Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Have They No Dignity (Or Shame)?

People behaving badly recently. Serena Williams put on quite a show at the open, walloping her tennis racquet against the court and unleashing a profanity laced tirade to the line judge. I know, I know, she's an athlete, she's competitive, she wants to win. Unacceptable, period. I tell you what though, I wouldn't want her to be pissed at me, she looks like she could kick some serious ass. I am uncomfortable with confrontation, which is sort of funny being I'm a real estate broker. I am competitive in that arena and have a bit of an alternate personality that kicks in business wise. In fact, there are other real estate brokers who would prefer not to mess with me too much business wise. I don't throw fits or tirades though.

Then we have Madonna, who gave a "tribute" to Michael Jackson at the Video Music Awards recently. What should have been about Michael Jackson turned out to be all about Madonna. Go figure, huh?

And the current ass of the week has to be Kanye West, who interrupted Taylor Swift as she was attempting to give her thanks and accept the award she had just won at the VMA's. He felt it necessary to grab the microphone from her and give props to Beyonce. I think Beyonce is great, I'm a fan, and so are lots of other people because she went on to win an even bigger award later in the evening. She graciously brought Taylor back on stage, but the moment was gone for her.

I think the commonality in all this is when you behave badly, it only reflects on you. I like my idea having an ass of the week. And I'm glad Serena Williams won't read this. She'd make me cry.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

September 11

It was a Tuesday, a Tuesday that we shouldn't really remember at all. Beautiful fall day, crystal blue, cloudless sky. But what happens on a beautiful September Tuesday normally? You get up, drink your coffee, shower, get kids off to school, go to work, or stay home and run things there; ordinary - unremarkable stuff. Life. Get up the next day and do it all again. Only, of course, the unimaginable happened.

I was in a car with my boss and my associate headed to New Jersey for a meeting with our website designers. I had not turned on tv, and as we happily chatted and listened to music in the car, we had no idea what was going on. Until we got to the top of a hill in Bergen County, New Jersey, and when the sky is clear, as it most certainly was that day, you can see Manhattan unfold like the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz. A giant cloud of smoke. We are not terribly concerned. Huh, must be some fire. Wow, hope people are ok. We have no idea it's the World Trade Center.

We go to our meeting, and the news is starting to break. One of the web designers says, "Something is going on in Manhattan, they think a small plane may have accidentally hit one of the twin towers." That's a shame, wonder how that happened; casual concern all around.

Then the air changes, someone from their reception area comes in and whispers to them. They look at us and say, "We have to turn on the tv, something bad is going on." So we sit, riveted, watching what is going on, speechless, and trying to understand the scope of it. It is then the news starts looping the crashes, first one, then the second. The first time this small room of people see the first plane hit, there is cringing. When we see the second plane come in, the sun sparkling off it, and careen into the second tower, the realization starts to hit us. It's amazing how quiet a room full of people can be when their brains are working to try to process something so absurd and implausible as two planes, BAM! BAM! rocketing into the twin towers. We are glued to the tv, just disbelieving. There is no meeting. We get in the car to head back up to the Hudson Valley, and already there is just a mass exodus out of the city. People are on their cell phones, some are crying. There are absurd decisions to consider - my associate was to cover the office that day - and she looked at me and asked, "Do I sit in the office?" I told her to go home.

As I learned that one of the hijacked planes took off from Boston and literally followed my beloved Hudson River right down into midtown, all I could think was that they flew over my house, and Marymount, my college, and my husband's alma mater, the United States Military Academy at West Point. They used my Hudson River to navigate their way, in our bright New York sunshine, to cripple my city and wreak unspeakable havoc, carnage, and fear. New Yorkers are a lot of things, but fearful is generally not one of them.

I think more than anything, we didn't know what to do because it was unprecedented. And we were powerless to do a damn thing about what was going on. Phones start ringing. I am located, on a great traffic day, about a 45 minute drive from Manhattan, so lots of folks in this general area work and commute to the city. We lost two residents of our tiny town, one a young firefighter, a childhood friend of my brother's, and one a middle aged, wealthy business man. Terrorists don't discriminate. All told, 55 people in the lower Hudson Valley lost their lives that day. People are calling friends, neighbors, taking roll call. Then the planes hit Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon. Surreal.

As New Yorkers, we take great pride in our city, and this was (and remains) intensely personal to us, just as I'm sure it was, and is, to the residents of Pennsylvania and Arlington. People that could get out of the city tried, and it took hours upon hours for them to get home that day. We heard stories of people spared by fate, too. An attorney friend of mine, whose office was at the World Trade Center, was called unexpectedly to meet a client for breakfast that day. A friend of my daughter's parents had an argument that morning, and her father missed his train because of it.

Although that was eight years ago now, I don't still don't think we are far enough removed from it to register it fully. (Someday, and please mark my words, there will be a movie made about those days events, maybe Spielberg is genius enough to do it with the dignity and honor it deserves) And yet we're close enough to remember, mourn, and recall exactly what we were doing that day.

From all the images fired at us in the following days - flyers posted looking for loved ones, the American Flag being raised at ground zero, people covered in ash and soot literally running for their lives, there is one image that still haunts me. As the heat became so intense that people started choosing to jump to their certain deaths rather than remain in the inferno - one couple, a man and a woman, jumped together, holding hands. Did they know each other? Were they co-workers; lovers? Were they strangers who had never seen each other, and fate threw them together, and they decided it would be easier to have a companion to hold their hand as they dropped to their deaths? There is a story there.

But in the end, like the Whos in Whoville, who stand shoulder to shoulder together after the Grinch steals their Christmas, we came together. As families, friends, neighbors; as communities, as states, and as a country. What should have been a forgettable Tuesday in September, will never, ever be again.

Friday, September 4, 2009


I was thinking about the seven things people generally don't know about me, and I have come to realize just how quirky I am. How about this: I have two dogs, one is a 90 pound labrador retriever whose main job is to shed hair all over the house, and in particular, my wool, oriental rug in the living room. I also have two long haired cats who do not go outside (except on a leash on my deck, which is another story altogether). One is a purebred persian in full coat. I vacuum several times a week and I love my Electrolux Oxygen vacuum. However, when I get out of the shower, I go OUTSIDE to comb and detangle my wet hair, so I don't get any hair in the house. I do this all year, except on the coldest/snowiest days. Go figure....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Last Rose Of Summer

Well, really, we are at the tail end of summer. Not that we HAD much of a summer, what with the first part monsoon like and cold. But these days....ahhhhh...I love this weather. Chilly in the evenings into morning, glorious to sleep with the windows open, no humidity. I approve. I can feel and smell fall coming. I keep wondering how long my hummingbirds will hang around. We've got a mess of them that visit the feeders out on the deck, but they migrate and won't be back til the spring. We've never had as many as we have this summer, and I have spent many a late afternoon/early evening out there, watching their antics and practicing my ukulele playing. One aspect I do not like about this time of year at all is the abundance of yellow jackets. They are very aggressive and will not leave your food or drink alone if you dare to enjoy them outside. At least here, in my neck of the woods. I've been stung by them many times, the worst was when one hit the collar of my shirt and ricocheted inside, stinging me more than 15 times trying to get out. I was at a fall cookout, and I wanted to rip my shirt off, but delicate flower that I am, I let it sting me rather than do that. I was hopping around, flailing at my shirt, and once people realized what was going on, one of the practical women in the group looked at me, said, "Where is it? Point." I pointed, she smacked me a good one and killed it. You ought not to kill them though on general principle, because they release some hormone/pheromone business that tells its hornet mates there is trouble nearby, and they come to see what the fuss is about, and you don't want that on your hands (or down your shirt). No Sirree, I speak of which I know. Bumble bees and some other bees have one sting, then they die. Yellow Jackets keep going. Nasty bastards.

This summer has not been so fabulous for gardens here either. We lost several plants to out and out drowning early on, and our tomato plants are spindly and sad looking. They have some tomatoes on them, but they're not yet ripe. I don't eat tomatoes, so really, makes no diff to me. I'm ready to retire the flowered wreaths on my front door and hang my fall ones, order some firewood, put some mums around and welcome the fall. There's always next summer.