Tag Archives: travel

home


home n. the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.

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I am often frustrated with my surroundings…especially when it comes to the place where I live; the place that I call home. When I lived in my childhood town of Teaneck, N.J., I wanted desperately to leave to go to school in Rhode Island. Providence was the place where my dreams were waiting for me. For the most part, this was true. Independence, my husband, my dog, my first real house – all of these things began, fittingly in a place called Providence. But after many a harsh winter and a dwindling economy without career growth in site it lost it’s luster and Brooklyn was where I was bound. Brooklyn – with it’s too small apartments and hipster neighbors. The flash and fury and life outside my door was home for a time. Yet after years of being stuck in subway tunnels and walking past piles of sewage smelling garbage, I ended up full circle back in Jersey with an expansive yard and looming maples – the picture perfect version of what every person thinks they want. Now I stand in my quaint, eclectic home with my husband of 10 years, 2 year old son, 9 year old dog, piles of things I have collected and made in order to call this house, this place a “home”…and yet I am still not sure that it is. My past homes beckon and the unknown future homes tempt…often. When I think about where I am right now, I don’t want to be here 10 years from now (good thing my husband agrees.) I used to think it was the places that I lived that made me bored and tired, yearning for change, but now I think I have a different definition of the word home than the sage and wise, old OED. Home is not just a “permanent place” – it is many things…

 “Hot and heavy pumpkin pie
Chocolate candy Jesus Christ
Ain’t nothing please me more than you”

Perhaps it is my Italian heritage and upbringing, but home involves a combination of good food and people I love. One cannot exist without the other. Home is a sensory experience – the smell meatballs roasting in the over, musty old books on the shelf, the cadence of voices echoing off of the walls during a quiet night. The clanking of the heat in the winter and rain storms battling the glass of the skylights. My home is also filled with the people I love and the good and bad memories we make within the confines of our walls. It’s the times when the baby was sick and we spent the whole weekend in the family room playing with Duplos despite the beautiful Spring weather. The special occasions and family parties that bowed out the walls with people. Or just the evenings curled up on the faded leather sofa with the dog, some cheese and a few glasses (or bottles) of wine. These moments and sensory experiences don’t happen because I live in a 3 bedroom bungalow. They happen because we are home.

“I saw the streets all ripe with jewels
Balconies and the laundry lines
They tried to make me welcome there
But their streets did not feel like mine”

Just like every other 25 – 65 year old with some extra cash and living in the tri state area – I love to travel. I won’t bore you with my impressive list of cities and countries or tell you how I reminisce over the intricate ceramic tiles of Lisbon over glasses of Fonseca Tawny. That would be annoying, not about “home”, and just like every other New Yorker you know.  I love to travel because it makes me leave my home. It makes me appreciate how fortunate I am on a daily basis. In some ways, the places I travel to feel a little like home in a few days, but never fully the way it feels when I actually am home. I’ve walked down countless cobbled streets and fallen in love with too many European alleyways. During my travels, I often daydream about what it would be like to make some of these new places my home, always leaving out the actual toil and strife that would ensue if we ever did make that decision. Because the grass is always so much greener and my brain seems to leave out the memories of how much work went into where I have ended up. In the end, I always look forward to being back; returning to hugs and familiar smells, dirty floors and dog hair squalls. The good and the bad that make up the everyday that I take for granted so often.

I suppose the word “permanence” is important when defining the word home. The fact that I can count on all of the things I return to and leave from every morning and night still being there at -my will – as long as I can get there – even if only in my memories. When you speak with someone about home, they often go back to their childhood or a time in their life, a memory or feeling they had that creates their definition of home. I remember my father speaking fondly of growing up in Manhattan and my mother lovingly of her childhood home in Leonia, NJ. The stories were rich and filled with countless memories and stories. Home is permanent in that we can remember it forever. It is not the city, the edifice or the bric-a-brac that make a place a home. Home is the stage, a diorama for our minds –  set for memories to be made. Our permanent and portable journal that inspires us, challenges us, forces us to leave and come back, teaches us how to love.

It’s where I want to be.

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incunabula


incunabula n. the early stages of the development of something

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When I came upon this word, I thought of mitosis. My brain instantly snapped to the images I used to stare at in biology textbooks in high school…the ones with the little pink chromosomes so neatly dividing themselves. I suppose the inference is accurate as cells are undeniably the early stages of development of something – whether it be a child or an illness. It can have both a hopeful or sinister context, like so many things in our lives. All of my unfinished knitting projects also come to mind. They are like little physical manifestation of incunabula.

Creating things excites me. My entire career has been about making things and nurturing incunabula into something tangible. Many years ago after my dreams of becoming a writer fell off due to lack of funds, a budding accounting career at Deutsche Bank proved to be the wrong path,and a job writing advertisements for clinical trials was just too boring, I fell into the role of product development for a watchband company in Rhode Island. It was a small, family oriented company. My first months were spent making spreadsheet after spreadsheet. Somehow I had become a computer whiz at Excel and I believe that was one of the reasons why I was hired. I also got to correspond with vendors in Asia, which was my favorite part. I had a wonderful boss who gave me opportunity and the ability to see and learn about the genesis of product. From drawing and concept, manufacturing and samples, to the final packaged consumer good. It was like magic. I loved seeing something come from nothing. Every trip to a store became like a museum visit, looking at things for seam lines and country of origin, trying to figure out how they were made. I fell in love with the process. Back then, I worked on watchbands and some small jewelry items, but I still treasure those years.

Later I moved on to a job at a curtain rod company with more responsibility. This time I was the driving force behind the product vision. I worked with a designer who became one of my best friends in the world and together we came up with so many ideas and worked to make them into tangible goods. I traveled to mainland China and toured the factories for my projects and my life was changed. I remember calling my husband after a long day at a resin manufacturer, crying hysterically having seen the factory dormitories where the workers slept – 6 to a room on bunk beds – in a room smaller than the average bedroom. Yet they were so sweet and courteous – and I was incredibly humbled. All of those products on those shelves were no longer inanimate objects. People made them and when I was directing my projects, these people that were grateful for a crowded bunk and a bowl of rice were responsible for the outcome. To this day I do not view the things I buy the same way.

Later on I went on to work for a tabletop company handling their crystal and glass product. Glass blowing was like watching incunabula in action. I traveled all over Eastern Europe visiting small glass factories and watching small glowing blobs of sand turn into beautiful glass vases and bowls by someone turning a pipe, blowing and making it look so easy. I traveled in cars across the rolling hills of Poland and Romania visiting places that are probably gone as the art of glass blowing and making has shrunk considerably. Even back when I was there the workers would talk about how so many of them had moved to cities to become taxi drivers or other working class professionals as the money was good and they didn’t have to worry about factories closing. The American taste had changed and no one really spent money on handmade, lead crystal or glass. I feel special having been able to witness such a beautiful art and to have met such amazing artists.

The culmination of my product career was at a company best known for it’s signature blue box and amazing jewelry. Way back when I started working with watchbands, I remember coming home my first week on the job, completely excited and overwhelmed, and saying to my husband “Someday I could work for Tiffany.” And then it came true. I worked on dozens of wonderful projects, some of the finest things I have ever held in my hands. Last night while I was watching Downton Abbey and noticed all of the ladies wearing diamond tiaras, I remembered the tiara I last worked on before I left on maternity leave and it made me incredibly proud and happy.

I have been part of many an incunabula over these years. My career was very much my child and now it is all grown up. I made the choice to stay home and nurture a new incunabula – my son, Graham – and the journey will be no less difficult or rewarding. Through these many years of working I have learned how to bring an idea to fruition and nurture it to completion. In a way I was training for this all along.

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sponsalia


sponsalia noun engagement or marriage

 

When I was married, we had no money so I bought a dress on sale at David’s Bridal for $500 – including all of the crap that goes with it – and my sister in law did my hair. I bought the minimal flowers – daisies – a few bouquets and boutoniers from a flower shop just because I liked it’s name – “Consider the Lilies.” I found a photographer who taught at RISD part time and hired him on the cheap along with disposable cameras on the tables. We chose a wonderful old gothic church that didn’t need decoration and rented an old mansion called the Arcade in Roger Williams Park Zoo for the reception. When the rain poured down that day, we still had outdoor photos on the deck and micro brewed beer from Trinity Brewhouse, who catered for us. We hired our favorite live jazz band from the Custom House in Providence for music and everyone danced and even sang on stage. The day for us was a celebration of who we were together and all of the things we loved and shared in the place that we met and called home. It wasn’t about looking like a model in my photos or 2 inch thick paper stock invitations embossed with our signature logo. We didn’t prance through corn fields holding hands in the sun beams or stare into each others eyes under the Brooklyn Bridge at dusk for engagement photos either. We had no money so we had to be creative, and I am very happy for that..

The marketing of marriage is constantly thrust upon me, whether it is in magazines or Facebook, and I find it truly hilarious. I especially love looking at the glamour shot engagement photos. Everyone has the same shot in Grand Central and Central Park – you know you’ve seen it too. I would think the last thing I would want is a photo that looks just like everyone else’s – but alas, when I used to work at “the Blue Box” people traded bridal photographers like Garbage Pail Kids. I think it may be a status symbol here in the Big Apple, oddly enough.

And the dresses. My office used to be across from the famous Amsale on 5th Avenue so many of the girls I worked with would purchase dresses there for their big day. My poor little Gloria Vanderbilt whose lace hem I thought was so pretty and understated looks like some sad schmata compared to the runway Moniques and Veras I have seen, but I loved it nonetheless. It’s absurd that there are entire television programs devoted to wedding dresses – more than one! The Lifetime network probably has 3 alone. Women in New York also trample each other for off priced Vera Wangs on a certain day of the year. I’ve seen it on the evening news.

If I could do it all again and if I actually had some cash this time, I wouldn’t really change anything about our day. Maybe I would have nicer flowers or more champagne, but we created our own day and I haven’t been to a wedding like it before or since. When I look at our photos I don’t relish how perfect the lighting or staging is, I just marvel at how young and happy we looked. It’s been almost ten years, 2 houses, 1 dog and a baby later. We have wrinkles, have lost some hair and gained a few pounds. So maybe I didn’t look like the most awesome princess in the universe on my wedding day. I have never been one to want that in the first place. I can gladly say that as great as my wedding day was, my marriage has been far greater. I’d rather have incredible photos of each other from all of the places we have travelled then some schlocky picture post card I can send so people think I’m in love.

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eudaemonism


eudaemonism n. a system of ethics that bases moral value on the likelihood of actions producing happiness.

I have always fought a losing battle with the concept of “happiness.” I’d like to think that someday I will find the true, innate meaning of the word, but I doubt it. I read a fair amount and know that few people really find the core, “holy grail-like” meaning of happiness. That is why this word truly intrigued me. To have a system of ethics that bases moral value on the likelihood that it will produce this enigma we call “happiness” is absurd – like the infinity symbol…some never-ending loop. Happiness doesn’t seem to have just one definition. It means so many different things to so many people. To a starving child in the Sahara, happiness is endless clean, cool water and food as compared to someone diagnosed with a terminal illness where happiness might be a night without pain or 10 extra days of their life to be lived with their family. Donald Trump deems happiness a much different thing than I do…or does he? It would seem that as life gets increasingly happy, the bar rises – like an addiction, a drug that makes us believe that we deserve much more than we actually do – but is that the case? Is happiness much more simple than one would think? Maybe Donald Trump find his true happiness in a box of Malomars while I dream of a yacht sailing on the mediterranean.

And then there is that lucky place in life where happiness becomes monotony. Where we reach a certain level of what we call “happiness” and expect that it will exponentially grow from that point. Somehow we begin to think that the world owes us the next level because we have earned a certain amount of points or reached a certain threshold, like a game. That is where things most often fall apart. This is the juncture of where happiness meets its counterpart – not sadness – but gratitude. Every truly happy person in life at some point must come to terms with gratitude. At the height of our life’s bell curve where we have reached the highest arch of happiness and when the line gradually descends, gratitude begins – where some turning point make us turn away from the easy happiness we have and make us grateful for ever having experienced it at all. This is the point where people find their greatness, their groove, their reason to live. I fear that there are few of us who get to this point. I believe the majority of people either find stasis and accept their level of happiness or – worse – constantly strive to a higher, unattainable level – possibly leading to greed and arrogance.

To follow the curve downward is much harder. Seemingly it leads to things like gratitude, humility and humbleness. I believe only the great can follow this path – Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa. It’s a completely selfless place – perhaps a power greater than ourselves – where we surrender things over and are happy just to experience life.

Or maybe, happiness is inconceivably simple…like a surprise party or unexpected treat. No bell curves or expectations…just a feeling of joy that seems so rare in life because it is meant to be truly enjoyed and not dismissed like every other minute we live – like that little kid feeling you got running down the stairs to see what was under the tree at Christmas. It didn’t last long…probably only as long as it took to rip that first piece of paper off the first package…just a few seconds. That fleeting, giddy sense of exuberance that makes your heart race and your face beam without trying…like the day your child was born…or the day you fell in love. That intangible feeling of being fully and totally appreciative of life and what is happening in the present – and not thinking about the future or past.

For me, true happiness is found in that short, fleeting moment and I am learning to accept that in the totality of my life, I may chase it relentlessly to only experience it a handful of times and constantly strive to be grateful for those hard earned moments.

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oneiric


oneiric adj. relating to dreams or dreaming

As my husband can attest to, I love to sleep. Perhaps I have ADD or some other disorder, but during the day I just can’t relax. Work has always been the thing to set me straight and provide me with a course for concentration and focus, but since I am at home now with my son, I find it difficult to avoid boredom. I’ve never been good without human company. As shy as I can be at times, I need human contact to feel occupied and useful. So being a alone with a dog and a one year old in the suburbs is a form of torture for me…and somedays I count the minutes until I can retire and surrender my brain to slumber.

When I sleep, I feel like I am watching some strange and bizarre movie. My brain finally lets go of trying to organize and solve problems and my imagination takes over. When I was a kid I developed the ability to force myself to dream about certain scenarios…most often I wanted to be in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark or Working Girl (I had a thing for Harrison Ford). I could insert myself into the action and adventure scenes. I don’t know if this is some special kind of ability or not, but it helped me to escape from the unpleasantries of my childhood. I could be anywhere or anything I wanted to in my dreams, no matter how implausible or crazy…and no one knew about it or could tell me not to.

As I grew older, I stopped forcing myself to dream things and just let my brain do the inventing. This was fun as my brain connected different things I had seen or known from different parts of my life. This is pretty much how I dream currently.

In college, I finally just slept. I don’t remember dreaming during that period. I was pretty busy and slept as little as I ever have either due to school work or just going out and having fun. My brain was pretty much filled up during my college years. I was writing a lot and facing a life of possibilities.There was just too much going on for me to really dream at night. When I did dream, I had the same recurring one of driving my car into a lake…or off a bridge. I still occasionally have this dream and sometimes I fear driving near water. I am always backing up into the water in my dream and once I am immersed, I wake up. I know it has some sort of deep meaning, but I don’t care to know what that is. I spend enough time analyzing my conscious life. I don’t want to know about the secret passages in my brain.

Pregnancy was a new milestone in my dream life. I dreamt too much when I was pregnant. I had recurring dreams about dropping my baby on the floor repeatedly…and losing him. I had dreams about someone taking him away from me or Dan being pregnant. Pregnancy dreams for me were more nightmarish than anything. Sometimes they were funny. I don’t remember all of them specifically but I remember telling other people about them at the time, mostly coworkers. They served as good stories.

The reason why I am even on this topic is because I had a dream last night that a specific company I am interviewing with called me back in for another interview (I’ve been in twice and met the founder of the company). Lately my dreams are manifesting my worries and fears. I am dreaming the next phase of actual events in my life, only I am creating these absurd and disturbing scenarios. I suppose it is a way of forcing myself to be grateful for what I have, showing me nightly that things could be so much worse. Or perhaps I am just afraid of what comes next…or bored to tears by the present.

Life was so much simpler when I was a kid and hanging out with Harrison Ford every night…

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