20 May 2005

vacation



we are headed south for vacation and I am finding it hard to contain my excitement. though the preparations for this seven-day adventure (SEVEN WHOLE DAYS, PEOPLE) have been unbelievably detailed and tedious, I have been able to keep my head on straight and my eyes on the prize. I am looking forward to the scent of suntan lotion on my skin, the infinite sound of the ocean and ava playing so hard in the sand that she (literally) falls into bed at night. I am looking forward to catching up on my reading (who am I KIDDING), sneaking in late night swims, hunting for shells, and witnessing ezra's first experience with the water. I am thrilled to be getting out of this house and out of the city and into a car that will take me straight down to the ocean.

18 May 2005

FAME!

I've been thinking so much about ava and her first dance performance that it got me thinking about my first show. reminiscing led to digging and the result: this little gem of a photo of me, back in the day. I am eleven years old here (summer of 1982) and had just finished doing a solo to the song 'fame' (FAME!). please note the woven headband. note the lavender leotard and coordinating pink and white baseball shirt and socks. I loved those nike tennis shoes, too. my mom was selling mary kay cosmetics at the time and I remember how exciting it was to have her do my 'stage' makeup (lots of the burgundy and wine shades that were so popular in the late '70s/ early '80s). and how can you not have love for those dark brown pantyhose?

the performance (okay, recital) took place at a small little outdoor stage (what we used to call a 'band shell') and there were maybe thirty people sitting out in the audience. a microphone propped up next to the speaker of a tape player (what we used to call a 'jambox') functioned as the sound system. the rest of the details are a little fuzzy to me, though I do remember being so nervous that I felt sick to my stomach. and I remember wondering why I had even wanted to do it in the first place. I experienced such a sense of relief when it was all over that it is a wonder that I even continued to take dance classes. lucky I have this photograph (in all its' dorky glory) because the video footage was accidentally taped over with a 76ers game... (sorry, dad. you know I think you are the greatest man in the whole wide world, but I'm afraid you will never live this down). I would gladly give up my left thumb (any appendage or limb, for that matter) to see this dance again.

and now I must stop writing so that I can dig out my 'fame' record album. yes, I will be playing it loud and singing along, driving everyone in my family crazy. and just wait until they get a load of my solo.

15 May 2005

my dancer-girl

about a week ago, ava had her very first dance performance and I'm all crazy inside about it. it's so much that I don't even know what to write or how to begin. such an emotional thing for me, seeing her on stage for the first time. yes, okay. I admit it, people. I cried. all these years dancing, performing, teaching (other people's children)... wondering what it might be like to have a child of my own who might be interested in dance. I am aware that ava is only four and this is probably one out of like, 5,731 things she is going to take an interest in, but still. there she was, up on that stage... in her brown velvet costume, under those bright lights, a little unsure, a little unsteady. the student musicians started to play (miles davis!) and they all began to dance (well, sort of) and my heart swelled and I thought surely I might burst into a million pieces. I wanted to fly out of my seat and onto the stage and hug and squeeze her and dance with her. instead, I sat quietly. beaming. at the curtain call, the sound of african drums filled the rialto theatre as a swarm of young dancers and musicians took the stage for final bows. I could barely see ava amidst the chaos. what I was able to make out was her smile-- small, but proud.

ava and dance. in the womb, she kicked (hard, man) while I worked with the moving in the spirit kids (usually when the drums were loud and driving). she is partly named after an amazing african dancer I met while studying at the american dance festival at duke university, summer of 1997. this woman (ava) was one of the strongest, most beautiful dancers I had ever met. behind the electricity and power of her dancing was also an incredible mother, so warm, so open and loving-- full of grace and life. I loved watching her move. fell in love with her name (and all that it had come to represent to me) that summer and secretly vowed that it would be the name of my daughter, should I ever be so blessed to have one.

and so this could be the first of many performances for ava... or the last. I have no way of knowing what will spark her interests in the coming years. of course, I would be lying if I said I didn't care. to take her to her first modern dance performance... to expose her to all the wonderful and different kinds of movement out there... to take an african dance class together... maybe even collaborate/choreograph/perform together. yes, that would be brilliant. what I am thankful for today, though, is this: I was given the chance to see her on stage dancing with live music and lights and excitement this once, to share this love of dance with her, witness this thing of beauty. and that is enough for me.

13 May 2005

doorway in rome



it's ordinary to love the marvelous,
but marvelous to love the ordinary.


I have these words (scribbled in red crayon on a scrap of paper) tacked up in my work space. don't know who wrote it, can't even remember where I saw it, but I read it every single day.

photo by ward/ trastevere neighborhood in rome, italy/october 1999

12 May 2005

millions

I'm quite happy to report that I spent last night at the movies with my brother (birthday groove was ON). this is kind of a big deal since I LOVE (and I am not using the word 'love' lightly, here) movies and rarely get to go. when ward and I first started out (so very young, married and poor), he worked as a projectionist at the monster-plex we have all come to know and love as AMC theatres. we saw so many movies. SO MANY MOVIES. movies, movies, movies until you just wanted to lay down on the floor and cry. but they were free. we had no money, no children and so this is what we did. we ate cheap (slices of pizza at fellini's), hung out at the book store (even cheaper) and went to the movies. we saw everything. by the end of my twenties, I had seen enough cinematic crap to determine what I liked, what I didn't like. as a result, I am fairly picky now (aka: film snob) in what I choose to go see. what I saw last night brought me great feelings of joy-- it was worth the small loan I had to take out to buy my ticket and concession goodies, worth some minor movie-going irritations and so worth enduring the hoops I had to jump through just to get myself a seat in that dark and comforting little theatre.

if I may (just for a moment) address some annoyances: first of all, the coke we bought was (seriously) the size of a third world country. usually, we sneak in our own refreshments but it was nate's birthday and so I wanted to treat him to some over-priced movie concession delights (nothing says your sister loves you like a thirteen dollar coke). okay, look-- I know the jokes have been made a thousand times over about how enormous america's food portions have become, but the size of the drink we purchased really was beyond reason (all joking aside). and since ward always has to have the largest-sized coke wherever we go, I'm no stranger to unnaturally sized beverages. however, I have never (NEVER) seen anything like this, in all my movie-going, coke-chugging days, NEVER. it was like a giant corn silo filled with cold, fizzy liquid. people, I could not even hold it in ONE HAND. that's just not right. we drank and drank (and drank) from it, but were unable to make even the smallest dent in it. I was so taken with the size of this cup that I brought it home to show ward-- like it was some sort of strange artifact from a foreign land. "LOOK AT THIS!", I cried. "will you please just look at the SIZE OF THIS THING?!" (and I went on and on like that for quite awhile). then there was our unfortunate choice of candy. on a whim, birthday boy chose tart'n'tinies. yeah, the magically delicious quality of those sour powdery/sugary pellets wore off about thirty seconds into the movie. nate swore he could feel the canker sores forming in his mouth as he bit into each piece. they were promptly re-named 'canker bits' (and next time you hit up concessions, just ask for 'canker bits' and I bet they'll hand you a box of tart'n'tinies without missing a beat). and the seats! I'm not usually bothered by situations like this as I can almost always make myself comfortable wherever I am, but these seats... they were constructed in such a way that forced you to sit in a very upright position with the head rest tilted slightly forward, preventing any sort of reclining or relaxing. it should be said that these were brand (spankin) new theatre seats, no doubt meant to upgrade the old art house theatre. but instead of soothingly inviting you to relax and enjoy the movie while sitting in them, they seemed to scream, "SIT UP STRAIGHT! THIS IS SERIOUS! WE'RE NOT FOOLING AROUND HERE! THIS ISN'T SOME MEDIOCRE HOLLYWOOD CRAPFEST, SISTER! THIS IS AN ART FILM! PAY ATTENTION! LOOK ALIVE!".

ah, but I digress.

I would gladly endure these annoyances over and over again to see the film we saw last night. 'millions' is the name of this cinematic little gem (props to nate for his discovery). didn't know much about it going in, save for the fact it was directed by danny boyle (best known for trainspotting, 28 days later). if you have seen any of his flicks, then you might understand why I was also just a little uneasy going in (boyle is amazing with visuals, but blunt and brutal with storytelling). this is a brilliant and beautiful film, saturated with color (pure joy to look at) and rich in content (in love with this story). I loved how fresh and modern it was, completely unpretentious. soft, without being so, well... soft (it makes no sense, I know). curious? check out the trailer here. I am saddened by the fact that this wonderful little movie will probably slip through the cracks, so go see it. there's just so much crap out there and aren't you tired of sitting through all of it? if 'millions' is playing anywhere near you, go see it. I can almost guarantee you will like (love) it.

11 May 2005

birthday boy


today is my brother nate's birthday. I am hoping to perch a silly hat on his head, obnoxiously sing the birthday song to him and dig into some serious birthday cake (lard plus sugar= the best icing EVER). also, I plan on making many more 'thirtysomething' jokes because he has not yet truly embraced the fact that he is now a MAN IN HIS THIRTIES (face the truth, brother- the truth will set you free). actually, there are so many reasons to celebrate this 11th day of may: little ezra turns 11 months old (just one month away from the big first birthday!) and nate and kendra are also celebrating their wedding anniversary. and since we're on the subject of celebrations, deepspace 5 (the hip hop collective that my bro is a big part of) just released their newest collaborative effort, 'unique, just like everyone else' (if you're a hip hop head, you'll want to click here lickety-split).

feel free to celebrate today, people. eat some cake, wear a party hat, toot a little horn and blame it on me.

happy birthday, little brother. in my world, you rock the proverbial casbah.

09 May 2005

bliss

my mother's day:

krispy kreme donuts
fresh sunflowers
full body massage at natural body spa
original painting by ava

I ask you, does it get any better than this? I think not.

p.s. ward, you have scored MAJOR brownie points with me.

08 May 2005

my mom

with her, every single birthday was a special event. trips to the library were a weekly treat and she never limited the amount of books we checked out (also, she pretended not to notice when I stayed up late nights with those same books, flashlight in hand). painting, drawing, dancing, singing, writing (creating of anything in general) was met with great encouragement. our house was never without a certain amount of silliness. to this day, no one can make me laugh like she does. she was the one who introduced me to the world of yard sales. with her, they were fantastic places where glittery old costumes and vintage jewelry could be purchased for a song. and though she might not have always been thrilled with the clothes I wore during my teenage years, she (almost) always respected my freedom to choose. she made every christmas, every easter, every holiday so special (instilling in me a magnificent love for tradition and celebration). she represents strength, intelligence, creativity. she stands out as an example of what it means to be selfless, loving. she is the voice of calm when I feel I am swimming in an ocean of stress. she has seen (and supported) me through everything and knows how and when to keep me grounded. she always had time for picnics in the front yard, heated games of sorry and uno and impromptu dance performances in the living room. beautiful and radiant, she's my mom.

happy mother's day.

04 May 2005

poetry



one of the more poetic things I have done in my life was to walk across the brooklyn bridge at dusk. in my 34 years of living, I have found that these instances are few and far between and that when they present themselves to you... well, you gladly partake. and the best ones are little surprises, most always born out of unusual circumstances. no grand story here, just a stroll across an old bridge with people I love.

03 May 2005

knowledge is power

the other day, we were sitting on the couch and I was talking (sarcastically) to the television. can't remember who (or what) was the cause of my agitated state. ava looked up from the book she was reading with a serious look on her face.

"mommy, they can't hear you. they're not real."

pause. I'm looking at her, she's looking at me.

"mommy, it's just the tv. they're not REAL."

and don't you know I switched that television off, walked into the kitchen and had a little laugh.

01 May 2005

I made him laugh


in the infrastructure of our family, I am the head of what you might call the 'complaints' department. that is, I handle most of the complaints (aka: whining) filed on behalf of the three humans I love more than anything in this world. in the case of ezra, I am THE go-to person when serious comforting needs to be done. inconsolable and crying? over-tired? coffee table wipe-out? I am super-soother to the rescue! able to calm even the most cantankerous ezra with my super-magical nursing powers and freakish arm strength. I hold and sway, hum and whisper until said complainer is calm and happy, 100% satisfied with services rendered. ward, on the other hand, is in charge of providing the entertainment. seriously? he is a walking cartoon/carnival/vaudeville sideshow with comedic abilities beyond my scope. it's kind of like he has that special whistle that only dogs can hear but instead of the whistle, he uses crazy noises/faces and instead of dogs, it's children (namely his own) that respond so enthusiastically to his repertoire. and I love this about him. after all, he's the one who scored the very first smile from baby e-z. he has also been known to drive ava into daily breathless fits of giggling. this is not to say that I haven't made my kids smile. quite the contrary-- ava and I share all kinds of silly inside jokes and have a very similar (albeit wicked) sense of humor and ezra's grin lights up the joint the moment he sees me walk into the room. it's just that I'm not usually the one who makes them laugh that most beautiful-sounding gutteral laugh. ten months into this gig, and I had yet to make my son really REALLY laugh.

until about a couple of weeks ago. I was giving ezra his lunch and was sort of just playing around, pretending to eat his baby food. I immediately caught his attention as I brought the spoon to my mouth and made a loud gobbling noise. this fake-out scenario was met with loud, uncontrollable baby laughter and incidentally, took me completely by surprise. this wasn't some sweet little obligatory giggle-- it was hardcore and more in the vein of a 'hey-look-at-all-the-oatmeal-and-yogurt-in-my-mouth-wow-I-think-I-might-be-SNORTING' kind of laugh. it was the kind that made his little shoulders shake and forced his mouth wide open (allowing me to see for the first time just how many teeth were starting to push their way through). the sound that came from my son was so undeniably authentic... I really didn't know whether to laugh or cry. actually, I think I passed out. knocked temporarily unconscious by waves of monumental cuteness. finally, I had made him laugh.

today, I discovered that maniacal tap-dancing also has a very similar effect. please believe me when I say that I will gladly hoof myself into a drunken-like stupor if I think it will get a big laugh from my bambinos. I'm not switching departments or anything (I'm good with complaints) but laughter is where it's at.