Tuesday, November 29, 2005


For the last few days Brian and I have been discussing who Ben should live with if something (God forbid) should every happen to us.

It is our most dreaded topic because no one immediately comes to mind as THE ONE or THE FAMILY among our relatives.

In an abstract sort of way I posed the question to Ben. It went something like this...

"Ben, who would you want to live with if mommy and daddy were not around. NOT THAT THAT WILL EVER HAPPEN BECAUSE IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. But just say, if you had to live with someone else - who comes to mind as your number one choice? NOT THAT THAT WILL EVER HAPPEN BECAUSE IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN."

He sat there for a minute and thought about it. His first response was "Oh, I don't know mommy. Some nice family with children and a dog who are really nice."

When I asked him for a specific family or person he said he needed some time to think about it. Ten minutes later he returned to the room and said,

"Edward Hopper"

"What about Edward Hopper?"

"I've thought about it. And that is the exact person I want to live with if something happens to you and daddy. He loves to paint and I love to paint. He paints New York and Cape Cod and I paint New York and Cape Cod. He paints pictures of everyday things like warehouses and that's what I want to paint. Just everyday things and he makes them beautiful"

Sometimes my son freaks me out.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Hell is for Parents

I am living proof that the avian flu has not arrived in NYC.

Yesterday Benjamin and I set out of the house for a little holiday fun in midtown with one of his schoolmates.

What a blind, naive East Villager I am. It never occurred to me that I was walking directly into the twelve rings of NYC Holiday Hell.

- Waded through a packed crowd at Grand Central

- Stood protectively hovering over my son at the New York Transit Museum Annex (in Grand Central) while he and scores of other train finatics of all ages pressed their faces against the multi-tiered Lionel Train christmas set up.

- Stupidly agreed to wade through hundreds of tourists, shoppers and teenagers at the Bryant Park Christmas Fair Booths. Stared dreamily at the new ice skating rink there and thought about hockey for ten seconds.

-Broke down and agreed to eat a late lunch at Mars 2112. Wanted to commit suicide in the space ship. Certainly Satan had a hand in the design of this tourist trap/parent hell.

-Achieved double dumb ass status when I blindly agreed to walk into Times Square and visit Toys R Us. The street crowds were insane. There was no escape once you got sucked into the current of foot traffic. I held on tightly to my son's hand and prayed for our safety and sanity.

-The Times Square Toys R Us rivaled the population density of Bombay. You don't believe me?...Benjamin and I wandered around in various packs of crowds for fifteen minutes when he looked up at me and said "I give up. Let's leave." You read that correctly. My child suggested that we leave the motherload of all toy stores empty handed.

- Store doors swung open to a packed crowd that was almost standing still because it was impossible to walk. It was a spectator crowd...with nothing to watch.

- I started flipping out. Jaywalked across Broadway and 7th Avenue and nearly kissed the ground of the subway entrance at 42nd Street.

- We got back to Astor Place. I wanted to see if Ben could show me how to get to Avenue A from the subway station. And he did successfully....by walking us down St. Marks Place through thousands of NYU students, punks, tourists, merchants, residents, etc. I asked for it...

- When we got home, we both washed our hands. I nearly burst into tears.

There is just so much fucking humanity you can take in one day.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Turkeys, Rent and Remembrance

About three days before Thanksgiving it occurred to me that I was hosting dinner at my house and had better secure a turkey pronto.

Wish I could have seen the turkey strapped to the back of Brian's motorbike as he sped across town.

Had a great holiday with my sister Liz and Brian's good friend and fellow bandmember in from LA. He's scoring shows for cartoon network. I never realized they had adult level animation programs after 10 p.m.

I remember 100 years ago when my nights used to begin at 10.

Last night I went with Liz to see the movie Rent.

Yes, there are some quick shots that include our building which thrilled me to no end. The NY Times complained that most of the locations are not accurately identified. Who cares!!? Although I did wonder why they shot the bar 7b as the Life Cafe location. Also the apartment building the characters live in and its outside street scenes are definitely not the east village (and maybe not NYC).

I never saw the musical and thought the movie pretty powerful. I saw it in the Zigfield Theatre in midtown where they have a great sound system.

As far as I'm concerned, it captured the feel of the East Village in the late 80's/early 90's and how AIDs decimated the community one torturous death at a time. Meanwhile the government watched and did nothing.

Brian handles the archives at NYU. It includes a special area dedicated to the artists, performers, writers, and poets of the East Village of the 70's, 80's and early 90's. The majority are dead.

I was working in major gift fundraising for AIDS research at that time. It was so gut wrenching to have doors slammed in your face again and again.

Of course some people didn't slam the door. Which is why my brother in law and his partner are still alive twenty years later.

And we certainly gave thanks for those people of vision and faith on Thursday afternoon as we sat down to feast on turkey in our little pad overlooking Tompkins Square Park.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

There's Got to Be a Morning After.....


So I promise this is the last post about the Christmas Fair. But what can I say? It's a project that dominated my life for six months!!!

God was on our side and provided a beautiful, crispy cold November day.

Decorations for the entrance gates and stone path to the school were an odd conglomeration of Masterpiece Theatre meets the Sopranos. A lovely British mom spent hours decorating the gates with silver sprayed ivy, holly, topiaries and branches. Once through the gates a wonderful New York dad from Queens strategically positioned a towering blow up Frosty the Snowman, a huge flashing "Happy Holidays" sign and a blinking light Santa in a sleigh pointing toward the heavens. A huge collection of fake presents blared loud holiday tunes.

Somehow this cultural car accident helped double our attendance. Go figure.

The fair went beautifully due to everyone's hard work. Many of the parents stopped to tell me that it was fantastic (which was so kind). Last year's fair grossed $27,000. This year we grossed $57,000!!!

And now I will confess my tragic flaw.

I've spend a good chunk of my life achieving things but for some reason it's hard for me to feel it on the inside. I just kind of throw it in a pile behind me with other stuff I've done and move on. I will say that I truly enjoyed the friendship that developed between me and my co-chair Valerie.

Anne Lindburgh was right. It's the journey that counts, not the arrival.

Except when I gave birth to Ben. That day was the beginning of the best thing that ever happened to me.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Home for the Holidays

This weekend was beautiful. A warm fall weekend in the City. Should I be concerned that leaves on the trees are still green and Thanksgiving is one week away?

Mid-November through January is always a difficult time for me. A fellow blogger has a great post about the "anniversary syndrome" that people experience (whether they realize it or not). Some of the toughest experiences in my life happened during this time of the year. There is also something about the season that brings the reality of family dynamics into stark relief.

That's why God invented drugs and alchohol. He just forgot about the addiction part.

For the last seventeen years, I've spent Christmas down south at the well appointed homes of my in-laws in Annapolis and North Carolina. My in-laws are upper class WASPS and would never dream of fighting with each other on the holidays....or any other day. That's what repression is for. And martinis.

My family is more Eugene O'Neil meets Frederico Fellini. A lot of spiraling. A lot of mismatched people trapped in one room. A lot of spaghetti. A lot of noise. A lot of AA.

You get the picture.

This year I'll be staying up here so that Ben can perform in the Christmas Pageant at St. Luke's.
I'm already planning my holiday defense strategy in advance by focusing on the things I love:

1. A huge Christmas Tree
2. Having friends over every weekend in December for coffee and holiday food (I'm kinda good at that)
3. Participating in every cultural event that interests us. Especially traditional holiday music -which I adore (Handel's Messiah and Christmas music from around the world)
4. Seeing the Christmas Pageant and attending services the next morning at St. Luke in the Fields
5. Opening up gifts with Brian and Ben
6. Limited and carefully orchestrated visits with relatives (disclaimer: being Irish/Italian catholics means there are dozens of us. And some relations are actually quite sweet...and some are actually quite crazy)

By the way. Here is the link to the St. Luke's Christmas Fair that I'm co-chairing. Proof that I'm not hallucinating!

St. Luke's Christmas Fair


Friday, November 11, 2005

Veterans Day

So I'm putting Benjamin to sleep last night and we begin discussing plans for his birthday.

His birthday is at the end of March. But it isn't just a birthday. It's more like a festival that lasts several days.
There's the classroom party, the extended family party, the official cast of thousands party and then the actual day of his birth party.

The conversation went something like this:

"Mommy, let's talk about my birthday party."

"Okay. What would you like to do for your eighth birthday?"

"Well, I'd like to have a World War I Party"

"Hmmm. How do you see that working?"

"Umm. Everyone could come dressed up from different groups. Some people could be the Allies (France and England), some people could be Germany and some people could be the Austria/Hungarian Empire."

"Well what if kids didn't want to be 'the bad guys'?"

"That's easy, they could be Belgium"

"What would we do for fun? Build a trench?"

(He looks over at me incredulously) "Mommy, it's really hard to dig a trench. But we could do military drills and whoever gets the most medals would be the Ace."

Whatever happened to two hours at the Baseball Center and pizza?

Who does he think I am? George Lucas?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Back in the Saddle Again


Thank God for Election Day.

My son had class but I didn't!! Instead I spent all morning at his school walking through the logistics for the Christmas Fair. Now that I'm in the last lap I feel much better. Everything is in place and it just might be really beautiful and fun.

I loved bumping into Ben so many times at school. Like most second grade boys, he's in the thick of gender segregation these days. Even so, Ben ran right up to me and kissed and hugged me every time we met.

I forgot that moms are the third gender.

Later on I had wonderful lunch with my husband. We ate at one of those bland Indian cafes filled with NYU students. But it didn't matter. For some reason I felt taken back to the early days of knowing him. How he managed to be oddly funny, eccentric and a complete gentleman at the same time.

How is it that my husband refuses to age? He looks EXACTLY the same as he did when he was 25. Tall, thick blond hair, not a wrinkle in sight. Everyone comments on it - it's not just me!

There's no justice for the third gender!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Call me Ishmael

It's after midnight. I'm bloody exhausted. Lots of work at work these days.

And let's just say that Mommy is to Captain Ahab as Chairing the Christmas Fair is to friggin' Moby Dick. I am submerged in an ocean of baked goods, crafts, raffle tickets and anemic volunteers. The white beast is swimming out there and he has mistletoe stuffed in his spout.

An old friend once said "Sweety, you are a perpetual rescuer of souls." As a young woman of Irish/Italian/Catholic descent, I took that comment as compliment when in fact it was a thoughtful warning.

I need to rescue myself.