what I learned from writing my first book

It’s In The Bag

gayle martz koko and kartu

Gayle Martz and her fur babies, KoKo and Kartu.

First of all, I wanted to thank my friend, Gayle Martz who I worked with doing the voice of Paris the Parrot, in an episode of her animated series, Travel Tails. Gayle is the writer of the book, It’s In The Bag which talks about her extraordinary life and the many efforts involved in getting the Sherpa Pet Carrier, the first soft- sided carrier bag, to be accepted by major airlines, in order to bring your pet dog or cat with you while traveling. This was vital for anyone who wanted to travel with their pet dog or cat and didn’t want them placed in a hard sided restrictive pet carrier or worse, in a compartment near baggage. Read more

Alison Rand A Place Called Grace

SOS to Dea:

dogterI have a neighbor who lives in a building next door whom Dea, my poodle and I saw multiple times a day as we both walked our dogs in the nearby Riverside Park. Her dog, a German Shephard mix was a sweet and docile dog who was also a therapy dog to children who have emotional problems. Dea loved to sniff her face and butt and this dog was always respectful and friendly to Dea allowing her to do all the sniffing without even a grumble. My neighbor was attached to her dog like an appendage just like I am to my wonderful dog, Dea.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that my neighbor’s dog had terrible difficulty walking as her legs would slide almost like she was skiing on the pavement. I observed that she was wearing special pads on her paws and I asked my neighbor what they were for. She told me to help her dog to not slip on the pavement. “Is it helpful?” I asked, so hoping that it was. She said “yes, a bit.” Then suddenly a week or so later I saw my neighbor across from her building with her dog who was lying on the ground. She mouthed to me that her dog couldn’t get up. I felt a pang of terror inside of me as I witnessed my neighbor getting her dog into a car with the help of the driver, to take her to the Vet. Read more

Alison Rand A Place Called Grace

A New Redo

a new redoLast summer during one of the ebbs of the corona virus I took Dea away for a four-night trip to Connecticut, for the first time out of New York City. It was ideal weather and I couldn’t wait to get a short break from the city. On the second day there I had a freak accident of which I still don’t understand why or how it happened, but the joint below my big toe became so swollen and inflamed, I couldn’t walk and even lying down in bed was too painful. I was in agony and it was as close to level 10 pain as I had ever felt.

I was alone with Dea in a hotel in Ct.! For the first time ever, I hadn’t brought with me any of my usual “what ifs” such as Advil or even Tylenol, and the hotel concierge said that I needed to go to the ER because I was in too much pain. Dea came with me in her Sherpa bag, and we were in the ER until 5 AM-finally being sent home with one pain pill and an incorrect diagnosis (it was not pseudo- gout) but rather “trauma” to the joint. That same morning, we returned to NYC. It was awful, scary and exhausting.

Last week, Dea and I bravely travelled back to the same hotel in Ct. for a new two-and-a-half-day getaway. That may not sound stressful in the least, but for me it was a necessary do-over otherwise I might continue to think about the dreadful experience from the previous summer and never go back. I have become the kind of person who needs to get back up as quickly as I can after a figurative fall or a real fall so I knew it was fundamental to return to this lovely get away an hour from the city. I had to rewrite the script of the last summer, no matter what it took.  Some people thought it was brave including the wonderful hotel manager with whom I had become friends. She couldn’t believe that we would ever return there after what happened last summer. We did.

However, this time, I packed all the usual “what if’s” I could think of for both me and Dea. I felt as if I had packed an entire pharmacy. I was determined to not let anything hamper this needed two-and-a-half-day trip. I even packed a can of special food for Dea just in case she had any stomach disturbances. She didn’t. Read more

Alison Rand A Place Called Grace

A swing in the air.

parkI’ve had such a craving for something for a while. No, it’s not a moist rich piece of chocolate cake or perfectly al dente and succulent spaghetti carbonara. And while it is good news that we are able to remove our masks outside, if fully vaccinated, it wasn’t that longing either.

A few month’s ago, my new oasis right outside my apartment building in NYC opened. It was a new park on Manhattan’s Upper West Side called Riverside Park South and it became my refuge, along with Dea’s (my dog) during the height of the pandemic. While I wrote about it a number of months ago, since then Dea and I have walked down every path in all directions, that leads to the Hudson River and then at the end of our mile plus walk, we briskly walk back up on one of the twisty white uphill paths until we find our perfect bench to sit on at the end. But, one place we had yet to frequent was the swing area which holds about 18 swings, some with bucket seats for younger children and the others with a seat without a back for older kids. Read more

Alison Rand A Place Called Grace

My Valentine Gift

covid-19This past Valentine’s day was unsurpassed. I was allowed to try and book a covid-19 vaccine appointment on-line on the city and the state-run sites. It would be the best Valentine’s gift ever (and for me that is special because my middle name is Valentine- yes, it’s true). I even began to imagine being able to travel again, maybe going back to see my friends in glorious and gorgeous Italy, one day soon. I got up extra early and offered for my dogter, Dea, to sleep in but she was up with me ready to play. At 8 A.M., the site officially opened to those who have comorbidities, and I was at the ready, my first needed cup of coffee in hand.

I went on one site after the other and they all said “no appointments available. Please try later.”  Oh no, despair so early, I thought. Then I found a site that took me to the Javits Center in NYC for available appointments. I was in luck or so I thought. I went to the appropriate site but it hadn’t been updated at 8 AM or even at 8:30 to include my group (comorbidity) so I couldn’t even attempt to try. I paced all over my apartment, upset at the system. I saw there was a phone number and tried that. I was on hold for a long time before a representative said, “sorry we can’t help you with the Javits Center appointments. Let me see if there are any appointments at the public hospitals.” I waited with baited breath. “Sorry, there are no appointments available,” she said.

Back to the site for The Javits Center and voila, my group with comorbidities was finally added.  I tried about 35 times in the next hour, refreshing the system over and over and answering the basic questions time after time. It always said,” system too busy, try again later.” Read more

Alison Rand A Place Called Grace

Is dating during the pandemic an oxymoron?

dating during a pandemicI sometimes wonder what the point is of dating during the pandemic. Sure, there are many reasons to try because in lockdown or even now, in NYC so many of us feel isolated at times and eager to connect with others. However, if I am being honest with myself, this “new normal” during the pandemic isn’t much worse than the “old normal” dating days of on- line dating pre- covid-19 where hoping for a good relationship and wanting to trust that the person is authentic, is always paramount. So that has not changed even though our world has.

Since my last serious relationship ended a few years ago, it has been difficult and feeling almost impossible to meet anyone whom I consider a normal, viable, possible mate.  Is it me? Is it being in NYC? Others think it should be easy to “meet someone” because there are so many people here. I remember when I lived in Rome, Italy, many years ago, I met a new possible boyfriend just walking down the street or in the gym that I frequented. It was so easy. Now not so much. Read more

Alison Rand A Place Called Grace

My new oasis during the dark days of the pandemic

deaClick here to view this post and you will see an audio player with which you can hear Alison read this post.

Dea, my poodle dogster, and I are so fortunate. We live next to the new Riverside Park South addition to the already exiting Riverside Park South on NYC’s Upper West Side. It had been a project in progress for over two years and just a short time ago this new part of the park opened to the public. It is my new oasis, a real refuge from the anxiety of feeling hermetic and bottled up in my apartment. It’s a place to just breathe a sigh and try to relax during these dark days of Covid-19, even if it’s for only a short time.

All during the early days of Covid-19, Dea and I took our daily, and very necessary walks in Riverside Park, trying for four miles a day. We had witnessed construction that never appeared to evolve into anything. There was an abundance of dust, soot, grit and workmen smoking all over the park and then, on one recent day, the gates and blockades suddenly came down and opened. It was like we entered OZ, an entirely new world, but without the wicked witch. Even though we are living with Covid, being in this new park feels magical and surreal.

Nature, for me, has always been my savoir from stress and anxiety and with this new addition to Riverside Park South, there is a feeling of being closer to nature. On the top of the promenade, there are gardens with purple and red flower bushes dispersed throughout, and so many new benches for me and Dea to try out. Some benches are facing the flowers and others are near the  two extra-large wooden picnic tables. For Dea and me, the best ones are facing the river with an unobstructed view. Read more

what I learned from writing my first book

Our four-night vacation

Dea in Sherpa bagI am a planner and I planned this four night three and a half day break from the city (Manhattan) with my dog Dea. We were going not far but far enough that it felt like a real break in the action- to a dog friendly hotel in CT. 

As usual, I packed way too much but, in all fairness, I had to bring some of Dea’s favorite squeaky toys, especially her turquoise elephant and giraffe rope toy, an abundance of wee- wee pads, and her kibble all measured out into separate bags along with a can of soft food to mix in.  Plus, cookies, of course, for both of us.

We were excited to exit the city (Manhattan) after being in quarantine since March.  We got there easily in a car and the hotel looked pristine and elegant and all the hotel workers wore masks along with the guests, now mandatory for both. The hotel even had an Illy coffee machine in the lobby. If any of you have read my book, A Place Called Grace, then you will remember how I needed my one and a half cups of super strong coffee each morning. Seeing this machine made me feel immediately contented and relieved.  Read more

what I learned from writing my first book

My new daily ritual

Dea in parkFrom an article by Alison on ThriveGlobal.com

How I now try and see the world through different eyes-my dog Dea’s

I, like so many people am an exercise enthusiast. I used to go to the gym every day. No matter what. It was my all-purpose place to go to, knowing that at the end I would get a burst of endorphins that would sustain me throughout the day and give me that essential sense of calm.  In addition, there usually was the same group of neighbors that would work out at a similar time so we would all chat, after our routines, giving us the feeling of community.

As we all know, at least in NYC, the gyms have been closed since mid-March due to covid-19. In the beginning I was like an addict without her fix. What would I do? How could I keep in shape? What could I now eat without gaining weight?  Mostly how could I get my dose of daily endorphins? Of course, it was a godsend then to not know that the gym would still not be open at the end of July in NYC or without any timeframe given for reopening; it would have been too much to bear.

Read the full article on Thrive Global.

The birthday girls.

Dea and I share two very different experiences in NYC during the pandemic

deaMy amazing dog, Dea had an appointment yesterday morning. SHE got an appointment at her “doggie hairdresser” or groomers. Wow is she lucky even though she pretends it is a day of doom and gloom. But this time, during the covid-19 pandemic, it was like she was a secret agent being passed into a safe house. When we arrived at the store for her appointment, as Dea and I were waiting outside, I called the store to tell them we were there and then a hand wearing a glove suddenly appeared as it stretched itself outside the door to take Dea’s leash from me. The door closed and Dea was safely ensconced inside. It happened so quickly that Dea didn’t have time to react as she usually does with her sudden worrying behavior, that she knows pulls at all my mommy heart strings every time, to get her out of there- that is until the second I leave. From that moment on, her body posture and tail raise up and she begins to play with the handler. What a little actress she is. (They tell me that every time I come to pick her up when she is finished). Read more