Jan 27 2011

Check this girl out!

Her name is Roxanne Tataei, she goes by Rox, she’s half Jamaican, half Iranian and a mere fresh baby twenty-two years old. She’s from South London and sister can sing. I love this girl. I love her with the piece of my heart that loves Janelle Monae, Lauryn Hill, Estelle, and Santigold. This vid is worth checking out, especially for the acid-wash-bedazzle-pocketed-high-waisted shorts.

Who knew those could be so sexy? Apparently, Rox.

Love. Her.

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Jan 25 2011

Cheeeese, baby!

42-17217446Doctor Dash says I’m a smiler. I don’t do it intentionally and it’s not necessarily because I have anything approaching a sunny disposition. I think it’s kind of a default setting for my face. And I can’t help but look askance at this particular default setting because, at 40, I’ve started to think about smile lines and such. I’ve got ‘em. Oh baby, I’ve got ‘em. Sometimes I actually force my face out of a smile when I’m driving because why on earth do I need to be smiling when I’m by myself in the car? Just because I like the music? Ridiculous. And think of the wear and tear on my face! Actually, I don’t mind crows feet on people – I think they are kind of sexy, a sign of good livin’, big laughs and high times. Those marionette lines around the mouth, though – oof, not such a fan and unfortunately smiles bring those babies on too. But this wasn’t meant to be a post about wrinkles and Botox.

No, the other thing I’ve noticed about smiling is that I respond really strongly to smiles. On two occasions over the past few years, women whom I had presumed to be unfriendly turned out to be fabulous, wonderful, sweet-as-pie mamas once I got to know them. They just aren’t smilers. Hell, my very own husband isn’t a huge smiler. In fact, that’s why the Babe-o’s and I referred to him as The Asshole until we got to know and love him.¬†Never in a million years would I have thought myself primitive enough to require the baring of chimp teeth in order to recognize someone as friend, not foe. But there you go. I guess I need those chimp teeth. I am nothing but a primitive smiling chimp. Not that chimps are primitive. They are AWESOME.

This article in the NY Times about the states of mind that produce smiles and what allows people to parse the meaning behind smiles is fascinating. To me, anyway. And if you see me grinning to myself in the car, do me a favor and just give me a honk to remind me to cut that shit out.


Jan 24 2011

It’s time.

surfacelakeIt’s time for Tiny Dancing. High time for Tiny Dancing! The lake is one hundred percent frozen and maybe, just maybe, the winter blue blahs (that sounds like blue balls, heh) are starting to scratch at your door with pale skinny fingers. If you need a perk up, and I know you do, grab your iPod and make a beeline for the center of your lake of choice. Mine is Harriet and dear, sweet, lovely Harriet brought me more than a touch of peace yesterday. It was cold as all hell, but I was in a Sunday funk, so off I went. I couldn’t believe mine were the only footsteps out there. I felt like a bedecked and beswaddled Robinson Crusoe. All alone in the middle of our little city, save the ice fishermen, free to do as I please on a gorgeous white expanse of wind swept snow.

Come on, people! This is new ground! Found ground! A place to go that you can only get to for a couple months out of the year, its solidity completely belying its true ephemerality. That alone is reason enough to go, no?

As if unfettered, outdoor, hidden-in-plain-sight dancing weren’t reason enough.

tdPost script: Don’t be alarmed by how close I look in this pic. Dash took it last year and I’m sure the zoom was involved. Plus I’m not really in the middle – just bustin’ a couple moves on my way.


Jan 21 2011

Take Cover!

spon_storkAccording to Devil Baby, sometimes babies drop out of God’s pocket and fall into ladies’ bellies and then they are born by shooting out of ladies’ butts. Only sometimes though. If they don’t fall out of God’s pocket, they just shoot out of ladies butts. Spontaneously. Which means that chances are good that with all these babies dropping out of pockets and getting shot out of butts, you could get hit, so take appropriate precautions, is all I’m saying. And all of this simply because Devil Baby’s school had an author come in to read and sign books and said author is with child, igniting Devil Baby’s curiosity and imagination. When I asked her who told her about this pocket business, she said it was Supergirl. Sigh.

Remember when Jamie Lynn Spears got knocked up and I was trying to figure out how to explain the whole debacle to Supergirl? Well, I found this series of books by Robie Harris and I think they are wonderful. When I sat down to read it with Supergirl and Saint James, however, Supergirl scampered off in short order, uninterested in or unable to digest the topic. Saint James, on the other hand, loved it. It felt so familiar and normal to be reading a book together, shoulder to shoulder, that it completely mitigated any awkwardness or wondering how to phrase things on my part. He was genuinely interested, curious and amused by the (admittedly) preposterous sounding facts of life.

My little conversation with Devil Baby was a good reminder that I not only need to purchase the next book in the series to read with Saint James, but I need to revisit the first one with the girls. This time Supergirl will probably sit through it and Devil Baby will scamper off, but such is the process I think. Pass the knowledge along, bit by bit, but come back to it often. In the meantime, helmets and parasols to protect from those flying babies.


Jan 13 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird

mockingbird(14)Atticus to Scout:

“First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view -”

“Sir?”

“- until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

We just read (or re-read, in most cases) To Kill a Mockingbird in book club. When we picked it a few months ago, I knew I would go to the third floor of my house and find the ragged paperback I had read when I was in sixth grade. This book has survived countless moves across the country and more importantly, my periodic book purgings. The pages are yellow, the spine is cracked, there is a piece of tape over the inside cover page and it is filled with highlighted passages and my little twelve year old notes, penciled in bubbly letters. Inside the front cover, my name is crossed out and Maestro de Bife’s name written below, he having read my copy when I was away at college. I had no idea my book had been in such peril, in the hands of my adolescent brother. He is either kind to books, or didn’t read it.

I’ve been reading the book for a couple weeks, sort of taking my time with it and savoring it. My little notes are distracting in a very sweet way. It’s hard not to stop and read the definitions I had so earnestly written in the margins: for protruded: thrust out, for tirade, long outburst, for viscous, thick, for druthers, choice. It was the first novel we read in Language Arts class and the first time I wielded a highlighter. I remember wrinkling my nose at my friend Sweet Sue drawing a rectangle around a passage and coloring the whole thing in with her highlighter. Surely, line by line was the proper way to highlight. There are even a few spots with liquid paper carefully dabbed on the pages where I had changed my mind about something I wrote.

This book has lived vividly in my imagination as much because of the beautiful, compelling and humorous work of literature that it is, as for its symbolic position of being the book that really taught me how to read. I had been a bookworm for a long time, chewing through books at breakneck speed, but this is the first book I remember reading in the active sense: carefully, with attention and some sense of rigor.

Reading it again, holding that same copy in my hands, I felt like I had slipped into some secret tunnel straight back to my youth. At one point we were talking about Maycomb and the freedom that Jem and Scout had to roam around the town. Lady Crow Call said, You guys, it was just so fun to be a kid! We all remember that feeling of running around our “perimeter”, knowing like the back of our hand the best climbing trees and hiding spots, the dark spots (Boo Radley’s house), the light spots (Miss Maudie’s house) and all the well worn paths in between.

All you really needed for an adventure was to open your back door and find your best neighborhood friend standing there, barefoot and ready to go. The freedom, both physical and psychic, that we all had as children, allowed us to rub up against the edges, dip our toes into the scary stuff. And if it wasn’t really scary, we made it scary. I wonder now, if part of the magic of our childhoods might have had something to do with the fact that they were laced with a small amount of fear, that delicious frisson of the dark and unknown. (Of course, I’m not talking about real fear stemming from abuse, war or other atrocities that some children face – that’s a whole other ball of wax and there is nothing magical or redeeming about those situations.)

For me, and for Scout, mundane terrors loomed large. A highly active and colorful imagination and an early penchant for calamatizing kept me on my toes – running up the basement steps, checking under the bed at night, holding my breath as I passed cemeteries in the car. I was afraid of being embarrassed, carrying my lunch tray like it was the holy grail, so sure was I that I would die of shame if I ever dropped it. I was afraid of our neighbor named Hank and his giant dog, who I was convinced would maul us to bloody bits. I was afraid of the infirm woman who lived behind us and used to conduct stake-outs from atop our swingset, waiting for her to pass by a window or, horror of horrors, come out into the yard. My biggest fear was that my mother would die, like ALL the mothers in ALL the shows we watched in the seventies (seriously, what is up with that? Think about it! Eight is Enough, The Love Boat, The Brady Bunch, Nanny and the Professor, My Three Sons, Family Affair, Diff’rent Strokes!)

I felt a twinge of compassion for my younger self as I was reading this book, for the innocent, ignorant, impressionable and scared little girl I was. I remember the pit in my stomach and the anxiety, but I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t know. By all accounts, I was normal, if kind of mouthy and moody. I don’t think anyone knew when I was scared. That was me, but a different me and until I re-read this book, kind of a forgotten me. I think children carry around a significant amount of fear, just by virtue of being children and not entirely in control of their destinies. To remember that, to climb into the skin of a child and walk around, as Atticus would say, is a really lovely thing to do, especially when that child was yourself.


Jan 13 2011

New Year, New Recipe

vegsoupI’ve posted a recipe for a tasty vegetable soup over at Simple Good and Tasty. It is garnished with feta cheese and it’s phenomenal. Believe me, I was as skeptical as you are.

Along with embracing the chaos, finding a good vegetable soup recipe was one of my New Year’s resolutions. I know, I really should stop putting so much pressure on myself. I say, if you can’t reach for the stars, reach for that itch.


Jan 9 2011

Embrace the chaos.

four-monkeys-andy-warhol Four Monkeys by Andy Warhol 1983

It’s one of my many New Year’s resolutions. I’m sitting here in the sunroom on a sunny, frigid Sunday morning and I hear a rooster. Why do I hear a rooster? To my knowledge, we don’t own a rooster. But such is life with little kids. Now they are fighting. Apparently rooster sounds are annoying to the non-rooster types in the family.

When will I not find a plastic chicken drumstick under my pillow? When they are grown. When will I not find pink socks in my coat pocket? When they are grown. When will I stop catching rejected mouthfuls of food in my palm? When they are grown. When will I not have to clean the banana smoothie I just made out of the radiator? When they are grown. When will my phone be where I left it? When they are grown.

When will I get to stop doing giant mountains of laundry? When will I get to stop cutting up apples? When will I stop impaling the soles of my feet on the legs of plastic horses? ¬†When will I stop reminding practice piano, brush your teeth, grab your lunch, hat, coat, backpack, clarinet? When will I stop hearing “mommy” a million times a day?

When they are grown. Which I most definitely do not want. Not yet. So I will embrace it. All of it.


Jan 8 2011

Six Word Stories

122810This is such a cool project! Basically, it’s a story in six words (really, that’s all it takes), which is then further brought to life by a designer. Van Horgen, a Saint Paul copywriter, and Anne Ulku, a Minneapolis graphic designer managed to do one story every day last year and they are just awesome. Some are funny, some are sad, some are the God awful truth, some are swoony and romantic. They were inspired by Ernest Hemingway, who, legend has it, considered his best six word story to be: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Stunning, right? Now they’ve started a new site inviting other writer designer teams to send in stories. Check them out. Man, does this get my juices flowing.

Pushes wheelchair, sometimes sits to rest. (If you live near me, you know who I’m talking about!)

A cardinal, blood splotch in snow. (Meh)

My children take my breath away.

You see the mood? Go away.

Local mother felled by a louse.

Sometimes, bad is good for you.

If looks could kill, I’d kill.

OK, so I need more practice.

It’s harder than it looks! Here are a few from Van and Anne’s site:

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