Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Minimalist’s Wife

As I have told you before, my dear husband Mr. Awesome is really interested in us pairing down our lives. He recently told me:

“I’m not saying we have to go for a crazy ape shit monk lifestyle, but things have to change so we can focus on the important stuff, like seeing more of each other, and having a healthier and balanced life.”

Words to live by. Especially if you’re a crazy ape shit monk. No really I get it. I totally do. We need to have a more balanced life. He needs to have a better work situation. Right now he has to commute to NYC for work. He spends up to 5 hours everyday sitting on a train. If we moved to a location that was more of a creative hub he wouldn’t have to travel so far to find viable work. If we had less stuff and lived in a smaller, more energy efficient house we might be able to live on less and need to earn less. Less is more I guess. The problem is where do you start?

Some of the blogs that he reads are written by people whose ultimate goal is to have only 100 possessions. Heck, he reads one blog where the guy says he only has 50 possessions. I can’t even imagine how I would start counting all the things we have around here and we don’t even have that much. I know my daughter probably has 200+ peeps (stuffed animals) alone. I asked my husband if the 100 possessions included things like pillows, sheets, dishes and flatware – maybe the three of us could “possess” these essentials collectively? I don’t know with my luck all the crazy ape shit monks probably use sporks.

I’m going to try to start to think of a list of my 100 possessions. What would I absolutely have to have? I’m not even going to start thinking about all my clothing and shoes. There is definitely stuff that I can get rid of. Frankly, it would be a relief to only have one ill-fitting bra in my drawer. It would mean I could stop wishing that they would magically fit every time I put a different one on. Instead I’m going to try to focus on the other objects in my life that I consider to be my essentials. I’m starting to put together my criteria; they either have to be useful and be things that I actually currently use or they need to have strong sentimental value for me. I could get sentimental about an empty baked bean can if I really concentrated on it so I’ll have to be careful with that one.

1. The first thing on my list would have to be my engagement and wedding rings. I know that it technically is two things but I’m counting them as one. See, I’m cheating already! The crazy ape shit monk just started angrily tapping his spork on the desk. I love my rings, both of them and wouldn’t give them up. The stone is an aquamarine. When my husband proposed to me he handed me this large clay thing that looked like an artichoke. He had made it himself. It had all these thin strips of paper sticking out of it like fortune cookie fortunes. They each had a little inside jokes written on them. The longest of them said, “Will you marry me?” and was tied to a gigantic silver ring. It was all very romantic (and goofy) but I can’t say that I was too excited by the look of the silver ring. He immediately told me that it was just a stand-in for the real thing that he wanted to pick out together. Did I mention that I married a genius? This is the ring that I picked out. The aquamarine is way bigger than any diamond we would have been able to afford. My wedding band is a simple platinum band with a beautiful leaf design on it. I absolutely have to have them in my life. Only 99 more to go . . .

What about you dear reader? What would you want to be part of your 100? What would your criteria be? Am I leaving anything out?

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The Day of My Life

I waited a long time to meet my husband and didn’t get married until I was 35. I questioned if love was ever going to happen for me. I needed to get through a lot of duds until I found my true one. Since I was on match.com there certainly were a lot of duds coming my way. I seemed to attract the ones who had just broken up with the love of their life so they didn’t want anything serious but were up for discussing their shoe fetish but first could I walk on their backs. You know a real renaissance man. It was all very dispiriting. But then I was contacted by a guy who was clever and sweet and lived right in the neighborhood. After some promising emailing we agreed to a movie date. We saw The Muse, it was pretty weak. We had a snack at Dizzy’s, it was tasty. We took my dogs for a walk, they loved him and he didn’t hate them. We had a really good second date. At night this time! He brought me a gift (a Ninja Transformer Ramen Bowl)! A kiss! Things really took off for us when Hurricane Floyd came to NYC. We both got sent home early from work because of the storm. He came over with his Godzilla video tapes and basically never left. We were inseparable from that point on. Our relationship progressed quickly and I was sure of how I felt about him just a couple of weeks later. We went on another movie date (American Beauty this time, really good movie!) with his friends David and Debbie. At dinner Debbie told me that when they all went to the Museum of Natural History Butterfly exhibit she was surprised to see how strangely attractive Glenn was to the butterflies. When he tried to leave the guards wouldn’t let him out because he had too many winged admirers hanging on his coat. I knew that I loved him right then. I felt like one of those butterflies, hanging on tightly.

Really I began the day
Not with a man’s wish: “May this day be different”:
But with the bird’s wish: “May this day
Be the same day, the day of my life.”
Randall Jarrell

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The Day Before Anniversary

Tomorrow is my 9th wedding anniversary. Today is the 9th anniversary of the day before my wedding. This is the all important day where I ran around like a kook doing stuff all the while trying not to ruin my pricey mani/pedi or disfigure my face and or extremities. It is also the 9th anniversary of a parking ticket I got while sitting double parked in our old Saab Schnaable on a Park Slope street, waiting for the alternate side of the street parking period to end or start or something. The point of my gripe is that I was literally sitting in the car at the time that the officer handed me the ticket. I didn’t realize that she was there until she pushed it through the open window at me. I was so engrossed in my upcoming nuptials and looking at the new camera Glenn had gotten me for the honeymoon and generally being all bridey and pampered that I didn’t even notice her until it was too late. It is also the 9th anniversary of my Dad’s famous line to Glenn at the rehearsal where he said that Glenn was going to be “looking down on her (me, his dear daughter) for the rest of his life so why not start now”. We had the ceremony on some steps and we were trying to decide if I should be one step higher than Glenn so we’d be eye to eye or on the same step. I knew what he meant when he said it but I still remember violently stabbing at him with my eyes. He messed with the specialness on the wrong day and made me nervous about what he’d say or do at the wedding. Thankfully he behaved himself (either that or I’ve blocked any major infractions) and he got it out of his system at an appropriate time.

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He had me at meow

Back when I first met my husband I had my two dogs Danny and Dylan and he had two cats, the brothers, Trevor and Nigel. When we decided to get married it was like we were some kind of furry Brady bunch. When we moved in together we were two adults and four animals trying to live together peacefully in my 650 square foot apartment. It was nerve wracking at first, these were dogs and cats that had never lived with cats and dogs before. We had a couple of fights to break up but really the worst of it was trying to keep the dogs from sneaking cat poop out of the litter box. Just like candy! When we finally moved ourselves into the country it meant we could finally give everyone the space they needed. Glenn built a heated house for the cats out in the garage so they could have free reign during the day. Trevor took full advantage of his new environment and even though he had been an apartment cat for over 7 years he quickly became a proficient hunter. He had a 1 to 2 mole-a-day habit for a while. So the years went on and sadly we lost Dylan at the age of 14 a couple of months before Piper was born. Danny followed later that summer. We were a two cat family for quite a while after that. The guys both seemed quite happy and healthy even though they were getting on in years. Trevor got sick in 2006 and needed surgery to relieve a blocked intestine which he fully recovered from. Then in the spring of 2008 it seemed like Trevor’s problems had returned. He was gone by the end of June. Nigel held on until right after Christmas this past year. He had become a mostly indoor cat and would only go out to his garage house to sleep at night. It was very sad to lose our last pet. I first got Dylan in 1989 so Nigel’s death meant the end to 20 years of continuous pet ownership. It still feels strange to go to the grocery store and not have to visit the pet food aisle. As much as they were a pain in the butt sometimes I can’t imagine my life without having had them in it. I guess that now since our home is free of animal presence both dog and cat we seem to be getting some visits from some “neighbors” that we had never met before. There is a little black female cat that my daughter calls Pumpkin (because she says she looks like a “Halloween thing”) but our favorite is this little cross-eyed gray cat we call Quarter. We were outside in the back yard for most of the day yesterday and he was out there with us almost the whole time. We can’t tell if he is a stray or not because he looks well taken care of but has no collar. He did seem very hungry yesterday – he was trying to get at an orange that Glenn was eating. We still had some of Nigel’s cat food left over so we gave him some. He is obviously still a silly kitten and will chase anything that moves. Glenn and I watched him almost snatch a large bumble bee out of the air, 3 feet up in the air that is. I really enjoyed watching him and Piper play together too. We don’t know what this little guy’s status is but if we could be sure he was a stray I would seriously think about keeping him. Right now however it is a good situation for us. We get to enjoy the company of an adorable cat without any of the responsibility for him. I’d be heartbroken if anything happened to him and I’d miss him if he stopped coming around.

The position he assumed right when Glenn said, "I hope he doesn't forget how to get home again".

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Swan

Swan

This is Swan. She is on my daughter’s dresser. I put her there before I went to bed last night. I gave her to my daughter last June to celebrate her first ballet recital. Less than a week after that recital I had to have an appendectomy. I ended up in the hospital for 4 days. After I came home it was clear that Piper was very worried about me. She constantly asked if she could check my incision and got very anxious at bedtime. She didn’t want me to go to bed before she went to bed and needed to be sure that I was checking on her after she fell asleep. Then she started waking up in the middle of the night insisting that I didn’t check on her before I went to bed. I would try to assure her that I did but that since she was asleep when I was in her room I had no way to prove it to her. I was having a lot of trouble sleeping at the time because I was still uncomfortable from the incision. I needed what little sleep I could get so I had to think of something to settle Piper down. That’s when I got the idea to use Swan. After Piper would fall asleep I  would move Swan from her place on the shelf to Piper’s dresser. I told Piper that if she woke up in the middle of the night and looked at her dresser and saw Swan there she could be sure that I had been there to check on her. It worked and she stopped coming into my room at night to tell me that I didn’t check on her. She did wake me up at 1 am the other night to tell me that her water cup was empty but that is another story.

My appendectomy came as a total surprise to me as I guess it often does. I started feeling kind of sick on a Monday afternoon. My stomach was hurting but I thought that it was just because of some cherries I had eaten. The feeling went away by dinner time. I had just started training for a TNT half marathon so I was running fairly regularly. I had a run afterwork and felt fine. We went to Piper’s Kindergarten graduation and all was right with the world. Tuesday afternoon I had some more cherries and the bad feeling returned for a little while. I felt well enough to have another run after work because I was anticipating hot weather at the end of the week and wanted to get my miles in. I felt pretty good after the run and decided to celebrate with a brownie after dinner. That did me in. I started feeling a horrible heartburn pain right under the sternum and it just didn’t let up all night long. Tuesday night was totally sleepless. I was tossing and turning and taking Mylanta but nothing seemed to touch it. I went to work on Wednesday thinking, hey, I only work a four hour shift how hard can it be?? I couldn’t make it through the whole thing. I had to go home early to take a nap. After my nap I still felt terrible and had my father-in-law drive me to the urgent care clinic. They took blood and had me take a cat scan. This all took 5 hours. They gave me a shot for the pain which was good because while I was waiting there I discovered that my period had started and I started having really bad cramping on my right side in addition to the heartburnie feeling. I guess that the right side pain should have been a flag for appendicitis but I was still clueless. So after the cat scan the doctor came back in and told me that he felt that it was just a gastro intestinal distress thing. Maybe I had IBS or a bug. He gave me something to settle the belly and sent me home. I was thinking, great another sleepless night is on the way. Pretty much as soon as we got home from the clinic the phone rang and it was the same doctor calling me back. He said that the radiologist had reviewed my film and felt that I had appendicitis and a possible abcess and that I needed to go to the emergency room right away. What fun! Glenn had already gotten home so my in-laws drove me back to the hospital and took me to the ER. It wasn’t entirely clear if they were going to admit me at first but once they got hold of my test results from the cat scan I was scheduled for an operation that night. The surgeon told me that my appendix looked like a “bullseye” on the cat scan so I’m not quite sure what that first doctor was looking at. I guess that I should be glad that they check up on one another. I went in for my operation at 4 am on Thursday 6/25. This incidentally was the same day that Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died and watching the all day TV coverage from a hospital bed made it all the more surreal. The procedure was only supposed to take 45 mins to an hour but it ended up taking 3 hours. Poor Glenn, no one came out to tell him what was going on with me!! Apparently the appendix was so deteriorated and there was so much pus by the time that they got there they couldn’t just cauterize the connections like they normally would. They had to take out part of my colon and small intestine and then put them back in again to be sure that they got all the pus out. All in all I’d say that the care I received was great – all the nurses were wonderful with a few real stand outs, but there is nothing like being in the hosptial – it SUCKS. I was whisked out of my life for 4 days and there was absolutely nothing that I could do about it.

Maybe I was thinking about appendectomies last night because of Bret Michaels (he had one on April 12) or maybe I just felt bad about letting Piper go to bed without a cuddle. When I went up to her room before bed to check on her I moved Swan to her place on the dresser. I wanted to let her know that I checked on her before I went to bed and that I love her all the time and always.

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No TV – The Big Turn On

Piper’s No TV/No Screens week ended tonight with a bang and a whine. She celebrated by visiting Club Penguin when she got home from school. She was even pretty good about turning it off when it was time to go to the Library for an Olde Tyme games and activities event. She really enjoyed trying out the stilts and the hoop and stick thing and actually was pretty successful handling both.  We left the games event a little early because it got kind of cold outside. When we got home she asked if she could play on the computer again and I suggested that she watch a show instead because Glenn was coming home soon and I didn’t want her to get too wrapped up in the computer. Little did I know I shouldn’t have bothered. She was so into her show she couldn’t even manage a decent conversation with her Father. This caused a protracted period of whining, hiding of heads in pillows, fed up Mommies and pissed off Daddies. We laughed, we cried, seriously, it was better than Cats. She managed to make it up to her room without being put into a time out but ended up falling asleep on her bed without being read to or cuddles. I told her that whenever she chooses TV over her parents she’s going to lose. Every. Time. Still, it makes me a little sad.

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Hoarders

I have to admit that I am a little obsessed with the TV show Hoarders. There are a lot of crazy images and horror stories that have made a big impression on me. For example the old lady whose toilet broke and was wearing adult diapers and throwing them on the floor of her house for over a year. And another old lady who thought that there was nothing wrong with having a gigantic rotting pumpkin in the middle of her living room. But then there are other stories that have stayed with me. There was one woman whose small house was absolutely packed with boxes and boxes of stuff. You could only get through her house by navigating a narrow path. She was very religious and said that she wanted to clean up her house because the way it was right now if Jesus came to her door she wouldn’t even be able to open it to let him come inside.

We’ve got a bit of clutter around here too but it is at a much milder level then you see on that show. Our attic is bad though. I’ve got boxes that I packed up in 2001 that I have yet to go through. My husband is very interested in downsizing our life – moving to a smaller house and having less stuff and getting rid of the unnecessary clutter is the first step. I made some headway with some boxes of clothing up there (petite maternity clothes, anybody, anybody?) but we still have a long way to go. Many of the Hoarders describe how they lost control of their situations after experiencing a loss in their lives. Once they lost their parent/child/spouse they started to feel compelled to hold onto everything around them. Each object takes on greater meaning than it deserves and sometimes they lose the ability to differentiate between the precious and the worthless. I spoke with my sister-in-law a couple of months ago and she told me that she was trying to figure out what to do with all of my brother’s things she still has. She’s trying to move on in her life and isn’t sure how these objects from her deceased ex-husband will fit in. I on the other hand have very few things that belonged to my brother. She said that she’d send some stuff to me but I’m sure it will take her a while to go through it all. It’s not an easy job. I have a hard time giving away Piper’s baby clothes that we will never need again. We cannot use them anymore but still have great importance to me. There was a time that I was keeping them in the hopes that we’d need them again but that time is long gone now. It is especially hard for my sister-in-law to decide what to do with Mike’s stuff. They were separated at the time of his death and she is still trying to move on from that part of her life. She’s in a new relationship now and feels torn by needing to say goodbye and still wanting to hold on a little longer. I need more stuff in my house like I need a hole in my head but all I really have of my brother’s is a coffee mug with some cats on it. I use it everyday and whenever I leave it in the sink Glenn says he’s afraid to touch it because he’s afraid he’ll break it and it’s the last bit of my brother that I have. I also have a voicemail message that he left on my old cell phone. He just says, “Hi, it’s me” and “call me back”, nothing special but again, it’s the only thing I have. When I watch Hoarders I think about those people whose compulsion to save all that stuff goes beyond reason. They bury themselves in their things and their memories to the detriment of personal relationships and their health. I remember one lady who cried when she had to throw out an ancient, grubby teddy bear that had been buried in a corner of a room for years. This was while her adult daughters talked about how they felt long abandoned by their Mother. She had chosen her things and her garbage and her memories over her children. If I could return my brother to this world by holding onto a box of his things you couldn’t pry it from me but I know that is not possible. If I do end up getting a box of Mike’s things I’m sure the time will come when I’ll need to decide what I’m going to do with them but I can’t imagine that day right now. I remember when I was small and my brother was so much bigger I loved to wear his sweatshirts. They always faintly smelled of him and I was proud to have an older brother who seemed to know so much more about how to get along in the world. It was my way of putting on a little bit of his confidence and his cool.

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A Good Shoe Day Indeed

Look upon them all ye mighty and despair!

Today was a good shoe day. I’ve been feeling very stressed and low energy lately and I needed something to help boost myself up a little. What better way to do this than to wear your favorite pair of shoes? Please allow me to introduce you to my very favorite pair, my Ozymandias shoes. I was kind of hoping that one of my co-workers would notice them so that I could gush and share my little shoe story but no one did *SIGH*. I still felt stylish cute and light on my feet and I really needed that.

No TV

This week Piper’s school is observing Turn Off the TV week. She is not freaking out about it because we already have this rule in our house during the week. Piper is only allowed to watch TV on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. This was because we went through a period of EXTREMELY horrible behavior with her during the winter. In most cases if given a choice she would choose TV over spending time with us. I won’t bore you with the details of the incident that totally pushed me over the edge made us pull the plug, but I’ll tell you that it did include lots of yelling, hitting, screaming, crying and stomping all in a hospital room! Those were some good times. She still freaks out on a regular basis but all in all things are much better now. I freely admit to letting her lose herself into the TV so I could get stuff done around here. I feel sad when I think how long I let that go on for. It’s convenient for me and somewhat entertaining for her but the trade off is turning my sparkling child into a zombie and she doesn’t deserve that. She’s gotten so much better at playing by herself now. She has all these great toys and now she actually plays with some of them! I feel like she and I have gotten closer since starting the No TV on a School Night program. We do let her play on the computer during the week and we’ve found it is something that we need to be very strict with as well. She just gets so sucked into any kind of media so quickly! We are observing No Screens week so we can include computer and Wii too. She has gleefully informed us that this ban also extends to the parents and that is why I am typing this with my eyes closed. No really, I didn’t open the laptop while she was downstairs yesterday but as soon as she went to bed I got it out. I thought about abstaining from the TV watching as well but then RuPaul’s Drag Race was on and then somehow found myself watching the second half of a DVR’d episode of Sunday’s Celebrity Apprentice. My husband would definitely tell you that I have a problem with my TV habit and I would agree with that to some extent. I’m not ashamed to say that I love watching it and I do like a lot of worthwhile programs (Madmen, Damages, Rescue Me, etc.) but a lot of times it means I’m watching a lot of trashy stupid stuff . . . and loving it.

When I was growing up the little black and white TV in my room was always on and was a constant companion. My family dynamic was poor to say the least and I would regularly eat dinner alone in my room in front of my TV. I feel that considering what I came from I’m doing well in my personal recovery from my TV addiction. I strive to make a different home life for my child and I think that we have succeeded in a lot of ways. She never watched TV when she was a baby and we didn’t watch TV in front of her at all. As she got older she didn’t start watching anything on a regular basis until she was 2 years old. The time had increased over the following years but recently we slipped way way too far down that slippery slope. She went from 1 or two shows (30 to 60minutes) per day to over 4 to 6 shows per day (you do the math). We DVR all her programs but were never able to get her to fast forward through all the endless commercials promotional programming on Disney Channel. It’s like you’ve got to count all the time watching that stuff in dog years it has such a powerful effect on her. I do notice that now that she has less time to watch TV she tends to make better choices when she finally does get to watch it. She’ll choose Martha Speaks over watching the same Suite Life/iCarly/Wizards of Waverly Place episode over and over again. Don’t get me wrong I like adorable mop top twins/parentless siblings/rebellious teen wizards as much as the next person but I’d rather she watch a PBS show any day. I never thought that we’d be able to limit her TV watching this much but I’m so glad that we made this move. My husband likes to complain about the high cost of cable and threatens that he wants to get rid of the whole thing. I just flat out told him that I do not wish to be a family without a TV. You cannot even get the local news without a cable box nowadays. I know that a lot of people do it and live totally fulfilling and happy lives without it but I don’t think I have the mental energy to be one of those people. I might be soon but not right now.

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My Feminine Christian Attire

Back in 2007 I was a regular contributor to The Working Closet group on Flickr. I really enjoyed taking pictures of myself everyday and posting them to the group. It was fun to see what everyone thought of my outfit and to see what everyone else was wearing too. I only stopped because when I lost my brother I basically ran on fumes and had no energy or interest in anything for a while. The photos are still all there if you want to see them. Occasionally I will get an alert that someone has left a comment on them or something. A couple of weeks ago I got an email from an admin for the group Feminine Christian Attire asking me if they could add this picture to their group.

Really, how could I resist?

Feminine Christian Attire