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!

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?”

550 Words

Dear Linda, thank you for bringing me into this group of women with a common goal of writing 550 words every day. What a great video conference! Now that I have ‘met’ most of them I realize that you curated this group with great care (and I am guessing a bit of trepidation about exactly what kind of monster you were creating). Such different personalities with raw talent and commitment to generating work, great or otherwise (I know that sometimes I am just typing until I see the word count in the corner go past the requisite 550 words). And when we get together online like we did tonight everyone is so kind and supportive – oh, hold on. I need to get another beer – and I have to change seasons, the Sunfish is gone and now it’s Sam Adams Cold Snap. At least I’m not driving, right Alice?

Continue reading “550 Words”

Remembering Dan

Raking leaves under a fall of snowflakes is status quo for me at the Great Camp Sagamore volunteer work weekends, whether it be May or October. It may seem extreme, but it is the mountains, after all. What a curious place, Great Camp Sagamore, existing in another time. No riding mowers or leaf blowers for this clean up crew, just rakes and shovels and tarps that had been previously been used for raven mitigation. That was a whole separate job that I was not willing to volunteer for (although Dana did!) that involved raven shit being cleaned off roofs. I get enough shit at work. I am Queen Pee after all.  Leaves piled on tarps are transported to a secluded section of woods and unceremoniously dumped onto other huge piles of leaves. And so it goes, every other season, fall and then spring and then fall again. No matter what the season, and what the weather, you could always find Dan wearing his trademark shorts.

Continue reading “Remembering Dan”

Bingeworthy

Before this month, I can’t believe it had been so long since this blog sat dormant. I have no excuses. I do a lot of blogworthy stuff, just haven’t been inspired to write it down. I had been spending a lot time bingewatching instead of writing! So what have I been busy indulging in? Let’s see.

 

 

Bloodline (Netflix) There is only one reason I would consider watching a show about dishonesty and murder. Kyle Chandler. I loved him in Early Edition and in Friday Night Lights (there is only one reason why I would watch a show about football…) so when my friend Judy told me about this show I had to check it out. Continue reading “Bingeworthy”

Queen Solomon

People are always trying to get me in the middle of something. I never just agree with someone without finding out what it is going on and I try really hard to play fair. Family drama is always just one call away. The call today came from my sister Judy and her son Diego, each of whom were sure I would side with them. The situation of the day? Judy was ordering Christmas presents on a website and the package was delivered on Friday, along with a wallet she purchased for herself. Diego maintains that because it was purchased in November, it needed to be put away until Christmas, just like all of his gifts. Judy said that this wasn’t the same because she bought it for herself. Diego had taken the wallet and threatened to hide it upstairs until the holidays, which is not really fair because her wheelchair doesn’t go up the stairs. As much as I love that scamp Diego, I did have to agree with Judy and then yell, “Don’t go upstairs with that wallet!” which wasn’t really a threat from 2o minutes away.

Now that I have had some distance from the situation, I just have one thing to say to Diego: here’s a picture of my wallet. Aunt Buddy definitely needs a new one. I have changed my mind – could you hide that wallet from Mom and sneak it to me?? I will love you forever…

 

Books I Love

Selling books for 22 years and loving books for 56 years, reading stories is a big part of my life. My mom loves to tell about the very first book I ever read as a toddler, the Sears catalog. I spent hours flipping the pages and pretending to read each one. Reading allowed me to see lives lived differently than my own and it helped me to escape my life when it was boring or overwhelming.

My mom took us to the library every chance she had and I remember leaving the Beauchamp branch library with piles of books every time. We moved to the near west side when I was 13 and was so excited when I was old enough to walk the ten blocks to the main branch of the Onondaga County Public Library in the gorgeous Carnegie Building. I am so grateful to my parents for fostering a love of reading and imagination and for putting up with all the family gatherings where they found me with my nose in a book!

With all that I’ve read over the years, people may wonder which books are my favorites. My four sets of bookshelves would suggest that there are too many to choose from, but I will try. This list is in no way complete, and most of them are available at Barnes & Noble (of course!)

Continue reading “Books I Love”