Moving on

Five weeks ago I went on vacation to Moab, Utah.  My friends and I drove a Range Rover filled with camera gear deep into Canyonlands National Park.  It’s beautiful country unlike anywhere else in the United States.  We drove five hours into the heart where the Internet doesn’t reach, other cars and travelers disappeared until it was just us and the landscape.  At night, the wind howled and nearly blew my friend in his tent over the edge of the ravine.  Laughter filled the night once all the pieces of the tent were rescued and we were safely settled in the back of the car.  Other nights, the Milky Way shined so bright we sat transfixed and in awe.  We became rich with shooting star sightings and wishes.  

By day, we hiked into the canyons and I hung off rocks while balancing gear on my back.  I saw petroglyphs and wondered about the artists who created them hundreds of years ago.  I felt truly alive and loved every minute of this trip.  While sitting on a cliff, I knew it was time to set the reset button here.  I’m not the same person who started this blog.  Nothing in fact is the same.  I moved, I was promoted to a new job, the scars of my surgeries have faded and have become a part of me that stand for strength.  After 7 years, I’ve grown used to the worry that haunts the deep corners of my brain.  You never stop worrying if the cancer will come back. You learn to celebrate the everyday for the gift that it is.  Still, a chapter in my life seems to have organically ended and part of that includes this blog.  I didn’t want to just stop writing though without thanking all of you for stopping by and commenting.  I’ve enjoyed my friendships here and the kindness you’ve shown.  

Yes, I will create something new but it will take time.  Until then, enjoy yourselves and if ever the opportunity arises to go to MOAB – take it!

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That’s a wrap

I bought this Santa in college.

I bought this Santa in college.

This was the first year in many years I had a full size tree and used all of my ornaments. Over the years, they were gifts from friends or purchases I had made myself. The story of my life captured in glass.

This was a whirlwind year that included a lot establishing myself in my new community, new home, new job.   I fear I didn’t include you in on most of it as it was to say the least – rather dull in the telling.  At 56, it’s not easy to break into a new community.  In my free time, I’ve been taking classes.  There’s a new lavender wreath in the hallway I made at the botanical garden, my bones are stronger from a Pilates mat class I took.  Sadly, my foot seems a bit strained from another class I participated in at the gym.  I discovered an amazing cheese shop and the couple that own the health food store give me a hearty hello when I enter.  I’ve started waving to people on the street I recognize.  Baby steps towards becoming part of the community.  Baby steps in learning where I want to be and how I want to be defined within it.

On the job front, I can build pivot tables and excel has become my friend.  A year ago, I entered the board room and realized everyone there spoke in numbers.  It was frightening and I remained silent much of the time.  I speak in color, feelings and my decisions are informed by intuition.  I had to learn a new language to survive and yet not lose the one that has taken me thus far.  It has been difficult and with great pride I will confess that I have built a Cagr chart and explained it clearly without rolling my eyes once.  I have spent many a late night learning all of this.  Google is also my friend.  I know in 2017 there will be many more nights devoted towards learning.  At this moment in my life, I can’t believe I have such an opportunity as this.

On the apartment front, I have big plans for this place and these plans need money to fuel them.  I’m excited as I practice the art of patience.  Funds don’t grow as quickly as I would like and so I refrain from spending as I dream.


So, here we are entering into 2017.  My health is good, or as good as it will ever be.  I’m not really sure what to expect in the coming year.  If 2016 has taught me anything, surprises are around every corner.

Wishing all of you health, happiness and joy in the year ahead.

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Cleaning out

This was in one of the many boxes I unpacked.

This was in one of the many boxes I unpacked.

I have the feeling you might be asking, “Where have you been?”

Would you believe I’m still moving.  I had no idea how much energy all of this would take.

Way, way back in the 1900’s I got a storage unit.  It started out small with things I needed to rotate in and out of my home.  Holiday things, seasonal things, things I wasn’t sure what to do with and it was all supposed to be temporary.  In a way it was, but in location only.  Over the years, I needed more space and moved units in the same building.  They grew larger and larger until it became the 10×10 one I have today.  Things stopped rotating out and suddenly it was more like a black hole where in was the only direction my belongings went.   A place where things I no longer needed and at times wanted were stored because I couldn’t let go.  My father helped me build shelving as the boxes mounted.   The monthly bill followed in growth.  There is no cap on rental storage units.  Increases are given to everyone no matter how long you’ve been there.   I was there for a very long time.  If I switched units today of the same size, I would save $120 a month.

My bad, I know.  The thought and act of moving from one unit to the next was a frightening concept and beyond my physical capabilities.  It was something I couldn’t accomplish in an afternoon let alone months of afternoons.  So, I continued to pay.

After I moved into my new apartment, my goal has been to empty the “garden apartment” as my dad affectionately refers to the storage unit.  Bring everything together under one roof and finally discard or embrace what has been stored there.  The task has been as enormous as I believed it would be.  Some boxes were packed with the knowledge that I would open them in a new home.  In those, I wrote myself postcards.  Hearing from my past self has brought a strange mix of laughter and tears.  I know what happens to that woman that was once me and some of it is ugly.  Some of it is wonderful too and past self wouldn’t have imagined any of it.  I wish my future self could write me now.   Tell me when to duck or relax in certain situations.  Of course, maybe I don’t want to know what future self knows either.

As I haul out the boxes and unpack I must confess, I should have thrown the crap out back in the day.  Only half is worth keeping and that is being generous.

I have a few more trips to make and July is my goal to finally be rid of the black hole.  Yesterday, I ran into Frank the superintendent of the building my storage unit is in.

“I’m leaving Frank.  Slowly packing things up.  How much notice do you need before I go?”

“I don’t need any.  Just tell me when the unit is empty.”

“OK, that’s perfect.  You know Frank, I’ve come to the conclusion storage units are a weird addiction.”

Frank chuckled and nodded his head.  “I know they are an addiction and that’s what keeps me in business!”

Yes, now I see the light of day.

“Hi, my name is Mae and I am a pack rat.”



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A little Carpe Diem overload

The month of March was so jam packed that there was a strong possibility of emotional whiplash.  I am pleased to report that as I write this at the Fort Meyers airport, I have nothing more than the strong desire to go home.  

Last July a friend called and asked if I wanted to go to Vietnam.  I hadn’t thought let alone dreamed of such a trip and yet with a tour that boasted 5 star hotels, cooking classes, tours through their art museums by the curators themselves with an affordable price; I said yes.  March held the promise of dull from that hot, July day.  I couln’t have been more mistaken.  

I think I was in my last year of college when a bus trip to Washington DC was offered with tours of the museums there.  I was putting myself through college and the sum needed, I believe $50, was a lot for my budget to allow.  I remember turning over the thought to go in my mind as I blankly stared into a store window.  An old woman came up to me and said, “I just want to tell you something, when I was a girl I was offered a trip to India with a friend.  I decided not to go as I had only started my job and I was afraid they would fire me.  My friend went to India and her plane was met by her brother on an elephant and they had the most incredible and exotic time.  I wish I had gone as there was never another opportunity to tour India again.  My job was nothing special and I eventually found another.  Some experiences only happen once in a lifetime and you should take them.”  She then walked away.  No introduction, no further information.  She just blended back into the hum of New York City life and changed my view of the world forever. 

Of course, I took the bus trip to Washington DC.  There were no elephants meeting my bus but every trip I take shapes my mind a little differently by the end.  It was that woman’s advice I thought of as I signed myself up for two weeks in Vietnam.   It was indeed, a trip of a lifetime.  I traveled from March 1 – March 14 traveling from Saigon to Hanoi.  It was amazing and I hope to tell you more about it in another post.  You see, I came back from Vietnam only to finish packing for my move on March 22.  Yes, one week to pull the final roots up of 25 years spent in that apartment and 36 years on the Island of Manhattan.  I moved to Westchester or the “Continent” as I like to call it.  To add to an already mad plan, I cooked Easter dinner for 14 in my old empty apartment.  I strung Christmas lights on the walls using the nails that once held paintings as hooks to hold them in place.  Tables and chairs were rented, paper plates used for dinner and desert and all the rest packed up in my car after the party.  I drove to my new home after the party with pots and pans in the trunk.  We left the old place with laughter echoing still and what I consider some of the best karma for the new tenants yet to be signed.  

The day after Easter I had to fly to Texas for meetings that week.  I was home only two days when I took off for Florida. More meetings and then a trip with coworkers to celebrate an excellent year of sales.  I’m sitting here now at the airport waiting for my flight.  I hear it’s 34 degrees which is dismal compared to the 80 I have enjoyed for a week.  I’m looking forward to unpacking the boxes that fill my home as I begin to nestle in as my future in Westchester unfolds.  Yes, March was rather madcap but I wouldn’t change a thing about it.  My only regret is I didn’t recount any of it for you as it happened.  Too many days being siezed and not enough reflection.  You’ll be seeing more from me in no specific order…. 

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Well, it’s been a week.

Last Friday it snowed.  The kind of small flakes that can cause havoc if they gather correctly.  Luckily, these were an un-assembled mess that caused delays and little else.  I knew I would get to the closing but wasn’t sure of the rest.

The banker was late.  At 3:15, I was in dept.  Happily in dept I might add.

At 4:00 I met with the building contractor.  If there was a soundtrack to my life at that moment the tones of cha-ching would have been ringing clearly in the background.  I’m financially prepared and none of this was a surprise.

Sunday, I gave my first party.  My sister celebrated her birthday in my empty digs.  Seven of us gathered bringing all that we needed with us.  We sat around on folding chairs eating cupcakes and singing.  It was the perfect way to christen the apartment.

I don’t know when I will move in.  My travel schedule is a bit unruly and the floors still need to be finished.  I’m happy though.  Very happy.  Every time I walk through the door, the apartment feels more and more like home.

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A date is set!

Flat Iron Building

This Friday I should be closing!  I am very excited. Presently, packing up my belongings and trying to manage work too.  In my spare time, I’ve been photographing the neighborhood with old film.

6th Avenue

The photos look like captured memories.  Perfect for the mood I am in.

15th Street bridge

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Neither Here nor There

HomeI am neither here nor there.

My coworker in Texas was promoted.  He needed to move to another city so he put his home on the market, sold it in three days and then purchased another home in that new city.  He’s happily making the transition.  In all it will be about two months since he packed his boxes up to the moment he unpacks them someplace else.  I, on the other hand, am still slugging along.

Only in New York does the simple act of buying a home take months.  Really, it’s the Co-op market with the idea of corporate shares, board meetings with acceptance and denial, bank needs and that long list of rules and regulations.  I was good but not that good it seems in my preparation for all this.  An underwriter deemed my new home a maybe and then took off for vacation.  The last step in what has been months of paperwork.  My lawyer, my realtor really anyone who’s read the financials is in shock.  My question, asked a little late, to the bank was —– “Have you closed on co-ops before?”  They sight one or two and there in lies my error.  I should have gotten a bank that has a long history with thousands of co-ops.  I am told the paperwork is different.   So, I sit in limbo until the underwriter returns from vacation.  I am beside myself as I want this move to happen as quickly as possible.  Instead, I am a bit like a fly caught on a spiderweb struggling for release.

DowntownI have lived in New York City for 38 years.  It was my dream to come here at 5 and at 17 my dream came true.  I arrived with a box of paint brushes and a hefty trash bag as luggage.  In hindsight, it really wasn’t the best place for a teenage girl.  In reality, it was for me.  The photo above is where I stood when I first saw the World Trade Center in flames.  I would get much closer with my camera until I broke it advancing the film with such force.  That was after the last building was nothing but a cloud of smoke.

schoolI have memories on every corner.  It was in this spot that I was cross country skiing in a blizzard thinking what an extraordinary life this is. Snow dampens noise and there is nothing more magical than deserted streets all covered in snow.  I stayed out that night until the wee hours.

I have written before about how it is time for me to go and that still remains true.  It’s just that moving out of New York City is a bit like breaking up with a great boyfriend.  Everyone keeps asking, “Are you sure you’re doing the right thing?”  I know from my very core that I am.  I just can’t resist these wistful moments of remembering.  It had gotten so bad during the holidays that I sat down and wrote a list of the 32 things wrong with my apartment.

  1.  Mice

and it continued on.

21.  Living room windows face a brick wall.

31.  Bathroom door never shuts correctly


32.  Monthly Parking $600.00

The monthly parking is paid by my company.  I will never be able to afford such a luxury on my own.   It’s time to move on before I am forced to.

I made the list to eternally remember how it is for those days when the new digs get on my nerves.  The boo hoo moments that will occur when my memories are better than the reality that was.  For now though, I want things to move along.  Tuesday I’ll learn more of what this underwriter is concerned about.  My lawyer said it was paper debt that is common in Co-ops.  I’m holding my breath and waiting for the day when I can look forward to making new memories instead of looking back on the old.  Fingers crossed, it will be in February.


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A week of calm

Bear and Horse

Well, did you have a good Christmas?

My sisters and I were at my Dad’s house for the past three days.  Celebrating sometimes and cleaning out what we could the rest of the time.  He hates getting rid of anything but we managed to toss old mattrasses and bedspreads.  We walk a thin line these days.  If he had his druthers, he would keep everything including the dust.

I photographed the above while taking a break from the constant housework that exists there.  The horse and bear were given to my mother years ago.  The original owner was named Bill and he received them as Christmas gifts as a child.  The bear is now over 100.  I don’t know about the horse but I think it is the same for it.  Sometimes I put them under the tree in memory of the kids who were and are no longer.

This coming week is my favorite.  Most people are off.  Those that are working, have few expectations.  I like to take this week to get organized.  This year I am savoring these precious days more than ever.  The final wrap up before January begins.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

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Life in Motion

Christmas 1

Life in Motion.  That’s what my birthday card from my sister said this year.  It has been in motion and at a break neck speed.  I will be the first to admit that I have far too many balls in the air.  The apartment purchase is still going on.  Just when I think I’ve completed all of the paperwork, another packet arrives.  The holidays aren’t helping as I am on a tight clock with a locked in mortgage rate.  While others are imbibing in the pleasures of the season, I’m the harridan in the corner cracking the whip.  A perfect lunch date for the grinch!

Christmas 3I’ve been managing most of this while traveling.  That hasn’t helped with keeping everything organized.  Today is my last day trip of the year.  I’m thrilled to be grounded for two weeks.

Christmas 2

I took the photos above while shopping n my neighborhood yesterday.  With all the details of purchasing the apartment holding my attention, I can’t forget Christmas is just days away.  This is my last while living in Chelsea.  It’s exciting and frightening knowing 2016 holds nothing but change in it.

Wishing all of you a Happy Holiday season!


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Thanksgiving flowers

It’s been a long weekend of multiple celebrations with family and friends all involving turkey.  I’ll admit, I kinda liked it.  Even though the ingredients are similar, none of the meals tasted the same.  All delicious, which is why I think I may have eaten too much!

Thanksgiving floral

So, I’ve signed a contract for the apartment in Westchester. I’ve got a paperwork packet to fill out and a meeting with the Board of Directors.  Inside the packet is a set of 36 rules I need to abide by.  No Drippy Trash and No Feeding Pigeons Out of Your Window.  I know for each of the 36 rules there was an incident or incidents that put them there.  Part of me would love to hear the stories that go with the rules…. All in good time!

So, for the next few weeks I’ll be navigating the largest sale of my life.  Ho, Ho, Ho…..

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