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All Hallows’ Eve

Halloween

Me and Adam, Halloween in NYC, 2010

Photo by Christine Lindebak

We were going to go as Jackie and JFK, but I couldn’t find a wig or a pill box hat, so we went as Extras from ‘Mad Men‘ instead. I wish I had a great clear picture of us because our costumes were killer and totally authentic. The white suit I’m wearing was purchased in China in 1962 by my grandfather, as a gift to my mother. Sixties fashion at it’s best.

God Bless Suburbia

After dinner last night, right before we headed upstairs to get ready for bed, we realized we’d forgotten to run the errands we needed to run. We were supposed to pick up coffee, sugar, a GFCI electrical socket, and the required black pants/black shirt Mike needs for his new part-time job. (Yay for the part-time job!)

Luckily, it was only seven-thirty, so we tucked the dogs in for the night, grabbed sweaters to protect against the freezing sixty-degree weather, and hopped in the car.

Yes, we get ready for bed at seven-thirty. What can I say? We’re an old married couple.

By eight-thirty we were brushing our teeth and marveling at how we’d just run three hours worth of errands in one. It was because of the strip mall. And the trunk of the car.

You see, most people who live in suburbia take for granted their ability to run multiple errands in a short period of time. I know, because I used to be one of those people. And then I moved to New York and figured out how the rest of the world works. Or at least the part of the world situated in Manhattan.

If we were still living in Manhattan, we’d have had to make three separate stops, instead of the one we were able to make last night. First we’d have gone to K-Mart for black Dickies and a generic black button-up. It would have taken us thirty minutes to get there, plus a ten minute walk off the train, and it would’ve been a miserable experience because that K-Mart was never fully stocked and it was always so full of people there ought to be signs out front warning shoppers not to enter if they fear large crowds. Next we’d spend another twenty minutes on the subway, another fifteen minutes walking, and then we’d be at Home Depot, also terribly crowded, with checkout lines thirty people deep. Fifteen more minutes walking and an hour on the subway before we got to our neighborhood market, all while carrying everything we’d purchased elsewhere. By the time we finally got home we’d have spent at least three hours, probably four, and we’d be exhausted, sweaty, and praying for an early death.

Instead we hopped in a car, drove to a strip mall, purchased everything we needed at a Target and a Home Depot sitting back-to-back, and were home in sixty minutes. Yes, it’s a little freaky that we can buy groceries and clothing in one location, I’ll be honest. Target’s new grocery section makes me feel a little bit dirty, I don’t know why, but still. I do not miss the city at all.

P.S. There’s a wiener in the lantana.

wiener in the lantana

It’s Thursday

You guys. It’s Thursday, it’s my brother’s birthday, – HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR BROTHER! – and it’s eleven days until we pack up our truck.

Totally unrelated: Can anyone tell me why I suddenly have 70,000 spammers flooding my site with comments that say things like:

“Thank you for special advice. Thic post was ecactly what I researching. Good news!”

It’s interesting how these comments always include links to websites for electronic equipment, discount designer hand bags and car parts. Seriously. Annoying.

It’s been a week since I last wrote, but I’m sure you understand because you are very understanding and you know we’re getting ready to move and training our replacements at work and yesterday we sent our cats off to Los Angeles, in the care of my super-patient parents. But amongst all the wild and crazy, (because when you’re buying plane tickets for your cats it is both wild, and crazy), there’s also been some really great fun.

like father like daughter

On Liberty’s pedestal, the shores of NYC and New Jersey behind us.

My folks were in town for a conference in Rhinebeck, NY and their visit happened to fall on my father’s birthday, so I took him to visit the Statue of Liberty. He’d been before; he visited in the sixties and in the nineties, but since her crown opened back up, he’d been eager to visit again. Unfortuantely her crown sells out many, many months in advance, so we didn’t make it up there. But we did make it up to her pedastel and the museum, thanks entirely to my father, who befriended a park ranger, who then scribbled on our tickets so that “NO MONUMENT ACCESS” became “OK for 2. Mark.” and up we went!

This is what Lady Liberty looks like on the inside:

Liberty's skeleton

This is Lady Liberty’s second torch:

original torch

The first one was made like the rest of her, thin copper sheets over an iron framework. After she’d been around awhile, some BigWigs thought Liberty should function as a lighthouse, so they cut a bunch of holes into her torch, stuck in glass plates, and put fifty-two lightbulbs inside. Fifty-two lightbulbs. At the turn of the twentieth century. (And they were surprised when no one could tell the torch was lit up at all.) The artist, Bartholdi, kept suggesting they gild her torch, that way the sun or moonlight could flash off it’s golden surface. But no one listened to the artist. Over time, water leaked through the cut-up torch and ate away at Liberty’s insides. It wasn’t until the big restoration project in the eighties that Bartholdi got his wish and Liberty got a brand new, gold-guilded torch.

broken windows

This is a fantastic abandoned building on Ellis Island

the tablet

An alternate view of The Lady

illustrated newspaper

A newspaper headline decrying the murder of thousands of birds by the light of Liberty’s fifty-two lightbulbs. The illustration is brilliant.

view from ellis island

The Lady, as seen from Ellis Island

NYC and NJ

New York, I will miss you when I’m gone. But not enough to make me want to stay.

Gloom and Doom

It’s May.  It’s May 19, exactly three years and one day from the day Michael landed in the city permanently.  Semi-permanently.  Anyway, it’s May, and it ought to be sunny and beautiful and breezy, but instead it’s gray and gloomy and cold.  I’m still wearing my winter coat.

I’ve realized that the movie Splash, with Daryl Hannah, Tom Hanks and John Candy, is actually about a California girl, not a mermaid.  See, she’s from the Valley, which is why he can’t understand anything she says.  Anyway, I’m like Madison when they’ve been keeping her in that aquarium in the science lab and all her scales are peeling off. I’m beginning to wilt.  The only reason I have survived thus far is because I spent every sunny day this winter curled up on top of the radiator under the window like a cat, soaking up the sunbeams.  Only there hasn’t been any sun in three days.  THREE DAYS.

gloom and doom

I need the sun.  I am a girl who’s meant for sandcastles and tide pools, not skyscrapers and taxicabs.  I haven’t had tan lines in three years.  I am suffering from a serious case of Vitamin D deficiency.  My doctor swears my vitamin D levels are fine, BUT WHAT DOES SHE KNOW?

Oh god, please make the sun shine soon.  Please.  Please.  Please.

Not even kidding

double parked

How the people in my neighborhood park their cars on street cleaning days.

Not even kidding.

(p.s. This picture was taken last week.  Last week when the sun shone and life was merry.  This week it has been grey and gloomy every. single. day. I’m beginning to feel crazy.)

A Tree Grows in Harlem

A Tree Grows in Harlem

Because in our heart of hearts we dream of tree-lined lanes and vegetable gardens and evening skies full of stars, we started a worm bin last summer.  By December we had two bins, each full and weighing at least forty pounds.  We didn’t weigh them, that number is not factual, is actually based on the amount of effort it required to haul the blasted things in and out of the closet, but “fifty pounds” sounds better than “really f-ing heavy”.  So here we are in our little Harlem apartment, in the middle of an east coast winter, with a gajillion pounds of vermicompost.  That was when my mom suggested we give it away as Christmas gifts, because nothing says Merry Christmas like a zip lock bag full of worm poop.

There was much fussing and oohing and ahhing when Michael and I hauled the sagging bins from the closet.  My parents were both there, in town for the holidays, and as I harvested the compost I explained what we put in and what we didn’t, how long it took the worms to get through what, showed them bits of egg shell still at the bottom, the swarming, writhing worms. I was picking cherry pits out of a handful of partially digested compost when I realized that bit of green I was looking at wasn’t undigested vegetable matter.  It was a sprout.  Something we’d eaten and discarded had taken hold and now there was a tiny, perfect sprout.  I was so excited I stopped breathing.

I didn’t know how much I loved growing things until I moved to New York and couldn’t grow things.  After all, it’s hard to grow things in a place where your windows look out at other windows and four out of seven days a week the sun won’t even drive in.  In Los Angeles I had a garden, a rose garden and two oak trees and ivy and impatiens and lilies and I never ever went out there because I didn’t want to get dirty.

This weekend Mike and I were waiting for the D at 125th Street and a terrible stinking drip of city gravy fell with a splat on the side of my face and dripped down my neck.  The whole platform ceiling was oozing with city gravy and Mike got an ear full at the exact moment I was hit and we cried out in unison, “Dodge the gravy!”  Number twelve on my list of things New York has taught me is that cities are far dirtier than gardens, and not nearly as enchanting.

When we finally move back to Los Angeles, if we are lucky enough to have anything even reminiscent of a garden, even if it’s just a small window box that gets full sun a few hours a day, I will relish it.  I will dig my fingers into the dirt and I will plant things and one of the first things planted will be my sprouts.

Nooked

There were two of them growing in the bin.  We plucked them out and planted them in seed pots and they have grown over six inches in five months.  We have no idea what they are.  They’re obviously from something we ate, and they’re definitely tree-shaped.  Look at that picture and tell me that sprout isn’t growing into a tree that’s just perfectly shaped for climbing.  Tell me that bend isn’t a reading nook.

We can’t say for sure what they are, but we’re placing our bets on orange trees, because of the size and shape of the leaves.  And also because it’s just kind of awesome to be a California dreamin’ couple in Harlem, growing citrus trees on our windowsill.

A Serious Weekend

On our way to wonder at William Kentridge.

*love in an elevator*

*how to commute*

*how to commute*

Ladies Home Journal

*a perfect table in a perfect dining room for a perfect party*

birdling

*from the devil's gaping maw*

washing windows

*then the one on the left waved at me and I died from embarrassment*

*all photos courtesy of my Verizon Wireless Satan Owns My Soul BlackBerry

And Done And Done

The last few weeks have been amazing.  Amazing as in, Mike gets up every morning at six, wakes me up at six-thirty, he leaves for school and I start work by seven, we get home from work/school around five-thirty or six, fix dinner, eat dinner, wash dishes, do chores, crawl into bed, pass out.  We’re working our asses off and it feels pretty damn good.

This weekend was all about doing the little things on my to-do list, the little things that fall at the very bottom, get buried beneath piles of GET THIS DONE BY 9 A.M. and SHIT I WAS SUPPOSED TO FINISH THAT YESTERDAY.  One of those things was banishing the months-old Valentines Day banner I had up on Frosy-Licious, and writing a better ending post than the last one I wrote, which was a little whiny, let’s be perfectly honest.  The new one is great, you should check it out, it’s called “Last One. No Really” and contains a photo of dogs snuggling.

Anyway, I’ve got a couple of tricks up my sleeves, including some big news that I’m not sure how to tell you yet, but no, I’m not pregnant.

And in case you haven’t seen any flowers today…

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Harlem, April 2007

Fleurs de Mai

This morning I was suddenly overcome by the feeling that I’m finally doing what I’ve always wanted to do.  I’m Living.  Breathing.  Working my ass off for something I’m proud of and still finding time to stop and admire the flowers.

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Not Van Gogh's Irises, but still.

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Like wild strawberries, or burning eye sockets. You pick.

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Just before Theo peed on them.

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And just in case you needed to be reminded that HOLY SH*T Nature is Beautiful.

White Devils and Stolen Dogs

Monday afternoon was sunny and gorgeous and because we knew rain was predicted for the rest of the week, Mike and I decided to take the dogs to the off-leash park.  We stuffed our pockets with treats and poop bags and tennis balls and were on our way.  A few blocks from home, while Valentine was crouched to do her business, a homeless man with a long grey beard walked up and reached out for her.  Thinking the man was trying to pet Valentine, who does not like to be touched by strangers, Mike leapt between them, laughing and warning to be careful because the little yellow one bites.

She doesn’t, actually, but she is an unpredictable little dog and while most days she’d froth at the mouth and lunge at anyone trying to pet her, that day she just squatted by the tree, doing her business.  She didn’t seem at all bothered when the homeless man began chanting and petting the tree under which she pooped, but I was not pleased and neither was Mike.  We couldn’t wait for her to finish and when she was done we couldn’t walk away fast enough.  Then I glanced over my shoulder and saw that he was following us.

I wanted to believe he was just headed in the same direction, but it was a little disconcerting that he insisted on walking so close to us.  When he started chanting about white devils and stolen dogs I got a little nervous.  I looked over at Mike and he grinned and suggested that when we get to the market, I give him the dogs and go inside, and let him talk to “our friend”.  So I stayed calm, because my husband had a plan, and it was a good plan.  The market was less than a block away and I could all ready see the usual crowd gathered in front.  I was sure that once we were surrounded by people the whole thing would dissipate and Mike wouldn’t even need to address the guy.

For the next part of the story to make sense, I need to explain that our neighborhood market is not like those sprawling, glittering Mecca’s of rare wines and organic canned soup you find in suburbia.  Our market is a tiny, dingy market with aisles so narrow you can’t fit a cart through them.  It’s so small it could fit in the deli section of most suburban super markets.  It’s so small that when I stand at the checkout paying for my groceries, my butt rubs against the butt of the cashier at the checkout behind me.

So when I got inside the store and realized the man had followed me in, I kind of freaked out.  I ducked into the cereal aisle, walking so fast I was practically running.  I looked over my shoulder and he was there.  I started feeling claustrophobic.  My heart was racing, my breath quickened and my limbs tingled.  I turned into the canned food aisle and the man followed me.  The next time I looked over my shoulder he waved his hands in the air, bared his teeth and growled.

To be continued…