Friday, June 29, 2007

Mad About You

Its been a while since I offered a round-up of my favorites. With so much else to say but no energy to expend, this feels like the right post for right now - just some bits of brilliance I have recently recalled or acquired.


Damn he's good. Since I have only listened to the Annie soundtrack for about 6 months now, I had all but forgotten my lost musical loves, and Sting is tops. My friend Denise told a story about when she was a kid, and her older brother dragged her into his room and forced her to listen to "Every Breath You Take". This was musical perfection, he told her, demanding she worship The Police. I like to imagine that he was in acid wash jeans and a mullet, since this was the 80s, and little sister Denise just nodded enthusiastically, thrilled to even be sitting in big bro's room. This is what Sting does to you - it makes you want to force others to just sit still and LISTEN. There is something almost biblical about the lyrics, and I am a lyrics chicks. Specific favorites include "Mad About You", "Shape of my Heart" and "Fortress Around Your Heart". And I challenge anyone to listen to "Why Should I Cry For You" without wiping away dramatic tears. Thank god for the soundtrack at CVS or I would have all but forgotten how much I love Sting.


I thought of lemonade way too late in my pregnancy. It's fantastic. Specifically, the Simply Lemonade brand. I do not like Newman's Own, charitable donations aside. I enjoy mixing with water and cran-raspberry juice. My grandfather was a big juice mixer and had hoped to market his concoctions with my Dad, who he thought of as the all-American business guy. If I were in the burbs, I might have to coax Chloe to open a stand.

Johnson and Johnson's 2-in-1 shampoo plus conditioner for curly hair:

Chloe's hair has mystified me -- a luxurious tumble of waves that responds to neither brushing nor scrunching. This shampoo has at least made the mess a bit less -- messy. And what's more fun than diva beauty care for toddlers?

Acuvue Oasys contact lenses:

I sleep in my lenses, despite the fact that I resolved this New Year's Eve to stop. My glasses scratched and hold lenses that are about three prescriptions old, and I am too chicken for LASIK. And I hate waking up blind. I don't know if you are supposed to sleep in the Oasys lenses but I do and they feel 100 times better than the others, even during the day. God, I hope Chloe has my husband's eyes.


These remind me of my Grandma Ceil (she'd mix with plain yogurt and peaches), summertime, and my kid will eat them. They are expensive, but worth it. Until I step on one and stain the carpet, which is likely to happen any time now.

White noise:

Even beyond the cool air effects, the whirl of the air conditioning has done wonders for my pregnancy insomnia, and I swear it helps Chloe nap. I have it on in all three rooms (Con Ed is gonna love me) and it seems to be the only thing that can drown out the never ending dialogue of to-dos and to-worries and not-to-forgets that fill my head these days.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Binge and Purge

My sister Leslie came over yesterday and performed an exorcism on my closet -- freeing me from years of bingeing on pleather and lycra and cheap. I rarely shop for clothes for myself these days -- but my closet represented an old habit. Shopping for clothes was my vice for years. I bought clothes to match a mood, an event, a haircut. New clothes for a new me post-breakup, for a new job, for a date. This chaotic accumulation marking milestones and manic mentality lead to a closet that looked like a nervous breakdown.

I have good taste, theoretically. But I also had severe buyers remorse which did not ever allow me to spend much on any one item. Hence the synthetic fabrics and clothes that did not hold up after a few cleanings. So I bought knock offs, many times victimized by a trend, leading to a twisted pile of sales rack shit. My husband has a slender closet filled with well invested must haves. Psychically, it's just the way he is -- organized, neat, methodical, risk averse, thoughtful, beautiful. And then there's me -- well intentioned but sometimes over the top, creative, confident, impulsive with need to surround myself by lots of things. So the walk-in space that my husband so generously turned over to me has become the pit of the most extreme versions of my personality traits.

My sister, who is much more like my husband, held court over mounds and mounds of the crap couture. I was given five vetos, which I used quickly. And then she had the final word. The goodwill pile grew quickly, and I watched swaths of my old life land lifelessly into a garbage bag. I am currently a mom and a psuedo executive, which meant cargo pants and capris or suits and tailored blouses. There is no room for things that require flat tummies, or strapless bras, or something that matches so exactly that it can't be grabbed when halfway out the door. Memories tumbled over memories -- the dress from my rehearsal dinner (too faded, too tight), my favorite suit that I have had for ten years (which Leslie said reminded her of the one worn by the homeless man that would walk up and down our childhood street with a newspaper under his arm, yet nowhere to go), and tons and tons of hoochie wear. The only exception to the rule of "toss if it's trampy" were my miniskirts, which my husband could not bear to see me part with. Even when I put one on under my 8 month pregnant belly he thought it was just divine. So in an effort to cultivate my last vestiges of sluttiness, I kept some of those.

My new closet is orderly and clean and dieted down to the basics with some splashes of fun. I guess that's who I am these days -- dangling on the edge of change, purging the past while holding on to those things that will always fit and make me feel divine.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I have had a love-hate relationship with my breasts ever since they sprouted. As soon as my tee shirts stopped lying completely flat, I demanded a bra. I still remember wearing it to school for the first time, hopeful that the strap would be snapped by the boy I liked, because that's what happened to the cool girls in seventh grade. Never happened. But still, it felt like an elastic ticket into adulthood.

It must have been an express ticket, because I experienced some lightening fast growth that required almost immediate underwire, trips to Victoria's Secret and a quick education into the world of men who leered. I never saw my breasts as a sexual symbol, which is why I wore tight shirts and was left to wonder over the whistles. I was frequently in trouble at school for my clothes -- the religious administration of my highschool did not embrace my very apparant appendages. My penchant towards ribbed sweaters did not help matters, but I was later amused when my younger sister told me that the boys from her class still ask if I wear them.

Which brings me to the more recent now. In the 90s, when the waif look exploded, I began to loathe my breasts. The kept me from wearing the strappy shirts and from ever feeling thin despite the fact that I always was. I wanted to feel lithe, wispy. I wanted shelf bras built into my tank tops and string bikinis. None of this was possible, as I vascillated from a DD to an E cup at any given time. Jogging was a painful experience and gravity was already taking it's toll far sooner than my perkiness was supposed to expire. I called my mother once in tears in a dressing room, telling her I was getting a reduction. "Don't you dare," she said, the very woman I have to thank for this genetic fate. "You will never be able to breastfeed". She played THAT card, even though I was not even pregnant. So I swore that as soon as I was done with kids, I would minimize them and finally enter the world of wire free lace and a bounceless walk.

And then I had Chloe, and my breasts became working ones. Their volume finally had a purpose, as I had enough milk to feed a small country, or at least fill my freezer. I was proud of them for the first time, and despite the excruciating experience of the milk coming in for the first time, I was able to breastfeed without a glitch. And they looked better than ever because they were always full. It was silicon-chic, something Dr. 90210 would approve of.

And after a year of breastfeeding, and gearing up for yet another, I am glad they have finally earned their keep. Amazingly, I have stopped caring about their size and I am more focused on if they will "work" again. Chloe does not recall nursing, but there is something about my chest that holds comfort for her -- I can tell by the way she rests her head and absently pats the area below my neck. She points to them now, and announces "Baby!", as if somewhere she knows she is about to share what was once her prime real estate. After all the unwanted attention, the self consciousness -- it finally feels good that they are so in demand.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The hardest to learn was the least complicated...

I just got back from my 10 year college reunion. On paper, a silly strategy: a 4+ hour trip with an uncomfortably pregnant belly, restless toddler and exhausted husband to a school that was home to as many tragedies as triumphs over four long years. I would be with my friends Gail and Denise, and largely motivated to see Leigh/Grahamad, who lives in Boston but whose house I have never seen. (I have an urgent need to see the places that my loved ones call home, to imagine them exactly as they are when we are apart).

Fourteen years ago, I was a college freshman who had graduated from a religious private school. My "real world" experience was limited to a few warm beers, stealth trips into Manhattan, furtively smoked cigarettes and a bit of tonsil hockey. I chose Brandeis with little forethought. I knew a few older classmen, the campus was pretty and not too scary and it sounded like a school that a future lawyer would attend. That was all I really cared about -- cute boys, small surroundings, a name that invoked justice. Plus, my father believed that I would be happier at a bigger school and I was eager to prove just how little he knew me back then.

But of course, he was right, and after six months I was suffocating. I felt that I knew everyone in the small class, there was not enough fun and the boys were not as cute as I hoped. I quickly realized that I did not want to be a laywer, but a writer instead and the course options were limited. After a great weekend visit, I desperately wanted to transfer to Penn. I spoke to a camp friend who was an older Penn student and shared my plans with him. "Let me give you a piece of advice", he said, with the sage wisdom of someone who was about to graduate. "If you have good friends at college, that's all that matters. Don't leave that."

I believed him, largely because my freshman year GPA would not enable me to transfer to Penn or anywhere else. And despite the tumult that the next four years would provide for my friends and I: death, divorce, depression, drinking, eating disorders, cheating boyfriends, academic probation, near fatal illness, screaming fights...despite all of this, I graduated with an education in friendship like none other.

Miraculously, I fell into a group of six girls, as random and accidental as my choice of university had been. We had some pre-existing ties: three of us were friends from camp, two of us were friends from highschool. But in the important ways, we were strangers. We developed a "clique" that resembled those that I had only read about in teen novels -- a group that I would be told by others was revered and feared. I had never been a part of something like this, a place where I felt prettier by association, more confident, more important than standing alone. On the surface, it was all the makings of a crew found at Sweet Valley High. But deep within, we developed complicated and consistent relationships that carried us through four years, even in times when we thought we were ready to stand on our own.

This reunion weekend mirrored my college experience almost exactly: the weather sucked, the food sucked, the events were disappointing. But none of it mattered amidst the warm nourishment of friendship. Some were there in person, others there in spirit, but the weekend recreated much of our time at Brandeis: alot of waiting around for something great to happen, and passing that time with stuff that was even better. It had been a long time since I barged into a friends room to find her in her PJs, or to sit on the floor, braless and in mismatched socks, gossiping about the evening to come.

I learned a tremendous amount from these girls, now women. These lessons have impacted me far more deeply than those learned in the classroom. So in honor of this anniversary, and the girls who will always be my family, I will share some of these lessons with you.

1. Always make a house a home. Even when it is a shitty dorm.
2. Guys do make passes at girls who were glasses.
3. Smile and the world smiles with you.
4. Use your voice for beauty and not for evil.
5. Less is more.

1. Great friendship and great love are almost indistinguishable.
2. Love means always having to say "I'm sorry".
3. You can look like a slut as long as you act like a prude.
4. Don't take no for an answer.
5. Anger is healthy.

1. The art of great conversation is one of the most valuable assets imaginable.
2. You need not always make peace with the pain of the past.
3. Great love letters need not only be sent to great loves.
4. Always thank the host before you leave the party.
5. Confidence is sexy.

1. Family is fundamental.
2. The best things come to those who wait.
3. Things left unsaid can be ruinous.
4. Sleep is one of life's true luxuries.
5. Fear is more easily conquered with someone as scared as you are.

1. True beauty lies within our differences.
2. You have to work hard to get what you really want.
3. It's good to be the boss.
4. Always have a surprise in store.
5. Erase your own stereotype.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Giving Notice and Searching for Ants....

...that's what I have been up to.

Two things I never thought I would do.

Both involve some disgust and terror on my part. The ants were Chloe's idea, or as she calls them, "AHNTS". She searches for them, legs crouched in a squat, running a finger over the sun-warmed sidewalk. I sit beside her, my now huge tummy bursting from beneath an ill fitting shirt, hoping she finds them without my help. I have been terrified of ants ever since I left my sneakers poolside as a kid and they filled with red carpenter ants which bit up my feet. I hated how brazen they were, how they traveled in packs, how even one on your skin could make you panic.

Much like the ants, my job had become insufferable. A combination of creepy crawly factors, some emotional, some intellectual. But mainly, I was over-ready for a change. I had checked out long ago, never really unpacking the crappy office they moved me to, abandoning the formerly ferocious and arrogant attitude towards work that often made me loathed in this particular office. I used to be an ant -- marching in line, tireless, industrious and effective, one of many "yes men". After I had Chloe -- and a series of events lead me to acutely understand how unwelcome moms in the workplace really are (more on this soon) -- work became just a place to wear my great shoes, get a small paycheck and feel like the old me. It was never really the same, much like I am not, and the can-do ant in me became restless, lost, with a tendency to bite without warning.

So I have a new job, one where I will work from home, and I am desperately hoping that those two words are not inherently conflicting. I will have much more time to be with my children, to sit on stoops and look for ants and eat popsicles without worrying about the stains.

A colleague I was quite fond of will be retiting at the same time that I will be leaving our shared organization. When I asked him why now, he answered sagely and plaintively: "I have spent years trying to squeeze time with my granddchildren in between everything else. Now I want to squeeze everything else in between time with my granddchildren".

When it comes to my current child, and the one on the way, I am lucky to have this same opportunity. Because as my daughter is already announcing "BYE, MAMA" as she struts out the door, purse in hand, hat on head, barely looking back, I am thrilled to be making the right squeeze for me, right now.