Dolce Zitella's Latest Post, Life Lessons

My Dad – the Ad Man

The following is a re-post from June 2016.

Back in the day, my father was a G-rated version of Don Draper – one of the original “ad men” of the 1960’s.  For most of his career, he worked in the advertising department at NBC.  As a child, I didn’t understand what he did, but I surmised it was important because he worked in Rockefeller Center and had a view of the skating rink from his office windows.

Years later, I understood just what his job entailed.  His department was responsible for all the print advertising for the network.  The graphic artists and copywriters created ads and he produced them, by working closely with engravers and typesetters.  He then bought space in the various newspapers and magazines that would run the ads.  Faced with the pressure of constant deadlines, he often schmoozed and negotiated with the printers, all the while cajoling the artists to get them to turn their work in on time.  My father worked long hours.  And he suffered from migraines.

My father’s immigrant father owned a small, independent, neighborhood fruit and vegetable store in Queens, New York.  My grandfather spent his life lifting and carrying crates.  Despite how tired my father must have been from his long work week at NBC, he sometimes helped out at the family store on Saturdays, and I doubt he and my grandfather ever talked to each other about work.  I’m not sure if my grandfather understood the power of the media or saw the work my father did as meaningful.

When my father retired, he traded in his suit and briefcase for a set of golf clubs.  These days, he goes out to breakfast with the ROMEOS (Retired Old Men Eating Out), wearing the Life is Good baseball cap I gave him a few years ago.  He thought the slogan was a reference to his retirement.  But it was also meant to acknowledge how hard he worked to give our family a good life.

Dad

 

Thank you, Dad.  Happy Father’s Day.

 

 

 

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Life Lessons, Mothers and Daughers

How Do You See Yourself?

A collective groan came from the women in my office – myself included – when we recently found out we had to write a self-evaluation for our annual performance review.  Meanwhile, the guys seemed unfazed.  Why were the men so comfortable when it came to tooting their own horns, while we women struggled to recognize our talents and quantify our skills – let alone engage in anything resembling self-promotion?

So, as the guys retreated to their respective offices to write their evaluations, the women did what women do – we came together – to talk and share, and basically buoy each other up.

We put aside basic competencies and all the long hours we logged in at our desks.  Instead, we thought about who the three of us are when we’re not at the office: a mother to a ‘tween and a teen; a preacher; and a writer.  We looked at all the “life stuff” each of us brings to the table.

Hearing my co-workers’ observations reminded me of the way my mother would often compliment me when I was a girl.  When I dismissed her praise, insisting that she couldn’t possibly be objective, she would reinforce it saying, “I wish you could see yourself the way other people see you.”

In the end, I wrote about my challenges and accomplishments.  We all did.  Because when we saw ourselves as our peers see us, we looked pretty damn good.

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Best of Boston, Life Lessons, Pop Culture

New York to Boston and Back

 

The distance between my two homes is about 210 miles.  I’m a New Yorker who lives in Boston.

New York is the home my parents made for me.  All my peeps are there.  The Big Apple’s in my DNA – in the tone and cadence of my voice.  Regardless of where I go, my birth certificate and passport identify me as a native of the greatest city in the world.  Just like the song says, I want to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep…”   We talk fast, and we walk fast, like a type-A personality after a couple of cans of Red Bull.  Go people watching in Times Square and you’ll see what I mean.  My favorite piece of architecture is the Chrysler Building.  Favorite hotel, the Algonquin.  Favorite drink, the egg cream, of course.  Growing up in Queens made me a Mets fan.  For life.  Because I’m of the belief that when it comes to baseball, you stick with your home team, no matter what.

Boston is the home I made for myself.  The day I moved to the Bay State I heard the Standells’ song about the Charles River playing on the car radio, “…Well I love that dirty water, oh, Boston you’re my home, and I was hooked.  I fell in love with the swan boats in the Public Garden, the Citgo sign, and Filene’s Basement.  Despite my proximity to Fenway Park, I am not, and never will be, a member of Red Sox Nation.  I did, however, fall hard for the Bruins.  Apparently my home team rule doesn’t apply to hockey.  We’re called Beantown, The Hub, and more recently “Title Town.”  And the water?  Not so dirty.

My tale of two cities is a love story.  When I’m in New York, it feels like home.  Yet when I leave to go back to Boston, I’m on my way home.  And visa versa.  It may sound confusing, but not to me.  Home is where the heart is.

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Girl Talk, Life Lessons

Don’t Bug Me

Sunday morning, I wake up with the spins.  Instead of going to church, I kneel on the cold bathroom floor praying to the porcelain goddess.  Hazy and dizzy, I crawl back to bed.  This is some bug I’ve got.

On Monday, I swear I’ll never eat again.  But, fearing dehydration, I force myself to drink watered-down juice.  I sleep a lot, awaken drenched with sweat.  The relentlessly-ringing phone saves me from delirium.  Robo-calls alternately congratulate me – I’ve won a 5-day stay at a Florida resort – or warn me there’s a warrant out for my arrest.  And my mother, keeping a long-distance vigil over my weak, limp body, wants an hourly update on my fever – which has climbed from 101.5 to 102.7.

It’s Tuesday and I haven’t showered for two days so I look and feel disgusting.  After a long, hot shower, I still look and feel disgusting but at least I’m clean when I go to the doctor.

She shakes her head.  “You’ve got the flu, all right.  You’ve got it good.”

“But I got a flu shot,” I whine.

She hands me a prescription for Tamiflu.  “Take it with food,” she warns. “It’ll mess with your stomach.”

Wednesday, toast and Jell-O are my only friends.  I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.  The silver lining?  Surely I’ve lost a couple of pounds.  Unable to sleep, I binge watch several TV shows I’m too embarrassed to name.

By Thursday, the medication’s done a number on my stomach.  I must be down four or five pounds.  I drink flat Pepsi and eat graham crackers.  Just not at the same time.  Bored with television, I answer work email.

Come Friday, I’m out of clean sheets, towels, and PJ’s so I muster the energy to go down the basement and do some laundry.  It’s enough to wipe me out; I take to the love seat, wrapped in a fleece blanket, and moan, in between sips of soup.

Sometime over the weekend, I manage scrambled eggs for breakfast, and broiled chicken with soupy mashed potatoes for dinner.  The worst is finally over.

Monday morning, it’s time to rejoin the world, go back to work.  I step on the scale, anticipating my dramatic weight loss.  No!  It can’t be!  The scale has not budged.

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Girl Talk, Life Lessons, Mothers and Daughers

A Red Swing Coat

She stepped out of the taxi, so vibrant, so cute, in her hot pink woolen swing coat.  Her lipstick was a perfect match.  She opened her vintage black patent leather kiss lock purse to pay the driver.  Then she was on the move.  She clearly had places to go.   It was many years ago, but I still remember that older lady in the bubblegum pink swing coat, and how I thought: I want to be her someday.

Now let me preface this by saying that my mom has not yet reached the age of that older lady in the pink swing coat.  She has a way to go yet.  But during one of our recent shopping expeditions, the topic of dressing one’s age came up.

Me, I’m of the belief that looking fashionable has no age limit.  My mother, however, was concerned that the pair of dress pants she was trying on were not exactly age appropriate for her.  “Are they too trendy?” she wanted to know.

Forget that we were shopping in a store that caters to women of a certain age.

“No,” I asserted.  “They fit you like a glove – and you look great.”

She shrugged, “I don’t know…”

vintage-red-swing-coatJust then, the older lady in the pink swing coat came to mind.

“Do you like these pants?”  I asked, “Will you enjoy wearing them?” and before she could answer, I added, “Then who cares what anybody else thinks.”

I shouldn’t have had to convince her to buy the pants.  It’s a shame that we, as women, are always questioning ourselves, especially about our appearance.

As for me, I’m still planning to wear a lively swing coat someday.  But I’m not a pink girl.  So mine will be red.  And with it, I’ll wear lipstick that’s a perfect match.

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Life Lessons, Writers and Writing

New Year, New Plan

writing_2017As I watched the ball drop in Times Square, I thought about New Year’s resolutions.  Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of absolutes.  Like giving up carbs.  Who cuts out a whole food group, cold turkey?  Or vowing to work out five days a week.  Does walking to the bus stop count?

Still, as confetti fell all over 44th and Broadway, I got the same start-over-fresh feeling I had every September when the new school year began.  New notebooks, new pencils… only now I use a keyboard.

It’s been one year since I started my blog, Dolce Zitella.  And as the New Year begins, it’s the perfect time to thank everyone who’s read the weekly blog posts, responded with comments, and recommended the blog to friends.  I truly appreciate your support.

For me, Dolce Zitella has been fun – like having a marathon conversation with the girls.  In contrast, the non-fiction book I’ve been working on for the past several years has been a solitary labor of love.  The subject matter is deeply personal to me, and I’m pretty damn passionate about it.

But here’s the rub – like many of you, my work life is demanding and working late has become the norm.  Every night I work late is a night I don’t get to write.  Between getting home late, keeping up with the blog, and attending to the myriad of things that make up the everyday, carving out enough time to work on the book has been challenging.

Finishing the book in 2017 is not a New Year’s resolution.  It’s my goal.  And with any goal, you need a plan.  So here goes: moving forward, I’ll be writing a new blog post every other week, rather than weekly, so I can devote more time to the book.  Dolce Zitella will still be posted on Thursdays.  I know I can count on all of you to stick with me on this.

And what’s the book about, you may wonder?  Well, that’s another story for another day.

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Best of Boston, Girl Talk, Life Lessons

Taking Tea

Last Sunday was the scene of a Boston Tea Party, of sorts.  Okay, it wasn’t exactly a party since there were only three of us.  And technically, we were southwest of Boston.  But there was tea involved.

With Christmas only a week away, we were exhausted, what with all the shopping, the cooking, the cards… and we needed to take a break.  Which meant taking tea.

fancy_thatWe met up in Walpole, Massachusetts, at a hidden gem called “Fancy That.” This unique tea room offers a wide variety of tea, delicious scones, tea sandwiches, and sweets, in an atmosphere that makes you want to trade in your tunic sweater, leggings, and boots for a costume straight out of Downton Abbey.  We truly felt as if we’d been transported to another time and place.

For two luxurious hours, the three of us harried gals sat sipping tea, (I chose a jasmine earl grey called “Buckingham Palace Garden Party Tea”) nibbling on lady-like sandwiches with the crusts cut off, and delicate confections.  We chatted and laughed and recharged our batteries.

My usual remedy for being overbooked, overworked, and overwhelmed is to drink more coffee which only speeds my heart rate as I rush around trying to do just about everything faster.  Who knew I could find such serenity at the bottom of a tea cup?

The next time you’re feeling the pressure, take a few minutes, and take tea!

http://www.afternoontea.com

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