Commando Cleanup

I get to clean up the streets of Troy. I really do love doing it especially if I get to wear a cute outfit. I wish I could clean the streets void of any dirty people but I can only remove biodegradable trash. A couple of weeks ago I was “commando cleaning” with my teammates and somebody had the audacity to help us. Just kidding! No one would do that. They are too busy sleeping at 7am. Somebody though stole a roll of trash bags from us while we were commando cleaning. Yes, that is my favorite term now so please refer to me as Ms. Commando Cleanup Aliz. I almost took off down the street after this person but I was giving myself and Peggy (the other commando cleaner) the benefit of the doubt that we just placed the roll out of sight. So much for not going with my gut. I probably saved myself from an assault arrest for beating someone with said roll of trash bags (let’s be honest- the Troy police force wouldn’t even have the “force” to stop me)…I figured he must have needed them so very badly.

1. He had to clean another Troy street.

2. He had to clean his house.

Let me stop before I die laughing. If you have to steal a roll of trash bags, you probably aren’t looking to clean something up. Unless it’s illegal stuff you “mysteriously” got in your home. So if he’s reading this blog after done cleaning up, I hope you know how lucky you are that I didn’t get my hands on you because you would be begging to be set free after being forced by me to clean up all of Troy’s streets with your new free treasure.

33

I vividly remember the night several years ago we got the call that my soon-to-be-a-Marine brother had been in a car accident and wouldn’t make it past the night. His TBI (traumatic brain injury) from the car crushing his skull was too severe and even if he did make it, he would be a vegetable and/or mentally and physically handicapped for the rest of his life. He miraculously made it through brain surgery, a coma and intense physical therapy. Against doctor’s predictions for his life, he now is a marketing manager, back in college, owns his own house and makes our family laugh on a daily basis.

Sadly, another local family wasn’t as lucky as mine.

Gail and Paul Casey from Clifton Park no doubt spent many a restless night worrying about their son’s safety while he was away fighting in Afghanistan. Yet Patrick Casey, 33, didn’t die defending our country. He died defending a friend at a McDonald’s in Washington, D.C. Sucker punched by an assailant still on the loose, he suffered a TBI and never awoke from his coma.

One cannot explain or begin to understand the senselessness of  this tragedy. We are only left with the pieces that have shattered around us. So many people have been touched by this soldier’s life– either while playing football with him at Shenendehowa High School or RPI, touring with him overseas or recently meeting him at a class in George Washington University where he was getting his Master’s degree. Perhaps the only small silver lining in this dark cloud is that many more people will be touched by this young man’s life- literally. His parents gave permission to donate his organs.

While he may be gone way too early in this life, I highly doubt his family and his friends will let his memory fade. Let’s help keep this “gentle giant’s” strength and courage alive by supporting his family this coming Monday at the Gordon C. Emerick Funeral Home in Clifton Park. Calling hours are 4-8 p.m.

Things I Learned This Summer

ABOUT LIFE:

* if you tell the police officer you “have to go potty really really bad, can I go inside while you write my ticket…” you most likely won’t get a ticket.

* leaving the top down on your convertible overnight is never a good idea when it’s supposed to rain.

* having a puppy is kinda like having a kid. It’s great practice.

* traveling, whether to the next city, county or country, is the key to sanity.

* traveling with someone you enjoy spending time with doubles the pleasure.

ABOUT FAMILY:

* don’t volunteer to stay in the same room as your two youngest nieces when the whole family goes on vacation. You will get zero sleep.

* volunteer to stay in the same room as your two youngest nieces when the whole family goes on vacation. Your heart will burst with love.

* brothers don’t appreciate you trying to find them a good Greek girl.

* having a lot of kids runs in the family’s DNA.

* going to the grandparents and parents house just to eat good Greek food still counts as “visiting the family.”

* ignoring your mother’s text messages is not a good idea.

ABOUT MY CAREER:

* admitting that I hardly ever watch tv freaks people out.

* putting a sales job behind you to pursue broadcast didn’t make financial sense but emotionally and professionally, it was a great move.

* having someone tell you they want to get in the business after watching you on-air is a very humbling moment.

* once you do this long enough, you start to play devil’s advocate and tend to look at things more objectively  in general.

* wearing my hair up looks horrible on camera.

* when someone doesn’t understand how I can report for a parenting show if I don’t have children, ask them how can a reporter report on crime without being a criminal? or on politics without being a politician?

ABOUT POLITICS:

* city council meetings in Troy are NEVER boring. Although sometimes you wish they were.

* the political races in Troy this November have a lot of good looking guys from both sides of the aisle.

* there are always two sides to every story.

* getting political signs planted in your yard that you never asked for equals as garage sale signs once you’ve spray painted them.

ABOUT FACEBOOK:

* having a few good, close friends is way better than having a lot of acquaintances/facebook friends.

* never ask what a poke means. You don’t want to know the answer.

* don’t feel bad about ignoring game, or even, friend requests.

* it’s okay to not let people tag you, check you into places or know every tiny detail going on in your life.

* blocking people who continually post negative updates is okay.

* correcting someone’s spelling on Facebook is addictive.

ABOUT HAVING A CONSIGNMENT SHOP:

* multi-tasking on some days means sitting outside on the front steps with tanning oil and a good book in hand.

* threatening the neighborhood kids to behave actually works.

* having a dog with you at the shop is better than a chime at the front door.

* you can re-arrange the furniture/displays/racks as much as you’d like at any moment’s notice.

* being surrounded by beautiful clothes never gets tiring.

ABOUT FISHING:

* how to reel in a really really big fish.

* going fishing with a strong guy who has really big muscles doesn’t mean he’ll reel in the fish for you no matter how much you whine that it’s “too heavy” and your arms “hurt really really bad.” He would make a bad police officer.

* multitasking on some days means putting the fishing rod in it’s holder and sleeping under the sun’s rays with tanning oil slathered on.

* guys take their fishing very seriously.

* but really it’s all about one jerk on one end waiting for a jerk on the other end!!

My GIANT confession

**Disclaimer: If you are or aren’t an avid NY Giants fan or hater, you may or may not enjoy the following article. Read at your own risk.**

I love reporting. I love meeting random strangers and then interviewing them. It’s like a drug. Very addicting. My aim is to be very authentic and so if a story doesn’t require a lot of background info, I prefer to go into the interview very spontaneously. I don’t discuss in detail ahead of time the exact questions I’ll ask…one, because if the person I’m interviewing is so obsessed with what they have to say to me, they either freak themselves out or they sound too rehearsed. And two, because sometimes I don’t even know the specific questions I’ll ask. Luckily, it comes very natural to be inquisitive by nature and (pat on the back) I’ve done pretty well so far at it. One thing I always do, however, is get the person’s name and title on camera before we start the interview and ask them to look at me *not* the camera. To ease any lingering tension as they step into the spotlight, I often jokingly remind them “as hard as it is to look at me, try to do it anyways” (that’s pretty funny, right?)…well, last summer I got the chance again to head out to the Giants training camp right here in Albany. It was my second year going to the camp and I was looking forward to it because not often do I get to report on sports. While I like the idea of sports, I’m not a sports fanatic by any means and am not that knowledgable about sports in general… unless we’re talking hockey. Don’t get me started. I love the fighting action!

My football-loving photographer lets me know when we get there that we’ll be interviewing the players themselves as he was able to get us press access. This should be fun, I thought! Not because, well, they’re the freakin’ NY Giants but because I have no idea one player that plays on the team. I wasted the drive over checking out the local and national news on my phone instead of a Google crash course on Giants and football. I mean, I don’t even get football. I can never see where the football is. I forget which way the players are supposed to be running. I cringe when I see these GIANT (no pun intended) men gladly running straight into each other. How is that sportsmanlike?! I like watching it, don’t get me wrong. It’s just harder to understand. At least with hockey it’s pretty easy to follow. Really hot guys with great bodies fight each other…um, I mean, athletes with missing teeth skate around and slap a puck around the rink until it eventually lands in the net either by sheer luck or a stupid move from the other team.

I think to myself I can’t admit that I don’t know any one on the Giants team. I know there’s someone famous on the team. His name slips my mind but I need to interview him so I can put it on my demo reel and one day someone somewhere will be impressed. Touchdown! My photographer sets up in the corner outside the dining hall they’ll be coming to eat breakfast at before practice. I confess to him that I really don’t know all that much about football. He doesn’t look shocked but promises to help me out with names, stats and topics. Then they start to come. Some of the biggest boys I’ve ever seen in my life. Thank goodness I wore my 3″ heels, now I can at least look them in the chest, I mean, eyes. I proceed to go find my victims. I later found out you’re supposed to go through their handler. Maybe that’s why they seemed so surprised I was going in for the kill on my own. It worked to my advantage though. I didn’t give them time to say no. I just marched them to our corner set-up and went for it.

Out of habit, I went with the first question I always start with.

“First and last name, please?” I asked this shy, lanky lad in front of me while wondering if he’s the waterboy.

“Um, Eli Manning,” he responds hesitantly as if I’m kidding around with him.

Oops. I recognize that name. He’s some famous football player. I keep going.

“And your official title?”

“Ummm…”

quiet pause

“…quarterback for the NY Giants?!” He lets out a bewildered laugh.

I can feel my photographer laughing behind me.

I want to smack myself upside the head with the microphone. Correction: that brick wall by us sounds better. I continue on with the interview and realize I won’t be able to make this package about the upcoming season because I don’t know anything about the upcoming season. So I start questioning him about his love of the game, growing up and when he realized he wanted to play football, and other personal questions. I realized while I was a fool for not preparing myself for this interview like I should have, I’m getting to talk to him about his personal life something which he didn’t seem to talk about often.

I eventually let him go and continue to interview the other players. This time letting my photographer point out the player by name and then relaying important facts to me about them. But I like the personal route I mistakenly stumbled upon with Mr. Manning and take that stance with most of the other players. And one of my last interviews made the entire trip worth it.

After the interview, he leaned toward me and whispered, “I have to ask you…is that your real eye color?”

I wonder if my sparkling green eyes somehow turned a different color during the interview. I assure him they are mine and they are real.

“Your eyes are so intense and beautiful, I could hardly look into them while you were interviewing me. I didn’t want you to think I was avoiding looking at you.”

*sigh*

I now scream like a football fanatic whenever Jonathan Goff’s name is mentioned during a game…I may never let myself forget a rookie mistake out on the field, but my eyes never forget a compliment!

the (green) apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

I have a phobia of red apples. Those red waxy ones that look like candles? Just thinking about them makes me cringe. I always imagined choking to death on the nasty waxy (sorry, no other word can more aptly describe it) skin and from there grew my phobia. I am infatuated with green apples however. Especially the Granny Smith ones…mmm. The crispness, the juiciness, the flavor. Wow! Hence, the need to make sure I clarify that I’m only referring to green apples, not red ones, when I speak of apples. Moving on.

“You’re just like your father,” sighs my mother sometimes. I take it as a compliment. I mean, she loved him enough to marry him so it’s proof that she has good taste, right? I think though it’s said more in lovely exasperation at how alike my dad and I can be at times–usually when it’s something she doesn’t seem to “get”. Example? Our intense love of books. I think it’s genetic. Growing up, my dad always said, “Leaders are readers.” And since I hated being in the kitchen with my Greek sisters, mother and grandmother, I wanted to read as much as possible so one day I could join the men at the table discussing (as only Greeks can do) politics and religion. Reading was much better than cooking I decided at an early age. I read everything I could. I mean everything in sight. I still do it to this day without even realizing it. A lot of times it’s subconscious. Every sign that comes into my line of vision I have no choice but to read. It’s caused me to be able to speed read and still retain a large portion of what I read. The thirst for more knowledge is never ending in this tiny little brain of mine.

My dad got me hooked on the library book sales and every so often I’d meet him next door to the courthouse downtown (before their book sales moved to the Lansingburgh branch) and we’d go through the shelves. Throwing out a title or topic we thought would interest the other. He knows I like broadcast journalism, writing, speaking (shocker, I know) and such topics. I know he likes…well, basically everything but novels. He hates novels. I picked that up from him I think. Very rarely can I read a novel either. I don’t read to be entertained, I read to be informed.

A couple days ago my dad informed me he had picked up some books. That was an understatement. He had packed a 15 passenger van FULL of books. And so the past couple days, we have been a resilient team- going through every single book, reading the title, keeping what we each want, and arranging the rest on the front lawn for a brilliant 10 cent per book sale. Also brilliant? Letting Mom enjoy her out-of-state vacation with the grandkids without telling her what we’re doing to her precious lawn!

Dad and I have spent hours working side by side the past couple days. The quietness of the summer evening punctuated by either of us reading aloud a title we think the other may like. The “keep for ourselves” pile keeps growing. I think of the thousands of books he already has in his library and wonder where we will put these. We’ll find room somewhere. Like a farmer plows his fields, I set up the boxes in straight lines across the lawns as cars start to pull over and avid book readers dig through the boxes and stack as many as they can in their arms. They may be strangers but we feel an unspoken bond over our love of the written word. I excitedly tell people to come back tomorrow as we just got another van full and are starting to unpack those boxes tonight.

The sky loses the bright sun it had all day and I wonder if it’ll rain. Using several large tarps, we covered the boxes after every last bit of daylight had gone. My brother stands by, texting on his Iphone, making fun of us both.

“After all this, I never wanna see another book in my life.”

Dad replies ever so wisely, “Leaders are readers.”

“Not all are, Dad.”

“Yes, they are.”

My brother chimes in: “Was Geronimo a reader?!”

He quickly adds, “And you can’t count smoke signals.”

We all laugh. My brother is kinda sorta funny sometimes.

He continues to make us laugh as Dad and I very nicely discuss how we each think we should place the tarps over the books. My way ended up the wrong way. Not the first time it’s ended up that way. I count the money we’ve made so far. Almost $40! This is fun! We should do it every day! I fill the back seat of my convertible with the books I chose so I can read them while at my shop. I think about the numerous times I’ve told my dad that he had better leave me his books in his will. I want nothing else.

As I head into my parent’s house and see the green Granny Smiths my mom bought sitting on the counter, I think to myself how glad I am the (green) apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

Recalculating…

I texted my dad today: “As your father’s day gift, would you like to drive an hour away to pick up clothing racks for my shop tonight?” I’m half serious, half kidding. He says yes (in fact, he responds: “Yes!!!! Thank you!!!!!!”) This is the least of the crazier things I’ve asked, or told, him in my life. Like that one time I wanted to live on a school bus for as long as possible for a stupid radio promotion. Or the time I told him I was quitting my sales job to follow my dream of being a tv reporter. Fast forward even to last month when I tell him I’m opening a clothing consignment shop in North Troy. Ya know, with all the spare time I don’t have. Unfortunately, once a crazy idea pops in my head, I have to chase it. What I didn’t expect today was a goose chase all over Albany and Schoharie County as my ever-so-patient dad and my not-so-patient self went to pick up his “Father’s Day gifts.”

What happened in the following 6 hours can be summed up in the following: low gas tank, wrong address in gps, back country roads, no cell service, no gps at all, stopping car in middle of back country road to get gps signal, realizing there’s a fawn and momma deer staring at us like we’re crazy, getting gps signal by sticking our phones out the window, losing gps signal, more dirt roads, five u-turns, finding signal, losing signal, and finding it at the last minute to finally make our destination –which took twice as long as it was supposed to. Wow, I pick great gifts for Dad!

I’ve got a Grand Opening in less than 5 days and everything that could go wrong in the past couple days is going wrong. Wasting a whole night driving all over the countryside is the icing on the cake for me. I proceed to take the entire trip back to civilization to vent to my dad about anything and everything going on in my life. There’s laughter, there’s some tears. I get loud, I get louder. I guess the therapy session is all part of his Father’s Day gift package. At one point, I wonder out loud: things happen for a reason, right? That’s what everyone says. Well what if our bad/wrong decisions change the course of fate and what was supposed to happen never did because of our fault? This topic can get pretty deep and I’m too tired for that as we drive along. It’s now dark outside and my stomach is rumbling from no dinner. It feels as if I’ve been gone so long I question if my dog will recognize me. I think about all the things I could have been accomplishing- worse, all the things my busy father could have been getting done. We have one final stop for my job– the tv reporting one, not the shop one–that came up last minute.  Two turns away, we drive past a house with trash by the curb. This is bad. My dad sees an office chair. SCREEEECH. We pull over and sure enough the home owner is outside. He must think we’re nuts as we get out of the vehicle and my dad sits in the chair. What happens next is unbelievable. The homeowner mentions he’s cleaning his place out because he’s moving. My dad asks where. Troy, the homeowner says. NO WAY! I scream at the poor guy, “I’m opening a consignment shop in Troy!” Then as if I’m having an epiphany, I realize I know this guy! NO WAY! We have a mutual acquaintance NO WAY! Then we find out it’s several mutual acquaintances. NO WAY! His neighbor is with him– minutes later, my dad realizes he knows the neighbor from working together in the past! NO WAY! We all chat for a good while about good ol Troy, mutual friends and so many things. NO WAY! I can’t stop myself from saying a couple of times, “what a small world!!” Oh, and NO WAY!

Climbing back into my dad’s SUV, I can’t help but get goosebumps thinking about my earlier emotional conversation with my dad. Do things happen for a reason sometimes even unbeknownst to us why or do our decisions singlehandedly change the future? It seems so miniscule but if we never got lost and turned around and delayed, this chance meeting would have never happened. What a humbling yet exhilarating thought that this happened by “chance”…And all because I decided to get my dad clothing racks for Father’s Day.

High Maintenance, Low Budget

High Maintenance on a Low Budget. I should trademark that phrase. It’s been my slogan for as long as I can remember. I’m pretty sure it started because I have an obsession with pretty dresses and heels so people always assume I’m high maintenance. Well, I’m not. In fact, I was quite the tomboy growing up and loved gloating about the fact that I had a better fort than my brothers- who were, might I add, very jealous of my four actual real walls that stayed together. They would try to sneak around my fort with their friends and break it down. I fought back. Fiercely. Eventually though I started building a Barbie dollhouse in my bedroom instead of a fort in the backyard. It didn’t help that my bedroom was Precious Moments theme and *all* pink (walls, carpet, curtains- you name it) …oh, and every family picture you see of my childhood, my mom has my sisters and I in pretty dresses and big beautiful bows on our heads. Yes, some years we matched. No, none of us are twins. While I still wear pretty dresses and skirts nowadays, I also have that untamed, wild streak running through my blood from my younger childhood. Case in point: I have a list going of everything I’ve done in skirt & heels- riding a motorcycle, shooting guns, walking my dog, playing laser tag, cleaning the streets of Troy, painting my clothing shop… I’ll spare you the rest of the list.

So when I decided on a whim last month to chase a great opportunity (and at the same time, a dream of mine) and open a consignment shop, it was no big surprise that it involved clothes. Lots of them. Consigning has really flourished the past couple years in light of the economic hardships a lot of people are facing. It allows people- men and women alike to make some extra cash on their brand name clothes that they have never/hardly ever wear. It’s the fashionable way to recycle! Not quite content with just that, I’ve also decided to have a boutique section and a thrift section in the shop. So there’s something for everybody, even the furry, four legged family members of your family. I’m excited about what I hope will be a fashion burst of energy to North Troy and soon all of the Burgh–yes, even all of Troy, can be high maintenance on a low budget!

If you’d like to consign, learn more about the shop (or even give me advice on being a small business owner!), please feel free to reach out to me!

Introduction

Who am I? Aliz Koletas

What do I do? Report for Parentology every Sunday at 10 am on channel 10

Where I grew up? North Troy

When I said my first word? Not until I was almost 5. Now I can’t shut up.

Why a blog? Since the Greeks invented blogs, why not?

Growing up, sometimes I was embarrassed about being Greek. Maybe it was the big nose, the loud family, the strong accents or the whole eating-a-lamb’s-brain-for-fun. I didn’t really “get it” when my dad would repeatedly talk about King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermoplyae or how two of his mom’s siblings died during World War II due to hunger. Something happens when you get older though and you start to appreciate your heritage. It’s part of who you are and you can’t hide from it. You must embrace it. Once that happens, life starts to make more sense.

That’s how I think of Troy. I remember growing up and quietly admitting that I was from “around” Troy. Residents were leaving the city. People from other states referred to it as “Troy-let” … and Downtown wasn’t a place you’d go to hang out at with your family on a Friday night. But I’ve slowly witnessed in the past decade or so a revitalization in Troy that I personally have never seen before. Although a lady never tells her age, I readily admit I’m not old enough to know if Troy has seen better days than the present. Maybe it’s the optimist in me that says the best days are yet to come. Yes, there are still some things that could be better in the city. I feel as if now though there’s a sense of community that has me wanting to embrace it with wide open arms.

I don’t know if it’s possible to be “too” Greek but this Hellenic girl is loudly proclaiming her Trojan heritage! Zito Troy! Long live Troy!