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.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

In Defense of Starbucks

... or at least its consumers.

I go to Starbucks several times a week. I'm sort of known for it. I eat there. I buy coffee there. I hang out there. I even worked there for a few months after I graduated from NYU with my second Masters Degree. I only left because my shifts as a barista were causing me to turn down teaching gigs. And that's just silly.

One of the first things I did once I knew where our new apartment was located was look for the nearest Starbucks. I have a preferred customer card on its way in the mail. It's gold, and it has my name on it. My drink orders are embarrassingly specific. That's the kind of Starbucks customer I am.

Since moving to the NYC area seven years ago, I've had people tell me that going to Starbucks is ridiculous. I could go on a vacation with the money I spend instead. But here's the thing. I don't want to go on one giant vacation at the end of the year. I want to go on little mini vacations every day. Vacations where I get exactly what I want, in a comfortable, familiar environment. I can be warmed by a tall one-pump-mocha-extra-hot Chai latte. Or cooled off with an iced grande half-pump-classic-sweetner green tea. Or I can start a rehearsal after being Mommy all day feeling energized because of my doppio cappuccino. All for under $5.

And I've had people tell me all about the corporate evil that is the Starbucks machine.

Two things.

1- I worked there, and that was not my experience. Did I work as a top-level executive with insider secrets? Of course not. But my guess is that the people hurling stones at the company don't have insider secrets either. I found the company to be fair, and supportive, and healthy- both in concern to its employees and the world as a whole.

2- Please. The Smith Family is entirely freelance-supported. And. We BOTH come from family-owned businesses. I know all about family-run businesses, I am in support of them, I do my best to choose them when given a choice. I go to Mom-and-Pop coffee shops too. My support of Starbucks (and Target, while we're at it) does not automatically equal a dismissal of all other coffee shops. I drink a lot of coffee.

My little sister and my best friend share in my passion for Starbucks. Whenever something bad happens to any one of us- no matter how big or small- the response is always the same. "Get yourself to a Starbucks as soon as possible!" We know it doesn't heal anything. Not really. But if I send my sister to a Starbucks, I know that she'll walk in knowing exactly what she's going to get. It will be clean and inviting inside. She'll be greeted by a friendly barista. She'll have someone else take care of her. She'll know exactly how much she's going to spend. The most serious impulse buy she can make will be getting a cookie, too. A few dollars and a few minutes later, she will be able to face whatever is going on, drink-in-hand, feeling a little bit better.

I could probably talk about Starbucks all day, but I better wrap this up. I'm meeting up with a new Mommy-friend at Starbucks. The same Starbucks where we met the other day. One tall no-whip-java-chip-frappuchino, coming right up.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"A Brand New Life Around the Bend..."

*cue violins, 80's sax solo, and blue van driving through tree-lined road

Last Monday, the Smith's moved to Connecticut.

No. Really.

And the night before, I. Could. Not. Stop. Crying.

I packed up all of our worldly possessions, (you never know just how many possessions that is until you pack them up) and I looked around at the apartment where life as we know it was established. Ryan and I lived in Forest Hills for five years. I got my professional start in music theatre education from that apartment. We rehearsed "Godspell" on the front porch. And we had so many visitors there. And financial ups, and financial downs. (more downs)And it's the place where we decided to start a family. And it's the place where we tried- unsuccessfully- to start that family for two years. And then it became a home for baby Lily.

There were so many reasons to leave Forest Hills. But with all of those memories, how could we possibly leave?

We pulled in to our new home at 8 am last Monday morning. I was feeling apprehensive. And exhausted. And overwhelmed.

And by that afternoon, I felt like I was on vacation.

I couldn't quite put my finger on the difference I was experiencing. And then, I realized. It was the sky. (blue and clear for our move-in day.) I could see it. And there were other differences, too. Like the people. Who were friendly. And the streets. (clean) And the noise. (lacking) And the children. (everywhere)

I'm still a little overwhelmed by the amount of unpacking and setting up, the address changes and the updating of things. But since last Monday, Lily and I have been to the park twice. (this morning it was for storytime, sponsored by the library. Which is right down the street.) We've met several new friends, and have a play date tomorrow. The family has eaten out front on the patio. We've walked to dinner at a nearby Thai restaurant. We've walked to the grocery store. And to Starbucks. (we have our pick of two) And I've commuted only twenty minutes to work.

And I can't believe I'm saying it, but it's just... better here.

I'll be in the city on Saturday to teach a lesson. It will not take me any longer to get there on the Metro North than it took me to get there via subway. And Sunday, we'll drive to church. The same church in downtown Manhattan that we've attended for seven years.

Come visit us.