Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Peg had this really cool thing on her site where she answered five questions sent to her from someone else and I begged to be allowed to play along. She kindly acquiesced so here are Peg’s questions and my answers.
1.. How did you decide upon the title to your blog?
Farf is my childhood nickname. My entire family on my mother’s side calls me Farf and it is how I refer to myself. I seriously think my little brother (who is 11 years younger than me) did not know my actual name is Sara until he was 5 or 6. The “Amusing” part came from the play on the word “musing” and is also a little inside joke with my immediate family who constantly vote me as least funny family member.
2.. You work in a law firm with some pretty interesting people. What one person at the firm has had the biggest impact on your career there, and why?
The person who had the biggest impact on my career is, ironically, someone who I don’t work for all that often. The former hiring partner hired me as a lawclerk and then really pushed for me to be hired as an associate. He fights for me and sticks his neck out when I screw up and makes sure everyone knows when I am successful. He even told me in advance what to say during my interview so I could do really well. Without him, there is no way I would be working here.
3.. Your work at the Haven Coalition has surely brought you in contact with many women who are in difficult circumstances. Is there one woman's story that touched in some way more than any other?
All the stories are different and both inspiring and heartbreaking all at once. But, if there was anyone who really touched me, it was the first woman with whom I came into contact. I expected someone very different than me, someone with whom I would have nothing in common. After meeting her (I was not hosting and we were at a coffee shop waiting for the host to arrive), she commented that she hoped the host came soon b/c she (the patient) had a long day and just wanted to watch her favorite TV show and go to sleep. I inquired as to the show and she told me “Charmed.” It was my favorite as well! I told her I had the show recoding at home and we both got really excited. I called the host and told her we were going to my apartment (it was a couple blocks away) and we went to my place and watched Charmed until the host arrived. We talked during commercials and I relieved that but for a condom and some health insurance, we were no different at all. It changed how I looked at all future patients who came to NY needing Haven’s help.
4.. You and your sister seem to be friends as well as siblings. Was your relationship with her always that way, or did you two butt heads as kids?
Haha. Ask my mother that one. We tried to kill each other multiple time as children and young adults. For example, I repeat a conversation below that is typical of the kind we had as kids:
Sister: I hate you. I wish you had never been born.
Me (smugly): Well, I am older so if I was not born, you may not have been born.
Sister: Then I hope you drop dead.
5.. You have suddenly become independently wealthy. Where would you live, and what activity(-ies) would you pursue to fill your time?
I think about this all the time – especially when the lottery is above $100 million. I would own a townhouse on the upper west side of Manhattan and a house in CT on the shore. I would SCUBA dive and train dogs. Husband would be a food photographer for Gourmet Magazine. I would have a personal trainer who came to my home every morning and a personal chef to design tasty and healthy meals. I would still be an advocate for the working classes but with my wallet and inevitable political influence and not as a job. I would travel constantly and take classes in writing and baking. I would NOT be stuck in the office on such a beautiful day!
WANT TO PARTICIPATE? DIRECTIONS FOR THE INTERVIEW MEME
1. Leave a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions (if I don't have your email address, you can email me at *sarad* (at) *tidalwave* (dot) *net* instead). I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Last weekend Sister, Husband, Tiki, Photogenic Friend and Photogenic Wife all went to CT. Father, Husband and Photogenic Friend went to see Steely Dan in concert while Sister, Mother, Photogenic Wife and I hung out together and reacquainted Tiki with his cousin DJ (Brother’s Basset Hound)
During the last interaction between DJ and Tiki, there was an altercation during which Tiki bit and ripped DJ’s ear. They had previously gotten along and upon further examination Tiki was suffering from a variety of illnesses that likely made him crankier than normal.
I have to admit I was nervous about getting them back together. What if another fight broke out? Upon entering the house, I tried to ease the transition. I removed all food, toys, treats and the dog bed on the floor (both dogs thought it was there bed and we did *not* need a territory war). DJ nipped at Tiki’s leg and I held my breath. Tiki walked away. DJ pushed Tiki off the couch and Tiki moved to another space without real complaint (just an exaggerated sign to let me know he was not thrilled about having to move).
In an effort to establish pack order I fed Tiki first and DJ second (after all, Tiki is older so in nature he would be ahead in the pack order). I made sure to give them equal attention and they were never together unsupervised.
But, these two dogs, who I feared would never really get along, came to be friends over the weekend. They played tug-of-war with a stick, chased each other around the yard, helped each other dog holes in the otherwise well maintained lawn, and worked together to trap and kill a frog so they could roll in its blood. (Really, if there is a doggie heaven, I am sure it will involve rolling in the blood of a fresh kill).
And, when it was time for a well deserved nap, this was how they slept. Seriously adorable and completely unposed. Way to go boys!
My belated anniversary present from Husband is a trip to Montreal for the long weekend. I am so excited. We are taking the train from NY to New Haven and feasting on pizza with our parents and then taking Brother’s car on a road trip to Montreal (Brother is in Europe for the summer so I get his car as needed!) Husband has promised to try and control his road rage and we are taking the train to bypass the worst of the NY traffic, so hopefully the trip will be pleasant – as long as he does not ask me to read a map. I am really the world’s worst map reader and it drives Husband nuts.
This weekend is also special for another reason: It is Brother’s 21st birthday. He is heading to Amsterdam with friends to celebrate and I can only imagine that he will remember very little of this particular birthday. Anyway, I wanted to wish him a very happy birthday on the 27th and hopefully he will take a break from binge drinking and semi-legal pot smoking to read this and know that I am thinking of him – even if my cell phone won’t work in Canada.
Happy birthday Brother!!!!! I love you!
Thursday, May 24, 2007
I sent this email to a bunch of people, but I want it to reach the widest audience possible.
Hi everyone. I am sorry for the mass email, but I wanted to let you know that a group of friends and I recently started NYC Shiba Rescue. The venture quickly grew and we currently have 4 dogs available for adoption with many more needing foster homes. I am looking for some people who may be interested in adopting or fostering a Shiba Inu.
Shibas are really smart, independent dogs that are very loyal to their family. They are also really clean and Shiba puppies can housebreak in a matter of days. If you are not sure if you are ready to adopt, try fostering a dog. If you fall in love with your foster dog, you may have the option to adopt and it is a great way to try out having a dog and make sure you are making the right decision. Also, people fostering dogs are given supplies and food so your expenses are somewhat limited. People adopting dogs get a 50% off obedience classes, a discounted crate, collar, leash and some food as well. All dogs are spayed/neutered, up to date on shots and temperament tested. We really need your help because without safe homes, these otherwise wonderful animals will be killed to make room in shelters.
Check out the NYC Shiba Rescue website.
If you are interested in fostering or adopting a dog (or if you would like to otherwise volunteer even if you can't take a dog right now) please contact me at sara (*at*) nycshibarescue (*dot*) org.
Also, please forward to everyone you can think of. We really need to find homes for these dogs and the others that are waiting rescue in shelters.
As a recent newlywed (How long do you get to be a newlywed anyway? I am now just ‘happily married’?), I don’t foresee divorce in my future. But I also have a firm grasp of the fact that many couples do get divorced for a multitude of reasons. So, while I believe that many people give up on marriage far too easily, I also believe that a good divorce is better than a bad marriage so, imagine my surprise when I read the following in NY Lawyer:
A Manhattan appeals panel has reversed a trial court's grant of divorce, holding that the wife's allegations did not satisfy New York's "cruel and inhuman treatment" standard, notwithstanding her claim that her husband "physically force[d] himself on [her] sexually."
"In its vagueness and generality, this testimony could include conduct ranging from the criminal (e.g., forcible rape) to the merely obnoxious," the unanimous Appellate Division, First Department, panel held in its unsigned opinion, Gross v. Gross, 256.
Now, apparently Mr. Gross appealed the lower court decision granting the divorce and the appellate court found Mrs. Gross’ testimony as to the sexual abuse to be too vague, but, even assuming for the sake of argument that Mrs. Gross was exaggerating and the abuse was more along the lines of Mr. Gross begging and attempting foreplay to an unresponsive partner, why on earth would you want to stay married to someone who, in open court, essentially calls you a rapist?
But, I don’t think Mrs. Gross was exaggerating. After all, according again to NY Lawyer:
The panel found that Ms. Gross' evidence failed to establish that her husband's conduct "so endangers [her] physical or mental well being [as to] render it unsafe or improper" for the couple to live together, as required by Domestic Relations Law §170. The panel discounted the sufficiency of Ms. Gross' claim that her husband "force[d] himself" on her sexually, "ramm[ing her] up against the wall" in their bathroom. After noting the "vagueness" of the accusation, the panel added, "Moreover, plaintiff offered no evidence that she had sustained any injuries as a result of this incident," citing Palin v Palin, 213 AD2d 707, in which the plaintiff in a "marriage of long duration [was] required to satisfy a high degree of proof of cruel and inhuman treatment."
I don’t think ramming someone against a wall is a vague accusation. I think it’s a pretty clear indication of domestic violence. And, proving injury is hard. Many victims of domestic violence refuse treatment for injuries out of shame or fear. And many abusers are smart enough to cover their tracks.
So what now? Apparently Mr. and Mrs. Gross still live together in their Upper West Side apartment and I would guess that he is still ramming her against walls and raping her. Hmm, if that is not cruel and inhuman treatment, I am scared to see what is.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Kaos needs a home. Please read her story here and look at the pictures. Then, if you can help, post a comment or go to this website and email Jenna. It’s win –win. You will save a life and have your life more enriched for it. Seriously. If I had more space, she would live with me…
As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about my Mom, I also wanted to touch upon a few other women who have had a profound impact on my life – my aunts in general and my aunt Meme in particular.
My mother has three sisters and my father has one sister. (Actually, neither has brothers and among my cousins, the girls outnumber the boys 3:2 and none of my cousins’ children are male, leading Husband into minor panic attacks when he thinks of a future surrounded by only women - hence, the dog is a boy…) Anyway, growing up, I never heard the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but it was certainly practiced. The extended families spent weekends together, vacationed together and, often times, dinner was at the home of whichever aunt was cooking something good that night.
All my aunts are wonderful in their own way and, as an adult, I see the unique attitudes and outlooks that they bring into the family, thus enriching my own life. There is Fee, who could be one of the most giving people I have ever met with a sense of humor that is wickedly sharp. MFAS taught me the glory of shopping malls and I literally spent years wondering how her kitchen always looked so spotless (the answer, apparently, is to never cook), Autie (the youngest of the aunts) was always the fun one and the person to whom we felt comfortable asking the questions we could never ask our own mothers and driving in her car meant that the good radio stations would be playing. But, Fee, MFAS and Autie all lived at least an hour away (a lifetime to a child) and visits with them always held the magic of a holiday. Not so with Meme.
Meme, my mother’s oldest sister, lived 10 minutes from where I grew up and during the early part of elementary school, I went to school with her children. My cousins by Meme (Thew and Ado) were more brothers than cousins as Meme’s house was where my family lived when we were waiting for our new house to be completes, where I convalesced during a bout of pneumonia, a safe haven while my sister was hospitalized as a baby, and where we stayed on those rare occasions where a babysitter was not a feasible option. More than just an aunt, Meme was the second mother of my childhood.
Although Meme and Uncle M no longer live in the house I remember from growing up, I remember that house as well as I would remember my own. There was a spot, behind the dresses in the upstairs hall closet where I would hide with my blankie (they always had an extra one on hand for me), nestled in the carpet and imagine I was a princess in a castle. I can still smell the old dresses and out of season clothes when I close my eyes and inhale. I also remember the baskets hanging on the kitchen walls where Ado and I would stash our action figures and play underfoot until Meme would chase us out of the kitchen. And, unlike at the other Aunt’s homes, where visits were vacations, any punishment incurred at Meme’s carried over to my own house when it was time to leave. Not that we were punished often (with my siblings and cousins there was usually enough entertainment to avoid trouble) and generally any trouble we caused made Meme or my mother laugh to hard to inflict real punishment. (Note to Thew and Ado, having me eat leaves is not funny!) Besides, being at Meme’s was like being at home so it was perfectly acceptable to ignore everyone and watch TV or hide in a bedroom with a book.
Meme is also the person I call when my own mother is unavailable. Put hand soap in a dishwasher and have foam all over the kitchen minutes before a huge date? Call Meme. Want a second opinion on a graduation outfit? Show Meme. Need to feel good that someone actually checks your blog regularly? Email Meme. Want to say a belated “Happy Mothers’ Day” to someone who filled the role on numerous occasions? Write this post.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Yesterday was Mother’s Day so Husband and I spent the weekend with our Mothers (and in my case Grandmothers and Aunts and Cousins). But, even though the holiday is officially over, I wanted to take a public moment to talk about my Mom.
If there is a more self-less person in the world, I do not know of her. And, its not just the big things like driving 6 hours to DC to help me move and sitting in the storage area of the UHaul, because there was no room in the front, but the little things like how when she used to make my lunch for school, there was a note almost every day packed in with the lunch, with a simple message such as, “I love you.” (Although on one day when Mom acted as a substitute teacher at my school, the note actually said, “I’m watching you,” which I think was a very different sentiment.) Even now, at 32, I still think that sitting wrapped in my mother’s arms in one of the safest places in the world. Mom is my constant cheerleader, personal wedding planner and role model.
I attended a private high school and the application process was not unlike that of applying to college, complete with a personal essay. At that time, I wrote the essay about Father, who was (and still is) an incredibly successful lawyer and wonderful father. I wrote about him making time to attend gymnastics competitions and how I hoped to one day be a lawyer just like him. At that time, it never occurred to me to write about my mom. After all, what did she do except stay at home in order to always be available to shuttle me to those gymnastics practices and to make the inevitable trip back and forth (sometimes more than once) when I forgot an essential item like my sneakers or leotard? And, all those kitchen table talks when I cried about how I could not master the balance beam and she reassured me that I was a wonderful gymnast (Mom was a fantastic liar back then!) and that my balance beam troubles were not due to lack of skill but because I had inherited my grandmother’s long feet? They were just part of being a mom and she was simply doing her job.
Then, as I got older, Mom was always the volunteer to drive me and my friends around town. She would listen quietly in the driver’s seat while my pre-teen friends and I chatted, forgetting there was an adult in the car. She never judged our conversations, just occasionally inserted helpful comments such as explaining what a phallic symbol was. (Note to Mom: While I am sure you thought you were preserving my innocence by explaining it was anything longer than it was wide, that explanation caused me all sorts of embarrassment when in high school, I referred to the phallic shape of a Snicker’s Bar in front of someone else’s mom). And, when my friends and I were able to drive on our own, I never gave a second thought to the fact that everyone would rather spend time hanging at our house, but only when Mom was home. But isn’t that just Mom doing what she is supposed to do?
Now, however, I realize that all those things were part of *my* Mom, being a mom, but that most people did not have the same experiences. My mom was the permanent chauffer of my friends because the other moms would not do it. My mom explained, in her own way, terms like “phallic” and “hooker” (defined as a “woman who dresses funny”) because no one else had taken the time to tell us. And, she listed in the car so that she would always know what was going on in my life. So thanks, Mom, for being the very bestest Mom and for, 32 years after giving birth to me and 14 years after your legal obligation finished, for continuing to be my cheerleader, chauffer and friend.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Life has been insane lately so I am happily taking a mental break from work and other obligations to help plan this summer’s trip to wine country. 20 hard drinking friends, a party bus with a stocked bar and vineyards galore serving the best Chardonnay and Cabernet franc Long Island can offer. This was supposed to be an annual trip, but last year the whole getting married thing got in the way of my attending. So this year, I am taking an active role. I picked the party bus and it is sweet. Sister will have lots of room to pass out after we are done drinking.
I mentioned to a friend today that I was picking out the bus because Husband and Photogenic Friend had been lax in their planning duties. During the course of that conversation, I received an email from Husband, cc’ing our new acquaintance, Sammie, informing Sammie that I am horrible at remembering our social calendar so to please contact him before confirming plans to have Sammie fly us in his plane over NYC. (I am terrified of going but have been officially bullied!) My friend laughed at me and told me that I had my gender roles all wrong and I, as the wife, should be in charge of the social calendar and Husband should be in charge of securing transportation.
I would have normally shrugged this off, but last night, while at going away drinks for Husband (Have I mentioned in the last five minutes how excited I am that he is leaving Big Corporate Law Firm? No? Well, let me tell you, I am thrilled!!!) the partners and associates who joined us all commented that I would now have someone to cook for and to help me clean. Huh? Husband is a much better cook than I am and he does more than his fair share of vacuuming, counter top scrubbing, etc. It’s not as though I sit home all day twiddling my thumbs, cleaning the apartment and waiting in hopes that he will give me a chance to try the latest recipes from Food and Wine Magazine. I am an attorney with a demanding job and help to run two volunteer groups. I want Husband to go to new job not because I want a maid, but because I miss my partner and friend. Interesting that no one thinks of that.
So, before I go back to work, I am going to sign the contracts for the party bus and defer social plans with L&N until I check with Husband. And maybe, if I am lucky, Husband will have dinner waiting for me when I get home.
Monday, May 07, 2007
So much to write about and so little time lately, but I am commited to going back to daily postings (at least Monday through Friday) so no better time to start than now.
Plus, yesterday was my one year wedding anniversary. Husband and I celebrated with a leisurely day of hanging in the backyard and then dinner at the same place where he proposed. It was utterly romantic and wonderful, except that I drank too much Sake and basically had to be carried home. But, when I woke up this morning, I was in bed, my clothes neatly folded on my dresser and a glass of water was on my nightstand and a trash can (just in case!) was next to the bed. This just proved that Husband is the most wonderful person ever.
Actually, Husband and I were discussing this weekend all the reasons our relationship is so great (don’t make fun, we know we were being sappy) and we actually realized that its because we both understand that nothing is more important than family, and act accordingly.
For example, two weekends ago, Cousin Ado and T, Cousin ‘Thew and L and their parents all came to New York. Ado and T stayed in my apartment and on Saturday night, Husband and I hosted a barbecue for the family (Husband was particularly proud of his curry spiced lamb chops). We spent the weekend hanging out together just walking around the City, relaxing and playing Taboo. (Note: The way to get someone to say Ceasar is not to use the clue “Et tu Brutus?” but do simply say “lettuce, croutons, dressing.” There is no room for braininess in Taboo!)
Last weekend, BiL and his girlfriend came to NYC to celebrate her birthday and we all went out to dinner. On Sunday, Sister came over to the apartment to dress me for the anniversary dinner (she really has much better taste in clothes) and Father stopped by as well on his way into town from CT in order to sample for Gelato at a newly opened location. And this weekend, Husband and I will be in CT visiting his parents and then at a 65th anniversary brunch for my Nana and Poopsie!
And yet, despite all these obligations, we don’t begrudge each other time with our families and, in reality really enjoy spending time with them. It’s been a really nice foundation for the last year and I am looking forward to all there is yet to come.