January 20, 2017 § Leave a comment
Our three-year-old’s favorite place mat. Breakfast will never be quite the same again.
January 12, 2017 § Leave a comment
A few weekends ago, on the way to sleep over at an old friend’s house, just like we did in the olden days, I stopped by the store to pick up some essentials. The people behind me in line were apparently going on an organic kale, ginger, and lemon juice cleanse. I got ice cream and two cakes.
I walked in the front door of the house, a house that had served as a second home in high school, to be greeted by the same friends, standing in the same kitchen, wearing (possibly the same) sweats, talking over each other. It could have been 1997.
We were so excited. It was going to be just like before.
Except that since our last slumber party, Friend #1 (owner of the house) has graduated from college, gotten married, had babies, and bought the house from her parents.
And instead of ordering Dominos, Friend #2 made the pizza FROM SCRATCH (including the crust) and brought an incredible fancy appetizer of mussels with some sort of divine garlic dressing (marinade?) on it.
And she made her own bread.
A nice pairing to the gourmet dessert.
And this time, instead of gearing up to watch an ‘N Sync special for the 18th time that someone had taped off of MTV on VHS, we were prepping for Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids Concert on Netflix.
Oh, and there was this:
Tearing around the house.
So instead of eating pizza in front of the TV with YM mags to warm up for the main event, we fed these four, bathed them, dressed them, and wrangled them into bed.
Then we settled in with our beverages and Netflix. We were so ready.
…only to be interrupted about 5 minutes later from squealing coming from one of the rooms.
Repeat every 5 minutes. For the next hour.
After an hour we were about 15 minutes into the 2 hour concert because of all the pausing.
Then Friend #2 who was, in her day, one of the most die-hard boy band fans I have ever known, tilted her head at JT on the screen and, through a mild scowl, said, “Why would anyone pay hundreds of dollars to watch this live? He’d be like a tiny speck.”
…and that was it. Things just weren’t the same.
With a few sad, defeated glances around the room, we fast forwarded to the one song everyone wanted to hear and then turned it off.
Then we fell asleep at 10.
Thomas Moore wrote:
Ev’ry season has it’s pleasures;
Spring may boast her flow’ry prime,
Yet the vineyard’s ruby treasures
Brighten Autumn’s sob’rer time.
So life’s year begins and closes;
Days, though short’ning, still can shine;
What though youth gave love and roses,
Age still leaves us friends and wine.
A beautiful reflection on the passing of time, the relationship between what is and what was, and how beauty and value can evolve without being lost.
…plus we still know the choreography. At least we’ll always have that.
January 5, 2017 § Leave a comment
“Once again I reassured myself that happiness is something simple and self-restrained — a glass of wine, a chestnut, a paltry brazier, the sea’s rumble, nothing else. The only requirement for one to sense that all this is happiness is to possess a heart that is also simple and self-restrained.”
I read Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis for the first time in high school. I remember it being a beautiful book, with lots of noteworthy passages. I had a quote from it taped above my desk in college:
“As I watched the seagulls I thought: That is the road to take; find the absolute rhythm and follow it with absolute trust.”
I loved that quote. But it’s basically all I remember.
I had an old copy of it lying around, and the book has been called “one of the greatest life-affirming novels of our time.” So I decided to give it another go.
Basic plot: the narrator, a 35 year old brooding intellectual is sitting in a cafe moping about a past relationship when he meets Alexis Zorba, a spirited, exuberant older man. The narrator, enraptured by Zorba’s spirit, invites Zorba to join him as a business partner on the island of Crete where he is re-opening a lignite mine. The book is the story of their time together living in a small, rural Greek town.
I didn’t remember much of the plot from my first go-round and to be honest, I now realize why. The story was kind of strange. Scenes felt contrived and choppy, inserted into the plot to expose certain philosophies as opposed to carry the storyline. The narrator seemed whiny, and Zorba, the hero of the novel, came across as shallow, selfish, and outright crazy. Everything seemed a little melodramatic.
Another thing I did not remember is the role of women in the story. The way the men use them, and the way they refer to them (a few examples: brazen bitch, brood mare, slut, whore, hussy, wench, “having no brains”…)
I thought maybe it was just me, that I was being a little hypersensitive because we were mid-election and there was all sorts of talk coming from our country’s leaders about grabbing body parts and blood coming out of wherever. But really:
(Describing a Russian man dance):
“I watched his hands, feet, chest, eyes, and understood everything: how they had entered Novorossiysk, killed the bosses, looted the shops, entered homes and grabbed the women, who at first wept, scratched at their own faces, scratched the men’s faces, but grew tame over time, the hussies, shut their eyes, and squealed with pleasure. Women, after all!”
I understand that this was written in 1950s about rural Greek society. Still.
I finished this book thinking, wtf. Of all the books out there, THIS is consistently on the “Top 100 Books of All Time” list?
But I finished it. And a few days later I sat there thinking about the fact that in spite of the above, I kept reading. Because intertwined in this story of a twisted society with imperfect, ugly people and barbaric, unpalatable scenes, are beautiful, poetic prose about that same world:
“It had begun to grow dark. The western sky had acquired great sweetness: somberly violet beneath small, scattered clouds with golden edges weaving gently in and out of hte evening light and incessantly changing form — sometimes boats, sometimes swans, sometimes fantastic wild beasts made of cotton and frayed silk.”
And I thought: Maybe that’s the point. That these passages, sprinkled amongst the disturbing plot twists and character interactions, were what kept me coming back to a world that, on the surface, turned me off in so many ways.
Maybe this book is way more meta then I initially thought.
Kafka said: “Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”
People are cruel, the world is ugly, society is barbaric, and often times there isn’t much you can do to stop or change that. This is as true today as it was then. But mixed in with all of that is a beauty in the things we do and experience every day. But to see it we have to get out, we have to engage, which means exposing ourselves to the not-so-beautiful as well.
So maybe Zorba’s heroism lies not the fact that he is callous or dismissive of the ugliness surrounding him, but that unlike the narrator he is able to move through the world without shouldering the burden of everything bad. He may seem insensitive and irresponsible at times (because he is), but his strength is in that he manages to revel in the good, which keeps him young and alive.
This book is about contradictions. It’s about how to live, and about humanity. Zorba wasn’t a perfect person. But his vigor and successful quest for happiness made him a hero nonetheless.
“God changes his appearance every second. Blessed is the man who can recognize him in all his disguises.”
…or maybe that’s not it at all. Maybe I just need more sleep.
As I was sitting there pondering these deep, deep thoughts (aka zoning out), my three year old came marching over to me, naked, with a gross old baby blanket draped around her neck like a cape:
“Mommy, can you play some music please?”
“Uh, sure I can…where are your clothes?”
“No, I’m wearing my dress because I need to dance. Isn’t my dress sooooooooo beautiful?”
Yes, yes it is.
“…there is only one life for all men…there is no other…all that can be enjoyed must be enjoyed here.”
December 23, 2016 § Leave a comment
No, but seriously. I’ve been taking an exceptional number walks. It’s a problem.
i baked this cake for my friend’s birthday, then ate the entire thing by myself
One thing that really isn’t helping is the fact that my sister is literally posting pictures of her abs on social media. Because she has abs to post, not a doughy mid-section mass.
I know, the holidays, self-discipline, blah blah. But let’s be real. I blame Trump.
there used to be 5 of those on there
Or *blamed* Trump. Then I saw this:
Because everything else wasn’t enough.
And I realized, there is just no fighting it. This year is unstoppable. Resistance is futile.
2016, you win. I surrender. Bring on the bonbons.
December 20, 2016 § Leave a comment
I kept observing him, thinking to what a degree this life of ours is truly so extraordinary and mysterious, how people join and separate like autumn leaves chased by a windy downpour, how we labor in vain to enable our glance to cling to the face, body, and gestures of the people we love, whereas in a few years we fail to remember any longer even whether their eyes were blue or black.
~Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek
It’s that time of year again! The below was my original choice for our annual holiday card.
It got vetoed because you can’t see the dog, Paul appears to have lost muscle function in part of his face, our first child looks like she needs to be exorcised, and our second child is not looking at the camera. Bummer.
I love sending out holiday cards. I love getting them.
Every year as I make the list of who to send them to, by stage of life: Childhood. College. Grad school. This city. That job.
I’ve always been a little bit sentimental about how transient relationships can be. It’s bittersweet that someone who seems so crucial in your life can fade to a hazy memory.
Social media has changed this, in ways both good and bad. Those people no longer disappear into a vortex. You know where they live, what they’re doing, how they look. You no longer have to remember their eye color, just go check their most recent selfie.
But social media platforms can also alter the context of your relationship. I don’t need in-depth knowledge of my ex-roommate’s beliefs on circumcision or whether an old teammate thinks I should change my skin care routine. Because I haven’t seen either of them in years, and sometimes all that matters is that I still smile remembering the time they made me laugh so hard I threw up. Regardless of their feelings on Harambe.
So I like the cards. A quick snapshot of the present without additional, unsolicited commentary. I like to make the list, think of all those people without being prompted by my Facebook feed. It is nice to see how much has changed and not changed over the years, to look up at my actual wall, see all the people I love, and be reminded of just how fortunate I have been.
(For the record, that is only a portion of the cards we have waiting to be hung. We are more popular than that. I swear.)
December 15, 2016 § Leave a comment
The past few weeks have been wonderful and ugly. In my little bubble things have been pretty smooth and happy, while so much of the rest of the world has not. Cue a lot of emotional confusion. Gratitude and guilt. Joy and horror. Hope and helplessness. The dissonance is awkward and uncomfortable.
Things felt weird. I wasn’t sure how to start up a dumb blog again.
And then last night our close friend invited us to dinner at a a beautiful country club where carolers dressed in A Christmas Carol garb wandered around from table to table singing.
george c. scott’s a christmas carol
It was such a treat. The food was amazing, the kids were dazzled. We basked in the holiday cheer. Both kids fell asleep in the car on the way home and we tucked them into bed with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads.
Then 4am HH woke up yelling that her tummy hurt. On the way to the toilet she threw up all over the bathroom floor.
This wasn’t my first rodeo. I sprinted out of the bathroom to find a hair elastic. On the way back in I saw her basically submerge her head — long, luscious hair first — into the toilet bowl as she was retching. And in that moment of panic I didn’t watch where I was going, stepped in the puddle of puke on the floor, slipped, and pulled a groin muscle.
So why don’t we start there.