Monday, October 30, 2017


Astrid was invited to this Halloween party yesterday in Beacon Hill. Eliot and I dropped her off, dressed as Luna Lovegood, and walked around Charles Street until it was time to pick her up. She said she had a good time and chatted the whole way to the T about what they did. She showed us the 60 pictures everyone had posted on Instagram. There was a video of the donut game, where you had to eat a donut hanging from a string without using your hands. Astrid was on the end of a row of 4 giggling girls, all trying to eat their donuts. Each donut was different –a chocolate donut, a chocolate-frosted donut, a donut with sprinkles, and a plain donut, which was Astrid’s. I said, “Is that a plain donut?” and she said, “Yeah, it’s okay” so I knew it wasn’t. What kind of fucking idiot would give a kid a plain donut? I wanted to punch that fucking Beacon Hill skinny rich blonde asshole mother right in her beautiful tanned face. It was a fucking party! Why were there plain donuts? And why was Astrid the one who ended up with it? Why is she so shy? Why does she think it’s okay that she’s the one who gets the plain donut? She’s the sweetest, kindest, most loving person I’ve ever known and she should have chocolate donuts with frosting and sprinkles – and friends who make sure she gets them – and the courage to ask for what she wants in life, not accept whatever second-rate crap some thoughtless asshole hands her.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dinner with the Boss

Every summer the editor at the magazine where I work invites everyone, in groups of 10 or so, to his place for dinner. To make it even more enticing, he sent this email: “I need from each of you a haiku (or otherwise-styled poem) about some aspect of your childhood. I’ll read them aloud at the dinner and everyone can guess who wrote what. Bad idea? Perhaps! But we’re doing it!” So I’ve been trying to come up with a poem that’s appropriately clever (everyone’s an English major, after all) that shares something interesting but not too personal. Since it’s summer, I decided to write about summer. My childhood summers have taken on a golden glow in my memory. Swimming at the pool, eating watermelon, long family vacations in the station wagon, gardening with grandma and grandpa, fishing... Hmmm, fishing...

I walk out to the garden with Grandpa. He shovels deep. I paw through the dirt, pulling out worms. “We want the big, fat ones,” he says. “Nightcrawlers.” We drop the biggest worms we can find in a coffee can. He throws a little dirt on top and I press on the plastic lid that has air holes punched in it.

The next morning we all wake early. Mom already made stacks of ham sandwiches. Dad is making lemonade in the big green thermos. Six trays of ice cubes go in. I carry it, heavy and rattling, out to the car. It’s stuffed with the cooler, tackle boxes, fishing poles, and the three of us kids.
(Mom stays home, of course. There’s a photo I love of her and Dad before they were married the one time she went fishing with him. She’s wearing a cashmere sweater, which is hardly standard fishing attire.)

We drive over to grandma and grandpa’s and pick them up. Then the endless-seeming, 40-minute drive to Grass Lake. Before Dad bought his own boat, we would rent one from this Polish family he knew that owned a restaurant and dock on the lake. I sit on the dock watching the dragonflies or walk around the edges of the lake looking for frogs until Dad has the boat loaded. Then we spend the entire day on the lake, three adults and three kids in a rowboat.

Grandpa baits the hook for me. My brother jeers at me for being so squeamish, but I can’t even watch. I feel sorry for the worm. It was so happy living in the dirt until we dug it up, pierced its body with a sharp hook and threw it in the water to drown or be eaten. I also feel sorry for the poor, dumb fish. Swimming along happily, seeing a tasty snack, thinking everything’s hunky dory, then being jerked out of the water to its death. I feel sorry for me, too, for having such a mean brother. Why do I even go fishing? I could have stayed home with Mom. But I like being outside, sitting in the gently rocking boat under the hot sun drinking ice-cold lemonade. And despite my sensitivity to the worms and fish, it’s exciting to see the bobber suddenly dunk under the water and to pull the struggling fish to the surface. “I got one!” It’s usually a bluegill or a perch. Sometimes it’s my dad’s favorite: a catfish.

At the end of the long day, we have hamburgers at the Polish family’s restaurant. Polkas play nonstop on the jukebox and my dad polkas with me on the dance floor. Then the best part of any fishing trip: we stop at Dairy Queen on the way home.

So this is my haiku:

I feel so sorry
for the worms, the fish, and me.
But then, Dairy Queen!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Close Quarters

We really enjoyed being part of today's Globe magazine cover story.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Makin’ Memories

Last week was April vacation week. The big event was Astrid getting her braces on Thursday. Whoopee! I need to plan vacations better. There are so many places I want to visit, but I always think we’ll do it “sometime.” The problem is that most of our vacation time and money goes to visiting my family in Chicago. I really want Astrid to know her grandma (and aunt and uncles, etc), and since they don’t visit us, we have to go there. But especially now that she’s getting older, I also want her to experience more of the world. It’s a conundrum.

Anyway, other than getting her braces, I think she had a good time last week. She saw the movie “Bears” with Eliot, ate a lot of Easter candy, watched the marathon, went to the playground, visited Harvard’s Natural History Museum, saw “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” at the Wheelock Theater, had pancakes at the diner twice, went to Mt. Auburn cemetery with her friend Grace, learned to play chess, toured the Louisa May Alcott house, picnicked at Walden Pond, ate a big ice cream cone with sprinkles, went to the Institute of Contemporary Art, and had time to just play and write stories and read. Of course that wasn’t enough and on Sunday, she wanted to do one last fun thing before school started again. We had plans to go kayaking with her friend, but the weather didn’t cooperate, so Astrid asked if we could go bowling. Eliot didn’t want to take a chance of hurting his back and wasn’t feeling well, so he decided to stay home. I had a headache and was feeling out of sorts, too, but finally after grocery shopping and other errands, Astrid and I set off to Jillian’s down the street on Landsdowne. For some reason, it was packed; there was an hour to an hour-and-a-half wait. Astrid asked if we could play pool while we waited, but I saw the opportunity to squeeze in another errand, so I said no, we’d go to Coolidge Corner and come back. We walked back home, got the car, and drove to Coolidge Corner. We still had time, so we went in to Brookline Booksmith to browse. I was feeling grumpier and grumpier and just wanted to go home. When Astrid saw a book she wanted, I told her I’d buy it for her instead of spending the money on bowling. She thought about it and said no, she’d rather go bowling. On our way out, we passed a display of markers. Astrid picked up this pink one and said, “It’s melon! I’ve never seen a melon pen.” I tried again, “I’ll buy you the book and the pen instead of bowling.” She said no. I said, “You’ll have the book forever. Bowling will be over in an hour.” She said, “But I’ll always have the memory of bowling.” Good Lord! Here I was being grumpy instead of making happy memories with my sweetie pie. We drove back to Jillian’s where we were told it would still be another 40 minutes. I apparently had not learned my lesson because “I’m not sitting here for 40 minutes” was out of my mouth before I knew it. Astrid’s face fell and I kicked myself and said, “I know! We have the car. Let’s drive up by Copley and see if there’s a wait at King’s.” So we did and miraculously found a parking spot on the street and there was no wait and we bowled and made our memories. We took pictures of each other and laughed and Astrid won both games, which made her very happy, which made me very happy. My wise little sweetie pie.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Wacky Wednesday

Several months ago in an effort to expand our epicurean horizons, I created Wacky Wednesday, where one day a week we’d try a new recipe. I picked Wednesday because I work from home on Wednesdays so I’d have a little more time to cook. And who doesn’t love an alliteration? However, it didn’t last too long. I had to find something worthy of being called wacky, yet not so wacky that Astrid would refuse to try it. That took more time and effort than actually cooking. Astrid was turning into one of those kids who only ate about five things. Well, five nutritious things, plus an infinite number of sugary things. She used to eat whatever we’d put in front of her and we thought she was such an adventurous eater, then suddenly that stopped. I read somewhere that it’s biological. When kids are little enough to be around only their parents, they’ll eat whatever their parents serve them. Then when they get old enough to be more independent, biology kicks in and their palate refuses unfamiliar food in case they accidentally eat something poisonous when they’re out roaming the jungle alone. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s nice to have something to blame. Anyway Wacky Wednesday wasn’t working and I kind of gave up on it. Then I read this parenting book. I’ve read a lot of parenting books over the years although I don’t really know why because none of them ever made much an impression. Until this one: Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting by Noel Janis-Norton. Everything she says makes sense and every one of her strategies works (when I remember to implement them). One of her ideas is called First Plate. If there is a food that your kid doesn’t want to eat, you put a tiny bit of it on a plate and they have to eat it first. What makes it so easy is that it’s such a small amount that it’s hard to make much of a fuss about it. You can gradually make the portion bigger; the idea is that they will start eating a normal amount of it at some point. The First Plate idea made me okay with Astrid not eating an entire meal of something she didn’t want, as long as she tried it. For example, when Eliot and I eat our favorite farro and asparagus dish, Astrid gets penne and whatever other green veggie we have in the fridge (after her first plate of two grains of farro and a microscopic slice of asparagus). Everybody’s happy. So I’d been thinking it was time to start up Wacky Wednesday again, but I never made it past the thinking stage.

Then I started noticing those ads for Plated on Facebook. It sounded perfect: a new recipe every week along with all the ingredients to make it, delivered. On Tuesday! Just in time for Wacky Wednesday. I signed up for the trial membership and we got our first box this week. I made shakshuka (this link isn't the recipe I used, but it's probably pretty good) and it was surprisingly easy and delicious. (Well, Eliot and I thought so!) The only drawback is that it’s obscenely expensive, so I don’t see doing it again. My trial was $20 for four meals, which is what we’d pay for a big night out at Chipotle. But the regular price is more comparable to dinner out at a nice restaurant. And we never go to nice restaurants. And you still have to cook and clean. If I’m going to spend that much, I want someone to do all the work. But I love the idea of not having to think about it that much. Instead of searching endless recipes, deciding on one, then making sure I have all the ingredients, I just choose between three options, click, and it shows up. Hmmm, maybe I will try it just one more time...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Nothing Lasts Forever, Even This Winter

Three different people told me today how sick they are of this winter. I feel like I've been hibernating for months and I'm ready to wake up only to find that winter isn't over yet. But this crocus was blooming right outside the front door at work, so there's hope...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Use What You Have

I rode my bike to work three times in the past two weeks! One of the pleasures of biking to work is riding along the Charles River and seeing the crew teams rowing. People who crew are inspiring. They’re out there every day, in the rain, in the cold, no matter what. I only bike to work when the weather is nice and I don’t have to run errands or take Astrid to school or pick her up from swim, etc., so it ends up being not very frequently. I like hearing the crew coaches through their megaphones. I always think how nice it would be to have someone following along behind me, yelling out encouragement as I go through my day. Sort of like a life coach. But since I can’t afford that, I have to use what I have. Which is myself. And it’s hard to be wise and encouraging all day.

At a recent birthday party, I was talking with Mary, a fellow mom (and fellow ex-Chicagoan!), about all her various projects. She’s a lawyer who’s writing a screenplay and starting a T-shirt company. When I jokingly said “one job’s not enough for you?”, she said she’s also been collecting wise sayings from yoga instructors to put into a book one day. I told Mary about my favorite yoga teacher of all time, Rolf Gates. I went to his class every week at Baptiste Yoga and somehow my body did things I never thought it could do. At one point in the class, we’d have a break where he’d tell a story, usually something from his life. I’d lie on my mat, listening, sweating, breathing, and feel inspired. It must be like how you’re supposed to feel in church. And then he’d finish up with “…and that’s why we do abs” and we’d go on with class.

“We show up, burn brightly, live passionately, hold nothing back, and when the moment is over, when our work is done, we step back and let go.” –Rolf Gates

Mary had heard the story about how Baron Baptiste and Rolf parted ways and we talked about how yoga teachers can be assholes in real life, and maybe she should expand her book to include other inspiring people. She related this story from when she was volunteering during art class last year. The kids were painting and ran out of blue paint and started freaking out. Ms. Iluna, not a yogi, but a wonderful art teacher, calmed them down, saying, “Children, children, it’s true we’re out of blue paint. But we have to use what we have.” Ms. Iluna is awesome. She would make a great life coach. In fact, maybe that's what she should do now that Astrid's school canned her because she made too much money and hired a cheaper, younger, art teacher. Anyway, that’s my mantra from now on: “use what you have.”

And my second mantra is, “if something feels bad, stop doing it.” After one of Eliot’s many doctor visits last month, we saw a display of various handouts at the checkout desk. One, that was for knee pain, said “If you are doing something that is causing pain to your knee, stop doing that thing, and the pain to your knee will stop.” I had to read that a couple times, thinking I was missing something. Why would they say something so completely obvious? We were cracking up and the nurse at the checkout desk said “You’d be surprised by the number of people who call to say that when they eat a certain food, they get a stomachache, so they want to talk to a doctor about it. I want to tell them to just stop eating that food.” I thought, “Yeah, people are stupid,” then I realized I was doing that very thing. For the past few months, whenever I drank coffee in the morning, I felt sick afterwards. So I switched to tea and now I feel much better. Duh.