Happy first day of spring! For me spring is like pushing the reset button. This year I feel like I need that more than in the past. I did not enjoy this winter at all, not even a little bit. I felt cooped up and cranky the majority of the time. There was hardly any snow – the least snowy winter in a long time. I think that was a part of my doldrums – I love snow, there is a magical beauty in snow. There was no beauty in this winter. It was dark, gray, bleak. This winter I learned how much I crave sunlight. The best thing I can say about the winter is it wasn’t very cold.
So after four months of a complete and total lack of energy or interest in much of anything, I’m hoping to start feeling more re-energized. The days are longer again. There is more sunshine! It feels really good too. Now that there is still daylight when I get home from work I can get out and start walking again, get some fresh air. I can open the windows and air out the house. That is always a welcome relief and the cats love it too. They run from window to window, noses up in the air, letting the breeze blow their whiskers, with their ears pricked forward listening to all the birds. Ahhh, the birds, it is so lovely to be able to hear all the different calls again. All of the animals are starting to perk up as well. The squirrels have a little extra zip; the chipmunks are running around the yard; and there was even a big old opossum wandering around the yard one night.
Although it is still very gray, there are signs of life all around. The lilacs have buds on them, the irises are poking up, and soon things will be greening up. So I can be a little more patient, and watch as the beauty slowly makes its way back, and in doing so renews my spirit as well.
“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead.”
~A. A. Milne, When We Were Very Young
Every year there seems to be that one toy everyone wants. I remember one year so vividly - I must have been about six or so - all I wanted for Christmas was Baby Tender Love. She was a baby doll that you could feed water from a bottle and she would cry and pee. Nothing else would do. So Christmas morning I opened package after package and I got all sorts of doll accessories - a high chair, clothes, bottles, a carrier, everything you could ever need to take care of a baby doll. Baby Tender Love was nowhere to be found in any box however. I was a very unhappy little girl!
As we always did we went to my grandparents house later in the day for Christmas dinner. Grandma, Grandpa, and all my aunts and uncles asked me what I had gotten for Christmas and I told everyone the sad tale that Santa didn't bring me the doll I wanted. It didn't matter that I got a bunch of great gifts - I didn't get the doll. There was nothing anyone could do or say to make me happy. I moped around all day long. My parents probably wanted to disown me.
Later in the day it was time for round two of gifts from all the relatives and grandparents. My Grandfather always. played Santa and passed out the gifts to all the kids. He gave me my gift from him and Grandma - I opened it and there she was - Baby Tender Love. Gram and Gramp didn't let me down. I was so excited; I don't think I put her down the rest of the night. I loved that doll!
I still have her, all these years later; she is tucked away in a box up in my parent's attic. She will always be special and hold so many dear memories for me.
I love Christmas! Ever since I was child, I have watched the Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center on TV. I always wanted to be there! More particularly, I wanted to be there on my birthday! Last year I finally got to cross that off my Bucket List. So as I sit here, cuddled up under a blanket, watching on TV this year, I am reflecting back on what was one of the best birthday celebrations ever!
Two very good friends, Nicole and Sandy, helped make my wish a reality. We took the train down to the city sipping mimosas on the way. I was given a "Happy Birthday" tiara, which I happily donned all day long. When we got to the city we kicked the adventure off with lunch at the Bryant Park Grill, one of my favs. I love the Bryant Park Holiday Market so we spent some time wandering there and watching some folks skate at the rink. Then it was off to stroll down 5th Avenue and take in all the store windows and holiday decorations. My favorite was Lord and Taylor's scenes from an Enchanted Mansion, complete with a library filled with mischievous mice. A very close second was Saks with Art Deco inspired Fairy Tales, of course my alter ego, Snow White, made an appearance.
Visiting Santa at Macy's Santaland was a must! That was our next stop. Despite Nicole thinking the elves were freaky and "just not right," (they were just very happy), we got an audience with the big guy in red. I wasn't prepared for the question: "What do you want for Christmas?" I had no idea what to say! Of course, that was followed up by shopping. Sandy got the buy of the day with an amazing pair of red shoes; perfect for holiday parties.
I had to have a birthday cupcake at Magnolia Bakery. The staff noticed us standing in line, and me with my tiara, and they all stopped and sang "Happy Birthday" to me. It was awesome! We were then off to dinner at Johnny Utah's - still recuperating from knee surgery, riding the bull was out of the question.
After dinner it was time, the highlight of the adventure, the tree lighting ceremony. We actually got lucky and managed to get much closer to the tree than we thought we would be able to. The entertainment consisted of Lady Gaga and Tony Bennet, Mariah Carey, Cyndi Lauper, LeeAnn Rimes, Darius Rucker, Pentatonix, and Trisha Yearwood, just to name a few. The interesting part of being there in person is that you actually hear more music. Some of the artists do a rehearsal before the actual taping and there is some activity that just never makes it on air. Christmas is my favorite time to be in the city! I loved being there and participating in a wee bit of Christmas magic! It was a wonderful way to spend a birthday and kick off the Christmas season! Thank you Nicole and Sandy!
As I was driving to my grandmother's house today, I went past a house that always brings to mind a night from high school I will never forget. I grew up in a very rural community consisting of lots of farms and wooded areas. There are many backcountry roads and houses are spread far apart. It was on one of these roads where the incident occurred....kind of in the middle of nowhere.
I was a cheerleader, and my squad began a tradition of decorating the senior players and coaches houses for Homecoming. We wanted this to be a surprise, so we did the decorating after midnight so they would wake up to it the morning of the big game. This was probably our second or third year of doing this, so by now we figured most people expected it. Well we were wrong about that.
There were four of us. We had already done a couple of houses and went to the house of one of the assistant coaches to decorate. The house was one of the only ones on the road; there were no other houses in sight from this location. We parked the car on the road, and innocently began putting up streamers, balloons, and a sign in the trees beside the house. We were trying to be quiet about it, but apparently not quiet enough. Suddenly we hear "Come out with your hands up!" We stopped what we were doing and stood looking at each other. Someone yelled again. We meekly made our way to the front of the house and there on the porch is an older man in his underwear pointing a shotgun at us. Clearly we had woken him up, and he was none too happy. So the four of us are standing there, dressed in jeans and our varsity jackets, hands in the air filled with balloons and streamers, trying to explain to a very angry man what we were doing. I wish I had a picture of this sight, it seems hilarious to me now, but we were scared out of our wits at the time. We were finally able to convince him that we meant no harm and he demanded we leave; which we did without hesitation.
We drove away and pulled off the road when we were out of sight of the house. I don't know how long we sat there trying to calm our nerves. I know my heart was pounding and I was shaking like a leaf. We thought perhaps we had the wrong address. We came to find out later, the house was actually the parents of the assistant coach, and he lived in an apartment in the back of the house. We were lucky his father didn't shoot first and ask questions later. As is typical of small towns, the news of this spread quickly and fortunately was something many were laughing about by game time.
Sometimes looking back gives us the energy we need to keep moving forward.
I reflect on my college days and think this was definitely the best time of my life. I loved the whole experience. There is a freedom I felt when I was at SU that I never had before and have not experienced since. Don't get me wrong, there were certainly ups and downs, but I was always truly happy when I was there.
I traveled to campus for Homecoming. I met up with a friend, Sara, who lives in Syracuse and enjoys football. It had been quite some time since I last visited and I was very excited and happy to be back! As we drove closer to campus, the memories came flooding in. I instantly started pointing out all the places I remembered, peppered now with buildings and changes I hadn't yet seen. While all so familiar as to feel like I was back home, there was so much that was very different. We parked at South Campus and took the shuttle down to the main campus. "There's the street I lived on Junior and Senior year," I piped up, all smiles. When the shuttle dropped us off, and I took my first steps back on campus, I actually skipped from the joy of being there. We made our way across the Quad, "There's my steps!" I exclaimed as we passed by the covered stairs I navigated up and down multiple times a day Freshman and Sophomore year. "And that statue, that was always my Dad's favorite." On and on I went, telling stories and sharing memories on what was just a short walk to the Dome. I have no idea if my friend was amused or bored, but she humored me and listened, and I am appreciative of it.
The Syracuse Orange took on the Pittsburgh Panthers that afternoon. Our seats were amazing (thanks Sara). We couldn't have been closer to the action unless we were right on the field! There was the band, the cheerleaders, the twirler, and Otto! I love the atmosphere of a college game. There is great energy and vitality and being there didn't disappoint. It was a close game, well played by both teams. Syracuse held the lead the entire game and lost it right at the end with a field goal by Pitt in the last seconds. I would have preferred a win, but I enjoyed every minute of it!
After the game I was eager to continue my walk down memory lane and visited the campus news center. I spent time working there as a producer of a news broadcast once a week and on occasion I did some reporting. Back in my day it was called Univeristy Union TV (UUTV for short), today it is Citrus TV. It has undergone quite the transformation since I was a student there! The building it's housed in has been completely renovated; it looks beautiful - as you walk in the door it looks like an art gallery. The studio itself has been completely updated and they now have an actual set. We basically had a desk in a room with black curtained walls. It was fun to see and I'm happy it is thriving. I had the pleasure of signing my name to the Alumni Wall - that was a real kick. The current students were so friendly and accommodating - I enjoyed chatting with them. It was great to reflect back on and remember how exciting it was to be just trying to get yourself launched in a career. Remembering what motivated you and how invigorating it was to do something you were experiencing for the first time. I will treasure those days forever and I am grateful to have the opportunity to go back and relive it a bit every now and again.
These are my thoughts, personal stories, and personal opinions. Often triggered by something that transpires throughout the course of a day.
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