Tuesday, December 30, 2003

When Amanda and I were kids, my dad showed us how to make an “igloo.” We used a “sandcastle” method, making walls by packing snow into empty 1-gallon ice cream buckets, then turning them over and hoping the snow maintained the shape. We used to dig a pocket in one of the walls, put wrapped Twin Pops in it, call it “the freezer,” and store the popsicles for a total of maybe 6 minutes before eating them. One year, our dad let us spray the whole thing with water from the hose so the fort would last longer. I think we had gravelly ice mounds in the front yard until May that year.

When Stephen was a kid, he built a heavily fortified snow fort complete with an arsenal of snowballs. He lifted the thin sheet of ice out of the birdbath and stored his “ammunition” behind it. (Think: “In case of emergency, break glass.”) I’m not sure the fort ever came under fire, but he did shoot a kid in the foot with a not-so-pretend, but-not-real-either bow and arrow when he and his friends were getting chased/picked on by the Popular Crowd one Halloween. (Why did we call them the “Popular Crowd” when no one really liked them? I guess the “Everyone Secretly Wishes You Would Die or At Least Move Far Away” Crowd doesn’t have the same ring to it. Stephen went as Robin Hood that Halloween, by the way.)

2003 has been the Year of the Escape Hatch for me. I’ll wait here while everyone else catches up with the abrupt subject change- the relevance is back there with the birdbath ice/emergency glass. I’ve been trying to build in “escape hatches” wherever possible, so that the tools I need to enact Plan B are never too far from my reach.


After locking my keys in my running car at a lacrosse game last March, I have spare keys everywhere now. I have only had to shimmy up fire escape and crawl into my top-of-the-house apartment twice since I moved in last February. (This is not inaccurate. I had to do it last night, after I wrote that. It’s three times now.) After hemming a pair of trousers with a piece of gaffer’s tape, I have an over-the-back- of-the-seat- organizer with every possible amenity-sewing kit, quarters, breathe mints, tampons, Advil, bottle of water, Visine, AA batteries. I have an electronic “Now You Can Find It!” unit that summons my wallet, day planner, remote control. It used to summon my keys, too, but I permanently lost the set that had the microchip attached. (The irony, I know.) I am one of 5 Nerdy Americans who, (post-Blackout 2003) actually has the recommended, fully stocked emergency kit in a duffle bag, complete with provisions for the pets and updated records of their vaccinations. People, I have Cipro.

But my latest and greatest Escape Hatch *iiiiiis*- I bought a red wallet! Bright red. Fire Engine red. As you know, in addition to losing things, I spill things on myself. Consequently, almost everything I own right now is black. Black wallet. Black day planner. Black cell phone case, black checkbook cover. Black car. Looking into my black purse is like staring into an abyss. My wallet is so hard to see sometimes. Not anymore!

I went to Marshall’s and bought a trendy, bright red wallet on deep discount (somewhere- on the T, at her desk, in her apartment, my sister is smiling…) so it won’t sting too much when I inevitably lose it. I love you, red wallet. Now, let’s go photocopy everything in you so I know exactly what I have to cancel when you’re eventually, inevitably gone someday soon.

Monday, December 29, 2003

What IS it about weddings that turns people into a Total Freak Show, I ask you? (Note to my Engaged Sister: You are NOT a Freak Show. You are NOT who I am talking about. Seriously.) WHY, though? It's like, weddings and funerals seem to bring out the very worse and very best in people.

I know it's because the emotions are all running high, and I know that as a member of various teams of stressed-out Hired Wedding Staffers, I have more exposure than most people to the Wedding Personality Quirk Factor.

And I fully admit that I say this as the person who cried in HEFK's hot tub after her Fabulous Female Fiesta because I was overwhelmed by the emotions involved in it all. Well, that, and I accidentally gave her a baby shower card, which may have kinda sorta made it seem like she was pregnant in front of all her then husband-to-be's mother's friends, many of whom she was meeting for the first time. I swear I thought it was a bluebird of happiness carrying a white wedding bow on that card. I swear. But I digress...

But still, people.... Freak Show. I have to find a sincere way to answer an email now. FREAK. SHOW.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Hello all.

I hope this finds you all well and recovering from the holidays. I had a naaaaaaaaasty start to Christmas Eve triggered by Stop n' Shop sushi- seemingly not a problem most of the time- but I am now physically recovered as I host the parents for a post-present roundup.

The TV I got for Christmas (Thanks Mom and Dad!) didn't fit in the car, so they drove it up here to me today. They leave for Boston in the morning to visit Manda.

I feel very focused on the New Year this year. I don't usually make resolutions. I don't usually even feel like this is a Fresh Start time of year, actually. I tend to celebrate it in September at Rosh Hashanah. ( I should really carry around a pre-printed index card that explains that "I'm Not Jewish, But..." It would have been useful at a Hanukkah celebration at the local Chabbhad -sp?-headquarters last weekend)

But I'm looking forward to the New Year this time. I have a lot I want to write here, actually. Stay tuned....

Thursday, December 18, 2003

I'm really frustrated right now. FRUST.RAT.ED.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Yeah, so I didn't realize that post didn't publish back on the 8th. Sorry about that. And Fred did enjoy breaking a few ornaments and running around with glass in his mouth the first day. Scary.


I have been thinking about the sense of smell a lot lately. It's partly because of the lovely Christmas tree smell in my apartment at the moment, so that's not exactly a total non sequitar. :)

And you know, it's funny, but the sense of smell is really the one of the five senses that you really can't preserve or capture to enjoy later. I was thinking, looking at some sports photos tonight, you know, that is literally 1/500th of a second you're looking at there. 1/500th. Right there, frozen forever.

The father in the story I did about the blind family makes audio recordings of things he wants to remember. He has a little tape recorder with a microphone that he clips on his sleeve. I spent a day with them at the zoo, and he ran around all day making recordings of his 2-year-old son chatting about the giraffes and making monkey noises as he looked at the primate exhibit.

Recipes and frozen leftovers preserve "taste" fairly well. The sense of touch is fairly easy to replicate if the physical object still exists. But smell is the one sense you can't really preserve and recreate at will.

A few weeks ago, I put on Degree deoderent for the first time in 8 years. I had a travel size sample, it was convenient, and then later- "When life turns up the heat"... BAM! As clear as a bell, it was like 1994, making out with J. If anyone had asked me to pick a scent that might bring a memory like that back, (and who would? I don't think anyone else thinks about stuff like this) I probably would have named the cologne he used to wear. I never would have thought about my wearing Degree.

It's the combinations of scents that make it difficult to recreate, I think. In 1995, I wrote in my journal that a passageway in Barcelona smelled like "Warm bread, impatiens flowers and inadequate sewer system." Go, Europe. The combination of Curve cologne, Benjamin Moore paint and sawdust will always conjure up long Saturdays set-painting with Mr. Lehm@n. (HA! No functional comments!)

In Miami, they had oxygen bars where you could pay to wear "fashionable" (eh) tubes in your nose and smell different "flavors" while getting ever-so-slightly legally high on purer oxygen that one usually breathes in the Aventura Mall. I never did it. Still, though, 20 years from now, I doubt they will have the "flavor" I really want, which is the way Nanny's house smells on the day she (and Larry) bake dozens of Christmas cookies. It's the usual comforting combination of Ciara cologne and lingering cooking smells- like soup and fried meatballs. But that day, even that scent is just an undercurrent beneath the aroma of cinnamon and chocolate and nuts and baking dough and peanut butter cookies, the kind with perpendicular fork marks on top.

"I'm making a memory. Years from now, when I'm all grown up, I'll remember
my Grandfather and how he always smelled of peppermint and pipe tobacco." -Hayley Mills in "The Parent Trap"

Monday, December 08, 2003

Ow, ow, the cuteness. I have to lie down.

I got a Christmas tree today. A real live one, that I am going to decorate just the way i want it, and oh- It's up right now, with a strand of white lights, and I put it in the window, the one that it's in the center of the top peak of the house, because I think it will make people happy when they see it. All the main lights in the room are off, just the tree is on, and -

Fred was just curled up in a tight, round ball right underneath the outer branches, and Bella was sleeping with her head on him, like he was a pillow. Of course, when I went to get my camera, they moved a little. They were laying side by side,and it's sort of hard to photograph because there is so little light. Using flash doesn't capture the mood, but anyway... I had a total attack of the cuties.

I just really, really hope they don't turn into Killer Kat and Destructo Dog when I put the ornaments on tomorrow.

Monday, December 01, 2003

The conversation around the Thanksgiving dinner table was one of the best "holiday conversations" I've been a part of. Some years, it seems a little awkward, like I don't have a lot to say to my extended family/friends. (What can you really talk about with Larry, after all? This year, he told me all about processing returned shoes for QVC, and how some of the returns have obviously been worn, and even though QVC isn't supposed to accept them, they do. Apparently, they have a department of people who try to scrub toe marks off the inner soles of shoes with toothbrushes. Hmm.)

But this year, the conversation flowed. Ironically, 2003 was a pretty good year for the usual crowd around the table, except for Aunt Bev and Aunt Mamie, who died. That sounds awful, but anyway... Amanda and Tom graduated, passed the bar, got engaged. Greg graduated from F & M, got a great job, started work on his MBA. Kristen and Adam got married. Nanny returned to a firmer state of healt, climbing the stairs instead of riding in a chair.. Kelly and I got our Big Girl Lives at last. But I realized that all of those accomplishments- which seemed to really fall into place in the last 11 months or so- had been a long, long time in coming. It's lovely when the 20/20 view of hindsight shows you passing the places you thought would lead you where you said wanted to go, then finding yourself there.

Alissa, however, offers a beautiful, poignant description of what I actually *did* over the holiday. www.leafygreen.org/alissa

Also? My cat can actually be a pretty cuddly little guy. :)