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B-I-N-G-O …

Dating and dogs.  It’s bad enough we have to compete with kids, careers, exes, and all the other people you are dating … but the dog, too?!?!?!

I am not a dog person. I really don’t like them. At work we often talk about online dating and tinder and when you should swipe right and when left … and I say if your first photo is with a dog, you’re out. (If there is a photo in which I can see a table cloth, you’re also out because I’ve come to the conclusion you live with mom…..or grandma.)  If your first photo isn’t with the pooch, but then you have 2 others with a smelly beast, you’re out.

Here’s the big problem: the dog means zero flexibility. Mr. Wonderful has to get home to let the dog out, can’t spend the night at your place because of the dog, needs you to come to his house because of the dog … it’s a vicious cycle of biscuits and bad breath.

Once upon a time I went out with a man who named his dog Giselle. Giselle?!?!? You name your dog after a supermodel and then expect me, all 5’1″ of me, not to have a complex?!?! Giselle was a rhodesian ridgeback and I’m pretty sure her legs were longer than mine. The first night I spent at his house Giselle stalked me all night, pacing my side of the bed, while he slept soundly to my right. Giselle was not happy I was there. Fast forward to another date and he said he’d be in the shower when I got there and just let myself in the back door. Ummmm….. what about Giselle the Supermodel Dog?!?!? What if she jumps on me? She won’t do that, he said. She did that…

The house smells, there is fur everywhere, and if I have to compete with Rover for shotgun I’m not going to like it.

When I was 5 we lived with my uncle. My mother was a single mom with two little girls and Uncle Gordy let us stay with him to help her out. He had three dogs ….. Mickey, Schultz, and Michael. (I think…’s been a while.) Schultz was a german shepherd and by far my favorite. One summer day, my sister and I were outside in the yard playing with the hose. The dogs were chasing after it, biting the water and having a grand ol’ time. My sister, being older than I, decided to see what would happen if she put the hose over by my foot. It wasn’t pretty … Schultz bit me, I cried, and the mean babysitter banished my sister Stephanie to her room. I have never liked dogs since.

I honestly try not to date guys with dogs. (I seem to be getting worse at that these days, though.) It’s like women and cats …. and the crazy cat thing…only worse. You can leave the cat unattended for a day or two with food. Bingo, not so much.

Back to Giselle … her dad and I didn’t work out. But, I consider him a very good friend and the night before my first day back at WTNH the three of us had a slumber party to celebrate my return and make me feel not so alone. We drank wine, then coffee, and I broke out the lint roller as part of my walk of shame.  When it comes to K-9’s, Giselle is one of the few I have come to love and appreciate. I haven’t seen her since that day and hope the dog years are treating her well. To this day I am jealous of her shapely legs and master’s devotion. (If he sends me a random how are you text it usually says something like this: “Giselle says hi.”)

Tonight I attempted spontaneity, a hard thing to come by when dating as a grown-up, and the dog got in the way. I’m not going to let it get me down … I said I saw it as a blog opportunity and so I seized it.

Dear boys … if you suddenly find yourself single and without a wife, do not immediately run out and get a dog. They don’t do dishes, don’t dust, and while they might be able to clean a toilet they generally don’t look good in an evening gown. (Or out of one, for that matter, Giselle being the exception.) They will inhibit your social life.

People often ask my kids if we have pets. Here is Cassie’s response …

“No, we don’t have animals cause mommy has kids instead. She’s just trying to remember to feed us …”

I guess the plus side to all of this is dogs eat sneakers …

Footwear … and dating

I wear heels…this we have established. Sometimes, in the warmer months, I wear flip flops …with at least a one inch platform. I like boots and sandals and classy classic pumps ….. I despise sneakers.

I also despise men who can’t seem to put a little thought into their footwear. It matters. (To me, anyway.) Dating after kids means we are more often than not looking for the reasons NOT to see you again instead of trying to appreciate the reasons why we should…..and footwear to me can be a deal breaker.

Two years ago while what’s his face was off participating in extra curricular activities, I went on several first, second, and third dates. One night I waited at the bar at Molto ….. feeling more excited than I had in quite some time about the potential that would soon walk through the door.

In he came and I think I had an instant smile. I locked his eyes ….. smiled, tried to do the once-over without seeming overly obvious……and then I saw them. Duck shoes. You know, the LL Bean kind???? Who wears Duck shoes to a first date?!?! Yes, it had snowed and there was crap on the roads, but duck shoes????? My father wears duck shoes.

The rest of the date went well. Years later I remember what we ate. (We shared a salad …… arugula …. cranberries ….. yum ….. and a flatbread.) We drank wine. I forgave the shoes and a second date was had. He wore duck shoes. We had tapas, great conversation, beverages, and duck shoes. He was well put together, drove two nice cars, had a great job, no drama ….. but was lacking in the footwear department.

I was probably looking for a reason for him not to be the right one. I wasn’t ready. He and I maintained contact for quite sometime …. attempting another go a couple of times only to fall flat for my fear of taking it to the next level. (That and the great New Year’s Eve episode of 2013 ….  it involves Chinese food and name calling….probably best told on the stage at a comedy club.) I tried to only see him in the summer months so I wouldn’t have to see the duck shoes.

Men and sneakers:

Please ….. do not wear them on a first date. I guess, maybe, if the first date is a mild hike up a small mountain …. but let’s be honest here and say that will never happen with me. Maybe, if you’re in your mid twenties and work for Google ….. I suppose that might be okay …. but even then I’m not sure.

When I think of my long term relationships, the first date footwear is as follows:

Brian: skate shoes…..we were in college ….. he was a skater …. all good.

Dave: black restaurant friendly shoes …. nothing sexy but functional and not a sneaker

Andy: black dress shoes ….. but he had on an adidas jacket with his work clothes so I almost wrote him off…… (He asked me out for dinner as we were walking to our cars …. I was a poor single mother of 2 babies…. free food was an offer I couldn’t refuse.)

George: his work boots ….. which clearly have been through more women than Hugh Hefner  …. but, not sneakers. Subsequent date nights he always wore  his cowboy boots.

Call me superficial, call me whatever ….. I don’t care. We all have our things and this is one of mine. I’ve done a little asking around and women seem to agree on this one. (And I have several guy friends who agree as well.)

Ironically, I’ve spent some QT with someone who has an extensive Nike collection ….. all lined up neatly under his bed. I know he wore sneakers on the second date but we did a lot of walking. I don’t remember the first because it was very late at night and he walked into the bar, kissed me without saying hello and then proposed. (I was flustered and forgot to look down.) His shirt was blue and white checked ….. as I write this I seem to recall he may have had sneakers on …. he must have. I questioned the sneakers …. they are perks from time spent with a certain rocker/former American Idol judge. He got a pass…..but a wedding date has not been set.

Even worse than sneakers ….. flip flops. Generally speaking, I hate feet. I happen to have cute feet, but I realize the bulk of the population does not. I’m pretty sure 99.9% of men have ugly feet and I don’t really wanna see them out in public. (Unless you’re Italian with a thick accent ….. for some reason I think then it’s okay to wear flip flops … not sure why…maybe because I’m imagining someone holding a journal in a white linen shirt and perfectly pressed khakis, saying all the right things while feeding me strawberries and biscotti…. in flip flops ….. with the Mediterranean off in the distance….I digress.)

Please guys, keep them covered on a first date ….. and most dates afterwards. You can whip those puppies out when we go to some exotic beach, but otherwise, do the world … or more importantly, me ….a favor and hide them.


Google this…

I am google-able. Search my name and there is stuff to be found. Old demos, the link to this blog, a slew of reporter stories, discussions about my comings and goings work wise, photos…that terrible Nyberg interview where I look like death.

Aidan and Zach and I have a very honest relationship. I think it’s healthiest to keep discussions open and let them know nothing is off the table. If they have questions, I will try to have answers. They think it’s amusing when I get recognized, which is happening now more than ever, and while they often give me the, “mooooooommmmmm” when I say something they perceive as embarrassing, at the end of the day they know we have a unique mother/son bond and they appreciate that.

Recently we were talking about me doing comedy and they wanted to know if I wanted to stop doing news and just be funny. It’s a delicate balance, my day job and a hobby that I wish I had more time to pursue. I tried to explain that I can’t be as honest in my comedy as I’d often like to be because I have to be careful not to upset the reputation I have as a journalist. They then told me they’d watched my comedy routine.

Wait, what???? We talk about penises and vaginas all day around here. Dating, love, the pursuit of happiness. But for them to watch my comedy felt a little taboo. (Which is incredibly strange to say because last night Aidan was tinder-ing for me…I don’t tinder anymore but they were curious and we had some great laughs at the expense of men posing in front of mirrors, standing next to urinals, with tigers, with dogs, with women, and without their shirts on Suddenly they understood my frustrations with the dating scene ala 2015.)

“When did you watch my routine?” I asked.

“We googled you. We watched the one where you were wearing the black shirt,” Aidan said.

“How much did you watch?????” I asked, slightly concerned but not really…..I keep it pretty clean.

“We stopped like the 4th time you said the f word,” he said. “You say it a lot.”

Phew! They stopped before I said I put out…my poor father is still trying to recover from that one.

Google is a powerful thing. In the on-line dating world it offers insight, good and bad, into the people we meet or are planning on meeting. When I first met what’s his face almost 3 years ago, I googled him and found some incriminating info. It stopped me from a second date until he pursued to the point I convinced myself it was ok and aren’t we all lucky we don’t have those on our records?!?! Lesson learned?! Probably not.

Lately it seems as if the people I connect with in the dating world are just as google-able as I am, albeit in different ways. I google to find out if there is a mug shot or arrest or if they’ve made the Drudge report. What I find is employment records, names of ex-wives, and articles about business happenings and their comings and goings. I suppose I could feel bad about sneaking a peak into their lives but I’ve found they do the same, and often come to the date knowing a hell of a lot more about me than I do them. We tell each other we’re googling. It’s strange.

We are all google-able…some of us just more so than others. Our addresses, phone numbers, marriage records, divorce records, Facebook, linkedin…all out there for everyone and anyone to find. I don’t have anything to hide, really. I’m just not quite at the point where I lay it all out there for EVERYONE to know. I’m trying to get better at it as I do think my sarcasm and stories could enlighten others and possibly save a heart or two. (I’ve been told they could and when I post an edited version those who heard the entire truth tell me to stop holding back.) When I feel a connection to someone I’ll send the link to my comedy routine and ask them not so nicely to please not watch Nyberg until the third date and second bottle of wine.

Recently I started seeing someone who is perhaps MORE google-able than I am, in the sense that what I found lead me to question why he was investing his time in getting to know little ol’ me. (Self doubt is a terrible thing…..but inevitable after a couple of failed marriages.) His response, even after googling, was to say I seem real. I assume he’s had his fair share of the fakes and phonies. I am what I am and I won’t make apologies for that. He’s made me want to be more real and share some of the moments I often hold back.

So, here goes one of my favorites:

Aidan: Mom, there’s a condom wrapper in the trash.

Me: (oh, shit.) Yeah. So?

Aidan: Why is there a condom wrapper in the garbage?

Me: Cause safe sex is better than no sex…after you’re 18.

Aidan: (laughs) Is he a Bruins fan?

Me: He is now.

Google has been kind to me so far, mostly. Dig deep and there is one hurtful comment I could live without but know it’s BS. Someday, given the profession I’ve chosen and the path I’m on, maybe it won’t be so kind. I don’t care what anyone else sees or thinks…but for my kids, I hope I’ve set the right foundations so that they’ll know what’s true and what’s not, what matters and what doesn’t, and that mom was a well balanced mixture of  all the things that make up life as only we know it.

Single parent Santa-ing

Merry Christmas 2015.

This was the first Christmas that I’ve been alone, just me and the kids, on Christmas morning. I thought I’d be a little depressed, possibly cry, meltdown, or everything would go to shit if I realized I had labeled a present wrong, forgotten a gift, or even worse… dropped a bunch of boxes down the stairs while setting everything up and suddenly shatter the innocence of my two believers.

I, of course, did fine. Why? Because I’ve always been Santa. Even during the married years I was Santa. I made the lists, checked them twice, made more lists, decorated trees, picked out coordinated paper, shopped, cooked, baked, wrapped, made sure we had Xmas jammies, stuffed the stockings and took all the pictures.

I remember crying on the living room floor that first Christmas I was divorced and Aidan and Zach left in the early afternoon to be with their dad…2006. It started the divorced parent tradition of me having them Xmas Eve and them going to dad’s around 11:30 Christmas Day. We’ve done it every year for 10 years. I think I’ve cried every year for ten years, for various reasons. Broken toys, not enough stuffing, break-ups, misunderstandings with in-laws or relatives, a car crash or two, not enough wine…

This was the first year I didn’t. I have been so incredibly busy I don’t think I had time to even realize it was Christmas. I’ve been working weekends, juggling parties,  old friends and new friends and kids. Shopping happened mostly on-line and only two days in stores. December has been a whirlwind of rush, rush, rush  and some amazingly wonderful moments of surprise.

Wrapping happened in two sessions…both before my usual Christmas Eve wrapping fest because I had to work it. Silly me, I pulled an all-nighter on the 23rd and went into XMAS Eve on just two hours of sleep. By 3 o’clock I had to throw my hands up in the air and hope for the best. The presents and stockings were on stand-by in my closet.

I solo-anchored 3 hours of news, the kids went to my mom’s, and I snuck in a quick visit during my dinner break. My parents brought them back to my house around 10 and I got home at midnight. I waited about an hour to play Santa and then it took about an hour to lug everything down and set it up around the tree. I poured a glass of wine…sat quietly on the couch for 20 minutes…and didn’t cry.

At 4:30 a.m. the lights went on and the kids were all awake making noise in their room. In a groggy haze I looked at the time and proceeded to yell at them to shut the lights off and not bother me until at least 6:30. Aidan informed me Cameron had wet the bed, which he does from time to time, especially when mommy isn’t there to make sure he watches the fluid intake. (I had told multiple people to make sure he had a pull-up on but alas, it didn’t happen.) Aidan was awesome and was trying to take care of the situation without waking me up. We got everyone resettled until 6:15 at which point they woke me up again. 3 hours of sleep…I didn’t cry.

Next it was presents, Dunkin Donuts, Nerf gun wars, and a series of “can you help me open this” requests. A shower for Cameron, a shower for me, TV hair and make-up, and off to drop the kids. When I left the house it looked like Toys r us had exploded in my living room. ( I don’t do messy well…this would normally be a breaking point.)

I didn’t cry.

A quick visit with family, work from 3-11:30, and Chinese food for dinner. (Call me crazy but I’ve never had Chinese on Xmas.) After work I cleaned up the Christmas chaos and shared a glass of wine with one of December’s surprises. (I think it was more like half a glass…I was too tired to keep lifting it.)

Today, December 26th, at around 12:30 p.m., after abut 7 hours of sleep…I sat down in the dining room. I traded the bubbly sound of Britney Spears asking Santa to bring her Mr. Wonderful for the more sultry sound of Adele. I cried. Freaking Adele. Thanks for that.

So…what did I learn this Christmas???? Christmas isn’t Christmas if you can’t sit down and enjoy a meal and the season with your family. I feel as if the holidays didn’t happen and I was just in survival/get through it mode. I’m off the next 3 days so I’m hoping I can enjoy the post holiday slow down.

I’m grateful for the little moments, the smiles on their faces and the hugs and the kisses. Cameron and Cassandra made gifts for everyone. They were precious and they were so excited to hand them out. Aidan helping out in the middle of the night so I could sleep…priceless. The look on Zach’s face when he opened his drone…amazing. Clinking glasses and cheers-ing after the madness subsided…perfect ending.

I am Santa. Always have been and always will be and this year Santa had to do things a little differently. Christmas was Christmas for my 4 favorite people…and that is all that matters.



The $99 post…

Well, it is late. It’s been a night of nights. A couple of coworkers invited me out for a drink after work. I went. Good times and while I’m sure they had no idea how much I needed the camaraderie, I am grateful for the distraction.

Afterwards, I met up with an old friend…perhaps, someone I have written about in the past. (Shameless plug to encourage y’all to go back and read the old blogs.) On my way to visit, I heard a song on the radio for the first time. Music is a powerful thing, capable of striking us down or raising us up with a note or two. Sara Bareillis, “She Used to be Mine.” Instant tears. It is not about a lost love, it is about losing the person you were or thought you would become. Listen. It’s me.

The song speaks for itself to the point that I don’t feel I need to write about it. But, as I sat chatting this evening, we talked about my writing and apparently the word is on the street I am pretty good at it and people do actually read it. I thought I’d write about music and some of the songs that have hit me over the past year or two, find a way to be clever about it, and hopefully find comfort in knowing I made someone laugh. Somewhere between the glass of wine and home I had shifted gears from music and was going to write a post titled “What’s in a name” and I have every intention of doing so…tomorrow. (Or maybe the next day. Or maybe later this week but definitely before November.) Then I logged on.

“Your page has expired.” What?!?!?! I’ve been at this for a year?!?! Holy crap, I don’t have a lot to show for it. I probably should have been more diligent, written more, shared more, whatever. I didn’t. So, after entering my payment info, this post has cost me $99 and made me think about refocusing.

The name post cannot be overshadowed by the $99. It’s going to be more like a $150 post. Maybe even $200. Perhaps priceless.

Back to music, because I am tired and want to sleep and it seems a lot easier to continue that line of thought…

If you are one of the few who will actually take the time to google the song, listen, and learn, thank you. That’s why I write. If you’re not, I leave you with this:

This is the song that doesn’t end…

Yes it goes on and on my friend.

Some people started singing it not knowing what it was  and they’ll continue singing it forever just because…

This is the song that doesn’t end…

See?!?! I hope you learned your lesson and will just do as I say. So much easier for everyone in the end.

Music is a powerful thing. Sing. Dance. Cry. Do what it leads you to do.

Goodbye to the Last Frontier

It was the Saturday after I arrived back in Connecticut. I was somewhere in Westchester County and night had set in.

“In this moment, what do you miss most about Alaska?” he asked.

“The quiet,” I answered.

I said it fast, as the sounds of sirens, neighbors, cars, crickets, and a busy world raged on outside the window. Then I immediately changed my mind.

Alaska does have quiet. Even in a large city like Anchorage, the vastness of the landscape, the mountains, the rainbows, the fast moving tides, the wildlife, all of those things lend themselves to a sense of quiet and calm. I enjoyed it. I relished it. I experienced it and hope to again. I do not miss it.

We had an awesome summer. At the end of June, my brother flew from Connecticut to Anchorage with Aidan and Zach. While I was at work, they would explore. When I was off, we would explore together. It was a summer filled with glaciers, the Alaska Railroad, whales, sea otters, puffins, moose, bears, mountains, 22 hours of daylight, pizza, salmon, halibut, wine, beer, friends, singing in the car and some major life changing moments. Six weeks of once in a lifetime experiences. For that I am grateful.

I saw the Northern Lights. The twins and I saw them back in March but they weren’t very vivid. About two weeks before I moved back east, the lights came out for two spectacular nights. I could see them from the windows of my house. I ran outside in my pj’s and shared the moment with a friend. I woke the kids up and made them look as well. It was so quiet, I am pretty sure I could hear them dancing across the sky.

I am home now. Connecticut is home. It was never my intention to leave it, but I had to out of necessity. My pieces are still falling into place, slowly but surely. In the past few weeks I have seen rainbows, spectacular sunsets, coastal views, and changing leaves. I have seen some bad memories, made some great new ones, and find tremendous joy in sharing laughs with my family at night and on weekends. I am enjoying my girl times, focusing on friendships, and choosing to be close to those who matter the most. I think I found my funny again. (I had lost it…somewhere between JFK and Anchorage it left me…planning to share it with NYC again sometime soon. I do a mean Nancy Grace impression.)

So, Alaska, I say thank you for being so different. Thank you for allowing me to tell some great stories, create some of my own, share in the lives of your people, make some amazing friends, and experience you with my children.

“There are no crickets in Alaska,” I said.

Epilogue: There may be crickets in Alaska. It’s a debated topic on the www. I never heard them. Maybe it’s because I was too busy listening to the mountains, or the moose, or the distance. I never heard them in Anchorage, and several people confirm the same so I stick to “there are no crickets” in Alaska and will have zero tolerance for anyone who wants to rain on my parade.

The Death of Chivalry

Chivalry: the combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, especially courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak…and courtesy to women. (Compare courtly love.)

Yeah…what happened to that?!?! Apparently, it has died.

I’ve been quiet lately, or perhaps it’s best to say I haven’t been writing publicly.  I have eight million thoughts in my head and yet I find myself struggling to express them. But, I started this blog with the intention of telling my stories, expressing my thoughts and sharing my experiences, because oftentimes other people are as amused by them as I am. So, let’s be honest and talk about dating….when you’re 38…and in Alaska…and what you’ve done in the past didn’t seem to work out quite right.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve always dated older. 5 plus years to a maximum of 16. (It should be noted the 16 was probably closer to 20 and I do believe he was lying…but he had a fabulous wine cellar.)

Dating older when you’re in your twenties means you are, or at least you should be, dating someone who is secure in their career. They’re ready to commit, thinking about building a life and sharing in all the excitement that has yet to find you both. Dating older when you’re in your late thirties means you’re dating someone who has been there, done that, it didn’t work out, and now they’re bitter and like their own space. Or, on the other hand, they’ve never been there or done that, say they never found the right one, and that means they’re set in their own ways and they like their own space. When I reentered the dating world, again, it was with the hope that I would get it right this time around. I want to find the person to share and build a life with, but now perhaps it’s a little more complicated because we bring parts of our pasts to the table. That does not mean I should not be allowed to find that, that I need to settle for what someone is willing to give.

I had this brilliant idea, encouraged somewhat by a friend of mine who is a Tinder-holic, to date younger. Suddenly I am the one with the “good” job and a life plan, capable of supporting myself and standing on solid ground. (It appears that way, anyway, to the younger male.) I won’t name names. He was an environmental scientist, smart, cute, slightly awkward and his pictures were of him in the Arctic with penguins. Penguins. He had me at penguins.

First date, divey bar because they served popcorn. I drank beer and the conversation was easy. He seemed nervous and I felt…old. Sexy, but old. The age difference was only three years, but I think it’s safe to say he was a young 35. As one person put it, a boy-man. I like a man-man but I was going to try, damn it. He loosened up and we moved on to another bar and eventually kissed goodnight. He paid for the 3 beers. The chemistry was good. He was shorter than I normally like, wore a plaid shirt, and looked like he should ride his skateboard home. In my mind I was 19 again and I had a crush.

Second date…a bottle of wine, chips and salsa, strawberries, conversation. We were in the discovery phase and he said all the right things. He’d stop mid sentence and tell me I was beautiful.

Third date…he accompanied me to a comedy event I was judging. He met me there and we made our way to the bar. After ordering drinks, I told him I’d get it and he said, “Thanks.” Wait, what?!?!?! I didn’t really want to get it, I was testing him and he failed.

I decided to talk to one of my younger, single, actively dating co-workers about the current state of courtship. He told me in his opinion, women, or perhaps we should say girls, are insulted when a man always pays. He said he lets them pay because he doesn’t want to make them feel insecure. Ummmmm…no. Ladies, you are killing chivalry!!!!!! (And men, you aren’t putting up a good fight!) When speaking with my older male friends, they agree with me 100% that the man should pay and can’t fathom not doing so.

My message to the ladies:

Someday you will most likely birth a child. It will grow inside of your now tight abdomen and make its way out through your vagina. If you are on a date right now, there is a possibility the man sitting across from you will be responsible for helping to create that child. For that reason, he should pay. (You will also cook most of the meals, clean the toilets, dust, schedule all of the doctor’s appointments, and work a full-time job …. and make twenty-two cents less an hour than he does while doing it.)

Now, I’m not saying the woman should never pay. I’m just saying courtship is a lost art. Women want to be pursued. Gender roles are alive and thriving in so many ways, and I’m ok with most of them. (For example, the man should always take out the trash and kill the spiders. In exchange, women will follow you around picking up your junk that ends up in the trash you will place by the curb.) If I swipe right, and he swipes right, I want him to say hello first. I’m not shy. I have no problem making the first move. I just don’t want to anymore.

In the 2+ years I dated George, he almost always paid for date nights. (And he ALWAYS opened the car door for me.) I almost always paid for groceries for “family” meals, and dinners at “home”. Vacations, activities with the kids, and weekend getaways were often shared expenses.

My message to the guys…

If you can’t open her car door because you have to get in on your side and reach across to unlock it, it’s time to stop dating or get a new car. (This may not apply to boys under the age of 27.)

My message to me:

You hate dating. You don’t want to do it anymore. But, you have to or you’ll end up alone with a bunch of cats.

You really, really, really like penguins. You also really, really, really like wine. You like wine more.

You hate cats.

Polka dots, plaid, and hygiene…

I haven’t written in quite some time. (Well, not anything I would publish anyway.)  I have felt uninspired. I’ve sat down numerous times and attempted, but nothing happens. Until now.

The kids are all back east and I am not. Cameron and Cassandra were so excited to see their dad and we had a countdown going for about two weeks before they left. My countdown was probably a little different from theirs.

Thirteen days until we see daddy…thirteen days until you don’t brush your teeth for two months.

Twelve days til we see daddy…twelve days til swimming in the pond counts as a bath.

Eleven days til we see daddy…eleven days til you wear the same socks for three days straight.

Ten days til we see daddy…ten days til you probably don’t travel in a booster seat.

You get the picture. It’s not easy letting them go. I spent seven years with their dad and was very proud of the home I created. The kids had fun. The house was well decorated, their clothes matched, and I have many memories of fabulous holidays and parties, and quiet nights of game playing and movie watching. And then we got divorced.

This past weekend I was back home. (By home I mean CT, I really don’t have a home. I’m always in limbo.) I stayed at George’s, a home that is not mine but houses some of my furniture and boxes of clothes. I drove my mother’s car and made my way back to Killingworth to see the boys my first afternoon there. If you’ve read my posts before you’ll recall my ex husbands live eight houses away from each other. I moved 4000 miles away. After some alone time with the big boys we stopped by the “big” house to see the twins, partially because I missed them, partially because I wanted to see if Cassie’s hair had been done in the two weeks since I put them on the plane with Andy to leave Alaska.

As I pulled onto the street my heart rate soared and the anxiety crept in. I used to love turning onto this street. It meant I was home. Now, I start hyperventilating and want to close my eyes. The yard is always a mess, there is mildew on the siding, and my once beautiful house is unkempt. In the driveway there are four old cars…not sure who they belong to…and I’m pretty sure I saw a spare tire, some garbage, and possibly a small boat in the backyard. I won’t even begin to describe the garage. (It also houses some of my furniture.)

Her hair had not been done. The same two poofs I had carefully crafted the day before she left were still there. He had hastily thrown in a couple of clips to keep down some of the loose pieces, but I knew it was just for show. My prized dresser is now a sofa table with scratches, the former office/quiet room is now a bar/storage room, and the brown and orange shag rug that should be under the kitchen table is under the table in my once beautiful purple dining room. (I think the purple rug that belongs there is in the basement somewhere.) I didn’t dare venture upstairs because Aidan told me I shouldn’t.

The kids were happy. Isn’t that what matters? They had new shoes and chatted about going out on their dad’s girlfriend’s boat. They hugged me and went back to watching tv while Andy talked about putting the house up for sale. (If you’re looking for a six bedroom house on a quiet cul-de-sac in the woods, let me know.) I asked him if he had conditioner and a comb.

This is not how I pictured my life. I think divorced parents everywhere go through this. It’s so hard to hand your children off to the other parent and have to trust them to do the right things and make the right choices. I have several proven circumstances where the twins’ dad has not, but I know his intentions are good. I try to be firm, yet not stir the pot, but it’s getting harder to hold back. When I brought the kids back to him on Monday I reminded him to please get her hair braided. Today, he sent photos and her hair is how I left it. On the phone he said he planned on getting it done next…what day is today? Monday, no Tuesday, maybe Wednesday. Ugh.

But, she had glasses on in the picture. I didn’t ask him to take her to the eye doctor. He said this week she had headaches and was squinting at the tv, so he took the twins and she needed glasses and Cameron does not. Next week he’s taking them to the dentist. I’ll try not to think about the fact that they’ll be wearing plaid shorts, polka-dotted shirts, and striped socks when they are out in public and just be happy they’re being cared for by a man they love very much.

Message from a bottle…

Once upon a honeymoon I went to Napa. I was never much of a wine drinker, but at 29, I started to step out of the box, and try the good stuff. (Or at least the better stuff.) Andy and I considered it our thing, since neither of us had really learned to appreciate it in our previous marriages.

We started with a Coppola Merlot, and at the time I thought it was wonderful. (Now, it’s an instant headache and I can barely look at the bottle without having a flashback to a bad hangover, or two.) Then we began to explore others and became regulars at Mt. Carmel Wine and Spirits. There was an Italian wine we loved, I cannot remember the name now but I’m sure he will, and we bought a case of it. When the vintage was sold out, I was devastated.

For our honeymoon we went to Napa. We stayed at a B and B called The Pink Mansion. I can close my eyes and instantly recall everything about it. It was the best trip ever. Champagne at breakfast, wine tasting by 10, nap at 3, and then fabulous dinners to follow. Only in Napa is it okay to have a slight buzz by 11 a.m…

We went to a small winery, Vincent Arroyo, and there we purchased a case to be shipped back home. After that our rule was buy one everyday wine at the vineyards we liked, and one special vintage bottle. By the time we were going home we had 48 bottles to ship back and it became apparent I would need a fabulous wine rack to hold them all in.

Our favorite day was when we ventured over to Healdsburg and the Alexander Valley. Napa is basically two main roads, I think, and some smaller roads in between. There are big names and fancy wineries that put on their shows. (Most of their stuff is tolerable, the special bottles worth trying.) Healdsburg was much more quaint. We would see a sign for a no name winery and drive along a curvy road to be greeted by friendly vineyard owners and fabulous wines. Then we stumbled upon Dry Creek,

I remember the sampling bar, the smell of the first pour. It was love at first taste. We tried several varietals and loved them all with the exception of the Chardonnay. (Not a chard fan at all.) We purchased a bunch and joined their wine club. Two new bottles would arrive every two months or so and we loved them all. We saved many of them for special occasions, Thanksgiving or Christmas. Eventually we cancelled the membership, diapers for twins were expensive, and Dry Creek became a fond memory. In Connecticut very few stores carried any of their wines, and if they did, they were the lower end bottles.

Well, now it’s just me, many miles away from Connecticut but closer to Napa. Recently I started to notice that many of the liquor stores carry a wide variety of Dry Creek wines. The other night I splurged and bought one I would no longer consider an everyday wine, and immediately it invoked the memories of that trip, the tastes, smells and the scenery came flooding back. I snapped a picture and sent it to Andy to make him jealous, and he was. Next time I go back home I will bring him a bottle or two.

I like wine. It is better when shared with someone else. I’m a slow sipper, one glass a night, perhaps two…more if my mother is egging me on. If you’ve never been to Napa, I say skip it and stay in Sonoma or Healdsburg and just do Napa for a day. Don’t order a case from Vincent Arroyo. None of the bottles that were shipped were drinkable, but they looked fabulous on the sixty bottle wine rack I ordered from California to house my new passion.

Little Planes and Big Hearts

I would be lying if I didn’t say I’m homesick. I am. I miss my boys. I miss visits with family, and wine with Mom. I miss cooking. (Words I never thought I’d say.) I miss snow! (Words I should not be saying living in Alaska.) I miss seeing friends. I miss my photos, furniture, knick-knacks, and my comfy bed.

Missing aside, it’s time to write about what I’m enjoying about being where I am.

Merrill Field was the first official airport in Alaska. It opened in 1930. I’ve tried to research the number of flights to take off and land per day, and I see numbers ranging from 340-530. My station is located right near the airport, and all day long I can see and hear the planes coming in and taking off. They are smaller planes, the kind I am terrified of, but I am loving them. I find them intimate, adventurous, and wild. They provoke a vintage feel, and when I hear one coming, I can’t help but look up. and wish I was in it.

Last week I did my first out-of-town story. My photographer, Emily, and I arrived at the larger airport in Anchorage, Ted Stevens International, at 5:30 a.m. and did not have to go through security. We checked in, made our way to the terminal, and waited. As our plane taxied to the gate, it was loud. It sounded old. It was old. Small, two seats by two seats and nine rows. Enough to make me say, “Xanax would be nice…”

Nerves pushed aside, the flight was amazing. We flew over the Chugach mountains, on the sides of mountains, and along Prince William Sound. We could see white mountain peaks and glaciers, winding rivers, and frozen lakes. It was truly breathtaking and for 45 minutes we snapped pictures and were in awe of the beauty.

We landed in Valdez, a small little airport with one runway wedged in between mountains. As we approached, it seemed like you could reach out and touch the mountains next to us, or if a strong gust of wind were to strike we could be plastered against them.

Valdez is a small city of 4100 people. It’s a fishing village with a movie set feel. After we finished the shoot for our story, we set up shop in the restaurant at the Best Western. We had a view of the marina, and the water was eerily calm, all of the boats still in the water despite it being winter. Emily is a bit younger than me, and when I commented that I felt like we were on the Jaws ride at Universal, I think she hadn’t a clue what I was talking about.

Everyone was friendly and happy to have us there, although perhaps a little weary of our intentions. Once I had eased their minds that it really was a feel good story, they unwound a bit and opened up. We were told where to go for dinner and lunch and the best spots for viewing the city to  get a feel for its isolation. We snapped a lot of photos. The plane for the ride home was half the size of the one there, and 3 x’s as terrifying. I survived and would do it again in a heartbeat.

I have yet to see the Northern Lights as I live in the city and will probably have to load two sleepy kids into the car well after they initially fell asleep, and drive at least 30 minutes outside of the city limits to get the best views. Last night, however, after seeing posts that they could be spotted, I went outside and looked up. What I did see was a moon dog.  Wikipedia says: a relatively rare bright circular spot on a lunar halo caused by the refraction of moonlight by hexagonal-plate-shaped ice crystals in cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. I say: amazing.

Sights and sounds of Alaska. I have seen and heard a few. I love it all so far and look forward to experiencing more.

The last thing I love about Alaska so far is the way it has brought me closer to certain people back home. Maybe it is a classic case of distance makes the heart grow fonder, but I am extremely grateful for the closeness I have developed with friends via emails, phone calls, and texts. While I am alone, in many ways, all the way up here ridiculously close to the Arctic Circle, I feel close in heart and mind. I knew this would be an adventure, but I didn’t realize how many people would come along with me.

Thank you.