Monday, March 31, 2014

Starry Sky. Endless Summer.

They lay in the open field, staring into the starry sky.

He wonders if he should. She wonders if he will.

His hand inches over, covers hers.

She smiles. Moves closer.

They are young, wild, free. And summer will never be over.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Passover Aisle and an Existential Crisis

I was expecting a shelf full of the Stop & Shop brand wavy potato chips that I can never seem to get enough of, so when I crossed into the chip aisle and was instead greeted with piles of matzah and other assorted Passover necessities I felt like I had entered an alternate universe.

All I could think was, "too soon."

Purim was still two weeks away, I was wearing my winter jacket and there was still half a foot of snow on the ground, yet the aisle was urging me to get ready for the Jewish holiday most associated with spring as if it were right around the corner.

My feet were glued to the floor as I glanced wildly around, wondering if I should start throwing everything in my cart I think I might need for the 3 days of Passover that we will actually be home, wondering if I didn't start now, if there would even be anything left by the time I was ready to begin those ferociously complex preparations. Wondering if we would be reduced to eating matzah and cream cheese for 3 straight days because I couldn't get it together early enough.

My fingers itched to fill my cart. But without a list or any forethought whatsoever I knew that would be a mistake, so I managed to extricate myself from the Passover section and continue my weekly grocery shop.

But as I walked up and down the aisles grabbing what I needed for the rest of the week I was consumed with anxiety and the vague feeling of wildness that had been dogging me for weeks. Months, really, if I'm being honest. I felt unmoored, even in that familiar place, and my vision, usually clear, was hazy around the edges.

Milk, eggs, yogurt went into my cart as I felt myself pulled back towards the Passover aisle. I reasoned that there were things I knew I would need, so why not buy them today? I am not at all accustomed to living with unanswered questions, or to putting off for later what I could just do now. Lately I have been walking along not knowing exactly what my next steps will be. But here, in the brightly lit grocery store, I could know.

Passover is coming. Buy matzah. Simple.

But with the holiday still six weeks away I didn't have a place to store everything, and my logical mind was telling me that it would be better to buy everything at once than in dribs and drabs. So I steered myself towards the check-out and left the store.

When I got home that night I sat down and made a list of the things I need to buy for Passover and made a mental note of the day I would go buy everything.

I still had questions without answers and more uncertainty than certainty filling my days. But just then, at that moment, I had a list.

So I knew that everything was going to turn out ok.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sometimes a Girl Just Needs Her Parents

Last Thursday I posted a picture on my blog. It was of my parents and me on the day of my law school graduation. They flew to New York for a whirlwind weekend almost six years ago which culminated in them sitting in the audience in Avery Fischer Hall at Lincoln Center with my best friend and David, who at that time was my boyfriend of not quite a year, watching me walk across the stage to receive my diploma.

They made various cameos in New York over the years, but I mostly went to visit them because at first I had roommates and once David and I got married our tiny Manhattan apartment was barely capable of accommodating the two of us, much less any overnight guests.

This all changed when we moved into our new house over a year ago. All of a sudden we had a kitchen table and a real living room and two guest rooms with actual beds in them. We had room for people to come and visit and stay with us, and visit they did.

Every couple of months, in between our trips to Cleveland and Pittsburgh for extra family time, my parents drive in for a long weekend at our house. This past weekend was one of those weekends.

It was 9:00 on Wednesday night and pouring rain when the knock came at my back door. Dripping wet, my parents came in loaded down with luggage, books to read, and boxes filled with the results of the Costco run my dad made for me in Pittsburgh the day before they came because I didn't have the time to do it myself.

And suddenly, my world was righted.

I have been a little off kilter lately. Out of sorts, if you will. There has been a little more anxiety and a little less fun filling my days. A little more worry and a little less laughter. A little more fear and a little less excitement. And I know that these are the kinds of things that ebb and flow. That it is frighteningly normal to spend some days here and there feeling out of the ordinary and not at all like yourself and there is not much you can do but wait for these feelings to run their course.

But I don't like it all that much. Not at all.

So I spent much of the past few weeks counting down to the minute my parents would come through the door, sure that I would feel better once they were there. And I did. Four days in my house with them and with David calmed my mind and healed the pieces of me that have felt confused, broken and beaten down from time to time these past months. That have felt like the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel may still be miles away.

Being with them made me remember that I am still me, even when I feel like someone utterly new, and that these days that seem so complex and consuming now won't always loom quite so large. That this too shall pass, and that it is best to just put my head down and forge straight on, rather than dwell on the what-ifs and the uncertainty of it all. They reminded me that I am doing the very best that I can and that sometimes it is ok to just let go and leap and trust that there will be a soft landing below.

When I stood outside and waved good-bye yesterday as my parents pulled out of my driveway and pointed their car towards home I felt better, happier, and a whole lot lighter for having spent those days together. And when I walked back inside and closed the door I knew one thing with absolute certainty.

Sometimes a girl just needs her parents. 

No matter how old she may be.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Purim Celebration, Family Style

Something you may not know about me: I love to entertain. 

You might think it incongruous to my personality as a major introvert to enjoy having crowds of people in my house for hours at a time, and I guess it is, but that has never seemed to matter. I love having those crowds, and everything that goes with it, from the preparations before, to the stragglers that stay behind after most everyone else has left, and even to the clean-up of the detritus that signals a good time had by all.

Part of it is that I really like my house and I like to have people in it, but I think most of it is that I am a nurturer. I didn't always know this about myself, and it took me longer to understand it once I did, but the truth is, I like to take care of the people close to me.

I have always found a unique pleasure in cooking and watching the people I love eat the things I make. The need to feed is more than just the physical act of putting food on the table, but it is also the quiet contentment of gathering my people from wherever they may be, to sit together, eat together, be together.

This past Saturday night and Sunday was the Jewish holiday of Purim, where we commemorate the deliverance of the Jewish people from a plot to wipe them out of the Persian Empire. In celebration of the fact that we are still here, having not been destroyed by the evil Haman, we are commanded to take part in four separate mitzvot, or obligations, during the day. We hear the megillah - the story of Purim - twice, we give gifts to each other, we give gifts to the poor, and we take part in a festive meal, also called a seuda.

In the past I have either gone to someone else's seuda or, in years where Purim falls on a weekday, had a makeshift seuda wherever I happened to be. But this year with Purim falling over the weekend, I decided to have a seuda at my own house.

So I spent Sunday morning cooking, and in the afternoon family and friends descended for a Mexican-themed sit-down. And the food was great - if I do say so myself - but sitting at the table surrounded by some of my most important people was what made the day for me. Family and friends that are both new and old. This life that is real and true and very much mine.

And as the sun began to set and the day drew to a close I felt warmed from the inside and lifted up by this tradition to gather together to eat and to celebrate. To say, both quietly and with raised voices, this is us. We are still here

And here we will remain. 


Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Birthday Rach!

How is it possible that these girls:

Became these girls:

31 years later?

Happy 31st birthday Rach!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Making Memories

There are still moments every now and again on our new suburban adventure where I wonder how the hell we got here.

Where I look around our house wonder how it's possible that we are old enough and responsible enough to own something that is way more expensive and important than just clothes and shoes and books. Where I drive around our neighborhood, marveling at the fact that I actually own a car and haven't bought a monthly metro card in fifteen months. Where I swing my cart through the positively palatial aisles of the grocery store and suddenly the tiny cramped aisles of Fairway on the Upper West Side feel like they are a million miles away. Where I have a moment of panic because my life in Manhattan sometimes feels hazy and distant and almost like it was something I watched happen to someone else, rather than a life I lived for eight years.

And then there are the other moments. The ordinary and extraordinary ones. The ones where I am so happy to be in this place at this time, living this life. Where I believe I am exactly where I am meant to be.

The first one happened almost exactly a year ago, about four months into our brand new life. After that they were few and far between for awhile, but the longer we lived in our neighborhood, the more frequent they became until, all of a sudden and without me even noticing, those moments stopped being just moments. Instead, they became life.

Happy and healthy and home more than a year later, I don't miss the city that much anymore. Sure I sometimes get irritated at a morning commute that is three times as long as what it used to be, and I sometimes miss the ease with which I could see my friends and the grit and glamour that personifies Mahattan, but I don't wish we could move back.

I like being exactly where I am, and it still hits me sometimes just how lucky we were to have chosen this town, and the community that comes with it; a community filled with people who are warm and welcoming and kind, who are no longer strangers but neighbors and friends. People who care about us, and us them. People to talk with and laugh with and make brand new memories with.

And that's the biggest part of this whole adventure, isn't it? Fourteen months ago our house - and this life - were a book waiting to be written. We didn't have a regular corner store or a restaurant that knew our order without having to ask. We didn't have the living room where we sat to talk and laugh and plan. We couldn't see ourselves through the years on our brand new streets. Everything was new. Everything was different.

We had to make new memories.

And we have.

We have new people in our lives, a place that feels like ours, and new streets that tell our stories.

We are happy, and we are home and it really does keep getting better.

And for that, I am grateful.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

There I Was. There We Were.

Every surface of the room was littered with the tools of the bridal trade. Ten cans of hairspray, diffusers and flat irons, pots of eye-shadow and lipsticks in thirty different shades of pink were scattered across the tables in a jumbled celebration of femininity and behind two chairs stood two women whose job it was to match the right tool to the right girl.

Hair and make-up done and wedding dress on, I stood to the side, wondering if I could risk sitting down or if the dress would wrinkle, something I had received dire warnings about along with the potential for red wine stains, people stepping on my train and ripping the delicate fabric, and the bustle falling down during dancing. I suddenly felt like I was wearing a time bomb instead of a dress. I decided to stand.

For the first time that weekend, everyone was preoccupied with something other than me. It was a quiet moment in a startlingly unquiet succession of days that allowed me to really think for the first time since my wedding weekend started.

I was nervous. Really nervous.

I wasn't nervous about getting married. About that, I felt absolutely sure and utterly serene.

Instead, I was nervous about the day. About all the people who were gathering downstairs to look at me and watch me and take pictures of me and comment on my dress and my hair and whether I should have gone with the pearl earrings instead of the old-fashioned diamond huggies that had been my grandmother's, and whether it was a mistake to take off the veil after the ceremony. About making sure I absorbed every moment of the day since everyone told me that it would go by so fast and that I had to make an actual effort to remember it all, as if my wedding day was somehow something forgettable.

I peered into the mirror, hoping to remind myself that I was still me despite all the makeup and fifty pounds of ivory lace, but with sweaty palms and a pounding heart, I felt more like a zoo animal, kept in an enclosure to entertain the visiting masses.


It was after midnight by the time we got to our hotel room.

I headed straight for the bathroom, unzipping my dress along the way and leaving it pooled on the floor. While I yanked pins out of my hair and scrubbed off layers of make-up, David perused the room service menu since we hadn't eaten anything since morning and were positively famished.

Half an hour later, showered, changed, and considerably more comfortable than either of us had been all day, we sat cross-legged on the massive bed sharing caesar salad and mini bags of potato chips

As we talked and laughed about the events of the day and looked at some pictures that my aunt had just sent over I caught a glimpse of us in the mirrored closet door and finally saw what I had been trying so hard to see since morning.

There I was.

There we were.

Same as always.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Home Alone...

Where I spend my days (and some nights) when I'm home alone

When I lived in an apartment in Manhattan, I never thought too much about being home alone. Occasionally David would go away for work and I would just carry on like everything was normal. I would miss him of course, but I went about my regular routine, ate the same way, slept the same way, and lived in my apartment just like I do every day.

Now that we live in a house, being home alone is an entirely different experience.

Luckily David doesn't have a job that requires much traveling, but for one week every March he goes to Austin, Texas to run a booth for his company at the South by Southwest trade show. It is a massively important week for his business - both for the exposure and the contacts that he makes where he is down there, and requires him to go down a day or two early to set up, and stay a day after to break down the booth and pack everything away for the trip home.

This week is South by Southwest week.

Friday morning he boarded a plane bound for Austin and Friday afternoon I got home and got down to the business of being home alone.

It occurred to me as I locked the front door - both bolt lock and handle thank you very much - just how damn big my house felt. Normally the perfect size for the two of us, the prospect of being alone in it for six days made the house feel like Buckingham Palace. Suddenly there were far more dark corners and doorways where ax murderers could be hiding and the walk up the stairs and down the hall to my bedroom felt as long as a marathon.

And the noises. Don't get me started on the noises. Do you know how often a one hundred year old house settles? Neither did I, until I was the only one in said house without a single person to talk to to drown out the creaking. Between the creaking, the incessant running of my sump pump due to melting snow, and a boiler that cycles on an off every time I so much as turn on a hot water tap, by late Friday night I was two minutes away from abandoning my lovely and quiet suburban neighborhood and heading straight back to the never-ending cacophony that is Manhattan at night.

So I thought I would give myself and break and just go to sleep, figuring that if I was sleeping I wouldn't be worrying about whether that bang was just the ice machine or - far more likely - someone trying to break in through the back door. The thing is, I can still hear all the noises from my bedroom. It's just that instead of being in the living room with the lights on, I was in my bedroom in the dark.

Needless to say, it was a long night.

I spent most of the weekend in the living room on the couch, eating snacks instead of meals and venturing to the second floor just to sleep. Don't think I didn't almost cave to the pressure and sleep right there on the living room couch. But I'm a grown woman, so I forced myself upstairs and to my regular bed and then gave myself a hearty pat on the back for being so mature about the whole thing.

Seriously, how do you people with houses do it?

It's three more days that I'll be home alone, and I'm hoping that it'll get a little easier every day. And just in case it doesn't, my good friends Ben and Jerry and some of their brand new cores flavors are waiting in my freezer to keep me company.

I think I'll probably just have them for dinner.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Best friends.

First year in NYC.

Drinks at the W.

Because we thought we were just that cool.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Double Trouble

So I'm sitting on the couch, watching TV, minding my own business, when I hear a noise.

Now, having only lived in my 100 year old house a little over a year, as I have, I am not quite used to all the random noises that it makes. And, having been plagued with plumbing issues as we have, a noise is never just the house settling or the furnace humming to life. It is much more likely to be a pipe bursting, a major leak, or some other household disaster that I am ill equipped to fix.

Turns out, it was none of those.

As I looked around wildly to figure out what it could be and then decided that whatever it was could wait until David came home - since he is the best homeowner to ever walk the planet, and then solution to all of my home repair and improvement needs - the source of the noise rolled towards me.

It seems that David had bought himself a robot a la The Good Wife to take to his trade shows so that he could have one of his employees helping him man the booth while not actually being physically present at the show.

He calls it his Double, and while its primary use is for his upcoming trade show in Texas, until that day arrives he is using it to scare the hell out of me as frequently as possible.

Witness the picture above.

While my attention was focused elsewhere, he rolled himself (and his dad, who who he was visiting) over to the side of the couch and waited patiently for me to notice him - and jump three feet in sheer terror once I did. And he and his dad laughed and laughed.

This Friday the Double will be taking a trip to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, but until then he is gracing the corner of my living room keeping R2-D2 company. 

Because who wouldn't want a living room filled with robots, of all shapes and sizes? Now if I could only teach one of them to do the laundry. Then we would be talking.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Spin Class And An Obsessive Personality

I've pretty much come to terms with the fact that I have an obsessive personality.

When I first discovered running, I immediately started training for a half marathon. When I find a particular food I like, I have to eat it all the time. I can't just read books, I have to own them and they have to live on my shelves in a particular order according to an organizational system that I devised myself and honed with a religious zeal.

I come by this phenomenon naturally. My mom has it, and so do both of my sisters, so whenever any of us get into an obsessive cycle, we just give into it and laugh it off and wait for the crazy to pass. 

So it came as no surprise to me that once I went to my first spin class and loved it, I desperately needed to go to a million more, like, yesterday. For a few minutes I even considered a regular Soulcycle habit, but with the $34 per class price-tag and the knowledge that the more I went the more I would want to go, my better angels prevailed and I started hunting around for a cheaper option.

I found it in the New York Sports Club near my house where there are at least 4 spin classes a day, every day, and as long as you pay your relatively reasonable monthly membership fee you can go to as many as you want.

I was never someone who particularly loved to exercise. I viewed it as mostly drudgery; something you do because you have to, kind of like brushing your teeth or taking out the garbage. But when I discovered running I started to understand why people actually like getting up at the crack of dawn and moving their bodies in strange and unnatural ways. And now that I have discovered spin, exercise has taken on an entirely new meaning.

Sitting in a dark, crowded and stiflingly hot room with music blasting while an instructor yells at you doesn't seem like it would make for a very good time, but it really, really does. I never really thought of myself as a gym person, but it turns out that there really is something to exercising while surrounded by hundreds of like-minded people.

Or maybe it doesn't and there isn't, and I'm just a glutton for punishment, in an obsessive way of course.

But this is one obsession that shows no signs of abating any time soon. I know this because during the Academy Awards this past Sunday night Pharrell got up and performed his song Happy from Despicable Me 2. And while I loved that the performance was so great and I really loved him getting the likes of Lupita, Meryl and Amy Adams shimmying, what I really loved was the fact that Happy is the warm up song in my Sunday morning spin class and when he started singing I could actually feel my feet pedaling, as if I was sitting in the class.

So call me crazy, or call me obsessive. It's ok. I'll be the first one to tell you that I'm both.

But while I tell you, I'll probably be spinning.