Saturday, February 20, 2010

I'm Not Buying It

I'm not.

For forty days, this year's Lenten Sacrifice--my first real one in years--is that I'm not buying anything I don't need. Exceptions include items for the kids, such as clothes and books. As well as, say, ingredients for something special I want to cook or bake. Or, say, getting the car washed. But beyond that, I'm not buying anything. This means no trips to Home Goods. (Well, I can go. But I won't leave with anything.) And no trips to Target for anything but the necessities. No new random items for the house. No new little or big indulgences... no lipstick or nail polish or magazines or shoes (whimper) or purses (sob).

I'm hoping for a few things to come of this. One: That I can prove to myself that I can truly sacrifice this for forty days. Two: That it will instill some new prudent spending habits in me. For good. Three: That I'll save some money. Four, and most importantly: That I'll finally really appreciate how much I already have.

Four days into Lent, so far so good. I've been to the drugstore, where all I purchased were my dog's meds. I went to the bookstore and walked out EMPTY HANDED. From a bookstore. This is unheard of. I went to Target and only bought what we needed, though I was able to indulge a little retail craving because my Swiffer AND my fireplace screen needed replacing. Had to buy those today. The Swiffer was non-negotiable. The fireplace screen was marked down--and down and down--to only $7.98, so it was worth it, considering our old one literally collapsed into several pieces the last time I moved it.

Life's been all about moderation and balance for me lately. I'm working hard on this in 2010--and beyond. Getting back into yoga in earnest only helps. Since December, I've hit at least two classes a week, now that a favorite studio of mine has opened a new space downtown. I've also barely had much alcohol to drink, determining that it makes me feel dull and lousy overall, and so I don't need it. Although I enjoyed a good glass of wine with dinner out last night, I'm not inclined to buy any for the house. And the remainders of a six-pack I bought for some friends who came over a few weeks ago has lasted until this weekend. I'm much happier when I stick to my usual tea and seltzer routine. I won't turn down a nice cold beer or a glass of malbec once in a while, but mostly it's the clear-eyed life for me.

And so I focus on other things. Like working on the house. We've painted our bedroom, the upstairs bathroom, and the kitchen cabinets. What a difference. Seriously. And in the kitchen, a pot rack and some new curtains really help give the space a new dimension. I've also been religiously watching the Olympics with the kids. Snowboarding is, of course, a winning favorite in our house, especially with my pint-sized snowboarders who worship Shaun White. That Louie Vito kid ain't bad either, and he reminds me somewhat of a very young Angus Young. The kids are fired up to hit the slopes again next week and get their snowy shred on.

I've also been busy with the usual--motherhood, work, volunteer stuff, PTO thingies, report card conferences (STELLAR! Both of them. AMAZING.), three dogs, a little things called marriage, daydreaming about Spring, and marveling over the fact that my Grandmother was just recently given an excellent prognosis after being treated for the past several months for her second bout with cancer. In 2007, she was diagnosed with liver cancer, of all things. And in 2008 she managed to be one of the lucky 10% who beat the odds. 2009 brought a new diagnosis--a different kind of cancer in a different place. But sure enough, Grandma beat it again. She will be 81 this April, and I can't thank God enough for every extra minute he has given us with her.

One thing she has taught me throughout her two bouts with cancer is that acceptance of one's self and situation in life is key. That's not to say we should be complacent. But first, we need to accept at any given moment that we are somehow imperfect, or facing a challenge. And we need to forgive ourselves for it. Once we do that, we achieve a certain level of peace. And only then can we begin heal.

Recently my sister suggested that Grandma try yoga. "But she has!" I said. She was surprised. "Yes," I went on. "Grandma and I used to do yoga on the beach together with a teacher in East Haven," I explained. "When the boys were babies." And then Grandma got sick.

Grandma is well again. Spring training has begun again for baseball. A few more weeks, and I'll be celebrating the sprouting crocuses as well as my birthday, (37! oy vey!). There are lots of yoga classes all around town. I think Grandma might be ready to hit one up again. Maybe we'll go together at an hour I would normally find myself at Home Goods, wandering around and filling up a basket with things I never really needed to make my house a home anyway.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Chutzpah and Cracker Jacks

Yeah, yeah, yeah...I've been neglecting this space lately. I apologize to those of you who have been looking for new posts here. I've been very busy living life offline. And what a sweet life it has been thus far.

Back to business:

This isn't a posting about baseball. Really. Though pitchers and catchers reported to spring training this week, thus increasing the brightness of the light at the end of winter's tunnel by about 5,000%. I could also use this space today to write about the Olympics, or all the little home improvements we've made in the past month alone. (Hot damn! It's amazing what a little paint can do!!! It didn't hurt that we won a $700 Inhabit bedding set from's Holiday Giveaway, either!) I could apprise you of all things mundane and otherwise in the life of Miss Moira and her brood since January, but the truth is, all I really want to talk about today is how I just received a phone call from the New York Yankees.

They were calling me back, in effect, in response to an email I sent them yesterday after receiving another email from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American New England Chapter. In the email from the AAFA, there was a letter from the Red Sox stating that Fenway would once again be offering peanut-friendly designated seating. (!!!) Since the boys and I are Yankee fans, and since Sean is severely peanut/treenut/shellfish allergic, I immediately saw this as an opportunity to tell the Yankees how to run their business. So I scrounged up a couple of email addresses for Steinbrenner and Co., and sent them the following:


My children and I are big Yankee fans, and my oldest son also has severe peanut/tree nut/shellfish allergies. Although we try to make it to at least one game at the Stadium each year, it can be unnerving at times considering the high prevalence of peanuts at the game. We don't expect the world to cater to his allergy, but some situations are trickier than others.

That said, I just received the following email from the New England Chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation. The Sox are offering two games at which allergic children can sit in special peanut-free designated seating. Maybe the Yankees could consider a similar offer for their young (and not so young) allergic fans?

Here's the email:

Dear Red Sox fans,

Once again the Red Sox will be offering peanut-allergy friendly seats at some games.

So far, the Sox have announced this special section for two games: April 25 versus the Baltimore Orioles and September 19 versus the Toronto Blue Jays. These are both Sunday games scheduled for 1:35pm. There are both seats and standing room tickets available at this time.

In an effort to find the safest and most enjoyable area of the ballpark, they have decided again to use the Coca-Cola Left Field Pavilion. This is the same section the Sox used last year for peanut-allergy friendly games. This seating area is highlighted by its majestic view of the game and the city, as well as its proximity to the Green Monster. This section will ensure a comfortable visit to Fenway Park with many amenities close by in one of the more private areas of the ballpark.

Seats within this peanut-allergy friendly section cost $75 and SRO (Standing Room Only) costs $25.

Please contact Mike Lawlor at 617-226-6027 or and leave a phone number where Mike can reach you and how many tickets you would like to reserve. Mike replaced Ryan Latham, who many of you met last year.
Go Sox

(Note, the letter, and not I, stated "Go Sox"!!) ;o)

Thank you so much for your consideration. My son, Sean, and his brother Nolan, also thank you. They absolutely adore Pettitte, Jeter, Texiera, Mariano, et al, even if it is without the peanuts and Cracker Jacks.

Moira Cotlier-Cassell
New Haven, CT

And then I waited, half-expecting a whole lot of nothing to come of this, but certain the Yankees would, at the very least, get back to me. Less than a day later, I received a phone call at 9:20 this morning from the Yankees ADA Manager, which I'm assuming comes under the umbrella of their Guest Services Dept.

I answered the call from the 914 area code, thinking I was going to turn down yet another offer to buy into more services from one of my credit card companies.

"Hi. Moira? This is Carol calling from the New York Yankees."


She had received my email. It had been discussed by management. The topic was not new to the Yankees, and apparently peanut-friendly seating is something that comes up as a potential promotion every year. However, the Yankees' senior management is still uncomfortable with the idea, mainly because the "stadium is now all open-air seating, and peanut shells can still fly from one area to another."

Fair enough. But I pressed anyway.

"Well," I said. "I'm sure management is considering it from a liability standpoint. They'd hate to bill it as a peanut-friendly day and still have a child go into anaphylactic shock." I left out the obvious point that it would be awful PR for the Yankees if that happened, something that is probably more of a concern than liability, actually. "But the Yankees could always offer a disclaimer on tickets for that seating. We all go to the Stadium knowing we could get hit in the head by a stray bat or ball. And I think most parents would be reasonable in expecting that it could not be 100% peanut-safe."

She agreed. "It's something I bring up every year, but management still isn't comfortable with it," she said.

"Look, I'm just me and you're the New York Yankees."

"Well, I work for them, anyway."

"And I appreciate you giving me a few minutes to tell the Steinbrenners and the Yankees how they should run their business!"

We laughed.

"But," I continued, "really I think that if the Red Sox can show their fans at Fenway that they are at least aware that many of their young fans are peanut allergic, and then make accomodations to make the park at bit safer for those fans a couple of days a year, then the Yankees could absolutely make the same show of concern for their fans. What about a box? Could they offer box seating?"

"It depends on who owns the box."

"Maybe at least one owner of a box is a corporation for whom this type of promotion would be a natural tie-in?" I suggested.

"It's certainly something worth exploring."

We chatted for a while. She asked me to keep in touch with her to follow what, if any, progress is being made as far as this goes. And I reiterated that we weren't expecting the world to cater to us. It was more an issue of the fact that the Red Sox seem to care about the kids who can't just go to Fenway without an Epi-Pen on hand; so naturally as a Yankee fan, it is my hope that the Yankees will show the same empathy.

While we may have struck out this at-bat (you KNEW I would make a cliche sports reference in here somewhere, right? I mean, I don't have to apologize for that, do I?), we're going to keep going back to the plate to try again. What's more, I take a little comfort in the fact that the Yankees at least got back to me right away on the issue. And they even offered us a few perks as a consolation. First, they'll be sending out a goody bag of sorts to the boys. Secondly, we were offered a private tour of the entire stadium as Carol's guests. I'll take it! Sean is going to pass out from excitement.

So, I tried. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, yada yada yada. I know the world will never cater to people with allergies, and I don't even think it should. My son wouldn't learn to adapt that way. But this? This is a little different. This is about a sports franchise with more money than several other teams combined putting some of that green where it counts, even if it's just to show the loyal, little allergic fans that they can at least count on the Yankees to make their trip to the Stadium a little safer. Not totally safe--that's impossible. Just...safer, if only because the team simply cares about its fans--especially the kids--more than money, more than PR...

Hey, a kid can dream.


Seany, minus two teeth, at Yankee Stadium, 07/18/09. Yanks vs. Tigers.