favorite city >< favorite person

A few weeks ago, Frank commented that he needed to get to New York City to see Irving Penn: Centennial at The Met. Never one to pass up a travel gamble, I quipped, “If you need a tour guide, I could possibly be persuaded to go to The City with you.”

“Can we do Brooklyn, too?”

“With glee.”

“Well, you don’t have Offspring on this weekend,” he said, pointing to the calendar, “Let’s do it then.”

Before I went to sleep that night, I received a text, “Check your email for flight confirmation.”

I was floored. “Um, that happened? Will happen? Is happening?,” I thought to myself. Then I stayed up til 2am creating a list of possibilities for the trip. He hasn’t been to The City since the ’80s so I am sharing my favorite city with one of my favorite people, as if he has never been there. Holy hell! So much to share! Ever since, I’ve realized this, I’ve been squealing like a toddler who just found out she gets an unexpected trip to the ice cream shop, but silently because I’m grown and TOTALLY mature.

This is what I shared with him. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments! 

The following are a random selection of things I like (or have heard of) in NYC / Bklyn that would make good spots on a map to begin an adventure. Well, wherever we are will be an adventure, so these spots are possibilities with adventures on the journey from wherever we are to wherever we choose to go. We can use these ideas or ditch them entirely.

The Met 10-9 F / Sat & Sun 10-5:30 (We’ll go Friday to be sure to see it and have time to return.)
Oyster Bar – mainly for the historical interest and Grand Central beauty. Oh yeah, and oysters.
Roosevelt Island – Held an asylum at far end of island. The land remains disconcerting though there are apartments and such near the air tram.
The Noguchi Museum – no idea this existed, intrigued. (Queens)
Socrates Park – no idea this existed, intrigued. (Queens)
PS1 – MoMA 10-6. (Queens)

Brooklyn Museum (11-6) – on the edge of Prospect Park. Prospect Park and Central Park were both designed by Olmsted – to note, the style of Prospect is what Central Park was prior to “englishfication”.
Broadway & Myrtle Avenue – My old neighborhood, curious how it has transformed.
Bklyn Hts Promenade – views
Jane’s carousel (11-7) stunning rejuvenation of 100+ year old carousel, now situated and lovely park of DUMBO.
Atlantic Avenue, Sahadis
Key Lime on a stick 185 Van Dyke St Brooklyn, NY 11231
Celebrate Bklyn :: Ben L’Oncle / Sweet Crude :: Saturday, July 15th 6:30 gate / 7:30 show
Sleep No More :: Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy through a film noir lens ::

Cafe Mogador (101 St Marks Place New York, NY 10009, now in Brooklyn, too 133 Wythe Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11249)
Little Italy – (pizza, was a regular lunch spot when I was at NYPL) btw 5th & Madison
Vanessa Dumplings – 118A Eldridge Street (btw Grand & Broome) –
Co. – 230 9th Avenue – Jim Lahey (That no knead bread we both adore … This place is that guy.)
Olmsted on Vanderbilt in Bklyn – Just looks amazing.
Prune :: 54 East 1st Street – I’ve read the owner’s autobiography and am smitten.
Dosa man – In Washington Park. Offspring and I stumbled on to him a few years ago. I dreamed in chutney.

Highline “Park”
SeaGlass Carousel 1(0-10) Battery Park
Governor’s Island
Staten Island Ferry – runs 24-hours

Solid foodie list … Keep on reading … It keeps on going.

I harsh on Mother’s Day, but let me be clear, it’s the commodification of a day placed aside to honor the women who nurture and love and sacrifice for others that I have issue with. The premise of Mother’s Day, I love.

Thank you to all the glorious mamas out there – not just the birth mamas, but the found mamas and best aunties and step mamas and even the men who step in if a mama isn’t available. I know many women who this day grieve for men who stepped in as their mamas – mamas and dads give different kinds of love, but those who experienced the flip know that each can give either … but I digress.

This day is about the love a mother, of any stripe, brings to the next generation. This day is about the sacrifice and constant figuring out how to make everything work when sometimes nothing is going right. This day is about wiping dirty noses with shirts (pro tip: use the inside of the shirt, it’s only gross for a sec). It’s about making lunches with nothing in the house because you were too exhausted to shop – and thought Thursday was Friday. It’s about stepping up to help your kid make a costume at the last minute so they aren’t the only one without a tulip hat for the spring play. It’s about being understanding and holding your tongue when you hear for the thousandth time that {insert nemesis child name here} was being a jerk by simply being competitive. It’s about being simply listening to kiddos rattle on – even if you have no idea what they are talking – and coming up with questions that demonstrate you are listening. It’s about teaching kids how to find the gems in a shitty day and recognizing that some days are just not going to be good – and that’s ok. This day is about the beauty and fear and complete absurdity of the unknown.

Mother’s Day is a day of thanks for the folks who so often forget they need to take a moment for themselves because they are so busy looking after the future.

Mamas, whoever you may be, thank you.

mother’s day

On the Sunday before Mother’s Day, I noticed the “Mother’s Day Wine” display in my local grocery store’s wine department. It was filled with a selection of shitty rose wines and a curious lemon moscato. I may have been a little edgy due to personal stress, but I marched up to the wine clerk and, pointing the shelf, asked, “What the hell is wrong with that display?” He looked a little shocked, and may have tried to find a panic button, as I kept pointing and nudged, “See, the Mother’s Day selection? … What’s wrong with it? I mean, I am sure you didn’t assemble those wines so tell me what you see?”
He bumbled a bit, “Um, wine, um rose. A lot of rose?”
“Yes!,” I declared. “Just what every mom wants – a shitty rose for her “special day”. Why do you think those were chosen?”
With almost no hesitation, he said, “Honestly, they look like wines we are trying to get rid of.”
“And that, my friend, is the problem. Now that you see the problem, I am sure you will find a way to fix it,” and I moved on.

A few minutes later, I saw him staring at the display with two female co-workers and a box of assorted wines of a higher caliber.

This exchange really got to me. You see, I really dislike Mother’s Day because it is a manufactured moment of honor that’s takes advantage of “doing the right thing.” Yes, this sounds cynical. But that’s how this mama feels about the day.

Restaurants jack up brunch prices. Industrial roses are pushed on the corner to fulfill last minute guilt. Grocery stores pawn off their crap wines as special. Finally, glittery cards with saccharine sentiment are thrust upon moms that would like to just sleep in for one damn day.

Let’s all, just for one year, ignore our manufactured Mother’s Day. Instead, listen to your mom / wife / girlfriend / women in your life who is a mother. If she wants all the glory-sentiment of Mother’s Day, by all means give it to her. However, if the mama in your life is terrible about self-care, try asking, “What would you like? Maybe a morning to yourself? Maybe I could pick up the kids for a week? Maybe you’d like to just go to a movie?” These prompts will help her know you are serious and that you’ve put some thought in wanting her to have some time to do with as she pleases. Just take a few minutes to hear her. And about taking that time to hear her, keep doing it throughout the year. “Mother’s Day” shouldn’t be a singular day, but a sweet string of thanks throughout the year.

candy update

Candy update: Last week, I wrote about candy tasting and how maybe I should do such a thing because simply saying, “I don’t like candy because it is too sweet” is a cop out on my idea that people should always be able to stand behind *why* they do or do not like something. So today, I bought a variety of minis for egg hunt purposes. And taste testing.

First. There are nerd encrusted jellybeans out this year. OMG-d! They are called, hilariously, Bumpy Jelly Beans. What kind of candy magic is this creation? Trick question. WONKA MAGIC (aka the good kind). If you like nerds and jellybeans: Get thee to a grocery store. The nerded, excuse me, Bumpy Jelly Bean is brilliant.

But let’s return to the rest of the study. I purchased a combo bag containing Milky Way, Twix, Three Musketeers, and Snickers. I tried one of each. Here is their story:

All have a decent-since-it’s-over-something outer chocolate.

Milky Way: I like the chocolate mousse(?) inside, but the caramel nutty part was overly sweet and not pleasant for me. Pass.

Twix: Again with the caramel layer. Just not into that unless it is rich and maybe a little salty, which it most certainly is not in a Twix. I did like the cookie crunch part. Maybe if this candy were cold I would like it, but doubtful.

Three Musketeers: This is not too bad. A bit of a Milky Way without the poor decision to sleep with dime-store caramel. I’ll likely have another small one sometime in my future.

Finally, it was time for the Snickers. Ok. This is a candy bar I could eat on occasion. I really like the ratio of nuts to caramel — it is caramel? — and nougat (terrible word, by the way). It isn’t too sweet, great texture, and the taste changes as you chew. This candy bar is a winner.

hug your baby before college, tomorrow

A post to my old livejournal account turned up on my Facebook feed today. It was from when Lil’bit was 7 months old. It knocked me on my ass – I mean, livejournal! But seriously, I was knocked on my ass because she is now 8 1/2 YEARS and it happened too fast.

So to all my new(ish) mamas & dads. Hold those li’l beans close – take an extra five minutes every day to just soak them up. I know it is so hard. You are so very tired. They are So Hard. And that instruction manual just isn’t arriving (trick answer, it never will). But you are each doing an amazing job. Thank you for raising just the kid that only you can raise.

Here is the original post:

Baby girl,

I am so proud. You can use us for leverage in order to stand and it doesn’t make you mad to fall down. You like a little dressing on your lettuce and can gum the hell out of some pizza crust. You are even figuring out how to push the dog’s snout out of your face when he goes in for a lick. All that is great. I love watching you grow, but please slow down. And please stop drugging us at night. I know you crawl out of bed and find your way to the nearest steroid dealer, get an injection and return home. That is the only explanation for your mood swings and persistent growth.

My babylove, you are seven months tomorrow. Slow down a wee bit. Soon you’ll be running through the house and bouncing on our bed. Soon, we’ll have to lower your mattress so you can’t climb out of your crib. Before we know it you’ll be talking up a storm and making menu suggestions. I can’t believe it is all happening so fast. You have no patience! I just want to nurse you a little longer and carry you in my arms a few more months. I don’t want to let these moments of babydom pass us by, but there they go, in the blink of an eye. So many firsts are already gone and every day another first heads out the door. I just can’t believe how exponentially it is all taking place.

Your gamaholly brought you a pair of pants that she made for you. They are a touch too long, but look great with a cuff. She is making other clothes and I can’t be more excited to see what she creates for you. I couldn’t make those little creations and her timing couldn’t be better. I’ve started dressing you in our neighbor’s handmedowns because you are outgrowing your clothes. I think the little boys handmedowns are adorable, but your father insists adorable for boys and adorable for girls is two totally different looks. I figure if we get you used to boys clothes maybe you won’t start dating too soon and I can keep you close a few days longer.



What’s your favorite candy and why?

Listening to this podcast, Spilled Milk :: Gas Station Candy, I realize I’ve eaten very few types of candy (just don’t much care for the sweet). That being said, maybe I should try some new varieties. I say people need to know why they like / don’t like things, but “because it’s sweet” has always been my fallback on not liking candy.

Butterfinger, Peanut M&M, and York Peppermint Patties are the ones I do like.

Butterfinger are the most fun to eat because I first chip all the chocolate off the bar. Then the flaky buttery crisp gets stuck to my fingers as I crunch into it in such a way the layers are enjoyed. It is a fun candy to eat. I only like the junior size. The full-size bar is overwhelming.

Peanut M&Ms are fun because they hit every OCD button. First, I can organize them into color. Eat the candies in an even / odd number order – crunching through the odd numbered candies, but suck on each even til the candy cover and chocolate is gone and Eat The Peanut!

York Peppermint Patties are wonderful. But I really only like them with iced coffee.

Now to consider a quest of conquering other candies …



The term self-care is bandied about a lot and I feel like some people really have it down. I am not – historically – one of those people. I overbooked, over-volunteered, overcommitted, and it was all freakin’ exhausting. The side effect, beyond exhaustion, is that behavior left little time to care for myself. Little time to write, work on creative projects, or have a bed that wasn’t covered in clothes.

After years of this behavior, I realized my lack of self-care was really about avoiding myself — if I stayed busy enough I could avoid the discomfort of being with me. By being busy, I could avoid the pain I never worked through from losing my father, not being able to say good bye when I was barely eight. Busyness let me avoid grieving a dying marriage I felt responsible for not being able to make work. Being too busy allowed me to avoid the sense of helpless over the pain of our country’s dysfunction. By staying busy, I could help everyone else, thereby feeling useful and necessary. Busyness was a way to feel heard, except that I wasn’t listening to myself.

Upon another streak of overcommitting, a dear friend made me take time to go to lunch together. We were preparing for an upcoming, multi-day event and he asked me what my schedule looked like for the event. I told him and his reply was, “And when did you schedule time for yourself?” I tried to fudge that I’d put in time here or there, but he just looked me dead in the eye and said, “Mm-hmm … You should do that.” Honestly, it had never truly occurred to me – I had a few hours of blank time on the schedule, but it was just for resting or eating or (more likely) being filled at the last minute with something “I needed to do.” Making time for myself felt selfish. Time to just be: What the hell would I do with that? Why would I want to just hang out with me? He clearly had no idea what went on in my brain when I was left to my own, solitary devices. But his words gut punched me – they were so straightforward, without judgement, and coming from someone I deeply respected so I did it. I made time to be alone.

Over that event, I walked around alone in pre-dawn and after midnight. Occasionally, I walked alone in broad daylight. I felt pain in ways I hadn’t felt before. I also felt a different kind of joy. I have always been extremely independent, but I’d never been comfortable alone. Over that long weekend, I met myself again, maybe truly for the first time. I learned that there was a lot I enjoyed about me and I lot I needed to figure out. I realized, maybe most importantly, that for years I felt I couldn’t be heard – that my voice somehow didn’t really count the way I perceived others’ voices did – but the truth was: I hadn’t been listening to myself so there was no strength to my voice. My truth was silent because it hadn’t been given space to bloom.

That weekend was almost three years ago. When I look back, I hardly recognize the girl who pretended to be so strong, but was so constantly shaking from within. That girl who needed validation, far more than she had confidence, has been replaced … not replaced, but rebuilt into a stronger version of (her)self. A self that by no means has it all figured out, but a self who is comfortable in that unknowing.

In that unknowing, I find new energy and the quiet comfort in knowing I will never know so many things – and that is ok. I now love spending hours hiking only with my dog or going to a movie alone or just driving to nowhere because the sky is a lovely color and I want to chase it for the few minutes it breathes in that space. Now I work hard to not overcommit and I’ve learned to say, “No thank you.” I’ve learned the importance of boundaries and find comfort in knowing what mine are – and why I need them. I write more, I love more fearlessly, and I realize I don’t have to carry the world on my shoulders. Now, I do what I can with the resources I have – it seems that is elemental to self-care. When I feel myself getting to “Too Much,” I pause. I turn off the world. I give time to myself so I can keep giving back.