Tuesday, March 31, 2009

i love you monster, but really?!

as any pet owner may tell you, animals are weird. sometimes even weirder than weird money, but i'll save that for another time. however, i am thoroughly convinced that my special friend is officially the most neurotic creature on four legs.

ever since the major thunderstorm two nights ago with the flashy lights show and wall-shaking sound effects, the poor guy has been hiding in closets and underneath furniture that he is clearly way too big to fit comfortably under. while this is not an unusual reaction to a maelstrom of mother nature's fury, it is a little bizarre that after two days of sunshine and rainbows that this is still going on.

give it up already, monster. we get it. it was a little scary, but do you really need to be attached to my ankles ALL day long? i can't walk six feet without you getting up from one perfectly good spot to follow me and plop in a ball so close that you have to be touching some part of me to make sure that you're not alone. even the baby gives me more space.

oh, and let's not forget to mention how the past two nights he has knocked down the baby gate in the hallway at 3am to come and get in bed with us. he hasn't slept in our bed since he was a puppy. he has long ago staked claim to our custom upholstered chair-and-a-half in the living room, complete with his toe-chewing dribble stains, and has been more than happy to evict anyone for sitting in 'his' chair.

even now, as i vent my frustrations about the silly dog's obsessive tendencies, he is in fact preventing my nice swivel desk chair from actually swivelling, as he has his head laid blocking the bottom of the chair.

don't fall for those sad eyes. try spending a day with that clown as your shadow and you won't feel bad for him one bit. although, i do have to admit it could be worse. at least his ear isn't so stank right now.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

a message to the woman enjoying her cig on 34th street

tights are not the same as pants.

now, i may not be all up in the fashion industry, or even into new current trends, but i'm pretty sure that no one, anywhere, can pull off pretending that a pair of opaque tights are a sufficient replacement for wearing actual pants.

dear woman standing outside of macy's, even if you had that slamming body that i imagine i used to have 10 years ago (which, i hate to break it to you, you don't), i would still be obligated to tell you that it's just not polite to show all of your crevices to the general public. your over sized, off-the-shoulder tunic was not nearly long enough to conceal your bits, in the front or back.

i can be fairly certain that this ensemble was put together deliberately attempting to achieve that skinny-jean look without actually having to find a pair of skinny jeans to button around your enormous middle. while slightly more uncomfortable, the jeans would have at least hidden your cracks from my field of vision and i would have been able to better enjoy my day, nay, my life, without their image burned forever on my retinas.

so please, please, for all of us who have eyes, wear a skirt or dress over those tights, or just retire them altogether. they've had a hard life so far, it's time to cut them some slack.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

hold me when the end comes

have you heard about the latest threat to end life as we know it? this sounds like a lame horror movie, complete with 'zombie computers' and a 'master machine'. we all know how well i deal with that type of nonsense.

but seriously, SERIOUSLY? who are these people that write this shit? what do they get out of it? is it more about the fact that they CAN do it?

i need to know the answer, because if you tell me that i have to jump through hoops to protect my computer from something that wants to steal my personal banking information, i'll just laugh at you.

as we already know, my computer has a mind of it's own, so living with another virus won't really change how i do things on my end. additionally, i hope those stupid bastards wrote something into that virus to target rich people, because they'll be pissed if they even waste a minute opening up my bank account.

not to mention the fact that i'm pretty sure demonic spirits can transfer through wires, so HA, joke's on you assclowns! you think you're coming at me with some big bad virus to make me cower in a corner, think again. i've got shit you can't even comprehend running rampant on my hard drive.

no, i'm not scared of your silly april fool's day virus. you can do your worst and it won't phase me one bit.

what i am scared of is when my computer finds out i've been calling it names. i better keep that knife handy. i'll fight you to the death, computer, yours or mine.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

#38 on the 'why i hate tor view village' list

i won't get into the previous 37 reasons i have listed in my head of why my apartment complex, with the worst name ever (reason #4 because it references weird mountain), sucks hard. i will instead share with you a little ditty i recently heard from my bedroom window. but first, let me set you up with a little background info:

-mrs. toothless wonder (has most of her teeth, not sure where the name came from) has some kind of disability that made her legs as thin as pretzel rods. but despite the fact that her condition might elicit some profound sympathy for the lady, she is continually the most annoying busybody ever imaginable.

-mr. toothless works at the deli counter of the local grocery store and is fond of yelling into other people's apartments with his megaphone, that also somehow has a radio tuner on it forever set to the easy-listening station.

-then there's their son ryan, whoo boy, this kid has some serious issues. picture that 14 year old who's in the 'special' classes and can't get along with kids his own age so he steals toys from the neighborhood preschoolers who haven't yet learned to run when they see him coming. oh, and he also likes to get in his mother's car (beats the hell out of me how she can exert enough force on the gas pedal to drive with her twigs but whatever), blast the radio, and rev the gas for no reason.

so, now that you have an accurate mental picture of the characters, here's the dialogue:

mrs. toothless: 'RYYYAAAAAAAAAANNN!! where's my cane?!?'

ryan: 'i got a new phone, it's 6:01, exactly. ugh, right THERE!!'

mrs. toothless: 'no, not that one, the SILVER one!'

ryan: 'whatever, you're slowing me down. i got a new phone.'

mrs. toothless: 'ryan, get in the car NOOOWWW!'


mrs. toothless: 'get in the car or i'm gonna leave you here!'

ryan: 'GOOD! i don't wanna go anyways!'

mrs. toothless: 'RYAANNnnn....' (voice fading as she gets in the car and slams the door)

ryan: 'what's the big deal anyway?'

oh yeah, and did i mention that this is a regular occurrence on sunday mornings? yes, sunday mornings, right outside my window (which, unfortunately, happens to overlook her parking spot) when all the rest of the world is still trying to sleep.

these folks are so crazy that even my 50-pound, man eater of a dog can't be bothered to bark at them, knowing full well it's a waste of his time.

i console myself with thoughts of a nice, quiet neighborhood, where even if wackos like these exist, i'll be able to ignore them from inside my huge, sprawling home. maybe that scenario isn't going to come about for a long time, but believe me, when it does, i will cherish every second away from the insanity that is tor view-suck my ass-village.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

i can't swim very well

since my return to work is now rapidly approaching, i have to brace myself for the simultaneous return of the treacherous commute.

i normally love having that time to myself in the car to ease into my work day, but when i have to cross the death-trap that is otherwise known as the tappan zee bridge, that meditation time morphs into a bullet-sweating, mad dash to the other side, hoping that this is not the day that the over-used, poorly maintained mammoth of steel and concrete collapses into the hudson.

cue scenes from that movie 'the mothman prophecies' where the bridge mysteriously collapses during rush hour, cars filled with people plummeting into cold waters waiting below.

on the very best of days, i can make it across in about 5 minutes, speeding and with no traffic. i'm even happy to pay the toll just to know i've made it. although, i did once receive weird money when i had to pay cash while waiting for my new ez-pass tag to come in the mail, but that's a whole separate issue.

suffice it to say that each time i get into my car and head towards that bridge, i need a serious distraction to keep myself from mentally listing what articles of clothing i'd have to remove to help my awkward and desperate attempts at swimming to save my life.

i've thought about driving with a life vest in my car, but the chances that i'd actually be coherent enough to get at where ever i have it stashed in such an emergency are slim to none.

so if that fateful day ever comes, and i happen to not answer my cell phone when you call to check up on me, send as many boats out to the area as you can muster and i promise i'll never forget you when i make it big from my google adsense revenues.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

i'm sorry if this offends you, but i'm going to say it anyway

why am i being bombarded with questions about my 6-month-old watching baby einstein? and more importantly, why do i get that stifled expression when i say that i don't think she needs to watch tv at her age, no matter what the program is?

if i'm going to be subjected to the outlandish behavior of other parents A) telling me what to do with my child and B) telling me that tv is the answer, then shouldn't i be allowed to respond as i really want to? no, it's more pc for me to smile and say something like 'oh yeah, i've heard about that, we haven't tried it yet.'

i'm all for general politeness, and believe me, i love the diversity that each family can impart upon their own children. but please people, why do you assume to know what's best for ALL children?

for example, my laundry room buddy. she's a mother to a four-year-old girl and lives in the next building over from me. we generally stick to safe topics, such as commiserating about how much we hate where we live and listing the many faults of our complex and management. but yesterday, she took it too far.

laundry lady: 'how's the baby? getting big huh?'

me: 'yeah, sitting up on her own now! it's great because she enjoys her toys in a whole new way.'

laundry lady: 'does she like baby einstein? my daughter started at 3 months, she loved it.'
(mimicking a baby watching tv, face still, eyes wide open, in a trance.)

me: 'oh yeah, i haven't really tried that. she likes her toys a lot.'

laundry lady: 'oh my gosh!! you HAVE to try it! get her started early so she'll be able to sit and watch on her own. you should do all those educational types of videos, give her a head start.'

me: 'uh, yeah, maybe.'
(turning my back to remove clothes from the dryer, setting the stage for my quick exit from this odious dialogue)

laundry lady: (another face, this time clearly biting her tongue about how my kid's going to grow up a dummy because she didn't learn to count by 9 months old) ' well, i guess you don't have to if you're not ready...'

um, i don't know if i'll ever be ready for that.

i understand that tv is real and it's a part of every household, and that sometimes you need a half hour to make dinner, or something for a sick kid to veg out to, or even just for some time to yourself. you can't be your child's sole source of entertainment. and i can absolutely understand why videos would be better than regular tv programs, but the sense of urgency that i MUST train my baby to regularly watch videos is astonishing to me.

i'm sure the old argument 'einstein himself didn't watch baby einstein' has been applied here many times before i entered the picture, but i still think it's valid. if i play with my child, teach her to play independently, take her out to experience things outside of our home, read to her, talk to her, love her, how is that deficient?

am i committing a fatal flaw in my child's development? is there something to baby einstein that i don't know about? (real question, not sarcasm)

i can only hope that as i navigate the many crossroads of parenthood, that i can become accustomed to constantly evolving. i know my daughter won't be that cute babbling baby forever, and i'll have to grow with her.

ps. i always welcome other parent's advice about what worked for them, but when it's phrased as 'DO this' that's when i get upset.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

when b and i get bored...

...we act out murderous fantasies on inanimate objects, often using ketchup as a visual aid.

most recently, we've been talking about destroying our possessed computer, describing over and over to each other the many ways that we could make it suffer for all those viruses, white-outs, and restarts it put us through.

today we got to have our fun, at least half of it anyway. we replaced our monitor. nothing fancy, an old hand-me-down from b's office, but it was a gift from the heavens because it allowed us to throw out the old one. gone are the days of mysteriously going to 'sleep' and not waking back up, no more will it flash beams of light from a black screen at me, moving as if someone was shining a flashlight beam from the inside.

the computer's still kicking around, for now. maybe when it sees the pics of what we did to it's buddy mr. monitor it'll have second thoughts about that.

so we started with your average, ordinary-looking monitor. you can't see the evil from the outside, but it's soul is as black as a desert night. then we did this to it:

then this:

before finally letting it writhe in misery amongst trash that it's not even worthy to keep company with:

it felt so good. a natural release of all of our frustrations, culminating in that moment of being able to walk away knowing that wretched monitor was in the dumpster, and there it would stay.

at least we didn't burn it.

we thought about it, but not owning a fire extinguisher was the deciding factor.

todd wasn't so lucky.

of course, there was no fire extinguisher that night either, but he really had it coming, with his big hair and sideways smile.

before you write us off as a couple of psychopaths, consider this, how many other people can channel their frustrations in a way that's (relatively) harmless and will bring years of laughter and embarrassment for future generations?

Friday, March 20, 2009

back to the daily grind

my daughter is nearly 6 months old now. while that means a multitude of developmental milestones are occurring so fast i can't catch them on camera quick enough, it also means that it's time for me to go back to work.

this has been a back-and-forth topic for my husband and i for some time now. it's that old catch 22 of the cost of day care vs. the income i would be earning. although, for now, we've reached a conclusion. part-time work will prevent us from spending a fortune on day care, and allow me to re-enter the adult world without a baby on my hip for 15-20 hours a week.

everybody wins.

so what will i be doing that's so illustrious as to call me away from my new full-time job as house-wreck (i mean mother)? i will be returning to my catering job that i held when i was a million months pregnant. they were so nice there, only making me stand for 10 hour shifts at a time, as opposed to the normal 12 hours.

i can ride this part-time thing for a few years, maybe make little miss a baby bro or sis at some point, but i know that i will have to fully rejoin the workforce eventually. i am looking forward to having a career, but it'll have to be something kid friendly. whatever could i do in the food industry that would be about the same schedule as when my kids are in school.....

that's right folks, i'm talking about becoming a lunch lady.

did i ever think when i was 18 that a day would come that i would intentionally consider slopping out beans and franks after spending bags of money to go to a fancy culinary school? who would? but the lunch lady has evolved, and so have i.

today's lunch lady is responsible for designing healthy, cost efficient meals that are regularly rotated. she not only makes sure the food is prepared to her high standards, but is also the merchandiser and shipping/receiving manager. and that's on top of ordering fresh supplies and collecting lunch money from the parents.

the idea has been flickering on and off in my head for a while, hypothetically. but just yesterday i received a phone call from a dear friend, who happens to work in the school system, hysterically laughing because she was on line in the cafeteria and realised that being a lunch lady would be a perfect job for me.

so there it is, my new calling. i could even work in the same elementary school my kids go to and embarrass the shit out of them every day. i may not win any upcoming seasons of top chef, but i would be able to work making delicious food while still being home to help with math homework.

can you see it yet? i mean, i'll probably ditch the old fashioned hair net for a sleek new uniform and matching cap. but maybe, just maybe, i'll have a chance at changing that old stigma and building something, well, i don't know, less lunch lady-ish. at least i'll always have that adam sandler song to motivate me each day.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


making the most of my daughter's nap time on this rainy afternoon, i am compulsively sorting and re-organizing my photos on my computer's hard drive for back-up before the wretched thing finally dies. this has naturally led me to rediscover some random memories i had long ago filed away in that 'did that really happen?' category.

the real stand out being this gem:

behold, the passenger-side mirror of my husband's late acura 3.0 cl.

yes friends, that is a muti-colored chenile yarn connecting the mirror to the door frame. it's accentuated with some lovely scotch tape holding the glass into the mirror frame. oh, and a big thanks to that very special valet parking attendant who so dillegently applied the scotch tape while all the other folks in their benzes looked on in disgust.

my husband loved that car.

he called it his tank. he could recount every story for all it's battle scars with vivid detail. i remeber the day he come home from work carrying that side mirror, asking me if i had any dark colored yarn in my knitting stash. i showed him various hues of blues and greens, and he said 'no, i need something to match my car.'

that yarn held up for almost a full year. but then one day, the very soul of the car seemed to sigh in defeat, and it never stirred again. it was ultimately towed away, making a huge spectacle at my husband's office, with the yarn still supporting it's burden.

i can only hope the new owner of that 1998 acura, with only 227,000 miles on it, can appreciate the love that was showered on it, and the joy it gave in return.

so if my piece-o-crap computer is good for anything these days, it can at least supply a chuckle on a dreay day. (although i can't wait for this thing to kick the bucket so i can go all office space on it's ass.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

keep it short

my 5-month-old daughter hates it when i trim her nails. but that's to be expected, she's a warm ball of wiggle these days and the five minutes it takes for a proper trim is way too long for her to spend still.

but grown men have no excuse. none.

you know who i'm talking about, those men that you see with long nails that get so thick from lack of constant care. it makes me shudder to even picture it in my head. why do men have such a hard time recognizing when it's time to cut their fingernails before they get that gross nosferatu-esque look to them?

a man in a committed relationship should not only want to stay appealing to his spouse, but may also have the added bonus of a particularly compassionate mate who would remind him, 'honey, time to file your claws.'

a single man should be especially conscious of his grooming habits. now, those that go to extremes with facials and waxes, great. but there are many who neglect the basics. for instance, the 40-something guy my husband just hired to work in his office.

this guy wears no wedding band, and has not mentioned any current romantic interest. he's one of those that speaks in sentences structured purely for the purpose of showing off his immense vocabulary. clearly the type who should be concerned with making himself presentable. yet no matter how well-spoken he is, i have to hear my husband repeatedly describing how this guy's overly long fingernails get in the way of his just being a regular guy, 'you don't understand, they're SO long.'

there's that shudder again.

how can this issue be so prevalent? is it laziness? or perhaps it goes back to a person's upbringing, and the parents who didn't stress the connection between social acceptance and neatness of appearance? regardless of who's to blame, it's not too late. we can all reach out to someone. for the greater good, buy a pair of clippers and anonymously leave them on your co-worker's desk.

if that doesn't work, then he's a lost cause and should be ignored henceforth, as if he is no longer a part of the human race.

UPDATE: 'nails' (as he is now called by my husband) is responsible for drawing a new client bringing in loads of business. i guess something's working for him after all.

Monday, March 16, 2009

show your green

it's that time of year again, when everyone needs the very slightest of excuses to distract from the hum-drum routine of eagerly awaiting spring. catholics observing lent, school children staring longingly out of windows, desperate for a chance to play in warmer weather, and ordinary people who have reached what they thought to be their threshold for the dreariness of winter many times over. these, just to name a few, are people who embrace the celebration of saint patrick's day.

saint patrick's day is that day that i (as a non-christian) have always associated with binge drinking and ugly green foam top hats. sure i had heard the story about some snakes hundreds of years ago, but i neither entirely believed it nor questioned it. i can't be the only one. after all, it comes about just as the cabin fever of winter has nearly scrambled your brain into unrecognizable mush, so who really cares?

well, this year, i decided to actually read (i mean, google and browse two articles) about saint patrick, the man. what i learned was that saint patrick is seen as being a key figure in converting the native irish to christianity. he is credited with tactically blending pagan and christian symbols to ease the transition. one example being the 'celtic cross' in which he placed a sun, a powerful image for pagan irish, in the center of a christian cross.

so how did this day change from commemorating a momentous religious accomplishment to present day guinness-chugging and leprechaun loving? it's all about the timing. if patrick had died in december, he would not receive nearly as much tribute, at least here in america, while people are stretched between thanksgiving and christmas/hanukkah. but now in march, the celebration of patrick's life and mission, can be ever-indulgent.

the parades, honoring saint partrick for nearly 300 years, the wearing of green to show loyalty to the roman catholic church, and the eating and drinking of traditional irish fare, have become a spectacle for people of all races and religious backgrounds to join in and release pent-up energy. anyone can be 'irish for a day' right?

does the secretary in your office, wearing her green cardigan passing out green jellybeans, have a true connection to the man and his life's work? most likely not, but instead, wants to get up out of her cubicle for ten minutes to show her peers how much she 'cares' about the triumph of the church over false beliefs. greeting card companies have mass-produced trinkets in every price range to allow anyone to declare their heritage with a faux crystal shamrock pinned to their lapel. it would appear that commercialized holidays are big business here in the u.s.

now, i may sound hypocritical, seeing as i've had my share of drinks on many a march 17th, for no reason other than having some drinks. but i do wish that we could call it as it is. this day is not declared a national holiday here in america. banks and schools are still open. and so we should at least say what it means to us, a day to party and revel in excesses, rather than delve into our most pious behaviors.

perhaps we already do, and that would explain how i made it nearly 30 years without knowing exactly what saint patrick's day was all about. so c'mon now, pick your poison! will it be guinness or jameson's for you?

note: in no way would i attempt to discredit the millions of people of irish descent who have a right to celebrate such a major turning point in their history. i will, however, comment on how many americans, myself especially, perpetuate the very fact that this holiday seems to be stuck in a land of limbo.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

we're all targets

as i sit here munching my delicious soy crisps (creamy ranch flavor) i find myself contemplating what even made me decide to buy soy crisps in the first place.

they are quite tasty, but the very first time i bought them, i had no previous experience with soy in a snack-chip form and really had no idea what to expect. so how did they make that monstrous leap from grocery store shelf to my shopping cart, and ultimately into that tender spot in my heart reserved for my favorite snacky treats?

the obvious answer is the right one in this case, marketing.

the white bag with fresh-looking green leaves and branches flowing beneath the title 'nature's promise', the organic brand stocked at my local food market, was designed with just that very purpose in mind. and it worked.

i looked the bag over, compared price and ingredients to the brand name rice cakes tempting me from the next shelf. the soy crisps were less than half the price and lower in sodium, and after all, nature DID promise that they were 'all natural' and 'cholesterol free.' but this investigative shopping would never had occurred had i not been attracted to the outside of the bag.

this train of thought prompts me to think about the people who earn a living conceptualizing and creating the many advertisements we are all exposed to in our daily lives. how much money must have been invested for such firms to specifically target buyers for their products? how much time is spent making each item appear unique, and do so in a way convincing enough to make the average consumer part with his hard-earned cash for something new compared to something predictable?

it may be safe to say that as long as the marketing works, it pays for itself. everyone makes a profit and i enjoy my soy crisps guilt free.

but what about when advertising backfires? who looses out? is the public deprived of a great product because of poor marketing? or it is a form of capitalist natural selection, only the strong survive?

i'd like to believe that our population of consumers would, on average, as a whole, support businesses/companies worthy of our dollar. but then i find things like this. did you read the product description? only about two sentences in and it has already become completely elitist and exclusive to most americans. someone, somewhere, got paid to write that, and people are buying into it.

the more i ponder why someone would actually buy anything that so unabashedly targets a certain lifestyle, thus perpetuating classist notions and ideals, the more it becomes clear to me that this advertising tactic is enormously successful.

this company will not only make their product appealing to those overtly aimed for, but also for the many who strive to be thought of as existing in that category.

and so i give up. i cannot win a battle of etiquette with advertisers. they exist solely to make us take notice. often it's the more outlandish messages, subtle or not, that we talk about the most.

Friday, March 13, 2009

did i just see that?

i should preface this post by saying that as a new mother, i have learned quickly to refrain from giving unsolicited parenting advice. i don't like hearing it, and i'm sure no one else likes hearing it.

but i think i just saw the most atrocious display of exactly what NOT to do with your child.

the back story is brief, but somewhat relevant. i live in an apartment complex of some 400 or so apartments in several different buildings along a dead-end street. my particular building is at the bottom of the road, right off the cul-de-sac. my neighbor, a friendly spanish woman, mother to three children, watches other neighborhood kids during the day. we are not talking about licensed day care here, more of an informal, yet paid, babysitter.

one of her regulars is a small boy, about two years old. the parents seem nice enough, routinely dropping the boy off around 8:30 am and picking him up around 5:15 pm. what first made me take note of them was when i observed both parents, individually and on multiple occasions, put the boy in the front seat of their car, with no car seat, and often no seat belt.

i do know that they live in the building across the street, their parking lot directly opposite from mine. from door to door, it's maybe a 75-ft drive.

but is there any excuse for taking such liberties with your child's safety? the last time i checked, there were car seat laws, for a reason.

the ultimate in careless behavior was exhibited today, when the boy's father placed his son on his lap, and then drove away. no seat belt, and a toddler sitting in his lap, tiny fingers clutching the steering wheel. who does this guy think he is, britney spears? there are no paparazzi here on kensington circle.

i'm not ready to interfere and tell these parents what i think about their dangerous practice of driving their son. it seems obvious to me that any parent who thinks that such behavior is acceptable would clearly be defensive when approached about the subject. the last thing i need is the frustration of picking a fight about child safety only to have the parents continue with their actions.

instead, i'll just write about it and hope everyone who reads this agrees with me.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

i might have an obsession...

one of my favorite things about my physical appearance is my tiny head. it's not freakishly tiny, or even that noticeable to someone who isn't trying to guesstimate my head size. but, it is exquisitely compact, in perfect proportion to my features.

my husband noticed my tiny head right from the very beginning of our relationship. when i say or do something he finds cute, he flatters me by telling me that he thinks my head shrunk a little.

in public places, i often have to remind myself that strangers don't like me staring. they don't understand about my need to compare head size.

big hair, hats, and other accessories are no impediment to my critical analyses. in fact, many times such items can be helpful as a gauge for sizing. for example, adjustable caps. the little plastic part with the snaps to make a cap larger or smaller is a great visual indicator of head size. the man walking past me in the mall, with his hat snapped on the very last hole, makes me shudder and think 'ugh, how can people STAND having such big heads?!'

i have never measured the circumference of my head, for fear that attaching an actual number to it's tininess will make it less tiny. instead i prefer to try on hats, commenting to whoever will listen, that the size 'small' is way too big, 'look, i can fit three fingers in between my head and this hat!'

i remember that fateful day at the pediatrician's office when my daughter was in for her one-month physical. the doctor pulled out a tape measure and slid it under her head. i thought 'WHY, WHY do they have to measure?' holding my composure while the unthinkable was happening before my eyes, the doctor read the measurement. she mutters 'that can't be right', and adjusts the tape a second time. my heart leaps. she proclaims that my daughter has a small-to-average sized head. my husband and i share an excited look. i grin from ear to ear. the doctor, noting our non-verbal communication, mistakenly tries to comfort us. she's worried that as neurotic new parents, we are afraid small head size translates to small brain size. we hide our excitement temporarily, knowing full well that a small head does not impact intellectual ability.

will i share the depth of my obsession for tiny heads with my daughter? probably not for a very long time, but i will compliment her for having such a cute little head. she has already affectionately become tinyhead 2.0.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

true story

i've never actually seen a ghost, phantom, spirit, or likewise. i do, however, think that i have been to haunted places. my dog accompanied me once, and was a very convincing witness.

now, most people can say they thought they heard a strange voice somewhere that was nothing more that a creaky vent shaft. so i won't go into detail about hearing babies cry every time i go into my bathroom. i will, instead, share my experience at high tor state park, which happens to be directly across the street from my home.

as my lovely mutt is one of those high-energy (walk me lots or i'll destroy your house) types, i often take him hiking for exercise. we gravitate towards the more desolate areas, less likely to draw crowds, simply because of my dear pet's tendency to, oh, you know, bite.

i prefer to walk with him off his leash, mostly because he loves being able to stretch his legs a bit more than our 700-square-foot apartment will allow. our usual routine is him running 10 feet ahead, then turning, panting, waiting for me to catch up before hurtling forward again at full sprint.

one crisp autumn afternoon, we found ourselves entering a trail that began on a bluff, overlooking our neighborhood. the orange and red leaves marked the sides of the path, drawing us further into the woods. there were absolutely no indications of any other hikers nearby. we were alone.

as we walked, a feeling of claustrophobia mounted. unusual for me, one who is prone to almost being hypnotized by the beauty of forests, cherishing nature's display. as utterly alone as we were, i put my companion's leash back on after only a few minutes. it wasn't hard, he was huddled next to my legs.

about 15 minutes deep, we noticed a side trail that appeared to go up to a look-out point. we headed up the steep, rocky slope. it was even more solitary than the trail below. at the summit, i was desperately trying to take a picture that encompassed the magnificent view. it wasn't working. the longer i stood, rotating my vantage point, the more my dog whimpered and whined. when he finally distracted me enough for me to notice his anxiety, we started back down the slope.

we reached the original trail, and i froze. where we had left the main trail and turned to go up the cliff, we had left no footprints. it hadn't rained in days, the ground was not nearly soft enough to take impressions unless they were forcibly made. yet upon our return to this divergence of path, there were, clear as day, a set of man's footprints leading away from the very spot where we were standing that were not there before.

i can hear your protest now, 'isn't it possible that the footprints were there all along and you didn't notice them?' the simple truth here is that as i was navigating the change in trail from wide, level dirt walkway to uneven climb, i was intently watching the ground. and if there were a person approaching or even nearby, my faithful friend's supersonic hearing would have prompted unmistakable barking.

so as my brain comprehended the footprints, i ran (i mean, jogged, umm, walked really fast) back through the now dense woods for the open air at the exit. i listened for any suspicious noise and only heard suspicious silence. all the while my dog stayed within inches of my side, and repeatedly looked back over his shoulder, behind himself. i had never seen him do anything of the sort, and have not again since that day.

i firmly believe that animals are very perceptive, much more so than humans could ever be. and for my four-legged friend to behave entirely out of sorts is compelling enough evidence for me. but for those of you who aren't quite convinced, i have more.

when i shared my experience with my husband, his replay was "oh YEAH! you're talking about that place across the street right? well, i forgot to tell you at the time, but i hiked up there a few months ago and it was so creepy i had to turn around and leave." he even added that our fearless canine acted very much the same way as he just had for me.

and that was the last time any of us has set foot on what we now call 'weird mountain'.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

you are here

being a (mostly) lifelong resident of new york's hudson valley, i have to admit that i have not taken full advantage of the various local activities and events this region is known for. i know i'm not alone. it's easy to take for granted the wondrous attributes that tourists find irresistible.

i have to thank my daughter for forcing me to use a new perspective. her silly little giggle reminds me that it's up to me to give her experiences she'll always treasure. someday we'll sample local farm-to-table fare at bargain prices during the annual hudson valley restaurant week. we will learn about making maple syrup, and about the 400th anniversary of hudson and his famous voyage upriver.

i will relish every act of becoming a visitor in my own neighborhood. i will look beyond the potholes, and that lady who walks her husky to any location with a bench, combs his immensly thick coat, and leaves the furballs on the ground. instead i will explore doodletown, less than 10 minutes from my front door.

as my daughter grows, so does my eagerness to share the rich history at our feet.

in the meantime, we'll practice that giggle.

Monday, March 9, 2009

red or white?

wine tasting is for snobs.

that's what i used to think, until not too long ago, when i was introduced to the basics of wine. simply, being able to identify what you like and then buy what you want instead of some over-priced bottle that you end up hating.

so although very much a novice, i can appreciate that there's more to wine tasting than sitting with some old fuddy-duddys (someone wearing a monacle, another checking his pocket watch, etc.) discussing the significance of the plot of soil a particular grape is grown in.

granted, i usually am one for the details, and the details of wine making can be somewhat interesting in small doses. but details can also make the process feel a little overwhelming for a beginner. so instead, i choose to learn 'how' to taste.

first there's the whole clean palette part, then there's the progression from light to dark, there's also the swirl-n-sniff (technical term), followed by the swooshing of the wine in your mouth like you're rinsing with listerene, to coat every bit of surface with the flavor and texture of the wine. and then this is where it gets tricky, the spitting part.

now, i can understand if your job as a purchaser for a major wine retailer (or something else of the sort) requires you to taste 300 wines in one afternoon, you have to spit, i get it. but if you're just out for a casual wine tasting with some friends, i don't feel obligated to spit. one very convincing reason being that i am almost positive i would either a) miss the intended target for the spit, b) knock over the spit-containing vessel at some point during the tasting, most likely onto someone other than myself, or c) accidentally look at the spit and be completely unable to continue tasting.

so taking all of these factors into consideration, in addition to the fact that a simple tasting in most places is either free or very affordable, i have a new opinion about wine tasting: it's a great way to get drunk and learn a little before you get drunk, helping to validate the whole experience.

i mention all of this mostly because of a recent wine tasting afternoon i just enjoyed with my husband and some friends. we got to tour a couple of wineries, ranging from cutting edge to the oldest vineyard in america. we all learned, drank, discussed, and then reverted to more childish forms of entertainment. but at the end of the day, it really was what we made of it, not the stuffy, formal ordeal we each may have imagined it might be.

so run, kiddies, run to your local winery. drink, chat, (learn a little if you want) and buy a bottle of wine to support your local winemaker.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

i LOVE that song!

how many times does the miraculous connection between music and memory stop you in your tracks, dumbfounded at the resurgance of imagery long forgotten?

for me it's usually about once a week.

most recently i was driving, alone, singing along to a favorite tune from those awkward transition years between junior high and high school. mid-riff, i was instantly watching my life at 14 flash past me: the thrift store clothes shopping (because that was the cool thing to do), the trips to the mall where you ditch the responsible parent to hunt for boys with your very bestest friend, playing dress up in a mature way (i.e. wearing your mother's old hippie clothes to school just to be a little bit different).

every once in a while, a real gem emerges from these foggy bits and comes together at just the right time to create a moment more endearing in it's recollection than it ever could have been when it occured.

for me, this time, the moment was chris cornell's spellbinding voice leading into billy longfingers approaching his 'girlfriend' of the week at the bottom of the big hill, clutching spring dandelions in his unfortunate hands. the weeds, desperate to pass for real flowers, sagging despondently as he crushed their stems, forcing the yellow petals to look sullenly downward. it was tragic, humorous, and captivating all at the same time.

how memory actually works is a topic i have no desire to touch, but i will say that the fact that i can remember every word to a song i haven't heard in years yet can't leave my house without forgetting at least one essential item, speaks to the astounding way which we define our very selves with a musical soundtrack. to me, this is truly a remarkable form of theraputic release, aligning your current state of mind with someone else's words put to song, or perhaps i just want to justify playing 90's rock at a deafeningly loud volume. after all, who wouldn't?

Friday, March 6, 2009

just for me

ahhh.... here it is, that first cup of coffee in the morning.

it's the magical beverage that transports me to a garden filled with all things fresh and wonderful, where bunnies hop gleefully past and sunshine wraps me in endless warmth.

it's this very first cup of coffee each day that i make special time for. no matter how much i want it right away, i have to make sure that i can enjoy it uninterrupted. i feed the baby, walk the dog, get everything squared away before i nestle into my morning cup of love.

how can one simple drink bring so much joy? well, friends, a lot of it has to do with the coffee, sure, but much of the joy is being able to say 'this is my coffee time, let me have this to myself.' and somehow, the whirlwind of activity slows to a crawl, even the walls seem to sigh and understand.

my husband continues to ready himself for work, moving his coffee from room to room as he goes. i have to fight the urge to ask him 'don't you just want to leave the coffee here, so you don't spill it or something?' but then i remember, the movement is his routine, he needs it the same way i need my sedentary state.

i can sit and ponder various topics and discuss them as my husband floats in and out of sight. i can watch the baby play happily, independently. as my dog wraps his huge body into a ball right on top of my feet, even his stank ear (topic for a separate narrative) doesn't bother me in the slightest way.

i must soak up my self-imposed serenity now, once i get up from this very spot it disintegrates in a flash. the record skips back to regular speed, which usually hovers around chaos. sometimes i wish i could drag it out longer. but as i look to the bottom of my empty mug, i know in my heart of hearts that the second i get up for a refill, the moment will have passed, and there's no going back.

at least there's always tomorrow.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

what's for dinner?

how many of you out there find yourself stumped by this seemingly innocent question on a daily basis?

i, for one, have a particularly redundant discussion with my husband about this very topic most afternoons. it's not my fault, and it's definately not his fault.

the problem here is that we recently spent upwards of 40k so that i could be trained by world renowned chefs at a classical culinary institution. so, with my big expensive diploma in culinary arts, i am challenged to "i don't know, make something good" as my husband offers.

this then leads into his frustration about how everywhere we go when people find out that his wife is a chef, the immediate response is "wow! you must eat good at home" (insert chuckle here). to which my husband thinks to himself "if you only knew, pal..."

my old stand-by for this argument, i mean, discussion, has been that restaurant food is so yummy because there is an enormous team of people working in harmony to bring about that wonderous creation set before you at the table. everyone's role is important, especially the dishwasher.

yes, i'm talking about that little friendly, under-sized, perpetually cheerful fellow, old enough to be your grandfather, who exists in all food service establishments across this great land of ours.

he scrubs mountains of dirty pots and various utensils with an efficiency that could only come from decades of practice. he reaches for the exact size saute pan you are frantically searching for before you could stammer out "donde es, ummm, uhh... how do you say pan?"

his contributions are often overlooked in the moment, although he is well-thanked at the end of the hectic dinner service. but he, HE is the very reason why it is so easy for professional chefs to make elaborate meals, even on the smallest of scales.

in my teeny-tiny kitchen (without even a mechanical dishwasher) there is no way that i am willing to tackle the many elements necessary to turn out gourmet eats on a regular basis. twice a week, sure. three times if you're lucky.

does that make me lazy or practical? i still haven't decided. but i can tell you what's for dinner tonight, grilled cheese. eat it and love it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

your first taste

so here i am, virgin blogger, trying to think of the perfect way to kick off what i decided (today) will be my newest obsession/distraction. i first must give credit where it is due and say that without the support, technical and otherwise, of a very dear friend this blog would never exist.

i am currently at said friend's house, enjoying the precious few moments we have while the children are napping. yes, three children, under the age of two years, who all decided to get tired at approximately the same time. thankful for our reprieve, we immediately start talking about all of the cute things our little comedians did to entertain us this morning. the most hilarious being my daughter's nonchalance whilst being covered in her own ass-explosion.

the poor dear, only 5 months old, is already accustomed to wearing her own shit. as she sat on her beautiful (handmade) quilted butterfly blanket, with toxic goo ruining the new rainbow tights i was so eager to dress her in, she delighted in watching me squirm and squeal as i tried in vain to avoid the poo. her blue eyes all a-sparkle at the funny faces her mommy was making, unaware of the fact that her tic-tac sized toes were spreading the mess everywhere.

while not uncommon for children to have diaper blow-outs, this was the first time that i was so distraught about the whole situation that i just sat there laughing so hard i cried. the kicker being that i had to fight my instincts to rub the tears from my eyes with my poo-hands. my friend, ever so helpful in the blog set-up department, did nothing more than plunk down a mega-size box of baby wipes and point and laugh.

she didn't even open the wipes for me.

at last, when everything was all over, i thought about the situation and realized that my daughter was pretty damn chill throughout the whole episode. there was no whining or crying at all, not even when i had to peel the soiled garments off of her (and for anyone who's ever put an infant in a dress in the winter knows, there are multiple layers involved). so here's to you my little peanut, for being way more easy-going than i will ever be.

ps. i promise not to use this blog solely for the purpose of reiterating the minute details of my baby's everyday activities. you will, however, be treated to a few special treasures from time to time.