mom, I told her about how much I enjoyed my childhood in Riverside, a northwestern neighborhood in Buffalo.  Now, time has changed this place that I once called home and if I’m perfectly honest with you, you couldn’t get me to move back there with a free house and a new car.  However, when I was a child it was a wonderland. 

My favorite TV show was Sesame Street.  I watched it every day while I ate my lunch, and somehow, I had it in my head that my street, Tonawanda St., was my own personal Sesame Street.  There weren’t any kids on the street until I was about six, so I turned all the shopkeepers into my friends.

At the corner of my block was a restaurant called Nuchereno’s.  Now, the Nucherno family owned a lot of stuff in Riverside, and probably still do-I know they at least still have the auto shop.  But the restaurant was the piece de resistance.  I would only eat the spaghetti and meatballs there but it was the best spaghetti and meatballs, ever.  And in my little mind, this moderately priced restaurant was the epitome of fine dining.  We always went there when family and friends were in town, or even just to Sunday dinner with Ka and Grammy. 

A little closer to the house you had Tony’s barber shop, where my dad would go to get his hair cut.  I only went in once and remember being very aware that this was not a place for little girls.  I do recall asking Tony if he kept his combs in blue Kool-Aid, not knowing it was sanitizer.

Next to the barber was Nuchereno Liquors.  I LOVED the liquor store.  First of all, there was a beagle named Sam that hung out there and the owner Mike was always nice to me and let me play with her.  I knew it was a place for grownups, but he never told me to get away from the store front and he always let me in-I recall believing that it was a safe place for me, despite catering to the local drunks.  I loved the smell of it too, and the pretty bottles on the shelves…I even practiced my reading on some of them.

Past our house and a little further down there was the salon where my mom got her hair done, The Hair Oasis.  I recall wanting to go there when I got older, and got my wish for my Junior prom when my mother took me there for an updo.  It had a real old school salon vibe, and there were always neighborhood ladies getting their hair and nails done and chit-chatting.  A little further down was the Shaggy Dog hot dog stand, which I loved to go for dinner at.  They had big vats of honey that they kept to keep the bees busy and away from your food, and I loved watching them, even though mom warned me not to get too close.

Then came the bakery whose name escapes me, but it is long gone.  Here’s what I recall of that:  a huge wedding cake in the window, that had a fountain of punch built into it.  I remember mom or someone saying it was tacky, but I loved it and swore I would have the same at my wedding (of course, I didn’t.  It was totally tacky.)  They also had these smiley face cookies I really liked, and sometimes the baker would give me 2 for 1. 

The florist was after that, and they, too, had a dog, a big golden retriever that laid around the shop all day.  Even if we weren’t buying anything, the owner let me come in to visit.  Really, all the shop keeps were like that-they all knew my name and greeted me when they saw me coming down the street.  Reid’s Delicatessen was after that, and I remember one day I went in with a red balloon and accidentally let it go, and it flew into the ceiling fan and popped.  The owner gave me a free lollipop for my trouble.

There was the library, which I have already written about, and then finally the hardware store, True Value.  Another shop I loved the smell of.  I also loved all the little bins full of “treasures:” nuts and bolts and nails and such.  Across from the hardware store was Marine Midland bank, where Grammy did her banking, and the B-Quik, for your quick shopping needs.  I vaguely recall these places, but they were, in my mind, “at the end of the street.”  (The street, mind you, definitely goes on for at least another mile after that.)

Anyway, you take all these little places, and then add in the huge park/playground/pool situation across the street from our house, and in retrospect it was the perfect place to spend the first few years of my life.  Obviously times have changed…for instance, after we moved to Kenmore, a suburb of Buffalo that was MUCH safer, my mother still didn’t let my sister ride her bike around the block until she was nearly ten.  I was riding my tricycle around the block in Riverside at four.  Times change…and so did that little neighborhood.

Once about fifteen years ago I was at the park with mom and Sharon, my backup-mother.  We spoke to the people that owned the old house, and they were kind enough to give us a tour.  They changed a lot, like the bathroom was completely redone, but it still had the same old bones and was nice to see inside.  I could write epics about that house, I loved it so much, but this is about the neighborhood that surrounded it.  I could tell you about the people too:  the kids that finally came and befriended me, and how I was so sad to say goodbye to them when we moved.  But again, this is about other people: adults.  Adults who barely knew me from a hole in the wall but made me feel safe and protected in a place that was losing its safety. 

I don’t know what happened to any of those people.  All those businesses are closed now, I believe…except maybe the liquor store.  I went there once about ten years ago to pick up a bottle of wine.  Mike is gone, I think he passed, and Sam certainly did, but there was another dog roaming the aisles and that made me smile.

I have wonderful memories of my childhood in Riverside, and while the neighborhood has changed, I will never forget growing up there.  It may have been flawed to some, but it was absolutely perfect to me.

Feminism is Not a Bad Word

I received a reminder this morning that Buffalo’s Women’s March is on Sunday.  I felt like a bad feminist for a moment when I thought “Oh, that is entirely dependent on the weather.”  I went one year and it was great; we even took the kids, who had a weirdly good time.  The thing is, it’s in January, and this is Buffalo, and the weather rules our days this time of year.  So, I doubt I will be making my way downtown on Sunday.  It is much more likely my sister, mother and I will go to the movies that day and see Little Women, which is, in its own way, solidarity. 

One time, after we went to the march with the kids, someone asked why I did things “like that.”  I assumed this person was referring to my beliefs in feminism and social justice, and the fact that I had no problem making my voice heard about such things.  Mark thought perhaps said individual was commenting on us taking the kids along.  “You know that 50% of your children will grow up to be women, right?” I said, getting a little heated at the wrong target.  He threw his hands up and reminded me that taking the kids was his idea in the first place.  It was.  I was just going to go with my sister, but he wanted to come and we had the kiddos and so…it was inevitable.  In the end we all had a good time and the only slightly awkward moment was L asking me what a design was on a poster: it was a uterus.  I told him it was the part of the body women had for keeping a baby safe to grow.  He said “cool” and then ran over to explain it to M.

Anyway, I remember how furious I was after.  This person so enraged me, and I was even madder at myself for letting that happen.  But you see…this wasn’t one of my old foes.  This wasn’t an old white man who pines for the fifties.  This wasn’t some incel creep with a vendetta against his high school girlfriend.  This wasn’t even just a slightly ignorant young dude who needed to learn how the system works.

THIS WAS A WOMAN MY AGE.

That’s what got me.  That’s what sent me over the edge.  See, I’ve had plenty of years of experience explaining feminism to dudes….let’s take Mark for example.  Took Mark many a year to realize he actually was a feminist, and even longer to say it.  Because men are taught that “feminism” (which, by the way, means equality of the sexes and literally nothing else) is a bad word.  And apparently, some women pick that up along the way as well.

How, I will never understand. 

I mean…do you like making 78 cents on the dollar?  Do you think you don’t deserve the right to vote?  Or hold property?  Or have your own bank card?  Or testify in your own defense?  Or go to college?  Hell, read any book you want? Or wear pants???

FEMINISM GOT YOU PANTS.

There is not a woman alive who has not benefitted from feminism, so when they question it, I get a little annoyed.  Men benefit too, but I’m legit not talking about you guys today.  I’ll save that one for another post, likely when some old guy with too many opinions on my uterus slides into my DMs.  Today is for the ladies, specifically the ones that “don’t need” feminism.  They are so unaware of the things we still battle…domestic violence, sex trafficking, abuse in any form.  Most women know the 1 in 4 statistic.  1 in 4 women is sexually abused or assaulted.  I have two daughters.  That’s a 50% chance.  And you think I’m not going on the goddamn defense?!

I don’t usually think of the person that riled me up at all, so when she pops into my head like this it’s kind of maddening.  However, I look for a silver lining and I find it: she keeps the fire stoked in me, so that I wake up each day ready to strike down the patriarchy she so desperately feels she needs.  I don’t know what has led her to her own belief system but I know what has led me to mine, and it is an undeniable truth that I am no less than my husband, father, brother, son…and neither is she.

Tragic Connections

I made a decision to try updating twice a week now, as I have three blogs ready to roll and six other ideas.  I’ve been forcing myself to write daily so it seems like the dam is cracking a bit and the ideas are gushing forth.  I will be posting on Thursday as well as Monday, or at least trying to.  Anyway…my depression kicked my butt this past week, and I want to talk about it, because it came at me alongside a real tragedy.

Firstly, I am a news junkie, and I particularly love local news.  I watch it morning and night.  I have a favorite channel (WIVB) and favorite anchors.  I even like the sports segments.  The point is, I watch local news a lot, as well as national, but they don’t really come into this story much.  Anyway, one of the super cute things about my husband is that he gets emotional at the fluff pieces at the end.  He loves a Vet on an Honor Flight, a Make-a-Wish kid going to Disneyland, or a cat being rescued from a tree by a local firefighter.  His rational is that there is so many terrible things on the news, that these little endcaps give him hope.  This makes him emotional, as he himself does not come from a very hopeful background. 

On the flip side, it’s the hard stories that get me. My life held plenty of hope (despite depression’s attempts to prove otherwise) and it is the painful stories that make me feel something.  Let’s use Philando Castile as an example.  At 9:06pm on July 16th, 2016, I was puking blood in the back of an ambulance and wondering what the hell was happening to me while he choking out his last words.  I didn’t know this until the news a few days later, which I watched from my hospital bed.  I clearly remember my EMT saying it was 9:06 when they picked me up.  I clearly remember CNN telling me it was 9:06 when Castile said “I wasn’t reaching for it.”  I burst into tears over this man that I did not know, dying so unjustly, connected to me only by one minute in the span of human existence.

Monday morning I wasn’t feeling so good.  I had not taken my Celexa for two days, as I was waiting on a prescription to be filled and totally miscounted how much time I had in which to fill it.  So, all weekend I was fine, because I have my other two psych meds going for me and I was keeping busy.  Then Monday evening, shortly after I picked up my pills, I started having brain zaps.

When one has been on a certain antidepressant for a long time, one experiences some fun side effects when off it.  Brain zaps may not be the technical term, but that’s as close as I can describe the feeling of my brain literally short-circuiting in my head.  It feels like your brain is vibrating, and there’s an actual “zzzz” noise.  This is followed by extreme and debilitating depression and anxiety.  See, Celexa is my wonder drug, and I’ve been on that or its sister Lexapro for over ten years.  So, a couple days without it can wreak havoc.  Tuesday morning, I was feeling better.  No zaps, no anxiety, no depression, until I turned on the news.

See, Monday morning there was a story that kind of touched me but I assumed would be resolved.  A toddler was found sleeping in a box on a porch on Potomac Ave. in Buffalo.  Sad to say, this isn’t the most unusual thing.  Over the past year I can think of at least three incidents in the city where a child was found wandering.  The police were hopeful that he had meandered off in the night and his parents would certainly come forward for him.  They were unable to figure out his name, and when asked his mother’s name he replied “mommy.”  By that evening’s broadcast, they had not received any leads, and no one had reported a missing child.

But then on Tuesday morning, there was a story about a burned-out car being found on Tonawanda St. with human remains inside, less than a mile from where the boy was found.  It was discovered the previous evening.  The woman who found the boy on her porch said he was talking about a car and fire: “The car was burning up,” he kept saying.  The police were looking for a connection.  Three women in Florida had contacted the police to say that they believed the boy was their relative and that his parents and him were on a road trip.  They had not been able to reach them.

On Tuesday nights broadcast, they showed the boy’s grandmother, who flew up from Florida.  She said that she hasn’t heard from his parents in over 48 hours and that they were on a road trip with a friend, likely to Niagara Falls.  She pleaded with CPS to return the boy, named Noelvin, to his family.  Still no leads on the car.

Wednesday morning, they showed the boy’s grandfather in Florida, praying that it wasn’t his son in the car.  They reported that the grandmother would finally see Noelvin.  This morning they reported that he has seen his family but remains in CPS custody.  Police say that it will be some time before they figure out who was in the burned-out car.

It’s a horrific story and I am so hopeful that the two are not connected, but I have a feeling they are, in the way that I usually have feelings that turn out to be true.  I cried over this poor little boy and his parents.  I felt that same connection.  This time it wasn’t blood and guts at 9:06, but I used to live on Tonawanda St.  I was a happy and carefree little kid on that street, playing at the playground, walking to the library, and visiting the shops that had dogs who came to work with their owners (there were several back then.)  It has changed greatly over the years.  Riverside/Black Rock, the area of the city in question, used to be a nice little immigrant neighborhood.  Then it became a little rougher.  Then it was a lot rougher, and we moved to the suburbs.  There’s some revitalization going on now, but finding a burned-out car ‘round those parts isn’t exactly out of the question.  I hate thinking that this horrible thing happened to this family on a street I used to love. 

I don’t know what the results of this story will be.  While they wait for forensics, the grandmother is trying to get custody of the boy, and waiting for answers.  I wait with her, not knowing her, not having any connection to this case besides a street I used to live on when I was Noelvin’s age.  Maybe it’s the little connections that affect me the most.

Update: After I posted this, on Thursday evening broadcast, police confirmed that the burned-out car did indeed belong to Noelvin’s family. There is video of two men with gas cans leading him away from the scene. Police have said the remains of two people are in the car, further deepening the mystery as there are three missing adults that were traveling with Noelvin. Police are looking for help in identifying the two men with gas cans.

Flea Marketing

I am a big fan of old junk.  I love flea markets and thrift stores and estate sales.  Any place selling the discarded or forgotten, that’s for me.  I often attend these places with either my bestie Jaime or my sister Bernie, both of whom seem to share my love for all things old.  Recently Bern and I went to the East Aurora Flea Market.  I find this place to be great for produce in the summer (it’s mostly outdoors, so hours are seasonal) and also incense.  There’s a woman with a tiny shop that only sells incense, and I swear she is my sister sent back from the future.   There’s two things I don’t care for at this market, though, and that is the large clown statue near the bathrooms and the occasional Scientologist trying to convert me.

Another place I enjoy going in the summer is Antique World in Clarence.  They are open year-round, but the outside stalls are seasonal.  They mostly contain your average flea market fare, but the indoor area has thousands of antique and vintage items.  I can spend a whole day there just looking at stuff.

Probably my favorite place I’ve been is Gordie Harper’s Bazaar in Newfane.  I highly recommend this place for an afternoon of strolling through stalls.  They also have a great candy selection, and a restaurant!  I haven’t eaten there yet but I have heard great things.  Jaime and I plan on making a pilgrimage before Christmas, as I saw numerous gift ideas for family and friends.

This weekend the two of us were going to go to the legendary Pumpkinville in Great Valley but ended up cancelling due to a weather report that imagined us buying pumpkins in the snow.  Instead, we traveled to The Old Chapel Artisan Market in Tonawanda.  Every inch of the church was used for display, right down to the closets.  There were flea market items mixed with craft items mixed with antiques.  It was a nice place, and I bought a soy candle.

I like to look for interesting finds at flea markets.  Most recently I acquired a chip dish made out of an old Andy Williams record of “Moon River.”  This is a good illustration of the kind of things I’m looking for.  I also love to buy fresh produce when it’s available, as well as teas and spices.  Sometimes there’s antiques.  Sometimes there’s foodstuffs.  Sometimes there’s just junk. Usually I find something that strikes my fancy, though sometimes I don’t buy anything and instead like to look for the most peculiar things I can find (see below photo, compliments of this weekend.) I’m not sure why I feel so compelled towards other people old stuff, but I am.  I guess I feel that we are so material, that to just give up these items to the garbage bin is selfish.  I like to hold onto little pieces of the past, and I like to think they enjoy being saved.  I like the strange, the forgotten, the unused.  I guess I just want to give everything a new life.

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Clinton and Trump flower pot people.

Women’s Rights are Human Rights

Yesterday was the Buffalo Women’s March.

I was about seven or eight years old the first time I noticed inequality between the sexes, and it was of course found in the middle of the Catholic Church.  Now, I was raised Catholic and respect the church, but no longer practice as I have many differing opinions with it.  The first crack in the foundation came when it was explained to me that women could not become priests.  They could be nuns, which to me was unsatisfactory as the only time you got to be onstage was during the Eucharist and who wanted that?   I wanted to be the star.  When I was in 4th grade they changed the policy so that girls could be altar servers, but even I knew that was crap.  A non-speaking role of servitude?  No thanks.  Obviously, I was less suited for religion then I was for theater, but this discovery was still several years off.   What bothered me was that this inequality did not align with what I had been told

See, here are some things that I was taught growing up:

  • Women and men have different attributes, but are fundamentally equal.
  • My ancestors fought for my right to vote and own property.
  • I can do anything I put my mind to.
  • Men and women should share household duties.
  • One does not need a relationship to be a whole person.

So I’m just going to take a second and applaud my parents, who never let me feel like I had to worry about the opposite sex, because I can take care of myself, and I am just as good as the average dude walking down the street.

What they didn’t prepare me for, however, was the realization at nineteen that not everybody was playing by these rules.  I had just spent 4 years in an institution which insisted I was equal to everyone, and came into a world so skewed it sickened me.  I decided then that I would not tolerate such inequality, and I would actively fight against it.

When I met my husband Mark, he had many gender biased opinions.  For one, he expected a woman to do all the cleaning and cooking, even if said woman had a 9-5 job.  I recall actually belly laughing at this, thinking it was an honest to god joke.  His bewildered expression made me laugh harder, as I patted his shoulder and said “Oh, honey…that ain’t me.”  Many years later when we moved in together, I found that he still thought this was the way the cookie crumbled, which led to me holding a strike on housework.  Eventually he ran out of clean underwear and cracked, but he realized that I was not to be trifled with when it came to equality.  We live in a house together; we take care of a house together.  No person in my household is above another based solely on their genitalia.

Last year for the women’s march, I was sick.  I was sad I couldn’t make it, but when I heard there would be another this year I was excited.  I asked Mark if we could go and he said of course, as his social conscience has grown exponentially in recent years.  We had the kiddos that weekend (sidebar:  I’ve got four step-kids who are awesome) so we decided to take them along.  I don’t know if the four of them had some sort of magic perfect child cereal for breakfast or what, but what I thought might be a disaster was a triumph.  The complaints were at a minimum, and the excitement was high.  They were amazed to walk around downtown, seeing building up close they had only seen on tv.  They loved walking through the streets, reading the different signs, and chanting along with the crowd that this is what democracy looks like.  When Markus, the eldest, and the one that I thought was most likely to have a terrible time, said “It’s not fair that men get paid more than women,” and “I like this, this is awesome,” I almost cried.  We had a talk about democracy, and the right to peacefully assemble, and how it was important to fight for women’s rights because they are human rights.  My heart was so full of pride and hope.

I hope that in the future, my step daughters make the same amount of money as their male counterparts.  I hope they never have to worry about health care decisions.  I hope they are never harassed or assaulted.  I hope they never have to compete for grades or jobs.  I hope no one ever tells them they can’t do it on their own.  I hope they grow up strong and fierce, and I hope their big brothers are allies, and a support system they can always count on.

Taking the kids, Mark, and my sister to the march yesterday reminded me of all the times that my gender has caused me strife, and how much stronger I had become to overcome society’s patriarchal boundaries.  I hope that every woman who marched yesterday, and every woman who wanted to but couldn’t, finds their own personal empowerment, and their own sense of self.  We can stand alone if we want to, but we are stronger together.

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