Thursday, February 28, 2008

They're Just Names

I stumbled upon the Audrey Hepburn Library of articles online, and found an interview with her about motherhood following the birth of her son, Sean. In trying to decide upon names, the article states that for Audrey, "it became a tossup between Kathleen and Maria for a girl, and Ian and Sean for a boy."


In my daily internet dalliance, I was simply searching for inspiration for a wedding dress. In other words, What the hell would Audrey Hepburn wear? She was married a few times, so she'd know what's appropriate yet fashionable and classy for a petite girl in her second wedding. So, here I am. Looking for inspiration online. I'm not looking to wear Holly Golightly's black gown. I'm looking for something different. Something real girls wear to feel wonderful. Something that would make Audrey Hepburn proud.


Ian and Sean. Thought that was funny.

Happy Thursday.

Monday, February 25, 2008


My kids have an interesting palate. They love garlic hummus and sesame blue corn chips. Noly will eat 1/3 of an entire meatloaf but turn his nose up at hamburger. Sean will eat chicken pot pie but gag on chicken breast. They both prefer fruit over veggies, with a few exceptions. Nolan absolutely loves every bean that grows on this planet. Sean can't stand beans. He loves carrots. And both kids love squash soup.

So tonight, as I insisted they eat some corn with their dinner, there was some protest. Nolan, who will sometimes eat lots of corn and other times throw a fit if it's put in front of him, was resisting the most. Sean miserably chewed away, while Nolan was at the end of his rope coming up with excuses for not having a bite.

"It's too hot!" he complained.

"No, it's not. It's cooled off."

"NO MOMMY! Now it's TOO COLD!"

"Eat the corn, Nolan. I don't want to hear it."

"But I'm full."

"You're not too full for three little bites of nutritious food."


Sean was still miserably chewing.

"Yes it is--"

"No it's NOT, Mommy! It's OLDtritious. I can't eat oldtritious food."

Good one.

While on the topic of three year olds (who have a penchant for Star Wars), Ian sent me this today with the subject line: "Noly's first girlfriend???"

I do believe this will be love at first sight:


Friday, February 22, 2008

The Longest Month?

I don't think so. February has an ugly reputation, but I gotta say that the past week has afforded me many treats to keep the winter blues at bay. For starters, there was that trip to NY on Monday. Then I began my new job in earnest this week, setting up shop in my own private office while getting to know lots of really nice, hardworking people all of three minutes from home. Wednesday Ian cooked me and the kids dinner at his place; Thursday Renee and I hit Saiam Orchids for some chow after work.

And today I had off because the kids needed someone -- gasp! like, mommy! -- to watch them on this last day of their February break. It was the one day for which no one else was available, and it worked out well. Snow fell from the sky in droves today, and I managed to bring Grandma to a very important doctor's appointment today in Branford. Hey, I have all-wheel drive and absolutely no fear of driving in snow. So I offered. The kids hung out with my grandmother's sister in the interim, and then it was home again for lunch, movies, fresh-baked cookies, snowman makin', a hot bath before dinner, soup and hot rolls for tonight's menu, a long and awesome game of Sorry! before bedtime...

AND I scored my great-father Doc McGuire's yearbook from the Yale College of Medicine from 1909. Grandma had it in her basement. A.C. Gilbert (inventor of the Erector Set) was his good friend and classmate. And the graphics in the yearbook are so cool, especially for secret societies he and his classmates belonged to (Great Grandpa McGuire belonged to Alpha Kappa Kappa)...

The list of blessings goes on and on. I mean, come on: WE HAD A TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE THIS WEEK! AND I ATE SPRING ROLLS!

And Ian and I think we've come up with a new idea for our upcoming nuptials. It involves moving the date up by a few months, but beyond that I ain't dishin' 'til we've got the details hammered out...

In the meantime, here is a pic of today's pimped out snowman:

Happy Friday.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I've been standing in my dark kitchen for the past hour or so, watching tonight's total lunar eclipse. For a while, I admired it through the window panes in my back door. Then I snuck into the kids' room while they dreamt of robots, and I borrowed their telescope for a closer look.

While it was nice to have that closer look, I preferred the commoner's view, standing in solidarity with millions of others, staring up at some great big metaphor in the sky.

Telescope in hand--by my side, I gazed up into the night. I had expected to be quite taken with the dark shadow cast over the moon. But the shadow impressed me less than the light so clearly visible behind that veil of darkness. What a beautiful gesture of this nearly full, gleaming moon to let herself be obscured just as she is shining brightest.


PS Now I'm craving a black and white cookie.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Revisiting Old Stories

Summer is closer now. I can smell it in the air at 5 when I leave the office and the sky is bright, holding out a little longer each day before it gives in to the inevitable. Yes, it's still winter. We may still get slammed with a snowstorm or two. I wouldn't mind. How could I? Warmer, sunnier days are almost here again. And I'll be so happy that I won't mind summer's empty promise to stay.

Then again, I should really enjoy these dark, frigid nights by the water while they last. There is something to be said for this time of year. Without it, summer wouldn't be very special.

I've pasted below a few favorite quotes from Anais Nin. I think I'll be rereading lots of her work when I'm reclined in the sand a few months from now. That is, when I can finally put down all these books on India...

“When one is pretending the entire body revolts.”

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.”

“How wrong it is for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself.”


Monday, February 18, 2008


this just about says it all.



I'm back from a day in the city with my kids, my brother and sister, and Ian. We all drove down in Ian's car, which conveniently has a third row of seating (it faces backward, so Grace and Jack had fun making other drivers feel uncomfortable by staring at them). After several hours at the American Museum of Natural History, which included a special butterfly conservatory exhibit, we grabbed some chow and headed down to the kids' favorite place: Toys R Us in Times Square. Now we're home, I'm slayed, and ready to begin Day One in my new job tomorrow. After two weeks of training, I've been released to do this on my own.

"So what you're saying is," observed my little six-year-old warrior, "is that it's time for you to use all the actions you learned?"


Speaking of actions, I've long been a fan of Andy Pettitte. And despite his usage of hormones, I still am. Maybe now more than ever. Why? Because he screwed up and has the guts to admit it. He answered today's reporters with patience and clarity, and for those reasons and others he is so much more of a man than Clemens ever was or will be. Pettitte has always had class, unlike many other Yankees. That's what makes him a great Yankee. That's what makes him a hero of mine. He's not flawless. No one is. But he comes clean when he's called on things. He doesn't run or hide. He ain't no gutless wonder.

Andy Pettitte apologizes for HGH use

Posted Feb. 18, 2008
Updated 4:08 PM

New York (AP) _ Andy Pettitte has not spoken to Roger Clemens since giving a sworn statement which implicated his good friend in the use of human growth hormone.

"I think it's put a strain on our friendship," Pettitte said in an eagerly awaited news conference Monday at the New York Yankees' spring training complex.

Pettitte apologized to the Yankees, Houston Astros and his fans for the "embarrassment" he caused them by taking HGH.

Pettitte arrived at spring training earlier in the day and threw a bullpen session at the minor league complex. Later, he met reporters for about an hour.

"I never want a young person to do what I did," Pettitte said. "I'm sorry for the mistakes I have made."

Pettitte sat alone at a podium, taking dozens of questions. He often paused to collect his thoughts and several times patiently asked reporters "did I answer your question?"

It had been about a month since he had spoken to Clemens, Pettitte said.

"I can't even describe how uncomfortable a situation" this has been.

With Yankees teammates Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada in attendance, along with two of his lawyers, Pettitte acknowledged he had considered not playing because of the ongoing situation.

"That wouldn't be the thing to do as a man. I felt like I needed to come out and face you guys and whatever circumstances that come I'll take it, I'll take it like a man and I'll try to do my job," he said.

Pettitte was excused from testifying publicly at a congressional hearing last week after he gave a deposition and an affidavit. In addition to his December admission that he used HGH for two days in 2002 while with the Yankees, he said he injected himself with HGH for one day in 2004 while with the Astros after obtaining two syringes from his father.

"I was never going to bring my dad up," he said.

Pettitte said there were no other times he used performance-enhancing drugs. "There are no other surprises out there," he said.

The 35-year-old lefty with 201 regular-season wins and four World Series championship rings said he did not feel as if his accomplishments were tainted.

"All I can tell you, from the bottom of my heart I know why I did this. I did it because I was told it might be able to help me," he said. "If people think I'm lying, then they should call me a cheater.

"Do I think I'm a cheater? No, I don't," he said. "Was it stupid? Yes, I was stupid. Was I desperate? Yes, I probably was."

Pettitte said in his previous statement that Clemens had discussed nearly a decade ago using HGH. In addition, Pettitte testified Brian McNamee, the former personal trainer for Clemens and Pettitte, had spoken in 2003 or 2004 about steroids use by Clemens.

Clemens claims Pettitte "misremembers."

"I think Roger knows how I feel about him. He knows I've admired him and continue to admire him. He's a great friend to me," he said.

Pettitte said he did not watch the Congressional hearings last week in which Clemens and McNamee testified. Pettitte professed his friendship for both men and said he hoped to remain on good terms with both of them.

"This has been a horrible situation for me," he said. "I'm hoping and praying I don't have to do anything else with this."

Pettitte does not appear to be at risk of a suspension for his admissions. HGH was not banned by players and owners until January 2005.

"If it was illegal in baseball, I wouldn't have done it," he said.

However, Pettitte could remain ensnared between McNamee and Clemens, who denies allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs. Dealing with his first controversy since he was hired to replace Joe Torre, manager Joe Girardi said it was too soon to tell whether the matter will end soon for Pettitte.

"I think a lot of that depends on what happens with Roger and what he continues to do. If that was to all die down, I think it would pretty much go away," Girardi said Sunday. "But, obviously, there's some litigation there that Andy might be a part of, so from that standpoint, it could linger."

Clemens has filed a civil suit against McNamee claiming defamation, and there could be a criminal investigation of the conflicting accounts given before Congress by Clemens and McNamee.

Girardi understands any additional admissions of drug use by Pettitte "would become a huge story."

"But my thought is Andy has probably told everything that there is," Girardi said.

During the season, spectators on the road are likely to remind Pettitte of HGH use.

"You know how the fans are. They're going to say anything to distract the pitcher," Rivera said. "Hopefully, it's not too bad, because it always happens."

Pettitte was 15-9 with a 4.05 ERA last year in his first season back with New York following three years on the Astros. He announced Dec. 3 that he would accept the Yankees' $16 million standing offer to return for another year.
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Friday, February 15, 2008

Another Rockin' Friday!

Today I said goodbye to Jen, the woman whose job I'm taking over and who has spent the last two weeks training me in as much as she possibly could. The amount of Jen's responsibilities at my new company were somewhat immeasurable, so there was no way we could cover everything. But she hit upon all the important stuff, and everything else I'll pick up as I go along.

I'm going to miss Jen. I've come to really like her, and my office felt quiet and lonely when she left today. Next week she begins work for a different employer in the very same building I walked out of exactly one year ago this week. And fifteen years ago she worked for Ian's stepmother, Sally, at the same store Ian worked at for 12 years. It's a small, small world.

And phones only make it smaller, as I was reminded at 5:30 this morning.

I had just gone back to bed, after being up with Cee Cee who had the shits from being on some new NSAID for her knee that she blew out last week and needs to have operated. (!!!$!!!) The poor girl is hurtin', and all I could care about this morning was that she didn't shit all over the house, like she did in my bedroom. I took care of the dog, cleaned and disinfected my room, pushed a window wide open, and hoped the place would air out.

I crawled back into bed, buried myself in my flannel pjs under flannel sheets and a flannel duvet (it's a wonder the static electricity I generated didn't have a taser--like effect on me), and the phone rang. It was 5:30! Surely, something bad had happened to someone I love, somewhere. I launched out of bed, hit the floor and reached the kitchen in about four leaps. "Unknown Caller" read the caller ID. I ripped the phone off the cradle and answered.


"Yeah, hello!" hollered a drunk-sounding guy with an Australian accent. "Is Laurie there?"

Ah, Laurie. Dear sweet Laurie used to have my phone number. Apparently, Laurie knows everyone. In the world. And they call my house almost hourly.

"No, I'm sorry," I replied quietly, relieved no one was dead. "She's no longer at this number."

"Right, well, I'm trying to reach Laurie! It's [insert forgotten name here] from Australia, and I'm trying to get in touch with her."

The guy sounded housed. Truly. I don't know what time it was in Australia at that moment, but it was definitely half-past Miller Time for this guy.

"I'm sorry, but you have the wrong number. She's not at this number. I don't know her." I was still speaking politely and quietly, hoping the kids wouldn't wake up.

"Right. Do you know how I can find Laurie?"

"Nope. I'm sorry. It's 5AM here. And you have the wrong number." *Click* I hung up. I was all done.

I crawled back into bed, mumbling to my dehydrated and strung-out dog, "Honestly, Cee Cee. What was that all about...?" when suddenly Nolan flung open my bedroom door, ran over to my bed with a tiny teddy bear in one hand and cried, "My little soft brown puppy is lost! He's gone!" He was in an absolute panic.

Up again, I went into the kids' room and found the puppy tangled up in the blankets. The puppy, the bear, Nolan, me, and Nolan's stuffed elephant, known as Elephant Zam, all huddled under the covers. I was more than happy to sleep there, since the kids' room didn't smell like dog shit and Resolve carpet cleaner. Nor was it freezing with a window wide open in the middle of February.

But I couldn't sleep. Nolan's cute little self slowly drifted back to dreamland. Sean breathed smoothly in his bed, invisible beneath his covers. The neighbors wind chimes clanged softly, and slowly the light began to break for the day. I slipped out of Nolan's bed at 6:15 and crawled back into mine, and nodded off briefly before the kids climbed into my bed around 6:35.

Now? Yoga. Tea. Bed. And maybe a little more of the Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba, a book Craig gave me a long time ago. You can never re-read too much of a good thing--especially when your six-year-old is studying Tae Kwon Do, hell-bent on growing up to be a ninja, and beginning to understand that a true warrior only uses his skills in self-defense. More specifically, a real warrior will only use his skills to show his enemies the folly of their offense. Before bed tonight, after studying an intense book about military helicopters (full of cool pics--an awesome Valentine's gift to the boys from Ian), Sean said, "Fighting with guns is not cool. Fighting with swords is cool, but you should really just be able to fight with your body--but only if you have to...right?"

Kid, you're way ahead of most "grown-ups" in this world.

From the Art of Peace:

In the Art of Peace we never attack. An attack is proof that one is out of control. Never run away from any kind of challenge, but do not try to suppress or control an opponent unnaturally. Let attackers come any way they like and then blend with them. Never chase after opponents. Redirect each attack and get firmly behind it.


Each day of human life contains joy and anger, pain and pleasure, darkness and light, growth and decay. Each moment is etched with nature's grand design--do not try to deny or oppose the cosmic order of things.

Good night.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

What a Difference a Year Makes--Kind Of

I think the thing I love most about Valentine's Day is celebrating it with my kids. We made cards for family and friends, cookies for school, and I loved watching them wake up to the surprise of a few simple presents from me after we crawled out of bed. Snuggling down under the warm covers with the two of them this morning, listening to the coffee brew and talking about our ideas for the day, I couldn't have been happier. Truly. And I'm blessed: That happens every morning here.

The kids and I hoed a long road to make it back here to my old stompin' grounds that we all now call home. The last year wasn't all that easy for us, but in many ways it was one of the best years yet. In all honesty 2006 was probably the hardest year, with my marriage quite dead but not yet buried, a shitty go-nowhere job with only five vacation days and a monthly pay cycle, and two kids who were struggling to understand exactly what happened to make the two most important adults in their lives totally fall apart. I tried my best those days to fake it in the hopes of keeping the feeling of security for their sake. But you can't always fake it. Nope. Especially when mom and dad decided to scream at each other.

Man, you couldn't pay me to go back in time. Where was I a year ago today? In court with Keith, both of us equally amused to be divorced on Valentine's Day. The anniversary of this date didn't even really occur to me until later this afternoon; I was so focused on making the day a cozy, cookie-filled happy one for the kids, that I forgot about how the marriage went out with a bang last year. I remember it was very snowy that day. It was also the last day of my old job, before I left to work for Habitat--which laid me off just before this past Christmas.

Which brings me to today. The woman whose job I am now taking over is leaving the company tomorrow after nearly 13 years, and many of my new coworkers gathered in the kitchen of the office today to surprise her with a cake and a card. My friend Heide, who works with me and helped me score the job, was there with her husband Josh and amazing-most-beautiful-little-girl-ever, both of whom I hadn't seen in ages. While Josh and I caught up on topics like daycare and PajamaGrams, I suddenly remembered:

I was divorced a year ago today.

It seems longer than that, actually. But a year it's been, and in that time we finally sold the house, I found a good place for the kids and I to live, the kids have a great new school in which they're happy, things have been up as usual, things have been down in some ways, but for the most part we're all okay. If Keith and I can sit together at the dinner table for a meal with our children, which we did last night, we're in excellent shape. In fact, we couldn't really do that without incident for roughly the last year or so of our marriage, so we're in better than excellent shape. But it's still a work in progress.

It's late now and I'm tired. I've got a belly full of Indian food, which was part of my Valentine's Day treat from Ian, who hasn't been feeling well for days. I've got one more day of training tomorrow, and then it's all me at that job starting Tuesday. I think I'll turn in soon. Nolan is mumbling in his sleep down the hall, and my landlord is creaking across the floors above me. It's quiet and peaceful in my little place by the sea here in the Cove, a little sanctuary where the kids and I can kick off our shoes, relax and play, and the grown-ups no longer treat each other like bullies on a playground. They've learned a better way.


Monday, February 11, 2008

The Latest Hot List. And a little bit about God.

On the kids' recent list of favorites (I'm leaving out all things Lego and Star Wars because their love of those things is a given):

1. Classic superhero stuff, including Superman cartoons from the 40s.
2. Astronomy.
3. Cooking and baking with a little help from Mom.
4. Robots. Of course.
5. The Titanic.
6. Babies. Today on the ride home from school, Nolan said, "I want a baby to be at our house on Sunday. But it's not going to come from your tummy. It's going to fly to our house on a rocket ship like shing! bing! woosh!"
7. Tae Kwon Do. Sean is way into it since he started classes last month.
8. Skateboarding. A continually evolving passion.
9. Planning their next vacation.
10. Lots of big questions about God, born out of a natural curiosity about something bigger than themselves, and no doubt fueled by their education at a Catholic school, which brings me to topic two:

A little bit about God.

It's kind of hard to talk about God and not immediately drown in the vastness of the topic. For the purpose of tonight's ramblings, as I listen to the washer on spin cycle and realize I'm wasting time on the computer when I should be doing yoga, I'm going to keep it simple.

I'm a lapsed Catholic. I have a few major bones to pick with the organized religion which dominated the culture and household in which I was raised. Still, I'm drawn to the church. Not its dogma, but the intrinsic beauty of faith in something larger. The further I have wandered from Catholicism to explore agnosticism and, eventually, Buddhism and Hinduism, amongst other religions, I realize that Catholicism ain't so bad. In fact, no religion is bad that encourages us to love one another and ourselves and to treat ourselves, each other, and the earth with respect. All the major religions hit on these principals and more. Still, I disagree with some of the politics of the church, but not the basic teachings of the Old and New Testaments.

And I've chosen to send my kids to Catholic school, because the "golden rule" of doing unto others as you would have done to you is applied there on a daily basis. As my ex recently noted at a dinner party, Sean was in fights several times during his last year of daycare at an esteemed Woodbridge child care center. At his new school? Nothing. The kid is happy. He's popular. He's doing well with all of his lessons and, according to his teacher, has become much more empathetic and supportive of his friends since the beginning of the year. There is an overarching tenet of kindness at the school, coupled with excellent education, that I will not find in a public school. At a wine tasting to benefit the school last week, Nolan's preschool teacher said to me, "You're truly blessed. You have beautiful children who are wonderful little people. You're doing a great job. And the hard days can be hard, I know. I raised two myself. But the reward! When days are tough, just remember you're never alone. And honey, don't ever think the grass is greener. It isn't. At the end of the day, we all have laundry to do and we all have bills to pay."

This teacher is an old school neighborhood Italian nonnie, and I love her. And what's so beautiful is that she owes so much of her life, which has been hard as I have learned in my growing friendship with her, to her faith that life isn't really according to 'her plan'. She goes with the flow. And her idea that we are never alone in our hard times because others are suffering too is absolutely and totally Buddhist.

I'm barely scratching the surface and I've yet to get to my point, too, which is this:

It pisses me off greatly when people slag Catholics, especially when those people are my supposed friends. And for some reason, while it's not PC to dis other religions, it's totally acceptable in our culture to make fun of Catholics. Granted, there is humor in everything, especially much of the Church. And as a survivor of seven years of Catholic school including four years at an all-girls Catholic high school, I can rip it all apart as good as anyone.

But the other day, sitting in Ian's living room with a bunch of family around, one of our friends walked in for a visit and remarked that his wife was off at some "stupid" Catholic church for Mass with her mother, and everyone snickered and laughed. And I thought, WHAT THE FUCK? What's so bad about it? If she wants to go to church, why the hell get down on her? Who cares what her motivations are? Why is it laughable?

Here I am, a totally lapsed Catholic who struggles with her faith while trying to impart good values on her children who she is raising to be grown men. If they don't grow up to be church-goin' Catholics, I'm not going to spin in my grave. Not at all. But if they grow up to be the kind of guys who make fun of people who go to church, or temple, or to the mosque, or to the fountain to throw quarters and wish, or whatever it is they do to believe in something bigger than them, then I would spin away. Simply put, I'm raising my children to be good people. To not be arrogant, ignorant jerks. To not laugh at the idea of faith. To not be threatened by it. I'm trying to arm them with knowledge and exposure to ideas. If they grow up and convert or renounce everything, that's their call. They'll be adults. They can figure out what works for themselves. But if they mock other people's choices in the process, that will be my greatest heartbreak.

In the end, people can think whatever what they want. I have no control over that. I don't want control over it. At least I can go inside my own heart, where faith is not defined by four walls, stained glass windows and incense. It's simply believing in a whole lot of important things, not the least of which is the goodness of my fellow humans and the fact that we are all connected in this great big world, even me and the jerkoff "friend" who makes fun of his wife behind her back.


Friday, February 8, 2008

Drinking for the edumaction of God's children. Bada-bing!

Last night Ian and I joined the throngs of current and aspiring Cove lifers at Anthony's Ocean View (aka "Ant-nees"--thanks, Heide!) for a wine tasting to benefit the kids' school, a real icon of the neighborhood and community at large.

Now, I've been to many wine tastings during the past ten years, from my stint as a PR lackey in NYC and a development chump for a local non-profit and everything in between, and I can tell you this: They are usually pretty standard fundraisers that feature a decent array of "Finger Foods" -- a term that has always grossed me out (gasp! my food's been fingered!) -- and two or three tables of featured wines from a local, esteemed packy that fancies itself a purveyor of fine spirits rather than a supplier of legal dope. Throw in a four-page printed program/ad book and maybe a silent auction, and you've got yourself an hour or two of fun for roughly 20-60 people.

That's the standard, anyway. But things in the Cove aren't standard.

Sometime around 6 PM Ian and I pulled into Anthony's parking lot, mystified by the lack of available parking space for this event. We slid the car--a shiny new Benz loaner, since Ian's older, fancy grocery getter is in the shop--into a spot between a Beamer and another Benz, and stepped deep into the mud of the venue's lot that is currently in the process of expansion. Hummers, enormous SUVs and brand spankin' new pickups dwarfed us as we walked in wet, dirty darkness toward the restaurant. Through the doors and into the thick of if it, we joined everyone from the neighborhood for a Cove Fabulous night.

In the shadow of yesterday's major mob bust in the NY region, close to 300 people descended upon Anthony's last night for a wine tasting to end all wine tastings. There were more than a dozen tables featuring roughly four to six wines apiece, presented by the reps from local distributors. More than ten food stations featured everything from mussels and clams casino, to stuffed eggplant, talapia, calamari (fresh, not fried), stuffed breads, assorted cheese and meat, and an enormous pasta station with several choices of pasta and sauce served by four chefs. In the end, we could cleanse our palate at the fondue station, featuring fountains of chocolate and white chocolate for dipping the likes of fresh strawberries, shortcake and pretzels. There was a small, but decent table of silent auction items, and a 32-page ad booklet for us to read at our leisure.

The decor of Anthony's is very late 70s, with mirrored pillars, heavy carpeting and low ceilings. After sampling the wares of a few distributors, however, the place was nothing short of totally awesome. Cove princesses strutted around, perfectly tanned with helmet coifs and the most perfectly and heavily applied makeup I have seen in a long time. At least half of the women looked as if they were related to me; the average height was about 5'3", and most of us were dark, curvy, and sassy. But since I lack fake tits, over-tweezed eyebrows, a sweater dress and CFM knee-high boots, I felt a little outside the circle.

It didn't matter. There was food to eat. And did we ever eat. And we drank. And we chatted with other parents who were eating. And drinking. And we all drank some more. Ian spotted familiar faces ("That guy used to come to Rudy's all the time!"; "I know that guy. He's a fireman..."; "That guy used to hang out with Thomas during the coke and heroin days...") and so on. I spotted more familiar faces than I could handle, mostly from my old neighborhood, since I grew up around here. We talked to a few moms, some dads, a few teachers, and nearly everyone referred to me as "Nolan's mom". That kid has charisma, I tell ya. People who don't even know him, know him. He is a charmer with a smile you can spot a mile away, and everyone loves him. He is only three years old, and is quite possibly one of the most popular kids in the entire PreK - 8 school. So, there I was, Nolan's mom. Mother to a PreK superstar, downing Malbec and Chianti alongside the principal, Vinnie Penn, and the rest of our parochial glitterati set into which I have been initiated, some with whom I share a past, and most of whom with which I will ride alongside into the great unknown for the next 10 years or more.

By 8:30, when the show should have been winding down, it was clear that all who remained--close to 200--were just getting going. People were getting housed. Uninterested in overbidding on silent auction items such as wine baskets and pasta packets, Ian and I slipped out, chatting with a dad -- another fireman, an Irishman (some of us actually have Irish blood around here; I'm a hybrid, a McGuinea) -- during our escape. We headed back out to the car, amidst more Beamers and Benz's and Volvos and Hummers, and shot downtown for one quick round at Firehouse 12. Then it was home to surf the web and peruse the latest real estate listings for the neighborhood.

As if we'd live anywhere else.

And this, for fun...

I used to have such a crush on that scumbag Sonny. That explains a lot:


I love you, indirectly.

The goal of any writer is to convey a whole lot of ideas and vivid images with as few words as possible--choice words that show rather than tell the story. In the end, it means trusting your readers to figure it out without coddling them with plain and simple language. At the same time, you don't want to overdo it with metaphors. So we walk a fine line, and we constantly rewrite. And at some point, we let go and figure the readers will know what to make of it even if we no longer do.

I have no problem pulling few or, as is usually the case, many words out of my ass to illustrate how I feel about all kinds of things. Whether or not they are quality, choice words eloquently strung together is another matter. But with matters of the heart--true ones, real ones, the painful ones--I'm speechless. I'm typeless. I'm staring at a blank computer screen and my eyeballs are bleeding. I can't spew the witty metaphors or simple diction. This is not because I can't find the words. It's because I have a really hard time being honest with myself about these things. And the fact that I rewrote the previous sentence six times should serve as evidence of that.

There is that old saying, "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" I love that, and I try to apply that to my own life. For me, however, it often comes down to the issue of "What would you say if you knew you would not be rejected-- or hurt?" This does not just apply to romantic matters of the heart. I'm talking about all of it. The big, one-time go-around on this planet.

Why is this coming up for me now? Well, for one, we're in the throes of Valentine's Day confection and affection. I'm also making some new breakthroughs in therapy (I know, I know. Yawn.), and THEY SUCK. They kick my ass because they force me to accept things I don't want to accept but must if I want to really move forward at all in my life. Much of this has to do with me being honest and direct with myself and others. I've been known to be honest with people, but not always direct. I am now ready to digest the fact that if you aren't direct, you aren't really being honest, whether it's with yourself or anyone else.

So all the words I've struggled to put into voice or ink for some of the most important people in my life have really just been the tip of the iceberg. I always left loopholes and questions by my deliberate vagueness. In other words, when we want to say something, we should just say it. "YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE FOR ME! I'D RISK IT ALL FOR YOU! I LOVE YOU!" works a whole lot better than, "I still think of you. Hope you're doing well." There would be far fewer postings on Craigslist's Missed Connections if we all addressed each other this way.

But it's not all about me. I can be as honest as the day is long, but if my heartfelt direct honesty is not returned, or even replied to!, then what's the point?

The point, I'm now ready to swallow, is that it's not about the reply. I might never get one. In fact, when it comes to the most definitive relationships in my life, I haven't gotten one. There are reasons for this. In some cases, the people I need to be honest and direct with are dead. In other cases, I'm dead to them.

So in the end, I figure I can only move forward if I'm ready to be honest and direct with myself about my feelings about something or someone without expectation of reciprocity. It's learning to sit with feelings and emotion, and let it run through myself without immediately trying to label it as "good" or "bad" and push it away or hope for someone to validate it. It is what it is. It's just a feeling. It might be a big one, but it's just a feeling all the same. Give it time, and it will run its course. Sit with it for as long as you can stand it, and you might find it comes back to haunt you less and less.

Part of this, too, hinges on my ability to stop distracting myself from the moment--something Americans just love to do. Let's just sit and be uncomfortable for a minute, rather than rush off and go shopping or eating or house hunting or whatever it is we do to feel better. To that end, I'm working hard right now to look forward to things, but not plan them. Yes, I want to buy a house this year. And lucky me, I don't have to sell in this market, only buy. However, what I really need to do is just sit and be. Sit and be. Sit and be and enjoy this awesome neighborhood, my amazing children, the new job, the whole package. The house will come. Ian and I will figure out what comes next for us individually and together as time moves on. There is no schedule. There doesn't need to be one.

I've stopped labeling.

I've stopped expecting.

I'm just going to marinate in life's juice right now.

And if I'm sitting for a while, it doesn't mean I'm waiting for anything. That bus ticket expired years ago.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Baptism by Fire Alarm

So far so good here at the new job. Jen is training me well, I'm meeting lots of people and my new boss has already implored me to sit down with him when he gets back from India so we can discuss where I will go from here after a year or so in this position. All of this is silver lined by being so close to home, the kids' school, and a good friend of mine who works on the other side of the building.

The building is an old, converted gun factory that did a tour as a mattress warehouse before becoming the quirky office space it is today. It's a solid building, partitioned from the company next door by a wall on the opposite side of my new office, a large room that Jen and I have been sharing for the past three days.

Around 9:30, while Jen and I chatted about our upcoming meetings today, a sudden, horrible sound burst from the wall above us. The fire alarm was wailing. It was an awful, industrial sounding horn, buzzing every second while the lights began flashing everywhere. It was the loudest thing I have ever heard--it sounded like a prison break alert. Jen leapt from her chair as I did the same, my chair slamming into the wall behind me and the two of us running out of the office to see what the hell was going on. Jen started screaming at everyone to evacuate, because in 13 years she has never heard that alarm go off. People around here violated many rules of fire safety: most of us went back for purses and cellphones, Jen called 911 from inside the building, many employees sauntered outside with laptops, it goes on and on.

While outside, a man poked his head out of the adjacent building and said, "Oh, did we set that off?"

Turns out the panel to the fire alarm system is next door on the other side of my office wall, and some company is testing and servicing the panel, but no one told us. We all wandered inside, Jen called 911 and cancelled the call, but by then the fire department showed up and asked me and Jen a bunch of questions, since Jen had said in her 911 call that she also smelled "an odor".

"Well, we may need to check it out if you think you smelled something," he said.

"I don't know. I mean, I thought I smelled something," Jen said. "Do you smell something? she asked me.

"Personally, there is always an odor around here,"I offered.

The fire department opted not to check out the entire building. They were happy we had called and at least evacuated, even if it did turn out to be a false alarm. But everyone's real issue was with the service company. It's common sense, people. You tell everyone in the building when you're servicing a fire alarm. Plain and simple.

If we're lucky, later the sprinklers will go off.


Monday, February 4, 2008


And just like that, they grow up.

Sean lost his first tooth this morning while munching on pancakes for Ian's birthday breakfast. It was poised to fall out for the past few days, and this morning, after observing a bloody piece of pancake he had just bitten into, viola! The thing was in his hand, and I've never seen him so excited. He and I hung out in the bathroom as he rinsed and spit with salt water ("EW! It tastes like the ocean!"). Nolan walked in to join us and said, "Can I see?" Sean showed him the big, red hole at the bottom of his mouth. Nolan was impressed. "Whoa," he said, wide-eyed.

My little big man is growing up so fast. Yesterday he was busy dropping in with his daddy at the skatepark. Last night he was having fun entertaining the grown ups with his keen wit and sense of the absurd at Kevin and Rachel's party. This morning he lost his tooth and then helped his brother make his bed. What a morning! Lost teeth, Ian's birthday, presents, pancakes, and the dog woke us up with a full-blown seizure. All this before 7:45.

It's also the first day of my new job. Time to take a much-needed shower and get moving. Let's see, I need to be there at 11:00. So if I leave my house by 10:56, that should give me about a minute to spare.

Hey--and the Giants won the Super Bowl. That makes me pretty happy, even though I'm not much of a football fan. Still, what a game last night.

Less than two months until Opening Day...


Sunday, February 3, 2008


Wow. More than a dozen of us enjoyed the full-on East Side Restaurant experience last night in hard hittin' New Britain for Ian's birthday. The night was complete with 32 oz. beers, horseradish cottage cheese and saltines, kraut, funny hats, silly songs sung by the waitstaff, and many forms of schnitzel. Oh, schitzel, how I love thee.

Afterward, we piled into several cars and headed over to Reno's, which takes the idea of a coke bar to a new level. No, this place had boarded windows, a new, windowless door, and a boarded up caboose jutting from the front of the building. I wasn't feeling it. If I was ready to score some crystal meth, maybe I would have been feeling it. So we all headed back down 91 to the Wagon Wheel here on the border of the Annex/Fair Haven sections of the city. Ian, Dylan and Craig rolled along with me in my New England Mom ride, and I was treated to drunken farty burpy boy talk about hot chicks, sci fi, and bad nights that ended good parties on Daggett Street years ago.

We arrived at the Wagon Wheel and were fortunately too stuffed to want its pizza. The bar is a neighborhood holdout that ignores the smoking ban and has two pretty nice pool tables to shoot on while you watch Sabado Gigante! and listen to Aerosmith comin' from the jukebox. Just don't try to leave that room. The doors to the outside are not only locked, they're chained shut. Glad the place didn't go up in flames while I was there.

We played a few rounds, drank a couple of rounds, tipped well and went home, further crammed into my car with Ian's brother, Alan, joining the fart and burp crew. We cracked some windows, dropped off Dylan, and skidded into my driveway in time to watch some bad TV before passing out.

Today it's a Super Bowl party in the 'hood with Dylan et al. Kevin, whose house we're going to, is a staunch Sox fan. Keenly aware of this, Sean said he wanted to make a Red Sox Stink banner to give to him. I told him that was not only rude to give our host, but pretty confrontational, too. It was also funny. I suggested he just wear his Yanks hat. He agreed that subtlety might be the best form of offense.

Time to throw another dozen cookies in the oven. I'm bringing the chocolately chip good times.

A seriously fun weekend. And I got to eat Hunter's Schnitzel. That was after Renee and I tried not to laugh at the sweet, Polish waitress who must have said the word "Schnitzel" about 65 times while offering the day's specials.

"Why do I feel like I'm back in church and unable to laugh?" Renee said, when we could finally breathe and crack up like a couple of idiots.



Friday, February 1, 2008

The Has-Been

It's been a while since I've written any poetry. This is not at all my usual style, but I ripped this out for fun. Playing with words is all, on a rainy Friday with wine. (Read: This is not about Ian. Not by a long-shot.)

I am,
You are this
thing that yawns
is not what it once
was to me, but there you
sit in a dark corner of this
empty banquet hall at the back
of my mind waiting for the band to
strike some perfect song with the right
words about what is what was what
used to be everything it shouldn't
have, while you trash cracked
glasses in your pocket, sure
that neither of us has any
thing to see but ourselves
out of this overdressed
and tired memory that
carries bouquets of
wilted, white
impatiens, a
rather silly
choice in
the end.



I got the job! I start Monday...

Heide, I owe you something big. More than Thai, baby.

Life is funny. Last year while I was searching for apartments and working downtown, I was so hell-bent on living in East Rock and riding my bike to work. Well, I have something even better: I live by the water, and I can ride my bike to work. And the kids' school is right between home and work. Keeping it local fo' sho'.

This is important to me. The kids are excelling at their new school, and not only academically, but socially and emotionally. They are happy. They have made some great new friends, and those kids come from some excellent families. Good people, period. I was talking to one parent yesterday at a special parents and student luncheon, and he said over and over, "I'm so glad we sent Nick here. There are such good people here." Ain't it the truth. Nick is one of Sean's new, really good friends. And if Sean's birthday party two weeks ago was any indication, there is a tight group of boys forming in his class--with some of the little kids, like Nolan and his friend "Little Sean", tagging along.

And this rag-tag bunch is all from the neighborhood, with mostly working parents and a few badly broken homes. No one is perfect around here, and no one pretends to be. But they are all comfortable here, and everyone looks out for each other. All of the parents except one stayed during Sean's party, and it was a really nice time with everyone getting to know each other. I'm excited about buying a house in the neighborhood sometime this year and putting down my roots. I have a catalog of perennials dog-eared and ready to go...

Of course this is where I want to be. I do not want to move back to Westville, despite how much I love that neighborhood. No. I belong here instead. It's still New Haven, but it's a little more removed and by the water. Last night Ian and I went to a special movie and lecture at the New Haven Historical Society. It was on the nightmare of suburban sprawl and the beauty of smaller, architecturally and ethnically diverse communities in which neighbors know each other and people look out for one another. At the end of the movie, there was a Q&A with a professor of urban planning from Yale. The very first person to comment said, "Well I'm sure I can speak for others in the room when I say I am glad I live in New Haven, which has some wonderful neighborhoods like Morris Cove, Fair Haven and Westville." Ian nudged me very hard.

So I wanted a community where my kids could walk to school, I could ride my bike to work, I could live in a unique house, and I would come to know my neighbors as well as I knew them in Westville. Last year I had thought East Rock would be that utopia. I was wrong. Thank God I was wrong. Thank God I was open to doing what I had always said I would NEVER do, and move back to the other side of the bridge. Here I am to stay.

As for the rest--the bad dreams I've been having and all the shadows that grew long and disappeared (and occasionally reappear underfoot and trip me)--I guess this about sums it up: