22 April 2013

"We Outnumber You"

Patriots' Day, the best ones anyway, always start at Fenway and end on Boylston Street. It's a quintessentially Boston rite of spring, a day when it's perfectly acceptable to be a little drunk and two hot dogs deep before noon. After the game, you file out and shuffle up Ipswich Street toward Boylston and maybe stop at Bukowski's for one more glass depending upon the crowds. Then you reconvene on the corner of Boylston and Hereford to watch the runners - friends, family or strangers -- take that final triumphant turn onto Boylston where they can see the finish line within reach. It's electric. All of it. It feels like the city is waking up. I love that tradition. Haven't participated in several years but I know I will next year!

So last week. WTF.  

It feels like 10 years ago. It's been seven days. How is it only seven days?

I've had all this manic energy. I have been practicing my standard issue therapy -- walking with loud music --  but so many times this week, I've walked in the door only to turn around and head back out again needing to walk some more, turn the music up even louder. Burn this off! 

I thought about starting to run but then remembered that I get tired slicing french bread, so I won't insult the real runners and will stick to what I know. I had to write something out to exorcise some demons.

Last Monday, we were en route home from the Bahamas and all of us were a little grumpy that vacation was over. Around 3:30, we were in the air making our final descent into Boston and I said to James, "At least we got home without some major news event going down."  Cue the breaking news banner flashing across the little seat back TV. 

On 9/11, we were in Italy and couldn't get home for five days.  Two years ago, we were in the Bahamas when they caught Bin Laden.  And while that was not a tragedy, it still involved chasing a Hello Kitty suitcase around baggage claim surrounded by the National Guard and automatic weapons. 

Now, here we are in a holding pattern over the city not sure if we were going to be able to land. Luckily, we were circling our old neighborhood so we could distract the kids from the screens. "Look, there is our old house!" "There is Nana and Papa's old house. It's such a nice day, maybe we can see Jim and Mike working in the garden." We were the last plane to land before the full ground stop. And cell service was temporarily suspended. 

Deja vu all over again with panic: On 9/11 we couldn't get a call home and had no idea who was on the planes from Boston or working in NYC. This time:  Who was at the Marathon today? The Sox game? Too many family members and friends to name. It just reactivated all of those fun emotional souvenirs.

A few weeks ago I was at the Today Show with Caroline for her birthday. Going through security, Carrie was easily waved through with her cute sign for Al Roker. I know I don't look fierce but I was a bit perturbed by the ineffectual glance at my purse. For those who know me, I'm always packing heavy and this time was no exception; my purse could easily accommodate a small goat.  I was thinking, "Rummage, man, rummage!"  Recently, I was having coffee with a friend who said he if he was ever going to rob something, it wouldn't be a bank but a Starbuck's. My response was something akin to, "What the hell is wrong with you," but there on the plaza my immediate thought was of how easy it would be to blow this place up. Now, these are two fleeting thoughts from people who don't rob or pillage or blow things up. Imagine what people with actual intentions are thinking? The sentiment didn't linger, but it's always there. 

All of it might make you want to "shelter in place" voluntarily.

But this is where things take a turn. Last Friday, everyone's first priority was taking care of each other. Everyone stayed home, clearing a path for law enforcement to get their jobs done.  And in a way, it was some much-needed hang time for most of the city. A snow day. While nothing can take away the tragedy, the way the city, the country, humankind responded brought some comfort. People reacted with love and kindness. (BTW, One Fund Boston raised more than $10 million in less than 24 hours which is amazing. Wow!)  

I'm as quick to complain about as I am to defend our Bostonians. Provincial, aloof. Sure, there are plenty of people who live in their bubbles and wouldn't give you a glass of water if you were on fire, but many, many more astound with the depth of their kindness and humanity. They outnumber.

Lovable actor Patton Oswald wrote a very inspiring post on his blog and I'm taking his words "We Outnumber you" as a mantra going forward. An excerpt:  "The vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago. So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear of just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, 'The good outnumber you, and we always will.'"

So, on that note, I am starting a list of the good things that happened this week. Feel free to add anything I've left out.  

-Dedham artist Peter Reynolds said it best:  

Rene Rancourt: A Boston institution. I love that he still tarts up in in a tux, greases up his 'stache and belts out the national anthem before Bruins' games (and no more so than this weekend when the crowd sang with him). I've always had a mild obsession with Rene and I still wonder what he does during the day. What's he doing right now?  I met him years ago and he was so effusive and lovely. I had an 8x10 black and white framed photo of him in my living room in my Brighton apartment and it got more attention than if it'd been a piece of fine art. I believe someone once referred to it as "The best f*cking thing I've ever seen."  Then one night we had a party and somebody stole it. Who would do that? 

Gov. Patrick:  "The grace this tragedy exposed is the best of who we are."

People rushing to give blood in the immediate aftermath. Spectators helping alongside EMS.

Unbelievable law enforcement. Who doesn't want to give Commissioner Ed Davis a bear hug?

David "This is our f*cking city" Ortiz. 

Sweet Caroline at Fenway and Yankee Stadium (although my own Sweet Caroline is worried sick that her music teacher is going to make them sing that today. She gets embarrassed). 

Mike Barnicle and Kevin Cullen

This video

So much more...Carry on!

A teacher once told me (and I always repeat this to my kids), "Don't let people get you down because they lack imagination."  I loved that and it's so true. Don't let the bad nature/evil/doucheyness of others infect your spirit.  Don't let the bastards get you down. The only way to beat the bad guys is to rise above them. They are outnumbered! Continued and constant prayers for all of the families and love, light and peace to all. ~KJ

**And BTW, this incident has reawakened my anger over my Rene Rancourt photo. The suspects were caught within 24 hours after FBI video was released so I'm sending out an APB on the PU. I don't want it back, I just want to know why. :) 

15 March 2012

Random Quizzilla

Happy Ides of March! Feels like a lunch hour quizzilla today...

1. Do you remember the first viral video you ever watched? 
Yes. It still makes me laugh out loud, especially the prairie dogger in the neighboring cubicle. I have a day like this at least once a week.

2. Do you trust your first impressions?

I've learned to. Nine out of 10 times when I take the "benefit of the doubt" route, I regret it and subsequently suffer a visible disdain for other humans. It's gotten easier and I have some helpful hints:  If someone seems to sharpen invisible weapons in your presence - Run. If someone is using the loo in your house and you get the sneaking suspicion they're installing a secret toilet cam - Run. 

3. Who’s the biggest DB celebrity? 

Patricia Heaton. Graceless shitstack. It must suck to hate women so much and be one at the same time. 

4. Write a haiku about your driving skills.

Don’t hit that mailbox
Panicked curb-grazing sucka
Pass the Ativan

5. What movie do you find yourself quoting over and over again?

"Singles" is probably the movie I quote from the most. Lines from that movie are on a loop in my internal lexicon.  A close second is "Best in Show." "He went after her like she was made of ham." (Usually said in reference to Vito and his neighborhood paramours, canine or human).  And of course, "Jaws." Always Jaws.

18 November 2011

Times Like These

My hearing still hasn’t returned. I still sound like Harvey Fierstein. I’m still taking ibuprofen for some overall body aches sustained during the three-hour Foo Fighters show at the Garden on Wed night.   It was well worth the agony. 

For the record, the aches and pains aren’t from hurling myself off the balcony onto the hydraulic lift where Dave Grohl performed his acoustic set.  (Though if I were more spry, it could’ve happened.)

We were an assorted bunch in our friend Andy’s company box.  Life-long friends, some random cops, two amateur porn stars that one of our friends brought as dates (“We had to come together, we’re a threesome.” OK.), and a couple in their 60s who were all prim, swaddled in sweaters and suede.   All prim, that is, until the Foo’s first chord smacked them upside the head. Next thing you knew they were rocking out huge, as if high on bath salts.  

Early on, I was certain someone was going overboard, knocked off the balcony by an overenthusiastic hip check or a flailing limb.  For a few songs, I bounced around, white knuckled behind the highest glass partition. But soon I was confident I would float off the balcony, and not crash headfirst onto the unassuming Foosters below.  Thank you, high spirits.

I’ve always loved the Foo Fighters but the Dave Grohl issues are well documented.  The man is pure energy and hotness.  The music was loud, the pace frenetic.  The show, beginning to end, was an all-out assault on the senses. Grohl used the whole arena as his stage, granting everyone a piece of his intensity. On the big screen, we got some gratuitous close ups of him, head banging and wailing on his guitar and letting loose his trademark throaty growls.  We saw Taylor Hawkins beating the living shite out of his drumkit and screaming into his mic.  For a while, we ladies in the front row of the box could only stare, transfixed by rock star magic. We were absorbed into the show and were on the inside of the music looking out. It was getting hot and tingly in there.

Woo hoo, rock star magic.

James has hair

Soon, however, everyone in the box, even James, had violated the “Hands over Head” rule

Aside:  The “Hands Over Head Rule” was created by my brother several years ago as a benchmark of self preservation.  It’s typically applied to dancing, but can be applied anywhere when you're out.  The moment you raise your hands over your head, it’s time to go home.

In the Herald's early review of the show, the critic wrote something like "It's the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s 'Nevermind,' but when you see the Foo Fighters live, you can't help but think, 'Nirvana who?'  So true. Grohl won’t be remembered as the drummer from Nirvana, but as one of the great rock stars in his own right.  In 16 years, he’s more than earned that.  

“The fact that he can keep that up is fucking ridiculous.”  -- DT on Grohl’s tireless energy.    And he never appeared to break a sweat.

The songs:  A back-to-back trio of some favorites --- “The Pretender,” “My Hero” (which included the loudest sing-a-long I’ve ever heard), and  “Learn to Fly.” 

The acoustic set with “Best of You” (raw and awesome) and “Wheels.”  I’d entirely forgotten about the song “Wheels.”  You never hear it on the radio and the band said they never play it live because the only people who like it are the Germans. That was proved false. The band said if the audience sang the chorus louder than the Germans, they’d promise to play a small dive bar in Boston the next time they're in town.  Apparently, we'll see them at Sully's Tap some time in the near future. 

Other favorites:  “These Days,” which Grohl said was the most favorite song that he’s ever written. “Walk,” which is uplifting  and a regular on all of my playlists.  A bluesy cover of Tom Petty’s “Breakdown” which was absolutely riveting and even had the random cops on their feet.

I know I’m leaving so much out, there are too many stand outs to mention.

There were some long meandering guitar solos that were a bit much, but the high-energy more than compensated for them. 

The band closed the show with the the rocking, frantic "Everlong."  

The chorus:  

"And I wonder, when I sing along with you
If everything could ever feel this real forever
If anything could ever be this good again."

This left a box full of concert veterans asking the very same questions.

Breaking it Down

Without getting all “Nowadays” and “Get off my Lawn-ish” – I will say  Grohl does seem like he’s from another time.  You don’t get these types of shows any more. Bands don’t put that much effort into it.  To play a three-hour show, including a six-song encore on the final date of a long US  tour is unheard of.  The last time these sweaty, marathon shows were prevalent was in the 70s and 80s when arena rock was mainstream, before Kiss 108 and country crossovers became king.

Earlier this year, Grohl said, “Just because rock ‘n’ roll isn’t No. 1 in the commercial mainstream doesn’t mean it’s gone. All I know is what rock ’n’ roll means to me. It’s this living, breathing thing that you can see in someone’s eye.”

It’s this passion for his music that was so striking on Wednesday night. (And did I mention he was hot?)  While the set list was identical to many other shows on the tour, there was never a sense that the songs were well-worn, never a hint of been-there-done-that.  

It’s clear from his energy and enthusiasm that Grohl  loves what he does, and it’s clear he wants his audience to share in the love.  At one point, he joked: “I hate all this attention. It sucks. Being a rock star is such torture. I just want to go home.”

After more than a year of touring, they could've easily phoned it in and gone home with zero repercussions.  But instead, as a three-year-old Paulie once said, the Foo Fighters always "break it down and bring it home." 

PU Flashback:  Paulie, 3 ½,  bringing it home with his best Dave Grohl mugs and moves

Set list, Nov. 16 2011

Bridge Burning
The Pretender
My Hero
Learn to Fly
White Limo
Cold Day in the Sun
Stacked Actors
Monkey Wrench
Let It Die
These Days
This is a Call
In the Flesh?
(Pink Floyd cover)
All My Life

(Dave Grohl acoustic)
Best of You
(Dave Grohl acoustic)
Times Like These
(Dave Grohl solo acoustic into full band)
Dear Rosemary
(Tom Petty cover)

16 November 2011

Updates: "Keep Calm and Carry On"

Like intuition, writing/journaling is a muscle that needs to be flexed to stay strong.  I sat down a few weeks ago to churn out a post and realized I’d become completely blog atrophied. So, here are a few narcissistic updates to clear the cobwebs before (hopefully) getting back to the business of the PU.

Update #1: I tried to start the PU back up again earlier this year and then kind of puttered out. Somewhere between March and September, I fell through the cracks of society.  I spent a lot of time light deprived in my basement office, unshowered beneath a dropped ceiling.  There, I toiled away in my little cubby with exposed insulation hanging like a fluffy pink thundercloud over my head.  (Good morning, fiberglass.) I shuffled to and from the kitchen for tea refills on the shattered remains of Wii games that have become encrusted in the carpet.

Encrusted because I still can’t vacuum without having to lie down. I got winded slicing a crusty baguette at a friend’s birthday party a few months ago. The physical atrophy remains and is hopefully the next to go.

Update #2: Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been having a ball, living a bit too high on the hog and justifying it like Steve Dunne: “I’m not wiggy. This is hang time. I’m regrouping and thinking about regrouping.”  All the while becoming one hot stone pedicure shy of insolvency.

During the day, I was carrying on like Brett Ashley, enjoying long lunches and day drinking at the Scarlet Oak with my other friends down here beneath the cracks.

Update #3: At some point over the summer, I morphed into Donatella Versace. This video hits a little too close to the mark.

Update #4: So, I was having a lot of fun practicing these avoidance behaviors, knowing full well they were unsustainable. I’ve had up to three jobs, coupled with full-time momma hood.  Running frantic, willy-nilly, undisciplined in a non-routine. In a million places at once and never truly “present” in any of them.

Update #5: Rotational neglect has its side effects.

I mumble to myself when I’m out in public like some cracked-out degenerate.

It’s been taking an unreasonable amount of mental gymnastics to write a simple paragraph.

Update #6: Rotational neglect causes anxiety.

My counselor/energy healer who is like a Cesar Millan for humans has been helping me see the upside of anxiety.  Take your natural neuroses and channel them into something productive.  If you don’t mix it up now and again, life stagnates and you never leave your comfort zone. I’ve seen what that looks like. It’s cringe worthy.

The freelance lifestyle isn’t working anymore. I need a place to show up, at least a few days a week.

“Keep Calm and Carry On”

Sometimes you receive little signs, flashes of intuition, that gently nudge you toward a certain path.  Sometimes you get actual, concrete signs that become a new mantra.

Over the summer, I found a card with a portly pug on it. The pug was wearing a sign around his burly chest: “Don’t Feed the Pug.” The photo’s caption: “Keep Calm and Carry On.” I was familiar with the photo because I’ve had an 8x10 glossy of it posted over Vito’s food dish in my kitchen for 5 years.  It was the October photo on a 2006 calendar, except the caption on mine is: “Round Mound of Hound.”

“Keep Calm and Carry On.”  I liked the sentiment so much that I stuck it on my whiteboard as a wee mantra.

About two months ago, I got a part-time job at a local make-up and skincare boutique.  I’d been looking for a way to supplement my infrequent freelance checks, and honestly, just wanted to have someplace to be other than my basement office.  At the very least, I figured being surrounded by anti-aging products would keep the inner hag at bay.

To the contrary, it awakened her.

The last time I worked in retail, it was 2001. It was pre-kids, pre LOTS of things, pre the past two years of shite. Pre-perspective.  So, after spending a few Saturdays being run ragged by a mannerless and self-entitled clientele (a.k.a missing my kids’ games to wait on hags), I realized that this was not going to work. Either that or that I was going to end up going all Ninja with a bottle of Glycolic Wash on the next person who came in with Wellbutrin eyes.

I walked to my car that evening, quietly berating myself for making another poor occupational decision, even a part-time one.  I was wondering if I could even trust myself to make the right one; to not waste my precious times on things that are clearly not right.

There’s a store near the boutique where I covet everything in the front window. They sell trendy clothes, bags, cool jewelry, trinkets, vintage reproductions of old signs, old postcards with kitzy bumperstick philosophy and punchlines: “I Childproofed My House But They’re still Getting In.”

This night, right there in the window, like a blue and white beacon, was a painted sign, blaring my mantra:  “Keep Calm and Carry On.” I ran inside and purchased it, along with some vintage postcards.
Keep Calm and Carry On.  There is still a certain weariness (as Pablo says) here, but I’m continuing to clear out the cobwebs and get back (as the Beatles say).

So, PU, let’s try this again...

10 November 2011

I'm Tired of Chickens

 *** A pre-post poem from Pablo Neruda says it all, but I will say it in my own words as soon as possible. More of my own nonsense coming soon. *** 

Excuse the melodrama; I've been drinking. 

I love this.

"A Certain Weariness" by Pablo Neruda

I don't want to be tired alone,
I want you to grow tired along with me.

How can we not be weary
of the kind of fine ash
which falls on cities in autumn,
something which doesn't quite burn,
which collects in jackets
and little by little settles,
discoloring the heart.

I'm tired of the harsh sea
and the mysterious earth.
I'm tired of chickens-- (best line of a poem ever)
we never know what they think,
and they look at us with dry eyes
as though we were unimportant.

Let us for once--I invite you--
be tired of so many things,
of awful apertifs,
of a good education.

Tired of not going to France,
tired of at least
one or two days in the week
which have always the same names
like dishes on the table,
and of getting up--what for?--
and going to be without glory.

Let us finally tell the truth:
we never thought much of
these days that are like
houseflies or camels.

I have seen some monuments
raised to titans
to donkeys of industry.
They're there, motionless,
with their swords in their hands
on their gloomy horses.
I'm tired of statues.
Enough of all that stone.

If we go on filling up
the world with still things
how can the living live?

I am tired of remembering.

I want men, when they're born,
to breathe in naked flowers,
fresh soil, pure fire
not just what everyone breathes.
Leave the newborn in peace!

Leave room for them to live!
Don't think for them,
don't read them the same book;
let them discover the dawn
and name their own kisses.

I want you to be weary with me
of all that is already well done,
of all that ages us.
of all that lies in wait
to wear out other people.

Let us be weary of what kills
and of what doesn't want to die.

25 July 2011


Another beautiful artist's voice snuffed out too soon. RIP.

20 July 2011

Daughta Blogga

Caroline started her own blog today to document her summer vacation.  All her idea...be generous with the accolades at Those Awesomeee Days!  I hope everyone is having a fantastic summer.  Will be back soon!

28 June 2011

28 March 2011

I'm Down with Ghandi

It was an average Saturday morning; I was shaking the lint from my filthy reusable shopping bags on my way to the market.  Caroline always comes to Stop & Shop with me because she likes to use their EasyShop device where she can scan and bag the items herself as we go along. And she knows she can always sneak in a few extra 600lb Gorillas in along the way with zero protest. I like the bonding time and appreciate a shopping experience that affords minimal interaction with the deli counter and cashiers.  I hate small talk.

Aside:  EasyShop is also the milieu of (mostly) unintentional shoplifting, which is a post for another day.

Next to the scanning kiosk, a young woman and her daughter from the Unitarian Church were collecting items for the local food pantry – pretty successfully, considering the towering assortment of groceries stacked around them.  Also hulking over them: a 60-ish burly gent who was decked out in burnished denim and enormous white sneakers.  His neon white hair was shaking beneath his Sox cap as he spoke with animated gestures. From a distance, he appeared non-threatening, like someone’s grandfather who would jokingly shoot at you with a pricing gun while stocking shelves.

But after a few more steps we realized this man was ranting in the woman’s face, telling her, in no uncertain terms, that she and others of her ilk were going straight to hell.

Caroline and I joined the semi-circle of onlookers who kept their distance, eavesdropping, exchanging glances:  Who is this guy and what is his fucking problem? 

We were all fidgeting.  Do we say something?  I have my daughter with me. This kook is probably armed to the teeth! 

FOOD PANTRY WOMAN: "With all due respect, sir, what do you think happens to peaceful, God-loving Buddhists, Muslims, Jews?"

BIG WHITE SNEAKERS:  "They all go to hell too. It’s in the Bible!"

At this point, I was convinced John Quinones from “Primetime: What Would You Do” was lurking behind the Cheez-It pyramid with a camera crew.  It was hard to believe that a real person could be this mindfuckingly backward.  Or so unabashedly obnoxious.

The woman’s daughter was tentative, but unfazed.  She handed Carrie and I a list of items the food pantry needed, which included baby formula, school snacks, and juiceboxes. Heathens!

FOOD PANTRY:  "With all due respect, sir.  I disagree. I don’t believe God is religion. He’s larger than that." 

BIG WHITE SNEAKERS:  "No! This isn’t a matter of agreeing to disagree! You are wrong!  Get it through your head! You’ve been brainwashed!"

Aside:  This is a huge pet peeve of mine.  The moment someone tells you you’ve been brainwashed, they should be immediately disqualified from any debate.  What they’re saying is they’re too arrogant (or na├»ve) to believe that they could ever (ever!) be unduly influenced, regardless of how long they've been stewing in their own broth. You could be brainwashed, of course, but not them. Never them. They are right. You are wrong. There is no other side. In a situation like this,  a true exchange of ideas is impossible.

The Food Pantry woman continued to hold her own while this buffoon raved on about the fire and brimstone that await her.

I realized this guy is exactly the type of person who Ghandi was speaking about when he said: ”I love your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."

FOOD PANTRY: "With all due respect, I disagree."

It was probably the frustrated pacifist that lives inside my soul, because the words "with all due respect" made me dry heave a little. My words were projectile:

“Excuse me, please stop staying that! He’s not worthy of your respect.  He’s not trying to have a conversation, he’s just yelling in your face."

She smiled and said thank you. "It's ok." 

Then I turned to Big White Sneakers. My actual words are in quotes, my thoughts in parentheses:

“What is wrong with you?”  (Dickhead).  “You are harassing a woman and a child who are collecting food for the poor! “(Is this how you get your ‘Christ on’?)  “What else are you doing today, beside harrassing people?”

BIG WHITE SNEAKERS (he's got black eyes, lifeless eyes, like a doll's eyes): “I support what’s she’s doing, just not what she stands for.”

ME:  “Did she ask you?" (You narcissistic pig)

SEMI-CIRCLE BYSTANDER: (chiming in, thank Christ!) "Maybe your time preaching could be better spent besides, you know, screaming at people collecting food for the poor."


A decent pile on ensued, but we stormed away in search of John Quinones, almost overturning an Entenmann's table in blind rage. 

Caroline said, “Mom, that man was a butt.”

Indeed he was, Sweetpea (with apologies to the butts). 

By the time we were checking out, though, I was still seething, determined to EasyShoplift a juicer and hurl it at Big White Sneaker’s head if he were still there. (also very Christ like).

But he was gone -- probably off to deface some “Coexist” bumperstickers in the parking lot.

We donated some juiceboxes and gorilla cookies to the food pantry box. 

03 March 2011

Random Quizzilla

1. What is your favorite time of the day?
Usually the very beginning or the very end, depending upon the day.  Yesterday, it was lunch time. Had a superlative lunch and prosecco toast at Sportello with Doreen, one of my dearest friends, former editor and Eastie cohort who is officially five years cancer free this month. 
2. Tell me about your grandparents.
Maternal grandparents:  Aurora (Nana Rora) & Charles (Papa Charlie).  Nana Rora worked in town and also cared for my Italian-speaking great grandparents -- Big Nana and Big Papa -- who lived upstairs.  Papa Charlie worked as a bricklayer in the Charlestown Navy Yard.  Both died very young so my memories are limited (MF cancer).  I remember Charlie swirling ice in his drink and always having one of the grandkids on his lap.  I remember Nana Rora being glamourous. She wore Chanel No. 5 and was always dressed up, including hair and make-up, even while cooking four-course Sunday dinners. She brought us Jordan Marsh blueberry muffins after work every Monday night.  Paternal grandmother:  Mary Agnes (Nana Rie). I've written about her extensively on this blog. She went by "Marie" most her life, having told everyone her real name was Marie Antoinette. She always disliked her nunnish name, which certainly didn't suit her.  Nana Rie was a single mom who worked as a secretary. She took the train to work every day and once boarded it wearing only a slip because she'd forgotten to put her skirt on that morning. This may have happened more than once.  At age 37, she got breast cancer. This was the 1940s when it was a death sentence.  She died in perfect health after being struck by a car on her way home from a dance class at age 81.

3. When was the last time you were truly startled?
The other day, a freakish wind gust caught the storm door and slammed it so hard against the side of the house that I was convinced (convinced!) it was a home invasion.  Shit! I slid across the kitchen in my fleece socks and headed for the back door.

Of course, Vito was right on it:

Are you shitting me?

The V himself was startled moments later when some curious flamingos flocked our front yard.  He charged at them but quickly retreated when he realized they weren't dispersing the way seagulls do on the beach.


4. How have you changed in the past year?
I'm more of a morning person and a homebody these days. I still love to stay up late and get out on the weekends, but during the week it's like Grey Gardens in here.  The house would have to be on fire to get me out the door after 6 p.m. on weeknights  -- except for Flash Mob rehearsals, of course.

5. Name something thing you consider a "bonus" in your life.
Having some friends who are musicians.  Winning!

25 February 2011

The Lure of the Velour

So we're finishing up school vacation week here on the South Shore. Mentally, though, I’m still planted on an overstuffed green velour reclining sofa, doing shots of Trader Joe’s corn and chile salsa.

Backstory: We packed the wagon and headed north to visit the Kielys in NH where they rented a house for the month. Both families were in dire need of a change of scenery on many levels. The only view from our front windows is of our retired neighbors Lou and Nancy going to and from dinner every night. We also needed a respite from Sponge Bob, Wii and Webkinz. Dr. Nic needed to get out of Southie after a menacing encounter with a DB neighbor who accosted her for trying to park in an unmarked spot on a public street that he'd claimed as his own. She said no and he threatened her. She had the kids in the car with her so she had to subvert her instinct to leap out, rip off his windshield wipers and beat him with them. She managed a "You're pathetic," before pulling away. She will flier the neighborhood upon her return to let everyone know there is a DB living among them that threatens women and children.

So, the fresh mountain air and plentiful parking were like nature's Ativan.

Their house is nestled on a scenic notch just south of Conway and surrounded by lush forest and snowy trails. Its wrap around deck and glass walls offer sweeping views of the White Mountains and look out over a steep hill dotted with scrubby pines. [This paragraph works best when read with a British accent.]

We were surrounded by all of this beauty and peace, but the strongest lure of all was the lure of the velour. Two hulking green velour reclining sofas served as the center piece of the living room, dwarfing everything around them. You know what I'm talking about. Those inertia-inspiring behemoths, the staples of man caves and your auntie’s parlor in Saugus. Many come with snack trays, remote caddies and cup holders. They feel like they should have a hot tub as a trundle. For aesthetic reasons, they're not something you’d ever have front and center in your home. But, now I’m not so sure. I may be a changed woman.

Sit on me.

We had no set plans for the weekend but, depending upon our whims, we had an ala carte menu of winter recreation at our disposal. We could ski, snow tube, ice skate, snowshoe, etc. But the wind was off the Beaufort scale; it brought the trees to their knees, and randomly hurled large chunks of frozen snow in your general direction. In short, you needed a rubber ski mask if you wanted to keep your face.

I generally don't engage in anything cold and outdoorsy if it’s under 40 degrees. I’m an apres-skier. I prefer skating in a rink. Snowshoeing – not so much. But, when you're with the kids, you suck it up like it’s your job (because it is your job.)

All of the kids were dying to go outside and play in the snow. They dressed in their snow gear in lightning speed and bolted outside with James and Paul K. right on their heels. Nic and I were a little more leisurely in getting suited up. I spent at least 10 minutes trying to find my high-powered mittens in our 10 bags of gear. I had one boot on when everyone came running back inside all torked up.

Paulie, effusive: “That was the best time I’ve ever had in my life!!” James came in behind him looking sheepish, but laughing.

Apparently, they were playing on some sleds out back when Paulie disappeared over the top of the hill and slid almost all the way down on the seat of his snow pants. He finally stopped after softly crashing into some small cone-bearing tree.

James scaled down the hill to retrieve him, thinking he was probably traumatized. Nope. He wanted to do it again.

My generalized anxiety disorder and I are grateful not to have witnessed this. Especially less then 2 months after the First Night travesty. James said they never thought he was in any danger but were mildly horrified by his velocity.

Aside: Of course, I started to unravel into a Sonny Bono-Michael Kennedy mindset. But then I didn't want to turn Paulie's "best time of his life" into a lesson on the ill-fated deaths of celebrities. I was also reminded that the sledding experiences of my youth amounted to coasting down a short hill in a vacant MassPort lot that dead ended into a fence separating the lot from the Blue Line tracks.

Still, something shifted. I'm not going out there to frolick in the snow. I'll have a stroke watching them teeter on the hill top. We decided the Dads and the kids would play outside for a bit, then we’d all go to lunch.

Nic and I set up shop on the recliners with some tea. We opened all of the blinds and let the mountains in. And then we unwittingly let the recliners in as well. While we were getting deep into the craic, Nic kept getting distracted by the show on TV.

NIC: “What the ffff…? What the feh…? What the feck are we watching? What is this shite, Kate?”

On the screen, Bruce Jenner was polishing a remote-controlled helicopter. We’d stumbled upon -- as the Church Lady recently called them --"the Holy Trinity of Sluts." It was a Kardashian marathon. Within moments we were transfixed, then catatonic. I don't even know how many episodes we'd watched when everyone came thundering back inside and found us strung out on the recliners like a couple of junkies.

Aside: It's not the first time something like this has happened. Last year, I got sucked into a Stars Wars LEGO Wii game. James returned home from work early to find me jumping around, still with bedhead and in PJs, looking like Gary Busey.

JAMES: What are you doing?

ME: Trying to get to level 5.

JAMES: What?

ME: Return of the Jedi.

Conclusion: Recliners = Ass Velcro. They also make you susceptible to reality shows produced by Ryan Seacrest. And you may find yourself barking at your kids to fetch your credit card from your bag ('cuz you're not getting up to do it) so you can order some Pajama Jeans.

I snapped out of the recliner spell after uttering the following sentence: “I’m craving a SlimJim. We may have to stop at the Mobil Mart.”

We all went out to lunch and had a big feed. Nic and I thought we'd completely recovered but then ordered salmon and steamed vegetables because it looked so good when the Kardashians ate it. Jesus. We had a couple of goblets of wine, steeling ourselves for whatever outdoor activity lay before us.

We asked the kids: Tubing? Skating? Hay rides? Nope. They wanted to go to the arcade and then back to the house. Apparently, they were under the spell as well, having planted themselves on the reclining sofas earlier that morning. The lure of the velour.

The Dads and the kids went to the arcade. Nic and I went outlet shopping a little drunk. Once we got back to the house, we all gathered together on the recliners and ended up ordering take-out that night.

09 February 2011

"Colder than a Midget in a 'Frigerator"

This is awesome. Megan McGlover, I hear you!

(hat tip: Bridget Duffy & Susan Howard)

04 February 2011

Check Your Baggage, Fear the Brownies

‘My Room, My Rules” – Caroline is coloring in a sign that she’s written in bubble letters on a piece of construction paper.  My little fascist has also compiled a visitor sign-in sheet to post outside her door that warns: “Keep Out, Evil Maniacs!”  (a.k.a Paulie’s friends).  She’s frowning, bearing down on the crayons as if she’s had to resort to making these signs, as if she isn’t enjoying every moment of this perceived unrest.
Don't mess with me.

This is my daughter.  She loves rules and loves to enforce them.  While she shares my general sloppiness, she doesn’t appreciate any loose interpretations of rules -- written or unwritten.  She gives me shit every day for not hanging up my coat.   Last week, I had to drive her to school and the bell rang when we were about 10 feet from her classroom.  She immediately did an about face and started running up the hallway, “I have to go get a tardy pass from the office.”  “But we’re right here,” I said.  “No, Mom, I have to! It’s the rules,” she yelled over her shoulder, her backpack careening from side to side. I’d like to think I bear some responsibility for instilling such a fierce sense of right and wrong, but it’s really just her nature. I’m sure it’s largely the result of having a flaky mother.  Despite our differences, we fall into a groove.  


She’s finished coloring her sign and is gearing up to go play in the slush.


“Yes, my dear little fascist.”

“I’m thinking I should become a girl scout.”

I froze. She may as well have said, “I’m thinking I should get a lower back tattoo.”

27 January 2011

Hello, My Deer

Whenever I catch a flurry of movement, a flash of fur out of the corner of my eye, I have a mini-heart attack.  Even after six years, the thought of roaming wildlife still freaks me out a bit. When I let Vito out early in the morning or late at night, I still stand at the front door with a hockey stick ready to chase off on any renegade coyotes looking to snack on my little pork chop. The vigilance has not waned. Get off my lawn! For the past two seasons, we've had a family of six deer traversing the woods and brook behind our house and they're so much fun to watch.  Yesterday morning, I caught this curious little one out of the corner of my eye.  Instead of having a panic attack, I calmly reached for my camera.  I think I've had a break through.

25 January 2011

Mista Steamy

So this is what happens after a year's worth of inertia.  I ripped up my forearm in a senior citizen yoga class last week and am back in the land of limited motion. I can't even ball up my left fist in blind rage. Exercise-wise, I've been taking baby steps so as not to pop an implant, so this pathetic injury is all about being woefully out of shape.  These days, I get winded playing Wii and almost pass out after vacuuming a small room.  So I'm on the yogi DL for the week.  

In the meantime, I figured it was high time to venture back into the steam room. The steam room and I go way back.  Back in the day, I would slip unnoticed into the steam room at the Boston Harbor Hotel during lunch hour.  Today, in the post 9/11 world, you can't even breach an office food court without getting tazed.  Several years ago, I'd go for weekly steams at the local spa where you got your own private bath and unlimited (+free!) use of the spa products.  I'd steam it out, then moisturize myself to within an inch of my life with their $400 body cream -- Kanebo Sensai Premier.  

We became Y members a couple of years ago so we go there now. It's a beautiful facility and while the community steam room is no frills, it's clean. Mostly.  But I knew it would be different  from my past experiences when I spotted a woman eating a tuna sandwich in the neighboring sauna. 

Still, the Y steam room was especially dear to me over the past two years when I was going through treatment. It was a perfect place for visualization exercises.  I'd set up shop on my soggy towel and would envision myself sweating out cancer cells.  The only downside was feeling self conscious when other people were in there with me.  There's no need to make idle chit chat when you're sweating out toxic waste.  But it's even worse when you're bald and disfigured and just want to be invisible, an apparition in the fog.

An advantage of working from home though, is that I can avoid the throngs at the Y and sometimes even get the steam room all to myself.  Most days, I  find myself steaming among the elderly and Moms with jacked-up Madonna arms, taking advantage of the free babysitting.  That's all well and good.  However, I also have a nemesis. 

One of my neighbors is kind of a middle-aged version of "The Situation." He's one of these guys who finds it physically impossible to keep his shirt on. He mows the lawn shirtless, even if it's 50 degrees.  In the summer, he shuns his backyard and deck, props himself up on one of those rubberized chaise lounges from the 70s and sunbathes close to the street.  We see him all over town and he's a pleasant enough guy, just a little creepy. I once saw him leering at a table of young women at Uno's.  Leering at Uno's.  Really?  

And as much as he can't keep his shirt on, he can't stay out of the Y either.  He is always there. Always. And he frequents the steam room.  We'll call him Mr. Steamy.

Aside:  Not to be confused with Mr. Steamy dryer balls, which I have an unhealthy obsession with and will discuss on another post.

The last time we had an encounter in the steam room, my hair was in nascent stages of regrowth and I was bird-skinny.  I looked like Gollum wearing a furry bathing cap.  There were several people in the steam room that day and I sat on the far end, just wanting to close my eyes and do my visualization

Then I heard him:
"Hey, is that Kate over there?" 


"How you doin? You look good. You feelin good? 

Then he proceeded to move over closer to me and ask if i had any recipes for stuffed mushrooms.  

It happened a few more times, but now I make sure his car is in his driveway before I venture over to the Y.  

Earlier this week, I suited up and headed to the steam room.  Sure enough, rounding the corner in full peacock strut -- Mr. Steamy, mindlessly fumbling his dryer balls. 

I did a mini cannon ball into the jacuzzi, splashing an older gent who muttered "Jesus" under his breath. Sorry.:)   

Mr. Steamy was heading in for a steam so I waited it out in the jacuzzi for a bit. When it was safe, I opened the door and walked in on a what felt like a scene from a mature porn film.

There were two older ladies exfoliating each other with sea salt from a Ziploc bag.  Another older man "Lou" was dropping some fragrant essential oils around the floors.  Then, lo and behold, Mr. Steamy comes back in with a vial of clear liquid that looked like some kind of lubricant. 

"Heyyyyy! Kate!  How you doin? Long time, no see. (slaps my back).  You look good.  You feel good?"

One of the women held out the Ziploc bag and asked me if I wanted some sea salt. She was gracious, but I just can't participate in public exfoliation.  

Mr. Steamy walks over to the place where Lou was dropping his oils.  "Ladies,Lou, try this..it's really strong eucalyptus.  A little different."   Mr. Steamy adds his concoction to the already overwhelming sinus-clearing cocktail that Lou had thrown down.   

"Oh, that's delicious," said one of the ladies, still rubbing herself silly with sea salt.

 Delicious. No..no..no.. it was like homemade tear gas! 

I was getting dizzy and anxious.  The exact opposite of my intent. 

It was time to blow out of this new age whore house.

Does anyone know how much it costs to install a steam shower or infrared sauna in the house?  The kids don't need to go to college, do they?

14 January 2011

Random Quizzilla

It felt like a Quizzilla Friday today.  It's high time -- the last RQ was Oct 2008. Let's do this thing.   

1.  Do you hoard anything?
Free perfume samples. It's the French whore in me. 

2. Name five things that annoy you:  Platitudes, guitar solos lasting more than 6 minutes, Eeyore-esque FB statuses about aches and pains, xenophobes, the Olive Garden.

3. What is the last song you had stuck in your head? 
For the better part of a year, I (and several pals) have broken out into the theme song from “What Up With That” from SNL, not unlike Kenan Thompson does in the skit. Watch this clip and try NOT to sing it the rest of the day.

4.  When was the last time you slept on the floor? 
At Dreama's apartment in Manhattan last year.  

5.  What is your one of your favorite Urban Dictionary words?  

**If you clicked on the link, you've just been Rick-Rolled.