The Kid Is Alright

“How’s Dad doing?” “How’s your father holding up?”

I get these questions often. We celebrated my niece Lily’s 3rd birthday today. During the party, my in-laws asked me how Dad was. Last Friday at our monthly meeting, I haven’t seen my friend Toufek in a while. I was training him to work in one of my buildings while Mom was at the end of her fight with cancer and the doctors had told her they can’t do anything for her. I spent the majority of the time on the phone with Dad crying and then apologizing afterwards for not working. He understood and left me a very heartfelt phone message after Mom passed. Friday he considerately asked me how my Dad was doing.
How is my Dad doing? I’m sure he has his moments and times where he gets sad, but honestly? I think Dad is doing freaking great!
Dad reads my blog. (Hi Dad!) He discovered it when I sent him an email- the blog address is in my signature. I was a little chagrined that my DAD was reading all my inner thoughts and crap that I deem important. (GOD- did he read the bloody Diva cup post? I sincerely hoped he skipped that one.) A quick glance at my blog list- nah, there’s nothing in there (except the Diva cup post) that would make me a little squirmish when I saw Dad.
So because today is his birthday, I want to dedicate this post to him to tell him how proud I am of him. He’s doing all the things Mom did all those years- shopping, banking, paying bills. He buys birthday gifts for the family. He found a new insurance company for the house. He pimped out his truck- ghostly flames and LED lights. He tried Thai food.
Last Saturday, he goes with me and gets this:

Yes, Dad got inked.

So did I. Dad’s heart tattoo honors my Mom and my brother, tricked out with blue flames to match his truck. I finally got my poison ivy tattoo- my little talisman against getting poison ivy every year. Mine also honors Mom and my brother, Robbie, as well as our friend J. Can you see the initials in the vines? While mine hurt like hell, Dad didn’t flinch, he claims it didn’t hurt at all. I wish I had his nerve endings. He’s already planning on going back this week to add more to his tat! Someone’s addicted!

I’ve been inked with my daughter, now I got inked with my dad. The guys at Sparrow Tattoo in West Hempstead said they’ve never had that combination before.

Then today, I get the surprise of my life-an email requesting me as a Facebook friend…from Dad!

My Dad is on Facebook. He wanted to find some long lost friends, so he signed up. At 74, he got a tattoo and signed onto Facebook.

My daddy rocks.

Happy Birthday, Dad! Keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll be fine!

I love you.

All That Pomp and Circumstance

So much to say, so much to write….but first and most importantly;

My daughter is a college graduate. Yes, Beena– my eldest- graduated today from Adelphi University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Math.

Those were the quickest four years of our lives.

Three thousand undergrads and graduates walked across the stage at Nassau Coliseum. Three thousand brown and gold students switched their tassels from one side to another. Three thousand students cheered when the President of the School congratulated them on being the Class of 2010.

And my Beena was one of them.

Beena, one part of your life has ended, but another, more important part has begun. You have officially become an adult. If you were not going on next year (and this summer) for your Master’s, you would be starting to look for a job. A real job.

Such responsibilities to look forward to! And maybe a little scary?

I see only good things for you in the future. Your work ethic is wonderful- who, at the age of fourteen, was running their mother’s business for them? You were. You were a full time student and managed to practically run the retail store you’ve worked in since high school. I have no doubt you’ll find a job in a school you love, teaching kids you love. You love putting together lesson plans. Your favorite time of the year was always “back-to-school” because you love school supplies. You were born to teach.

I am so proud of you! Don’t be discouraged or afraid to do those adult things you’re going to have to do in the future. Daddy and I will always be here to help and guide you when you need us. Please don’t think we’re crazy. We love you and always want the best for you!

Oh, and thanks for graduating! Since I didn’t go to my college graduation, going to yours was extra special to me. And yes, we’ll be going to your Master’s ceremony same time next year. We wouldn’t miss it. We’ve got this graduation thing down- we know what to expect!

So conGRADulations, graduate! The world is yours- take advantage of it! There is so much out there to experience!

Love you, Beena! Lots and lots and lots. Right? Right! Begub…begub…begub.

A Sleep Trance, A Dream Dance

Synchronicty. No, not the Police Album (even though it is one of my favorites.) I’m talking about the experience of two events that are apparently unrelated occurring together in a meaningful manner. It’s happening to me more and more, and in more startling ways. Even Zombiegirl is noticing.

Or maybe I’m just in tune with the world these days. Like waving to my neighbor in his red pickup and then seeing four more red pickups -not his- on the way to the train station. I notice things. I’m paying attention.

Example Number 1: I’m web surfing at work and I hit one of my Web Pals. She mentions that she just bought tickets for Roger Waters- The Wall Live. The SECOND I read this an email pops up in my second monitor. It’s an update from Nassau Coliseum. The featured event? Roger Waters- The Wall Live.

Example Number 2: MR drops Zombiegirl and I at the train station. She has inherited her father’s skill in finding dropped items on the ground. She kneels down and picks up a Scrabble Tile piece. Weird enough that there is a game piece at the train station, right? Weirder still that I just ordered Scrabble Tile pieces to make Christmas presents this year. Weirder yet…she turns it over and it’s an “S”. (Insert spooky music here.)

Example Number 3: I just took two books out of the library-“The Little Giant of Aberdeen County” by Tiffany Baker and “Raven Black” by Ann Cleeves. I finished Little Giant (which was really good) and I started on Raven. Somewhere well into the book, they mention one of the characters going to…Aberdeen.

Example Number 4: May 3rd was J’s birthday. Our dear departed friend J. On his Facebook page, one of his friends called him a Rockstar. Walking to the train station that day, I noticed the inscription in the sidewalk that was replaced last year…

Example Number 5: Driving to the gym at 5:30 in the morning, I listen to the Z-morning zoo for the eight minutes it takes me to get there. On the way there, I hear Taio Cruz’ Break Break Your Heart. I park, and walk the block to the gym. Halfway into my workout with Mike, I hear Break Break Your Heart. I leave the gym a half hour later, get into my car and guess what song comes on the radio while driving home. Go on, guess!

Example Number 465: This happens all the time to MR and I. That’s why the high example number. We’ll sit to watch a movie noting who directed it and any actors we know/like. We’ll flip through the channels and find another movie by the same director or with one of the actors. WITHOUT FAIL. It’s getting to be a little weird…

These are all little things, but noticeable to us. Is anyone else experience coincidences, deja vu or synchronicity lately?


We Love MoMA and Justina*

I crossed my fingers as we went through the revolving doors. This was the fourth time we were trying to see the Exhibit. As we crossed the lobby, Zombiegirl spotted members of her own species- striped, goth-like people wearing articles of clothing featuring that broad, smiling skull face, colored hair and high-topped Converse. Splashes of bright color against dark brooding clothing.

She pointed out to me everyone going to the Tim Burton exhibit.*. She fits right in.

I kept my fingers crossed as we waited on line at the Guest Services desk. Waiting for tickets through my company’s corporate sponsorship. This was our only hope since the exhibit has been sold out for weeks and it was closing in five days. This was our only hope since Zombiegirl wouldn’t be coming to work with me until the summertime. She was here today because it was Take Our Kids To Work Day and it was her last chance. I crossed my toes just to be on the safe side.

The bored girl at the desk told us there were no more tickets left. They give out the Corporate tickets first thing in the morning and they were all gone for the day.

I wanted to cry. We struck out again.

Zombiegirl looked so upset. She couldn’t believe she wouldn’t be able to see her hero’s work. Burton is the Director of all her favorite movies, the man who has directed her favorite actor. We’ve tried four times- why couldn’t we get in,? she asks.

We have bad luck, I tell her. I offer to buy her something from the MoMA bookstore, knowing they have the Exhibit book.

As we walk back across the lobby, she spies a girl a little older than her sporting Jack Skellington shirt, bag, hat and socks. They make eye contact- Z-girl staring at the outfit, the girl staring at her red-streaked hair. The girl’s mother notices them staring at each other and quick turns to me and asks me if I need a ticket. Her other daughter wasn’t able to make it that day and she has an extra child’s ticket for a half hour from now. I told her I couldn’t get another ticket for myself and she tells me to buy an individual membership and they give a free ticket.

A total stranger helps us out.

After thanking her profusely, we go over to the Member Services desk so I can buy an Indivdual Membership. What? It costs $75? No, that must be for a Family Membership. No, it’s per person. I turn to Z-girl and tell her I can’t afford $75.

That dejected look is starting to kill me.

Do you want to go by yourself? I’ll wait outside for you. No, maybe that’s not a good idea, I think. Do you want to go with the lady that gave us the ticket? No, she’s gone already and I really want to go with you, she says. The walk to the bookstore is quiet and heavy.

Inside, we see the display of Tim Burton books. Zombiegirl picks up an enormous art tome and starts reading. She wants this one- full color photos, harcover, two inches thick. It’s $69. This day is killing me! I steer her to the $20 book- she looks through it and agrees. After walking around a little we find TB playing cards. She’s a little happier as we wait on line.

When we’re called next, we put our purchases on the counter, but the salesperson turns to another customer who had asked her a question. She tells them they’re all sold out. Another Burtonesque-type couple asks her something and again, she tells them they’re sold out. She turns to us and apologizes as she rings up our things.

What are you sold out of, I ask?

Tim Burton Stain Boy t-shirts. I tell her that’s not the only thing they’re sold out of- and proceed to lament how we’ve tried four times to see the exhibit, how much Zombiegirl loves Tim Burton and how we won’t be able to come back to try again. How I tried to get tickets through Corporate Sponsorship. She looked at the kid and was quiet for a moment. First, she says, I can give you 20% off your purchases for being a Corporate Sponsor. She asks me if I can wait around for a few minutes, she wants to check something out.

We’re not going anywhere.

She tells me, very quietly, that she has to get an employee guest pass for her husband who’s coming in later that day. She said she’ll check to see if she can get two more for us. She said SHE feels bad that we’ve tried four times to see the Exhibit. She said Zombiegirl’s face makes her sad.
We wait on the side of the line while she runs off, dodging tourists and Burton fans.

Ten minutes later she comes back with two employee passes and a big grin on her face. As she hands them to Z-girl, she smiles even wider, saying the look on the kid’s face is totally worth it. As I burst into tears (ignoring Zombiegirl’s admonishments about my crying) I ask her for her name. She hands me her card- she’s the store manager- and I give her a hug. Thanking her and telling her people just don’t DO nice things in New York, we laugh and make our way back upstairs to the Exhibit.

Which was awesome and SO worth the agony of dejection and waiting.

Walking back and forth in the crowd of people recognizing early sketches and artwork of Tim’s characters. Seeing the suit Johnny Depp wore in Edward Scissorhands and having Zombiegirl almost faint. Picking out your favorite Jack Skellington head of the 30 on display. Watching the gross but funny Stain Boy cartoons.

It was all worth it.

And it wouldn’t be possible without the kindness of strangers.

Thanks, Justina!* You’ve restored my faith in the human race.

UPDATED: *Names and links have been changed and deleted to protect the innocent and good.