I’ve Never Been To Spain, But I’ve Been To Barcelona (New York)

We pulled the car off on the side of the road and waited for a few more to pass, then I jumped in front of the road sign that read ‘Napoli’. “Hurry up! There are more coming!” I yelled as Diego tried to snap a pic with my phone. Before we got back on the road I consulted the map. “So where to next? If we go toward the lake we will hit Sunset Beach by 3.”

Did you know there are over 100 cities and towns in New York State named after famous places? Diego and I set out to visit all of them a couple of years ago. It started out innocently enough. We were driving around one day and somehow got on the topic of how many places in Upstate New York were named after other places and we decided we had to check them out for ourselves. In an earlier blog I wrote about how this kid had me on a whirlwind 24 hour tour of New Jersey so we could visit his two favorite restaurants, Cheeburger Cheeburger and Quaker Steak and Lube (the locations in our area had shut down, so he was jonesin’.)

https://imwiththebandwives.com/2015/09/03/jersey-shore-and-more/

So, we went old school and bought a New York State road atlas, started plotting out prospective trips by highlighting all the names we recognized, then began plotting them all on grids by geographic location The harder part was finding time to do all this exploring, with Diego still in high school, and, well, retail.

But we found a sliver of time and we set out Easter Sunday with a basket full of jelly beans and peeps and chocolate bunnies, towards the farthermost western part of the state, Buffalo. We got to the New York-Pennsylvania border of the Thruway and exited to head south, and came across Dunkirk. I didn’t even realize it should be on the list but Diego mentioned the famous WWII battle and how the movie had just come out. So there it was, our first checkmark. We hit several others places before ending up in Jamestown, birthplace of Lucille Ball (Diego claims not to know who she was, but he also says that about the Beatles so I just don’t know.) Most of the towns were shut down because of the holiday, which was too bad because there were some great BBQ places we might have enjoyed. We drove through Barcelona, Salamanca (where a college roommate spent a semester), Westfield (Massachusetts, where I worked for two years after grad school), Portland, Panama, Ashville, Sunset Beach (North Carolina, where I used to go on spring break with Diego’s family years ago), Napoli, and Cuba.

Then there was our trip on Veteran’s Day weekend. By this time Diego had turned 16 and had his permit so I let him drive for the whole trip, though all sorts of terrain: highway, dirt roads full of potholes, country routes, and city streets. It was only a day trip but we still managed to get to several places: Mexico, Texas, Phoenix, Peru, Memphis, Jordan, Belgium, Liverpool, Palermo, and of course Syracuse. We also took a detour to Rainbow Shores, a hotel where my dad and I lived one summer while I was in college, in an apartment over the laundry room. It’s right on Lake Ontario, with the most gorgeous vista every single morning, rain or shine. He indulged me while we walked around the abandoned grounds and I showed him the apartment where we lived, and the cabins where we vacationed during subsequent summers.

Future trip plans got derailed as Diego’s permit became a driver’s license and high school shenanigans became more fun than road trips with Aunt Buddy.  So as you may have guessed, we have not hit all the places, or even the top 100.  We hit 21 during 2017. 2018 was a wash and now next week the kid is leaving for college. At dinner tonight we talked about taking a day trip sometime this fall where we can hit some of the places in the Eastern part of the state, near where he is attending school. We will be lucky if we hit another 10. The good news is that he and I love to spend time together and don’t mind driving for hours as long as there’s a hotel with good cable at the end of the day, and perhaps a fun restaurant. He’s already trying to figure out how to fit another Quaker Steak and Lube visit in.

The Kids Are Alright

As I was leaving work the other night a car honked and drove towards me, a hand waving furiously out of the passenger side window, then Marissa stuck her head out. She jumped out of the car and gave me a big hug, with Paige right behind. We stood in the parking lot and caught up for a few minutes, telling each other little snippets of our lives. It was a moment of bliss, one that I have experienced many times.

Training and teaching and mentoring have been some of the happiest times in my work life. It is bittersweet when I have to say goodbye as employees leave and fly off into the world.  When I was in grad school I had a group of RAs (resident assistants) who came to me for advice, support, and friendship. Here’s a pic of some of The Dogs Of War, who I am still in touch with today, continuing to share advice, support,and friendship (and the occasional abuse, they were good at that too). During grad school, then my positions as a hall director and assistant director of Residential Life, there were six different staffs full of wonderful souls who were in my life and taught me lessons, each one of them full of personality and angst and questions. Sometimes I miss those days.

 

 

And Barnes & Noble gave me the chance to do it again. For 24 years now (I know, right?) many youngsters have been sent out into the world to do great things after spending time with me learning the sometimes hard lessons of the working world. For some of them it was their first professional position and there are always things you never expect to learn about. Last week my sweet friend Alice who is now a licensed therapist after many years of hard work told me she is opening her own counseling practice. At one time in my life that was my dream, and my heart almost burst with love and admiration for her! And for every Alice and Marissa and Paige there is a Paul and Mike and John. My life is so rich because of each of them, And for those who ask why I am still at Barnes & Noble after so many years, that is why I do it folks!

My Writing Declaration of Independence

My talent and this blog have been lying dormant for some time now. As always, there is no excuse. I have been letting life wash over me instead of controlling the flow. I say I want to have a writing practice, and produce work, and I know many ways it can be done. Motivation and inspiration comes in many forms. Today it comes from my dear friend and writing mentor, who after years of teaching about writing practices has created one for herself and it has been transformative. I want to be just like her.

How not to have a regular writing practice: Continue reading “My Writing Declaration of Independence”

Abundance

My parents had faith in a God that would always provide, even when neither was working. No reason to assume I would ever go hungry. $50 bucks a week feeding 10 to 12 people. 7 kids getting free lunch at school, breakfast if they left early. Government cheese, big cans of peanut butter. Always an extra person at the table. Even when we didn’t know when the next meal was coming from, there was food.

The chest freezer was full whenever uncle Denny sold us a cow, emptier other times when it was hardly worth the electricity to run.  Someone had chickens used as placebos in experiments, dead and beheaded but not plucked. After boiling them so the feathers could be plucked easier, the kitchen smelled foul for weeks. Going into the freezer to get dinner items I had a pain in in my stomach while hanging at the waist to dig through frozen chunks of bloody beef to find corn or fish sticks. But I had a secret. The fun-sized Nestle crunch bars we received because they were burned in production. I would sneak whenever I could get away from the kids to grab handfuls. My earliest bingeing behavior. I never went hungry.

I Wanna Rock!

This past weekend the latest inductees were welcomed into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Some of the Band Wives and guys took a road trip to Cleveland to hit up the RRHOF and margarita flights (at Nueva Modern Mexican and Tequila Bar)!

Inspired by my hours immersed in rock history, here are some great performances from my favorite inductees!

Stop Draggin My Heart Around by Stevie Nicks (inducted 2019) featuring Tom Petty (inducted with The Heartbreakers in 2002)

I’ll kick it off with a song from the class of 2019, the first woman to be inducted twice, the first time with her group Fleetwood Mac. As luck would have it it also includes one of my other faves, Tom Petty! Continue reading “I Wanna Rock!”

Snow Day

Snow day! And what did I end up doing?? Poring through old high school yearbooks, having reconnected with an old friend from a high school play on Facebook and feeling nostalgic. We never used to close the bookstore, but in this day and age of fiscal responsibility we have to weigh the sales with the payroll and the safety of our staff, so with the text “We are closing. Enjoy the day!”, I was gifted a day off. The entire day was looming in front of me and there was so much I could be doing, behind in my writing and blog posting, reading, guitar practice, and housecleaning. So instead there I was, with three bound volumes of Talons (we were the Fowler Falcons) to flip through.

Continue reading “Snow Day”

Who Stole My Thunder?

There’s no picture of me in my huntress costume from my high school musical, but if you want to know what I looked like, just think Wilma Flintstone’s dress in a green jungle print (and with bigger boobs, it was way before my surgery).  “Who Stole My Thunder?” was an original musical about Roman mythology penned by my tenth grade English teacher. I reconnected with the guy who played Neptune, God of the Sea, last night on Facebook and it got me thinking about it.

It’s been 40 years so the storyline is a little fuzzy but it was something about how someone steals someone else’s thunderbolt, the gods get angry, and wackiness ensues.

Continue reading “Who Stole My Thunder?”