29 June 2005

books are the shizz



the lovely lora tagged me with this meme some time ago and I've been meaning to get to it because well, I like books. hard-core book worm, and proud of it. here goes.

total books owned, ever:
couldn't even begin to guess which roughly translates into TOO MANY. I have a particular weakness for books-- books on dance, art, quirky children's books, novels. the number probably lies somewhere in the hundreds. I try to do my fair share of trading and passing the goods along but tend to hang onto the classics and my favorites because I have been known to read books over and over (and over) again.

last book I bought:
bizarre and ornamental alphabets edited by carol belanger grafton. I have a thing for typography.

last book I read:
the red tent by anita diamant. I did not expect to like this but found myself completely sucked in. did not even want to get out of bed as it might have required me doing something that didn't involve the reading of this book.

currently reading:
middlesex by jeffrey eugenides (almost finished)
the creative habit by twyla tharp (just beginning)
messy thrilling life by sabrina ward harrison (mainly digging the art work)
I always seem to be reading two or three books at once. I don't know why I do this to myself. it's just nutty.

five books that mean a lot to me:
a tree grows in brooklyn by betty smith. most people read this in high school, but I didn't discover it until age 23. I could read the part about the little flower in the golden-brown pottery jug a million times over. I have read this book seven times.

maria tallchief by tobi tobias. I blew my entire two dollar budget on this little paperback at the book fair in second grade. it tells the true story of a girl (maria tallchief, duh) who leaves her family on the indian reservation to become a famous dancer. the fiery orange cover, the drawings of her leaping through the air-- I spent hours studying every detail, made my mom and dad read it to me as many times as they could stand it. shortly after the purchase of this book, I began to beg for dance classes. today, I keep it in an old suitcase filled with my most special things as it marks the beginning of my serious interest in dance. can't wait to read it to ava and ezra someday.

slaves of new york by tama janowitz. total escape whenever I need it, I never get tired of it, it's always there for me. so funny and weird and yes, I have read it more than once. I think that I have read it eleven times.

to kill a mockingbird by harper lee. boo radley, man. YOU CAN'T GO WRONG HERE.

the bible. this is where I go for calm and strength, my foundation. it needs to be more a part of my life and I am working on that.

honorable mentions:
charlie and the chocolate factory, the lion, the witch and the wardrobe, white oleander and me talk pretty one day. all books that blew me away. all books that have been read several times over.

as for tagging five people, well... I'm breaking with convention. consider yourself tagged, folks. tell me all about your favorite books. I'm just begging for an excuse to drag the bambinos to the library or the book store. because I so obviously need MORE BOOKS.

28 June 2005

so much to see

peekaboo

"the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." -marcel proust

21 June 2005

(and the living is easy)


today is the first day of summer. though it began for me last week when I spotted the soft flicker of the lightening bugs in our front yard just as it was starting to get dark. something happens to me when I see the first of the lightening bugs. I get all silly and giddy-like inside because I know summer is coming and I LOVE SUMMER. this is my favorite time of year. oh, summer. I forgive your steamy, stifling heat and relentless swarms of mosquitoes because you are summer and I love you.

so I saw the lightening bugs and grabbed ava from inside the house and we spent fifteen minutes chasing after them. the scent of honeysuckle was in the air (another telltale sign of the season) and I felt the corners of my mouth turn upward, could not stop the dorky grin from spreading across my face. I started to think about why I get so crazy over this time of year and my mind went in a thousand different directions. my summers have always been so unapologetically full of the most fantastic things. adventures and travels, life-changing events. all of the very best things of my life have taken place during the summertime. summer of 1985-- met nancy (my best friend in the whole wide world) at church camp. summer of 1989-- traveled and performed all over japan. summer of 1990-- met and fell madly in love with artboy ward (am resisting the urge to share deliciously steamy details here). summer of 1994-- married the love of my life. summers 1997 and 1998-- attended the american dance festival at duke university in north carolina where I spent seven hours a day studying dance and watching the best modern dance companies in the world perform (each morning began outside with african dance class, always with live drumming. these summers will forever be marked by my complete immersion in dance. it was like a dream and I loved every second of it. truly, the best times of my life). summers 2000 and 2004-- my babies were born, those beautiful persons that I thank God for every single day (even when they are making me crazy), that ava and that ezra.

historically, summers have been a good time for me-- really, a very good time.

and if all those spectacular things had not happened to me? I would like to believe that I'd still be crazy about summertime. because the strawberries? the peaches, the watermelons and the blueberries? it feels good to let the juices run down your chin. there are flowers and gardens everywhere-- daisies, cosmos and black-eyed susans to be seen! right now, there is a lavender hydrangea bush in our front yard with blooms as big as ezra's head. how can you not love that? soon, I will clip some to bring inside and the sight of them (in the midst of the everyday dirt and clutter) will make me very happy. and there are drive-in movies, cherry-flavored snow cones, yard sales (for DAYS), reasons to paint toes bright pink, impromptu road trips, swimming pools and family barbecues. I also relish the ritual shedding of the many, many layers of clothing. to wake up in the morning and throw on a fresh cotton tank top and flimsy skirt, slip on my favorite red flip flops... 'tis a joyful thing, my friends. if skin could squeal with glee, it would.

summer screams liberation and possibility. I sincerely believe that I am hard-wired to see the season through these eyes. a good deal of my childhood was spent waiting for the moment the bell would ring on the last day of school-- it was the beginning of freedom. growing up, my summers were all about exploring, creating and reading, swimming and playing, getting dirty. weeks were spent at my grandma and grandpa's house, church camp, family vacation. days and days where all you had to worry about was how you were going to spend your days. and then I was a teenager, and summer was suddenly all about boys, tans and weekends. I am remembering how my friends and I used to slather ourselves with baby oil and iodine and layout on foil mats (WHAT WERE WE THINKING) and don't you know that someone's jambox (yes, jambox) was playing prince or the cure or some such eighties tunage. see, I can't turn off that part of my brain that identifies summer with freedom and fun. well, I refuse to. summers as an adult aren't nearly as carefree now but I like to pretend that they are.


a couple of years ago when we were living in our old house on montgomery street, we took ava out for one of our night time walks. we were looking up at the moon with her when we noticed something else-- the trees surrounding our house seemed to be twinkling. it took us a couple of moments before we realized that the trees were actually filled with hundreds and hundreds of lightening bugs. we stood in silence, completely dumbstruck by the sight. it was so strange, so beautiful. it was as close to magic as it gets.

this is summer.

20 June 2005

daddy-o



I like to think I'm the luckiest woman in the world. this man is the most amazing father, the most fantastic husband. I hit the proverbial jackpot and am attempting to share a little of the wealth here. this has to be one of my all-time favorite snaps of ward and ava.

19 June 2005

my dad

you are larger than life. sparkling eyes and infectious smile, you win everyone over. you are so many things to me, words aren't enough. though I have to take a shot with the words. I am nowhere near the extraordinary storyteller you are but I have to try.

what is it about you? kids are drawn to you like bees to honey. I believe they call that charisma. I am remembering how our house became the center of the neighborhood most summertime evenings, right around dusk. somehow, you found the time to play monster with us and our neighborhood buddies. this variation of hide and seek (your original, of course) still has us talking about it 25 years later. and your bike rides: legendary events that included the leading of a gaggle of kids down the main drag of our small southern illinois town. and you, you always took the leftover bike. the saddest-looking most ridiculous bike. you never cared how dorky you looked, that your knees scraped the handlebars. your actions taught me more about humility than you'll ever know. without saying a word, you spoke volumes about the importance of putting others first. this moved me in deep and profound ways, it did. years later and it still does something to me.

you are so much fun. really. ridiculously skilled at transforming the ordinary into something thrilling. my childhood is filled with memories of backyard escapades, trips to the park, the movies, evening drives in the blue bambino, top down (always). back in the day, kids could hang out all over the back seat of a car. we let the wind hit our faces as we struggled to finish rapidly-melting dairy queen dilly bars. you sang along to whatever was playing on the radio, your strong hand rythmically pounding the steering wheel. you were always game to sing louder, sillier, to go down the slide one more time, happy to play longer, stay longer.

I grew up watching you move up and down the basketball court like gene kelly in converse hightops. a little rougher around the edges but just as graceful. you moved with such force, such power. I wanted to move like that. fitting that you were the one who taught me how to dance. I remember the spinning and the whipping around, elton john playing on the mammoth-sized brown stereo, shag carpet soft beneath our feet. my love for movement is rooted in this.

your genuine love for the game, for coaching, for teaching, for kids, for life humbles me, inspires me. and your love for God was (is) giant-sized and real. you had a soft spot for the kids nobody liked. the awkward, uncool ones who got dumped on daily. you had the most spectacular way of making them feel important, like they mattered. you made them feel loved. over the years, our family became acquainted with so many outcasts, so many oddball (though mostly lovable) characters. I paid close attention, dad. I will forever carry with me what it means to be compassionate. it's rarely convenient or popular but always, always worth it. people are always worth it. this is one of the reasons why I became a teacher.

you were there to give me the push I needed, just when I needed it. I am remembering the morning we drove downtown. I am remembering how nervous I was. I knew I was going to puke, I just knew it. it was as if I'd been chewing on cotton balls. and I begged you to turn the car around and go back but you gently refused. had it not been for your steady encouragement, I would never have auditioned for the school for creative and performing arts, would never have had the experience of studying dance and art at such a young age. your voice has always been present, telling me to be brave, supplying me with just the right amount of strength and calm.

now your voice is my voice and I hear it when I'm teaching, when I'm excited to share something with my students. I hear it when I'm teaching ava how to jump rope or turn cartwheels. I see you reflected in the way that I move. your smile is my smile. I feel your strength in my arms as I hold ezra, hear your voice as I tell ava we can go down the slide one more time.

happy father's day, dad. I am the luckiest girl in the world. truly.

16 June 2005

40-foot ceilings

rudi has been cutting my hair for nine years. I sit myself down in the black vinyl chair and she works her magic while we talktalktalk. she speaks freely about her life and the usual salon drama in a choppy staccato I find hard to resist. awhile back, we were discussing her big move into an old high school that had been converted into loft spaces. I was delighted to hear that many of the original fixtures of the school had been put to creative use. some of the living spaces had the wall-sized original chalkboards and red metal lockers. rudi, however, had taken up residence in the space that used to be the gymnasium. she excitedly told me about how her floors still had the painted lines from the basketball court and because it had once been an old gym, it had a wonderfully open and spacious feeling to it. her words fluttered around me and I felt my envy and fascination grow to epic proportions. I was already attempting to decorate the space in my mind. I wondered what that might be like, transforming part of an old high school gymnasium into a personable, livable space. so I asked her about it and she abruptly stopped her snipping and looked at me.

"hello, hi. FORTY-FOOT CEILINGS."

she continued on with her sharp little scissors and started in on a different topic.

and I've always thought, yes. yes, that kind of sums up certain life situations. as in, hey lady on the street, you really think you can pull off those bright orange hot pants? hello, hi. FORTY-FOOT CEILINGS. as in, you really think you can fit your car into that parking space, homie? hello, hi. FORTY-FOOT CEILINGS. as in, you think we can keep this house in a less-than-disastrous condition for more than three seconds? HELLO, HI. FORTY-FOOT CEILINGS.

13 June 2005

party on



one of the many perks of motherhood: witnessing your baby turn one.

I always get a little nutty over the kids' birthdays. when I was six, I became obsessed with a book on childrens' parties and spent hours looking at all the pages devoted to games, favors, decorations and cakes. this (coupled with the fact that my mom always made a big deal out of our birthdays) may be why I get that crazy look in my eyes after I've brought home the goods from our local 'party city'. I truly love doing the party thing, but often bite off a little more than I can chew. like the time I promised ava a big under-the-sea party (complete with elaborate mermaid-shaped cake) after ezra had just been born. the cake alone, man. it needs to be seen to be BELIEVED. I must have been magically fueled by some wacko post-partum hormones. I thought I was going to cry when I cut into that mermaid cake, it had been such a labor of love.

there is only one 'first'... there is only one 'first'... this was the mantra repeated in my birthday-obsessed mind at three in the morning as I sat on the living room floor in a pile of wrapping paper and cut-out stars. earlier that evening (and by earlier, I mean one a.m.) as I was getting ready to bake the cake, I discovered that I was missing a beater. how could this have happened? where could it possibly be? then I vaguely recalled giving it to ezra one afternoon to play with (out of wild desperation, no doubt) and I remembered thinking that I was eventually going to need that thing and would be so mad at myself for not putting it back in its' rightful place. I was certainly right about that (and we will find that lonely little beater someday in some odd place and I'm sure I will have a nice little laugh). I set about mixing the cake by hand with the remaining beater (you better believe I yanked ward away from the computer to do the same, too) and I worked myself up into quite a little stirring frenzy, a sort of rapid full-body cake-mixing jig, if you will. I'll admit, I went a little nuts. but the mantra (there is only one 'first'... there is only one 'first') was beginning to take on a life of its own, common sense nowhere to be found.



of course, it was all worth it. a million times over, it's always worth it. watching ezra smile and grab at what seemed like thousands of streamers and stars that I climbed up and down the ladder to hang. watching his big brown eyes light up at the sight of the balloons, singing 'happy birthday' to him for the very first time, watching him stick his sweet little hand in the blue icing of the cake I had so much fun decorating, getting his first taste of that sticky, sugary loveliness. witnessing him squish the cake between his fingers and smear it all over his face... nothing quite like it, really.

happy first birthday, kid. we did it up right.



click here to witness more birthday love.

09 June 2005

the big one


ezra is turning one this saturday and preparations for his first big blow-out birthday bash are enthusiastically underway. I am in a state of disbelief over how quickly his first year has flown by me, can't believe the big day is literally right around the corner. didn't we just watch ava stick both hands into her first birthday cake?




ava's first party was a raging success, with daisies and bubbles and family all over the place. as I remember it, she seemed to be completely puzzled by the whole scene (as most babies are)... looking at all of us like, "why are all these people standing around me smiling and clapping and singing? what's the deal with all these bubbles? can I eat the flowers? what's this strange hat doing on my head? and more importantly, why is it all of the sudden 'okay' for me to dig my hands into this big gooey thing? it's almost as if they WANT me to eat it!"... and once she figured it all out I'm here to tell you she was into that chocolate cake UP TO HER ELBOWS. by the time she finished, it looked as if she was wearing chocolate boxing gloves. that's my girl, I thought. and now she will be turning five this summer. I am beginning to realize why my dad gets that misty, faraway look in his eyes when he talks about the time in his life when me and my brothers were kids. he's always saying he'd give anything to go back and re-live those days. now I'm starting to understand why.

07 June 2005

topless


after enduring a long week of cold and rainy grey, we are now experiencing steamy heat. I feel like walking around in my bra just like mildred here. I have no idea if that is really her name (probably not) but she screams 'mildred' to me. just look at her. you know she was so proud of this photo but kept it hidden in the bottom of her underwear drawer (just beneath the girdles) like some delicious little secret. I am thinking she took it out from time to time, secretly pleased with her risky, topless desert venture. what would she think of where her snapshot has ended up?

this is precisely why I collect these photos. it's so easy to get lost in the story.

05 June 2005

music baton

this is a meme (musical spam, if you will) that has been making the rounds for quite a while now. I have been tagged by my LOV-ERRR so I must do this. actually, I'm known for my extensive list-making. I love to make lists (all about the top fives, people) and I love to read lists. lists, list, lists. well, then. here's my list:

total volume of music files on my computer(s):
8.92 GB in my iPod
5.96 GB in my Powerbook G4

the last CD I bought was:
amos lee, but received deepspace five's 'unique just like everyone else' for free from my bro (around the same time).

song playing right now:
pink moon by nick drake

five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me:
now we have a map of the piano by múm
love by mos def
hallelujah by jeff buckley
my coloring book by mars ILL
zion by lauryn hill

honorable mentions: (because it would be a crime to leave these off the list)
subterranean homesick alien by radiohead
umi says by mos def
la vie en rose louis armstong's version
adore by prince
la boob oscillator by stereolab

okay, now I've actually listed ten songs. I know I've broken the magical musical meme rules here. what can I say? I live on the edge.

Passing the baton to:
lulu of lulu's world
jan of poppy
joy of scrapalicious
meridith of non sequitor

(you're supposed to hand this off to five people but my fifth person of choice-mommy zabs- is currently a little under the weather.)

Recieved baton via:
ward of ward-o-matic

feel free to leave your favorites here. like I said, I love to read lists. and I love to find out what others are listening to as well. lay it on me.

03 June 2005

grow up

being an adult is a drag. really, I'm not digging the scene. I'm tired of being responsible. all I want to do is play and make paintings and beaded necklaces and shell boxes with ava. I want to make a thousand collages, work on my art journal and take dance classes everyday, every stinking night. I want to spend hours making paper stars and party hats for ezra's first birthday party. I want to take my camera all over the city and shoot roll after roll of film. I want to go to star bar on tuesday night and dance to double dutch bus and old prince and james brown with my pal amy. I want to create ipod playlists and string paper lanterns all over the house and spend hours on the phone with my best friend nancy. I want to plant black-eyed susans and cosmos in the front yard and go thrifting for old record albums and purses and clothes for the bebes. I want to dream up elaborate practical jokes to play on ward. I want to get lost in a sea of books, make fruity frozen drinks and listen to music that might make me cry or dance or inspire ava to perform her beloved pixie dance with the handstands.

ah, but I haven't even unpacked the suitcases yet and there's a checkbook to be balanced and bills to be paid and the pipes are backed up so the washer isn't working and the dishwasher isn't working either and the laundry is piling up and the dishes are starting to stink (can't handwash the dishes because the pipes are backed up) and the front yard is horrifically overgrown (prepare to die, vile weeds) and I haven't taken a shower in what feels like 38 days and it is so cold and grey and rainy and my lovely golden tan is fading and these children of mine are supposed to be eating healthy, fresh foods and blahblahblah. it's all so boring and predictable and pedestrian. by the time I finish doing all of these things, my little happy spark will be long gone and the couch will call out to me and I will go to it, forever forsaking all others. I will fall asleep nursing ezra again, the computer precariously balanced on my hip, some bad movie playing on the television in the background. I will dream bizarre, disconnected dreams but wake up quasi-refreshed and ready to play.

but I will see the messes and remember the responsibilities and I will hear someone's voice telling me to grow up and that voice will be my own.

01 June 2005

fun was had



the ocean has been played in. feet and hands have been buried in the sand. the waves have been frolicked in. yips and giggles of glee were heard throughout the beach house at random moments. many, many shells were collected. ice cream was consumed. sunsets and full moons were marvelled at. a red kite was flown and a grand sandcastle was built. there were walks along the beach, a couple of barbecues and leisurely drives down the gulf boulevard. hours were spent swimming and splashing and floating peacefully in the ocean. crazy canonball jumps into a modest swimming pool were witnessed and applauded. flav-o-ice popsicles were in glorious abundance and stained many a tongue green/blue/purple/orange/red. colorful cotton beach blankets were laid out. hawaiian tropic suntan lotion was purchased and generously applied. dolphins were sighted. souvenirs were bought. an aquarium was visited where big sharks and neon jellyfish were spotted and starfish and anemones were gently touched. people got caught up on sleep. work was (almost) forgotten. pacman was played. movies were seen. books and magazines were read. there were beach balls, floaties and bubbles. brand new swimsuits and sunglasses. skin has been tanned. huge tangerine-colored flowers were plucked from bushes and tucked behind ears. many, many, MANY photos were taken. there were a few meltdowns, a couple of snags, some drama and exhaustion along the way but more silliness, more laughing, more mellowing. life was reallyreallyreally good.

it's cold and rainy this week here in atlanta so I have refrained from washing my beach blankets (they smell like the ocean) and have taken to slathering myself with hawaiian tropic whenever I get the urge (so I can smell like coconut and summer). I am currently rebelling against any and all responsibilities. all film has already been developed (it's official: we're broke) and soon happy vacation snapshots will be tacked up all over this joint. for a peek at the festivities, click here.