8765 Times 6

RisaThere are 8765 hours in a year, 52,590 of them have ticked off since Risa passed away.  Probably because of the timing, it becomes a strange time of year for me (and I think for my girls as well).  While the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of year,” there are probably more than just me who would stop and question that.  8765 times 6 – there’s a lot to think about.

Who’d have thunk there would come a time I have two teen-aged girls in high school – much less thriving in that environment.  16.5 is in honor roll and 15.0 is pulling a low 90 GPA.  Far better than I ever did, clearly taking after their mom.

Along with a second transition to high school, we’ve (and I say we because it’s been the three of us)  conquered an introduction to driving, a change of sport from softball to tennis, a job change for me and just getting through another 8765 hours with the rest of life’s challenges.

Reflecting this time of year is probably normal – give or take this is when people (who make them) will begin to think about New Year’s resolutions.

I was chatting with a friend who is also widowed – and we were talking about how tough this time of year can be as an only parent where you’re dealing with the family and everyone is happy.  And it’s not to say we’re not happy – but there is a part missing.

What would Risa think about her girls excelling in school? I know how proud I am of it and I know she would be proud too – but what would she think?

And would 16.5 be a different (maybe better, maybe worse) driver if there was another voice offering guidance?  I don’t know.  We don’t have that second voice, and I don’t pretend there is a second voice.

In the last 8765 hours 15.0 made a change from softball to varsity tennis.  She walked onto the tennis court just before Labor Day this year and became a tennis player and has taken to the sport with determination.  I know Risa was a very determined person as well, happy to see she’s taken on the best of the traits.

16.5 entered the working world over the summer and excelled as a lifeguard at a water park near our house.  She embraced the challenge of working and becoming responsible – maturing into a woman.  Now we begin thinking about test prep and college search.  I know those are the parts of life Risa would have cherished, and despite the challenges I know it’s a time I will cherish with her and her sister.

15.0 has also become expressive in art – a skill I only wish I had, but again its a skill her mother possessed.  I can’t help but smile when I walk into her room and see her work on display on the walls.

And because managing life with me and two teen-aged girls isn’t quite challenging enough I decided to change jobs this year too.  It was one of those situations where it was time to make a change and the right opportunity came along – but its in those moments where I try to think through important changes, don’t really have that life partner to talk to and know I’m about to make a life changing decision – the clock slows down, and a few of those 8765 hours feel like days at a time.

I wonder, what would Risa think about all of this?  Am I doing the right thing?  Would my father be proud of life I’ve created for my family?

I’d like to think the answer is yes – because that will help get me through the next 8765 hours and changes our lives will face again.

 

Related Posts:

Driving Lessons

Driving LessonsThis right of passage – giving driving lessons to a teenaged child – is not one faced by single (only) parents – but it’s been a unique challenge for me as an only parent to conquer, I think largely because it involves facing the fact that I have to give up some control.

Thinking back, I can remember the year from when I turned 16 (when you can get a learner’s permit) to when I turned 17 (when you can get your license) as a long year.  I remember doing the math and realizing although it seemed like it took forever to reach 16 (and 17) eventually I would be driving for more years in my life that I wasn’t.

So, I focused on learning to drive – both with my mom’s help and driving lessons and working for just about anyone who would pay me – so I could get a car the day I got my license.  For me, a car was freedom – the same way my bicycle was freedom when I was 10.

Now teaching 16.0 to drive is a whole new experience.

While I like to think I’m not a control freak, keeping things under control is important to me.  There is a definite sense of loss of control when you turn your 16-year old loose (even when you’re in the passenger’s seat and she’s in a parking lot) with your hard-earned automobile.

While I expect her to take a full driver’s ed course over the winter into the spring ahead of her June birthday – I’m trying to teach her how to be situationally smart while driving.  How to make decisions, and not what decisions to make (the model I’ve used for the last 6 years).

But now it’s hard to try to let her make decisions and sit there quietly while our safety (and my car) is on the line.

Slowly we’re getting there.  We’ve been out of parking lots a little and working on practical driving stuff (I’ll leave the technical teaching to the professionals).  And I’m slowly learning my driving lessons while I teach driving lessons to my daughter.

Related Posts:

January and Snow – Imagine That

StormTotalSnowFcstHere it is early on a Saturday morning.  As usual, the girls are asleep and I’ve been up for a bit.  Early Saturday is my prime time for getting things done.  Food shopping, dry cleaner and other errands generally fall to the time between 7:30 and 10 Saturday mornings.  Today, its January and snow – imagine that on a Saturday morning.

If you’re all geeked up about the weather, check out my friend and meteorologist Joe Cioffi’s weather page – it has all of the information you could ever want and presented in a usable way even to non-weather geeks like me.

I’ve decided to kind of live blog the snow storm today and all the twists and turns.

UPDATE 6:30 PM

I just realized I’m really hungry.  I did a bunch today (including the fire see?) and really have not eaten since around 11 this morning – outside sampling what I was making.  So it’s dinner time.

The pulled pork is done as are the plantains.

Took a quick peek outside, the snow is still ripping pretty good and the winds have picked up again.  The reality is, not making the trip to Brooklyn for the Islanders game is a good thing – so thanks to the NHL for preventing a mistake.  15.5 and I were just talking about all the games we saw at the Coliseum on blizzard nights – some of the best games.

The crowds were sparse (5000 tops), but loud and the home team always won which was amazing.  It made the slip and slide on the ice and snow home kind of enjoyable.  I guess those days are done and now if the LIRR is down so are the Islanders.  Such is progress I guess.

UPDATE 5:30 PM

fire placeDone with the cooking portion of this blizzard.  Made a banana bread with marshmallow icing (you work with what you have), roasted cauliflower, cauliflower burgers and a pork butt that is about to become pulled pork with plantains for dinner.

Since some things never change in my house, while cooking the smoke alarm went off, and true to form none of my kids even flinched.  It makes me feel good that nothing will ever happen.

On the upside of this snow day, the freezer has 10 cauliflower burgers in it for meals when I get hung up in an office somewhere and we’ll have a yummy pulled pork for dinner tonight – there is that.

I also have to get the fire going, once I do I’ll add a picture of that.

Otherwise, the Sick Day beers are really pretty good.

UPDATE 4:15 PM

Shoveling done – at least a path to my car.  As I was pushing through the snow drifts I wasA lot of snow wondering why I was doing all this.  Afterall, I have a Jeep and I’ll just drive over the snow at the end of the driveway.  Then I remembered.

There was a period of time when Risa was doing chemo over a weekend there was a better than 50/50 chance I’d have to get her to a hospital – either by driving her or by ambulance – so I would always have a path to the front door.  I guess old habits die hard sometimes, right?

On a brighter note, I almost forgot my purchase of a beer called Sick Day from Long Trail Brewing.  It’s pretty good.  Going to have a few of those, stoke a fire in the fireplace and work on some roasted cauliflower for the girls.

UPDATE 3:30 PM

Going to try to dig out at least a path from the front door to the car – just in case.  As I mentioned earlier, the snow drifts pretty high in the front of the house and it will take a bit to get through the piles.  It’s better now, than in case there is some kind of an emergency later tonight.  Out I go, back into the frozen tundra.

UPDATE 2:15 PM

road signWorkout done, and I feel better.  I’ve written about it in the past, I am one of those people who just feels better after working out, and I feel better during the day.  And I think I’m a better person.  I did the exercise routine I outlined at 11:15 – a nice 45 minute Tabata workout.

Even doing short intervals, working out gives me time to think, and given the “historic” designation this storm is getting – I thought back to hurricane Sandy.  So many of the issues we faced here were due to a crumbling infrastructure – that is largely the same.

Last night when 13.0 and I went out to dinner there we long lines at the gas stations.  On some of the Facebook groups there were reports of stations being out of gas.  There is only one reason for that – the lessons of Sandy and the reality that nothing is different so it’s on us to make sure our cars are filled, the generator cans (if you have one) are filled etc.

Then there is this gem of social media.  One of the variable message boards from either the Long Island Expressway or Northern State Parkway.  They are there in theory to convey important information.  How many times do you pass one that looks like the one in the picture though?  Yeah, its funny – but it’s no joke.  These are the problems that were here years ago and remain unchanged.

Enough of the soapbox.  Now back to your blizzard conditions.

UPDATE 12:15 PM

As is usually the case on the weekend, come the crack of noon both girls are up now. what-should-you-be-binge-watching-on-netflix-righ-1-22956-1374011179-42_big The usual weekend pattern has me coming home from the gym at this point, and 15.5 would be asking me for a ride to the gym (generally she does not like to be there when I am there).

Instead, I just took a banana bread out of the oven and I’m about to head downstairs to burn off some energy.

I’m looking over at the fireplace and I think after I take a shower it’s time to light that up.  I was just reading on Facebook a story about a family near our house that had a fire in their chimney last night, a solid reminder to get my chimney swept out.

At some point I’m going to put a pork shoulder in the oven for dinner tonight.  In the meantime, I’ve been watching Netflix for so long this morning it actually stopped to ask me if I wanted to continue watching.  That seems a little strange, but I guess bandwidth is bandwidth.

UPDATE 11:15 AM

6a00d83452920069e20168e5b7589e970c-800wiOne decision made – the NHL actually cancelled the Islanders’ game tonight, so 13.0 and I don’t have to venture out into the snow, and I don’t have to keep on top of the trains to make sure we don’t get stranded in Brooklyn.

In lieu of getting out and shoveling the drive way, I’ve decided sitting on the couch and binge watching Netflix is a better plan (for now).  I do have a banana bread in the oven, so there is that to look forward to I suppose.

At some point in the next hour or so, I’ll head downstairs and do this workout:

Set a timer for 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off
Go through this 6x:
1. push ups
2. dips
3. alternating t-rotations
4. supermans
5. glute bridge
6. flutter kicks
rest 1 min

To be honest, this is pretty much the plan I was going to use at the gym today, so not going isn’t the worst thing.  I find I’m more motivated when I trek out and go to the gym (or head out to a trail for a run) than when I workout in the basement.  But in these trying times of Snowmagedden ’16 we all do what we have to.

UPDATE 10:15 AM

So my plans to hit the gym are scuttled.  Just found out my gym closed (shortly after maxresdefaultopening) an hour ago.  I get it – it’s not safe on the roads and it’s not safe to keep employees in place.  But it is a service industry.

So, I’ll get a little workout shoveling snow today.  At our house in snows like this, we get a HUGE snow drift against the garage door.  It should be a solid workout knocking that down.

It will also give me time to think about a trip to Brooklyn to see the Islanders later.  As of now I’m thinking no, but that’s a decision that is still six hours or so away.

Despite the snow and the behest of many TV and radio reporters (who I did not even tune in to see or hear) I ventured out for my Saturday errands.   All in all its about 50 miles round trip to get produce, meat and staples from Trader Joe’s.

(As an aside, I never knew the mileage round trip until today, that seems like a lot for food shopping, gas and dry cleaning).

A couple of observations, as the morning wore on conditions definitely got worse.  Visibility went down considerably.

I also noticed there is a part of the population who clearly believes traffic laws become optional in the snow.  It wasn’t bad enough driving around on packed snow, dodging people running red lights in limited visibility was not so easy.

Also, for the part of the population who are already afraid to drive on a clear day – you’re the ones who need to stay off the road.  I get it’s snowing, but less than 15 MPH on a four lane state highway – even in the snow is just dangerous.

Once home (it took me more than 90 minutes round trip) I discovered my BBQ actually blew over in the winds.  So back out I went to re-right the grill and make sure there was not a propane leak.

Check back throughout the day I’ll add more as things unfold.

Related Posts:

A Lesson Learned, A Lesson Planned

A lesson learnedI hope in life I never become too old to learn a lesson.  Last night after a brand new experience, I realized not only a lesson learned, but a lesson planned for my girls.

I’ve been driving for 30 years now.  I think I have driven a car in 48 of the 50 states and at least five countries (without putting too much thought into it).  Last night for the first time in all those miles I suffered a blow out while driving.

The good news, I was alone in the car and never lost control.  The back left tire blew while I was rolling my way on the world-famous Long Island Expressway.  I pulled over, took a look at the tire (down to the rim), assessed where I was on the road (narrow shoulder) and where I was geographically and decided my best move was driving half a mile to the next exit and getting into a parking lot just off the road.

I called my roadside company.  Maybe it was some kind of karma pay back for my post yesterday about technology running amok, because everything I lamented yesterday came to pass as I was stuck in a never-ending phone tree.  After finally reaching a person they told me at least an hour.

Being able-bodied, I decided to change the tire myself.  Now, I have helped people change tires, I have seen tires changed.  Until last night I had never changed a tire myself.  Check that off the bucket list.

About 15 minutes after I started, I was underway with a donut tire on my car and heading to a place to get a new full-sized tire for my car.  I spent another 10 minutes trying to get to anyone at Allstate Roadside to cancel the call, but that is impossible.  So I left.  About 10 minutes into that trip, the tow truck called to tell me they were at my location.

The one thing the experience confirmed for me is that before either of my kids head out on their own in a car, they will learn how to change a tire.  Not that I expect them to do that, but they should know how to.  They’ll have roadside (I would highly doubt it would be Allstate BTW) to call.  But knowledge is power.

So, I’m not too old.  A lesson learned, a lesson planned.  Keep your eyes open for that lesson you can learn, and pass along.  You never know when it will show up.

Related Posts:

Hmmm The Human Moments

Things That Make You Go HmmmThere are moments, and often they are the ones we hope don’t happen, where we can take a step back and say,”Yeah, we’re human.”  You can scratch your head, rub your chin, let out a, “hmmm,” but then off you go back into life again.

I’m pretty sure I had one of those moments last night.  In this case it was probably a few weeks if not longer coming and its a chance to take a step back and realize where you’re at what you’re doing and just go, “hmmm.”

Download Dad the Single Guy’s book “The Beginning of the Middle of the End of the Beginning” now

While there are hurt feelings for sure and the never-ending string of self-questioning what if’s and could it have been different at the end of the day, it’s a human moment.

So as I was driving along last night through a light snow the Queen song “We Are The Champions” came on, the line, “And bad mistakes, I’ve made a few” resonated a little louder than the rest of the song.  Yeah, I’m half culpable.  But as my mom used to say when two of three of us got into a fight, “It takes two to tango.”

And in this human moment, two people with caring in their hearts and even love on their minds manage to have a human moment.  That’s OK.  It’s a chance to scratch your head, rub your chin and let out an audible, “hmm.”

Related Posts:

Progressive Progress, Maybe, I Guess

In a concession to my creeping old age and my need to actually see things when I am driving I broke down and went to the eye doctor knowing that I will need new glasses.  What I did not expect was the drastic changes that occurred and that I now should be wearing glasses full-time.

Well that’s not completely true.  That knowledge contributed to the two-year gap between my visits to the eye doctor.  In 2010 when I last went they tried to talk me into bifocals.  I don’t see bifocals working for me, so back then, we decided to let it go for a year and revisit it in 2011.

2011 was a kind of eventful year and a lot of things like the annul visit to the eye doctor got skipped.  Which takes us to 2012.

And sure enough, the subject of my reading vision (which honestly is not bothersome to me) and my long distance vision came up again.  Since my position on bifocals has not changed, I am now wearing progressive addition lenses-or at least trying to get used to wearing them.

On the practical side, I have not quite figured out the best way to carry two pairs of glasses.  This means I am often inside (say a supermarket or shopping mall) with only my sunglasses and not my clear glasses.  Not a huge issue, but part of getting used to these progressive addition lenses is wearing them.

Another issue I have to kind of understand better is the eye position for reading.  Because of the way the lenses contour there are significant “blind” spots to the sides where everything is blurry.  For me, this most often is an issue when I am reading.

Finally, it’s nearly impossible for me to find the right position to read in bed.  The ophthalmologist told me its a matter of understanding eye position and head movement.  We’ll see (I meant that pun).

Related Posts:

Stringing Together A Week

Here it is Thursday night and I am feeling Friday night exhaustion.  It’s been a long week physically, intellectually and today a little bit emotionally too.  What’s really a bit worrisome is that it’s only Thursday and there’s still a Friday to be conquered.

Physically the exhaustion has been shuttling 104 miles each way between home and the Verizon corporate offices.  This was a planned event-four days of on the job training.  Originally I had planned to spend the four days in NJ near the offices, but it looks like I am in Vegas for a week next month (also work related) and I did not want to be out of the house two out of eight weeks.

With the exception of Monday (when a dead battery kept the sitter from being here on time) I was in my spot in the conference room no later than 8:15.  I do not like being late, and on Monday I ended up being about an hour late and although all understood I had a child care issue I was embarrassed.

So, out of the house by 5:20 in the morning and home somewhere between 9:15 and 10:15 Monday through Wednesday and out at the same time today and home (through PM rush hour) by 6.  Long days.

In between mentally you have to be on at these sessions.  Be present in the training and because it’s a small group be an active participant.  There is no room for passengers-and it’s not how I roll anyway. So during the four days there was not a lot of down time.  Oh yeah, from time to time you need to dip into email and handle calls to keep the business afloat.

Emotionally I spent a lot of the drives (especially homeward bound) trying to catch up with my life-which is almost a full-time job of and in itself.  Jetting in and out of things from temple functions, to personal relationships, to birthday wishes to dealing with the first confirmed “crush” in the house.

So far the weekend looks like it will be on the quiet side-but first I have to get there.

Related Posts: