Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dear Next Door Neighbor

Dear Next Door Neighbor,
It was pleasant enough to meet you the few brief times that we've crossed paths, and I'm sure you're a lovely person all around. You're not loud, and you've never complained about the occasional times that Jonathan may scream like a girl at 6:00 in the morning while he plays Wii.


Ground beef sauteed with onions mixed with patchouli and pot is a smell that I never, ever need to smell again.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

The New Kid

I began a new job this week. Starting a new job always leaves me a little off balance, and I've started more than my fair share of new jobs (One of these days I'll outline them all for you. It's a full time job to list them, anyway). For me, the start is always mix of thrill and trepidation, anticipation and apprehension. Who wants to be The New Kid, anyway? It's much nicer to be The One on the Inside. It's a challenge to enter into a new environment, balancing the appropriate amount of humility to show I'm not a jackass know-it-all (when I sure as heck don't know it all) with the poise to instill confidence that I can do the job I was hired to do. My intuition is in full gear--not only do I need to learn the basic facts of the new position, but I've also got to quickly recognize the more subtle things: What's the corporate culture? Who are the formal, and sometimes more importantly, informal leaders? If the boss' door is shut, does that mean stay away or c'mon in, just knock first? And where in the world is the bathroom?

I'm not turning my first week on the job into some grand allegory. I'm just saying it's a challenge on a lot of levels, and exhausting in a unique way that comes back with each new position. Maybe one of these days I should stop starting.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Wouldn't Do That if I Were You.

What's that? You want my opinion on something? Always happy to oblige.
Here's my Unrecommended List:

  • Popping wasabi peas into your mouth without being fully aware of what you are eating. I also don't recommend eating wasabi peas at all while you're trying to make small talk with a person you just met.
    This is especially true if the latter part of this un-recommendation is in play.

  • Wearing flip flops in the rain in NYC.
    It's a bit of an equation: crap on the sidewalk + water = liquification > my tolerance of said liquified substance on my bare feet. And yes, I just realized that I have previously posted about excrement and flip flops and their convergence on my feet. Perhaps I should unrecommend wearing flip flops altogether.... nah.

  • Making eye contact with the man on the subway who just took a bite out of his beer can. Or asking him if he wants to share some of that fine lookin' malt beverage.

  • Shots of Easy Cheese, straight up. Matthew.

  • Fanny packs.
  • Allowing yourself to talk yourself into wearing shoes that pinch. Oh, they're not that bad, and I'm not walking that far... Yes. They are. And Yes. You are.
  • Eating those mysterious styrofoam chips that come with pad thai. What are those things? And why do I taste one each time I order, thinking that maybe this time they'll taste like something other than crunchy air?
  • And finally, I unrecommend waiting two weeks between blog posts. Sorry about that!

Monday, September 21, 2009


The change of which I speak is the change from living life as a painful test to prove that you deserve to be loved, to living it as an unceasing “Yes” to the truth of that Belovedness. Put simply, life is a God-given opportunity to become who we are, to affirm our own true spiritual nature, claim our truth, appropriate and integrate the reality of our being, but, most of all, to say “Yes” to the One who calls us Beloved. The unfathomable mystery of God is that God is a Lover who wants to be loved. The one who created us is waiting for our response to the love that gives us our being. God not only says: “You are my Beloved.” God also asks: “Do you love me?” and offers countless chances to say “Yes.” That is the spiritual life: the chance to say “Yes” to inner truth. The spiritual life, thus understood, radically changes everything. Being born and growing up, leaving home and finding a career, being praised and being rejected, walking and resting, praying and playing, becoming ill and being healed—yes, living and dying—they all become expressions of the divine question: “Do you love me?” And at every point of the journey there is the choice to say “Yes” and the choice to say “No.”

-Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved

Monday, September 14, 2009

Her Mother's Daughter

It takes on a whole 'nother level of "I'm not old enough for this," when your daughter asks you the same questions you can remember asking your own mother.

Mom, when will I be old enough to go places by myself?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

And to Think I Would Have Guessed it was "Spelling"

Jonathan's note to me today:

Dear Mom,
My favrit class in school is Jim.


And Hey, The Kiddos are Back in School

Chloe: Third Grade Jonathan: First Grade

(And while that bright spot on the top of Chloe's head may be evidence of a poorly planned photo and flash reflection, I'd like to think that it's simply her zeal for learning bursting forth from her eager brain on the first day of school. An actual lightbulb idea, perhaps.)

Two Terrible Pictures; Two Quintessential Moments

Since Matthew and I have yet to create our spy camera gear, I'm always a day late and dollar short when I see an event I'd like to capture on film and share with you. Here are two perfect examples of 1. why I love this city and 2. why I need to get on that spy gear project.

A well-known piano store is just down the block from work and school. This week I walked the block behind the store and heard some intricate piano music streaming from the loading dock. I peered in and saw there in the dim light a loading dock worker taking a little break to share his music with the pallets, dumpsters, and me.

That's right. Pink poodles. Two of them. They must have just had their hair did, because I've seen them before, and the pink has never been quite so brilliant.

Friday, September 11, 2009

One Woman's Trash is Another Man's... Trash.

He was youngish, mid-twenties, maybe, and carrying only a Libman broom that had obviously seen some use but still had the tag attached (that's how I knew it was Libman, you see, lest you think I spend my spare time learning to identify cleaning tool brands by sight). He approached me with a British accent and all politeness.

"Excuse me, but might you have some spare change? I'd like a coffee, and they tell me it's 90 cents." He nodded over toward the donut cart on the corner.

Something about the combination of his broom and his accent struck me. I pulled out my change purse and tipped the contents in his hands, smiled, said, "Enjoy your coffee, " and made my way to move on down the sidewalk as he sorted through the change.

Then I heard him call after me, "Oh, excuse me?" I turned and saw him following me.

"Your Lego," he said, and held out his hand, a small flash of red visible.

I held out my own hand, and he dropped the single brick into it.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Vandalism Evangelism

New York, Meet Michigan

They really are quite fond of you, NY. They might even Heart you.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

School Shoes are Just Too... Not Crocs!

That was a quote from Jonathan as I helped him see that, indeed, his new school shoes were not too small, nor too big, too wide, too black, too high. Eventually he gave up and got to the heart of the matter - School shoes are not Crocs. Especially not cool blue Transformers Optimus Prime Crocs. Sorry, buddy, Crocs are not part of the uniform schedule. I know. I'm the one who enforces it...

It's back to that time of year for me-- the time when all thoughts and energy go toward getting the school back on its feet for the new year. Not that it ever was off its feet, but there are a few weeks in the summer when we all take a deep breath, step back, and consider some bigger picture things for a while. That time is gone now, and our breaths come quick and shallow as detail after detail demands attention. The next 4 weeks or so are my equivalent to an H&R Block accountant's tax season.

So I'm waving goodbye to what has been a good summer, already sighing over the pictures and saying, "Remember when we...?"

PS- When God closes a summer, he opens a Street Sweets truck down the block from work... good grief. Fill your own croissants? C'mon.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sure Do Wish Someone Would Have Told Me Earlier

Seriously. Vince here tells me that if I stop having boring tuna, I'll stop having a boring life!

Watch this one for a little bit... then move on to the remix for some real excitement.

And he does it all with straight face. Love it.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

West Michigan Magic (aka Blonde Ambition)

Yes, we will be blonde (or nearly so--variations on a theme, you see) when we are 80. It's West Michigan magic.

L to R: Michelle, Melissa, Erin, Michelle, Natalie, Holly, Me (Tina, you were definitely missed)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Warning: Objects In Photo are Less Mature than They Appear

This first pic was snapped at Chuck E Cheese last night (Jonathan does not consider a birthday officially celebrated without a visit). It's me with my younger siblings. When in the world did we start looking so grown up? I remember when these two put a stuffed football in the seat of their pants so that it wouldn't hurt when they were spanked.

And I do believe Angela and I have been living in the same house for a few days too many... we showed up for our Chuck E night on the town in almost the same dress.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Small Town Parade, Big Time Benefit

Party Favors. Or is it Potty Favors? Either way, thanks Roto Rooter.

The View From Here

Monday, July 20, 2009

Credit Where Credit is Due

Lake Michigan has some fabulous beaches.

Angela and me. One of us is a member of the country club pool across the road; one of us... is not. Which is which?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

This Sign is for Your Own Good

Because if you put anything other than water in them, these courteous cups turn mean.

Friday, July 10, 2009

You're So Vain, You Probably Think This Blog is About You

(Props to Carly Simon for some more clever songwriting)

But it's not about you.
It's about me. I'm the one who is so vain.
And I've never realized to what extent until these past few weeks. In preparation for LASIK surgery, I'm required to wear my glasses rather than my contacts for two weeks prior. Mind you, my glasses are... outdated? Past their prime? (If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all). I bought them before Chloe was born, which means they're at least nine years old. Nine years, I said. And while they're not thick because I paid the extra 35 dollars to have them squished and polished, they are really the world's thickest coke bottles in thinly veiled disguise. So my eyes... and the area around my eyes... becomes all distorted when you look at them thru my glasses. But I can see more than just the blurry smash of color when I wear them, so that's good.

Anyblind, I've noticed how incredibly self conscious I am wearing my glasses. It feels like I'm not worthy to make eye contact with other pedestrians on the sidewalk. Like people look at me then look quickly away. As if my glasses offend them.

Like someone is calling What Not To Wear right. this. second.

I want to screen print a t-shirt that proclaims "I'm having eye surgery. That's why."And people would read it and nod and sigh, now understanding why a person would make such an horrific fashion faux pas.

What? Cmon. How vain is that? I suppose we all have our things... I know some women who won't leave the apartment with wearing mascara (oh, wait, that's me too), or who won't wear off- brand jeans, or who hide at home when they have a cold sore on their lip. For me, it's been these stupid ugly glasses. I like to make myself feel guilty with my own version of "Eat your dinner! There are starving children in China!" I remind myself that there are people in the world who need glasses and would be thrilled to have my specs. But then I just feel guilty AND vain. So what good is that?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

So, Do You Pee Here Often? (aka Urine for a Great Surprise)

At a nebulous point in the past few years I've learned to become a little more oblivious to the people around me in this city. Well, I take that back -- there are times when I deliberately tune in to the humanity that swirls deliciously around me, and I'm still enthralled and entertained by it all. But it's not my default anymore. The default is to move through without as much notice, so as to not be overloaded with the details of it all.

Anyway. On to my story.

So today I'm standing on the corner and partially blocking the front of a pay phone booth - not a real Superman-style telephone booth, or a quaint red London-style booth, but a gritty New York half-booth that is more just a three-sided shell that begins waist high and is covered with stickers and graffiti. Many times they don't even have a receiver because someone has decided a yellow pay phone receiver is Just the Thing They Need and cut it off. But this one did have a receiver, so when a man walked up and said, "May I please make a call?" with such correct grammar and polite-ivity, I quickly stepped to the side of the booth to make room for him and allow him some three sided, waist up, pay phone privacy. And I went on to not noticing him anymore.


Well, do you remember when I first moved here, and I warned you that mysteriousness drips on your head quite a bit? And when it happens you squint your eyes and cross your fingers and hope that it's a gift from the nearby air conditioner and not the nearby pigeon? Remember that? Well, I've kinda become immune to the drips as well, so when a little bit of something wet dusted my Old Navy flip flop shod left foot, I sadly didn't immediately tune in. No, no. I waited until a little something more graced my baby toe until I looked and realized that while my polite friend may have been holding the receiver with his right hand, he was holding something else with his left hand. And was peeing. Directly on the sidewalk. 6 inches away from my foot.

(Go ahead, shudder as you imagine how far liquid can ricochet off a hard surface. It was reality for me, my friends.)

I don't think him polite any longer.

In honor of this occasion, enjoy the world premiere of this original work of poetry, written by an extremely talented but anonymous author:

There once was an inebriated man
Faked a call and instead used the can.
The sidewalk his aim
But my foot's not the same.
Broadway peeing they really should ban.

Ah, yes. See how cultured I've become since moving here?

Enough. I'm not being facetious when I say I do love this city.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Brevity is the Soul of Wit, that is, if it's done well, and really is brief, and wit-ful, and not just short, because that doesn't necessarily mean...

Now that school is out and my hours at work are slightly less insane, I've found the energy to walk the promenade again. Good grief, I love that walk. I'm usually out in the evenings as the sun sets over the Hudson, sailboats breezing into the marina, the sky streaked with pink, the warm air wrapped around me. And also, there are the mosquitoes, which are obsessed with me and follow me around like they're lovesick crushes even though I've tried to break up with them a million times. Their kisses, I can do without.

My music of choice on my walks this week has been Ani DiFranco's Canon 1, and I'm rediscovering her songwriting genius. I think that although I love her mad guitar skillz, the tone of her voice, and the emotive aspect of her songs, it's her one-line zinger lyrics that cause me to keep going back to her music. She's funny and clever, tilting phrase and word 'til they have double or triple meaning. It takes a special kind of smart to write like that. Love it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thinking Blog Thoughts

I've noticed that blogging, while absolutely enjoyable for me, takes a little work. I'm not referring to the time it takes to write and post; I'm talking about the work of noticing things, recording them somewhere in my slippery brain, and chewing on them a bit more until they may or may not develop into something bloggable. In the city, there is plenty to notice, and that part is easy. For me, it's the holding on that is tough... not letting the brilliant quirky interactions and unusual people slip away and be forgotten, lost in the middle of my grocery list or latest work crisis.

This week, a friend and fellow blogger and I were talking about how helpful it would be to have a camera at the ready... something discreet and superspeed... something James Bond would have, so the pictures could help us recall all the thousands of wonderful things we see over the course of the week. (Our conversation wandered from there...we talked about how Matthew has glasses, so it would be much easier for him to hide the camera in the stem. I'd have to hide mine in some atrocious huge clip on earrings or the like, which would be a dead giveaway that something was amiss, because, sans hidden camera, I'd never be caught dead wearing huge clip on earrings... Next conversation topic for Matthew and me - world peace).

All that being said, I'm getting back into the groove of thinking blog thoughts, and it's a good thing.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Working at a school is a treat for me. I enjoy the environment-- the kids, the learning, the fun. But above those things, I really love the teachers.

And I love the last day of school, even if I do have to go back to work just like normal the next week.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Today I followed a couple out the front door of the building. We stepped out to see that it had begun to rain just slightly, small drops breaking the surface of the puddles that lingered from yesterday's rain. The woman took one look and exclaimed, "Oh, it's raining!" The tone she used implied much more-- "Oh, it's raining, now I'm not sure I even want to go. Oh, it's raining, maybe we should turn around and grab an umbrella. Oh, it's raining, my hair is going to be a disaster!"
The guy... well, he heard his wife's implications, glanced up from his blackberry toward the sky, simply said, "No it's not," and kept on walking.

I couldn't help laughing out loud.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

How it Rolls on the Way Home from School

Jonathan crashed into a blind man on the sidewalk today.

The man was making his way slowly, clearing a path through the crowd in front of him with his red tipped walking stick. It was like Moses parting the Red Sea, the way those people moved aside for him.

But Jonathan would not be parted, could not be roused from his meandering reverie by that red tipped magic wand that worked on everyone else. Jonathan crashed into him good and hard, coming at him from the side.

And when I asked Jonathan why he didn't notice that the man was blind, why he didn't watch out (!), he answered,

"I didn't know he was blind, Mom. I only thought he was old."

Sunday, June 07, 2009

There's Hope, Then?

Don't tell me that watching America's Next Top Model is a waste of my time. I've learned a lot from that show. For instance, I've learned the definition of "Fierce" (Silly me. I used to think it meant something along the lines of ferocious. Or mean. Or aggressive with bared teeth and growling. Now I know it's clearly Tyra Banks' vague notion of an indefinable quality that hints at beauty combined with assertiveness. Or something approximate to that.)

I've also learned from ANTM that photogenicity... photogenickness... well, being photogenic, is not actually an inherited trait, per se. I used to believe that being photogenic was something a person was born with, like eye color or height. But (glory be!) Tyra tells me that being photogenic is a learned thing, an acquired talent, something a person can become by spending long hours in front of a mirror and becoming familiar with facial muscles, practicing smiles and perfecting the exact amount of toothiness.

Or whatever. I'm just glad there's hope for me.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

It Happens Every Time

I'm such a sucker for it, you know? The people at Fox were thinking of me when they named the show.

So You Think You Can Dance?

And the slightly sad but totally honest answer, my friends, is

I think I can.

Dangnabbit. I really think I can. Or, at least, I like to dream that I can. Every time SYTYCD begins its season (which it did this week), I watch, and I feel unsettled. My muscles tense and are ready, the wallflowers at the junior high dance yearning to be asked to step into the beat. I dissect the choreography, wondering at the meaning behind it. And my heart-- well, my heart bounces between appreciation and longing, with just a smidgen of jealousy.

The physical control... the demanding technique combined with the artistic expression... the combination captures me. I'm absolutely enthralled and I find myself wondering, "What if? What if I had trained? What if I hadn't quit those miserable ballet/tap lessons at the age of 13?
What if I hadn't written off those swing dance lessons in college in favor of... I don't know what. Probably doing absolutely nothing. What if I could remember all those line dances I performed when I worked at that restaurant the year following high school graduation?"

What if?

You're thinking it's not too late, right? I know that. Dance lessons are on my list, tucked safely between earning my MBA and becoming fluent in Spanish. But every season, this silly little show causes it to move up a notch, and just for a while, I Think I Can Dance.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Thanks, but No.

Blimpie? Stick to subs, ok?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Of Beaches and Broadway; Great Tunes and Grandparents

A photo montage for you today. It's been a busy last few weeks.

Chloe was birdylicious (Beyonce, are you groaning? Apologies.) as a Bird Girl in the school's production of Seussical The Musical. Weird, but this 8 year old suddenly looks like she's going on 18.

My mom sashayed into town to catch Chloe's show. While she was here, we took Jonathan to his first taste of Broadway-- The Little Mermaid.

And then came Steve's parents for Grandparent's Day. Chloe and I introduced Marilyn to Alice's Tea Cup. Almond tea, crepes, and a little girl time.

Here's genius: bringing the beach to the city. If not for the view of the Brooklyn Bridge, I might have believed for the moment that I was in the tropics and not two blocks away from Wall Street. I love it, tho, and plan to spend much time here.

(Looks like she can read and follow directions)

Found time for two fantastic concerts this week, too. The first was Leslie Mendelson at Rockwood Music Hall. Wow.... If you value my musical recommendations at all, click through on this one or catch one of her live shows. She's one I enjoy live even more than on the album.
The second show was The Ivy's at Fat Baby on the Lower East Side. Rocking fun. And their album makes for great listening.