These Are The Days

Smart ~ Writer ~ Mom

Month: November 2012

Body Parts

Since losing some weight and getting rid of some extra skin, my fave body part is my waist/abdomen. It looks pretty fantastic and makes me feel all sexy and stuff. Still got a ways to go, weight-wise, but for now, I’m kinda lovin it.

Least favorite? Well, I wouldn’t say this is my least favorite body part, but lately the part that’s been giving me the most trouble is my brain.

It won’t shut off.

It keeps repeating these horrible thoughts in my head. Thoughts that I’d rather not have, thankyouverymuch.

Panic. Anxiety. Worry. Worst case scenario.

I totally see how people drink during the day.

I wish it was Sunday again. Last Sunday, to be specific. So the moments of weakness I had earlier this week would be erased and I’d have a do-over.

But life doesn’t work that way. We have to face our shortcomings. Own up to majorly fucking things up and try to make things right.

I know I’ll survive this. If only my brain would shut off and give me a moment’s peace so I can think clearly.

4.5 Reasons I’m Voting for Obama Today

I realize people are getting tired of all the political talk. But I believe having a dialogue – a respectful, intelligent, fact-based dialogue – about the future of our country is important. It shows citizenship. It shows character. And, yes, it most definitely shows patriotism. Personal politics used to be a taboo subject but no more in this age of social media where people are more willing to share their beliefs and positions on issues with others. I think this is a good thing!

  • Is there a lot of bullshit in Washington, DC? Absolutely.
  • Are many politicians just out for themselves? Sure.
  • Do some just ‘talk the talk’ but falter when it comes to actually ‘walking the walk’? Yes.
  • Do the issues get clouded by political banter and he-said/she-said politics? Yup.

But none of these excuses is a free pass to take lightly our right to vote. When I vote, I like to do so with an informed mind. That said, here are the top 4.5 reasons I’m voting for Barack Obama:

1. Obama’s done virtually everything he promised he would.
Wars? Ending. Bin Laden? Dead. Auto industry? Saved. Economy? Not where it should be, but on the up-swing. The President walked into a mess four years ago. I believe it takes longer than four years to fix it. I haven’t agreed with everything he’s done, but I’m willing to give him another four years.

2. Obama is stronger than Romney on higher education.
Obama mentions the importance of higher education – specifically community colleges as vehicles for retraining – in nearly every speech he makes. As a community college alumna and a former community college employee, I know firsthand the value of not only higher education, but an affordable education. Romney has said he would cut funding for Pell Grants and for PBS, among other things. Obama has my vote.

3. Obama is stronger than Romney on so-called women’s issues.
The first bill he signed was the Lilly Ledbetter act, which gives women greater power to push back legally if there are pay discrepancies. Huge kudos to him on this one. Romney’s gaffe about having “binders full of women” marginalized women.
Also, Obama understands that being pro-choice does not necessarily equate to being “for abortion.” Like me, he believes abortions should be rare and only performed as a last resort. Personally, I don’t believe I could ever make the choice to have an abortion. But who am I to impose my personal beliefs on anyone else? Obama believes this extremely difficult decision should remain between a woman, her husband (if she’s married), her doctor, and her God. Obama also understands that better health care, affordable access to birth control, and early, comprehensive sex education benefits all of us – these aren’t just “women’s issues.” Romney has waffled on his positions of abortion (leave it to states; never under any circumstances; only in the case of rape/incest/life of mother…). And, Romney would defund Planned Parenthood, which among its many services provides gynecological care for women, birth control, cancer screenings, etc. Obama has my vote.

4. Obama believes that having the wealthy pay a bit more is the right thing to do.
Romney believes in tax breaks for the wealthy. That’s called trickle down economics – the theory that if you give the wealthy tax breaks they’ll invest more, spend more, create more jobs, etc. and it will trickle down and benefit the middle class. We tried this in the 80s and it didn’t work. Mega wealthy Americans like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and others have come out in support of Obama on this one. Trump supports Romney, which of course makes sense. How many gold-covered items do you need? Apparently, Trump doesn’t yet have enough. It’s not about punishing success. And it’s not about some arbitrary 47% of Americans mooching off the wealthy and not taking personal responsibility. It’s about helping our fellow Americans. To the far right wing conservatives who so often invoke the name of God in their voting and campaigning, I would ask – what would Jesus do? Obama has my vote.

1/2 – yes, the “half” of a reason I support the President has nothing to do with his ability to lead this nation. I support Obama because he is a man of character. He is a devoted husband and father. And for that matter, so is Mitt Romney. Both men cannot be questioned on their integrity.

I cherish my right to vote. And on this frigid morning, I can’t wait to get to my polling station, which has been moved three times due to Hurricane Sandy damage. In fact, this past week we’ve seen Governor Christie of New Jersey praising President Obama for his compassionate and strong leadership. It’s nice to see Republicans and Democrats come together and put party politics aside to help fellow Americans.

Who are you voting for and why?

Five Days, Three States and Two Halloweens

We moved to New Jersey earlier this year with the intention of making this much-made-fun-of state our home. We live in a nice suburb about 20 miles west of New York City and we’ve all adjusted fairly well to new schools, new roads, new grocery stores, and new daily patterns.

But one thing we didn’t really bank on was having to worry about a hurricane.

Not just any hurricane – presumably the largest hurricane “superstorm” the East Coast has ever seen. Like squirrels, we went to drug stores and food stores to gather batteries, bottled water, candles and nonperishable food. Lines were long, supplies were quickly dwindling. We hunkered down and watched the weather reports and made plans for all four of us to sleep in the living room.

The power went out around 9pm Monday night. The wind was fierce and violently rattled our dining room and living room windows throughout the night. Our 8 year old was understandably frightened. Our toddler slept like a…well, like a baby – without a care in the world. With no television or other sound to dull the outside noises, the winds made us feel alone, isolated and vulnerable. It was eerie. After living in Florida for 12 years, I had never experienced such a powerful storm. We blew out the candles and went to sleep, unsure of what destruction we’d discover in the morning.

Superstorm Sandy

Our youngest awoke first. Still no power, but our cell phones and laptops had been fully charged as a precaution. We had no knowledge of the level of devastation, particularly to the city and to the Jersey Shore and we had no idea how long our power outage would last.

I was able to read some news and see some photos through my intermittent access on Twitter and Facebook. The initial reports were devastating, As a news junkie, I was going through withdrawals not being able to hear the reports, see the damage, weigh the impact and put it all together to understand how it all affects me and my family.

We texted family members and friends and posted status updates when possible to let others know we were safe, but wihtout power.

We tried to make Tuesday fun for the girls. We played games, colored, did puzzles…all in an effort to distract them and acclimate them to what would be a new normal for a few days. Thankfully, our gas stove still worked so we could cook a few things that hadn’t yet spoiled. We phoned some friends nearby and learned that they had never lost power. They invited us over to charge our computers and phones and to let our girls play with their girls. They extended such kindness to us even though we haven’t known them very long.

That evening, the temperature dropped sharply. It was now in the upper 40s. Not yet freezing, but with no heat, it made for a chilly night. The girls were bundled up warmly, but we knew if power wasn’t restored soon, we would need to consider our options – if there were any.

Wednesday morning – day two without power. O and I ventured out to the local Dunkin Donuts hoping to get some warm breakfast and some cold milk for B. We soon discovered that our town was completely shut down. Everything was at a standstill. Power lines were down, utility poles bent near to the ground and tree branches were strewn across front yards, driveways and streets. Beautiful old trees had their roots exposed and were overturned – sometimes on land and other times on people’s homes. It was eerie.

Our local grocery superstore was open, but offered little relief. The entire perimeter of the store, normally reserved for the fresh produce, dairy and meat items, was draped in heavy plastic with makeshift signs of plain white paper with words written in black sharpie marker, “FOOD NOT SAFE.”

O and I bought some more nonperishable food and juice boxes and then we left.

John and I decided we needed to get the girls someplace warm. But first, we all needed a good bubble bath. 🙂

John boiled water on the gas stove and poured it into our tub. Both girls went first, then me, then John. Yes, we were a clean family, but what was next?

Trick Or Treating In … Scranton?

We opted to go back to our friends’ house to “recharge” and process our options internally.

We had the luxury of having Hilton points to cash in, but the closest Hilton – with both availability AND power – was in eastern Pennsylvania. Scranton, to be specific. And so it was decided. Off to Scranton we went.

When we arrived at the hotel that evening, the lady at the front desk was very helpful when we inquired about nearby neighborhoods where the girls might do some trick or treating. It was Halloween, after all, and we had brought their costumes along just in case.

Not even two miles from the hotel, we pulled into what I call a “jackpot” neighborhood – million dollar homes that were sure to give out great candy! Our little witch and our littler cupcake were dressed warmly as they carried their plastic pumpkins door to door. It was a banner night, one they’ll hopefully remember forever.

That evening, we caught our first glimpse of the news. The devastation was overwhelming. Homes destroyed. Sand and water where sidewalks and trees had once been. Amusement parks underwater. Restaurants and businesses – livelihoods – gone. It gave me anxiety to watch. It was surreal to think so much devastation had occurred in our neck of the woods. I remember feeling an almost immediate sense of gratitude for how lucky we had been. Sure, we had no power – but so many others lost everything. Simply unfathomable.

Day three with no power. We had swapped phone numbers with our neighbor who agreed to call us when the power was restored. No call came today. So, we swam in the hotel swimming pool, did some shopping at the local mall and did our best to keep the kids busy and distracted. We were lucky.

That evening, we wondered how long could we stay at this hotel? Could we afford it? How long would we be without power? John flies to Atlanta on Monday out of Newark so he would need to be back home by Sunday night. We considered leaving Scranton and heading to my folks in Massachusetts for an indefinite amount of time. Good friends of ours in Maryland offered to let us stay with them. We found another hotel a bit closer to home and decided to put a few nights on hold.

But it was not to be. Day four with no power. Our phone rang at 730am. It was our neighbor saying that power had been restored. We were so thankful. We packed up and drove home. The house was cold and empty, but at least we could put the heat on and tidy up a bit.

John had bought tickets to the Great Pumpkin Blaze near Sleepy Hollow, NY a few weeks ago but it conflicted with a Girl Scout field trip. Since that trip had now been cancelled, we considered the reasons why we couldn’t take the girls to do something fun instead. We first drove through our town and to the local parks in Chatham and Madison so the girls could get some fresh air and exercise. It was nice to see so many people enjoying the park.

We arrived at the Blaze around 830. It was really amazing. Hundreds and hundreds of artfully carved pumpkins of animals, sea life, dinosaurs, Celtic designs, and scary ghosts lined the winding, pebble-lined trail in the historic Hudson Valley. It was a very cool fall evening – perfect for celebrating all that is Halloween.

On the way home from the Blaze we had to travel slightly north in New York and then wait in line to get gas, since it’s at a premium in New Jersey.

Trick Or Treating: Take Two

Although life for many New Yorkers and New Jerseyans is still in limbo, ours has pretty much returned to normal. On Saturday, John took O to see a movie and B and I hung around doing laundry and relaxing. On the way home, John called to tell me that the town of Madison (the next town over from us) was doing trick or treating until 6. So we dressed the girls up and let them trick or treat around some lovely neighborhoods in Madison. The people handing out candy were great – many were so happy to see kids out enjoying this fun holiday, finally.

Such lucky girls. We were without power for five days, but we were able to stay at a hotel and avoid major discomforts. We hit three states – PA, NY and NJ and the girls got to wear their costumes not once, but twice this Halloween season.

I think it’s safe to say that we won’t soon forget Hurricane Sandy and the Halloween of 2012.

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