Sunday, March 30, 2014

This Weekend We

This weekend it rained, and we didn't go far. And we didn't see friends, and it was mostly just time for us. And even though I didn't know it, we really needed that.

Sena, Gus, and I went for a rainy morning walk to the beach, while Tom and Arlo slept.  And it's too bad that the word magical has been over-used by me and pretty much everyone else too because it is the right word for that rainy, misty morning.

We spent the afternoon at the indoor pool pretending that it was summer, and then the cherry on my Saturday was taking Sena and Gus to go see Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys at the community theater, starring none other than my husband and my father. It's great to laugh at people you love.

The weekend was restful and calm, as quiet as it will ever get around these parts. And it was a great reminder to sometimes make fewer plans, to sometimes see fewer people, to go to sleep a little earlier and sleep in a little later. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Other People's Places --- Matt and Carrie's

These are pictures from my friends' Matt and Carrie's home up in Pennsylvania. I love their house because it's full of color and things that they've made and all sorts of weird. I am quite fond of weird. 

However, these pictures are woefully inadequate, if for no reason other than the fact that I didn't manage to get a picture for her amazing wallpaper accent wall.  Just one more reason to go back soon, and take more pictures, preferably before the house house fills up with all the awesome people who add more life and spunk to the space (though unfortunately interfere with a good shot).

She is also planning a pretty awesome kitchen make-over, so there's that to take into account as well.

I'm discovering that I really like taking pictures of my friends' houses. There is something about focusing on their stuff for just a few minutes that feels revealing in the best way possible.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wanted / 04

I want my children to be hard workers, to take pride in the work that they do. To see the value in that work.

The other day, as we were walking across the grocery store parking lot, Sena commented on a sign she saw hanging on the wall honoring someone for being the deli manger since 1981. "Who would want to be a deli manager for that long?" I was embarrassed, and I looked around to make sure no one overheard us.

Sena was not being a classist.  She did not mean to degrade anyone. I understand what she was thinking.  But it's important to me that my children never, ever feel above honest, hard work. I hope that they never look down their noses at fast food gigs or manuel labor. I want them to be more embarrassed to be given something that they didn't earn than they would ever be of any pay check.

I think that my generation was sold a bill of goods. We were told, "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." But that simply isn't true; even if you do love your career, there will be laundry to do, taxes to file, lawns to mow. It's all work. And what's more, that sentiment seems to devalue just getting a job. It's okay to just have a job-- a job that isn't creative or environmental or related to social justice. It's okay to get a nine-to-five with benefits and a retirement plan.
It won't make them boring.
They can still be fascinating, even if their jobs aren't.
And I hope, even at their not so fascinating jobs, they will sit down at their desks and work hard. And be proud.

Wanted / 01
Wanted / 02
Wanted / 03

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Wabi-Sabi / 04

This week's contribution to the Wabi Sabi Series comes from Morgan of Panda Head, which documents all sorts of creative things she has her hands in, including some very  events at her shared studio, Wild Hand Workspace. Since Morgan is practically a neighbor, located just an hour away in Washington, DC, I'm hoping that life slows down enough this spring so I can attend one of those workshops and actually meet her IRL.

Exploring the real, authentic, imperfect homes of others.

Tell us about your home. 

It's occupied by myself, my husband, and our thirteen year old Border Collie. It's currently in a state of total chaos – we're midway through a (seemingly endless) kitchen renovation, which spurred what the most intense bout of Spring cleaning our place has ever seen. We've been upending closets/junk drawers/bookshelves – everything! – for the last few weeks, and we're looking forward to the dust settling. 

In its usual state, we try to live by the code of "a place for everything and everything in its place," but in practice it's usually more like Highly Organized Disorder. We use every inch of our apartment, and between my work and my husband's hobbies, there's an endless flow of things coming and going.

What is your relationship to the mess, to disorder?

I'd be lying if I said I DIDN'T thrive on a little chaos, but I'm a total psychotic when it comes to visuals. There's an invisible and ever-moving line between what I consider lived-in and wildly out of control. I will say I'd probably benefit from spending a little less time merchandising and devoting more time to tackling actual cleaning projects. You may never find fault in my book stack, but man alive, my baseboards need cleaning.

How does your home reflect wabi sabi?

I'm proud to have our place be a real reflection of who we are. Those details are absolutely in the wabi sabi: piled up branches by the front door, mismatched glassware, slightly off-kilter picture frames, and the million-and-a-half nail and tack-marks in the walls. We get that the apartment looks "exactly like I thought it would" from a lot of our first time guests, and I think it's 100% due to its wild streak of imperfection. It's the highest of compliments.

What do you find beautiful?

The short answer is everything and the long answer is, well, everything. I'm secretly a massive cheeseball.

Morgan, thank you so much. I love that you truly appreciate the chaos and the imperfection, rather than just tolerate it. I find myself constantly vacillating between the two realms, frequently worried too much about the floor boards and not concerned enough with the bookshelves. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

This Weekend We- Packed It In

By the time we were pouring water over the fire pit on Friday night, which I guess was actually Saturday morning, it felt like I had already had a full weekend. We had already had friends over, invited because, as I said, I didn't want to think that other people's first weekend of spring would exceed ours.  Sena danced by the fire while friends played music; Gus helped fuel the flames. And a whole lot of goodness got packed into a few hours.

But the weekend didn't end there, which is usually how I operate. Normally, I can only handle one night full to bursting with friends and fun and one too many drinks. But this weekend we filled in all the minutes, and we drove up to Pennsylvania to spend the day with Matt and Carrie and Felix, and it was certainly worth the long drive.

I love being at their house because it is full of so much energy. Kids running around, banjos being rebuilt and then played loudly with rotating accompaniment. Trips to get ice cream. Trips to get pizza. Color spilling out of every corner. 

It was a great first weekend of spring. I'm going to pray against the snow storm on the horizon and beg for warm days and sunshine to stay around until the end of autumn. 

And I'm also going to fight against my tendency to live for the weekend, and do my best to fill this week with as much joy and laughter as possible, to let the greatness of the past few days pour into Monday and beyond. 

I have more pictures of their house to share later this week. The pictures just hint at the amazingness of their home. There were all sorts of things I wanted to snap away at, but there were too many kids and too much activity to get it all this go around. I'm hoping that just means I can make up an excuse to go up their by myself one of these days.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Sometimes it takes years to realize something relatively obvious about yourself. Today I had a revelation, small but significant to me.

I am a host. I love to invite people over. I thought maybe I did it because I am sort of good at it, or maybe I did it because I'm lazy and don't like going places. And while I still think both of those things are partially true, I think I discovered the real reason I do it.

I invite people over because I am afraid that people are going to have fun without me. I'm afraid that they won't invite me over, and that everyone else will be having a better time than me doing all sorts of amazing things while I'm at home reading a book or staring at a screen.

I hate that idea.

So I take control, and I make a party because I can't be not invited to my own house.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lingering Light

The light is different, and it comes earlier, and it stays later.
The season of after dinner walks has begun.
Dinners that will be eaten outdoors soon enough.
And although the green has not started to take over barren branches and muddy lawns, the daffodils are peeking their yellow heads.

It's so easy to feel hopeful.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Stage Wife

Tom cracks me up. I know lots of women say that their men crack them up, and I hope it's true because laughing with your partner is pretty much the best and must do all sorts of great things for a relationship. I'm certain that there must be studies proving this, though even if there were studies disproving it, I would still be really glad that Tom makes me lol on the regular. 

The only time I have ever not appreciated Tom's humor was in the middle of contractions during Arlo's birth. At the time, I did not find his jokes about banjos and burritos amusing. Apart from that, I like his weird humor, and I'm always happy to get his weird emails. 

Anyhow, he's in a community theater play with my dad, and yesterday he sent me the bio he wrote for it. I hope to god that it gets edited before it gets printed, but I wanted someone to read it in its bizarre, unadulterated glory. 

"Tom Weaver really had to stretch for the role of Ben Silverman. Make-up alone is a brutal 2 1/2 hour process each and every performance, subtly transforming the 32 year old Weaver into a completely different looking "mid-30s" Caucasian male (Weaver is actually 33% Pacific Islander and 2/3rds female in his everyday life). Weaver is an uncompromising method actor who famously stayed in character 24 hours a day over the course of three years in preparation for this role. This was especially difficult since he has three children, Sena, Gus, and Arlo -- not two, like Ben Silverman. This meant completely ignoring one of his children for the entirety of those three years and referring to the other two as "Amanda and Michael" (or sometimes "Amanda and Jackie" when he got flustered).  This aspect of his preparation landed him in jail several times, where he learned you can never show any kind of weakness to anyone, no matter how much you thought you could trust them. In his professional life, Weaver is a personal injury attorney and not an entertainment agent, so obviously, he had to dig deep to find the right balance of compassion for his clients, desperation to succeed, and personal and professional self-loathing which attorneys in no way have ever experienced ever, but entertainment agents probably feel all the time. (Probably?)   Besides his method approach, Weaver was also influenced in his formative years by the Marx Brothers, Woody Allen, the live-action Ninja Turtles movie (the first one), and the whole New York-writer/actor/comedian thing in general.  He lives in Chesapeake Beach and at one point several years ago his brother-in-law drilled a pair of deer antlers to the front of his car, which he retained there proudly until his car exploded from old age (as do all his cars, eventually).  Also, he plays banjo, can't see very well anymore without glasses, and in third grade he really hurt his knee on a rock when he tried to slide tackle some kid when his coach decided they'd use an unmown field to play soccer on when the school was using the other one for something else (he can't remember what).  His favorite food (lately) is pancakes. If there's any further information you need, you can get in touch with me -- oops I mean him -- through the mails. "

If any of you happen to be one of my real life friends or happen to live in Southern Maryland and want to see Tom and my pops on stage, you can buy tickets to their show, The Sunshine Boys over at the Twin Beach Player's website. After the show, you should totally come over for a drink. 

For more of Tom's weird humor, feel free to re-read this post where he said lots of nice things about me before making some hard to decipher science fiction joke that no one seemed to notice.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wabi-Sabi / 03

The third installation of the wabi sabi series is from Rachel of Little Miss Black Bean. Rachel doesn't fit neatly into any boxes, and that's just one of the many reasons I enjoy visiting her digital world. I've been thinking about her answers to these questions all week, trying to address some of the issues she brings up in my own life.

Exploring the real, authentic, imperfect homes of others. 

Tell us about your home. 

I think our home is a pretty accurate depiction of where we are in our lives right now: two people in their mid-twenties, trying to figure out their place in the world. Our townhome has limited space, but we have come to appreciate that as it also limits the amount of STUFF we can own. Like typical newlyweds, we have college Craigslist furniture juxtaposed with a kitchen stocked with wedding gifts that we wouldn't have been able to afford on our own. While it's a bit more put together compared to when we first moved in a year ago, our home is still bits and pieces and ideas of what we'd like it to be -- an apt metaphor for all the other areas of our lives.

What is your relationship to the mess, to disorder?

It's no secret to anyone that knows me that mess gives me great anxiety. I feel like mess in our homes is one of the many items on the list of double standards women are expected to deal with: it should bother us enough to deal with it so no one has to see it, but we shouldn't admit that it is a stress or a struggle for us. As a feminist I wish I could say that I've found this zen acceptance and peace with mess, that I don't let it affect me. But that's simply not true in the slightest. Other people's mess makes me anxious from lack of control, and my mess makes me anxious from the guilt and shame of its existence. I'm working on it though; I'm in a better place now than before.

How does your home reflect wabi sabi?

The main goal of our home, primary to being pretty, is to be a welcoming space. Growing up, our friends always felt welcome in my parents' home and I want that to be true for our home and our kids one day. There's a balance to be struck in this, because while a filthy space doesn't feel inviting, neither does a sterile one. I want my family and friends to feel like they can curl up on the couch with a blanket without fear of disrupting the perfectly neat folds. I want to not worry about dishes when there's conversation to be had. Balance is a common theme for me, and I think (despite the things that I perceive to be flaws) our home reflects that balance. Above all, I want to always value people over things.

What do you find beautiful? 

I find beautiful the way mess can tell a story of the person that left it behind. Every morning Andrew leaves at least one drawer pulled out from getting dressed, and every afternoon I slide them back into place. I can't help but smile and know that I'll be doing that for the rest of our life together. He does the same for me when he finds fresh clothes spilling from the dryer onto the floor because I just needed one item from the pile. It becomes easier to turn an exasperated sigh into a chuckle when I realize there's a chance that one day I'll miss wiping up his crumbs and pushing in his drawers. Messes are temporary because we are temporary; I never want to not appreciate that I have a person to clean up after.

Thank you so much for sharing, Rachel. Since you sent me these answers last week, I have been trying to replace exasperated sighs with chuckles, and trying to work on the even more difficult task of replacing guilt with acceptance. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

This Weekend We- We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Our book club read We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves this month, and, as a direct result, I have thought of Arlo as a chimpanzee more times than I can count. It wasn't my very favorite book we've read, but the book club is about way more than any book.

This go around was at our house, and the men were invited because there was a bourbon/ whiskey tasting involved, although none of the men came in for the mini-lecture and subsequent sipping. I learned what I always suspected: I am not bourbon drinker. Jameson's was my favorite, and I'm pretty sure that makes me really uncool when it comes down to it. 

The weather was wonderful, and we played yard games. We ate tacos inspired by this recipe by my friend Kate, and for the first time, Arlo was not the only baby in attendance. Groups made their way down to the beach while I tried to convince anyone who would listen that they absolutely had to move to Chesapeake Beach. And the night ended with a bonfire, which is how I plan for all parties to end now that we have that option.

Kristlyn and her kids spent the night. Every party should be a slumber party. The morning after is always my favorite part. Maybe that's why I am always trying to convince everyone to move to my neighborhood; maybe I just want people to drink coffee with.