Day 118 – Twelve years and a day

Twelve years and one day ago, everything I owned had been thrown in boxes to save it from the rainwater that flooded my Yonkers apartment. My waterlogged furniture had been hauled out to the curb for the garbage men to collect. And Stevie and I drove out to Long Island for our own private wedding in Pastor Schenkel’s office, before heading to the Candlelight Inn to celebrate with hot wings and beer.

In some ways, that chaos seems to have set the tone for our lives together. I can’t say there’s ever been a dull moment since. Ups. Downs. Twists. Turns. Moments when all we could really do was just hold onto each other and wait for the hits to stop coming (life has a way of throwing some real sucker punches, you know). And in the midst of it all, there have been a whole lot of really beautiful moments too.

And you know what? I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Twelve years and a day of marriage, and this August we’re coming up on 21 years since we first met. I tell ya, it’s getting harder and harder to remember what my life was like without Stevie Romano in it. And I think that’s pretty awesome.

Can’t wait to see where we go from here.

Day 117 – The great bagel quest

So, if Stevie and I were going to sit down and make a list of the things we miss the most about New York, we’d start with our friends and family and then quickly descend into a loooooooong list of food–NY-style pizza, zuppa de pesce (specifically from Mamma Lombardi’s on Long Island), steaming plates of hot wings from the Candlelight Inn on Central Park Avenue in Scarsdale, Italian Ice (the real stuff from The Ice House in West Sayville, not that overly-sugary fake bullshit they sell at chain stores like Rita’s), giant deli sandwiches, fresh egg bagels.

It’s the reason why any trip we plan to New York always starts with several lengthy and detailed discussions about where we’re going to eat and when, so we can be sure to hit all of our favorite haunts and get our fill of our favorite foods before leave.

And even though we’re still months away from our trip out East, you know we’re already plotting. And the other night I went down a rabbit hole when I started finding NY bakeries and delis that ship products overnight and guarantee a little “taste of New York” right in your own home.

Yeah, you know we had to try it.

So we ordered a dozen egg bagels from New Yorker Bagels, a shop promising fresh, hand-rolled authentic egg bagels delivered to our doorstep. Stevie was just a little excited when the FedEx guy dropped the box at our door.

The New Yorker bagels were pretty good, but they still can’t beat the fresh egg bagels from B&B Bagels in Bohemia that Richie used to go and pick up for us every morning when we would visit. I mean, we’re not complaining, but we’re still shopping around and doing some taste testing.

And at least we know we can count on Stevie’s sister Michele to send us a care package of fresh egg bagels every Christmas. If we could just find a way to make them last more than 3 days. 🙂

Suggestions welcome.

Day 105 – New York on the brain

Keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing.

And this is where the words get stuck. It’s getting late, the kids are barely in bed, my eyes are heavy, and I just can’t get my brain to cooperate and put these swirling thoughts in any sort of sensible order.

If you want to know the truth of it, I’ve got New York on the brain. We booked tickets for a trip this summer. It will be our first trip out East since Richie & Diane’s house was sold, since we wrapped up the details of the estate and said our goodbyes. I think we’ve sort of been avoiding a trip because we both know it’s going to be hard–going for a visit and not having the old house to go back to. And honestly it’s been easier than it should have been to avoid the trip. We’ve just been so busy. Isn’t that always a great excuse?

But now we’re going. It’s going to be fun, because we’re heading back to Concordia for a Band Bash reunion. Stevie’s getting some of the old bandmates back together, and we’re excited to see everyone and be back on campus for awhile and to get a chance to tap back into the place we love so much and miss every day.

Every damn day.

But it’s always bittersweet to go back too. I mean, we’re not surprised. We’ve been 12 years gone. But somehow everything has changed and nothing has changed. We just left yesterday, but we’ve been gone a lifetime.

And even if it’s a little painful, it’s always good to go back. It’s a homecoming. I crane my neck to catch that first glimpse of New York City in the tiny airplane window, and my heart keeps a beat every time.

And walking around campus–that place where I celebrated the best days and survived the worst days and learned more about myself than any other place before or since–I always get this feeling that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, surrounded by the people who love me and supported me and taught me how to be my very best self.

Let the countdown begin.

Day 100 – Talkin’ about playoffs

Anyone who knows my husband knows that he’s basically a sports nut. He’ll watch basically any competitive sport–curling, NASCAR, horse racing, boxing, golf, stuff that he really doesn’t even really follow, but is content to sit and watch if the opportunity presents itself.

Then, there are his teams–the Mets, the Jets, the Islanders. And between the baseball season, the football seasons, and the hockey season (that basically feels like it’s yearround), there is always some team that we’re following in this house. Baseball has just begun, so Stevie is obviously excited to see how his Mets are going to do this season. But hockey…hockey is where it’s at right now because the New York Islanders are in the playoffs and beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first playoff game tonight.

So here are a couple of observations I made today:

1. Apparently Stevie made the decision to grow a playoff beard this year. Somehow I missed the fact that he hasn’t shaved since the season ended (4 days today), and he informed me tonight that he’s not shaving until the Islanders either get knocked out of the playoffs or win the Stanley Cup. Yeah, you know there will be updates on this and probably some Skeevy Stevie weird beard pics.

2. Hockey is the most exciting sport to watch with my husband. Stevie gets a little nuts about all of his teams, but man, there’s nothing like hockey. Every time the Islanders score a goal there’s a lot of yelling and running around the room, arms extended to do the airplane. There’s also usually the tearing off of the shirt and flexing of muscles. I snapped a picture of the madness tonight when the Islanders scored the go-ahead goal in the 3rd period. Even Electra wasn’t sure what to think.

Obviously, this is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Day 28 – The Pothole Hotline

So with the exception of missing New York deep in my bones, I really enjoy living in Lincoln. I love its character, its history. It’s safe, affordable, and a really great place to raise kids. It’s a great little city, a fun college town.

But with all of that greatness comes a dark side, a lurking evil that threatens to destroy every man, woman, and vehicle–the curse of the potholes.

You know they joke in New York about the never-ending road construction, how there are always cones scattered around and lanes closed for repairs. But honestly, in a city like New York it makes sense. Take the amount of people, cars, trucks, busses, overall traffic in a city that large constantly punishing the roads and yeah, you’re going to need steady maintenance and repairs. But somehow, it all makes sense. There is noticeable progress. Things eventually get fixed, and stay fixed for a reasonable amount of time.

In Lincoln, it makes no sense, ever. At any given time, you’ll find numerous main roads closed for repair, often all at once, which means you have to get seriously creative cutting through residential neighborhoods to get where you need to go in a reasonable amount of time.

And don’t even get me started on the roundabouts. Someone who has been given way too much decision-making power in this town has a serious fetish with roundabouts. They’re ridiculous and they’re everywhere and we keep hearing about this double-decker roundabout they’re planning to build in the southwest part of town. I found this little video online to show how it’s intended to work…

And all I want to know is how much traffic do they honestly think we have in this town that warrants an elevated roundabout to keep things under control? Hell, people can’t even figure out how to navigate the “No Right on Red” signs at certain intersections, so they sit there, blaring their horns and cursing out the people in front of them who are simply trying to get to work on time while obeying the clearly posted traffic laws.

But all of that has nothing on the potholes. I don’t know what this city did when it paved the streets, but holy hell, you’ve never seen a pothole until you’ve seen a Lincoln pothole. I don’t know if there’s a Guinness Book of World Records category, or some sort of Extreme Home Makeover-style contest we can enter, but we’re definitely overdue.

And I’ve got a theory. I think it’s the beet juice brine. The city has been touting this magical formula of beet juice and salt (which they believe is so amazing they actually hired a lawyer to pursue a patent). They mix batches of the stuff and spray it to “pre-treat” the roads for snow and ice. I think the brine is directly responsible for the monster potholes that materialize in the wake of every winter storm–seeping down into the cracks in the concrete, freezing and destroying the structural integrity of the roads.

Prove me wrong.

It’s gotten so bad, the city of Lincoln has a Pothole Hotline. You heard me. They actually built an app called UpLNK that lets you report things like potholes, icy roads, parking violations, downed trees, and dead squirrels flung into the street by neighbors.

Check this out. Here are a few screenshots of the app with my favorite feature, the Issues Map.

You can upload a report and alert the city to issues that need to be resolved. But the best part? You can add a photo.

A photo.

A photo of the pothole you want fixed.

Of course I downloaded the app, and started testing the functionality, but I see one major flaw. The city didn’t really give any sort of rating system for the potholes. I mean, how are they supposed to prioritize if they don’t have any idea of the severity of the issue at hand. Stevie and I did a little brainstorming and we would like to suggest the following become standard Pothole Reporting Procedure:

STEP 1 – Take a clear photo of the pothole. Be sure to insert yourself into the photo or include a friend in the shot for scale.

I’m thinking, something along the lines of this image captured in 2015 in South L.A. would be most appropriate:

But if we really want to get serious, we have to implement a clear pothole rating system, which leads us to…

STEP 2 – Rate the pothole and provide a clear description of the size, location, and severity. Here are the proposed categories:

* – The CD Skipper – A small pothole that you don’t even see coming, but if you still happen to be rocking a CD player in your car, you’re going to skip a track and get annoyed.

** – The Tongue Biter – You might have noticed this pothole right before you hit it, and it was big enough for you to bite our tongue and spill a bit of coffee on your pants. Annoying, but no lasting damage.

*** – The Tire Popper – You saw this one coming, and if you were lucky enough to avoid it, you might be able to go about the rest of your day in peace. If not, you might have to pop the trunk and change a tire because yours just got shredded.

**** – The Axle Buster – You spotted this one a mile away, but if you’re boxed in with traffic, you might not be able to avoid it. Hope you’ve got the mechanic on speed dial, because you’re probably going to need a little work to fix that shimmy.

***** – The Transmission Drop (AKA The Fender Bender) – You saw it. You braced for it. And then you realized you were likely going to total your car, so you tried to pull some sweet evasive maneuver at the last minute. There’s no chance you or your car are making it out of this one without some permanent damage and emotional distress.

STEP 3 – Get your friends to download the app, and repeat. 

The only way things are going to get better is if we all work together. Let’s do this people. And go!

Day 15 – Something fun is brewing

I’m not going to say much just yet (because quite frankly, I don’t want to speak too soon and jinx it), but something fun is brewing. Send us some positive vibes and I’ll post an update when the plans take shape. Until then, there’s this…