Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"I'm so busy making art that there's no time to live the life the art is imitating." -JB

I am an artist. That much is clear. And, I have always been an artist. Since birth. That much is also clear. 

Less clear is -why? And since scientists have been trying to figure this out for ages, I have no plans to attempt it here. But what I do wonder is this: what does it mean to me- exactly- to be an artist? 

This is guaranteed to be rambly. But what can I say? I'm an artist. Sometimes, in a quest to find life's answers, we ramble. 

I was curling my hair about an hour ago. I might- *might*- go to the children's room at the library today. And later, I hope to make it to Target. And the grocery store. Even in a place with the social pressures of Greenwich, those are not hair curling places. But it's important to me. Weird things are important to me. I dunno. Guess that's one of the many things that makes me an artist.

Over the past few years, I have had several opportunities to spend time with friends and just be fully immersed in our artsy-ness. We've created shows. And written books. And spent whole weekends talking about theatre and film and life and the state of things. And a very VERY big part of me wants to stay there- right there- forever. Just stay with my friends and talk and create and forget the rest of the world. It's where things make the most sense. And throughout history, many artists have tried to do exactly that. (I mean, have you seen "Moulin Rouge"?) And many of them end up dead from drug overdose. Because it's too much. Our brains just can't live there. We need a break sometimes. We need sitcoms and beer and big Hollywood movies (like "Moulin Rouge." Artsy friends, you know I was kidding about that. Right? Well, I was sort of kidding.) and regular life. We need a break, even when we don't particularly want to take one.

And these breaks from the artistic world provide other life necessities. Like food. And sleep. And clean clothes. We artists would like to pretend we don't need those things. And we often choose to indulge in our mental and emotional needs before seeing that our physical needs are met. Take now, for example. My stomach is growling. And we totally have food. And there is a lot of cleaning I could be doing. Not to mention part two of that blog that is now officially over a month late. But I "needed" to get this out of my head. No, not "needed." Needed. Our needs are different, us artists. But we still share that food water and shelter thing with the rest of the world. And sometimes we forget. And that's why so many artists die of exhaustion. (I mean, have you seen "Moulin Rouge"?)

So I guess that's the answer. Our brains are different. But our bodies are not. If you're an artist and you're looking for a way to find that balance, I recommend getting one of those little people who have bigger needs than yours. That's what I did, and she keeps me in line pretty well.

I should probably do some cleaning in preparation for the holidays. But I suddenly have the urge to watch "Moulin Rouge."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Unsolicited Advice

Ten years ago today, I got all dressed up in a fancy dress and went with my friends and family- who were also dressed up all fancy- to a church. Where I married my husband. (who was, incidentally, also dressed up all fancy.) And then we had a big party. And to celebrate that fact, I have been posting memories of that day on facebook. And to my surprise, other people are commenting and posting memories of their own. Granted, many of the people posting are family members. But not everyone. People remember our wedding. It is widely accepted as the most fun wedding ever.

And. Because so much of my career has centered around young adults, I know lots of people who are getting married in the coming months.

So. Here it is. You didn't ask for it. But here it is. How to have the second-most fun wedding ever. It involves some ugly truth. Are you ready for it? Here it comes....

Weddings don't matter.

I'll let you take a moment to recover while you pick up your ten-pound wedding planning binder you just threw at the computer. But I'm not taking it back. Weddings just don't matter.

It's a day. One day. With a party. Hopefully a really fun party. But there are only two elements that make any difference at all: two people, and some vows. That's it.

Don't get me wrong. Weddings are fun. Ten years later I'm still remembering mine. I took care in planning the details. And I was ridiculously organized. I handed the minister a full itinerary- complete with full script- like he had never seen. I mean come on, I know how to plan a performance.

But once the planning was over and we got within a week of the big day, I let it go. People who were there will back me up on this. I let it go. "Mindy, do you want red napkins or gold at the rehearsal dinner?"

"I don't care."

"You have to care. You have to choose."

"But I don't care. I choose for you to choose."

"But you have to!"

"Alright then. If one napkin color makes me more married than the other one, I pick that one. Otherwise, flip a coin and leave me alone."

I have no idea what possessed me to treat my wedding this way. Let's be honest. It's not like me at all. But something told me all that mattered was getting married, and I went with it. And I didn't do anything just because it was tradition. Again, I did many traditional things, but only if I fully understood them. 

"But you have to have a sit-down dinner!"

"Will my marriage not count?"

"Well, of course your marriage will still count..."

"Cool. I don't like sit-down dinners and I'm not having one."

And it's been ten years. And ours is still widely remembered as The. Most. Fun. Wedding.... Ever.

Eyes on the prize, people. And the prize is gettin' hitched. Period.

Alright, while I'm at it, let's talk about those vows real quick.

They're serious. And they DO matter. A lot.

If you're going to stand in front of God and everybody and promise to be with someone "for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live..." you can bet that He is going to give you ample opportunity to prove it. I think we've had all those things this week. (well, maybe not richer. Not with money, anyway.) But it's a promise. And I say this because so many of us (Ryan and I included) get married so young. It's hard to believe that worse and poorer and sicker would ever really happen. But it will. And the promise is that you'll stay together anyway. Even when you don't really like each other that much. Because if you hold up your end of the bargain, God will hold up His.

And I say this only to be encouraging- I have lots of friends and family who have, for one reason or another, gotten divorced. I'm not judging you guys in this, I'm pretty familiar with your situations and I get that sometimes it's what's best. (And for many, the match wasn't right in the first place...) But for those of you who are about to get married- and there are a lot of you!- just remember. Those vows are for real. They're a promise. And you're practically begging for them to be tested. But stick with it, and you end up sharing your life with the one person who gets you through it all.

Happy Anniversary, Ryan! 
12/16/2000 <3

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What Happens in Vegas, Stays in... Pt 1

What happens in Vegas stays in, well, Astoria, appartently.

Here are the events of the week as I experienced them.

Several days ago I was chatting with a friend about Saturday evening, and the fact that Ryan and I had plans. We were going out to dinner. With another married couple. Without the baby. This was, I explained (though I probably didn't have to) a very big deal. We never get to go out just the two of us. We were even spending the night at our friends' apartment in Astoria, so there would be no worrying about who would drive, no rushing back to the babysitter.

Friday morning I got a text. Our babysitter was canceling. This was not OK. I needed this night out. And I knew that Ryan needed this night out. And he had mentioned several times over the past two months (yes, we had made these plans two months ago) how important the evening was. That it was the ONE NIGHT when we must be certain to have a sitter. I was angry and frustrated, and I knew he would be angry and frustrated, and I set to work finding a replacement.

That's all I did on Friday, really. I sat around and waited for people to get back to me. I was either actively contacting people, or sitting around being a nervous wreck, unable to focus on anything productive. I knew a few of my close friends already had plans- like... playing Ophelia in Halmet, or celebrating their own anniversary. Then some of my go-to girls from my theatre company started to get back to be. None of them were available. I posted it on facebook. Nothing. Then I started to get messages from a friend of a friend, because there were a few people devoting a lot of energy to finding us a babysitter. It was that important. And I was grateful that everyone seemed to understand that it was that important.

A little confused.

But grateful.

Ryan found someone on Friday afternoon around 4:30. Whew.

I set out on Saturday to teach a lesson in Manhattan in my usual fashion- a bag slung over my shoulder carrying different clothes, make-up, and shoes, so I could get dressed up to go out after I taught. I am starting to feel like I will spend all of my Saturdays this way. I taught, and then I wandered around Manhattan for two hours, just waiting for time to pass before my date. Finally, I had wandered as much as I could wander. I called Ryan and asked him what the plan was. "I'll be at Eddie and Melissa's around 8:00. I'm leaving the car in a garage that is one subway stop closer to Manhattan. I'll meet you at that subway stop and we can walk together."

8:00, eh? It was 6:00.

"I was thinking I might just go on to Eddie and Melissa's and get ready there. I'm really tired of carrying all my stuff around."

"No! I really want to walk with you."

"But my shoes are huge. I don't want to walk in my giant heels. And I don't have any place to get ready."

"We never get to spend time together! I want to walk with you."

"Fine!" I conceded. But this was really annoying. The Starbucks where I had been reading did not have a public restroom, and I didn't feel like wandering around Manhattan trying to find someplace, so I got on the train to Astoria. I arrived there about 6:45, and started, once more, to wander. Again I called Ryan.

"How long do you think you'll be?"

"It will be at least an hour."

"OK. There's seriously no place for me to go."


"Fine. I'll figure it out." But he was lucky this was not a first date.

As I started wandering- again- I got a text from Melissa. "Just leaving the city with my nails painted! So excited!" Getting my nails done is a pretty rare treat for me, but it gave me an idea. A nail salon would have a bathroom and a place for me to sit down for a while. And- could it be? A salons with manicures for $6. I couldn't sit at Starbucks for $6. So I picked out a plum colored polish, and let someone else take care of me for 30 minutes or so.

Then I called Ryan. Again. "OK, what's your ETA?" I could tell he was about to lose it when he told me that he was stuck at the toll and was at least 20 minutes away. I didn't want to make him feel even worse about being late, but come on. "Fine. Call me when you're here."

I found a bar and ordered a 7-and-7. And I sat and drank. By myself. Finally, the woman next to me asked-

"Are you waiting for someone, too?"

"I am. My husband."

"Yeah. Awkward, isn't it? Because until they show up, you're just drinking at a bar alone." We laughed and chatted for a few minutes before my phone rang. Finally.

I met Ryan under the subway. Not the most romantic start to a date I've ever experienced, but I was just happy he was there. With a suitcase. But I let it go.

We walked the few blocks to Melissa and Eddie's and chatted about my lesson and the woman at the bar and my purple nails. And as we climbed the steps to our friends' apartment, I expressed concern over wearing my hair down. I never wear my hair down.

"It looks fine." Well. That makes me feel better. "I think you might look a little too classy, though."

"Excuse me? Too classy, for what? For Astoria?" This was a little hurtful, since I was specifically going for an artsy look. I was confused. So I added "I have purple nails? Does that help?" I never got an answer, because that's when Melissa opened the door. In bunny ears. And Playboy pajama pants...

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wreck This Journal

I attended a bachelorette party on Friday night. I didn't want to go. It's not because I don't care about the bride, or the hostess, or the other guests. I was just... tired. I know the other toddler Mommies out there can understand. If you have a night off, you sort of want to stay home with your family in your jammies. But, I fixed my make-up, and got on the Metro North, which took me to the 6 train, which took me to the N train, and I arrived at the party, ready to make the most of it. I was handed a drink nearly immediately. OK, that helps... And then, I was handed a book.

"Wreck This Journal."

I didn't understand. It was just a book with a different instruction on each page. And the primary purpose is to wreck the book.

A BOOK. You want me to destroy a BOOK? I care about books. I have always cared about books. I'm writing one, for goodness sake. But I am a good sport, I can do this. Our hostess turned our attention to a page in the middle that said "rip this page out. Throw it away. Accept the loss." And it was kind of... liberating... actually. We spent the whole evening wrecking our books and talking. It's interesting that women have to have busy hands in order to connect. Men can just drink. We need to DO. And so we talked, and we drank, and we threw our books off of the balcony, and we set them on fire, and we tied strings around them and dragged them around the neighborhood. People stared (fortunately I am not shy) and asked what we were doing. We answered that it was a bachelorette party. Somehow, this was accepted as an answer that made sense. Oh, New Yorkers.

The longer the night went on, the more I got it. My inner-perfectionist let go. I got less and less worried about doing something the "right" way. I didn't save pages for when I was in the mood. And the results were all rather artistic. And honest. They were simple tasks, and they gave me an instant feeling of accomplishment.

There is a lot of freedom to be gained from wrecking this journal. I'm about halfway. So here it is. My new category of blogs. Wreck this blog. This could get messy.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Can You Feel the Love Tonight?

I had heard that the first few minutes of Disney's "The Lion King" on Broadway are some of the most breathtaking moments people have seen on stage. Last Saturday, I sat in our secluded little area, (it's not where our seats were, but since we were with a Lion King employee and the area was empty, we got to sit in the middle of the six empty rows in the back. The best place to enjoy a show with a 17-month-old) and I felt the house lights go down, and I wondered. I am not easily impressed. Would I feel what others have felt?

Less than a minute later I was holding my breath and crying as I watched the beautiful events unfold. But I could not tell you what was happening onstage. Or what the elephants looked like. I could barely tell you what song they were singing. (OK, it was "Circle of Life," but come on. We've all seen the movie.) Because the sight that had me so swept up was not the show itself, but rather, my daughter watching the show.

She sat on a booster seat between Mommy and Daddy for the first minute. She laughed when the baboon came out. But when she saw the elephant pass by in the aisle, just inches away, she crawled onto Ryan's lap and wrapped her arms around his neck, facing the back of the house. She held on, but she never stopped watching. Once they had passed, she turned around to see the parade of animals make their way up to the stage. "Wassat?" she asked. (This version of the word highly preferable and much more developed than the former "What is it?" scrunched into one syllable. "Shi-iht?") And before we could answer her- "Oooooooh! Wow!" And she sat. And she watched. And she clapped. And she laughed. (including when Mufasa died. But we'll forgive her for not understanding the context.) And she saw nearly the entire full-length show at seventeen months old.

Our friend Lindsay, who got us the tickets, did take Lily out into the lobby for a few minutes during Act 1, and again for a few minutes in Act 2. But not for long, and only for the slower parts. She sat mesmerized through the rest, and by the time Scar was brought down, she was standing on my lap and clapping her hands and yelling "Yaaaayyyy!!!" (But again, she laughed when Mufasa died, so...)

Who knows how much she understood of the story. Very little, I'm sure. But she could feel it. She could feel the orchestra. And she could feel the energy in the room. She could see and hear the instruments ("Doot doot dooooooo!" and then looking for my reaction. Is that right, Mommy? Yes, baby girl. Those horns say "doot doot doo.") and the voices, and she could see the costumes and the sets. And she could go backstage after the show. And she got to meet the actors and even go trick-or-treating in their dressing rooms and have hot dogs with their families.

Being a Mommy is exhausting. And sometimes thankless. And being in theatre is exhausting. And often thankless. But last Saturday, Lily reminded me that things aren't so bad.

Friday, October 29, 2010

"Waiting for Superman" Tells It Like It Is

A few weeks ago I got a facebook message from a friend inviting me to see "Waiting for Superman." She had been telling a mutual friend that she wanted to see it, and he had suggested I might also be interested. Frankly, I had never heard of it, and I very rarely go to the movies. As the Mommy of a toddler, it's both time and cost prohibitive. But once I looked into it a little, I knew I needed to find a way to make it work. Did I want to go see a documentary about the state of public schools in the US? Yes. Yes I did.

So, I went. And I watched. And a lot of it was really painful. But not for the reasons many other current and former teachers are claiming. For me, it was painful because it was so very true. "Waiting for Superman" tells the story of public schools the way I experienced them as a teacher. I wish it wasn't true, but it is.

Now, before my facebook friends list shrinks to about half, (although I would hope my friends would be willing to hear me out) let me get a few things out of the way. I went to public schools. I was served well by public schools. My husband also went to public schools, where he was served well. Our daughter, even in a town where there is tremendous pressure to attend private school, will attend public school. (although, this is because we decided when she was just over a year old to move someplace where she could attend public schools. If we were still in NYC, we would make a different choice.) Both of my sisters, my mother-in-law, and two sisters-in-law (my brother's wife, and my husband's sister) have taught in public schools. And they were all phenomenal teachers.

But here's the part I don't talk about very often, especially not publicly. Of those six women (including myself) in my family who have taught, NONE remain teaching today. One retired as scheduled. (but, as I understand it, exhausted and frustrated.) One retired early. (because she was exhausted and frustrated) The other four of us just quit for a variety of reasons. But among the top of our list of reasons is the fact that the system is broken. (leaving us... exhausted and frustrated)

From the reviews I have read of "Waiting for Superman," (and I've read a lot) there seem to be four central ideas regarding the film that really have people pissed off. 1. That it suggests teachers are bad, 2. That it suggests charter schools are the answer. 3. That it suggests home life has nothing to do with student success, and ignores the fact that the students whose stories are told all come from loving families. 4. That the film itself is purely propaganda because it tells such a one-sided story. I don't think any of this is true, but let's look at each idea.

1. Teachers are bad

"Waiting for Superman" examines a lot of bad teachers. Or, as many reviewers would have us believe, it has the audacity to examine bad teachers. We can bury our heads in the sand if we like, but we need to be aware of the fact that there are many, many bad teachers out there.

I've hesitated- fingers frozen over the keyboard- for probably a minute now, still afraid to type these next few sentences. What am I afraid of? Hurting friends and family? Well, let me be really clear then. If you are a teacher, and you are my friend or family member, I don't mean you. You are all fabulous. So here goes.

I taught with someone who didn't care for one of his classes, and he didn't know what to do with it, so he made it a study hall and gave everyone an A. I taught with people who just fell into their positions who were in no way qualified, and, once there, were fully protected by the union. I taught with people who made racist and otherwise hateful comments regarding students, and when I complained, I was told I would get used to it.

I ALSO TAUGHT- in fact I MOSTLY taught, with amazing teachers. Teachers who cared about their students and were gifted educators.

But the fact remains, there are really bad teachers out there. And in any other field, they would be fired. But they are protected by the union, there is nothing that can be done. "Waiting for Superman" exposes the teachers union as a major lobbyist. When I was a teacher, I was often intimidated by the meetings, and we didn't even have anything major going on. But it was more than the intimidation factor. The contracts themselves seemed unfair. I worked harder. I was better. But I was still paid less than some of those horrible teachers who had been there longer.

2. Charter schools are the answer.

"Waiting for Superman" is not suggesting charter schools are THE answer. It's suggesting better teachers are ONE answer, and that the teacher's union is often standing in the way of improvement in teacher efficacy. The filmmakers suggest, then, that families who are dissatisfied with their local public schools send their children elsewhere- someplace where the teacher's union is not in control. One option is private school. The families we follow in the film do not have the option to go to private schools, but live near charter schools with proven success. So, they enter their children in the lottery to attend these better options. They are ONE option, probably the BEST option, for THESE FAMILIES.

3. What about the families?

"Waiting for Superman" does not, in any way, suggest that home life is not a factor in student success. It also does not suggest that physical, emotional, and metal health are not a factor. Or the economy. Or the political climate. Or the weather when it's really hot or really cold outside and students can't concentrate.

But seeing as there is little the school system itself can do to change home life and the economy and the weather, "Waiting for Superman" doesn't highlight these aspects. It focuses more on the parts we can change, which feels more helpful to me.

4. The film is merely propaganda, as it is so one-sided.

First, I would argue this one-sidedness. The film DOES state that there are fewer charter schools that are succeeding than public schools. You just had to be paying attention. And it DOES highlight successful teachers, and successful public schools. But anyone who has ever taken a script analysis class can tell you that trying to show two sides of a story is just not effective storytelling. And it is, after all, a movie. Constantly going back and forth between "the public school system is broken" and "but there are some great public schools and public school teachers out there" (much the way I am doing in this blog...) waters-down the message. We're supposed to leave feeling conflicted, our hearts breaking for the kids who most certainly are getting "left behind." And we're not supposed to have a clear answer. We're just supposed to know it needs to be fixed.

I have more to say. But I'll save it as answers to my hate mail.

Crazy Straws, Nerf Balls, and Coffee Filters (Oh, My!)

I don't know why we can't just buy a costume. There are many lovely costumes available for purchase, and they are probably less expensive than what we end up spending on the parts needed to assemble something homemade. But we both feel the same way. We will make Lily's costumes. So there we were last night at Toys R Us, trying to find all the right pieces. Did it matter that there was a big silver heart on the front of the sweatshirt? How would we get the Nerf ball to stay on the crazy straw? And more importantly, how would the crazy straw stay upright on the headband? And did it matter that it would show? Should we cut holes in the hood so it could go underneath? No, she could wear this again.

We put Lily right to bed when we got home and got to work. Step one had Ryan over the stove melting plastic. Sewing the headband to the hood proved difficult and ineffective. Good thing we had nice strong tape. Then I realized the curling ribbon was in the spare closet in Lily's room. That's OK, we had twine. And in under and hour, voila! The costume was complete.

I had to wait until this morning to try it on her. (although I really wanted to wake her up. But I remained patient.) She tipped her head backwards in order to see what was on top of her head, and continued to try to see for long enough that I laughed so hard I snorted. I carried her into the bathroom, not sure that would work- did she even understand mirrors? Not really. But she took one look at her reflection with that silly hood and smiled, then giggled, and accepted the hood as appropriate attire. I changed her out of the costume immediately, of course. We need to keep it clean for the party at "The Lion King" tomorrow, (yes, the Broadway musical. We know people.) and trick-or-treat on Sunday.

But I know that it works, and it fits, and she likes it. And someday, she'll be the girl who just wants her parents to buy her a damn costume from the store. But until she's old enough to know better, she's the girl with a designer and a music theatre teacher for parents. And we don't buy costumes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Move Over Laura Ingalls

Things in my apartment that do not currently work properly.

1. My phone. The button at the bottom that takes the user back to the home screen does not work. At all. In order to get back to the home screen, I have to shut off the phone and restart it. As an iPhone addict, this is more than just a nuisance. It is life-altering.

2. The TV. It just shuts off and turns back on. Whenever it wants. Granted, we got this TV around the time we got married, so sure it's not HD or anything, but it should WORK for goodness sake. And Lily doesn't understand the word "broken." So she throws herself on the floor and cries when she pushes the button and nothing happens. Don't get me wrong, she's not obsessed with TV. She's obsessed with buttons.

3. The microwave. I tried to use it a few weeks ago and it sparked as if there was metal inside. (there was not.) I stopped it, had Ryan look at it, he had the same result, and it has been unplugged ever since. But it holds our little bride and groom cow quite nicely, so it is still good for something.

4. The computer. It's "fine." But it's six years old (a dinosaur, in computer years) and isn't even fast enough to watch videos online. (Netflix. Perverts.) And since it's a desktop, it's stuck here in our room, which means I can only use it when Lily is sleeping, or when Ryan is home to watch her. But if Ryan is home, I don't want to be stuck working in another room. And there are two times during the week when I have a break for HOURS and could be writing, but have nothing on which to write.

Now. There are people without food water and shelter. And there are people without love. And I have a lot. I know this. Seriously, I do, and if you point out what I have as a response to this post, I'm calling you out for not paying attention. But we get used to modern conveniences, and when they stop working, I for one get very whiny.

Does anyone know of a reality show that gives people technology makeovers? Kate Kenny? Anyone?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jacket Required

You would think it's gross.

You would look at it, all dirty and smelling like beer and stained and worn. And then you would look at me, dressed some days in Ann Taylor, other days like a West Village artist, and you wouldn't get it.

And I wouldn't care.

It is my band jacket. And once a year, I'm wearing it all weekend.

It's OK. I didn't get it either. When I heard as a freshman that they were going to "initiate" my jacket, I told my Mom in confidence that I didn't want them to. Why would I intentionally make my jacket look old? And then, the day arrived when it was time to pick it up from Baron's Men's Shop. I was a little excited- I had seen all the other band members in their jackets, and I would have one of my own.

And the guy handed it to me. And it looked ridiculous. The letters were blindingly white- screaming "OHIO" at me from the back. And the sleeves were all stiff and new. This was clearly the jacket of a freshman.

"OK," I conceded- a little- "maybe there's something to this jacket initiation thing."

I handed my jacket to my Big. Reluctantly. Other band members ran around the field with freshman jackets- marching on them, wrapping them around trees, cleaning their car engines. But my Big made a little mud puddle, and methodically covered each of the letters and the patch on the front, turning the white to a dark brown. And he took his key and carefully put a hole in the patch that's shaped like the State of Ohio. The hole was right over the place where Springfield would be, had it been a real map. And then he asked if I wanted beer pockets.

"I'm sorry. What pockets?" I asked. Innocently. I was a very good little freshman.

"Beer pockets. If I rip the lining out of one of your pockets, it opens up to the inside of the jacket, and you can fit at least a six-pack in there." Of course, some jackets could fit more like a case. But mine was very small. "Makes it easier to get to and from parties without getting caught."

But I didn't drink. I was sort of known as a freshman for not drinking. Well, that and being a cheerleader. But mostly the not drinking thing. So I would not be requiring beer pockets. And, unlike many of the other Bigs, he honored this.

And then, he scratched his initials- TV- into the button second from the top. Followed by four other older band members. JT, and MW, and AK, and EH. And he started to make a diamond Ohio which, even today, (gulp) seventeen years later, remains just one triangle and a line. In fact the only things that have changed about my jacket since that day- aside from it getting more worn, of course- are my Tau Beta Sigma pin, and the small black ribbon I wear on my name patch on the inside to remember Jud and Frank. (who will always be with us at Homecoming)

I wore that jacket for the next five years, much to my mother's dismay. "What are you wearing over your formal dress to the Band Banquet?" she would ask. My band jacket. Obviously. I sat on it when it got too hot. And I used it to wipe the snow from my car. I wore it all over that gorgeous campus, and it let the world know that I was a member of one of the most honored organizations at that school.

It comes out of the closet today, ready to accompany me to Athens, where I will wear it. All weekend.

And you'll probably tell me you think it's gross. But I'll know you're just jealous.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Standing on the Metro North Platform, Waiting for the 10:39 to Larchmont

There are many things I could have done to avoid this.

Better financial planning, for starters. We always think we have a plan, and then something comes up, or something falls through, or it's Columbus Day so class is cancelled and I need my paycheck today not tomorrow when it would come in the mail.

Or I could have asked about the car yesterday, while Ryan was still at work with access to his calendar, rather than waiting until this morning to call, discovering too late that he has appointments all morning.

Or I could have gotten up earlier, making it more likely, upon discovering that we had to walk to the train station, that I would arrive- baby and stroller and diaper bag with diapers and bottles and wipes and bottle and sippy cup and all- on time for the 9:02, rather than watching it go by.

Or I could have thought more rationally, realized there was no way I was going to make the 9:02, and waited peacefully at home for another 45 minutes, rather than rushing out in a panic, leaving me at the train station with a toddler and nothing to do for 45 minutes.

Or I could have kept up with the laundry, making it possible for me to pack an extra outfit, so that when we went to the park to wait for the 9:55, and Lily got soaked from head to toe on the playground equipment, still wet from last night's rain, I had dry clothes for her.

Or I could have brought the smaller stroller, so that when I arrived at the station and discovered that the elevator was broken, I could have carried Lily and stroller up the stairs myself, rather than needing to ask a young man who, in reality, is probably not as strong as I am, for help.

But I didn't do any of those things. 

So, here I stand, on the Metro North platform, Lily in her new outfit from the clearance rack at Gap kids, me in a sad thrown-on t-shirt with my hair in a sad thrown-back ponytail but finally wearing some make-up applied in a train station restroom, exhausted and a little defeated, waiting for the 10:39 to Larchmont.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The No-Fail Pie

I am good at a lot of things. I teach really well. And I can sing. And I can teach people how to sing. And I'm good at things that have nothing to do with teaching or singing. Like writing, or so I'm told. But it turns out there is at least one thing that I just cannot do.

I cannot, to save my life, make a pie.

I made this shocking discovery the week of the Carol Brady experiment, while trying to make a raspberry pie for my husband as June Cleaver. Oh, sure, it turned out alright I suppose. And Ryan absolutely loved it. Ate every bite. But I knew better. I knew it wasn't quite right. The crust just barely covered the pan. And it took me four tries. And it was tough. And just... not perfect. June's pies were perfect.

For a while, I was willing to let it go. But then I got some encouragement. My Mom bought me a proper pie plate. And a friend of hers gave me a recipe for a No-Fail pie crust.

Then, a few days ago, a friend of mine jokingly referred to me as the kind of girl who doesn't make pies. It was a joke, and made sense in the context of the conversation. And I said I took it as a compliment. Because I am a working woman, and an academic, and a really fun Mom. But people don't necessarily think of me as the girl who sits at home and makes pies.

But it got to me. I can be the girl who doesn't make pies. But I cannot, and WILL NOT be the girl who CAN'T make pies. I just couldn't accept it.

So I went to Whole Foods, and got myself some apples, and at 8:30 at night I set out to make a pie. And by 10:30, it was all I could do not to throw myself on my kitchen floor in hysterics. (fortunately, it's a very small kitchen floor. Even someone as little as me would have trouble finding the room for a full-on fit. So that kept me upright, if nothing else.)

I just couldn't get the crust off of the counter. I mean I COULD NOT get that crust off of the counter. The No-Fail crust. The one I wasn't supposed to be capable of messing up. And yes, I floured the counter. And the rolling pin. And yes, I know to roll it up over the rolling pin and then unroll it into the pie plate. It was too sticky. I slid a knife under my third version of the crust (repeating to myself that one is not supposed to over-handle the crust or it gets too tough. But what choice did I have?) Finally, on my fourth try, I was able to get several large pieces into the pan, which I mashed together with my fingers. So it sort, kind of looked like a pie crust.

I lifted my big bowl of apples- which were starting to brown because peeling them and coring them and slicing them took me ninety minutes- and dumped them into the pie plate, knowing I still had a top crust to deal with. But I planned to cheat- a lattice top is far easier, since I only have to get the crust to come out in strips. Then I just have to make it look like a pie. I'm an artist. I can do that.

I put my desperate pie attempt into the oven at 11:45. It takes fifty minutes for a pie to bake, and I was already exhausted, but I refused to let this beat me. Halfway through the baking process, Ryan woke up from the sofa to find me surrounded by dishes with flour all over the counter.

"What in the world are you doing?" It was a fair question.

"Making a pie." An obvious answer. "You can go back to sleep if you want. I'll wake you when it's ready."

I opened the oven with very low expectations. But honestly, it looked like a pie. I may have done it! Until I cut into it, to find a watery mess. The slice I had carved out for myself fell apart entirely on my plate, making it more of an ice cream topping than a stand-alone dessert. And I assure you, that's what it became.

It's been a few days since my pie debacle, and I've had some time to reflect. I sit here, at my computer, eating another slice of my gooey, not-very-sweet mess, and I realize. This is not about pie. Well, OK, in the very most literal analysis, it's a little bit about pie. But it's more about that No-Fail crust. If it's supposed to be No-Fail, and I couldn't do it, where does that leave me?

My years of struggling with infertility brought up some really interesting issues in therapy. And I distinctly remember the day when my therapist and I discovered that one of my biggest hurdles was understanding the failure. To be perfectly honest, I have had very few failures in my life. I applied to one undergraduate program, and one graduate program, and later, one more additional graduate program. I applied to one teaching position when I graduated. The year after I graduated from NYU, I went to only six auditions. This is because I booked four of them. My best friend and I decided to start a theatre company. So, we did.

And I don't say all of this to proclaim how cool I am. I tend to do things at which I excel. This makes success much more likely. I go to the auditions for which I know I'm right. I pick jobs and schools that I know are right for me. But in all of my successes, I never learned to fail. And I'm starting to realize- this is a problem.

So now, I'm stuck with a decision. Do I practice, and learn to make the perfect pie? A big part of me says yes. Because that's what I do.

But maybe I won't. Maybe I'll take this as a failure. I'll be the girl who totally can't make pies. Because in the grand scheme of things, maybe that's not so bad.

Who am I kidding? You know I'll be at Whole Foods tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

If You Can't Say Anything Nice... There's Always Facebook

Sometimes we just need to vent. Whether we're exhausted Mommies, or frustrated spouses, or fed-up coworkers, or hurt sons and daughters, we just need to get things off our collective chest. So, we turn to our collective facebook page. And we update our collective status.

And inevitably, someone tries to Polyanna the crap out of the situation. "I know you're really frustrated that your iron burned a hole through your shirt, but at least you have an iron!" At least you have a job. Or a spouse. Or a son or a daughter or a parent or a place to live. 

It is inevitable. And. 

It. Is. So. Annoying.

Ladies and gentlemen, no matter what Monty Python tries to tell you, it is not helpful when we always look on the bright side of life. When someone posts a venting facebook status, they are, on some level, hurting. Maybe not time-to-call-the-hotline hurting, but hurting. And when you make these accentuate the positive comments, do you know what you're saying? You're telling your friend that their hurt is not valid. 

Now before you get all riled up, let me anticipate two of your arguments and then we can just shut this down before it starts. 

1. But it's not healthy to have all that negative energy!

Is it healthy to focus only on the negative? No. It is not. And I'm not talking about those people we all know who complain about everything. I'm talking about the majority of the healthy folk who occassionally admit to feeling something other than walking on sunshine. Because we all get frustrated and sad and angry and hurt and sometimes we need to let it out. And I would argue- with the approval of any psychiatrist worth anything- that it is pretending everything is always ok all the time that is really the unhealthy choice.

2. But you don't understand. That person is complaining about something I want and don't have! Of all the nerve!

Yeah, I'd feel bad for you if I hadn't, for three years, been a woman struggling with infertility reading facebook complaints from tired mommies. And I thought "man. I really want a baby. And she's complaining about having a baby. That seems unfair." And I felt sad. And jealous. And  angry.

Hypocritical of me to admit? Here's the difference. I THOUGHT those things. And I FELT them. I did not, however, say them. Or, maybe I did. Maybe I posted my very own facebook status, or texted a friend, or booked an extra therapy session. But I did not and I would not comment on the status of the person who said the thing that hurt me in the first place. Because honestly. How does telling another person they have no right to hurt, or making them feel guilty over hurting make me hurt any less?

It doesn't.

So seriously. Please think before you facebook. Otherwise, us ivy-leaguers-and-near-ivy-leaguers are taking it back. *

(* I have no authority to make this threat. But it sounded cool, no?) 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Just Another Manic Monday

I've had a fairly hectic couple'a weeks, what with all the teaching and the traveling and the planning. I knew yesterday was going to be busy. So Sunday night I went to bed around midnight. This is early-ish for me. And at 3:30, I was still awake, thinking about all the things I had to do. But still, when the alarm went off at 7:00, I was ready. I had my clothes all laid out, and I got in the shower. And at 7:45, I got a text from the babysitter saying she was stuck in insane traffic. I needed to be on the 8:10 train. She arrived at 8:20. It wasn't her fault. It was raining pretty hard, traffic was unusually bad, she was stuck. I sent a text to the lead teacher of the class that started at 9:30, and told her that I would be on the 9:02 train which put me in Larchmont at 9:25. I might make it, but just barely.

And then. The train was late. Maybe it was because of the rain. But it was ten minutes late. I arrived in Larchmont at 9:31, and was about an 8 minute walk from class. And I had no umbrella. No umbrella, no coat, and very little sleep. I walked into class fifteen minutes late and stood, soaking wet, behind my keyboard which had been set up for me. Of course, there were a few songs I hadn't had a chance to review. I was going to go over them when I got there. Because the 8:10 train gets me there at 8:35. But. We know how that worked out.

It was a series of silly, unimportant things that made me a little late for a class for which I have never been late. I seriously doubt that anyone where I teach looks at me as the girl who is late and unprepared. But.

For a really long time- a REALLY long time- all through high school and college and well into my early career- I was the girl who was always late and unprepared. Smart, if she shows up. Talented, if she's even looked at what she's doing.

This is something I've really worked to improve. It's taken some adjusted life skills- laying out my clothes the night before, for example, and keeping a to do list that actually works for me- as well as years of therapy. Because what I really needed to fix was WHY was I always late and unprepared?

And one morning of rain set me back. I was beating myself up the whole way to class. I should have known somehow. I should have looked at all of this music yesterday. I should always carry an umbrella. I should have paid better attention to the weather report. I should have the babysitter arrive an hour earlier so I can be sure to be there on time, no matter what, even though this would be really expensive.

I was eventually able to talk myself out of all the nonsense- largely because I spent the rest of the day working in a productive fashion. But my goodness. We are hard on ourselves, aren't we?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What Color is my Effing Parachute?

Last week I was talking to a friend of mine about her boyfriend, who was in a bit of a career crisis. He had decided to turn down a job opportunity that wasn't shaping up as promised, and he was deciding what he wanted to be when he grew up. As we talked about it, I realized out-loud that I had never really been through that. I decided at 16 years old that I wanted to be a music teacher. Since then, I have earned a bachelors degree and two masters degrees in vocal music education. I have taught in public schools, private schools, colleges, theatre companies, preschool programs, youth choirs... I have taught music and theatre in nearly every capacity possible. I planned, as we talked, to blog about my career choice. About how it is one element of my life that seems constant and secure. Not the specific jobs- I can go months without knowing where I'll teach next. But the field. Performing arts education. That has always seemed to be the right choice for me.

And then. The very next day.

It was just one of those rough days. A series of unrelated events left me feeling unappreciated, and misunderstood, and very alone. And I was reminded how thankless it can be to work in the arts. Thankless, and not very lucrative. When I'm paid at all. And I started to wonder why I did what I did. And I cried. Because that's what I do.

Then I reached out to a couple friends, who talked me through it a little, and made me feel better. A little. Then, I actually taught a couple classes. And suddenly, I remembered. I am really really good at my job.

This week alone, I taught someone what a repeat sign means so she could better follow her church choir music. I played the keyboard at a one-year-old's birthday party. I accompanied six classes for babies and toddlers. I gave a young adult her very first piano lesson. I led a meeting which determined fundraising plans for a theatre group that means a whole lot to a whole lot of people, and I wrote a residency proposal for that group. I led a music class for six moms with babies who are less than a year old. I started a glee club for elementary school girls, and in one hour I had those nine little girls improvising a scene from the Sound of Music and performing "Do, Re, Mi" with Kodaly hand signals. And in the past three days, I have taught 26 voice lessons to women really passionate about singing barbershop.

It might not be a typical week, (OK, I don't think I have ever had a week like this before...) but it does make me realize. My job is pretty cool. And, now that I think about it, it's probably important.

This feels like one of the most egocentric posts I have ever written. "Look at me and all the cool stuff I do!" But quite frankly, I needed to see it all spelled out in front of me. Because it can be really, really hard. I was gently reminded the other day by a friend that most things worth doing are hard. 

So. What are you doing with your life that's hard? It's probably really important to someone.  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's Not Easy Bleeding Green

Hey there, college sports fans. As most of you in Ohio know (and none of you in NYC know. Because seriously. You don't care.) Ohio State and Ohio University are matched up for some football this Saturday. It's not like the Ohio State/ Michigan game or anything. It's not even a fair match-up. I mean really. I'm guessing that Ohio State fans aren't even paying much attention to the game.

But. If you are a Bobcat.

Well, let's just say when you're a cat, you're a cat all the way. (that was for my New York friends.) And this game is a big deal to us. And this week is really... irritating. It turns out that I'm going to be in Ohio this weekend. Not at the game. I probably won't even be able to watch the game. But I'll be in Ohio, surrounded by Buckeyes. And I will still stand up and cheer. I will cheer loud and long for old Ohio. (which, come to think of it, probably won't be specific enough...)

For those of you who aren't fortunate enough to be Bobcats, and who don't understand why we get so... irritated... let me break it down for you in three parts. 1- Why we're awesome. 2- Why we get so... irritated... and 3- Why it probably doesn't matter anyway.

1. Why we're so awesome
I could write about what it means to be a Bobcat for days and never really say it all. (Check out "Wearin' O' the Green" parts one and two that I wrote during March Madness.)Special people go to Ohio University. (no, not that kind of special.) We like each other. That's why we were yet again the Number 2 Party School in the Nation this year. We genuinely enjoy each other's company. And. It's a really good school. A REALLY good school. And I know schools- they're what I do. Some of our programs are tops in the nation. I got my music degree at OU, (and my masters degree in education) and later got a masters degree in music from NYU. Newsflash- the School of Music at NYU is not as strong as the one at OU. And I'm an alum of both programs, so I'm hardly even biased. The journalism school is amazing. Modern dance? Amazing. Ohio University has an outstanding reputation- most of my friends have careers in their field of study, and for most of them, Ohio University played a large role in that. I'll talk about it more as Homecoming approaches. But for now, we're awesome. (Yes, that made my argument largely end up being "we're awesome because we're awesome." But I can't say that I've heard much stronger arguments from Buckeye fans...)

2. Why we get so... irritated...
Here's the thing. It's the way Buckeye fans react. Truly. My sister posted a silly video about why she hates Ohio State, and someone attacked her as a mother. No, really. Get a grip, Buckeyes. It's called wit. I wouldn't have anything against Ohio State if it wasn't for the whole state feeling that my being born there mandates my Buckeye status. I haven't even lived in Ohio for seven years. And even if I did root for the scarlet and gray- do you seriously think I would still want them to beat my own team? I am allowed to root for my own school! Contrary to what Buckeye fans would like us to believe, being an Ohio State fan is not required. It's a school. One school. One state school. Do you know how many state schools there are in Ohio? Just because it happens to be big, that does not mean it represents the entire state.

Of course, for those of us who moved away from Ohio, we have to admit that it does get... irritating... to explain where we went to school. No, not the Buckeyes. The Bobcats. It's in Athens. No, green and white. And then they look disappointed. It's ok, I know it's a better school, (I am certain OSU has many lovely programs. But when it comes to my field- music education- sorry, but no. OU has a stronger program. If you would like to discuss this in detail, buy me a drink and we'll discuss. But I promise you I'll win.) it doesn't make me feel bad, it's not like I wanted to go to Ohio State and had to settle for Ohio U. But you get that disappointed face from people enough, and you start to dislike that other school just a little.

So are we a little red-headheaded-step-childish about the whole thing? Yeah, we probably are. But you would be too. We try to root for our own team, and we get attacked. We trash talk a little (not that the Buckeyes would ever do that... no, they just riot and turn over cars. Anyone want to talk about the Dailight Savings Riots in Athens? Were you there? If you were, great, lets talk. Because I was too. Otherwise, I'm sorry you were so mislead. It was not not not a riot. It was a giant game of Red Rover.) and we are attacked. Buckeye fans are so presumptuous about the situation that it's maddening.

3. Why it probably doesn't matter anyway.
Ohio State is a Big Ten school. Ohio University is in the MAC. Athletics are a different priority. When I say I love Ohio University, I mean I love the school. And the people. And the campus. And the teachers. And the classes. And the memories I made there. I was an athlete for two years- I was a cheerleader. And the Ohio University Marching 110 shaped a decent part of my adult life. So I am a fan of Bobcat athletics. And I want them to win, sure. That's always fun.

But when people are Buckeye fans, most of them are talking about sports. Just sports. Are Buckeye sports better than Bobcat sports? Hell yeah they are. Of course they are. They should be. It's a bigger school, with a different emphasis on athletics. (although, overly confident Buckeye fans might want to talk to Georgetown fans before they get too cocky...) The Bobcats and the Buckeyes probably should not even play each other.

But they do. And when they do, it leaves us Bobcats feeling... irritated. But standing up and cheering loud and long anyway.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

You've Got To Know When to Hold 'Em...

According to my Mommy calendar, today is Grandparents Day. Who knew? So in honor of this holiday, a story about Miss Lily, who is apparently being influenced by Grandpa.

Last night around midnight, Lily started to fuss. We were on the balcony enjoying a glass of wine, so we assumed we woke her, and just let her fuss. But after an hour, she was still awake, and the fussing had grown to hysteria. We went in to check on her. She didn't want to be held, she didn't want a bottle, she most certainly did not want to be in her crib. So, in hopes that she would show me what the problem was, I put her down. She toddled in her little footy pajamas- down the hall, through the kitchen, into the living room- found the remote, and pointed it at the television. I laughed, told her we were not going to watch television at 1 AM, and took the remote. She walked up to the tv, pushed the button to turn it on, and sat on Ryan's lap to watch...

The World Series of Poker. Two men in, pocket aces versus pocket Queens. Bets were placed, and eventually the man with the pocket Queens was all in. We watched each card get dealt, and when it came to the river, pocket aces was the winner.

"Yay!" Lily squealed in delight, clapping her hands.

And we put her to bed, and she slept until morning.

I guess she just really needed to see how that hand was going to go...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why Matt Lauer Should Have Beat the Sh*t Out of Tom Cruise

...and other really strong opinions.

I was hoping not to write this one, but here it is. I make no secret about the fact that I'm a person who lives with depression. I'm also a person who lives with hypothyroidism, but that's not as interesting. Recently, I've found myself struggling with it again for no reasons I can explain. And then I realized. I haven't taken any medication since February. Intentionally. I didn't just forget, I was "better" and wanted to try without for a while. But that's about the time I started to struggle, which once again brings me to the same conclusion. It's a stupid, stupid disease. But, it's a disease nonetheless, and it's a disease that I have, and pretending I don't have it is probably not going to help.

One of the problems we all face in living with depression is the stigma attached, and the fact that nut jobs like Tom Cruise are jumping on couches talking about how we can just think it through and wish it away. I wish very very often that this was true. But it's not true. It's just not.

So. In order to shed a little light on the situation, I'm going to walk you through it a little. Not so much just what it feels like. I do that in my book. And when it's finished and published, you can buy a copy and read it for yourself. Instead, I want to try to explain what goes through my head when my thoughts and feelings don't match. I'm going to explain it all in the first person, but I'm sure I could safely say "we" regarding all of it, as I am not alone in this.

When I'm having trouble with depression, I notice the feeling first. My heart races, and I feel tired, and I feel like I'm going to cry. Naturally, I then go on a mission to try to figure out what's wrong. On a good day, I'm able to explain to my body that nothing is wrong. Things are good. My life is good. It doesn't make the physical symptoms go away. Not at all. But I can tell myself that the physical symptoms I'm having, while real, are NOT connected to anything that's happening in my life.

However. I can only do this for so long. Eventually, my brain insists that we address these feelings. Sometimes it will remind me of past pain, etc. But more often, it will just start to make stuff up. My therapist once told me that depression is a liar. Since I'm aware of this, I can sometimes have the healthy side of my brain inform the less healthy side of my brain that those thoughts it's having are probably not true. For example. Yes. I'm going to be specific.

Ways in which depression has lied to me in the past week:

1- I must be a burden to my friends and family, as this is a stupid, possibly made-up disease, and it makes me a total bummer to be around, and that's why I spend so much time by myself.

2- I'm starting to look really old and maybe even putting on weight.

Now. Before you panic. I chose these two examples for their obvious absurdity. I have been to enough therapy sessions to know how to reason with these thoughts. I know, I promise, that they are not true.

But I guess that's my point. EVEN WITH all those years of therapy. And EVEN THOUGH I have totally supportive friends and family. And EVEN AS a person of relative intelligence who most often serves as a leader. Still. At 95 pounds I can decide I am gaining weight, (people who may not know me, I'm really short. 95 pounds, while thin, is an acceptably healthy weight for me.) and as someone who onstage plays characters at least fifteen years younger than my real age I can decide I am looking old, and as someone so lucky to have so many friends I can decide that these friendships are a facade and I'm actually alone.

Why? Because it's a real disease, and those are its symptoms. It's not about understanding. I understand. It's about chemistry.

So if you happen to see Tom Cruise, do what Matt Lauer should have done that morning on The Today Show. Punch him square in the face. You can tell him it's from me.

Friday, September 3, 2010


OR... This one time, at band camp...

My theatre friends tease me. Even the ones who read comic books and played Magic the Gathering in high school. (I have a startling number of friends who have this in common...) I was in my college marching band. And it was a really big deal. We were really cool. Shut up. We were. And as homecoming approaches, (the countdown and preparation for which are AT LEAST equal to those for Christmas. Just ask Scott Coffey.) my blogs about band will become more frequent.

But this blog is about this ONE TIME at band camp. This one particular time.

It was my senior year. And this kid- this sophomore named Ryan- just kept hanging around. Did I want a ride to practice? Uh, I guess. I mean, I'm a senior and I have a car. But sure. I'll take a ride to practice. Of course, now I'll need a ride home...

And when we thought we were having people over to our apartment to watch a movie and then everyone canceled, Ryan came over anyway.

And the night of percussion auditions when we were sitting in the grass outside of Memorial Auditorium and Ryan was laying there with his head in my lap and Travis gave me this look like "what in the world is going on here?" all I could do was shrug. Because I had no idea.

And then the next night, at posting of the block, when I made the band but not the percussion section (long story) and I was crying in the bathroom and Brandi came in to check on me, I said the strangest thing. "Tell Ryan Smith not to leave without me."

Wait, what? Why in the world would I care if Ryan Smith left without me?

Even stranger, when I came out of the bathroom, was his response.

"I wouldn't have left without you," he said.

Really? Why not?

We went to the party together, met with more raised eyebrows from Travis. Seriously, dude. Still no idea. And when I was too sad to stay at the party, (yes, that quickly with the drama...) Ryan brought me home. And made me macaroni and cheese. And stayed with me while I cried. And kissed me for the first time. He was nineteen years old.

We were dating exclusively within days. Yes, days. And we talked about getting married after a month. And in April of 1999 we went back to that spot in the grass outside of Memorial Auditorium, and he proposed to me. And we've been married almost ten years.

But it all started, for me, on September 6, 1996. The Friday before Labor Day. Posting of the block. Ryan tells me it's not a real anniversary. And he's probably right. But I still felt like remembering it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sweet Toddler Girl Seeks Same

This week on "The Real Toddler of Fairfield County"...

I've been spending a lot of time at the parks lately. Now that I can walk, I need room to stretch my very-long-for-fifteen-months-old legs. So we go to the big park with all the toys that's far away, and the smaller park that has fewer toys but is closer, and the open area in front of our building. Sometimes I meet friends. I am very friendly. But sometimes when I try to make friends it ends badly.

About ten days ago, for example, I was at the smaller park with Mommy and Daddy. I saw another little girl who looked like she was about my age. So I rushed up to her, threw my arms around her, and gave her a big kiss on the mouth, which is- I think- the most appropriate way to make friends. She put her mouth on the side of my face, and I thought, "Hooray! A new friend!"

And she bit me! Really hard! I cried and cried and had teeth marks in my face, and I don't know if I'll ever trust little girls my age again. It was the toddler equivalent of stealing my boyfriend, and I am certain I will be in therapy over it all one day. Fortunately Mommy and Daddy rushed me to my favorite Thai restaurant, as this was the only thing that could console me.

And then yesterday. I was playing outside with my purple ball. I am working on my soccer skills as I plan to be a star someday, and I was dribbling the ball through the grass with my feet. I saw two little girls playing on a balcony above. So naturally, I waved. And I said "Hah-ee." Because my Mommy is a voice teacher, and I have excellent diction. They came down to play with me!

Their Mommy talked to my Mommy while I chased them around. They're older than me, but I'll go to the school where they go someday. Then it was time to go. I was very sleepy. And the younger one- who consistently called me Millie, by the way- took my ball! I kept trying to get it back, but she was bigger than me! Finally Mommy told the little girl that it was time for me to go home, and I was going to take my ball back to my home. The little girl said that it was HER ball, and that she paid $50 for it! Her Mommy laughed and said that it was not hers, and that she had one like it but did not pay $50 for it. But my Daddy said that he would sell it to her for $30, and it would be a bargain. I am learning about music from my Mommy. And I am learning about sarcasm from my Daddy.

I got my ball back. And the bruises on my cheek have faded and are nearly gone. But is it too much to ask to find another nice little girl? One who likes to play tea party (I have a really fabulous tea set. It sings) AND likes to play soccer?

Nice little toddler girls of Fairfield County, where are you?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Life is Not a Sitcom- The Carol Brady Experiment Conlcuded

This conclusion is admittedly late. I've been thinking about it. A lot. And I wanted to go back to living my "regular" life (whatever that might possibly mean) in order to compare. And I've done that. I've thought, and I've lived, and I've compared, and here it is. My big conclusion.

My life is not a sitcom. And I don't want to be any of those women.

I can't not work. I have a whole week off this week, and it's making me crazy. Not just crazy. Depressed. I'm really struggling. My work- my music, and my theatre and my writing, OK I'll say it, my art- is just too important to me. Too big a part of who I am.

I can't JUST work. This weekend I had the good fortune to spend an entire weekend visiting a friend who was doing a show in DC. And for three days I got to see the show and talk about theatre and go to parties and hang out with the cast and I wrote an entire chapter. And while I didn't time it with a stopwatch, I'm guessing the longest I went without talking about my husband or my daughter was about ninety seconds. And when I got delayed on the bus going home I missed them so much it hurt. My life is very much about my art. But it's not just about my art.

I can't wear heels and chase a toddler. It's insanity.

I can't just wear whatever I grab first, and I can't just order pizza for dinner. Not on a regular basis, anyway. This, too, would be a one-way ticket to depression.

I can't get much work done when Lily is awake. I've tried. It is not effective.

So if I'm not any of those women, where does that leave me? It leaves me, as anticipated, with moderation. A woman who needs to find some self-worth and artistic fulfillment in work, and who needs to spend time with her family and provide a safe, healthy, happy home. A woman who often finds the balance between these two needs allusive. I'm a woman who cares what she wears and how she looks. But I'm also a woman who spends most of her time with a little person who is learning to run.

I am my own woman, finding my own way.

So then, why watch any of it? Why compare ourselves at all? I suppose we need to understand who we are not in order to understand who we are. And, quite frankly, they are sometimes all we have in the way of company. (See: On behalf of stay at home parents who get really really lonely.) And while we might not be exactly like any of these characters who find easy solutions in two short commercial breaks, they do represent a lot of truth. Maybe not universal truth, but truth for a lot of us. Like fighting over bills and burnt dinners and that darn Jones account. And that's gonna make us laugh. And sometimes, that's all you can do.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Carol Brady Experiment: Elyse Keaton, Part 2

Did you ever notice how Andy grew up really fast? One season he was an infant, and the next season he was, like, 4. Watching the show, I understood this was because they needed a buddy for Alex. Something to give the show a little shot in the arm. But now, as I attempted to play the role of Elyse Keaton today, I understood it differently.

Because there is no way that woman worked from home with a toddler.

I tried. I did. But Lily is a busy girl. She's not at a stage right now where she can just play by herself. We haven't fully moved in (not by a long shot) and there are boxes everywhere and her room isn't really set up and she's still excited about walking and curious about everything and she has opinions that she can't express in words and things she wants to do but physically can't... And my job, when she is awake, is to supervise her.

I got a little bit done today. I answered some emails. And, that's all. And I realized that THIS is why I do most of my work at night. Because she's asleep, and I can.

But even with all of that being true, today felt the most like what our "normal" (???) life might be like here in Greenwich. Lily and I ate at the table for breakfast and dinner. And I got a lot of laundry done. And I unpacked some things. And the whole family spent time at the park after Ryan got home from work. But it's nearly midnight and I'm just now sitting down to do the work-related tasks I have. But they can wait until tomorrow. When Ryan is home. "What would we do baby, without us?"

Sit, Ubu, Sit.
Good dog.

The Carol Brady Experiment: Elyse Keaton, Part 1

"Family Ties" was my absolute favorite TV show in the 80's. But I didn't watch it to learn more about the portrayal of housewives on TV throughout history. No, I watched it for Michael J. Fox. My first TV crush. Ryan still calls him my boyfriend. So today, on my final day of the Carol Brady Experiment, I pay tribute to his TV Mom- Elyse Keaton- played by Meredith Baxter-Birney.

Personal Style: Casual, but always coordinated. It was, after all, the 80's. We did see her dress up when the occasion called for it, though.

Housekeeping Style: Her husband, Stephen, was helpful enough, and she had teenagers to help too, but for the most part, Elyse ran the household. Breakfast at the kitchen table, balanced dinners. And the laundry room was right behind the kitchen for all to see- a perfect place for her to hang out.

Work Life: This is our only working Mom this week. (Well, Shirley Partridge worked. But singing in a band with your kids is not exactly the same as being an architect.) Elyse worked from home- balancing her blueprints with her kids and husband.

Social Life: The Keatons had a lot of friends, and the kids were old enough to be left alone.

Notes: Family Ties took place in Columbus, Ohio. I always got a kick out of that when I was little- I grew up not forty-five minutes from there. So I certainly know the Midwestern culture. And I am a work-from-home-Mom. But finding the balance between work and home life has been one of my greatest challenges over the last fifteen months. Help me, Elyse Keaton!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Carol Brady Experiment: June Cleaver, Part 2

I had planned to make pancakes for breakfast. Oops. We have no milk. June never would have let that happen. (although June probably would have had milk delivered every morning, which, come to think of it, would come in pretty handy with a toddler…) I asked Ryan last night how he felt about no pancakes. He looked at me like I was crazy for even asking.

So, it was sausage and fruit salad instead. Served in a dress and heels with my hair curled and my make-up done. I got up around 6:15 to make sure this happened. And honestly, it wasn’t a big deal. And I got to hang out with my husband for awhile before he went to work. (he asked me where my pearls were. I pulled back my hair to show him my earrings. Because obviously I’m wearing pearls. This is mandatory.) And now it’s 8:30, and I’ve had breakfast, and the breakfast dishes are in the dishwasher, and the cats are fed, and the litter box is clean, and the bed is made, and Lily won’t be up for another hour or so. So far, it seems like maybe June had the right idea… (although I did kick my shoes off without thinking about it when I sat down to write. I feel like that may be an ongoing problem today. I should probably put them back on.)

By 10:30 AM my morning routine was complete. Lily and I were both dressed (I had been dressed since 7...) and the beds were made and the floor was vacuumed and the cats were fed and the dishwasher was empty and the litter box was clean and I just didn’t know what to do with myself. This is why 50’s housewives always had fresh flowers. Because they could. And that’s what we did. We walked to Whole Foods for milk (we could have pancakes tomorrow….) and fresh flowers. And we didn’t see a soul we knew.

By the time we got home Lily needed a nap. So she slept, and I made a pie. More on that later. Ryan came home for lunch and the three of us ate at the table together. This could not have happened a month ago. Ryan told me he had gotten more done that morning than he had in a long time. Score one for breakfast. We made plans to go to a church carnival after dinner, and he headed back to the office. How very husbandly of him.

And today, when that afternoon slump came, I was ready for it. I had already made my pie. I knew how long it would take me to make dinner. Lily and I had played for a long time and she was tired again. (Which, by the way, was ridiculous in my dress and heels. I do not give very fast piggy-back-rides like this. I am a roll around on the floor kind of mom.) So I put her down for a nap, and I took one myself, guilt free. Now I’ve started dinner, and I’m drinking my coffee. Slump defeated.

The three of us ate pot roast together at the table. The table where I had placed a vase full of flowers. I’ve made pot roast before, no big deal. But it felt more official. It’s what we were having for dinner. Together. And we’d been sitting there for a few minutes, and Lily looked at us, and she said- I swear- “One… two.. three… four… five!” We had just been watching Sesame Street, sure. But Ryan and I just looked at each other in shock. It was an amazing dinner table moment, and we celebrated by putting her in her little plaid dress and taking her to the carnival, where she road on the carousel and the elephants that go way up in the air. And she danced to the band. And she ate cotton candy. And then she ran around the apartment and crashed, falling fast asleep. I think the Cleavers must have had similar evenings.

I am good at a lot of things. Making pies is apparently not one of them. Ryan’s favorite dessert is raspberry pie. So I tried. I really did. I made the crust from scratch- I put in the flour and the shortening and the salt and the water. And what resulted looked a whole lot like two sad little sand castles on my kitchen counter. I thought I was going to cry. June could make pies. She made them all the time. I cannot make a pie. I have two masters degrees. Why can’t I make a pie?

I started to wonder what I could make instead. Then I remembered that the crust was just flour and shortening, and that I had plenty of both, and I could try again. I re-read the recipe. I had measured so carefully. And then when I went to add the shortening I had the distinct memory of adding 1/3 cup. The recipe calls for 2/3 cups. Oh.

Certain I would find success this time, as I had found my mistake, I tried again. The dough did at least stick together, but I couldn’t get it to roll out without tearing. I tried half of the dough. Twice. Then I set it aside, deciding I had obviously started with the more difficult half. So I tried the other little ball of dough. I’m not sure how many attempts it took, but I finally ended up with something that would at least cover the bottom of the pie pan. Sort of. And so I set it down in the bottom, and I made my raspberry filling which I added to the “pie.” And then I cut some strips from the rest of the dough and sort of made them look like a pie on the top. It works in art, it should work in baking, right?

Several hours later, after Lily had crashed into her sugar coma and Ryan and I were settling down (“I’m his December bride… he’s father, he knows best…”) for the night, I set out to serve the world‘s ugliest pie. Apologizing the whole way. I made Ryan stop at the grocery store so I could get ice cream. My plan was to put the ice cream on top of the pie, and then no one would know. Sadly, Ryan did not want ice cream. “Are you sure?” I asked. He was sure. I brought him his piece and a cup of coffee, then set out to serve my own. (He asked me if he had to eat it at the table, or if he could eat it in front of the TV. It was a genuine question, and fairly adorable. I told him he could eat in front of the TV.) I was in the bathroom when I heard “MMMMMMMM!!!!!!” I came out, thinking maybe he had cut into the cake instead, and the pie was gone. He told me I’d be sorry I’d ever made him that pie, because now I’d have to make it all the time. Huh.

I have a lot to say about being June. Unfortunately I am too tired to do so this evening.

The Carol Brady Experiment: June Cleaver, Part 1

Here she is, folks, the mother of all TV mothers. The matriarch of matriarchs. Representing the 1950's, Mrs. June Cleaver, of "Leave It To Beaver."

Personal Style: June was always in a dress and heels. Always.

Housekeeping Style: Perfect. It's what she did. It's what she lived for.

Work Life: June was a Stay At Home Mom. And, it's all she ever wanted to be. I watched an episode during which Beaver's had an assignment to write an essay about his Mom's life before she was a Mom. While Beaver did learn by the end of the episode that she had worked in a book store for five days while she was in high school, (she was fired for her inability to keep her receipts straight.) and that she volunteered serving cookies at the USO before she got married, he also learned that this is what she wanted to do. She chose it. His classmates' mothers had all sorts of interesting jobs before they were married. (not now, of course. Good God, no. BEFORE they were married.) But not June. She was a wife. And damn proud.

Social Life: In this same episode, June and Ward went out to play bridge with the Rutherfords. I'm not sure they did much bar-hopping, but they were certainly friendly with their neighbors.

Notes: June scares me a little. I've never made a pie crust, and I am not a morning person. But at least she's clear about what she wants. So the plan for today is to keep busy. If it needs to be done, do it. And there is plenty around here that needs to be done...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Carol Brady Experiment: Roseanne Conner, Part 2

Greenwich, Connecticut is not Lanford, Illinois. We don't have any bowling alleys. (I looked. I did find one, but no one answered the phone when I called.) Our pizza is specialty, our beer is micro-brewed. I don't have teenagers. Nor do I have said teenagers' significant others to deal with. I am not overweight. My sister (regrettably) does not live near me.

But still. I was able to connect to Roseanne today in some surprising ways. And I have to say. There was some liberation in that.

Once I decided to switch gears and focus on Roseanne today, I didn't set an alarm. I didn't do much housework throughout the day. (Although I did get more laundry done than I have since we moved here. My problem had been getting the laundry basket and the baby to the basement. As Roseanne, it finally occurred to me. Put the baby IN the laundry basket WITH the laundry.) I ate whatever was handy when I was hungry. I wore black yoga pants and a black tank top. They were not the same shade of black. Then, after dinner, when we wanted cake but didn't have any plates clean, Ryan suggested we just get forks and eat the cake right from the platter. Any other day I would have refused. (why? There's probably several therapy sessions in there.) But today, a giant smile spread across my face. Did I want to eat right from the actual cake itself? With a fork? Yes. Yes I did.

Many would wonder what the big deal was in all of this. But I can be a bit of a perfectionist. OK, I can be downright rigid when I've decided something is important. But today, I just let it be. And I spent time talking to my friends. And I didn't get so worked up about all of our meals being perfectly square. And it felt pretty good.

I couldn't live like this every day. I went to Whole Foods in my yoga pants and tank top. And. For the first time since we moved here... I ran into someone I knew. Our Realtor. All I could think about was what Lily and I were wearing. Why today, of all days? When I haven't taken a shower, and I'm wearing my glasses... But then I looked around, and you know what? There were an awful lot of yoga pants.

If I lived like this every day, the dishes would get positively out of control. And eventually our health would suffer. I care what we eat. But. It was one day. And at the end of it, I'm in a pretty good mood.

The Carol Brady Experiment: Roseanne Conner Part 1

I was going to portray one of the more difficult housewives today. But I just wasn't up for it. I didn't sleep well last night, and when my alarm went off at 5:30 this morning, I decided to skip ahead. So welcome to my life, Roseanna Conner. Here's a glimpse of Roseanne in the late 80's and throughout the 90's.

Personal Style: An important part of Roseanne's character was that she didn't spend a lot of time on how she looked. (unless it was Halloween.) She was often in a work uniform of some kind. Otherwise, she seemed to grab whatever was clean. Especially in the earlier seasons. Episodes shot post-breast-reduction were a slightly different story.

Housekeeping Style: Laundry was done, dishes were done, meals were served. But it was all done in a time-and-cost-efficient manner.

Work Life: Roseanne did nearly everything at one point, from working in a plastics plant to owning a restaurant. There were also periods when she was unemployed.

Social Life: Active. Roseanne and her husband Dan had lots of friends. They went bowling. They played poker. They spent time with family.

Notes: My first thoughts of Roseanne were that this would be easy. Just don't take care of myself, and don't worry what I feed my kid. But she was busy. And she was an activist. And she was a caring wife, mother, sister, and friend. So today, while I'm not going to take a shower, and I'm not going to spend tons of time deciding what I wear, and I'll probably serve pizza for dinner, I have my work cut out for me. There are no plastics plants here in Greenwich, so I'll have to focus on being efficient. And standing up for women. (although, that's sort of part of my everyday life anyway...) And being a good friend. And spending time with my family.

I think I better go call my sister.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Carol Brady Experiment: Shirly Partridge, Part 2

It's midnight, and I am once again eating cake. But this time it's not because I made dessert for my husband. No, tonight it's because today just didn't go as well, and I can't sleep.

The events of the day were pleasant enough. I played for music classes, and had a friend over for lunch. Not only was the company a lot of fun, but it was nice to open the refrigerator and have a variety of foods that were guest-worthy to offer. Lily and I cuddled up on the couch together and watched a movie, and I focused on the things I intended: making music and spending time with my daughter.

But there was something not quite right about it. My clothes, maybe? I was dressed comfortably in leggins and a tunic. Not exactly right for Shirley, but appropriate for working with babies and a throw-back to the seventies. But they fit kinda funny. And I just didn't feel like me. I know, I know, I was supposed to feel like someone else. But when I dressed like Laura I felt like me. This just... didn't fit. In so many ways.

Maybe it was the babysitter. She was fabulous. She should be, she made $5 more than I did today. She took Lily to the library and straightened the nursery and washed my coffee cup and some bottles. But Lily was off for the rest of the day. She just wanted me to hold her, and she didn't want to eat. It was probably because I woke her early so she didn't wake up to a stranger. Which made her nap schedule strange, which made her eating schedule strange. But also- we are not apart very often. So it might have been that.

And. I missed my husband. By the time Lily went to bed, I decided that as soon as Ryan got home I was leaving Shirley behind me.

I am a professional musician. Shirley and I have that in common. But I do not want to be a single mom. (I knew this already. But now it's further confirmed.) And I do not want to focus only on music, and I do not want to wear tunics and leggins every day. I didn't know what to do with myself. And I didn't like it.

It's funny. I said I wasn't going to be Carol Brady because I didn't have an Alice. Here it is, 70's day, and I had myself an Alice. And I hated it. And now I'm restless and can't sleep.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Carol Brady Experiment: Shirley Partridge, Part 1

OK, facebook friends. You knew there had to be a reason why I was talking about "The Partridge Family" the other day. Here she is, my 1970's Mom. Shirley Partridge of "The Partridge Family," played by Shirley Jones. This is who we'll be studying tomorrow.

Personal Style: Shirley was a hip, conservative Mom. When she wasn't in costume with the family band, she was wearing trendy, yet comfortable and age-appropriate clothing. Often it was a pants suit.

Housekeeping Style: The family was on the road a lot, but Shirley always made sure her family was taken care of. Traditional housekeeping was not a huge part of her life, though. In fact, in one episode she goes into "retirement," and her kids tease her about her new found interest in cooking and cleaning. Shirley Partridge was no slob. It just wasn't the center of her life.

Work Life: Singing with the family band. She was a full-time musician.

Social Life: I may just need to watch more episodes, but she seems to spend most of her time with her kids.

Notes: Shirley Partridge is the only single mom I'll be studying this week. I am not a single mom. However, Ryan is spending the entire day in the city tomorrow. So this is as close as we'll get. I won't have any help, but I also won't have another person to feed. I'm teaching at Groove tomorrow, which means I'll be singing and playing the keyboard- an ideal day to play the role of a lead singer in a band. I haven't decided what I'm going to wear- I don't have any pantsuits, and I need to be dressed to teach babies. I may just have to nod at the seventies a little.

I learned while studying Laura Petrie that I needed to focus in on a few aspects of each TV Mom's life. So for Shirley Partridge, it will be about the music, being with my daughter, and doing it without Daddy. Groovy.

The Carol Brady Experiment: Laura Petrie, Part 2

8:00 AM
Well. I’ve already messed it up. I know I should have gotten up earlier to take a shower before I made breakfast. But I just couldn’t.

“Who’s serving me breakfast?” Ryan asked when he came in the kitchen.

“Laura Petrie from ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show.’ But I already messed it up. I should be all cute while I’m cooking.”

“I think you look cute,” he said. But I’m pretty sure he was just saying this because he thought it was the right thing to say. Because I did not. “Are you going to be really upset if it’s too early for me to eat breakfast?”

“Nope. I’m making it for you to take with you. I know you don’t eat this early.”

“Oh. Are you making something for yourself?”


“OK. Is this my coffee, or yours?”

“Yours of course. I wouldn’t serve myself before serving you.”

“Ah. I forgot. We’re pretending to be in an era when men still had an opinion.” I gave him the breakfast and lunch I had packed, (although Rob Petrie went out to lunch. But since Ryan is not a comedy writer, his sandwich and cookies will have to do.) he gave me a kiss, thanked me for the food, and was out the door, not knowing what to make of all this.

Now I’m up far earlier than I normally would be, and Lily won’t be up for a few hours. I think I’ll spend some time with Laura on hulu to learn more about her. If I could only find my glasses…

10:45 AM
I’m not really sure what to do with myself. I’ve been able to get a good read on Laura’s personality and style, but I haven’t determined how she spent her time during the day. But what I do know is this. Being a wife and mother were very important to her, and she did everything with flair. So I have decided to feel glamorous, and to love what I’m doing. I played with Lily for a while- it’s easy enough to love that. As for the glamour, that will be easier after I’ve had a shower. Which will be easier after I’ve had a nap.

12:15 PM
I think my body must be very committed to living in a sitcom, because I just managed to cut my big toe on a safety razor while shaving my legs in the shower. I dropped it, and then I stepped on it. So if anyone ever writes this into a scene and you say to yourself “that could never happen,” it could.

1:15 PM
I just spent about 45 minutes doing my hair, and I never really got it. It’s not bad, but it’s not perfect. And Laura’s was always perfect. Although Ryan stopped by to drop of the stroller that was in the car and he smiled and said I looked cute. So it must not be all bad.

2:30 PM
Lily and I had lunch together at the dining room table. I talked to her, and the strangest thing happened. She answered me. I’m not sure what language she was speaking, but she definitely had things to say- with varied inflection and gestures and all. We WILL be eating at the table more often.

9:04 PM
So even the glamorous get depressed. Nearly ever day during the late afternoon, I struggle. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting bored and lonely, or if- and this is a genuine possibility- it has to do with my blood sugar… But regardless of the reason, it makes me want to go back to bed for several hours. I’m not sure if this is a problem Laura Petrie faced, but today it became too much for me, I put Lily down with a bottle, and I took a nap. Of course, this messed up my hair. I wanted to give up on the project. I even reached for a ponytail holder. And then I thought, “What would Laura Petrie do?” She wouldn’t have a choice. She would have to continue. So, I did the only thing I could. I picked up my curling iron and I fixed it. And you know what? I felt better.

Lily and I walked to Starbucks and to Whole Foods looking very cute, and when we got home, it was nearly time for the man of the house to return. He was early, so I didn’t get a chance to meet him at the door, (it’s a good thing he didn’t trip over the ottoman…) but I did have a cocktail chilling for him. Ryan and Lily played in the living room while I made dinner- Portobello mushrooms with mozzarella and homemade pesto sauce, and spinach and pasta salad. I wanted to serve it on fancy plates with flowers in a vase and appropriate lighting, but we’re lucky to have a table set up. And no one seemed to mind- everyone ate every bite.

I gave Lily a bath and put her to bed, then made some coffee for Ryan.

“What, no bundt cake?” he teased.

“Aren’t you going back to the office for a couple hours?”

“Well, yes.”

“Right. There will be cake. You can have it when you get home.”

And there will be cake. There was always going to be cake. It will be from a box, but there will be cake. I don’t know if cake mixes were available for Laura Petrie. But I’m sure she would have used them if she could have. So, I’ll make the cake, and I’ll finish the dishes (the dishwasher is running, but I still have to wash the pots and pans), and I’ll straighten the house. And when Ryan gets home, we’ll have cake. And then we’ll go to our side-by-side twin beds. And the rest of the evening will be none of your business.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Carol Brady Experiment: Laura Petrie, Part 1

I will begin my experiment tomorrow paying homage to Laura Petrie. ("The Dick Van Dyke Show, played by Mary Tyler Moore.) A little about our 1960's subject:

Personal Style: When she was at home, Laura wore pants. *gasp* But even in her controversial capris, she always looked fierce. Hair, make-up, clothing, all perfect. She had the perfect outfit for everything, whether it was dinner at home, a PTA meeting, or an evening out.

Housekeeping Style: In the episodes I saw, Laura did more entertaining than housekeeping. The house was tidy and the meals were balanced, but it always seemed to be more about how everything looked. The assumption was that she did it herself. We just didn't see her do it herself.

Work Life: Before meeting her husband, Rob, Laura danced in the USO. Which is probably why she spent her entire marriage looking so amazing. But once she got hitched, she left it all behind her to stay home and take care of their son.

Social Life: Active. When it comes to true housewives, Laura Petrie was one of the most glamorous I've seen. She may not have been out at nightclubs, but she could make even a dinner party look paparazzi-worthy.

Notes: Laura had a mind and personality all her own, and was capable of getting emotional fairly quickly. The Petries lived in New Rochelle, which is quite close to us. Between her emotional nature, her capri pants, and her geography, I feel pretty comfortable walking in her shoes for the day. (especially since she wore flats at home) Ryan has to leave for work early and doesn't have time for a sit-down breakfast, so I'll have to get up early to make him something he can take to work to eat. I should probably go to bed in preparation. Laura and Rob slept in separate beds. This will be one of those adaptations I talked about.

The Carol Brady Experiment: An Introduction

Last Tuesday morning started with Ryan and I fighting about something stupid. We’re both exhausted, and we’re still sort of tripping over boxes, and while our financial situation has certainly improved we’re not out of the woods yet. So, we were grouchy. And overwhelmed. And stressed out. And bickering at each other like a sitcom couple. And the funny part was- that’s what was making me the angriest. That we were being so cliché. We’re artists. Our fights should be original if nothing else.

As I walked from the train to work that morning, I was thinking about that. How cliché it all was. And I reminded myself that a cliché starts as truth. So we are probably not the first couple to have these issues. And I reminded myself that there have been, in fact, many thousands of hours of television based on these issues. So it must be funny then.

I started to wonder about these sitcom marriages. And I started to wonder which one was most like ours. And by the time I got to work, I had decided I was going to find out.

I bring you: The Carol Brady Experiment.*

I have chosen five TV Moms- one from each of the last five decades of the last millennium. And each day for five days, I will emulate one of these Motherhood Icons. (why not this past decade, you ask? Because that’s just my life every day. No need to emulate anyone else.) I will replicate their clothing style, housekeeping and cooking style, work life, and social life. (adapted versions, of course, as I don’t intend to walk around Greenwich in full costume- tempting as that is- nor do I intend to miss work or other social obligations I have already made.)

So tune in tomorrow for the first exciting episode.

*Carol Brady is represented in the title of this experiment due to her status as a Motherhood Icon. She is not, however, one of the moms I will emulate this week. Because I don’t have an Alice. And seriously. What did that woman do all day? I mean honestly.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Real Toddler of Fairfield County

I live in a very exclusive gated community.
Sometimes the gate is in front of the kitchen door. Sometimes I can't even get down the hallway.

I run with a fabulous group of people.
My Mommy and Daddy.

To a certain group of toddlers in Fairfield County, status is everything.
I am not one of those toddlers.

My name is Lily, and this is the story of one toddler's journey through Greenwich High Society.

Welcome to The Real Toddler of Fairfield County.

I've lived here for 2 1/2 weeks, and so far, I have to say- It. Is. Fabulous. There are events to attend nearly every day. This morning I went to the park for story time, then I went to lunch on The Avenue with Mommy and Aunt Jackie. Our waitress now knows me by name, carried me around while she got the bill for Mommy, and asked me when I was coming back. And she's not the only person who says I'm her favorite customer. The cashier at Whole Foods brought me a juice box and some apple sauce and talked to me about my hair. And the cashier at Stop and Shop tells me every day that I'm her favorite.

But Monday night, the most exciting thing of all happened. I was photographed for the Fairfield County Look website. Mommy says it's like the society pages. The photographer took my picture (and Mommy and Daddy's, too, but we all know that was just to be nice) and then told them- "I love her." Mommy says it's called charisma. But I'm just bein' me.

See you next time!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I'm Punny

Mindy: I sat out on the balcony this morning and drank my coffee.

Ryan: I heard you come in. Did you see any birds?

Mindy: I watched a squirrel for a while. And I heard some birds.

Ryan: Alright. Well, if you see a bird with a red dot on his chest, let me know. He stole something from me.


Mindy: Hey. Ryan. Was he... robin.. you?

It might be time to head into the city for the day.

Friday, August 6, 2010

On Behalf of Stay At Home Parents Who Get Really Lonely

I have a lot of friends. It's kind of awesome. I have an amazing circle of friends from church, and I'm really close to a lot of people from my theatre company. As a performing arts educator, when I'm working I'm surrounded by people. People who share my interests. People who look up to me. (Figuratively speaking. Unless I'm teaching babies. Then they look up to me literally.)

But here's the thing. I'm a freelancer. So I'm not always working. In fact, I can go months without a major project. And during those months, I am terribly, terribly lonely.

I have often used this blog as a forum for speaking out on behalf of Stay At Home Parents. So here we go again. If you're friends with a SAHP- and I mean really good friends, not just acquaintances- we need you. And I'm not gonna lie. It's gonna be a lot of work for you. And it's probably gonna inconvenience you. But we need you anyway.

We need you to communicate with us on an adult level throughout the day. We need you to send us a text or an email or give us a call, just to see how we're doing. Let us know you're thinking of us. We need you to understand when we send a lot of silly messages that we're bored and we need company. And we need you to come visit us. Because we can't just meet you for lunch or a drink the way we used to. We need you to come over so we can watch Sesame Street while we talk about grown-up things. And we need you to understand that while we're talking about these grown-up things, it might seem like we're distracted because every third or fourth word will be interrupted by "Lily, no! Get down!" But we promise we are paying attention, and we need this conversation.

Now. For those of you who read my blog who know me personally, please don't try to play detective and figure out what happened to inspire this message. Nothing happened. I promise. And if you're one of my friends who does send me messages and does come to Connecticut to visit and is willing to pick up the front end of the stroller so we can get on the subway- because I absolutely do have those people in my life- thank you. Noted. I promise.

But somewhere in my life I seem to have become the girl who says things that other people won't say. (Somewhere during elementary school, I think. Maybe earlier.) And I've had this conversation with so many friends who are also parents. (And it's tough for us to keep each other company, because we're all working on different nap schedules...)

So. On behalf of the Stay At Home Parents Who Get Really Lonely. Be a pal. Keep us company.