Sunday, December 24, 2006
My Sicilian grandmother set up a nativity scene that could rival a Who Concert. She placed a 6 by 5 foot piece of plywood on the table in the parlor (yes...I said parlor). She covered it in a few yards of green felt. The edges of the platform were lined with Christmas lights. They were those huge 1960's christmas lights not the small cutesy fire proof types we have now. The lights went along the edges and then climbed up one side of the manger, over the roof around the front and back down the other side. To this day I always imagine Jesus in a manger with big multi color lights around him keeping him warm.
I also believed that Jesus was Italian. And God was Italian too.
My grandmother had lots of straw all over the inside of the manger. There must have been scores of shepards, angels, lambs, ox, donkeys, three wise kings (like 4 sets of those), a few saints that were the same size of the rest of the crowd slipped in for good measure. There were even a few back up Marys and Josephs blended into the crowd.
I used to take the straw and put some all over the board to feed the extra animals. And of course we had a train track running around the platform as a nod from the captains of industry to the baby Jesus. Looking back, I guess that this is the type of reception that my grandmother thought Jesus should have had - tons of well wishers, animals and angels cheering him into the world.
There were so many figures that I had Catholic guilt about the ones that didn't have a good view of the baby Jesus from where they were standing.
As I got older, I began to wonder where all these hundreds of people went the day AFTER Jesus was born. Did they just go back to work and kind of forget all about him while they got lost in their day to day routines?
I miss the smell of tinsel melting on a 1960's christmas light on that sacred space.
I can feel my grandmother's spirit with me tonight. A holy night for the two of us.
Happy Christmas Everyone. Peace on Earth. Love, EVI
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Last night I went to sleep at nine and woke up at seven the next day. I swear I could do that for the next month. I'm afraid to find out what my sleep debt is. Some frightful figure I suppose...probably somewhere around 200 hours in the last six months.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Ben is in third grade and almost nine years old. He has no feelings of inadequacy about money or class because we don't. There are wealthy and not so wealthy kids in Ben's class who are obsessed with money because their parents are. That world has never touched Ben because he's so loved and satisfied with his family and his life. I'm happy to add that no one in his class has ever said hurtful things to him in that regard.
But last week they went to the Tenement Museum and I suppose some children were aghast at the thought of living in such a small space. Our apartment isn't much more than 450 square feet - but it's provided Ben with 1 million square feet of happiness.
He said he thought it wasn't fair that some kids live in big big houses and other kids didn't. I explained to him that life is inherently "uneven". Some kids live in big houses, some live in small houses - - some kids don't have a home.
Just like some kids (like Ben) are super smart and great at drawing, while it take other kids in his class a little longer to grasp new concepts. Some kids in his class are healthy or great athletes, while some feel they are far too short, too slow or have long term medical problems. Some kids don't have a mommy and daddy in the same house living together, some do.
All kids have something they feel "uneven" about because everyone comes to the table with a unique story of who they are. Our job is to make everyone feel okay about who they are.
Then he got teary eyed and said "but mommy when you live in New York no one likes you when you love the Red Sox like me and daddy do."
He got me there........
Monday, December 04, 2006
The revised adage is true...you can have it all, just not all at the same time. Picking Ben up from school once a week is such a wonderful gift. Being able to volunteer at his school has been corny and fun. I remember when I barely knew any of the parents because I was busy running in and out the door so fast.
But Ben's $25,000 tuition is crushing us. His education means everything to me. So you do what you have to do.
Being a working mom is all about setting boundaries....and staunchly defending them.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Even the wine was lovely. At some point I'll have to figure out what led to this comet like occurence. But right now I just want to enjoy it.
Ben is not partial towards Thanksgiving fare. His plate consisted of turkey, stringbeans and a piece of Italian bread I brought out from the kitchen. No stuffing, no mash potatoes, no cranberry anything, no brussel sprouts, no gravy, no pies of ANY kind. One day he'll change his mind. Brian had a nice time too - which makes me very happy. I wouldn't say that the only way to his heart is through his stomach - but it certainly is among the express routes!
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Monday, November 13, 2006
Appropriately enough, it's been raining since Brian left. Ben misses him terribly and carries his dad's baseball mitt around with him as soon as he gets home. He sleeps with it wrapped up in his blanky.
This evening, after dinner, we walked Saki around Tompkins Square Park. We ended up on the black top where there's a baseball diamond painted on the ground along with painted bases. Ben is obsessed with baseball and the Red Sox. He expects that his future will include a few years in the major leagues before he starts his train company.
Ben is tall and big for his age. He's a slow runner and frequently trips over his feet. He plays kickball at recess where he's usually the last one chosen and the last one to up to kick.
As the rain came down he asked that I watch him run around the bases as fast as he could. He was doing everything he could to go fast. Without realizing it, he lifted his arms up like Superman in the hopes of picking up speed.
So I stood there with my dog. Watching my son running bases in the pouring rain with his arms outstretched. Each stumbling step was filled with hope and determination. Just a few minutes more and he'd take flight.
Ben. My greatest teacher and my greatest blessing.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
I've been so busy with my impossible daily routine that I didn't see this extraordinary news as even a possibility. What a relief to be pulling back from the edge of insanity.
Randy Balmer is an evangelical Christian and noted scholar who teaches at Barnard and Columbia. His most recent book, "Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religous Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America" has received great reviews and is very thoughtfully written. He has a bumper sticker on his door. I pass it everyday en route to my office.
"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and a carrying a cross."
-- Sinclair Lewis
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
CBGB's closed at the beginning of the week. Sad. Very sad.
My husband Brian estimated that he and his band - the Cavedogs played at least 50 gigs there. As a partner of a rock musician, I put in my own time at a zillion CMJ showcases in the 80's and early 90's. It was hard to get too excited about venturing inside the club after Ben was born - unless it was an early accoustic show. But I guess I always thought it would be there. Like the Statue of Liberty.
After all of Brian's touring he would make me laugh with his countdown of the worst men's rooms he'd encountered as a rock musician. CBGB's did have a solid place in the top ten. I smiled to see that the NYTimes included a shot of the club's graffitti filled, poster plastered, sinklesss bathroom. When I showed it to Brian he said "Are you kidding me? That's the women's room - - a virtual lap of luxury! For starters the men's room never had an actual toilet seat."
He liked CBGB's and was grateful for the exposure it gave his band (which was eventually signed to Capitol Records) and other emerging musicians just like him. You could be a beginner there.
Here is an exerpt from a recent web interview with Patti Smith. She played the last show at CBGB's on Sunday night.
Rolling Stone: Did you ever feel threatened (in CBGB's neighborhood or in the club during the 70's)?
Patti Smith: I never felt threatened. I feel more threatened now. I feel confined by the intense commercialism. The stores, the shopping, these people all night long in their limos, acting like they own our little streets. New York to me was the worker city, the artist city. It was a place to get your shit together. Now it's a place people come to with their shit together. They have a lot of money, and they want condos. They want high life. They come to film here and have fashion shows. You try to walk on your street, and they act like they own it.
Cities should be edgy. They are edgy parts of America. They are not suburbia. They are supposed to be a melting pot of struggles, a collective force of ideas and energy. I watched horrified recently -- NYU students coming in with truckloads of fancy stuff. Magic Chef stoves and boxes with new computers. I mean, these are not struggling college kids. Get a hot plate. Drink some Nescafé.....You said it Patti. What they don't get is that what makes this city great is what they're destroying.
News flash: money isn't enough. it can't eclipse the art. smart people know that.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Last week my son Ben and his third grade class went to Ellis Island. It was his first trip there. I wish I was with him. There's so much we could have talked about before the ferry arrived on the other side.
He saw a movie about the immigrant experience and found the name of his maternal Italian great grandmother. I'm pretty sure my Irish great grandfather is listed there as well. You can also find his name in the index of Gangs of New York...a dubious achievement that explains a lot about my family's character.
Ben's gene pool combines almost every country in Europe with a stop in the Ukraine and Cypress. He is a true American mutt and I must say that the results are extraordinary.
Ben complained that on the ferry ride home his class was not allowed to sit up on the top deck with the rowdy public school kids. He was furious and said "Mom, it was hot and smelly down in the lower deck. All because we went to Ellis Island doesn't mean they have to send us back to Manhattan in steerage class!"
Thursday, September 28, 2006
A few nights ago I took a cab from the East Village across town. We cut across 13th street. I couldn't believe all the buildings that have been torn down and replaced with new construction. The new structures are at least 15 stories high. Probably more, but I'm not used to counting that high in my neighborhood.
First you see your community get fucked up by drugs and violence. Then finally it climbs out of that hell hole to be destroyed by the greedy real estate developers.
Seriously, will anything be left of the East Village in a few years from now? The artists are pretty much gone. The drag queens are pretty much gone. Regular people are being replaced with rich people each day. Now the buildings are gone. Maybe they'll leave a little piece of land where they can hire people to do East Village reenactments - like Colonial Williamsburg.
Friday, September 22, 2006
You know how it is. All those balls in the air. Motherhood, a job, chairing the Halloween party at my son's school, serving as a trustee there and writing squeezed in somewhere in the cracks. My writing mentor just reassigned me to a group with three other people....who are PUBLISHED. The screws are turning. My apartment looks like we're moving. Must be wishful thinking on my part.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Early Friday morning the new moon arrives.
New moons are the perfect time for beginnings. And this new moon has lots of power packed into it.
So start something.
It's not about doing it perfectly. It's just about doing it. Even if you trip, stumble and make a mess.
You won't be sorry.
Monday, September 11, 2006
I'm sorry I said fuck you.
You've been through a lot. Today reminds me of all we went through and how it made me realize in stark terms - how much I love you and that there is NO PLACE like you in the world. When other people ran out of town - we stayed - even though we were scared of what might happen - because we weren't going to abandon you.
Five years later and it still really hurts. God bless all of those souls and their families.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
I got back on Sunday. Still relaxed. Still peaceful.
Now I'm surrounded by urban overdrive. I am in complete contradiction to my environment. It feels like being stoned but without the paranoa. I walk down the street, but really I'm floating. Everything around me is going way way too fast to even consider engaging in.
This can't last. Can it?
Is this how it feels to live in Ohio?
It saddens me to realize the level of anxiety, stress and fear that I usually function on from day to day.
Maybe I need to pack up.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Yes folks, the rumors are true. Mommy is 44 years old today.
Woke up to a light rain falling on our summer cottage. I was in a cozy bed under warm quilts. Just me, my husband, my son and my dog. It was a tight fit but everyone wanted to get into the act of falling asleep with mom on Ellen-eve.
We all had a lovely breakfast and headed out to Provincetown where I finally got a chance to weave in and out of art galleries. If only I had the money to buy art...until then we'll just have to make it at home.
We ate at the Lobster Pot (see above pic). This restaurant is the height of culinary achievement in Benjamin's eyes. It is a very reliable place to eat (even Gourmet recommends it!) and it's customary to go there at least once during your stay out here. What makes us laugh is how very adament Ben is about us patronizing the place. Mama mia - the boy still eats off the kiddie menu!
Afterwards Ben and Brian presented me with my VERY OWN Boston Red Sox baseball cap. I also got a great book on meditiation written by Pema Chodron, the well known female Tibetan Buddist monk. I also gave myself the gift of joining up with my writing mentor/editor again after a long break filled with self doubt.
We went for a walk on a deserted bay beach with Saki, happy to be the only people in sight for miles. Afterwards we went home for a dinner made by yours truly. Clam chowder, a cold lobster salad and a nice white wine followed by an excellent Carvel ice cream cake! I made Ben a "crabby patty" a la Sponge Bob Square Pants. Basically, a crab cake topped with chopped pickle, tomato, mustard, ketchup and lettuce on a toasted sesame seed bun. According to Ben - it's the closest we'll ever get to cracking the secret recipe.
Brian just finished drilling us with Trivial Pursuit questions. Ben knew all the history answers. I knew all the ridiculous answers.
As I blew out the candles, I felt so grateful to be living in a safe environment with a healthy family, a job, a cool dog and a lot of laughter. People in Israel never have that sense of safety we take for granted every day, nor do people in Iraq, Gaza or Afghanistan...or parts of this country where people fight violence and poverty everytime they step out the door with their children.
In some small way, I know that what I do for a living helps move things forward - if only just a bit. My father always says that education is the great equalizer. I couldn't agree more.
Now help me blow out those candles and make a wish!
Saturday, August 26, 2006
The woman before me places her order. She is blond, ivory white, in a crisp summer outfit.
And then she spoke....
"Yes, could you please give me a half pound of the chicken breast or the turkey breast please. What's most important is that it should be extremely dry. That's how we like it. Which would you suggest to be the driest of the white meats?"
My jaw dropped. Having been raised by an Italian mother that request is tantamount to saying "please direct me to your most burned piece of toast, the more charred the better."
I knew that voice. She was the replica of my mother in law only forty years younger.
Do you know how much time I spent in therapy discussing the "food issues" around WASP family gatherings during the holidays? I'll never forget when my mother in law put a three pound roasted chicken down on the table to feed five people. My husband could have eaten the whole thing! At first I thought she was angry at us but then I came to understand that what she hated was the need to eat food. I took my wonderful therapist's advice -eat before you get there and there won't be any more tears of confusion or hunger.
Of course if I wanted a martini, they would gladly hand me a Methuselah sized bottle of gin and send me on my way - - no questions asked.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
This is the first time since childhood that I've ever gone to the cape for three straight weeks. Every morning I go for a walk at around 6.45 am. It's a magical hour. Very few cars, just the fisherman types driving by in their trucks and a few high powered bike riders.
During this walk I thank God for all that I have and for this beautiful world we live in. I ask for guidance on how to be an instrument for good and how I can somehow alleviate suffering in other people's lives.
If there was a class for remedial praying - I would be in it, including remedial praying summer school. Most of the time God must be reacting to my prayers by thinking "Jesus, Mary and Joseph, what the hell is she actually trying to say?"
Monday, August 21, 2006
Maybe I still haven't gotten over reading Gone With the Wind but the more I think about it the more that the Federal response to Katrina seems like a mutation of the Reconstruction. It seems like people in New Orleans should be seething in anger at this country. That place is still a friggin hell hole. Is it because most of that city was poor and black?
And why hasn't the press stayed on it?
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Ben asked us what animal we would be if we couldn't be human. We were mulling that one over when he said "there's no way I'd ever be a butterfly". I asked why and he said "because butterflies don't ever know their mommies". He has no idea what those words meant to me.
Brian spends most of his time in the ocean. Swimming out too far, weaving through the waves with the slickness of a seal. He is so happy in the water. Out there all by himself. He stays out so long that I finally got him to wear a thermal swim shirt and shorts. It's pretty clear that he's just visiting us here on dry land. His heart is lost somewhere in the Atlantic.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Friday, August 11, 2006
What will people think of next? How do governments keep ahead of all these terrorist schemes? It's just too much.
What is motivating these rageful acts? Is it because thousands of people have died in Iraq and now one thousand in Lebanon - - and no one intervened? Is the message to these people that some lives are worth more than others? That a dead Lebanese child or Iraqi child means less than an American or an Israeli? And why are some of these Muslim sects determined to kill each other?
Why does Iran want to "wipe Israel off the face of the earth"? If I lived in Israel with my son -- how would I want my government to react to that statement with Hezbollah a stone's throw away from my door?
I wish I understood the history of the middleast better - so I could understand what motivates these actions - where the rage comes from and the desperation.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
First of all, it keeps entertainers employed long after they fall out of fashion. It helps me to sleep better knowing that Tony Orlando, Joey Heatherton and the entire cast of Hee Haw have gigs and health benefits.
I also like the idea that the performances are all hours of the DAY and EVENING. I wouldn't mind going to see Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Chrissy Hines or anybody else for that matter at 2pm instead of 11pm. Who gives a rat's ass as long as the music is good.
If only there could be a P.S.122 or spiegeltent in every state.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Both friends quickly suggested that the novel Gone With the Wind was surely among the top ten. I'd seen the movie but never read the book.
Well...I'm reading it now. Perhaps it isn't at the pinnacle of American Literature but I have to say that I find it a complex and fascinating story. As a matter of fact - - someone should remake Gone With the Wind - - with a screenplay that more fully honors the novel.
Since I'm on a role I also rented Cold Mountain. It's a great movie - - a painful movie, but I'm glad I saw it.
Rhett Butler was right. Almost all wars are about money and greed. It's a rich man's war and a poor man's fight. Just like Iraq. Nothing's changed.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Bodies continue to pile up in Iraq. Isn't the number over 2500 troops and over 100,000 civilians? Now Lebanon is decimated with children dying at a faster rate than the Hezbollah militants. People in Israel live in constant fear as well.
Some members of the press suggest that the latest military activity in Lebanon is based on the "clean break" strategy developed several years ago by US neocons and Israeli conservatives. I googled "clean break" cheney and came up with a long list of supporting documents and commentary. I'm not in a position to know if this strategy is in fact being used as a blue print or not...but there are similarities and it scares me.
How long before someone makes a statement here?
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
I'm pretty sure that's a first in the seventy five years my family has lived here.
Granted, there is a courtyard with small gardens between the two buildings but it isn't a nature conservancy by any stretch of the imagination.
1. Someone East Village drug addict just realized their pet snake is missing.
2. It's an initial sign of the impending Rapture that George W. Bush is looking forward to.
3. A scare tactic made by a maniacal real estate developer in an effort to get his hands on skyrocketing property - currently inhabited by actors, writers, social workers, artists, musicians, other nice people and pets.
Look, I'm a New Yorker. Other than household pets, my version of urban wildlife is rats, mice, roaches, waterbugs, flys and pigeons.
Snakes are not in my portfolio.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
It is terrifying to hear stories of terrified children and adults on both sides - hiding, running out of supplies, full of fear.
And as a New Yorker, I fear what actions could be taken here to make a point.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
About twenty people were watching - mostly fellow Christians from the fellowship headquarters near by. There weren't any cops around like there are during skin head jamborees or other impromptu performances in the park.
Why do I feel like I'm living in chapter three of The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood).
In all fairness, it is a free country and no one was trying to hit me with a baseball bat. They just don't believe that I should have control over my own body and that committed gay couples shouldn't have the right to marry and enjoy the priveleges that come with a family life.
I wonder how people would have reacted to a Muslim musical outreach? and how many police would be there?
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
My son is staying with my parents for three days. After a while, frantically juggling your kid and work ceases to be cute to anyone involved. Million dollar day camp starts Monday.
At about 3pm, Brian emailed me with the realization that we had FREE TIME TO HANG OUT.
We got together and went to have dinner across the park on Avenue B. My brother told me to check out Mercadito between East 11th and East 12th. Very nice.
One problem. Where the hell was I? Avenue B looks like Brooklyn Heights. The buildings are all cleaned up. All the store fronts are swanky boutiques and cafes. Everyone at our very nice restaurant was swanky. At closer look I realized that my neighborhood is filling up with ridiculous gift stores...like the store around the corner on East 10th street with the unlimited number of flavored olive oils. Wasn't it just yesterday when no one cooked in my neighborhood and the alleged corner grocery store was neither a grocery or a store in the legal sense?
One block down Avenue B in another cleaned up building was the Tompkins Square Gospel Fellowship. I think they are related to an imported Christian youth group that recently decided to hanker down in our neighborhood this summer. These teenagers are instructed to approach children playing in the park like my eight year old son and invite him to particpate in Christian basketball camp. Blatantly approaching children without parents near them is not cool.
Hmm...what would Jesus do...I think Jesus would say "Hey guys, I understand that your heart is in the right place but the next time you go up to children under 13 without their parents present I will rip you a new asshole."
Even the Hare Krishnas, the Mormons, Jews for Jesus, and friggin Scientologists haven't pulled that stunt yet (although they will take your blood pressure in Times Square). Leave conversion issues to parents and direct solicitation of children in city parks to pedaphiles.
And leave Tompkins Square Park to children, dog runs, plants, performance art, homeless people, skate board dudes, people hanging out and drag queen festivals.
Monday, June 26, 2006
I forgot my email name and how to even get to the email site.
They only give you two options
- check the box if you forgot your email name
- check the box if you forgot your email password
what I need is
- check the box if you can't remember a fucking thing about setting this email up
Thursday, June 22, 2006
I'm just not a June person. Never was. Too many transitions.
We also go out to San Francisco each year in June to visit my brother in law and his partner in San Rafael. Right now both are battling severe (perhaps terminal) liver problems brought about by years of dealing with HIV. Their bravery and endurance levels are beyond extraordinary.
David and Harry (and their three Bassett hounds) seemed geniunely happy to welcome us into their home. They put so much energy into their hospitality that for a brief time I'd forget they were ill. When you enter their world you become accustomed to their periodic naps, their otherwise fit bodies holding up bellies filled with fluid, and their daily morning medical treatments (injections, medications). It's the in between moments that you focus on -- as they do.
It also occured to me just how much illness my son has grown up around. He is not a stranger to seeing what loved ones look like after repeated rounds of chemo or HIV related illnesses. Ben is not afraid of these things. It just comes with the package of loving people. But I do think he is afraid of losing them. And I do not have an answer for that because I am too.
Something about Northern California feels so kind to me. It's a good place to rest for a while. I need a rest. I need to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
The last day is June 13th - awful early in New York State. For the last two weeks I've been camping out at school as an audience member for two of his plays, board meetings, and mixed media class autobiographies (wow have times changed since my childhood days of overhead projectors). Oh yeah...and I go to my full time job somewhere in there.
God bless day camp in July!
The next two weeks will include a brief visit to San Francisco to visit my brother in law and his partner. Sadly both are not well...but we remain hopeful. The rest of the time will be spent juggling my son between the both of us at home and at work with mercy playdates sprinkled as liberally as possible.
On a positive note, I am addicted to the Steven Cobert Report (Comedy Central).
Thursday, May 25, 2006
What Jimi Hendrix has to do with my dog Saki and his supermodel-for-a-day status will remain in the eternal clutter of my subconscious.
In my profile I mentioned that Saki was on the cover of an international magazine.
Voila! Here he is with my son Ben's legs resting upon him.
They styled one of the inside photos to look like Saki trashed the couch and passed out...kinda like a young Johnny Depp.
Believe it or not - the magazine got tons of letters from irate Westie owners protesting the pose. Saki is an artist - he can't be expected to live within the narrow social margins of the National Kennel Club - he must express himself freely. These pictures were Saki's way of lashing out against the oppression and excesses of capitalism. Perhaps one day the world will catch up with his genius. Until then, a milk bone or two will have to suffice.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Brian and I take great joy in being attentive, loving parents to Benjamin. But for the past few weeks, all three of us have been slacking off. Not at work or school but definitely at home.
Like if one person thinks it's a good idea to go eat candy, cookies, ice cream - at any time or for any reason, we all do it. No one is picking up their clothes. Drawings, books and cds are scattered everywhere. My dog Saki has been sleeping on top of the mountain of winter clothes waiting to be stored away.
These days, my dinners are mediocre at best with lots of leftovers going Saki's way.
It takes a single sigh of resignation for all of us to immediately flee to Veselka for sauerkraut perogis or turkeyburger deluxes.
We're acting like a bunch of junior high kids living together with no parents. Oh my God, are we becoming reality tv material?!! I don't know because I don't watch tv. I'd prefer to just go to hell in a handbasket.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
It was quite a parteeee with a mere 500 fabulous lovelies showing up to celebrate and lay out some serious cash (and credit)!
When I'm not writing, I spend my working day soliciting people for ridiculously huge amounts of money -- $250,000 or more all for the greater glory of their alma mater. Don't worry folks, it's payable over a five year period! Luckily, the people I deal with are ridiculously wealthy so there's never any harm done.
I'm not a great fan of benefits. In my view, people should just write checks and be thanked through personal relationships with the organization. Benefits are much more two steps forward/one step back, which is why I avoid them whenever possible. At the same time, they do promote the visibility of important organizations so they serve a purpose.....
It's a bit odd watching wealthy people buy things for sport in the silent auction then proceed to sit down and buy MORE things at HIGHER prices at the live auction. At the end of the evening each guest is given HUGE gift bags filled with even more STUFF.
I'm suprised I didn't bump into Marie Antoinette last night.....
Friday, May 05, 2006
I've been in several cafes and nice restaurants (work related) in the last month. I can't hear a word my lunch/dinner companions are saying. Everyone is shouting or shout-laughing.
I've always had extraordinarily good hearing. Is it because I'm too sensitive to the noise or is everyone in this dam town screaming instead of talking?
Granted - the nation is in a precarious state right now and living in NYC is impossibly expensive. Is everyone just pumping up the volume?
Monday, May 01, 2006
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Well, he spent several weeks badgering me about a classroom cupcake party because "all the kids have cupcakes or ice cream or stuff that we eat at snacktime to celebrate their birthday...blah blah blah."
I pointed out the fact that we celebrated his birthday THREE times with THREE different cakes and THREE different sets of guests. He was unphased by this data.
The next day (Friday) I went to work and shared my pain about having to buy a bunch of cupcakes to bring in the following Monday. Of course, I keep company with wonderful over achieving uber mommies...they looked at me blankly and in unison said "But aren't you going to make the cupcakes from scratch? It only takes a second and it's really worth the time."
Time...in my life it's far more valuable than money. Which is why I took a huge paycut and career downshift to have time to be the mom and creative person I wanted to be rather than another high strung, anxiety driven executive management droid that I was.
So I spent last Sunday looking for all the ingredients I need. What an education that was. Did you know that the East Village is NOT a really great place to find cake flour....at one point I was tempted to throw up my hands and ask "who do you have to f*ck to find baking ingredients in this neighborhood?"
You see, I live in an area where most people have an oven in their kitchen only because it came with their apartment. Many of my childless friends/couples use the oven part for storage. When you live in a neighborhood that has ten zillion places to eat within a two block radius - sweating over pots and pans doesn't make much sense. Of course, it's also true that in the East Village - diet coke and coffee have their own dedicated space in the food pyramid.
Long story short. It's Sunday night at 9pm and I 'm toiling away, stirring the batter, getting the cocoa out for the frosting when I look at my husband and say "do you think that Ben will remember how his mom made cupcakes from scratch for his class snack/celebration?"
To which he replied "No. He'll just remember that he ate a chocolate frosted cupcake."
So I gently woke my son up, brought him into the kitchen and said "Look Ben. This is your mommy making cupcakes from scratch because she loves you more than anything in the world. So just in case I kick off sooner rather than later - I really want you to remember this."
He rubbed his eyes and said "okay" and returned to bed. The next day Ben woke up with a fever of 102. He and the 27 cupcakes stayed home from school.
No good deed goes unpunished.
Will write about today's anti-war march soon. Brian/Ben and I marched from Union Square to Foley Square down in the financial district. It was a beautiful day and there was an ocean of people.
Support Our Troops. Bring Them Home Now!!! Not Another Death For Oil...
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Let's get something clear upfront. I suck at technology. I don't have flickr or whatever the hell people use to put pictures on their blog. It just isn't going to happen in my lifetime.
My husband knows what a luddite he's dealing with and puts pictures up for me whenever I ask/beg/cajole him to. Nice guy, my Brian...and easy on the eyes to boot!
I took this snap. Frankly, I don't think the M8 bus ever looked better - posing there all duded up as it waits to turn onto East Ninth Street.
The M8 takes all of the East Village to work...at least the 9 to 5 type jobs. Writers, artists, self employed, merchants, old people - they get to live up here and leave whenever they want.
The beloved M8 starts on Avenue D and E 10th Street swings down to E9th then crosses the East Village into Greenwich Village into the West Village ultimately turning around at the Westside Highway.
Each block is a lesson in varying degrees of gentrification. I never thought I'd be riding by a KMart everday and yet there it stands in the heart of Astor Place. I'll never forget when it first opened. I was taking a crowded bus back home one evening. As we crossed over Broadway at St. Mark's Place we passed the huge blazing red "K" lit up for the first time. Everyone stopped and stared - as if it was a burning cross. Thankfully a drag queen broke the tension. She stood up and blurted out "Attention KMart Shoppers!!!". We all howled.
The morning bus drivers rarely change so you get to know them pretty well. I suppose that's why I supported the MTA strike. Driving a bus in NYC is friggin' hard work.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we subconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
It's sunny and beautiful and Easter out today. There were several churches that emptied out at about noon. They merged onto the streets with other neighboring church goers. Everyone was carrying long pussy willow branches...you'll have to check with the catholic church on that one.
I LOVE looking at all the cute children decked out in pink bonnets, puffy dresses and light blue suits. When I was a little girl growing up in this neighborhood in the sixties, my Easter outfit was more along the lines of the picture book character Madeline. A navy blue spring coat and a matching wide brimmed hat that had a long black ribbon tied in a bow trailing down the back.
I was a total fem in my little girlhood. I would have worn that outfit everyday of the year if I could.
Benjamin found his Easter basket hidden in our courtyard garden. I'm so glad that he still believes in the Easter bunny. In his little world, miracles occur periodically throughout the year.
Friday, April 14, 2006
Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter. Christians remember it as the day of the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and established the ceremony known as the Eucharist.
The night of Maundy Thursday is the night on which Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The word "maundy" comes from the command given by Christ at the Last Supper, that we should love one another.
On Thursday night we got a call from my husband's brother David.
He and his partner live in San Francisco. David was diagnosed with HIV in 1987 and developed AIDS in 1994. He takes excellent care of himself, has a career, eats right, excersizes and uses all the medical cocktails and medications he should.
I have a favor to ask. When you have a moment, please take just a few seconds to pray for his comfort and well being. I would deeply appreciate it.
He is a beautiful sunflower of a person and needs all the love and blessings we can send him right now.
Monday, April 10, 2006
The probability of moving from my east village neighborhood and family home is increasing as each day passes...unless of course the miracle I filed with God kicks in.
And so I begin my retrospective. Here's what I see when I wake up in the morning. Tompkins Square Park. Lots of it is green - just not the part I stare at after I rub my eyes at 6 am. It isn't a very big park - just one long city block (between A and B) by three street blocks (from East 10th, 9th, st. mark's to 7th).
My mom's family lived in this building. My dad was born in 1928 across the park next to St. Brigid's, a catholic church his Irish grandfather helped to build for their community.
People use the black top from dawn to midnight. Every type of person is out there at some point in the day. There's the old Chinese couples doing tai chi in the early morning hours, the homeless who wander in at dawn when the park gates open taking their seats near the chain link baseball backstop, urban catholic school students coming in double file for gym class before noon, babies learning how to walk and chase their shadows, teenage skate boarders of every shape, color and size flaunting their ability to defy gravity after school, immigrant workers playing a quick game of soccer or baseball and kids playing basketball, learning to bike, kick and throw a ball.
Give New Yorkers a few square feet of open space and they'll give you a show that never ends.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
I know I'm a hard core New Yorker at heart but Cambridge will always feel like my first great love. New York Times articles like this one - http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/05/us/05mass.html?th&emc=th discussing the commonwealth's attempt at universal healthcare for all of its citizens makes me nostalgic for a place that doesn't get lost in celebrity gossip, Wall Street, shopping and match.com
Why do they recognize gay marriage and we don't?
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
The only problem in that equation is that it's five in the morning and I'm ready to start my day. Of course when you live on Avenue A, you're never totally alone. Outside I can hear a few hard core clubbers walking home and chatting away. The cabs drive by and in the relative silence they almost sound like waves coming in at low tide. A few birds just started chirping out there in the darkness.
All in all 4 to 6:30 am is the quiet time around here.
It's looking like more and more like we'll have to move. Unless a miracle occurs and someone in our building moves out. Someone who lives adjacent to my apartment in some way. The likelyhood of that is about as slim as Dick Cheney joining a vegan commune in Vermont.
Our space is about 450 sq feet. At this point we are literally living on top of each other...what am I saying...once Ben was born we were already living on top of each other. It's becoming an increasingly impossible situation.
Of course, the three of us are sentimental fools. The thought of leaving this building and neighborhood terrifies us. It's very hard for East Villagers to go somewhere else. There isn't another place like it anywhere...on the planet.
I was born here, my son is the fifth generation of my family to be born here. This building and garden has been in my family for four generations. Each day we wake up and look out onto Tompkins Square Park.
Well...maybe a miracle will happen.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
March 30th - Today is Benjamin's birthday. He's officially eight beautiful years old.
I love his birthday. I remember the actual day so clearly. Wondering when I'd know for sure when it was time to go to the hospital and remembering my doctor saying "you'll know - because you won't ask me - you'll tell me." oh...was she right on that count!
The labor, the hard labor, the pushing. Feeling a bit terrified by the intensity and nature of this strange new pain. Knowing there was nowhere to hide and realizing that accepting the pain as part of the process was the answer - not wasting all my energy on resisting nature taking its course.
Since those beginning moments Ben has taught me so much about life. Parenting constantly demands that we confront ourselves. At the same time it gives us the best reason in the world to keep growing into the person our child inspires us to be. It reminds us (gently and sometimes not so gently) to live in the here and now. And that nothing is more important than love and communion between people.
I love this picture of Ben and me. He's my son but in many ways he's my sun. And here he is eclipsing me with his optimism, his humor, his kindness and unending curiousity about the world.
I'm blessed to bask in the shadow of his beautiful shimmering soul.
Friday, March 24, 2006
This is my maiden voyage into colonial reenactment communities and I'm kind of digging it.
These costumed people really know their history.
I can tell that most people feel a bit awkward talking to someone who is trying to convince you that it's 1774 and that we're sitting in a major national hub. But not me. I walk right into it with my eyes wide open. I suspend disbelief faster than most people can snap their fingers.
All my life I've suffered from what I call my "Diane Arbus" condition. I can plug into just about any world someone is in as long as I can make that connection between me and that person. The more I connect the less and less anything else matters. It can be a transexual,an Amish person, or bus driver or even a transexual Amish busdriver (well, former Amish) - - if they've got something to share that hits me...well, I'm there.
It's not good or bad. Wise or stupid. It's just a way of being.
But it can be a drag for friends and loved ones who want to high tail it out of ye old furniture makers shop while I'm sitting there asking the colonial dude twenty questions.
Spring in the South is hard to beat, folks!
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Spring will soon be here and so will Benjamin's 8th birthday.
Since we celebrate it so many times, I've decided to reclassify this event as a festival rather than a birthday. This holiday is far more than a one day occurance. It usually spans out over two weeks.
The kickoff event took place today. Ben's daddy and I took him up to Barnard together with seven of his good friends. There they spent an hour with the fantastic dancer Mary Cochran (formerly with Paul Taylor Dance Company and Chair of the Barnard Dance Department). She's beyond cool.
She rounded up this rowdy bunch of no-necks and had them running, jumping, leaning, twisting, hopping, sliding for sixty minutes straight. It was amazing to see them in action under her guidance.
Afterwards we all went to V&T on Amsterdam across the street from St. John the Divine for pizza, soft drinks and birthday brownies. Party bags were distributed and all went home with smiles, tired muscles and full bellies. Isn't that a lovely state to be in? Every child deserves moments like that in their life.
Gottta go. It's time to do a full inventory of gifts received.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Today is one of my most favorite holidays of the year.
I love, love, love the St. Patrick's Day Parade and sadly this is the first time in ten years that I won't be marching in it with my friends from Fordham.
It's okay though - because it's a beautiful sunny day!!
Go out and enjoy :)
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
So what does my trip have to do with the preceding headline?
I'll tell you what. There is no getting away from women being crushed in their own seats on the subway - be it New York or Boston.
Why do men have to sit with their legs so far apart that you'd think they're about to enter the final stages of labor?
Meanwhile, women like me are forced to press our legs together and frequently even curl our shoulders for the duration of our commute as the men we are wedged between are essentially spread-eagle in their seats.
Are their genitals that sensitive to any type of pressure? If so, how the hell do they survive horseback riding, spinning classes or sex? Or is it more a question of territory? Should I be grateful that they don't unzip and urinate around their seats to mark their space?
Friday, February 24, 2006
We all get to pick one. Ben picked Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator. He loves Charlie Chaplin and has a bunch of his DVD's.
I love this film. It's hilarious and tragic. What a genius Charlie Chaplin was and how brave to put this anti-war anti-facist film out in 1939/40.
Rent it if you get a chance.
p.s. Jiminy Glick (Martin Short's film is hilarious!!! Another must see flick)
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Four Jobs I've had in my life:
Public Radio Project Coordinator
Four Movies I can watch over and over again:
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Broadway Danny Rose
The Right Stuff
Age of Innocence, Being There, Harold and Maude, Laurel Canyon, Moonstruck, Rear Window
I could list dozens more.....
Four Places I've lived
New York City
Four TV shows I love to watch
a little boy, a big husband, a dog, a writing project, a full time job, going to the gym, housework, cooking, reading = no tv
Four Places I've been on vacation
Merin County, California
Charleston, South Carolina
Four of my favorite food/drinks
a big fat juicy ripe plum
NYC pizza (great when you're pregnant) and tuna melts
anything my Italian grandmother cooked for me
Four websites I visit daily
My job's website
thecosmicpath.com (because I studied astrology for a while but got into a time crunch)
Four places I'd rather be right now
In a stone cottage, sitting in front of a fireplace, warming my feet and reading a book.
In a cozy house in Northern California finishing my writing project
In a town house in Brooklyn/Manhattan/Hoboken that I OWNED
In an elegant hotel room in Paris having fun with my very silly husband
Monday, February 13, 2006
Twenty-six inches of snow fell on Central Park.
We certainly did get tons of snow. It was and is a beautiful sight to behold. I love how snow storms quiet the city down...especially at night.
I was amazed at how well the city handled the weather. Streets were ploughed and there were no disasters to speak of. As a matter of fact, everything was so dam manageable that I began to silently wonder whether it actually snowed as much as they said it did.
I was listening to the radio this evening while baking cookies for my son's school lunches...yes..I am a dork. I nearly burst out laughing when they aired a feature that was composed of New Yorkers openly rejecting the fact that it was a record breaking snow fall.
Sample: "Look...I'm not saying it didn't snow 26 inches in Central Park but it sure as heck didn't here in the middle of the street in Brooklyn...maybe 18 inches tops."
I love New York.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Until a few years ago I spent most of my life fending off a nasty streak of melancholy. I did however develop a few tactics along the way that helped me avoid total despair.
I've always enjoyed hearing about good things happening for people. Somehow it's always energized me. A buoy to hold onto until I was ready to swing into life again.
The last few weeks have been tough for me. Work stuff, family stuff, figuring out the future stuff...well let's just say 4 am was becoming the new wake up and stay up time.
On Monday, a good friend took the time to listen to me for twenty minutes as I tried to piece together my scattered thoughts over the phone at work. We didn't come up with any grand solutions. But I was heard. The next day I woke up having slept through the whole night. Very lucky to have that friend.
A blog friend of mine, a very lovely, funny young woman spent the last year doing battle with breast cancer. She was generous and brave enough to share her experiences with us. I've learned so much from her decisions, her fear, her courage, her strength and her sense of humor through it all.
Well it looks like her treatments are over and the pathology reports have stamped her cancer free! I'm so friggin happy. I feel like I'm back in third grade and it's the first day of spring when everything is soggy, messy and filled with hope and possibility.
Friday, February 03, 2006
I finally feel that time has come to retire as the resident "bad guy".
Ever since Ben could run around in the Tompkins Square Park, I've been routinely called upon to be the creature/villian/space alien who chases my little son and his friends around the playground as they squeal with excitement. Up and over monkey bars, swings, slides, black tops, lurking behind trees....
I want to retire from being
the Joker/Riddler/Cat Woman/Mr. Freeze
the Scarey Ghost
the Confederate Army (sorry southern friends)
the Central Powers (WWI)
the Axis Powers (WWII)
and of course "Big Mama", my persona when wrestling Ben on my bed while he pretends to be Mucha Lucha - the Mexican Wrestling Champ (as seen on Cartoon Network) with a red/white/blue leather wrestling mask brought from Mexico from his dear Uncle Mike...
well maybe we'll still wrestle as long as I can get him in a head vice 50% of the time.
I suppose I shouldn't complain - my husband has put in a million more villian hours than I have without complaint. Maybe it's just me. I've got bad guy burn out.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Waiting for the M8 bus to take me across the Village, my mind is so absorbed lately in work, family issues, and a manuscript that floats in limbo.
I woke up this morning at 4 a.m. and couldn't fall back to sleep. I must have woken my son because moments later he asked me in a faint voice to come cuddle with him. As soon as I slipped into his little bed, he fell fast asleep.
It felt good to be useful. To be able to soothe him even though I felt anxious. Soon I fell asleep too. My child is such a blessing to me.
It's beautiful out today. In the high 30's, sunny and clear. Time to get back in the saddle and ride my ancient red bike around the neighborhood as I run errands.
Monday, January 30, 2006
He will be entering third grade next year.
You do not want to know what percentage of our post tax income that tuition figure absorbs.
We received his report card last week. He did very well although sometimes during lessons he rests a book on his lap and starts to read when he gets bored.
He is seven years old and every other word out of his mouth is "fart".
He wears a WWII fighter pilot hat (brown leather with fleece lining) at all times.
Somehow I still feel this is money well spent on a beautiful mind.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
It's March weather.
...the time of year for every trip I ever took to London or Paris
...the beginning of lacrosse practice when I was a teenager
...the month my son was born
...watching and (better yet) marching in the crazy NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade
...the smell of soggy earth, windy days and intermittent sunshine
...a time of possibilities and start overs and the official dawning of SPRING FEVER when I fall in love with everything and everyone
I'm sure the artic winds are just around the corner waiting to slap some sense into me.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Although I am firmly rooted in my hometown, Massachusetts will always feel like my first love. I spent my entire young adulthood there - - all over the state at different times. It was a warm and welcoming place to be for a good natured and somewhat audacious young me.
My best friend in world history lives there. His name is Joe. We were both 20 when I asked him to join me as I walked away from everything and everyone I knew to begin a life of my own making up in Boston. He understood how profoundly on my own I was without me having to spell it out.
Joseph and I met in third grade. We started a discussion that began with the Partridge Family's "Up to Date" record and has continued now for thirty-five years.
He walked me down the aisle when I married my husband in the old Unitarian Church in Harvard Square. Right before we made our grand entrance, he took both my hands, looked into my eyes and said "I have cherished every moment of being your friend - never never forget that".
We've shared countless moments together. Some hilarious, some tragic, some difficult but mostly silly moments.
So I skipped the hotel and stayed with him in Cambridge. It was wonderful. We went to the Rustic Grill in Porter Square - it was warm, cozy and delicous. Living in New York, you tend to forget how friggin whip ass cold that Boston wind can be. You also forget that a "short walk home" in New York is about half the distance of a short walk home on a FREEZING night in Boston.
To make matters worse, on the way home from dinner Joe made me laugh so hard I peed in my pants....literally. Try that one on for size when it's 16 degrees out.
That night I feel asleep in his guest room. It was the best sleep I've had in years. I felt so safe and lucky to be in a room next to my oldest and dearest friend.