Apr 23, 2010

Serendipity and my cousin Karin

OK...so this is either serendipity or signs that my memory is seriously failing me. I saw my cousin, Karin, online last night on Facebook and IM'd her and let her know that "I was thinking about bloggining about you tomorrow." She said "Really?" I said "Yes!!!" Anyway, I ended up writing most of this blog last night and am just putting the finishing touches on it now. Yes, it's 5:28am.

NOTE: For those that know about my insomnia, I did sleep last night. I woke up at 5:06am, which spells victory because I didn't wake up during the night.

Karin's dad and my mom are brother and sister. And, our shared grandparents were Lillian and Al(exander). When he became a great grand-father when my sister's oldest was born, the family gave him the moniker Pop Pop Al. And then, if self-monikered is a word, he self-monikered himself Pop Pop Alexander the Great-Grandfather. He was about 90 at the time and had just stopped writing and lecturing in Dermatology, so he had most definitely earned the moniker of his choosing.

I could also write about how both Karin's dad and my dad are named Stephen, are psychiatrists, and are pretty fanatical about photography, but that's perhaps a story for another time....just don't tell my mom, I'm telling you. OY!

I should add for context that Karin grew up in Berkeley and I (if you don't know) grew up in NY. We saw eachother at least once or twice a year, until life started to get crazy and we were all coming and going in different directions. Sadly, I haven't seen Karin in over 5 years. Her adorable son, just turned 5 and I've never met him (boo hoo, boo hoo...see more about our song further down in the blog). I actually think the last time I saw her was at grandpa's funeral in 2004, just weeks shy of his 99th birthday.
Anyway, last night, Karin and I chatted about some stuff that I'll talk about later in this post, but she said "You know, I always think of G'ma & G'pa when I hear the word serendipity because I learned the word from them." (or, maybe she said they always used to say it.) Anyway, I wrote "What?" "What?" "Really?" She wrote back "Yes, really!" Either I totally forgot that they used to say serendipity. Or, it's totally serendipity that Karin associates that word with them. Maybe it was their thing. (I mean that light-heartedly).

Anyway, Karin seems to enjoy my love of words. Or, at least humors me and plays along with me when I go off on my play on words comments on Facebook. Actually, I would imagine that Karin's brother, Jay, likes words, too. He has a PhD in Rhetoric from Berkeley. But, those words are much longer, have more syllables, and re amore esoteric! (esoteric, btw, was another of Grandpa's favorite words). Also, as I type, I think Grandpa used to to pronounce it "syl-LAH-bulls".

I'm trying to remember out how old we were at the time...maybe 10 and 11 (one of us is a year older than the other...and it isn't me) and we were sitting in my parents car on Little Neck Parkway outside of Ray's Italian restaurant. I'm guessing there was a wait for a table and we were sitting in the car. Maybe it was raining outside. I don't remember. Ray's was a small, no frills, no ambiance restaurant that had amazing food. I can still remember the first time my mom let me order my own portion of their awesome lemon chicken. And, for some reason, as I sit here typing, I remember their wonderfully crusty Italian bread with lots of sesame seeds on top. To weave in serendipity, this just brought to mind the sesame breadsticks Grandpa used to eat with his nightly Martini.

Anyway, while sitting in the car, Karin and I wrote a song. See, I guess I always liked music (depsite no talent). I know I've dabbled in writing lyrics before, but this song that Karin and I wrote that night was the whole shebang, music and lyrics. So, like I said, we were about 10ish give or take, sitting in a car, waiting for a table at a restaurant. No clue how we came up with the idea for this song about horses. Imagine if you will, a song like "Ten Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed", but about horses dying. I know that's horribly morbid, but that's what the song was about. First verse..."10 little horsies in the stable...." The melody is in my head as vivid as it was when we first sang it. And, the chorus was, well, a chorus of "Boo hoos." Actually, I think the chorus when "Boo hoo. Boo hoo." Profound, I know.

I should mention that Karin actually HAS musical talent. She can carry a tune and played the oboe for many years. Her whole family is musical, actually. Her brother played the cello. Her mom plays the piano, organ, and harpsichord. And, I believe her dad played the oboe, too. Actually, my sister played the violin for a while and was pretty good. So, I guess the music genes jumped over me. Karin's brother is a few months younger than I am and he got his share, so it's not like the family ran out of its supply by the time I was born. I guess I like music enough to make up for the fact that I missed the gene.


Karin's dad, as I mentioned, is into photograph. He also took/taks a lot of home movies. For now, I'm talking about the ones he took way back when. He recently transferred a bunch to DVD. What a sweet stroll down memory lane. It was great watching the movies with Jeremy, espeically since I was 8 (his age) in the vidoes. There's a great stretch of footage of a bunch of us playing football on Thanksgiving in Karin's backyard. There's also a great bit of us hiking in Joshua Tree National Park. What a trip hearing our little kid voices. Leaving the park, we were rear ended and the damage was caught on tape, including our waiting around in an old gas station for a new rental car and a ride back to the hotel. This was long before the days of video cameras on phones or ones that could be stashed in your pocket. Thankfully, everyone was ok. We were in a staionwagon and were hit by a small car that may have been a Pinto, I don't remember. Luckily, we were all wearing seatbelts and this before it was a given that you wore a seatbelt in a car. Or, maybe it was already a law in California back then. I do remember, even as a 5 or 6 year old, being told that I had to be in a car seat, even though I don't think I had sat in one for years back in NY.

And, I could not hit publish on this post without mentioning the wonderful dance we (Karin, Jay (her bro), Julie (my sis), and I) put on in Star Wars T-Shirts to "Please Mr. Postman." Boy, was that some speci,al choreography and it is forever captured on film, and now DVD. I should also mention that this special performance was in "The Wavy House" not to be confused with "The Pink House". Grandma and Grandpa used to rent a house in The Hamptons every summer. There were a few summers at The Pink House (it was painted pink) and a few at The Wavy House (it had a wavy roof. I think Karin or her dad found the house recently thanks on Google Earth.

My favorite picture of grandma is on the porch of The Pink House. Her hair is blowing in the wind she's smiling and looks like a movie star. And, from where I sit on my couch typing, there's another picture of grandma standing on the beach with a scarf over her head smiling, looking off in the distance, not posing for the camera. That picture is flanked on either side by pictures of her grandchildren and great grandchildren. On one side is a picture of my kiddo and me in Yankee gear at a game up a Camden Yards. On the other side is a picture of my sister, her husband, and their three kids. Karin, please send me a picture of you, Joe, and Milo so I can put it on the same shelf!

I think Karin and I also got our love of chocolate from Grandpa. He used to keep the big Hershey Bars with Almonds in the freezer. It was such a treat to go to his apartment and break off a piece. Every once in a while, when I see the big Hershey bars in the grocery store, I'll buy one. When I do, it always goes into the freezer......

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